Bright by Lois Fogg (utsusemia on Live Journal)
Pairing: Logan/Veronica, ensemble
Timeline: Sometime after Plan B, but before I Am God. AU from there.
Author's Note: This is my first Veronica Mars fanfic. I wrote a lot of Sailor Moon fanfiction a few years ago, but it's been a while...any feedback is welcome (really, I mean it).
Chapter 1: Frozen Over
Normally, after a night of fun-filled coital entanglements, Logan Echolls felt, well, bright. Jaunty. Veronica would probably say "cocky,"--and be entirely aware of the double entendre, which was one of the things he loved about her.
Today, however, he felt like a rained-on, hang-dog version of his normal post-conjugal self. It possibly had something to do with his previous lover being summarily ripped from his arms and shipped across the country, and his current one kicking him out at 2am--damaging to his ego, certainly, if not particularly to his heart. More likely, it had something to do with the malevolent, death-ray glare Veronica was even now directing towards his back.
Logan picked listlessly at the buffalo burger he had brought with him from the Neptune Grand and shifted uncomfortably. Veronica was sitting with Wallace and the lovely Jackie Cook at a table just to his right. She looked away when he glanced at her, but he could tell from the small, fleeting grimace on her face that she had been staring.
Abruptly, Logan stood up. He had intended to round on Veronica--to distract his bad mood with a few oh-so-satisfying, well-placed barbs, but instead found himself gripping the table edge to keep his balance. His vision cleared and the dizziness passed after a few moments, but his legs still felt oddly weak. Oh, now that would just be the perfect cap to this day: dragging himself back to his sterile hotel suite to deal with the flu. After having assured himself he was in no immediate danger of passing out on the concrete, he started to walk away.
He would have foregone the dubious pleasure of Veronica's barbed wit, but she was staring at him so intently--and so obviously unaware that she was doing so--he couldn't help himself.
"Trying to flay me with your eyes alone? Sorry to disappoint you, Encyclopedia Brown, but super sleuths don't usually come with superpowers."
Veronica smiled tightly. "At least I don't leave a trail of radioactive evil slime wherever I go. How will Hannah explain the stench?" She tilted her head and Logan noted--not so dispassionately--that pigtails framed her face very nicely. Particularly when her eyes burned like coals in her face. "Still, the world should be grateful to you, Logan. Who knew pure maliciousness could transform an ordinary jackass into Dr. Evil?"
Logan grinned. "Don't bite your lip like that, Veronica. You wouldn't want Dr. Evil to know you're jealous. He might just use it to his advantage."
He would have stuck around for more--with Veronica, he could go all night, and yes, he meant every entendre, even the ones that would probably never happen--but the dizziness returned. He walked away before the retort was halfway from her lips, hoping she didn't notice the slight unsteadiness of his gait, or the way he had to pause at the top of the steps to catch his breath.
What the hell was wrong with him?
Veronica stared after Logan for nearly thirty seconds before she realized what she was doing and turned determinedly back to her fruit salad. Was it just her imagination, or did he look strangely pale today? And something about the way he walked away...
No, Logan could certainly take care of himself. She should have learned by now to spare herself that Molotov cocktail of agony and frustration that worrying about him produced.
Gia, sporting a varsity letter jacket and a ludicrously short skirt, ran up to their table.
"Hey Veronica," she said, "have you seen Logan? I just got, like, this really weird email from a friend of mine at my old school, and I just have to show it to him. But, you know, he's been in a kind of bad mood lately, which is crazy, since the charges against him were dropped finally, and I, like, really need to talk to him."
Veronica shared a quick glance with Wallace and nearly burst out laughing. "Even more manic than normal," she muttered, which made Wallace shovel a forkful of cake into his mouth as though he were about to die of insulin deficiency.
Veronica turned back to Gia, who had watched the exchange with an unwavering expression of pleasantly confused vapidity. "He just left," she said. "I don't know where." And I don't particularly care.
"Oh, okay. If you see him, you'll let him know I'm looking for him, right?"
Veronica couldn't stop her eyebrows from arching, but she nodded.
"I think I might actually pay to see that conversation," Wallace said when Gia had left.
Jackie gave a lopsided smile. "It's sort of cute. Did you see the pastry box she was carrying? I think she wanted to give it to him."
Veronica put down her fork and stared. "You think Gia has a crush on Logan? Is something in the water? Letting all innocent bimbos be sucked into the evil vortex that is Logan Echolls?
Wallace rolled his eyes. "He's not evil, Veronica. You dated him, remember?"
Veronica grimaced. "So Satan's attractive. Point? Why have you been defending him so much lately, anyway?"
Wallace just gave that enigmatic, self-satisfied smile of his that drove her crazy. "Maybe I just see him more clearly than you do," he said. "Less in the way, you know."
"What's that supposed to mean? Never mind, I don't want to know."
Veronica made some excuse about doing some research on the school computers, and made her way slowly back into the school. She had that strange feeling in the back of her head that something was going on--something beyond Logan being an inexplicably attractive psychotic jackass, that is. Gia seemed really agitated about that email. Could she have a crush on Logan? The very thought was enough to make Veronica vomit in her mouth. Distasteful as it would be, she had to talk to Logan today. Warn him away from using up and discarding another innocent girl. Let him dirty the sheets with sexed-up bimbos like Kendall, but he should leave Gia out of it.
Logan had to run out in the middle of Mr. Wu's science class, and barely made it to the toilet before he began vomiting what felt like several internal organs. His vision was swimming, and he couldn't seem to catch his breath. He knew he was close to passing out on the toilet--which at least Veronica would appreciate. Eventually, the fit passed, and he leaned against the cool stall door, shaking. He was sick. Very sick. If he could manage to make it back to his car, things should be okay. At least that way he'd avoid making a spectacle of himself in school, much as Veronica would probably relish it. Slowly he stood up, and after a few moments, he was reasonably confident that he could avoid collapsing on the walk between the bathroom and the car. Carefully, he walked through the deserted halls, keeping his left hand surreptitiously on the wall in case he lost his balance. Three times he had to stop and brace himself against a fresh onslaught of dizziness and nausea, but eventually he made it. He leaned against the door and closed his eyes, attempting to gather his strength before the ride back to the Neptune Grand.
He felt her presence even before she spoke--a combination of her smell and her footsteps and the funny little breath she took whenever she was annoyed with him. He smiled, and didn't open his eyes.
"What's the matter, Logan? Still depressed over your coitus interruptus? Or did you just stay up all night banging Kendall while plotting your newest conquest? Another ditz who doesn't know how far in over her head she's gotten? I thought you'd at least like some variety."
At this, Logan's eyes snapped open. Veronica's face swam into fuzzy focus in front of him and he had to remind himself to breathe, which was becoming oddly difficult regardless.
"What nefarious evil am I perpetrating now, Veronica? Or, should I be asking who I'm perpetrating it against?"
"Whom. And Gia."
Logan had to laugh, which proved to be a bad idea since it ended up coming out like so much wheezing. A line appeared between Veronica's eyebrows, like she was worrying, and he suddenly wished that anyone in the school could have found him like this except her. What was it that Dick had called her? Rich dude kryptonite? Maybe she was--she always seemed to catch him at his most vulnerable.
"Logan..." she said, her voice gentler now, "are you--"
"Oh, you know, I think your eyes are actually turning green?"
He cut her off again. Anything to make her leave. "And I'd sooner seduce a hissing cockroach. In case you're interested."
Veronica's smile was brittle as glass. "I'd say you've already managed that Logan. How's Mrs. Casablancas doing, by the way?"
"Better, thank you. But if you'd like to stop by sometime..."
Veronica gave a disgusted grunt and stalked away.
He waited until she was out of sight of the car before giving a sigh of pure relief. He didn't realize he was about to pass out until he heard the clink of his car keys falling from his numb fingers. By then, it was too late to do anything but give in.
She didn't know why she paused. Usually she couldn't wait to get away from Logan when he was so intent on driving her crazy. But that "not right" sign was flashing in her head again, and she couldn't ignore it. He seemed sick--his face was too pale, his sarcasm strangely forced. There was an urgency to the way he had pushed her away that she hadn't recognized. Great, she thought, I'm worrying about him again. She had nearly decided to just go when she heard a faint clink and a sigh. It was the quality of the sigh--relieved and hopeless at the same time, that made her turn around. Her body moved before her brain had even caught up, and her nerves hummed with some kind of strange panic. When Wallace had texted her to tell her that Logan had made a beeline out of class in the middle of an experiment, she had figured he'd had some kind of urgent booty call. Now...
He had collapsed against the side of his car, and the bright yellow exterior made the pallor of his skin all the more palpable.
"Logan, what the hell...?" she caught him under his arms before he collapsed to the ground, and his head lolled over her shoulder.
"Hey, somebody! Help!" she shouted, but classes were still going on, and the parking lot was empty. She braced Logan against the car and reached into her pocket for her cell phone, but it wasn't there. Of course--she had left it in her bag, which she had left back in study hall. She cursed and felt Logan's breathing stutter. At first she thought he was conscious again and laughing, but one look at his face told her he was still out. He was having trouble breathing.
"Goddamn you, Logan!" She bit her lower lip so hard she tasted blood, which was oddly comforting. Awkwardly, she braced Logan's not inconsiderable weight with her left hand while maneuvering to fish his keys from the ground with her right. Thirty seconds of terror later, she had them.
Okay, open the car door, get him inside. "You fucking idiot," she said, and her voice was so breathy and scared she hardly recognized it. "You can't even help me a little?"
With a grunt, she heaved him onto the seat and then picked up his legs. His torso was half splayed across the dashboard, but she knew she didn't have time to right him. Ten agonizingly long seconds later, Veronica was zooming out of the Neptune High parking lot, grateful for only one thing: she knew the quickest way to the hospital.
Thinking had not been an option on the crazed car ride there. She had run red lights, cut people off, narrowly avoided hitting pedestrians, but she had made it to the emergency room entrance in a record seven minutes. She doubted an ambulance could have done better. Of course, a bright yellow SUV driving like it's the Indy 500 tends to make people pull over to the side of the road. She had barely looked at him, but her hand kept reaching for his face, to check his pulse and make sure he was still breathing. He was still breathing when they loaded him onto a gurney and rushed him into diagnostics. But they hadn't let her follow him. Sitting here, in a plastic waiting room chair, there was not even the dubious reassurance of his warm face beneath her palm. She felt as though they had taken him much farther than a few rooms away.
As though they might have taken him away forever.
Which was precisely the kind of maudlin sap she hated. For God's sake, this was Logan. He'd probably just had too much to drink the night before. And too much Kendall could put anyone in a catatonic state.
But if he died--though of course he wouldn't--but if he did, would that be their last conversation? One last bit of mean-spirited snark, and no honesty, no explanations? There was so much she needed to tell him. Things that had been lurking beneath the surface for nearly a year now, a subtext played out beneath the quips and the resentful disdain. Did he feel the same way? Ever since the Sadie Hawkins dance she had wondered, and now?
She wanted to weep, but she didn't. Even now, that would be giving too much away.
The doctor found her half an hour later. She had curly red hair and a friendly smile--which was conspicuously not in evidence as she approached her.
"I'm Dr. Michaels. You brought in Logan Echolls?" she asked, reading his name off of the chart on the clip board in front of her.
"He's not...I mean..." Veronica cleared her throat, "Is he okay?" Is he alive?
She frowned. "We've stabilized him. It's a good thing you found him when you did...tell me, what's your relationship with the patient?"
Ex-girlfriend. Sometime enemy. Sparring partner. "Friend," she said. If her father had been interrogating her, he would have said her voice was too firm. She was grateful, suddenly, that he wasn't here. Whatever he would read in her facial expressions, she didn't want him to know.
"Does he have any family we could contact? Next of kin?"
It was a simple answer, for all of its complicated details. His mother's a suicide. His abusive, psychotic father's in jail. His sister is off filming a B-grade slasher pic in Tahiti.
"No," Veronica said. There's just me. Why did that make her want to cry?
Dr. Michaels must have seen something in her face, because she gave Veronica's hand a gentle, reassuring squeeze.
"Okay, I have some questions I need to ask you, but first let me tell you what we know so far. We've induced a coma to stabilize his breathing. His kidneys seem to have failed very abruptly. Hopefully, they'll recover some function, but we're not sure."
Not sure? She forced herself to unclench her hands.
"So, Ms. Mars, can you tell me if, to your knowledge, Mr. Echolls ever had any...suicidal tendencies? Was he feeling depressed lately?"
It took Veronica a few seconds to understand her implication. "Wait...you're saying he did this to himself?" She felt the familiar thrum of righteous indignation with almost palpable relief. Anger was so much easier than grief.
"We don't know anything at this point," she said soothingly. "But I need to explore all the possibilities."
Veronica was about to hotly deny that Logan would do anything of the sort, but reason caught up with her before she could. After all, hadn't she herself accused him of having a death wish? He certainly hadn't denied it, and that was before the PCHers burned down his house. He'd been thinking of killing himself, that night on the bridge, before the gang jumped him. And later, he had deliberately put himself in dangerous situations, perversely hoping that someone would do the deed for him. Would it be so surprising if he had decided to do it himself, this time? If something had pushed him over the edge...something like Hannah. Veronica closed her eyes against a sudden sense of vertigo. Was it possible that Logan had decided to kill himself and she hadn't even known something was wrong? She thought she knew him better than that. Better than anyone.
"I don't know," she said finally, in a small voice. "Maybe. I'd thought...he was better, but maybe. His life," she swallowed, "it's been pretty hard, this past year."
The doctor nodded, and scribbled some notes on her file.
"Can you tell me, honestly--will he be okay?"
"Honestly?" She put down the clip board. "I don't know yet. Usually, in these cases, the first twenty four hours are the hardest. If he survives that, if his kidneys recover, then yes. This type of poisoning is relatively rare, but from what we know..."
Veronica could feel the vomit pressing against the top of her throat. "What type of poisoning?"
"We've found traces of ethylene glycol in his system."
"It's the active ingredient in antifreeze."
END of Chapter One...