Here’s what Veronica Mars knows at 28: you never stop having nightmares.
Even when you haven’t investigated a case in nine years. Even when you have walked away from every dark, twisted, sad, seedy thing - you never stop having nightmares. You still have the nightmares even when your life is like an NPR episode: full of good wine, a reliable partner, and nice brunches in Park Slope.
The nightmares still come. In fact, the nightmares never stop in all those years.
Blonde hair, sticky with blood and clumps of brain.
The buzz of a razor that signals degradation and humiliation.
Waking up bleary-eyed and afraid, your mind blank and your panties gone.
The freefall horror of believing your father has been blown up in the sky -
Oh yes, the nightmares still come.
And for nine years, Veronica Mars rides out these nightmares, wakes up sweating and shaking from them, and does her best to not disturb her partners. From one-night stands to Piz, who she has lived with longer than any man, she never shares these moments. To do so would be to admit their power, the power of her past, in a way Veronica simply will not allow.
She walks out of bedrooms, curls up on the floors of bathrooms, and never - not ever - gives in and lets anyone see the nightmare roll through her.
Piz, no surprise, he is the sweetest and the best. Sometimes if it is a nightmare violent enough to wake him too, he will sit outside the bathroom door, breathing softly as she calms herself down on the other side. He never tries to breach this door, breach her defenses. He knows better than to try that. He just waits for her to return to bed, never mentioning a word about it.
That’s how it is with nightmares. That’s how it is with Veronica.
Until she has a new image that will live with her forever, Gia Goodman in the black, messy pool of what used to be her insides; her hand outstretched for Veronica’s, her eyes a silent plea for Veronica to get her out of this mess - isn’t that what Veronica Mars does?
Not now, not now - she did this, sloppy fucking work with the radio, she was lazy and she did this and Gia Goodman is dead right in front of her and it’s all her fault …
Veronica wakes from this nightmare in Neptune, gasping and shaking so hard she feels like she might fly apart. She sits straight up, a little confused about where exactly she is but with one clear thought on her mind - she must get out of this bed where a person sleeps beside her, she must get out of her so she can be alone, so she can deal with this newest horror. Without hesitation she swings her legs over the side of the bed, prepared to flee and -
a firm hand on her shoulder, a single word.
This one word, this one low word, wrenches her exactly in the present moment. It is not a stranger sleeping beside her, it is not even Piz, her reliable, kind, sweet partner.
Logan Echolls is sleeping beside her and he will not - would never - let her disappear.
In this moment, the raw adrenaline still coursing under her skin, the horror still fresh in her mind, Veronica must decide what to do next. Should she pull free of Logan and run for his bathroom? And then she knows. It would not matter. He would follow her. He would talk to her through the door, reassuring and steady, he would not go away. He would not be silent.
And that’s why she’s here.
Because Logan Echolls breaches her defenses. Always.
Because, in the end, she has chosen to open the door on her past, on all the things she has done wrong, on the nightmares, and let him in.
She takes another shaky breath and, instead of running, turns to face him. He doesn’t say a word, just holds her gaze. He gives her the space she needs.
“It was Gia,” she begins, laying back down in their bed.
He opens his arms and she slides into them. He kisses the top of her head and holds her tightly.
“It was Gia and...I watched as she bled out,” she goes on, her voice a whisper in the half-light.
At 28, Veronica Mars knows the nightmares never stop. But now she knows this too: running won’t get you anything but more nightmares.
She’s done with running. She’s ready to see what’s next.