Sixteen ficlets about the men in Veronica's life. Spoilers up to episode 3:17 - Debasement Tapes.
Her father has always been the one constant in her life. For the first sixteen years of her life, Veronica was very much her mother's daughter; but if her mother was her friend, her father was her idol, her hero, her rock. He was her dad.
Or then, maybe not.
The thought of being an heiress was certainly tempting. Who wouldn't want hot showers, an actual house with more than two bedrooms, and for her biggest worry about college not to be how she was going to pay for it?
Well, maybe someone who'd never had Keith Mars as a father.
The happiest day of Veronica's life wasn't when she learned that Keith was really, absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, her father. It was long before that, when she realised that she didn't need a piece of paper to tell her that.
She wasn't looking for another best friend.
She had been there, done that. Complete with best friend charms and bracelets and pinkie promises, braiding each other's hair and matching outfits.
Wallace wouldn't look good in her clothes. And he didn't have enough hair to braid, anyway.
But he was something else. Her brother, and not in an I-used-to-date-you kind of way. Her confidant. Her conscience. Maybe the only person she had ever really trusted.
He was also probably the furthest thing from Lilly Kane she was going to find.
So if he made her go to parties and basketball games and teased her about her girly-girl drama and never ever wore pink, that was okay. Because he was her Wallace, and she kind of liked that she'd been the one to rescue him.
He was her first love, and maybe that told you all you really needed to know. He was cotton candy and pink lipstick and the old Veronica, limo parties and soft kisses and normal, everything that she wasn't any more. He was Lilly.
She doesn't know what she was to him. Maybe she was his old life, before his sister died and his parents thought he did it, before he thought he did it, before they covered up her murder and let her killer walk free for a year and a half. Maybe she was Lilly.
When he looks at her, he sees the girl she used to be, and Veronica doesn't stop to think that maybe that's not a good thing. Because it's easy, and it's safe, and she'd really like to pretend that she can still be all those things.
True love stories never have endings. Except that sometimes they do.
Sometimes Veronica wonders how many masks Cassidy really owned.
He had been her friend, and the boy who raped her. Mac's boyfriend, and the boy who left her naked and alone while he took a gun up to the roof of the Neptune Grand. The neglegted son, who had turned his own father in to the SEC. The boy who had suffered abuse at the hands of someone in a position of power, and who had killed eight people to protect the secret.
Dick's brother. Logan's friend. Student. Killer. Beaver.
He had been all of those, and none at all.
Of all the things someone could do to piss off Veronica Mars - and it was a long list; some day she'd have to write it down - getting the better of her was, funnily enough, not one of them.
Besides, even she had to admit that Principal Van Clemmons had a certain ring to it.
Somewhere along the line, he'd gone from resenting her - Veronica liked to call it "ingenuity"; he probably would have said "willingness to break the rules" - to actively encouraging it.
Veronica had always liked someone who was smarter than her. Even if he shouldn't keep all his passwords taped to the bottom of his stapler.
And he had never been cool. But Veronica wasn't going to tell him that.
Piz wasn't what she expected.
He looked at her with puppy-dog eyes and followed her around the cafeteria, but he wasn't heartbroken when she said she wanted to be friends, and kissing her hadn't changed his life.
Maybe it was wrong that that was why she decided to date him after all. And maybe she was doing this for all the wrong reasons. But he wasn't safe, and he wasn't dangerous, and he wasn't easy, and he wasn't hard, and maybe mediocrity could be something new and exciting for her.
She knew that it wasn't going to last. She knew that she would probably break him. But maybe she wouldn't; maybe Piz would surprise her. Maybe this wasn't just a momentary thing, after all. Maybe it could be something entirely unexpected.
The trouble with befriending the leader of a motorcycle gang is that at the end of the day, he's still the leader of a motorcycle gang.
Except when he's not.
Except that when he was probably responsible for the death of the guy who replaced him, maybe he still is.
She kind of wishes he'd used the money to buy a motorcycle, instead. She always knew where she stood with the motorcycle.
She always knew where she stood with Weevil, too. She never accused him of killing Lilly. She isn't sure if that means she cared more or less.
He might have been the only person who never tried to replace Lilly with her.
She doesn't know who the real Casey Gant is.
Is he Casey Gant, just another slice off the loaf of shallow, vapid, pain-in-the-ass 09erdom? Is he Casey Gant, full blooded cultist and proponent of recycling?
Is he Casey Gant, the boy she almost got to know? Is he Casey Gant, the boy who visited his dying grandmother in the hospital? Is he Casey Gant, forced into deprogramming and a brand new Porsche by his parents?
Is he Casey Gant, who kissed Veronica when she was too drunk to stand up? Or is he Casey Gant, who chivalrously said no?
Is he Casey Gant, the boy who never really seemed at home back in his old life?
Sometimes Veronica regrets that she never had the chance to find out.
Veronica should have known it was the start of a beautiful friendship when he threatened to expel her.
After all, if her most disastrous relationships started on the best of terms, it stood to reason that the reverse was true, too. All you really needed was a little common ground. And sometimes, a little leverage.
He was a good man. And her father had liked him.
She had liked him.
Whoever killed Cyrus O'Dell was really going to wish that he had picked another victim.
Jake Kane was always nice to her.
Before - before she knew better - Veronica thought it was a well-intentioned attempt to make up for his wife's obvious coldness towards her. After, when she wished she didn't know better, she wondered if maybe he saw her mother in her.
If maybe he saw himself.
Or maybe it wasn't that; maybe he just saw whatever Lilly saw. Whatever Duncan saw. He had always seemed to understand his daughter a little better than she realised.
He had never tried to make Veronica the daughter he had lost, and that was a good thing.
Almost the most appalling thing about Mercer, Veronica would think later, was that she had helped him.
Of course, actually the most appalling thing about Mercer was that he was a rapist, but it was easier to think of it obliquely, to peer around the edges and keep it firmly in her peripheral vision, than to actually face that.
So it was easy to think that the worst thing was that she had helped him, or that he had run the casino, or that he had been Logan's friend, or maybe just that he had been so obvious about the whole damn thing - the cologne, the clippers, the GHB, and she's so used to looking for the least obvious suspect that she wanted to believe he was innocent (because, come on, even Lamb believed he was guilty).
But really the worst thing was that he had almost raped her, and she is so over that.
You think you know somebody.
Drug dealer, wayward boyfriend, accused rapist. This was the guy she had chosen to get over Duncan with.
He had fixed her tyre when she wasn't around to say thank you, had talked to her despite the best - or worst - advice of most of his friends, had told her stupid stories over dinner and had leaned in to kiss her good night. He had looked mildly offended when she'd chosen to take Duncan to the hospital alone, had put his arm around her in the hallway; he'd asked her to Homecoming and met her father and kissed her on the porch outside her house.
He'd also skipped town in his dad's Beamer and a package full of what he thought were drugs. He'd lied to her, betrayed his friends.
He had come back. But by then, Veronica didn't know him at all.
Veronica was used to men letting her down. Even her father had done it once or twice.
She really shouldn't have been surprised.
Okay, so maybe she didn't need a mentor. She'd done just fine without a role model for the past nineteen years. And she'd had quite enough of father figures, thank you very much.
Still, a part of her definitely wished that her professor had been ... not an adulterer. Not a murderer. Not just another.
But if wishes were horses, she'd have her pony by now.
She still has his book. Still reads it, on occasion. She just doesn't look at the photo on the back.
She didn't deserve him.
Not the first time they met, when she had snuck into the evidence room to steal the Crime Stoppers Hotline recording. Not when he had saved her father's life, and she had got him suspended in return. Not when he had kissed her, and all she could think about was that Duncan was Meg's secret admirer; when she had spent the night taking care of someone she wasn't even sure if she liked, then run off to find a mother who probably didn't deserve her.
Definitely not when she had spent two minutes in heaven with Logan outside the Camelot, or when she had broken up with him for a guy she had spent the better part of two years hating. Not when he had helped her anyway. Not when she had accused him of stalking Gia over a friendly cup of coffee.
She still doesn't deserve him. But she's kind of glad he's back.
He had been the first man to break her. Or at least, the first that she had known about. He had sat in his office, and told her to go see the wizard, and had torn away what remained of her innocence.
Sometimes she wonders if she ought to thank him for that.
She had cried.
The second time she cried in front of him, he was dead, so it didn't really count.
She wore a white dress to his funeral. She thinks he would have appreciated the irony, even if he had to look it up first.
Sometimes, she wishes that he'd haunt her like Lilly had. Not that she misses him, or anything.
Spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed.
Veronica says that a relationship isn't supposed to be that hard. Logan says that no-one writes songs about the ones that come easy. She isn't sure which one of them is right.
Being with Logan was never easy, and maybe it isn't supposed to be. But it's been years, and lives have been ruined along the way. There's definitely been bloodshed. Veronica isn't sure that's supposed to be a good thing.
But maybe this doesn't have to be a good thing. It is her life they're talking about, after all. And maybe she doesn't want it to be easy.
He says "epic." She can't even say "I love you."
She doesn't know what kind of song anyone would write about this.