Title: Standstill
Author: fickledame
Rating: Strong R
Word count: 6222
Spoilers: Written after 2.9. Actually, it was written after 2.8 but then I rewrote it to fit 2.9, but I digress. Spoilers up until then, obviously.
Pairing: Logan/Veronica
Summary: "So, Veronica Mars," Logan said, breaking the silence. "If you had to get stuck in an elevator with one person on earth, who would you choose?"
Dedication: To skk670 who writes the best L/V fic ever here and who made me her first LJ friend! G
A/N: Big thanks go to my fabulous beta readers moire2 and semby.

A/N 2: Written for the Caught in the Act challenge at loveathons.

The harsh knock reverberated around the quiet hallway and Veronica used all of her willpower not to wince at the sound. The muscles in her arms began to ache with fierce intensity and she shifted the box in her arms.

The door opened quickly and Veronica was met with silence. She nervously nodded in greeting as she felt a strange need to laugh bubble up in her throat. She swallowed heavily, willing it to go away. Veronica didn't want it to end like this, but there was no way she could let this one slide, not this time.

She wiggled her toes so they were digging into the plush cream hotel carpet through her open-toed sandals and her eyes glanced away from his icy cold blue ones to drink in her lavish surroundings while she waited for him to say something. Typical Duncan, she thought. He knows exactly why I am here, yet as usual doesn't even bother to try and explain himself.

Finally she sighed tersely, breaking the awkward silence and held out the box gingerly, snapping her arms down to her sides after he snatched it from her. He glanced at the neatly folded sweater and pile of CD's poking out and then looked at her questioningly. Her eyes narrowed.

"Don't play the innocent," she said firmly.

Veronica spun on her heel and was just about to walk away when the door opened wider and Logan stepped out into the hallway past Duncan. He shot Logan a disgusted look and stalked off back into the hotel room, leaving Logan standing by the door.

"Leaving so soon?" he asked with a sardonic smirk on his face.

Veronica nodded and set off down the hallway at a brisk pace, her arms wrapped tightly around her middle. She heard the door close behind her, but didn't look back. She reached the end of the corridor and stabbed the button to call the elevator.

The door opened silently, oiled to perfection and Veronica stepped in. She turned to choose a floor and jumped when she found Logan standing directly behind her.

He quirked an eyebrow in amusement and pressed the first floor button. "Well, that must have been fun."

"Not really," Veronica mumbled as the elevator jarred to life and began its slow decent.

"You've turned breaking up with someone into an art," Logan pointed out.

"He can't just be honest with me! What else is he hiding from me? You know, he never told his parents we were dating."

The side of her fist hit the wall, punctuating her last words angrily. She grimaced, realising she had just spilt that embarrassing bit of information to the last person on earth she'd want to confide in.

Logan nodded, a look akin to sympathy shining in his warm brown eyes, and she turned away. She could handle his sarcasm, his harsh words or even his acting like a complete jackass, but not pity.

A shrill grating noise suddenly filled the space between them and they both cringed. The elevator began to shudder like a mini earthquake. Veronica felt Logan's hand grab her arm in a strong grip, although she wasn't sure if the gesture was for his own comfort or if he was comforting her. The lights flickered briefly before the scraping noise stopped and the elevator shuddered to a standstill.

"Great," Veronica muttered as she reached out and opened the small metal door marked 'emergency phone.'

"Hello?" she said briskly and waited for the cheery receptionist's voice to answer before explaining that they were stuck in the presidential suite's elevator.

"We will get someone there to fix it as soon as possible," the lady breezily informed her. "I'm afraid there have been a number of power shortages all over the hotel and the maintenance team are working as hard as they can, but are extremely stretched. It's possible there will be a long wait; however there are emergency supplies in the compartment behind the telephone. We do apologise for the inconvenience." Veronica stared agape at the phone in her hand before hanging it back on the hook. Inconvenience? How long were they expected to wait?

"So, Veronica Mars," Logan said, breaking the silence. "If you had to get stuck in an elevator with one person on earth, who would you choose?"

An unexpected smile crossed her lips. "James Dean."

"Ah, the rebel himself." Logan smirked, sliding down the wall until he hit the floor with a bump. "Might as well get comfortable,"

"And who would you like to get stuck in an elevator with?" Veronica asked, joining him cross legged on the scratchy green carpet.

"Hm, I like to keep my options open," Logan said airily. "You aren't claustrophobic, are you? Hysterical women aren't my thing."

Veronica rolled her eyes. "I'm not the hysterical woman in this relationship," she said, giving him a pointed look as she imitated one of his wild gestures. Shit, did I just say relationship?

"Relationship?" Logan replied immediately, his fingers curling into quotation marks as he mocked her.

"Hand quotes? You're such a girl," Veronica smirked and he glowered at her in response.

Veronica stood up suddenly and reached behind the telephone for the box that was lodged there. She prised it out slowly, using her nails and triumphantly sat down with the treasure in her hands. She was nearer to him now. He would only have to lean across an inch or two and…

"Supplies," she clarified to Logan, who lounged back against the mahogany wall. The white box opened with a click and she put it between them to survey the contents.

"First aid kit, flashlight, dried fruit, crackers, Kendal mint cake and water," Veronica reeled off. "Feel the excitement. Isn't this hotel supposed to be luxury? Where's the champagne and truffles?"

Logan laughed before he slipped his hand inside his inner jacket pocket and produced a large silver flask, shaking it around with a flourish. "I can't do champagne, but I do have this."

Veronica rolled her eyes with an exasperated sigh, fighting the urge to lecture him. It's not like he'd listen to me anyway, she thought. So what if Lamb would love to add underage drinking to the list of charges currently against him? It's Logan's choice.

His eyes danced in amusement as he watched the internal battle play out on her face.

"The Pollyanna routine is getting boring," he smirked, unscrewing the cap and taking a swig of the burning liquid. He held it out to Veronica.

"No, thank you." she said firmly.

"Suit yourself," He put the lid back on and discarded it next to the open box. His shoe began to tap on the wall in an off-beat rhythm. A second later he added to it with his knuckles rapping on the lid. He stopped abruptly when he noticed the furious glare Veronica had trained on him.

"I'm bored," Logan declared.

"It's been three minutes," Veronica hissed, "How could you possibly be bored?"

"Short attention span?" he shrugged. "You could always entertain me."

"How do you make everything sound like a sexual proposition?" Veronica asked.

Logan snorted. "You totally brought up sex first." He shot her a grin as he added, "I owe myself ten dollars."

Her head fell back against the wall as she brought her hand across her mouth, hiding her smile. "Logan," she groused. "You make bets with yourself? That's just sad."

They fell into a comfortable silence, the only sound a sloshing noise as Logan drank from his flask.

"I heard about your fight with Weevil," Veronica said conversationally.

"Yeah, he said he knows I didn't kill Felix," Logan replied.

"So the fight was just for fun? I see your bruises are almost healed."

"I heal quickly," Logan glanced around the wooden panelled enclosure. "Is it just me, or is it getting hotter in here?" He slipped his leather jacket off and threw it into the opposite corner.

"Yeah, it is. Think we'll suffocate and die?" Veronica joked, before pointing up to an air vent.

"It would be a tragic Romeo and Juliet ending, would it not?" Logan said.

Oh what the hell, Veronica decided as she reached out and grabbed the flask to take a long drink of it. "Um-hm," she agreed, her eyes shining as she coughed at the strength. Her expression twisted into one of disgust but she took another gulp.

Veronica shifted her weight, her back beginning to ache. The carpet was well worn and cheap, a contrast to the glowing, stained-wood panelling surrounding them. She glanced around before her gaze settled on his crumpled jacket. Logan's intense stare seemed to be focused on the ceiling, so she quietly reached out and grabbed it.

She subtly caressed the soft, expensive leather under her fingertips as she spread it out, settling back on it. Veronica had loved it when he bought it during the past summer, stealing it to wear herself a few times, even though it was much too big for her. She remembered a time when they had had an intense make-out session on his couch and she had ended up only wearing the jacket and her underwear and his fingers… She looked away as a blush crept across her cheeks.

"Help yourself," he grumbled sarcastically. "So, what exactly was Duncan hiding from you?"

She shot him an exasperated look, her hair shining underneath the soft florescent light as she tucked it behind her ear. Logan held back the urge to reach out and touch the silky golden tresses and took another drink to occupy himself. He couldn't actually think of anything worse than being locked up in an elevator with Veronica Mars. It was hard enough to control himself when he spent a few minutes with her, let alone an extended amount of time.

"Does it matter?" she asked, her pink lips slightly parted as she sighed and Logan wished he could brush his own lips across them, draw that breathy moan out of her that he loved so much.

"I'm sure it does to you."

Veronica looked at him in surprise, hearing no hint of sarcasm behind his words. She took another long mouthful of the flask and felt her head begin to buzz gently. God, I'm such a lightweight, she complained to herself. Certainly don't take after Lianne.

"Meg is pregnant. No prizes for guessing who the father is," she found herself confessing. Logan's eyebrows rose in shock as he took the flask from her and took a long swig of the drink before handing it back to her. "I should have guessed; every time her name comes up he gets all weird. He loves her."

"He's crazy," Logan said sharply.

Veronica found herself unable to say anything as their eyes locked. She could see the raw emotion playing out across his face and her breath hitched before she felt she had to break the look. She looked down awkwardly at her splayed hand, noting where her nail polish had chipped at the edge. I really have to redo the coat tonight, she decided, if we're out by then.

Veronica wiped a bead of sweat off her forehead, gently puffing her hair up with her breath. She took another long drink from the flash. "This? So not cooling," she said, handing it back to him for his turn.

"You could take off your jacket." Logan pointed out, fanning himself with his hand.

His voice sounded further away than normal, as she unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it off. Her head felt a little buzzed and she leaned against the wall, breaking a piece of the mint cake off and slipped in into her mouth.

"Ugh," she complained, "tastes like cardboard."

"What were you expecting? It's probably been in there for years," Logan pointed out.

"I dunno," she replied slowly and he quirked an eyebrow.

No witty comeback? No sarcasm? It took him a second longer than it should have to realise her cheeks had a slightly pink tinge to them. Why, could Miss Mars possibly have had a few drops too many?

When she reached out for another drink, Logan knew he should have stopped her - told her to drink the water instead and let her sober up. But his own head was beginning to feel a little lighter and everything seemed a little blurry. So instead he pushed the flask nearer to her. Just to be helpful.

Veronica began to fan herself with the packet of crackers, her skin glowing lightly as she wiped her hand across her forehead for a second time. She threw the packet down in frustration when she realised it wasn't getting her any cooler and began to undo the first two buttons of her white shirt. Logan watched her progress carefully, as it took her three attempts to catch the button through the hole.

The air felt thick and heavy. Moving his hand in front of his face just meant the hot air was being moved around, as opposed to creating cooler air. It felt like a damn sauna. Logan glanced at Veronica who was leaning back with her eyes closed.

"Hope you don't mind," Logan said and she looked at him.

"Mind what?" she asked when he didn't elaborate any further.

He leant forward and pulled his dark green t-shirt up over his head, balled it up and threw it next to her jacket. Her eyes unwillingly lingered on his abs as the spicy smell of his aftershave wafted across the heady air. She breathed it in deeply, recalling the scent fondly.

"I never loved him, you know," she slurred, her mouth working faster than her brain.

"Thanks for the share," Logan snapped back. "Now we can all learn and grow."

There was silence for a second before her hand trailed back to her shirt button and she began to work on the next one. It popped open and her hand trailed down to the one underneath.

She has to stop - right now, Logan decided.

"God, I'm so hot," Veronica murmured, successfully parting the button from the material. "Logan, are you hot?"

"You have no idea," he muttered through clenched teeth, watching through half-lidded eyes as she started on the next button, her green tartan skirt rising an inch as she leaned back. He suddenly lurched forward, his hand snapping around her wrist and she jumped in surprise.

"Unbutton one more and I'm going to end up molesting you right here on the elevator floor," he informed her desperately before adding, "Your choice."

A slow smile spread across her ruby lips as she flicked her hair away from her damp neck. Her perfectly arched eyebrow rose at the challenge and Logan's mouth went dry. Her hand leisurely began to flick open each one, occasionally missing in her drunken haze, but within what seemed like a few minutes to Logan, he could see the lacy white bra peeking out in-between the shirt and most of her flat stomach.

His jaw set and he gradually expelled a lungful of air. "Veronica," he said warningly. She grinned teasingly and he jerked when she reached out and unfastened the metal button to the top of his jeans. Her eyes seemed looked like deep, swirling pools as he felt himself draw nearer.

"It's scorching in here, Logan," she said, accentuating each word, as he cautiously watched her lips. "We're gonna melt." She seemed to move towards him as she said it, until he could feel her minty breath on his face.

It was like there was something psychically pushing him to fill the gap between them, as he leant forward and brushed his lips across hers. Her eyes snapped shut as she moved forward onto his lap and her lips crushed against his until her lips parted and his tongue was in her mouth in an instant.

He moved backwards as they kissed, until she was lying on top of his leather jacket. Her legs twisted around him, pulling him as close as possible. He pushed her shirt off completely until they were skin to skin, the moisture causing them to stick together as he ground his hips against hers. She bucked against him, desperate for friction as he unclasped her bra.

His hand ran down the length of her body until he reached the end of her pleated skirt. He slid his hand up her thigh and pulled her panties away. His lips found her aching nipple as he slipped his finger inside her; a satisfied look crossing his face as she shuddered. He began to move slowly and she moaned, raising her hips to meet him for more pressure.

Logan moved leisurely down her, his mouth trailing across warm skin. He put his other hand on her hip and replaced his finger with his tongue to which made her groan in response, her head snapping back as her vision burst white.

"Logan," she murmured when her rapid breathing had begun to slow down, and her hands slid down his ribs until she reached his jeans. Her heels dug into him as she began to push the denim away. "Do you have…?"

"Mm, in my wallet," he confirmed, breaking contact to rummage through his jeans pocket until he slipped out the packet. He tore it open with his teeth.

"Hurry up," she moaned and he smirked, looking at her flushed gaze as he crawled back up her body. He hesitated for a moment, feeling her chest rise and fall as her heart thudded against him. Her arms wrapped around his neck as she moved up to meet his lips, his hands tangling through her silky hair.

A loud bang startled them and they began to draw away when the elevator doors suddenly parted with their well-oiled efficiency. A rush of cool, welcomed air filtered through.

A workman stared at them, his mouth slightly agape. He waved his hand which held a screwdriver as Veronica buried her face in Logan's neck, his body helpfully covering her own.

"Sorry it took so long," the workman stuttered. "All fixed now."

Logan smirked as the overall-clad man frantically jabbed at the button on the outside of the elevator and the doors slid back shut.

"Oh god," Veronica mumbled into his neck. "I can't leave, ever."

Logan gently prised her fingers apart which were gripped tightly behind his neck, and handed her the shirt he fetched from the corner.

She busied herself pulling on clothes, trying to ignore the fact she had drunk entirely too much. When she looked back up, her cheeks still flushed pink, Logan was dressed again and was holding out her jacket. As she took it, her hand brushed over his briefly and she felt a tingle go down her spine.

"Ready?" Logan said.

"No," she replied, standing anyway. He pressed the open doors button and waited for a second for the doors to open of their metal prison. The workman had disappeared and the floor was blessedly empty.

Veronica's gaze was firmly on the floor as she said, "If I take the stairs, I can go out the back way."

Logan smiled coldly when he realised Veronica was going to do what she did best – leave. He gave her a brief nod and turned around on his heels and began to walk down the echoing corridor with a purposeful stride. How can she just do that? Switch between the hot and cold routine whenever she feels like it? he thought in disappointment.

He felt a warm hand clutch his arm and he whirled back around, almost knocking over an unsteady Veronica.

"What?" he began angrily, but suddenly she was stretching up on her toes, her arms pulling him to her mouth. Their tongues met in fierce battle as his fingers gripped tightly around her slim hips and their bodies pressed together firmly. They broke away and her head rested under his chin as they both gasped for breath.

"So," Veronica said, pulling herself together and smoothing down her shirt that had gotten even more crumpled. "I'll see you around?"

Logan opened the door to the presidential suite, his nerves tingling with pent up energy.

"Wanna play some GTA?" he called, reaching out and flicking the lights on.

Duncan lay sprawled across the couch with Kendall straddling him, her red dress flung out on the floor, looking like a grotesque pool of blood in the dim light. Duncan turned to look at Logan sheepishly as Kendall sat back shamelessly.

"Care to join us, lover?" she inquired, running her long fingernail between her breasts seductively.

"As tempting as having a threesome with my best friend isn't, I'll pass," Logan said, waving his hand with a flourish with a mock grimace on his face. "Interesting choice, Duncan."

The high pitched ring of the telephone cut out whatever answer Duncan was slowly formulating and Logan snatched it off the hook, turning as Kendall climbed off Duncan and began to shimmy into her dress.

"'Lo?" he greeted.

"Is that Duncan?" asked a female voice Logan didn't recognise.

"Well, aren't you just popular with the ladies tonight," Logan said and held out the phone to Duncan, who had managed to pull his pale blue boxers back on.

Duncan calmly took the phone and wandered off into his bedroom with the cordless phone.

Kendall smiled, wiggling her hips as she stalked up to Logan, placing her hands on his hips and pushing herself against him.

"Want to scratch an itch?" she asked in a low voice, tossing her dark hair over her shoulder.

"You can get prescription for that, you know," Logan replied, carefully peeling her hands from him and dropping them distastefully.

The door the Duncan's room suddenly flew back open and Duncan hurried back in, now wearing pants and half way through buttoning his shirt. He looked around frantically for his shoes and yanked them on without bothering to put on socks.

"What is it?" Logan asked worriedly.

"That was Meg's sister," Duncan said, grabbing his key card and opening the door. "She woke up."

Veronica strode briskly down the brimming Neptune High corridor. She could hear snatches of gossip from the over-excited students as she made her way to her locker.

"They said she'll have to relearn everything…"

"Did you hear about Duncan Kane and Veronica Mars?"

"My mother's friend works as an orderly at the hospital and she said Manning's knocked up…"

"No, I heard Duncan totally dropped her as soon as he heard about Meg…"

"Do you think she will have brain damage?"

She reached her locked and quickly began to enter the combination. Deep breaths, Veronica, she told herself. You can get through today relatively unscathed. Without using any of your kick-ass karate chop moves. She caught sight of Mac heading towards her and gave her a relieved wave.

"Morning," Mac greeted, holding out a paper coffee cup. "I thought you might need this."

"You are a lifesaver," Veronica said, eagerly indulging in the caffeine hit as they turned and began heading towards class.

"That I am," Mac replied, looking pointedly at Veronica. "Come on," she begged.

Veronica sighed with a teasing smile, "You want the details, huh?" They reached Veronica's classroom and stopped. "There really isn't much to tell. I broke up with Duncan when I found out Meg was pregnant. Then, she woke up."

"It's true?" Mac gasped, "I thought the pregnancy thing was a rumour."

"Well now, anyone would think nothing exciting had ever happened here. You know like, movie stars committing murder, a bus plummeting off a cliff, bomb scares…" Logan interjected, stepping in-between them to go through the doorway into the classroom. Mac glanced past him and caught sight of Cassidy sat at his desk and smiled. He enthusiastically waved back and Veronica stifled a laugh, softly humming Love is in the Air under her breath, resulting in Mac smacking her in the arm.

"Veronica, are you joining us anytime soon?" Mr. Pope called out from the classroom.

"See ya," she said to Mac, mimicking Cassidy's wave as she went into the classroom and slipped into her seat.

Mr. Pope began clicking buttons to get his beloved chart up on the projector.

"How's your stock doing, Cassidy?" she asked.

"It was doing well yesterday," he replied. "But so was yours."

"Yeah?" Veronica said, looking pleased.

"I know Miss Mars and Mr. Casablancas are impatient to know who took the lead today," Mr. Pope gave an amused smile as he clicked his button, bringing up a pink and yellow line. "By a very slim margin, Miss Mars has made it for the first time in three days."

Cassidy pretended to scowl at Veronica before he broke out into a warm smile, "Congrats," he said.

"Thank you," Veronica replied, leaning back in her chair. She glanced sideways apprehensively, past Duncan's empty chair to Logan, who was absently doodling on his paper. He didn't look up and she quickly looked ahead before he noticed her gaze.

"And at a surprise to us all, the new stocks Dick entered last week have risen considerably in the past few days, placing him third," Mr Pope said.

"Dick? Dick Casablancas?" Veronica repeated in shock.

"Yes, Miss Mars. How many other Dicks are there in the class?" Mr Pope replied.

"I can think of another," Veronica answered quickly and Logan let out a bark of laughter. Mr Pope shot a disapproving look at the two of them as he began to pull up the rest of the class's lines.

The chair's stuffing was bursting out of deep gashes in the stained green upholstery and a spring dug sharply into Veronica's leg. She shifted over, but one of the spring's distant cousins stuck her in the other side. She took a deep breath, her face scrunching in distaste at average hospital stench, the choking aroma of stale food, vomit and other unidentifiable odours, and exhaled. She was exhausted, but there was no way to get comfortable. The biggest obstacle, though, wasn't the chair or the smells wafting through the hospital. No, the biggest obstacle between Veronica and sleep was the rhythmic beeping from the monitor hooked up to Meg's enlarged stomach. Its constant beep was a jolting reminder of her boyfriend's -- ex-boyfriend's -- deception.

Meg's face was wan and dark shadows surrounded her closed eyes. Her hair fell in limp strands across her forehead, the dark blonde contrasting with her ashen skin.

Veronica moved the flowers in her hand and laid them to rest on the table nearest her. Glancing around, she looked for a vase but there seemed to be none about. Movement caught her eye and she looked back at Meg, whose eyelids had opened and her gaze seemed to focus on the ceiling for a second, before coming to rest on Veronica. For a second, Veronica froze. What could she say to her? What would Meg do?

"You came," Meg said, her voice surprisingly strong.

"Yeah, I brought flowers." she said uneasily, gesturing at them. "I can go…"

"No, Veronica, don't. Please listen," Meg said, her hand falling onto Veronica's. "I'm so sorry; I was such a bitch to you,"

"It's fine," Veronica assured her in relief. "Really."

"I had just found out I was pregnant, and seeing you with Duncan…" Meg trailed off, looking at the flowers. "Thank you, they're pretty."

"I can leave you to sleep," Veronica offered, beginning to stand up.

"Please stay," Meg asked and Veronica hovered awkwardly for a second before sitting down heavily again. "My parents want to put my child up for adoption," she said, her blue eyes shining in sadness.

"They can't do that," Veronica said firmly. "Duncan will stand by you; he'll help."

Meg frowned, "Aren't you two…?"

"No," Veronica cut off firmly. There was an awkward pause for a moment before Veronica took a deep breath. "So, Meg," she began hesitantly, "what exactly do you remember about the crash?"

"Not much," Meg replied, biting her lip in concentration. "I remember a loud noise and screaming, then I'm pretty sure I hit my head because I don't remember hitting the water. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful…"

"It's okay," Veronica said quickly. "We're still trying to figure out what happened."

"My parents said the driver killed himself," Meg said with a confused expression. Veronica shook her head slowly. A small smiled crossed Meg's lips. "A conspiracy, huh?"

Veronica let out a laugh, "Yeah, probably." She leant down and picked up her bag. "It's been a long day; I'm going to go home and shower before I go to work," she explained.

"Thanks for coming, Veronica. It meant a lot," Meg replied, her eyes already fluttering shut.

Veronica turned and left the room, ducking past the nurses station so they wouldn't tell the Manning's she had been there. She walked down the sterile, clean corridor with its unfriendly white walls. Visiting hours were almost over and the corridors were empty, her shoes making a tapping noise that echoed around the hollow expanse.

"Veronica?" she heard a voice call out and she span around to see Duncan standing by a doorway. He looked scruffy, his shirt was wrinkled and dark stubble coloured his chin.

"Hello," she said, her face giving away no expression to clue him into how she was feeling.

"Been to see Meg?" he asked, running his hand through his hair.

She nodded and began to turn away when he said, "Stop!" He hurried forward to fill the space in between them. He put his hand on her arm. "I didn't know she was pregnant."

"Oh?" Veronica asked, "You visit daily and you managed to miss her rapidly expanding stomach?"

He looked at her blankly for a moment before he protested, "I didn't want to hurt you."

"Did a fantastic job there," Veronica said sarcastically and his grip tightened on her arm for a fraction of a second before it relaxed again.

"I didn't know what to say. How could I tell you something like that?" he asked.

"Well, you could have said, 'Veronica, I've got to tell you something - Meg's pregnant.' There, wasn't so hard, was it?"

"Do you have to be so sarcastic all the time?" Duncan snapped.

"Do you have to keep secrets from me all the time?" Veronica retorted.

"Like you tell me all your secrets," Duncan said, his hand dropping to his side.

"I tell you the important stuff," Veronica defended. "You don't seem particularly interested in the rest. Or, any of it really."

Duncan's eyes narrowed, "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It's supposed to mean you aren't interested in me for who I am. You remember someone who's gone now." Veronica said, her hands flying out to emphasise her point. "I had this image of you, I thought you were honest, sincere and safe, but I guess I just saw what I wanted to,"

"We can't be over, Veronica. Will you explain to me why you are doing this?" Duncan asked.

She took a step back. "You don't make me feel safe at all, not anymore. With your fake smiles and your quiet lies, you've hurt me way worse than Logan ever did. You think if you ignore a problem, pretend it doesn't exist, it will disappear! It doesn't work like that, Duncan. I can't be with someone like that, someone who doesn't embrace the messy reality that life is. Life is chaotic and you can't disregard it. And everything is not alright."

"Everything is alright!" Duncan screamed, grabbing her arms and yanking her forward until she could feel his breath on her face as he spat every word. "You're the one that has to make a big deal out of everything, acting like it's the end of the world Meg got herself pregnant. It doesn't have to affect us, but you make it seem like it's a life or death situation." Veronica wriggled, trying to pull out of his tight, bruising grip.

"Duncan," she hissed, "let go of me." His grip tightened further in response. Her heart felt like it was going to hammer out of her chest as she looked into his cold blue eyes. Is this what Jake saw in Duncan when he tried to strangle his own father? Her nails dug into the tops of his arms in an attempt for freedom. He didn't even flinch when she drew blood.

"You want messy and real? Go back to Logan," he snarled, shoving her backwards into the wall with a smack. "When that goes to hell, let me know. I'll be waiting."

He spun on his heel and stalked off. She sank to the floor, one hand on her head that was pulsating in pain and the other rubbing her bruised arm.

"Goddamn it," she mumbled under her breath.

Veronica stabbed the red button on her phone to hang up in annoyance as Logan's phone switched to voicemail.

"You've reached Logan and here's today's inspirational message: It's lonely at the top, but it's comforting to look down upon everyone at the bottom."

Veronica rolled her eyes as she threw her phone onto the passenger seat and leaned back, flicking the radio on. A ballad was playing softly, proclaiming love and she angrily switched it back off.

Her phone suddenly lit up as it began to ring and she hastily picked it up.

"Logan? Will you meet me at the beach please?" she asked, despising the needy way her voice sounded.

"I'll be there in a minute," he agreed and the dial tone sounded as he hung up. Veronica turned the ignition on fully and the engine spluttered to life. She backed her car out of the hospital parking lot and drove the short distance to the beach. She pulled up by the side of the road and climbed out.

The wind whipped her hair around her face and she tucked it behind her ear. The salty sea air was refreshing as she walked slowly onto the beach, relishing in the soft feel of the sand beneath her shoes. Dusk was settling on Neptune, casting an eerie glow across the ocean, obscuring the horizon. She spotted a woman walking her dog further down the beach, but otherwise it was deserted.

Veronica sat down on the sand, her knees tucked up and her elbow resting on them. She felt emotionally exhausted, like she just wanted to lie down and cry, or jump up and run along the beach screaming like a mad woman. The second option was definitely beginning to sound tempting but then she heard a car pull up and the sound of a door opening and closing.

"You know, you could be more specific when you say 'beach'," Logan pointed out when she heard footsteps nearing her.

"I knew you would find me," she replied softly as he threw himself down next to her.

"I'd say something cheesy like 'I'll always find you', but really I just spotted your car and…"

"Logan," she interrupted. "I get it."

She sighed softly and looked at him. His forehead was creased in concern as he drank in her pale face and weary demeanour. His eyes slid further down and they suddenly narrowed.

"What's that on your arm?" he asked, gently taking the arm nearest him. He leaned forward and glanced at her other arm, seeing it had the same dark bruises around it. "What the hell?"

"It's nothing," She then buried her head further into his green shirt, his arm wrapping around her slim body and sighed as she realized she could hardly not tell him the truth when she had just accused Duncan of keeping secrets.

"Duncan got a bit mad," she informed him quietly.

She felt him stiffen. His hand ran through her silky blonde hair in a comforting gesture as his thumb lightly soothingly ran across her hand. Veronica knew how would feel about that bit of information, but couldn't bring herself to regret telling him. He wouldn't exactly have any sympathy after living with Aaron Echolls all his life. She glanced up at him and saw his jaw was set in anger.

"Logan?" she said, her voice cracking with the effort not to cry. "Do you still want to be with me?"

He took awhile to answer, his hands never stopping their movements. Her stomach twisted in nervous anticipation as he ran his fingers through her hair. She flicked at a tan coloured pebble in the sand, sending it skidding down the beach.

"Yeah, but I don't think you're ready," he finally said.

She nodded slowly before agreeing, "I don't think so either."

His eyes flashed with unusual tenderness as he said, "When you are, I'll still be here."

Veronica smiled before she pressed her lips against his, her hand against his cheek as she kissed him. She broke away, "And that isn't corny?"

He laughed, "You love it, admit it, Mars." Veronica nodded and laid her head against his shoulder.

"Yeah, I do."


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