ON THE HEAD OF A PIN

Cassidy's shuddering as he makes his way toward the computer lab. He knows she'll be there, but it's justifiably taking some resolve to go talk to her. She frightens him; it's ironic given what he did to her, but then again, that is what frightens him. The thought that if he lets her look at him for too long, she'll just know who he is, what he did to her, and worse, she might stare hard enough to see why.

His stomach lurches at demented memories, mixing and bleeding. Thoughts of how often he's woken up with lust, remembering the soft blond hair she once had, curled in his hand, and other things elsewhere. It's easier to skirt around the issue; to think of everything in euphemisms, it always has been – maybe she thinks about it like that too. After all, when she confronted him, she never said the word. Rape.

The word unsettles him; practically offends him. It sounds so damn simple, like a walk or punch or even kill – just another verb. And noun, actually, but he generally thinks of it as a verb. He sounds over-dramatic when he thinks it's more than that, but he's always thought of it like that, even if he hates the way it comes out: reverent, almost, for what that bastard did to him.

He has to stop on his way to the lab, to quell the nausea in his stomach.

He wonders why he's really doing this. He doesn't believe that Logan would ever be capable of killing Lilly, except he believes anyone is capable of anything given the opportunity – and that's why this is happening, opportunity. He wonders if what he's trying for right now is redemption; to balance the scales with Veronica. He envies her for having someone she loved so much that he can use it to balance the scales; and he's scared of what will follow. Scared Logan didn't do it. Scared Logan did do it. Scared he won't care if Logan did. Scared that he will.

Scared Veronica won't believe him.

It's stupid, given how quick she was to believe him – he was waiting for the second shoe to drop for the rest of that day. He contemplated just getting in his car and running; oh what a cliché that would make him. Maybe, if he ran far enough he could veer over the edge of a cliff, would that fucking satisfy her?

Lilly's cornflour silk hair brushes against his back and tickles; which is stupid, because Lilly is dead. Silly boy, she murmurs, Do you really think this is about you, at all? That you are more important than my death?

"Yes."

Veronica doesn't hear him say the word aloud, and for that, he's grateful. This will be so much easier if he doesn't have to explain why he's freaking insane, if he can keep her in the dark about that tiny fact, just like he's always kept her in the dark. Despite the way she frightens him, he remembers her as the one thing he's ever truly had power over; even now here she is, twisting her the way he likes.

"Beaver?" she asks, and God, he hates that stupid nickname – shouldn't she show him respect? Fear? Submission?

"It's Cassidy, actually," he reminds her, and he hates himself for how pathetic the sentence sounds.

"What's up, Cassidy?"

She sounds so damn casual, like she genuine only wants and answer. He thinks of how she had sounded when she met him at his locker; angry and questioning, but not scared, not broken. He had hated her for that, loved her for that, and still didn't know her at all. She looks at him like she might wind up trusting him; and he's truly not sure how he feels about that.

"There's something you should know, and it's for your own good," he tells her, and he suppresses the bile that rises when Cassidy realizes he sounds like him. Hey, it's okay Cassidy – look, please stop crying! I'm trying to help you! Can't you see this is for your own good?

"Spill," she says, and he doesn't want to. Some part of his mind acknowledges it's complete betrayal of Logan; Dick will kick his ass for it. But Veronica's said that one, simple word, and Cassidy's always been good at following instructions. He wonders if Veronica can tell that when she looks at him; if maybe that's what he made of her.

"The day Lilly died, me and Logan and Dick, we were all down in Mexico, surfing," he explains.

"I know this," and Cassidy knows she does; she's Veronica fucking Mars, teen PI, bright girl knows everything. Except she doesn't know him, and that fills him with a thrill he just hates.

"Well, Logan, he was going on about how he knew Lilly was seeing someone else," and the dead girl's giggle rings in his ear; he never really knew Lilly Kane, but he likes the fact that, like Veronica, she is something he has taken control over. He wonders if things would be the same if Lilly was alive and Veronica was dead, but he finds the image of Lilly under him doesn't appeal the same way.

"Go on," it's another instruction, does she think she can order him? He's probably getting delusional by this point, because this is just the way people have conversations; and Veronica pretends to be still alive.

"So he got up early that morning... and he drove back to Neptune to see her."

Veronica believes him without a second thought; which is good, because if she had believed the lie and discarded the truth that irony would have been just fatal. Good, bad; truth, lies, it's all the same underneath, even if it isn't at all.

She walks away sheepishly, leaving Veronica with the mission for Lilly, who's laughter is still buzzing in his ear like a mosquito. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Rhonda from his journalism class and he locker that refuses to open. She swears and kicks it, and her rich gold-brown hair falls over her shoulder.