[A/N: this is a LoVe story but it centers around Piz, so just a little advance warning, this fic is not very nice to Piz. It is slightly OOC for him, but I did try to make it as accurate as possible.]

Veronica is a very closed off person. This is obvious to everyone. How could it not be, when she's practically famous for it. But Piz thought he was something special. He thought he'd be able to crack that Veronica façade, and really be with her. But it doesn't take him long to realize, there's only one person who can ever really be with Veronica Mars.

A relationship is based on three things: friendship, love, and trust. He had the friendship thing down. He was an easy guy to get along with, that part wasn't hard. And there were times he even thought he had the love part. But that third requirement, he didn't get that one. He didn't realize it till after, when Wallace came back from Africa and pointed it out to him. But afterward, he realized he was a fool if he didn't see from the beginning that only one person would ever have Veronica's trust.

His mind traveled back, back to the moment he realized she really could trust and the fight that ended their relationship…

Wallace had been gone a week and it was about a month after Logan had beat up that guy in the Cafeteria. Piz decided to stay in Neptune to keep Veronica company, until she left for Washington. She was leaving in the morning, so they were going to the last party of the year. She met him outside the dorm, Mac standing with her. On one side of the girls stood Parker, not looking at either Veronica or the man on her other side. It had been Mac's idea to invite Logan. Piz realized how truly awkward the walk over to the party was going to be. That didn't stop him from walking up to Veronica, kissing her and putting his arm around her. He didn't miss the look of longing on Logan's face, but he decided to ignore it, not in the mood for another hospital trip.

The five sometimes friends made their way across campus, Mac and Veronica trying to keep the awkward silences to a minimum. Oddly enough Logan was keeping up in the conversation as well. It didn't escape Piz that the two on the outs were him and Parker, the outsiders. The three Neptune natives were talking about days long past, when Logan had pulled some kind of prank involving a teacher's car. Piz was having trouble following, especially when Mac, trying to top Logan, admitted to some kind of internet scam that turned the school on its ears. Logan conceded that she did have the upperhand there, but that the real winner of the 'Who Impressed Neptune High Most' Contest was Veronica. When she threw him a questioning glance he held up a hand. He said five words, raising a finger with each 'Polly, Trina, Felix, Cassidy, Lilly.' His voice had lost its joviality as he reached the end, and both Veronica and Mac had gotten sad, distant looks in their eyes. "You win is all I'm saying." Logan concluded, giving a look that Piz couldn't read, but he was sure Veronica could, because she stared back. Parker however huffed and walked up the steps of the frat house. The other four followed.

Veronica and Mac found a corner with three seats and collapsed. Piz made his way toward the keg, in need of some alcohol, he realized that it was going to be a long night. He took three cups, one for him, and one for each Mac and Veronica. He came back to the girls to find them watching Parker, cup in hand, with her ass pressed very close to the crotch of the guy she was dancing with. He handed Mac and Veronica their cups. Mac took a sip, making a face. Veronica put hers right on the table, Piz chose not to comment. Logan came from the opposite side, cup of beer in one hand, can of soda in the other. He handed it to Veronica without looking at her, his eyes on Parker. She accepted the can with a quick glance up at him. "Parker sure can dance." She said as she opened the can.

"Is that what that's called?" Mac sounded doubtful.

"In that case, Ronnie, want to dance?" Logan wiggled his eyebrows. She laughed and pushed him off the arm of the chair. It was a practiced gesture and he didn't bat an eye or spill a drop of his beer. When the spectacle of Parker became taboo, the three returned to memories of high school, Piz forgotten. Every now and then, Mac and Veronica would scan the crowd for Parker, Logan assisting when they couldn't find her. When there was a lag in conversation, Piz asked Veronica to dance. She looked like she wanted to say no, but she stood, handing Logan her can.

She stayed on the floor with him for two songs, refusing to do her own version of Parker's earlier dance. They returned to Logan and Mac, in the middle of a heated discussion over the most memorable arrest from high school (Logan claimed it was his own walk of shame, for possession of drug paraphernalia, Mac defending Veronica's walk for manufacturing fake IDs). Piz swore for a minute they were joking, until Veronica laughed, saying that Weevil being taken out during Graduation was way more memorable, however wrong and inappropriate. They all shared a chuckle. Logan handed Veronica her soda can, she took a sip. Mac looked around, trying to find Parker. When neither she nor Veronica could spy her, and Logan's height was of no help, the two girls stood up to go look. Veronica went to hand her soda back to Logan, but Piz reached for it. She let him take it, but looked very hesitant about it.

As soon as the girls walked away, Piz put the can down and began checking the crowd for any sign of the girls they'd come with. Logan looked from Piz to the can and back. "I'll be back in a minute, need to powder my nose." Piz spied Mac and Veronica coming back toward him, so he picked the can back up to hand it to Veronica. She looked at it, took it from him, and placed it on the table, next to her forgotten beer cup. Within five minutes, Logan returned, just as before beer in one hand and soda in the other. He held two cans out this time, each girl took one. Piz looked at the table. Veronica's other can had been half full at least.

They hung around for an hour. Veronica asked Piz to dance once during that time to a catchy tune by Tegan and Sara, and dragged Mac out to the makeshift floor when The Dandy Warhols began to play. Piz didn't miss the look that Logan threw at Veronica, however sly he though he was, when the words 'I hear the bells' escaped the speakers. Nor did he miss the look Veronica returned. He excused himself to get another beer, and decided to grab his girlfriend a soda as well. He grabbed a Coke from the cooler, popped it and brought it back to the group. As she had now done twice before, she took the proffered drink, looked at it, and set it on the table, amid a fast growing collection of cups he had brought her.

Within a few minutes, Parker found the group. "Hey guys, my flight leaves at noon, and I still have some packing to do. I'm gonna call it a night." As one, Mac, Veronica and Logan all stood. It took Piz a second to join them. He was totally oblivious to the fact that Mac had only come to watch out for Parker, Veronica had come to do the same for Mac, and Logan to keep his eye on all three (Veronica). They made their way to the front door. Parker walking on one side of Mac, telling her about the guy she had met, Logan on the other, his arm on Mac's shoulder, listening to Parker's story with nothing more then a friend's interest. Veronica allowed the three of them to take the lead, hanging back with Piz, reaching her hand out for him.

"We could stay, ya know? We don't have to leave just cause they did." Piz wanted her to agree, wanted her to stay here with just him.

She hesitated, looking with longing to the spot where the trio had disappeared toward the door. "We could." She seemed to be waging an internal war, he saw it in her eyes. "Or we could go back to your place. I mean, it's kind of empty and Dad's not expecting me home." He could hear the reluctance in her voice, but the thought of finally getting past second was really appealing to him. He took her hand and allowed her to lead the way out. They caught up with the others quickly enough. Logan gave Veronica a searching look when they finally appeared. She quickly glanced away.

The jovial story Parker was telling Mac lasted til the group hit the fork in the path where they would split up. Parker and Mac headed left, toward their dorm. Veronica and Logan paused to watch them disappear into the doorway before beginning to walk again. They reached the path toward the parking lot where Logan would split off. "So I guess this is it, eh Mars?"

"What's that supposed to mean Echolls? I have to come back to finish college." The two slipped into conversation as if Piz wasn't there. But he caught every word.

"You always said once you got out of Neptune, you weren't coming back. This is your big chance."

"My stuff is still here. And you know how my Dad is. If he moves now, it'll look like he's running. He didn't do it three years ago, with so much more at stake. Do you really think he's gonna let Van Lowe run him out of town?" She said it jokingly, but Piz thought he could detect a hint of regret in her voice.

"I guess you're right. So you'll be back come August?"

"Relax Logan. I'll be here. Besides you'll see me in July." Her voice got quiet as if she didn't want to talk about whatever it was July meant.

"Yea I guess so." He too, seemed almost reluctant to talk about whatever it was. They both shot glances at Piz. Veronica stepped forward, pulling Logan into a hug.

"Take care, Logan. Try not to get arrested this summer. It'll be hard to get you out of jail from across the country."

He laughed. "Are you saying you aren't up for the challenge? Really I'm shocked." His tone changed, got more serious, "Call when you hit Dulles. And Ronnie, be careful over there, huh? I can't do my job from this side of the country anymore then you can do yours from the east coast." The look they shared was intense. Piz was almost positive Logan was gonna try and kiss her. He did, but it was not the intense lip-lock they had shared when dating. It was a chaste kiss to her forehead, "till July."

"Till July," she returned his intense gaze, then continues to watch as he made his way across the parking lot. When he was finally in the car, she turned her gaze to Piz. "It's kind of cold out here. What do you say we head inside?" She was going for a light, happy tone, it fell just short. The difference was barely discernable and had Piz not just heard her use the tone when she warned Logan to stay out of jail, he wouldn't have noticed. But he did.

"Yea, let's go inside." He took her hand and they walked toward his dorm, and up the stairs. They walked into his room and closed the door. He was on her quick. He wanted to erase the fact that she and Logan had been more intimate in a simple conversation then he had been with her in twenty minutes of intense make-out. She responded in kind. He led them toward the bed, collapsing on top of her. He rolled to the side, laying next to her, hand on her waist. He let his hand roam up and down her back before grazing the skin that moving her shirt had exposed. As his hand moved under the fabric, he felt her hesitation. But she continued to kiss him, so he allowed his hand to continue up her back, under her shirt. His other hand snaked under her, the two meeting at her bra hook. As he fumbled with the hook, he moved his mouth to her neck. He figured the sooner they moved past where they'd already been, the longer they could spend exploring new territory. After 30 seconds of trying, Veronica's bra unsnapped. She'd worn a strapless one, to go with her tank top, so Piz was able to pull it off completely with one hand. The other hand found its way to her chest, now covered only by the thin material of the tank top. He rolled her onto her back, staying next to her on the bed. He kept busy, one hand on her left breast, his mouth on hers, distracting her while his other hand made it's way toward her jean skirt. Deciding to take the easy approach, his hand caressed her inner thigh, moving up under the denim. The second she registered the feel of his hand on her bare thigh, moving toward the hem of her skirt, she pulled back, pushing him away ever so slightly.

"Uhh, not so fast Piz." He missed the slight hint of fear in her voice, the look of terror barely discernable in her eyes.

That fast she'd gone from his sexy girlfriend, totally willing to fool around, to Veronica Mars, 'let's think about this for a minute.' "Sorry. I just thought. I mean it's been, what a month and a half? I'm not saying lets have sex Ronnie, I just want to be close to you." He left the second part of that sentence in his mind, like Logan.

"Don't." And for a second he was confused by her rebuke. He opened his mouth to deny what he was sure would be an objection to moving fast or a rejection of his unsaid words. But she started speaking again before he could. "Don't call me that."

With those four words, Piz became every bit as jealous as Parker had become weeks ago when she'd heard what Logan had done to Piz on Veronica's behalf. "Don't call you that? Oh, I'm sorry. Is that something only Logan can call you? How 'bout Mars? Can I call you that or is that one reserved for him too?" He couldn't believe it but she actually flinched at his words. And that just made his jealousy grow.

"Don't do that either. Don't make this about him" Veronica wouldn't meet his eyes.

"That's what it comes down to though isn't it? I mean, c'mon. Parker caught on quick enough didn't she? Guess I'm just a little slower." That brought her gaze up, but it wasn't the repentant look he'd been expecting. No, this one was definitely full of anger. But he continued before she could open her mouth to defend herself, "I mean I was under the impression that I was you boyfriend. But tonight sure proved me wrong; you can barely acknowledge anyone else when he's around. You spent the whole evening reminiscing. It's like you forgot you weren't dating. He sat next to you all night, fetching your drinks and running your errands."

"Damn it, Piz. What do you want from me? I'll tell you the same thing I told Parker. Me and Logan have a history. We have a past. Whether we're together or not, it's there. We've been friends, enemies, lovers. There's too much there to just walk away. And even if there wasn't, we wouldn't do that to each other. Not after everything we've been through."

And that was the straw. He was so sick of hearing about how much Logan and Veronica had been through (though the extent of that statement had never been fully explained to him). "Been through? Get over it Veronica! Every couple goes through stuff. That's how relationships work. You and Logan act like you've lived some epic soap opera or something."

Her eyes softened at his words even as her voice came out harsher. "You don't know a thing about what Logan has been through, or what I've been through for that matter. Don't think that just because you've heard a few funny stories about Neptune High that you can presume to know anything that happened to us there. Because you can't. You may not want to hear it, but one of the main reason's Logan will always be in my life, is because he was there."

Piz couldn't help his eye roll "Listen to yourself Veronica. You make it sound like your high school was hell? What happened there? A few make-out sessions in empty classrooms? An illicit student-teacher affair? Rape and murder?"

She hadn't meant to relive the events of high school with anyone, least of all Piz. This boy standing in front of her could not possibly understand just how close to broken she had come in high school. But she'd be damned if she was going to get away with talking the way he was. "Actually, Piz, that's exactly what high school was. And the things you just mentioned, they were only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what life was like at Neptune High."

Piz was momentarily speechless. He wanted to call her out on the lie, but her eyes stopped him. He'd seen her lie before, and right now her eyes were telling him that she was definitely not lying. But he wasn't ready to concede to her just yet. "What do you mean?"

She deflated, realizing now that she had to do exactly what she'd wanted to avoid in this relationship. "Exactly what I said. High school was hell. There were ten students killed during my junior and senior years. I know of at least one rape. That's not to mention the numerous other scandals that I uncovered. Like I said, you have no idea. How would you like to lose your best friend or be arrested for murder or find out the person you thought was your father might not have been? How many times has your life been threatened? Because in high school, it happened to me a half dozen times. Please, Piz, feel free to jump in when I've mentioned something you've been through too." She couldn't keep the bitter edge out of her voice. She knew Piz didn't deserve her full dose of venom, but his words before had riled her. She didn't really know how to stop.

Not wanting to lose the argument, Piz tried his hardest to fight back. "Hey there was a kid in the class below me who died in a car accident. You're not the only one whose high school lost people."

She laughed. "You're right, Piz. I'm sorry. That's just like my school. Except the car accident we had was a school bus with ten people on it. And the reason it crashed? Another student put a bomb on it. He killed himself within the year." She decided vague was probably better, decided to let Cassidy's name go unsaid.

Piz decided to try a new approach, hoping it would throw Veronica off and allow him to recover the high ground. "What's in July?" He saw pain fly across her face, but it was gone so fast he almost thought he'd imagined it.

"A tradition," July was Lilly's birthday. She and Logan had taken to celebrating it together after their reconciliation in Junior year. It involved the two of them getting drunk on the beach, spouting off memories of the fab four and the occasional "Never have I ever." She couldn't afford to fly back to Neptune to commiserate about Lilly on their beach, so Logan had volunteered to come to her. He'd said the East Coast beach would be almost the same. This little ritual was the closest they would get to the lavish parties they were used to back when Lilly's birthday had been the event of the summer.

Piz bringing Lilly into this just pissed Veronica off more. And since Piz had started it, she felt completely justified in using Lilly to defend herself. "Do you remember reading about the murder of the computer princess? Does the name Lilly Kane ring any bells?" And she saw in his eyes the recognition for the first time, saw as he connected both her and Logan to the story he'd read about three years ago. "I thought it would. She was my best friend. You have no idea how much I lost when she died." My sister, my friends, my house, my mother, my innocence, Logan, she ran through the list in her head. Lilly's death had taken a lot from her.

"If she was your best friend, that means…" She wasn't sure where he'd been going with that sentence. So she had to wait for him to start again. "You took her boyfriend? Love the loyalty, Veronica."

Veronica couldn't help the laugh that escaped her mouth. "Lilly had been cheating on Logan with at least two other guys, one of which was his father. I'm pretty sure she'd forgive me for dating him a year and a half after she died." Of all the points she'd expected Piz to make, that hadn't been one of them. "Like I said, Logan and I have a past. He knew Lilly, knew the girl I was when Lilly was still alive. The only other guy who can say that is currently on the lamb and never could accept the girl I became after Lilly. Logan could."

"And that's why he's allowed those special privileges, the little nicknames and getting to wait on you?" The sneer had returned to his voice. He didn't care how much they'd suffered together. He was her boyfriend now. Didn't that entitle him to those same rights?

"It's not the only reason. But yes, Logan gets to call me 'Ronnie' because that's who I was before Lilly died. Growing up, that's all he ever called me. In fact, he's the only one who calls me that. And he doesn't wait on me. He understands me."

"Not the only reason, huh? And how can I understand you, you won't give me a chance." He realized he was going to lose this battle. He had started all this hoping it would end in make-up sex tonight or at least in her conceding to allow him the same privileges that Logan got. He was fairly certain he wasn't getting either.

"I did give you a chance Piz. That's what us dating was, a chance for you to get to know me. But you chose not to. You were so focused on Logan and the way I treated him, you missed the fact that I was trying with you." She sincerely hoped he caught on to the past tense. "I'm sorry."

"Wait a minute? That's it? We're over? Is that what you're saying?"

"Yea, Piz, it is. I don't think there's any point in dragging this out while I'm in D.C. As much as I would have liked this to last, it was just wishful thinking. You're to small town for me."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means you're innocent, unbroken and whole. I haven't been whole since, well for awhile and I left innocent behind not long after."

"That's bull Veronica. Just an excuse to leave, the coward's way out."

She chuckled mirthlessly. "That's what you think. I'm pretty sure you'd never be able to know all my secrets and still look at me like you did this afternoon when I met you outside. I'm pretty sure if I showed you all my skeletons, you wouldn't be so carefree the next time you tried to stick your hand up my skirt."

"That's not fair you know. I'm a guy Veronica. I wasn't looking for sex, but almost two months and I barely saw second base? Give me a break. How long till you and Logan were in the sack the first time?"

"That's not what I meant. And for your information, Logan didn't see second base til after about three months, and he didn't even try to 'get in my pants' till after we'd been together a year and he'd told me he loved me." Piz was shocked. He'd assumed Logan had had Veronica on her back within a month. His surprise must have shown. "Like I said, Logan knew me well enough not to push me." She retrieved her bra from the floor, stuffed it in her bag and walked toward the door. She paused before opening it. "And that's why in the end, I trust him. He's earned it." She closed the door and walked out. Piz sat there for five seconds before he got up. He was not going to be made the bad guy in this, that wasn't fair. He opened the door.

"Hey. You don't get to just walk away like that. I want an explanation, Veronica. You can't just walk away from this. You owe me that much, an explanation. Give me a reason as to why we have one little disagreement and you're out the door before it's even over, and Logan can get away with anything, and you'll barely blink an eye."

She shook her head, looking down and chuckling. When she raised her eyes again, he saw the laughter had not been the mirthful kind. "Stop bringing him into this, Piz. It's not a contest between you and him. It never was. If it had been, you never would have gotten a chance. Logan is the major leagues, you're the minors. If you were to go head-to-head with him, he'd win. But it was never about that. Logan and I reached a point where we had to be separate. Too much had built up between us. And I was looking forward to a chance to be on my own for a while. Then at Parker's party, you kissed me. And I thought that maybe I could be that girl again, the girl who gets to be with the perfect guy, the girl who gets to be normal. I guess I just didn't learn my lesson last time. I'm not that girl, and you're not the one for me." She turned again, ready to walk away.

But Piz was not going to accept that. He grabbed her arm, spinning her around. "Just tell me what he did. Tell me why he has an everlasting get out of jail free card."

Veronica's eyes froze on the hand gripping her arm. She reached up and removed it. "He was there for me. He never turned his back on me. He held me when I found out the truth and never looked at me like I was dirty or less then perfect." She stepped back, pissed that he'd elicited a reaction from her. "And he never dared lay a hand on me. Now this is over, Piz. Just let it go."

And she'd left. He'd let her. He realized grabbing her had crossed another line. He had gone and done his internship. When he got back, a week before Veronica, he found Wallace waiting for him.

"Hey man, it's good to see you again. How was the homeland?" He didn't miss the look of disappointment on Wallace's face, so he rushed on to stop anything Wallace might say. "Hey don't worry about it man. Veronica and I didn't mesh. But everything will be fine when she gets back. You'll see, just like old times."

"No, it won't be Piz. What the hell did you say to her? She called me crying after she left here. Refused to tell me what happened, would only say you two were over. Said she'd explain it when we were both back here. But I want to hear your version first, so that when she tells me, I can stop myself from beating you down. Because I've only ever seen Veronica Mars cry once, and let me tell you, it's not something she does at the drop of a hat." Wallace stared Piz down, knowing he would crack. He wasn't sure he wanted to hear the details, but it was his job as her BFF, to have her back. He wanted to be able to tell her he didn't need any explanation when she tried to offer one. He wanted to just be there.

Piz was kind of surprised. Veronica had been crying about their break up? Maybe they had meant something to each other. He thought back over that night. Had he done anything wrong? No, Veronica had overreacted. "We were at the end of semester party; she and Logan were practically all over each other. No one else could even get a word in edge wise."

"She and Logan were talking? That's it?"

"That's not it. He kept getting her soda, and when I offered her one she didn't accept it. Put it down on the table untouched, but took one out of Logan's hand not five minutes later."

Wallace was well aware of Veronica's little quirk. He didn't mind so much, after what had happened to her, he couldn't blame her. And he'd gotten over the fact that Logan was the one exception. But if Piz hadn't realized that nobody was on that list but Logan, then Wallace wasn't gonna point it out. "So two people who have known each other for seven years were talking and he gave her a soda. That's it?"

"It's not just that. Logan gets all these little privileges. The nicknames, the constant forgiveness, it's unfair. But when I called her on it, she flipped out."

"Logan is a…a touchy subject with Veronica. Believe me, I know. But I don't understand what that has to do with your relationship." Wallace knew there had to be more. Veronica wouldn't have walked away if it hadn't been something serious.

"After the party, we came back to the room. We were fooling around, but on the way back, she'd hinted she wanted to do more. So once we were here, we ended up on the bed…" Piz's voice tapered off as he saw the anger rise in Wallace's eyes.

"Did you sleep with her?" The tight anger in his voice scared Piz just a little, but he stood his ground.

"So what if I did? She's my girlfriend for Christ's sake. Or she was. But no, I didn't even have a chance. My hand barely grazed her inner thigh and she freaked. I mean, come on, I just wanted to see the other side of second. Is it that wrong that I wanted to have sex with my girlfriend?"

By the time he'd finished, Wallace was up and pacing. "You did what? What the hell is wrong with you? Do you have any idea what she's…" And Wallace stopped himself, realizing Piz was just stupid enough to have missed everything that happened this year. "Weren't you paying attention this year? Didn't you see how crazed she got about the rapist, about finding the truth? Didn't you wonder why Logan and I were so damn worried about her?"

Piz didn't get it. "What are you talking about?"

Wallace shook his head, he didn't want to do this to Veronica, but he needed to show Piz how wrong he was. "You're an idiot, Piz. Look Veronica doesn't have the greatest history with guys."

"I know, I've met Logan."

"You might find this hard to believe, but Logan is probably the best guy Veronica's been with. In fact, it's pretty much because of Logan that Veronica can even function around guys. The other guys in her past, they didn't treat her well. She's pretty much had nothing but bad experiences with guys." His voice was grave. Piz had had enough.

"What is it with you people from Neptune and your vague remarks? Why can't any of you just freaking give a straight answer? Why do you feel the need to make everything sound so mysterious and bad? God, you're making it sound like she was freaking raped.

And Wallace snapped, unwilling to dance around the issue anymore, and tired of trying to protect Piz from the truth. "That's because she was. And when she told the sheriff, he laughed at her. It took her over two years to figure out who did it. She couldn't tell anyone, everyone who had been her friend, had been at that party. Then she spent a year thinking she knew what happened, only to find out that what she thought happened, was wrong. So yea, when it comes to sex, Veronica is a little scared. But I'm sure you sticking your hand up her skirt helped." His voice had quieted at the end of his speech.

"But it wasn't like that with Logan, they were so…" He tapered off. He had no idea what to do with that information.

"Yea, well, she and Logan didn't start off so great. In fact, she accused him of doing it. But they were able to get past it. That's why they are who and what they are. The things they've been thru? How could they not be connected? He's the only person she trusts, because he's the only person who's been there through all of it. He's picked up the pieces and fixed her more times then I care to count. So stop trying to measure up to him. You'll never make it, because even with all his faults? He's the one she knows she can turn to no matter what.

And so Piz knew. He and Veronica had been over before they'd even started. Because in the end, he might have had her friendship and he may have even won her love, but there was nothing he could do to earn her trust. And without that, he would never really have her.