Title: "Thinking About Thinking of You"
Fandom: Veronica Mars
Summary: He wondered if she was just a figment of his imagination--a dream conjured out of Scotch and loneliness and room service fries. (Logan/Veronica)
Spoilers: Through "Donut Run."
Rating: R for language only (because you know they'd swear if they could)
Author's Note: The ending is shamelessly cribbed from a certain John Hughes movie. Deal with it. Special thanks to the amazing austin360 (my real OTP) for the beta and the encouragement and all the squeeing.
Nothing ever happened the way it was supposed to.
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. People leave when you need them the most. Whoops. Sorry about that. Shit happens, you know?
Logan Echolls closed his eyes, leaned back against the lunch table, and tried to imagine he was sailing on a clear blue sea. Cloudless sky. Ocean breeze. Waves lapping gently at the hull. He'd have had more success if it hadn't been for Dick's yammering beside him.
"Hey, look, Caitlin Ford's back," said Dick, punching Logan in the arm and pointing.
Logan felt not the slightest inclination to look.
"Wasn't she in, like, a fat farm or something?" said Dick around a mouthful of Cho's special Peking Duck pizza.
"She was in the hospital being treated for bulimia," said Beaver in a tone of horrified exasperation.
Logan had no idea why he was at school today. It wasn't like attendance was high on his list of priorities. One of the perks of not having a family anymore. No one around to make sure you brush your teeth, eat your veggies or go to school. He usually brushed his teeth anyway, though.
For a while there he'd been making appearances at Neptune High pretty regularly. He had, after all, nothing better to do. Though if he were feeling honest with himself, he'd admit that it was really so he could see her. A glimpse between classes, a covert peek across the courtyard at lunch, a chance encounter in the parking lot. It was like poking a sore tooth; it hurt but it kind of felt good, too.
But he was done with that, now. Finito. Over and out. So long and thanks for all the fish.
He'd officially given up on Veronica Mars after she'd helped Duncan skip town. She'd deny it, of course, but Logan knew she'd planned the whole getaway. She and Duncan had used him to cover up their clever little plot, without even having the courtesy to mention that Duncan was about to add himself to the long list of people who'd bailed out of Logan's life. Whoops. Sorry about that. Shit happens, you know?
"How am I supposed to enjoy imagining sins of the flesh when chicks like that don't have any?" bellowed Dick, voice pitched to carry to where Caitlin Ford sat alone, eating her dietician-prescribed sack lunch.
"Why do you always have to be such an asshole?" said Logan irritably.
"Dude! What is with you? You're one seriously mopey motherfucker today."
Logan shrugged. "Must be that time of the month. You know how emotional I get when Aunt Flo comes to visit."
"Hey, let's hit Mood tonight. That'll bring you out of your funk."
Another night of meaningless conversations and meaningless sex. Tempting, but no. "I don't think so."
Dick stared at him in disbelief. "You're gonna pass on a trip to the land of free-range supermodels?"
"Yeah, you know, I hear there's a Seventh Heaven marathon on the Family Channel."
"Your funeral, gramps." Dick clapped him on the back and wandered off across the courtyard in search of another partner in debauchery.
Beaver gave him a quizzical look. "You sure you're okay?" He was a sharp kid, that Beav.
Logan smiled and squinted up at the sun. "Right as rain, my man." Except that he wasn't. He didn't even remember what it meant to be okay.
After fifth period he cut out and headed home alone. Home. A strange word for an empty suite at the Neptune Grand. But then home had always been a myth. A clever facade constructed of Vicodin and fake smiles, as flimsy and impermanent as a movie set.
There was a pile of mail by the door; right on top was a letter in a pale green envelope. He picked it up and stared at it. Guess his dad had finally gotten the date right after all.
He tossed the envelope into the trash and reached for the open bottle of Johnny Walker Black on the table.
An indeterminate time later he was dragged out of a whiskey-soaked haze by an insistent knock at the door.
"Hey!" said Veronica perkily when he opened the door.
He rubbed his eyes, but when he looked again she was still there. "Duncan doesn't live here anymore," he said slowly. "But then I guess you know that."
"I came to see you." Her expression was impenetrable, which was strange, because he used to be able to read her so well.
He leaned against the doorframe in a valiant display of nonchalance. "Gosh, I'm flattered, but I'm not currently in the market for sloppy seconds. Or is it thirds? No. Wait," he said, counting dramatically on his fingers. "Fourths."
"Today's your birthday," she said, ignoring the insult.
He feigned a look of surprise. "Really? I'd forgotten." He'd tried to forget, anyway. Leave it to Veronica to ruin all his best-laid plans.
She thrust a foil-covered pan at him. " I made you a cake. "
Something oily and bitter expanded in his chest, filling up the space where his heart used to be. "Here's a news flash," he snapped. "I don't want you or your pity cake, so run along, little Dorothy."
"You know what? On second thought, I'll take the cake. It's just you I don't want." He grabbed the cake and tried to shut the door before she could say anything else. Except that she was wily, that Veronica Mars, and she already had her foot wedged in the door to keep it from closing.
He probably could have stopped her, but she was fast and small and he was holding the stupid cake, which he really did want, so he let her push her way into the room.
"Don't you ever get tired of hating me?" she asked, standing in the middle of his (formerly Duncan's) suite with her arms crossed.
"Actually, no, I'm pretty comfortable hating you, thanks for asking." He set the cake on the table, upsetting a pyramid of empty Red Bull cans.
She looked around disdainfully at the collection of dirty laundry, take-out containers and liquor bottles decorating the suite. "Entering your pre-wino phase, I see."
He was losing patience; his veneer of composure was a fragile, tenuous thing and he didn't know how long he could keep it up. "What are you doing here, Veronica?"
"It's your birthday."
"Yeah, I know. What do you want?"
She was studying the toe of her shoe like it was Cliffs Notes and he realized that for the first time since he'd opened the door she was uncomfortable. "Maybe I miss you," she said.
He laughed, because there was nothing else he could do. "Take an aspirin, it'll pass." He plunged his hands deep into his pockets. "That's what I hear, anyway."
"I'm worried about you, Logan. You're living here by yourself, doing god knows what. You barely come to school anymore; you're half-drunk most of the time--"
"And you've come to save me? Play Bobby to my Whitney? Oh, thank you, Veronica Mars, you're my hero!"
"God, Logan, you make it so hard to be nice to you."
He tried to ignore the crease in her chin, the one she got when she was angry. He'd always loved that crease. "Has it ever occurred to you that I don't want you to be nice to me?"
"Yeah, actually, it has."
"So again I ask, why are you here?"
"I told you. I miss you."
"Don't," he said sharply, the word feeling sour and corrosive in his throat. He turned away from her and fixed his eyes on the door to Duncan's now-empty room, grounded himself in the solid blankness of it.
"Duncan never loved me," she said. "Not really."
He snorted. "You just figure that out now that he's gone? And you call yourself a junior detective."
"I figured it out a while ago. Right after I figured out that I didn't really love him."
"Let me know when you get to the part I'm supposed to care about."
"Can you just shut up for five minutes and let me say what I came here to say? After that, I promise, you can make all the snarky comments you want." Her voice was high and shaky, and when he turned around her eyes were shining with unshed tears.
This is the part where you throw her out before things get out of hand, said a voice in his head. But there was a rushing sound filling his ears and it was growing steadily louder. It made it easy to ignore that voice in his head, which had always sounded a little too much like his dad, anyway.
"Duncan was safe," she said, taking a step towards him. "And I thought I needed that, after everything that happened. I thought if I went back to Duncan I could go back to the way things were, before. That I could be the person I used to be. But it was a lie. Everything was a lie except you, Logan."
When she got to the part where she still loved him and always had he had to close his eyes to keep from falling. So when she kissed him, a moment later, it caught him off guard. She tasted exactly the way he remembered--like marshmallows and sea water--and nothing at all like desperation. While he was kissing her back he wondered if she was just a figment of his imagination--a dream conjured out of Scotch and loneliness and room service fries.
He opened his eyes and there she was, real as rain, looking up at him with that fragile smile of hers. The one that said I need you and I'm sorry and please love me.
He buried his face in her hair and drew a deep, rasping breath. The scent of her was intoxicating, a drug better than whiskey or GHB or his mother's happy pills.
Maybe she was only here because Duncan had left her. And maybe she was going to hurt him all over again. But right at that moment he didn't give a damn, because standing there, holding Veronica in his arms, Logan knew what home felt like.
There were no promises this time, no professions of innocence or avowals of past mistakes; but there weren't any lies, either. Maybe it wasn't perfect, but Logan already knew that perfection was overrated.
Veronica twined her fingers in his and pulled him over to the couch. When she uncovered the cake he laughed because it was strangely lumpy and there were crumbs in the icing. He thought it was the best cake he'd ever seen.
She lit the single rainbow-striped candle with a book of matches from Java the Hut and smiled at him. "Happy birthday, Logan. Make a wish."
"It already came true," he said, and blew out the candle.