"Hey, did you guys know there was a sensitive poet-type hiding behind this hard exoskeleton of expensive alcohol and bitter cynicism?" | In which Logan Echolls is, well, Logan Echolls.
Veronica leapt off Duncan with comical urgency, banging her head against the headboard in the process. She teared up at the impact, obviously hard, if the sound was anything to go by.
It struck him as funny, so he laughed. She glared. And all was right with the world.
"What is he doing here," she snapped, a dull flush rising at her throat. He watched the flood of color with mild interest, he'd somehow managed to make her more angry than she had been aroused, in seven seconds flat. That definitely needed to be on his resume.
And seriously, why hadn't he done this before? All those sleepless nights spent thinking of her turning him in for Lilly's murder, and then running off to his best friend on the flimsiest pretext, when he could just have been driving her insane instead.
He would definitely have to look up inspirational quotes on wasted opportunities for his next message of the day.
"He," Logan said pointedly, "is watching his best friend make-out with Judas, commonly familiar to mankind in her current guise as his ex- girlfriend, ex- never-really friend, current arch nemesis etcetera, and trying not to gag. Because said arch nemesis will not stop hogging said best friend, so his options are severely limited if he wants quality time with the latter. Your boobs— if they qualify for the weight category to even be classified under that word— are about a quarter the size of that chick's from Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, and you open your mouth way too much for irrelevant activities like talking, but whatever, friendship means sacrifices."
And," he continued sagely, "no one shall be given the opportunity of accusing Logan Echolls of being a bad friend. A murderer, perhaps. But a bad friend? No, sir."
Duncan laughed, and then inexpertly converted it into a coughing fit. Dammit, had the boy learnt nothing from his long-standing association with the infamous son of the illustrious Aaron Echolls? 1987's Sexiest Man Alive. Part time murderer, rapist and child pornographer. Star of no less than one winning and four Oscar nominated movies. His personal Best Actor snubs were obviously because of the sexual jealousy of the Academy towards anyone at top of the People's Sexiest. They were too fucking faux-avant-garde to appreciate the difficulties of a sculpted chest and well-defined hips carrying entire movies on their metaphorical shoulders.
Or it could be because Aaron couldn't act his way out of a paper bag.
Oh, who was he kidding, definitely the sexual jealousy thing.
Veronica turned her laser glare on Duncan instead, reaching a hand out to smack his bare chest in way that wasn't foreplay, because Logan could still feel the sting of it from that one time when they practically spent their entire days making-out against hard surfaces.
Damn, that girl hit hard.
In all ways possible.
He had once thought nobody could hit harder than Lilly. Nobody could know exactly where to hit so it would hurt the most. But he'd been wrong. Because Lilly did it with a wide smirk and no attempt to hide what she was doing. You knew it was coming.
But Veronica? Veronica did it with soft breathy gasps that lulled you into a false sense of security before— wham, this is you, and that is your heart on Veronica Mars; in a bloody mess on the floor at her feet. You might as well donate it to science because it sure ain't going to fit in that gaping chest hole no more.
He sighed in mock satisfaction.
"Do you know how much this is turning me on right now?"
She looked back at him, mouth falling open in outrage, but he cut her off, "the correct answer is: not that much."
He couldn't so much as hear her scoff, as feel it. Did she really think that some PG-13 groping gave her exclusive, prime-time real-estate in his head? Did she even know the going price these days? Nothing she could possibly afford on the salary of a private dick. Sucker. Private Dick Sucker.
Okay, so, he definitely needed to work that one into the conversation somehow.
"There's too many clothes for one. Come on, Mars, considering you spend half your life— the half not spent servicing rich clients at the Java, or is it serving? No, definitely servicing— in dumpsters filming amateur porn, shouldn't you be better at this? You really ought to have to have picked up some tricks by now. What about rolling over and playing dead? Can you do that one?"
"And violate your patent on it," Veronica widened her eyes, fluttering her lashes at him, oh, she was good, "never."
"Come on, dude." Duncan reprimanded half-heartedly, still obviously amused, "quit being such a dick."
Well, what do you know, that Private Dick Sucker imagery just got a whole lot more interesting. Not that he was thinking about it. At all. Obviously.
"But," he inserted a whiny note in his voice, "surely a man is allowed to expect some quality pornography when he comes home— after a hard gruelling court session, spent detailing how his daddy only did it because he loved him."
He thought back to the Defence lawyer's set face, and Aaron's practiced look of surprised hurt and grinned. "Not to mention all the sordid details of the marks across his back and— just an FYI, there's one shaped like the map of Tajikistan. And another that looks like it could be the depiction of the Red Sea, if you look at it upside down with eyes half-way closed—".
Oh, there it was. The return of the uncomfortable tapping thing that Duncan always did when they talked about this, which was, like, two times in the history of never.
"The political geography of my skin is a testament to our shared history." Logan said with a dramatic flourish, before closing his eyes in exaggerated pleasure, "If only they handed out Nobels for one-liners. Hey, did you know there was a sensitive poet-type hiding behind this hard exoskeleton of expensive alcohol and bitter cynicism? Really makes you question your worldview, doesn't it."
One look at Veronica's face informed him he'd obviously said the wrong thing. Veronica Mars, Teenage Vigilante; Savior of the Downtrodden, the Angsting and the Monetarily Solvent, couldn't joke about child abuse. The category just simply did not make it to her limited repertoire of mediocre wisecracks.
Which was such a shame because he had quite a good collection of them and no stage for the stand-up routine.
Question: What is Aaron Echolls' Favorite Michael Jackson song.
She had that soft look around the edges which meant she was going to say something about how he wasn't as bad as he wanted them to think he was and she knew him, Logan, she was his friend, she knows who he is. He doesn't have to pretend with her. They're all in this together, Logan. Let her braid your hair and buy you a prom dress. She's always wanted a lesbian experience, Logan, if those boots weren't indication enough, and you're, like, the perfect candidate for it.
And yeah, no, she really doesn't. Know him. Sure, her tongue is intimately acquainted with the texture of his and— well, that's about it. She'd turned him in for murder. Obviously he was going to have to work harder to live up to that reputation.
Damn, the world was obviously not worth what it cost to live in it when his reality was lamer than the image of it in Veronica Mars' head.
"So," he said to Duncan instead, "how's baby Lilly? That kid you had with another girl, remember?" he turned to Veronica, "don't worry though, I'm sure it was another immaculate conception. There's a precedent and everything; in legal terms, precedents hold great weight. And you know me, I'm all about the law these days."
Duncan just sighed, and for a moment, he felt a mild attack of irritation, Duncan wasn't going to say anything even now? But Veronica's mouth shut with an audible snap and this was...relief.
He could breathe again.
"God, you're such a—"
"God is the correct mode of addressal, yes" he interrupted her, before picking up his bag. So there went the evening of mindless video games. Foiled by Veronica Mars again. Christ. She was like a particularly insistent virus, spreading through the air he breathed and tainting everything he touched or something.
He was totally going to vote Conservative when he reached that stage, because what was the use of effective healthcare reforms when they still didn't have a cure for this? Disgraceful state of affairs, really. "Don't take my name in vain, tiny blonde one. Your mother teach you nothing apart from how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop? And by tootsie pop I mean a bottle of vodka."
There was a moment of silence and he thought he'd finally gone too far. And quite suddenly his head was filled with Veronica smiling, almost soft, and tearing up a cheque: your mother was always nice to me.
"Your father teach you nothing apart from being a whoring bastard constantly cockblocking other people's girlfriends?" she shot back, and he could almost feel the affection radiating, so he smiled fondly at her and she nearly smiled back.
"Why, Ronnie, you're using big girl words like cockblocking now?" he tsk-ed in mock-disapproval, "you kiss your daddy goodnight with that mouth?"
Duncan fell back on the bed and oh fuck, Logan had kind of forgotten that this wasn't— "still here," he said, raising a hand.
Logan raised his hands too, both of them— in what, surrender? "Leaving now. There's no way you're going to get her off, because it takes a good long while to thaw out frozen things, so just leave her under running water for a bit, and give her a showerhead or something. Come on over to my room after you're done with your part."
He narrowly missed the ornament thrown at his head.
Later, when he heard the news— Duncan's gone— with all of Celeste Kane's brand of quiet Ice Queen theatricality on the phone, he realized he probably interrupted the last ever sexual encounter between them.
It's probably a testament to what a bastard he is that he can't bring himself to care.
It was as if her name conjured her up. Because he hadn't even noticed her before, but now she was directly in his line of sight, all flippy blonde hair, and red lips, and ill-fitting mainstream wannabe hood clothes. And possibly the only other person in the room. Huh. How did that happen. And, here's the kicker: she was staring at him with wide, sympathetic eyes and no, this wouldn't do at all.
"Objection," he said, turning to the judge, "I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate me."
Laughter from the benches. He knew how to put on a good show, after all, it's in the genes. He had the man sitting across on the other side, obviously playing his character from the Oscar winning Until Proven Guilty, to thank for it.
Even in this moment, the universe had given Aaron Echolls a chance at rehashing the role that came closest to getting him an Academy nod. Not the movies from the early years that tanked at the box office, no sir, the stars aligned when one of their own was threatened. That star/star metaphor totally worked.
The judge didn't look particularly amused, "unfortunately, you can't invoke the Fifth at your pleasure, Mr. Echolls."
"Objection," said a voice that wasn't his. Looked like the overworked, underpaid public prosecutor Cliff Whatsiname that Veronica was so chummy with, had finally woken up, "relevance."
The Defence guy turned to the judge, "your honor, Mr. Logan Echolls' statements are some of the only corroborations of the testimony of Ms. Veronica Mars, therefore the jury deserves to be aware of any inadvertent...biases that may be latent in the same."
The jury deserves to be aware of latent biases. Logan almost clapped. He was man enough to be able to admire the handiwork of a fellow bullshit artist.
The judge nodded, "overruled. You may answer the question Mr. Echolls."
"Define 'love'." he said, making air quotes, before leaning back in his chair. He indulgently acknowledged the wave of nervous titters from the peanut gallery with a wave of his hand.
The Defence lawyer, some suit, probably from one of those self-aggrandizing places, Sullivan & Cromwell or whatever, definitely Harvard Law, almost smiled. Come on, man, keep it together, this is business. Logan couldn't help being charming, but really, didn't lawyers have some professional code of ethics that required they not be impressed by the teenage son of the accused, murdering bastard whose credibility they were trying to undercut in front of the jury?
"Do you have feelings towards Miss Mars?"
"I have lots of feelings towards Miss Mars," he returned pleasantly, "she tends to arouse all sorts of feelings in me and places that we don't publicly mention in the midst of polite society. Like my trigger finger."
This routine might have been worth it just to see the quick upturn of her lips that she was glancing down to try and hide.
God, he needed to stop looking that way.
"Mr. Echolls," the judge sounded as tired as a guy of his advanced age could possibly sound, which was a lot. Maybe he would just fall over and die if this stretched too long as Logan was well inclined to make it, "kindly answer the question, before I hold you in contempt."
"Yes," he said nonchalantly.
When he looked up, she was gone.
Predictable (adj): capable of being foretold. Synonyms include: anticipated, calculable, Veronica, certain, foreseeable.
"So, about what you said." she was avoiding his gaze, which was just spectacular because she was kind of standing at his door and shoving her way in, like her candyfloss boyfriend still lived here, and she had a right or something.
There was no one quite like Veronica in believing she had a right over things. Entitled didn't even begin to cover it. And this coming from him.
"Which time? Because I must inform you, sweetpea, I was a prodigious child; I spoke my first word at a year and two days, my first sentence three hours later, and I haven't stopped since. But yes, you can use the quote in your thesis, and don't forget to cite me as the original source, because otherwise it's plagiarism and frowned upon in the academia. You're welcome."
She couldn't quite contain the flash of annoyance at his flippancy, he could tell, even though she visibly tried to, because This Is Important, Logan. Let Me Do This. We Need To Talk This Through. "Do you have a setting that automatically defaults to 'jackass' when I'm around?"
"What can I say, Veronica," he spread his hands in an expansive gesture, "you make me want to be a better man."
"About being in love with me." her voice is sharper and she doesn't stutter saying it, it pleases him, "What you said about being in love with me. Why did you say that?"
"Why Veronica Mars," he raised an eyebrow in an effective imitation of shock, "did you really expect me to perjure myself in a court of law of this great democracy where concerned citizens are watching the justice system in action, to spare your feelings and not make you deal with this? How positively selfish of you."
She sighed and did this thing where she sort of melted. That was the only word he could think of to describe it. Not like Trina's romance novels, in the She Melted In His Strong Arms At His Declaration of Undying Devotion, sort of way, but more like, her body...liquefied or something, and she couldn't possibly hold it up anymore.
She took the shape of the couch when she sat down, already attuned to all her curves. And he thought: that's an odd fucking thing to think.
"They're going to use it against you," she said dully, staring blindly through his gaming console, "they're going to say you're corroborating my story to protect me, because you're in love with me. That you never actually saw the tapes yourself."
Oh hey, look, it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Captain Obvious to the rescue.
Suddenly, he was irrationally angry.
"I couldn't have lied," he said roughly, gripping the armrest of the couch. He could feel his nails rip into the pleather, "it's not like there weren't ten thousand people from Neptune High who couldn't have called me out on it."
"How could they have called you out on it," she snapped back, "that would be grounds for speculation, heresay, whatever. Inadmissible. I know you know nothing of the workings of the real world, because you're living in a hotel room at the expense of Daddy and Mummy's endless royalties, but surely even you've seen a couple of episodes of Boston Legal. It's not like there's anything else you've particularly done with your life."
He looked closer at her. She was still not looking at him, and then it was like, he knew, "you're mad."
"Yeah," she said grimly to the couch, "let's start the Call Each Other Names session early tonight. Real mature, Logan. You want me to call Madison over for a playdate or something because I hear she's—"
"No," he cut in, "you're mad. You're mad that I said I loved you."
This was. He didn't even know what this was.
He was almost bent in half, trying to, well, something, reach, or whatever. She was a midget standing, sitting was a whole new world under the microscope, "You don't want me to be in love with you."
She looked up then, hair falling across her face, so her eyes were shaded from his. Guess that PI stuff really trained one for the uncomfortable relationship questions, with the first one obviously being; what relationship? "Don't be stupid. What does that even mean."
"It means," he could tell his burst of laughter threw her off for a moment, but he couldn't help it, the sheer insanity of her— of her, "you're such a magnificent, controlling bitch, you can't even handle other people feeling something you don't want them to feel. Did you ever consider Control Freaks Anonymous, just a by the way? Because the support group thing really helps, all those nice people at AA told me so. The first step to recovery, darling, is admitting you have a problem."
This is just priceless. She's angry at him because he's in love with her. That Freud fellow would have had a field day with this.
"Oh darn, you found me out, Logan" she said, placing her hand just above his hipbones, so near his cock, he could almost feel the rush of blood from under her hands. He was still standing, after all, it was all she could reach. This would be a fun way to live out his life. You know, if she wasn't completely fucking crazy and he didn't need a straightjacket for allowing her inside his head like this.
And then she's shoving, hard.
"You know me so well. This is all about us. Who cares about Lilly's murder trial, let's just ride off into the sunset together, because you know what they say, love makes the world go round. All you need is love."
Inexplicably, he thought of Veronica 1.0, the long-haired, wide-eyed, Disney Princess version, and her serious: you don't need to believe in love for it to happen, you know. He remembered laughing at that. This current model of them, roles reversed, was obviously Twilight Zone, Bizarro Land. Some dark alternate timeline. Possibly hell.
"We should get married," he mused as her eyes widened, and god he loved this, mixing things up so she didn't know what to expect, he'd fallen into a pattern with her, and that was just unacceptable, "then anything between us would be protected by spousal privilege."
He grinned at her expression, "I have seen all the seasons of Law & Order."
She sunk back into the couch, "did you just ask me to marry you."
He got down on his knees, totally worth it for her face, "Veronica Mars, will you—"
"Wow," she shoved him again, and he fell back out of sheer courtesy because it wasn't like she could actually move him if he didn't want to be moved, but it was cute to see her try. Cute in that Slow Loris kind of way, you know, where you were dead, "there is nothing you can't make a mockery of, right?"
He pretended to think of that for a moment, "clowns," he said finally, "just cannot figure out a way to make them funny."
"Do I get to keep the family jewels," she muttered and it took him a while to register this was about the marriage.
She sighed in that exasperated way she had with him, "not what— actually, you know what, I want all of them. Quid pro quo."
He thought about that for a moment, "pretty sure the world's oldest profession is the only one that deals with that sort of quid pro quo. My, Veronica, you're getting progressive and emancipated and comfortable with your chosen career path. Although I'm not sure sure you understand the business angle of it, quid pro quo would imply equality. What do I get in this?"
"Me," she said simply, "considering you're in love with me and all, I'm driving an easy bargain here."
She was going to use that against him? God, he was so proud of her.
"You know, Veronica—"
And then she's, like, tackling him, of all the crazy, psychotic, certifiable—
See, she kissed him first. He always noted those kind of details because it'd be good for blackmail later. Like, hey Ronnie, remember that time I was talking about clowns and you just jumped me? Or The Echolls family jewels get you all hot and bothered then huh, must get that mercenary streak from your mum. Heard she upped and ran with the savings?
Or, basically, she just got up, and kind of clashed her teeth against his with a force that almost knocked him over, which was ironic, considering.
And then she was all over him and he wasn't. Considering. Anything really.
He'd already shoved her skirt around her hips before reality intervened. Or just looked in and shook its head at him in disgust or whatever, because how did he never learn. He'd almost honed it to an art form.
"You turned me in to the Sheriff for murder." he reminded her, crossing his arms across his chest with difficulty. But then they just brushed against her breasts, till her nipples puckered, and well, this was just a bonus of Making A Valid Point.
He could practically see her ablaze with outraged righteousness, "you told an entire courtroom you're in love with me."
Yeah, because one of those things was totally like the other.
But she was looking at him with an expression that was probably illegal in twenty-seven states, so he decided he could learn later. Presumably after she'd stomped on his heart with those butch boots and walked out, again, about twenty minutes later. Predictable, like he'd said. But whatever, hakuna matata, right? It was a song and everything.
Besides it'd be so much ammo.
So when he catalogued her sighs for future reference and future taunts, he was totally researching.
(And see, this is where those details come in handy if you're aiming for a high degree of scholasticism in your chosen research field, to figure out patterns and repetitions and movie references that fit: she kissed him first the first time too. There is a good line in there somewhere about not kissing on the lips in the profession, because then you might fall in love, and that would suck.)
And when she walked out, twenty minutes later, after giving him the wide-eyed, what are we doing, Logan, this is just wrong, he— well, he basically shut the door and went back to the paused game.
After all, tomorrow was another day.