Author's Notes: Written for vmfic_gameon , round #8, the "VM fic what if?" challenge. I volunteered my fic "Thoughts Catching", and received the prompt: " What if...During the car ride, Veronica told Gia about Cassidy raping her." So this ensued.


INNOCENT

"I think he wanted to seem more powerful than he was. More in control. You could see it, sort of – right before he jumped. He was so lost."

Gia buries her head in her hands. "I hate my life."

"Figures he'd play a part to the end. World's best liar," Veronica scoffs. Gia shrugs.

"I guess, technically, he didn't lie about his evil stuff. No-one ever asked."

Veronica's hands go white on the steering wheel.

"Oh, he lied."

Gia feels confused. "When?" she asks. Veronica shakes her head.

"It doesn't matter," she tries to dismiss. For whatever reason, Gia can't bring herself to let it go.

"But, like, what happened? Did you ask him about the bus crash and he... well; obviously he wouldn't admit he did it. But like, when did he become a suspect in your head?"

Gia is aware she's babbling, and probably being crazy insensitive, but she just has to ask these questions. She needs to know more about what happened – she's not even that sure why. She kind of feels Cassidy smirking at her; damn dead father's murderer/child molestation victim.

Veronica's face is starting to crumple. "It- it wasn't about the crash," she says. "It's complicated."

Gia looks at her, as Veronica tries to fend off tears. "Are you okay?" she asks stupidly. Veronica doesn't answer her.

Something uncomfortable is growing in the air; Gia can feel it. Veronica isn't telling her something. "What happened?" she asks. "Veronica, I need to know about stuff like this. Okay, I don't even know why, but... I need... just, how did he lie? If it wasn't about the crash, then how does it even rela-"

"He raped me!"

Gia just sits there dumbfounded for a few seconds, as Veronica grips the wheel and tries to keep herself steady. Gia searches her mind for a response, but the only thing that can make its way out is: "For real?"

"No, I was kidding," bites back Veronica, and Gia flinches as she realizes how bad a response that was. The image gets caught in her head, even though she doesn't really know how it happened – Cassidy on top of Veronica, holding her down, acting out what awful things had been done to him.

"I'm sorry," she forces out, quietened. Veronica shakes her head again.

"It's not your fault."

"Liar," Gia automatically responds. She wants to admit it: "This is all my fault. I should have known the truth about my dad. I shouldn't have been just... trusting. I could have stopped this somehow; I know that."

"That's kind of irrational, Gia."

"I know that too."

Veronica sighs. "I could have stopped it. Figured it out... about the rape."

Gia blinks a couple of times, confused. "Wait, what was there to figure out about that? Didn't it, just, like, happen?"

"I was roofied," Veronica explains. "It was months – over a year – before the crash. He wound up in a room with me, I was unconscious, and then he raped me," she says matter-of-factly, and Gia shudders. It sounds awful.

"I tried to figure it out; I didn't 'cause... it was complicated. But I asked him; I knew he had been pushed into that room with me. He told me... he said he ran out. And I believed it. So I walked away and forgave him and left him alone and unwatched."

"And then all those people died," Gia responds.

"Yeah. Exhibit A; Veronica's guilt."

"Christ," says Gia. "This isn't fair. We shouldn't have to deal with this. We are not the bad guys here."

"Tell me about it," mutters Veronica, blinking back the tears she has let grow.

Gia taps her fingers on the window, carefully avoiding looking at Veronica's eyes. There are a million disgusting visions in her head; so many things Cassidy could have done with an unconscious, broken body.

"I feel guilty for missing him," she admits. "My dad was a total piece of shit; I get that. He was responsible for..." she can't bring herself to name it all. "But he was my dad, you know? And some part of me is still screaming that it can't be true, that he'd never do that... and some part of me is saying I knew all along. So my mind is just spinning in circles and it feels like this mess is just going to take me over, and it's still not fair and I just wish they'd go away so I can stop hurting and stop feeling guilty and stop feeling so goddamned alone."

There's a pause as Veronica takes in the words. Gia bites her lip nervously. "Uh... sorry to, y'know, offload on you there."

"It's okay," it probably isn't, but Gia doesn't argue.

"Veronica?" she asks.

"Yeah."

"...Totally none of my business, but, why did you come here? To the funeral?"

Veronica sighs. "Don't really know," there's a pause. "Why did you?"

Gia shrugs. "I'm not that clear either. Fuck him," she mutters.

Veronica pulls the car up and lets Gia out. "Here's your stop," she says. Gia climbs out obediently.

"Veronica..." she's not all that sure what to say. "Thanks," she eventually concludes.

Veronica nods, and the two girls don't have anything more to say. The LeBaron drives off, and Gia takes a couple of deep breaths.


She finds Cassidy, annoyingly, on her bed.

"Hey," he says, dressed in a mocking suit and tie. "Big day today?"

She scrunches up her face, unable to come up with some kind of witty retort. "You're disgusting," she says. "Now get off my bed."

He furrows his brow in confusion, but obeys. She quickly wipes across the surface of the covers before lying down, still frowning at him.

"Well, yes. That's not exactly news, Gia," Cassidy says. "What's up?"

"Veronica?" she asks.

Cassidy nods. "Oh. That," he says flippantly. Gia's jaw hangs open a little.

"How could you – after what my dad did to you?"

Cassidy blinks a couple of times. "Gia, I was never big on the overcoming-hardship-being-better-person-blah-blah-blah part of this whole aftermath. Seriously, I killed about a dozen people already. Why are you surprised again?"

Gia shrugs helplessly, as Cassidy sits on the bed with her. "I don't know. But doing... that to her; it's..."

"Uncomfortably close to what happened to me; I know. Makes the whole thing so much harder for you; boo hoo."

Gia winces. "I told you to get off the bed."

"And I'm great with the obeying instructions," Cassidy says, then pauses for a second in thought. "Well, Veronica wasn't there to tell me to stop. And other possible references from that sentence... yeah, just forget I said that, okay?"

Gia nods a little, biting her lip. "I can't do this."

Cassidy rolls his eyes. "Gia. Nothing's changed. Veronica's really not that significant – well, I guess she is in the catching me sense. But what happened there... no so much."

Suddenly she fills with anger, and shoves him off the bed. "Ow," he says, as he falls to the floor with a crash.

"She matters," Gia insists, snarling. "You don't know the first thing about Veronica Mars; or me. You're just this... disgusting, perverted lunatic!"

"Oh, I'm the lunatic?" Cassidy chimes sarcastically. "So I'm the one having vivid and fascinating conversations with my dead dad's equally dead child molestation victim, who just so happened to be the one to kill him?"

Gia shakes her head violently, as if trying to shake the whole thing out of her face. "God, shut up!" she cries out, before collapsing back onto the bed, tears in her eyes. "It's just... I keep thinking it can't get worse, can't get more fucked up; it can and does every single time."

Cassidy smiles, almost sympathetic. "Poor you. Poor little rich girl, all caught up in these things she didn't do," he says, and tentatively reaches a hand across to pat her on the shoulder. Gia pulls away; she feels like screaming at his not-touch (it's hard to remember he's not real; she's just lost her mind), but she bites her lip and manages to keep herself under control.

"I'm sorry," she repeats herself. Cassidy sighs.

"You keep saying that," he says. "For the record, Gia? What happened; what your dad did to me? That really kind of wasn't your fault."

There's a pause, and she desperately wants to believe it. Cassidy gives a final smirk before he disappears to where dead psychotics go; driving his final knife into Gia:

"Not that it matters, of course."