Title: "Fractured Dreams" Part 3/?
Word Count: 4229 for this part; 13,896 all together so far
Warnings: Some language and adult themes
Characters/Pairings: Duncan/Veronica, Logan/Veronica, Jake Kane, Clarence Weidman, Lilly (the younger one), Keith
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Veronica Mars. That's all Rob Thomas. I just do this for pure enjoyment and hopefully for yours, too.
Summary: Veronica knows that the one thing she wants most will turn her into the one person she is the most scared of becoming. LoVe eventually. FutureFic.
Author's Notes: Many wonderful thanks to my new beta, Roz, who really earned way more than my humble gratitude with as much work as she's had to put into this thing. But alas, that's all that I have to give her at the moment And of course much love to my constant cheerleader and friend, Emma.
Six months later…
Veronica giggled, an honest to god giggle, as she reveled in the warm afterglow. After everything, she had never thought her life could be this happy again. They were making it work this time, a renewed promise to each other to never take anything for granted again; a promise of her own that she could see clearly reflected in his beautiful, loving eyes.
It would still take some time to put the past behind her, to dull the gnawing guilt that threatened the bliss that had been created by times like these. What had happened wasn't her fault or so everyone around her told her. But that still didn't stop the feeling that she wished she could have done things a little differently. There was no shortage of people who did think it was her fault, Jake and Celeste Kane leading the way.
What had happened was a nightmare for everyone involved but she had to move on from it, had to concentrate on making her life better this time around. This time the choices she would be making would be for herself, not for fear of disappointing those around her or for fear of becoming someone else. She had gone down that path before and it ended badly, very badly.
Veronica slid her legs out from between her lover and laid her head back on the pillow, spreading her left arm across the bed. She sighed as once again unwanted feelings of guilt and remorse interrupted their cuddling.
"What's wrong, Veronica," he asked, his face full of concern.
"I don't know… I shouldn't be this happy, right? Things shouldn't be this easy, should they?"
"Veronica," he chided gently, "We've been over this. It's all right to be happy. What happened wasn't your fault. It. Wasn't. Your. Fault."
"I would be more apt to believe you if I could remember what happened." She paused, allowing worry to enter her voice. "What if you're wrong and they're right. What if…"
He reached over and scooped her into a tight embrace, hugging her as tightly as he ever had before.
"You're not a killer, Veronica…you're not a killer."
Veronica shuddered with all the memories those words left in their wake. His voice full of confidence and conviction but unfortunately the cause for them being said far outweighed any comfort that they offered. This time there was more meaning behind them; not just a roof and a murder that she had no part in. This time she was right in the middle, and the events of that dreadful night weren't the only reasons for her own culpability.
"I just keep thinking that if I hadn't led him on, if I hadn't let him hope that there was a chance for us…"
"Hey look at me," he said, pulling her chin up to meet his eyes. "He knew and he went after you anyway. He knew what he was getting into all along. If he really loved you he would have never forced you to chose between love and loyalty."
Veronica shifted again so that she could snuggle into his embrace, laying her cheek against his chest before she spoke again.
"Logan," she trailed off.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Hmmm," he stopped before continuing. "I want to say no, simply because we don't have the best history with post-coital conversations, but I'll bite if only because I'm a masochist. So go ahead; ask away."
"Why did you wait six years to decide that you wanted me back," she asked.
There was an underlying insecurity in her voice and Logan felt a tug in his chest at the thought that Veronica's vulnerable side always chose to show itself in the bedroom. There was probably some long psychological name for it and an even longer explanation but Logan knew first hand the reasons for each of her fears. He'd even had a role in some of them, he thought painfully.
But even through all of his understanding he never could quite get why she always asked the hardest questions during the times she was most exposed. She always inquired about the things she didn't really want the answers to. Maybe she was just as big of a masochist as he was.
"Veronica," he shuddered, " I'm not sure you want to know. Hell, I'm not sure if I even know."
"Alright, but you're not going to like it. Just know, it was a really hard time for me."
When he'd still been with Veronica he'd had a beer here and there or when he could con her into cheesy romance night, a bottle of champagne. Of course there was the couple of occasions when he and Wallace got a little tipsy at the bar right off campus during 'guys night' but it was completely innocent, far from any self-deprecating pity party he had been known to get by with in the past.
But three blocks from Veronica's apartment, her betrayal fresh on his mind, had been as far as he got before yanking his Rover over to the liquor store and coming to a screeching halt. Truth was, that was the last he remembered of that day and next day was a little of a blur, too. The next thing he really remembered was calling movers to come pack up his stuff from the condo on the beach that he hoped to one-day share with Veronica if she would have him.
He had made the decision to get out of Neptune; away from Veronica and Duncan and all of Veronica's friends that had become his friends, too. Despite his and Wallace's long worked at brotherhood and Mac and his comfortable camaraderie, in the end, he knew where each of their loyalties fell. He'd hadn't even cared about walking across the stage to get his hard earned diploma, instead electing to receive in by mail wherever that was going to be. So he left and went to where every young playboy with millions to burn and even more to drown found themselves: Hollywood
The days and months easily turned into years with the life he was leading. The acting jobs were easy to get and even easier to keep. Being a movie star may have hit a little close to home for his liking but it kept the booze flowing, the drugs coming, the girls loose and that was about all he was interested in. At least he didn't have a wife drowning herself in the bottle or a kid he hit around and he was still too young to be considered a pervert when he banged the girls who'd just turned eighteen. There had been a lot of those, but he never touched them younger and rarely ever touched them blond, not real blond anyway.
It was a little funny to him and probably ironic if he wanted to bring out that hundred thousand dollar English degree to make himself feel smart, that the place where he got his coke was from the same people he'd feared for his life once upon a time. Now they had him by the balls all for a different reason but he guessed that was indeed better than being six feet under. The Sorokins were bad people but they were still businessmen, astute ones at that. They knew what Veronica had on them and as long as she kept her mouth shut, they'd left her and hers alone. Besides, Logan was one of their best customers. He had lots of parties and Hollywood parties had lots of drugs.
One day after a party, Logan had woken up to find his quasi-girlfriend had overdosed in his master bathroom. He'd rarely touched the stuff anymore but it was cocaine he had provided at one of his many parties. It was a sobering experience to walk onto the cold tile of the bathroom, half asleep, hung over from the night before only to find even colder eyes staring back at you from the floor.
He'd gotten off easily enough. It was still Hollywood and he was still a highly sought after actor so community service it had been. But he didn't think anything would ever be able to erase the memory that morning had provided.
After that he'd cleaned up his act, deciding he was tired of being a Hollywood cliché. He was starting to get old enough to be pathetic and it was staring to hit a little closer to home than he would like. His heart still ached with the pain, albeit pain that dulled with the passing days, of the day that he'd walked out on Veronica for good. But he was tired of wallowing in self pity, tired of waiting for Veronica Mars to swoop in on her white horse and save him when it was quite clear to him that she was having a hard enough time saving herself.
All this had been why he'd stayed away from Veronica so long. She had to have known what he had been up to but he convinced himself that she couldn't even bring herself to care. She was long since done with him and he kept telling himself the reverse was true; he was done with her.
And then one day her beautiful face stared back at him through the steam from his morning coffee. There she had been, a vision even in black and white, in the calendar section of the LA Times. She was dutifully attached the arm of his former best friend turned arch nemesis, playing her part in the role of the happy, newly engaged couple that the media couldn't get enough of.
It was something right out of a fairy tale, rich handsome software prince proposes to high school sweetheart, complete with murder and intrigue and even an evil doer or two. Logan figured he was first on that list.
But her smile, that fake plastered farce and the lack of the Veronica Mars glint in her eyes went straight to his heart. For the first time in six years he wondered if the hole in her heart was as large and consuming as it was in his. If it was, he owed to her and to himself to find out. He would never forgive himself if he didn't. And so six years after he had left, he had worked up his courage, grabbed his keys and left LA in the dust. He was bound for Neptune, hoping he could pry the one thing out of it that it had been void of for years… truth.
"See… now you know what an awful person I was and that all those tabloid stories were really true," Logan said sadly.
Veronica reached up and cupped his cheek, forcing his head down to look at her.
"Logan… we've both made mistakes. We've both tried to find ways to forget each other. The important thing is that we didn't and hopefully that has made us better people. Besides, I'm the one who's awful. Duncan never deserved that. He never deserved what I did to him, no matter what he did."
"Shhhh," he chided. "None of that now. You did what you thought was right; what you had to do. And if I hadn't been such a jackass and waited until right before your wedding, things might have been very different and you wouldn't be in this position."
Veronica pulled her hand from his face and looked down into his chest, unable to look him into the eyes.
"Logan," she started, unsure of herself. "There is something I need to tell you about that day," she continued, stammering. "The day you came to see me. Something happened…"
It was a different door, a different place entirely but it still effectively served its purpose in shutting Logan out of her life, probably for good this time. Could she really let that happen? One thing was for sure, though, she wasn't that girl anymore, the one that he walked out on six years ago. Time had numbed her, Duncan had molded her and the fire she used to feel within herself for Logan and that life in general had long been extinguished. Duncan was safe and normal and she just didn't know if she had it in her to take another ride on the Logan roller coaster.
She collapsed against the large wooden door breathing slowly and evenly, just the way that yoga instructor Duncan hired had taught her. Six years. He had waited six damn years to trounce back into her life with his long legs and broad shoulders, strong hands, loving eyes and epic dreams. Veronica's eyes flew open with the sudden realization that she'd let him go one too many times and she couldn't do it again. The door flew open and she ran down the sidewalk, before she had a chance to change her mind.
"Logan," she called. "Logan, wait!"
It was no use; his car was nowhere in sight. As her shoulders slumped, she began to cry and she told herself that she couldn't marry Duncan, not when her heart still literally ached for the love of another man. Damn the fear of becoming her mother. She'd break promises, yes, but if she went through with this marriage, her mother is exactly who she would become.
Veronica's hands covered her face as the tears continued to fall, remembering what she lost and what she was going to have to sacrifice to get it back. She opened her eyes only to be greeted by newly offensive metal residing on the ring finger of her left hand. Dropping her hands, she pulled the ring off in silent assurance of decisions made. It was only when she looked up that she saw him, sly and unassuming, parked a little way down the street.
The blood rushed to her head as her anger grew at the sight of his silver sedan. There would be only two reasons why he would be here, parked out in front of her house. And it really was a crap shoot as to which Kane had sunk the lowest by having her spied on. But hell or high water, she was going to find out.
"What the hell are you doing here, Weidman?!"
"Miss Mars," he stated. "Mr. Kane would like to have a word with you."
Ah, yes. Jake- she couldn't say she was surprised.
"Is that so," Veronica drawled. "Well I would like a word, or few, with him too. Isn't that convenient?"
"The Kane residence- one hour. And Mr. Kane asked that you not mention this to Duncan."
"I'll guess that's up to my own discretion."
"Goodbye Miss Mars," he told her before driving off, his words still hanging in the air.
After going back into the house to calm down, Veronica got in her car and drove over to Kane mansion, showing up promptly one hour later just like a good little Kane-to-be should. She had to admit, despite being extremely wary of the possible subject matter of this meeting, her curiosity was definitely getting the better of her. And although she had a pretty good idea what the meeting might be about, she wasn't completely sure. These days her investigative skills were rusty to say the least, but there was no way it was a total coincidence that this meeting coincided with Logan showing up at her door. She wouldn't have to wait long, though, because Jake answered the door and invited her up to his office.
"Veronica, glad you could make it."
"Why do I get the feeling that this meeting is not about last minute changes in the seating chart for the reception?"
"You always were a smart one," Jake said, pausing a moment before continuing. "I see you're missing an important piece of jewelry, Veronica. I don't know how I'd ever keep up with mine if I took it off," he stated, eyeing her expectantly.
Veronica looked down at her hand. She'd forgotten to put her ring on before she came over here. The last thing she wanted was for Jake to be asking questions before she even had a chance to talk to Duncan. Of course, she supposed it wouldn't matter. Clarence Weidman probably filled him in on any details of what he saw outside her house, anyway. Nonetheless, she was uncomfortable in how this conversation was going.
"Yeah, I took it off for a while," she said, playing with the skin where the ring usually resided. "I must have forgot to put it back on. Silly me."
"Well, I'm sure it's easy to do. Day after tomorrow you'll have another ring to keep up with, too. Duncan is very excited. Are you excited Veronica?"
"Yes. Of course I am," she said in a neutral tone, feeling like the conversation was heading in a direction that she wasn't going to like.
"That's good, Veronica, because you make Duncan very happy. Marrying you is his dream come true."
"That's," she trailed off as he interrupted her.
He continued on, turning away from her and looking out the window, not giving her a chance to speak.
"Yes. I've never seen him so happy or so healthy. You know he hasn't had one seizure since you two became engaged? Not one. I guess that's what love has done to him- kept him healthy. I hate to see Duncan unhealthy." He paused before continuing deliberately. "Don't you Veronica?"
He turned around, facing her again. There was a slight warning in his voice and she might have missed it if it weren't for the fact that it was Jake Kane she was talking to. He the king of lies and manipulation.
"No," she replied, swallowing thickly.
"Good. I know you will make him very happy. And speaking of happy, Veronica. You're Dad- he really likes being Sheriff, doesn't he?"
He again cut her off, not waiting for her to comment further.
"He's a good Sheriff," he stated matter-of-factly. "I would hate if something happened and he wasn't the Sheriff anymore. But I'm sure that's not likely to happen, right Veronica?"
And there was the bombshell. She had been waiting for it ever since she walked across the threshold into the lion's den. They'd wore her down, gradually plucking little pieces of warrior Veronica out of her until they had her where they wanted her- under their thumb. And her Dad, she'd already cost him the position of Sheriff once before, how could she do that to him again. Jake was right He had been so happy lately and she was sure reclaiming his duty to protect and serve had everything to do with that.
So that was the deal. She would marry Duncan and make him happily ever after and her father would stay sheriff. Her father would be happy. After everything that had happened- after every curve ball that had been thrown Keith Mars' way- he would get to keep his role as protector- for her and everyone else in Neptune. How could she take that away from him?
It wasn't like she didn't love Duncan, either. It wasn't all fire and passion but she did care about him and Lilly. And she had made a promise to Meg a long time ago to help Duncan look after their little girl. The Mannings were less likely to ever get unsupervised visitation if he had a stable family. How could she turn her back on them both now?
There it was. The Kane's would win again. And it probably only made the pot that much sweeter that Jake could exact a little revenge on Logan, too. After all it was his family that had caused his so much pain. It didn't matter in his mind that Logan was the farthest thing from his father. No, the Kane's would get their due and it didn't matter who or what was trampled over in the process.
"Omigod, Veronica. I'm sorry. I had no idea; if I would have known," he confessed, trailing off helplessly.
"How can you apologize Logan? I mean how can you even bear to look at me? I sold you out for my Father's job and an old promise that I was too young to make," she told him guiltily.
Logan grabbed her face again and forced her to look at him, to take in the sincerity in his eyes.
"Veronica. That's one of the reasons why I love you so much. You'll do anything for those you love."
"But I love you and I still,"
She was interrupted by a loud knock on the door, aware that whoever it was must have been pounding for them to hear it all the way back in the bedroom.
"Let Maria get it. I'm not moving," Logan told her playfully.
"We let the staff have the day off, remember?"
"Ugh," he complained, throwing his arm over his face. "Ok. I'll get it. You stay here and we will continue this conversation where we left off. If you don't put your clothes back on, I'll let you make it up to me in a variety of ways," he told her with a suggestive smirk before getting out of bed.
"Don't try to hide the fact that you love it."
She smiled up at him while she watched him slide his jeans on, trying to mask the uneasiness she felt. He always had a way over making her feel better but something was very wrong; she could feel it down in her bones. Veronica had the feeling that her world was about to come crashing down around her, again. And just when she was beginning to build from the ashes.
The knock became a frantic pounding by the time he had gotten to the door and threw it open. He was ready to lay into whoever had dared to break into his Veronica time but the sight of the brand new Balboa County Sheriff and a few other deputies standing ominously in front of him shocked him into silence.
His heart plummeted into his stomach, knowing that they hadn't come all the way to L.A. for a friendly chat. The sheriff confirmed that fact when he produced a white sheet a paper and held it out in front of him.
"We need to see Veronica Mars-Kane. I have a warrant for her arrest," he stated, firmly pushing past into the mansion.
"She's not," he trailed off.
"Save it lover-boy. We know she's here. This will be better for everyone if she comes quietly."
"I'm not letting you take her. I will," he started angrily before a small, demure voice cut in.
Veronica placed her hand on his arm trying to calm and comfort him at the same time. There was no use making things harder than they were going to be for them both.
"It's ok, Logan. Let me go with them. He's right It will make it easier on every one."
The sheriff nodded and one of the deputies turned Veronica around to cuff her.
"Veronica Mars-Kane, you are under the arrest for the murder of Duncan Kane. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
The words faded into nothingness as she looked into the rage-clouded eyes of the one man she had given everything up for. She was frightened and she needed the assurance that only he could give her.
"Murder?! Are you crazy?! You sons-of bitches," Logan fumed.
"Logan, please," she begged.
Veronica wasn't just scared for herself. If one thing hadn't changed about Logan Echolls, it was his temper. She was afraid he would do something incredibly stupid and then they both would end up in jail. One was enough.
"Please Logan," she implored. "I need to you stay strong, please."
Logan watched helplessly as they led the love of his life away in handcuffs. She didn't do it, didn't do what they said she did and he was going to prove it. One way or another Veronica was not going to prison for something she didn't' do. He didn't care if he had to go against Jake Kane and the whole damn police department. Whatever it took, whatever he had to do, he would do it.
Just before her head ducked into the back of the police cruiser, she turned for one last look at the life she should have had in the beginning. She found Logan looking back at her, the intensity in his eyes surpassed by none other. He caught her gaze and mouthed the words, "I love you."
She smiled, knowing that things were only going to get worse but she found herself not caring as much as she did moments before. Logan loved her, she loved him and they had come too, too far to give up now. They were epic, now more so than ever and she had to believe that, had to believe in them. She replied simply.
Because she did know and those words, along with everything they represented, would have to be the lifeline that she would surely need in the days to come.
To be continued…
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