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don't give your lover up tonight

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So.

Long story short–

–there is no short story.

(There's the long version and there's the even longer version. It's nine years, that's literally a third of his entire life, come on.)



-



Anyway.

He decides to get his shit together about the second day she leaves.

Rumor around town is- it's for good. He doesn't know what good means, but maybe it's a given descriptor for Veronica Mars somewhere at a distance, far, far away. A place where he falls outside the fucking insane force of her gravity. That definitely sounds good to him, if he's lying. And he's lying.

So yeah, he decides to get it together on the second day. He's a fast worker that way, and, well, truth is, he kind of blew all his wallowing cred on The Madison Break-Up. He could do a repeat telecast, but he's been on the periphery of the entertainment industry long enough to know the utilitarian value of the move is next to nil. And everyone knows he's the selfish, use-value kind of guy, look for it in the obituaries.

He means to clean up, get his act together, etc., but that's before the whole getting accosted and beaten up by Gorya Sorokin part, which kind of puts a damper on the whole thing. Someone always has to pay is the rule they lives by, and apparently, so does all of Neptune's fine law enforcement. But the dude's named after a minesweeper of the Soviet Navy, and clearly Shakespeare got the what's-in-a-name thing wrong, like just about everything else he got wrong about epic and love and bullshit like that, so, he can't really blame Vinnie Van Lowe for catching the dead movie star's son over the Russian mafia boss's son.

He gets it, okay. He ran away from a burning building once. Not everyone in the world gets to be the hero of this story.

He has no one to call to bail him out except Dick and last he saw Dick, the guy was so jumped up on meds, it's like Duncan all over again, except a lot more sleaze and a lot less sociopath. He doesn't think about how she would've come, even if she hated him, even if she wanted him out of her life forever; she would have come.

Tomorrow, he decides, head resting against the bars. He'll clean up tomorrow.



-



Tomorrow, it turns out, is a year later.

Not in terms of the getting sorted bit, because as far as he can tell, that would involve some sort of life-plan and twenty years of not having a life-plan has kind of solidified into a pretty definitive character trait through the course of a few habit-forming years.

But tomorrow, definitely, in terms of where he doesn't turn around to look twice at every short, blonde girl within a forty feet distance, doesn't wake up at odd hours with aching memories of the sound she makes when she comes, doesn't slow down past every car parked in front of the Camelot. Give the guy some credit, he's not stupid, you know, he knows progress when he sees it. Or doesn't see it. There's a metaphor in there somewhere.

– which he'd definitely stop around to figure out, but the waves are particularly good at this time of the month, and he kind of missed all those Econ classes, so all he really learned about opportunity cost, he learned from meaningless sex in an Aspen winter he can barely remember, and well, can you really hold a guy to the rap sheet for being a little hazy on the concept.



-



The overzealous Juvenile Justice Division does its thing, even after two years of red-tapism and form filling and Mr. Echolls, we're just trying to help, and he gets assigned Richard, because, of course.

"Tell the truth, Richard, you're the only public defender they have, aren't you? Everyone in Neptune knows that's a non-speaking role. Hate to break it to you, dude, but I'm not sure you make it to the end credits."

The guy appears to consider that for a moment, then nods as if he figured out something, "as in Cliff Richard. Right."

"As in, I pay more taxes than you pay rent, and I'm just concerned, as a vigilant citizen of this country who is well aware of his rights, that I'm not getting my money's worth here."

"I'm not sure I'm getting my paycheck's worth here either," the guy says, pleasantly, "so why don't we surprise ourselves and make it worth each other's while."

Honestly, he has a whole repertoire of time-filling gambits, but he's bored of filling time. There's too much time to fill.

"So," Logan drums his fingers on the table, "let's talk about you."

"Okay," the guy says, immediately, matter-of-fact, no this is about you, Logan and I understand you have issues with authority figures but I'm sure we can work something out and you need to let go of your destructive anger if you want to build something real and everything else he was ready to mouth along; oh- this guy's good, Logan had almost forgotten he's Veronica's guy, probably used to the left-field, then, "what about me?"

"At what point in your life did you tell mommy your dream was to be an underpaid, overworked, slave for the government," he leans in closer, hands clasped, like he's dying to know, "I need to figure out how to achieve my goals just like you did, and wouldn't you know, I'm on the market for a father figure."

"My dream," Richard leans in too, unfazed, "was to be a voice artist. You wouldn't believe it, because, let's face it, my voice is awesome, but I actually got rejected, and gave the bar in a moment of weakness and ended up an underpaid, overworked slave for the government instead of the the guy behind Nick Fury." He shrugs, "their loss. We all have our crosses to bear."

Richard shakes his head, tilts back in his chair, "now, Richie Rich, let's talk about you"

What throws him off his game, Logan later decides, because there has to be something, is that the guy sounds sincere about the voice artist thing. Genuinely regretful. Like there's something beneath the layer of sarcasm. Like he isn't just making it up, that he actually wanted something that badly and it just didn't work out and it sucks.

"What about me?"

So, yeah, way to settle his ransom for cheaper than the market price, but apparently all his kingdom's worth is a little bit of sincerity. That's so sad, it almost has its own giant black hole of lameness.

 



-



Fact is, most people ask the wrong questions: why the Navy?

It's easy, Veronica would have figured it out in three seconds flat, if she bothered to think of it at all. Poor little rich boy with a death wish. After all, why not the Navy. They literally give you medals for dying. If he were aiming to be an overachiever here, this would be his field of expertise.

The correct, more pressing question, which he notices no one's asking the Navy, really is: why Logan Echolls?

Maybe it's trying to break stereotype. Maybe it's just too fucking tired of waiting for nothing in particular, no one in particular, and well, he's just as good an option as any. Or at least no worse an option than any. And if he comes in a single package with his own overactive Freudian death drive, then, well, bonus, right?



-




Funny story, he doesn't actually realize Carrie Bishop is Carrie Bishop till her clothes are already strewn across his floor and she's saying his name with an air of familiarity that would've sent him running, if he'd realized it first. It could be the years, it could be the new name, it could be that she looks bizarrely different from what he does remember, but he's pretty sure it's mostly the purple hair that catches him off guard.

(With the number of things catching him off guard, he's beginning to think Veronica just took it with her when she skipped town, because what else could really be expected from someone with her zip code. All his walls, every bit of his defence, the whole armory. He's calling felony here.)

She smokes a Virginia Slim 120 after, the sheets barely covering her breasts, and he can tell it's more for the image than the cigarette, an entire checklist, which is fine with him really, he understands image.

"Weren't you, like," she begins, "with Veronica Mars? That girl who did that whole private dick deal in high school?"

– or should I say she once had me.

He likes to think he's better at this now. Maybe, or maybe he's just better at the image, doesn't need a prop to fit into the role anymore, "that was a long time ago."

She nods, "no judgment, there" she says, frankly, "I– as much of a social suicide it is to admit it around here– actually liked Veronica. She seemed– not more real, although maybe more real considering her competition is the 09ers, but– I dunno, a better real? Like her world had good guys and bad guys and they were always different, and the truth was always something that could be found out, like it always existed, this higher truth. Something like that."

That's not true, he knows, not even close to the truth.

"Yeah," he echoes, "something like that."



-



There's a synopsis this time: He breaks into his inheritance, buys a beach house with Dick, pays his taxes, mostly, sticks to the punctuality code of the armed forces, even though he thinks it's repressive and arbitrary. 

(He calls Richard on occasion; "Dick, my man."

There's silence for a moment on the other end, "from Richard. Right. That's Mr. McCormack to you, Echolls."

"Who's Mr. McCormack? Drinks tonight, Dick, I'm feeling sharey and you know how that gets you going. We could paint our nails."

"Nine o' clock, Echolls. You pay. And if the nailpaint is green, I shall never pick up another call from this number. You know green makes me look washed out.")

What happens essentially is this; he grows older. That seems to be the general rule of things, he's noticed.



-

 

So, this is stupid, but for seven years he kind of thinks she's coming back. Like he'll wake up and he'll run into her somewhere in front of an old haunt and she'll be– he can't picture her anything but nineteen– but she'll be older, and there would be an awkward moment, sure, but he'd offer to drive her back home, and she'll say yes and it wouldn't start just then, not right just then, and she probably wouldn't even look over the entire drive back, but there'd be something there. There will always be something there.

He knows Veronica isn't the emotional attachments, god, does he know that, but Veronica isn't the running either. He knows that too. The hero is the one who stays.

"Dude," Dick is sprawled across their couch, a controller in his hand, and this has begun to feel like home, which should be pretty fucking crazy, but considering his actual home, he can't help but feel he got the better deal, "you know what they do to people missing for seven years? Declare them dead. You're officially that creepy kid from that movie about seeing dead people except creepier because you don't see dead people, you want to bang a dead person."

He gets up as the screen flashes game over, and stretches, throwing the controller back down on the couch, "and you know what they do to people who want to bang dead people? Nothing. Because that's so fucked up they don't even think they need to make a law for it."



-



It's when he looks at the calender and it's March in the middle of a year that's far too fucking far away from then, is when it actually hits him. She's not coming back.

Carrie's the one to call a cab when he passes out at her gig, in a bar thirty miles from home, where he'd hoped to avoid meeting anyone who had so much as watched a single episode of Tinseltown Diaries, and run straight into her, because it wasn't like the universe ever cut him any slack, and why break a winning streak now.

He hasn't met her since that last time, because that wasn't about anything more than a quick fuck. They'd both known that. This, is not.

There's an aspirin and a glass of water next to him when he wakes up and Carrie is sitting with her feet up on the sofa in his room.

"How do you feel now?" she asks. She's not wearing make-up.

He's not that guy anymore, the kind who'd pass out in a seedy bar in an alcoholic haze but fuck, "better."

(When he'll look back, even without the downhill spiral, the drugs, the cheating, the breakdown, this was doomed from the start. No relationship built on the foundation of Veronica Mars could really last, after all.)



-



(There's no single definitive moment, there never is. But there is this:

He's checking for escape routes before the thought's fully formed in his head. He can make out the sound of gunfire in the distance. He's been trained to. But this isn't a practice session at the Miramar station, this is Afghanistan. This is the real deal.

Cunningham follows his gaze, the color's slowly draining from his face, there's too much blood around him, the red seeping through the ground, "if you leave, Echolls, I won't blame you."

Maverick, the guys call him, after Top Gun, which everyone admits is a sham, but the name isn't; Cunningham's a wizard in the air.

"Because you'll be dead, huh," he forces the words out.

Cunningham smiles, tiredly, "that, yes. But it's about survival, I'll weigh you down. It isn't practical."

He almost runs. Nine out of ten guys would leave the burning building. He's all nine. He's not the hero. He's fucking terrified, and, it's a weird thing to realize, but he doesn't want to die. He wants to live, goddammit. And– somehow, this seems important to tell. When it comes down to it, he hadn't jumped. All those years ago, on Coronado Bridge– he hadn't jumped.

He stays, instead. He doesn't know how to be a hero, but this isn't about being a hero, this is about Cunningham teaching him the best way to tie the tightest knots, eating with him when he was under lockdown for acting out, talking about someone he'd left behind whom he wanted to get back to. This isn't about Logan at all.

He thinks of many people through the long night, but mostly he thinks of her. He doesn't try to pretend, not then, it seems pointless. It's so much effort to not, and he's exhausted.)



-



I don't really...do that anymore.

Nine years of radio silence, but he knows he can count on her. And then she's there, in front of him, real. And in his head, she isn't nineteen anymore. He isn't either.

When she sees finally sees him, she smiles; confused, awkward, fucking beautiful.

Honestly, if he'd known at the beginning it would be nine years, he'd probably have stopped. Tried harder, at least. It's nine years, that's literally a third of his entire life. But, well, nobody really told him, and he kept forgetting to forget.

So.

Long story short–

–this is where the story begins.



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