Disclaimer: 06/2016 In the several years that have passed since I started this story, I've learned a ton about feminism and violence against women. I've opened my eyes to how ugly and problematic 'rape as plot device' is in film/television/fiction.

With that said, while my use of attempted rape in chapter one is very regrettable, I can't imagine this story playing out any other way. Veronica's ordeal sets off a chain of events that I can't imagine transpiring were she only being forcefully yelled at.

First time readers: MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING for Chapter One for attempted rape. There's no shame in reading the first few paragraphs of Chapter One and then skipping ahead to Chapter Two. I can assure you that after the initial ordeal, this story - by design - becomes progressively lighter in tone. I consider myself primarily a 'campy' writer who dabbles in occasional darkness. I vacation in angst, but always return home to lighter fare. Hope you enjoy!

Day Three
Somewhere in Texas

The armadillo finishes crossing the busy Texas highway just as the Ford Explorer races by at one-hundred miles per hour, the force of its draft knocking him down the embankment.

Getting his feet back underneath him, the animal tries crawling back up the embankment, not quite making it when the Ford Mustang flies by at the same rate of speed, causing him to roll back down. This time when he regains his feet, he heads in the opposite direction. To safety.

Inside the Explorer, Veronica Mars presses the gas pedal to the floor. The needle crawls up - 101, 102, 103. In the passenger seat, Logan Echolls white-knuckles the grab handle while watching over his shoulder.

Duncan Kane sits in the back seat staring out the window.

"He's catching up." Logan yells, referring to the infuriated Fitzpatrick in the Mustang behind them. "HE'S ABOUT TO RAM US!"

Veronica checks her seat belt, braces herself just in time for the hard thump that rocks the back of the truck.

But wait!

We're getting ahead of ourselves.

You're probably thinking that Veronica Mars would never get in a truck with Logan Echolls. He's her archenemy. Her nemesis. And Texas? What would three kids from Neptune, California be doing in Texas? Ford Explorer? Too expensive for Veronica. Too cheap for the boys. What gives?

We should go back to the beginning. Two days earlier. Friday. One day after Veronica's pleasant - but not earth-shattering - first date with Troy Vandegraff. Three days after Duncan Kane started tossing his meds down the kitchen sink. And Logan Echolls? Nobody knows what exactly he was up to in the preceding days, but knowing Logan, it had to have been nefarious.

Day One
Neptune Community Par

To the uninitiated, the Neptune Community Park appears to be an idyllic slice of wholesome American Pie. Here little Susie 09er pitches softballs on one of the three baseball diamonds. Johnny Wrongsideoftown tackles running-backs in the fall, and Duncan Kane still scores goals weekly on one of the two soccer fields.

However, as with everything else in Neptune, CA, a seedy underbelly lurks just below the surface.

Here Corny Douglas and his friends smoke joints in the picnic gazebo. Natalie Landers takes boys behind the public restrooms for cash. PCHers rumble in and out on their bikes looking for fights or anything worth stealing, and in the far corner, past baseball diamond #1, Ciaran Fitzpatrick peddles his wares: Meth and Ecstasy and Oxy, with the occasional Cocaine for the business crowd.

Dennis Fairlong – tall, dark, and gorgeous, with everything to live for – used to be one of those promising young soccer players, but a year ago, after a painful high school breakup, he traded his cleats for crystal meth. Three weeks ago, he succumbed to a fatal overdose.

As to be expected, the Balboa County Sheriff's Department failed to provide justice, so his mother, Evelyn Fairlong – a silvery blonde who could give Celeste Kane a run for her money in the Miss Ice Queen Pageant – turned to Mars Investigations. She had it on good authority that Dennis made his drug buys at the Community Park. She wanted names and pictures, and she wanted them now.

Veronica Mars was managing the office, while her father pursued a skip/trace in New Mexico. Her first inclination was to decline the case - she could almost hear her father's voice like a portly bald angel on her shoulder, telling her it was too dangerous, she'd be too likely to run her afoul of Neptune's organized crime - but then Mrs. Fairlong handed her a check with an obscene dollar amount. Veronica gulped and began filling out the contract.

That's how Veronica found herself here today - a sweltering Tuesday, in early September.

With baseball season over, and no football practice scheduled for today, the park is nearly abandoned. A game is in progress on soccer field #1, but the spectators in attendance aren't numerous enough to make a significant amount of noise. The community pool is always closed for cleaning on Tuesdays, but the clean smell of chlorine lingers.

In all the years she's been coming to this park, Veronica's never seen it so empty, and she's kicking herself now for not bringing Backup with her.

The sixth row of the "away" bleachers for baseball diamond #3 provides the perfect vantage point from which to photograph Ciaran Fitzpatrick in his dealings.

He strongly resembles his older brother, Liam, except he's slightly smaller and his teeth are beginning to rot from sampling his own product. He does a good business, though. The sheer number of his customers - from both sides of the tracks - surprises Veronica. Due to her powerful zoom, she has photos of the drugs, photos of the customers (Hello Sean Friedrich!) and photos of the money changing hands. This might actually be enough for the Fairlong's lawsuit.

"Stalking again, Ronnie?" a voice asks from below her.

Veronica stiffens, but resists the urge to turn her head in his direction. Mask up. Face of stone. "Go away, Logan. I'm busy."

"Here to get some soccer pictures for your 'Duncan is Dreamy' scrapbook? Hey, I can have him come over and pose for you. Would you like that? Hmm?"

"Great!" Veronica finally turns to face Logan. "While we're at it, maybe I can get some new shots for my 'Logan is Loathsome' scrapbook."

Logan flashes his 'she-fights-back!' grin, and strikes a dramatic pose leaning on the support columns for the bleachers. On impulse, Veronica raises her camera and snaps the shutter.

"I'll call this one, 'Portrait of a Psychotic Jackass in the Shade.'"

Logan clutches his heart. "Psychotic Jackass? I didn't know you cared. So, whose life are you trying to ruin today? Cheating spouse? Deadbeat dad?"

"Why? Jealous you don't have my undivided attention?"

Logan bats his lashes flirtatiously. "What can I say? I don't like to share my playthings."

"Don't worry. I still have plans for you," Veronica says with her most threatening smile.

Logan's grin falters, and then reasserts itself. "I'm shivering in anticipation." Jazz hands emphasize his point.

"Run along, Logan. You're dismissed," Veronica says with an exaggerated yawn, searching for Ciaran again with her viewfinder.

Now where did he run off to? Damn! Logan Echolls has the worst timing.

When she glances back down, Logan is gone. Without the last word, even. Who would've guessed that was even possible?

Veronica uses her viewfinder to follow Logan's trek to the soccer field. Despite their mutual animosity, she'd have to be blind not to notice the gracefulness of his gait.

She'd made the mistake of verbalizing that observation once to Lilly, who'd responded by listing - in graphic detail - the other ways in which Logan excelled at using his body. Classic Lilly. Always trying to make her blush.

Enough nights parked outside the Camelot, and not much can make me blush anymore. I wonder what she would think of me now.

In her viewfinder, the soccer team jogs off the field. Duncan dabs at his forehead with a white towel and then chugs from a water bottle. He scowls when Logan leans in to say something, and they both turn their heads to where Veronica is sitting.

Caught spying, she turns away, quickly.

Why does Logan always use her to push Duncan's buttons? He broke up with her, not the other way around. If he'd cared about her at all, they would still be together.

Duncan's Mercedes SUV isn't anywhere in the parking lot, so Logan must be his ride home.

Veronica gathers her messenger bag, stuffing her Nikon inside, and quickly jots down her notes about her observations. She's well, ahead of schedule, so maybe she'll see if Troy wants to hang out for a while.

She stands, rubs at the indentations on her right thigh from the lines on the aluminum bleachers, and climbs down to the ground.

Duncan and Logan are nearby now, heading in the direction of the parking lot. Both notice Veronica at the same time - Logan smirks, Duncan stares right through her - then they return to their conversation.

The SUV's locks disengage with a cheep-cheep, and both boys climb into the vehicle. Intending one last visual scan for Ciaran Fitzpatrick, Veronica turns around - coming face-to-face with him.

Her eyes widen as he reaches for her. She tries to step back, but he grabs her by the hair, using it to propel her forward.

"Let go of me!" she screams, praying for a miracle. Praying the boys haven't driven away yet, not trusting that they'd be bothered to help her even if they haven't.

On the far side of the parking lot, a small brick maintenance building stores equipment and controls the floodlights for the various sports fields. It sits on a concrete slab, extending ten feet from its front and right sides, and surrounded by an eight-foot dog-eared wooden fence with a gate barely wide enough to drive a ride-on mower through.

It's towards this building that Ciaran drags Veronica.

She screams and claws at his hand, and he tightens his grip on her hair so much she fears it may be ripped from her scalp.

The gate's padlock has been snipped and Ciaran ignores the white-and-black 'CITY EMPLOYEES ONLY' sign, pushing Veronica into the enclosure. He pulls the gate closed behind him and it bounces, leaving only a three-inch gap

Veronica screams again, and he shoves her face-first against the maintenance building. Blood trickles from her nose to her upper lip.

"Why were you taking pictures of me, bitch?" He hisses, spinning her around.

"Class project," Veronica says, fumbling for her bag. If she could only grasp her taser.

Ciaran knocks her bag out of her hand and pins her wrist to the wall.

She cries. "A school newspaper piece on Neptune Community Park and the sports the residents play here."

"You're a lying bitch. I know who you are, Veronica Mars," Ciaran says.

She swallows trying for bravado instead. "Well then, does the name Keith Mars ring any bells? He's expecting me home about now, and he will destroy you if you hurt me."

"He's welcome to come find me." The man jeers. He reeks of sour sweat. "Liam's been talking about getting rid of Mars for years."

She attempts to push past him, but he throws her back against the building, pulling a knife out of his pocket and holding it to her throat. Veronica squeezes her eyes closed tightly, her breath rasping.

"Let me show you what I do with lying bitches," he says.

He grabs her breast, squeezing hard enough to leave a bruise.

Moisture floods her eyes and Veronica cries out in pain. "Get your hands off of me!" The knife presses too hard against her throat to be able to fight back.

Ciaran abruptly reaches under Veronica's skirt and yanks at her underwear. The fabric rips with a skrrrtch.

Veronica whimpers, trying again to pull away.

Ciaran applies more pressure and the knife bites into her skin.

Somebody! Anybody! Help me! Please don't let him do this to me!

His fingernails slash at her thighs as he rips at her underwear. The last bit of fabric gives and they fall to the ground, landing in a sad white cotton pile.

"I'm going to give it to you, like the lying whore that you are," he hisses.

The scent of rot lingers on his breath and Veronica dry heaves. She twists her head to the side, and the knife digs deeper. A tickle of liquid on her neck.

Ciaran rips open her shirt, buttons popping off one by one. Veronica's eyes follow one of the tiny white buttons rolling on the concrete slab in an ever-tightening circle, finally coming to rest near her shoe.

Fitzpatrick squeezes at her breasts and she gasps in pain.

"Please!" Veronica cried. "I'll delete the pictures, and you'll never see me again. Please let me go. "

His sinister laugh is as much of an answer as she's going to get. He tucks the knife in his pocket and uses his thigh to hold her as he works on his belt and zipper.

Veronica takes her chance, heaving into him with her shoulders and planting her knee is his groin.

Ciaran howls, and Veronica twists away, diving for her bag; her taser.

He recovers too quickly, pulling her back by the hair and punching her in the stomach twice before throwing her against the building. The knife clatters to the cement, but Ciaran compensates by pressing on her windpipe with his hand.

"You don't have to be conscious for me to fuck you, you STUPID BITCH!" He screams.

He's cutting off her air supply, and Veronica's ears ring as her consciousness begins to slip away. She tries clawing at Ciaran's hand, but he's too jacked-up to register any pain.

He yanks up her skirt and thrusts his penis at her. With her last bit of strength, she crosses her legs together as tightly as possible, locking her ankles.

He tries to pry her thighs apart with the harsh fingers of his right hand, while continuing to press on her windpipe with his left.

It's only a body Veronica. You can't protect your body, but don't let him rape your mind. Go to a better place. A better time. With Lilly...the beach at Homecoming...I Never...Group hug...Lilly and Duncan...and Logan... before my life went to hell...How things were supposed to stay forever...

She's losing consciousness, but she thinks she hears a voice echoing through the ringing in her hears - is that Logan?

"You like to rape little girls you sick fuck?"

Then another sound - an inhuman cry.

Another moment of pressure and everything goes black.