September, 2006

Dick has joined a fraternity.

Logan didn't even know he was going to college.

He asks him if that means he's moving out and Dick says, Dude. Campus housing sucks and at the frat there's like, barracks and shit.

"Dick shares a bedroom with no man." He sits down beside Logan, picks up a controller and joins the game not looking at him when he says, "You should think about going too. Late admission or whatever."

"And why pray fucking tell should I?" He nails an enemy soldier, his blood splattering all over the wall of some decrepit building that looks three seconds from toppling and crushing him good.

"'Cause you're like… devolving. I'm gonna come back from Intro to Underwater Basket Weaving one day and you'll've completely transformed into a troglodyte or something. And Dude. No one likes a troglodyte for a roommate."

"That's a big word, Dick." Logan beats at his controller, more blood on the walls and Dick agrees.

"Fucking college, man."

He's asleep on the couch when Dick comes stumbling in drunk off his ass.

He slams the door, trips over his own feet and lands on the floor in a crumpled heap laughing like sobbing and Logan flicks on the light with a groggy what the hell?

Dick looks up at him red faced and kind of crying and Logan crouches down, puts a hand on his arm that Dick roughly shakes off, slurring "don' fuckin' touch me."

He pulls himself up onto the couch, cracks one of Logan's (warm) beers and sucks it down.

"Got more?" he belches when he finishes and Logan gets to his feet, runs a hand through his hair with a "yeah, man."

And then they sit there together in the dark for two days drinking and smoking up and playing Halo and Logan doesn't ask what happened, doesn't ask what this is about, and then somewhere around four a.m. one morning Dick says, "I made Ghost World cry," and then he pauses the game, tosses his controller aside and goes to his room, shutting the door behind him.

October, 2006

Dick goes to just enough of his classes to stave off expulsion although he's drunk for half of them and high for the rest. Logan asks why he bothers when he could be surfing all day and feeling like shit without the added bonus of homework, and Dick says college makes him feel like he has some semblance of a life even though he can't remember most of it.

"'sides man my trust fund isn't as big as yours. Dick's gonna need a job someday."

"Doing what?"

Half shrug.

"Hopefully as little as possible."

Logan has no intention of enrolling at Hearst himself, but he hangs with the college crowd because self-imposed isolation can get fucking boring. He goes to their parties. He goes to their bars with Dick and his "brothers", and when Dick calls them that there's a shard of irony in his voice.

Dick's pretty much abandoned the It Never Happened Dude You're Fucking High mode of dealing with Beaver's death and moved onto something Cassidy would have appreciated even less.

"The dead little brother thing? Totally awesome chick bait – it's all about the sympathy. A little screw so Dick's not blue…"

Logan still doesn't know what happened that night that cracked the I'm Fine Everything's Fine Stop Fucking Insinuating That It's Not mask Dick's been struggling to uphold all summer and he hasn't asked because Dick's a lot quicker to use his fists these days and Logan doesn't need an excuse to hit back because fighting is his new hobby and he's really fucking good at it.

Most of the time his chosen opponent is a hell of a lot bigger than he is. It's kind of the point.

He picks fights that he has a good chance of losing, he pushes his luck, shoves it, bitch-slaps it upside the head.

Last week he decked a guy that looked like he brushed his teeth with steroids and probably would have been killed if Wallace hadn't stepped in and hauled his ass out of there while Dick's "brothers" started wailing on everything in sight. It wasn't loyalty or anything. Steroid guy called Chip Diller a homo and unsurprisingly, them's fightin' words.

Wallace took him out into the alley and didn't flinch when Logan shoved him off, but held up his hands in a whoa man that made him feel kind of bad.

Instead of saying, thanks – because he wouldn't mean it, or what's up? – because he didn't really care, he asked Wallace point blank, "Have you heard from her?"

And after a minute of staring at him like he was fucking measuring him up or something, trying to gauge what kind of answer he should give him that wouldn't push him over the edge he was so obviously teetering on, he shook his head slowly, shoving his hands deep into his pockets.

"Are you lying?" Logan had snarled and Wallace glared at him, snapped, "No, man, I'm not lying. I haven't heard from her since graduation. She just… disappeared."

He didn't try to get anything else out of him after that, didn't threaten him or anything because if Wallace was lying, there was a 99 chance she had asked him to and that… he didn't want to think about that.

So he limped to his car, he went home.

The girl he'd been doing at the time… Shauna? Sherri? Sh-something. She was waiting for him outside his door for a date he'd forgotten they'd made.

He clumsily swept his keycard through the lock without apologizing for being late and bloody and stumbled inside not bothering to turn on the light. He collapsed onto the couch as she stared down at him, looked at him like he was a psycho and he said to her "You have no fucking idea," as he spat his blood onto the floor.

She broke up with him that night.

He doesn't remember particularly caring.

She slammed the door to his room leaving him in a pile of Neosporin packets and bandages, yelling at him that he should be ashamed of himself and his immature alpha male behavior, and he didn't argue, didn't apologize, didn't anything but salute the door and then flop back onto the bed with a wince as he jarred his bruised ribs.

He'd stared up at the ceiling, too aware of his breathing, too aware of how much everything hurt, thinking as he turned his head to meet his reflection in the mirror across the way, This is who you are now.

This guy with bloody knuckles and a bruised face, a curled lip and narrowed eyes... This is you.

This split skin... It's your cancer.

This aggression... It's your goddamn birthright.

He's been branded, silver-white scars crisscrossed like a road map of his fucked up childhood on his back declaring it, making it true.

Fucking Aaron made sure Logan would never be able to forget where he came from, and Fucking Lynn taught him how to live with it.

Love someone who doesn't love you and then distract yourself from that with vodka and pills. And if that doesn't work as well as you want it to, get that love beaten out of you by strangers in bars, in parking lots and then fight back harder hoping they'll up the ante, they'll call you on your suicidal tendencies.

Logan hates to admit it but it's become blindingly obvious over these last few months that he is his parents' son.

He sees them in himself now and it scares the shit out of him but he can't stop. He gets in one last punch, the one that breaks the bone, he swallows one more pill, the one that gets his stomach pumped and the door slams behind her the door slams behind her the door slams behind her.

He's checking out of the hospital when he sees her and before he can even think about pretending he didn't notice and turning the other way they make eye contact.

Fuck.

He really doesn't want to deal with this right now.

He really doesn't want to engage in a stilted conversation right now where they will both be searching desperately for something to say to each other that won't bring up any bad memories. It's not something he wants to expel any energy towards when it's already costing him far too much to remain upright. Especially since it's a fucking impossible feat. The only connection he and Mac have to each other is Cassidy.

And Veronica.

Veronica...

Mac's friendship with her is why, ultimately, he bites the bullet of insured awkwardness and finds himself walking towards her instead of giving her a dismissive half-wave and continuing on his way. Why he finds himself sitting down beside her in one of those hard plastic chairs that creaks and shakes and threatens to buckle as he prepares to steamroll through the pleasantries.

He doesn't say anything for a moment though as he tries to decide how to interrogate her without being too much of an asshole, and she looks at him all pale and wide-eyed and stammers, "My dad… had a heart attack…"

She says it haltingly, like she's trying the words out, trying to see if she believes them and he blinks at her, surprised, swallowing hard before saying, "…That sucks."

"Yeah…" She stares down at her shoes, the untied laces hot pink slashes against the black canvas, the scuffed floor, and he looks at them too not knowing what else to say.

There's a skull and cross bones stenciled on the sides and really, he fucking hates hospitals.

He tries, "Is he going to be okay?" and she nods.

"Yeah, I think so… My mom is talking to the doctor right now in there." She tilts her head at the closed door next to her seat. "I told them I had to go to the bathroom... I just… I needed to get out of there for a minute."

He stares at her hands curled into fists, clutching the cuffs of her jacket sleeves. Her knuckles are white and he looks up at her feeling her eyes on his face.

"You kind of look like crap, Logan."

"I kind of feel like crap, Mac."

He stares at her shoes again, the skull, the bones. He really wants her to take them off. Tempting fate doesn't seem like the best idea in this place.

"I'm sorry about your dad…"

She says it awkwardly, like she's not sure she should. Like she's not sure she means it and that makes him smile a little but when he lifts his head again and meets her eyes he sees that she does and he stares back at her expressionless and tight-mouthed and areyoufuckingkiddingme? until she shifts uncomfortably in her seat and averts her eyes, muttering under her breath, "or… you know, not."

His jaw tightens, his eyes burn. He doesn't need to be thinking about his fucking father. Not now.

He needs to ask her about Veronica, if she's heard from her, if she's okay. Mac is the only person besides Wallace and Cliff that she might have contacted. He'd already harassed Cliff into admitting that he sent a check for the sale of the contents of the Mars apartment to a P.O. box and that that was the extent of his involvement in her disappearance, and he's decided that Wallace was telling the truth when he said he didn't know anything because the Veronica-told-him-to-lie alternative makes him nauseous. And Angry. Really really Angry, and he has no need to be going there again.

He takes a deep breath, reminding himself that he's done with his second fucking loop of stages and that he's ready to Accept for real this time whatever answer he's going to get: "She's fine, she's dealing, she's glad she skipped town." I accept that. "She's miserable and alone." I am at peace with that.

"Dick Casablancas," Mac says and he blinks.

"What about him?"

"Is he always such a…" she shakes her head, flips her hands.

"Dick?"

She nods, tugs on the cuffs of her jacket again, harder.

"In varying degrees."

She scowls suddenly, "Is he even sad?" and Logan thinks of him passed out on the couch, the table littered with more bottles, the ashtray overflowing with the carcasses of joints smoked down to tiny black nubs that burned his fingers before he'd grind them out.

"Yeah, he is."

"Are you?"

He turns his head to stare off down the hall at the doors he'd just come through.

And he says "No." He says "I'm over it." And there's Denial rearing its ass-ugly head again.

"Good for you." She spits it out with a curl to her lip and he can't ask her about Veronica now. He's missed his chance. Ordinarily he'd push until he got what he wanted but… she doesn't look like she could handle it right now and as fucking selfish as he is most of the time, he's not a complete bastard. So he decides to leave her alone.

He gets to his feet, pauses to look down at her and says, honestly, "I'm glad your dad's going to be okay."

She bites her lip and nods and he feels a little bit forgiven, but he's still not going to ask, not tonight.

"Dude!"

He turns his head to see Dick sauntering down the hallway towards them. He checks out a candy striper as he passes, looking more sober than he has in… Logan doesn't know how long. He kind of can't remember the last time he even saw him. It might have been yesterday. Or last week. He's been having a hard time differentiating Mondays from Tuesdays, Wednesdays from Thursdays. Every day's the weekend when you're rich and idle.

Dick doesn't look at Mac when he reaches them, he doesn't acknowledge her at all, just shoves his hands into his pockets and says, "The concierge or whatever told me you were here. What happened man?"

"Nothing. It was an accident."

Dick looks at him like he's not sure he believes it and he wants to remind him that he's already done Depression. Twice. He's on Acceptance now, damnit.

"You chased sleeping pills with half a bottle of JD, Dude."

"I couldn't sleep."

Dick glares at him, and really, Sober!Dick is a pain in the ass.

"Whatever. Just… don't fuckin' die man, okay? That would fucking suck-"

"Cindy, honey?"

The door next to their chairs opens and a blonde woman steps out. She holds her arms out to Mac who stands but makes no move to step into them and the woman says, "It's okay, honey, it's okay," and she comes to her, wraps her arms around her and Logan watches Mac's rise stiffly to curl awkwardly around the woman who says, "He's awake sweetie, he wants to see you…"

Mac's voice is muffled against the woman's shoulder and he can't hear what she says but it sounds like she's crying and he turns away as they go into the room, as they shut the door behind them.

"What's up with that?" Dick asks, jerking his chin after them.

"Her dad's in there. Heart attack."

Dick pauses for a moment staring at the door and then turns on his heel muttering under his breath, "Chick's bad luck."