Author's Note: Not as depressing as it might sound, which isn't to say that it's without angst, but hopefully some light moments as well. And the epilogue is there because I didn't want to end on a down note.
"Come on. How bad could it be?"
"Bad," Felix told Weevil.
They were hanging out at Felix's house both nursing hangovers from some pretty intense partying the night before. Weevil had gone over to make sure Felix was still alive as he'd lost track of him somewhere between the tequila shots and chugging beer.
"Well, why would you go there when you were drunk?"
"I don't know. You have 'em, so did Gus. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
Weevil shook his head. He loved the guy, but Felix's 'good ideas' were always pretty much guaranteed to be the opposite.
"Felix, Felix, Felix, have I not said time and time again, there are two things you never do when you're drunk: go to the tattoo parlour and call your ex-girlfriends."
Casting him a wry grin, Felix said, "Yeah, well now I have a great reminder of that first rule. A permanent reminder."
"Let me see."
"No. The only person who's ever going to see this is my future wife and that only because I'm pretty sure I won't be able to hide my ass from my wife forever."
"Look, while I'm not really itching for a private viewing of your ass, it can't be as bad as you think. At least tell me what it is. You know I'll find out one way or another, man."
Felix gave him a long look. "You promise not to laugh?"
"Yeah, whatever, I promise, just let me see."
Felix stood up, unbuckled his belt and lowered his jeans just enough to uncover the bandage. "No laughing," he reminded Weevil. He gently pulled the bandage down.
Weevil managed to keep it in for about three seconds before he burst out guffawing.
"Speed Racer! What the hell made you get Speed Racer tattooed on your ass?"
Pulling up his pants, Felix flipped Weevil off. "You know I used to love that cartoon. And I was drunk. Everything seems like a good idea when you're drunk."
Weevil was still chuckling fifteen minutes later. Felix threw a cushion at his head, laughing himself. "Man, I'm never telling you anything ever again."
The only thing his grandmother wanted from him was to see him graduate. So he promised her, he would walk across that stage and get his diploma. He buckled down in his final year, not being a PCHer anymore helped with that, and managed to pull through, though he just barely scraped by in algebra and western civ.
The day came and his grandma must have taken about a hundred shots of him in his cap and gown. He knew she'd had grave doubts about whether he'd be able to pull it off. Just before he went to take his seat, she kissed his cheek. "I'm very proud of you, Eli. Congratulations."
Then Lamb had shown up and he knew, as soon as he saw the asshole, the cops were there for him. He'd lowered himself to begging for Lamb to let him cross that stage, but he should have known. Veronica had sent him a look of pure pity as he walked by but that wasn't the face that stuck with him. As he was led out, he stole a look at his grandmother and the shock, grief, and disappointment on her face was almost too much to bear. Weevil refused to cry in front of Lamb, but later, alone in his cell, he silently shed a few tears.
A month later he shed even more when his sister came to tell him that their grandmother had died the previous night. She had been sick, sure, but Weevil knew the truth. He'd broken his promise and she died of a broken heart.
About mid-way through Veronica's sophomore year in college, they started dating. They'd been working a case and after a spectacularly close call involving Liam Fitzpatrick and a 9mm, he'd thrown all caution to the wind and kissed her like he wanted to for nearly four years. Missing death by mere centimetres tends to put things in perspective and the possibility that Veronica would bitch-slap him no longer seemed that dire.
She didn't hit him and actually returned the kiss and that's what started their affair. It was completely new to Weevil. He thought he'd been in love before with Lilly, but Veronica taught him what love really was. Partners, friends, lovers all rolled up into one. And he lived in fear every day of ruining it.
Veronica had the same fears, thinking her tendency to lose trust and faith in people would show its ugly face. He promised her that he'd never give her reason not to trust him. Never give her reason to doubt him. And she promised that she'd try to keep an open mind. He couldn't believe he was stupid enough to think that they'd pull it off.
That summer Hector knocked over a gas station and ended up hiding out at Weevil's. The gas attendant was found dead the next morning and Hector swore on his life, his mother's life, on the Blessed Virgin that he hadn't killed the attendant. He robbed the place and that was it. And Weevil knew Hector well enough to know he was telling the truth.
But Veronica knew Weevil was hiding something and, being Veronica, couldn't let it go. Despite his promise to her, he couldn't throw Hector to the wolves like that. Veronica really disliked Hector and would never believe his story. And while they had minor fights before, this was a whole new beast.
"Did you do it?" she asked.
"Christ, Veronica! How can you even ask me that?"
"How can I ask you that? A man is dead, Weevil. And you know something about it. You've been lying about that whole night. What am I supposed to think?" He noticed that she kept herself at the doorway, like she needed to have a clear exit, presumably in case he tried to kill her, too.
"You're supposed to think I've changed and I'm not the criminal everyone says I am. You're supposed to think that I'm not an idiot who would knock over a gas station and kill someone in cold blood. Fuck Veronica, everything we been through, you should know I'd never – "
"What?" she asked, her tone mocking even though she was crying. "Kill someone? Thumper might have something to say about that. Steal? How did you get your car again? You're the one who's always telling me that a leopard can't change its spots. I don't know why I expected anything different."
And just like that the fight went out of him. What was the point when she saw him just like everyone else did. "Get out." He kept his voice calm, quiet.
"We're not finished."
"Yes, Veronica, we are. Now get the hell out." At the moment he said it, he just meant that they were finished fighting for the day before they said something they couldn't take back. But from the look in her eyes, she took it as a different kind of finish altogether. And he honestly couldn't come up with a good enough reason to set her straight. At the heart of everything he knew she didn't believe he'd killed that guy. She knew it, too. But he lied and she couldn't help but punish him. It's who she was and he knew that wasn't going to change.
Tears sprang into her eyes, but to her credit, not a single one slid down her cheek. She nodded and walked towards him. Weevil half expected a slap, not the soft kiss she placed on his lips. Her goodbye.
She paused in the door on her way out. "You broke your promise."
It wasn't an accusation, just a simple statement of fact and then she was gone.
"So did you."
Ophelia's father had taken off when she was still in diapers and since his sister kept up her track record of dating losers, Weevil was about the closest think she had to a dad. It was a role he cherished as there were few things he loved more in the world than his little niece.
She grew up way too quickly. That's what Weevil decided when Ophelia called to let him know that she had a date on the weekend so they were going to have to reschedule their The Fast and the Furious movie marathon. (Car racing for him, cute boys for her.) He tried to pry information out of her about this date and the boy but she'd just laughed and said, "Come on, Uncle Eli. Like I'm gonna give you any chance to threaten the guy so he breaks the date. I'm smarter than that."
Well, maybe he couldn't threaten him in advance, but he could certainly do it that night. He sat on his sister's couch as a flurry of activity went on in Ophelia's room. He knew she was sixteen but he still thought that was awfully young for her to be dating. He remembered what he was like at sixteen and … Aw, hell, maybe he should just break the kid's legs. No, his hands. Hard to be grabby when you can't move your fingers.
"Uncle Eli." In trying to come up with the best way to injure her date he hadn't noticed Ophelia until she was standing right in from of him.
"Hey Angelita. You look pretty." Too pretty, if you asked him.
"Thanks. Why are you here?"
He gave her his most winning smile. "Just wanted to meet your gentleman friend. Make sure he remains a gentleman all night."
Groaning, Ophelia plopped down on the couch next to him and grabbed his hand. "Please, Uncle Eli, please don't embarrass me. I really like this guy."
"That's good. And if he really likes you, he'll keep his grubby little paws to himself tonight and treat you like a lady."
She dropped his hand and melodramatically flopped over to the side. "I'm going to die a virgin. I can see it now."
"With any luck, yeah, you will."
"I'm going to go finish my hair," she said with a glare and stomped off back to her bedroom.
A couple of minutes later there was a knock on the door. Weevil answered to see a lily-white 09er standing there. Worse and worse.
"Hey man, is Ophelia here?"
"She is, but why don't you and I step outside for a second." The kid shrugged and stepped back so Weevil could follow him onto the porch.
"What's your name?" Weevil asked.
Figured. "Listen, Tristan, I'm gonna say this once so you better pay attention: hurt my niece, treat her badly in any way, break her heart, and I promise I will hunt you down and feed you your own balls. You got me?" Weevil put some extra menace in his voice and it seemed to work 'cause the kid looked like he was about to piss himself.
"Yes. Uh, sir. Yes, sir."
"That's good. I'm glad we understand each other." Weevil opened the door and looked back at Tristan. "Oh, and no trying to cop a feel. You wouldn't want to get your fingers caught in something. Like my vice grips."
"Oh God," Ophelia moaned from the other side of the door. "Tristan, don't pay attention to him. Uncle Eli, leave him alone." She pulled Weevil into the house and shoved him to the side to smile flirtatiously at the now terrified-looking Tristan. "Come on. Let's go."
Far as he could tell, Tristan didn't try anything that night or for at least a few months. Ophelia would glare witheringly at Weevil every time he brought her boyfriend up and then sulk for the next ten minutes.
Tristan, obviously not a brain trust, ended up dumping Ophelia the following year. But Weevil didn't feed him his balls as promised. No, instead he reduced the kid's Mercedes Benz to a cube and, with Veronica's help, arranged for him to get caught in possession of some illegal substances. It may not have been as painful as Weevil would have liked but it did fill Weevil with a certain satisfaction.
Nobody messed with his family.
When he was born, Weevil promised his son Gabriel that he would never need to doubt his father's love in him. That no matter what he did, he would always know that his parents both loved him more than anything.
It should have been an easy promise to keep. But then Gabe turned seventeen and he started getting in trouble. Weevil knew that any kid of his and Veronica's wouldn't be an angel, but Gabe was doing stupid stuff and getting caught, and it all boiled down to his new girlfriend.
Katie O'Brien was a cute girl but Veronica had called her trouble as soon as she met her. At first Weevil thought she was just being an over-protective mother, but Veronica, unable to leave things alone, did some digging. She found out, not only was Katie a Fitzpatrick on her mother's side, but her last three boyfriends were all doing time in either juvie or jail and it would appear that they took the fall for her felonious ass.
Weevil and Veronica agreed that Gabe should be told just what kind of girl he was dating and sat him down after dinner one night to tell him what Veronica had found.
"You checked up on my girlfriend?" Gabe asked, staring in disbelief at Veronica.
"I just… I didn't trust her, sweetheart. I wanted to make sure she wasn't hiding anything." Veronica reached forward to grasp their son's hand, but he leapt to his feet, knocking over his chair.
"I can't believe you! What gives you the right to go meddling in everyone's business, Mom! It's not like you were perfect. You think I don't know, but I do. You were arrested! More than once. And you helped a murder suspect kidnap his daughter and flee the country. Not to mention all the times you helped Dad stay out of jail. Except for the six month stint he did for killing someone and just being smart enough to not get caught doing the actual murdering."
"You don't know what you're talking about," Weevil said.
"What, have I gotten something wrong? Maybe Katie isn't perfect, but it's not likeyou're the best role models in the world. It would be a miracle if I didn't end up in jail with you two as parents."
Raising a calming hand, Veronica gently said, "Gabriel, I know you're upset, but this isn't about your dad and me. Yes, we made our share of mistakes when we were younger but that's not who we've been for a long time. We're worried about you. We don't want you getting mixed up in something you can't get out of."
Gabriel laughed derisively. "Oh please. This is about you hating Katie. That's all this is."
"I don't hate Katie," Veronica said. "I just want you to see her for who she really is."
"Fuck you, Mom!"
"Hey!" Weevil shouted, standing up.
"No, she doesn't like Katie so she digs up a bunch of bullshit on her! Putting her nose where it doesn't belong, just like always. Do you know why Mike stopped talking to me last year? Because Mom investigated his dad and his parents ended up getting a divorce. Mark Enbom has made my life a living hell because his dad's in jail because of her. And now she's going after Katie! She ruins everything!" Gabe, shaking in anger, turned on Veronica. "I hate you, you fucking bitch!"
It grew so silent so quickly Weevil wondered for a second if maybe the world had ended. Veronica looked as though someone had punched her and Gabe, meeting his dad's eyes, looked terrified.
"Get. Upstairs." Weevil kept his voice soft, quiet, even. His self-control hung by a thread and he knew if he let it go just a little, he'd say or do something he couldn't take back, couldn't ask forgiveness for. He'd never raised a hand to his son, never spanked or swatted, but he was so close to hitting him in that moment that it scared him.
Gabriel nodded and they heard his quiet tread on the stairway before the door to his room shut.
Kneeling before Veronica, Weevil asked, "Baby, you okay?"
She quickly wiped away the few tears that had escaped, nodded, and stood up. "I'm fine. It's nothing I haven't heard before, right?"
Following her into the kitchen he stilled her hands when she started to shakily rinse the dishes in the sink. "He didn't mean it, V. He was just angry." He pulled her into his arms when more tears started running down her cheeks. "He loves you, querida. He's just seventeen and pissed. We've all been there. Said things we wish we could take back."
"It's okay. Really." After a deep breath, she gently pushed away from him and her lips quirked into the sorriest excuse for a smile he'd ever seen. "He's probably been bottling that up for awhile. Better for him to just get it out."
"I'm pretty sure he could have come up with a better way of getting it out."
"Maybe." She moved to the back door and slipped on her jacket. "I'm gonna take Chompers for a walk."
"V…" He placed a hand on the back of her head to gently turn her towards him. Stopping him from speaking, she leaned forward and kissed him softly.
"Honest, Eli, I'm fine. I just need some fresh air. But maybe you should check on Gabe. Make sure he's okay?" He nodded and she kissed him again quickly before grabbing the leash for their pit bull and heading out.
After climbing the stairs, Weevil could hear some angst-filled music coming from his son's room. He knocked then entered without waiting for a response. Gabriel sat up on his bed and shrank back, refusing to look Weevil in the face.
"To start off, you're grounded so seeing Katie won't even be an issue for the next six weeks. You go to school, you go to work and you come home. Those are the only places you'll be spending time. You got it?"
Gabe mumbled something under his breath.
"What was that?" Weevil asked sharply.
"I said, I got it." His tone was a little too petulant for Weevil's liking.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Gabriel? How could you say those things to your mom?"
"Oh right. 'Cause it's all about her. Just like always."
Weevil took a step forward and used a very measured voice. "You're gonna wanna watch yourself right now, son. Because you're testing every last bit of my patience." Taking a deep breath, he said in a calmer voice, "Now what is your problem?"
"My problem? My problem is that I'm tired of being the son of Veronica Mars, private investigator and Weevil Navarro, former gang-leader. I'm tired of being hated by every person whose life is ruined by Mom's investigations. I'm tired of everyone at school either wanting me to solve their problems or take over the bikers. And I'm tired of you and Mom trying to run my life."
If it wasn't for the fact that the kid obviously had Mexican blood in him, Weevil would sometimes swear that he was Echolls' son. Same overdramatic outbursts and woe-is-me attitude.
"We're not trying to run you're life, but we are trying to keep you from making stupid mistakes that will ruin it."
"So Katie is a stupid mistake?"
Though Weevil's first instinct was a resounding yes, he'd learned a thing or two about dealing with moody teenagers. "I didn't say that. But it doesn't seem like you're thinking real clearly around her, either. The last three guys who dated her are in jail for dealing and assault. You're a good kid, Gabe, but I'm getting calls from Principal Wu about you skipping class, getting into fights, stupid stuff. And that worries me and your mom."
"Like you never got into trouble in school," Gabe scoffed.
"Yeah, and I also spent two years in juvie and six months in prison. And I gotta tell you mi'jo, it ain't as much fun as you might think. So if you think I'm just gonna stand by and watch as you ruin you life you're in for a surprise."
"I don't need you to watch out for me!"
"Well, that's where we disagree."
Gabe rolled his eyes and leaned his head back against his headboard. "God, I can't wait until next year when I can get out of here and not have to deal with you or her any more."
"She's your mother, not a 'her' and you'll treat her with respect, got it? And I hate to break it to you but we're your family and we ain't goin' nowhere, no matter how hard you wish for it."
That was it. Weevil was tired and obviously not getting through to him. "Yeah, whatever. Tomorrow morning you're going to apologize to your mother and you're going to either mean it or damn well sound like you do, so I'd get practicing. You get into any more trouble because of that girl and we're going to come up with a solution that I can almost guarantee you won't like."
A glare was thrown his way, but his son remained quiet.
"One more thing: you don't ever speak to your mother like that again, I don't care how angry you are."
"You don't want me to answer that."
As he left Gabe's room, his eyes met his son's. He'd seen hatred levelled at him by a lot of people but it never hurt like it did this time. But he didn't let that show. He wouldn't. And while he hated leaving things like they were, hostile, angry and bitter, he didn't see any other choice.
Once he'd promised his son that he would show him he loved him everyday whether his son wanted him to or not.
He should have known better than to make a promise he couldn't keep.
Bonus Epilogue to Ophelia's section
To: Veronica Ophelia
Subject: I'm onto you.
Could you please not aid Uncle Eli in his insanity? I know that you did. The cubed car was a Navarro trademark but getting him busted, that seems more like a Mars specialty. Don't get me wrong, Tristan's a toad and he totally deserved what he got, but Uncle Eli so doesn't need any encouragement in making my boyfriends' lives miserable. I'll be lucky if I ever get a date at this rate. The kids at school have started calling me "Chastity" because there's a rumor that I'm forced to wear one of those belts. Just don't tell Uncle E that. He might get another genius idea.
But, I'm happy you two are hanging out again. He really likes you. He keeps telling me you guys aren't dating, just friends, but maybe you can be his girlfriend again. You were my favourite and he's much happier when he's with you. Besides, if he has his own love life to concentrate on, maybe he'll keep out of mine.
Hey, there's a Big Lebowski screening at the drive-in on Saturday. Wanna go? I remember you really like that movie and it's not like I'm ever gonna get another date. Let me know.