Title: Twenty Seconds

Author: chichuri
Pairing/Character: Logan, Logan/Veronica, Cassidy
Word Count: 1055
Rating: R
Summary: AU of the rooftop scene in 2.22
Spoilers: Through 2.22
Warnings: Adult language, Angst, Character death

Author's note: This has been twisting through my brain since July, and wouldn't go away until I wrote it.

Twenty Seconds

Logan crouched in front of the half sized refrigerator, debating the merits of drinking until the last four years disappeared into an anesthetized blur. He thought he had enough alcohol to accomplish the task if he wasn't picky about what he poured down his throat. Only the memory of Veronica, pain and resolve glimmering in her eyes as she sought him out in the chaos of the graduation party, stopped him from reaching inside.

Sought him out.

He stared blindly into the refrigerator as he tried to convince himself that she had chased him down for a purpose, and not just as a warm body that would have the information she needed and would give it up with minimal effort. He wanted to believe that she might have confided in him had Dick not chosen to intrude on the moment, causing her to dart off in true Veronica fashion. That in the aftereffects of an alcoholic daze he hadn't shattered every last chance he had with her. That there was a sliver of redemption remaining.

The aftereffects of that alcoholic daze, both the devastation in her eyes and the disintegration of the last of his dreams of reconciliation, rated at the very top of a long list of events he would gladly consign to the depths of an alcoholic blackout.

He balanced the faint remnants of hope against the weight of more pain than any eighteen year old should have to endure. Unsurprisingly, the scales tipped in favor of that smallest of fragments.

He was such a fucking idiot.

As if blessing his choice, when his phone vibrated he opened it to reveal an unknown caller with her phone number, and a message.

The phone he'd had that summer--the one with her name programmed into the top of his phonebook, that had been his conduit to her for desperate searches for his mother, knight-errant rescues, and steamy late night calls--had been lost when vengeful bikers with a yen for bondage and Russian roulette had dragged him into their games. He had never bothered to program her number into the new phone. First, living in a suite with Duncan where he was treated to their plastic facsimiles of true love on a daily basis fulfilled his masochistic desires. Later, he managed to convince himself that he had to move on and that someday he could rid himself of the Veronica-shaped ghost that always hovered on the edge of his senses. Finally, after a single electricity-laden dance reawakened every dormant possibility, he was afraid that programming her number would be assuming too much, tempting fate to take away what he hoped--dreamed--might still be within his grasp.

And then, once again, he had fucked up and it had all fallen apart.

Meet me on the roof now. Logan looked upwards towards the roof, remembering her expression earlier in the evening. He didn't know why she texted him, or what might be waiting for him, but he didn't care.

Grabbing the sweatshirt he had discarded on the couch earlier, he ran out the door and to the elevator. After twenty seconds, with the elevator unmoving on the ground floor, he turned to the stairs. He burst out the roof doors into the crisp air of an evening more suited to fall than late spring. The stairway placed him in the middle of the roof, and when he quickly looked around, he saw nobody. Intent on finding Veronica, he started stealthily circling clockwise, watching and listening for any indication that he wasn't alone.

The wind shifted and behind him he heard a raised male voice and a yelp of pain that chilled him. He whirled and bolted, making no pretense of quiet, as he realized he'd gone in the wrong fucking direction. If Veronica was in pain, he couldn't waste time hiding. He dodged the skylights and finally saw her, crouched to the ground one arm raised towards--was that Beaver--his arm was raised towards her and . . .

He hadn't even recognized the gun in Beaver's hand when the shot thundered through the air and Veronica dropped backwards.

"No!" The sound ripped through Logan's throat, and Beaver turned in shock. The younger boy might have said something, but Logan didn't care, couldn't hear him through echoes of that gunshot, the memory of Veronica's limp body falling, the agony that ripped through his chest as he realized no amount of medical attention could resurrect her. He grabbed Beaver and pounded until his former friend stopped moving, then stumbled to Veronica's side.

She sprawled on her back, a disconcerting reflection of another broken girlfriend he had failed to save. He gracelessly dropped to his knees and gathered her into his lap, stroking her bloodstained hair. Her dead eyes, devoid of the feisty spark that was so uniquely Veronica, stared back into his. The small hole marring her forehead was centered between and slightly above those eyes, such a small, innocent mark to have left behind such devastation. He wondered wildly if there was some symbolism in losing multiple blonde girlfriends to head wounds caused by people he thought he knew. Only when his vision blurred did he realize that tears dropped from his eyes.

Logan fought through the pain in his chest to draw a ragged breath. He realized with the next grating breath that the echoes of the shot that ripped his soul apart hadn't been echoes. The widening pool of blood didn't only belong to the small body in his arms. The ache in his chest and the twist in his guts were more than just physical responses to emotional anguish. His eyes slowly began to lose focus as darkness gathered on the edges of his vision.

With fading eyesight he watched their blood mingle, staining his shirt and jeans, matting her hair, draining to the rooftop where it gleamed in the reflections of the skylights. In fleeting moments during their heated summer he'd imagined their blood combining, but those combinations had always led to new life instead of old ones slipping away. He supposed that given their fractured and fractious past, the tragic ending had been inevitable and the hopeful wishful thinking.

If he hadn't fucked up, if he'd been twenty seconds earlier, he might have had a shot at that redemption.