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and life's too short for me to stop

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Global warming might as well be his fault.

He’s sporting a bruise on his face, a broken finger on his right hand, and he’s pretty sure he’s going to be nursing a chip on his heart, which isn’t news at all, since he just got that fixed last Wednesday. Veronica’s hands are small on his biceps, gentle where she’s usually sharp. Her touch stings when her fingers flutter against his jawline, assessing the purple swallowing his eye.

“You’re going to get yourself killed one day,” she says, minus the quip. She looks past him, through him, as her hand seems to move up to his face, hesitating with the idea of cradling his cheek. She doesn’t.

“We’re all going to be dead sooner or later,” he says, eyes on hers. He watches how she avoids looking at him, how she tries not to harden underneath his gaze but still struggles to keep her walls down. She’s always ready for battle, even in the moments where their armour’s off and abandoned. “Wrinkles aren’t my style.”

“Patching people isn’t mine,” she glares somewhere under his cheek, maybe the bruise around his eye. If her looks could rid him of bruises, she’d be the best damn doctor he’s ever been to; she sees him where others turn a blind eye. He knows she’s looking for the ghosts of other wounds; a scar underneath his eye or a very faint bruise around his chin. She won’t find what she’s looking for, the marks on the world Aaron Echolls has left behind.

There’s a space of silence that he allows.

“You need to stop this, Logan,” she says, softly. Her hands leave his face, leaving him cold. “I know you have a death wish and you think you’re invincible and a master of your own destiny, but you’re going to get yourself killed. Don’t you get that?”

“Get what, Veronica? This?” He gestures to his bruised eye, finger pointing directly at it. His voice is a little hard, a tone he feels belongs more in the hallways of Neptune High than his Neptune Grand suite. “I was built with.”

She looks uncomfortable. His hand drops. “I’m not asking you to let it go,” she says, eyebrows rising, and her voice is so diplomatic and distant he thinks he could rip his own hair out of his scalp, “but you need to stop doing this to yourself.”

“It’s not my fault, Veronica,” he says the words slowly, heavily. Except it is. His temper flares. His fist moves before his mind can formulate a sentence. He’s not a peacemaker; he’s always been the breaker of it. That’s Duncan’s job. And he’s been abandoned, left behind in the dust, because his friend knows how much he likes seeing the backs of people moving off into the distance.

“You can stop punishing yourself,” she says, instead. She’s going off script. Where she’s meant to say it is, it’s your fault, and always has, in some way or another, with words that are less cruel than his father’s belts, she doesn’t. He glances away; her hand comes to cup his cheek. He knows he’s looking at her as though he’s never seen her before. Veronica’s open and warm, but she comes with a few catches; she’s always wearing her armour, probably because he put it there, and regardless of what he does, he can never shake it off. “You deserve better than this.”

“I don’t deserve what I already have,” he mumbles, much like a child. He ducks his head, glancing away, and he can see Veronica’s following after his. She doesn’t shut down as easily when they talk about him. When the spotlight isn’t on her and her faults, she cares. She doesn’t run. He doesn’t get it; she wants to fix him, to make him reach his full potential that he’s too stubborn or stupid to strive for, but when he wants to make sure she comes home, she shuts down and turns to ice. Maybe there’s a part of her that fears seeing his back, but the fact of the matter is, Veronica’s too dense to realise his back is the part of him she’ll never get to see.

“You’re the biggest idiot in the world, Logan,” she says, a smile quite clear in her voice. He glances at her, seeing a small one, something sympathetic, something gentle, there. Veronica doesn’t know how to do nice anymore; she doesn’t know how to be there for him to give him what he needs when he continues to self-destruct. He doesn’t know how to keep her anchored to him in any way, shape, or form. She leaves and he’s anxious for his last memory of her to not be of her back. She requires more space than what he remembers; she’s too bruised and broken from the things she’s seen and done, and sometimes he thinks he reminds her of times long forgotten in the history books no one really bothers to read anymore.

“Someone give me a gold star.”

“I don’t think we have enough room on the fridge,” she says, pursing her lips together. She keeps her eyes on him. Sometimes he hates the look she has right now, glancing at him with such openness that he isn’t quite sure how to handle getting what he wants, finally. Veronica’s here; she’s not running. She’s being as open as she can allow herself to be; she usually tries to get it into his thick, dense skull that this isn’t the way the world should work for him. She can’t be with someone who fights like he’s eighteen rather than twenty-four. Maybe there’s a part of her that can see a future with him where he doesn’t push her to the point of self-destruction again. He hopes. He hopes he can learn to adapt to this. He doesn’t know how to handle not chasing after her.

“We’ll get a bigger fridge, what with my inheritance.”

“You don’t have any of it left,” she says, and if this was any other day, like Tuesday, it’d be a reprimand. He’s still a child, just trapped in a role with too much responsibility. Instead of investing his mother’s money, he’s blown it. Not on purpose. He was too young, too stupid, too full of hot air. Instead of investing his father’s money, he blew that, too. He did the latter on purpose, just to spite the old man. “Kind of sucks. I really wanted that pony.”

“I thought it was a unicorn.”

“That’s for Christmas.”

He can’t help but grin a little. Veronica’s calendar is always empty, except for what she plans for the following week. Being a blip on her future radar is one Christmas present he knows he’ll want for as long as he’s alive and making the wrong choices. “I thought I was getting coal,” he says.

“You are a bad boy,” she replies, her hand going to cup his face. She doesn’t hesitate. Veronica can cut him so deep when she wants to that sometimes she’s so scared of breaking him. He’s the one made out of glass, not her, and seeing her not hesitate in a gesture that means more to him than it really should, it makes him feel like their story is going in a different direction. He feels her finger caress the corner of his eye, smoothing out the skin there. “I just want you around for the next one.”

“I -” Logan sighs. He makes promises, yet he breaks them in ways that aren’t meant to be on purpose. He’s stupid. He’s young. He has a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t like taking responsibility for his actions, or the fact that his heart is so big that when someone he cares for is threatened, he pounces. “I’ll wrap myself up in a bow,” he says, instead.

“Pink,” she says, without missing a beat. “And no purple,” she looks pointedly at his eye.

“It’s not my fault he swung at me. He would’ve split Wallace’s skull right open, Veronica,” he says, tone a little sharp. He still feels like he has to justify his actions, even when she knows him better than she knows herself. She knows what he wants. She knows what he’s like. She knows how far he can be pushed. Veronica, though, doesn’t know any of that when it comes to herself.

“And your skull would’ve been cracked right open if it weren’t for Weevil,” she says, eyebrows raised, voice a little detached from its playfulness. “You do realise that that’s bad, right? Being part of the pavement, or wearing the pavement, isn’t exactly cool.”

“I know,” he says, quietly.

There’s a long pause. Veronica’s hand slips from his face to land into her own lap. She picks at her nails without realising, and he’s sure she doesn’t notice he’s watching her. “I can’t lose you, Logan,” she says, finally. “If I lose you, I’m going to be lost myself.” She shrugs, glancing down at her nails; her thumb stops picking at her smaller one. “You don’t remember it, but you once told me we were epic. And I know the epic love stories all end in tragedy and death. So, if we have to follow that epic right down to the bone, then I don’t want to be epic, Logan. I don’t want to be the Juliet in this.”

Logan glances up at her, watching her face. Her eyes are downcast. He knows it’s hard for Veronica to admit she needs someone just as hard as it is for him to actually let people go. Glancing down himself, he can’t help the grin that twitches at the edges of his lips, “Personally, I’d like to be Bella Swan.”

Through his eyelashes, he can see Veronica roll her eyes. She moves forward and pushes against his shoulder, right where there’s a bruise. He hisses and she gasps, a “I’m sorry!” rushed forth. Moving closer to him, he wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her onto him. He spreads out on the couch, lowering himself so his head barely touches the lip of the pillow, legs half thrown off of it, but it doesn’t really matter about the angle. “Now, how about that medical examination, nurse.”