"Ms. Dumas, my dad's going to pick me up early. I have to get to work," Veronica tells the new journalism teacher as they reach Shark Field.
The new teacher taps fake nails against her own arm, as she replies calmly, "No one's supposed to leave without the bus, Veronica."
"I know, but school would be out by now and I figured if my dad was here it'd be fine."
"Okay, this once. But you make sure he comes to see me before you leave."
"Sure thing," she smiles, nodding.
Duncan turns to her, his voice low. "You're leaving?"
"I need to get to the Hut. I'll only miss the last half hour, you can fill me in on all the juicy details later."
"But I'll miss you."
"Just think of the exciting bus ride you have waiting. Dick, the new girl, lots of drool."
"While you get pie."
"And a waistcoat. Never forget the trauma of the waistcoat."
"Waistcoat or Dick's drool."
She grimaces. "Okay, fine, you win."
"An accident along the Pacific Coast Highway earlier today involved a Neptune High school bus running off the edge of a cliff. Authorities have yet to release an official statement but sources say there are believed to be no survivors… Local teacher Elaine Dumas and a group of journalism students were travelling from a school fieldtrip when…"
Veronica stops dead at the television. "Dad!"
The word feels numb off her lips and Veronica doesn't even notice the strangled tone of her voice of the speed at which Keith appears by her side. She starts crying without meaning too and before she realizes what's really happened shock has set in and her dad's sweater is soaked in snot and tears.
She can't really take it all in but she thinks her boyfriend might be dead.
She sees it, every time she turns on the TV. Well, she doesn't see iit/i—the accident—just the aftermath, the part she's living through. If Veronica is feeling masochistic or unlucky enough to catch a glimpse of the smooshed up footage all she sees is the grainy and crackling yellow pieces floating in the black.
She was well off the highway by the time it toppled over and she's so, so glad that she never had to watch a bus containing her boyfriend and an ex-friend crash off the edge. At the same time she'd like the closure of Lilly's head spilling out in front of her.
It should make her sad, she's sure of this. Veronica wants to cry and cry and cry and be hysterical like she did when Lilly bit the dust. But she can't, it just makes her angry. Makes her see red like she's never imagined.
And what makes it worse, this tight hot coiling in her chest, is that she's trying to blame everyone. Duncan for being sweet to her, the bus driver for not spinning the wheel hard enough, the school for having the trip, the mayor for owning a baseball stadium at all, Logan for being such an ass that she ran back to Duncan in the first place. And the thing that makes that itch inside her brain is that Veronica knows none of those people are to blame—but she doesn't know who is.
"Do you miss him?"
Veronica scowls at Logan. Her voice is tight, "What do you think? He was my boyfriend."
"I think you don't look like you're doing too much grieving."
"You're not very observant then."
"Look at you Veronica, all cool and collected. Calm and put together. Like nothing even happened."
"As opposed to you, Logan? Drinking myself to death? Somehow I don't think that'd be what Duncan wanted."
"Duncan's dead. What he wanted is kinda moot now."
"You weren't even friends, Logan. You didn't even speak when he…"
"When he what, Veronica? Crossed over, passed away, leapt through the Golden Gates? He died."
"You didn't even like each other!"
"Yeah because it's that simple. Because you just STOP caring about someone! Who the hell are you, Veronica, who the hell are you to say this stuff? He was my best friend."
She stands staring at him for a moment. Logan shoves his hands into his pockets and refuses to look at her, gaze fixed firmly on the ground by his scuffed sneaker.
"He would've come around… eventually," he finishes gruffly.
Veronica swallows and just nods, there's no point in disillusioning Logan any more than he already has been. "Yeah, he would have."
"I would have stopped being a jackass, y'know. We just needed some time!" his voice breaks on time because it seemed like such an easy idea when they had plenty and now that Duncan's gone it's all a cruel joke.
Veronica just nods, turning to leave without saying anything about the red rimming Logan's eyes while he wipes the back of his hand across his nose.
When she sleeps she thinks she can see him behind her eyelids. Duncan, standing there… next to Lilly maybe. They're both green, sickly and shimmering and they talk to her like they're not dead.
She wants to open her eyes, see them still standing there while she's awake but Veronica can't form a coherent thought. Has no control over her body in sleep. She's fighting against this teasing but it won't go away.
"This is awesome, V. You should totally die, it's like the best trip."
"I miss you, baby."
Veronica gasps, lurching up in her bed, "What?!"
"Veronica?!" she hears her dad's shout from the next room.
He runs through, still hesitating slightly when it comes to opening her closed bedroom door, and settled himself on the end of the bed. "Honey, are you okay?"
Veronica looks blank. Tired. She's shivering a little, it's not cold but she can't stop. "Yeah, I just… I guess I had a bad dream."
"Okay, well you try get some sleep. Meeting with the guidance counselor tomorrow, remember?"
"How could I forget," she grumbles.
"It'll be good for you to talk about it, Veronica."
She nods because that's what her dad wants her to do and tries to smile because it's not his fault and she really doesn't want him worrying about her. "Yeah, I'll play nice."
"That's my girl," he declares on his way out of the room
She calls him back, "I love you, dad."
Keith stops half-way out of the door, taking in the sight of his dream-shaken daughter clutching her covers too tightly. He nods, "Love you too, sweetheart. Now sleep."
The seat next to hers is empty and Veronica really wishes she didn't need the extra-curricular activities on her transcript. Mr. Pope is still there, retirement stretching out further and further from his grasp and Veronica thinks he should feel lucky that he's even alive.
Logan isn't there. Dick and Beaver are dead too. It's quiet with hardly anyone there. Veronica doesn't know what to say when Mr. Pope tells her that she's bankrupt. It figures.
Plus he has to go through all the other names first, he made up the PowerPoint before the bus crash and it runs frame by frame without being able to stop or skip over. It feels a lot like her life lately and Veronica asks to be excused to the bathroom so she can cry like a cliché.
On the way there someone makes a comment about her rubbing bad karma all over anyone unlucky enough to come into contact with her. Later that day the girl who dared confront Veronica finds pictures of her father in the backseat of some guy's car plastered all down the hall.
Veronica saunters past, her short skirt swinging from her hips and her high boots zipped up like armor over her shins. She survived, she feels guilty, but she's invincible if she doesn't care.
He walks up behind her casually, as if he's not even going to speak to her. She doesn't turn around as Logan throws out there, "Nice prank you pulled on Sarah."
"It wasn't a prank," she replies calm, cold. "It was the truth and she deserved it."
"Seem awful hostile there, V."
"Veronica. And I'm fine."
"Sure thing, brave little toaster," he smirks and she hates him for it.
"Right," he nods mockingly at her determination, "Veronica."
"Why are you here, Logan?" she sounds pleading.
He shrugs, "I don't know." And walks away, leaving her to head to her next class.
"You know it's okay to be upset, Veronica."
She isn't really paying much attention but she tries to sound definite, "I'm fine. I'm dealing."
She isn't dealing. Every time she closes her eyes she expects to open them and find someone else dead. People she didn't even think she'd miss. Maybe someone she knows that she would miss. Her dad, Wallace, maybe even Logan who's just always ithere/i reminding her of Duncan.
He wants her, she knows this. But she doesn't want him for who he is anymore, and she doesn't want to use him for his connection to Duncan. It's the one thing he seems to care about anymore, since he's not allowed to care about her.
Veronica swallows and tries not to see yellow everywhere. The therapist is still talking to her but Veronica can't concentrate on much except revenge lately.
She's investigating again. She never thought she would be. Not after what happened when she found out about the first Kane murder. It's easier to think about it like that, last names and the word 'murder' and not her best friend and her ex-boyfriend's father.
She's scared what she'll unearth with Duncan's death but she can't help this hot, bitter taste in her mouth. It's a lot like blood and it tells her to find the truth. To get some justice, some peace of mind.
When she swallows it down it just infects her stomach and makes everything churn inside her like waiting.
She will find out.
He tells her, "I want to help."
"Then go away."
"C'mon, Veronica. I know you're investigating. You're too nosy for your own good."
"So what if I am."
"He was my best friend, I deserve to know."
"You don't deserve anything, Logan. Like I said, you wouldn't have given Duncan the time of day when he died."
"And Lilly was mad at me when she died. It doesn't matter, Veronica. I want to know."
"Then get out your magnifying glass and do some sleuthing of your own."
"Why do you have to be so difficult? Just because you don't want to deal with it!"
"I'm dealing," she argues.
"Sure you are. And I've taken up contemporary dance classes."
"Good for you. Duncan would be proud."
"Of you too, y'know. He would be proud of you finding it all out. He just wouldn't like you like this."
"Like you're army action Barbie. Alone in her mission for vengeance. You're not that girl."
"So I'm unicorns and fairies Barbie?"
"You're not a Barbie."
"Then what am I, Logan?" she sounds desperate to know.
He shrugs, "I don't know. Do you?"
"Not right now," she admits quietly.
The bus driver is under investigation. As the only survivor of the trip Veronica is under investigation. The school is under investigation.
Veronica still attends therapy every week only because her dad drives her to the door. Logan still hangs around like he thinks he might pick up some pieces of Duncan if he spends enough time with her.
Veronica still doesn't know who she is or who she's supposed to please. She doesn't know who killed Duncan. If it was an accident. If he's with Lilly now. She doesn't know how she's going to pass senior year or if Wallace can ever understand what she's trying to figure out.
Her dad worries but Veronica just straps on her big boots and her short skirt, hides inside a hoodie and heads out there every day. She's going to find out. She will. It's just taking longer than she'd like.