Title: She Cannot Fade

Author: fickledame

Rating: R for violence.

Word Count: 1027

Summary: An AU version of 2x22. I think this finally earns the crown of dark angst. Hell yeah, baby! Not everything turns out fluffy! Woo! Um, sorry, I'm using my summary to cheer myself. That's very sad.

Spoilers: All aired episodes – season one and two.

Thanks: Massive thanks to moire2 for holding my hand through the angst writing process. Thanks to skk670 for listening to me whine about my fluffy drivel. Thanks to suivreletoile and moire2 for the beta!

Veronica's ribs hurt and she grits her teeth, the intense burning sensation going through her in pulsations.

Cassidy's finally finished babbling about pirates and swords and he begins talking about Aaron. She hopes that Aaron freaking Echolls - who ruined her entire life and took her bright, shining Lilly away from her - isn't the last name she hears. Cassidy's eyes are cold, so cold and her eyes drift shut as the image of her father tackling him to the ground burns bright in her mind for a second, but she knows it won't happen, because her daddy is gone, gone, now nothing but dust.

Her eyes open again and the gun is pointing straight at her. Her mind goes blank, blood pounding in her ears with a furious rushing noise, as she waits for the inevitable blast. Then she hears Logan's voice, sharp and frantic as he shouts at Cassidy. She feels a tremour of relief, because even if she dies right now, on the barren rooftop, she won't be alone.

Cassidy spins and she jumps as a loud noise explodes, echoing around her. Cassidy freezes and she quickly sits up to see Logan dropping to the floor. She waits, waits for him to get up again, crawl to safety, crawl to her but he doesn't. He remains sprawled out, a glinting pool slowly appearing around him. Cassidy's arm drops back to his side, and the gun falls out of his hand onto the floor with a thud as it connects with the asphalt roof. The unique, burning smell of gun powder drifted towards her, in the breezy night air.

She gets up, stumbling a little as her sight goes into a tunnel vision, the pounding in her head increasing ten fold. She brushes past Cassidy, who is standing dead still as if in shock. Maybe seeing the person you hurt directly is different, she thinks, but then she feels his clammy hand moving up her thigh and her throat tightens as she tries to swallow the acidic taste caught in her mouth. She gets to Logan and she drops on her knees by him.

His skin is cold when she puts her fingers on his neck, and she thinks it's too soon, way too soon, then wonders if it's just her own fingers' numbness. Her knee feels damp and she realises she's in his blood.

She can't feel a pulse.

Veronica looks back up at Cassidy, only to find he's standing by the edge of the roof, gazing down at whatever's below. He climbs up over the railing and she continues to stare. He can't be the Cassidy she knew, with an almost innocent aura about him as he sweetly held Mac's hand. A sheep, following the crowd, joining in when they taunted her, but his cuts always missing the marks when the others hit exactly where they were aimed. Why couldn't he have missed this time?

He turns to look at her, almost hesitantly and her stomach twists. It was him, him all along that took her body and violated it. She doesn't understand. He knew how it felt, for someone to steal it away from you and make it theirs, so how could he do it to her? How could he do something so ugly, so painful just to prove something to himself? Beauty is truth, truth beauty, said Keats, but there is nothing beautiful about this, Veronica knows. The harsh, naked facts exposed for all to see. The broken, damaged little boy revealed once and for all as someone who caused as much pain and agony as he received.

She realises he's waiting for her to say something. To tell him to stop, tell him not to jump, but then he's hovering at the edge, taking a step back and falling. He falls so casually, as if he knows he's going to land on something soft, but the loud thump and the wailing car alarm confirms he didn't.

Her throat burns with the bitter sting of vomit. He hit Logan in the heart, but it feels like her own. She reaches out and clasps his hand, so large in hers. He'd still be alive if she hadn't sent the message on, in the safety of his room, or perhaps still at the party. She turns his palm upward and runs her finger softly along the life line, so strangely long for something cut so short. She is always pulling other people into her own stupid messes. It should have been her lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the building, and maybe everything would have been okay. Maybe it would have been okay for her to just roll off the building and let Aaron take the blame. Maybe if she hadn't so stupidly told Cassidy her dad knew, he'd still be alive. He'd be landing soon and hurrying home so he could be waiting on the couch when she arrived back, a book on his chest to cover the fact he was clock watching. Too many goddamn maybes.

The side of his face closest to her is lost in shadow, but the other side seems to glow in the humming blue florescent lights. He'd look luminous if he wasn't so very dead. His skin is smooth as she traces her finger over his hand, remembering it hot and moving across her, dragging gasps and moans out of her. She should have let him. Let herself go, found peace in his arms. Instead of run, run, running away all the time.

She notices the smear of red across his arm and she rubs it absently with her thumb, annoyed it's marring him, which is ridiculous because she knows his entire abdomen is covered in sticky crimson.

Everything aches and her chest catches painfully every time she takes a breath. Her arm throbs where the electric shot through her and she knows Cassidy's right, so right. She has nothing to live for. Her daddy is gone, and it just hurts. She bites back a scream, what's the point? Her eyes feel heavy, she wants to sleep.

She picks up the gun.