So, I offered the lovely DIYA a fic, she gave me a request, and here is the result...
Happy, Happy Birthday, DIYA! *hugs*
Title: The More Things Change
Word Count: 3,353
Rating: R for language
Summary: Set after 2x12 (Wallace and Rashard Go to White Castle). Veronica goes to the Neptune Grand and runs into Logan. Words are exchanged.
Spoilers/Warnings: Season 2 up through 2x12.
Disclaimer: Rob Thomas lets me take them out of the box and play with them, but they go home with him at the end of the day.
Note: This fic fills the request of deathisyourart for an angsty fic showing Logan and Veronica having a confrontation in the Neptune Grand after Duncan takes off.
Logan is pretty sure that when he left the suite that morning he turned off the lamp by the couch.
He’s very sure he did not leave a black messenger bag on the end table in the living room.
And there’s one thing he is absolutely positively certain that he did not do.
He did not leave Veronica Mars crawling around his couch with her ass in the air.
“If you’re looking for Duncan, I already checked there.”
Veronica’s head pops up, her mouth open slightly. Logan takes his time moving his eyes from her ass to her embarrassed expression.
“Oh wait, but you’re not actually looking for Duncan, are you?” Logan drops his keys on the table by the door, pulls his leather jacket off. Chucking it on a nearby chair, he walks over to the couch and puts both hands on the back of it, looking down at Veronica as she scrambles to her feet. “Not since you two ‘broke up’ in front of the whole school and he took off without a word.” His sarcastic air quotes make Veronica realize he’s not buying the story everyone else is. The fact that she believed he would makes her feel more stupid than she already does at this moment.
He cuts her off, voice thick with sarcasm. Veronica gets the feeling Logan has been itching to have this conversation with her and she’s walked right into it. “Oh, but wait! Maybe he told someone. If we could just find someone he’s close to...I know! His best friend since kindergarten. I mean, that’s the kind of person you’d let in on something like kidnapping a baby and becoming a fugitive from the law. Right? We should ask him...” He laughs, and the sound is caustic. “...except for the small fact that he no longer gives a fuck.” His anger seems to be ramping up quickly.
“I’m not here looking for Duncan.”
Logan barks a laugh. “And I know you’re not here looking for me. I mean, you do tend to rebound pretty damn quickly, but this is beyond the pale. His bed’s still warm, Veronica.”
Two high spots of color on Veronica’s cheeks are the only indication Logan’s words affect her.
Logan continues without missing a beat. “So, the million dollar question is what the fuck are you doing in my hotel room? When the boyfriend skips town, the open invitation is retracted.”
Veronica grimaces as the barbs on Logan’s every word lodge in her skin. She looks up at him and he meets her eyes for a split second before looking away. Unfortunately for Logan, she knows him. Far better than he likes. She knows him well enough to recognize the look in his eyes. She’s seen him hateful, bitter, joyous, scared, sad, happy and she’s definitely seen this look before.
She stammers out an answer. His anger, his sarcasm she can match, but his hurt simply deflates her. “I...didn’t realize you’d be home so soon. I lost my necklace and thought it might be here. I’ve already torn up my room looking for it.”
“That’s quite a touching story, Veronica. Get out.”
“Did I stutter?”
She straightens up, her face tight. The hurt is blazing on Logan’s face now. He doesn’t try to hide it. He goes to the door and holds it open.
Picking up her messenger bag, Veronica slings it over her shoulder and walks up to him. She looks up at Logan, but he keeps his eyes fixed resolutely over her head. This is the reason he doesn’t see her hesitate once, hand squeezing the strap of her bag. He hears her, though, her words measured and steady.
“I know it’s not worth much to you, but I am sorry.”
He closes his eyes, fingers tightening on the edge of the door. He resists the urge to ask what exactly she is sorry for and Veronica slides out of the door quietly. She stands in the hall as the door swings closed.
Inside the suite, Logan rubs one hand over his eyes and heads into his room, slamming the door behind him. He almost lost it right in front of Veronica. Logan looks around the room and wonders how it is possible this is his life now.
He drops down onto the edge of the bed, head falling in his hands automatically. The hotel suite is quiet, quiet like it has been since he came home one night last week. He was racking up a high score on the PS2 and wondering when Duncan would get home so he could rub his nose in it. The gossip of the school also weighed on his mind. According to half a dozen people he ran into, Veronica and Duncan had a huge fight in the courtyard and Duncan broke up with her. He hadn’t seen either one of them since and truth be told, the suspense was killing him.
It feels like a betrayal to his best friend that he wanted to see Veronica first. Wanted to see if she was destroyed like he was when she dumped him over the summer. See if, damn it all, she was fine because Duncan didn’t mean as much to her as it seemed. He couldn’t decide which he would prefer. Both gave him feelings he wasn’t ready to feel again.
And sure, Logan wanted to see Duncan. Hear his side, if he told it. He figured it was more likely Duncan would just drop down on the couch and pick up the second controller and join the game. But at least he’d have that again.
He had gone to bed that night mildly curious where Duncan might be. Since he and Veronica broke up, it seemed pretty unlikely he was with her. Logan’s heart skipped a beat. Unless they were making up.
Upset at the possibility and more distressed that he was upset in the first place, Logan had snapped the light off by his bed and rolled over, sliding down into the covers like a cocoon against his own thoughts.
The next day, still no Duncan. Logan had shuffled over and poked his head in Duncan’s room, and found it undisturbed. He went to school and was cornered by Dick at his locker almost immediately, looking for the inside scoop. As the day went on, only the vaguest details came his way as everyone expected him to know what happened and where Duncan took the baby. The fact that he was blindsided that day hurt. When he got home again and this time noticed some of Duncan’s clothes were gone, he knew that it wasn’t the day at school that hurt. It was that he had just lost his best friend. A best friend that clearly didn’t trust him with the biggest secret of his life.
Logan hears the door of the suite click open again and a muscle in his jaw twitches slightly. He leans over to his bedside table and rustles around in it before finding what he’s looking for. He stands up and throws his door open, his eyes immediately lighting on the back of a blonde head by the front door. His eyes drop down her figure, remembering the tight curves of her, soft and smooth under his hands. He remembers the way her hair slid through his hands like water. The way she used to look at him with that spark in her eye.
She turns and Logan sees the spark is not there for him. It hasn’t been there for him in quite some time.
Logan thinks Veronica is looking as sad around the eyes as he is. Or it might be the lighting. With her, it’s always hard to tell. It’s then that he notices the white envelope on the table by the door. His eyes snap from the envelope to her and back again and this uncomfortable surge of hope wells up in him. Hope for what, he doesn’t know.
The door is still slightly open, Veronica near it. She hesitates, half in and half out. Finally, when Logan does not kick her out again, Veronica speaks. “I was going to leave this for you. So...here.” She picks up the envelope and holds it out. She and Logan stand there across the room from each other, neither moving a muscle. Veronica is lit from behind, making her face less readable than usual. For some reason, this really bothers Logan. Enough to make him say the thing he says next.
“Come in, Veronica.”
She smiles tentatively as she steps all the way back in the suite. “Get out, come in. Might as well put me on a string.” Her laugh is too short, too fluttery for her. It doesn’t break the ice. The last little click of the door closing behind her seems to wake Logan. He moves out of his doorway and toward the couch. Veronica follows cautiously, slowly.
Logan sits and the silent game of follow the leader continues as Veronica sits next to him. Not too close, the safety of one couch cushion between them. The envelope is still in her hand, so she holds it out again. One glance at the outside of the envelope and Logan’s suspicions are confirmed. His name is scrawled there in Duncan’s handwriting.
The writing shakes slightly and he realizes Veronica is not holding it completely steady. Logan pulls the envelope from her hand and considers walking back into his room. For some reason, he doesn’t. He also doesn’t ask her to leave again and Veronica makes no move to go.
Logan rips the envelope open untidily, ragged edges of paper giving way. The thick white paper under his hands is smooth. The words Duncan Kane are stamped in staid blue block letters across the bottom edge. Logan’s mouth tugs up in the corner, thinking it fits him. He flips the card open and begins reading. Veronica knows it’s rude, but she watches him read it. Watches his eyes dart back and forth across Duncan’s scrawl. And then watches him go back and read it again. His eyes move in her direction once, but don’t actually lift from the page. Logan licks his bottom lip and closes the card. He holds it for a second before opening it one more time, scanning the last few lines and closing it again. When he turns his eyes on her this time, Veronica recognizes the look from earlier, but it is tempered slightly.
“You’re still here.”
She starts to get up, her whole body reacting to his words.
When Logan’s hand comes down on her forearm, she sits back down. “Did he let you read that?”
Veronica shakes her head, then answers. “No, Duncan gave it to me sealed.” She keeps her eyes on Logan until he turns to face her. “I’m sorry.”
“You said that. The thing is, I’m not clear which thing you’re sorry for. We’ve got a bit of a history, Veronica. You’re going to have to narrow it down.”
She takes a deep breath, but absorbs his words without comment. Logan can almost hear her struggling. “I’m sorry I didn’t give it you immediately, Logan. Duncan wanted me to.”
Logan smiles. A smile that never reaches his eyes. “Let me guess. You didn’t trust me.”
“If it helps, I pretty much don’t trust anyone.”
He turns to her, notices how intently Veronica is studying her hands in her lap. There is something in him that can’t stand it. He likes it when she fights back. When she gives it back to him in kind. Not when she sits quietly and waits for the onslaught. When she doesn’t even demand an apology from him for all the things that have passed between them.
“Yeah. I kind of picked up on that.”
Veronica relaxes slightly at the lack of venom in Logan’s words. He reclines into the sofa, feet up on the ottoman. His hand still plays with the edge of the paper.
“What now, Veronica?”
She looks up, seems startled. “What do you mean?”
He glances at the space between them. A gap large enough to hold another person. She meets his look and seems to know what he’s asking this time. Without Duncan, where did they stand? Would they continue their uneasy truce? Would they push off each other and go to their separate corners once again? Or would something else happen?
It’s the last possibility that seems to throw each of them. The room suddenly seems too small, a little too warm.
“You know, Veronica, I’m a lot more trustworthy than I look. Or have been known to act in the past.”
It’s the first time a playful note has found its way into Logan’s words since he found her there. The tension breaks audibly when Veronica speaks. “Not sure where that leaves you on the trust spectrum, Logan.”
“How about halfway between ‘trying to earn some’ and ‘still a bit shifty’?”
The tightness in Veronica’s chest lets up and a genuine laugh escapes her. “Sounds about right. If it means anything, I thought of never giving you the note. So, the fact that I did? Guess I trust you a little.”
“Am I supposed to say thanks?”
“No. Just...I’m trying.”
“Yeah.” Logan cocks his head at her, wondering. She is trying and with Duncan gone, she doesn’t have to. She put up with Logan because she wanted to be around Duncan. Now, she doesn’t have that as a reason...or an excuse.
Logan fumbles in his pocket and drags out something silver. He stretches over the distance between them and drops it in her hand.
Veronica gasps. “My necklace!”
“It was actually in the couch. Turned up a few weeks ago.”
“Oh...” Veronica closes her hand around the glittering silver star, eyes curious.
“Duncan found it.” Logan sits up, moves slightly closer to Veronica as she looks up in confusion. “He gave it to me because he thought it was Kendall’s.”
His words hang in the air, the burn of them singeing Veronica. “He thought this was Kendall’s?”
Logan nods. “I decided not to argue.” He fidgets a little, flexing Duncan’s note in his hand.
“You knew it was mine.” Her word is half-statement, half-question.
“You used to wear it all the time.” The implication that Duncan should have remembered too lies between them.
She looks down at her hand, at the star glinting there. “My Mom gave it to me for my sixteenth birthday.” She pauses, debates why she feels like telling Logan the rest of the story. Something about mothers who leave and the way they can both relate. “I stopped wearing it when I gave up on her. When she gave up on me.”
“But I guess you wore it a few weeks ago.” This time Logan is the one who asks an almost-question.
Veronica looks up, eyes sad. “It was the two year anniversary of the day she took off. I had a moment of weakness.”
Veronica seems to gain strength from the fact that Logan is not pushing her away and she takes another step forward. “Do you...think of yours?” Her words are soft and they instantly bring tears to Logan’s eyes against his wishes.
“A year ago last week.” He answers her softly and it doesn’t take much for her to realize that Duncan disappeared from Logan’s life right around a time he could have used a friend.
She nods, remembering that it was around this time last year that Logan appeared unexpectedly on her doorstep. Little did she know then how his arrival would set a chain of events in motion she was still dealing with. He had looked so vulnerable when he appeared there, taking her off guard.
Much like he was doing right now.
“I’m sorry, Logan.” And she can’t stop saying those words to him. He hears her sympathy but also a bit of remorse. She knew his mother died last year. She knew he had no one to get him through this time, but she didn’t dare put herself out there for him. She didn’t risk him laughing in her face or slamming the door on it. Her apology admits she has turned away, like so many others, because it was the easier thing to do.
“Whatever, Veronica.” He retreats, pissed at himself for showing his soft underbelly to Veronica. He wonders how she brings that out of him and how he can stop it.
His dismissive tone snaps Veronica to attention. “Logan, look at me.”
He rolls his eyes, looks at his hands.
“Logan...” Her voice is stern, which only makes him study the floor more stubbornly.
She stands up, moves to sit on the soft ottoman across from him. When her knees bump into his, he is forced to glance up at her.
“Listen. I know we’re not exactly...friends right now. But we were. And we might be again.”
He frowns, unsure what to make of her statement.
“I’m sorry about your mother and that I didn’t say anything when I should have. Okay?”
Logan is completely taken aback. All he’s had from Veronica this year have been recriminations and dirty looks. To suddenly receive sympathy and understanding is a little too much to take in.
“It’s not like you’re the only one with things to apologize for, Veronica. Don’t get soft on me.” A little glint in his eye shatters the tension in the moment and for that Veronica is grateful. She didn’t come here to apologize to Logan or try to patch things up with him. But somehow, her agenda changed on the fly and she’s still trying to keep up. Veronica thinks Logan is probably as surprised as she is that they are having this conversation.
They nod at each other, an unspoken agreement reached. A moment to move forward from established.
“Thanks for bringing the card.”
“You are not going to tell me what it says, are you?”
“No way.” Logan snatches the card out of Veronica’s reach and slides it down his shirt.
“Think that will stop me?” She tilts her head to the side and for a fleeting second, Logan could swear he sees that old spark.
“I’m just dying to find out.” His tongue touches his bottom lip, challenge written across his face.
“It’s probably not that interesting, anyway. Stupid boy stuff.” Veronica crosses her arms, a mock pout there.
“Whatever gets you through the night, Veronica.”
She doesn’t answer and the moment stretches into something a little awkward, a little tense between them. Their truce is threatened by moving too fast, too many double entendres on unsteady ground.
Logan stands up, and Veronica does as well. Logan moves past her to the TV, turns on his PS2 and picks up his controller. She hesitates, hand on her bag again, assuming she is being dismissed. He hesitates for a second before picking up the other controller and turning to hold it out to Veronica.
She smiles, a real one, and takes it from him. Dropping her bag, she flops back onto the couch.
“We’re not playing that stupid golf game, are we? Don’t you have one of those games where I get to kick your butt with my devastating kung fu moves?”
Logan chuckles as he changes out the disc in the Playstation. “I’ve got one of those games where you can try.”
“Gonna make you eat those words, Echolls. Along with my foot in some kind of devastating drop-spin-kicky move.”
“Bring it on.”
A few minutes later, Logan sneaks a peek at Veronica as she screws up her face in concentration. Her fingers fly across the buttons and he hears his character take a critical hit.
“Ha!” Veronica looks over, sees that Logan is watching her and not the game. “Eyes on the prize, Logan.”
“They were.” He looks back at the screen, taking Veronica’s character down with a quick series of spinning kicks. Logan can feel her watching him for a few seconds before her character leaps up and goes after him again with new determination.
Next on my fic to do list:
~Finishing a fic for the Cupid Challenge at loveathons - due tomorrow!
~And then, Holding the Curve!
Thanks for reading and for any feedback!