Dancing Around the Issue

By Michael Weyer

Veronica Mars owned by UPN. This is a sequel to my story "Taking a Slice From the Other Side," imagining a relationship between Veronica and Mac. Thought I'd put up a sequel after seeing the nice dance episode and adding a little to it. All comments are welcome, mild slash alert.

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Sadie Hawkins dances. Who would have thought they'd outlast the Susan B. Anthony dollar as a symbol of the feminist movement? The classic reversal of the girl asking the guy out. Of course, I'm sure the creators didn't take into account the idea of how the girl would feel about being rejected and the crush of painful emotions it would bring.

Not that I'd know about that, of course.

Now this year's dance brings to me a unique problem. On the one hand, I don't want to ask a guy to it and have no plans to either. However, this is a person I most definitely want to spend the night dancing with. The problem of course is that by doing so, the two of us will be pushed into a spotlight that will cause the high school equivalent of the Tomkat insanity.

Veronica Mars and Cindy MacKenzie as a couple. Well, perhaps I've found the way to finally make Logan drop dead.

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"So…what are your plans for the dance?"

As Mac asked the question, Veronica was once more struck by how the computer expert matched Veronica's subtlety with a full-on approach. They were sitting in the outdoor quad at lunchtime, a routine they had been getting into for the last couple of weeks. To others, it just seemed they were chatting as friends but of course it was a lot deeper than that.

Veronica blew out a small breath. "I was somewhat hoping you'd be skating around that for a bit."

"Am I to assume you're not ready to go Ellen and Anne just yet?" Mac asked it with a small smile but Veronica could detect the trace of hope in her voice.

Veronica bit her lip. "It'll be a big step for both of us. I know what it's like to be the object of stares and nasty stories. It's not very nice and I'd hate to have you put in that position."

"I'm tougher than I seem," Mac honestly answered.

Veronica smiled. "I know you are," she softly said. "But like I said, I know what it's like for the high school rumor mill to be grinding you down. Not to mention the effect when it eventually gets to the parental units."

Mac winced. "Yeah, thanks a lot for the reminder." She sighed deeper. "I still would like to be there. With you."

Veronica was reaching for her hand when Wallace came up. "Hey, how's my gals!"

Veronica pulled the hand back a bit and smiled at him. "What brings you by?"

Wallace sat down and nodded at them. "Well, got a favor to ask. Sorry if I'm interrupting an L Word moment."

As Wallace had been the one to point out to Veronica that Mac was gay, it wasn't too surprising that he'd figured out the two were a couple pretty fast. As far as Veronica knew, he was the only one who knew about them so far, besides Beaver but seemed rather cool about it all.

"What's up now?" Veronica asked.

Wallace took a deep breath. "I think someone on the team is planning to throw the final game of the season."

Veronica stared at him for a long moment before turning to Mac. "Just once, it'd be nice to hear him ask for help with math. Just to break the routine."

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The case was the type Veronica was used to, filled with possible suspects. Wallace had noticed the play in the last few games hadn't been as good as it could have been. The team was doing well in the practice but the same plays would fall apart in a game. Neptune still won but Wallace knew they could have done it by a bigger margin.

"So you think this guy, or guys, may be trying to set the team up to take a fall in the big game for some reason?" Veronica asked.

Wallace nodded. "Yeah, I do. Problem is, I can't tell which one and if I just come out and accuse them…"

"It's not exactly the 'rah, rah' morale-booster they'd need," Veronica finished for him. "So, of course, it's up to me to find out who's got the best motive to sink us?"

"That is your lot in life here," Mac pointed out. "I suppose this means the dance arrangements are off for a bit?"

Veronica gave her an apologetic smile. "Sorry, honey, duty calls."

"Okay, dear, I'll call you later," Mac returned in the same sugary voice. Veronica had to fight the urge to plant one on her right then and there and instead patted her head before walking away.

Wallace turned to Mac, noticing the sadness that crept into the computer geek's eyes. "You really feel for her, don't you?"

Mac nodded. "Yeah, I do. I don't know why, I just do. But…"

Wallace smiled at her. "Ronnie sometimes has trouble seeing what's good for her. But she's got a good head on her shoulders. My advice to you is to keep your dance shoes out and be ready to use them."

Mac smiled at him. "You're so sweet when you stop trying to be Dave Chapelle-lite, you know that?"

"Ah, go on, you…"

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When one gets a reputation for investigating, it becomes a bit harder to engage in light conversation that segued into interrogation. Veronica was keeping in mind Wallace's words on how he didn't want the whole team too affected by what was going on.

She had talked to a couple of the players and hadn't gotten any vibe from them on shaky dealings. However, her spider-sense was triggered when chatting with one of the guards, Terry Hawkins.

"I've already talked to the school paper," the five-nine redhead told her as he changed books in his locker. "I don't know what more can be said."

"If you can't handle little old me, I'm sure you'll spectacularly with the media when you hit the big time," Veronica retorted. "I think people will be really impressed by how you did last week. Eight for seventeen, three missed passes. And you know, I have to say I'm amazed at how you scheduled a doctor's appointment for after the game."

Hawkins frowned at her. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, I saw a tape of the game," Veronica stated. "You were looking at the clock about ten times a minute. Almost like you were making sure the score was at a certain point at a certain time of the game."

Hawkins turned on her, his face growing dark. "Just what are you trying to say here, Mars?"

"Me? Oh, nothing, nothing. Just that the coach might be interested in seeing that game a little closer. And I do think the police might feel the same."

Hawkins just shut the locker door and shook his head. "Don't get involved in this, Mars. You wouldn't like the consequences."

Veronica made a show of looking at her watch. "Wow. I do believe this is a record for how fast it took for the threats. Not even going to try to make it hard for me to figure out you're guilty?"

Hawkins didn't look the least bit intimidated. "Mars, when you get a rep like yours, sooner or later, certain people know you're going to be coming after them. And sometimes, they get themselves ready."

Veronica frowned. "Are you speaking haiku? Cause I'm not getting you at all."

Hawkins just sniffed. "Just drop this now or you're going to regret it. Trust me."

Veronica just smiled at him. "Sorry, I've watched enough Celebrity Poker Showdown to know a bluff when I see it."

Hawkins' smile remained as he walked off, leaving a slightly baffled Veronica behind.

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Veronica was humming as she entered the apartment, throwing her bag aside. "Hey, Dad!" she called out. "I've just beaten your record for finding the guilty party in a case!"

Keith came out from the kitchen, his eyes fixed on some sort of papers in his hands. "Looks like we're dealing with a classic betting scam," Veronica continued as she took off her shoes. "This one kid practically signed a confession. All I gotta do is get a bit of proof and find out who he's working with and…"

Something fell into her lap, a photo. It took her a moment to realize it was of her and Mac and by the looks of it, it was somewhere in the rear of the school building. It took another moment for her to realize that the two of them were locked in each other's arms and sharing a long kiss.

Veronica's jaw dropped, her face falling and she slowly raised her head to look up at her father. Keith Mars' face was tight and Veronica could tell he was doing his best not to erupt in any way as his voice was as calm as he could make it.

"Honey. Is there something you'd like to tell me?"

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In many cases, Veronica knew, breaking it to your father that you were gay was a somewhat difficult issue that required some alcohol. As she was still a minor, ice cream would have to do.

A lot. Of ice cream. With chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherries.

Keith was flipping through the series of photographs showing Veronica and Mac together. "Found these in an envelope slipped under the office door just as I was leaving," he calmly said. "Thankfully, I was able to keep myself from driving to the nearest bar."

He held one up to the light. "My first thought…make that my first hope…, of course, was that they were very nice fakes." He paused and looked his daughter in the eye. "But they're not, are they?"

Veronica shook her head. "No," she softly replied.

Keith put the photos down and rubbed his face. "How long has this been going on?"

Veronica bit her lip. "A few weeks. I…we didn't really plan on it, it just…happened."

"How does this happen?" Keith asked. "I mean…you were with Duncan and Logan and…" He shook his head. "I never thought you…were that way."

Veronica set her jaw. "And what way is that?"

"You know what I mean!" Keith snapped. "You know I'm not a bigot about this, Veronica! If you'd just told me when it first started…"

"I was scared!" Veronica cried out. "I didn't know how you'd react. And I have to say, at the moment, I'm starting to see the wisdom in that choice!"

"That's because of how it happened!" Keith responded. "If you had told me at the beginning, you know, maybe I could have accepted it better. But finding out like this…" He shook the photographs. "You promised me…you promised me no more secrets, Veronica."

Veronica bowed her head. "I know…I know I did. I just…" She looked up at him and he saw a light sheen of tears in her eyes. "She makes me feel good, Dad. Really good. Even more than Duncan did. I just…" She shrugged. "I don't know."

Keith was quiet for a long moment before gathering the photos up. He then handed them to his daughter. "These belong with you," he said softly. He paused and then leaned in to kiss her forehead. "I love you," he said softly. "I'm upset and angry and a bit in shock right now…but I still love you."

He walked away, leaving Veronica to softly lie her head on the table. Before she could let the tears flow, the phone rang. Sighing, she walked over to pick it up. "Hello?"

The voice that came over the line was muffled but the words were clear. "This one was a warning. Stop looking into the team or the rest of the set gets sent to your girlfriend's family."

The line disconnected, leaving Veronica to mull the events of the last half hour in silence.

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Mac was checking out the latest on the basketball team statistics when her phone rang. Eyes on the screen, she answered it. "Hi?"

"Hey," Veronica's tired voice came. "We've…got a situation."

Mac frowned. "What?" Her eyes widened as Veronica told her. "Oh, crap."

"Yeah, my words too," Veronica responded. "So, I either drop this or…"

"Or my parents get sent into instant catatonia," Mac moaned. She leaned forward, a hand to her head. "Oh, man….oh man…"

Veronica sighed. "Yeah, I know…So…what should I do?"

Mac brought her head up, frowning. "What?"

"I mean…should I drop it?"

Mac's jaw dropped. "I can't believe you're actually considering giving in!"

"Mac…this is you and your family. My dad is as open as they come and he freaked."

"It doesn't matter! You're Veronica Mars! You're not allowed to give in!"

"Mac…"

"Veronica, listen. I got a few feelers out here, some stuff involving the team and a local betting house. I think I know what's going on."

"Mac…if they send it…"

"Veronica." Even Mac was a bit thrown by the strength in her voice. "You are not giving up on this. This is what you do and you can't just give up because of me. I won't let you."

There was a long silence and Veronica whispered back. "Thanks. I mean that."

"Good." Mac let out a long breath. "Wow, I didn't know I had it in me."

Veronica smiled. "Really? I did."

Mac grinned. "Is this turning into a booty call?"

"Please. My father is freaked as it is."

Mac sobered. "I still wonder how they got those photos."

Veronica was quiet before speaking. "I might just have an idea on that…"

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At the knock on the door, Vinnie Vanlowe rose up from his couch and ambled toward it, dressed in torn t-shirt and boxers. He opened the door and yelled as he felt a taser attached to his chest and filling him with electricity. He fell back, yelping as Veronica entered the room.

"Hey, Vinnie," she said with false cheer. "Got your photos."

Vinnie winched as he rubbed at his chest. "What are you…"

Veronica tossed one of the photos down on him. "Vinnie, how many times do I have to tell you? Buy a new camera. You're the only private eye who uses one with a crack on the lens."

Vinnie slowly got to his feet. "Now, Veronica, you know this wasn't personal, kiddo. Although I have to say, I was pretty surprised to see you were now dipping in the other side of the dish."

"I oughta taser you for that alone," Veronica said. "Just a question, Vinnie. Who hired you?"

Vinnie sniffed. "Sorry, Veronica, you know my standards."

"Vinnie, you've been a lifelong Howard Stern listener. You have no standards. And don't even try on the ethics speech."

Vinnie shrugged as he got to his feet. "Come on, kid, you know I can't say anything."

Veronica frowned as she held up the photos. "Vinnie…these got sent to my dad. And whoever hired you called me and threatened to send them to Mac's family. So I don't give a damn about any professional courtesy crap. I want a name and I want it now."

Vinnie held up his hands. "Whoa, whoa….I had no idea they'd use them like that."

Veronica snorted. "Right. You thought Curve magazine was giving you an audition?"

"Veronica, seriously, I didn't! Guy told me to keep an eye on you, see what you were up to at school and stuff and next thing I know, you're locking lips with blue-hair."

Veronica narrowed her eyes and leaned in. "Right now, I need a name, Vinnie. If you don't hand one over now, I'm telling my dad it was you who took the photos and let him go Abu Gharib on your ass."

Vinnie swallowed hard and licked his lips. Veronica held up the taser and let him see a charge building up and that was all that was needed to get his full cooperation.

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Veronica came up to the gym, dressed in a nice skirt and light blouse. She nodded to Wallace as she came up. "How's it going?"

"Good, so far," Wallace said. "Hawkins is inside."

"Good, rest of the team with him?"

Wallace nodded as he followed her. "This going to be nasty?"

"You know me," Veronica said as she entered the gym. Most of the school was there, couples already on the dance floor and she saw most of the basketball team gathered around the buffet table. With that confident smile Wallace knew so well, she marched over toward them.

"Well, hi there," she spoke out. "How's it going. So, who wants to know who's trying to throw the game?"

All of the players stared at her in disbelief. "Excuse me?" Hawkins said.

Veronica smiled as she pulled out a sheet of papers. "I have to say, it's downright refreshing to find someone stupid enough to leave a paper trail Stevie Wonder could follow. Such as just who was helping place some bets on tonight's game and for that matter has a rather lengthy history of keeping the spread tight in Neptune's past few games."

She saw Hawkins sweating a bit and smiled as she turned to face the somewhat smaller blonde player next to him. "Henry Mathers, come on down!"

Everyone stared at her in amazement, including Wallace. "Um…huh?" he said.

Veronica smiled. "Oh, come on, you actually think I was going to buy the fake money trail you laid at Hawkins' door, Henry?" She turned to face the other player. "Let me guess, you figured out what he was doing but before you could tell anyone, good old Henry managed to set up the trail, right? You tell anyone and he puts out evidence that you're the one with the gambling connection" She patted his shoulder. "You were watching the time because you were trying to mess up his plan as much as you could by messing up the spread."

She smiled at Henry. "By the way, talked to Vinnie and he wasn't happy that you didn't tell him what you were going to do with the photos he gave you. Seems he was keeping his own file on you and by gosh, that's going to the cops as we speak." She handed the papers over to Wallace. "Well, I imagine you all have some words for Henry here so I'll leave you to it. Enjoy the dance!"

She walked off with a large grin as Henry found himself surrounded by a rather nasty-looking team of more than slightly irritated ballplayers.

Veronica was walking toward the bleachers when she saw Mac. The computer expert was clad in a lovely pair of blue slacks and a blue sweater that accented her curves. The coloring was out of her brown hair and she had a winning smile as she focused on Veronica. "Hey," she softly said.

"Wow," Veronica whispered. "You look…totally amazing."

"Thanks," Mac smiled. "It was a good time to glam it up a bit."

"You are working it," Veronica said. She looked around as the DJ started to play a slow song. She extended a hand outward. "Shall we?"

Mac raised an eyebrow. "You mean…right here? In front of everyone?"

Veronica nodded. "Yeah. My dad already knows so…."

Mac smiled back. "May cause a fuss."

"I was born to cause a fuss."

"Hmm…well, what the hell? Always wanted my high school experience to be more like Degrassi."

She put her hand in Veronica's and the two walked out onto the dance floor. They moved close and danced together under the glittering globe and streamers.