A/N: Okay-that feedback I got for the first chapter is just amazing. Thank you so much! I replied to all the signed reviews but for all those who did so anonymously or without an account- THANK YOU. I truly enjoyed reading every one of them. Okay, now on to the dance. Hope you enjoy!
A Friendly Blackmail: Part II
Veronica walks down the hallway with Mac, both of them discussing their wardrobe choices for Friday's dance. Mac was hardly materialistic, but Beaver had brought out her inner girl. She never had anyone to look nice for before, but with Beaver there was someone she was dressing for.
"I think I'll wear a burlap sack," Veronica announces, thinking of whom she would dress for.
"Would you at least belt it?"
"Nah, it leaves more to the imagination."
Mac grins. "You mean the basic shape of your body?"
"Look, this is a blackmail-dance," Veronica spells out. "Therefore, I could wear sweats and a hoodie and he couldn't complain."
"Eh, I think he'd still complain."
Veronica crosses her arms over her chest as she thinks that the whole helping-her-dad thing was really not worth what she was going to have to go through. Yes, they had solved the case. Yes, they had gotten a hefty check for it. But the tradeoff was an entire night of school-sanctioned frivolity. Veronica frowns. "This sucks."
The entire school is abuzz with excitement over the night's forthcoming activities while Veronica feels nothing but a nagging headache. Logan had been surprisingly subdued during the week. He spoke to her, of course. The party had mostly thawed whatever iciness remained between them, but the usual irritation that accompanied his visits had disappeared. He simply talked to her now. They were actual friends, she realized.
And she doesn't know how she feels about this.
"So, give me a clue," Logan says, sweeping in beside her and knocking his elbow convivially with her own. She looks over at him and says, "It is less than seven, but more than four." He looks at her strangely and she sighs, "Fine, it's five licks to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop." She feigns exasperation and says, "You got it out of me."
"Nancy Drew, everyone knows the real answer is six."
"Better turn in your Hardy boy cap," she tosses back easily. "Because I am always right."
"So, are you marginally looking forward to tonight?" he asks, smoothly shifting gears in the conversation.
He laughs lightly and says, "Alright, I will take that as a no."
She reads a bit of disappointment in his voice, and decides that considering the fact that they are now friends-how that happened, she'll never know-she will remedy her response slightly. "You know me," she says gingerly. "I'm not a joiner."
"Yeah, that has been abundantly clear."
"But," she says slowly. "I guess it won't be too bad."
"Because I'm there?" he suggests with a winning grin. She shakes her head as a smile tugs on her lips and says, "Yeah, keep thinking that."
While Veronica accepts that they are now friends, it does not change the fact that Logan essentially blackmailed her into going to the dance. Friends do not blackmail friends into attending school events. They simply ask.
Veronica chooses to ignore the dissenting voice that reminds her that if he had asked, she would have said no.
With the blackmail dimension winning out, she convinced herself that making him sweat, as her and Wallace discussed, was perfectly acceptable.
She hears his car approach and watches from her window as Logan parks near the apartment, his yellow Xterra ostentatiously flashy in its new surroundings. He honks his horn, just as she had asked. And just as she had planned, she stays rooted in her room. She doesn't know if it is right to have a perverse pleasure in the repeated honks, Logan looking confused and then finally irritated as he pulls himself out of the car and walks to the front door.
In the end, she really doesn't care.
She hears the knock on the door and then a moment later Keith calls out, "Sweetie, you have a gentleman caller."
She peaks her head out of the doorway and flashes him a smile. "I'll be right out. A few last minute wardrobe emergencies. You know how girls are." Another bright grin and perky scrunch of her nose. "You two talk, okay?"
The look of pure terror on Logan's face as she shuts her door will serve as fodder for her unlikely-yet not impossible-enjoyment of the night. Of course, she is already dressed and she sits on her bed as she listens to the bits of conversation that she can catch between the two.
"I want her home by twelve," Keith says. "And you will be staying at the dance the entire time."
"Of course, Mr. Mars," Logan says, voice all proper and parent-appropriate. Which is precisely why his words ring false and she snorts at his misstep.
"If you do anything beside go to that dance," Keith begins. "And I mean anything. I will find out."
She takes Logan's silence as her cue that the inquisition has gone on long enough, and she gathers her purse and sweeps grandly out of her bedroom. His eyes move to hers immediately, but she loses his gaze as his eyes rove over her dress.
She had decided to nix the burlap sack idea, instead choosing a form fitting red dress that accents all the right curves and minimizes the others. She smiles slightly when his eyes find hers again, slightly widened, and she says, "You ready?"
He stands up and gestures for her to walk out first. She goes over to her dad t and kisses him on the cheek as she whispers, "You done good, Dad."
He chuckles and returns, "I'm good at the scare tactic." In a voice meant for Logan, too, he says, "You two have fun. Dance until you drop. Do the macarana. Boogie-"
"And that is enough talking for you," Veronica says, effectively cutting her father off. Her and Ketih exchange one final small grin before she walks out, Logan following her. He opens the door for her and she climbs in, pulling her purse up just in time as Logan closes the door. When he gets in beside her he says, "You put your dad on me, didn't you?"
Innocently she retorts, "Now, why would you think that?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe the Mars Inquisition."
She looks over at him and coos, "I like your suit. Very George Clooney."
"You're trying to distract me," he points out, lips curling into a grin.
"And I look better than George Clooney."
She grins and they continue the ride with a comfortable silence.
Both stop in the doorway of the gym, their eyes roving over the meticulously executed decorations. The whole room is a bit much, no doubt thanks to the ebullient and bitch-on-wheels Madison Sinclair.
"Whoah," Logan breathes out.
"I second that whoah," Veronica says, her eyes nearly hurting from all the pep being forced on her. "It looks like Party City puked in here."
Logan sniggers. "You have such a way with words, Veronica."
A few couples shuffle in behind them and Veronica glances back and offers them an apologetic grin as she tells Logan, "Aright Indiana, time to face the unknown."
"Veronica!" She looks over to her side and grins when she sees Mac approaching, all swathed in taffeta and happiness. She gives Mac a quick hug and says, "A familiar face, hello." She looks over to Mac's date and says, "Hiya Beaver."
He gives her a stiff wave and she smiles in response, returning her attention to Mac. "So, how's the dance so far? Will I be able to survive the remainder of the night?"
Mac goes to respond but is cut off by Logan as he says, "You're with me, Ronnie. You'll be doing better than survive."
Veronica glances up at him and says, "While I can appreciate your excessive self confidence, don't flatter yourself on this one. This is socially mandated hell, Logan. Not even your charming presence can help."
"Judging without even giving me a chance," he scoffs. "Come, I have some convincing to do."
"What-" Logan grabs her arm, pulling her out to the dance floor. Veronica glances back at Mac, noticing the way her friend is gazing at them with a soft grin. When their eyes met, Mac nods her head once and flits her hand as she mouths, "Have fun."
"Fat chance," Veronica mutters.
"What is that?"
She goes to speak but the upbeat song that had been playing transitions into a slower beat, and she frowns when she sees that her and Logan are not at the dance for five minutes, and they already are caught by the ubiquitous slow dance. She has to give Logan some credit here, because he hesitates. He looks down at her, his eyes asking whether or not she wanted to proceed.
Surprisingly, her hands slide behind his neck without hesitation and her body presses close to his, head dangerously close to his chest. She can hear his breathing above her hitch ever so slightly when her fingertips graze the back of his neck.
What are you doing, Veronica, she thinks. What the hell was she doing? She is pressed against him, feeling every emotion from that summer course back, and when she glances up at him, the look in his eyes tell her he is doing the same thing. She doesn't know what to do; doesn't know what to say. Everything feels wrong, yet at the same time undoubtedly right. It's like she was made for his arms, fitting perfectly against his body and short enough for him to comfortably rest his chin on the top of her head.
He doesn't do that.
He used to, though. She remembers it vividly, because it had always made her feel protected, safe. Tucked away in his arms, she had felt those broken pieces inside of her-the ones she hid so well-were slowly coming to a mend. He had been the perfect band aid, the perfect cast, because he was one of the few people who understood her fully. He knew the sting of a lost parent and the betrayal and ultimate self-blame that followed. He knew the grief of death, the oppressive nature of public scrutiny.
Most of all, he knew her. He could read her moods easier than she could identify them. He could put into words fleeting expressions that passed on her face, while all she could say was that she was conflicted.
The word describes her current state of mind well. She feels content for the first time in a while gathered in his arms, and his chin is hovering just above the top of her head. It would take minimal effort to tilt her head, read everything she is feeling in his eyes, and ultimately come home.
She can't, though. Or can she? There is a list of reasons why Logan Echolls should be kept at an arm's distance, but as she ultimately tilts her head and meets his eyes again, she has an awful hard time remembering any of it. There's something about him being a hazard. Another about his temper. But he smiles softly down at her and she begins to compile another list, the first item being: he's the only person who gives me butterflies.
His hands rub her back and she allows herself to lean into him further, resting her cheek on the lapel of his suitjacket. She closes her eyes tight when his lips brush the top of her head.
The song changes but they stay pressed close, swaying slowly to a beat existing only in their minds.
"What are we doing?" she says, echoing the sentiment that seems to characterize their entire relationship.
"I don't know," he answers.
"We need to stop getting ourselves into these situations," she says, looking up at him. He nods and says, "Okay, we can stop tomorrow."
He drops his lips to hers before she can respond.
Mac dances with Beaver and watches Veronica and Logan over her boyfriend's shoulder. The dysfunctional pair is wrapped up in each other's gaze, swaying significantly slower than the song dictates. They hardly notice, though. She watches Veronica tilt her head up toward Logan, and they exchange a few words. She can't see Veronica's face but gathers from Logan's expression that he isn't being a jackass. Mac gasps lightly when Logan covers Veronica's mouth with his own. She waits for a moment before she draws any conclusion, watching for Veronica's reaction. When her friend presses her hands lightly on his neck, bringing his face down on hers more firmly, Mac breathes out, "Finally."
A/N: Alright, question time. Would you like to see a continuation of this or should I leave it where it is? Let me know!