A/N I've been working on a much longer fic, but this one kept creeping into my consciousness. Since it's a one-shot, I figured I would just git er' done, so I can devote my energy to the other story.

This is not my usual fluffy sweetness. This is a darker, more vengeful, Veronica. I hope that you enjoy. In addition, this is my first time dipping my toes into 1st person/Present tense. I usually do a 3rd person/past tense. Hopefully, I've pulled it off without any unintentional tense changes.

Don't you mess with a little girl's dream

'Cause she's liable to grow up mean

I concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other as I walk down Crescent Hill Drive clutching my kitten-heel mules. I ignore the burning pain between my thighs. I ignore the tickle of the broken strap of my dress as it swings back and forth. I do not think. I do not feel. I simply move.

I have goals.

Goal #1 - Make it to the police station, where I can report the crime.

Goal #2 - Shower until my skin peels off.

Goal #3 - Burn this dress.

There is no room in the schedule for any more tears. I will not feel sorry for myself. Survival is key here. Self-pity means that I am broken.

I don't turn to look as the yellow SUV draws even with me. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.

The driver of the truck can't seem to take the hint. I hear the whirr of electric windows lowering. I keep walking.

"Veronica Mars. Out for a walk of shame?"

Left foot. Right foot.

"Admirable form. Extra points for the dirty bare feet and the broken dress strap. But I'll have to deduct a few points. Your hair is still too neat and proper."

I stop, turning to the smug face leering at me across the cab of his truck.

"I guess that makes sense, though." He goes on. "Even as a whore, you're probably a frigid whore. No touching the hair, huh?"

He leers. "Do you just lay back and close your eyes counting down the seconds until it's over? Or do you close your eyes and pretend that you're with Duncan?"

As I stare at this face that I used to adore - that I used to consider one of my best friends - something in me breaks.

Before he can even register that I've moved, I'm around the front of the truck and at his window. His eyes grow large as I reach in and grab the neck of his T-shirt twisting it in my tight fist until I'm practically choking him.

"You did this to me." I hiss at him. "You made this happen."

Logan's eyes widen. Comprehension dawning.

"Veronica?" His voice is hesitant.

My eyes are burning with hate.

"You declared Open Season on me, and your minions followed orders."

"Veronica, I didn't-"

I cut him off. "You didn't pull the trigger, but you sure as hell aimed the gun."

"Whatever happened…"

"You're the king of the 09ers, right? Well I'm holding you personally responsible for your subjects. You will suffer for this. You and whoever ruffied me and did the deed. And you will suffer for everything else they do to me. They spit on the sidewalk in front of me? I'm holding you responsible. They even look at me funny, I'm taking it out on you. Are we clear?"

I release his shirt, turn, and begin walking away.

"Veronica…" Logan puts the truck in park, and opens the door. "Who ruffied you?"

I keep walking "You tell me."

Logan catches up, and tries to put an arm around me. "Veronica, get in the truck and I'll drive you to the hospital, ok?"

"DON'T YOU FUCKING TOUCH ME!" I spin around and the crack of my hand across his face echoes like a gunshot.

All concern ebbs from his expressive eyes, replaced with a hate to match my own. "Fine, then walk you stupid bitch."

He burns rubber driving away.

Walking works just fine for me.

I hate the girl in the mirror.

I hate her because something about her screams "victimize me". She looks like a doormat with her little girl hair, and her too-trusting eyes, her twinsets, and her pastels.

I hate her for allowing Logan to abuse her the first time. For giving him unspoken permission to abuse her the second time and the third.

The girl in the mirror is weak and ineffectual.

Nothing short of the complete eradication of Veronica Mars 1.0 will suffice.

Rock bottom.

If my life were a movie, the training montage would be inserted here.

Rocky jogging the streets of Philadelphia. The Karate Kid waxing on/waxing off. Luke learning The Force from Yoda in the swamp. JLo learning how to fight back in "Enough".

Veronica Mars doing chin-ups and pummeling sides of beef?

Not so much. Even the new Veronica Mars doesn't do physical exertion.

This will be more of a spiritual makeover.

Death to the victim. Birth to the survivor.

When the tow-truck arrives, the owner's cousin Weevil gets out to unhook my LeBaron. He's the first person to comment on my new look.

"Wow. Look at you, girl!" He smiles. "You don't look like a Lilly Kane clone anymore. Nice!"

I close my eyes and breathe. My intention has never been to distance myself from Lilly, but maybe this is a good thing. Maybe I'm ready to shed the labels of Lilly's best friend or Duncan's girlfriend or Logan's...whatever. Maybe it's time to show the world that Veronica Mars has an identity of her own.

"Thanks...I guess." I tell him, running my hand through my new shaggy locks. "You cleaned off my windows! Thanks."

Weevil nods, working on something under my bumper. "Yeah, that shit was harsh." He shakes his head. "Lilly would have ripped them apart for treating you that way."

"You knew Lilly?" I ask. I don't know why I'm surprised. He's exactly the type of bad-boy Lilly would have made the acquaintance of.

"Yeah, Lilly was a...friend." Weevil says. I recognize the same sadness in his eyes that I used to see in Logan's eyes. Weevil had been in love with Lilly.

"It hasn't escaped my notice the way those rich assholes turned on you after she died." Weevil says. "Why are they acting that way?"

"Logan…" I sigh. "Logan...hurts. In his mind, I should have renounced my family to support Duncan, who is, incidentally, the same guy who dumped me without an explanation. But he doesn't really believe that. In reality, Logan just needs to make somebody suffer, and since there are no murder suspects, he had to find a proxy to take it out on."

"It sounds like you're making excuses for him." In a girly voice he continues: "Poor Logan! All of that pain!" He flutters his eyelashes.

My harsh laugh sounds strange to my own ears. It's the first laugh out of me since I woke up in a strange bed this morning.

"You know what? You're right. Logan's days of getting free passes from me are officially over."

"Good to hear." Weevil nods his head.

"In fact, he had the misfortune of harassing me in his truck this morning when I really wasn't in the mood."

"Misfortune? What did you do?"

"I tried to strangle him with his own t-shirt, and put him on notice that he's responsible for the behavior of his minions. They so much as slut-cough when I walk by, and he'll pay the consequences."

"Dayum Girl! Sounds like you've absorbed a piece of Lilly's spirit." Weevil says in admiration. "You ever need my help carrying out those consequences, you let me know."

"Count on it!" I smile at him. I can still smile. Good to know.

"OK, Veronica. Go change into some jeans, and I'll teach you how to change a tire. I have a feeling you'll be an expert at it by the time Echolls gets his goons under control."

I can't recreate myself in a single day, but I can accomplish a physical makeover.

My first act of defiance is to chop off my hair.

I skip the trip to Lilly's stylist, instead, picking up a pair of scissors and hacking away at the long hair that Duncan loved so much. The end result is no classic bob. It's choppy and raw and edgy. It's angry hair, and I love it.

I'll show you neat and proper, Logan.

I watch my eyes in the mirror as they narrow and grow harder, and I like what I see.

This sassy-looking bitch looking back at me is a survivor. She will never be anybody's victim again.

I open my closet with a trash bag in hand. My intentions are to sort with a critical eye, but before long, I'm just reaching for anything pink, or yellow or white, and shoving them into the bag. Three bags later, my closet is mostly empty, and I'm pulling up to the back door of Goodwill, and saying goodbye to my old life.

My next stop is the mall. At the shoe store, I find that when I slip into a pair of butch leather boots that come to the bottom of my knees, I feel safe. I look in the mirror. Yes, these boots belong to the badass girl with the shaggy hair and the flinty eyes. I pick two more pairs of similar style.

I replenish my wardrobe with blacks, and greens, tanks and hoodies, denim skirts and denim jackets.

Back at home, I stand in front of the mirror putting outfits together. I'm not quite strapless red satin, but I'm a long way from yellow cotton. Lilly would approve.

Taking down Logan Echolls will require good intel, such as: knowing everything he does, everywhere he goes, and everything he says.

The security codes on the Echolls estate haven't changed since before Lilly's death. It takes minutes for me to slip into the house and into Logan's room.

He's in the shower, so I need to work quickly.

First, I check his laptop. Good, no password. The device I plug into the USB port installs an undetectable spy program. The program will log everything Logan does on his laptop. I'll be able to view his activity remotely – either real-time or at my convenience.

While the program installs, I insert a tiny bug in Logan's cell phone. Next, I dig through Logan's wallet, photographing the fronts and backs of each credit card.

The shower turns off, but the software is still installing. I slip out onto Logan's balcony, making sure that the door doesn't lock behind me. Dropping to the ground, I peek through the glass door.

Logan comes out of the bathroom in a towel. When he heads straight to his closet, I'm relieved that I didn't go with my first instinct for a hiding place. He picks out a long-sleeved shirt and digs around in his dresser for a moment before heading back to the bathroom.

I silently open the balcony door and slip back into his room. The program has finished installing, so I snag the USB device. I plant two voice-activated bugs in his bedroom on my way out.

Before I leave the estate, I plant a tracking device on the XTerra.

On my way home, I make a detour to the high school. Luckily, some of the clubs and extracurriculars meet on Sundays, so the school is unlocked. I plant another voice-activated audio bug on the ledge above Logan's locker.

Surprised you to find that I'm laughing?

You thought that you'd find me in tears

You thought I'd be crawling the walls

Like a tiny mosquito and trembling in fear

Stares and whispers.

That is what I'm greeted with when I arrive at school on Monday. At first, I paste an unaffected smirk onto my face, but a deeper truth sinks in: these people are uneasy. They're wary. We don't do angry short hair at Neptune High. We don't do dyke boots. We don't do different. Uniformity is safety.

To them, my short hair is a sure sign that I'm about to go all Kill Bill on them at any moment. I am, of course, but since no Kung Fu master has arrived to teach me the Five-Point-Palm Exploding-Heart technique, my vengeance will need to be more psychological in nature. Ironically, Logan would probably approve.

There is a strange sort of pleasure to be found in being a smart, resourceful girl, having absolutely nobody left to alienate. My head lifts. My steps lighten. My smirk is no longer forced.

As I approach the hallway where Logan and I have our lockers, I see him leaning against his own, surrounded by a group of minions. They stop speaking as I approach. Logan is the last to be alerted to my presence, and when he does see me, he looks me up and down in a distinctly nonsexual manner. I see guilt in his eyes, but it's far too late for that.

No mercy, Logan.

I hold his gaze for several seconds. Challenging him. Then I turn to my locker on the opposite side of the hall. Somebody has scrawled SLUT across the door in a Sharpie.

I turn back around to face Logan.

"You see this, Logan?" I call out, pointing behind me to my locker.

Logan is already watching, but looks surprised that I'm speaking to him publicly.

"That's one." I hold up one index finger, flash him a malicious smile, and then turn back to my locker, ignoring the catcalls being spewed by the minions. They'll learn soon enough.

I've prepared ahead of time for Logan's first lesson.

Logan used his computer last night to research and write his World History report.

At lunch, I slip into the darkened History classroom, and flip through the manila folder until I find Logan's report. Luckily, it hasn't been graded yet. I replace his paper with one plagiarized word-for-word from Wikipedia - links still blue and underlined - and slip out of the classroom.

As I'm passing the computer lab, I notice Dick Casablancas and a couple of boys lurking in the doorway.

"Excuse me," a small brunette says.

"What's the password?"

"Please let me through," the girl says.

"No password, no entry, Ghost World." Dick responds.

I insert myself into the situation. "I know the password."

"Oh yeah, Ronnie?" Dick says. "Sorry, it's not blowjob."

"No, it's taser." I say, pulling mine from my purse and pressing the trigger.

Dick eyes the arcs of electricity, and backs away from the doorway, hands up. I can expect payback later, but I am not too worried. Dick has never been overly creative.

"Thanks," the girl says, eyeing my taser. I notice she has dyed a portion of her hair emerald green.

"No problem." I say. "I'm done taking crap from those 09ers. Hey, are you Cindy MacKenzie?"

"Call me Mac. You've heard of me?"

"I've heard that you're a computer genius. Feel like helping me with a personal project?"

Mac looks doubtful. "Um...depends on what the project is."

"The complete and utter destruction of the 09ers?" I say.

Mac's face is beautiful when she smiles. "Count me in."

I'm not surprised to find a slashed tire on my LeBaron after school, courtesy of Dick Casablancas.

I take a picture of the tire with my phone, and send it as a text to Logan with the caption "That's two." Although Logan will pay for this, that does not mean that Dick is off the hook.

I'm trying to remember Weevil's instructions for changing tires, when the man himself stops by to give me a refresher course.

I have a surprise for Dick when he arrives at school on Friday.

Two days of following him, produced the little tidbit that he's having a fling with Bettina Marone. According to her friend Maureen, Dick has been using Bettina for sex, and treating her like a dirty little secret. Maureen says that Bettina has wanted to "out" their relationship. Bettina, I am granting your wish.

Dick walks past at least six of the color copies of him and Bettina making out, before one of them catches his eye. It's the one grasped tightly in Madison Sinclair's hand.

As everybody points and laughs at Dick, I give him a little wave.

By third period, it's all over the school how Madison broke up with Dick by way of a knee to the groin.

Well you may be king for the moment

But I am a queen understand

And I've got your pawns and your bishops

And castles

All inside the palm of my hand

A few days of monitoring Logan tells me the following: He's almost never home. He spends most of his time near the water, whether at Cape Crescent where he surfs, or at the yacht club. Several times, he's even parked at Dog Beach over on my side of town.

Logan's cell rings constantly with calls from girls. He answers, flirts when he feels like it, and ends the calls as quickly as he can. I know he sleeps around all the time, but he seems to be putting zero effort into dating. He must still be reeling from Lilly's death. Eighty percent of his outgoing calls are to his guy friends. The rest are inconsequential.

When Logan is actually home, he spends very little time in his room. I wish I had thought to bug the poolhouse as well.

Logan's greatest tactical assets are his social connections. Granted he has others. He's rich, famous, and – I'm loathe to admit – not repulsive looking, but he used his social connections to take me down. That's where I'll strike at him hardest.

Katherine is a beautiful blonde 24-year-old actress who can pass for 16. I helped her to locate her birth mother last month, and I didn't even charge her for the work. Therefore, when I came to her for a favor, she was happy to put on a little performance to help me out.

Two days ago, posing as a rich, entitled transfer student, Katherine 'happened' to bump into Logan at the yacht club. She is totally Logan's type, so it's hardly a surprise that he accepted her invitation to have lunch.

Today they're going on a lunch date. I help her get ready, even pinning on the hidden video camera brooch.

Logan is oh-so-helpful when Katherine confesses how nervous she is to be enrolling in Neptune High. Will she possibly be able to fit in with the likes of the Casablancas, the Enboms, the Pomroys, the Sinclairs, and the Kanes?

"Hang with me. You'll be able to fit in with anybody." Logan tells her.

"I want details about who I'll be going to school with." Katherine pushes. "Tell me about Madison Sinclair."

"Phony bitch. Almost unbearable. I avoid her at all costs."

"She's that bad?"


"How about Shelly Pomroy? I hear her father's an ambassador."

"She's nice, I guess. One of those girls who always thinks that the next guy she sleeps with will be the one to give her all the love that daddy never did."

"How are her prospects?"

"Not good. She's not willing to keep her knees together long enough for any guy to want to get to know her."

"Who's the kid whose dad owns the airline?"

"John Enbom?"

"Yeah, him. What's he like?"

"Whatever I tell him to be like."

"What's that mean?"

"Follower. He used to be pretty cool, but sometime in ninth grade, he started expecting me to think for him – who to like, where to hang out, what to wear."

"That's a problem for you?"

"Yeah, well maybe I'd rather have a friend than a clone."

"What about Duncan Kane? I hear he's like the king of the school."

"Duncan Kane...My best friend. Or at least he used to be."

"Used to be? You get in a fight?"

"No, nothing like that. I just meant that he's not really Duncan anymore. He's like PodDuncan. Overmedicated and unmotivated. On a slow descent into zombie hood."

"That's sad."

"Well, he's had a very rough year."

"Tell me about Dick Casablancas."

"Dick Casablancas…" Logan says thoughtfully. "Proof that evolution CAN go in reverse."

"Oh come on, is he really that dumb?" Katherine giggles.

"You have no idea. There was this one time…"

By the time Logan kisses Katherine on the cheek and asks her out for another date, he has already spilled the juicy details on practically every 09er at school.

"You've described everybody at school except for yourself. Who is Logan Echolls?" Katherine asks, genuinely curious.

"Logan Echolls?" He laughs. "I would think it'd be obvious, after everything else I've told you."

"What's obvious?" Katherine asks.

"I'm the biggest jackass at school, and I just can't bring myself to care."

Katherine has a wistful smile when she returns to my office.

"Don't even tell me you fell for his charm." I say disgusted.

"He's like...refreshingly honest. And he sees through people's B.S." She tells me unapologetically. "And he's really hot."

"Katherine, he wasn't exaggerating when he said he was a jackass. That's probably the nicest way to describe him."

"Maybe he just needs a good woman to keep him in line." Katherine says thoughtfully.

"Maybe, but it won't be you. Remember, he's jailbait." I remind her. "And it's not like he'll just get past the hidden camera thing."

Katherine sighs. "I suppose."

As she leaves, I sit bewildered. Logan hadn't been trying to impress Katherine. He hadn't been on his best behavior. He'd been his usual jackass self, and he'd still somehow managed to get under the skin of a trained actress eight years his senior. What is it about Logan that makes women want to fix him? Or make excuses for him?

I stalk Logan at school on Monday, hanging back where he can't see me. He arrives late - between first and second periods. Dick Casablancas walks away when Logan approaches him. One by one, Enbom, Luke, Cole, and Casey walk away as he approaches them.

He has no idea why nobody will speak to him until he finds one of the flyers I've scattered around school advertising my new website:TellUsHowYouReallyFeelLogan dot com . The flyers are window dressing. I sent out email links last night from a disposable email address to all of the 09ers except for Logan.

He races to the computer lab, where he indulges in the pleasures of streaming video - which incidentally was invented right here in Neptune by my ex-boyfriend's father.

Said ex-boyfriend is the only one who will speak to Logan at lunch. He either hasn't checked the website, or just didn't care.

Late at night, Logan will log on to an online poker site - the kind of site where you have virtual money to win or lose. I watch him play in real-time while I do my homework on my other laptop. He's surprisingly good at the game. After a week of observing, on impulse, I sign-up for the site and join his table, lowering the screen on the remote laptop so that I can't cheat. It's almost sad for the other players at the table. I win a good 45% of the hands. Logan wins around 40%. The remaining 15% of wins are divided among the other players. Logan typically ignores the chat window streaming in the right nav, but I possess the one ingredient Logan never could resist - snark! We begin talking smack as we play, and Logan remains online an hour later than he typically signs off.

I am in one of the stalls in the bathroom listening to the mean girls gossip about each other and me when I realize how I can take the website concept to the next level.

It's almost child's play how easy it is to hide cameras in each of the Girl's bathrooms at school, aimed at the mirrors. By the following Monday, the entire school is in an uproar over NHSGirlsRoomGossip dot com.

I think the high point of my day is when I witness Shelly Pomroy bitch-slapping Madison Sinclair, but it gets even better at lunch witnessing the 09er group implode.

As each 09er girl arrives, she surveys the landscape. Nobody wants to sit next to anybody who's badmouthed them, or anybody they badmouthed in return. Girls who have been best friends since kindergarten are no longer speaking to each other. There have been no less than six breakups. Eating disorders are revealed. Drug habits are revealed. Crushes are revealed - often crushes on a friend's boyfriend. At least 50% of the girls leave when they can't find anybody "safe" to sit with. Only Susan Knight will sit next to Carrie Bishop. Nobody will sit next to Madison Sinclair - when she's not being hateful, she's spilling everybody's secrets. Only Meg Manning has her pick of seats.

There is one surprising outcome. Kayla Sandberg and Laura Amerson used to be best friends, but they haven't spoken in over a year. The website reveals something neither of them expected. The horrible things they've been saying about each other were all manufactured by Ashley Banks, who's been playing them against each other all along. They find a small table off to the side to sit at. They have a lot of catching up to do. Ashley never does show her face.

It's my fourth night playing online poker against Logan, and we're running almost even in hands won. The competition between us has been heating up, so that the first thing he does upon signing-on is to look for me. He'll join whichever table I'm at, and warn me to prepare to be stomped.

We're about an hour into playing, when Yardboy322 joins our table. A moment later, a private chat window opens up on my screen from Logan. He's never messaged me privately before.

"Just great! This guy is always wanders away and we'll have to wait for him to time-out. Meet me on table 13."

"K." I respond. I leave the private window open. We spend the rest of the night snarking at each other, until I'm exhausted and need to get some sleep.

While you were looking the other way

While you had your eyes closed

While you were licking your lips

'Cause I was miserable

While you were selling your soul

While you were tearing a hole in me

I was taking control

My neighbor Sarah and I are walking downtown when the yellow XTerra pulls up next to us.

"Trailer park is in the other direction, Ronnie." Logan calls out before driving away.

"What an ass!" Sarah says.

I stop on the sidewalk. "Does he not realize I'll always come back at him harder?"

"Need any help?" She asks.

The bug on Logan's phone captures a call from Erika Kramer. She stammers a bit, and then asks Logan to take her out on a date.

I'm surprised when he agrees. Physically, she's his type –skinny and blonde –but her personality (and appearance) is very Veronica 1.0. Lilly used to call her Veronica Lite. She never liked Erika much –probably on my behalf. She would not approve of this match.

According to the tracker on the XTerra, Logan takes Erika to Geraci's for Italian. Geraci's is one of the most expensive restaurants in town. I've never been there. It was opened after my breakup with Duncan, and my dad can't afford it. Logan doesn't know it yet, but he can't afford it either, since I've cancelled all of this credit cards.

When he drops Erika off, he's only in her driveway for three minutes before pulling away, so he must not have gotten lucky. Maybe she's angry about having to pay for dinner. Maybe they just didn't hit it off.

Those theories are blown when he gets home and calls her. He thanks her for a great night out, promises to pay her back, and asks her out on another date.

They flirt for a while before hanging up. I'm annoyed. Logan is supposed to be online playing poker right now.

A private chat box opens up on the poker site. It's Logan.

"Hey, meet me on table 4" He says.

I switch to the specified table.

I enjoy watching on the remote laptop while Logan types his messages. It's amusing how much he deletes before actually hitting 'send'.

"I haven't introduced myself, by the way." He types. "My name is Logan." [backspace] "Lorenzo" [backspace] "Lucas."

"Nice to meet you, Lucas. I'm Amber." I respond, using my go-to alias.

Health class. It's that time of year where we're forced to watch videos about the reproductive cycle since the teacher is too uncomfortable to talk about it. This is good though. I can sneak in a nap.

My head is on my desk and my eyes are closed when I hear the gasps and snickers.

I open my eyes with trepidation. The couple on screen is certainly demonstrating reproduction –loudly and explicitly – but the woman's face has been edited out, replaced by a Photoshop of my smiling face. Or Veronica 1.0's face to be more specific. As Mrs. Hauser jumps up in shock to turn off the DVD, I turn my head to Logan sitting three seats back and to the right.

"No." He says, holding his hands up. "Don't even look at me. I didn't do this."

"You're the only one I know with video editing skills. You've bragged about being good at it."

"I am good at it. This was amateur."

Logan and Erika have been on three dates already. The GPS tracker tells me he still hasn't closed the deal, although he's spending longer amounts of time in her driveway.

They're standing at Logan's locker, smiling and flirting when my neighbor Sarah walks up.

"Logan. I need to talk to you." She says with a sad look on her face.

Logan looks at her in confusion. "Do I know you?"

Sarah goes off on a tirade. Damn, she's a good actress. She cries about how Logan slept with her and never called her. How he's ignored all of her phone calls and how he blew her off when she told him she was pregnant.

"You are freaking crazy!" Logan yells. "I've never touched you!"

"Then explain this!" Sarah yells back holding up an ultrasound picture. Sarah is actually a few months pregnant, so the ultrasound is authentic.

"So you're pregnant. That doesn't prove that it's my baby." Logan says.

Ohhh. Bad choice of words, Logan!

Erika doesn't wait to hear any more. She pulls away from Logan and takes off down the hall.

Logan's eyes search for, and find me.

"It wasn't me." He says shaking his head. He looks miserable.

I begin to have doubts. If Logan had made the video, wouldn't my spy program have a record of it? Even if he'd made it on somebody else's computer, when did he do it? He's been at school, surfing, out with Erika, and online, playing poker with me. He hasn't really been anywhere else. Right?

Logan leaves three messages for Erika trying to explain and then gives up on her.

"Lucas" and "Amber", our online aliases, have begun sharing details from their lives. Lucas lives in Ohio and goes to Mayfield High School. He drives a Ford F150. His family is middle class. His father is a plumber [backspace] carpenter [backspace] retired sheriff, now private investigator named Keith.

You're stealing my dad, Logan?

He tells me he's perfectly mediocre looking. Nothing special.

Say what?

I wonder why he's trying so hard to come across as ordinary. Wouldn't he have better luck with a random internet girl if he confessed to being the super-hot son of a movie star?

Amber's lies are smaller. She lives in Los Angeles. She's the daughter of a cop. She's also in high school. A good student. No, she doesn't have a boyfriend.

"What do I look like? Short. Blonde."

Ugh, I should have said tall brunette!

This is beginning to feel good

Watching you squirm in your shoes

A small bead of sweat on your brow

And a growl in your belly you're scared to let through

I find Logan on my car hood at the beach.

"You happy Ronnie?" He is obviously drunk.

"Not particularly. You're here."

"Where else should I be? Nobody will talk to me. I don't suppose you have anything to do with that."

"Who, me?" I ask in mock innocence. "What do you want, Logan?"

"I want..." He says hopping off my hood. "To pay you back. Look I brought an implement of destruction." He holds up and twirls a tire iron and before using it to smash my right headlight.

I cross my arms over my chest. "Mature, Logan."

He smashes my left headlight.

"Feel better?" I ask.

"Not in the least." He drops the tire iron, and begins walking away. As I'm reaching for my door handle, Logan spins on his heel and comes back.

He looms over me. "I haven't done a single thing to you since...that morning." He looks down at the ground. The word rape hangs silently in the air between us. Veronica 1.0 tries to peek her head out. She wants me to notice how sad his puppy dog eyes are, how damaged he is. "You've been punishing me for weeks for things I have nothing to do with. Figured I might as well do the crime, since you're making me do the time."

He begins walking away.

"So to clarify…" I say. He stops and looks back at me over his shoulder. "You take issue with being held responsible for the actions and opinions of others."

"The irony doesn't escape me." Logan answers and walks away.

I feel sort of bad for him, but I can't allow him to get away with busting my headlights.

"Lucas" and "Amber" spend more time chatting privately now, than they do playing poker. Although Logan lied about all of the data points, he's strangely forthcoming when it comes to the important stuff.

He tells me that his first love "Livvy" was murdered. He describes his difficulty dating since her death. It's not that he's comparing the other girls to Livvy. The problem is that he is darker now. How can he give a damn about his date's friends and clothes and gossip in a world where girlfriends are murdered. He doesn't want to deal with shallow girls anymore, no matter how pretty they are. He just can't seem to make an emotional connection with any of these girls.

He tells me he'll be out of town for the weekend, but hopes I'll be online Monday.

Apparently, Dick and Enbom have forgiven Logan for the things he said about them.

Because of the bug I planted on the ledge over Logan's locker, I'm aware of their plans to head to Tijuana straight from school. Logan will be driving. Luckily, I have a full school day to carry out my plan.

Logan comes out to the parking lot and looks around for his truck. He looks a little more. He begins to look panicked. He sees me leaning against the trunk of my car and walks over.

"Where's my truck, Veronica?"

"I don't know. Where'd you park it?"

"You did something. My truck isn't here."

"Did you try clicking your remote thingy?" I ask.

Logan shakes his head, and clicks the unlock button on his remote. The mechanical beep/unlock sound is close. Logan clicks it again and begins following the sound.

A look of horror crosses his face when he realizes that his rugged yellow XTerra is now a two-toned Barbie pink XTerra.

I drive away before Logan can come after me. Weevil gives me a little nod as I pass him in the parking lot.

Logan is wary of me now. When I pass him in the halls, he searches my face for signs of anger or unhappiness.

I pass Logan and Dick on my way to Computer Lab.

"When's my turn, Ronnie?" Dick calls out.

I stop to look at him. "Excuse me?"

"Well, you've serviced the football team, and the lacrosse team, I just want to know when you're planning to ride the Dick train?"

Before I can respond, Logan has Dick slammed up against a locker.

"She's off limits, man." He says, and he obviously means business.

"Dude, I was just kidding." Dick says, shocked at Logan's behavior.

"Apologize." Logan says.

"I…Uh…I'm sorry." Dick says, not quite meeting my eyes.

Logan's eyes ask me if he's done enough to avoid punishment. I give him a small nod before walking away.

"Lucas" tells "Amber" how he's losing his best friend, "Damon". Every day Damon retreats further and further behind his walls, and "Lucas" doesn't know how to reach him anymore. He explains how they've been friends since childhood, and how "Livvy's" murder changed everything.

He explains how his other friends only seem to care about money and social position. He's disgusted at the falseness of his social circle. He projects a certain image, and he wonders if a single one of his friends actually likes the "real" him. He forgets his cover story of being middle class sometimes.

He notices me scowling at my locker and comes over.

"Who and what?" He asks.

"Cole – spitball in the hair and Caz Truman – Slut Cough."

"I'll handle it." He says. He gives me a don't-pull-anything-this-time look.

I nod.

Caz and Cole are waiting for me at my locker. They're sporting matching shiners, and they both offer me an apology. They don't even appear to be faking it.

"Lucas" tells "Amber" that he lays awake at night filled with regrets about the way he treated another unnamed former friend, and I feel goose bumps. He has to be talking about me, right?

You thought you could keep me from loving

You thought you could feed on my soul

But while you were busy destroying my life

What was half in me has become whole

Whatever Logan has done, it seems to be working. I haven't been bothered at school in at least two weeks.

Nobody looks at me when I walk down the halls at school. Nobody calls me a slut. Nobody scrawls insults on my locker. A few people wave to me in the halls now.

Mac sits with me at lunch. Meg Manning stops to talk to me in the hall most days.

I think Logan is falling for "Amber". He's confessed by now that his name is Logan, he's from SoCal, and he's rich. He claims that he lied because he wanted to know if he could form a friendship based only on his personality, regardless of money, class, or social standing.

The answer is yes. He's incredibly likeable online. I'm constantly wondering if I have a lens into the inner workings of the real Logan Echolls, or if he's faking. It feels authentic.

He breaks land-speed records rushing home from wherever he is to be online in time for our chats.

I've become his nameless, faceless therapist. He wants to tell me everything, but he's still holding something back. Something major. I can feel it.

I need to put an end to these chats before I cause permanent damage to Logan's psyche. Lilly's already done enough in that department.

I have been going out on dates.

Casey Gant has always been surprisingly nice for an 09er. He's also hot. Our conversations at dinner are stimulating. He's smart, he's considerate, and he has a great future ahead of him. When he drops me off after our third date, he kisses me, and it's nice. Very nice.

Casey is leaning against my locker, flirting when I notice Logan watching intently. Later, I notice him talking to Casey's ex-girlfriend, Darcy near her locker.

The following Monday, I'm standing at my locker when Casey walks by holding hands with Darcy. He looks at me guiltily.

Later he stops by my locker.

"I'm sorry Veronica. I really like you, and wanted to make things work with you, but I've loved Darcy since Junior High."

"I know, Casey." I say, my face the picture of understanding.

"I spent months trying to get Darcy to take me back. I have no idea why she suddenly changed her mind, but I can't look a gift horse in the mouth."

I have a pretty good idea why she changed her mind.

"It's OK, Casey." I reassure him. And it is. I enjoy Casey's company. I enjoy kissing him. However, there's something missing. Something indescribable. I cannot imagine ever feeling passionate about Casey.

However, I am passionately pissed at Logan for interfering. I have a certain Tijuana video I found on Logan's hard drive that should take care of him.

So this is how it feels

To breathe in the summer air

The feel the sand between my toes

And love inside my ear

All those things that you taught me to fear

I've got them in my garden now

And you're not welcome here

I have a friend!

More importantly, I have a friend who the 09ers cannot run-off.

Mac is the polar opposite of Lilly Kane.

Lilly was a toucher. Mac is hands-off.

Lilly was exuberant. Mac is aloof.

Lilly had an opinion on everybody. Mac keeps her opinions to herself.

But strangely, we complement each other perfectly. We're at my house having a movie night when my doorbell rings.

Logan stands on my doorstep, holding Duncan by the back of his shirt.

Logan's bloody knuckles may be a reasonable explanation for Duncan's split lip, bloody nose, and black eye.

"Veronica…" He says.

I slam the door in their faces and go back to my movie.

The last thing I expect is for Logan to slam my door open, shoving Duncan into my living room.

"I wasn't done talking." He says.

"Backup!" I call out.

Backup betrays me by rubbing up against Logan, tail wagging.

"Leave my house." I say.

"Not until I say what I came to say. You might want to send your friend away."

"You show up out of the blue on my doorstep, and you expect me to send my friend away?"

"I'm trying to protect your privacy, but why should I care? I have a gift for you."

I fold my arms over my chest and tilt my head in question.

"Your rapist." He gestures to Duncan.

The bottom falls out of my world. I sit down hard, trying to breathe.

"Well technically, it was a group effort."

I look up.

"Dick dosed Madison's drink with GHB. Madison spit in it and handed it to you. Dick and Beaver took you to the bedroom. I dosed Duncan with GHB –just to try to get him to have fun for once – and then Duncan had sex with you."

"Why?" I ask Duncan.

Duncan won't look me in the eyes. I stand up, and get in his face.

"Why?" I shove him hard. "Why would you rape me when you knew how I felt about you?" I punctuate each word with a shove.

Logan wraps an arm against me from behind, hauling me back from Duncan.

"Let him explain." He says quietly. "It's pretty bad."

Duncan explains how he found me in the guest bedroom, how he had assumed I was a willing participant, and how he had taken off in the morning when he'd realized what he'd done.

Logan's arm around me is the only thing that keeps me upright when Duncan explains that he left me alone that morning because I'm his half-sister. He's known since our break-up and he had sex with me anyway. He confesses a deep love for me that just won't go away.

In my entire life, I have never wanted to hit somebody as badly as I want to hit Duncan right now. Logan senses this and wraps a second arm around me.

Duncan says that he will be waiting for Logan in the car. I notice that he hasn't apologized.

Mac sits on my couch, mouth open.

I don't fight Logan when he pulls me back against him. It's almost a hug, but as my back is to him, I don't have to look at his face. I can pretend that it is anybody else offering me comfort.

I don't cry, but I can feel myself trembling all over. I'm shaking like a leaf. It takes me a minute to regulate my breathing, slow my heartbeat, and regain my composure.

"What did you do to him, Logan?" I pull out of his arms and turn to face him.

"I kicked his ass." He ducks his head like child in trouble.


"I've been trying to find out who hurt you ever since that morning. You've already made Dick, Beaver, and Madison pay. You've made me pay. A LOT." His lips curve up fractionally. "But Duncan...there have been no consequences for what he did."

"But, he's your best friend. Why would you turn on him?"

"What he did was wrong."

"On so many levels" I say. "Thank you."

Logan looks surprised. He's expecting me to side with Duncan now that I've calmed down.

"Veronica…I just want to end this war between us." He ducks down to meet my eyes, forehead wrinkling. "Can we end this Veronica?"

"Yes." I say. He offers me a nod, a tiny smile, and moves to leave.

Then I remember. "Wait. It's too late."

"Too late?" Logan looks hurt. "Veronica, I've found the person who hurt you. Can't you see that I am trying to fix things? Trying to make things better for you?"

"No, I mean, it's too late to stop what I've already set into motion"

"What have you done?" He asks in alarm.

"You may want to check The Smoking Gun when you get home."

I'm not planning to sign-on online to chat with Logan. I've agreed to put an end to our war. There's no need to hurt him any further. So why do I find myself in a private chat with Logan again?

He's surprisingly subdued tonight. He keeps trying to get me to talk about myself. Obviously, I resist.

I tell him I'm tired. I'm going to sign off early tonight.

"Goodnight, Veronica." He says. "I hope you'll be ok."

My heart stops. "How long have you known?"

"A week or so." He answers. "You let something slip that only somebody who knows me personally would know."

"So you've been feeding me information?" I ask.

"No." He doesn't elaborate.

"Then why did you keep chatting with me?"

Three minutes of computer silence. Maybe he's gone?

He begins answering.

"Why do you think?" [backspace] "Because I feel…"[backspace] "Because even when you're playing a role, you're the only person in my life who's real"

"I don't know how to respond to that." I type.

"There's no need to. I need to know if you're ok, after what you found out earlier." He types.

"Sure." I respond.

"Quit lying."

"What do you want me to say? That I feel filthy at the idea that I spent almost a year making out with my brother? Because I do. I feel like I can't shower enough. Is that real enough for you?"

"Yes." He types. "I'm sorry. It sucks that you had to find out about that. I think Duncan was doing you a favor by not telling you why he broke up with you."

"I suppose." I answer. "Goodnight Logan."



"I thought I'd done everything possible to make people stop messing with you. Why did you send that video in to the Smoking Gun?"

"Why did you talk Darcy into breaking up me and Casey?" I ask.

"You liked him that much?" Logan asks.

"No. But you had no right to break us up."

"I guess that's what I get for trying to be the good guy." He answers.

"Breaking up me and Casey makes you the good guy?"

"I thought so. At least I did when I heard him bragging about how he was going to 'pop that sweet cherry' of yours."

My stomach drops. "I'm not sure why, but my instincts tell me that you don't lie to me anymore."

"I don't." He answers.

"Then I apologize for that retaliation."

"I accept." Logan answers. "Night Amber."

"Night Lucas." I smile softly to myself.

Come a little bit closer

Let me look at you

I gave you the benefit

Of the doubt it's true

But keep in mind my darling

Not every saint is a fool

Don't you mess with me

I've let things go too far. Logan has more than paid for his crimes. Duncan has paid, and the entire 09er clan has paid. I'm ready to move on with my life. But first, I need to retrieve my bugs from Logan's bedroom.

I am sneaking around the west wing of the Echolls estate when movement catches my eye. I should respect the family's privacy and walk away. But you and I know better - I'm Veronica Mars. Privacy shmivacy.

I crouch down behind an ornamental plant and peer through the window. The room, wallpapered in movie posters, appears to be Aaron's office. Aaron is leaning back against his desk, and I'm on the verge of moving on, when the door opens and Logan enters the room. He hands Aaron the leather belt in his hands, and proceeds to remove his shirt.

What exactly is happening here?

I have a clear view of Logan's face as he leans over and plants his hands firmly on Aaron's desktop. He breathes in deeply, and braces himself. I do not brace myself, so I am not prepared when Aaron begins whipping Logan with his belt. Logan grits his teeth, but does not cry out. After a while, I lose count of the belt strokes. Logan still has not cried, and Aaron is becoming enraged.

I want to scream at Logan to cry. It's obvious that Aaron will not stop until he does. Logan's non-reaction is only making it worse for himself.

I don't understand how Logan is holding it in. He doesn't even seem to be feeling the pain anymore. It's taking all of my self-control to not storm in there taser blazing.

Aaron drops the belt, and grabs Logan by the arm, spinning him around. He punches him in the gut. And again. And again. He specifically avoids hitting Logan in the face.

Why Aaron? Can't leave any marks?

Aaron throws him across the room. When Logan trips over a chair, he falls to the ground and Aaron begins kicking. He kicks Logan in the ribs more times that I can bear to watch.

Cry Logan! Just cry already! Do it for me! For the sake of the friendship we used to have, just cry for God's sake!

Aaron is exhausted. He stands over Logan, breathing heavily. His shoulders rise and fall. Finally, he shakes his head in frustration and stalks out of the room.

I turn around and press my back to the wall, sliding to the ground.

I did this.

Logan has suffered Excruciating. Unbearable. Pain. Because of me.

I set this into motion.

I started down this path because I wanted to defeat a monster. Instead, I have become one.

And if Logan Echolls created the monster I've become, then surely Aaron Echolls created the monster Logan has become.

I silently slip into the Echolls poolhouse and close the door behind me. No lights are on, but it's still light enough for me to see Logan lying on his stomach, head facing the opposite wall.

He must sense my presence because I know I haven't made a sound. As he turns to face me, I see real fear in his eyes. He's exhausted and overwhelmed, and cannot be bothered with slipping on his mask.

As I approach the bed, he actually flinches, but I won't turn away. There isn't any way to make this right, but I at least need to try.

I don't know what exactly I plan to do until I'm laying on my right side, looking into his eyes.

I am prepared for his hate and his rage, and I'm willing to accept them as my due for the pain I have brought down upon him, but instead I see only confusion and need in his eyes.

I hesitantly reach out a hand to touch his cheek and he presses back against my hand, obviously craving the contact.

When the tears begin to fall - at first silently - I brush them away with my thumb.

He needs and deserves more than this though, so I wrap both of my arms around Logan's neck, pulling him close. He sobs against my chest as I stroke the back of his head, and whisper soothingly to him.

I don't know how much time passes - it could be ten minutes, or thirty, or sixty. Logan's sobbing gradually subsides. He releases his grip on the back of my shirt, and incrementally pulls back. His eyes display a mixture of gratitude and embarrassment, so I reach out and touch his cheek again.

There are plenty of rational reasons for kissing a person –such as mutual respect, having common interests, and a genuine regard.

But there are also irrational reasons, such as when you feel like you're drowning in their bottomless brown eyes, you feel your pupils dilate, your stomach starts doing flip-flops, and the portion of your brain that still has the capacity for rational thought acknowledges that short of a freight train passing through the bedroom, nothing is going to keep your lips from connecting to his.

That's how it is with Logan and me.

There are a thousand reasons that I should stop him, but I don't, because he's beautiful and broken and probably understands me and needs me more than anybody else ever has.

And once our mouths connect, I know this is right. It's insanity and inevitability and chaos and So. Damn .Right.

I don't stop him when he rolls on top of me. My hands tangle in his hair pulling him closer. His tongue in my mouth is the perfect mixture of heaven and hell, and I cannot seem to get enough contact. My legs part, and my inner thighs grip his hips. When Logan's hand rises to my breast, I arch up against it. When his mouth finds my neck, I let out a small cry of pleasure. Somehow, both of our shirts disappear. My hands are roaming up his back wanting to feel more of him, when suddenly he freezes, wincing in pain.

Oh hell. The whipping.

"Sorry." I whisper.

Logan gives me a soft kiss and rolls off me.

I'm fear that he might be angry or regret what just happened between us, but when I look into his eyes, I see uncertainty. He's worried about my reaction. He expects me to run off. When I reach over and touch his chest, I see relief.

He senses, as I have, how perfectly right this is. His fingers interlace with mine.

Finally he speaks, his voice a whisper. "What do we do now?"

"We destroy him. Together."

In my heart, I know that any sane person would look at me with revulsion for that statement.

Logan looks at me with desire and crushes his mouth to mine.

We are both monsters now, Logan and I, but maybe together we can at least aim for the right target.

Father: there has to be more to life than this, because in our

confrontation with a cold cold universe, there is something comical

to the idea that we can really impose our will on humanity- power corrupts!

Father: And at the end of it all lies of course the final phenomenon of deterioration entropy, which is a predictable disintegrations which the creative life ceases: everything has to fall apart.

Often it is the most deserving people who cannot help loving those who destroy them

- Hermann Hesse

A/N Lyrics are from the song "Control" by Poe.

A/N2 I've been considering trying out the Beta thing. Any volunteers? Please private message me.