Disclaimer: I don't own Veronica Mars.

Chapter 1: Innocence

Logan sat by the pool, his eyes on the rippling water. The noises all around him reminded him he was at a party but he was trying his best to ignore that. Somehow, tonight, he didn't feel like partying. He knew it wasn't like him, but every time he saw Veronica Mars he couldn't help but feel like grabbing a bottle and downing the whole thing.

Yes, he hated her and he was vocal about it, but he couldn't help but miss her as well. He hated that they weren't friends anymore. He hated that he couldn't stop picking on her. But most of all, he hated that he was making her so miserable. Yet every time he opened his mouth, he couldn't stop the words from spilling out.

"Logan, bro!" an excited Dick shouted as he plopped down next to him. Logan sighed in annoyance. He was busy brooding. Why couldn't Dick just leave him alone?

"Yes Dick?" Logan asked.

"I'm gonna dose Madison with some of the good stuff," Dick said. Logan could just see his eyebrows waggling in the dark. He hoped his friend couldn't see him rolling his eyes.

"Ah, young love," Logan deadpanned, feeling as empty as his words. Dick shot him a confused look, considered his friend's words for a moment and shrugged before jumping to his feet to find his airhead girlfriend.

Dick was such a dick.

But Dick's ridiculous ideas couldn't distract him from his thoughts. Because the truth was that Logan almost understood why Veronica sided with her father. It took him a while to wrap his head around it, but what he couldn't originally process was that Veronica and her father actually had a normal child-parent relationship. His father beat him, his mother drank. At the end of the day, he wasn't sure he would mind an excuse to be estranged from his parents. But Veronica, she loved her father, even more now than ever probably, considering how her mother had upped and left soon after he father lost her job.

That's just another reason for him to hate himself. He wasn't there for her when her mother, the crazy alcoholic, walked out on her. If anything, he made it worse by telling everyone about it and publicly taunting her with the information. He knew better, he just couldn't stop the words.

He was so mad at her. Given that his parents were so terrible, it was natural that his best friends, Lilly, Duncan and Veronica, became his family. In some warped way, Logan figured Veronica felt the same way about their little makeshift family and put them first instead of her real family. He was wrong and he knew it now but how could he go back? How could he apologize for acting the way he did to his sweet, kind, loving Veronica?

Logan shook his head as he took a swig from his flask. He hated himself. He hated himself so much and he didn't know what to do about it beside drink. He had no one to go to. Dick wasn't someone he could speak to, Duncan's brain was missing even if his body was there and the one person he could say anything to was the one person he alienated.

Yeah, he definitely hated himself.

"Dude, did you see Ronnie?" Dick asked belligerently.

"See Ronnie where?" Logan slurred. He leaned back into his seat and closed his eyes. Even though he was pretty drunk at this point he could still feel his heart throbbing at the mention of her name.

"Well first she was stumbling around fall over everyone. But now she's passed out drunk. Some guys are doing body shots off her. It's awesome," Dick explained. "She actually tried to get with me. Madison's so pissed."

Logan's eyes opened wide at the thought of his innocent little Ronnie in that innocent little white dress he saw her wearing earlier having salt licked off of her. "What did you say?"

"What, that Maddy's pissed? Yeah, it sucks," Dick replied.

"I don't give a shit about Madison. I mean Veronica you ass," Logan spat. He unsteadily got to his feet and shot Dick a dirty look.

"Um, yeah, body shots man," Dick began unsteadily, Logan's temper throwing him off, but he quickly found his footing. "It's so hot," he repeated lazily.

Logan chucked his metal flask at Dick's head and stormed off. He could vaguely hear his friend's utterance of pain, but he didn't care. He might be stuck in a vicious cycle of hating Veronica but, in his drunken impulsiveness, he couldn't stop himself from jumping up at the thought of her in pain, danger or violation.

"Back the fuck off," Logan roared as he approached the lounge chair Veronica was lying in. He could feel the adrenaline kicking in, clearing his head long enough to push the assholes away from Veronica and gather her tiny frame in his arms.

"What gives?" one of the assholes, Casey, asked.

"Keep away from her," Logan growled. He walked out of the crowd, making sure to knock shoulders with one particular onlooker: Duncan Kane. "You make me sick," he hissed. Things had been weird between the two boys ever since Duncan dumped Veronica for no reason but this was a new low.

Logan hurried through the house with Veronica cradled in his arms. He knew he was too drunk to drive but his car was far enough down the road that he felt it would be safest to just get to it and wait until he sobered up enough to go anywhere else.

"I'm so sorry, Ronica, so, so sorry. I wish I could take it all back," Logan muttered drunkenly.

On the way to his car, he spotted Madison with a marker in hand and malicious intent on her face. He paused long enough to see her destination and decided to make a quick pit stop. After carefully setting down Veronica next to a fire hydrant on the street, Logan marched up to Madison and grabbed the marker from her hand.

"If you so much as think about touching Veronica's car, I'll make it so that not even the PCHers will speak to you," Logan ground out before shoving Madison lightly and making his way back to Veronica.

"Ass!" Madison cried meaninglessly. She knew Logan could and would act on his threat so she didn't pursue the matter.

He pulled the girl back into his arms and jogged to his car. Once the blonde was comfortably stretched across the back seat, Logan rummaged through the trunk of his car for provisions. Whenever he knew he's be partying he packed a get sober quick bag. If he wasn't home and sober before his father woke up he'd be in for a beating. For once the bag had a greater purpose.

Logan quickly shoved a couple granola bars down his throat before downing half a water bottle. He climbed onto the bumper of the car and waited for some feeling of sobriety to return. About an hour went by before that happened. He'd had too much to drink, more than usual.

He tilted his head at that thought. Yes, he drank more than his usual, but at least he had a usual. Veronica didn't. He could count the number of times he'd seen her drunk on one hand, which was why this whole scenario didn't make any sense to him. Not to mention, even though Veronica was tiny, it would take a lot to get her blackout drunk. No, this didn't make any sense at all.

"Veronica?" Logan asked. He climbed off the bumper, closed the trunk and hurried to the passenger door that would reveal Veronica's blonde head. "Veronica, please wake up and tell me you're okay."

"Mm," Veronica hummed. She rolled over on the seat, allowing Logan to see her face. Her skin was flush and her eyes were still closed. He wished she would wake up.

"Ronnie, it's me, Logan. I know we hate each other but I need you to wake up and tell me you're okay," Logan said desperately, his mind racing with possibilities. The worst he could come up with was that someone tried to date rape her.

"Don't hate you Lo," Veronica assured hazily. She rolled back onto her stomach.

"Oh Ronnie," he replied remorsefully as he gently ran his fingers through her hair. "Tell me it wasn't the drugs I gave Dick. I'll never forgive myself." Logan could already tell he wouldn't be going to Tijuana again anytime soon, if ever again. Just the thought of drugs he bought poisoning his Veronica made him want to beat the crap out of himself.

Logan watched Veronica for a few minutes more before making up his mind. He was sober enough. He could drive, and he would, right to the hospital. He didn't know what was wrong with Veronica but it sure as hell scared the crap out of him. Just taking her back to his place or even her house wasn't an option; he had to make sure she was okay.

"Everything's gonna be fine, Ronica, I'm gonna get you help," Logan swore. Ten minutes later he pulled Veronica out of the car and rushed to the doors of the emergency room.

"Help!" Logan managed to blurt before the two nurses and doctor hanging around the admissions desk ran forward to do just that.

Logan sat on the plastic chairs in the waiting room, waiting. He had already called Mr. Mars with the help of the nice nurse sitting at the admissions desk. He had tried the number he had memorized all those years ago only to find that it was disconnected. Thankfully there was only one Keith Mars in the directory. Once he had woken the man up it didn't take long for Logan to convince him to get to the hospital.

"Logan!" a voice shouted causing Logan to pull himself to his feet. "Logan, where is she?" Keith frantically rushed through the sliding glass doors. He was still in his pajamas.

"They have her in some room in the back, running tests. I'm not family so they won't tell me anything and it's not visiting hours so I can't go back there," Logan explained softly. He linked his hands together and hung his head.

"I'll be right back," the older man replied before rushing to the nurse at the admission's desk.

Logan stood with baited breath. He didn't know what the nurse would tell Keith Mars, but knowing was almost worse than not knowing. What if he hadn't gotten her here in time? What if his drunken tendencies got her killed? He would never forgive himself. Nor would he ever drink again. Just the thought of alcohol anywhere near him suddenly made him want to vomit. And to think, just the thought of Veronica was enough to cause him to drink only a few hours earlier. His life was nothing if not ironic and spiteful.

"Is she all right?" Logan asked unsteadily as Keith made his way back over to the teen.

Keith looked at Logan—really looked at him closely—before answering. "The doctor hasn't told the nurse anything yet, but she said he'll be out soon."

Logan closed his eyes and flopped back into his seat. "It's my fault," he lamented as he verbally punished himself. Maybe his father was right. Maybe everything was his fault.

"Logan, I can't pretend I know what happened between you and Veronica, but I'm sure whatever happened tonight isn't your fault," Keith said after a moment's hesitation.

"I… It's my fault," Logan repeated loudly, causing a few people in the waiting room to throw him dirty looks for disturbing the peace.

"I'm sure you two can talk it out when she wakes up," Keith coaxed. He set a kind hand on Logan's back to reinforce his words.

"She won't forgive me," Logan bit out, mentally replaying all of the terrible things he had said to her in his head, punishing himself more and more as he remembered.

Keith didn't respond.

"Keith Mars?" a tired voice called out into the waiting room. Logan and Keith snapped to attention, signaling the doctor.

"That's me," Keith said. He and Logan stood up. "Anything you have to say you can say in front of him," he added at the look the doctor gave Logan.

The doctor nodded. "My name is Doctor Tilman. To cut to the chase, Veronica isn't drunk. She was drugged. Someone must have slipped GHB into her drink wherever she was tonight. According to what Mr. Echolls told the nurse, the drugs should fully be out of Veronica's system in a couple hours. She'll feel a bit out of it for a day or so but other than that she should be fine."

"Someone was trying to r-rape Veronica?" Logan choked, his worst fears confirmed. He would find the son of a bitch and kill him. After he finished beating himself up, of course. It could have been the GHB he bought. His GHB. His fault. No more drugs, not ever.

"Possibly. It could have also been a mistake," the doctor shrugged. "Either way, Veronica wasn't raped. We did a rape kit and everything was… in order," Dr. Tilman said gently. "It's likely you saved her from that fate, young man, so take pride in that."

"Somehow I just feel like an even bigger jackass," Logan muttered.

"Thank you so much, doctor," Keith said. He shook the younger man's hand. "When can I-we see her? Is she awake?"

"As I said, she's still under the effects of the drugs. She should be awake soon, but she probably won't be coherent right away. Mr. Mars, you're welcome to go in and sit with her, but, unfortunately, this young man can't," Dr. Tilman said apologetically. "He's not family."

"Are you sure, doctor?" Keith hedged before Logan cut him off.

"It's fine, I'll go," Logan said. "Mr. Mars, if you give me Veronica's keys, I can go get her car for her." He suddenly had to get the hell out of there.

"I have a spare," Keith replied reaching into his pocket.

"Where should I drive it to?" Logan asked pathetically. He still didn't know where Veronica and her father had moved.

Keith gave him a small smile before rattling off an address. Logan committed it to memory and ran out of the hospital. He glanced over his shoulder as he made his way to his car. He hoped he could bring himself to return the next morning when Veronica woke up, but somehow he wasn't sure he'd be able to scramble together the stones to do so. He was still so ashamed of himself.

"You know it's bad when you make yourself sick," Logan whispered to himself. He reluctantly climbed into his car and drove back to Shelly's.

Returning Veronica's car and getting himself home took more time than he thought it would. After getting to Shelly's he left his car there and drove hers home. Then he took a cab back to Shelly's and drove his car home. By the time he made it back to the Echoll's mansion, the sun was rising. Logan flinched at the sight of the lit porch lights. That could only mean his father was up, which could only mean trouble for him.

"And so the prodigal son returns," a deep, terrifying voice greeted. Logan's shoulders reflexively hunched up to his ears as he prepared himself for what was to come.

Hours later Logan was curled up on his bed, one eye swollen shut, his arms wrapped around his battered ribs. Thankfully, break had just started so he wouldn't have to go to school and lie about this particular injury.

"Ay, Logan," the kind, elderly Hispanic maid said. She came bearing a few ice packs and bandages stowed on her person. Yes, she was Weevil's grandmother, but she was also the only person who cared for him after one of these incidents. She always had to wait until Aaron was gone, but she never failed to show up and take care of the little boy she cared for as her own.

"Hi Mrs. Navarro," Logan replied. He dutifully sat up and pulled off his shirt.

"Poor Logan," she clucked. She swiftly, yet gently pressed an ice pack against Logan's eye before setting to work.

It didn't take very long—the elderly woman was used to such attacks. After thanking her, Logan waited until he heard the door close to roll onto his side and allow a few tears loose. It was the punishment he was looking for but that didn't mean it felt good.

"Daddy?" Veronica asked groggily. She opened her eyes to find herself in an all-white, brightly lit room. It looked nothing like her room at home.

"Oh Veronica, thank God," Keith said. His voice showed relief but his grip on her hand told a different story.

"Thank God? Daddy, where am I?" Veronica asked nervously while trying to sit up.

"Don't move, sweetie, you're in the hospital," Keith replied. This did nothing to allay her fears. If anything it caused her to sit up faster. Of course, she couldn't have anticipated the dizziness.

"Oh man that was a bad idea," she said. She used her free hand to cradle her head and steady her swimming vision.

"Please lie down Veronica," Keith urged. Veronica did as her father asked.

"What happened?" she asked. She took a deep breath, pushed back the nausea and focused her attention on her father.

"You went to that party last night," Keith began. "I knew I shouldn't let you go."

"Daddy, please," Veronica begged.

"From what I understand, someone must have slipped something in your drink; GHB, the doctor said," Keith continued.

"GHB?" Veronica interrupted, her eyes filling with terror. "Was I-did they… rape me?"

"No, apparently Logan saw you passed out by the pool. He brought you here," Keith replied.

"Logan?" Veronica asked in disbelief. "Logan Echolls?"

"Yes, sweetheart, Logan Echolls."

"But he hates me," she blurted out. She had been trying so hard to keep the stress of what was happening at school away from her father but it seemed as though things couldn't continue that way.

"I'm not so sure he does," Keith replied.

"But he does," Veronica said frantically while pulling herself back into a sitting position. "He hates me. He—I know he does."

"Well he doesn't appear to anymore," Keith sighed. "In fact, he seemed pretty upset."

Veronica took a minute to internalize this information. Since when did Logan Echolls give a shit about her? Last time they spoke he was insulting her, calling her a slut and a traitor. It wasn't really speaking, now that she thought about it.

"If you say so, Daddy," Veronica replied. She carefully lay back against her pillows. She had a lot to think about.

Six hours later, Veronica was released from the hospital. It wasn't until a day later that her father allowed her to leave the apartment and even then he made her call every hour. She wanted to complain but she knew her father had every right to be worried. Hell, she was worried. Who tried to drug her? Would they try again? Where was Logan? Her father made it sound like he was going to visit her before she was discharged from the hospital. Did he have a change of heart? Did he suddenly remember how much he hated her?

These were the questions Veronica pondered for the last week. In that time she began working at her father's office. It was a new business and her father needed the help, so she picked up the slack. Besides, she was on break and she needed something to do.

"Hello?" a familiar voice asked. Veronica had heard the door open but she was so close to finally organizing all of the H's in her father's filing cabinet that she couldn't bring herself to turn around and put a familiar face to a familiar voice.

"One second," Veronica requested as she shoved the last file in its place and slid the drawer shut. Feeling accomplished Veronica turned to see who had come calling. "How can I—oh. Logan." How could she ever forget that familiar voice?

"Now's not a good time, is it?" Logan asked while taking a step backwards. She hadn't seen him this unsure of himself since the last time Lilly broke up with him. Lilly. Veronica missed her best friend more and more every day.

Logan was halfway to the door before Veronica snapped out of her memories and stopped him.

"No!" Veronica exclaimed, suddenly glad her father was out following some cheating husband. "No, now's fine Logan, why don't you sit?" She took her place on her side of the desk while Logan settled down across from her.

The pair sat in silence, Logan's eyes on the floor while hers where on him. She was waiting for him to say something—anything. She just wasn't sure when he would get to it.

"I don't deserve your time," Logan began softly.

"As much as I'd like to agree with you, according to my father and a couple really nice nurses, you saved my virginity and possibly my life, so I think I can give you five or ten minutes," she encouraged. Not that she knew why she was encouraging him. As much as she wanted to be his friend again, she wasn't sure how she could forgive him for months of torture.

"I don't deserve it," he argued. "I hated you picking your father. It took me forever to understand and I when finally did, Dick comes up to me and tells me what they were doing to you and I snapped," he explained.

Veronica's eyes widened at his words.

"Why don't you tell me what happened that night? I don't really remember anything beyond taking that drink from Madison," Veronica answered.

"You took a drink from Madison?" Logan asked, his eyes meeting hers for the first time.

"Yes," Veronica said slowly, suddenly unsure. She'd noticed he'd been watching her, but he'd refused to make eye contact. She wondered what that meant.

"Fuck, Dick."


She watched him take a deep breath and a minute to compose himself before beginning his tale. "When I went to Tijuana with the boys we picked up some GHB. I decided I didn't want mine. Dick asked me for it to loosen up Madison and I didn't think anything of it. Dick's name speaks for itself and Madison's the bitch who agreed to date him.

"My guess is that whatever Dick gave her was unsatisfactory and so she handed it off to you. You drank it and ended up… ended up falling over some of the guys before landing on a lounge chair. Dick saw you. He told me they were doing body shots off you. I stopped them and took you to the hospital," Logan finished, his eyes avoiding hers yet again. "Do you see now how it's all my fault?"

Veronica could feel her heart hammering in her chest. When Lilly died, Logan morphed into an angry teenager who hated her with his whole heart but now, somehow, it was as if that angry teenager was slowly melting away and in its place sat the boy she had missed so much.

"I'm sorry, Ronica, for everything. I understand if you never want to see or speak to me again. I would probably feel the same way," Logan mumbled. He got to his feet and stumbled his way out of the office without so much as looking back at Veronica. It was as if her silence was enough of a dismissal for him.

"Logan?" Keith asked as he opened the door just in time for Logan to make his way out of the office. Keith called after him twice more before giving up.

"Veronica, what happened?" Keith asked his daughter while stepping into the office with two coffees in hand.

"I'm not sure," Veronica finally said, her heart and head still trying to process his words. She absently took her coffee from her father. "No idea, really."

Logan walked down the beach, clenching and unclenching his fists. He was used to having a bottle in his hand but the thought of drinking still made him sick. Unfortunately, this meant he had nothing to help him deal with his anger or the pain that was the product of his father's anger. He was thinking about taking up boxing. Maybe if he could hit something himself he would feel a bit better.

He kept walking, his hand still opening and closing, unconsciously highlighting the absence of a bottle. He wasn't sure where he was going or what he was going to do now. He had the break ahead of him and nothing to do. He'd stopped speaking to almost all of his friends in the days after Shelly's party, before speaking to Veronica. The thought of having anything to any of those assholes, especially Duncan or Casey, made him want to break something.

But the only person he didn't want to avoid was the one person he couldn't seem to find. When he went to Mars Investigations, he had no idea what would happen. And then it happened and he ran. That wasn't part of the plan, the running, but he couldn't help himself after finding out that it was his drugs that had poisoned her.

And now he was waiting on Veronica. Or at least he thought he was waiting on Veronica. Maybe he left her confused and she was waiting for him to come back and un-confuse her. It had only been a day, but he was impatient.

"I should just stop by her dad's office again," he contemplated out loud. It wasn't such a terrible idea. If she really didn't want him there, she would tell him and he would just leave. But if it was just that she was confused and didn't know what to do with him, maybe he could clarify things and they could be friends again. But that was definitely the best-case scenario. As much as he wanted to be friends with Veronica again, he would settle for forgiveness and nothing more.

"Fuck me," Logan sighed and forced himself to keep his nails embedded deep in his palm for a long moment before letting go and repeating the action. He could tell he was going to hate this nervous habit. Maybe he would feel better if called it an early night so he could wake up early and catch some waves. Surfing had always made him feel better in the past.

"Yes, well, that would release some of this tension," a voice said from behind him as slender fingers wrapped themselves around a tortured palm and pulled him to a stop

Logan's eyes went wide as he turned to face her. "Ronnie," he breathed. He grabbed her hand, hoping that if he held on tightly enough she wouldn't be able to walk away from him.

"Hi Logan," she replied softly. He could just barely feel her fingers returning to sentiment.

"How'd you find me?"

"You love the beach."

"I guess you've become a detective in my absence," Logan said bitterly, wondering what else he had missed because he was such an asshole.

"Not really," she shrugged. "And would you stop beating yourself up for two seconds? I get it, you're a sad excuse for a human being."

Logan could swear his heart stopped beating in that moment, if only for a few seconds. This was it.

"I want you to know that even after all the mean things you said it me, Logan, I never hated you," she confessed. "I might have wanted to hate you but every time I looked at you, I didn't see you. I saw this terrible, angry boy that seemed to have taken your place. But now you look like you again. Just... you have to promise you won't freak out again. I need you to have faith in me the way you used to."

Her blue eyes met his brown ones and for a brief moment, Logan really thought about the boy he had become and the boy she wanted him to be.

"What if I'm not strong enough?" he asked

"You are," she urged. She wrapped a second hand around his and lifted all fifteen fingers to her chest, pulling him just a bit closer to her.

And in that second, he really felt like he was.

"I guess there's really only one question left," Logan said as he withdrew his hand from hers.

"What?" she asked.

A smile, a true smile, broke out across his face for the first time since Lilly died.

"Who's going to tell the roundtable of rich kids that their mighty leader has resigned?" he asked, causing a mirror-image smile to appear on her face.

"Nose-goes." She pressed her index finger up against her nose to illustrate her point.

"Oh no you don't!" he exclaimed before lunging for her.

Veronica squealed and took off down the beach with Logan following close behind.

A/N: That's it. Review and let me know what you think!

Love and Luck,