"The Bars" - innie

Through 1x15, "Ruskie Business." Veronica's dream. L/V interaction.

Note: This fic is based on a dream I actually had. For the purposes of this story, ignore the actual layout of the Mars Investigations office. Here, it's shaped like a reverse L (so it's made up of a short section and a long section). The door is at one side of the short section and Veronica's desk is in the short section, facing the intersection of the two lines. There is an extra-wide archway leading from the short section to the long. The long section is empty except for a floor-to-ceiling jail cell that is at the very end.

The first time she slammed the door shut, he smirked at her through the bars. His mouth puckered to kiss the air mockingly, and she thought he might have said something that the sound of the clanging bars drowned out.

The next time when she closed the cell, more quietly this time so the reverberations wouldn't ring in her ears for hours, his hand reached between the bars to pinch her ass. She'd skipped nimbly away, but the rough friction of her sneakers on the ugly, worn blue-grey carpet - who had chosen that carpet? she knew it hadn't been her choice - had sent up sparks anyway. He'd smiled at her again, a smile not much different than his movie star father's, cruel in its intensity and intent.

The third time began differently. This time Veronica found herself walking Logan to the cell that, improbably, occupied fully a third of the space that comprised this odd version of the Mars Investigations office. He wasn't resisting; in fact, it almost felt like he was snuggling against the cautionary arm she had around his waist. But when she dropped the arm, he went willingly enough into the cage and spoke his first words. "It's cold in here." It was quiet, barely a complaint, more an observation he thought she might be interested in. This time, he kept well away from the bars as they clicked shut; he knew how icy they were to the touch. As she walked away, she purposely dug the toes of her sneakers into the ground, hoping to ignite some sparks. When she reached the wide archway she turned right without a glance behind for Logan. Not even the red light that fell on the desk from the stained glass windows seemed to make the space any warmer. She pressed her fingertips into the hot, heavy skin around Backup's thick leather collar, scratching him gently and murmuring endearments to him. She felt his muscles surge beneath her hand as he stood expectantly, growling softly at the door. A moment later, the door opened quietly, and a head peeked stealthily in. Veronica's keen eyes and Backup's bared fangs were more than enough to make it disappear. She sighed as the door slammed shut, and turned back to face forward. All she could see was the large archway and the dingy white wall beyond it. She'd deliberately tucked her desk far enough into this alcove so that she couldn't see Logan, even peripherally. But now she'd have to get up and walk around her desk if she wanted to see him, make plain that she'd made a choice to go back there and see him; there was nothing in the other room but bare walls and his cage. She doesn't remember making the decision, or even taking a deep breath to steel herself, but she must have, because she's in front of his cage, looking at his childlike profile. He's sitting on the floor and he's folded himself up like an origami puzzle. His arms are wrapped tightly around his knees and it hits her that his cage is underneath a vent blowing frosty air. She whistles for Backup as she fumbles with the keyring at her waist. She unlocks the door and the pit bull runs in, nuzzling Logan gently. She watches Logan unfold his long body and start to relax, stretching out his legs so the dog's heavy head can rest in his lap. His long fingers are stroking Backup's stubbly fur. He has a hint of a sweet smile on his face. She turns away sharply on her heel, jingling the keys in her hand to drown out the voice inside her head that's listing all of the more pleasurable ways in which she could have warmed Logan up.

The fourth time it's all completely casual. She lets him walk to his cell alone, laughing as he half-turns to say something funny. She joins him in a moment, hot box of pizza in one hand and a few paper plates in the other. Somehow he's got a body pillow in his cell, and he leans casually back against it as he eats. He's amusing himself by holding a folded piece of pizza above his mouth, letting the cheese ooze out so that he can catch it with a swirl of his tongue. She tries to keep her eyes down, keep the vibe as effortlessly friendly as it's been this time - she wonders briefly what it will be like next time - but she remembers all of the things Lilly told her (half-bragging, half-educating) that Logan did with his tongue. She wonders how he knew to do those things, if they were things he did because Lilly liked them, or because he did. She's idly picking the peppers off her slice as she muses, and his hand shoots out to steal a mushroom from her piece even though the box isn't even half empty yet. When she glares at him, though, he looks so unaware of having offended that she realizes he's treating her as a friend. It's been a long time.

The fifth time he throws her for a loop. Once she's locked him in, he leans his forehead against the bars, his hands holding them above his head. "What am I in here for, Veronica?" he asks, softly enough that he sounds neither accusatory nor malevolent. His eyes lock on hers and at her silence they begin to well up. "Never mind," he says as he pushes his body away from the bars, away from her, and he starts to pace.

The sixth time he's a beast. He's listing all of the things that have gone wrong with her life recently, and somehow he knows that there's something there that she's never told anyone before. He presses every advantage, not letting her shy away or rage back at him. She's just crying, neither responding nor running. The bars aren't between them any longer as he looms over her, circling her, backing her into the darkest corner of this dingy office. She's crouched in the corner, sobbing, when she registers silence. She looks up and dimly sees him locked securely in his cage, peering out at her perplexedly.

The seventh time she brings him a deck of cards to amuse himself with. She's seen the way his quick hands can manipulate the cards. She stretches her arm between the bars to proffer the pack. He takes them with one hand, jumping up and plucking off her cap with the other. He quirks a crooked grin at her and does a bow, flourishing the hat. She smiles back briefly and starts the walk back to her desk. His voice, caught between fury and anguish, stops her. "You bitch," he snarls. She looks at him over her shoulder and his eyes are boring into her. She walks back and stoops to pick up the cards he's thrown to the ground. She cannot understand what has brought about this vengeful misery. She fans them out in her hand, looking them over, but sees nothing. She looks up at him, at his hardening face and bitter, burning eyes and looks back down at the cards. The faces of the queens are flickering, back and forth, between their own and Lilly's. She drops the cards and runs, hearing his screams behind her.

The eighth time he's mocking her, ticking off the days he's been in the cell as they've both seen prisoners in war movies do. He's making quite a production of drawing each large line in the pad he's somehow stolen off her desk. She realizes he's drawn way too many lines. She approaches to tell him so. He seems to know her objection, and without looking up, begins to recite dates, pointing at each date to a long, stark line. The dates begin about eight years earlier, and she's got enough sense to stop protesting and start writing the dates down, on her arm, since Logan's got her pad. She recognizes a few; one was Duncan's birthday, and she'd wondered why Logan had skipped school and ruined the surprise homeroom party she'd planned. It comes to her slowly, that these are all days he's missed from school, from the summers, from when he could have been with Lilly. She draws her breath in to ask why, to confirm the terrible suspicion forming in her mind, but he cuts her off. "You already know," he says, and hides the pad under his pillow.

The ninth time they walk to the cage in silence. He gets in and faces her directly. His eyes are unwavering. He takes her hand. She wakes up.