GOD IS CRUEL

Veronica

She knows she's always been innocent. Naive, even. There was never any reason not to be; bad things just didn't touch her. She lived an over-charmed life, she knew that and was not ungrateful for it. It always made things a little worse, though; when Duncan just kept walking by, she knew logically that, comparatively, her first break-up wasn't that bad – but it felt like her world was ending, and she kind of wished she had something worse to compare it to.

Now she's staring at a broken, bloody mess. They say that was Lilly – her father says it was Lilly – but she can't, won't believe it. Lilly wouldn't look like that; Veronica knows her best friend would never tolerate herself as a mess. And she'd always have control, because that is what Lilly does. She's still there somewhere, she's Lilly – how can she be gone?

Eventually is sinks in; Lilly is dead; dead and nothing will ever change that ever no matter how hard you pray how hard you wish what you would trade just to get her back she's gonegonegone. Then there are the tapes and Logan's crying; asking her "Does your dad still think Lilly's father did this?" And she can't answer him. What sort of answer is there, to that? So she does what she can. She runs.

And they follow; they barrage her everyday with questions and comments, Logan's tears dried to bitter sarcasm. It's all Logan and Duncan and her father; Jake Kane and LillyLillyLilly. She tries to keep away, tried to shelter what little of herself she has left, but she's so alone and it hurts so much. Mom disappears and she's choking; drowning in a sea of women missing.

She goes to that party because it's all she can do; if she can't run or deflect the 'slings and arrows', the least she can do is stand up. Stand up and say; I'm here, you bastards, you haven't broken me yet. It's what Lilly would do. But then she takes the drink – what a stupid, naive, sheltered Veronica mistake to make – and she's swirling, twisting into the void.

She wakes up and she's fueled; ache between her legs, waiting to be set alight. She's broken and dirty and slow; she can't exist. She tries to follow procedure; the sheriff's department and kits and counseling and everything she's meant to do. There's nothing else she can do; if she tries living the recovery she'll vanish.

And he laughs. The new sheriff sees her state, looks her in the eye, calls her a liar and laughs. She cries; because naive Veronica registers that she's meant to cry. That's what you do after being raped. If she cries, he might understand, take pity on her.

But he doesn't. He throws her out of his office and doesn't look twice. Veronica thinks she can see something in Inga's eyes, but she can't name it. She wipes away her tears and she's blazing; rage and pain and death swarming her soul. She sheds her innocence like a snakeskin in the Sheriff's department; dark flame slowly burning.


Wallace

People lie. It's not really a secret; even when your a little kid, you can vaguely acknowledge that yeah, people lie to you. Sometimes because they want to protect themselves. Sometimes because they want to hurt you. Sometimes because they want to protect you. Wallace's never seen how some people can boast their truthfulness, because on the long list of bad things the species homo sapiens can do, lying's a bit low down – everybody does it, for one thing.

Of course, they could tell you your father is a complete different man than who he really is; and you could be completely in the dark about it for eighteen years until your real father shows up and finally proves he exists. Yeah, Wallace reckons truth might be a good thing after that.

His mom defends herself; saying all she wants is to protect him. He actually believes her, but that doesn't make it all better. She lies some more, and when Nathan tells him his version of the truth (although Wallace's not sure why he should trust 'Father' either), he's not surprised. Pissed as hell, but not surprised.

Veronica tells him that Mom was in the right; that's she's the one who cares about him. She says: "Take it from someone who know, the one who stays with you is the one who cares." He doubts she heard him at all; that she's just protecting her own issues at him, not listening, not knowing him (again).

Jackie doesn't talk about it – Jackie doesn't talk about things like that; and she and Veronica's little war is really badly timed. He yells at them both for it; doubts either of them care what he wants. Veronica, acting out in rage 'cause she doesn't know anything else. Jackie, demanding the world revolve around her 'cause she can't cope with anything else.

It still hurts when he sees Veronica rip into Jackie at that dance though.

It doesn't take much convincing himself to get in that care and go to Chicago. People send messages, and he knows they really do care – he just can't bring himself to answer them. Let them hurt. They deserve it.

Nathan asks him if he's okay during the ride, but he doesn't answer. Doesn't say yes. Okay, maybe he really is trying to be the first person in human history not to lie.


Duncan

When he was a kid, his dad used to tell him and Lilly stories. He used all the classics, and Duncan didn't mind – Lilly did, however, because that was the way of Lilly. So Jake just changed them around a little, replacing the gingerbread man with a Swiss cheese man – it was an obvious ripoff, sure, but Lilly accepted it. Then Jake's memory ran away from him, creating a hole tangent where the Swiss Cheese Man's holes had grown and grown and grown; until he swallowed himself. Lilly had laughed and loved it, but Duncan had been a little frightened by the image of this man consuming himself. His mother (back when she didn't look so tired) had smiled a little, and kissed her dear boy's hair. Lilly had pouted no-one loved her because she wasn't a wuss like Duncan.

The first hole is at ten; it's a tiny thing, really. He's just sitting there, skidding stones across the pool with his big sister. Then the grass is a mess, they're surrounded by broken flowerpots, and there's a sharp red mark growing on Lilly's face. Then it's a hush-hush visit to the hospital; and he cries, because he doesn't understand what he's doing or why he can't remember it. Then there are men who give him white pills; and his father is clutching him, his mother is holding his hand so hard it almost hurts; wearing a broken smile and insisting: it'll be alright. Lilly grins and tells him her favorite story; the Man Made of Swiss Cheese. He thinks of holes in the world and forces the idea not to hurt, because he can't let Lilly down again.

It's a little thing, and it's quickly forgotten. It happens a few more times, but Lilly becomes a dabhand at brushing it off – Duncan feels like he's sinking, but there's no way to reach out to her. So he grasps what he can. Logan Echolls is a best friend made for him, and he thinks he falls in love with Veronica Mars on first sight. He, Logan, Lilly, Veronica – the fearsome foursome forever.

His parents look so tired nowadays.

Then he hears; the truth about Veronica. Lianne. Father. Veronica's cut off; he can't tell where she will go but she is somewhere else. A ring of dark bruises grows around his father's neck, coupled with another gap in time – Duncan never asks. He's sinking, he knows it.

Then Lilly is-

Nothing makes sense anymore; he can't see, feel anything. Nothing beyond LillydeadLillydeadLillydead. He can't remember things again, and his mother almost breaks his fingers at the funeral. She grasps him because if she doesn't, one of them will just float away.

He can't look at Veronica because if he does, he sees Lilly and he sees his father; and Lilly probably hurts more, but Daddy Dearest is up there. So he avoids her, and he hasn't the energy to stop Logan sinking into the abyss. Then it's the party, and he has to save her again – saving her from Logan, which is so wrong in every way imaginable. Then Logan hands him the drink, and it's kind of a blur after that.

He wakes up with sweat cooling on his skin; beautiful blonde tucked under his arm like beautiful blondes are tucked under forbidden men's arms. The Swiss Cheese Man takes two deep breaths; blurry sights of a pale form under him, thin film over the hole. He stands and swallows himself with holes.


Logan

He has always known that he can't hold on to anything he loves. It starts with the family, somewhat obviously: Daddy Dear, always working for the camera and always just so stressed – he tries to be a good father, really! Yeah, that's a comfort when he can't even put on his fucking shirt because his back is too raw. Trina is always slipping and twisting; moulding herself into the image Dad and his world wants. Logan tries to grasp her, every once in awhile, but she always slips away, so usually it's easier just to snark at her. There's always his mother; booze and valium and eyes distinctly wide shut. Sometimes Logan tries to think of that nine-year-old Christmas, when Lynn had held a cheese-grater to Aaron's throat, to protect her son. All he wants is for Aaron to have kept going, then – Lynn drawing the blade and then, he could have grasped something again.

He meets Lilly through Duncan; he had been introduced to the Kanes' little boy years ago, long before Neptune, but it's not until the move that DK becomes his best friend (and he kind of knows he's asking for disaster there) and he meets the daughter. Lilly is a one-year-older wildfire; laughter and colour and a quick-burning fuse flying through Neptune. Logan grows obsessed quickly, but Lilly doesn't mind at all. She grins wider than anyone he's ever known, and it always feels like an earthquake when she kisses him.

No he can't ever hold on to her, but it doesn't feel so bad with Lilly. No-one can hold on to Lilly; she's like a spirit. Logan pours himself into her, wrapping all pain and loneliness and every hint of Poor Little Rich Boy in this beautiful, blindingly bright girl. The girl he's destined to lose.

When he sees her face on the news that night, his face contorts. They had been called, but it hadn't felt real until the media (the one Dad lived his life by) said it. He breaks down, and Aaron awkwardly squeezes his shoulder – it's probably Daddy acting the good father part, but Logan doesn't have enough room in him to care. It's all LillydeadLillydeadLillydead. He's flooding with pain and grief and guilt and anger; and worse, overwhelming relief.

It's been a long four years.


Weevil

If there's one thing Weevil knows, it's that his luck can always get worse. Think is sucks when your mom's always drunk and never home? Try having her 'mysteriously' disappear when you're only ten. Think it's annoying, having to share shit with your cousin because you can't afford more? Try having him betray you and frame you for credit card fraud. Hate falling head-over-heels for this wild rich chick, only for her to keep you a secret and soon go running back to another 09er? Try having her head smashed in by said pansy-ass boyfriend's dad a month later.

Need vengeance on the guy you shared Lilly with, when you think he killed her? Come back with a knife in your best friend's gut.

And it's just wrong, somehow, because you and Felix were more than friends – you were comrades. Brothers. You were always meant to have his back, and vice versa, except you led him to his death 'cause you wouldn't wait and see if Echolls has really bashed Lilly's brains in – well, Echolls did bash Lilly's brains in, but the wrong one – and Weevil just hates Logan Echolls, worse than anyone before, worse than Echolls Snr. even.

Veronica says Logan didn't do it; lured back by the promise of the 09ers – she holds Echolls' hand at trial, and it's cruel and crippling and wrong because that is his V; the girl who did that head-tilt 'hey' thing, who wouldn't rest until she found Lilly's real killer, who should be bucking the system right along with him and making sure Logan Echolls pays. He knows Echolls' will get off, because he's rich and white, and Felix wasn't. These pansy-ass court sons of bitches don't have a fucking clue what Felix was, and neither does V and it kills.

When Cervando goes off a cliff, he's not even that surprised.

But then life goes on and, yet again, he underestimated Mars. He wanted to hate Echolls' too badly, and he's a little bit terrified of what the fuck he's caused this time. He never says sorry; mostly because it's Logan fucking Echolls and Weevil can't apologize to him. So they look further; Molly and the Fitzpatricks and that old minivan dream of his best friend's. It stings, but Weevil's so used to that by now it barely registers.

But then Thumper is standing over him, taunting him. He's beaten and bruised and he thinks:

Drunk, gone mother. Dead, beloved best friend. Wrong person held accountable. Abandoned and defeated by everyone he once called 'friend'.

That story seems familiar somehow.


Cassidy

He's a ghost and he knows it; he can't really remember a time when he was alive. Sure, there's the line of it (and he always thinks of it in euphemisms; he's bad with reality), but he really doesn't want to make that the turning point of his life. He wants to matter; to exist independent of the pain.

He asks people to stay; but they never listen. He had asked his mother to stay; found her with her suitcase and, with trademark puppy-dog eyes, begged her not to leave him (God, he was pathetic – he still is). She had brushed it off like a few grains of sand, and worse, he wasn't surprised. He just went up to his room and cried a little, because he was seven years old (five months and twelve days), before it and he still remembered how to cry.

Dick and Dick (he has the most irritating family in existence; no wonder Mom legged it) are always there; real; existent. They play with him and torture him because he's not there. How can you hurt and/or kill a ghost?

Woody was much the same, he guesses. He feels sick and dirty, like he always does – there are hands all over him. Busy, greedy, needy hands; shoving him all over the place and telling him what to do. Cassidy wants to draw back into his coffin and find whatever heaven he's meant for, but it doesn't work like that, not for him. He forever exists in limbo, twisted wherever the world can fit a dead boy.

Except now it's not busy hand telling him what to do; it's the thud of confident footsteps. He examines the girl on the bed – pale and thin, clad in white; almost as ghostly as he – and something lands to their sides. Dick and Sean are now gone, and it's all him and her and they're just floating in space now.

He reaches for his belt buckle, and remembers to feel sick and wrong and dirty and evil. But, for the first time, he feels alive and that's really enough.


Dick

This shouldn't be happening to him. It's an undeniable fact; something like this doesn't happen to him. Plus it's the Beav who's meant to be all psycho and dead and shit; and that's just nuts. It two seconds there are going to be orange unicorns dancing in front of him and it's all going to be a really trip. Because unicorns taking him to Sugar Happy Fairy land would totally make more sense than this.

It's not until the Sheriff plays him the tape that he gets it – Beaver was a nut-job. A nut-job who no-one protected (Dick didn't protect him) and now he's just dead and he's not coming back.

Dick cries then. He breaks down and sobs for a little bit; he can't be fucked figuring out how long. Then he goes home and it twists into rage. He storms upstairs and winds up tearing the Beav's room to pieces, and he's thinking: How could you do this?! How could you leave me alone like this?! and all that other clichéd crap you're meant to think when one of the only people you ever cared about at all throws himself off the roof of one of tallest buildings in town.

His rage pewters out for a little, and he really kind of wishes it wouldn't because when the rage goes, he just feels sad. Sad and lonely and stupid; and he really doesn't want wind up bawling his eyes out like a little girl again.

But bawl he does; crawling up on Cassidy's bed in the fetal position (it smells like his brother; that's both a comfort and a knife to the gut) and crying so hard he can't see. Kendall hears him, and he knows she says something, but his own sobbing makes it impossible to hear. She doesn't sound sad – a little sobered maybe – and he's glad when she goes. Then he's not; because even if step-mommy is one of the most annoying cunts on the planet (one day he'll have to make a list; Mars, Madison, Ghost World...) she is still someone else and might make his thoughts a little harder to hear.

Thoughts like the way Beaver was always fucking frozen whenever Dick had to pick him up from Little League practice. Thoughts like the way the Beav had looked at the sea when the bus had sunk into it. Thoughts like the time he locked a nine-year-old Beav in that tiny closet in the hall and counted how long it was until his little brother started screaming. Thoughts like what an evil person would have done behind closed doors; December 7th, 2003. Stuff like that.

He spends the summer sliding between drunk, hungover and crying; he knows he's turned into a total pussy, but with enough booze he doesn't really care. When college starts and he realizes; fuck, the world hasn't stopped turning just because Beaver isn't there, it rips him in two.

He moves in with Logan because there's nowhere else to go; no-one left. But Veronica comes over every once in a while, staring at him with those cold eyes – just for a second – and Dick guesses there isn't really here to go either.


Jackie

Her mother never hesitated at all to tell her she was unwanted; an accident that had made everything so much harder for her mother. That pretty much set the tone for the first half of Jackie Cook's life; one stupid try after another to prove she was worth something.

She thought every bastard child's parents would tell them something stupid; like their parents were stars or something. So she doesn't believe her mom about Terrence Cook until she finds the letters he and mom wrote when she was about five; her first days at school, him cutting off payment because he needed to fix his gambling debts. She always reckoned things got worse about the time she was five, although she never bothered looking for a reason for that. But know she knows.

She cries a little. Cries because she should have more than this; she should have a father that can protect her and secure her good fortune. Except she doesn't, because he was a dumb bastard who got himself in too much trouble to help her. But she dries her tears after a few seconds, because it's all she can do and she doesn't want to feel sorry for herself.

She meets Drake a few months after that. Rich and he says he loves her; she clings to him like there's no tomorrow. He gives her gifts and takes her places – he drags her all the way to Paris once, just because they were bored – and with him, it feels a little like the life she should have had with her father. They party together and she doesn't even care what that pretty white pill might be doing to her, because she's not alone anymore.

Things shatter after the baby.

Drake abandons her (she probably should have seen that coming) when she tells him she's pregnant; he says he was always planning of dumping her, accuses her of doing this on purpose to try and keep him. He repeats the accusation all over school, and everyone believes him – they never liked Jackie anyway – and she becomes a total outcast. He calls her crazy, talks about the booze and the pills (the ones he made her do, but he doesn't) and she hates how betrayed she feels.

Eventually Jordan is born, and Jackie feels like she's turned into her mother. Alone, over-stress single mother slowly turning bitter. One night – it's just another night – Jordan cries at 3 AM; and the only thing Jackie can think is: I can't do this anymore.

She breaks down in front of her mother, who (for what might be the first time ever) shows some sympathy; not wanting her daughter to turn into her. So she makes a deal with Terrence; letting Jackie play the Rich Girl she was meant to be. It works, and that surprises Jackie – she remembers finding the letters she never told Mom about; why would he want her back now?

Mom is working at the time of her flight, so Jackie goes to the airport alone. She thinks of mother, boyfriend and son and wishes there was someone here to see her off.

But no-one is going care for her, ever. Why would they?


Piz

He doesn't have a bad life, all in all. He has to work these crappy jobs all in all, and he hasn't seen his dad since he was twelve, part apart from that he's okay. Nondescript.

He meets Veronica when he goes to Hearst, and it becomes an infatuation quickly. The more he hear about her, the worse things seem to be for her: best friend murdered, shunned by town, revealed other friend as mass-murder last year, etc. It adds admiration to what he feels when he looks at her; he doesn't know how she can cope with everything so well.

Piz knows he'll never have her from the start, sees that overcomplicated Epic Love Story she and Logan are constantly embroiled in. He can't compete with that. It hurts a little, but it's not exact the most important thing in existence, not on a campus with a serial rapist on the loose, for one thing. Veronica and Logan break up, and Piz doesn't even mean to get his hopes up. But that talk with the music metaphor does bring out something, even if he doesn't want to admit it when he sees Logan and veronica eating breakfast together the next day.

But they break up again, and Piz stand far back because he's not going to get his hopes up again. He thinks he's being a whiny piece of shit about this, but he doesn't tell anyone so the only person he can piss off is himself. Veronica, in the end, cannot be the most important thing in human history – although he's starting to think of her as a little like the sun, or some other romantic metaphor; all-eclipsing, eternal.

Then it's Parker's birthday party and Veronica's lips are on his and it's all what he thought he'd never get. He falls into being her boyfriend, and it's all safe and warm and easy. She seems comfortable with him, and sometimes he likes to think he's the one keeping her tethered to the ground.

Then the video happens.

She wants to make someone pay and he just wants to wait for the cataclysm to pass; maybe a little because he's still bruised from Logan's attempts to make someone pay. Veronica looks at him a little dubiously when he says to ignore the people – all he wishes, in that moment, is for it to go away so he and Veronica can go back to normal.

Logan eventually finds the right person to make pay, and Veronica gives her ex this funny half-smile – one she's never given Piz. Logan apologizes to him, but he hardly hears it. Veronica won't meet his eyes and Piz knows, beyond all doubt, that he's lost her. No, scratch that. He never had her to begin with.

Dude, he tells himself, because he doesn't want it to hurt so much; there are children starving in Africa somewhere. Get over it.


Parker

She always insisted that she'd go away for college, mostly because she didn't want to deal with her mother through what were meant to be the party years of her life. She loves her mother, but the woman would win an overbearing championship. So she goes to Hearst; she starts with the partying and fun like you do in college. Her roommate is awesome, and that helps.

And then she's-

Nothing makes sense anymore; nothing feels right. She's wounded and broken; a hairless freak and all she can think is: dirtydirtydirty. Then Veronica tells her she was in the room, and all rationality flies out the window because she needs to blame Veronica for this. She needs to blame someone for this.

Mac helps her and her mother comes back; trying to drag her home. Parker clings to the roommate already offering herself as a bar to grasp, and gets the best wig she can. It's awful. She's broken and dirty and filthy and there's nothing she can do.

Veronica won't stop showing up, and all Parker can see when she looks at her is it, him. But Veronica tells her about what happened at Shelley Pomroy's and it's all just too bitter , all too real. Veronica's not how she can throw blame around anymore, and it stings.

She works with Lilith House because at least then she feels like she's doing something. They lobby their accusations at the Pi Sigs, and when Mac tells her about one of the pledges turning up at the door the night before it (Mac looks away when she tells her that, but Parker doesn't ask why), it helps the foundation. But Veronica proves them innocent, as Veronica is wont to do – Parker feels like the other girl is trying to cut the last strings tying her to the world; send her floating into the breeze.

Mercer is found after a while – Veronica, again – and Parker makes a choice. She runs. Locks the rape in a dark corner of her mind and keeps away from it whenever possible; acts like that girl before it happened. She's probably not that girl anymore, but she doesn't know how to be anyone else.


Mac

She doesn't understand as she pulls herself closer to the wall; draws the shower curtain around her tighter. She's cold. Cold and scared and confused; all she can think is: this is crazy. Is it some cruel joke? Is that why Beaver got back together with her, just to try and crush her further?

She thinks. That wouldn't be like Beaver, but then again, their old breakup wasn't like Beaver either. She remembers how they had gotten together; he had sought her out for computer help, but he had cared after that. He was funny and cute and he noticed her and didn't give a damn his family was about 300 million times richer than hers.

Still, it had mattered to her that he wouldn't touch her, wouldn't kiss her for too long. Cindy Mackenzie and her amazing self-esteem thought she was doing something wrong – and he had lost his mind at her. They broke up and she cried; cried like she's crying now.

Tonight, he couldn't touch her either. He tried and it just didn't work; he almost broke down then, she could see it. It's my fault, she had thought, although she wasn't all that sure.

Veronica bursts in and finds her alone, wrapped in a shower curtain. She's mess and she knows it, and all she can do is hug her best friend for dear life. The staff find her a bathrobe and Veronica starts explaining; the bus and the roof and ohgodohgodohgod. She feels sick and this, this must be the cruel joke because there is no way in hell this can be happening. Veronica pauses halfway through her exposition; like a recording skipping, but Mac just hurts too much to care what notes she missed.

"I want to see him," she says, almost bawling. She runs to the window before Veronica can stop her, and there's a big patch of red on the sidewalk.

He had noticed her.

She should have seen this coming. Because is was too good to be true.


Lamb

There crazy and he knows it. The Marses are trying to rip apart Neptune Town, starting with grieving parents who lost their daughter. How could they do something like that? Lamb wonders how on Earth he used to respect the former Sheriff.

When Veronica wanders into his office crying rape, he doesn't waste a second believing her. Because she's Keith Mars' daughter and she's just as destructive and selfish; her crocodile tears won't move him. She leaves and he doesn't look twice.

Not until she's long gone, in any case.

Slowly, it starts bleeding from his mind. Her broken strap, messed up hair, wide eyes. What if she was telling the truth? He shakes the thought away. Marses are liars and cruel to boot; there's no reason to feel guilty for ignoring her. No reason to remember that broken expression. Nothing happened to her.

She becomes more important; long blond hair gone and badass attitude in its place. Veronica thinks she can take on the world, and Lamb just rolls his eyes at her. Then she actually gets pretty good at solving cases and it becomes a little more of a worry.

He thought he solved the the Kane murder. He didn't, and he has Keith and Veronica to thank for that – much better people than he's ever been. When he arrest Aaron Echolls, he sees Veronica and feels he should go apologize. Because he knows for a fact now something did happen, and he's probably let the perpetrator get away with it.

He avoids her eyes. It's much too late now, in any case.


Keith

He doesn't have a great track record with keeping his daughter's life normal, no matter how hard he tries. He laughs bitterly when he thinks that, because what's normal anyway?

Maybe normal was seeing his daughter's best friend's corpse out by the Kane pool. Maybe normal was losing all respect and his job for trying to solve a murder properly. Maybe normal was his wife telling him not to wait for her. Maybe normal was having his girlfriend accuse him of selling out his daughter's childhood twice, and believing her a little bit more each time. Maybe normal was having the man he had liked and respected (although wound up disagreeing with a lot of his policies), and voted into office of Mayor, slander him to cover his own indiscretions, and then be revealed as the remorse pedophile covering his indiscretions in a very different way. Maybe normal was having his daughter almost die twice by the time she was eighteen. Maybe normal was being meant to be on the plane that blew up on the skyline. Maybe normal was screwing up so badly Kendall died. Maybe normal was seeing his successor and former officer in a coffin; watching Madison Sinclair, not warm enough to cry but not cold enough to go.

Actually, under the sheer weight of those examples, all that probably is normal for him. That's depressing.

When he catches himself thinking like that; it reminds him of the way Veronica is. And then he hates the fact she's the more cynical one of them. He remembers the way his daughter used to be; bright, happy and innocent. Back then, he fooled himself into thinking he could protect her forever. That the adult world could leave her untouched.

She does a lot of protecting now; he vaguely acknowledges his daughter works like a hero now. Lilly. The crash. The rapes. O'Dell. She shouldn't have to bed this person; but he knows who she is, is amazing. But when he sees the flicker of blond hair on the tape, he kind of wishes she wasn't.

He knows from that moment that he has to protect her; once a cop always a cop, but always a father first. It's Jake Kane and that strikes him as funny as he destroys the video – surely he, of all people, should understand? Out of the corner of his eye he sees a dead gold-digger raising an eyebrow; trick of the light and a guilty conscience.

He wasn't really expecting not to get found out; even though it hurts. Jake Kane taking him from the Sheriff's office, once again. Hypocrite.

He thinks of Vinnie and the Fitzpatricks; far more control than ever before. He feels a little nauseous then (Kendall's sitting in the windowsill; looking petulant), but he goes home and knows he did what he had to do. So he makes gumbo for Veronica, and she says she loves him, and he thinks he shouldn't regret destroying that tape one bit.

He's not perfect. So he does.

But he's a father first.