"Piz," Veronica's fingers tightened around the edge of the partially opened door. "What are you doing here?"
"Do I have to hold a boom box over my head to get you to let me in?"
"Please don't." She tried to soften the words with a joke, "the neighbors hate me enough already." Nothing- not even a grin. Well, it wasn't her best work. Veronica stepped back and opened the door to him.
"I want you to come home Veronica."
"We're jumping right to it then, no how have you been? Great weather we're having." She closed the door and paused before turning to face him. "I am home Piz."
It was almost three months that she'd been back in Neptune. Her Dad was finally out of the hospital and back to work part-time. Mac was consulting on an as-needed basis, which wasn't as often as V wanted, but still regular enough that she had her own desk. Wallace routinely stopped by and they made it a point to get together for lunch or dinner at least once a week. The only thing missing was Logan. Veronica reeled her thoughts back in. It was not a good idea to think about Logan while talking to Piz.
"You don't miss New York at all?"
The words were 'New York,' but Veronica clearly heard the implied 'me' and the truth was, she didn't. That life wasn't her, Piz wasn't her. Nine years she'd spent trying to be the Veronica Mars that everyone else wanted her to be. The "normal" Veronica with a great career and a great boyfriend- the perfect life, the fake life. It was the alternate universe Veronica Mars. The life that she might've had if Lilly wasn't murdered, if she hadn't been raped, if she hadn't fallen in love with Logan. She didn't only run away from Neptune, she ran away from herself, but now she was back. She'd embraced her future and learned to accept herself. She just wished everyone else could accept it too.
"Do you want coffee?"
"No. I want you to come home."
"I'm working with my Dad again." He might not want coffee, but she did and something to eat. Suddenly she was starving. "Let me buy you breakfast. There's a little café not far from here that makes a mean breakfast burrito."
"You haven't unpacked your stuff." Piz gestured toward the pile of packing boxes still stacked in the corner. His words were tinged with hope that immediately made Veronica feel guilty. Piz had shipped her things over a month ago and they'd stayed right where the delivery man put them. Not because the move to Neptune was temporary, but because staying with her Dad was temporary. Logan would only be gone another 112 days and then they would look for a place together.
"Come on Piznarski, breakfast waits for no man and I'm hungry." Veronica grabbed her purse and keys from the table by the front door. "Where are you staying?"
She'd noticed his bag and her father would too so before Keith emerged from his room and offered up the couch, she needed to get him out of here. Veronica didn't wait for him; she opened the front door and walked into the sunshine. Logan's BMW M6 convertible was parked in the driveway. Before sliding behind the wheel she glanced over her shoulder to check on Piz. He was on the porch, suitcase in hand and the front door was closed. Excellent. "Just toss that in the back seat."
Piz complied with her instructions before sliding into the passenger seat, "nice car." Two words, but Veronica felt the jab right in her solar plexus.
"I'm happy here." It was true and it was easier to say without having to look at him. "I missed my Dad and Mac and Wallace…"
"This isn't about Logan, it's about me. This is who I am. I don't want to be a high-powered lawyer locked away in her corner office staring down at the world from the fiftieth floor. I want to be on the streets, helping people, finding justice."
"Right and lawyers don't help people or fight for justice."
"You know what I mean. I can't be the Veronica you want me to be. She doesn't exist."
"She existed just fine for almost a year."
"No, that wasn't me."
"Really? Are you sure? Because she looked a lot like you, sounded like you too."
Veronica supposed she owed him this conversation. Even if he was the one that did the breaking up, she was the one that didn't show in New York. She was also the one that didn't call him and had her father make the arrangements to get her things. She was also the one that spent two blissful weeks in Logan's bed without thinking about Piz once. As promised, it was a short drive to the café and it was still early enough for there to be parking. She pulled to the curb, but before she could leave the car, Piz grabbed her hand. "What if I move here? For you."
"What about your job?"
"I could find a new one here. If this is where you want to be Veronica then I want to be here too." Piz cupped her chin and turned her face toward him, "I miss you."
"It won't work. You'd be giving up your dream job to move here and you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." Piz let his hand drop from her face. "Nothing? That was my best Bogie and not even a smile? These are the jokes here, keep up."
Without a word, Piz climbed out of the car and slammed the door.
"Wait," Veronica locked up the car and caught up to him. "I'm sorry. I'll dispense with the jokes and we can talk, really, I promise."
Veronica led him to an outdoor table set back from the street and tucked into the corner of the patio. There were no other diners so they would have their privacy, at least for the next hour until the place got busy. "Do you still trust me to order for you?"
"Sure." Dejection settled over him, weighing him down and making him look smaller. Veronica knew it was her fault, but it didn't make her change her mind. It didn't even make her want to change her mind. Life was really good and for the first time, in a long time, she felt hopeful.
"Good morning, Miss Veronica, the usual?"
"Make it two Gus." It was probably a bad sign that she had a "usual," but the breakfast burrito on her way to work was fast becoming a highlight of her mornings. The perfect ratio of eggs, tomato, onion, avocado and cheddar cheese wrapped in a fresh, hot tortilla and topped with a salsa verde that had just enough of a kick was the closest thing to heaven Neptune had to offer. Especially with Logan out of town.
Veronica balanced the packed tray on one hand to open the door, take that Java the Hut, and slid it on the table in front of Piz. "You're going to love these."
"I love you."
She swallowed her sigh with a bite of burrito. How could she respond to that? It wasn't that she didn't love him, but she definitely didn't love him the way he deserved, or wanted. "I…" Veronica Mars at a loss for words, there's a first time for everything, folks. She started again, "I love…these burritos." So much for dispensing with the jokes, "try it."
Humoring her, Piz took a small bite and returned it to the plate. "Where is Logan anyway?"
"Right, the Navy."
The silence yawned between them creating a chasm that was hard to cross. "I'm sorry Piz, this is hard for me."
"Hard for you Veronica? I'm the one you left standing on a sidewalk alone to face my parents. To explain why my girlfriend bailed on me."
"Back up a minute, you broke up with me."
"Let's be honest with each other okay? I just let you off the hook. If you felt for me even half of what you feel for Logan you would've been on that plane to meet my parents."
"If that's what you think, then why did you come?"
"Because I needed to know. For sure. I needed you to look me in the face and tell me."
She certainly wasn't going to say the words to him before she said them to Logan. "Even if there was no Logan, there could be no us. I told you before this isn't about him, it's about me. I don't want the life you want Piz. I am not coming back to New York and I am not coming back to you."
"I guess that's it then." He stood up. "Have a nice life Veronica."
"At least let me drive you to your hotel, or to Wallace's."
"I'm a big boy I can find my way home." Veronica watched him leave. Regret mingled with relief. She was sorry to hurt him, but glad for the resolution. It finally felt like an end to that chapter of her life.