A/N: Written for my hc_bingo prompt: "post-apocalypse." I went a metaphorical route. I'm sure the subtitle is a quotation from something, but I can't remember what, so... D:

The End (Tapping into the Post Apocalypse Market)

She can't believe she's doing this. Sobbing in the girl's bathroom. She has been through so much (she really doesn't want to give the list), and she can't understand why she has let her moronic peers reduce her to this.

And just her luck, the door swings open – surely she needs to incur further torment. Or maybe not, given how the entrance belongs to Meg Manning. Veronica's not sure whether she's relieved it's one of the only decent people, or she's just embarrassed one of the only people whose opinion she still cares about has to see her like this.

"Veronica?" asks Meg, looking worried. She stands by Veronica's side in front of the mirror. "What are you doing here?"

Veronica meets her eyes in the mirror, then looks down again. "What do you think?" she says. "I'm providing drought relief they can send over to Australia."

She punctuates it with a sob, and Meg gingerly lays a hand on her shoulder.

"Hey, Veronica, what wr..." she trails off mid-word. "Okay, there are a lot of things wrong. But which is prompting the major breakdown."

Veronica sniffles and looks up again. "I... It's nothing. It's stupid."

She turns around and rests against the basin, looking down at that stain on the floor that kind of looks like the lower half of Italy.

Meg follows her. "Okay, my opinion? Anything that makes you break down like this is not stupid. Even if it would be, your reaction drags it out of that category. So talk to me."

Veronica doesn't, she just sniffles again, folding her arms against her chest. She really doesn't want to break down again with Meg here, but she's not sure she can help it.

Meg frowns. "Hey, is this about what Madison said?" she asks. "Because that was low. I get it that it hurt."

Veronica shakes her head. "It doesn't matter. It shouldn't matter. I mean, look at all the things I've been through – and I'm crying in the bathroom because a girl was mean?"

Meg nods. "Yes. And it makes perfect sense," she says. "Look at what they've done to you. Every strip of respect or affection you once had – or, well, most of it – has been taken. Do you thing Madison would have had the guts to call you a whore to your face like that six months ago?"

Oh you have no idea, Veronica thinks bitterly. But she doesn't say that. "I know that. It just... it feels like the world ended on me sometimes, and no-one quite bothered to say how bad it would be."

Meg nods. "Again. That makes perfect sense. You don't have to feel bad because it hurts."

Veronica smiles slightly. "Thanks."

Meg grins and reaches out to hold her hand. "You're welcome. Madison's a total bitch anyway."

Veronica nods. "Yeah. Why do you put up with her like that anyway?"

"Why did you?"

Veronica takes a few seconds to think about it. "Because... we were so close in the social hierarchy, and I didn't want to start any drama, especially because I wasn't all that sure I'd win."

Meg smiles. "Exactly. Although I'm pretty sure I'm lower down than you were, so I've got an excuse to be a complete coward. I think absolutely everyone's learned how unstable their positions are from what happened to you, so we could never call the really popular kids out on their crap like you do."

Veronica laughs. "So being the plague-carrier has an upside?" she asks. Then she goes quiet. "I miss Lilly."

"The word 'duh' springs to mind."

Meg squeezes Veronica's hand harder.

"I'm here if you need me," says Meg.

"Thanks," says Veronica. "I'd rather avoid that wherever possible, but that's never going to mean all the time, so thanks."