THE GIRL MADE OF GOLDEN CYANIDE
He meets her his first day at Hearst College. So far, it's been a half-and-half day – good, roommate isn't serial killer material. Bad, all his stuff has been been stolen.
Veronica enters and she officially falls under the "good" category from the first moment. He had been doubtful when Wallace described her – a nineteen year on Detective, really? – but when he sees her everything Wallace said about her is confirmed in his mind. There is a hardness in her eyes that he's never seen before; it draws him to her and maybe scares him a little.
She tries to figure out how to get him his stuff back – she's scary smart. She gives him clothes why they wait – underneath her sarcasm, she is kind. She strikes him as like a hurricane, or other suitable romantic metaphor – and he knows he's getting melodramatic about this, but he can't help it. Oh, why is he cursed to fall for every girl who actually notices his existence?
He waits for her to solve the case, spending time with her just being an added benefit. He's getting too drawn to her fire for only meeting her a few days ago, but he doesn't really mind. Then he sees the scene in the cafeteria, with Logan Echolls and the fight.
Piz smells the couple coming off them from miles away. Not just "couple"; he smells screaming, crying, love-song-basis, here-to-eternity, I-die-when-you-kiss-me couple. They kiss casually, as if they were just two college freshman and not... whoever they were. Piz tries not to be too disappointed – after all, what did he expect? He felt wildfire coming off her in spades, way above him. Yet again, he isn't good enough.
Piz doesn't notice this bit, but he isn't even holding her yet and somehow, he is already letting her slip through his fingers.
Honestly, he was captivated by Veronica from day one, but he expected it to fade. He has had brief, soul-crunchingly intense crushes before – when they passed, they always left him gasping for air and swearing relief from the pain. If he will stay liking a girl, it is usually measured and slow and casual – as if he has only so much to give, so he can give it all quickly or spread it over an even surface.
It isn't so with Veronica. She is boiling in his mind every minute, every second, and she never goes away. It has been two months and he has gotten no rest from her, and he guesses it is wrong to feel so much for another guy's girlfriend. He tries to stop it, but it doesn't work.
Veronica says Parker likes him, and he just smiles. Parker is sweet and cute and bombastic – maybe her energy would always be too much for him, but she seems like the kind of girl he could like back. It would be a lot better for everyone if he did, but when he looks at her all he can hear is the screaming of Veronica's name, and he refuses to use a girl in any way, shape or form (Plus he's a little bit scared of dealing with what happened to Parker, which is pretty selfish on his part, given she probably just wants her normal life back).
He's jealous of Logan Echolls – he can't understand why Logan is meant to deserve Veronica. Piz knows it isn't really about deserving – it's about what Veronica needs. She needs that epic intense love affair that can only come from years and continents of pain; shared lives and deaths. It strikes Piz as tremendously unfair, because the way he feels for her is simply not enough, even though she's burning his brain from the inside out and Logan freaking Echolls can't possibly feel even a fraction of what he feels for her (because if Logan Echolls has been through everything Piz's heard he's been through, and then had to feel this, the poor bastard would have exploded by now.)
He tries not to think about all that though. Veronica is with Logan and Piz's isn't right for her, so he lets himself be her friend. She likes him, and maybe trusts him (if she's capable of that). He stick around, they treat each other well, and (he tells himself) it's enough.
She stays in his dorm room the weekend he should have been studying with Wallace in a hotel room somewhere. It's not him fault his roommate went insane with the schoolwork, and seeing Veronica Mars there in her skivvies is just plain cruel.
He says she's having a fight with her Dad – about what, she doesn't say. He knows from the gossip all over campus that she and Logan are fighting. He doesn't get his hopes up – she and Logan are always fighting, it's a major factor in their insane melodramatic tsunami-power relationship.
Piz just feels like he's being taunted, having her there in his room. Having people mistake the he and her... but he keeps to himself. He wouldn't do something like that (he hopes); even if she and Logan are fighting, they're still together, and even if they weren't, it probably wouldn't be right to move this quickly.
One night, they go to sleep and he hears her moaning in despair in her nightmares. His mouth goes dry as he watches the fear flicker over her face; as she struggles against some invisible person. He hears 'no' again and again and again, and his stomach churns when he realizes what people would think he was doing to her if they were listening.
She makes cries and whimpers, and ends screaming out a girl's name: "Meg!"
Meg? Who the hell is Meg? He thinks.
She wakes up after that, and he just stares at her for a few seconds. She composes her face quickly, wearing her trademark sardonic smile. "Hey Piz," she says warmly, "Did I wake you up or something?"
He doesn't know what to say.
She and Logan break-up just before Christmas, and she seems to be dealing with it okay. Piz doesn't know the exact cause of the break-up, but maybe they were always heading for it anyway – maybe he was wrong about the grand epic love affair; maybe that sort of love only ever burnt to ground and left ashes in its wake.
He finds her in the cafeteria, and they talk. They complain about how they're tired of people trying to set them up, tired of people insisting they need to be with someone. He doesn't want to get his hopes up, but there's a gentleness in her eyes that won't let him not (or maybe he's just tired of assuming the worst).
He finds her again in the cafeteria the next morning, and suddenly kind of daring, he tempts the idea of breakfast. Just to take a tentative step. He knows he's smiling stupidly brightly when he sits down with her, but he doesn't mind. Veronica's had so much darkness and drama in her life, and he couldn't find those things if you pointed them out to him on a map, and maybe his simplicity is what she needs (he's lying to himself, because he wants to believe she's not miles above him. He doesn't really get how he got this fabulous 'nice guy' reputation, because he thinks he's being a selfish son of a bitch in regards to her).
But somehow things go exactly how they always have, and Logan's by her side with a calm (before the storm) that hardly ever shows. Piz feels his face fall a little, but tries not to let it show. He walks away from them then, not checking if realization settles in Veronica's eyes. He tries to wipe away the heavy, grainy feeling that has settled in his stomach, like the insides of it are being sanded smooth.
He should have seen this coming.
Logan and Veronica break up again (and it's starting to get irritating; how many break-ups do one couple need? Aren't they going to use up their set limit soon?), and Piz knows from gossip that it's worse this time – something about another girl maybe; he doesn't know. He doesn't pay the gossip that much heed (even when he wants to and convince himself that Logan Echolls was never good enough for her).
He doesn't bother hoping. He did that once – if only for a few hours – and it didn't end well. Piz does his radio show, Veronica solves cases, Logan is Poor Little Rich Boy. Things are normal.
Then it's Parker's birthday party; Wallace says all in, and Veronica's trying to say something. She can't quite reach his eyes. He kisses her then; pours everything into it that he has – the obsession emotion that's been boiling him for months; he feels he respond in kind. It lasts forever and nowhere long enough, and other assorted cliches, and when he pulls back he only wants (needs) more of her.
He tries to fight away the tidal wave of reality that is starting to come crashing down – he is him and she is her; he can't ever reach her and this one moment is purely the best way for him to torture himself. All he wants is more of her, but he runs, because he needs to stretch out this delusional space – the idea he is anywhere near her level; anywhere near enough.
But that doesn't happen, because she runs after him with a grin closer to innocent (closer to human) than he's ever seen from her before. Then she kisses him; she's there and she's real and just for a second, he's good enough to reach her.
Logan comes out of the elevator, and Piz can't help but flinch when Veronica's eyes are drawn to her ex. He shrugs it off. Logan is a part of her past, and it's only natural for it to sting a little – it doesn't mean anything about him and her; doesn't mean he's going to lose all this before he's had it.
She rides down in the elevator, looking at them both with excitement and anxiety. Piz pretends her eyes are drawn to him more than Logan.
He's in the middle of his radio show when suddenly, it's all noisy and he feels the odd sensation of blood coasting over his face. It takes him a few seconds to piece together what's even happening; the sting of Logan's fist reminds him: oh, so it's a fight.
He tries to punch back, but he's not used to this like Logan is. He gets in a few solid hits – enough to leave Logan with a bruise or two – but it's not long before he crumples to the floor with a hurricane where his face once was (Pathetic, he call himself).
Wallace finds him and drags him back to the dorm room; he says he was listening to the show and heard it all go silent. The "I was worried" goes unsaid, but they both know it's there and neither boy acts ashamed of it. Piz can't help but smile.
Veronica is waiting when they get back, and she closes her eyes in sadness when she sees his state. He makes jokes, mostly to ease her mind (because she's hurt for so many people in the past, and he doesn't want to make himself another on the list).
(Then again, this probably isn't important enough to make the cut).
She explains in calm, even, measured tones – the tape. Them. She outright accuses him of doing it, and he feels sick at her distrust. A brief denial, she decides against the idea and he lets himself forget what she thought of him, only for a second (and she doesn't trust anyone really, so what right does he have to expect special treatment?)
Wallace stews in rage for a little, speaking plans of violence against Logan Echolls (and Piz can't remember anyone ever being so mad for his sake). Veronica says no, and says she'll deal with Logan.
Life goes on, and they both try to pretend this isn't happening (or maybe just he does, but it's easier to think she agrees with him). They fail. Some douche has a go at them in the cafeteria; he remembers all those old anti-bullying slogans from elementary school, and has to suppress a giggle when he asks her to just walk away.
She looks shocked at the suggestion; the very idea. He tries not to notice how very, radically different they are. She wants to make someone pay (and maybe that's the only rule she can live by); and it just stings that he can't be that partner in rage for her. He doesn't have that in him, and the bruises on his face still throb. She's pulled toward the edge in here pursuit of vengeance, and for the first time, the fire that runs through her veins scares him. He thinks he might burn (or if she's a live flame, and he's a limp, muddy puddle of water, extinguish her.)
He tries to forget.
Then time passes; her attempts to get her revenge grow more and more elaborate. He sees her in the food count, looking at some guy with enough rage in her eyes that Piz knows that's the guy who did it. He doesn't know what to do. Logan Echolls makes a step towards him, but she pulls him away protectively. Piz can't say why (or maybe he just doesn't want to).
Logan appears to let it go long enough for Veronica to turn her back. Piz sees it coming a second before it happens – which is a second and a half more warning than anyone else gets, so he's doing decently. Then it's all the crash of cafeteria chairs and Gory hits the floor with a bloody nose. Logan and Veronica both grin.
Piz lets himself get drawn to the scene, watching as Logan and Veronica share looks he can only describe as (spanning years and continents, lives ruined, bloodshed) epic. The fragile walls Piz has built in his mind come tumbling down in an instant, as he realizes just what she is – so full of rage and power and passion, spinning somewhere in the stratosphere that he'll never reach.
She looks towards him, but cannot meet his eyes (he's not sure she's ever looked at him, really). It's just confirmation of what he already knew. His bruises pulse and ache under the weight of her not-gaze, but he hardly notices.
He turns around and walks away. Tries not think.
He was probably expecting too much from her anyway.