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how to hold your breath underwater

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It’s the kind of thing she doesn’t set google alerts for, obviously.

“Guess what,” Mac says, her voice deeper on the phone, somehow, or far away. Or maybe it’s just that Veronica is unfamiliar with her inflections now. There’s a lot she’s unfamiliar with now.

“The government finally realized you’ve been breaking federal laws since you were three and you’re being deported?” There’s nothing that really competes with habit.

“Close,” Mac's voice sounds louder, like she's leaning in, “Logan enlisted. In the Navy.”

Well, that’s unexpected.

 






(She goes back, once.

Her dad isn’t in town, she knows, it’s the only way she could have avoided the temptation to go see him. And it is a temptation, Neptune’s an addiction; her dad knows that, it’s why he doesn’t ask her to visit. She’s still running and they’re both afraid of her coming to a stop right back where she started from.

This is how it goes: touching base, mostly. Old haunts; her house from a distance, Neptune High for the fuck you, the Camelot for old time’s sake, the Neptune Grand for no particular reason other than that it happens to be on her way to the airport.

She doesn’t see Logan, of course. She wasn’t looking anyway.)

 

 

 


Piz is everything Neptune was not. Piz never really belonged in Neptune, she’s always known that.

She runs into him in a roadside café, hands him a tissue as he wipes off a coffee stain on his white shirt, and tries not to smile, because he’s familiar, even if she’s not.

“Thanks,” he says, still busy with his shirt. His hair, it’s different, it suits him, “I’m not usually the clumsy manic-pixie dream girl type, but—”

And looks up.

“Hey,” she says, she can feel her jaw start to ache, she’s smiling so wide, “hi.”

“Hey,” he says, his hand still, “hey.”

 

 

 


Logan Echolls dating Carrie Bishop makes gossip column headlines, which is ridiculous, because this is New York. You’d think they’d be more worried about traffic and commute than a dead, murdering Hollywood star’s military-bound-ex-slacker-son fucking an up-and-coming-but-never-really-there singer.

“Whoa," the girl sitting next to her on the subway has purple hair like Bonnie DeVille, and god, what is that, like a thing now. She didn’t really mean to say that out loud anyway. There are a lot of things she doesn’t mean, “sheath those claws in, kitten.”

“I went to high school with them,” she rolls her eyes at the photograph. It's strange to put it like that. Like high school is what it was. Ruined lives and bloodshed just par for the course as a metaphorical coming-of-age.

Somehow, it feels like more. Even though she’s always thought it would feel like less after all this time. (That’s a secret, though.)

The girl nods, turns away.

“Ex-boyfriend,” she adds unnecessarily. 

“Oh,” the girl peeks into her paper, “look at those shoulders. I’d be catty too.”

His face looks leaner, more lined. The angle makes him seem even taller and she can feel that uncomfortable prickling beneath her skin that his sheer physicality always induced in her.

She tries to picture him in a white military uniform. Fails.

“Indifferent, you mean,” she explains even more unnecessarily. Because apparently she’s the kind of emotional wreck who doesn’t get the sacred concept of urban solitude, “quippy, but indifferent.”

The girl turns her head, obviously bored, “of course.”

Piz calls. She lets it ring three times, then picks up. It doesn't mean anything. She's no longer young enough to fool herself into believing it does.

 

 

 

She’s never actually had sex with Piz, which is ironic, considering she’s practically famous throughout the North American continent for her sex tape. Or, if not famous, exactly, which is sad, then definitely on the hit list of all prospective employers and possible future opposing counsel. It’s a growing process.

Unless it’s a video from the future—

The first time is—

“Best you ever had, right? Don’t insult me right now, it’ll be a blow from which my manhood may never recover. And you know how important our manhood is to us manly men type.”

If the cuddling was the best part—

“Yes,” she says, and curls herself along his side, “the best. This virgin maiden hath totally been won over by your swashbuckling sword usage, sire.”

 

Logan doesn’t get to be the voice in her head. Not now. Not after all this time. Piz is fun, Piz is here, Piz is easy.

And the New and Improved Veronica Mars; she’s all about the easy. Get that to the presses.

 

  

 

 

She can’t really picture it, no matter how hard she tries.

What makes her- most- angry is that he stopped running first. That he won, in some way. That Logan somehow got over his damage. Like his reckless, self-destructive phase, the one she had front row seats to for years, was literally just that— a phase. That he somehow went and became the kind of guy she can't even fully picture in her head, and she, she still dreams of his hands, some nights. That's goddamned unfair.

(What makes her- most- angry is that she wasn’t there to see it. That’s a secret, though.)

 

  

 

 


“Don’t come back,” her dad tells her, which is random.

“Is that some sort of… reverse psychology? ‘Cause I got to tell ya, it went out of fashion circa summer of ’69, daddy ‘o mine. If you miss this pretty face, all you have to do is say it. I’m easy like that.”

“Veronica,” her dad sounds serious, “don’t come back. You have a life now, in New York. Neptune isn’t the place for you anymore”

“Wasn’t planning on it,” she says, “but I have this sudden urge to visit the Camelot and shoot some high def porn. So now I’m confused as to whether this is reverse-reverse-psychology and what I should actually be feeling to foil your intentions. Oh, you're good.”

“Just,” her dad sighs over the phone, oddly resigned, or maybe her PI skills aren’t what they used to be, “I love you, honey.”

And when she finds out why, she thinks she might empathize with her dad. Get out while you’re young. He didn’t. And she’s always been her dad’s daughter. 

But some days, sometimes, she thinks she might understand Lianne a little bit now. Just a very little bit.

“Are you going to go back?” Piz isn’t looking at her; he’s looking outside the window of the cab. And for some reason, for a whole New York minute, it’s a relief. His hand is clenched at his side and she can read body-language, she's trained to, but she doesn't want to. Not right now, not just right now.

On the radio, the announcer lists out the scandal in detail; the jealous boyfriend, the death threat, the passionate affair of a movie star's son, the tragedy of a beautiful woman. And, as fucked up as that is; for the first time in years, Logan sounds like the boy she used to know.

“Of course not, ” she looks out the window too, wonders if it’s still raining in California.

 

 

 

 

I need your help, Veronica.

(Honestly, it wasn't a lie, exactly, everything she's felt, said, done, all this while; it's just that—it's just, she didn’t know she’d been waiting till she stopped.

That’s a secret, though.)