He knew as soon as he saw her leaning against the maintenance building door. He knew that it meant nothing but trouble.
It was quitting time on the Friday before finals and Weevil was more than a little eager to shed his maintenance uniform, grab a six-pack, go home and drink away the week. Both students and teachers were always a little more twitchy in the lead-up to finals, and the calls to fix thermostats, broken file cabinets, and patch up holes in the dry wall was non-stop. At first he couldn't figure out where all the holes were coming from. Then he saw a particularly distraught sophomore put her foot through a wall and he understood.
And now, instead of being able to change his clothes and grab his beer, he was going to have to do whatever Veronica Mars had up her sleeve.
"What do you want, V?" He didn't have the energy to be nice.
It didn't seem to phase her. "Wow. I'm feeling the love."
"Just tell me what door you want unlocked or car you want jacked or guy you want shaken down so I can do it and go home."
She looked at him with a weird expression on her face. It wasn't one he recognized and that made him suspicious. "Look, I don't need anything."
That made him even more suspicious. "Yeah, right. Seriously, what is it?"
"Nothing. I just thought…" Her voice trailed off and she looked away from him, across the parking lot. And was that? It was. She was blushing. Since when did Veronica blush?
"Just thought what?" he asked in a gentler tone.
She shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe that we could hang out tonight."
He couldn't help it, he started laughing. "Us? Hang out?" He grinned at her. "Man, Mars, you must be desperate. Where's your usual posse?"
"What posse? If you mean Mac and Wallace, well, Mac's got a boyfriend who pretty much occupies all of her waking hours. And Wallace is ridiculously freaked out about finals next week and has sequestered himself in his dorm room with noise-cutting headphones and power bars for sustenance."
"You're not worried about finals?"
Veronica shook her head. "I don't have any. I have three papers that are due next week, but I thought Dad was going to need my help on a case so I did them already. Turns out it was a lot simpler than he thought so now I've got nothing to do." She smiled wryly. "For like the first time ever."
"So, in your desperation, you're hoping Weevil can entertain you." He rolled his eyes. "All I'm doing is going home, ordering a pizza, and drinking some beer. If that sounds good to you, I guess you can come."
"How about I rent a DVD on the way?"
She was actually going to come over. He didn't see that coming. "Yeah, all right. Just no romantic comedies. Or British people unless it's Jason Statham."
"You like Jason Statham?" she asked, with a grin. And implied… something.
"Not particularly, but if he's in a movie there will probably be a lot of guns and cars."
"Fine, no chick flicks or historical dramas, only mindless violence or pretty cars. Gotcha." She tilted her head and then he knew a favour was about to be asked. "Do you mind if I bring Backup? Dad left this afternoon to grab a bail jumper and I don't like leaving him alone for so long."
While he'd never admit it, Weevil was actually kind of fond of the pit bull. Besides, if she was making two stops that meant he'd have about half an hour to make sure his apartment didn't look like it had been hit by a bomb. "Sure."
"Great. See you in a few."
Weevil's apartment was actually not too messy so he just quickly cleaned up the bathroom and took out the trash. He'd picked up coolers and pop along with his beer on his way home, just in case Veronica wasn't a Coors type of girl, and ordered the pizza.
Veronica arrived at the same time as the delivery guy, Backup in tow. The dog immediately settled in Weevil's armchair and fell asleep.
"Sorry," Veronica said. "I took him to the beach for a few minutes to let him run off some energy and he overdid it."
"It's okay." He softly patted Backup on the head before sitting down on the couch and putting the pizza on the coffee table. "We got pepperoni and plain because I didn't know what you liked."
"Anything's good." She sat next to him and pulled two movies out of her bag. "I got The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Crank. One's got fast cars, the other's got Jason Statham. What's your pleasure?" she asked, holding them out to him.
"Chicks in low-cut tops."
He grinned. "Let's do Tokyo Drift. I haven't seen that one yet." After he popped it into the DVD player, he went to his fridge and grabbed a beer. "I got beer, diet Coke, and some Smirnoff Ice. You want something?"
"Diet Coke, please."
He tossed her the soda and then settled in to watch the movie.
Almost two hours later, about half of the pizza was gone, Backup was still asleep, and Veronica was curled up in the corner of the couch looking vaguely dissatisfied.
"You didn't like it?" Weevil asked. He knew it was no Best Picture nominee, but for what it was, he enjoyed it. The racing looked fun.
"No, the movie was fine. That guy is hot." She sighed, frowning at him. "What are we doing?'
"Nothing right now, but if you want to move this into the bedroom, I'm happy to do whatever you want."
She rolled her eyes, but he didn't exactly expect her to tear off her clothes and jump him. "I mean, correct me if I'm wrong here, but we're two young, hot, happening people, right?" When he didn't answer, she pressed, "Right?"
"Yeah, we're hipsters, V."
"And it's Friday night, we're both free, and all we're doing is sitting in your sad apartment eating pizza and watching movies. I think I'm starting to understand what Parker keeps warning me about."
He was going to take offence at the 'sad apartment' crack, but looking around, it was hard to argue. Instead he asked, "Who's Parker and what's he warning you about?"
"She. Parker is Mac's roommate. And she's always saying that I need to get a life. That all I do is fill it with mysteries and schoolwork and never actually live it."
"You think she's right?" he asked.
Veronica drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. "She's not wrong. For the last couple of days I've had no homework left and no cases to solve. And you know what I did with that fabulous free time? All of the paperwork at the office. All of it. There is literally nothing left for me to do."
"Is that what landed you on my doorstep," he asked. Because he still couldn't figure why she'd choose him to hang out with.
"Kind of. I was puttering around today. I've never puttered in my life, but today I did. Had breakfast, read the newspaper and it should have been nice. I wanted it to be nice. But it just felt kind of boring. I don't think I was built for idleness."
"It makes sense, V. For the last four years there's always been something important you were working on. Finding out who killed Lilly, helping me with Felix's murder, figuring out what happened with the bus, not to mention trying to win the Kane scholarship and working with your dad. I mean, until this week did you ever have free time?"
"Not really, no. But it's more than that. I should have a life. I'm nineteen, footloose and fancy-free. That's the exact time you should be having a life, right? Now, just thinking about having a life makes me feel tired.. And you're the same."
"Hey," he raised his hands defensively. "Let's not make this about me. I'm perfectly happy being a working stiff and having my Friday night pizza and beer."
"Then why did it take me no effort to get you to steal Madison's car?"
"When have I ever denied you anything?" he countered. Off of her raised eyebrows, he tried again. "Wanted the money," he hedged.
"Please, if it had been Logan's car you would have done it for free. The money was just a bonus. You were bored and wanted a rush. A little risk, a little danger."
He had to smile. Sometimes he forgot how well she knew him. "Yeah, maybe that was part of it."
"It's because you're feeling the same thing as me. Tired of this life."
Something in her voice had him wary. "This isn't gonna turn into some weird joint suicide pact, is it? 'Cause that's really not my thing."
"No," she said, her tone definitely implying he was a moron, "but we should do something. Get out of our ruts."
"And how do you suggest we do that? Skydiving? Base jumping? Knock over a 7-11?" Of course, now that she was into grand theft auto, robbing convenience stores might not be out of the question.
"Nothing that extreme. I say we ease our way back into the social scene."
"Hey, I'm plenty social."
"I meant besides picking up easy women in dank bars." Sometimes her knowing him so well was annoying.
"So what, high tea? Lunch at the country club?" He had a vision of himself in golfing clothes playing a round with Dick Casablancas and had to repress a full body shudder.
"No, nothing that frightening." She stood up and grabbed his hand, pulling him off the couch and towards his room. "Come on, let's find you something nice to wear. We're going out."
An hour later Veronica pulled up in front of Club Largo and Weevil barely suppressed a sigh. This was not his scene. This was so far removed from his scene it could have been on a different planet. But the really strange part was that this wasn't Veronica's scene either.
She faced him and straightened the collar of the black button-down she forced him to wear. "Now, I know you'd be more comfortable at someplace like The Seventh Veil, and I'd be more comfortable, you know, in my car staking out The Camelot, but this is supposed to be a growth experience. We're here to broaden our horizons."
Weevil looked doubtfully at the clean-cut, preppy college students going into the club. "I don't want my horizons this broad."
"Tough, you're going in."
He grabbed her wrist to stop her from getting out of the truck. "Seriously, V, what are we doing here?"
"We're making friends." She pulled her arm out of his grip and turned to face him. "This is what college is supposed to about, right? Making new friends, getting to know new people."
"It might have escaped your notice, but I'm not actually in college. Hence the uniform they make me wear."
"Well, you need new friends even more than I do seeing as the conditions of your parole make it impossible for you to hang out with the old ones."
Choosing to ignore the fact that she had a point, he said, "I'm pretty sure these aren't people I want to make friends with, V."
She tilted her head at him and then tossed her hair. So she was breaking out the big guns, was she? "Just give it a chance." He remained unmoved until she broke out into a goofy grin and put her hands on her hips. Using an all-too peppy voice, she trilled, "Come on, it'll be super-fun! We'll have a totally awesome time and meet lots of neat people!"
"Okay, okay, I'm coming," Weevil relented. "Just… stop doing that. You're creeping me out." Her laughter followed him to the door.
The club was pretty much everything Weevil had been dreading. Strobes flashing, music thudding, and rich kids bouncing around on a three-tiered dance floor. Veronica went to go claim them a table as he headed straight for the bar. The only way he was gonna make it through the night was if he had alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. After waiting in line for nearly fifteen minutes he managed to get himself a shot of tequila which he downed right there and a couple of Coronas for him and Veronica.
Veronica who seemed to have disappeared. He did manage to catch the eye of a different blond who gave him an appraising smile and raised her glass to him in salute. He winked at her and continued his search.
When he finally found her, there was a guy hanging all over her. And as he seemed to be a direct cross between Duncan Kane and Echolls, he was obviously just her type.
"Here's your drink," Weevil said, dangling the Corona in front of her.
She grabbed it and pulled him down to sit next to her. "Weevil, this is Jeff. Jeff, this is Weevil."
Weevil nodded at the guy, more out of politeness than anything. "Charmed, I'm sure."
"This your boyfriend?" Jeff asked. The guy had a tone to his voice that Weevil didn't like. Like he was accusing Veronica for wasting his time or something.
Veronica didn't seem to notice the tone and shook her head. "No, just a friend."
Taking that as his cue, Weevil stood up. At Veronica's questioning look, he explained, "Thought I noticed someone who was interested in making friends. Gonna go talk to her."
A look flashed across Veronica's face that confused him. Like she was pissed-off or annoyed. But it was gone almost before it started and the she just smiled at him. "All right. Just don't do anything I wouldn't do."
He took a second to glare at Jeff before heading back across the bar in search of the blonde he'd noticed earlier. She wasn't at her table, but as he looked towards the dance floor he felt someone curvy press up against him.
A soft voice breathed into his ear, "Lost?"
It was the blonde. She slid around to his front and lazily smiled up at him. He tilted his head at her. "You think you can lead me back to safety?"
"Depends. Buy a girl a drink?" Without even waiting for an answer, she headed for the bar and beckoned for him to follow over her shoulder. He waited for about half a second before he fell in step behind her.
They each did a shot of tequila before he bought her a paralyzer. While they waited for the bartender to mix the drink, she leaned back against the bar and Weevil couldn't help but notice her voluptuous body. Girl should have been wearing a "Dangerous Curves Ahead" sign.
He followed her back to her table once her drink arrived. They chatted a bit. Her name was Taylor and she giggled when he told her his name. For the most part she was like a lot of the chicks he picked up. Her clothes were designer and the look in her eyes wasn't as hard as the girls on the other side of town, but she dug the bad boy tattoos and he knew the prison time would get her hot rather than turn her off. This girl was who Lilly would have been at age twenty if she'd gotten to live her life.
It made him feel a little sick.
After they both had another couple drinks she managed to drag him out to the dance floor. Weevil wasn't big on dancing but the alcohol had loosened him up. The song wasn't slow, but she pressed up to him all the same and draped her arms around him. He held her close and knew that all he had to do was ask and she'd come back to his apartment.
And while he wasn't proud of it, he was pretty close to asking her.
Glancing over at Veronica's table, he noticed that the idiot was still there, hands all over her. Weevil couldn't help but feel mildly disgusted that V was letting him get away with it. Then he noticed the expression on her face: angry and desperate.
Without a word, he pulled away from Taylor and in a rage shoved his way through the crowd to Veronica. He was about halfway there when he saw her pull her taser out of her bag. Should've known she could take care of herself, but he still kept fighting his way towards her.
Unfortunately, Jeff also saw the taser and deflected it enough to only get a mild charge. "Fuck! You stupid bitch!" Weevil managed to get past the last of the crowd just as he raised his hand.
They would never know whether or not Jeff actually intended to hit Veronica because at that moment Weevil grabbed him around the throat and slammed him down onto a nearby table. He wasn't even thinking. All he saw was Veronica's shocked expression and the hand raised to hit her and his vision went red.
The next thing he knew Veronica was pulling him back from a bloody Jeff and pushing him towards the exit. "Weevil, we need to get out of here. Now!" He glanced back at the other guy and saw that, despite all the blood, he was getting up off of the table so he couldn't be that badly hurt.
Veronica pulled him to her truck and had them on the road before he even got his seatbelt on.
Weevil stared down at his hands. His knuckles were bleeding but he knew that the bulk of the blood drying on them was from the other guy. He noticed Veronica staring at them, too, and could tell that she was far from impressed.
The drive back to his apartment was about twenty-five of the longest minutes he ever spent in Veronica's presence. Usually when he was with her time flew by. These twenty-five minutes practically slowed to a stop.
When they got back to his apartment he figured she'd just grab Backup and leave. Instead she took off her jacket and yanked him to the bathroom making him wash his hands while she dug around for bandages and antiseptic. And still she said nothing.
She wrapped his hands in gauze which he was grateful for as he managed to split his knuckles on both hands. He wasn't even sure how he'd managed it. But then, he honestly couldn't remember the last time he lost control like that.
After Veronica taped the gauze securely, she cleaned up and headed back into the living room.
Not liking the silent treatment, Weevil ventured, "You gonna say anything, V?"
The glare she threw at him was not one he'd ever seen before. He'd seen her angry at him, suspicious, disappointed, but not like this. "What should I be saying?"
He opened his mouth to answer, but she kept talking. "Am I supposed to thank you? Well, thank you, Weevil, for nearly killing that guy back there. Thank you for risking your parole over a guy I could have dropped on my own. Thank you for risking a second strike over a bar fight."
Of course. No gratitude, just attitude. "The guy was fine. I just messed him up a little." Not a great defence, but accurate. "He won't press charges because you could do the same. He's not gonna report me."
"That's not the point."
"And what is, Veronica? That I messed up your new 'friendship'? You tasered the guy before I even got there. Or did I embarrass you in front of the 'in-crowd'?"
"Don't be an idiot. You've already reached your daily quota." She sighed and sat down. "I'm not really mad at you. Not just you, anyway. This night was a wash even before the assault and battery."
Weevil slumped down onto the couch next to her. "I coulda told you that."
"I just wanted to be a normal girl for a night. Have a life."
"V, I think you're missing the obvious." He turned to her and had to smile at the sceptical look on her face. "You have a life. Might not be normal, but it's a life. It's actually a pretty cool one."
She acknowledged that with a grin. "What about you?"
"What about me."
"Are you happy with your life?"
He took a second to really think about her question because he knew the answer was important to her. "Since prison and my grandma I'm just trying to take things by the moment. And right now, I got a decent job, leftover pizza in my fridge, and a beautiful blonde next to me on my couch. So yeah, I'm happy."
Her cheeks flushed ever so slightly, but she shifted closer to lay her head on his shoulder. "Who needs new friends."
He slung an arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head. "I'm happy with the old ones."