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In Between the Past and Future Town

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Lilly and Logan are found, together, poolside. Veronica sees them before her father can pull her away. It’s a parody of how they were in life - Lilly is staring off into the distance, hand outreached toward something Veronica can’t see. And Logan, Logan’s head is pretty well cracked. But the face he has left is looking at Lilly. His body is turned toward Lilly. She thinks it’s fitting.

~~~

She stands alone at the wake for Lilly. There’s no one there she wants to talk to. There’s no one there she can talk to. Both of her best friends are dead, and her ex boyfriend is still not talking to her. Her father is still investigating, and her mother is in bed with a hangover. She misses Logan. She misses him beside her. And then, she feels his arm around her. She’s never been to a wake with him so she doesn’t know how he’d comfort her; but it’s like there’s a phantom limb, hovering over her shoulders. It feels like Logan. She looks up, and there he is, half faceless. He’s done a good job of it, though, and put her squarely on the side that still has skull.

“Lill’s still a bitch,” he intones. “She doesn’t want to see what Celeste has organized. I told her we should be here for you, but she doesn’t want to see you seeing her. Like that.”

She starts sobbing. Phantom Logan looks concerned. “Hey, hey, don’t cry. It’s okay.” An arm that isn’t there grazes her cheek and she starts choking on the air she can’t get out, the air she can’t get in. She didn’t know ghosts could look sick. “What can I do, Veronica? Ronnie, what can I do? Do you need me to go?”

She feels terrible, because it’s Lynn who rushes over to her, who envelopes her in a hug and rubs her back. “Don’t leave,” she mouths at the Logan she’s not sure is there, looking straight into half handsome and half grotesquely bloody and brained. “Don’t leave me.”

He nods at her. “I won’t.”

He doesn’t. He’s there beside her, an apparition she constantly stares at and into. He makes faces at her, and instead of laughing she just cries harder. She can’t help it. It hurts too much to do anything else.

When Lynn leads her over to where Aaron and Trina sit, Logan stops making the faces. His entire body stiffens, and he puts himself firmly between her and his father. She watches Aaron give a brief shake, and look around.

“Can he see you too?” She whispers the words into her hand, hoping no one else gives her a passing glance. They don’t.

Logan grins at her, cold and hard and dripping. “No. But I think he can feel me. I think he knows I don’t want him around you.”

He doesn’t say anything else, and Aaron stays a minimum of two people away from her the entire rest of the wake.

“Are you really here?” She can’t help but ask, she can’t. She’s still sniffling and crying, but less hard now. Logan grins at her again, this time warmly.

“I think so.” She starts sobbing harder again, and he wraps his good arm around her. Everyone else gives her wide berth.

She thinks she’s handling this a lot better than anyone would give her credit for.

~~~

She sits at Logan’s funeral. She was alone, but Beaver comes to her. He sits far enough away to give her the illusion of privacy. He sits close enough to offer her a little bit of reprieve from the constant state of being without. Without Logan. Without Lilly. She doesn’t miss Lilly. Lilly is pressed in the distance in between. Her voice is there but not.

“Logan didn’t want to drop in for this one,” Veronica hears. “He couldn’t stand to see you crying over him, not after the last time. He’s such a loser.”

“He’s not,” she murmurs back to the nothingness, tears rolling constantly down her face, hand clutching sodden tissues. The Lills she can sort of see rolls her eyes, head wound still oozing. Beaver looks worried.

“Who’s not what?” he whispers low to her.

She gives him the only smile she has, and it’s at its shakiest. “I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.”

Beaver scoots closer, through Lilly. Lilly screeches from wherever she is. “EW,” she yowls. “As if! It’s my boyfriend’s funeral, for Christ’s sake.”

She moves to Veronica’s other side as Beaver tentatively pats her shoulder. “It’s okay,” he tells her uncomfortably. They both look at each other at that, and Veronica lets loose a hysterical giggle, and Beaver joins her. Because it’s never going to be okay again.

Lilly leans onto Veronica’s shoulder, and Veronica struggles to keep her head up, to not rest her cheek on the crown of Lilly’s head. She struggles to focus on Beaver. The guy tells her, “I got out an extra surf board this morning, when Dick and me went surfing. We were doing it for Logan, and I just - I forgot he wouldn’t be there.”

“I see him all the time,” she tells him, and he nods.

“I know,” he says. “I can almost hear his smart ass remarks whenever something happens he should have been there for.”

She smiles her shaky smile again, because he doesn’t know. He’s imagining what Logan would say. She hears it from the horse’s mouth. Or maybe she’s lost it completely. Maybe she’s dead too, and this is just her not realizing it yet. Maybe Lilly and Logan are trying to get her to come with them, because they know she belongs with them, and she just hasn’t figured it out. She hopes she’s dead too, because she doesn’t want to live in a world without Lilly, or Logan. She doesn’t know how to be alive if they’re not with her.

~~~

She stops sitting with the 09ers. At first, it was her choice, because with Duncan ignoring her very existence and Logan and Lilly dead, there was no reason for her to congregate with them. Logan and Lilly come around more often when there aren’t people, anyway, so sitting alone means sitting with their spectral forms and hearing their banter on the wind. Logan always sits with his good side to her, but Lilly has no qualms about her head wound dripping onto Veronica’s clothing as long as she’s pressed against Veronica. Veronica thinks this must be them, because they’re basically exactly the way they were when they were alive. Just bloodier.

Later, it becomes not her choice, not that she was planning on going back, when her father questions Jake Kane about the murders of Lilly and Logan and the school turns against her. She holds her head up high. She thinks about Logan, about what Logan would do. About what Logan would say. Beaver is the only one who makes eye contact with her now, and he looks at her with pity but makes no moves to help her. She wants to grab them and demand to know what they think Logan and Lilly would think about this. If Logan and Lilly would have just thrown her away.

She wants to demand to know who among them loved either Lilly or Logan as much as she did, aside from Duncan. She wants to ask them how well they knew either of them. She wants to ask if they knew what Lilly’s current favorite nail polish color was when she died, or how to take care of Logan after he’d had a little too much to drink. If they had any idea how much better he would feel if he had a cold wash cloth pressed to the back of his neck.

But then, she really doesn’t. Because she doesn’t really care about any of it. She knows who Lilly and Logan were and are, and she knows that neither one of them would do this to her. She knows, because they haven’t yet. Of course, she can’t tell anyone that either. They still have her back, like they always did, and she walks on, through the spit balls and insults, past the graffiti that now litters her locker door and over her car most of the time. It’s a little less grand these days, because everyone else can only see her walking down the hall. She’s flanked by people only she knows are there. It’s less satisfying this way, even when it’s more satisfying to be the only one to still have them.

“I tried to see Duncan,” Lilly sighs out one day as Veronica scrubs the word “TRAITOR” off the LeBaron’s door. “He won’t even look at me. Talk to him, will you?”

Veronica glares at her. “He’s the one who won’t talk to me.”

“Yeah, Lills,” Logan cuts in. “DK’s just being a douche.”

Lilly pouts.

“Have you tried to see him?” Veronica asks Logan, glancing up at him.

“No.” Logan’s glare hardens. “I don’t want to talk to him when he’s fucking with you like this. You got me in the break up.”

She grins at him. A freshman passing by behind him looks startled, and tentatively smiles back, and then scurries away. Veronica’s pretty sure there’s at least one rumor where she’s completely nuts. She’s not completely sure that rumor is wrong, even if she’s right when it comes to the whole ‘best friends being spirits’ thing. She’s pretty sure that after a while, even if that part is true, talking to people not wholly there makes you crazy. She’s pretty sure she’s willing to take that risk.

~~~

Lilly and Logan are on the cover of every tabloid and every celebrity magazine, for weeks on end. The first ones out are all “Modern Romeo and Juliet”, and she scoffs at them because if there’s something Logan and Lilly weren’t, it is Shakespearean. At least not Romeo and Juliet. Lilly would have never killed herself over a guy, she thinks. And Logan? Logan was as tempestuous as Romeo, but there’s no way he would have left without Lilly so he never would have had to kill himself. She steals a couple, because she’s not going to pay for them, and lights them on fire down at the beach. Their beach. She watches the lies go up in smoke.

The next month finds Lilly and Logan cast as the “Modern Sid and Nancy”, and when she sees all of the coverage staring out at her from the Sac ‘n’ Pac’s racks, she has a minor break down. She remembers seeing the cover of the Enquirer (“Abuse?”), and feeling so angry she felt sick, and then it’s like there’s missing time. She flies back into herself when someone tries to pull her away from the destruction, the destruction she’s caused, and she lashes out randomly at the arm scooping her up.

The arm belongs to Eli Navarro. She registers who that is, but not what it means, as she screeches and scratches at him, as he tries desperately to hang on to her.

“Whoa,” he whispers to her. She thinks she says something back, but she doesn’t even know what it could possibly be. All she hears is a voice. She’s not even sure it’s her own. It doesn’t sound like her own.

He manages to get all of her limbs tightly to her and begins just talking to her in Spanish, talking at her so fast and so low it sounds like music instead of real words. She doesn’t try to translate what he’s saying. She just lets it wash over her as she bursts into tears.

Sacks and Lamb pull up soon after Weevil has her under control, and waltz in. Lamb grins viciously at her, and she bares her teeth at him.

“Well, Miss Mars, look at the property damage you’ve created.” He looks like he’s won the lottery, and she freezes.

“Naw, man,” Weevil drones. “Little Miss Priss here didn’t do nothing. This was all me.” She watches him glare at the guy working the counter, and he quickly agrees.

“If we watch the security tape -” Lamb starts. And Weevil growls. She feels it pulse through her, and she leans back into him. She’s not sure why he cares, why he’s taking the fall for something so clearly not his fault, but for the first time since she saw Lilly and Logan by the pool, she doesn’t feel so lost. She feels safe.

“It’s broken,” the guy behind the counter cuts in, and Weevil’s grip around her waist tightens, holds her closer to him. She relaxes her hold on his arm. Stares at the little beads of blood that rise to the surface.

“He shouldn’t be touching you.” She looks up and sees an angry Logan standing in the midst of the chaos she has wrought. “Don’t let him touch you.”

“He’s helping me,” she thinks at him, wonders if that works or if she has to say it out loud. Logan grunts and marches over to them, pushes against Weevil. Veronica flinches, like Logan can make Weevil fall.

Weevil lets go of her quick at that, pushes her gently away. Logan mimics Weevil’s previous hold on her, and she feels lightheaded as Sacks cuffs the only person in town she’s not related to who has touched her in more than a month. Well, she amends, breathing in the faintest bit of Logan that still clings to whatever it is that shows up like this for her, the only living person she’s not related to. Logan and Lilly still touch her every chance they get.

She’s silent as Sacks leads Weevil out, and he maintains eye contact with her until he’s placed in the back of the squad car, until the squad car pulls away. His eyes are haunted, like she thinks hers are. She wonders why, if he has ghosts as his best friends too.

“That guy’s bad news,” Logan’s voice echoes around her. “He’s not good enough for you. You need to stay away from him.”

“What do you even know about him?” she asks, and the Sac ‘n’ Pac guy looks at her worriedly, like she’s going to have another episode and take out the rack of magazines dedicated to Paris Hilton.

Logan huffs. “I know he’s from the barrio. I know his grandma cleans my kitchen. And I know he was always watching Lilly. Don’t let him get close to you, Ronnie. Don’t end up like us.”

Veronica nods into his chest, but she thinks that may be the worst thing he could have said to her. Because if getting close to Weevil means ending up with Lilly and Logan full time, then she’s definitely going to get close to Weevil.

~~~

The next time she sees Weevil, it’s in the detention she got because she told Mrs. Caldwell to do something anatomically unsound with a ruler after she failed to stop or even reprimand Dick Casablancas for his continued spit ball assault on Veronica’s person. She’s not sure why he’s there.

Weevil looks up and nods at her in greeting, and she tries hard not to gulp. She gulps anyway, and slides into the seat two away from him. Close enough to not be rude, far enough away where it doesn’t look like she’s eager for his company. Even though, she is.

“Hear they caught the guy in the Lilly Kane and Logan Echolls case,” is his opening, and she stiffens.

“Yeah, it’s really all very convenient,” she snarks back. Abel Koontz. The guy given up by anonymous tip, only weeks after the recall election. The guy who she’s never heard of. The guy who would have no reason not to wait until Logan had left, if his confession about revenge is even remotely true.

She believes in her father, still. She knows Koontz was never on the list of suspects, let alone the short list, and she knows that if her dad thought Jake Kane did something wrong, then he more than likely did something wrong.

Weevil raises an eyebrow. “Thought you’d be pleased, is all.”

“I’ll be pleased when I think they’ve got the right guy,” she shoots back, crossing her arms.

Weevil looks down. Looks back up at her from under his lashes, and she gulps again, but only because she suddenly sees how long his eyelashes really are. He’s pretty, for a gang member, for being covered in tattoos. Lilly ahems from behind him, and her grin is salacious.

She thinks Weevil may be on the verge of saying something, but all she can hear is Lilly’s confidently soft, “I know, scrumptious, right? You should see his arms, Veronica. I mean, they are great arms to have.”

“Hey,” he waves at her. “You okay?”

She nods. “Yeah.”

“You zoned out there for a minute.”

Lilly is still grinning from behind him, and she flings her arms over his shoulders. She watches as he gives the tiniest of shudders, like he can feel her too. She feels Logan’s familiar soft pulse to her left.

“Great,” he grouses. “Now I’ve got the two of you all over this guy.”

“I’m not -” she protests to Logan, stops when she sees Weevil’s raised eyebrow. She blushes. Answers him instead. “Yeah, I do. I did. Sorry.”

“S’okay. You wanna talk about it?” he adds gruffly.

She thinks about it. She thinks about telling him that she’s still conversing with Logan, and Lilly. That she knows her dad is right about Abel because neither one of them have made any sort of move to leave her, and wouldn’t they if their murders had been solved? That she wants to solve the murders, because she wants whoever killed her friends to be punished, and severely. But she never wants it to be solved, because she doesn’t want them to fade away. She smiles awkwardly at him.

“Not really.”

Logan bumps her with his shoulder, and she looks at him. “I used to be pretty,” he tells her morosely, and she strains to hear him. “You used to stare at me, sometimes.”

She stares long and hard at him, straight on. Half of his face still Logan. The other half, crushed and bloody and gory. She looks down at his body, sees his fractured pelvis. His somewhat mangled hand. “You’re gorgeous.”

She feels the tears starting to burn her eyes again at his lopsided smile. Weevil coughs. “Thanks?”

Logan’s smile morphs, and he gives her his cockiest grin, the one that always made her laugh. “Of course I am, Ronnikins.”

She smiles at him, and at Weevil, at the same time. “Sorry. I’m just thinking out loud.”

He looks more worried about her than Beaver did, at the funeral. “You sure you’re okay?”

“No.” She feels serene as she tells him. “I’m pretty sure I’m not.”

He grins himself at that answer. “Yeah? Me too.”

They sit in silence for a few minutes. Lilly just kicking her heels back and forth. Logan pushing his way onto her lap. She resists the urge to wrap her arms around his middle to hold him there, because he’s not really there.

“Why’d you do it?” Her voice is soft, and Weevil’s head snaps to attention. He knows exactly what she’s talking about.

“Because you were falling apart,” he tells her simply. “Because you didn’t deserve the crap you were going to get, and because I’m used to it already.”

“Thanks.” She shifts uncomfortably.

“No problem.” He pushes his desk closer to hers. “What’re you doing in here, blondie?”

She rolls her shoulders. “You know, talking back to a teacher. You?”

He scrapes his desk across the floor as he moves closer. “Fighting.”

“They got me in here for a week.”

Weevil’s smile turns predatory, and his desk scratches against the floor as he moves closer. Logan pushes himself up and in front of her. She’s staring at Weevil through a Logan window, opaque and cloudy, and it makes her head hurt. Weevil’s desk stops when he hits Logan’s feet. He looks a bit confused, and then just rests it there.

“Funny,” he tells her. “Me too.”

Logan turns toward her and grimaces. Veronica feels on edge, like maybe the reason Logan doesn’t like Weevil is for more than just Weevil being on the wrong side of the tracks, the wrong side of the law.

“Did you know Logan?” She doesn’t know how to ask it any less bluntly.

Weevil’s body tightens like a coil. “I knew of him. Why?”

“Just trying to figure out why you’d care about Koontz.”

Weevil shrugs, and looks to the left. Lying, she realizes. “I just thought you’d care is all.”

Lilly rolls her eyes. “Oh come on, Veronica. You can’t think Weevil Navarro did it, can you?”

She looks to Logan, who scowls at her some more, because she really doesn’t. But there’s something going on. She needs to know what it is. Because it might be important.

~~~

Weevil teaches her how to play poker, and Logan helps her cheat by looking at Weevil’s cards. Every 6th game or so she lets Weevil win a hand, just to keep him from getting suspicious.

“Damn, girl,” he admires, “it’s like you’ve got a sixth sense. Or some mirrors.”

“How’s about a ghost?” she floats. He just laughs at her. She figures he probably wouldn’t believe her life, then. “No?”

“If you don’t want to tell me your secret, then fine. I won’t go looking.”

She smiles at him, and then at Logan, who looks as content as he has since he started showing up and hanging around. “How ironic that you tell him, and he doesn’t believe you.”

“C’est la vie.”

Weevil looks at her strangely, and Logan grins. She wants to ask Logan why only he comes some days, why she sees him so much more than Lilly when the opposite was true in life, but she figures Logan is probably better equipped to deal with Veronica Mars, Basketcase than Lilly is. Plus, she thinks, the afterlife is new and exciting. It’s probably only Lilly’s extreme loyalty that keeps her coming back at all. She can’t ask him anything around Weevil, regardless.

He splits the deck again, doles out the cards, and asks, “How are you holding up, anyway?”

She chokes a bit on her water. “What?”

“Word is, you were close to Lilly.”

“And Logan,” she confirms. “They were my best friends.”

“Yeah,” Weevil grunts. “So, how are you handling it all?”

“I’m handling it,” she tells him. “I’ve got friends in weird places.”

It’s as close to the truth as she’s told anyone.

“Word is, you’re friendless.”

She smiles. “I’ve got enough imaginary friends, don’t you worry.”

Logan rolls his eyes at her. “I’m not imaginary.” She hears it like the soft tinkling of a far away wind chime. She ignores him, for now. She knows he’s going to blast it for her later, in the LeBaron. She knows she’s going to tell him that it’s nice to have one person in Neptune who doesn’t think she’s completely mental, because she can’t even manage that most days any more for herself.

Weevil stares at her. “How imaginary?”

“Just this side of real,” she answers airily in her best pep squad voice, and hopes that drives him away from it. It does.

“You’re a real piece of work, chica,” he tells her. “But you’re alright.”

She blushes a little bit, and then yelps as Logan pinches her. It doesn’t hurt, not really, because he can’t touch her, not really. Weevil’s stare turns into something else. “You said something about ghosts.”

She stills, completely. Logan grins.

“Just a joke, vato,” she spits, putting all the venom in her voice she’s ever heard enter Logan’s. Weevil inches closer.

“Really now. Is it?” She trembles in front of him. She’s only spent little over two hours with him over the course of three days in the time since he’s become Weevil and she’s become outcast extraordinaire, but it feels like there’s something bigger. She can’t really lie, but she doesn’t know how to tell the truth about it either.

“No.”

He just nods. “Alright.”

“That’s it?”

He smirks at her. “Pretty girl tells me she sees ghosts, who am I to disagree?”

She blushes more fully. “You think I’m pretty?”

He inches closer to her. Logan pulses with inchoate rage. Weevil’s eyes travel up and down her body, leaving her tingling. “Oh, yeah,” he groans out, and she ducks her head down low, feels hot all over.

~~~

Logan doesn’t come back, not when she’s in detention with Weevil. She sits there, and thinks that it is kind of nice to only be around the living. Feels immediately guilty, because she wouldn’t give up Lilly or Logan for anything, even a guy who tells her dirty jokes and leers at her and makes her feel alive in ways she gave up on when Lilly and Logan gave up being alive. Even for a guy who makes her feel more whole than she has in a long time, since Duncan walked by her that first day in the hallway.

Their desks inch ever closer to each other, and she’s revelling in the thrill of someone wanting to be closer to her, since it seems like everyone else is just desperate to scramble away. She keeps an eye out for her friendly neighborhood ghosts, though, because she thinks that if Logan had his druthers, he would fling Weevil away from her and across the room. And she doesn’t want that.

Before detention is over, he migrates from his desk to sitting on hers, and she blushes and ducks down, because she’s no Lilly and she’s only dated Duncan. He grins softly, and gently lifts up her head by the chin.

“Hey,” he coos, and she’s warmed by how delicate his voice gets, how tender he looks when he looks at her.

“Hey,” she echoes, and lets her glance slide away from his for a second. She tells herself she’s checking out the room for the only people who just pop in and out, but she knows it’s more the fact that she hasn’t felt this way. Full stop.

He leans down and captures her lips, and she lets go of all that’s holding her down, everything she feels tangled in. Not for forever, just for right now. She kisses him back, and lets her hands roam up and down his arms. Lilly’s right. They’re very nice, especially for holding. He breaks away first.

“Turning into a little bit of a rebel, are we?” He raises an eyebrow and the corner of his mouth, teasing her as his hands wind their way through her hair.

“Hey, buddy,” she answers back, more faintly than she thinks one kiss no matter how fantastic warrants, “you’re the one who came over here.”

He nods. “That I did.”

She floats all the way home. She doesn’t even let Lilly’s teasing about red satin really needing to be red leather or Logan’s sulking get in the way. Not at all.

~~~

They get caught making out in detention the next day by Clemmons, and that fact alone is enough to make her want to scurry for the hills. He looks profoundly disappointed in her, and sets them loose with cans of paint to cover up the graffiti that has taken over the southern wall of the school.

Weevil snakes her close, kisses her deeply, and then pulls off his shirt. She’s a little embarrassed to admit she’s waiting on the show as she leans against the wall. Which is how she ends up seeing the tattoo.

It’s a heart. But it isn’t the heart part of it that makes her own seize up in her chest, that makes her veins feel like they’re full of ice even as her face burns like it is on fire. It’s the name, in the banner. Two l’s in the middle. Lilly. She reaches for him, and he smiles at her. It falls off his face when he looks at her more fully, when he realizes she’s pulling gently on his shirt to expose this particular tattoo more fully.

“Lilly,” she murmurs, and her eyes fill with tears. “Why do you have Lilly’s name on your tattoo?”

Weevil swallows. She watches his Adam’s apple go up and down. “You really want to know?”

She has no choice. She already knows. She just wants to hear it said out loud by someone other than herself. “Yes.”

He moves to pull her in, but she shuffles backward. Out of reach. “You really want to know?”

“Yes.” She repeats it. She knows what he’s doing, trying to let her keep her delusions. Trying to let her preserve Lilly as some kind of saint. But Lilly’s not a saint, has never been a saint, and Veronica’s always known that.

His mouth tightens. “Lilly and I - we, well, we had some good times together.” He looks at the wall.

It hurts that Lilly would do this to Logan, when Logan died with her; but it hurts more to think that Weevil did this with Lilly, and then kissed her too. At least Logan always knew who Lilly was. And continues to be. She thought Weevil was different; someone who liked her for something other than Lilly Kane. “I can’t be here.”

Veronica scrambles away from him, away from the wall. She is in her car in record time, and Lilly is lounging in the front seat.

“Sorry,” she hears on the wind, and she wishes it were Weevil saying it instead of Lilly.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She’s blinded by the tears. Lilly wipes at the blood constantly running toward her eye.

She sighs. “It’s not that big a deal, Veronica. It was just sex.”

“He has your name tattooed on his side, Lilly. It was more than just sex.”

“Don’t worry too much about it,” Logan drawls out from where he’s spread over the back seat. “She made out with some guy who got t-boned last week. I walk in and there’s a guy with less head than me getting more action than I’d seen in a while.”

“Is this why you didn’t want me around him?” She needs to know, she needs to know that it was Logan’s jealousy and not Logan’s overprotectiveness that made him warn her away.

Logan wraps his arms around her shoulders, and she wants to tell him that it’s unsafe. But she doesn’t, because she knows Logan would never hurt her. And it’s not like he needs a seat belt anymore. “No. I didn’t know anything about that. I don’t like him because he’s a thug.”

Lilly rolls her eyes. “But a thug who’s great in bed. You could have learned a thing or two, lover.”

Veronica shudders. She doesn’t want to think about Lilly and Weevil. She really doesn’t want to think about Logan and Lilly. Especially ghost Logan and Lilly. “You’re not still doing it all the time, are you?”

She swears Logan snorts into her hair. Lilly turns half way to her. “Oh, yeah. We did it on your couch last night. After Logan caught me with Chaz. I swear, the best thing about this whole being dead kick is that we can fuck whereever we want and no one can see us. You know, except you.”

“That and the lack of clean up,” Logan agrees.

She thinks about Logan, alive Logan. “You’re okay with this?”

“Lilly is who she is, Ronnie,” Logan tells her. “And I love her. Plus, there’s not a lot of people who look at me and think ‘yum’ these days, you know? The Echolls name and family fortune don’t mean much anymore, and the bastard got me good.”

“I do,” she tells him as she pulls into the parking space, because it’s true and because Logan was always a little bit sensitive. “I still think ‘yum’.”

He kisses her forehead. She feels the whisper of it against her brow. “Yeah. But you’re alive, Ronnie. We’re going to have to wait six or so decades before we can consummate our tragic love affair.”

~~~

She wakes up to the revving of an engine, and she panics a bit before she realizes that Backup isn’t growling. She pads out to the living room of the apartment she and her father have made a home after her mother split, and she sees Weevil leaning in the open doorway.

“I locked that,” she tells him stupidly. He nods solemnly at her.

“Yeah, and I unlocked it.” He cocks his head at her, looking for the permission to come further into the apartment he neglected to get for entering it in the first place. She just crosses her arms in front of her. He sighs.

“What are you doing here?”

He takes this as a sign she’s not going to kick him out, and walks over to the couch, flops down. She still stands ramrod straight. “I wanted to talk to you. You ran away from me this afternoon. After I got finished there, I spent my time tracking you down.”

“I’m not that hard to find,” she tells him.

“You moved,” he shoots back.

She glares at him. “You and Lilly?”

He rests his arms on his knees, tilts his head up at her. “Yeah. Me and Lilly. You pissed because you thought she and Echolls were an epic love or something?”

“I’m pissed,” she hisses back, “because I’m just a substitute blonde for a biker she never even told me about.” She feels her eyes filling up with tears, and for once it has nothing to do with who’s dead.

He looks tired. “You’re not a substitute blonde. Not for me.”

She works her jaw. “I don’t believe you.”

“Yeah,” he whispers. “I figured as much.”

“Then why are you here?” Her voice breaks on the last word, and she hates herself for not being strong.

Weevil looks at her. “I’m here, because I missed you. I put in my time and I did our job, and you weren’t there to make me laugh. I’m here, because I missed laughing. Don’t you?”

She shakes her head. “I laugh all the time.”

“Right,” Weevil acknowledges. “With your ghosts.”

She bristles, moreso because she hasn’t seen Lilly or Logan since the car ride home. She feels more lost and alone than ever, and she can’t help but think it’s because she let herself get dragged into Weevil. She let herself get dragged back to the world of the living, and she’s only been comfortable in the company of the dead.

“Yeah, with my ghosts.”

Weevil stands up. “Go out with me,” he tells her. “Go out with me, and I’ll prove I’m interested in Veronica Mars, and not looking for someone to be Lilly.”

She looks at him, hard. “How do I know you didn’t kill them?”

He grins at her. “If you thought that, I’m betting your dog would have had me down and his teeth in my throat in a second.”

She looks to Backup, who stands at attention, waiting for her move.

“Let’s take him for a walk,” she says. What she means is, I’m not going anywhere alone with you. She knows he hears it loud and clear, because he smiles at her in amazed amusement.

“Yeah, sure. Just - can I hold your hand?”

And just like that, she’s holding hands with Weevil Navarro, guy her father’s been arresting since they were pre-teens. Just like that, she’s giggling along with him as he tells her about some prank he’s pulled on Lamb. Just like that, the constant ache for Lilly, for Logan, is a little less.

~~~

Lynn Echolls jumps off the Coronado Bridge, her red car left driverless on the side of the road. Veronica goes to the funeral, because she doesn’t want Logan hovering alone. She doesn’t want Logan to feel any more disconnected from the world than he already does, by being dead and everything. Instead, she feels it. Lilly comes, for once, and she holds Logan’s hand. Logan holds Veronica’s hand, too, but it isn’t the same. It’s more the gesture than anything else. Logan and Lilly can touch each other, and neither of them can really touch Veronica. Being the only living person hanging out with a ghost couple really puts a new spin on the idea of the third wheel.

The talk is she jumped because of the tabloids illustrating Aaron’s famed and many affairs. The talk is she jumped because Logan was dead, and without him she had nothing else to live for. The talk is she would have jumped at some point anyway, because she was always so dramatic. Logan manages to goad Veronica into spilling punch on the women discussing that last one. She doesn’t feel badly in the slightest.

She does feel badly for hoping Lynn didn’t start randomly showing up at her house, too. Two ghosts are enough, she thinks. Plus, she can’t imagine Lilly being pleasant if she were trapped for all eternity with a grown up. And Logan’s mother besides. She never visits.

“You see her there?” she asks Logan one day. “Whereever it is you go when you’re not here?”

Logan shifts uncomfortably, moves to get a better spot for his hip. “No. I don’t know. I don’t know where we go when we’re not with you a lot of the times. Sometimes stuff happens. But a lot of the time, there’s just nothing. I know Lills is there, but that’s basically it. And it feels like no time at all has gone when we come back. But I don’t think she’s there.”

“Why are you with me?”

Logan looks wounded, emotionally. He’s always wounded physically. “Don’t you want me with you?”

“Yes,” she tells him, laying down in (through) his lap. “I want you here all the time. But I don’t understand why I’m the one -”

“I think it’s because we didn’t want to leave you,” Logan puzzles out. “And because you didn’t want us to leave. Everyone else just ignores it. But this, it’s like kismet.”

“So,” she asks, because she wants to know, “can you hover around other people?”

Logan nods. “Yeah. I did, at the beginning. It gets really boring. Plus, I’d always want to come back to you.”

“That’s only because I give you the attention you crave,” she deflects.

“No,” Logan disagrees. “I think it’s because you’re you. I was around you before Lills’ wake, you know. I hovered for a little while before you finally noticed.”

She’s crying again. The tears run down her face and pool on her throat.

A package arrives, and she signs for it. She looks a wreck. And she starts to shake when she sees it’s from Logan’s mom.

It’s all of Logan’s medical records. Veronica pours over them. Logan shifts uncomfortably at her side.

“Someone hurt you,” she tells him, as if he didn’t know.

He smirks. “Yeah, I know. I’m dead. Someone hurt me bad.”

That’s not it, and she holds up an old x-ray to the light. The bone is broken, even Veronica can tell that. For a graceful kid, Logan’s injuries make no sense. Even if he’d been a clumsy kid, Logan’s injuries are excessive.

“No,” she fires back. “Someone repeatedly hurt you. Abused you.”

Logan shifts. “Ah.”

“Who did it? Was it your mom?”

Logan looks outraged at the accusation. “My mom would never -”

“So your dad.”

She watches his feet shuffle. “Yeah. My dad.”

It’s a question she’s avoided asking, because if she’s just in A Beautiful Mind, she’d rather not know. “Do you remember that? Or is it just - does this prove it?”

“No,” Logan tells her. “I remember.” Points to a slide. “I was nine. My parents took me to the zoo for my upcoming tenth birthday. I spilled a shake, in the backseat, and he broke my nose.”

She glances at the slide. It’s from the month and year Logan would have turned ten. She hopes she didn’t see that before, and just filled in a story that would make sense. She hopes he’s really there with her. “So, do you remember who killed you?”

He puffs out the air he doesn’t need. “No. Lills and I don’t remember a thing, about that. Maybe it’s too traumatic or something, I don’t know.”

He knows what she’s worried about. She bites her lip. “Weevil says I should just stop talking to you. To both of you. Let you go on your way.”

Logan bares his teeth. It’s a hideous sight. Veronica blinks, but doesn’t step back. “Yeah, well, Weevil’s wrong. I don’t want to be on my way. As long as you want us, we’ll be here.”

She wants them. She wants them desperately. She’s just not sure if it’s healthy. But then again, she’s not sure if she wants healthy, either, if it means not having them with her.

~~~

She shows Weevil the files, because her father is out chasing a bail jumper and she needs someone to talk to about this whole mess.

“Like father, like son, huh?”

She cocks her head at him. “Que?”

Weevil grimaces. “Don’t tell me you don’t know.”

She shrugs at him, eyes wide and as innocent as she can manage. “Okay, I won’t. But I don’t.”

“He hit Lilly,” Weevil tells her.

“Did Lilly tell you that?” She looks up at him, eyes burning.

Weevil clenches his fist, unclenches it. “No. But I saw the bruises. He was with her.”

“Logan wouldn’t do that,” she tells him.

“Yeah? Then who did?”

She doesn’t know who did. But it isn’t Logan. Logan wouldn’t have. She says the second part out loud. “Logan wouldn’t have.”

Weevil smiles a bitter smile. “Just like Lilly would never do me, right?”

It doesn’t come close to stinging. She didn’t know about Lilly and Weevil, but she could see it. Lilly was wild. Lilly was temperamental. And Lilly would do what she wanted, without thinking about how it would hurt those around her. Her sleeping with Weevil makes sense, even though she wants to ream her best friend out for it and have that lesson actually stick.

“No,” she tells him sternly. “My problem with you and Lilly was never the Lilly part. My problem with you and Lilly is the you and me part.”

Weevil looks resigned. “Lilly’s got nothing to do with you.”

“She has everything to do with me!” Veronica cries. “I’m only here because she’s gone. I am who I am now because Lilly and Logan left me. You’re only paying attention to me now because there’s no more Lilly in the world.”

He rocks back on his heels. “You really think that?”

“I know that,” she tells him. “No guys ever looked at me. Ever. The only guy who did was her brother. Think about that. The only guy who ever liked me when she was around was her brother. So, yeah, I find it a bit weird that a guy she slept with, a guy who tattooed her name into his skin, is suddenly thinking I’m hot stuff.”

“Okay.” He stands up. “I don’t know what I’m doing here if that’s what you still think.”

She throws Logan’s medical files down, and papers spew out into the small living room. “Don’t you get it? You’re the only person I have, outside of my dad. And that’s why it hurts so much that you’d trade me for her in a second. Plus, I need you to help me figure out who did this to them.”

“Koontz is in jail,” he snarls.

“Abel Koontz didn’t kill Lilly,” she hisses back. “Or Logan. It doesn’t make any sense for why he would. How he would, there.”

Weevil falls back down into the couch as she scoops up the papers. “What of your ghosts?”

“What about them?” she asks distractedly.

“I’m not the only person you have. You’ve got them.”

She tears up. “I can’t touch them. And I love them, but - they’re in their own world. Literally. And I can’t get to them. Sometimes, I just need... I need someone here, too.”

Weevil rolls his neck, cricks out all the cracks. “What do they say to you, your ghosts? About what happened to them?”

Veronica stills. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Baby, come on. You don’t start acting all crazy until Lilly and Echolls kick the bucket, and then you tell me you’re getting visits from spirits. It isn’t too hard to get two from one and one.”

She thinks she may be hyperventilating. Weevil leans forward and grabs her hands. “No te afliges.”

Veronica launches herself at him, buries her face in the crook of his neck. He stiffens, and then holds her tight as she clings to him. She whispers into his neck. “Lo - Logan says they don’t know. They don’t remember. He thinks it may be too traumatic.”

She’s half afraid he’s going to pull away, throw her away. Instead he just scoops her up and brings her closer. “And you’re sure Koontz didn’t do it.”

“My dad doesn’t think he did it,” she offers. “He’s the best in the business. If he thinks there’s some other fish, then there’s some other fish.”

Weevil keeps her cupped in tight with one of his arms, squeezing her leg gently in his hand. She sighs at the contact. Spreads Logan’s file out in front of him with his other hand. “Why did Mrs. Echolls send this here?”

“Dad’s a PI these days,” Veronica tells him; reminds him, because it’s not as if he doesn’t know. “Maybe she wanted someone to know, before she died. And who better?”

Weevil’s brown eyes meet hers again, and his tongue slips over her lips. She lets them fall open.

“You are the craziest chica I’ve ever had privilege to know,” he whispers against her teeth. “And it has nothing to do with anyone but you.”

~~~

She spends more and more of her free time with Weevil. He touches her like he’s addicted, holds her like she’s precious, kisses her like she’s sexy. He runs his hands over her slowly, tangles his fingers in her shirts. He kisses her at lunchtime, by her locker, at her car before and after school.

Sean Friedrich calls out to her one day in the hall, asking why it took her so long to get to the junk yard and how long it took all the PCHers to get between her thighs. She stiffens, but doesn’t look at him. Dick and some of the others laugh like it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard.

Sean Friedrich ends up taped to the flag pole.

Dick’s surf board ends up in pieces, in different lockers.

In a startling coincidence, the slurs on her locker and car stop showing up.

She’s not impressed.

She’s a little impressed.

“See, Veronica Mars, having friends in low places does you good,” Lilly tells her. Veronica glares at her.

“That’s not why I have him.”

Lilly arches her one still perfect eye brow. “Oh, I know why you have him. Believe me.”

She sighs. There’s no way that conversation will end well. She’s just starting to let go of her hang ups, and just starting to think that maybe she and Weevil are something more than just two people missing Lilly. She doesn’t want to start thinking about Weevil and Lilly again.

“Where’s Logan?” She asks because she’s worried, because she misses him, because she doesn’t want to lose him to this thing she has going with Weevil. Lilly rolls her eyes.

“Oh, don’t worry about him. He’s just sulking. He doesn’t want to come around the school anymore, not with Weevil stealth kissing you.” She giggles. “I think he’s jealous.”

“Why would he be jealous?”

Lilly sighs. “Okay, we both know that I am amazing, right? Like, so far, I’m the closest thing to perfection God has seen fit to make.”

“Oh, of course,” Veronica tells her. She’s only a little bit teasing.

“So, because of my absolute brilliance and sparkling wit, I sometimes am not the best girlfriend. Because there’s just too much fabulousness to be contained in just one relationship. Plus, hand holding is so plebeian.” She bites her lip, and looks at Veronica like she’s sorry. “But you, you are a great girlfriend. You’re utterly fabulous too, and you like holding hands and all that crap. So, yeah, he gets jealous.”

It’s something Veronica has never even considered before, that someone would look at Lilly and her and find Lilly the one wanting. She just looks at her best friend. Doesn’t know what to say.

~~~

She starts questioning the 09ers. It’s hard to do, because they scatter like leaves before a blower when she even walks toward them now, but she manages to snag a few. She goes to Meg first.

Meg is still one of the few people she would categorize as completely ‘good’ in this town. Meg is one of the people who in the past couple of months has done things like given Veronica tissues when she’s needed them, sweats when her clothes ended up in the toilet, and, once, a hug in the middle of the hallway during the first wave of ‘Keith Mars is a bumbling idiot’. That doesn’t mean Meg’s really thrilled to be going over old times with her, but it does mean that she doesn’t turn and run when she sees Veronica coming. It’s a small favor, and these days Veronica’s all about the small favors.

“Do you remember anyone being really angry with Lilly and Logan, around the time they died?” she asks after the initial uncomfortableness of Meg asking how she is. Logan is around for this one, because he’s just as interested in his murder as she is.

Lilly is around too, but she’s less concerned. As far as Lilly cares, she’s dead and it can always get worse than Abel Koontz, meaning it can always get less dramatic and more ordinary. Veronica tries not to hold Lilly’s need for the spotlight against her, given the circumstances.

Meg purses her lips at the question, and searches for someone to break away from Veronica for down the hall. Veronica figured as much, and timed this meeting for when most of the 09ers are in a different wing. “Um, no. Not really. Why?”

Veronica has perfected her careless shrug, and puts it into use here. “No reason, really. I just - I’m trying to remember those days, you know? It feels like everything’s just a giant fog of bad.”

Meg nods sympathetically, reaches out and grips Veronica’s upper arm. “Maybe you should be thankful for that, Veronica. Those days were - they were terrible. If you and Duncan managed to escape having to remember how it felt finding out about it, dealing with it, well, you’re the lucky ones.”

“Duncan?” Meg stiffens at her plaintive tone. Veronica shakes it off. “What do you mean, Duncan?”

It’s easy to see that there are two sides warring in Meg, and the side that needs to comfort and help finally wins out over the side that just wants to be away from any and all drama. “We were all talking about it, at lunch, once. And someone asked Duncan something about it. I think it was Caz, being an ass. Anyway, he said he didn’t remember. He said that he found them, and that he was out of it for a couple of days. That everything passed like a blur until after the funerals.”

It’s something she doesn’t like to think about, the fact that Duncan was there. That Duncan found them. That Duncan ignores Lilly and Logan hanging around as effectively as he ignores her. She gives Meg a tight smile. “Thanks.”

Meg gives her a tighter one back. “Yeah. Veronica, I think the best thing you can do is just to let it go. The bad guy’s been caught. And you have to live your life.”

She doesn’t know how to just live her life. She doesn’t know how to tell Meg that, either.

~~~

“Hey,” she greets Weevil, and kisses him. He grins at her and pulls her in close. Sits her on his lap.

“Where have you been all day?”

“Just, you know, checking some stuff out.” She plays with the snaps on the cuffs of his jacket. “You see Ms. James, right? When she does those ‘grief sessions’?”

He immediately knows something’s up. This is why she likes him, because he gets to the heart of what she’s asking faster than anyone besides her father. “Yeah. What do you need?”

“Duncan Kane’s file,” she tells him, and he flinches. Pulls in tighter. Looks away from her.

“Right,” he says shortly. “Duncan Kane. Of course.”

“Yeah,” she responds, leaning in, resting her head on his chest. “I think it’ll answer some questions I have, so -”

“And you think some kisses and some barely second base action means I’m going to help you get info on your ex?” His voice is hard, but it rises at the end. She looks up at him in surprise.

“What?” She pulls away from him slightly, to get a better look. “What are you talking about?”

Weevil puts her in a different chair, and stands up. She stands up too. “Look,” he tells her. “I get it. Guy dumps you, and you don’t know why. You’re head over heels, and he’s this moneyed 09er who you can show off and get into the country club with. But don’t treat me like I’m some sort of rube, okay?”

“I don’t want the file for him and me.”

“Really? You don’t still wonder? You don’t still care?”

She shifts her body weight, feels thrown. “I do. I wonder, and I care. But this isn’t about that. It’s about Lilly and Logan, and him being there for it. He found them, and Meg says he doesn’t remember - and it just, it feels off.”

“You think he hurt Lilly?”

Veronica looks up at the clouds. “Listen, a couple of days after we broke up, I was in the bathroom. And Carrie Bishop and Susan Knight came in, and they were talking about it. Duncan, he got brought to the hospital. He had to be tied down. I mean, this is according to Carrie, grade A bitch, but... I don’t think Duncan would ever hurt Lilly. Not consciously anyway. He loved her too much. But I don’t know why Duncan would have to be strapped to a gurney either. If I could just get that file, maybe I could figure some stuff out.”

She wants him to believe her. It feels so strange, having to convince this guy who is the definition of rebel, with or without the cause, that she’s done with her ex. It’s so strange, to feel like she’s not the only one here with hang ups about Kanes. It’s strange, thinking of Weevil as someone who’s insecure about her and her feelings, who gets jealous too.

Weevil gets jealous too. It’s a revelation. Weevil is jealous now. She looks at him, really looks, and sees it. She can’t help the self-satisfied smile that creeps over her face. She closes the distance between them, hugs him close. His arms close around her back.

“Yeah, alright.” He nuzzles the top of her head. “I have an appointment Thursday. I’ll see what I can do then.”

~~~

She thinks she should probably feel badly about violating her ex boyfriend and one-time friend’s privacy so severely as she reads through the file Weevil surreptitiously lifted for her. But she doesn’t. Especially when she finds the bit about his taking medications, plural, and his penchant for blacking out.

“What does any of that mean?” Logan asks from his perch over her shoulder, and they both look at Lilly.

She pouts and shakes her head. She’s not giving it up.

“Just tell me, Lilly. Is Duncan someone I should be looking into or not?”

“You’re fricking crazy if you think Duncan would ever hurt me. Or him. Or anyone. It’s Donut, Veronica. He could barely handle grilling that steak that time.”

Veronica remembers that, remembers how the blood dripping down made Duncan turn tail and run back inside. She remembers how Lilly mocked him for it mercilously, and how Logan had stood there grinning before declaring that he was going to get the grilling party started. How Logan made sure the steak had cooked off enough of the blood before he wrangled Duncan back over.

The part about this that is hard, aside from the she’s sixteen and has no resources aside from a biker sort-of-boyfriend to speak of part, is that she pretty much thinks it’s crazy to think anyone would hurt Lilly or Logan. That anyone would kill Lilly or Logan, never mind both of them. She’s pretty sure she wouldn’t believe it had happened, if she hadn’t seen them for herself.

The part of this that is hard is that Duncan killing them is no crazier than anyone else doing it. Because the fact that they’re dead is the craziest thing of all.

~~~

She asks Duncan who his family practitioner is. Felix, Weevil’s right hand man, sees them talking and tells him before she gets a chance to; and as a result, Weevil glares at her something fierce when she shows up for lunch.

“What?” she asks, even though she knows what it is. She saw Felix, but she didn’t bother to stop him. None of the other PCHers are really thrilled with her being there. She understands. She’s not really thrilled with them being here either.

Weevil tugs her gently over behind the school, where the graffiti had been. “Want to tell me what’s up with you and Kane? Huh? Or are you just going to string me along while you’re working that angle?”

She glares at him, hard. “I don’t know what you’re problem is. You know why I’m talking to Duncan. You know I’m not going to do anything behind your back. You know that he wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole.”

He stiffens more, glares at her more. “Yeah. That’s the problem. I know he won’t touch you. But you touching him? Not so clear on whether or not that’s still a possibility.”

She gapes at him. She’s never been accused of anything like this before, and she just stares, mouth wide open. All she can think to say is, “I’m with you.”

He looks at her, hard. “Are you?”

She blinks. Feels a lump in her throat she can’t swallow around. “Aren’t I?” She hates that her voice cracks.

“We never said anything official,” Weevil tells her, and she feels her world turning slightly to the right.

“I didn’t know we had to.”

Weevil looks up at her, a bit shyly. “I don’t know. I just - usually if a girl’s serious about me, it’s more than some kisses, you know?”

She blushes at that. “I - I’ve never -”

He gets it, like she hoped he would. “Oh.” Grins. “Oh. Okay. So kisses.”

“Yeah.” She lets him pull her close to him. Smells his jacket. “I’m not - I don’t know how -”

He shushes her. “We’ll figure it out.”

He kisses her long and deep, and she feels like she’s on the ocean.

~~~

She gets her hands on Duncan’s medical records, and all she can think about is how if she gets caught here, the rumor about her being obsessed with her ex is going to seem a lot more real than it already does. She winces at what that would do to Weevil. Logan is keeping watch for her, though, and she’s grateful.

“Incoming,” he hisses, and she really wants to know why he does that, why he modulates his voice for the situation, instead of just talking normally all the time. After all, only she can hear him. But she knows better than to ask, and just crawls back under the counter, clutching the file tight. Tries to breathe shallow. Tries to make herself invisible. Minutes traipse on by.

She yelps when his head comes through the door, bangs her head on the top of the too small space. He laughs at her pain.

“Sorry,” he says, and she can tell he really means it, even though if he were alive and had two good eyes, tears would be streaming down his face. She glares at him. “It was just too good an opportunity to pass up. I never get to do ghost things.”

“There was never anyone coming, was there?” She asks grumpily, and decides then and there to stop being so naive.

“No,” he says seriously. “There was. I wouldn’t do that to you, Ronnie.”

She knows, she knows he wouldn’t. “Come on, Casper. Let’s get out of here.”

When she looks up the meds and their effects and side effects, she goes still. Lilly and Logan are lounging on her bed, making out and teasing each other like they did in life until right then. Logan is the one who comes over to her.

“What’s up?”

“He has epilepsy. He - the meds, that’s what they control. If he had an attack...”

Logan looks perturbed. “He’s my best friend. I’ve known him since kindergarten. Why didn’t he tell me?”

Veronica feels nauseous. She was one of his best friends. She’s known him since kindergarten too. And she dated him. For almost two years. How come she didn’t know, she wants to know. They both look to Lilly.

Who looks up at the ceiling. “I really don’t want to be a part of this.”

“Too bad,” Logan spits out. “If your secrets got us killed -”

“What’s so bad about being dead, Logan? We’re young forever. We’re hot, forever. Well,” she says, looking him over, “I am. And you got what you wanted - me, forever. Get over it.”

She’s gone before Veronica can finish blinking, and she gazes up at Logan. He looks distinctly disgruntled.

“You know, this last time we broke up, before - I think it was really the last time,” he tells her.

“Then why are you guys together now?”

Logan looks up to the ceiling. “God, I don’t know. I think dying together bonded us or something. Plus, she’s Lilly, you know?”

She does know.

~~~

“Was Duncan pissed, about Logan and Lilly?” She’s asking Casey Gant, because he’s one of the nicer 09er guys, and Luke has managed to evade her. Casey pulls some books out of his locker and glances down at her.

“You mean the whole ‘they were dead near his pool’ bit?” he asks with a raised eyebrow. She blushes.

“No, I mean, before. The constant break ups and make ups. The fighting and everything. It got pretty tiring on my end, so I was just wondering about his.” This line of questioning does nothing to dispel those rumors. She has a feeling that she and Weevil may be skipping some school this week so he never has a chance to heat up before she has to cool him down.

Casey laughs. “You’d know better than anyone, Veronica. You were the fabulous foursome. No one else could ever break into your little group.”

The bell rings, and he gives her a perfunctory nod before moving on his way.

She doesn’t move from her spot by his locker. They were the fabulous foursome, yeah. Maybe the answer isn’t inside the group, but outside of it. Someone jealous of it.

~~~

Weevil is laying half on top of her, kissing her slow and steady, and she whines into his mouth from the everything of it all. He chuckles into hers, and moves even slower. Hands, moving up her side, and then back down, grazing the bottom of her shirt, teasing the skin, and then sliding away. He keeps his hips away from hers, and she’s both grateful for it and irritated by it. She wants the heat of him. She craves the weight of him. She worries over her wants.

He pulls away, just enough so his lips aren’t touching hers. She tries to catch them again, but her head feels heavy.

“So,” he whispers, and she can feel the air stirring over her cheek, over her lips. “Why did we skip the last couple periods of school today, hmm? I was under the impression you were a good student.”

“I am a good student,” she protests lazily. “But this is fun, too. Right?”

He nips at her throat, and she has the faintest moment where she thinks about hickeys. “Oh, yeah. This is fun.”

He’s waiting on the explanation, and she sighs. Pulls a bit farther away from him. “I was asking about Duncan this morning. I figured, you didn’t need to be there when the rumors got new juice.”

“Just about Lilly, right?”

It upsets her more than she’s willing to put words to that this whole thing is only about Lilly to him, when it’s about so much more to her. How Logan doesn’t even get a cursory note most days. She can feel her lips tighten.

“Yeah. About Logan and Lilly.” She emphasizes the Logan. He scowls at her.

“What is it about skinny white boys that revs your engine?”

He says it snidely; he probably doesn’t mean it. But her lip starts wobbling and her eyes burn, and all she can think is about how Logan used to say no one on earth could withstand it when this happened. He may be right, because Weevil looks immediately contrite. She breathes in, wet and heavy from the tears she doesn’t want to fall.

“Logan was one of my best friends,” she bites out. “He took care of me, and he loved me, and he asked me all the right questions, and he got it when I didn’t want to go home. He was there when I needed him. And now he’s not. And I’m not saying he was a better friend than Lilly and I’m not saying I love him more than Lilly. But Logan was my friend. And it’s horrible that you can only remember that she died, when he means something too.”

She stands up and marches down the beach, sliding a bit as the sand shifts under her feet. She waits for Logan or Lilly to show up. She waits for the familiar tension of their weightlessness pressing into her. She waits. They don’t come.

~~~

Weevil is in her living room the next morning, when she pads out in her pjs looking for cereal and maybe some juice, looking every bit as uncomfortable as her father about this being how he’s starting his day.

“Hey,” he greets her. “I just. I wanted to apologize. Maybe take you to school.”

Her dad just stares at her.

“Okay. I’m going to get ready, then.” She turns to head back to her bedroom, and her dad is right on her tail.

“Honey,” he starts as she pulls out a tee shirt and jeans, “you want to tell me what Eli Navarro is doing in our living room?”

She glances up at him, and then back down at the ensemble. “I’m pretty sure he said he wanted to apologize and is giving me a ride.”

“Yeah. Why is that happening?”

“Because he was a jerk yesterday and wants to make up for it?” She wants to put this off for as long as humanly possible. Her father isn’t having any of it.

He crosses his arms. “And did you expect the local criminal element to be well behaved?”

“When I’m dating them, yes.” She makes sure she’s looking straight at him when she says it. She makes sure he knows she’s not joking, or avoiding it, or trying to make it something it isn’t. She’s dating Eli Navarro. She’s dating Weevil, gang leader. She’s dating the guy her father arrested. A lot. He blanches first.

“You’re what?”

“Weevil’s my boyfriend,” she says, and immediately bites her lip. This is the first time she’s said the words out loud to anyone. It’s a big moment. She wishes Lilly was who she was telling instead. No, strike that, she thinks. She doesn’t ever want to talk to Lilly about Weevil. Ever.

“And the fact that he goes by ‘Weevil’ instead of Eli, that wasn’t a red flag for you?” He’s leaning on the desk and staring at her like she’s completely lost her mind. Which is good. He shouldn’t be the only one on the planet to not look at her like that. The lone hold out, swayed by her romantic choices.

“Not any moreso than the leather, the motorcycle, and the arrest record,” she flings back, and then smiles apologetically at him. “Don’t worry, Dad. He’s smart, he’s nice, and he likes me.”

“All three of those things make me incredibly worried,” he tells her. “Especially that last one.”

She kisses his cheek. “I have to get ready for school. Please be nice to him.”

He shakes his head. “I don’t know how I can achieve that, when all I want to do is recreate all those times I cuffed him.”

She dresses quickly, to avoid any sort of bloodshed. Her father laughs at her. “You should come to get her more often, Eli. She’s ready in record time.”

She glares at him, and gives Weevil, gives her boyfriend, a quick peck. He looks guardedly amused by this whole song and dance, but there’s something darker happening there too. “We’re going,” she tells him, gripping Weevil’s hand tightly. “Have a great day tracking wayward spouses.”

“Will do, honey. I expect you in the office promptly after school. We’re not done talking about this.”

She grins brightly at him. “Oh, I think we are.”

Weevil hands her a helmet, and she gets on the bike. “I guess you never got around to telling him about me, huh?”

She flushes, and nestles herself into his back. Squeezes out her regret. “Yeah.” She whispers it softly into the leather.

“Look forward to talking about that, too, along with what you and your dad are going to be discussing,” he promises, and she winces.

The first words out of her mouth when they climb off the bike in the school parking lot are, “I’m sorry.”

He just nods at her, body tight. “Yeah.”

He walks away. She trots quickly after him. “I wasn’t trying to hide it, I swear.”

He turns, licks his lips. “Yeah? From what I can tell, you two are still in the running for the most sickeningly sweet father-daughter team. So, forgive me for thinking that a lot of things of lesser importance have made their way to him over the past, I don’t know, six or so weeks.”

She hunches her shoulders. “I just - I didn’t know how to tell him.”

“I got that,” Weevil grumbles. “I just don’t get why. Actually,” he says, cutting her off, “I get the why pretty good too. I mean, I’d be an idiot not to. Of course, an argument could be made that running around with two pretty white girls who are ashamed of me is pretty good proof that I am one. But what I really don’t get is why you get so bent out of shape about Lilly and what she was to me, when I’m the one begging for scraps here.”

She opens her mouth, but can’t think of a single thing to say. He nods at her again, and walks away.

~~~

She skips her fourth period class and sneaks down and into auto shop. Veronica finds him fixing what looks to be an axle of some kind. Stands next to him, and tells him, “I’m not ashamed of you.”

Weevil barely flicks his eyes to her, but his mouth twists in his displeasure. “Right. You routinely don’t tell your dad shit about your life. I remember that about you now.”

“There’s a lot I haven’t been telling my dad,” she tells him. “I don’t tell him about the 09ers. I don’t tell him about the crap I’ve been dealing with from them. I don’t tell him I’m investigating Logan and Lilly’s murders. And I didn’t tell him about you. But that doesn’t mean you’re not important to me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about you.”

“How long did you wait to tell the Sheriff about Duncan, huh?” He turns at looks at her. She stares at his arms, streaked with grease and other engine type things. Her mouth waters.

“That was different. He came to the house to pick me up for real, actual dates. We make out in corners and at the beach.”

“I guess I’ll start picking you up from the house from now on before we do that then,” he snarks. She grinds her teeth.

“What do you want from me?”

He stands up, and she takes an automatic step back. “What do I want? I want for you to treat me like I’m your boyfriend, and not like I’m some dumb wetback you dick around with to pass the time until the in crowd wants you back. I’m not looking for another Lilly Kane, Veronica. Hiding in the shadows isn’t my thing.”

“I do that!” She’s shaking, she’s getting loud, and he shushes her. She quiets. “I’m with you, out in the open, at school. Every day. I eat lunch with you even though your gang makes it clear I’m not welcome there, and I go along with it when you talk about crap that I know is illegal. I told my dad you’re my boyfriend, okay? I don’t know what else you want from me.”

“I want you to treat me like you treated Duncan.” He raises his eyebrows at her shock.

“I can’t do that.”

He sends a resigned glance her way and sits back down. “Yeah, I know.”

“No. You don’t know. You’re not Duncan. You don’t need what Duncan needs, and you don’t act like Duncan acted with me. So, I don’t know what you mean. I treat you like I would treat my boyfriend. Just not like I treated my last one.”

“So, I’m your boyfriend, then?” The corners of his mouth are tugging upward. She bristles.

“I thought so. But then again, I’ve thought so for weeks.”

“Didn’t hear you tell anyone that, is all.” His smile gets a little bigger.

She huffs. “Who around here do I talk to, vato? No one. Do you want me to walk up to Meg and just randomly update her on my life? Newsflash, they don’t care. You’re the only one here who cares, and I thought you already knew.”

He wipes some of the grease from between his fingers off with a rag. She doesn’t know when he picked it up. He looks at her playfully from under his lashes, and smiles at her. “Alright.”

She’s still mad. “And if you think you can just peel off whenever you’re pissed at me, just know that you can’t!”

He moves closer. “Alright.”

She has a rant lined up, she does, but when she opens her mouth he swallows it. Wraps his arms around her, and she’s sure she’s getting the gunk from his arms on her shirt. It’s frightening how much she doesn’t care. He kisses her, hard and deep and wet and perfect and she mews into it. Grinds into him, and can feel the blush racing from her chest up her neck and into her face. She feels like she’s on fire, and only a little bit from the embarrassment. Weevil’s hands slide up her back, under her shirt, and she whimpers again. Presses into him again. She doesn’t know what to do with her hands. She doesn’t know what to do with the fact that her legs feel like jelly. She doesn’t know what to do at all.

With Duncan, everything was gentle and calm. Warm. Nice, comforting, solid. With Weevil, nothing is calm, even when he’s gentle. And he’s not gentle now. He nips at her lips. Moves away from them, and nips down her throat. She holds back a moan.

“Wee- Weevil. We’re in school.” Somehow, it doesn’t sound as much like a protest as it does just a statement of fact.

“Yeah,” he breathes out. “We should take this somewhere else.”

Her eyes widen. “Oh.”

“If you want to,” he follows up. He doesn’t let go. “We don’t have to if you -”

“No,” she tells him. “I want to. I just - if I say stop -”

“We stop.” He runs his hands up her thighs, and even though she’s wearing jeans it feels like the most intimate touch she’s ever gotten. “The second you want to, we stop.”

He presses himself full against her, and she whimpers again. “So, we’re going?”

“Yeah,” he growls, enveloping her, sucking at the sensitive patch of skin right under her ear. “We’re going.”

He won’t let go of her, so they shuffle their way to the door, Weevil nipping at her neck, licking her neck the whole way. She’s never felt so exposed, so wanted. So out of control. She pushes back into him.

“Don’t do that,” he warns. “Not unless you want this trip to end inside a classroom.” She tries to pull away at that threat. “Don’t do that either,” he chuckles. “Just stay right here with me. Just stay right here.”

She does. She doesn’t think she could form words if she wanted to.

~~~

They make it to his place, up to his room. He undresses her, slowly. She shivers. Weevil smiles down at her, kisses her deep. “You’re gorgeous. Perfect,” he murmurs, and she tugs at his shirt. “No. This time it’s just you.”

She comes on his fingers. Stretching around them, feeling him in her, feeling him around her. She shakes as she comes, and she thinks it’s wrong that she finds it so hot that she’s naked and he’s not. That he’s just watching her fall over the edge, staring at her like he’s hungry.

When she’s done, he pulls the covers over her, snuggles down in next to her. Weevil’s a snuggler, she thinks in surprise, and curls herself back around him. “What about you?”

He kisses the side of her head. “Baby, that was for me. But if you don’t think so, just think of it as my atonement.”

“For what?” She turns her face so he can kiss her proper. He obliges.

“For forgetting,” he murmurs into her mouth. Kisses her teeth, makes her laugh.

She wonders what he means by that, but he keeps her so occupied, she never gets to ask.

~~~

She does not show up to the Mars Investigations office promptly after school, partially because she was not there when school ended, and thus missed her departure time, and partially because Weevil made her forget that there was ever a plan to go to the office after school entirely. And that was before the sexy times, she thinks to herself as she hurries up the stairs. She hopes her hair isn’t too crazy. If it is, she can probably blame it on the bike. The bike currently idling outside of the building.

Her father is not pleased. “Veronica, when I said to be here after school, I meant it.”

“I know. I’m sorry.” She bites her lip.

“I also received an interesting call from your vice principal.” His disapproving look hardens further. “He kindly informed me that you were missing from all your afternoon classes. Want to explain to me where you were?”

She’s blushing. She can feel herself blushing. She’ll be surprised if her hair doesn’t turn red, she’s blushing so hard. “Not really.”

She refrains from telling him that he doesn’t want her to explain it either, but she thinks he gets it from the way he glowers at her. “Tell me again how I shouldn’t worry.”

She grimaces, but crosses the office and waves down to Weevil from the window. She sees the short nod, and then he roars off down the street. Tells her dad, “You don’t have to worry.”

“Veronica -”

“Dad, he’s good to me. And I like him.”

Her dad sighs. “He’s coming to dinner Friday night. He dresses appropriately, maybe shows up driving something I don’t get flashbacks to Logan’s Easy Rider obsession from, and is polite. Then, maybe - maybe - he gets a pass on dating my only daughter.”

She grins, throws her arms around his neck. “You’re the best dad a girl could ever hope for.”

“Yeah?” he groans. “Good to know. Because I’m pretty sure the Parental Association of California is revoking my parent card for even considering letting my 16 year old date a boy with known gang affiliations. Please, get to filing the new cases.”

She gets to filing the new cases. She takes calls, organizes the office. And notices her father gingerly closing the safe in his office, as if he didn’t want her to know something. She wants to know everything.

~~~

“My dad wants you to come over for dinner on Friday,” Veronica tells Weevil after she wheedles him into taking her back to the office. He grimaces.

“What do you mean, dinner?”

Veronica grins as she opens the safe. “It’s usually the third meal of the day. Typically a larger one than the two that precede it.”

He gives her shoulder a light push. “Don’t be a smart ass. What does he want from me?”

She flips through some of the files. “He wants you to prove that me dating you isn’t evidence that I should be institutionalized.” Finds the Lilly Kane-Logan Echolls murder file. She feels her forehead wrinkling. “He made a copy...”

She doesn’t even notice Weevil until he pulls the file away. “Copy of what?” he asks impatiently, with the tone of someone who has had to repeat himself.

“It’s Lilly and Logan’s file. It’s the work he did on the case before he got recalled.” She flips through. Weevil reels back when she gets to the first picture.

“Damn,” he swears. Stares at her. “How can you stand to look at that?”

“I saw it first hand,” she mutters. “I saw them myself. Nothing’s as bad as that.”

Weevil’s stare morphs into something else, she can’t tell what. He just watches her as she makes her own copy of the file, as she takes pictures of every page. He watches as she slides the original copy back into the safe, hidden beneath other case files.

She stands, and kicks at the ground. “We can go now.”

He nods, and walks out, next to her but not with her. She resists the urge to demand to know what she did, how she drove him away. She just slides behind him on the bike.

He doesn’t take her home. She notices, right away, that they’re not going toward her apartment. For one brief terrifying moment, the thought flies through her that she was wrong, that Weevil did kill Logan and Lilly. That he’s off to kill her, now that she has the file. She squashes it down. Won’t let herself give in to the hysteria completely.

Which is good, because he just pulls in further down the coast on the PCH. It’s dark and deserted, but he holds her hand. He wanders a little bit, and then sits on a rock. She stands.

“I couldn’t go to the wake,” he tells her. “And I stayed away from that video that went out of them. I never saw her like that before.”

“The wake was closed casket,” she tells him dully. “No one saw her like that there.”

He gives a short nod, doesn’t look up at her. “I guess what I’m saying is, it didn’t hit me, what you saw. Until today.”

“Think it explains something about me?” She doesn’t know why her voice is sharp, why she tenses up, but it is and she does. “Because it doesn’t. Okay?”

This time he does look up. His eyes are soft, and it puts her more on edge. “I don’t need anything about you explained. This isn’t about that. It’s just - I’m sorry you had to go through that. Seeing them.”

She sighs, sits. “In a way, I’m glad I did,” she whispers out to the water, knowing that he can hear her. “I wouldn’t have ever believed they were gone any other way.”

He wraps an arm around her waist, pulls her in tight to his side. Holds her there. It’s exactly what she needs.

~~~

Weevil shows up on Friday, in a checkered shirt and a tie, and nicely pressed pants. He’s driving a car. Veronica meets him at the door and gawps at him.

“Shut it,” he tells her gruffly.

She does. “Eli Navarro, you sure do clean up nice.”

He glares at her half heartedly. “You said to. You said no leather. You said no bike. You said -”

“I know what I said,” she tells him, and the grin that has been expanding since she first saw him pull up is starting to hurt her face. “I just didn’t expect Weevil to become Eli.”

His glare turns more whole hearted than half. “I’m still Weevil, baby. Don’t you forget it.”

She tries to swallow the smile. “Of course you are. Where’d you get the sweet ride?”

“My uncle owns a chop shop,” he tells her bluntly. When she flinches at the whole ‘her boyfriend drove a probably stolen car to her ex-Sheriff father’s house’ thing, he grins nastily at her. “See, still Weevil. I just -” Loses the grin. He shuffles. “I wanted to do good by you.”

She melts. The smile fades away completely, and she feels herself tearing up. He looks panicked at the thought. “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. If this isn’t what you want -”

“This is exactly what I want,” she protests. “You’re exactly what I want. Thank you. For doing this. For wanting to do this.”

He ducks his head, peeks up at her bashfully. “Yeah. Well. Where’s your pops?”

She kisses him once, and then winds her fingers through his and tugs him toward the kitchen. “Ah, Eli,” her father greets, “you’re right on time.”

Her boyfriend shrugs. “Yeah, my grandmother made sure we all knew about punctuality.”

She sees her father swallow some retort, probably about things his grandmother didn’t teach him, back. Instead he says, “It’s a good life skill. Makes up for a lot of other faults.”

Weevil looks nervous. Veronica doesn’t want to grin again, but she feels it happening. Her boyfriend is nervous because he wants to impress her father. Her boyfriend cares enough to want to impress her father. “Yeah. That’s what she says.”

They stand awkwardly for a moment or three. Veronica breaks the silence. “So, we’re having chicken kiev tonight. I’m not sure it’s going to be any good, because this is the first attempt. So, it’s like a maiden voyage. With the food.”

Weevil nods. Her father raises his eyebrows. “Are you saying we should have the pizza place as a back up?”

“No,” she responds. “I’m saying that pizza should have maybe been the first choice. But you insisted on home cooking that didn’t have an -aroni or orange cheese, so, this is what we’ve got.”

“Excuse me if I want Eli to think I don’t feed you crap on most days of the week, even if that’s true. I want to make a good impression, you know.”

She grins and kicks at him. “Weevil already knows how we eat, Dad.”

“But he hasn’t seen it first hand. I want to keep it that way for the first meal or three.” Weevil chokes a bit on nothing, and Veronica and her father turn in unison to him.

“You okay?” she asks, and he nods at her again.

“You didn’t think this was going to be a one time thing, did you? Because it would be bad for you if it were. I’d be transferring Veronica to Pan by morning.” Her father says it jovially, but she has the feeling both she and Weevil hear the undertone of warning.

“No, I didn’t. I just, could I have something to drink?”

Her father goes to sheriff mode. Veronica knows this mode well. The only guy she saw who was ever able to bluff it out was Logan, and that was only about half the time. “What were you looking to get?”

“Water?” Weevil maintains eye contact. Her father smiles.

“I’ll get you out the glass. We only have tap. We were going to go fancy, but then Veronica reminded me we still have to make rent this month.”

Veronica smiles, and leans into Weevil a bit as her father busies himself in the kitchen. Weevil steps back. “Don’t. There’s gonna be space, alright?”

“You want to impress him,” she cheerfully tells him.

“I want to keep you,” he answers. “And if I gotta do this to get that, then this is what I’m doing.”

She darts in, presses a quick kiss to his cheek. “Thank you.”

Her father returns with the water, and turns to her expectantly. “So. When do we eat?”

“Oh!” She whirls around, and gets the chicken out of the oven. It’s a little darker than the bread crumbs are supposed to be. “I think I may have burned it a little bit.”

She serves the food, and they sit around the table. Her father bites into a piece of chicken. And chokes. “Honey, when you say ‘a little bit’, do you mean ‘a lot’?”

She shrugs. “Maybe?”

“Eli, don’t eat that,” her father commands. Weevil stops with the fork midway to his mouth, and then starts putting it down before bringing it back up. “No, don’t. We don’t want to kill you. I’m pretty sure even though it’s her chicken, I’ll be the one doing the time. We’re going to order pizza and pretend that’s how we started the night.”

Weevil chuckles, and Veronica breathes out her worries.

~~~

Weevil is sprawled out with Backup one late night as she looks through the file and her father’s notes for the upteenth time.

“See anything interesting?” he asks, because if he hadn’t been bored the first dozen times, he certainly is now. Veronica can’t blame him.

“Only your alibi. And the e-mails you wrote to Lilly.” He groans.

“They got those in there? Seriously?”

“Seriously,” she confirms. He glances at her, looks worried.

“You okay with them?”

She’s confused, stares at him, and then figures out what he means. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but right now, it’s just evidence. Everything is just evidence about Lilly and Logan, and later I’ll figure out how I feel about it.”

Dick and Beaver, cleared. Duncan, cleared. Celeste and Jake, cleared. Weevil, cleared. She groans. “I don’t know who I should have as suspects.”

“Who do you have now?” Weevil leans over, hands her some popcorn.

“The Casablancas brothers, the Kanes.” She darts her eyes to him. “You. The usual.”

“Me, huh?”

“You’re cleared! You just - you were an original suspect, so, I just made a file for you too.”

“Anyone who was an original suspect not for you?” He looks down at her from his position on the couch.

“No. I’ve even got Koontz. You’re in good company.”

Weevil shifts. “You ever think that maybe you’re going in the wrong direction with this?”

She’s staring at one of the close ups of Logan. The one of his back. There are definite scars there, if you know. There looks to be fresh marks, too. She wonders why no one ever thought to ask about them, if the whole potential for abuse faded in lieu of Logan being dead.

“That was a particularly bad one,” she hears him say. Startles her, because he doesn’t come around when Weevil’s around. And that means he hasn’t been around a lot recently.

“What?”

“I said, you ever think your theory about it being about Lilly and Logan is maybe off?” Weevil asks her. “That maybe it was just about Logan? Or Lilly? And the other one just happened to be there?”

Logan’s words float over his. “That was the last time, that beating. The last time before, well, you know. It was about you, believe it or not. It was when you called me to come and get you, remember? Your mom was supposed to pick you up, and she didn’t, and you needed a ride. He hit me with this thick belt he owns that night. Black, not a lot of give. Not supple at all. I picked it out because it was nothing like you.”

She’s staring at the space Logan is. He’s sitting pretty. “Remember how we used to hide things in the air ducts? I wonder what’s still in mine. Aside from the liquor cabinet key, I mean. Hey, I wonder what’s in Lilly’s?”

“Weevil,” she breathes out, still staring at Logan, “we have to go to the Kane’s.”

Weevil blanches. “What? Why?”

She feels crazed. She feels her eyes going impossibly wide. She feels her chest tightening. She wants to run, scream, cry. Lilly died protecting a secret. She doesn’t know what the secret is or who would kill her for it, but Weevil’s right. It isn’t about Logan and Lilly. It’s about Lilly. “I think I have an idea about why what happened happened, but I’m going to need to get into the Kane mansion in order to tell.”

“I’ll just break in there later tonight,” Weevil decides. “Lilly showed me how to.”

Veronica shakes her head, violently. Logan shakes his head less violently. “No. No. It’s been months. Plus, Lilly and Logan died there. They’ve definitely heightened security. If you get caught, that’s the end of this. Plus, I don’t know exactly what to tell you to find. I have to go there.”

“But now?” Weevil doesn’t seem like he’s on board.

Veronica is clutching the file. “Yes. Now. I need to go there now. I need to know.”

“There’s no way they’ll let you in.”

“They’ll let me in. They have to.”

“I’m not going there,” Weevil tells her, surly, immovable.

She races out of her apartment, leaving her boyfriend and dog but grabbing her keys. She peels out of her parking space with Logan sitting in the passenger seat, Lilly wafting into view over the back seat. Faintly hears Weevil yelling her name. She doesn’t stop.

~~~

The LeBaron rolls into the Kane driveway. She leaps from it, leaving it idling. She knocks; and when the maid comes, she pushes her way through, Lilly and Logan right by her side. She barely glances at the dining room, but what she sees almost makes her want to do a double take, if that in itself wouldn’t take too much time. Aaron and Trina and Duncan and Jake and Celeste. The picture of two families in mourning. She doesn’t stop.

Lilly had a secret. A good one.

There weren’t a lot of places Lilly kept her secrets, kept evidence of her secrets, and she was outrageous enough to fling evidence of affairs not had and deeds not done in plain sight to hide her actual liaisons, her actual misdeeds.

Duncan is the one from the table who comes after her, in a move that surprises her. She expected Celeste. She expected Jake. But Duncan? The guy who has ignored her very existence for longer than his sister and best friend have been dead? Not that guy. That guy, she thought would keep sitting there, waiting for this disturbance to be removed from his life once more.

“What are you doing?” He sounds mad, confused, and a bit worried. She continues up the hall.

“I was thinking, about Lilly and Logan. And I was thinking, the cops checked everything right?”

“Yeah,” Duncan tells her, and makes a grab for her arm. She twists it away.

“Wrong.” Veronica bursts into Lilly’s room, and then she and Duncan stand there awkwardly for a second. Being in her dead best friend’s space has its own heartaches.

“I haven’t been here, since...” She knows what Duncan means. She pats at his hand.

“I haven’t been here, either.” She turns to him. “Duncan, you know they missed stuff in their search. Because you and I both know that Lilly had secrets.”

Duncan looks like he’s working through the puzzle. “They just checked the room.”

“Not the air vents,” she agrees.

He disappears for half a moment, gets a chair, comes back. She goes to jump up on it, but he stops her. “I’m taller. Plus, she was my sister.”

She hands him the screw driver. “Why are you helping me with this?”

He shrugs, and pauses to look down at her. “You know, I think it’s because I miss her so much. I wanted to move. I wanted to get away from everything that was Lilly. But lately, I don’t know. I just - I want more of her. And if you’re right or if you’re wrong about her storing stuff up here, at least for a couple minutes, I can think there are pieces of her I haven’t seen yet.”

She nods. Ghost Lilly tears up. “Oh, Donut. I love you too.”

Duncan’s face scrunches up, and he looks down at Veronica. “You hear something?”

“I hear things all the time,” she answers, hedging. No use in getting kicked out for being crazy so close to completion. Ghost Lilly still kicks her, though.

“So, uh,” Duncan starts as he fiddles with the vent cover. “You and Weevil, huh?”

She blushes. “Yeah.”

“How’s that working out? He seems - hold on.” She watches as Duncan pulls some stuff down from the vent, the naked pictures Lilly showed her once upon a time fluttering to the ground. “We’ve got some tapes up here.”

“Tapes?”

“Yeah.” Duncan looks confused. She feels it, too. “Come on. I have a camera we can play them on.”

They pass Aaron in the hallway, and Veronica presses herself a little closer to Duncan. “Oh, Veronica, I’m sorry to interrupt -”

She waves at him to continue, lightheaded. Logan grips her close to him. “Go ahead.”

He winks at her, and she wants to vomit. “Duncan, your mother was wondering if you were going to come back to dinner.”

Duncan nods. “Yeah, sure. I just forgot to get Veronica some stuff she needed for a school project.”

Veronica grins maniacally behind him. “Yeah, I’ll be out of here in a jiffy.”

Aaron smiles at her. “Of course. I’ll get out of your hair. Go back to the grown up table.”

She grabs at Duncan’s arm, and pulls him down the hall. Closes the door behind her. “What’s your problem?”

“I have so many, really, it’s hard to choose. But right now it’s that he freaks me out.”

Duncan doesn’t question it, doesn’t question the why of it, and she asks herself when she found that a desirable trait in a boy. He pops in the first tape. It’s Lilly, in her pep squad uniform. Duncan whispers, “Lilly.”

“That’s from the day she died.” Veronica feels like she’s stating the obvious, but that’s all she has right now.

“I was having a great hair day,” Lilly comments, peering over her shoulder. “Too bad all this blood and yuck has ruined it.”

Logan is silent.

“Where is that?” Duncan asks. Veronica knows.

“It’s the poolhouse. It’s Logan’s poolhouse.” She glances over at him, and his face is set, dark and stormy. They both look at Lilly. She just shrugs. “Pop in another tape.”

It’s Lilly, again, obviously having sex with someone. Duncan shifts, uncomfortably. Shifts away from Veronica. Lilly moves away from the camera. Logan moves closer. Veronica is getting a headache. And Aaron Echolls’ face pops up on the screen, mugging for the camera the way he always does. She gasps.

“This is a good one, this secret,” Lilly says. There’s something in it, though, that makes Veronica think that maybe it isn’t the only one. She glances at Duncan.

“I know what happened.”

“Did Logan know?” Duncan sounds a little lost.

“No. But I’m betting Aaron found out really quickly that she took the tapes. I’m betting he came over here to get these back. And Logan was already here.” She sees it, like a movie. She sees Aaron in a rage, attacking Lilly as she taunts him. She sees Logan reaching for her, trying to drive his father off. She sees Aaron slam Logan, sees him hurt Logan more than Lilly, because Logan won’t stay down. Logan won’t die. Until he does. “He killed them, but he couldn’t find the tapes.”

“Could he really do that?” Her ex stares at her, like she’s something new and strange.

“Yeah. I think he could. He beat Logan, you know.” It disgusts her when he nods, like he’d always known. Like she was the only one missing that piece of Logan’s life.

“I didn’t want you looking at me like I was broken,” Logan says softly from his corner, not looking at her. Not looking at Lilly. Looking incredibly alone.

“I wouldn’t,” she says out loud, and Duncan frowns. She works to recover. “I wouldn’t put it past him.”

Duncan crosses his arms. “What are we going to do? He’s in my house right now. He’s eating dinner with my parents.”

He looks disgusted. Veronica nods. “I get these to my dad. You keep him here. Go back to dinner, act like everything’s normal. Call me when they leave.”

He nods. “Okay, I can do this.”

“Yes, you can.” She grabs for the tape. He takes her hand. She stares at them, conjoined. She thinks about Weevil, about the feel of his hands. About how much she wants him there with her, right now. “I have to go.”

Duncan is still holding her hand. “Be careful, okay?”

“Yeah,” she promises. “I will. The tapes?”

He hands them over. They walk down the stairs. She thinks it must look so fake, their calm. It must be so obvious they aren’t.

“Veronica,” Celeste sneers. “Leaving?”

“Yeah.” She straightens her back. “I got what I came for.”

Walks out the door. And straight into Weevil. Who grabs her arms. “You go off on me for walking, and you’re running out all over town?”

He’s angry. She kisses him hard and deep. “I have to tell you something, but first I need you to do something for me, without asking questions, okay?”

“Yeah, okay.”

She kisses him again. “Take these to my dad. He’s at the office.”

“What are they?”

She looks at him, this guy who loved Lilly. This guy who hated Logan because Logan got Lilly. This guy who has done so much for her, already. “It’s what got Lilly and Logan killed.”

He pulls her close. “If I’m running these to the Sheriff, what will you be doing?”

She thinks about what Logan said, about his air vents. “I have to check out a few things. A few loose ends.”

“Don’t you think you should have me with you for that?”

She wants to scream. Her skin feels too tight. “I am trying really hard to keep it together here, so I’m going to need you to stop asking me questions and get these to my dad. Please.”

He looks at her, long and hard, and finally nods. “Alright. You okay?”

She feels the hysterical giggles bubbling up. “No. But I think I will be.”

She kisses him one last time and walks to the LeBaron, watching him ride out of the driveway first. Starts the car, and begins the drive over to the Echolls’ mansion. She wants to get something to nail Aaron to the wall with. She wants him to fry.

~~~

She’s driving down the road, cell phone in her lap, waiting for Duncan’s inevitable call that will prevent her from figuring out if there is any more to this mish mosh of puzzle. It doesn’t come. But someone hits her car from behind. She sighs, and pulls over to the side of the road. The phone rings.

“Yeah?”

“Veronica?” Duncan sounds a bit crazed. “Veronica, he’s gone. I don’t know when. He left Trina here.”

She stills, and glances up at her driver’s side door. Aaron is there, and his smile is terrifying. Veronica opens the door hard, smacking him in the face, and then pulls it closed again as she unclicks her seat belt. Crawls to the other side, and falls out of the car.

Aaron comes at her, fast and hard and Veronica can’t even figure out how to scream. She can barely make herself huddle into a ball. And she has this sickening desire to watch as his fists come crashing down toward her. She wants to see it when he kills her.

There’s a bright flash, and Logan is there. Her Logan, in between his father and her. Aaron stops, falters, falls back. Logan grasps at her arms, pulling at her, sliding through her, as he’s been doing the entire time he’s been dead.

“Get up,” he growls at her. “Ronnie, get up. Ronnie, run.”

She does. She doesn’t know what else to do. She runs blind, through the neighborhood, off of the roadway. She runs, great heaving and gasping pulls for breath. She runs, hoping to see something or someone who can help her. She hears Aaron keeping pace behind her, slower, but just as determined to get to her as she is to get away.

Lilly is there, with her, keeping pace. Shouting at her, “Come on, dorkus! Come on!”

She wants to tell Lilly that it would be more helpful if she scouted ahead, more helpful if she could tell Veronica where to go, when to turn, if there was anyone out there to run to for help. If there was any chance she was going to get out of this. She doesn’t think so. In a way, it’s almost poetic. She’s been just this side of dead for months, has almost wanted to be dead for months. And now the man responsible for that feeling is going to be the one who makes it so.

She skids when she almost runs into a tree, and takes a turn - right into Aaron. He grabs her too quickly for her to even figure out how to get away. “Where are my tapes?”

“The car,” she gasps, and hits him in the balls. He doesn’t crumple like he’s supposed to. She hates him.

“Don’t lie to me, Veronica,” he chides, and squeezes her. She gasps out loud. Flails some more. Gets in a couple of good hits, and he releases her. She scrambles to get away, feels like she’s going to get away, and then something cracks against her skull. She sees the trees bend as she goes down.

~~~

She wakes up. Veronica is a little surprised to be waking up. She thinks that maybe someone saw them. Maybe someone rescued her. But when she opens her eyes, she sees that she’s in a fridge. Which, she thinks, is strange. Putting someone in a fridge.

But then she smells smoke, and she knows. A walkie talkie squacks, and she picks it up. “You shouldn’t have pried, Veronica. You should have just let the dead be dead.”

Aaron Echolls sounds loud and clear, and she can’t help but curse the fact that his is the last voice she’ll ever hear.

“That little bitch tried to take everything away from me, you know,” he tells her conversationally. “And she made me kill my son. I loved Logan. You probably don’t believe me, but I did. But he chose that little slut over me, and, well, you know how it goes.”

She doesn’t know how it goes, and she wishes she could figure out how to turn the damn thing off, so she didn’t have to listen to his monologuing. She claws at the door.

“There’s no way out, Veronica. You had your chance. Now you’re just going to have to join your friends.” She doesn’t hear him any more. Doesn’t want to thank the universe for small favors, because she’s still trapped, but it is a little better this way. Without having him in her head.

The fridge is heating up, and she can’t help but sob and scream and hope, hope hope hope, that she will be rescued. She doesn’t want to die like this. She doesn’t want to die by being burned to death. She doesn’t want to die at Aaron Echolls’ hand.

She doesn’t want to die.

That thought makes her gasp out. She chokes on the fumes. She doesn’t want to die. End of story. Lilly and Logan are huddled around her, and she’s glad they’re ghosts because they don’t take up any space and none of the air. She’s glad they’re ghosts, because if she dies, desperate and pleading to not, she’ll have people who will help her come to terms with it all.

Lilly is babbling to her, apologizing to her, clinging to her. Asking her to hold on, to stay awake, to breathe shallow. Lilly tells Veronica how much she loves her; how much she needs Veronica to live because they would both be too fabulous for the afterlife to handle. How she needs Veronica to live because she needs Veronica to do all the things they were planning on doing together. How she needs Veronica to live because she needs Veronica, full stop, to be alive and living and happy. How she needs Veronica to live because she loves Veronica so much that she wants her to have what Lilly can’t.

Logan just holds her. He doesn’t say anything. He just holds tight, and Veronica thinks that it’s his way of accepting whatever happens.

And then, he’s not. She cries out for him, and he doesn’t answer. But she hears someone else.

“Daddy?” She screams it. Cries out. “Daddy! Daddy help!”

She can hear him, muffled through terror and the fridge door. She wants him to be safe. All she wants, right now, is for them both to be safe. Safe, and away from Aaron.

Logan reappears. “Where’d you go?” she slurs, feels lightheaded. “When I die, I need you with me.”

“You’re not going to die,” Logan grits out. “I won’t let you die.”

Veronica thinks that he might not get much of a choice in this whole deal. At least, not any more than she does. And her choices are looking pretty limited. They pretty much come down to, sit tight and hold on.

She feels herself slipping away. She feels Logan’s hand, tight and there and in her own. “Veronica,” he whispers, “Veronica, you have to fight back.”

The door opens, and she tumbles out into the night. Gasps in clean air. Logan’s hand goes from solidly there to just a wisp of air. But it’s her father who draws her attention. Her father, who is on fire.

She pulls at him desperately, tugs at his arms, and then Weevil is there and helping. They get him to safer ground, and she pulls the tarp around him, beats out the flames. Her lungs are burning.

“Aaron?” She chokes out.

Weevil looks grim. “Hit him pretty hard, with a car.”

“Good,” she tells him, and lets herself get taken again by the darkness.

~~~

“Dorkus,” Lilly calls to her. “Dorkus, come on. Don’t waste the day.”

She opens her eyes, and she’s floating in a pool. Lilly is curled into her side on one part of a huge raft, and Logan is stretched out and lounging on her other. She realizes she’s laying half on Logan, and starts to blush.

“None of that now,” he chides. “You did it, Ronnie. You figured it out.”

“Yeah,” she grins. “It was pretty sweet. And now, it’s so much better.”

She looks up at him, and he’s whole. He presses a kiss to her nose. “Yeah, this is pretty awesome. Two hot girls, one raft. Let’s see where this takes us.”

Lilly scoffs. “You wish. If Veronica and I were to consummate our love, it would totally be without an audience.”

“Also, without Veronica,” Veronica playfully says, “because Veronica doesn’t like girls.”

“Semantics,” Lilly bats away.

Logan giggles with them, and Veronica sighs, happy.

“This is perfect. This is exactly how it’s supposed to be.” The other two shift uncomfortably. “This is how it’s going to be, right?”

Lilly and Logan exchange glances, like they used to, and Veronica always feels like it’s their way of rock-paper-scissoring for who gets to tell her the unfortunate truths about the world. Now, like before, it’s Logan who loses. Lilly just wraps her arms around Veronica.

“We can’t stay this way, Ronnie. You know how it’s going to go.”

She can feel her face start to burn. “No. You said you would stay with me forever, until I didn’t want you any more.”

Logan wraps his arms around her, too, and she’s squashed in the middle of them. “I know. I know what we said. But, you have to wake up. You have to stop looking for us. Okay?”

“No. No. I don’t want to.”

He presses a kiss to her forehead, and Lilly curls into her. “Don’t forget about us, Veronica Mars,” Lilly asks. “Don’t forget that we love you, either. But, you have to go. You can’t stay here. We didn’t do this so you could stay here.”

“I want to,” she tells them. “I want to stay here.”

“No,” Logan contradicts. “You don’t.”

~~~

She smells Weevil. She huddles down into it, and sighs. And then tries to sit up when she realizes that she’s in a bed. She’s in a bed with Weevil, and her father is going to kill them both and send her to Pan High.

“Hey,” he groans. “Stop moving.”

“You can’t be here,” she hisses at him. “My dad’s going to kill you if he finds you here.”

“And where do you think here is exactly?” he asks, raising one sleepy eyebrow in her direction. She stops. Looks around.

“Why am I in the hospital?”

Weevil stretches along side her, curls an arm around her waist. “If I were a guy who kept score, I’d say it’s because you ignored my offer to come with you on your fact finding. But since I’m not, I’m just going to say that you had a pretty nasty blow to the head plus a lot of smoke inhalation. The docs wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“Aaron,” she realizes. “He tried to kill me.”

“Yeah. He did. Almost succeeded, too.” He burrows further into her side. Grips her waist a little more. “Don’t be doing that again.”

“I’ll try not to,” she tells him dryly. And, because she can, presses a kiss to the top of his head. “Where’s my dad?”

She feels him tighten up. “What do you remember?”

“Logan.” She shakes her head. “And Lilly. And heat. But not a lot else.”

“Okay, so, we got a call from Kane - your dad did, anyway - saying he lost Echolls and that you hung up on him. And we went to go find you. We found the cars pretty quickly, mostly because the bastard ran out into the road. Your dad hit him.” She gasps and he chuckles. “Yeah, sheriff’s a bad ass. Anyway, there’s a lot of smoke and shit coming up through the trees, and Aaron just sort of smiles and tells your dad to say goodbye. He dove through the fire and got you out of that fridge. But he got kinda burned doing it.”

“Is he okay?” She’s tearing up, and he wipes them away.

“Yeah. I think so. A little burned and a little bruised, but the docs seem to think he’ll recover fine. You’re the one they were worried about. You wouldn’t wake up.”

She shifts a little. “I was with Logan and Lilly.”

“Yeah?” Weevil looks uncomfortable. “How’d that go?”

“I think they’re gone.” She starts to cry. “I think they left me.”

Weevil presses closer to her, hugs her to him. He doesn’t say anything. There’s nothing to say.

~~~

“Home, sweet home,” Weevil intones, and he opens up the apartment door for her.

She quickly flops onto the couch, pit bull tongue washing her face. “Oh, this is amazing. Three days in the hospital is two and a half too many.”

“And you were out completely for a day and a half,” Weevil tells her. “Imagine what the Sheriff is going through.”

“Him? I don’t worry about him. Cute nurses flirting, all the jello he can eat, he’s golden. I’m the one with the obviously badass boyfriend who glared at every doctor who smiled at me.”

Weevil scowls at her, flops down next to her. “Yeah? That one guy kept coming back.”

“To check my charts!” She pushes him with her feet. “You psycho! He was making sure I was getting better.”

“He was checking something out, I’ll give it to you,” Weevil tells her.

She rolls her eyes at him. And then just looks at him. Lets the giddiness of getting home fade. “Hey, thanks. For everything. For taking care of Backup, for being there for me. Just, thanks.”

“Yeah, well. It was nothing.”

“It wasn’t,” she says, and pushes herself up and sitting. “You did so much, have done so much, and I just - I want to make sure you know that I know.”

“I know.”

She crawls toward him, kisses him. Tastes him. He curls an arm around her and kisses her back, deep and hot and demanding. She slips into his lap. He smiles into it. Pulls away. “Hey.”

“Hi.” She slides her hands up his arms. “So, I was thinking.”

“Uh huh.” He presses kisses into her neck.

“How would you feel about taking this to the bedroom?” He pulls away. She feels her nerves start to fire.

“You sure?”

“Yes.” She presses a kiss to his mouth. “I want this. I want to start really living. And I want it to be with you.”

He grins at her. “Only me?”

She slides his shirt off, tugs at the wife beater. “Only you.”

His smile slides from cocky to affectionate. “Alright.” Presses kisses to her that make her feel wild.

This is it. Letting go of the past. She doesn’t want to stay there. She doesn’t want to be that Veronica any more. That Veronica would have never let herself be with Weevil. That Veronica would still be pining for Duncan Kane. She knows what Logan meant when he told her that she didn’t want to stay, because staying means missing out on this. On Eli. On the things he can do and the things he makes her feel. And the person she’s becoming with him. She sighs as he eases her out of her shirt, as he kisses her all over. She thinks she likes the person she’s becoming with him. She likes coming back to the world with this guy, after spending so long out of it.

“Hey,” Weevil asks, “you okay?”

She kisses him deep, and unbuttons his pants. “Me? I’m fabulous.”