This is definitely more of a Cassidy/Mac story, diverging from canon after 212 with spoilers through 213. However, because I love myself some Logan/Veronica, they show up here too. :)

Transitional lyrics from "She Will Be Loved" (yes, I'm so creative with my titles) by Maroon 5.

Happy reading, and I'll see you at the bottom!


tend to get so insecure —

"One more week," she mutters under her breath as she approaches her locker. Just one more week, and she's free, done, gone. She can almost taste the sweetness of graduation.

"Mac, hey," Cassidy greets her, his backpack slung over one shoulder.

"What's up, Cassidy?"

"You've got Phillips for Philosophy, right?"

She nods, unsure of where he's going with this. "Yeah, me and half the senior class. Why?"

"I've got that class seventh hour," he begins, and Mac is wondering how she didn't already know that. Cassidy is very smart – after all, not every seventeen-year-old that starts his own business – and he's in more than a few senior-level classes. Sometimes she wonders what classes he'll have left to take during his senior year.

"Anyhow, I still need to watch that movie he assigned for tomorrow," he finishes after a brief pause.

"I almost forgot about that!" Mac responds. "Veronica's been keeping me busy with more than a few cases recently."

He nods understandingly before continuing with his original thought. "Anyhow, I need to watch that tonight, and I figured that if you hadn't seen it yet, you might want to join me. My dad put in this screening room a few years back. It's actually pretty sweet, almost like a miniature movie theater."

"Okay," she agrees, "What time? Like seven?"

"Actually, I've got a late meeting," he says apologetically. "I know it's a long movie, but would nine'ish work for you?"

She pauses for a beat before accepting the invitation. She can't help but wonder what this means, exactly. It might mean nothing – after all, through what started as a working relationship a few months back, they have established a tentative friendship. She can count on one hand the number of times they've spent time together outside of school, but his invitation is hardly unprecedented – especially with the purpose of watching a movie for ischool/i. So he's probably just wanting to hang out with a friend and watch the film together.

But they've never spent time together at his house, outside of the party she was dragged to by Veronica, who said that this was her chance to spend some time with Cassidy outside of classes and work. Of course, she spent most of the night sipping her drink in the corner and hanging out with Wallace and Jane while Veronica talked and flirted with Logan. Mac figures she probably said a sum total of six words to Cassidy the entire night.

Outside of that one time, she has never even been to his house. It's like they decided – without talking about it, of course – that for the purposes of their friendship, their own houses were off-limits. He's also never asked her to watch a movie with him. And, yeah, The Matrix is hardly a chick flick/date movie, but still.

Then again, what does she know anyhow, having never actually been on a real date?

Her gaze settles on Veronica who is leaning against the lockers across the hall, smiling amusedly as Logan gesticulates wildly. He's clearly very excited about something, and he's invading her personal space – not that she's objecting or that that's anything out of the ordinary.

Veronica's eyes meet her own for a split second, until Logan nudges her shoulder, clearly unwilling to let her focus be on anyone but him. Mac watches her friend smile indulgently and return her attention to him.

Mac wonders, sometimes, what's really going on between them. Over the past year, Veronica has told her a little about their previous relationship. She hasn't said too much or shared all that often – Veronica does have problems trusting anyone, after all, and no amount of girl talk will be able to completely overcome that.

Still, no matter how much Veronica might deny her feelings for Logan and her attraction to him, Mac doesn't really believe that, if only for the way they act around each other, particularly since Duncan skipped town.

Yeah, Logan dated some sugary-sweet sophomore for awhile, but the fact that he probably spent more time talking to Veronica than he did with his girlfriend didn't do much of anything to convince Mac that he really cared for the naïve little blonde.

And now, a few months after Duncan disappeared, Logan and Veronica are almost inseparable, having reestablished their twice-lost friendship and are probably much closer now than they were previously, given that their fun-loving foursome has been further cut down to just their merry twosome.

They flirt and tease and trade double entendres like nobody's business. They spend about as much time together as most of the couples at Neptune High – although should she ask Veronica about that, Mac is positive that she'll cover by insisting that Logan is helping her out with her caseload. And that isn't something she can see herself really believing, no matter what the circumstance.

She wishes sometimes that she had the easy self-confidence that Veronica has around boys. She wishes that she had some sort of experience or previous knowledge to build off of, so that she doesn't mess things up with Cassidy.

Yeah, he's younger than she is, and yeah, she'll be leaving for college this fall. CalTech may still be in California, and the two hour drive isn't as bad as it could be. Still, Mac doesn't want to have her first real relationship turn into a long-distance thing only a few months after it gets started.

Oh, who is she kidding? She's worrying about the future of a currently non-existent relationship.

"I'll see you later, Mac," Cassidy says, backing into the steady stream of students with a smile.

She nods mechanically in response, her brain being slow to process his words. He'll see her later. And he doesn't just mean it in the general "see you around" fashion.

He will see her later tonight. At his house. To watch a movie. For what may or may not be a date.

She'll be seeing him later – as long as she can survive the next seven hours without freaking out too much.

all of the things that make you who you are —

"Only Human."

"Dodge this."

As Mac watches Trinity blow away the agent with a gunshot directly to the head, she understands the real-life parallel.

No matter what skills or powers one might have, something failure simply cannot be avoided.

Well, perhaps 'failure' isn't the best term for the meaning she culls from the scene she's viewed dozens of times. After all, it's not like her own life is on the line at this particular moment.

Her heart on the other hand, is a different story altogether.

Right now, she's sitting next to Cassidy in his dad's screening room. And – like he said – it's pretty much a mini-movie theater. Huge screen, mounted projector, surround sound. The only thing missing is the smell of faux-buttery popcorn in the air.

Well, that, and the uncomfortable seats are nowhere to be found.

Of course, if Mr. Casablancas were going to drop a few hundred thousand dollars to create a home theater, he wasn't going to include those cheap and crappy seats. Only the best for the 09ers, after all.

No, it makes sense that he would instead select a cozy loveseat for his screening room – convenient for both comfort and seduction.

So now she's sitting directly beside the object of her affection, with nothing more than a few inches of leather separating their bodies. She's trying to breathe like a regular human being and keep her heart rate under control, and she finds she can do that best if she tries to forget about Cassidy altogether and focus on the movie that's showing on the screen before her.

Of course, it's hard to forget about the boy who has filled her head with more confusion and questioning than anyone before him. Until she got to know him, it was easy to fool herself into believing that the immature guys in Neptune weren't worth her time or energy, that she could better spend her time figuring how to crack the latest security protocols on the school district website.

But Cassidy … Cassidy was different, is different, even. He's nothing like the typical boys at her high school, let along like the typical 09er asshats that tend to fill her with a near-homicidal rage on at least a weekly basis.

For one, he's smart – to say the least. He's like super-intelligent, and she loves the fact that she can talk to him about more than just the latest gossip or the new hit TV show or whatever nonsense most of her fellow students waste their time blathering about.

Of course, the fact that he doesn't spend an entire conversation staring at her breasts helps as well.

Cassidy really listens to her, too, instead of just nodding and smiling and looking for his first opportunity to say some lame come on or try to get into her pants. He remembered her birthday a few months back and even gave her a dorky-yet-amusing card to commemorate the occasion.

He's cute and funny and easy to talk to, and she could go on and on forever listing all his traits that she finds appealing. But all of that is irrelevant if he doesn't have any interest in her.

And before she knows it, the credits are rolling and Cassidy's asking her what she thought of the movie and she is surprised to realize that she just missed the last half-hour of the film.

"I love this movie," she admits after a moment, quite thankful that she's seen the film enough to be able to speak intelligently about it despite zoning out throughout the bulk of it. "There's so much within it that can be compared to situations in our own life. Like, with Cypher – he wants so badly to not know the truth anymore and believes ignorance is bliss."

"And there's lots of people still in the Matrix that feel the same way," Cassidy agrees. "But the protagonists of the film, they felt the opposite, that knowledge is power."

"It's a classic philosophical battle," she responds, thinking about her own internal battle over the same issue. Is it easier to just live in her dream world, where she can at least imagine that Cassidy might have feelings for her? Or is it better to tell him how she feels, to know how he feels as well, knowing that the potential rejection might be more than she can really deal with?

"Which side do you think is right?" he questions.

"It's not so much a matter of right and wrong," she begins slowly, "but more a matter of perspective. I think that – as a general rule – the truth is important and should be brought to light. But there are other cases where perhaps one is better off not knowing, where the truth might do more damage than it's worth."

Her eyes dart downwards as she says that last thought, towards her hands which are fidgeting with the hem of her blue tee. It's one of her oldest shirts, and she unconsciously fingers a hole that has worn its way into the cotton.

"I know what you mean," Cassidy replies, his voice soft. He pauses a moment before adding, "Mac, will you look at me, please?"

She looks up hesitantly, hoping that he's sympathetic to her train of thought because he's in the same situation. However, he could also be sympathetic because he pities her, as a friend, for being such a fool as to have a crush on him.

Her eyes meet his, and she sees her questions reflecting back in his warm brown eyes. His head slowly dips towards hers, and she finds herself urging him closer, faster but unwilling or unable to move much herself, afraid to find that she's imagining this whole thing.

His lips are finally brushing against hers, and she finds herself overwhelmed with the sensation of their first, chaste liplock. Then his hands are threading through her hair, and pulling her closer, pressing his lips against hers more urgently.

Peripherally, Mac registers a loud beeping noise, but through the haze of the kiss, it takes her a moment to recognize that sounds as Veronica's ring tone.

Perfect timing as usual.

"Ignore it," she whispers breathily, in a voice that doesn't sound like her own, as she reaches blindly to shut up her phone.

He doesn't object to her request, and she finds herself steadily being carried away by the heady emotions he's igniting in her.

And then her phone rings again.

She wants to ignore it, to pretend that Veronica isn't interrupting one of the best things that's happened to her in a long time. But she knows that it must be important if Veronica is calling her twice. Come to think of it, Mac can't remember Veronica ever calling her twice, consecutively. Usually, if she can't answer her phone, Veronica's content to leave a voice mail, knowing that she'll be getting a call back shortly.

Or not so shortly, she considers, as Cassidy lays kisses along her jawline.

"I should get that," she says, her voice filled with regret.

He pulls back to let her answer her phone, and she pulls it out of her pocket.

"What do you need, Veronica?" she asks, probably a little harsher than she intended.

"I – I just did something really stupid," her friend states hesitantly. "Can I meet you somewhere, to talk?"

Mac's gaze flies towards the very cute boy sitting beside her, and thinks of the tonsil hockey she would have in her future if Veronica hadn't called.

But then she remembers the things that Veronica has done for her – whether intentionally tracking down the truth about her biological parents, or unintentionally introducing her to Cassidy by speaking so highly of her technological skills. Given how nicely the latter has worked out, she probably does still owe her friend a favor.

"Okay, Veronica. Where do you want to meet?"

don't try so hard to say goodbye —

When Mac pulls into the Denny's parking lot off the PCH, she isn't overly surprised to see Veronica's LeBaron. She stops her VW Beetle just beside the black car and remembers exactly why it had taken her at least a few minutes to get on the road.

Of course, she couldn't just walk out on Cassidy without explanation. He'd understood why she needed to leave, certainly, and he had suggested that they meet up for dinner the following night.

She's finally going to have her first date. With Cassidy. She can feel a slight ache in her facial muscles, making her aware of the permasmile that's likely been adorning her face since she left the Casablancas mansion.

She tries to squash the smile, tries not to show how absolutely ecstatic she feels at this moment. Veronica sounded worried and upset on the phone. Having her best girlfriend grinning like an idiot while Veronica talks about whatever problems she might have? Probably not the best plan.

She agreed to leave Cassidy – and the likely inevitable makeout session that was to follow – because she wanted to help her friend as Veronica had helped her in the past. She needs to try to clear her thoughts of her budding relationship and focus on Veronica and Veronica's problems – and probably on Logan's contribution to said problems.

Perhaps she shouldn't be making such an assumption, but given the amount of time the pair spends together, Mac thinks it's logical to conclude that whatever mistake Veronica made involves Logan somehow. Not that Logan is necessarily to blame, but his explosive personality just makes it that much more likely that he is directly involved.

She steps inside the all-night restaurant and spies Veronica gnawing at a steak that's almost as big as she is. She joins her friend in the corner booth and looks at her expectantly.

"What's wrong, Veronica?"

"I made a huge mistake tonight," she begins hesitantly, looking more broken than I can ever recall seeing her before. "I know that I can't undo what I've done, but I'm hoping that, maybe, you can help me find a way to deal with the aftermath."

Mac leans back against the sticky cushion of the booth, as Veronica parts her lips and begins.

look for the girl with the broken smile —

Tonight started off like any other. After I'd finished with my casework, I went over to the Neptune Grand to watch a movie with Logan. He's gotten in the habit of walking into Blockbuster or Best Buy and just buying a random DVD off the shelves. I tell him that it's stupid, that he's wasting his money. He just tells me that he has money to waste.

He had grabbed Butterfly Effect earlier today, insisting that since Ashton Kutcher was in the film, it had to be good. Of course, I didn't share that opinion as Kelso was probably my least favorite character on That 70's Show, and I told him that he'd just wasted twenty dollars.

He ignored me as usual, instead hitting play on the remote and sitting back to watch. I didn't have anything better to do, and with Dad off chasing a skip in Texas, I didn't feel like spending the night alone in my room.

The movie actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was a bit choppy and filled with alternate realities, but Logan loved it. He really got attached to the idea that Kutcher's character could change the past by thinking about it and going back and recreating it.

He told me later that he wished he could do that too, so that he could go back and change what happened at Shelley's party and save me from the burning refrigerator. He didn't mention wanting to save Lilly at all. I still don't know if that was because he's finally accepted the fact that it's not his fault that she died, or if it's because he just doesn't care about her anymore.

Still, I didn't think that that was a very healthy perspective – to want to undo the bad things in one's life – and I told him as much. He didn't take kindly to that, of course, and we argued about it. He asked why he couldn't want things to be easier for me if it were theoretically in his power, and I returned by informing him that I had survived the past two years just fine without much help from him.

We both said hurtful things that we didn't mean, and I was preparing to just leave since I didn't want to ruin our friendship over a stupid movie. But then, he kissed me, and it was wonderful and explosive and everything that it was a year earlier. I tried to pull back, but he was insistent and his lips were so persuasive.

It wasn't long before I was straddling him on the soft leather sofa, and he was removing my shirt. I knew that that wouldn't be a good idea, that we were already in enough of a freefall – sexually speaking – without – adding near-nudity to the mix.

But his hands were so persuasive, and he was making me remember the good times that we'd shared together. Things between us weren't always full of danger and fear and lies. We had our share of happy times, and the electric chemistry between us was never something that was lacking.

I don't want to chalk it up to just 'being horny,' or just 'getting caught up in the moment.' Because I knew what I was doing, what we were doing, and this was something that I wanted – almost more than anything else, ever.

I love tracing my fingers over his gorgeous skin and laying kisses all over his body. Logan is just so passionate that he can't keep all his feelings and emotions inside himself, and he's always done his part to show just how much he appreciates all the little things I do for him.

It didn't take that long until our clothes were somewhere on the floor, and we were having sex. I felt an explosion inside my head, the likes of which I've never felt before. It made me wonder why we'd decided to forego sex when we were dating.

Afterwards, I spooned in his arms for maybe five minutes before he swept me up in his arms and carried me into his bedroom. You know as well as I do that Logan knows how to put his mouth to good use when he wants to – he's never lacking a sarcastic quip or razor-sharp comeback. But until tonight? I had no idea just how talented his mouth really was.

While I was still awestruck by what had just happened, he slipped back inside of me and the effect was no less heady than it was the first time. Although, really, the second time around was slower, more sensual, even. There was still underlying passion, underneath everything, but at the same time it wasn't as frenzied.

Afterwards, he fell asleep, one arm looped around my back. I tried to join him in slumber, but I couldn't. My mind was thinking to fast, unable to rest without determining exactly why we had just slept together.

After a few minutes, I realized that the big reason I wanted to take that step with him was because I loved him. And that scares me more than I can describe.

Logan is not the type of guy that any girl with a brain should fall in love with. I mean, look at poor Hannah. She loved him, or thought she did, and he had some feelings for her too, granted. But that didn't make it hurt any less when she found out about his ulterior motives.

Logan loves sex – I know that about him, know that Lilly sparked his libido in a way that will never be able to be undone. And I know that while he cares about me, while he values my friendship and companionship, he doesn't love me.

But I slept with him anyhow – when I knew that, at least subconsciously. And now he'll probably think that whenever he's feeling lonely or horny, he can come to me and we'll have sex. He'll think that it's easy, simple – sex without any strings attached.

I can't do that. But I don't know if I can give him up either.

it's not always rainbows and butterflies —

Mac listens to her friend's monologue in silence, working to keep her face impassive as Veronica talks about things that she has never really spent much time thinking about. Cassidy's an 09er, just like Logan. Is he going to expect sex from her, now that they're in a relationship? She's never really considered that fact, seeing as how she's been largely focused on the fact that she has a boyfriend, finally, for the first time.

But now is certainly not the time to think about that, as she should be supporting her friend right now, rather than thinking about the possible pitfalls in her own relationship.

"Do you think you can talk to Logan about this?" Mac starts, almost positive she knows what Veronica will say in response.

"I could never talk about this with him. Tell him that I love him, only to have him reject me in return. I won't have him going around and telling the whole school how I was stupid enough to fall for him. I won't let him make me into a laughingstock like that."

Mac doesn't think that Logan would do that – even if Veronica's perception of his feelings for her is correct. Whether or not he cares for her romantically, she is his friend, and she doesn't think that he would embarrass her publicly like that.

She tells her friend as much, causing Veronica to confess, "After Lilly died, he did whatever he could to make my life a living hell. And I let him, to some extent, because I didn't know how to fight back. I'm not afraid to stand up for myself now, but that doesn't mean that I need to go courting danger."

Mac understands her friend's train of thought, and she wonders if she would have been able to cope, had all of the slander and snarks been aimed in her direction. She knows that Veronica has scars from the experience, but Mac thinks that she wouldn't have been able to handle the vitriol of the attacks like her friend did.

"What other options do you think you have?" Mac asks frankly. In all honesty, either Veronica talks to Logan about what happened and deals with it, or they don't talk about it and probably avoid each other until graduation next week.

Veronica is silent for a moment, likely trying valiantly to come up with any viable possibility, no matter how absurd. Unable to think of a solution, she offers Mac a half-smile and says, "I guess I have to give up Logan."

She can see the heartbreak on her friends face, and Mac can almost feel her own heart breaking for the absolute devastation she must feel right now. Mac can't imagine being forced to give up Cassidy, especially now that their relationship has bridged over into something more. Still, they haven't shared nearly as much as Logan and Veronica have over the years, so she knows that the anguish she envisions cannot match the pain Veronica must feel.

"I'll help you," she swears. "If you need me to run interference, to be a lookout, to tell him to fuck-off and leave you alone – anything, I'll do it."

"Thanks, Mac," Veronica replies, forcing a smile onto her tear-stained cheeks. "I don't know how I'm going to be able to do this. I know I love him, and maybe I've loved him for awhile. I'm not sure. I just know I can't cut him easily from my life, from my heart, like I'm doing a simple dissection in biology lab."

Mac doesn't completely understand the science analogy – preferring to spend her electives in various programming classes rather than in the laboratory, but she understands what Veronica is trying to say.

They're a difference between wanting to do something and actually being able to carry through with said action.

She'll help Veronica get through this however she can, knowing that this is something she would probably never be able to do herself, were she in Veronica's shoes.

Veronica has proven time and time again that she is stronger than most, more resilient than most.

Mac wishes right then that for once, Veronica didn't have to be the strong one.

beauty queen of only eighteen, she had some trouble with herself —

Cassidy knows that he's not alone in his confusion the following day. Most of the student body is wondering what one earth happened to make the previously inseparable pair of Veronica and Logan spend the entire day dodging each other as best they could.

Clearly they had some sort of fight, or something, but arguments between them were relatively common. They had plenty of spectators a few weeks back, when Veronica had pulled him away from the crowd at lunch to really lay into him about something.

Their friendship or relationship or … whatever was a rollercoaster of emotions. One day, they'd be almost attached at the hip, talking nonstop about anything and everything. The next, Logan would be trying to get back into Veronica's good graces, or she'd be apologizing for something or another until he forgave her.

But this? This is something entirely new for them – at least from Cassidy's perspective.

He's been friends with Logan for a few years now, and his friend has been all over the map when it comes to his feelings and opinions for Veronica Mars. But regardless of how he felt, Logan had always been unable to fully ignore the feisty blonde. Even when he hated her, when he blamed her for Lilly's death, he went out of his way to tease her, to provoke her, to make her life a living hell.

And now? Now he's acting like he couldn't care less about the fact that she's passing through the hallways like a ghost. Her eyes are bloodshot, her face is pale, and her face is impassive. It's clear that she's upset about something that most likely has to do with Logan. It's just as clear, however, that she doesn't want anyone to know what's going on.

Cassidy wonders if, maybe, his new girlfriend might have an idea of what happened. She did get that mysterious phone call from Veronica last night, but that doesn't mean that Veronica necessarily told her what had happened. Still, from the way Mac is gently guiding her friend down the hall towards her next class, she probably does have at least some of the pertinent details.

He raises his hand in a hesitant wave, gratified to see the warm smile that spreads over his girlfriend's face.

He feels a grin spread over his own features as he thinks about that simple word – girlfriend. How crazy is it that one simple change in his life could change his outlook so much?

Still, Cassidy knows that it's not merely the fact of having a girlfriend that makes a difference. If he were dating Madison or Gia or some other 09er slut, he would probably be more dreading his date tonight, rather than looking forward to it with the anticipation that he can feel building with each passing moment.

He's really dating Mac, the coolest girl at school.

It's all just so unbelievable and hard for him to process sometimes. He's used to being Beaver, the inexperienced younger brother of the illustrious Dick Casablancas. He's accustomed to having girls ignore him or, worse, use him to get closer to his brother.

Cassidy honestly doesn't understand how his brother ever got the reputation of being a sex god in the first place.

But that doesn't matter. None of that matters because Mac likes him, Mac wants to kiss him, Mac wants to date him.

Cassidy almost floats down the hall towards his next class when he literally runs into Logan. Logan has never been skilled at hiding his emotions, and his devastation at his current rift with Veronica is evident. At the sight of his friend looking so depressed, Cassidy's own spirits drop just a bit, unable to keep from empathizing with Logan.

"You want to talk about it?" he asks, not bothering to specify what 'it' is, exactly. Logan knows what he's talking about, of course. It's not like he could possibly have anything else on his mind anyhow.

"Wanna ditch?" Logan responds, making Cassidy wonder if they are on the same page after all. "She's in my math class next hour," he adds after a moment as means of explanation.

"Where to?" Cassidy asks, reaching for his keys as he's not planning to let Logan drive, figuring that in his miserable state, his friend has probably imbibed a fair amount of alcohol already that day.

"Anywhere but here," Logan replies, kicking the dust at his feet as they head out of school.

i know where you hide, alone in your car —

We were watching a movie at my place last night, and afterwards, we got into a fight about the stupidest thing. I told her that I wished I could undo all the pain and hurt she's had to deal with over the past few years, and she told me that she didn't need my help. And I know that she doesn't. She's independent, and I can respect that. But I didn't understand how it was so horrible of me to want to save her from that.

Anyhow, she was just getting madder and madder, until finally she made a move as if she was going to leave. I didn't want her to go, and I was sorry that things had spiraled downward so quickly.

So I kissed her.

It definitely wasn't the brightest idea I ever had, and I don't know how to explain it exactly, but when Veronica is all furious and red-faced and shouting at the top of her lungs, I think that she's fucking gorgeous. That's probably why I go out of my way to piss her off so much of the time.

Things got out of control fast enough and soon that one kiss led to wandering hands with promises of much more. I shepherded all of my self-control, took a deep breath, and forced some distance between our bodies.

It didn't last for long. Before I knew it, Veronica was shoving me onto the sofa and climbing all over me, as if I were a human jungle gym.

She was touching me in all the right places, and I'm only human, so of course I responded. She made it clear that she wanted the same thing I did – sex.

I was just foolish enough to think that we had the same intentions in mind.

After we fucked on the couch, I took her into my bedroom with the intention to worship her body the way she deserves. It was loving and tender, and I did everything I could to tell her how I felt with my actions rather than my words. For some reason, I had a strange feeling that she wouldn't react well to me telling her how I felt.

Then I fell asleep that night, entwined with the woman I love, and she just up and left during the night without so much as a goodbye And now she's dodging me, and she has Mac running interference, and it's just so goddamn frustrating.

I love her, and now that we've slept together, I'm really fucked, dude.

I don't know why she left without waking me. At first, I thought it might have been because her dad would be waiting up for her, and she wanted to let me sleep. But now she's ignored me today, and I thought I heard her say something about her dad being out of town through the weekend.

So, I'm fucking clueless, and I don't think that knowing what the fuck is going through her mind is going to help at all.

I used to think that Veronica was different from the other women in my life, that she wouldn't hurt me like they did.

Of course, I was wrong. Except Veronica's abandonment hurts more, almost, if only because I didn't even see it coming.

i know that goodbye means nothing at all —

"I know that Veronica called Mac in a panic last night," Cassidy shares, after an internal debate over whether it's right of him to share that information. He decides it's okay, in the end, because he doesn't know any details about what Veronica is thinking – just that she was freaking out last night.

"Did she say anything else?" Logan asks after a moment, and Cassidy wonders if sharing what little he knows is doing more harm than good. Still, unable to deny this broken man, he shares what little else he remembers.

"Mac said that she mentioned something about doing something stupid and that she needed someone to talk to."

"Fucking fantastic," Logan curses. "Sleeping with me is a fucking mistake when she and boy wonder smuggled a baby across international borders. Goddammit, Veronica!"

A tense silence passes over the BMW as Cassidy doesn't know what he can do to help, and Logan is too busy battling his conflicting love and rage for Veronica to say anything.

"I know why she did it," he breathes a moment later, his voice thin and reedy and sounding nothing like the Logan Echolls Cassidy has known for years.

"She got caught up in everything, just like I did. There's so much chemistry between us that it's always just been so easy to get carried away and let a simple kiss lead to sex. She wanted it, I know she did, but that doesn't mean that she doesn't regret it, that she wasn't wishing I were Duncan.

"She still loves him, that has to be it. Poor, self-sacrificial Duncan, giving up on the love of his life to save his baby from some imagined threat. Goddammit, Veronica, at least I stayed by your side!"

Cassidy knows that Logan isn't really looking for a response to his ranting, and he's glad for it. He doesn't really know what he could say anyhow, so it's for the best.

Doesn't make things any less uncomfortable though.

Logan slouches in the leather seat, pulling his feet onto the dashboard and burying his head in one arm. His friend appears to have completely fallen apart, and Cassidy hopes desperately that this is only a temporary state, that he'll be back to his old self in no time.

Instinctively, however, he knows that that's impossible.

Logan has lived through so much already – his father's abuse, his girlfriend's murder, his mother's suicide, and more – appearing no worse for the wear. True, some days were worse than others, which Cassidy could usually judge by the size of the cloud of alcohol that surrounded his friend.

Veronica, however, seems to have done what no one else has been able to do. Her actions have finally broken Logan's spirit and have transformed him into the dejected mess seated beside him.

Cassidy wishes that he knew how to make things better for Logan, that he had a way to make things easier on his friend. He figures that if his brother were here, Dick would suggest that they hit a strip joint or a rave to take Logan's mind off his problems.

Cassidy, however, is nothing like his brother and thinks that maybe what Logan needs is to deal with this internally. If he doesn't cope with this himself, he'll never be able to spend any time with the woman who had quickly made herself into his best friend and likely most trusted confidant.

please don't try so hard to say goodbye —

"So? What do you think of the food?" Cassidy asks teasingly, shortly after their plates are set down before them.

Mac had expressed concern earlier that she wouldn't be able to find anything on the menu that would fit with her vegan eating habits. Cassidy had reassured her that it wouldn't be an issue, and he was right. What she didn't know, however, is that had it been a problem, he wouldn't have objected to paying whatever it would have taken to get a meal made to her specifications.

This date would go well. He was determined that it be the perfect first date for them, that it make all Mac's previous boyfriends pale in comparison.

"It's delicious," she concedes after a moment. "These greens are delicious – they're perfectly cooked and absolutely wonderful."

"What do you want do to after dinner?" Cassidy asks after a few minutes of companionable silence pass between them. He doesn't have anything planned, but he's willing to do just about anything that she wants. He's confident that his desire to please will win her over before the night is over.

"I'm not sleeping with you," she warns him evenly, and he finds himself caught completely off-guard. He would never dream of suggesting such a thing – particularly on their first date. This relationship isn't about sex for him. It's about companionship, about friendship.

And, maybe, hopefully, it will be about falling in love for the first time.

"I wasn't asking you to," he responds coolly, working to maintain his composure.

Mac sighs aloud before apologizing. "I'm sorry, Cassidy. I know you'd never do that. I'm just all caught up with a friend who was being used by a guy for sex. Let's just say that I don't have the highest opinion of men right now – present company excluded, of course."

"Of course," Cassidy repeats automatically, trying to process what she just said. Mac must be talking about Veronica, right? What other girlfriend does she have that is involved in some sort of drama involving sex?

So, apparently Veronica thinks that Logan was just using her for sex. Oh how far she is from the truth. Cassidy laughs aloud at the thought, evoking a more than slightly puzzled expression from his date.

"I'm sorry, I was just thinking about how easily miscommunications can blur the lines of reality and perception," he begins. "I also have a friend who's having problems with a girl. He just slept with his best friend, and then she left in the middle of the night. He's positive that she's still hung up on her ex-boyfriend, and now he's absolutely devastated."

Mac nods along mechanically as he explains Logan's side of the story. Then after only another moment, he can see the recognition come across her face.

"Wait. Do you mean that Logan wasn't using Veronica for sex?" she questions.

"Only in the sense that he wanted to sleep with the woman he's in love with," Cassidy clarifies. "And then Veronica isn't still in love with Duncan?"

"Hardly. She loves Logan, you know."

He smiles in response, not bothering to add that it was something he had suspected for a few months now.

"They'll never talk to each other again if we don't do something. You realize that, right?" Mac asks a moment later, after further considering the situation at hand.

"You make a good point," he concedes. "Did you have something in mind?"

it's compromise that moves us along —

"Remind me again why we're going to see a movie at fucking two o'clock in the afternoon? I think I'm nocturnal, dude," Logan grouses as they step out of Cassidy's car and towards the Neptune Cinemas.

"I heard from a guy in my French class that Alyssa Milano gets naked in this movie. Seriously, man, naked Alyssa Milano. What more could you want?"

Getting Logan to agree to come to the movie had been like pulling teeth, but as Cassidy finally spies his partner-in-crime walking towards them, he knows that it's well worth all the effort he had to put forth and all the promises he'd had to make.

"Fuck, what's she doing here?" Logan mutters under his breath. "I'm heading home."

Cassidy panics for a moment, knowing that he doesn't have the physical strength to keep Logan from doing anything he wants to do. He has to find a way to get Logan in closer proximity to Veronica so that Mac can put the final step of her ingenious plan into motion.

"Logan, please," he asks, telling himself that it's not begging since he has an ulterior motive. "I really want to go say hi to Mac. Come with me, please?"

"Why the fuck do you need me to talk to her?" he argues, but he reluctantly follows Cassidy further down the sidewalk and closer to his intended aim.

"Hey, Mac," Cassidy greets her shyly with a wave.

"Hey, Cassidy," she responds in kind, moving closer to him with Veronica trailing hesitantly behind.

"Look, you two, we know that you're both upset about what happened the other night, but you really need to talk it out and clear up these miscommunications once and for all."

"I have nothing to say to him," Veronica informs Mac icily. "Why should I waste my time talking to people who like to fuck their friends when life gets too boring?"

"I may have fucked you, Veronica, but at least I didn't fuck with your mind. Why the fuck did you sleep with me when you're still so hung up on your beloved Duncan?" Logan responds, his voice growing progressively louder with each word that passes his lips.

Cassidy exchanges a glace with Mac. This is working out even better than they anticipated.

"Duncan left almost five months ago, Logan. I haven't heard from him since. Why would I waste my time and energy pining after a guy who's not here?"

"Lack of options?" he snarks.

"Fuck off, asshole," she returns, apparently too emotionally drained to wage a war of insults.

"Fuck, Veronica, why do you think I slept with you? You're my best friend. Do you really think that I'd risking fucking that up just so I could get some?"

"I don't know what to believe anymore, Logan."

A moment of silence passes between the two, and Cassidy worries that maybe their plan won't work after all, that maybe the truth will never be fully brought to light.

Then, Logan says something that changes everything.

"I don't trust a lot of people with my heart, Veronica. After all, the first girl who had it, fucked my father before getting herself murdered. Then my mother jumped off a bridge, only further proving that love – be it romantic or familial – is the one thing I can never have for too long.

"After Duncan left, you were the only one left who I could remember the good days with, the days from before Lilly died. And those were good times, weren't they?"

"Yeah, they were," she agrees, a tentative smile lighting up her face.

"We're finally friends again, and I trusted you with things that I haven't told anyone else. Can you honestly say that you think I'd risk something so important as that over a trivial need to get laid?"

"No," she admits, her voice so quiet that Cassidy almost has to strain to hear it. He wants to be a bigger person than he is, to not eavesdrop on their possible reconciliation.

But he was a part in creating this moment, dammit. And he's going to enjoy it.

"Why do you think I would want to sleep with you, Veronica, when it meant that I could end up losing everything that matters to me?"

She pauses for a long moment, looking carefully at him, before she steps forward and places her hand in his.

"Because you love me?"

She sounds so lost and uncertain there that Cassidy wants to pull her into a hug and reassure her that everything is going to be okay. It's not his place to do so, however. Especially since Logan is currently enveloping her in his warm embrace, stroking her hair, and whispering soft phrases into her ear.

Cassidy reaches for Mac, wrapping an arm around her shoulder. He was lucky enough to find the girl that is perfect for him, and he hopes that Logan and Veronica will finally be able to work things out between themselves.

Yeah, he doubts that their relationship will ever be easy, but he hopes that since they both now realize exactly how much they have to lose, they'll both be working twice as hard to keep their relationship going strong.

"Ready to see the movie?" Mac asks after a moment.

"Yes, ma'am," he agrees, offering his arm to escort her into the theater. She takes his arm willingly, and he's preparing to move and leave the reunited lovebirds behind when Logan catches his eye.

"Thank you," is the first thing he mouths in their direction, which Cassidy returns with a nod.

The second thing he communicates is something that fills Cassidy with no small amount of pride – particularly coming from the master of misdirection himself.

"Well played."

i know all of the things that make you who you are —

END


I'll admit to being a bit ... uncertain about some of the stylistic choices I made this piece. (Notable: the Logan & Veronica perspectives.) Comments and suggestions are certainly more than welcome.

Thanks again for reading. I hope you enjoyed this! :)