It has been almost three months since he last talked to her, since he told her that they didn't trust each other and it was better if they didn't see each other anymore. If he closes his eyes, he can still see her bruised cheek and bandaged hands. What he can't get out of his mind is the tears in her eyes and pain in her voice as she pleaded for him to stay. Yet despite their breakup, every time he saw her picture in the paper or heard her name on the news, he longed to call her. He wanted to find out what she was thinking and feeling; how she was coping with the media storm her life had become. He didn't realize how much he would miss seeing her, talking to her, holding her, protecting her. He didn't realize how much he needed her. Her absence was like a constant ache in his chest.
When the news that she was Jake Kane's biological daughter broke, he almost called her. He knew how much she adored Keith Mars. She was happy to live in that small apartment with her dad and her dog,; working at Mars Investigations and saving for college. His hand clenched when he imagined how much pain she was in when she found out Mr. Mars was not her biological father after all.
He had been trapped in the mansion for the summer avoiding the constant paparazzi camped outside the gate, constant phone calls requesting interviews and the requests from Aaron to visit him in prison. The fact he was the son of a murderer and of course, the fallout from his own arrest for murder kept him front page news. His only visitors had been Dick, Beaver and the teacher the school sent over to help him finish his courses from last year. That is until one morning he got a call from Duncan to open the gate in ten minutes because he was on his way to see him.
Duncan Kane was his best friend since he was twelve years old. The past year after Lilly died, Duncan had become a drugged up zombie and they weren't really close anymore. Now Duncan's dad was sick and needed a bone marrow transplant or he would likely die. Duncan had come over and they talked. They hung out and their friendship had healed. This was one of the only bright spots in his life. Duncan had been there for him when the grand jury had dismissed the charges against him and when most of the town thought because he was rich he had gotten away with murder.
Through Duncan, he heard that Veronica had closed up the apartment and moved to Portland to live with her aunt for the summer. She had been unable to work for Mars Investigations or the Hut due to all the media attention. She was able to work up in Portland and help out her dad a little with the bills. When Mr. Mars got out of the hospital he moved into the apartment at the back of the Fennel house. Duncan found out that Mr. Mars was just now getting back to work after his injuries. Duncan had tried to contact Veronica but she did not come to the phone or return his calls. It bothered both of them that they couldn't talk to her.
Now the summer was over and today was the first day back at school. He leaned against his locker. He told himself he was not looking for her; he was just touching base with people he had not seen over the summer. Looking up the hall, he spied his best friend walking towards him.
Logan says, "Hey man." Duncan touches fists with Logan and says, "Hey. Senior year."
Logan answers, "Yeah. How was Napa?"
Duncan leans against the locker beside Logan and says, "Good. My Grandparents are fine. They are worried about Dad and they want to meet Veronica."
Logan looks over at Duncan, "Have you talked to her?"
Duncan shakes his head in frustration, "No she is still not returning my calls. Dad says she is refusing to see or speak to him and that she has requested emancipation through the courts."
Logan looks down the hall and then back at Duncan. He says quietly, "She's not taking being a Kane well I guess?"
Duncan looks down at the floor and says, "No, I guess not."
Logan plays with his sweater sleeves and says, "How is your dad doing?"
Duncan looks up at Logan and answers, "As well as can be expected. He needs the bone marrow transplant and so far no one is a match. It is hard to watch him get weaker. I wish I matched him."
Logan looks up at Duncan and asks, "Is Veronica still refusing to be tested?"
Duncan sighs dejectedly, "Yeah. I think she thinks that Dad only acknowledged her because he needed her bone marrow. It's weird but I think Dad is more upset that he can't talk to her and get to know her. I think he is pleased that he is her biological father."
Logan asks, "Are you going to try and talk to her today?"
Duncan nods, "I would like to talk to her and not just about our dad. I miss her and I want to find out what is going on with her. I just don't know if she will want to talk to me."
Logan looks up the hall and sees Meg walking up the hall towards her locker. He says, "Ah, here is your better half."
Duncan looks up and follows Logan's gaze. He says quietly, "I missed her over the summer. We are supposed to talk about our relationship now she is back."
Logan pats his shoulder and says, "Good luck with that man."
Duncan stands and says, "Thanks." He heads over to say hi to Meg.
At lunch, Duncan and Meg walk through the quad to the table where Logan is sitting. They sit and Logan passes them a pizza box. They talk about teachers, classes and other students for a while. Meg tells Logan what she did over the summer.
Duncan leans in closer to Logan and asks, "Have you seen Veronica today? She isn't in any of my classes and she usually takes the AP courses with me. I asked around and no one has seen her."
Logan shakes his head and say, "No, I haven't seen her. Maybe she is just not at school today."
Duncan shakes his head and says, "I know she is good at avoiding people she doesn't want to see."
Logan nods and says, "Let's ask Wallace if he knows where she is after lunch. He has office duty then."
Logan and Duncan walk into the administration office. They see Wallace standing at the front desk sorting papers. Logan says, "Hey Wallace. How was your summer?"
Wallace looks up and sees them. His normally friendly expression darkens. He says "What can I do for you gentlemen?"
Logan says, "We didn't see Veronica today. How is she?"
Wallace looks coldly at Logan and asks, "Weren't you the guy who broke up with my BFF last summer?"
Logan face also darkens. He says, "Yes."
Wallace says quietly, "You know I accepted your relationship because she asked me to but you hurt her. So now I am telling you to stay away from her."
Logan steps towards Wallace. Duncan steps in between them.
Duncan turns to Wallace and says calmly, "I know you are her best friend Wallace and you want to protect her. I get that. It's just that we have known her a lot longer than you and we are worried about her."
Wallace looks at Duncan and says flatly, "Yeah I saw how you guys cared when I moved here."
Duncan holds Logan back as Logan makes another move towards Wallace. Duncan gives Logan a hard look and Logan backs off a step but has a furious look on his face. Duncan turns back to Wallace and says quietly, "Veronica is my sister. That changes things between her and me."
Duncan pauses and looks down for a second. He looks back at Wallace and admits, "She is not returning my calls. I know you have trouble believing it but I care about her."
Wallace meets Duncan's eyes and sees his sincerity. He takes a deep breath and sighs, "She has had a rough summer. She worked two jobs to help pay the bills since Mr. Mars was in the hospital. I know you don't know what that's like but she worked 60 to 70 hours per week. She is exhausted. Right now I think you should leave her alone."
Duncan asks, "How is Mr. Mars?"
Wallace says, "He is now cleared to work so he has been busy trying to get Mars Investigations back on track."
Duncan says, "I hear he is writing a book."
Wallace shrugs, "I know he is meeting with a publisher. I don't know about the book though."
Duncan meets Wallace's eyes and says, "Why isn't Veronica in school today?"
Wallace says tiredly, "Well she is."
Wallace looks from Duncan to Logan and continues, "She transferred to Pan."
Duncan exclaims, "What? Why did she transfer to Pan?"
Wallace looks at both Duncan and Logan and says rudely, "I think you both might have played a part in that."
Logan says angrily, "What happened between Veronica and me is none of your business. I don't need your permission to see her."
Wallace does not seem affected by Logan's anger. He stays strongly, "I should have protected her more last time. I am not going to make that mistake again. Mr. Mars and my mom are getting married. Veronica is going to be my sister too. No one is going to hurt her anymore."
Logan's voice goes dangerously quiet. He says, "You think I want to hurt her?"
Wallace looks at Logan and says, firmly, "If you aren't trying then I would hate to see it if you do try."
Logan takes a deep breath and lets it out obviously trying to keep control of his anger. He looks at Wallace for a few seconds then he turns around abruptly and leaves the office.
Duncan looks at the door where Logan left and then back at Wallace. He says quietly, "Veronica isn't the only one whose heart was broken last summer Wallace."
Wallace looks directly at Duncan and says firmly, "Logan's not my BFF or my sister so I think I will just worry about V."
Duncan sighs and says in a sad tone, "I know she is having a tough time but I feel like I can help her too, be there for her. "
Wallace shakes his head and says "I'll tell her what you said Duncan but that is all I can do."
Duncan says, "Thanks man."
Duncan leaves the office and walks down the hall. Logan is waiting for him there.
Duncan says quietly, "Wallace is just protecting Veronica. He loves her."
Logan shakes his head. "I know. I'm actually glad she has him as her friend. Now that we won't see her; he can protect her."
Duncan leans his back against the wall and rests his head, "Pan High. Why would she go there?"
Logan says reflectively, "Mr. Mars told me that he wanted Ronnie to go to Pan last year and she refused. He thought she stayed at Neptune High so she could work on Lilly's murder investigation."
Duncan shakes his head, "She put up with so much to solve Lilly's murder".
Logan agrees, "Way more than she should have. I was such an ass!"
Duncan says sadly, "She forgave us even though we didn't deserve it."
Logan remains silent as the thinks about Veronica in a new school. He thinks about not getting to see her everyday.
Duncan sighs, "I hope she can forgive Dad. I hope she can be tested. Even if she doesn't match, she needs to get to know him in case…"
Logan puts his hand on Duncan's shoulder. He says firmly, "He won't man. He's strong."