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I.

It was July the first time Weevil saw Veronica, the summer after her first year of college.

Actually Weevil was under a Mercedes, so he didn't see her walk in. He heard footsteps, and then he heard Veronica's voice. When he rolled out from under the car, the brightness streaming in the bay door surprised him.

He followed her outside, wiping his hands on his coverall. "V. What brings you this way?"

"Can't a girl just stop by to see what's up with you?" she asked.

He should've known: she needed something. It wasn't like they had a habit of hanging out, exactly, but the realization still pissed him off. He crossed his arms.

"What," she asked, sounding slightly annoyed.

"Nothing," he said, and spread his hands, as if to show proof. "Tell me what you need, and make it quick; I gotta get back to work."

What she needed was for him to snoop around a particular warehouse after dark and see if he could snap a picture of some petty low-life who was selling speedballs to minors. He thought about asking if her dad knew she was hiring him to do her dirty work, but bit it back. He was still smarting over what could've been, if he hadn't blown that gig.

He agreed to do it, took the spare camera and stashed it in his locker, and went back to work without much of a goodbye.

The conversation bothered him. More, it was what they never said but both knew: that Veronica only ever sought Weevil out when she needed a favor. That their orbits crossed less and less.

That even if she wasn't a real '09'er’—which she never would be, even if she and Echolls broke up and got back together twice a year for the rest of her life’—her friendship with Weevil had seen its best days in high school. During the year, his job at Buildings and Grounds wasn't exactly a recipe for spending quality time, and besides, he didn't like knowing he owed her for the gig that had kept his parole officer off his back. And even during the summer they had no reason to see each other. Unless she needed something. Like now.

He told himself he wasn't thinking about it, but the next few times he heard an SUV pull into the shop, he couldn't help wondering if it was her. There was an uncomfortable adrenaline rush every time, followed by the kind of let-down that made him want to throw things. He took out a lot of aggression on lug nuts that didn't want to come off.

Didn't help that he couldn't seem to stop finding her attractive. He used to wonder what it would take for her to go for him. These days he knew better, but the fantasy was still there. He could push it out of his mind, but she always reappeared, and the yearning always resurfaced.

He figured he might as well get used to it. Wasn't like it was going to change.


II.

The second time Weevil saw Veronica that summer was when he handed off the camera. He'd gotten the money shot, all right, and he'd resisted the temptation to make his presence known and beat the crap out of the guy. See? He could be taught.

For some reason, Veronica hadn't wanted to pick the camera up at the shop, so he brought it to the apartment, instead. Same old place, just like it always was. They finished their business pretty quick, but she kept asking questions. What had he been up to last weekend? Who was he hanging with these days?

He bristled, at first, thinking she was implying he'd been doing something wrong. But she turned pink and insisted she just wanted to know how he was. After a long minute, he shrugged and decided to believe her. Maybe the conversation at the shop had been bugging her, too.

Knowing that made him feel better, faster than he wanted to admit. But he relaxed, and let himself spin her a story or two about the guys he worked with. Even if she drove him crazy, and not always in the good way, he liked making her laugh.

Eventually her stomach rumbled loud enough for him to hear. "Okay, it's dinnertime," she said. "You hungry?"

Weevil raised an eyebrow. "Don't tell me you're offering to cook."

"Believe me, you don't want me to. Mars women’—not so great in the kitchen. I was figuring on ordering pizza."

He shook his head. "Pitiful."

"What? I know my strengths. And how well do you know your way around the inside of a kitchen, anyway?"

"Better than you," he shot back. "I make the best fried chicken since’—well, since my grandma used to make it."

"You make fried chicken?" Veronica leaned back against the counter, giving him an appraising look. "I'm trying to picture you in a little flowered apron..."

"Hey, picture away," Weevil said, leaning back himself. "You haven't lived until you've tasted what I got."

At that instant, the door swung open. "Honey, I'm home," Keith called, and then stopped short, seeing Weevil in the kitchen. "Eli," he said, his voice carefully neutral.

Veronica's face was bright red. Which made sense, since the last words out of Weevil's mouth had been something dangerously like sexual innuendo.

Which’—what was the matter with him, anyway? What was he thinking? Veronica looked like she wanted to dig a hole in the floor, crawl in, and pull the hole after her.

"Sheriff," he said, stiffly.

"I was just seeing if Weevil wanted pizza," Veronica said, brightly, and Weevil made excuses and left, wondering which Mars was more relieved to see him go.


III.

Veronica left him a message, that night, but he didn't call back.

The next day there were two text messages from her number, which he deleted unread. Weevil snapped at a couple guys for no reason. Everybody stayed the hell out of his way after that.

He shouldn't have been flirting with her anyway. He was an idiot. Her type wasn't exactly a secret’—rich and dumb, generally speaking’—and since he was neither, he didn't have any illusions about qualifying for the dating-Veronica sweepstakes.

But as long as he was useful, she was going to keep showing up, just when he'd gotten used to not expecting her anymore. And sure enough, she pulled up to the garage a few days later. The third time he saw her that summer. This kept up, he was going to lose count.

Part of him was glad to see her. The rest was pissed already, spoiling for an argument, and that part had the upper hand when he opened with, "Got another mission for me?"

Veronica made a face. "Not exactly."

"So, what, then?"

"I was kind of hoping..." her voice trailed off.

He waited.

"That fried chicken you were talking about?"

Well, damn. Despite himself, Weevil grinned. "Are you fishing for a dinner invitation?"

She shrugged, her whole body loosening up now that it was obvious he wasn't going to laugh in her face. "You seemed pretty confident about your cooking abilities the other night. I figured I ought to give you the chance to prove yourself."

Weevil shrugged. "Fine. When's your next night off?"

"Sunday," Veronica said, quick. Like she'd already run through her calendar in her head before coming over. That was interesting; Weevil filed it away to consider later.

"Sunday, seven o'clock," he said, and walked back around to the open hood of the car. "You know where I live."

This time, when the guys at the shop whistled and leered as her car pulled away, Weevil let himself enjoy it.


IV.

"I've got to admit, that was amazing." Veronica leaned back in her chair.

"Yep, that's what they all say."

She wadded up her paper napkin and threw it at him. "I may never eat again."

"You say that now...then again, you did pretty much eat your weight in fried chicken."

"A girl's gotta keep her strength up."

Like he was buying the prim and proper act. Right. "What exactly are you planning to do with the rest of your night?"

"I'm sorry, that's classified information." Veronica grinned.

"Hm." Weevil pretended to consider. "What do you do with yourself on stakeout, anyway?"

"Um, stare out the window until my eyes cross?"

"You sure it's nothing more exciting than that?" He let his tone do all the suggesting.

Veronica socked him in the arm.

"Hey!"

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said, all innocent.

"Yeah, you're just so sweet and retiring," he groused, rubbing his bicep for a second.

"Oh, did I’—"

Her hand was on his arm, as if to rub the sting away. Weevil looked at her. His chest felt tight.

"Sorry," she said, pulling back. Spooked.

Because she was flirting with him, and she couldn't decide whether she wanted to be or not. Which, if he was honest, was freaking him out a little, too. Because there was a way the world was supposed to work, and Veronica Mars being interested in him --

Yeah. He could think of too many ways this could end badly. "Might be time for you to head home," he said.

For a second, it looked like Veronica was going to protest, but all she said was "thanks for dinner," fishing around in her purse for her keys.

"Yeah." Weevil reached for the remote control. "You can let yourself out, right?"

He looked up again when the door swung shut behind her.

Damn.


V.

He dreamed about her most nights, after that. One time he woke up smiling at the memory of her sitting sideways on his bike and kissing him like they had all the time in the world.

He had himself in hand before he remembered it hadn't really happened. But by then he was hard, thrusting up against his own fingers. Didn't take long to finish himself off, imagining it was her hand instead of his.

Whatever. So he was attracted to her. And maybe she'd been flirting with him. Didn't have to mean anything. He sure as hell wasn't going to call her up; they weren't like that. He could live with knowing he had a thing for Veronica Mars’—again’—but he wasn't about to let her know it. He'd seen her idea of letting a guy down easy, and it wasn't pretty.

Which meant the fifth time he saw Veronica that summer was two weeks later, when they were both at the same crappy waterfront bar. He was supposed to be meeting a girl there’—a cousin of one of the guys who worked at the shop’—but he saw Veronica first, sitting alone. After a few minutes of conversation she let slip that she really wanted to get out of there, and Weevil found that he agreed.

All the way home he thought about the girl he'd just stood up, and how pissed she was probably going to be. He tried hard not to think about the fact that Veronica was following him home for a drink. That having her over twice was something suspiciously like dating. That seeing her in a tank top made him want to touch her tight little biceps and run his hands down her sides.

She stopped to pick up wine on the way there, and the bottle was almost empty by the time Weevil let himself think about her body again. Veronica was telling a story about some jackass who tried to feel her up at the Hut, and the way she got his arm pinned behind him before he knew what was what. She and Weevil were both laughing so hard she had to pause to catch her breath. "Anyway, he won't be coming back there again," she finished, finally.

"Picked the wrong girl to mess with," Weevil agreed.

She let her head fall back onto the top of the couch, closing her eyes for an instant. The desire to kiss her exposed neck crashed over him like an ocean wave. The room felt too hot. He cleared his throat and looked away. "Shouldn't you be heading home?"

Veronica sat up. "You kicking me out?" Her voice was somewhere between pouting and amused.

"Figure you got somewhere better to go." It was a weak response, but at least it didn't give him away.

Except maybe it did. Because when he glanced back, she was sitting closer to him than she had been before, and there was something in her face he wasn't used to seeing.

"Don't," he said.

"Don't what?"

"Look at me like that." It was all he could do to keep his voice from cracking.

She gave a little shrug, and her smile was nervous but real. "Okay," she said, and made her move.

The kiss was gentle for about four seconds. And then Veronica made a tiny smothered sound of desire and pressed her body against his. It didn't take much effort to lift her onto his lap.

She shifted position, spreading her knees on either side of his hips, wrapping her arms around him. In Veronica's world, apparently, kissing was a full-body activity.

Not that he was complaining. Especially when she settled her weight and pressed down deliciously on his dick. He pulled back and sucked lightly at her throat, which made her gasp. And squirm against him, in a way that pushed him close to desperation.

In the light of day, he might have wondered what the hell this was about. Whether this was a good idea. Why, with all those Hearst boys at her disposal, Veronica was interested in him. But at this moment, with Veronica's knees braced on either side of him and her hips in his hands, he didn't much care.

"Okay, how much would you mock me if I put out on the first date?" she asked, breathlessly.

Weevil pulled back and looked at her. "First date? You call this a first date?"

Shit, was Veronica blushing? Now he really had seen everything. "Smartass," she said.

"I'm sorry, we've known each other how long now?"

Veronica seemed to give the question some thought. "At least four years."

"Then I'd say we're long overdue, wouldn't you?"

"Thank God," she muttered, and kissed him again.


VI.

She fished around in the dark until her hand connected with his bedside lamp, which she clicked on. "That's better," she said, and pushed him back onto his bed.

Maybe literary symbolism wasn't his strong suit, but he was a good enough detective to read the clues she was leaving him. That she wanted to see his body. That she was aware who she was fucking, and wanted to make sure he knew she knew it.

It made him shiver. Or maybe that was the wet swipe of her tongue along his dick, the sound of satisfaction she made when she took him into her mouth.

Weevil groaned when she pulled away. The look on her face made him want to pound her into the mattress. "Smug looks almost as good on you as it does on your ex-boyfriend," he said, without thinking, and then felt himself flush.

"You've always had a soft spot for pretty blondes," she quipped back, crawling up his body. Which gave him the perfect opportunity to turn the tables, flipping her and pushing her thighs apart so he could kneel between them.

"So have you," Weevil said. This time the kiss was slow and dirty, like their voices were a momentary interruption and the sex was the real conversation.

"Yeah, well, I have more than one type," Veronica managed when he pulled back to bite at the place where her neck met her shoulder.

"If you can keep your train of thought, I'm doing something wrong," Weevil muttered, and gently twisted one nipple between thumb and forefinger. The wash of pleasure across her features made him smile. This was more like it.

Come to think of it, he wanted to make Veronica speechless. He had elaborate plans for licking his way down her body and working her with his tongue for as long as she could stand it. But he slid one finger along the crease of her body, meaning to tease, and she arched to take him in, gasping a little. Suddenly the air between them crackled with urgency.

"Please tell me you have condoms in here somewhere." Veronica's voice was higher-pitched than usual.

Weevil did. "At your service," he said, fishing one out of the pocket of his now-discarded jeans, and her laugh was wobbly but genuine.

When he looked up she was lying on her back, driving two fingers into herself slowly, her hand twisting a little and her eyes on him. Weevil swore, clutching the base of his cock. Dˆ‚íos, what a picture.

And then there was no more talking. Only her fevered cries, muffled by his shoulder and neck, vibrating through him. And his agonized delight when she raked her nails across his back, when she convulsed around him, when he finally let himself come inside her.


VII.

Just before closing time on Monday Weevil walked into the waiting room next to the garage to find Veronica sitting in one of the ugly tweed chairs, flipping through a magazine.

His stomach was doing somersaults, like he was taking the curves on the PCH a little too fast, but he kept his voice even. "Hey."

"Hey yourself."

"There something you need?" He didn't seem to know how to start, other than defensive. Not with her. Especially not now.

Veronica shrugged and uncoiled hrself from the chair. "Mac's borrowing my car," she said, lightly. He suspected there was no good reason for that, but he kept his mouth shut. She was being a little too casual, which felt like a good sign. "I was hoping you could give me a lift."

Weevil took a deep breath, knowing it expanded his chest, remembering suddenly the reverence in her eyes as she'd traced every line of ink on his body with her fingertips. The risk paid off; he saw heat flare in her eyes. "Yeah? A lift where?"

"That's pretty much up to you," Veronica said. Standing a little bit closer than usual.

Too close for anything other than a kiss. He flinched a little when he heard the other guys from the shop start to clap and whistle, calling suggestive obscenities in Spanish he fervently hoped she didn't actually understand, but Veronica didn't pull away until she was good and ready.

He admired that about her. Always had. "How about we start with dinner," he said, and hoped his eyes were suggesting the kind of appetizer he had in mind.

"I could eat." Yeah, she got the suggestion. And knowing Veronica, she had a few of her own to add.

Weevil followed her out the door to where his bike was parked. He handed her the helmet and motioned for her to climb on behind him.

No telling what the rest of the summer would bring’—not to mention what came after’—but he was going to take what he could get, for as long as he could. And if right now that meant getting laid on a regular basis, he wasn't complaining. Maybe once Veronica got a taste of being treated right, she'd stick around.