i knew you were trouble when you walked in [part 1]
veronica mars | veronica; veronica/logan; veronica/piz, logan/oc, wallace, keith
post season three | nc- 17 | warning: mentions of rape, sex, language. | 17,500
And, it's just– Logan had always been her intense high-school romance. But she had, somewhere along the way, in some secret corner of her mind, convinced herself that was all he was; a high-school romance. Explosive, powerful, passionate, and bound to burn itself out eventually.
Piz doesn’t ask questions, doesn’t ask her the why of her leaving him at two in the morning, where she had gone, whom she had been with, all the things she would have done, before tracking his car, and bugging his room.
He just smiles up at her when she enters the next day, and that's it. She’s showered, thrice, but she can't seem to get rid of Logan's cologne. She knows it’s just in her head, but she can’t. Lady Macwhore: The Slutty Shakespeare For College Co-Eds, she thinks with wry irony.
“Case go well?” he shifts, making space for her on the bed. She sits on Wallace’s instead. She can still feel Logan's fingers ghosting over her, making the fine hair on her arms stand up every time she thinks about it. It had been more... more, probably because they were both the sort of awful people who got off on the clandestinity, the wrongness of the whole thing.
“Yeah,” she remembers she’d asked Leo for a favor after. Cheated on him, broken up with him, and then asked him for a favor. Maybe she’s always been this much of a bitch. She and Logan can't seem to stay together, but they definitely deserve each other.
“You want to do something today,” Piz asks, strumming his guitar, concentrating on his hand movements, “I have class at one. But maybe after?”
She smiles around clenched teeth, “not today, I’m kind of tired.” It’s not even a lie, her subconscious tells her, and she shuts it down.
“Okay,” he looks at her closely, “hey, you okay, Mars? You don’t look very well.”
“I’m fine,” she says, and falls back on Wallace’s bed, staring at the ceiling, “I’m fine.”
“Hey,” Claire says from behind her, rushing to join her in her slow walk towards the cafeteria.
I cheated on my boyfriend with yours. It’s an endless litany of the same words inside her head, over and over, till she's not sure she understands them anymore.
“Hey,” she repeats, and feels a little sick inside.
“Earth to Mars,” Claire says, waving her hand in front of her face; she hadn’t even realized she’d zoned out, “I bet you’re tired of hearing it, but it’s the first chance I’ve gotten to say it, so.”
She laughs, sort of.
“So,” Claire draws out, “you and Logan, huh?”
She feels her blood run cold, a shot of ice in her veins, “what?”
Claire looks at her in mild amusement, “you guys dated?”
“Oh,” she deflates, it’s such a normal word, ‘date’, it doesn't seem to cover how thoroughly they'd ruined each other, “yeah, but that was a long time ago. It’s been over since ages.”
So apparently she’s a cheat and a liar. Just when you think you know someone. And this probably isn't even the worst thing she’s ever done.
Claire nods, “I just heard about it. Explains all the awkwardness at that double date fiasco, huh. Apparently there was an epic fight in the cafeteria and everything once. Totally missed it somehow, last year. I miss all the fun.”
She’s pouting, but there's something about the slight trembling of her lower lip that tells Veronica she was wrong. Claire isn’t Lilly. Lilly was actually what Claire tries to be. Invulnerable. She can understand that. She can understand trying. It makes her feel even guiltier.
“You know,” Claire twists her bracelet in her hand. Nerves, she categorizes, almost unconsciously, mechanically, “I was actually kind of glad when I heard. That you and Logan had dated.”
She busies herself with her Psych textbook, because she doesn't want to have this conversation. She’s not the honesty, she’s the avoiding, and she’s done a pretty damn good job of it all her life.
“Because,” Claire doesn’t seem to mind that she's the only one present in the conversation for all intents and purposes, “I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”
She opens her mouth to protest, get in a few commonplace clichés before this goes out of control, but Claire beats her to it.
“Veronica,” she says, quietly, “I’m not stupid. And I’ve seen the way he looks at you. I’ve been waiting for him to leave, marking down days, if you want melodrama. And you don’t know how I felt when I heard you were his ex-girlfriend; because residual attraction I can handle, you know? That’s expected, it’s not dangerous, it’s normal. It was the potential future attraction that I couldn't have. Handled.”
Because people move on, Veronica thinks dully, everyone does it. But she can’t seem to. She seems to be solely defined by everything that’s happened to her; Lilly, Cassidy, Duncan, Logan, Aaron. Just the same ghosts residing in every crevice of her personality. A scratched record with her past experiences on the loop.
“But,” and, Claire sounds different, more subdued, real, “the problem is; Logan is far too easy to fall in love with. He’s beautiful, and clearly damaged, and sometimes he had that way of looking like you can fix him, and I like to fix things. And like I said, I’m not stupid. So before I do it. Go ahead and fall in love with him, I‘m going to ask you this; should I? Because if I’m setting myself up, then I’d much rather not. It’s so messy, you know.”
Claire’s looking straight at her, and she can’t avoid her steady gaze, as much as she wants to. She thinks of lying. Plastering on a bright smile and being all don’t be silly, doing that hair flip thing and linking their arms or something, in a parody of normal; but that isn’t fair. She owes Claire that much.
“I don’t know,” she says. It’s the most honest she can remember having been in a long time, “I’m sorry.”
She actually doesn’t. Know the answer to that. Doesn’t know if their frantic night was because she literally went and offered herself up to a hormonal, teenage boy, or because it was her and Logan. They hadn’t even had sex, but they’d done everything but, and she’d almost wanted to never get up. Not leave. So she’d left when he’d finally fallen asleep. It seemed the thing to do, true to character and everything. Maybe Logan had moved on, and she’d just pulled him back into the giant black hole that was their relationship.
Claire quirks her lips, “well, that’s an answer.”
She's silent for a moment, "weird thing about college though, huh, you always think you can finally be whoever you want to be, and then it's like, you realize it's hard work to be different from whom you've always been. Like, you have no idea who you want to be, or how to be it, or worse, maybe who you were is who you actually are," she breaks off, and laughs abruptly, "wow, that was lame. It must be the pseudo-intellectualism of this place rubbing off on me, just what I needed to brighten my day."
Veronica can tell she's a little embarrassed by the out-of-character philosophizing, and she wants to say she agrees, that she knows, understands, but that would involve admitting something, and she's not exactly sure what, not sure how defenseless the admission would leave her, so she doesn't.
“Hey, gorgeous,” Logan’s voice comes from behind, and she keeps her head down as he kisses Claire on top of her head, wrapping an arm around her shoulder, before he notices her, and his arm falls back down against his side, clenching into a fist. Claire doesn’t miss the exchange, and she feels so horrible right then, she almost can't take it.
“Hey,” he says, carelessly.
She nods once in quick acknowledgment.
“You know,” Claire’s voice breaks in, “Claire isn’t even my real name.”
She doesn't know where this is leading, but Claire is a better person than she is. She can tell that much.
“It’s Mary,” Claire continues, rolling her eyes, “you know, as in virgin Mary? Aren’t parents the sweetest, most hopeful people you ever meet? But college is the place for self-discovery, and I’m definitely more of a Marie Claire centerfold. Private joke ahoy."
Logan laughs, strained, “seriously? And now you’re going to tell me you’re not really an All American college-goer, but an agent for the FBI or something? That’s so hot, I'd be turned on even if—”
He breaks off, abruptly, and she can feel herself blushing.
“I have to leave,” she says, quickly, “I have—”
“When don’t you have to,” Logan mutters under his breath, and she shoots him a warning glare.
“Nice running into you,” she says, nodding at Claire, but Claire is absently looking at Logan not looking at her.
That's an answer. She wishes she knew the question.
She calls Mac up, the first time in a long while, and wishes so hard she wasn't away for her semester at Yale. Which makes her a terrible friend on top of everything, because it’s a scholarship to Yale, and all she can think of is how she wants Mac to be there for her primetime soap opera.
“I’m the worst person ever.”
“Not the worst person ever,” Mac says, cautiously, which makes her laugh, for real, she can't remember when that last happened, "I dated a guy making a career out of cheating, so my high-ground is kind of...low there."
“I don’t know what to do,” she says, listlessly, wrapping her hand around her knees, and resting her head on top.
Mac sighs on the other end, “you’ll figure it out, that’s what you’ll do. You’re Veronica Mars, it’s practically your tagline.”
"Claire says she wants lemon, if you have any," his voice is sharp, cutting.
She nearly drops a hot plate, before Logan puts his hand beneath hers to steady them. Then she drops it anyway in her haste to get away from any part of his skin touching any part of hers. She can’t handle it right now.
She doesn’t know why this is still a thing; why they’re still a thing, these double dates, because everyone has to have realized by now. It’s so obvious, it makes her face heat up each time she thinks of it. Logan doesn't try to make her uncomfortable anymore, he’s just vaguely passive-aggressive when he absolutely has to talk to her, but he mostly ignores her at such times, as much as he can, which definitely makes it easier to not remember.
It's a little about his dad too, she knows. Logan's a lot of things, but he's never cheated on anyone, even though he seems the type, on the surface. Logan is not the surface. He's probably seen his mother's drunk, tear-stained face way too many times to ever take that road.
He's afraid of becoming his dad, she knows this too.
She can hear the sounds of Piz and Claire from the living room, as Logan stares out of the kitchen window, hands in his pockets, not even bothering to help her as she scoops up the rice. She catches her father watching her instead, when she looks up, his gaze traveling from her hands to the straight, rigid line of Logan’s back, and she feels exposed somehow.
Logan leaves, going back to the living room, without looking back once. Which is fine with her, it really is.
"What is going on between you and Logan Echolls?"
It's the bluntness that gets her, she decides later. It's not that she's just a terrible person (she is, she is, god, she is), it's that he caught her off guard and she lashed out. It's what she does.
"Nothing," she knows that she should look him in the eye, and calm her breathing, because they both know how to read the tells of someone lying to them. But she can't.
"Does nothing involve you hurting that nice boy you're dating?" he sounds almost. Almost disappointed. In her.
She laughs, not very successfully, she knows, "okay, seriously, is this The Truman Show? Have I been in a made-for-TV movie all this while without realizing it?"
"I thought I bought you up better than that, Veronica." her dad says quietly, and she can't bear the tone, the one that tells her that he thinks if her mother hadn't left, things would be different. Like Lianne Mars could have done something that he didn't, instead of just screwing them both over fifty seven ways since Tuesday.
God. Lianne. That's who she's turning into. Her mother.
And, it's just– Logan has always been her intense high-school romance, sure. But she had, somewhere along the way, in some secret corner of her mind, convinced herself that was all he was; a high-school romance. Explosive, powerful, passionate, and bound to burn itself out eventually. And she's the kind of person who laughs at those idiots who try to take their high-school romances with them to college, into the future.
Sure, she was in love with him, but she'd fallen in love with him after having been in love with Duncan. Which meant it was possible. To love again, to move on, to keep breathing, something.
But her mother is living, wasting away proof that sometimes, the high school romance is where it ends. That even if she meets someone as beautiful, as wonderful, as loving as Keith Mars, she may still end up being the cheating wife; still desperately consumed by Logan in a dirty room at the Camelot, trying to prolong their moments just a little while longer, while her husband pays some new-age PI for the money-shot in a karmic retribution of sorts. Or maybe she'll be the one drinking too much at parties, staring much too long at him every time she crosses paths with his family in town, the worst kept secret in Neptune; like mother like daughter.
And the most awful thing is, she thinks she can almost understand Lianne in the moment. Understand that her mother probably knows that same awful feeling that she gets in her gut at seeing Logan with someone else. Just a little bit. Hate her. Never ever, ever forgive her. But understand her that little bit just the same.
It makes her panic, the thought. It makes her lash out.
"Oh, by the way, I saw Mr. Chase at the grocery store last week. You know, Harmony Chase's husband? Nice guy, took out stuff I needed from the top shelf for me. How is Mrs. Chase? I remember you guys were such good friends."
Her dad reels, as if stricken, and she's gone too far. Jesus, she's finally gone too far.
"I'm sorry," she says, rushing out the words in her haste to say them, to not break this– them– completely, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean– "
"I'm sorry too," her dad sounds tired suddenly, old, "I'm sorry I haven't been the best role model, and if I, in any way, gave you the impression that it was okay to treat people like that, then I apologize. It's not okay, Veronica. Not for you, not for me. And as someone who regularly sees the faces of the clients when they finally get the photographic evidence they'd hoped wouldn't exist, you– we– should know better."
It's not... just her mother. Maybe she's her dad, instead. Maybe it's just that sometimes good people do bad things. She'd like to believe that.
She wraps her hands around herself, remembers Logan standing outside her door, just like that, telling her to help him find his mother. Hoping. Logan has no right to hope so much, to keep hoping after everything he's gone through. No right to love as hard, as fully as he does. He should be– self-destructive, yes– but also broken, bitter, irrevocably damaged. But he's not. Behind all the angst and tragedy, he's not, and she can't understand that. Can't understand him.
"I don't know why it's so hard not to when it's him," she says, dully.
Her dad doesn't say anything, just kisses the top of her head, and maybe he understand. Maybe Harmony's his Logan. Maybe she understand too, this time, like she hadn't before.
"You'll figure it out, honey" her dad says, so gently, it nearly makes her cry, but she won't, she doesn't do that, "I trust you to."
This is how it really goes:
“I slept with Logan,” her mouth feels dry, and she feels like the most terrible person in existence. She hadn’t slept with him, exactly, but she had done everything else. It seems pointless to try and explain. She wants to add the it just happened– I don’t know how I– I’m so sorry, I promise it’ll never–
“I’m–” she don’t know how that sentence will end, but she has to say something. His face is white, and it’s making it difficult for her to breathe. Wallace is going to hate her too. She's always been the one asking in their relationship, and he keeps giving without question, and just this time he'd asked her for something, just one thing, and she'd failed him.
She can feel her eyes darting around to avoid actually looking at him, but when she gets down to it, he doesn't look particularly angry. Piz is still Piz; he still doesn't question, still doesn't ask the whys, rage at her, anything. He just looks– resigned– she realizes. It makes her insides hurt.
“Don’t,” he says, quietly, and then tries to smile at her, actually tries to smile, unfailingly polite, unfailingly Piz, even in this, “just– I can’t right now. Maybe later. Maybe we can talk later, okay?”
He gets up from his chair, looking at the library shelves with unseeing eyes, “it’s not that I didn’t know– before – but lately it just seemed like we could, like we had–”
“I loved you,” she says, desperate almost, and she hopes to god he’s not hurting more than she is, because she can barely stand it herself, “I swear I did. And I’m sorry, I’m so, so–”
She did, probably still does. She wasn’t in love with him, but she had loved him. She's just not very good at it.
He nods, tired, “just not as much as I loved you.”
She’s reminded almost piercingly of Logan, saying the same words, leaning against his car, a lifetime ago. She’s Piz’s Lilly. She’s always, always wanted to be Lilly. But not now. Not like this. Except this isn’t just something Lilly did, because she was young, and bright and stupid; this is something that Veronica apparently does too, even though she’s not as young, not as bright, but still just as stupid.
He nods again at her expression, and she realizes she should have probably said something; not gotten lost in her thoughts, not gotten lost in Logan, yet again.
He turns around, and she watches him walk away, slowly, leaving her sitting in a corner of the huge library.
And then, she’s alone again, naturally.
Her eyes zero in on him almost as soon as she enters, which is quite a feat since he’s sitting on the barstool on the other end of the room. Which probably means that his gravitational pull is so strong that she’s… attuned to it. Or something. She’s thinking in poetry, and she isn’t even drunk yet.
She doesn’t even know if this... serendipitous happenstance is some stupid cosmic joke, or what, because she hasn’t planned this at all. She doesn't exactly have a plan, but it definitely involves avoiding him forever, or as long as she reasonably can without dropping out of college and leaving town.
He notices her almost immediately after, which, if she was continuing that long-drawn astrophysics metaphor, would add another line to it, but she isn’t, so.
“Of all the gin joints,” he says with a marked lack of enthusiasm, raising his glass to her in a mock toast, before turning back to his– third, she guesses, by his slightly flushed face, but lack of slurring– drink, “but this one is mine, I was here first, so mush. Go find a milkshake stand somewhere.”
“This isn’t yours,” she scoffs, “I’m the one who bought you here first.”
On a case; he’d insisted on coming, sat and drunk his one glass of something non-alcoholic slowly, eyes never leaving her as she handed over some papers she doesn’t even remember now, to a guy built like a bulldog. She’d raised her eyebrows in a sarcastic see, not that big a deal, was it gesture when it was done, and hadn’t told him that there had been a moment she’d been terrified in the middle, when the guy had checked her out slowly, making her skin crawl, and she’d been able to calm herself down only because he was there.
“Yeah, well, possession is nine-tenths the law, Veronica Mars. Does Daddy Mars know his precious baby girl is in a seedy downtown bar with her psychotic, violent ex, trying to drown her guilt in illegal beverages?”
“Oh come on, Logan,” she bats her eyelashes at him theatrically, “I think this bar is big enough for both of us,” she slides on the stool next to him, just to piss him off.
“This is the post break-up drowning of sorrows and cursing the Echolls family name ritual I suppose, another chance at twu wuv spectacularly messed up, courtesy yours truly.”
“Did you,” she looks at her hands, “did you tell Claire?”
He laughs, an ugly, unrestrained sound, “yeah, I did.”
“What did she say?” she doesn't want to know.
He opens his eyes wide, and begins in a high-pitched voice, “lover, I didn’t even realize we were supposed to be exclusive. God, you don’t need to take permission or whatever; go have fun with your blonde! Just come back when I need my bed warmed, okay?”
So Claire had chosen to lie, stick to the stereotype. Maybe it was easier for her that way. Veronica can understand that too; sticking to your stereotype. She has it down to an art form.
She notices his hard grip on the glass handle, and knows he’s thinking of Lilly, “you– cheated– on her as well, you know. You don’t exactly have a right here.”
“Yeah,” he says, bitter, “quid pro quo. It seems to happen with alarming frequency, though. Maybe I have a please cheat on me! tattoo somewhere that I can’t see. Lilly, Caitlin, you, Claire—”
“I never,” because, did he actually think that, “I never cheated on you.”
He looks at her through dull eyes, he’s already had two more glasses since she’s been here, and she has this illogical urge to tell him to stop, enough already. She bites her lip hard, instead.
“Oh come on, Veronica,” he bites out, “we’re among friends here. Don’t hold back your accomplishments. Like you didn’t get it on with Piz that weekend you were mad at me, and decided to play house with him.”
“Look,” she can feel the anger make its way through her system, “you can believe whatever you want to, Logan, because that’s what you always do, but I didn’t cheat on you. I would never cheat on you.”
She doesn’t know why she adds that last part in, because she had once thought she would never cheat on anyone and clearly she was wrong. But it’s something about the way he’s looking at her, just a little lost, vulnerable, almost, like he’s thought this for an entire year. Even all the time he’d loved her in. Maybe still does, if she’s being honest, which she rarely is.
“Why didn’t you ask me,” she asks, genuinely at sea, he can be so confusing, “why didn’t you ask me point blank? We were still together then. You could have. Why make it an issue now?”
He laughs, low, and shakes his head, “because I knew you’d run away if I did. Get self-righteously outraged, and walk out on me. And I was so in love with you, I never wanted to rock the boat, never wanted to break the status quo, just kept hoping you'd still love me the next day. Always eager to please, y’know, your own personal slave. I loved you more than I cared that you may have slept with someone else. Because I’m literally that much of a pussy,” he bows down to her audience of one in an exaggerated parody, and it makes her heart ache for him, for some reason.
She doesn’t know how to respond to that, throat constricting, “well, I didn’t.”
He’s looking closely at her, and she doesn’t turn away, allows him to search her face, because he can read her tells too; and for a moment, a bright, flaring joy flashes across his face, before it lapses back into moodiness.
“Look,” he says bluntly, “As much as I’m enjoying this anachronistic history lesson, I’m just looking to get laid tonight, okay. And I think I’m halfway there with the brunette at 5 o’clock. And that’s not going to happen if you’re just sitting here, cockblocking me at every given opportunity.”
She reels back, stung, “what makes you think I’ll be cockblocking you? I don’t care how much you whore around. Jeez, get over yourself.”
He smiles, and she can tell he’s not amused, “tell me you’re joking, Ronnie. You could barely stand it when I was kissing someone I mildly cared about; you think that jealousy won’t go off the meter when you know it’s someone I actually want to fuck?”
She can’t look at him, she realizes, so she looks down at the table instead, “oh please, like you wouldn’t be so much more jealous if some guy here hit on me, or, god forbid, I hit back on someone.”
“Yes, I would,” he states, simply, and that startles her so much she looks up, and inadvertently catches his gaze, which is a bad idea, because now she can’t look away, “I will always want to punch the lights out of any other guy you ever let touch you, but I’m not the one in denial about the facts here in this situation, so you should leave.
“You know what,” she can’t deal with that, honesty, intimacy or whatever, not right now, so she won’t, “you’re welcome.”
She gets up from the stool, and walks across the tables to 5 o’clock, to where the group of girls is sitting; she’s never had that, “hey.”
The girl she’d tapped on the shoulder looks at her in mild curiosity; damn, she’s hot. Logan knows how to pick them. “Hello?”
“That guy,” she points at Logan, who’s looking at her with an inscrutable gaze, and she’s not Veronica McPredictable all the time, she doesn’t have to be. She doesn’t want to read him, she just wants to do this, and get the hell out of here, “thinks you’re very pretty, and would love it if you agreed to share a drink with him.”
The girl looks over, and then looks back at her in surprise, “Logan Echolls?”
“You know him?” she says, and duh, lots of people know him. He’s Aaron Echolls’s son. There’s a Tinseltown Diaries repeat practically every week on either Network or cable television.
“Yeah,” the girl replies, blushing slightly, “he was at my old school. He left pretty early, seventh grade or something, but I remember him.”
That is completely unexpected, “oh.”
The girl turns to look at him through lowered lashes, “he’s grown up to be rather hot, though, don’t you think? Those arms alone…” she turns to her friends, most of whom are laughing by now, sneaking glances at him. His face is still disturbingly free of any recognizable expressions, and he’s still looking at her.
“Yes,” Veronica says, through clenched teeth, “I guess so.”
“Who are you,” the girl–what is her name, anyway– asks, without any particular interest, “a friend or something?”
“Or something,” she forces out, trying to smile, “wingman for the evening etcetera, you know.”
The girl nods like that’s completely understandable, her being Logan’s wingman, trying to get him laid by this girl who actually seems really nice. And hot. And not flat. Jesus.
“Maybe I will have that drink,” the girl says, winking at her girlfriends, before walking over; the confident, poised walk is pretty much her cue to get the hell out, so she does.
She doesn't look back this time.
She doesn’t know how long she stands outside, leaning against the wall in this dark, deserted alley, her glass still in her hands. She should keep that inside, but she can’t go back in there. That would just be pitiful.
What she should do is go away; get in the car and just go away. Text Logan to pay for the glass or something, with a pithy one-liner about how he owes her, but she can’t seem to move.
“What was that,” he asks, flatly.
She nearly drops the glass, placing a hand across her racing heart. She hadn’t heard him come out. And the relief settling in, that somehow he’s here, and he’s alone, is shameful, “what?”
“You know what,” he continues in the same monotone, “wingman, seriously?”
He sounds almost... angry, which is ridiculous, she isn’t at fault here; she was trying to help, “look, you said– and I was just trying to–”
“Trying to what?” he’s definitely angry, the sound echoing in the alley.
“Help, goddammit,” she throws her hands up in exasperation, “and it looked like it worked, so I don’t know why you’re out here bitching about it, unless you’ve become so used to fighting with me, you can’t even pick your moments anymore.”
“Oh, it worked,” he laughs, grimly, “thanks a lot, Veronica. Really.”
“What did you do?” she asks, because she can’t help it, “like, why are you alone? She was an old school friend and all. Maybe she could be your epic love, you know, fated to be.” she's being catty, she knows, but she can't even stop.
She can see him shrug, just the shadowed outlines, it’s too dark now to make out specificities, “did what you said I wanted to do. Had a drink with her.”
"Great," that's a lame response, but whatever. She tries to shove her hands in her jeans pockets, before she remembers she's wearing a skirt. She's wearing a skirt. She's dressed up for this. The universe obviously doesn't like her very much.
"So," he begins, watchful for some reason, "I should probably take her to my suite and fuck her then, huh? Considering you worked so hard at the wingmaning and everything. Wouldn't want all that noble effort wasted."
It's not that she wasn't aware that was what the whole deal had ultimately been about, but hearing him say it outright, vulgarly, nonchalantly, makes her chest feel tight.
"You probably should," she agrees, sullenly.
"I probably will," he flares up, and he just tires her out with his mercurial mood-swings and inexplicable reactions. She's done dealing with this.
“Good for you, then,” she says, faking a smile, and she can move again, so she does, shoving past him. Away.
“So is this something you can do now?” the tone is conversational, and she should keep walking, but it’s something about the way he’s standing, drawn into himself, that makes her stop.
“Is this,” he wraps his jacket tighter around himself, “something you can do now; throw girls at me for a casual fuck, and walk away? Play… wingman, or whatever the hell.”
And, just like that, she can tell what he's really asking; if she no longer cares, if she's unaffected by him. As if the fact that she's standing here, cold and alone, isn't answer enough. But it's never answer enough for Logan.
She thinks of lying, but that would be so pointless. More pointless than this whole situations, really, “no.”
She’s going to add a not yet. Salvage some dignity, here. But then he has her pressed against the dirty wall, his tongue in her mouth, his hand already reaching down between her legs, shoving her panties aside roughly, and she's so fucking glad she wore a skirt, and then she can’t say anything at all. Which is okay, she’d rather be doing this. It hasn’t been very long since the last time, but it feel like it has anyway. She distantly registers the sound of glass breaking, and knows somewhere in the fast diminishing sane part of her mind, that she's dropped hers.
His fingers stretch her out uncomfortably at first, she's not used to their length, width, any longer, and she can feel everything; the ridges in the wall hurting her back, the soreness of her thighs, pushed too far apart by his long legs in between, the wet, obscene sound, every time he pulls his fingers out, even the dirt underneath her fingernails from trying to find purchase somewhere, and shouldn't she be feeling too good to notice this stuff?
It can only really mean one thing; that they're both trying to hold onto an equation, a chemistry, that doesn't exist any longer. That sometime, in the past year, they moved on without realizing it, and this, her back literally to the wall, will be the realization. That the constant longing was just nostalgia, because they can't seem to move on, so they decided to move back, that the heat, the nearly unbearable friction last time, was because of the residual attraction, the secrecy, the strange sense of urgency the moment generated, and not them. And this is the moment, the real moment, where it's just done.
Because this, this is the one way they've always worked, the only way they've always worked, and if they don't even work this way anymore, then maybe they can't work at all, and she's been fooling herself all this while, believing that ruined lives are somehow the stepping stone to epic because a drunkenly philosophical boy told her so once.
Her heart is pounding so hard with the certainty of the oncoming realization, she almost doesn't hear his low voice over the loud sound.
"Veronica," he's saying, "hey, Veronica. Look at me."
She turns her head towards his face, eyes wide, ready to tell him that she can't, they can't, and she's parted her lips to, but then he looks straight at her, quirking his lips in the ghost of a smirk she remembers all the way back from when she was twelve, and scissors his fingers inside her, and she makes a high, breathless sound, her head falling back to bang hard against the wall, and she can see the world go white behind her eyelids, but she can't distinguish whether it's from the pain or the pleasure.
He's twisting his fingers inside her just like that, still scissoring as he goes in deeper, his thumb rubbing circles over her clit, and somehow, a year later, he still remembers the exact spots, and she's gasping in a way that should embarrass her, and she can hear the crystals crunching beneath his shoes, and oh shit, she broke the glass, and she doesn't even know what it cost, and it's all his fault, so he should pay for it and fuck.
She breaks away, breathing erratic, ignoring his deep-throated groan of protest.
"Let's," she swallows hard, mouth dry, words soft against his lips, "let's get you laid, then.”
His forehead coming to rest against hers, as he laughs, low, deep, and she feels the vibrations of his chest under her hand, fills her with an almost painful, aching tenderness.
That’s what she’d been waiting for, she realizes dimly, as he puts his hand below her knees, and pulls her legs up to wrap around his waist, her skirt bunching at her hips, never breaking the kiss he's pulled her into again, like he can’t get enough of her, like he can never get enough of her, no matter how many times he has her; she’d been waiting for him to come out alone. Somehow, she’s always waiting for them to end up alone together.
It’s almost better than she remembers, which is crazy, because in her head it’s always ridiculously hot as it is. Sometimes, when they're not together, she feels she must have exaggerated the memories, that it's the being alone that's making her think of it as hotter, a psychological trick or something, like she must have been sarcastic while telling him to go pro in it, but then he's here, like this, and fuck, it's actually that good. Awkward, because she can't remember how to deal with the length of his body anymore, and she missteps a lot, but good.
He can't seem to stop touching her, re-mapping her breasts, her face, her lips, her body under his hands and mouth, and he doesn’t say anything; nothing about iloveyouveronica and ineverstoppedlovingyou and everything else she’s half been expecting, because it's Logan.
I missed you, he says, only once, his head resting at her throat, tracing the hollow of her neck with his thumb, hair damp with sweat, I missed you so fucking much.
She’s nearly tired, a lot of times, drained almost, but he always pulls her up again, under his sheets, and she can feel how much he’s missed her each time he’s inside her through the night, her body slick, sliding much too easily against his, it’s dangerous.
He tastes like the sea, like she remembers, as if that's a permanent flavor to him now, even when he's not just back from surfing; part salt water, part thirst.
They don’t say each other’s names when they come, they’ve never done that; it doesn’t come naturally to her, and he’s– restraining himself, she can tell; for whatever reason, he’s doing it. She tries, once, when she's close, because she feels like she should, because that would be the lover thing to do, awkwardly forming his syllables and concentrating on it, even when her mind can't seem to stay on anything for too long, but he clamps his hand against her mouth and tells her to stop thinking, Veronica, and she bites down hard instead.
But he still does that thing where he looks at her the entire time, and doesn’t let her look away as much as she needs to, as much as she wants to, and she comes from just his eyes on her.
She finds, somehow, this time, maybe she doesn’t exactly want to look away.
"I joined the Hearst Tribune."
That catches her off guard, "you...what?"
"Joined the Tribune," he repeats again, slowly, like she's hard of hearing, fingers flying across the keyboard. She tries to read, but his arm is blocking her, probably deliberately.
He's wearing reading glasses, and she doesn't even know when he got them. It's a whole year of things she doesn't know about him, and she's taken aback by how much she wants to. Know.
Or maybe it's not that surprising, she always wants to know, she's Veronica Mars. She's always Veronica Mars when she's with him, not particularly normal in any way.
"Oh." she doesn't know why it's a surprise, considering Logan's been in her newspaper class since she's had a newspaper class, so this is just natural progression, but it's still Logan, doing something that doesn't involve alcohol or surfing or whoring around, doing something he doesn't have to do. In some irrational corner of her mind she thinks something stupid like "dad would be pleased."
"I'm thinking of majoring in Journalism."
That makes her turn towards him, her bare leg brushing up against his under the sheets; a movement that stops his incessant typing for a second, just as it makes her freeze.
"Why didn't you tell me?" which, stupid, stupid, stupid, Veronica Mars because obviously he'd just say--
"I'm sorry, did I miss the part where this wasn't just a sordid tryst that makes us terribly dysfunctional people, and we got married and I'm supposed to tell you things as part of a pre-nup agreement, which you'd obviously have drawn up as a free pass to bolt anytime you feel like?"
"You don't have to be a jackass," she mutters, because he's right, "I just– I thought we were friends, at least."
Which is again so spectacularly moronic she can't even believe she said that, especially since–
He laughs in disbelief, "whatever happened to 'we tried being friends, it didn't work, you're out of my life forever?' Such a great closing line, such a fantastic exit, and now you're telling me you didn't even mean it?"
"Yeah, well," she snaps, "this is not exactly you being out of my life, so maybe we can ignore that second part too."
"This is not a friendship." he says, flatly.
"Then what is it," she can't resist asking, because she does labels, even if he doesn't. Even if he can spend days fucking Kendall Casablancas and not have a name for it.
"I don't know," he sounds bored with the conversation, "sex. A drunken one night stand. A lay. A casual fuck. Some other colorful synonym thereof."
"Then let me at least live up to the stereotype, and complete my walk of shame," she snaps, moving away from him.
She tries to wrap the sheet around herself, but it's trapped under his laptop, "Logan."
He doesn't appear to be listening, still typing, and she wants to read, but she sure as hell's not going to ask him to let her, so that's that. And all her clothes are somewhere outside the room, strewn across various fixtures in the Grand, they'd made it to the bed pretty late in the... middle. The thought makes her flush.
"Logan," she tugs harder.
"What," he says finally, irritably, like he has a right here, the bastard. What is wrong with her. Why does she even tolerate him, let alone end up in his bed, naked?
"I need the sheet." she says, in exasperation.
"So do I," he turns back to his stupid laptop, and she resists the urge to go up to him, pick that thing, and smash it against the nearest wall. Logan doesn't have the market cornered on random acts of violence, "it's a post third-wave feminism era Mars, the golden age of equality, your modesty does not get precedence over mine."
She thinks she might have made the worst bargain in keeping her distance, in running away when he got too real; in allowing only the snarky, jackass part of him in, and telling the part that loved her, that constantly kissed her on the head or stroked her hair or held her in his arms or kissed her, spinning her around like he was just always so giddy with her, to fuck off. God, she misses that.
"You know just as well as I do," she says, as calmly as she can manage without breaking down and just screaming at him, "that there are two overlaid sheets, and you're hogging both."
How do they end up here, or somewhere close by, always? Arguing about something so stupid, even after an entire spent in each other, not more than inches apart at any time in the last few hours; it makes her want to bang her head repeatedly against the nearest wall just to get him out.
"I don't see what your problem is," he shrugs, equally calmly, "I've seen everything. Multiple times. In various positions. Your sudden attack of virtuousness is touching, but rather delayed, wouldn't you say?"
"Fine," she says, grimly, because fuck him, fucking Logan Echolls, "keep your fucking sheet. I hope you're very happy together."
She gets up, sans sheet, and for a moment she thinks she can do this, be sexually confident; Lilly would strut about like this, put on a show, it would never even cross Kendall's mind to think twice about it, Claire probably wouldn't either.
But then she remembers all the flaws on her body in magnified detail; the ugly scar on her stomach from the time Be– Cassidy turned her taser on her, the outline of the burn that Aaron left, the undeniable flatness of her chest, the fullness of her thighs, the birthmark below her right breast. It's different, exciting, when it's just his mouth and hands exploring all the crevices and dents in the shadowy blue glow, it's kind to her body, it eases it into something nearly beautiful, but this, this is her, in the direct light of the sun, warts and all. She feels exactly as she remembers feeling once before; standing at a counter with her inexpensive, modestly sexy underthings, in an attempt to be the normal girlfriend, and having Madison Sinclair knowingly inform her that Logan wasn't so big on the one-piece numbers.
She can feel his eyes on her, so she turns around, close to frozen. He's half-dressed in loose pants and he's closer than she'd realized. Somehow, he always seems to end up closer than she realizes.
His brow is smooth, gaze trailing down her body, till she involuntarily covers Be– Cassidy's scar with her hand. He's going to say something awful; she can see it in his eyes, in the obnoxious quirking of his lips. He's going to make some wise-ass remark, a crude one-liner, and it'll hit right where it hurts, because she's vulnerable right now. He's so good at that.
He sighs, instead, visibly deflating, hand coming to pinch the bridge of his nose, like he has a headache, "god, you're so fucking beautiful."
She crosses her arms over her chest, defensively, before covering the scar again, feeling herself turn red, "yeah, bet you say that to all your conquests."
"Only the beautiful ones," he whispers against her hair, pressed into her from behind, hand coming to wrap around her own hand on her stomach, fingers intertwining with hers.
"Insert naked body three sixty eight into day two hundred point five in the Echolls Suite of Seduction and voilà, yet another Kodak moment." she’s glad he can’t see her face. Not just right now.
“I like you like this,” his voice is low; for some reason he’s not taking the bait, “I like you like this very much.
She knows Logan possesses the ability to make completely innocent things sound dirty, she remembers it well enough from her gold-glazed Lilly days, her second time round with Duncan even, when he was always just there, always around. But he also somehow possesses the opposite ability. To make essentially sexual things sound non-sexual, chaste. It always manages to throw her off.
“I bet you like me even better when I–” she begins, even though she doesn’t know how this sentence ends; vulgarly, most likely.
“No,” he interrupts, “no quips, Veronica, no deflections.”
That one time she’d gone down on him and– swallowed– her subconscious supplies when her brain stutters; it had felt like control, she knows. She isn't sure if it was supposed to feel like she was submitting to him, but it had felt like control anyway. The time she’d glanced up to see him watching her, and the look in his eyes told her she could break his heart fifty ways if she tried. Thirty seven ways if she didn't. She had to leave after that.
“We can’t keep doing this,” she says to the nothingness in front of her, his breath hot against her neck, “we’ve tried so many times, and it just doesn’t work.” Stop, Pass Go, Collect $200, and the circle begins again.
“Maybe we weren’t trying hard enough.” And there it is, that ever-present hope that Logan somehow has, that things ultimately turn out okay, even though he should know better. He’s had an abusive, murdering father, a suicidal mother, girlfriends who cheated on him, or just didn’t love him enough; goddammit, he should know better.
“Yes we were,” she says, because she had tried, she’d wanted it to work, she’d loved him. He had too. Their actual break-up was stupid, she can't even remember Madison's face clearly right now, but they’d have gotten there eventually, sometime, some way, “we tried so hard.”
“So,” he turns her around, slow, even, “let’s stop trying.”
His hand is big, she realizes suddenly, randomly, ridiculously. She's always known it, objectively, but, in the bright sunlight, splayed on her bare skin like this, it spans her entire stomach almost. The image makes heat curl low in her stomach, but also flare brightly somewhere in her chest.
"We don't even have to have sex," he says, his eyes dark, serious, "we can do the just friends thing. We can do whatever you want to do, Veronica."
"I don't want to be just friends, I want the sex," she says hastily, and the wide, cocky grin that spreads across his face makes her want to hit him, but smile back too; he always manages to incite both emotions somehow.
When he gets down on his knees, she spreads her legs, doesn’t close her eyes.
Sex with Logan is intense, fevered, and sometimes too much for her to handle, it always has been. He’s always strung her too high, taken too much, made her admit more than she wants to admit to wanting. But, she’d forgotten this part; sex with Logan is also a lot of awkward maneuvering, trying to adjust the difference in height, a series of absurd, referential, breathless back-and-forths, constant attempts at one-upmanship; sex with Logan is fun.
Being with Logan, it makes her feel like breaking things more often than not, but he- if she's now the kind of girl who talks in teen melodrama as a second language- knows her or whatever, damage, dysfunction and all, and it’s kind of the easiest thing in the world.
“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” he whispers mock-seriously to her hipbone, teeth scraping against skin.
The disaster is always the easiest to remember, she knows, but that was never all they were, if she's being honest. And just sometimes, she's being honest.
She strings her fingers through his hair in response. And laughs.