DISCLAIMER: Not mine. I love what RT does with them, and I just like to have my fun playing with them.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Title and transitional lyrics from "First Day of My Life" by Bright Eyes. Great song, and it was definitely my inspiration for parts of this fic.

these things take forever / i especially am slow
I approach the office door and tell myself that my presence is all about business. Visiting Veronica is just a means to an end – an easy way for me to determine the identity of Trina's lowlife boyfriend.

I open the door, and my gaze falls on her face – reminding me that when it comes to Veronica, the last thing on my mind is business.

"Hi," she greets me, the surprise apparent on her face. With the exception of the previous morning's awkward conversation from hell, I've been avoiding her. I'd be shocked if she hadn't noticed.

Somehow, she's managed to look past all the shit I've put her through over the past year and is willing to be my friend again. Yeah, things aren't like they were with Lilly, but as much as it galls me to admit it, I like having Veronica in my life again.

I don't want to fuck up this – whatever it is that we have – and if that means that I have to avoid her until I can get my hormones under control, so be it.

But protecting family members – even bitchy, spawn of Satan, annoying as hell family members like Trina – is what's on my mind now. I'm not thinking about the taste of her lips, the smell of her hair, or the feel of her soft flesh under my fingertips.

Really.

"Hey, I need your help," I start, as if that weren't obvious. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been in this room, each time with the supposed pretense of case she'd been helping me with.

It wasn't until I was breaking down in her arms that I realized that my intentions weren't quite as pure as I'd wanted to believe.

I haven't told her my true motivations – in part because she does the same thing. We're friends in the sense that we help the other when we can, but we don't socialize. Not anymore. Not since Lilly –

"Would it be weird for me to start my own drinking game?" Veronica asks, interrupting my self-reflection. "Like, I have to do a shot anytime someone asks for my help."

The image of her doing shots is completely foreign to me. Sure, she would have the occasional drink at the various house parties our foursome attended long ago, but drinking has never been something that she enjoyed like some of us do.

Some of us, meaning me.

"I need you to track down Trina's Leech-of-the-Week boyfriend," I inform her, trying not to think about what a raging alcoholic I've become since Lilly's death.

"Why? What'd he do?"

"He beat her up," I share, pointing towards my eye. From the shocked look on her face, one might think that she lives in a world of cotton candy and sugar plums where domestic abuse is just a scary story that's told to ensure kids eat all their vegetables, go to bed when they're told, and don't talk back to Mommy and Daddy.

"I plan on returning the favor," I continue. If Veronica's surprised by my vehemence, she doesn't show it. Besides, it's not like she isn't already aware of my violent tendencies.

"All I know is first name Dylan, and he's producing this steamer," I finish, as I toss the lame-ass script on the desk beside her.

I watch her, as if in slow-motion. She gives the cover of the script a glance – and I'm half-afraid that she'll tell me to get lost, to find some other PI to do my bidding.

Then again, Veronica always was a softie, so when she agrees to help, I can't admit that I was all that surprised.

"Easy," she says, and I feel an involuntary smile jerk the corners of my mouth in response.

This is serious stuff I'm dealing with here – my sister getting slapped around by her scumbag du jour. This is no time for smiling.

Then again, being around Veronica – no matter what the circumstances – somehow always seems to bring a smile to my face nowadays.

I wipe the smile from my face, as Veronica does her teenaged-detective thing – searching for something on her computer before reaching for the phone and giving someone a bullshit line about some Todd Russell at CAA wanting to make a deal about a script that any agent worth their salt wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

Then again, if anyone knows how to work her skills of persuasion, it's Veronica. Despite the large and numerous holes in the story she fed to the secretary on the other end of the line, before I know it, Veronica's repeating back Dylan's last name, as she scribbles it on a nearby pad of paper.

Dylan Goran.

And now I finally have a concrete individual at whom I can direct my ever-escalating frustration.

Yes, my main motivation for kicking the man's ass will be because of what he did to Trina. But if I accidentally land a few more punches than warranted due to my lack of control over whatever the fuck is happening between me and Veronica, that's no huge loss.

I should just fucking tell her what I'm thinking – that I don't know what happened between us at the Camelot, that I don't know why I can't fucking stay away from her like I want to, that I don't know what's happening between us any more than she does.

Really, I should tell her that despite all those unknowns that exist both between us and about us, I want to see where this could go and what we could mean to each other.

After all, Veronica is just about everything that I've ever wanted in a woman, all wrapped up in one adorable and admittedly tiny package.

And with all the cute little looks she's shooting my way, it's taking pretty much all of my willpower not to forget about my plan to talk with her and instead see what her response is when I'm thoroughly investigating her mouth with my own.

I find myself moving closer to her, step by cautious step, as I try to balance my need for coherent thought against my desire to be as close to her as possible.

She says his name aloud again. Dylan Goran.

I ask some asinine question about the validity of her information-gathering techniques, which she dismisses with a mention that there could be a Todd Russell at CAA.

If it gets me the answers I want, it works for me.

And now that she's typing at her computer, I have an excuse to hover over her shoulder. Yeah, that whole Todd Russell line definitely works for me.

I watch expectantly as she types Dylan's name into her information-seeking PI program. I have to admit that I'm impressed with how good she is at this detective thing. It's an actual skill – whereas the only 'skills' I have involve insults, alcohol, and sex.

"Looks like Trina's Romeo has had a little trouble with the ladies. Two women have filed restraining orders against him in the last five years."

At that news, I whip out my cell phone. Does Trina have any idea how much trouble this producer boyfriend of hers really is?

Instead I hear from Dad that chances are pretty damn good that not only will I be expected to not kick Dylan Goran's ass, but that I'll have to make nice with him as he produces Dad's next big movie.

"Dylan's on the way to the house. And Dad's cooking for him."

Why the fuck did I just tell her that? It's not like it's any of her business that Dad has such a bloated ego that he wouldn't dream of turning away anyone who would happily offer the requisite hourly ego-stroke.

"Thanks," I mutter, as I pull my keys out of my pocket. I need to get home and do whatever I can to prevent Dylan from fawning further in to my family.

Fucked-up we may be, but we're still family. And I don't want my sister anywhere near that woman-beating slime.

I head towards the door, and she's out of her chair and beside me before I realize it.

"Wait. I'm coming with you."

This is not her problem. I shouldn't let her get any more involved in my already fucked up family life.

Still, the thought that maybe I don't have to deal with all this shit alone is oddly comforting, so I let her tag along as I head down the steps and out to my Xterra.

I hold open her door, as she gets in. While I am in something of a hurry, I have my occasional moments of gentlemanly behavior. And for some reason, Veronica seems to bring out the best in me.

As her tiny frame brushes my own, I catch a whiff of her cinnamon-apple shampoo, reminding me of my first day in Neptune and how Veronica was the first new friend I made here.

yours is the first face that i saw / i think i was blind before i met you
"Oh. My. God."

"Is that Aaron Echolls? Really?"

"Oh, I loved him in Breaking Point!"

"No, no, no. The Pursuit of Happiness was so much better."

"He's so dreamy."

I watched in resignation as Dad stood to greet the gaggle of girls who were gushing endlessly about his movies and his 'eternal hotness.' It wasn't anything new, but I'd hoped that my new hometown wouldn't be as star-struck as LA had been.

Clearly, Neptune was no different. Except …

There was one girl on the fringe of the swooning soccer players. She looked unsure of herself and seemed to be faking her enthusiasm. Oh, sure, she was believable enough to the ignorant bystander, but I'd spent my formative years among the professional ass-kissers of Hollywood. I knew her half-hearted gushing wasn't genuine.

Not that Dad would care. He loved a good ego-boost and was typically ignorant of even blatant insincerity.

"Hey," I said softly, after a few moments of hesitation

She turned to face me, confusion clouding her eyes.

"Hi," she responded warily, taking a step away from the autograph-generating mob and a step closer to me.

"Want some fries?"

My words were lame, pathetic. It's not like she couldn't have easily walked up to the counter to order some for herself.

Still, she agreed, and I found myself sliding over in the booth, so she could sit in the space beside me.

"I'm Veronica," she shared, as she reached for the offered fries.

"Logan," I replied, not revealing my last name. As if it wasn't obvious who my parents were already. "My family just moved to Neptune."

"I didn't think I recognized you," she mused, munching on the fries after dipping them in ketchup. "So where are you from?"

"LA. My parents wanted to get away from the city." We sat in silence for a few moments before I reached for the warm apple pie.

"Want half?" I asked with a cautious smile. With a grin, she nodded, taking the proffered steaming piece of pie.

"I'm sure you'll like Neptune, Logan. Everyone's really nice here."

With the cinnamon-apple scent filling my senses and her bright smile addling my brain, I couldn't help but agree.

Even if Veronica was the only friend I'd have who wasn't overly interested in my Dad the movie star, Neptune was already an improvement over LA.

i don't know where i've been / but i know where i want to go
"Logan, slow down. Getting pulled over won't get us to your place any faster."

I'm tempted to tell her that I was driving at least twice as fast on my way to the Camelot last week, but that would involve an abstract reference to The Kiss – which, as far as she's concerned, apparently never happened.

"It's fine," I reply instead, brushing her concerns aside. I focus on the curving highway before me, rather than on her presence beside me and the cinnamon-apple smell of her hair.

"They say that women raised in abusive households are more likely to get involved in abusive relationships themselves," she shares moments later.

"Yeah." My monosyllabic reply is hardly indicative of my responding thought process. They also say that men raised in abusive households are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of abuse once they're grown.

Shit, no wonder she's not acknowledging our kiss and the explosive chemistry we have. It's not like she's unaware of my violent tendencies, so I can hardly blame her for not wanting to get involved with a ticking time bomb like me.

I don't fucking deserve her anyhow.

Veronica deserves someone who's emotionally stable, who doesn't feel that violence is often not only the best answer but the only answer, who hasn't been dealt such a shitty hand in the game of life.

I pull into my driveway and cut the engine. We're here. And I still don't why Veronica is at my side.

i could go anywhere with you / and i'd probably be happy
"Wow," she says softly as we both watch Dylan the Douchebag drive off. I'm sure wow only begins to cover her reaction to the scene we just witnessed. Hell, that's the word running through my head, and I'd already known about my father's pastime of orchestrating violent beatings.

About time he gave one to someone who actually deserved it.

"Father knows best," I joke.

We head towards my Xterra in silence, as I reach desperately for a reason to stay around Veronica for as long as possible.

"Do you think Lilly loved Weevil?"

Hardly the most romantic topic, but maybe thoughts of her Lilly's infidelity will keep my raging hormones in check. Somehow, I doubt that an attempt to repeat last week's kiss would be a welcome overture at this point.

"I don't know. Um, Lilly never mentioned anything to me about Weevil," she stammers, my question obviously catching her off-guard.

The fact that Lilly had never told Veronica about Weevil surprises me. I'd thought that they had shared everything back then. I know that Veronica wouldn't lie to protect my feelings. And after dealing with Lilly's white lies and manipulations for so many years, that's quite a refreshing change.

"I was wondering when you were going to ask me about that," she confesses after a moment.

"Well, I don't know. When he's caught in her bedroom, you know, I guess you gotta think."

Or, rather, it made me think. I'd been trying to deny what might have happened between Weevil and Lilly ever since I saw his tattoo a few months back.

If Weevil had never had anything going on with Lilly, he wouldn't have had any need to break into her house, let alone her bedroom. Hearing that news was like a splash of cold water to the face.

"You're handling it a lot better than I thought you would."

"I loved Lilly. And Lilly loved guys." I'd known that about her before her death, which often sparked my caveman-like jealousy.

"Logan, you know that – "

I want to get my point across without listening to any platitudes of reassurance from Veronica. So I push on, cutting her off. "You know, she used to say that her parents worshipped Duncan and tolerated her. And if she couldn't please them, she was going to go out of her way to piss them off. Weevil must have been perfect for that."

"I know Lilly loved you," she reminds me, as if I didn't know that already.

She did love me. She just loved a healthy chunk of the rest of the male demographic as well.

She just didn't love me as much as I loved her.

I tell Veronica as much, and I know it's true to some extent. I mean, yes, I did kiss Yolanda, but that was more out of anger and frustration at the I'm sick routine Lilly had pulled that night.

But, really, I loved her to the exclusion of all others. I was completely vulnerable around her. And I've never allowed myself the luxury of such vulnerability since her dead.

That is, not until recently. Not until Veronica stepped back into my life.

"It's okay," I say quickly, in response to the mix of pity and sympathy that flit across her delicate features. "No, you know, it kinda lets me off the hook. I don't have to feel guilty anymore." The words slip from my tongue without a second thought, as I wonder where the hell I'm going with this train of thought.

Or, rather, I know what I could be feeling guilty about, but I don't know how Veronica will react to such a revelation.

"Feel guilty about what?" The look on her face is pure curiosity and desperate hope that we're on the same page for once. Unless I'm just seeing what I want to see at this point, which, honestly, wouldn't be much of a surprise.

"Moving on," I murmur, as I slowly reach for her and bring her lips to touch my own in a sizzling kiss that evokes memories of the one we'd shared almost a week ago.

Loving the feel of my lips moving over hers, I feel a sense of contentment wash over me.

I don't know what this is, whatever it is that we have between us now. I don't know if it'll explode back in my face or – more likely – if she'll toss me aside because I can be an insensitive jackass.

But on this, the first day of my new life, I feel like a man reborn. Now I have a reason to change from the man I have become over these past few months into the man that I often wish I could be.

with these things there's no telling / we just have to wait and see

"Do you ever just think back sometimes, remember how things used to be?"

Her question hangs in the air for a moment, as I consider her meaning. Is she talking about when we had our happy little foursome – me and Lilly, her and Duncan? Or is she talking about even before then, before Lilly?

God, it's hard to remember life before Lilly. Almost as hard as it's been to live life after Lilly.

Then again, that's hardly true. But the fact still remains that I have few happy memories of my life before Lilly. And the few that I do have – or, rather, the one that springs to mind – involves Veronica.

"Sometimes," I reply ambiguously, debating how much I should share.

Her continuing silence causes me to pull my eyes from the road. She's looking at me expectantly – she's waiting for me to elaborate.

"You probably don't remember this," I begin awkwardly, wondering how to start, "but the first day we met ... ?"

"It was after a soccer game," she responds slowly, as she relives the memory herself. "We had just won the championship, so our coach was taking us out for a celebratory dinner at McDonald's. You were there with your parents."

"Yeah, Mom had promised me McDonald's that morning. Dad didn't want to go – he said it was too plebian, a restaurant below the stature of the great Aaron Echolls. He certainly loved making nice with your whole soccer team though."

She chuckles in response, and I feel a warm feeling spread through my body. I had forgotten what it feels like to get such an emotional rush from making someone happy.

"What made you think of that moment? I mean, it was McDonald's – hardly anything that's worthy of remembering forever."

"Yeah, well, there was this adorable girl there in a green and white soccer uniform. She was my first friend who didn't give a damn about my dad's movie career or about the fact that he was the famous Aaron Echolls."

"I was only nice because you shared your fries with me," she jokes, and I groan melodramatically in response.

"You hungry?" she asks suddenly, motioning towards the golden arches approaching in the distance.

"Always," I reply. "But this time, you're buying."

maybe this time is different / i mean i really think you like me

END