Veronica Mars was dreaming. She saw palm trees above her and realized she was laying in a hammock, swinging lazily in the breeze. She carefully sat up and swung her legs down, her feet digging into sand. A glance up and down a beach told her she was alone. A peculiar mound of sand just beyond the hammock caught her attention and she moved in for a closer look. A sand castle. Carefully kneeling next to the structure, she idly picked up a hot pink plastic pail and shovel nearby, then shrugged and set them back down. Examining the castle, Veronica realized it was the kind surrounding an open courtyard. Inside the courtyard, something was written in the sand. The nature of the message and the handwriting made Veronica gasp and her eyes combed the beach once more. She saw no one else and looked back at the writing. The 'i' in one of the words was dotted with Lilly's trademark, the flower she was named for, perfect petals curving just so. She took in the message once again - 'Logan loves Veronica'. Her breath hitched and she started sobbing, reaching out to the names and running a hand across them. The sand suddenly began undulating, seeming to rise up and brush against her.
Veronica awoke with a start, heart pounding and struggling for breath. She felt something rough and wet on her hand and the image of words in the sand came to her, but quickly faded. She sat up to find Backup licking her. She chuckled nervously then patted him on the head.
"You got me good, boy. Time for a visit outside, huh?" Backup lowered his head to her lap and panted, tongue lolling out. Veronica glanced at the clock and noted her alarm would be going off in another ten mintues anyway. She turned it off and got out of bed to dress and take Backup for his morning walk.
After a quick shower, Veronica shouldered her bag, stacked her books in the crook of her arm, and was heading out the front door when she stopped short and sighed. She turned back to the kitchen, opened a cupboard, and stuck a foil package of poptarts in her bag.
"Breakfast, the most important meal of the day," she lectured Backup as she locked the door behind her. As she approached her new car, she pressed the unclock button on the key remote, sighing in contentment as the lights blinked welcomingly. While the convertible top folded down, she tossed her stuff in the backseat. All except a music CD.
Two minutes later, she was blazing out of the apartment complex singing at the top of her lungs.
"The queerest of the queer
The strangest of the strange
The coldest of the cool
The lamest of the lame!"
When she pulled into the school parking lot, it was as if all eyes were suddenly magnetically attracted to her. She parked and grabbed her bag and books from the backseat, waiting for the car's top to close. Wallace popped up by her side, looking around and scowling at the stare mongers.
"Don't you people have classes to get to?" he shouted. Veronica grinned and gave him a peck on the cheek.
"Thanks, Wallace." Then she smacked him on the arm and mock frowned. "Don't you know better than to pay attention to them? It's like saying you believe in fairies. It just encourages them." Wallace shrugged, unconvinced, then glanced at her car and did a double take.
"Woah! This isn't your car!" Veronica laughed and linked arms with him, steering them into the building.
"It is now," she told him, digging the package of poptarts from her bag and opening it. She gave one to Wallace before continuing. "Courtesy of your friendly neighborhood psychotic jackass." Wallace took a bite from his poptart and raised an eyebrow.
"Am I gonna need a super spy decoder ring to figure that out?" Veronica lost her smile and looked suddenly sad.
"Logan came by after you left yesterday, delivered it in person. Atonement for his father's sins." Wallace stopped walking and stared at her.
"So you knew about it?" he asked. Veronica frowned at him.
"Knew about what?"
"Aaron Echolls confessed to killing Lilly Kane." Veronica grabbed his arm and dragged him into the girl's restroom, which Wallace wasn't entirely happy about. "Ah, man!" After a quick look under all the stall doors, Veronica locked the door and turned to look at Wallace.
"Now, rewind and play again." Wallace narrowed his eyes.
"You really don't know? You haven't listened to the radio or watched the news or anything?" At the shake of Veronica's head, Wallace blew out a breath. "Wow. Well, the Echolls had a big party last night, lots of press and pretty people. And afterward, Logan got his dad on tape confessing to Lilly's murder. Apparently, he was working with the D.A.'s office." Veronica sagged against the wall.
"Oh my God, that's what he meant," she said softly. Wallace squeezed her shoulder.
"You okay?" Veronica nodded and stood.
"I'll be fine, I just . . . I have to see him. Can you tell Clemmons I need another day after all?" Wallace nodded.
"Sure thing. Bring your work by after school?" Veronica gave a nod of her own.
"Sounds good, see you then." She unlocked the door and bolted outside, jumping in her car and peeling out of the parking lot. She dialed Logan's cell number while driving, but it went straight to voice mail. "Dammit," she muttered under her breath. She tried the Echolls' home number, but the answering machine picked up after a few rings and she disconnected. "Double dammit." Fifteen minutes later, she stopped her car down the road from his house, staring at the dozens of media people hovering around the driveway. She surmised there was not much point in trying to enter that way. Finally, sighing in frustration and needing a friendly face and a sympathetic ear, she headed for the hospital.
Logan glanced idly at the phone on the end table as the answering machine clicked on. Whoever it was hung up. He didn't move from his spot on the couch as he looked back to the grandfather clock in the corner, watching the pendulum as it swung back and forth. He was waiting for Trina to emerge from her bedroom so that he could attempt to explain what had happened and why. Her nightwear included a sleep mask and ear plugs. She would've been completely oblivious as their father was handcuffed, read his rights, and hauled outside to the waiting cruiser. Logan wasn't looking forward to this.
The guard outside her father's room was, luckily, not Leo and she exchanged general pleasantries while her ID was checked. When she entered she found her dad watching CNN, which was broadcasting the news of Aaron Echolls' confession.
"Hi, honey," Keith said, pointing to the television. "Guess you heard?" Veronica nodded.
"Yeah, kinda." Seeing her expression, he managed to manipulate the volume control to lower the sound.
"What's wrong?" She didn't mean to, but she immediately burst into tears and ran to him like she was five years old again. Keith frowned and put his bandaged arms akwardly around her, patting her back. When she finally calmed down, she pulled back and wiped at her face.
"Sorry," she said, sniffling. Keith shook his head.
"Everyone needs a good cry once in a while. When 'The A-Team' was cancelled, I blubbered like a baby." Veronica laughed and smacked him gently on the chest, rolling her eyes. Keith smiled and looked at looked at her. "I'm all ears." She recounted what had happened since she saw him last, ending with her pointless visit to the Echolls estate. "And I thought the boy was in bad shape yesterday." Keith sighed and paused. "Honey, I know this isn't what you want to hear, but when he's ready to see you, he'll come to you. That seems to be his way." Her dad was right, it isn't what she wanted to hear, but she knew it was true. Logan went by his own timetable. She nodded and hugged him.
"Thanks, Daddy." She took a deep breath and blew it out, smiling as a new thought came to her. "So, is Mrs. Fennel bringing lunch again today?" Keith beamed and looked longingly into space. "Yep, today we're having . . . tacos! Arriba, arriba, ayeyeyeye!" He did an impromptu flamenco dance in his hospital bed. Veronica laughed and kissed him on the cheek. "I think you should stick with the detective business. I'll see you later." She rose and walked to the door, giving a final wave over her shoulder as she left.
A door opening and closing upstairs made Logan sit up and watch the stairwell as Trina finally appeared. He set aside the pillow he'd been mauling and stood up. Trina smiled as she saw him.
"Morning, Logan," she greeted, then looked around. "Dad still in bed?" She walked past him towards the kitchen, pulling a yogurt out of the refrigerator and a spoon from a drawer.
"Um, no, he's out." Trina frowned as she ate a spoonful of yogurt.
"Out? Did he have an appointment at the courthouse? Katie didn't mention anything about it last night." Logan fidgeted.
"It was sort of a last minute thing," he said, faltering. He shook his head and took a deep breath. "Trina, he was arrested last night." She set the yogurt on the counter and looked at him.
"He was arrested." Trina shook her head impatiently.
"Yeah, I heard that part. What for?"
"For killing Lilly." Trina looked confused.
"But they don't have any proof of that." Logan looked at the ground.
"They do now," Logan said softly. Realization dawned on Trina's face.
"What did you do, Logan?"
"I talked to him, that's all," he answered, shrugging.
"And he confessed, just like that?" she asked sarcastically. Logan crossed his arms over his chest, angry now.
"Yeah, pretty much." Trina shook her head incredulously.
"You got him drunk and manipulated him is what you did!" Logan sighed.
"Will you ever see it?" he asked, lowering his arms and walking towards her. "He killed Lilly, Trina! He tried to kill Veronica and her father! He is a bad man, he always has been!" Trina backed away, disbelief still etched on her face. She suddenly stood straight and slapped him across the face.
"You stay away from me," she said, pointing at him. "You're going to regret this, little brother." She stomped up the stairs and slammed the door after entering her bedroom. A few minutes later, he heard her raised voice as she was speaking, or yelling, to someone.
'Probably blabbing on the phone to Katie,' he thought. He rubbed his cheek where she'd slapped him and shook his head ruefully. 'Oh, to be Weevil. Tooling around town on my bike with my buds. Causing misdemeanor mischief and wreaking minor havoc. That's the life.' He hurried up to his room, packed an overnight bag, and quickly left the house.
Veronica spent the rest of the afternoon running errands, grocery shopping, and doing laundry. By the time Wallace showed up, she was more than ready for the distraction of schoolwork. As they sat at the kitchen table, alternately munching snacks and being studious, Wallace looked at her, concerned.
"Did you ever talk to Logan?" Veronica paused a moment, then shook her head.
"No, he didn't answer his cell or the home phone. I went to his house, but it's surrounded by paparazzi." She shrugged. "I'll just have to wait for him to come to me at this point." She pointedly started writing on one of her assignments, obviously wanting to drop the subject. So he brought up another one.
"Don't know whether you'll care or not, but I thought I'd warn you before school tomorrow." Veronica looked up questioningly. "Duncan dumped Meg. The rumor is that it's because of you." Veronica sighed.
"Poor Meg." She shook her head. "This is high school, the fun and carefree years! Why can't I be normal, Wallace? I would make the most kick ass normal person." Wallace looked at her skeptically.
"I can't picture you being normal. It just wouldn't be . . . well, normal." Veronica laughed and they went back to their work. They finished up and parted ways at the front door, promising to meet in the parking lot before school the next day. When she finally crawled into bed that night, she tried Logan's cell again. It rang this time, but he didn't pick up. The voicemail eventually clicked on.
"Instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would be nearer the mark to say that man is the architect of circumstance. Thomas Carlyle. Leave it if ya gotta."
Veronica sighed and almost disconnected, but decided to leave a message.
Logan was laying on the motel bed with all the lights off, staring at the ceiling as passing cars made shadows move along the walls. He'd foregone getting a fancy hotel room, he wasn't in the mood to deal with solicitous employees. He preferred rude and disinterested. Besides, The Camelot held a certain appeal for him . . . and the memories weren't bad either. He'd requested a room on the second floor. As he'd walked to his room, he passed by the spot where he and Veronica had shared their first kiss. He stood there a moment, running a hand along the railing. Then he felt silly and shook himself, entering his room and closing the door firmly behind him. Five minutes later, he'd opened the curtains so he could see the same spot. He'd stared until the sun went down.
His cell phone rang and he dug it out of his jacket pocket. Veronica's name appeared on the caller ID. He ran a finger along the display screen, but didn't answer and dropped it beside him on the bed. A few minutes later, his phone buzzed, indicating he had a message. He hesitated a moment, but finally picked the phone up and called in to access the message. He closed his eyes and smiled as he heard her voice.
"Logan, it's Veronica. I heard about the confession. I can't even imagine what it took for you to do that, despite what your father did to Lilly . . . and to you. I just - well, there really isn't anything I can say or do to make it better. Just be safe and . . . I'll see you around, I guess. 'Bye." Logan sighed deeply and let the phone fall back to the bed. Then he rolled over and went to sleep.
Over the next couple of weeks, very little was seen of Logan Echolls. Wallace's position as office aid made him privy to a few details, including the fact that Logan had a home tutor to finish up his junior year. Aaron Echolls had decided against a trail and accepted a plea bargain from the D.A. His lawyer, Katie Campbell, was vehemently against that, as was his daughter, but Aaron's decision was final. Trina Echolls publically denounced her brother, claiming he'd purposely forced their father to confessing to the murder of Lilly Kane because he was angry about the affair. No one really paid her any mind though in light of Aaron's confession.
Veronica dutifully attended school every day, excelled in her classes, and hung out with Wallace. The other students actually tried to welcome her back into the fold, but she politely bowed out. She had liked it better when everyone ignored her. Her dad came home from the hospital with loads of book and television mini-series offers which left him shaking his head in amusement. There was a rumor that the position of sheriff was going to be offered to him when Lamb's term ran out, but Keith preferred the leeway awarded to him by the p.i. business.
The week of school finals rolled around and Veronica had, unfortunately, overslept from studying so late the night before. Someone had taken her usual parking space and she had to park out in Timbuktu and make a run for the building. Wallace was waiting for her, tapping his watch and then bringing it to his ear as if listening to it.
"My watch has to be broken, because Veronica Mars is never late." Veronica smiled apologetically.
"Sorry, sorry, I stayed up too late studying for physics. Forgot to set my alarm. You're lucky I actually opened my eyes before noon," she told him as they walked down the hall. "And don't even get me started on the extra credit assignment for English Lit." Wallace smiled and shook his head.
"Hey, my mom was thinking of having a barbeque at our place this weekend. Apparently, your dad likes to brag about how great he is with a grill." Veronica smiled and nodded.
"He is and that sounds fabooolus," she told him in her best flaming gay guy accent.
"And I could maybe dig out my water gun collection," Wallace said mock casually, giving her a look out of the corner of his eye. Veronica cupped her hand around her ear.
"Hark, is that a challenge I hear? We'll see who gets the most soaked, Mr. Man," she told him, smacking his shoulder. Wallace smiled as they reached her first class.
"Catch you at lunch," he told her, waving and heading off to his own first period. Veronica nodded and walked into the class, digging in her bag for the extra credit assignment that was due before the test. She couldn't find it.
"Dammit," she said under her breath. She ran back out to her car, hoping it had just fallen out of her bag and was not sitting on her desk at home. She sighed in relief as she found it under the front seat. She locked the car and turned to find Logan Echolls standing by her trunk. She stopped short and simply stared. After a few moments of silence, Logan chuckled.
"Did I just render the great Veronica Mars speechless?" He shook his head and walked closer to stand in front of her. "I didn't know such a thing was possible." Veronica deciced his demeanor wasn't hostile, simply nervous. She smiled and shrugged non chalantly.
"It happens on occasion. But you had the element of surprise, so don't go thinkin' you're all that." Logan chuckled again and stared at the ground. It was his turn to be silent. "How have you been?" she finally asked. Logan raised his head to look at her.
"I've been okay," he told her, nodding.
"So what are you doing here? I thought you had a tutor for the rest of the year."
"How did you know about that?" Veronica smiled.
"I have my connections in high places." Logan squinted an eye and pointed at her.
"Right. As I recall, I believe Wallace Fennel works in the office, does he not?"
"I never reveal my sources," she answered solemnly. Logan smiled and nodded.
"Well, I thought I'd come and take finals in person," he said, answering her earlier question and looking towards the building. "I was kind of missing the old place. I would've come earlier, but I was a bit busy. I had some legal problems with Trina." Veronica frowned.
"What do you mean?" Logan sighed.
"She's not very happy with me right now," he said, which she figured was a bit of an understatement considering Trina's press releases. "Since Dad's in jail, that makes her my legal guardian and she . . . " he trailed off and shrugged. "Mrs. Steadman, from the D.A.'s office, helped me find a child advocate lawyer and I have been officially emancipated." Veronica closed her eyes and shook her head.
"I'm so sorry, Logan," she said softly. She felt a finger on her chin and opened her eyes as Logan raised her face up to him.
"You have nothing to be sorry for," he told her. As they continued to stare at each other, Logan brushed a thumb along her cheekbone then moved his hand behind her neck, tugging gently. Veronica smiled and walked into his embrace, wrapping her arms around his waist. Oh, how she had missed him. His smell, his skin, his mind, just him. "So . . . wanna go steady?" he asked, draping his arms across her lower back. "You can wear my letter jacket," he continued, placing a kiss on her left cheek. "And my class ring," a kiss on the right cheek. "And I'll carry your books," a kiss on the tip of her nose. "And we can hold hands while skipping down the hall," he finished, kissing her forehead. He pulled back to look at her, his fingers grazing the skin between her jeans and shirt. She smiled seductively and rose on her tiptoes so that their noses were touching.
"Sounds peachy keen," she told him, going in for a kiss on the lips. Just before contact, however, she suddenly took a step back and hefted her books into his arms. "We can start now," she said brightly, turning and heading for theentrance. She looked over her shoulder at him when he didn't immediately follow. "English lit is first. Chop chop!" Logan slowly smiled and ran to catch up.
"Yes, ma'am," he said obediently, grabbing her hand and linking their fingers as they entered the building.
Author's Note: Yes, there you have it. If you're full of sadnosity, don't get your knickers in a twist. I'm sure I'll be popping out with oodles and oodles of vignettes and one-shots. Gad, I've been reading way too much Georgia Nicholson. Those crazy Brits. It was fun, ace gang!
P.S. Coming Soon: Highlights of Comic Con in San Diego!