Pairing/Character: Veronica
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: 3.12

Disclaimer: Veronica Mars is not mine, of course.

Author's note: Memories are in italics. Much thanks vmtranscripts to for episode dialogue.

and she spins and falls

Deep inside, Veronica knows it's not Logan's fault. They were broken up at the time. When she had asked, both dreading and needing the answer, he didn't name names, but he had been honest that there had been someone. He couldn't have expected she would find out who, even though he should be all too familiar with her snoopiness and Madison's cattiness. And although he knows, of course he knows, how much she loathes Madison and everything the bitchy 09er stands for, he couldn't really have understood how much this would hurt if Veronica somehow came by the information. It might not even be true. It would be just like Madison to deliberately lie, in an effort to cause chaos.

Veronica knows if she can just suppress the irrational, obsessive, emotional response and break the situation down into logic and reason--

Her thoughts catch on that one word, the word she supposedly lives by. Reason. Although she tries to live by her head and not her heart, she hates the word, she hates the very concept. Looking for reasonable, logical explanations has never helped her, not really, despite her desperation to seek them out. Overturning the stones to find the dark and dirty secrets hidden beneath has never brought her any lasting comfort or cessation to the pain.

Knowing the reasons didn't wipe away the scars of her first love walking by as if six months of dating and even more years of friendship were nothing.

. . . she turns to Duncan, ecstatic to see him after a long weekend alone. At first, when he walks by, she thinks that maybe he didn't see her, didn't notice that she was there. But he did. And he looks not at her, but through her, with eyes that don't meet her own. He refuses to say a word, but just pretends she doesn't exist . . .

Knowing the reasons didn't make the bloody dead-eyed body that had been her best friend a not true thing, or keep it from haunting her dreams.

. . . Duncan rocks back and forth, eyes vacant, then glances to the right, out to the group of people gathered by the pool. She knows it's going to be bad, but she has to see, has to find out for herself and not just hear the soft, caring words from someone else, the ones that tell her to forget about the past and look to the future. And when she dashes out and sees the cold, twisted, corpse that used to be her best friend, she knows it's as bad as it gets . . .

Knowing the reasons didn't mitigate the betrayal of every last person she though was her friend.

. . . he glares through his tears, broken and angry. "So does your, uh, does your dad still think that Lilly's father did this? That's my girlfriend. Your friend. Duncan's sister. Your dad is destroying the Kane family. What's the matter with you people, huh? What's the matter with you?" She staggers back against the quiet intensity of his words, the heat of his focused anger. Over the years she's seen many things in his eyes, but the one thing she never expected to see was hatred directed towards her . . .

Knowing the reasons didn't negate the helpless terror of her world spinning, drifting, and falling.

. . . she knows something is wrong, very wrong. The world tilts and whirls, and balance has become a memory. She staggers through the crowd of laughing, jeering faces, hoping to find some place of refuge to hide and lick her wounds. They know she's wasted, defenseless. Even those who had been her closest friends turn to stare and watch the show, not lifting a finger to help, letting the predators, wise to the scent of blood, circle in to finish off the kill . . .

Most of all, knowing the reasons didn't erase waking up without her underwear, without her pride, and with any last vestiges of her innocence brutally ripped away.

. . . her head hurts, her stomach roils, her body aches, and there's a raw burn between her legs. She stares blankly at the unfamiliar walls, at the white comforter on the bed. At her white panties on the floor. She gathers the few fragmented memories the previous night has left to her, and the pieces surround a gaping hole of lost time. So very blind, so very innocent, so very overconfident, she had crashed the party to prove she was unaffected by the worst the 09ers could throw at her. She never before understood what these people, the amoral creatures she used to call her friends, were capable of . . .

Her nightmare was supposed to be Madison's. In another universe, Madison was the one who woke up after a night she couldn't remember. A switch of fates, just like a switch of births. And, true to form, Madison didn't care.

. . . she stares at Madison as the final piece snicks into place, as the last unknown of that lost night becomes clear. "You have no idea what you did to me," she manages to breathe out.

Madison may be many things, but she's not dumb. Veronica sees the small shift in expression at the moment the other girl gets it, undoubtedly remembering their conversation earlier this week and putting it together with the shreds of gossip Veronica's crusade for the truth has to have inspired. Then Madison's mouth curves in a practiced, dismissive, smile and she brushes off her catalytic role as insignificant. "Oh my god! I spit in your drink. You are, like, so scarred for life." Madison flounces away, not caring how true the words she carelessly tossed out are . . .

Even before Lilly was killed, Madison would have been willing to stick a knife--either virtual or physical, she really wouldn't care which--in Veronica's back, just for the satisfaction of replacing Veronica as Lilly's handmaiden. After Lilly's death, she would have done it to prove herself worthy of the throne left vacant in Lilly's absence.

. . . the embodiment of everything Veronica tried to leave behind at Neptune High School widens her eyes in false surprise. "Oh, Logan and I hooked up in Aspen over the holidays." Madison smirks, and once again Veronica is blindsided, taken unaware and punched in the gut by someone she would never normally let through her guard. "I guess you two were split, huh?" Veronica knows the question is rhetorical. Madison didn't give a shit if they were split, dating, or married after a whirlwind courtship. She wanted what she wanted, and if it hurt Veronica in the process? Well, that would be a welcome side benefit. "I was in town and thought he might have some free time, but, oh, well." An expert at proper timing, she pauses before the final blow. "Oh, and, as a friend, he's not so big on the one-piece numbers." That final knife twist, an implication of intimacy in areas Veronica is clueless about, is delivered with relish. Madison saunters away, leaving Veronica wordless . . .

Metaphorically, Madison had just managed to shove the knife between Veronica's ribs. Physically, not so much. At least not so much, if the pain throbbing through her head, heart, and stomach doesn't kill her.

Madison has always gloried in punching her when she's down. Now, the other girl doesn't even need to be there to wreck havoc. She's taken up a starring role in Veronica's dreams, her voice echoing in a pornographic soundtrack that plays unbidden in Veronica's thoughts.

. . . Madison writhes above Logan, arching back as she grinds down, glancing backwards with a superior smile that gives way to moans . . .

Veronica has to convince herself that none of it matters. All she wants is her boyfriend back. The impossibly sweet, sexy young man who spins her head and fires her blood like nobody ever has. Even if it's true, she knows he didn't really do it to hurt her. If she believes anything, she has to believe that.

. . . he stretches his arms along the vaunted 09er table, chatting with his peers and taking up more than his share of space. When he catches sight of her, he turns and grins in faux welcome. "Yo, Ronnie! How was your weekend? Hear the football team gives you high praise for your flexibility and endurance." She ignores him and walks on by, but she can hear his mocking laughter follow her all the way into the building . . .

Logan loves her, right? That's what he always says: that he loves her, that he wants to protect her, that he'll do anything for her. Some nights she thinks she can see it in his eyes, a joyous glow that almost convinces her he means every word.

. . . he smirks as he passes by, stopping to gloat as she crouches by the tires to assess the damage. "Problems? I know you live on the low-rent side of town, but can't you afford air for the tires of your little shitbox car?" He hops on the hood of his SUV, conveniently parked across from the LeBaron, and starts carving up his apple. He pops slices into his mouth as he watches her change the tire, entertaining his cronies with a running commentary of derogatory remarks pitched just loud enough that she can make out every word . . .

Veronica gave him her body, and he's slowly stealing her heart and soul. It's okay, because she trusts him. She has to trust him, and she has to believe he would never do anything to deliberately betray her trust.

. . . he catches her in the hallway between classes, careful to have the maximum crowd for his little show. "Hey, Veronica! Sorry to hear about your mother. I mean, bad enough that she was drinking to escape you and your dad, but to leave town? What'd you two do to drive her away?" He watches her face, watches for the pain that undoubtedly flickers across her features before she remembers not to respond to his goading. She damns him for knowing her well enough to place the blow with the maximum effect for the minimum effort . . .

All Veronica wants is for her world to be right again. For the broken pieces to stay glued in place. For her to figure out how to finally be a real girl, one untainted by heartbreak and tragedy and memories she can't scrape from her head. All she wants is for this not to be true, but until she knows for sure the dreams and the uncertainty are killing her.

Deep inside, Veronica knows it's true, and that her carefully constructed world is about to shatter like the illusion it is. She doesn't stop hoping with all her heart that it won't. It's never changed anything in the past, but maybe this time it will work. Because if it doesn't, once she has all the answers, the only way she knows how to deal with the pain is to run.