Part 5

There was very little of lunch period left by the time Veronica had taken her painkillers and Logan stopped scrutinizing the label of the medicine bottle and the suspicious dent on the cap that Veronica confessed resulted from her trying to pry open the too tightly sealed container with one hand and a bottle opener. After closing the locker door, Logan propelled her towards one of the empty classrooms.

Veronica's cheeks were flushed as she stepped inside. In her mind, the possibility of someone seeing them was not far. She would have mentioned it had Logan not already set her expectations that he was not going to agree to secrecy anymore. When he sat down, Veronica noted the way his jaw was still tense and his hands were still fisted at his sides.

"Are you still bothered by those clippings?" she asked tentatively. Had it been her, they would have definitely bothered her.

"It bothers the hell out of me that I couldn't kick the shit out of Dick," he pointed out.

"Stop thinking about me for a second and tell me what really bothers you, Logan," Veronica told him. "That's the only way to de-stress."

Logan looks at her with half-hooded eyes. She had the same pleading look that she had when she clutched his shirt on the beach the night he got pissing drunk after Lilly had dumped him. He always got uncomfortable when Veronica got that look. It was as if he could not keep anything secret from her. He hated that look. It made him lose all power. That look chopped off his balls. She had used it once and he fell for it completely.

iVeronica looked around and then glowered at Logan, who stumbled on the sand. He fell to his knees and cursed the mound of sand that caused him to fall. She knelt down on then commanded him, "Get up."

He pushed her away, or rather tried to. Alcohol made you lose muscle power. "Go away. You're not my mother," he mumbled.

Veronica gasped, then bit her lip. She blinked away the tears that had gathered. "Get up, Logan. I can't believe you got drunk."

"You don't know what happened," he retorted.

"I know Lilly broke up with you," Veronica told him, feeling betrayed.

"How you know?" Logan demanded. "What little snitch came running off at the mouth?"

"Duncan told me when he passed by my house and asked me to go out with him," Veronica informed Logan, whose head was now lolling sideways. "And you know what? Maybe I should've gone with him instead of waiting for you get here drunk just because the girl you were going to break up with broke up with you first!"

"You wanna leave?" Logan repeated. "Then go and date Duncan Kane. He's a better choice than me anyway."

Veronica swallowed back her tears and stared at him lying down on the sand face up. She waited several heartbeats. When he didn't move, she stood up. "Okay." Veronica started to walk away.

She was halfway down the beach when she stumbled at the weight of someone's body propelling onto her back. Then, tight arms surrounded her and she could not move. "Logan," she protested when she smelled the alcohol on his breath, "get off me, okay?"

"I'm sorry," he murmured against her neck.

"That's not good enough," she answered. "You can't make me an emotional punching bag and you can't always go half-assed drunk whenever Lilly steps all over you. I'm not going to mop you all up. I've got a better chance of being treated better if I just go out with Duncan."

The arms around her tightened. "Do you mean that?" he asked sadly.

Veronica struggled out of the embrace and turned around to glare down at him. "You're really stupid," she sniffled.

"I know," he admitted. "And Duncan's got a 4.0 GPA."

"Do you know when I found out what a great grade he has?" Veronica asked rhetorically. Logan shrugged. "I've known since forever, Logan. And I know your GPA. I don't care about that. Why do you think I kissed you?"

"Because I'm hotter than he is?" he finished lamely.

Veronica closed her hands over his and pulled him down to sit on the sand. "Do you know how hard it was for me to know I liked a boy my best friend liked? She's like a sister to me, Logan. But I dated you. That's how much I like you. Don't you ever talk about Duncan being a better choice because you're not going to convince me."

"Why were you so mad tonight?"

"You promised me you'd stop drinking so much."

"And you were just going to be mad? Jesus, Veronica, even people in programs get some slack now and then. I'm sorry I broke, okay?"

Veronica shook her head. "It's not because you drank, Logan."

"Then why—"

"It's because you drank after Lilly dumped you. You were doing so well." She raised shining eyes to his, pleading him to tell her the truth. "Does Lilly affect you that much still… even when you know I'm here for you… does she still have that much power over you that you can break your promise to me?"

Logan's eyebrows furrowed. He looked down at her fingers grasping his shirt and saw that her knuckles had turned white. He met her gaze. "No!" he said earnestly. "God, no! You think—"

She nodded. "You're still in love with Lilly. You're always gonna be. I don't blame you. Lilly's like this… shining, vibrant, exciting, beautiful—"

His hand closed around her nape and he pulled her up for a kiss. Veronica squealed before surrendering herself to the kiss. Her fingers loosened on his shirt and she wrapped her arms around his neck. When they parted, Logan smiled and rested his forehead on hers. "That shut you up."

"That wasn't fair," she breathed.

"You were talking nonsense," he reminded her.

Veronica pulled away and looked up at him. "Why did you get drunk?"

"I got dumped by Lilly Kane," he said. She nodded. "It's not what you think, Veronica. I'm not in love with Lilly. This isn't my way of dealing with a broken heart, okay? It's much more than that."

"Okay."

"I promised you I'd break up with her and we can come out. But I had to get dumped and everyone's gonna make you the rebound girl. God, Veronica, you're so much more than that. You know Lilly. She's gonna make you the rebound girl."

"Lilly's not like that, Logan," Veronica protested.

"Lie to yourself, will you?" Logan snapped. "You know Lilly Kane, Veronica. Best friend or not, she's going to be the star. It's either you're the poor pathetic rebound girl of her leftovers or you're the manipulative bitch pretending to be her friend all the while plotting to steal her boyfriend. Either way, we lose and Lilly's the high school sweetheart."He stopped. "Wait a minute. Did you say okay earlier?"

"I did."

"Just like that?"

She took her hand in his and squeezed. "All I know is that it's okay. But you have to promise me something."

"Anything," he vowed.

"Don't," she said quickly. "Don't agree until you know what it's about. That way I know you understand what you're going to have to promise me." He nodded. "No more drinking. No more suspensions, Logan. My dad's so sold to the prospect of Duncan with his perfect grades and clean as a whistle school records. I need him to warm up to you and he's not gonna do it while he's hauling your ass around the cop cars."

Logan blinked away the alcohol clouding his brain. "Be a good boy?" he smirked.

"Can you manage that?"

And he couldn't deny that look anything. "I'll certainly try."/i

He'd come a long way since the night she cajoled that promise out of him. Logan released a heavy breath and said, "When the rumors affect my mom, it bothers the hell out of me. She's done nothing wrong and she's getting hammered by all this." Logan combed his fingers through his hair. "My mom's too emotional to deal with this."

Veronica nodded in understanding and stepped closer to him, wrapping her uninjured arm around his waist. He rested his chin on top of her head. "I'm so sorry," she breathed. "I know there wouldn't have been any rumors or news articles if it hadn't been for my dad."

He shook his head, breathing in the smell of strawberries from her hair. "You know we can't be affected by it," he advised. "Let the grownups deal with their own hell. From now on we don't care about anything unless they directly affect us, alright? I'll take care of anyone who tries to bully you because of our parents."

"No you won't." She pulled away gently and looked up at him. "I can't always be waiting around for you or Duncan to defend me. I'm gonna do it myself."

"You're such a little thing."

She arched an eyebrow at him. "Such a little thing?" she repeated. "Am I so helpless when I successfully got the two best guys in this school wrapped around my little finger?"

Logan chuckled. "I'm sure they don't all have the hots for you. Listen," he continued, "this is what I'll do. You, my dear, are going to attend Logan's School of Hard Knocks. I'm gonna teach you to be tough. By the time I'm through with you, you'll be kicking ass."

Veronica grinned. She patted the teacher's desk and Logan helped her sit up on it.

"Lesson one. Learn to snoop." Logan took a notebook and a pen and placed the notebook on her lap. He handed her the pen. "Write this down. Dick Casablancas. Took a milk bottle to bed with him until fourth grade. Peed on the bed until sixth grade. His first experience with a girl, he came in his pants." Veronica looked up wide-eyed at Logan. "Write it down, Ronnie. I'm giving you precious wisdom you can use to blackmail anyone who ever tries to bully you around. "John Enbom. Filches money from his rich grandmother's purse so he can buy ecstasy pills for each rave party."

Logan continued listing down all the trash he knew of all the 09ers. He wondered if he was breaking some sort of law doing it, but as Veronica scribbled away filing the information for later use, he decided it was all worth it if people would stop putting her down. Finally, after about eight pages of filth, Veronica tossed the pen down and complained, "My arm is going to fall off."

Logan smiled at the sight of Veronica's lower lip thrust out. He grinned and walked over to her, standing between her legs and brushing the hair away from her face. "You look gorgeous."

Veronica smiled and pulled him to her. When their lips met for a kiss, the door opened.

"What are you two doing here?"

Veronica and Logan sprung apart and they saw Hamilton Cho frowning at them from the doorway. Veronica remembered that he was hall monitor. She glanced at the clock on the wall and saw that lunch period was over. Her eyes narrowed. It was now or never. She had to show her boyfriend she had something to work with.

"I'm going to tell Clemmons that you two are in here."

"Hamilton," Veronica replied in a sweet voice, "please don't do that. I wouldn't want to have the same record that you and Marie Winters have. It would be a shame for everyone to know that you were getting it on with the admin assistant who had a copy of all the exam papers the same term you got perfect scores on all the subject tests."

Hamilton glared at Veronica. "You can't prove she gave me anything!"

"Whether I prove it or not, it won't matter. If the school board suspect you of cheating, it's all over for you and any scholarship grant you want, you know."

The Asian boy shook his head and turned away. "Just hurry up and get to class. I'm not giving you a tardy slip."

The door closed behind him and Veronica turned in openmouthed surprise to Logan. Then, she squealed in delight. Logan chuckled. "I'm impressed," he told her. "You're one tough chick!"

"I am, aren't I? You'd better be scared of me. If you cheat on me, your ass is grass!"

Logan grinned. "Where'd you get the info? I only gave you 09er stuff."

She smiled. "I have my own sources. I'm not totally useless, you know."

tbc