Title: Not Indulgence or Fear
Fandom: Veronica Mars
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Some day will not be this one.
When she moves into her apartment, the first thing Veronica does is put toilet paper in the bathroom.
The second thing she does, however, is arrange her desk into something resembling an office. She hooks up her wireless router, her Mac, and her printer. In a Starbucks mug, she arranges three black pens, two red pens, two green pens, one blue pen, and three pencils. She makes sure her stapler is fully loaded, and she has a spare ream of paper hidden under her hanging files. She untangles the USB cords for her external hard drive, her video camera, her two digital cameras.
When she's sure she'll never run out of paper clips, ever, Veronica cracks open the cardboard box labeled Portfolio Stuff (???) On top is an accordion file, gray and empty.
The rest of the box is filled with photographs, candids she's taken of friends. Assignments from the newspaper, as well as a few for the yearbook. At the bottom of the box is her yearbook from senior year, which she sets aside as she starts to shuffle through the photos.
When she sets the yearbook down, however, it falls open to the second to the last page. All the white space is scrawled over, in Logan's handwriting. Veronica draws back, then pulls the book closer.
He'd insisted on signing it last, after everybody else had imprinted their Have a nice summer notes. Reading over it again, Veronica remembers why. She's been through too much to blush, but she comes close, even now.
The note is written in indigo blue, then purple ink--his pen had run out halfway through, and he'd borrowed one of Mac's, rolled his eyes but used it anyway. There aren't any promises, no endearments or pet names. Just long, run-on memories, of the back seat of his car and hers, of the beach, of their first night in his hotel suite, and their last.
Veronica reads the note twice, and shuts the yearbook before she can read it a third time.
She wonders how Logan's doing now. She tries not to read the tabloids, and it's easy to fall behind.
She wonders if he thinks of her once in a while, too.
After unpacking half her life, Veronica decides to take a break. She remembers seeing a hole-in-the-wall club a few blocks over, so she pulls her boots on and treks out.
It's a longer walk than she thought, and by the time she finds the alley she spotted, she's ready to relax. The cover charge isn't much, and it's early enough that there's room to breathe. Veronica finds a spot near the back, dimly lit. She leans against the wall and drinks the music in, cool and tinged with jazz.
Halfway through the set, a waitress weaves her way over, the small bell on her belt tinkling as she maneuvers. She's holding a glass of wine, shiny and dark against the candlelight of the tables. "For you," she whispers, holding it out to Veronica.
"I didn't order it," Veronica replies, but she takes the glass anyway. A drop of wine splishes out, lands in the crook of her palm.
"It's a gift," the waitress says, and winks.
Veronica frowns, and the waitress smiles, a friendly flash of teeth. "I poured it myself," she tells Veronica.
"Okay. Thanks," Veronica says. As the waitress departs, Veronica cranes her neck towards the bar, but nobody is looking back.
She shrugs, and drinks.
Before the night is over, Veronica also imbibes a watermelon daiquiri and a Diet Coke. She's not tipsy, not really, but her feet hurt from standing, and she doesn't want to get lost at night.
The waitress from earlier, who turns out to be a student at USC Law, calls her a cab. Veronica gives her a genuine smile and an extra tip. "Thanks, Morgan."
"No problem," Morgan chirps, slipping the money into her pocket. "See you next week?"
Veronica nods, and slides into the cab's back seat. She gives the driver directions, then slouches into the broken cushions.
The distance isn't much, but the traffic back to her apartment is frequently jammed. Some idiot, the driver informs her, has blocked the intersection. Again.
It happens more than once. Veronica leans her head back, and lets the honking, the buzzing roar of passing motorcycles, lull her through the drive.
Classes are classes, no matter what the university, but Veronica's disoriented by the new campus. It takes her a couple of weeks to fall into a pattern.
The third Friday night of the quarter arrives, and she decides to see a movie instead of study. Her brain hurts, and she's tired of seeing the same classmates, day after day.
She's not spared familiar faces in the movie, though--Trina has a cameo, as the second ingénue to fall for the villain's dubious charms.
Veronica walks out, and spends half the movie pacing in the popcorn-littered foyer.
When she goes back in, her seat is still empty, and the romantic hijinks have proceeded apace.
She hasn't missed anything at all.
After the movie, she takes her time walking back home. There's a guitarist on the corner, and a mime across the street.
Drawn by the ultra-white lights, Veronica wanders into a Sephora and buys new lipgloss. No reason, except that she likes the name of the color: Midnight Cowboy.
When she gets home, she tries it on. It's a pale, sticky pink, and it glimmers under her fluorescent lights. She stares at herself in the mirror, then grabs her camera out of her purse.
She aims the lens at the mirror, and puckers her lips.
"Smile," she says, and takes the shot.
She reaches the fourth weekend of school, and realizes the fact she's keeping track of this is entirely too pathetic.
She throws a change of clothes into a backpack, tosses it into her car, and drives home to Neptune for the weekend.
Unfortunately, she discovers, her dad's in Arizona on a case. Wallace and Mac are both still at their respective campuses, so Veronica paces in the empty offices of Mars Investigations and pouts.
After a few minutes, she walks to the window, shoves the frame up slowly. It's a nice day outside, and not a lot of traffic. She can smell the taint of smoke in the air, drifting out from the hills. There's a siren in the distance, and Logan's knocking on the door.
Veronica smiles, and it's like she's never been away.
Logan never had the mansion rebuilt, so they end up in the penthouse again. When morning comes, he brushes her hair away from the back of her neck, bestows a line of kisses down her spine.
"Are you driving back tonight?" he asks.
She rolls over, and almost misses his sigh. "You could too, you know."
"To Los Angeles?" He rolls his eyes. "Might as well be Papua New Guinea."
There's a knock on the door. "And that'll be the poorly-timed room service." Logan rolls out of bed, pulls on his boxers.
Veronica rises on her elbow, watches him until he disappears out the bedroom door. Then she leans out of bed, stretches to reach her T-shirt and jeans.
It's a minute before he wheels in the cart, complete with orange juice and a rosebud draped artfully across the tray. By then, she's already dressed.
Logan halts, looks her up and down and up again. "Well, I must say, I'm disappointed."
Veronica falls back on the mattress again, laughs. "I can't eat pancakes naked. It's a rule."
In counterpoint, Logan sheds his boxers and sits beside her.
It isn't long before Veronica forgets the pancakes.
The fifth week of classes is infinitely more bearable than the preceding four. Her box of an apartment is no less dear, its rent, after all, being equal to the cost of Logan's penthouse.
On Tuesday afternoon, Veronica checks her voicemail and finds three messages.
The first: Hey. I would have called sooner, but there was this thing with Dick, and you wouldn't believe me if I told you. Just. Hey.
The second: I'm being too clingy, aren't I? Because I took a quiz in Cosmo, and it said I was being assertive, but now I'm not sure.
The third: I did some research, and it turns out Los Angeles has hotels, too. Weird, huh?
Veronica wonders if he'd leave a fourth message, but she doesn't have the patience to find out.
It's raining, but only lightly, and Logan's hotel is within walking distance. Veronica pulls on a hoodie and decides to revel in the day.
Traffic is slow, as usual, and she weaves around stopped traffic easily. She's used to filtering out the noise, so it takes her a while to realize somebody's calling her name.
She scans the crowded sidewalk, but doesn't recognize anybody. Then she hears her name again, and she spins. Stuck in the left-turn lane is Logan, rain scattering through the open window of his car.
"Hey," Veronica calls, and dodges around a Jetta and a bus. "What are you doing out here?"
"Enjoying the scenery." Logan unlocks the doors, and she scoots into the passenger seat. "Great city you've got here."
"Shut up," she says, and buckles in. "Where are we going?"
The light turns green, and Logan grins at her.
"Anywhere but here."
The rain patters out as they leave the city proper, and so does the traffic. Veronica leans back in her seat, and Logan turns up the radio. She reaches out, touches his shoulder, his elbow.
Thanks to the scattered showers, they arrive at the beach in twenty minutes. Logan parks a quarter-mile away from the pier, and they trudge across the beach.
Behind them, the buildings light up. Before them, the sky streaks pink and orange and red. Veronica takes her shoes off and drags her toes through the sand.
"I missed doing this," she admits.
Logan grabs her hand. "I figured you might."
So they walk to the edge of the waves, and they watch the sun disappear into the sea.
A/N: Title and summary adapted from Robert Creeley's Words. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.