Recap: Logan, Veronica and their friends start their senior year of high school, along with new and old friends. LoVe are going strong, but ghosts of the past are never far behind. Newly engaged Keith is running for Sheriff. Kate's nightmares lead to revelations about her past and draw Veronica more firmly into the 09ers orbit. Duncan struggled to figure out where he fit in now that his (former) best friend was dating his (ex) girlfriend. An ill advised affair with Kendall finally ends and Duncan takes steps to mending his peer relationships. Wallace likes Jackie and thinks they have moved from dating to exclusive, but the friction between Jackie and V makes things difficult. Dick's interest in Mac continues to grow, causing friction with Enbom, and making Mac face down the hard choice of moving on, going back or going it alone. After run ins with both Lizzy and Nash, Meg ends her relationship with Richie, but Nash is sending mixed signals. Veronica works with Logan's friends to pull off a surprise laden birthday weekend for him, just as the fracture in Veronica's friendship with Wallace widens. Finally Wallace opens his eyes to see Jackie a bit clearer, but their status is ambiguous at best. An explosion rocks Neptune High leaving emergency services scrambling and seven students in various states of health. The mole is revealed, Kate's fundraiser happens and Logan's surprise birthday weekend goes off without any (much) drama, despite a freshly single Enbom deciding that Mac is the one he wants even as she grows closer to Dick. A small hiccup tarnishes Keith and Alicia's pre-election trip to Chicago, but all bets are off as a field trip to Shark Stadium ends in tragedy with several lives hanging in the balance.


Chapter 34:
(Wednesday, October 26, cont. into Thursday October 27)

-VM—LoVe—VM—

Veronica moved slowly into the small apartment that she shared with her dad. She was the only survivor of the bus crash that was going home that night, but she was going slowly. In the hours since the accident, her bruises had begun to ache and her whole body felt sore from the crash and the time she'd spent clinging to the cliff. Logan and Keith hovered at her sides anxiously, but Veronica managed to force a smile as the open door revealed Wallace, Alicia and a sleeping Daryl inside the Mars apartment.

Wallace: Damn, girl, you gotta start taking better care of yourself.

Alicia: (gently reprimanding) Wallace. Language.

Veronica and Wallace shared a smile as he hugged her gently, before moving aside so Alicia could see Veronica for herself. Alicia's eyes filled with tears but she blinked them back.

Alicia: Well, a few bruises won't keep a Mars down for long. I brought over a few extra pillows and made cookies-

Wallace: I brought pudding pops.

Keith chuckled.

Alicia: (with a pointed look at her older son) And, as I was about to say, (Wallace looked shamefaced) I brought over the makings for a lasagna. I thought your father could do the honors tomorrow.

Veronica: (quietly) Thanks Alicia.

Alicia nodded and turned to Logan who was scratched up and still looked a bit stunned from the day's events.

Alicia: Logan.

Logan tore his eyes off of Veronica just in time to see Alicia approaching him, her arms held open to hug him. She held him tightly and after an initial moment of awkwardness, he hugged her back and let himself take the comfort she offered.

Alicia: What you did today... was incredible.

Veronica smiled at Logan over Alicia's shoulder, but her gaze held worry and reveled how unsettled she still was.

Keith: (firmly, but with a look of appreciation) Incredibly dangerous. And we're all incredibly grateful.

Veronica: It was stupid and crazy and-

Wallace: And brave.

Veronica: (haunted expression) And that.

-Flashback-

Neptune Memorial Hospital, Emergency Room. The emergency room was busy, but not overly so as they wheeled Veronica into the sterile chaotic space. Nurses, paramedics and orderlies swarmed around her as they wheeled her gurney inside.

Nurse: Hi there, can you tell me your name? (shining a light in Veronica's eyes) We need a neural consult. Page Dr. Cohen.

Veronica: Veronica. Veronica Mars.

Nurse: Hi Veronica, how are you feeling? Any intense pains or broken bones?

Veronica: (lifting her head and trying to look around the emergency room) I don't think so.

They wheeled her into a room and quickly transferred her to another bed. She could see her dad and Logan hovering nearby, Logan ignoring a nurse who was trying to ask him if he needed medical attention, his eyes trained on Veronica as if the mere act of him looking away would result in another tragedy. A different nurse handed Keith a clipboard with intake papers for Veronica.

The nurse in charge began cutting away Veronica's clothing wherever she could see a visible injury.

Nurse: Contusions on her extremities. Her shoulder needs to be checked. Severe bruising to her left elbow, her whole left side in general.

Veronica: I'm fine. Where is Meg? (pushing away hands and sitting up with a groan) Meg Manning? She was on the bus with me. Her ambulance left before mine.

Nurse: Veronica, I need you to focus, can you move your shoulder or does it hurt too much?

Veronica: Meg. Manning. M-a-n-n-i-n-g. Blonde. Seventeen years old. Where is she?

The noise level swelled as firemen and police officers crowded into the small space everyone speaking at once.

Rogers: We need to talk to Veronica as soon as you clear her.

Nurse #2: Veronica, we can talk about your friend after we assess your injuries. (pushing on Veronica's side where a dark purple bruise has already formed over her hip) Does that hurt?

CHP Officer: Keith, glad she got out safe, we should talk-

Nurse #3: Mr. Echolls, you're bleeding, we need to move you to your own room.

Veronica: (eyes going to Logan seeing that he was still bleeding from a deep scratch on his side, but it was superficial) Meg Manning. I want to know-

A sharp whistle cut through the chaos, silencing everyone.

Keith: Anyone not providing medical care for my daughter, out. Now.

Veronica: Dad-

Keith: Veronica you need to stop arguing and start listening and answering the nurses' questions.

Veronica: But Dad-

Keith: Veronica. Enough.

She glared at him stubbornly.

Logan: I'll go.

Veronica: (her gaze swung rapidly from her dad to Logan) No-

Keith: (sighing deeply) Rodgers, can you send one of your deputies to find out Meg's status?

Rogers: Of course.

Keith: Veronica and Logan will both give their statements once they receive medical treatment. Logan, you need to sit or leave. I'd recommend sitting so the nurses can bandage your cuts.

Logan: I'm not-

Keith slid a chair over by Veronica's bed.

Keith: Sit.

Logan sat.

Nurse: Thank you, Sheriff. Now, Veronica, we need to see if you have any internal bleeding. We can either assess it by you answering my questions, or I can send you upstairs for a scan.

Veronica: (resigned) I'll answer your questions.

Nurse: Good.

The nurse continued her work, smiling slightly as she saw the boy reach out for her patient's hand, their bloody and scrapped fingers tangling together. It wasn't hygienic, but she imagined that they'd already gotten a fair amount of their blood on each other if the story on the news had been at all correct.

-End Flashback-

Mars Apartment. Alicia released Logan and turned to Keith, taking his hand in both of hers.

Alicia: We all just wanted to see you home safely. But we'll get out of your way now so you can rest, unless you want me to whip you up something to eat...

Keith: Thanks Alicia, I think Veronica is ready for bed.

Veronica: No, actually, I could eat. I should eat. And I'd like to see Shiloh.

Everyone stilled, looking uncertain.

Keith: I don't think that is a good idea.

Veronica looked ready to argue so Alicia broke in.

Alicia: How about some quesadillas? I saw some salsa in the fridge.

Logan: (trying to break the sudden tension) Sounds good.

Veronica: Dad, I just want to see her, you know Jake won't mind-

Keith: Jake has enough to worry about right now-

Veronica: He's not even at home. I won't bother him, I just want to see her.

Keith: And when you wake her up, she'll be scared.

Veronica: No, she-

Logan: You look terrible, Veronica. She'll know something is wrong. She won't understand and it will scare her.

Veronica's stubborn look faded to one of uncertainty and hurt that Logan wasn't taking her side.

Logan: Mrs. Navarro is working tonight. Why don't we just call and ask her to show you Shi on the camera? That way you can see her and not wake her up.

Veronica took a moment to decide, before nodding her head choppily.

Logan: Fine.

Keith: (looking from Logan to Veronica with a thoughtful expression) Good.

Just then Daryl woke up.

Daryl: (sleepy) Mom? (waking up rapidly) Veronica!

Veronica: Hey D.

Daryl: Wow, you look bad.

Veronica smiled and huffed out a laugh before clutching her stomach, feeling the pull of sore muscles.

Daryl: Were you in another car crash?

Veronica: Something like that.

Veronica eased herself down on the couch, letting Daryl's small form warm her as he leaned into her.

Daryl: (whispering) Your dad is not going to let you drive anymore if you keep crashing.

Veronica smiled and ruffled Daryl's dark hair.

Veronica: You think?

Daryl: (nodding earnestly) Uh-huh, your dad is really strict.

-Flashback-

Hospital. Once Veronica was clean and bandaged, they handed her a pair of scrubs to change into, and Keith pretended not to notice as Logan helped Veronica get dressed. Once she had the shirt on the nurse showed Veronica how to adjust the sling they were giving her (her shoulder was swollen and sore, pushing her arm out of socket a bit) and then used an extra bandage to wrap Veronica's arm in place for the night.

Nurse #2: You can unwrap it tonight, if you need to, but I would recommend leaving it until tomorrow. You'll need some help with your normal routines for the next few days, and we'll want you back in 24-48 hours for a follow up evaluation.

Keith: You don't need to x-ray it?

Nurse #2: We're taking her down to radiology in a few minutes, but I'm fairly certain it's not broken.

Logan: What are we waiting for?

Nurse #2: The neural consult. Veronica has a concussion and needs to be evaluated by Dr. Cohen. (looking back to Veronica) In addition to the swelling in your shoulder, your elbow is severely bruised and you need to take it easy for the next week. We'll likely admit you tonight so we can-

Veronica: I don't want to stay here overnight.

Nurse #2: Dr. Cohen-

Deputy Leo entered the room through the half open door, knocking twice first.

Veronica: (hopeful) How's Meg?

Leo: (evasive) She's... holding her own.

Veronica's eyes blazed with anger. She glared at Leo and then moved, swinging her legs off the side of the bed intent on getting her own answers.

Logan: (moving to intercept her) No!

Keith: Where do you think you're going?

Veronica: I want answers, and it looks like the only way to do that is on my own.

Logan: (quickly) I'll do it.

Veronica: No-

Logan and Keith spoke at the same time, their voices blending together enough to give Veronica pause.

Keith/Logan: You're not going.

Nurse #2: Mrs. Mars! Please sit back down.

Dr. Cohen: What is going on in here?

All of them turned to see a woman with faded red hair, liberally sprinkled with grey standing in the door.

Nurse #3: (popping into the doorway behind the doctor with an uncertain look) I… I'm sorry. There are several of your friends here, Veronica and (glancing at Logan) some news outlets too. I wanted you to know.

Veronica: (stubborn) I'm going to find Meg. Logan, can you go see who-

Veronica stood up, feeling every inch of her body protest the move. She rested her hand on Logan's forearm for a moment then forced herself to stand on her own two feet despite the look of alarm on Logan's face and her father's obvious anger.

Dr. Cohen: Mars? Veronica Mars? I'm here to assess you.

Leo quickly exited the room.

Veronica: (stepping away from Logan, towards the door) I'm fine, so unless you have information about my friend, get out of my way.

Logan reached out for her, wanting to stop her, but not sure where he could touch her without hurting her.

Dr. Cohen: Your friend?

Keith: Sit down, Veronica, or I will let them keep you overnight.

Veronica ignored her father but Logan gently blocked her exit with his body, curving his hand around her uninjured arm loosely, more symbolic of his intent to stop her than an actual effort to physically restrain her.

Logan: (looking at the doctor, hoping for some news that would keep Veronica in her room) Meg Manning. We've been waiting but no one will tell us anything.

Dr. Cohen: Ah, yes, Ms. Manning.

Veronica stopped, flinching momentarily as pain ricocheted down her leg from her hip. She'd landed on her side when the bus initially flipped onto its side, leaving her whole left side bruised, and her left temple with a bruise and goose egg.

Veronica: You treated her?

Veronica frowned. Meg had been alert on the bus, but barely conscious on the cliff, and she'd passed out nearly as soon as they'd made it to the relative safety of the tree.

Dr. Cohen: We're supposed to keep medical information confidential. Unless you're family?

Veronica: (persuasive) We're friends. Good friends. We were hurt in the same crash.

Dr. Cohen: Yes. I heard. (The doctor appeared to consider the situation.) Sit down.

Veronica frowned, stopping in the middle of the room, seeing that Keith had moved and closed the door, shutting Veronica in.

Keith: Veronica, I'm not going to say it again-

Veronica hesitated but let Logan help her back up onto the bed, pursing her lips in annoyance as he pulled up the guard rail that would make it more difficult for her to get up if she needed to again.

Keith: Thank you. Now let the doctor do her job.

Dr. Cohen: Let's get started.

Veronica ignored the doctor and her father, turning to Logan.

Veronica: Meg's family knows us, if we can figure out where she is, I'm sure they'd talk to us. See if you can find out-

Logan: I'll go find them, you need to stay here.

Veronica: (stubborn) I'm coming with you.

Dr. Cohen: Let me assess you and I'll tell you what I know about Ms. Manning.

A few minutes later it was determined that Veronica did have a concussion, and while on its own it wasn't overly concerning, the fact that she'd just had a concussion a few months before did concern the doctor.

Dr. Cohen: You'll need to stay overnight.

Veronica: No-

Keith: She'll stay.

Dr. Cohen: (checking the chart and seeing that Veronica was 18 and could check herself out against medical advice) You need to be monitored.

Veronica: Do I look unmonitored?

Veronica looked from Logan to Keith with a dry look. The doctor smiled.

Dr. Cohen: I'll tell you what. You sit here and not try to leave for two hours, at which time I will assess you again, and if it goes well, I'll let you go home for the night. But you have to sit here, and only leave for any ordered medical tests.

Veronica: I-

Dr. Cohen: And you have to come back in tomorrow to see me.

Veronica huffed out a breath but nodded.

Dr. Cohen: Your friend has a concussion, it's a bit more severe than yours but is nothing she can't recover from.

Veronica: (quietly) She lost consciousness. On the cliff.

Veronica recalled the minutes of fear and the feeling of being absolutely alone as she clung to the cliff, holding Meg's unconscious body, before Logan and Dick had appeared. Keith's eyes darted from Veronica's almost numb expression to her hand moving to find Logan's.

Dr. Cohen: Yes, likely a combination of the concussion and her other injuries. From what I saw in her chart, her internal injuries are more concerning.

Veronica: She was bleeding.

Dr. Cohen: What you saw was primarily superficial.

Veronica: She was fine when we climbed out of the bus... she pulled me out. Her arm was hurt, I think, but…

Dr. Cohen: They think she sustained the majority of her injuries when you went over the cliff. (Keith's jaw tightened, trying not to imagine Veronica clinging to a crumbling cliff, hurt and scared.) She has a pneumothorax, a collapsed lung, internal bleeding, and severe contusions as well as a broken arm and two broken ribs.

Veronica: (whispering, her voice rough with tears) She waited for me. If she hadn't-

Keith: (softly reassuring, squeezing Veronica's hand) If you hadn't held onto her she would have died, Veronica. You saved each other.

Veronica's eyes filled with tears and she turned her head into her boyfriend's chest. The doctor nodded, glad to see an appropriate emotional reaction from her patient. She'd worried initially that Veronica might still be in shock, but her reactions, while impulsive and stubborn, were understandable.

Veronica dried her tears as the Dr. Cohen made notes in her chart. Veronica looked at the doctor and past her to Rogers, who had entered the room with Leo.

Veronica: Where is Meg?

Dr. Cohen: (absently, still focused on her notes) She's in surgery.

Veronica nodded and looked to her father, then the Sheriffs deputies in the door, obviously having something on her mind.

Keith: Doctor, if you think Veronica needs to stay overnight, she'll stay.

Dr. Cohen: I think a good night's rest at home is just what Veronica needs. I'll leave a care sheet with the nurse. Follow it.

Keith: Of course.

The doctor exited and the nurse left with her.

Veronica: (looking at her dad) I need to talk to you and Rogers. Leo too.

Keith's look sharpened, Logan just looked confused. Keith turned to Veronica who took his hand in hers as Rogers and Leo came farther into the room and closed the door behind them.

Rogers: We need your account of the crash, Veronica.

Veronica: I know, but I have something I need from you first.

Rogers and Keith shared a resigned look, before turning back to Veronica.

Veronica: Meg thought she was being watched.

Rogers: Before the crash?

Veronica: No. (shaking her head) Yes. The past few days. At her house.

Keith: What did she say?

Veronica: There's been a car in front of her place, across the street the last few days. She felt like she was being watched. There were two people in the car. That's why we were on the bus. She was worried and wanted to talk about it.

Rogers: Any description?

Veronica: No, she didn't get close.

Keith: That's good.

Leo: Do you think it's her parents?

Logan: Or the Reverend?

Veronica: She didn't know. I was going to look into it but...

Rogers: I'll assign someone to watch the Manning house, at least until we know what's going on.

Keith: If not, let me know, Rogers, I can set something up.

Veronica: Thanks, Dad. Rogers.

Veronica finally laid back against her pillows, letting the weariness take over.

Logan looked from Keith to Rogers, knowing they needed to get Veronica's statement.

Logan: I'll leave you to talk while I go check on Veronica's x-ray and whoever is in the lobby.

Rogers: We'll need your statement too, Logan.

Logan: (looking at Veronica) I'm not going anywhere.

-End Flashback—

-VM—LoVe—VM—

Mars apartment. The Fennel clan had left after eating an impromptu midnight snack of quesadillas. Wallace offered to get Veronica's homework for her since there was no way she was going to school the next day. With a final round of hugs the apartment's occupants were down to three.

Keith: I assume Logan is staying tonight, so I'll make up the couch.

Veronica shot a grateful look at her father, happy not to have to argue the point.

Logan: Thanks, Mr. Mars.

Keith: I think, after today, you could call me Keith, Logan. At least when I'm not working.

Logan: Don't worry, you'll always be Sheriff Mars in my mind… Keith.

Keith: Good.

Keith set about getting the couch ready while Logan followed Veronica back to her room, helping her get into pajamas, brush her teeth and wash her face. They had just finished when they heard Keith's phone ring.

Keith: (on the phone) Veronica is fine, Leanne. A bit banged up, but she's home. No, I'm not sure…

Veronica walked slowly out to the living room seeing her dad's grim expression.

Keith: Leanne, I understand that you are concerned, but it's been a very long day and- (listening)… I know you're her mother, but- (His eyes met Veronica's with a sad resignation.) You're barely coherent, Leanne, do you really think – (listening). No, I don't think you should come over here right now (listening), even if you got a taxi. Veronica doesn't-

Veronica: I'll talk to her, Dad.

Veronica took the phone from Keith.

Veronica: Hi Mom. I'm fine, just like dad said, but I'm really tired, and I'm going to go to bed now.

Leanne: (slurred) I've been trying to call you for hours Veronica!

Veronica: I'm sorry. I lost my bag and phone in the accident. I'll call you tomorrow, we can set up a time to meet, how does that sound?

Leanne: That sounds good, honey. (sobbing drunkenly) I just love you so much.

Veronica: I know, Mom. I love you too, now get some rest. And maybe tomorrow you can make some of those chocolate muffins I like so much.

Leanne: Of course, of course, if that's what you want.

Veronica: (forcing a happy tone) When do I not want chocolate?

Leanne: (laughing) Tomorrow then.

Veronica: Yeah. Tomorrow. Good night.

Leanne: Good night, Veronica.

Veronica hung up and handed the phone back to Keith, who wrapped her in a hug.

Keith: I'm sorry.

Veronica: Not your fault.

Keith: You shouldn't have to deal with that on top of everything else.

Veronica: She's my mother, and you don't have to run interference for me anymore. I'm a big girl and I have my eyes wide open where Mom's concerned.

Keith: She's been doing better.

Veronica: I know. And I know that she's fallen off the wagon before and she will again. She's an alcoholic. That's how it goes.

Keith pressed a kiss to her temple.

Keith: Somedays I wish you didn't have to be so strong, kiddo.

Veronica: Me too.

Keith: (Letting her go) Alright, now, if you don't need anything else from me, I'm going to bed.

Veronica: Good night Dad.

Keith: 'Night Veronica. Logan.

Logan: (from Veronica's bedroom) Sheriff.

Entering her room and closing the door behind her Veronica looked at Logan.

Veronica: Tell me your mom is sober and doing well.

Logan: My mom is sober, dating again, and enjoying her life as a soon-to-be divorcee.

Veronica: Is that the truth?

Logan: We're not allowed to lie to each other.

Veronica: (smiling) Right.

Logan hugged Veronica in the middle of her room, letting her lean against him.

Logan: She's doing… good. Great even. She'd dating some producer. He seems to be treating her well, and she's taking it slow. She still drinks and takes sleeping pills, Xanax and Valium occasionally, but she's functioning, she's not drunk or using the pills to avoid life, so I'd say she's doing well.

Veronica: I'm glad.

Logan: She called tonight.

Veronica: She did?

Logan: While I was in the lobby talking to everyone.

Veronica: Yeah?

Logan: Yeah. Grandma Hatchet too.

Veronica shook her head.

Veronica: I like your grandma, I think she deserves a better nickname.

Logan: Nah. (pause) Mac said she'll get you a new phone tomorrow. I asked if she needed your password or anything and she just laughed.

Veronica smiled and leaned her head back to look up at him.

Veronica: Tuck me in?

Logan: Whenever possible.

Logan got Veronica situated under the covers then laid down on top of them, letting her curl against him.

Veronica: You know, even my dad knows that you sleeping on the couch is a ruse.

Logan: Your bed is too small, I could hurt you, and I'm going to respect your father.

Veronica: (sleepy smile) He said you could call him Keith.

Logan: Yeah. I think he might actually be sad if he had to kill me. Maybe even mark my grave instead of leaving me to the vultures in the desert.

Veronica: Hmm. (several minutes later) Logan?

Logan: Yeah.

Veronica: What you did today… was nuts. Certifiably nuts. And I love you for it, but if you do something like that again, I'll kill you.

Logan: Love you too.

Veronica: (murmuring quietly) Always.

Logan looked down at her with a frown, his eyes tracing her various bruises and injuries now that she was asleep and wouldn't get mad at him for doing it. He smoothed his hand over her hip, seeing the bruise the extended from her waist to her upper thigh. She didn't have as many scrapes as he did, her descent down the cliff having been a straight line, but her bruises looked terrible, and he knew she was hurting.

Closing his eyes and settling back against her pillows he tried to remember how many pain pills he had left from his list prescription when his dad had come over unannounced. Veronica had given him her leftovers from her confrontation with his father, and he was glad to have something to offer her if she needed it before the doctor's authorized it.

As he drifted off to sleep the day's events kept playing before his eyes. From the moment he'd realized the bus had gone over the edge with Veronica to the frantic moments afterwards as he'd tried to get to her, Dick keeping him alive on more than one occasion as the cliff and his own fear had made him reckless. Meg's nearly lifeless body. And Veronica's halting tale of how Duncan had gotten the girls out at the last minute.

-Flashback-

Neptune Memorial Hospital. Veronica and Logan exited the elevators in the emergency room, having just been upstairs to see Meg's family. Meg had made it through surgery and was in serious but stable condition. Walking towards Keith who was filling out Veronica's discharge papers, Logan was glad to see that the media presence had died down and they should be able to leave unmolested.

Keith: How's Meg?

Veronica: The doctors say she'll recover. She could even be out of the hospital in a few weeks.

Keith: I'm glad to hear it. Now, who's ready to go home?

They walked towards the double sliding doors, about to exit when a nurse called out to them.

Nurse: Sheriff Mars! I'm sorry but because Veronica is 18, we need her to sign too, and I have your info sheet on concussion care.

Veronica signed as an ambulance pulled into the driveway, lights flashing. Veronica handed the clipboard back to the nurse who moved forward to hit the button to open the doors and keep them open for the incoming patient.

Veronica, Logan and Keith all froze as Jake followed the gurney out of the back of the ambulance. The paramedics swept past them, doctors and nurses converging around the patient.

Logan: (shocked) Duncan?

Veronica: Jake…

Jake: He's alive. They found him alive.

Jake reached out and clasped Veronica's uninjured arm quickly, slapped Logan on the back and ran after Duncan.

(Thursday, October 26)

-VM—LoVe—VM—

Logan crept out of Veronica's bed just as dawn broke, falling into an exhausted slumber on the couch where Keith found him a few hours later. Setting the coffee pot to brew, before checking on Veronica, Keith knew that several Neptune families were not as lucky as he was that morning.

The smell of coffee woke up Logan, who sat up abruptly, then regretted the quick move as his scabbed over scrapes all made themselves known to him.

Keith: Veronica's still asleep, I gave you a clean shirt if you want to get changed.

Logan: Thanks.

Logan used the hall bathroom to clean up and change then checked on Veronica before slumping into a chair at the Mars's kitchen island.

Keith: I'm guessing you're not planning to go to school today (Logan sent him a bland look). I need to go to the station, if you can take Veronica to her doctor's appointments today.

Logan: Sure. Yeah.

Keith: You'll call me if there is anything I need to know that she decides maybe I don't need to know.

Logan: Of course.

Keith: I think you actually mean that.

Logan: If it helps Veronica, even if she doesn't like it, I'll do it.

Keith: (nodding slowly) I know.

Keith poured Logan and himself a cup of coffee then made them both some toast and eggs, before turning the TV on low to watch the morning news shows.

Jake Kane's connection to the accident made it national news, and most of the morning shows managed to get in a mention about Veronica and Logan too.

News anchor: This picture of Logan Echolls taken just moments after he'd successfully helped rescued two teenage girls from the cliff, including his longtime girlfriend and amateur sleuth, Veronica Mars, was shared on another student's Facebook page, and has already been shared over one hundred thousand times.

The picture showed a shirtless Logan being treated by paramedics at the scene.

News anchor: Internet and software scion Jake Kane's son was the third and last of the crash victims to survive the crash. Duncan Kane was pulled from the wreckage where he'd miraculously ended up in an air pocket still inside the submerged bus until lifeguard rescue divers found him and brought him to the surface. We're awaiting a press conference from the hospital on the victims' status, as well as a statement from Jake Kane.

Veronica was rubbing her eyes as she entered the living room, her father and Logan instantly buzzing around her, helping he to the couch and getting her a variety of breakfast options.

News anchor: No word yet on what caused the crash, but rumors are swirling that it was not an accident.

Cut to video of Gia Goodman at the crash site.

Gia: The bus just swerved for no reason. Then it went off the cliff. I thought everyone was dead.

Keith: Is that what you saw Logan?

Logan: No, I didn't see much of anything, the bus … (clearing his throat as the terror of the moment swamped him again) was on its side and going over the edge by the time I saw it.

Keith: Veronica?

Veronica: I already told you, I couldn't see, Meg and I were slumped down below the seat, but I don't remember the bus swerving, just…

Keith waited patiently as Veronica closed her eyes to try to visualize the moments before the crash.

Veronica: There was a sound and then we were airborn. Weightless for a moment, I thought we'd blown a tire or something, but then… I didn't know what had happened until I woke up with Meg and Duncan over me.

Keith: Did you see anything?

Veronica: (regretful) The bus was on its side and we were just trying to get out.

Keith: That's about what you said last night. If anything new comes back to you…

Veronica: (frowning) There was something… a smell. Like something burning. But they would have checked the tires first, right?

Keith: Yeah.

Logan: There was a burning smell when I first got to the cliff edge.

Keith: You said there was a sound, Veronica. What kind of sound?

Veronica: A pop then metal… like the sound of metal bending or tearing.

News anchor: This just in, it appears the school bus crash in Neptune, California that took eight lives might have been a deliberate act. The Neptune County Sheriff's office has released a statement that the bus driver, Ed Doyle, is under investigation for the accident. We previously reported that a deputy from the Neptune Sheriff's office who wished to remain anonymous said that there were no skid marks at the scene, indicating that the driver never hit the brakes. Our hearts go out to the victims' families. Many of you might recall that this is the second tragedy to strike Jake Kane's family in recent years. His daughter Lilly was murdered…

Logan: Are you investigating?

Keith: Woody Goodman and the current chairman of the Board of Supervisors have asked me to do an independent investigation until the election.

Veronica: That's good.

Keith: I'm supposed to meet with them in a half hour. (standing up) You'll call me if you need anything or remember anything else?

Veronica: Yeah.

Keith: Love you.

Veronica: Love you too.

Logan watched Veronica as she finished drinking her coffee, until she could no longer ignore his stare. She set down her cup and turned to him with a tender expression on her bruised face.

Veronica: I'm fine, a little stiff, a little sore, but I'm fine. I promise.

Logan: I couldn't… I can't lose you.

Veronica: You won't.

She leaned towards him and he put his arm around her gently, loving that she wanted to be close to him, that she seemed to take comfort from his closeness.

Veronica: I was so happy, and so mad to see you on the cliff.

Logan: Mad?

Veronica: You could have been hurt or killed.

Logan: I thought you were hurt or killed.

Veronica: Don't do it again.

Logan: I think the likelihood of either of us going over-

Veronica: (exasperated) You know what I mean.

Logan was silent for a moment then shook his head.

Logan: No lying to each other, right? I can't promise you that.

Veronica: Logan-

Logan: So you said you were stiff and sore. How about a bath?

Veronica frowned at him, her version of puppy dog eyes not uneffective, but Logan easily withstood her appeal.

Veronica: (sighing deeply) No time. I want to get to the hospital to check up on Meg and Duncan.

Logan: And see your doctors.

Veronica: If I must.

Logan: You must.

She sighed again, sitting up and accepting his hand to help her up off the couch, her arm still bandaged close to her body to protect her shoulder.

Veronica: (mournful) I always thought the day you and my dad started getting along would be a good day. A happy day. And yet…

Logan: Come on, grumpy pants.

Veronica: OK, bossy pants.

Logan: Is there something I could do for you or get you to improve your attitude, Ms. Mars, 'cause I am not impressed.

Veronica: A proper good morning kiss wouldn't be unwelcome.

Logan smiled and lowered his lips to her forehead.

Veronica: That's not-

Logan: Just getting warmed up, Sugarpuss.

Logan: Then you may proceed, Pookie.

Logan smiled at her softly, his chocolaty brown eyes still too serious despite their teasing words.

Logan: I love you.

Veronica: I know, I wouldn't put up with you if you didn't.

He chuckled softly then kissed her, his lips feather light on hers even as he deepened the kiss, tasting coffee and something that was uniquely her.

Logan helped her shower, washing her hair for her then helped her get dressed and into her sling before heading out to the street where his Xterra was parked.

Veronica: How-?

Logan: Dick.

Veronica was quiet as Logan held the door open for her and watched carefully to see if she needed help getting in, but she managed on her own. Logan jogged around to the driver side, jumping in and starting the engine.

Veronica: (frustrated) I can't-

Logan turned to see that Veronica was struggling with the seat belt. He helped press it into the buckle until it clicked into place.

Veronica: Dick really is a good friend to you.

Logan: Yeah, I guess.

Veronica: He followed you over a cliff, I think that deserves more than 'I guess."

Logan: Yeah.

Veronica: Was he hurt?

Logan: A few scrapes, nothing he won't spin to his advantage.

Veronica smiled and Logan was happy to see it.

Veronica: If we have time, I should stop by the Sheriff's station to see if they recovered my bag. I don't have ID or anything.

Logan: Yeah. We can do that.

They headed to Logan's place first, so he could get changed into fresh clothes of his own. Opening the car door for her, he expected to help her out but she put her hand on his shoulder, a serious look on her face.

Veronica: I didn't mean what I said earlier. (Logan looked confused.) About putting up with you.

Logan: I know. It's OK, Veronica.

Veronica: No. Both of us could have died yesterday. Me for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, you for being crazy.

Logan: Crazy in love.

His tone was teasing and light, but she didn't let him distract her from saying what she wanted to say.

Veronica: I don't put up with you, Logan. I'm lucky to have you. And I know you still think-

Logan: Hey, it's OK.

She looked at him through glassy eyes.

Veronica: I'm lucky to have you. You're good to me and good for me. I know I tease you-

Logan: I know.

Matt: Everything OK?

Veronica blinked back the wetness in her eyes before turning her head to see Matt standing outside the open garage doors, obviously having just returned from running.

Matt: I'm glad to see both of you in one piece.

Veronica: Hey Matt.

Logan: Hey man, can you hang out with Veronica for a minute?

Matt: Yeah, sure.

Logan nodded and jogged inside. Matt approached Veronica and whistled.

Matt: You look like you went through the meat grinder.

Veronica: Yeah, but you should see the cliff.

Matt laughed lightly, his eyes inspecting her injuries.

Matt: Hurt your shoulder?

Veronica: Yeah. First the impact then hanging on for dear life.

Matt shook his head.

Matt: Can I? (He indicated her shoulder and at her nod, adjusted the strap to be more comfortable for her.) It's almost unbelievable. (Veronica nodded, in complete agreement with him.) And your friend Meg? She's the one who stayed with Logan this summer, right?

Veronica: Yeah. They say she'll recover, we're going to the hospital next.

Matt: And Logan really went over the cliff after you?

Veronica: Saved my life. Meg's too. (She smiled at Matt, knowing that Logan liked and respected the older man, who hadn't become a father figure, but something of a big brother to Logan in the past four months.) I could kill him.

Matt: Kid definitely has some impulse control issues.

Veronica and Matt smiled in agreement as Logan reappeared in clean clothes that actually fit him.

-VM—LoVe—VM—

At Neptune Memorial, Veronica and Logan sat with Meg's grandparents and sister as the doctors updated them on Meg's status, which was good.

Doctor: She regained consciousness this morning, but was in a lot of pain so we had to sedate her. The next time she wakes up it should be for longer.

Meg's Grandfather: When can we see her?

Doctor: She'll be in ICU for the next few days at least, but she can have two visitors at a time during visiting hours starting this afternoon.

Meg's Grandmother: That's good.

Doctor: She's strong and she's shown she has a will to live, so I expect her to recover 100 percent.

The doctor left and Lizzy turned to Veronica and Logan.

Lizzy: Is it true? What they're saying on the news?

Veronica: What are they saying?

Lizzy: You saved Meg?

Veronica: Meg saved me, then Logan saved us both.

Lizzy: (skeptical) And Dick Casablancas?

Logan: And Dick.

Meg's Grandmother: We're so grateful.

Veronica: Meg got me off the bus. Meg and Duncan.

Veronica shook her head, words failing her.

Lizzy: (Lizzy looked like she'd tasted something bad.) Duncan.

Meg's Grandfather: He always seemed like a nice young man when he came around, but Meg didn't seem to like him much.

Logan: It's complicated.

Meg's Grandmother: And Mr. Echolls, bless you.

Logan: Meg's my friend. I'm just glad she'll be alright.

Meg's Grandfather: We'll add you both to the approved visitors sheet, if you'd like?

Veronica and Logan nodded, but Lizzy just rolled her eyes.

Lizzy: Saint Meg.

Meg's Grandmother: (reprimanding) Lizzy.

Lizzy: I guess she really has earned her nickname.

VVO: Meg has always deserved her nickname, in the best way possible. But what does Duncan deserve? He saved us, and I don't want him to die, but I don't know if anything could erase the past two years.

-VM—LoVe—VM—

Leaving the Denton's (Meg's grandparents), they headed towards the private ward they'd been told Duncan was in. The way there was familiar, since her father and his mother had both stayed there in the past year.

There had been media at every public entrance and exit, but luckily Veronica and Logan had previously worked out a private way out through the delivery bay and employee underground parking garage. As expected they were stopped as soon as they exited the elevator to the private floor, but Clarence Weidman was there and nodded to the guards to let them through.

Wiedman: Ms. Mars and Mr. Echolls.

Veronica: We just wanted to check in on Duncan.

Clarence didn't appear surprised, but before he could reply loud voices drew all their attention.

Celeste: (strident) I'm his mother.

Jake: And I have sole legal and physical custody.

Celeste: (seething) For now.

Jake: Are you really going to attempt to challenge me for custody when Duncan is in the hospital?

Celeste: I will if you force my hand.

Jake: (tired) I'm not.

Celeste: Good, then get out of my way, and let me see my son.

VVO: There's no love lost between the Kanes. Can't say that I blame Celeste one bit, but she is frosty as ever.

Celeste went to push past Jake, but saw Veronica first and drew up short.

Celeste: Veronica.

Veronica: Mrs. Kane. I'm so sorry.

Celeste: Thank you. I know you were close once.

Veronica flinched at the meager assessment of her history with Duncan.

Logan: How is he?

Celeste: He'll be fine. Just fine. (Her words were confident, but her voice waivered.) The best doctors are working on him and I'm confident we'll have a positive outcome.

Veronica: I'm glad.

Celeste: Yes. Thank you. I'm… pleased to see you're alright as well. And the other girl?

Jake: Meg Manning.

Celeste: Yes. Ms. Manning. Duncan was fond of her.

Veronica: Her doctors think she'll be OK, too.

Celeste: How fortunate. Now if you'll excuse me.

Veronica: Of course.

They caught a brief glimpse of Duncan, hooked to several machines as Celeste entered his private room.

Jake: Veronica. I'm happy to see you on your feet so soon.

Jake hugged her lightly and Veronica patted his back awkwardly. They'd found peaceful common ground with Shiloh, but Veronica was constantly wary of Jake. He could be kind and generous, but he could also be cut-throat and cold blooded.

Veronica: Yeah.

Logan: How is he really?

Jake: He's in a coma. The doctor's aren't sure if or when he'll wake up. But Celeste is right, we all need to stay positive. They say he might be able to hear us, if we talk to him. I'm sure he'd love to hear from both of you. Why don't you come back later, if you can?

Logan: Of course.

Veronica hesitated, but nodded.

Veronica: I wanted to see Shiloh today, maybe just stay at your house for simplicity's sake?

Jake: I think that would be best, but you don't need to clear it with me. You're always welcome, you and Logan. Clarence will make any arrangements that need to be made.

Wiedman: Of course, Mr. Kane.

Veronica looked through the glass insert in the door one last time before turning towards the elevators.

Jake: Clarence, would you talk to Veronica about-

Wiedman: Of course. I'll walk you out, Ms. Mars.

Veronica looked confused and a bit trepidacious but followed Wiedman to the elevator.

Wiedman: We've seen the initial police reports where you said Duncan saved you and Ms. Manning.

Veronica: Yeah?

Wiedman: Kane Industries public relations staff want to talk to you before they release a statement on the Kane family's behalf.

Veronica frowned, a bitter taste in her mouth, a similar expression marring Logan's handsome face.

-VM—LoVe—VM—

When Veronica and Logan were finally ready to leave the hospital, after seeing two doctors for Veronica, visiting Meg who was still unconscious and checking in on Duncan once more, they exited the elevator on the ground floor to find it teaming with teenagers.

Harry Diden: Logan!

Logan: Hey, Harry, you here for Duncan?

Harry Diden: And Meg. Just wanted to see how they're doing. We haven't heard anything besides that they're alive.

Logan started to explain, a crowd gathering around him while Veronica turned to see Dick approaching with Mac.

Dick: Veronica Minx. Looking not so fresh, if I may say so.

Veronica: You may, but only because you scaled a cliff yesterday.

Dick: Whoa. I didn't do that for you.

Veronica: No, you did it for Logan, and for that I will ignore your usual level of duchery. For today.

Mac grinned at Veronica, neither girl paying much attention as Dick went over to hug Logan, both boys congratulating each other.

Mac: I got you a new phone.

Veronica: What do I owe you?

Mac: With my internet magic? Nothing. And it's all set up. Your mom's been calling.

Veronica: Thanks Mac.

Mac: No problem. So do you need me to hack into anything? Ruin any rude doctor's credit?

Veronica: (smiling) No, I think we're in a holding pattern until some of the dust settles.

Mac: Let me know. (looking over at Dick) He's really milking this.

Veronica: Being a hero?

Mac: Yeah.

Veronica: (shrugging) He deserves it.

Mac: I'd ask about Meg, but I already know.

Veronica: Hacked the hospital again?

Mac: Eh. I left a backdoor last time I came in. Seems like you need info from here on a semi regular basis.

Veronica laughed, then clutched at her stomach.

Veronica: Oh, ouch.

-VM—LoVe—VM—

Leaving the hospital, Logan drove Veronica to the Kane estate in time for the teenagers to have dinner with Shiloh, then play with the toddler before getting her ready for bed. Shiloh wasn't impressed that Veronica didn't give her her bath, but quickly adapted, making the most of trying to soak Logan who didn't know any of her tricks.

Veronica didn't bother to hide her smirk as Logan finally got Shi out of the tub, his shirt soaked and his jeans uncomfortably wet.

Logan: You could have warned me.

Veronica: And ruin all my fun?

Logan blew raspberries on Shiloh's stomach, making her squeal.

Logan: Your sister is evil, you know that, little one?

Shi chortled in agreement, having no idea what he meant.

Logan said his goodnights to Shiloh then exited the little girl's room to wait. He scrolled through his social media, seeing that he had dozens' of messages, emails, and notifications while Veronica read Shiloh two and a half bedtime stories.

When Veronica didn't come out several minutes after she'd fallen silent, Logan quietly slipped into Shi's room, expecting to see Veronica asleep, but instead he saw her gently stroking the soft curves of her sister's face and arms, memorizing her.

Veronica: I hate leaving her.

Logan: I know.

Veronica slowly disentangled herself from Shi and walked to the door, looking back over her shoulder at her sleeping sister's peaceful face.

Veronica: I was going to take her out trick or treating with Meg and Grace, but now…

She looked on the verge of tears and Logan didn't know what to say to help her so he just folded her into his arms.

Logan: We'll take her, and Grace if the Denton's don't mind.

Veronica: (shuddering for breaths, trying to hold back her tears) I don't know if I can.

Logan: We'll rent you a golf cart if we need to.

Veronica laughed, but it quickly turned into a sob, which she tried to swallow back, pressing her face into Logan's chest.


Words 7835

AN-Sorry to the delay, I thought I would have more time to write this summer, but between work and vacations (woohoo snorkeling in the tropics) time has been tight. However I did give you a nice long chapter to enjoy… I messed up my timeline a bit byt changing the MaDi story, but once I get that and the bus crash bits adjusted to fit how I'm doing it the course forward should be clear.

So... I feel like I should say that it was a completely deliberate and thought out decision to not foreshadow the recent unsolved mysteries in the story (Betina's hit and run, science lab explosion, and now the bus crash). Spending so much time on Logan's birthday and distracting V with that and Logan's birthday wish was deliberate- V had no idea anything was coming, so neither did any of you (unless you knew I was doing the bus crash). As for her not investigating the school explosion- a few things- 1) she's well known now, getting info will not be as easy as before, 2) she trusts Chief Lucia so if he's saying it was an accident her BS meter is not immediately going to go crazy and 3) she was busy having a life. No one died, no one she was close to got hurt, again her motivation and suspicion were not on high.

Also... just cause I have to share with someone and my writing is a kinda/sorta secret in my RL... Some Truths Hurts has over a half million views. That's kind of awesome, and by kind of, I mean completely, so thanks to everyone who's come along for this (long) ride with me.