Spoilers: vague Weevil-related S3 spoilers; just his new occupation.

Disclaimer: Veronica, Weevil, and all other characters mentioned here are the property of UPN, Rob Thomas, Stu Segall, and Silver Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended, so please don't sue, because I have no money.

Author's Notes: Yeah...this is kind of depressing. Definetely not my normal fare. But fun nonetheless. I've said it numerous times and i'll say it again: I love this community. For some reason, this type of challenge really inspires my creativity.

He thought she'd be broken.

Any other girl - woman - most likely would have been. Veronica has always been a survivor, but that doesn't last forever - everyone has a breaking point. And after being held at gunpoint, discovering the truth about her rape, watching a close friend die right in front of her eyes, thinking her father was dead, then being betrayed by her father, Weevil expected her to be worn out and beaten down. He thought the swagger would be gone from her stride, and the fire from her eyes.

He was wrong.

Because here she was, making her way across the Hearst campus as if she owned it. Weevil smirked. Give her a few days and she probably would. The weight of the world has been lifted from Veronica Mars' shoulders, and it shows. Her head is held higher. Her smile is brighter. And yes, if it's possible, her swagger has grown even more pronounced. With her mass of blonde hair swinging around her shoulders, she looks just like any other college girl in the prime of her life.

She looks normal.

She looks out of his league.

Weevil never thought he'd be one of those people that wished for high school days long past. If anything, high school was a nightmare for him. But there, he and Veronica were on an even level. They were outcasts, survivors. They were stronger and smarter than the rest of them, and when they were together he felt this surge of...something. Something that gave him that euphoric high of giddy recklessness. Veronica made him feel invincible.

He wants that feeling again. Angrily, Weevil kicks at the mop bucket. For as long as he can remember, he's had two distinct goals: to pass enough classes to graduate high school, and to avoid getting arrested. Not very lofty goals, he'll admit, but where he comes from either of them is an accomplishment. And now look at him - doing penance by mopping up after the same rich kids he'd planned to leave in his dust. At this moment, more than anything in the world, he wants to feel as fearless as he once did with Veronica Mars by his side.

He's not kidding himself, however - Weevil has never let himself sink that low. He watches her with Logan - with Wallace and Mac and new faces that he doesn't recognize. He watches her swagger and her smile and the hears her speak without that defensive edge in her voice. She's happy. And Weevil will never be a part of that "happy college kids" crowd.

Once upon a time they had been partners in crime. But somewhere along the way, they lost each other.

"Navarro! More working, less ogling the co-eds!"

Weevil sighs. Steve speaks gruffly, but he knows that the older man does so without malice. The community service hours will be over in a few months, and Steve has promised him an actual paying position after that. By the time he saves up the money to get his own place, Abuelita will have passed on. Ophelia will be living with Rosa and her husband, Hector will be taking over his old position with the PCH'ers, protecting the neighboorhood and looking out for the young ones. And Veronica will be safely tucked in Logan Echolls' arms, living under her father's roof, surrounded by people that genuinely care.

It's better this way, Weevil tells himself. Really it is.

This way, when he leaves, he has no reason to look back.

Lyric: "When you feel like the world is on your shoulders"
Object: A fire of some sort.