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La Douleur Exquise!

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Don't ya wanna know how we keep starting fires
It's my desire
– The Electric 6, Danger! High Voltage


Veronica watched random strangers walk down the long white hallway, her teeth nervously nipping on her bottom lip. Hospitals were horrible. The constant smell of medicine and death mixed with the sounds of worried and sick people- she hated it. They had wheeled Lilly’s lifeless body through these halls nearly two years ago. She had brought Duncan here a year later. And now, here she was, with another 09er wearing an identification bracelet.

It had been two hours, and he was still in that room, probably being treated and questioned by the police. She knew he wouldn’t say a word without a lawyer...hell, he knew they couldn’t keep him. He didn’t do anything illegal- they did. Attempted murder, battery, breaking and entering, aggravated assault...the list went on.

By Monday, everyone would be talking. That’s how things worked in Neptune.

Her fingers began to rub against the dried blood stain on the sleeve of her hoodie- she would have to throw it away. It was one of her favorites, red with black graffiti-ed words. His blood was dark against the brightness of her shirt, she wasn’t going to be able to get it out. However, she couldn’t complain. She could just throw away the clothing- he wasn’t going to be able to hide his injuries.

She had no idea how she was going to explain this to her father. And Duncan. If they did ask, and she knew they would, her plan at the moment would be to stay silent. It was her constitutional right. Plead the fifth. The right to remain fucking silent. If silence didn’t work, she would run away. Or hide. No, her plan wasn’t exactly well thought out or foolproof, but neither was what happened earlier.

She could safely say the last time she felt as scared as she was tonight, was when Aaron tried to kill her and her father. The wonders of being held- more or less- hostage for twenty minutes in a hotel room at the Camelot. Yes, Meg’s father had threatened her and Duncan weeks earlier, but, really, nothing beat having a gun pointed at your face.

Her father was going to freak out...

Finally, after what seemed like eternity, the cops exited the room, looking rather pissed off. She smiled ever-so-slightly- he had indeed kept his mouth shut. They passed her without a word, and she eyed them until they had disappeared around the corner.

A moment later, the doctor came out, her red hair glistening like Logan’s blood on his chin. She gave a simple nod in Veronica’s direction before heading down the corridor. And then, there he was, looking very much in pain, walking as slow as he could without injuring himself further.

Their eyes locked, and she already knew their plan by his steady gaze- not a word. Don’t say anything, nothing happened, just a random attack, it didn’t exist if they didn’t talk, it was all one big nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Fresh tears welled up in Veronica’s eyes.

By Monday, everyone was definitely going to be talking.




Veronica frowned, eyeing Duncan warily. He continued to talk as though Kanye West wasn’t blaring right in their ears and drowning him out. “WHAT!”

He inhaled sharply, leaning forward and pressing his lips on her ear. His hand settled on her lower back gently. “Do you want something to drink?”

“Yes!” She yelled and he jerked back, wincing. She cringed at his expression, touching his arm lightly. “Sorry!” He gave a quick nod before backing away. When he was almost out of sight, his back to her, Veronica allowed herself to sigh.

Awkward would not even begin to describe what she was feeling when she was around Duncan- not after what happened three weeks ago. Nothing had been discussed, nothing had been cleared up, no one was any happier or relieved- it was all avoided and ignored. They hadn’t slept together ever since the whole Kendall run-in, and all of her questions about Meg were disregarded. She hated the dodging but kept at it because it seemed like that’s what Duncan preferred. So they both stayed quiet and incredibly polite. It seemed like even Logan knew to keep his mouth shut.


She could’ve been a bitch and blamed everything on him moving in with Duncan. She could blame him for bringing Kendall in at all hours of the night and planting those seeds of doubt in her mind about her boyfriend’s fidelity. She could blame him for being himself and making her question her own decisions. But she reluctantly knew that he wasn’t to blame for any of it. He may have pushed and prodded, but he didn’t force either of them to start acting funny. He didn’t start the doubt in her mind about Duncan and Meg. He didn’t get them arrested and he sure as hell didn’t make either of them walk around on their toes. Damn him.

Right now, Logan Echolls was not feeling uncomfortable or awkward about anything. In fact, at this very moment, he was loudly singing along to R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” with Dick, Beaver, and several other 09ers. Actually, singing wasn’t the appropriate word. They mumbled and stuttered their way through the song, loudly sang the chorus, and as soon as the part that everyone on the planet knew came up, their eyes lit up and raised their drinks-


Veronica rolled her eyes, a laugh escaping her. They were all drunk- stupid drunk- but she had to admit that was better than obnoxious drunk or violent drunk. For the last two hours, Logan and the boys had been rummaging through Duncan’s CD collection, pulling out their favorite “oldies” from the 90's, while their girlfriends and girl (just) friends sat around, shaking their heads in disbelief and embarrassment. After the first hour, several girls gave up and joined in. Hell, a few more drinks and a couple of hours later and Duncan was going to be singing “Everybody Hurts” and weeping about the injustice of the SATs right along with them.

The party was Logan’s idea. At least, the party was something Logan would gladly take credit for, while Duncan smiled in that knowing way. That way she knew all too well- he was happy to let Logan take the blame- even though it was just as much his idea- just in case anything went wrong. And yes, Logan would happily take said blame in order to protect his friend. The unspoken bond between two childhood friends- that had been their way since they were thirteen. She wondered how delusional Logan and Duncan really were, acting just like they did two years ago, before Lilly died...

By the end of the night, Logan would most likely retreat to his bedroom with a slutty girl on his arm, and still hopped up on whatever drug he took earlier. She, on the other hand, had wanted to sit down with Duncan alone and have a talk. A long talk that was now shot because Duncan would be too out of it to have a simple conversation later.

She felt as though she were about to burst with all the questions filling her brain- questions that she didn’t have the answers to and questions Duncan didn’t seem to want to even consider. But instead of getting what she wanted, she was standing here, as uncomfortable as could be, watching the 09ers act like idiots. And dreading the return of Duncan and the awkward silence that seemed to follow him around as of late.

As if on cue, Duncan appeared in her sight, carrying two red plastic cups. He grinned, handing Veronica one. “Madison almost took my arm off for this- you would think it was the answer to acne or something.”

She feigned a smile, her eyes drifting once more to the crowd across the room, who had abandoned the art of butchering R.E.M. and was now turning the get-together into a dance party. There was Dick trying to get Madison Sinclair to dance with him, and when it was clear she was not removing herself from Duncan’s couch, he moved on to Gia Goodman, much to Madison’s dismay.

Logan, meanwhile, was simply nodding along to the beat until he caught Veronica and Duncan’s eyes on him. He set down his drink, dancing toward them. Veronica watched him, stifling the urge to roll her eyes. There he went with his one-man show...

Duncan laughed, shaking his head. “Oh, God...he’s gonna get us to dance.”

“Not tonight.” Veronica muttered, taking a sip of her coke.

Logan pointed at Duncan, then Veronica, leering at them. “You've got to press it on just think it, that’s what you do, baby...” He sang along- slightly off-key- with the song, unbuttoning his green shirt with one hand.

“Hey, Logan, man, keep your clothes on this time, okay?” Duncan yelled over the music, laughing.

Logan gave his friend an innocent look. “Me? I’m the epitome of purity!” He held out his hand. “C’mon, Duncan, let’s go. Party!”

Duncan glanced at Logan’s outstretched hand, shaking his head. “For the hundredth time, no, I’m not going to slow dance with you. I have a girlfriend.”

His eyes clouded over slightly, his fingers curling into a fist as he brusquely pulled his hand back to his chest. “Of course you do.” He glanced at Veronica, and with a devilish smile, flipped her off. Her eyebrows rose before returning the gesture. He grinned before spinning around and joining the full-on party in the center of Duncan’s suite.

“I’ve never, ever seen him like this before.” Duncan said, still laughing.

Veronica watched the crowd, realizing that she and Duncan were the only ones not dancing. For a moment, she got mad at herself for feeling embarrassed of that fact, then quickly quieted the dueling emotions in her. “Drunk? We’ve seen him drunk plenty of times.”

“No...” Duncan frowned slightly, glancing at her. “I mean, kind of silly. He hasn’t acted like that since before Lilly...” He trailed off, not wanting to finish that sentence. “You know what I mean.”

She looked up at her boyfriend, shrugging as he drank his soda. “He’s on something. He’s got to be.”

He froze, lowering his glass. “Why does he have to be on something to have a good time?” He asked abruptly. “Stop putting people down, Veronica. Maybe he’s actually happy.”

Veronica laughed slightly, unable to shake the nervousness growing in her at the start of a fight developing between them, especially a fight about Logan, of all things. “I doubt that...”

With a shake of his head, Duncan set down his drink on a nearby table. He opened his mouth, then seemed to rethink what he was about to say. “Be nice.” He finally settled on, giving her a pointed look. Without another word, he headed over to the crowd, and the roars of their approval obviously pleased him into joining in.

She stayed away, observing the crowd. They danced and sang loudly to the music, ignoring her. She wasn’t sure what exactly had just happened between her and Duncan, all she knew was that she didn’t like the sinking feeling in her stomach.

Something was about to go terribly wrong, she could feel it.

Across the room, Logan caught Veronica’s gaze and he held her stare before turning back to the crowd. Or maybe she had just imagined it.

Either way, that single look stirred an array of emotions in her. Anger. Hope. Fear. Lust. Pain.

Damn him.

Veronica put down her drink, shaking her head. Without another look at the increasingly rowdy crowd several feet away, she headed for the door. Alone.