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Thrust of Grace

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“Here you go, dear.” The woman speaks in a low, soothing tone, and rests her hand on Veronica’s shoulder for only a second, which is probably just the right amount of time. She places the neatly folded sweats on the bare mattress before stepping back past Logan on her way out the door. She smells like some kind of flower, but he's not sure which.

Veronica is still on her knees, holding a sobbing Mac close. Logan hates that Mac doesn’t even know the worst part yet. Although he’s not sure what the worst part is any more.

“Come on, let’s go into the bathroom.” Veronica’s voice trembles, and he sees the steadying breath she takes.

Veronica helps her friend up, and as the shower curtain slips a bit, Mac’s eyes shoot over to meet Logan’s. He glances away guiltily and retreats into the doorway. The girls close the bathroom door behind them, and Logan shifts his weight back and forth from right leg to left before leaning against the wall.

“Police should be here soon,” the security guard notes unhelpfully.

Logan just nods. There’s a muffled cry from the bathroom, and then the sound of running water. His eyes drift down and he starts counting the squares that form a subtle pattern on the carpet. He’s only to five when his mind goes back to the roof, and Veronica’s accusations. He tries to remember what time it was when Veronica looked for Beaver at the party. Tries to figure out how long she was up there with him.

The noise from the bathroom stops, and Logan can hear the ticking of his watch. He takes it off and shoves it in his pocket. Looking back towards the closed door, he does another equation in his head, and knows it was long enough.

He never thought Beaver could be… Truth was, he never thought about Beaver much at all. Maybe if he had...maybe Beaver…wait. Cassidy.

No, fuck that. Beaver.

The elevator doors open with a soft ping, and the police arrive.

One of the deputies — Logan doesn’t recognize him, they must have hired some new blood — nods to the security guard. “Busy night. We’ve got our hands full already with that plane crash; there’s debris falling all over the damn place.”

Logan suddenly remembers that Mr. Mars is dead, and stops himself from uselessly knocking on the bathroom door to make sure everything is okay.

Mac and Veronica finally emerge, and perch on the edge of the mattress to answer questions. Veronica’s arm is secure around Mac’s shoulders. He motions with his head when Veronica glances over, and then fades back into the hallway so they can tell the police whatever they need to. He can hear the murmur of voices, but can’t make out the words. He doesn’t think he wants to.

He tries over and over, but can never quite get to more than seven squares on the carpet before he is back on the roof.

*

A middle-aged couple steps off the elevator, slightly out of breath. The woman looks like she’s going to grab his shirt as she asks, “Where’s Cindy?”

“Cindy?” It takes Logan a second to process. “Oh, Mac. Um, she’s in there.” He points, and is about to reassure them that she’s fine, but the lie never makes it past his throat.

Mac’s father raps sharply, and they are admitted. A few moments later, Veronica comes out, turning to say a few words before closing the door behind her. She looks over at him and pauses for a second, but Logan doesn’t hesitate and she’s in his arms again. She sniffs loudly, her fingers digging into his back where she holds on. They edge away from the door and the voices within.

Logan summons the elevator, the call button glowing red as he moves his thumb away. He takes a shuddering breath, and asks her. “Should we go to the hospital?”

“What?” Veronica's body tenses and she cranes her neck up. “Who’s in the hospital? Did something else happen?”

“No, no.” He smoothes his hand over her back gently. “I just thought you and Mac… I mean, did he…is she…” Veronica steps back, face creased with confusion, and Logan swallows the lump in his sandpaper throat. “You said he raped you, and I when I saw Mac...”

She shakes her head slowly. “No, he didn’t rape her. And I was talking about Shelley’s party.”

Logan’s lungs release. “I wasn’t sure. On the roof, he could have…I wasn’t sure.” As his palm cups her cheek, she leans into it. “How do you know? About before?”

“It’s how I got the chlamydia. Cassidy caught it from Woody Goodman.”

Everything falls into place with sickening clarity, and Logan closes his eyes briefly as nausea roils in his stomach. He leans their foreheads together, and they take a breath. “I’m so glad you’re here,” Veronica whispers.

The elevator doors glide open, but they don’t notice until the elderly man inside huffs impatiently. The ride down is quiet, and feels like a long way. Logan tightly squeezes Veronica’s small, cold hand.

When they walk into her dark apartment, she immediately goes down the hall, stopping at the threshold of her father’s room. Logan shuts the front door quietly behind him and clicks the living room light on. Backup barks once, and eventually pads over to him, nuzzling his hand. “It’s okay boy,” Logan murmurs, scratching behind his ears. Backup watches Veronica, but doesn’t bark again.

She stays frozen for a long minute, peering in. Finally she reaches, feet unmoving, and closes the door tightly.

*

Logan opens his eyes, and it takes a good five seconds to remember. His stomach sinks as his eyes screw shut, but Backup continues licking his face and it’s no use. Logan tiptoes down the hall and peeks in Veronica’s room. She’s sleeping soundly, the blanket still tucked up around her shoulders.

For a few minutes, they’d sat side by side on the couch in silence. Logan had been about to ask her if she wanted a drink when she’d climbed into his lap without a word. She’d cried herself to sleep eventually, and he’d carried her to bed before giving in to his own exhaustion. He doesn’t remember if he dreamt.

He leaves her door ajar, and after wandering back and forth between the kitchen and living room, Backup’s insistent whine is impossible to ignore and he takes him outside for a few minutes. Logan squints into the sun and wonders what he should do next.

In the kitchen, he pokes through the cupboards and pulls out a box of pancake mix. People need breakfast; that’s what they do when they get up. He skims the directions and opens a few drawers before finding a measuring cup and what he imagines is a suitable bowl. A wooden spoon pokes out of a jar on the counter.

He measures the powder and water and stirs. Seems easy enough. The first few pancakes aren’t the right shape, so after tossing one to Backup, he throws them in the garbage and tries again. The next batch is better, and he checks the fridge for eggs before remembering that eggs don’t really go with pancakes. But bacon does, so he pulls another frying pan out from the big drawer beneath the oven and heats it up. The stack of pancakes grows as the bacon begins to sizzle.

Suddenly Veronica is there, shouting for her father, eyes wide with hope. Logan knows the second it dies, and there’s nothing else he can say but sorry. As he holds her close, he wishes he could think of something better.

He thinks he must be dreaming after all when he hears her father’s voice. But it’s real, and somehow Keith is standing there in his bathrobe, befuddled. As Logan watches them, he realizes with a jolt that tears are slipping onto his cheeks. He practically runs for the door, leaving them to their reunion.

In the truck, he takes a deep breath and fires up the engine. The radio blares to life, and he's reaching out to turn the volume down when the news comes on.

Aaron Echolls, found dead.

Grief shoots through him like a snakebite, and he chokes back a sob. When the relief settles in, all he can do is laugh.