TITLE: His Friend Too
AUTHOR: arbailey
RATING: PG-13 for language
SUMMARY: When Veronica catches her best friend and an aging action hero together, everything falls apart.
SPOILERS: Pre-series that quickly goes AU but does spoil the 1st season Lilly/Aaron storyline
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any rights to Veronica Mars, and this story is written as a tribute only.

A/N: This story is currently unbeta'd, and all errors my own. That being said, anyone interested in beta-ing, please feel free to PM me!

Chapter One: The Beginning of the End

Veronica taps her fingers impatiently against the steering wheel of her gently used LeBaron – a completely unexpected birthday present. She clenches her jaw and mutters a startlingly encyclopedic string of curse words as she glares balefully at the long lines of traffic leading out of the Neptune High parking lot. She was supposed to be meeting Lilly right now. What if the delay caused the capricious blonde to change her mind? It had been like pulling teeth to get Lilly to answer any of her questions on Duncan's sudden and inexplicable rejection. First Lilly had been flippant and casual, then silent and evasive, but nowhere along the line had she suggested she'd give an inch on explaining her brother's motives.

But then, out of the blue, Lilly had volunteered to tell Veronica everything. She'd said it with the sort of solemn sincerity that was almost entirely foreign to Neptune's leading party girl, and Veronica was thrown by the sudden reversal, worried about the severity of a secret that could make even Lilly treat it seriously. And then Lilly had said that the secret was too big to be told here, that she and Veronica would need a serious sit-down conversation, and wouldn't it be better to have that conversation at Logan's where there was less chance of Duncan suddenly appearing, and anyway if Veronica wanted to know why Duncan freaked that's where Lilly would be, god just be there okay? This was much more in character, and Veronica relaxed.

But now, sitting in traffic, she's panicking again. Friday traffic is the worst, as plans are made and remade while students loiter in the parking lot and generally prevent Veronica from ever learning what the hell happened to her previously perfect life. Because Lilly doesn't like to be kept waiting, and she's excused an hour early for the tennis lessons she is no longer taking after Celeste caught her and the instructor deep in the throes of a 'double fault'. If Veronica can't make it to the Echolls place in the next twenty minutes, she can forget about ever knowing the reason why her erstwhile boyfriend dumped her.

Distracted out of her reverie by a loud honk, Veronica looks up to see a startlingly yellow SUV blocking the exit of the parking lot and giving her a clear shot out of this horrible traffic. Veronica smiles and nods to Logan who rolls his eyes and waves her along with a hurrying gesture. Of course, he's not actually legal in that monstrosity without a licensed driver in the passenger seat, but who's going to pull over the son of Neptune's one and only Hollywood connection? Sheriff Mars takes a hardline on law-breaking, but the deputies know very well what side their bread is buttered on. Lamb has made pulling over 09er kids into a small, cash-only side business and has even developed a loyalty card of sorts that works as a get-out-of-moving-violations-free program.

She hasn't spoken to Logan in a couple days. He is being weird, undoubtedly in solidarity with Duncan, but she misses her friend. This small olive branch does more to lift her spirits than anything else, even Lilly's promise to spill. Shaken out of her reverie by another terse honk, Veronica puts the pedal down and screams out of the parking lot, leaving tracks of burned rubber behind. She's got fifteen minutes to make it into the hallowed confines of the 90909 district. She's not running lights or signs, technically, but she is making the California Stop an art form on this particular trip. Bending traffic rules for 09er kids is one thing; bending rules for the sheriff's daughter is entirely different. It's strictly verboten, and if she gets caught, she'll be grounded until Shelly Pomeroy's winter break bash.

But her journey is blessedly free of law enforcement of any type. She turns quickly into the long drive of Logan's home and pulls up along the keypad. She punches in the code she had memorized forever ago and drums anxiously on the steering wheel. The ornate metal gates swing slowly inward and she powers towards the house. In seconds, she is parked and dashing across the gravel drive to the house. Breathing heavily, she stops to ring the doorbell because she's in a hurry, not a barbarian, and is greeted by the warm smile of Mrs. Navarro.

"Buenos dias, Miss Veronica," Mrs. Navarro beams, "Miss Lilly is waiting for you in the pool house." Veronica smiles pleasantly, and quickly, at the housekeeper and dashes towards the back patio, throwing out a brief, "Thanks Mrs. Navarro!" Veronica is hampered by her struggles with the heavy glass door, and she slows to a trot as she begins to round the corner.

She hears the unmistakable sound of panting and groaning, and she is suddenly furious. Lilly and Logan, going at it, ad nauseum. This whole thing had been yet another round in Lilly's favorite game, Shock Veronica! Was this some sort of veiled message? Was this why Duncan had dumped her? Because she wouldn't put out? Well, Veronica refuses to be cowed by Lilly's worldlier-than-thou bullshit today. Lilly is going to tell her what exactly happened with Duncan, even if she has to walk in on her two closest friends. She strides purposefully towards the pair, content to ruin the afterglow.

Veronica spies them as she rounds the corner, her nerve slightly failing her. This is not the first time she's seen people having sex, as an earlier round of Shock Veronica had involved a mortifying porn viewing, but this is certainly the first time she has been up close to the action, so to speak. Lilly is wearing a barely sufficient bikini Veronica had advised she not buy and straddling Logan on one of those creaky but expensive teak loungers that Lynn has stationed around the pool. She is completely lost to the world with her eyes tightly shut and her mouth open in abandon. Logan's hands steady her hips as she bounces up and down lewdly. Lilly's sounds of ecstasy are getting cartoonishly loud, but Veronica continues forward, unswayed. She will have her answers even if it means weathering eternal embarrassment.

It's not until she is within twenty-five feet that she notices how long Logan's hair is getting. And also, how did Logan- blocking traffic for her as he did- manage to reach the house before her? When he groans, it is a noise she's heard before in Dolby digital surround sound. Of course, that time, Aaron Echolls had been hanging precariously from a mountain ledge instead of having sex with his son's jailbait girlfriend.

Veronica is frozen in shock, absolutely incapable of movement, until she hears the soft thump of a car door shutting and a familiar whistling coming around the side of the house. Instantly she turns and runs toward the sound, missing the tight grin and narrowed eyes of Lilly Kane as they follow her in her flight.

Veronica runs right into Logan, her head down and her forearms braced against his chest, as she tries to propel him backwards. Logan steps back, startled, but he has well over fifty pounds on the blonde so her attempts at moving him are not bearing any real fruit. Things have been weird between them since Duncan's sudden defection. Logan asked Duncan why, of course, but Duncan just shook his head sadly. Logan didn't ask again. Theirs wasn't the sort of friendship where they pried. He'd been the gratefully beneficiary of Duncan's discretion on more than one occasion. The least he could do was return the favor.

Whatever she'd done, it must have been bad. Duncan was loyal. Stupidly, stubbornly, unrepentantly loyal, and it would have to be really, really terrible before he'd be willing to turn his back on Veronica. And Logan was prepared to take Duncan's word on this sort of stuff. But then he'd seen Lilly whispering to Veronica at lunch, and the flash of sudden desperate hope in her face had made it clear what they were discussing. He'd seen her emphatically agree to whatever Lilly asked. Was Veronica just as clueless as everyone else to Duncan's abrupt change of heart? In any event, when he'd seen her panic in the parking lot, he'd been moved to pity. He'd been on the wrong end of broken promises with the Lady Kane before, and he decided he couldn't allow the addition of Lilly's anger to Veronica's list of woes.

She'd peeled off like a demon as he cheerfully flipped off the angry drivers behind him. It had been his good deed for the day. But now she was here, having a tiny psychotic episode, and he doesn't know what to do. "Veronica? What the hell?" he queries as he pushes her into an upright position. She won't meet his eyes, but she throws her shoulder into it and just keeps whispering "Go, go, go…" over and over again.

"Oh come on, Veronica," says a smug Lilly as she rounds the corner, "It's not that big of a…" Her eyes get huge and her jaw goes slack as she suddenly comes face-to-face with the sight of Veronica doing her level best to steamroll Logan. Logan might have had a vague idea that Veronica and Lilly were going to use his home as conference space, but the whole situation has the boy confused. "Lilly?" he asks, hoping that will cover all the bases. And it is at that exact moment that Logan hears someone else call his girlfriend's name, and it all slips into place.

"Lilly? Baby?" calls Aaron, sounding sated and drowsy from his lounger, "Get me a drink, will ya? I've still gotta pack and you've killed me here…" Logan steps backs, shocked, and this sudden change in the immovable object has Veronica stumbling against him. Logan catches her unthinkingly, his eyes still glued to the other blonde who is looking at him with a mixture of triumph and dread, tugging at the edges of her bathing suit as she tries to get herself looking half decent.

Logan shoves Veronica back onto her own feet and turns on his heel, hell bent on escaping this nightmare. Veronica races after Logan, but his legs are longer and he has adrenaline on his side. "Logan! LOGAN!" Veronica shouts at her friend as he jumps into his illegal vehicle and screams away. She scrambles into her Le Baron and follows him down the long drive without a look back. Lilly just watches them go, her hands tight on her hips as her long fingernails cut tiny red crescents into the pale flesh there.

Veronica is going as fast as she dares, but she's no match for Logan and his decidedly more reckless driving style. He has outpaced her within two lights, and she begins driving aimlessly, trying to guess where he might go to self-destruct, and calling his cell phone hopelessly. She drives by and checks the Casablancas place, the Seven Veils, and the only liquor store in town that routinely sells to minors, but she strikes out each time. She's starting to think maybe he's gone to the Kane house- which is a shame, because she definitely can't follow him there- and she's considering giving up the search. She is placing a third call, which goes straight to voicemail, when she spots the XTerra tucked in the lot at Dog Beach.

This isn't Logan's beach. This isn't even Logan's part of town. She's been coming here with Backup- her new puppy, another sweet sixteen present- but this isn't really her part of town either. She pulls up beside the bright yellow SUV and parks. He's sitting down in the lee of a small dune with his knees drawn up maybe a quarter of a mile up the beach. It takes her awhile to get to him, and her shoes are half full of sand by the time she does. She plops down next to him, both of them staring out at the ocean, and she realizes the sun is going down. She'd been pretty focused on finding him, but now that she has, she has no idea what to say.

"How long were you two planning that little surprise?" Logan asks tightly, picking up a handful of sand and watching it sift through his fingers. Veronica's mouth falls open. "You can't be serious! You can't possibly believe I knew about this and didn't tell you!" Logan shrugs, non-commitally. "She's your best friend; you'd do anything for her." He cast her a sideways glance. "What did you do to Duncan, anyway?" Veronica chokes on that little injustice, but Logan ignores her. "Hell, maybe you're more like Lilly than I thought." Veronica's jaw tightens, but she tries to remain patient. "Come on Logan, you know it's not like that. What are we gonna do?" Logan throws his handful of sand down, "You can do whatever you want, Mars. Just do it a long ways away from me. Now, I'm gonna go get magnificently drunk," said Logan, bitingly cheerful, as he jumps up and brushes himself off. He stalks away, throws open the door to the XTerra, and proceeds to speed off.

Magnificently drunk? Veronica sighs to herself. She'd forgotten all about it. His parents are heading to Nepal tonight, and it's time for the annual bash. And as much as he clearly doesn't want her there, Logan is apt to get himself into serious trouble if he's allowed to drink himself into a pleasantly forgetful stupor. He needs a voice of reason or, at the very least, a designated decoy. And maybe after a little alcohol, Logan will be more willing to listen and less belligerent. Veronica snorts at her own vivid imagination, but all the same stands and heads back to her car. So what if her three best friends now inexplicably hate her? It's still her job to take care of them.

A/N: I thought I'd wait to the end to say this in hopes of allaying any apparent neediness: This is my first fan fic. With that in mind, any and all reviews and concrit would be most deeply appreciated!