Title: World Ablaze

Author: starcrazed

Disclaimer: The characters of "Veronica Mars" belong to Rob Thomas, UPN, CW.

Category: Logan's POV

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Logan's thoughts on some events from Pilot to WCD. Some flashbacks and extra scenes.

Dialogued from VMars is not mine. No infringement is intended.

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It would happen at times when he was least suspecting it. Moments when he was so sure he had cleansed himself of everything from the days of the Fabulous Four.

Lily was gone.

Duncan was clearly not Duncan.

Veronica was…

He briefly closed his eyes as the tire iron came down and shattered the second headlight.

"Nope. You're usually so good at pop quizzes. No, the correct answer is my car. That's right. My daddy took my T-Bird away. And you know what I won't be having? Fun, fun, fun."

As he pulled the tire iron over his head he has to refrain from wincing, the wounds had barely scabbed and he was pulling at them already.

The real cost of getting busted with a bong in his locker was the disapproval of Aaron Echolls and another 'lesson' in proper behavior so he wouldn't shame Daddy Dearest.

The smirk is still on his face as her blue eyes dance up at him taunting him with all that used to be and the spark in them as her mouth opens to snark back reminds him of what he has ruined. At least he hasn't diminished the real Veronica if anything Logan likes to think he brought her back.

In a completely unforgivable way sure, but he knows, has always know the sarcastic brave girl in front of him is the real Veronica Mars. Before she can speak though the rumble of motorcycle engines breaks through his conscious.

"Uh-uh, Logan"

He turns as Weevil gets off his bike making sure to stay between Veronica and the biker. Sure Lilly would have his balls for turning on Veronica this past year. For insulting her pink loving naïve best friend and out casting her from the 09ers, but if anything had happen to her physically… Lilly wouldn't have to worry about him, he'd make sure of that. Logan protected the people he cared about and even if he couldn't stand Veronica he'd make sure she didn't get hurt. He may be barely able to tolerate looking at her on some days, but that doesn't mean letting her get hurt would be acceptable.

It never would be. Not to Lilly. Not to Duncan. Not to him.

"What do we have here? Vandalism? No, no, no. Only vandalism that happens in this town goes through me."

Logan has to refrain from rolling his eyes, "Listen man, I don't have a problem with you."

"That's where you're wrong."

His moment of hesitation costs him the tire iron, as Weevil takes it from his hand and moves towards the SUV he rode up in with his friends. Logan doesn't move a muscle still making sure Veronica and her new 'friend' are behind him. Rumor is the new kid's from the city, but Logan doubts he could take on the PCHers, especially if the incident at the flagpole this morning said anything.

One of the bikers says something about the CD and Logan finds himself wanting to laugh O-Town seriously? What kind of people was he associating himself with?

It's the muffled voices behind him that draw his attention next, "I suddenly feel like I'm in a scene from The Outsiders"

"Be cool Sodapop."

It's the reassurance of her tone that Logan finds himself missing most some days. He blocks the memories out as he watches Weevil take the tire iron to the hood of the SUV. Not really caring much for the car or his friend who will end up paying for the damages. He weighs his options trying to figure out the best way to get Veronica out of this trouble and he hardly notices his friends taking off until Weevil is standing in front of him again.

"Except for you. You, say you're sorry."

The words are out of his mouth before he thinks. It works best that way for him usually. The longer he thinks the more he can feel. And he does everything in his power not to feel anything these days.

"Rub a lamp."

The smirk and wink that follow the comment have taken practice. They only look so carefree because of all the times he's tossed them out to Veronica during their verbal banter. They do well to mask the worry and fear that so often threaten to consume him.

The punch to his stomach has Logan down on his knee. He can feel the skin on his back stretching unwillingly and the moisture of blood rises ever so slowly as he gets to his feet.

From the corner of his stormy brown eyes he can see Veronica shuffle her feet and in that moment the memory overwhelms him.

She's no longer shorthaired, badass Veronica who's uncomfortable for reasons Logan will probably never know. In the memory she's twelve-year-old, longhaired Veronica Mars in her short shorts and knee socks.

Lilly is pulling her along after her ignoring all the other screaming twelve-year old teeny boppers trying to get Veronica's attention to congratulate her for her game winning goal.

"Veronica come on, he's here."

Despite their fast approach they are still across the field, but even from there, Logan can see the slow blush crawl up the other blonde's neck. Although he can't quite make out what they are saying and Duncan's mumbled praise of one Veronica Mars isn't helping as he tries to listen.

"Now?! Lilly not now. Look at me!"

"You're fabulous, don't worry!"

Logan can see the dismissive, self-assured gloating in Lilly Kane's eyes as they get closer, but she's not really paying attention to the girl she's pulling behind her so she misses the smirk Logan catches.

"I thought you were the fabulous one Lilly."

It's the sarcasm that laces the comment that makes Lilly falter and allows Veronica to catch up so she's no longer being dragged along. Logan continues to watch the pair with growing interest as for a moment Veronica skips ahead and reaches them first.

Glancing at Duncan before bowing her head slightly, "Hey Duncan!"

"Hi Veronica."

Logan notices that Lilly has decided to hang back, her arms crossed expectantly and a thoughtful smirk tugging at the corner of her glossy lips.

He takes this in vaguely as the infamous Veronica finally meets his stare head on, blue eyes dancing with all kinds of promise Logan can't even begin to name.

"You must be Logan. Duncan and Lilly won't shut up about you."

He raises his eyebrows at this. Her tone tells him she's obviously not impressed even as she swipes at her glistening forehead with her left hand nervously and offers her right hand for him to shake.

"I'm Veronica Mars."

As he takes her hand he catches something, a spark, in her eyes beyond the happiness floating amidst all those promises.

"Well Miss Mars, I'm honored to finally have met you." He knows his tone says he's not impressed much by her either, but he knows his eyes are lying and the sparkle of humor in hers tells him she knows too.

The smirking Lilly Kane is suddenly at her side again. Putting herself between Logan and Veronica before they get anywhere else. "Logan you have to come swimming today with us it will be a blast!"

He eyes her carefully seeing how Veronica suddenly deflates, letting Lilly take center stage.

She shuffles her feet and Logan somehow knows its because she's uncomfortable suddenly.

He can't tell if it's because of how she introduced herself to him or because now that Lilly's by her side she's the blushing innocent once again.

All he knows is that she's nervous because of him as she stands next to Lilly.

"Yeah man, it will be so much better than unpacking your stuff. I got new video games too we could try out." Duncan adds in as the sibling pair starts to head off towards the waiting limo expecting the other two to follow.

Veronica doesn't follow right away her shuffling feet have settled, and that gives Logan some hope. He catches her gaze again a genuine smile on his face for once, "You ready for this?"

The smile that splits her face is enough to blind him and Logan thinks he wouldn't really mind if that was the last thing he ever saw.

"I was born ready. The question is Echolls, can you handle the Kane siblings?"

Her tone gives her away, letting him know she didn't think he could handle the two Kanes. She held his stare for no more than a second, the fire in her eyes threatening to burn them both, but then she bolted after Lilly and Logan knew he was safe for the time being.

The problem would be handling Veronica Mars. He's been handling the Kanes just fine up until now.

Amusement filled his own brown depths as he followed after the trio. Duncan smiling content and relaxed. Lilly laughing obnoxiously as devilish intent flowed in her wide eyes. Veronica holding back letting Lilly loop their arms together and shine brighter.

She always did allow Lilly to stand out more. Not that Lilly Kane ever needed any help with that, but Logan was sure had Veronica tried she could have been just as outrageous and memorable as Lilly Kane. The fire he saw that day told him so. It was the same fire he would find in her nowadays.

Instead Veronica fell into Lilly's shadow, kind enough to be the naïve best friend of the buxom blonde who would grow up to getting them into more trouble every day. Veronica was a person who let her self take the background so they could always shine in the foreground.

He watched as his memory replayed them all piling into the limo, the fire in Veronica's eyes had dimmed down taking a back seat to the story Lilly was telling and he understood her shuffling feet. She was uncomfortable with the position she found herself in.

The only time Logan ever really wondered if Veronica didn't like the role she had in the Fabulous Four was because of her shuffling feet. The shuffling feet that would tell anyone who cared to notice that Veronica was being less than the potential inside her.

As they grew older Logan found it odd that besides him, Lilly was the only one to realize that their Veronica, pink, soft, naïve, sweet little Veronica could be so much more. And while Lilly would always tempt her to play with that fire, Logan knew Lilly was always less than thrilled if she wasn't the main attraction of the fab four.

The uncomfortable shuffle had always given her away. But he hardly ever recalled that girl or that shuffle. And he forced himself not to care now.

"I said, say you're sorry."

He faces Weevil pissed off because of the renewed pain in his back but more so at the renewed emotional pain flowing through him at the memories of a friend he lost to no one's fault but his.

"Kiss my ass."

He takes the punch to the face going down again and not even paying attention to Weevil's laugh. He catches Veronica's gaze as he stands wiping the blood from his nose. He wonders briefly if he should worry that apparently the two of them can still read each other as clear as day.

He knows she's picked up his defiant refusal to ever apologize just as much as he can see her regret for his pain. She thinks they've gone through enough pain as it is and she certainly doesn't want to be the cause of any more of his.

But part of him knows, even if it's a deep down part that he never consciously acknowledges, that the two of them, the only functioning two left of the fabulous four as broken as they are, will always know each other better than others think, maybe even more than they should.

"Now…"

"Let him go."

He continues to watch her even as she turns to Weevil's words,

"Are you sure? I could do this for a while."

There's a fire again in her eyes as she looks at him. But its different than that fire from the first day they met, the fire he saw whenever the Kane siblings left the two of them alone, the fire that scared the hell out of all the other 09ers when they made her the school pariah and she finally fought back. It was a fire that filled him with glee as he sighed in relief. It gave him a small ounce of hope for the first time since he learned Lilly was murdered. A hope that they would survive.

This fire was tame, controlled. It was dangerous. She still promised to burn if he reached out and touched her, but it would no longer light up his world like it once did. This time the fire would hurt.

It's been a long time since Veronica's eyes were filled with endless, unnamable promises, but this is the first time he's seen her resigned to how they were now.

Even when she returned to school with her hair chopped off and fighting back for the first time, the fire that burned in her eyes was never willing to give up hope on him, on what they used to have no matter how much he tried to force that from her.

With Duncan the way he was, she was all that he had left of Lilly.

And he was all that she had left of the forever-lost Kane sibling.

"I don't want his apology."

And maybe that's why they hurt each other so damn much.

Logan tried not to scramble for the SUV as he finally realized that Weevil wouldn't hurt Veronica anymore than he would, but if he stayed there any longer, more memories would rush over him and then they could all be in for a world of surprises.

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The next time it happens he likes to think that he was somewhat more prepared. After all Duncan was being decidedly more Duncan. So it only makes since that Veronica would be more…Lilly's Veronica.

Walking down the hallway with Duncan, he can't help but stare at the bandage at the back of his head as he falls a few steps behind his best friend. He ignores what led to his friend being incredibly stupid to jump off the bleachers like that and finds himself grateful that his friend is finally feeling something.

He knows that's hypocritical of him considering he drinks himself unconscious not to feel and has cut out the only other person in his life that has the capacity to still make him feel. Because once upon a time she was part of that inner group, that specially selection of people that Logan let in past the walls.

Now Logan finds himself enforcing new walls making sure she and everyone else knows Veronica Mars is clearly on the outside. Just like everybody else.

He doesn't register stopping, but is somehow thankful his body didn't run him into his best friend who has stopped in the middle of the crowded hallway.

"Hey, how's your head?"

Even as he cast a glance to her from the back of Duncan's head the memory is already pulling him under.

Logan knocked softly, part of him wishing that nobody inside heard, the rest of him knowing he wouldn't make it the night if he were forced to turn around and go home.

He sighed, trying not to move the rest of his body as he breathed cautiously and hoped that Sheriff Mars was at the office as he saw a shadow move towards the door. Sheriff Mars would certainly notice; he already eyed him carefully.

Not for the reasons the other parents did. Sheriff Mars didn't seem too phased by Logan's pranks and attitude, not really. Especially when Logan had a suspicion that the Sheriff knew who Logan's real partner in crime was most of the time.

Logan didn't want the Sheriff there because Logan had an aching feeling deep in his soul that Veronica's dad would be the one person to believe his stories about the 'great' Aaron Echolls.

And tonight Logan didn't want to tell any stories.

"Logan?"

"Hey Ronnie."

It was through tired eyes that he saw her wrinkle her nose in distaste at the nickname. It was a recent development between them. With Duncan and Lilly it was always Veronica or Ronica, but only he called her Ronnie. And despite her protests, as always her tone told him she was thrilled by it. That they had something that was just theirs; something outside the Kane siblings.

"Don't call me that." She had left the door open and turned towards the kitchen leaving him to follow after her. He did so carefully and prayed she didn't just pretend not to notice.

"Where are Mama and Papa Mars?"

He tried to ignore the fact that her soft chuckle eased his weary soul.

"Dad's working late on a case said he'd try to make it home for breakfast, but not to count on it. And who knows where mom is, you know how she is."

She dismisses it with a half shrug, but Logan did know how it was and while Lianne's occasionally outings with alcohol were few and far between he imagined they stung just as much as his own mother's pill induced stupors.

Maybe even more for Veronica because she didn't understand them.

"…to my humble home this evening?"

He zoned back in for the end of her question and he cringed as he asked her to repeat it already knowing it was one he didn't want to answer.

"Logan?"

Shit. He probably missed the question again. He started rambling just so her detective radar wouldn't go off.

"Lilly and I got into this big blow out, but that doesn't even matter because the Kane's went to Napa this weekend so they're not even home. Mom's off shooting for that Lifetime movie thing or whatever and Trina's being, well Trina, I just had to get out of there. You know… and was hoping to crash at Casa de Mars?"

He risked looking at her and knew that Sheriff Mars wasn't the only one he had to worry about now because despite his intentions she was now suspicious too. He sighed in relief though as she cast it aside in favor of getting him blankets and a pillow for the couch.

"I'm picking out the movie."

"You say that as if you don't always pick out the movie."

She stuck out her tongue and he smirked back taking the time she was getting stuff out for him to ease down onto the couch. He pretended not to notice her worried gaze throughout the movie and she pretended not to notice the pain in his expression whenever he casually moved.

As the ending credits rolled he laughed as she pulled her eyes open yet again fighting off sleep. She glared at his laughing face for a moment before turning the TV off and leaving him alone.

Logan was concerned he'd somehow upset her but before he could go after her she returned with a big glass of water. She shoved it in his hand and he took it startled. When she continued to stand over him expectantly he raised an eyebrow.

"Palm."

Confused he opened his free hand offering her his palm and he tried not to let his fear show when she dropped two pills in his hand.

He swallowed them without a word and refused to meet her eyes knowing that the fire he loved to bring out so much would be there, but not directed at him at all.

Finishing off the water he handed her back the glass still not meeting her eyes he mumbled out a thanks and didn't move a muscle.

Feeling her eyes studying him he was surprised when she kissed him gently on the cheek.

"Well talk in the morning Echolls."

When morning had come she had taken that same soft tone with him she had with Duncan. Logan had denied anything and everything and they got into a fight before he stormed off. They didn't speak for a week and in the end it was Veronica who approached him feet shuffling, voice soft saying she wouldn't bring it up if they could just be friends again. Once again sacrificing to appease them.

Logan had smiled down at her concerned blue eyes and promised they would always be friends.

"It's better."

Logan watches Duncan walk away as lifeless as his response.

He shares a look with Veronica. In that moment she's his Ronnie again before they both realize, despite Duncan's words, nothing is better.

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He doesn't know why he's there. It will never live up to what last year was. How could it? He's actually at the dance and there's no Lilly.

There's no hope of all night limo rides or games of 'I Never.' No blushing Veronica or chuckling Duncan. No Lilly, hair blowing in the wind, cheshire grin cracking her face as she plots more devious plots sure to get them all into more trouble before they've even been punished for her most recent ploys.

Logan runs a hand through his hair as the song changes and he tries to erase the picture from the memorial video from his mind. Despite himself and the pain, he finds himself grinning again at Celeste's reaction and Veronica's knowing smirk that she shared with just him while Duncan held onto a crumbling Jake Kane.

With Homecoming Week, all things Lilly Kane seemed to become ten times more sacred. More so than they usually were. Logan had stopped insulting Veronica giving a silent demand to the other 09ers that at least for this week it would not be tolerated.

As much as he wanted to comment with that stupid boy Troy hanging all over her, he for once held back. Held back for the memory of Lilly, recalling the days when they were all the closest of friends.

Logan visibly shook away the thought that followed his reason. If he really was doing it for Lilly, he'd hurt ever person in Neptune who ever dared to even think a single horrible thing about her best friend. Starting with him.

The laughter echoes around him crashing into him before moving on. The dancing bodies gyrating to loud music surround, but dare not touch him as words wash over him without being comprehended.

At some point Dick finds him to inform him he's added the special sauce to the punch before he's off again pestering Madison as she shoos him away.

Logan is staring at the door wondering why the hell he hasn't found his way out of here yet and to the beach with a bottle of Jack when that Fennel kid walks in the gym with some girl grinning like an idiot. Not a minute later in walks Veronica Mars.

Veronica Mars in strapless red satin and hair damp with what he's willing to bet is salty ocean water.

Troy of course is behind her but Logan hardly notices as her eyes skim over the dance like his did upon entering and he can't help the joy as she decides it really won't live up to the memories of a limo ride and a bottle of champagne shared between friends just like he did not two minutes upon entering.

By now everyone else at the dance has realized he doesn't want to be bothered so he finds himself watching Veronica as she fakes a smile for Troy as they dance and her eyes are only really truly happy for the moment when Fennel pulls her away and they mock a few other students, Madison and Shelly among them and Logan finds himself wishing he was closer so he could hear.

It is of course not the first time he's found himself wishing to overhear one of Veronica's conversations.

Lilly and Veronica were giggling in the middle of his pool. He watched from the sidelines wondering what it was exactly they were giggling about in secret. It was always hushed conversations with those two and it always ended up with him in trouble.

"Hey DK."

"Hmm…"

"What are those two up to?"

"Who knows with Lilly?"

But as Lilly swam away towards the ladder to lie out on the lawn chair Logan saw the gleaming in Veronica's eyes and knew it was the shorter blonde they'd have to watch out for. It wasn't five minutes later that Lilly was kissing him and the world around them disappeared allowing for the smaller blonde to slide up next to him shoving him into the pool and jumping in after him.

Lilly followed as he came up for air. She was still laughing in delight.

"I told you man!" Duncan had called out to him from the side getting up to get more snacks, but Lilly's chuckle had him directing his stare at Veronica.

"You think you're so cleaver don't you Mars?"

Her eyes widened in false innocence and Logan wasted no time pulling her under water with him causing Lilly to laugh even louder.

As the memory fades he sees Veronica slides out the side door and he pushes away from the table following her.

It takes a few minutes but he finally finds her looking up at the Lilly Kane Memorial Fountain disgust and sadness mixed on her face. He slides up to her silently but knows she knows he's there because of the tired sigh she lets out.

"Lilly would have been the first to deface something this pretentious. No?"

She snorts and he grins. Not a caustic smirk used to hide his true feelings, but a grin with almost happiness behind it.

He pulls out the flask of JD that he suddenly remembers stuffing into his pocket just in case and holds it up to Lilly's memorial.

"Here's to you Miss Kane."

He goes to dump it into the sparkling water but Veronica is quicker grabbing it from him and surprising him as she takes a quick sip.

"I've never not gone skinny dipping."

He's proud of her. Just like he knows Lilly would be.

His suspicious from earlier confirm Logan can't help but smile at her. "I believe the rules, Ronnie, state that you drink after the statement when they apply to you."

He catches the blaze in her eyes as he uses the nickname as something other than a slur taking back the flask as she hands it to him.

She raises her eyes to him in a dare, a silent challenge as vocal as the one that day on the soccer field, could he handle this?

They're eyes turn to the memorial and he takes a swig his eyes glancing over briefly.

"I've never… I've never…"

He can't ignore the fire as she stares at him dead on, "Come on, Logan there must be something?"

She half mocks, but there's something underneath her joking tone. She's baiting him, baiting him to descend back into the routine they've fallen into this past year of hurting each other.

And maybe if it were any other night he would have. Granted, if it was any other night they wouldn't be here like this and, as it was whatever it was he already took his drink so it had to be true, it couldn't be an insult to Veronica.

Knowing part of her mocking him is a plea to turn it into a joke too so she can walk away and they can forget this week of almost peace happened. Forget that their friendship is teasing them with how easy it could be to be friends again if only they were willing to deal with the pain.

The pain of a thousand Lilly memories.

He lifts his chin, knowing how selfish it is but not caring. Besides he really should have told her a long time ago instead of causing that fight between them.

"I've never felt safe in my own home."

He hands her back the flask and with a single look at her he knows she won't question it any further because that's what his eyes are asking from her, but it still doesn't stop the absolute furry in her blue eyes from swirling and it makes his breath catch. He didn't think anyone cared that much especially not Veronica, not anymore.

She pulls her bottom lip into her mouth, tossing the flask gently back and forth as she ponders for a moment.

Logan listens to her movements next to him inside relieved she's not gone yet.

"I've never…" Her hesitation is much different than his. He can tell she knows what she wants to say. What she wants to ask or admit, but she wonders if it will hold in this fragile calm they've erected tonight.

He shrugs and she barrels on forward. And that alone is enough to make him happy because it's how Veronica is now. How she should be. Always brave, the world and everyone in it be damned.

"I've never turned my back on someone I care about."

Turning away from the tinkling water he examines the pixie blonde next to him. Her hair is dried in knotty waves and her blue eyes are crystal clear.

He plays the question over in his head and the past year flashes through his mind clearer than any of his past happier memories of the Fabulous Four. The question could apply to either one of them depending on who's perspective they were taking, but then he remembers Veronica handing him the 'Fun with Lilly' video. And Logan knows, has really always known she means him.

And if he wasn't sure it becomes even clearer when she doesn't drink from the flask merely holds it between her hands. He runs a single hand through his hair and before Veronica can run like he just knows she aching to do so he gentle lifts the flask to his mouth and gulps.

He practically drains the flask because every day he has betrayed their friendship. Turned his back, leaving Veronica to face the wolves. Egging them on in most cases. And he caught the use of the present tense too. He never could back down from one of Veronica's challenge. Yes he did turn his back. And he did it to someone he still cares about.

Maybe neither one of them were willing to inflict the pain of those memories upon each other just yet, but they could swallow some of their pride, not all of it, but enough.

His throat burns and his eyes water, but he isn't exactly sure if it's from the liquor or because of the look in her eyes.

Eyes filled with so much hurt and happiness and sadness and relief and anger and forgiveness.

He knows she knows its as close to an apology that she'll ever get from him. No matter how much he may want to beg for her forgiveness because some days he does want to beg until she forgives him and all is forgotten. Until she's that fierce spitball of a twelve year old marching up and introducing herself to him, declaring without words that they were a match. Equals who could be friends enduring the Kane siblings together.

He focuses on her shock though because it's the easiest to relate to right now.

"I've never thought we'd be out here tonight talking civilly to each other."

She snorts again, "Too bad there's nothing left to drink."

"Veronica!"

She closes her eyes and he can tell she's wishing the voice and the person it belongs to away.

He doesn't know Lilly not like they do.

"Your boys looking for you."

She gives him a scathing glare and Logan knows that even though everything's changed, nothing really will.

"Veronica."

The voice is closer now and she turns to go. Logan tugs her elbow back and slips the tape out of his pocket and into her hand.

"She would have loved it."

Now he knows why his eyes are watery, but he ignores it because if he really concentrates hers are too and its been so long since he seen her blue eyes swim with tears.

She clenches her fist once and pulls her arm loose as she heads towards Troy's voice. And he's ready to leave go home and pass out when she turns back and graces him with a real smile one that reaches her eyes.

"Thanks Logan."

Veronica's gone before he can respond, but he's not really surprised by that.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Dude, where's your car?"

The only way to avoid laughing, because it was hilarious, unless of course you're Troy, was to snap back at her insult. And in the past year that's all he's done so the insult doesn't really register so much as the glare she sends him when Troy pleads for peace for the duration of the trip.

Logan follows the bag he threw into the LeBaron and clicks on his seat belt as he stuffs the bag by his feet. Sending a boastful smirk towards Luke who frowns as Troy slides the seat back as far as it allows.

He can't help but think that maybe she was right, if only for this instance. It does pay to be so petite. Granted those were her words. He would have called her short, tiny, dwarf, midget, and maybe even elf.

Luke's uncomfortable shifting reinforces the thought because while Logan isn't as comfy as he would be in the X-Terra, he's infinitely better off right now than Luke is and for that he too is willing to appreciate her smallness.

Even though in the past she would always use it against him it seemed.

And the memory pulls him under even though he was careful not to catch her eye in the rearview mirror to roll their eyes over Troy's begging pleas to find his father's car.

"I'm bored."

Logan looks up from his book catching Veronica's eye as she pauses in her nail painting mission.

Not a word was spoken, but as they cast their individual forms of entertainment aside its almost as if a whole conversation took place.

"What do you propose we do than Lil?"

He drawls out stretching his neck muscles before sitting up from his reclined position on his bed. Veronica closes up the nail polish and tucks the computer chair away as she stands.

"We can't swim it's still raining."

Lilly rolls her eyes and then manages a pout while complaining, "I'm so sick of swimming."

Giving in completely Logan too stands with the duo, cursing Duncan for whatever it was his father roped him into doing for Future Leaders of America now that they were in high school. "Well then as I said, what do you propose we do?"

As she looks out the window pondering Veronica and Logan again share a look bracing themselves for the most recent escapades of Lilly Kane.

"I've got it! Hide and seek!" She squeals as she runs from the room shouting over her shoulder, "I'm hiding you two figure out who's seeking!"

For a whole minute they're quite content to listen to the noises Lilly makes as she runs through the house looking for the best hiding place.

"Maybe she won't notice if we just go get some food?"

Logan raises an eyebrow, his expression matching the question.

"Yeah, right." Veronica huffs already making her way after Lilly, "We'd never hear the end of it. Besides this could be fun…Lilly's ideas usually are."

"Lilly's ideas usually end with most of us grounded, at least we never get caught when we enact your devious plans."

She pauses at the door smirking and looking over her shoulder in a way he swears he's only ever seen Lilly do. Her grin is less seductress like it would be on Lilly, it's poised as a challenge.

"Let me guess, I'm seeking." He rolls his eyes as she shuts him in his room. Twenty minutes later he had found Lilly, well not so much found her as waited her out. From his room he went to the kitchen and grabbed an apple then he went room to room seeking minimally. It only took twenty minutes before Lilly was bored again and was off to find the keys to the liquor cabinet so the next round would be more interesting.

An hour later, Lilly was beyond tipsy and Logan still had to find Veronica. Lilly had helped, for all of five minutes before she was distracted and decided that Hide and Seek was not the game for her after all. Even tipsy.

Four hours later Lilly had run out of alcohol and even sobered up enough to wander home giving Logan instruction to tell Veronica to call her and laughing at him for still not finding her.

Logan was still searching for her twenty minutes before her curfew when he heard a crash upstairs. He dashed up the stairs in time to see Veronica crawling out of an amour in a guest bedroom. Clothes spilling over as she untangled herself.

"Giving up Mars?"

She glared at him from the floor, but her messy hair and wrinkle clothes made it less than effective.

"Please Echolls, I've been in their for six hours. I so win."

He cast a quick glance to the alarm clock and saw that indeed she had been hidden for almost that long.

He didn't comment but offered her a hand and pulled her to her feet. She interpreted his silence correctly. Grinning as she looked up, "See it pays to be petite."

"Yeah except when you want to get something off the top shelf in the kitchen."

She punched his arm lightly shaking her head.

A loud snore from his right clears the cobwebs of the memory and as his eyes focus he finds Veronica's in the rear view mirror, but looks away before another memory can swallow him whole.

He closes his eyes and tilts his head back keeping his ears open, knowing Luke and now Troy are both asleep and only risking opening his eyes to check on her when he doesn't feel the fire burning him in the reflection of her curious gaze in the mirror.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

It's more than a week later before he sees her again, head down as she scurries down the hallway. The whispers in the halls are loud again as people make comments about Troy's disappearance, among other things. But for once he is not the one who started the rumors nor has he helped them spread.

He merely observes as the mindless 09ers knock her down a peg, at least he watches as they try. She's usually moving to fast and her eyes scorch anyone who speaks above a whisper. As he gulps from his soda, he briefly thinks how his impassive observation of his peers, his tolerance for the things they are saying and doing is too much like Duncan.

Turning from his lunch, his eyes meet with the strangely lucid eyes of his best friend. Duncan gives him a small smile, one that doesn't really reach his eyes and Logan can tell as small as the grin is, it pains the other boy.

He doesn't turn away when Duncan's smile drops as he looks beyond Logan's shoulder to where Logan knows Veronica is sitting. The smile doesn't return to his face, but for a moment there is more emotion in Duncan's gaze then Logan has seen since before Lilly died. For a moment Logan thinks he might suffocate, but then the lucid eyes turn back to him and although he's no longer a zombie the tornado of grief, regret, and concern have calmed.

Looking over his own shoulder all he catches is a blur of blonde hair and messenger bag as she jumps from her seat and flees. Logan doesn't turn back right away though, he takes his time to carefully look over and dismiss all the others eating their lunches because he knows just like DK his eyes would be filled with emotions.

However, he knows unlike himself, the Kane boy would push for an explanation.

And Logan doesn't know how he could even begin to explain the sorrow of a lost friend, the guilt of his betrayal to their little family, the hatred that still stings sometimes, the disappointment that she isn't standing up for herself more right now, the wonder as he catches glimpses of a more fragile Veronica, and the worry that the fire won't burn forever.

Before he knows what he is doing he's tossing away his lunch and standing to leave.

"Logan?"

He casts a quick glance to Duncan, but shakes his head because he doesn't really understand himself and when DK nods with what appears to be understanding Logan hopes that maybe they really are still best friends who know each other better than anyone else even if it hasn't felt that way since Lilly was murdered.

Dick calls after him too and he thinks Enbom makes a comment, but he ignores both of them as he trails after the blur that was Veronica Mars. Freezing as the door closes behind him he can't even begin to ponder where Veronica is hiding out.

Lilly and Veronica would have been by the bleachers admiring whatever sports team was practicing.

Duncan and Veronica would have been in the library studying and stifling giggles as they shyly flirted.

Logan and Veronica of back then could have been in any of the empty class rooms making plans to humiliate their classmates or uncover their teachers latest dirty secrets.

Now, Veronica tended to be in the bathroom a lot conferring on a case, but Logan was sure she wasn't embroiled in any of their classmates' latest problems.

And Fennel was still eating his lunch; some part of Logan's mind registered him as he blew by him on his way after Veronica.

He glances down the hallway and sees that she isn't at her locker and he heads towards the Journalism room holding his breath with hope because it would not due if someone found Logan Echolls searching Neptune High for Veronica Mars.

Pushing the door open the breath leaves him in a relieved rush as he spots her in the back corner hunched over a computer.

She looks up and he can visible see her frame straighten with tension as the mask drops over her face and her eyes blaze for a moment before the fire simmers and waits.

"Veronica Mars."

He drawls as if he was Lilly and caught her doing something no respectable Sheriff's daughter should be caught doing.

She doesn't respond, doesn't even flinch as Logan pulls up a chair and straddles it in front of her.

"How's it going Ronnie?"

Now he's the one trying not to flinch as she draws back a bit. He's almost certain it's because he startled her with the nickname.

She doesn't bite though, not the way he's expecting.

"Peachy keen Logan, thanks for asking. Anything else I can help you with? Did they send you or did you volunteer to find out if I knew where Troy ran off too. You know I bet you're right he probably did run off to join my mother where ever it is she's hiding nowadays."

She looks away and Logan isn't sure why it hurts so much when she brings up her mother. He did it first after all, crossed that line. A line that was somehow drawn between them when they weren't speaking any niceties to one another, it was an understanding not to use the past to hurt each other. It would have been a betrayal more abhorrent than either of them could have dealt with at a time when they were both so broken by circumstances.

Part of him, the part that has known Veronica since they were twelve knows she brought up Lianne first to save herself the pain when he did it, but that's not why he's here. He doesn't want to cause Veronica any more pain. Not since that night at Lilly's fountain. Since then he's come to understand despite appearances they both hurt too much. She is just better at hiding it than he is.

"I'm sorry that happened to you."

He's as sincere as he's been since that night at the fountain, the last time they really interacted. It doesn't shock him, but her wide eyes, no longer innocent but still the brightest blue he's ever seen, tell him that she wasn't expecting that truce from the night to last.

He assumes she doesn't know how to deal with sincere Logan anymore and that's why she shrugs dismissing it altogether. But as he continues to study her long after she turned away from him with the shrug he can tell from the dark circles under her eyes that it bothers her.

"I should have known better." The quiet of the room almost envelops the soft words completely before they reach Logan's ears but he snatches them up because he was waiting for something from her.

"You had no way of knowing…"

He stops as her head snaps and her eyes pierce his "He's an 09er."

She states it so plainly as if it explains everything and he knows for this Veronica it does.

"We're not all bad."

Her eyes that were turning back to the computer remain fixed on him and he's horrified to find them almost glassy.

Veronica Mars does not cry. Not any more.

"I didn't used to think so either."

And despite the tears he can see in her eyes it's the fire that really stands out. It always does for him.

"Do you think it could have been different?"

The question leaves his mouth before he even realizes he's thinking it and because she's Veronica, the girl he always has in depth conversations with whether it's while they're planning pranks to pull on the Kane siblings or trying to escape their neglectful parent, he can't really question his behavior.

"What do you mean?" She asks as she looks into the still empty hallway knowing that their discussion will halt when outsiders discover them.

He means if he didn't act as the good best friend and stand back when Duncan made it clear that he liked Veronica. He means if Lilly was more sincere in her efforts to let Veronica shine. He means if the two of them didn't always willingly fall into the Kane shadows. He means if his dad didn't beat him and her mom didn't leave her. He means if Lilly didn't break up with him and Duncan didn't freeze her out. He means if he'd done the right thing that day in the library beating the shit out of those kids watching the video instead of taking it out on Veronica.

Her blue eyes are unfocused and he knows she really understands what he means and he knows her answer even before her eyes refocus on him with a raised eyebrow expecting his answer.

"Life with Lilly" he answers because that is really the only phrase he can think of that encompasses it all.

"Would you have wanted it to be?"

She shoots back always challenging him. Challenging him to be better, sharper in wit, more on the ball always a challenge.

Would he have wanted life with Lilly to be different because if it were that means life with Veronica would have been different too? And he doesn't know if he could handle that because even though Duncan got her and he loved Lilly he still knows that it was really the two of them that knew each other best.

"No. I guess not."

"Dude, what the hell are you doing in here with her."

There's no name calling from Dick as he leans in the doorframe because despite Dick's carefree ways he has noticed the difference between Logan and Veronica and he knows insults to her face will not be tolerated by him any more. But it doesn't matter because his tone says it all.

And the intrusion from the outside breaks the spell of their conversation as Logan pulls further away from her in the chair a smirk already on his face as he scrambles in his brain for an insult and an excuse. As always though she beats him to it

"Don't worry Dick, Logan was just informing me that he was sure once Troy arrived safely he would call and let me know that he and my mother were very happy together far away from me."

Her clipped tone gives the impression that he really hurt her, but Logan knows he never said such a thing and yet Logan knows he's still done enough before to hurt her even if she is better at not letting anyone see.

"Awesome!"

Logan stands glancing at Dick's delighted smirk before pushing his chair back loudly, "Let's get out of here Dick."

"Totally."

And just like that Dick disappears and they're alone again.

"We can't keep meeting like this Logan."

Her sly smirk shocks him and he has to stop his mouth from dropping open before he catches on to her new game.

"You're just too irresistible for me Mars. I can't survive without you."

The tone is light, flirty just like hers but the words are heavy and he's terrified they're the absolute truth.

She doesn't say a word, but the laughter has left her eyes and she nods and Logan understands that she thinks she probably wouldn't make it either.

He leaves and knows that's not true. She's always been more than him always been better and while it might suck even more if they weren't in each others lives. She'd be able to go on, eventually. It'd hurt like hell, it always does when you lose someone you care about, but she'd survive. The fire might be reduced to glowing embers, but it would still exist and that's enough for him.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

He thinks he doesn't find it nearly as odd as he should that she's in his house again. It's been more than a year since she's waltz around in the mansion as if she owned it and yet as she leaves the pool house that day it feels as if she's never left.

Watching from the bar as she talks with Weevil gathering platefuls of food he accepts Duncan's half assed apology because even if he didn't steal the money he really has been a jackass, especially to Veronica.

"It's weird right?"

"Huh?" Logan asks finally looking away from the laughing blonde as Weevil scares his mother's guests by getting a little too close.

"It's weird that her being here isn't weird at all." Duncan says as he takes a sip of the drink the bartender just handed over.

A small smirk is on his face, as Logan throws back his own drink and orders another, "I was just thinking the same thing."

Duncan nods and Logan watches his best friend frown and turns back in time to see Veronica disappear after Jake Kane.

He decides not to question it and hopes Duncan won't push it either.

"Do you think she'd ever forgive us?"

Logan studies the crowd unsure how to tell his best friend that Veronica has already forgiven them, well maybe not Duncan for the way he broke up with her, but for the way they've both acted since Lilly died. She understands without them having to say it how much it hurts. How lost they were without Lilly. And how it was easy to take it out on her. Even if they shouldn't have, even if it was the worst possible course of action.

"Probably," he finally mumbles out, "she's always been a bigger person than us." He can't help the smirk, both of them seeing how funny that statement is knowing who it is they are talking about and how small she is compared to them.

"Do you think things can be different?"

Duncan's question is soft, hesitant and unsure. Logan stops studying the crowd to examine his friend more closely.

Without having to be asked he explains, "I mean, I realize they are different without Lilly," there's a pause as they both remember the girl they had loved and lost. "But do you think me, you, and Veronica could ever…"

He trails off and Logan understands the uncertainty. He doesn't have an answer for the question, but knows it is now something that will haunt him.

Duncan shrugs and gives Logan a halfway genuine smile before wandering off and leaning up against another wall. Weevil approaches and Logan is momentarily distracted until Jake Kane is shouting at Celeste and Duncan is looking worried while Veronica looks half guilty and half justified.

Then there is screaming and blood and he's on the phone with 911 and carolers are singing in the background and his mom is crying.

All he can see are vivid blue eyes as her tiny hands frame his face and drawn his attention to her and the buzz in his ears fade as he focuses on her moving lips.

"…with me Logan. Don't freak okay? Stay with me."

"Always."

It was a promise they had made each other after only a year of friendship. At first it was said in joking a passing comment to save each other from the Kanes. It turned serious when the brave Veronica turned timid in front of Logan, something that only ever happened when Lilly was around. It worried Logan because at that moment Lilly was off doing something with someone and it was just the two of them and Backup.

Veronica was suppose to burn bright when Lilly wasn't there and most of the time she did. Logan liked to think it was for him, but he was content just to know that she shined.

But now Veronica was blushing and hiding behind a curtain of long blonde hair as she mumble something about friendships lasting and being there for each other and not surviving if she lost him or any of them and not to let that happen.

He cut her off baiting her with an insult back to the Veronica he admired and it worked, but now her words were just more determined as she begged him to promise forever for the four of them. A promise that even when they were in over their heads with the Kane's they'd stick together.

His response was simple, honest and pure. "Always."

It was a promise that broke through no fault of their doing when Lilly was killed and forever for the four of them was suddenly no more. The worst part Logan knew was that it was a promise that was broken when they needed each other most.

Because they didn't stick together. He didn't stick with her. Not then at least.

Her sharp intake of breath makes him realize his breathy response is completely inappropriate and far too revealing leaving him much to vulnerable.

He shakes his head and her hands fall away and he briefly wonders what he should take from the fact that she didn't move until he did. Her piercing blue eyes are still locked on his in partial wonderment as the activity swirls around them.

"Ronnie…"

He stops because he doesn't know how to fix it only knows that he wishes he could. Wishes he could take it all back.

"I know. Come on."

The reassuring tone is back and directed at him and he almost melts into a puddle in relief. Instead he follows behind her as she takes his hand and tugs him along. Away from the crowd and up the stairs to his room maneuvering around the house as if she's lived here her whole life.

They reach his bedroom and Veronica opens the door pushing him in before following after him. He sits on the bed and watches her as she approaches slowly. She's studying him like he watches her sometimes at school. She making sure he's not gonna lose it and he finds that oddly comforting.

"Dad said he'd take care of all the guests as quickly as possible, Lamb isn't even going to bother because your mom went to the hospital. Said he'd stop by tomorrow."

He can't help but smile as she snorts in disapproval until what she says registers, "Your dad?"

She nods confused for a moment until she remembers his eyes not moments ago.

"He tackled that crazy chick with the carving pumpkin thing, handed her over to the security guards who wouldn't let him in," her eye roll tells him what she thinks of that, "Stopped your mom from hyperventilating and sent her away in the ambulance with your dad?"

She questions as if all of this should be ringing a bell he shrugs to show her it doesn't.

"Anyway, we can wait like 20 minutes and then dad should have all the guests cleared out and we can head over to the hospital."

Nodding satisfied with that plan she plops down at the foot of his bed and he watches in awe and she flips on the game console and hands him a controller over her shoulder without glancing at him.

He watches her in amazement and its not till she turns around when the victory music is playing that he realizes she just kicked his ass in whatever game it was they were suppose to be playing.

Her eyes are questioning and Logan wishes for a moment that he could spill his guts tell her everything, but they're not friends like that anymore. Logan wasn't even sure if they were friends at all. So he takes a page from her book and shrugs off her concern dismissively.

The cease in her brow sows him she disapproves, but she merely turns back to the TV the concern and questions not leaving her eyes.

Logan tries to pay more attention to the game this time around and he's partially successful for the first half.

"Thanks Ronnie."

She doesn't pause the game but turns and studies him. He watches her almost amused as the flame sparkles in her eyes and he can tell its from some internal conflict on her part. He raises an eyebrow at her short nod unsure if its for him or because she finally reached a decision.

But when she bits her lip he knows the nod was for her and now she's just wondering if she can tell him her decision. If she can trust him with whatever it is she just decided. He hopes she can read his eyes and see them pleading with her to tell him everything.

After looking around for a brief moment she focuses back on the game and releases a sigh her tone light and words tinkle around the room

"What else are friends for?"

And he knows she can see him because the second his face lights up there's a small smile on her face too.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

She said they were friends.

She checked up on him. Asked about his mother. Even briefly mocked Trina wondering if she would come running home to play the worried sick daughter.

Not once did she ask how Aaron was or wish him well like every other single person in his life had and for that he thinks he might love her a little bit.

The first day he was back in school she smiles at him wide and bright and unreserved in front of the whole damn school. Duncan she ignored. Weevil she glared at as he crosses his arms threateningly. Wallace she shook her head at disapprovingly. Meg's smirk was interesting though as was Veronica's responding eye roll. And Logan couldn't hear what that Mac chick said, but Veronica's laughing response told him it was all kinds of sarcastic snark that he'd love and he could probably be friends with that girl.

Shelly and Madison are falling all over themselves asking him if he's okay and how his father is doing. He tries to ignore them, but it isn't until the delivery guy shows up at lunch with letters from the 7th Veil about their job applications that they finally shut up fleeing from the interest of their classmates.

Logan's as amused at the other 09er boys, but unlike them he looks over to Veronica and sees the satisfied smirk on her face and nod of self-approval as Shelly and Madison's shrieks can be heard.

Luke's soft chuckle draws his attention and he glances at the other boy. Leaning over slightly in a quiet tone so the others can't hear Luke smiles gleefully.

"She's something isn't she?"

Logan's response is cut off from a snort across from them. Both boys look up to find Casey looking at them and then glancing beyond them at Veronica. He checks the others before leaning across the table to whisper under his breath.

"She infiltrated the Moon Café Collective to 'save' me and then totally chased down the limo when my parents kidnapped me."

Luke looks bemused, "Kidnapped?"

Casey nods with an eye roll, "They wanted to de-program me. Make sure they wouldn't starve once I inherited all of Grandma's money. Couldn't have me giving away all the inheritance to a cult now could they? Never mind that I was happy."

The last is grumbled out showing his resentment and Luke nods his understanding of Veronica's antics. "She saved my life from Hank Zigmund. I think even got him in trouble at the border when he went to get his steroids in TJ."

"So?" Logan draws the word out carefully. Not wanting to betray his innermost thoughts especially those concerning Veronica.

"Please." Casey smirks and Luke rolls his eyes adding his own thoughts.

"You think we haven't noticed. You think everyone hasn't noticed?"

"Noticed what?" Logan demands making sure his mask is carefully in place.

"Whatever is going on with you two?" While Casey may not have regressed fully to the jackass he used to be, the leer directed at Logan shows he's not completely reformed still either.

"Nothing is going on." Logan states his tone deceptively calm considering he wants to toss Casey across the quad.

Luke sees Logan's fists clenching and adds quickly before they make a spectacle of themselves "Well at the very least, people have realized the Logan and Veronica War is over?"

Logan notes that his statement ends up more like a question showing that he as the rest of the student body doubts that whatever is going on between them will last. He's sure they're all thinking his temper is much too short and she's too much of a bitch nowadays for this semi-peace going on at Neptune to be anything more then temporary.

He saved from answering again as Dick and Enbom realize he isn't paying attention and they draw him, Casey, and Luke back into the discussion about the next party this weekend. But even though his back is to her and his mind is now more than half occupied with mindless chatter about this approaching weekend when Veronica glances over at him staring at the back of his head he can feel it.

And when it goes on longer than usual, once the others are absorbed in the conversation he shifts in his seat turning his head and catching her blue gaze still full of concern for him.

He briefly smiles at her in thanks for getting rid of Shelly and Madison and he wonders if she can see the gratitude in his eyes from as far away as she is. Seeing the sparkle of pride grow a little bit in her eyes gives him hope that she'll be able to read what his eyes reveal.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Logan is lying on his back staring blankly at his ceiling when his bedroom door crashes open and in storms Veronica out of breathe and eyes frantic.

"Logan." His name leaves her lips as a whispered sigh and despite the circumstances it sends tingles dancing along his spine.

"Ronnie." He closes his eyes against the sound of his own broken voice.

There's no sound for a moment and then his bedroom door clicks shut softly and the edge of his bed dips down under her weight. Logan holds his breathe and focuses on her breathing as it calms him and becomes the only steady thing in the entire room.

"Breathe Logan. You have to breathe."

Her hand is warm as she takes his lifeless hand surrounding him in the smell of marshmallows and promises. Watery brown eyes open cautiously and he grips her hand, holding on to the lifeline she's offering him.

"It hurts."

Her voice is soft and heartbroken all at once for him, "I know."

He wants to snap at her because her mother is gone, but she's not dead. But he can't because there are layers of understanding in her tone telling him she knows his pain better than anyone else will yet she realizes its not as bad.

Besides, it hasn't even been an hour since the news hit the radio and TV stations like wildfire and here she is. His cell phone has been ringing non-stop, but he left it somewhere downstairs as he drifted off to the safe haven of his room.

At some point she pulls her hand free and leaves the room only to come back minutes later holding his phone and flipping through the numbers to see who's pestering him.

He scouts closer to her seeking out the warmth he lost when she took back her hand. Watching her flip through his missed calls he sees her roll her eyes a few times and delete numbers. Part of him knows he should protest, but the rest of him just doesn't care.

When she starts texting away though he opens his mouth, "What…"

But she shushes him with a glare and then drops the phone on his bedside table after turning it off.

"Duncan called twelve times and Dick, surprisingly, called seven times. I was just sending them texts saying you'd talk to them later.

She reclaims his hand as she settles more comfortably against his headboard with her feet wrapped under her.

Logan studies her face until she frowns

"Unless…you probably want me to get Duncan over here right? I should go…Duncan would be better…I don't know what I was thinking." She tries to release herself as she's talking only stopping when he clutches at her hand already holding his.

"Stay."

It's enough for her. Because while she does free her hand she quickly replaces it with her right one and rubs her fingers through his hair while he buries his face into her side hiding from the world. And moments later as the sobs shake his body she doesn't say a word merely keeps that promise they had made years ago to be there for each other. Proving once again how she is so much better than he could ever hope to be.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Pulling his jacket tighter around him he looks up at the door with the single light on. The last of the 'mourners' had finally left his house and while that was all he had wanted all day once his house was empty he found himself climbing the walls needing to escape.

The lighter now warm from his tight grip edging him forward. Giving him the strength Veronica had lent the other day.

Duncan didn't believe him.

It he told his father, he'd probably beat him.

Trina would laugh at him.

But Veronica…she could help him.

He knocks on the door remembering all the other times he did the same exact thing on a different door that housed the Mars. The memories don't hurt, but that's only because this most recent pain is too numbing. Despite the swaggering hope that is slowly growing, it still hurts.

When she opens the door he hears his name, but is only able to answer her question because he read it off her look.

"I want you to find my mother."

Unlike Duncan her eyes do not fill with disbelief, only concern for him. But he doesn't want her concern, not right now. Now he needs her sleuth prowess.

"Relax, I'm not asking you to drag the lake. My mother didn't really kill herself."

And just like a hundred other times Veronica opens the door wide for him telling him to come inside.

As he does the fear over takes him. Fear that she won't believe him. Fear that his mother is really gone.

"Veronica, she's not dead."

And even he knows it sounds as if he's trying to convince himself. He realizes the lighter isn't much, but it digs into his hand and he just has to know. Has to make sure.

Logan sees her eyes yearning to reach out and comfort him again, but also knowledge that he will push her away. And he sees the worry in her eyes that she thinks he's too fragile to be pushing people away right now.

"What makes you think she's alive?"

It takes all his control not to punch the wall and even then his response still comes out harsher then he would have liked. After all he is here probably willing to beg for this girls help.

Her next question has him resorting to sarcasm and she lets him go on for a while, but when she interrupts he becomes more insistent.

He doesn't know if it's his tone or whatever she's reading in his eyes, but she gives in a little bit.

"Okay…"

And just that easily Logan feels as if he can breathe again. As if living doesn't hurt quite as much as it did a few hours ago.

Her next question is gentle and for an instant Logan sees Lilly's soft Veronica and it nearly sets him off again. Soft Veronica can't help him.

He knows his mother. Better than anyone. And he tells her this

"Well, yeah, she wants people to think she's dead. But if she was going to really do the deed, it would be chardonnay and sleeping pills."

The smile appears through no will of his own, but it lacks any happiness.

"You know, she wouldn't risk being found bug-eyed and bloated in some shrimp net."

As the words leave his mouth he realizes how true they are at least the part about Veronica probably being one of the only people who ever saw the real Lynn Echolls.

"I'll see what I can find out."

Logan hates that her words are cautious of him, but her eyes hold that understanding again and it prompts him to say what he does as he turns his back and halts in the door way.

"You know I…I just need to know she's okay."

He doesn't look back to see her response, merely shuffles back to his car, back to his empty house even though he'd much rather crawl up onto that lumpy couch that looked far to small for him.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

At some point in the days that follow he realizes Veronica is the only other person he has had any interaction with.

Dick has been around playing video games without saying a word, which Logan appreciates.

Even if it surprises him.

Duncan has been painfully absent, unlike his father who he wishes would just leave him alone.

Watching that video of his mother, he thinks is about as painful as the crime scene video of Lilly and he thought nothing would ever be that painful.

All he knows is that he has to get out of that classroom. Out of Neptune. He just needs too, but then she's calling his name and pulling his arm and even though her eyes are still filled with worry for the first time he sees some hope in them that has been slowly growing and dying within him.

Her words make no sense, but the reassuring smile and arm squeeze pull him away from the edge that a moment ago he was teetering on.

She mentions something about checking it out and getting back to him first thing in the morning and he nods dismissively, but she doesn't leave.

"Logan?"

"It's fine Veronica. I know you're working on that Mr. Rooks stuff. Go be somebody else's hero. I'll be fine till tomorrow."

Her eyes swim with wonder and for a moment Logan questions why until his own words play back in his head.

Hero, great. He called her his hero however indirectly.

The eye roll has her sealing up more of her emotions, but not quick enough for Logan to miss the heavy weight of trepidation in her eyes before the mask is back where it belongs.

And as she wanders off to her car Logan wonders where Veronica Mars is headed that has her so uneasy.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

He was right. All those years ago when he thought that Veronica Mars would burn if he reached out and touched her.

Granted it was her who reached up on tiptoes and placed a quick, chaste kiss on his cheek before mumbling something around a grin, but oh man did it burn.

By the time she whips out a scrape book that could easily been used as a weapon he's regained his senses, "Wow, sugarpuss, you've certainly been a busy little bee."

She turns to look at him her eyes sparkling with humor and a little bit of a threat at the nickname.

"Ah, she's a keeper."

The rest of the conversation floats over his head as the concrete truth of his last, partially mocking statement hits him square in the chest.

He realizes that they're not going to be let up to see the room his mother is hiding out in, but that's okay with him. He has nothing to do. He certainly isn't going to that 80's dance. So in order to ignore the growing swirl of emotions ever time he sees Veronica he sinks into the five star couch briefly thinking how much more comfy the lumpy Mars couch probably is.

Veronica starts talking about getting maintenance people to let them up but he really couldn't stand to ask her for anything else.

She's biting her lip in indecision, studying him carefully before she nods once and turns to go.

Logan sighs as she leaves his presence. Ignoring the twinge of disappointment that she didn't fight to stay with him. To make sure that he was okay.

And hours later when she returns he just as easily almost ignores the flutter of relief and that other thing in his stomach.

Logan can't help the admiration that shines from his eyes as she pulls out her phone reporting the stolen credit cards and he's pretty sure she catches the smile of gratitude he sends her way when she moves to sit next to him.

Before he knows what's happening he's sitting up straight startling her out of a daze.

"That's her."

Bolting towards the front desk he vaguely notices Veronica standing, but remaining by the couch.

"Mom."

When he sees Trina he doesn't know if he's ever been more disappointed in his entire life. And to cover it and because its Trina it doesn't take much to get the sarcastic defenses up and even less before he's on the offensive. Not even noticing when she greets Veronica.

When Trina reaches out with her hand he shoves it away.

"Dad could've used you there."

He realizes the mistake he's made even as the words leave his mouth because Veronica is behind him and Trina has that glint in her eyes.

"So now you're worried about Dad's welfare. Isn't he the big bad wolf?"

Logan knows his eyes are pleading with Trina to stop as he shakes his head and tells her no but he knows she'll press on anyway.

"Cigarette burns and broken noses. Oh. The stories you used to tell."

He doesn't hear the rest, relies on his instinct to respond to whatever she says after that, knowing that his instincts will protect him even if his mother never could. Even when his father couldn't be bothered. Even when no one believed him.

Except suddenly Veronica is there pulling him away and glaring at Trina as if she was a bug she stepped on. And Logan remembers that Veronica would have believed him.

Veronica already probably knows, but to have the words so clearly stated…

When Trina is finally no longer in his eyesight everything else seems to get fuzzy as what Trina said suddenly becomes infinitely less important than what it means that Trina is here.

If Trina is here Mom isn't.

"She…

And just like that standing upright is impossible and he drops his head to Veronica's shoulder not at all concerned if her small frame will support the two of them.

"She's gone. She's gone."

And part of Logan isn't at all surprised that the tiny girl is strong enough to hold them both up.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Logan hides out for a while after that. Hides from Trina who is suddenly at home all the time. Hides from his father who is creepishly repentant. Hides from Dick, the only friend who is still calling and looking for him. But most importantly he hides from Veronica.

It's only because that he is hiding from her that he never realizes all the renewed pain and hope swimming in her blue gaze that week in school as she finds her mom and gives up her college fund to help her.

Even if he weren't hiding, he wouldn't have known what was the cause for that pain and hope, just that it was there.

When he finally decides he can stop hiding his first though is that he owes Veronica a check for looking for his mother. Because as he told her it wasn't a favor, they weren't friends. Not really.

Despite what she said. Not friends how they used to be. Friends how they should be.

As he sits down at the open laptop his gut drops and he wishes he didn't decide to stop hiding. He clicks on the folder that reads suspects skimming over all the names before clicking on Duncan's file before reading his file, his alibi.

Right in front of him in black and white, but part of him knows he's screwed. She found out that stuff about Duncan. Type 4 Epilepsy he didn't even know that and he thought he knew everything about Duncan.

She's Veronica Mars though and he knows she's eventually unravel the truth to his lie.

He doesn't think about that though as she enters his peripheral vision.

"What is it with the Mars' family?"

The laptop slams shut and he just barely pulls his fingers away.

"God, Veronica, and you really believe Lilly's murder was some sort of vast conspiracy?"

"I don't know what you saw."

Logan almost curses himself as weeks of progress in their relationship fades.

"A file on Duncan."

"There's a file on everyone."

He's torn between laughing and crying for the cynical girl in front of him.

"Yeah. It's thorough. And I'm glad my alibi held up."

He mentally hits himself as she ticks off his 'airtight' alibi. If only she knew. And Logan realizes with a feeling of drowning she will. At some point she will know. And the fear makes him lash out.

"Hey, what do you think Lilly would make of you investigating all the people who loved her?"

Her eyes are hurt and he feels like he's in the library again as those kids watch the video and he's making all the same mistakes over again.

"I loved Lilly. Maybe if I didn't I'd be able to drop this."

Logan watches as she sinks to the chair and he could almost hate himself forever for making her that timid girl again. He rushes to change the subject and bring snarking Veronica back.

"Okay, I just came to give you this."

He hands her the check and manages to thank her without stumbling over the words too much.

When she tears the check in two and whispers softly, "Your mom was always nice to me."

Logan thinks that maybe they aren't friends how they're suppose to be, but they're certainly working their way back there and when he smiles he knows it's the first real genuine smile to grace his face since before his mom left him.

He turns and leaves and for a few blissful minutes his mind is blank of any really torturous thoughts, but this is Neptune and nothing peaceful lasts that long.

He and Veronica learned that the hard way.

Refusing to think about his fake alibi he focuses on the other thing he learned at Mars Investigation. Not that fact that Veronica is looking into Lilly's death, part of him really isn't all that surprised by it. Rather he thinks about this illness his best friend has and he had no idea it existed.

Except…and he recalls a memory long forgotten in the grief of losing Lilly and all that was perfect in the world of the Fabulous Four.

And he knows the next time he spies the blonde detective he will tell her all about Duncan almost choking Jake to death and not recalling a thing the next day.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Hey DK. Can I talk to you for a minute?"

Logan watches as Duncan looks up from his book. He recalls a time when Duncan wouldn't need a book during lunch to be left alone, wouldn't have wanted to be left alone.

Hesitantly Duncan closes the book and nods. Logan sighs regretfully, but Duncan's his best friend and he knows once she's not so pissed at him Veronica will understand because there was a time when she went behind his back to tell her best friend something.

Getting up he moves away from the others knowing Duncan will follow him and Veronica doesn't need all his friends knowing she's investigating Lilly's murder.

Logan sits and Duncan waits, but when Logan still doesn't say anything Duncan begins to worry. His best friend is never one to sit in silence-even in grief Logan was loud. It may have been incomprehensible obscenities aimed at the wrong people, but he was loud.

"What's up man?"

Logan glances over at the blonde eating her lunch and laughing with Fennel if he didn't know her he'd never think there was a single thing wrong with her life.

"Veronica's investigating."

He mumbles out while still looking at the girl in question.

Duncan glances over his shoulder, for once not the one facing her. "Investigating what Logan? Isn't that what she does now?"

His dismissive tone is almost enough to make Logan get up and forget the whole confession thing, but he looks at DK and sees that it's all forced. Most emotions from the boy are, even now that he is off the anti-depressants.

Surprise, Duncan did bring those up once he stopped taking them. The second time, under the advice and watch of his doctor, but Logan wasn't too thankful for the information now knowing what kind of secrets the Kane boy was keeping form him.

"Lilly's death. She has doesn't think Abel Koontz killed Lilly. She has all these suspect files. On everyone."

Logan thinks that Duncan's face freezes if only for a millisecond. A millisecond where Duncan is recalling a strange hallucination of Lilly's bloody head as she informs him the truth will come out.

"On me?"

He questions and Logan casts one last regretful glance at Veronica before he nods.

"On everyone man."

Logan watches as Duncan packs up his stuff and heads into the building. He shakes his head after him wondering if he'll deal with it better than he did. At least DK didn't snap at Veronica.

He pulls out his cell phone scrolling through his contacts for Veronica's name. She did after all ask for a warning, it was the least he could do.

"DUDE!"

Dick pulls him up by one arm and Enbom tosses a hand over his shoulder as they start walking towards the building and talking about something. Logan notices Beaver next to Dick and Luke and Casey following close behind them laughing about something.

And Logan forgets to call Veronica and warn her that Duncan knows. He puts the phone back in his pocket and lets himself get dragged along to class filling the in-between time with mindless chatter.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

When he finally does remember he needs to talk to Veronica school has let out and her car is gone. Logan sits against an empty table pulling out his phone and picks at his nails waiting for her to pick up on the other end.

She does and there are a few angry comments before he can sense the fight fading from both of them.

One second she's forgiving him for telling Duncan by asking another question the next his response is forgotten as Veronica's voice rises and becomes far away as she drops the phone.

Logan stands as he hears the other male voice he can't place and he starts digging for his car keys while mentally urging Veronica to give him her location.

As soon as she does he's peeling out of the school parking lot not even noticing the concerned looks of students and teachers alike as they leave for the day.

He gets to the Camelot in five minutes and hoping that Veronica is further than the school. Looking for her car tells him she's not there yet and then he charges into the office to demand which room Ben is staying at having placed the voice only after Veronica mentioned Norris.

It only takes a threatening glare and a small bribe before he's flying up the steps waiting for them in the shadows. The second he hears her voice filled with a little bit of panic he wants to pounce but he waits until they are closer.

He steps out of the shadow shoving Ben forward and away from Veronica as he punches him in the face and keeps hitting him until he hears Veronica behind him.

"Logan stop."

He pauses and lets the weasel go, but follows them into the room and doesn't like it one bit when Veronica kicks him out with one stern pleading look.

But he refuses to completely leave her alone and he lurks again in the shadows until he hears Ben say that Norris likes her and her shocked response.

He's pretty sure there is a mixture of jealousy that doesn't want Veronica finding her way into his bedroom, not just concern for her safety. And that realization drives him a little bit away from the door to the railing.

Trying to calm his still racing heart he looks down at her car before closing his eyes as the door creaks open and he steps backwards opening his eyes. Looking down at the blonde as she stops in front of him.

"You okay?"

He studies her face for fear or agitation to see if he needs to go hit Ben a few more times.

"Mmhmm."

He doesn't find any and barely stops his eyes from widening as she closes the distance between him and places a chaste kiss at the corner of his mouth.

She pulls back and for an instant before she shakes her head her eyes are filled with confusion, but all Logan sees is the fire and as she turns to leave he suddenly finds himself pulling her back to him.

His lips crash down on hers and he uses his other hand to pull her closer to him ignoring the smoldering fire burning from her and the impulsive act from him.

The move leaves him unstable, but then she's holding onto him just as tight as he's gripping her and he knows together they could set the world ablaze.

The kiss is volatile and explosive. It's everything Logan ever thought a kiss with Veronica Mars would be, but was never brave enough to try and get. Was never willing to risk everything for while they had their happiness of the fabulous four.

He briefly thinks of that blinding smile the first day and is glad he didn't die then because he would have missed this, but now he thinks he really can die and it will be okay with him.

Much too soon his lungs are aching for oxygen, but still neither of them pull away and when they finally do she doesn't move her hands and he doesn't release her waist.

He studies her and all he can see is the confusion and wonder and fear. He knows those are things she reads in him, but above all that he knows she can see his want and that's why she's so scared. He drops his hands from her waist and she backs a step away before turning and running down the stairs to her car.

Logan watches her the whole way knowing he's burning a whole in the back of her head with his heated gaze.

She looks up as she opens the door to her car and Logan is left totally unhinged and wobbly as for the first time in far too long her eyes are once again filled with all kinds of promise.

The End.