She gasped the first time she saw him shirtless.

Despite what Logan would love to hear, it was not because he was that devastatingly sexy (though maybe she would gasp out of that anyway) – she knew about the abuse Logan had endured from Aaron, but there was kind of a difference between hearing Trina Echolls make light of Logan's injuries, and seeing the red belt marks all over his back.

"You know," Logan said with his trademark sardonic smile, which somehow suddenly rang false to her. "Usually, it takes a bit more work than that to get a girl breathless."

Veronica instinctively knew what he was doing. After Shelley Pomroy's (the night that should have been wonderful, that scarred her for life), she had hardened herself against her classmates' "slut" comments, desperate to prove to them that she was still okay. That they hadn't broken her. The new Veronica was born a lot out of that.

"Logan..." she trailed off, unsure what to say. So instead, she tentatively reached toward the scars themselves. Thin lines reminded her of the red oozing out of Lilly's head; getting on the ashtray, the pavement, Duncan (wrong place wrong time), everything.

He looked away from her. "Veronica. Don't," he warned, and she could sense the note of longing in his voice. The desperation not to be his father's son.

Sometimes she thought of Logan's abuse in regards to Lilly's murder, two awful, forever intertwined events. Fuck Aaron Echolls. Sometimes she thought: what if someone had known, gotten Logan help, got him away from Aaron? Wouldn't that have kept Aaron away from Lilly? On her darker days, she blamed Logan. You idiot, you coward, her mind raged, Why didn't you do something, tell someone? Couldn't you have helped yourself and just saved her?

She knew she was being irrational when she thought that; that really, the town of Neptune would never let the famous Aaron Echolls go down for something as trivial as beating his son to a pulp every day (she learned just how little Neptune cared for the less powerful as brutally as possible, although in regards to what really happened maybe that was a good thing). She sectioned those angry thoughts to the dimmest corner of her mind, where she wouldn't have to look at them.

She bit her lip and kissed him, a little tentative. They went on to make out, as wasn't unusual for them, and Veronica tried not to feel how heavy that marked skin was under in her palm.