Title: Written on the Body
Author: gardinha
Pairing: Veronica/Logan
Word Count: 4,173
Rating: R/borderline NC-17
Summary: She wondered whether they became different people when they touched.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.
Notes: Written for yahtzee63 in the Yuletide 2004 challenge. Thanks to oxoniensis and whipper for the beta. Title taken from Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson.


[start]

That first time she fucked him with her eyes closed.

After -- her body spent by the feel and smell and taste of his -- she didn’t dare look him in the face, unnerved that she might spot the familiar smirk. It was a definite possibility. Logan being Logan, chances were that he might say or do something assholishy. So instead she stared ahead, pretending that the wall in front of her was terribly interesting.

Veronica on her first day of school, Veronica with her parents, Veronica in her Halloween costume, a head shot of her mother, her father in uniform, fleeting pictures of Lilly and herself at different times and places... The pictures came from nowhere, unasked for and unwelcome. There was enough light creeping in through the window for her to see them, every smiling face seemingly inquisitive.

Her heart suddenly caught in her throat.

She would not panic.

So she stamped down on the sudden need to flee and pulled the covers over herself. But when she tried to hide her nakedness, he reached over, stopping her in mid-movement while whispering nonsense into her skin. The quiet words froze her. She might have felt compelled to strike out if he had gloated, but this...

This.

She didn’t like to see him vulnerable. Didn’t know what to make of it so, for a split second, she hesitated. She wanted to get up and leave, close the door on him and the mess they’d been accomplices in creating. She wanted to say that she hadn’t signed up for cuddling or tenderness or anything else that suggested that she cared but-

He didn’t let go.

It was a different kind of pain and a different kind of safety all together and she finally relented. She relaxed against him, he relaxed his hold on her and she hoped for a dreamless sleep.


[interlude]

She spent the next few days convincing herself it hadn't happened. She had awoken alone. Logan, in a typical guy fashion, avoided her. There was no trace of what they had done to each other. Life in Neptune went on.

It seemed that she'd got away unscathed, that nothing -- nothing -- had changed.

Except that, one fine Thursday morning two weeks after it happened, Logan held her gaze for far too long and she stared back, not looking away till Wallace’s intervention forced them to call it quits.

She blushed, then blamed Logan and herself and the universe for the lapse of judgment, the weakness.

***

After that they'd tumbled into civil coexistence and their interactions lacked some viciousness that she didn’t miss and some edge that she did. The way she saw it, they held a reluctant truce. He didn't strike nor draw blood. She didn't retaliate. They didn't clash.

It was so unlike them post-Lilly’s murder that she now lived in constant worry: people taking notice would progress into people asking questions. And those, if answered truthfully, would be cause for concern.

The irony of it all didn't escape her. In the end, it wasn't unwarranted hostility or some variation on his cruelty that sent her searching for him, that had them talking, first in hushed tones, then louder, on the outskirts of the parking lot. Ultimately, it was the distracted empathy he greeted her with, the infrequent and mutual stares that made them turn to fight.

“Don't you get it?” he said, “I couldn’t care less about this crap so don't saddle me with your problems.”

She glared at him, said nothing. They were separated by a stretch of broken concrete, only ten feet of grey between them. The air quivered with tension and he met her glare full force, didn't back down.

“What?”

She sighed in frustration. Her hands clenched and unclenched while she stared past him, over the empty parking space, and beyond. When she spoke her voice was sharp.

“You're nothing if not helpful.”

“I've got plenty on my mind.”

“I can tell,” she said, then paused, acted as if she might be considering the possibility. “So what's your affliction? Daddy didn’t get you the latest, fastest model for your birthday... Hmmm, that might be it. Or maybe, just maybe, you couldn’t convince and I quote, 'any suitable female' to suffer your company.”

At that, he walked up to her. Then he teetered, hovering on the edge of her personal space.

“Careful there, Veronica,” he mocked quietly, close to her face, “or I might think you’re jealous.”

“Of you?”

Her voice cracked.

“Of course.”

A moment passed where they didn't move, just stood there, and she was angry and scared and confused. She leaned away from him and stared up at his face.

“Ha, ha, ha,” she said, laughing harshly for emphasis. “In your dreams, buddy. In your dreams.”

“Ladies and gentleman, she plays; she scores. It’s the attack of the bad cliché.” He shook his head, feigning disappointment. “I must say I expected better. Something a little less trivial and a lot more articulate.”

“Trivial did the trick.”

“It did. I have standards though. Don’t you?”

She backed away a step, taking him in.

“All evidence to the contrary.”

“Ouch.” He placed a hand over his heart, pretending to be hurt. “Rest assured that this pre-emptive strike against defamation doesn’t interest me.”

“It should,” she said. He kept silent. “Well, wonders never cease. I guess the semi-decent, semi-friendly guy I met these past weeks is another act of yours.”

And then they drifted closer again. She stepped forward and continued before he could speak.

“I really thought I could reason with yo--”

“Wait a minute,” he cut her off. “You're not making any sense. If I recall, it was my not giving you a hard enough time that could be cause for suspicion... Do you even know what the hell you want?”

She didn't hesitate.

“I want us to tell the same, plausible, fake story if anyone happens to ask something. That's it.”

“That's it? You want me to lie to their faces.”

“Don't be coy, Logan. You'll manage beautifully.”

He pulled back; his look was hard, penetrating and filled with too many emotions to name.

“I'm not in a generous, giving mood here, Veronica. And now you’ve gone and hurt my feelings. You see, not only am I a lying bastard, I'm also a damn good fuck you're ashamed to be associated with.”

“Jackass,” she spat, tasting bitterness. “So we're back to status quo. Are you happy now?”

She turned and made to leave.

“Hey!” He grabbed her arm, stopping her. “About what I said--”

She shrugged off his grip.

“Forget it.”

He grabbed her arm again.

“Look, I'm not gonna tell anyone about anything.”

He smiled a faint smile and waited till she really, really looked at him.

“There's nothing for me in it. So you can spin whatever tale you like. I'll go along with what you create,” he paused, shot her a wicked grin, “as long as it isn't anything too outrageous.”

“Okay,” she said. “That settles it. So... just so you know, you're awfully sorry for the shitty way you treated me.”

He laughed a little.

“I suppose I'm trying to apologize.”

“You bet you are.”

Then she joined him, and their laughter tumbled. They laughed like friends, like conspirators; like what they could be instead of what they were.


[stumble and fall]

By the end of the afternoon, life was sucking something fierce, what with those little, insignificant incidents piling and adding up. She'd been a witness to a domino-effect-like day and the last hours equaled a kind of frustration and weariness she could not even begin to describe.

Sure enough that morning she had been late for school. For that alone, she had earned -- lucky her! -- some painful ten minutes in the principal's office, plus a less than glowing observation on her file. But it didn't stop there. The moment she'd stepped into the classroom she'd stumbled upon a bigger problem. On the blackboard she'd read a list of assignments, to be completed within the week; and beside her name, that of a partner.

She'd glanced at Logan then; he'd shrugged and smiled. Later, in the hallway, they had talked.

“I have free time this afternoon.”

“Congratulations.” (So long. Farewell. Dismissal.) “We're not getting it done today. Not at the expense of my social life.”

“I'm not your personal assistant.”

“Good thing you aren't cos' you suck at it.”

“Look, I'm not insisting on it to piss you off...” (Although secretly, she considered the idea rather appealing.) “I have some things lined up for tomorrow and after: it's actual work; there's no escaping it.”

“But”

“Besides, it can't be difficult to postpone a poker game or a hot date or whatever it is you thought you'd be doing.”

“You can be a bossy b...” (These days, whenever they fought, he struggled not to be cruel, made an effort to rein in his temper; she considered it very suitable punishment for his past deeds.) “I don't think this partnership has a future.”

(A glare. A sigh.)

“Suck. it. up."


“Suck it up, Logan,” she echoed later, in his house.

He ignored her, and she considered slapping him silly. To do so, however, meant defeat, which she refused to admit. He wanted her to snap, to leave, so she didn't.

“Try to be useful for once.”

She stood her ground. She could be as stubborn as he was. Relentless, if need be.

“Who knows? You may even find you like it.”

They stood glaring at each other.

Their bodies lingered; his hand brushed hers. Eight inches separated them. It wasn't much.

***

They were tentative at first. She had her hands on his shoulders, his were on her hips. A second later or maybe two, she reached over to touch his face and her fingers grazed his cheeks and his jaw and his lips. When he drew in a sharp breath, she stood on tiptoe, tangled her fingers in his hair and pressed up against him.

He shuddered and said something about a couch and they lay down, her stretching out beneath his weight. Then, for a moment, they were side by side, stroking, not speaking and he slid off the couch, hooking his fingers in the waistband of her pants and pulling them down.

He knelt and pressed his face into her stomach.

He kissed her navel.

He kissed the inside of her thigh.

He put his tongue between her legs.

He was down on her, in the folds of her and above him, she writhed, arching into his mouth.

So close, pleasure slicking and coating her, she bit her lip hard and tasted blood. Her fingers clutched at him. She vibrated, and the aftershocks were still shaking her body when she glanced down and met his gaze. He was resting between her legs, smiling against skin and suddenly, a feeling stirred in her, like something coming to life. She smiled back, brushing a hand through his hair, and wondered whether they became different people when they touched.

***

What had began, then, was still going on. Touch and emotion and taste fit together one way, then another. From time to time a new piece was added. Some days she stood in silence, staring at him across increasingly familiar space before daring to touch; other days she was all movement and nervous energy, and the moment they met they kissed, and the moment they kissed they stumbled, fell... her body with his body. Their history, rewritten. She expected it to feel like betrayal, but it didn't.


[once]

First, there were four: beautiful, playful and inseparable. They were the golden children. They moved in a different pace, in a different reality and they were, all of them, a little bit in love with each other.

Then, there were three. The one who had shone the most gone, but not forgotten. Still the memory of her alone wasn't enough. It couldn't bind the survivors together. So they drifted apart to stand on opposite sides and drew lines that were not to be crossed, playing at being strangers, at being enemies.

Duncan, who had been fumbling first touches and first kisses and afternoons of experimentation, acted remote; he was always, always tentative around her, like he feared saying or doing or feeling too much. Logan used words like weapons. The insults, the accusing silence gleamed, so double-edged they cut whenever they touched.

And she resented that; she resented the fact that behind Duncan's indifference and Logan's calculated maliciousness, there had been, once, a belonging and a knowing, real affection born out of those days they'd shared jokes and hopes for the future.

Their friendship, it seemed, had died along with Lilly.

Leaving only the anger and the pain.


[shift. perspective.]

“You're just tempting fate, you know that, right?”

Logan glanced up at her, car keys in one hand and curiosity in his eyes.

“I didn't think it was your kind of place.”

She looked back over her shoulder, at the bar he'd just walked out from.

“It isn't. I'm here working.”

For the past two hours, she had been parked at the street's opposite side, hoping to get a glimpse of the woman they'd been trying to track down. She'd about given up for the night when she saw him.

She'd watched, intrigued, while he argued with a couple of the 09ers who always followed him around. To her amusement, he managed to scare his minions off. However, once he tried and failed, then tried and failed again to find the keyhole, her amusement had given way to concern. In less than a minute she was locking her car and crossing the street.

“You okay?”

He nodded. The next moment he seemed to waver a little on his feet and she instinctively moved forward, grasping his arm, in case he was about to fall.

“I'm great,” he insisted, but he leaned against her for a few seconds, before straightening up. “Just temporary dizziness.”

She made no attempt to disguise her distrust.

“That's likely to last till tomorrow.”

“So?”

“So I don't think you should-”

“-be driving,” he completed in a tired, bored tone. He stepped back from her then, and sat on the hood of his car. “You know what? I really, really don't wanna have this conversation again.”

“Again?”

He raised an eyebrow, smiled.

“Don't sell yourself short, Veronica. You guessed what was going on here, before you approached.”

She bit back a grin.

“The minions read you the riot act.”

“They tried, but they didn't get very far.”

“They wouldn't.” She walked over to him. His family's money and fame commanded respect, bought loyalty that she knew he took advantage of, even though he didn't seem to hold either their kind of respect or their kind of loyalty in high regard. “They aren't used to confronting you.”

“Unlike you.”

“Unlike me,” she said, holding out her hand, palm up.

He looked down at the space between them, then back at her.

“Just leave me alone, Veronica.”

“And leave you here? What if you get in an accident and end up hurting some poor, innocent people?”

Her voice rose, coming louder and more forced as she stared at him, frustrated.

“Stop worrying about the practical things. I'll be fine.”

“Sure you will.”

Faster than he could've anticipated, and he wasn't able to evade her. Her hand slid into the pocket of his jeans, fingers around the chain. She pulled away and held it as she would a prize. He sighed, rubbed at his face.

“There's no stopping you once you've made a decision, huh?”

“I guess not.” She paused, gazed at him. Somewhere in her mind, she considered holding onto the keys till the next day and calling him a cab. That done, she could be at her living room within half an hour, eating Ben & Jerry's and watching late night TV. In the end, though, she simply said, “Come on, Logan. I'll take you home.”

He stared at her for a moment before he stood up.

“What about your car?”

“Don't worry, the lines of defense will hold and I'll be back for it shortly,” she answered, unlocking the passenger-side door. “Besides, it's safer if we take yours, considering the neighborhood.”

“Fair enough,” he said, then let her urge him into the car. But the compliance didn't last, because he was Logan and he was a guy and he liked his toys. So the instant she sat in the driver's seat, he turned to her and accused, a mockery of sorts in his voice, “You’re a girl of ulterior motives, Miss Mars.”

“Guilty as charged,” she said and the corner of her mouth curled up in a smile. “You know me: I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the car.”

“Just...” It was his turn to smile. He leaned back, his head resting on the car seat. He closed his eyes, then groaned. “Just be careful, okay?”

She pressed down on the gas and the car vibrated under them.

“Aren’t I ever?”

***

Stupid, stupid, stupid, she berated herself, not quite believing what was happening. She was standing in Logan Echolls' bedroom, on a Friday night, trying in vain to get him to rest while he worked at convincing her otherwise.

Truth be told, it was to be expected. Logan was an amiable, if touchy, drunk, so after an uncharacteristically peaceful, easy ride to his house, he'd done what he usually did: since they'd arrived he'd been at it, distracting her from leaving. Had someone suggested, two months ago, that she would play a part in such a scene, she would've laughed and laughed then laughed some more before called the person in question a raving lunatic. As it was, she settled for a half-hearted attempt at disentangling herself from him.

He muttered something, then loosened his hold on her a bit. Then he was behind her, his arms circling her waist. For the moment, she stood stiffly inside them, not resisting him, but not yielding to him either.

Trying, unsuccessfully, to beat some sense into him.

“You've gotta get some sleep, Logan.”

“Don't wanna,” he said, shaking his head for emphasis. Then... “Unless you promise to keep me company.”

She chuckled.

“I don't think so. I've got things to do, a father to see.”

“Liii-aaarrr. Liar. Li-ar.” He played with the word, lengthening it, splitting it. “I know your father is gone for the weekend.”

At that, she turned around to face him. He looked down at her, grinned before continuing:

“You thought I didn't know.”

She nodded, then added:

“I thought you weren't listening.”

“Well, you were wrong. I do listen to what you say.”

“Right.”

“I do,” he insisted, and touched a hand to her face, traced her smirk. “On occasion.”

She laughed a little. Her mouth fell open, and he ran his fingers down her chin and down her neck.

“That's impressive,” she said finally, shaken, pulling out of his reach. His hands dropped to his sides and she looked away.

“You don't look impressed to me.”

“But I am.” She looked back, fixed him a stare. “Inside.”

They stood facing one another, and then he smiled and she smiled back.

“Stay; just for a while. We'll have fun.”

She lowered her head, sighed.

“I'm not in the mood for playing games, Logan. I'm tired and you're--”

“Look, I wasn't suggesting anything sexual.”

“Um, yeah.” She glanced up, amused. “If you say so.”

“I wasn't.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, so maybe. A little.” She watched, not moving as he stepped a little closer. He raised his hand, serious but not quite. “I swear I'll behave. We can watch a movie or do something equally unexciting.”

She smiled, still unsure. She studied him carefully, considered her options. Thought back to the past and to the present, shifting. She let her hand raise, rested it against his arm.

“I get to choose the movie,” she stated and he made a face, rolled his eyes.

It felt good though; like a beginning.


[the first ending]

Late dinner at home. This night, she had bought Chinese take-out, a treat to her dad and herself after a particularly hard but ultimately successful day's work.

The last case they’d taken had been a bit more complicated than they'd first anticipated. For a while there, they had run into some trouble. Nonetheless, a couple of tries and near misses and dead ends later, they'd been back on the game and then, earlier that evening, they'd cracked it open, beating the cheating husband, saving the (not so) innocent wife and winning the prize money.

Hence the celebration, Mars' style, with spicy food and lively conversation.

So they talked and talked, passing the cartons back and forth. She had to write a paper on the impact of Thoreau's philosophy upon her generation by the end of the week. Sometime over the next few days he hoped to catch a showing of George Clooney's heist film. She favored the original Ocean's Eleven herself, and told him again that perfection, once achieved, shouldn't be trifled with. He argued the merits of remakes. She argued the merits of liberal media.

Then:

“This project of yours? How much longer do you think it's gonna take?”

“Which project?”

She strove to sound confused, if not forgetful. But she knew what her father was referring to. It was something of her own making: the school project she’d invented three weeks ago when she'd had to explain a sudden disappearance.

From the corner of her eye, she saw him smile, indulgent.

“The one that will get you all those extra credits, remember?”

“Now I do,” she answered, and stood up. She busied herself, moving about the tiny kitchen. Pretending, for the moment, that her world reduced itself to the sorting out of empty take-away boxes and chopsticks.

“So?”

“So... it might take a while. Four, five more weeks, maybe.” She couldn’t look at him, and so she dropped her gaze, watched her hand rest on the kitchen counter, watched as her fingers searched blindly for something. She hated that she'd come to a place where she needed to lie. “Sorry about that.”

“Never mind. I just...”

She looked up at him then and he said:

“I miss having you around all the time.”

That made her smile.

“I won't be gone for long.”

“I know.”

“One, two days tops.”

He reached out slowly; run a hand through her hair and brushed her forehead. His caring, loud, constant warmed her fingertips and her palms.

He laughed lightly.

“I'm aware that I sound like a pathetic old man.”

She shook her head.

“I wouldn't call you pathetic. Nor old.” A pause, and she continued, playful, as they were in the habit of being, of doing, “A little rough around the edges, perhaps--”

And it was easy -- incredibly, incredibly easy -- to hid herself behind the jokes, behind the smile that she was quite sure didn't reach her eyes.

He hugged her in response, unsuspecting. There was no hesitation; no doubt in his touch that she could recognize.

Sixty, almost seventy days into this, and what did it say that she'd learned she liked the thrill, that, given the chance, she might just keep on lying? Probably nothing she really cared to think about; nothing she cared to admit.

She hugged him back, tight, wanting comfort and not really knowing what to say. Wanting forgiveness, unconditional.

I miss you too, a murmur. The words trembled in her mouth.


[the second ending]

She glanced up, tried to see through the glare of the morning sun. Blonde hair. Familiar face. Logan.

“Passing through?” she asked, pretending like she didn't already know.

He sat beside her on the sand.

“Running from-”

His home life. The friends that weren't. The hurt and the past.

“...running towards-”

Her. Them. Change.

“Who the hell knows?”

He kicked off his shoes, dug his toes in the sand. Laid back. Then, it was his turn to ask - you and a question mark.

She stared out over the beach, over the ocean. She listened to the sigh and the murmur of the waves as they crashed upon the shore and breathed in the salty air.

“Me-” she said, turning around, meeting his gaze, “I like the sea. That this place happens to be swarming with scantly-clad, hot men is just a bonus. Obviously.”

She smiled, a real, curling smile.

“Obviously.” He paused and looked at her, hard. “Hey, Veronica.”

She moved over, stretching out next to him.

“Um, yeah?”

“I'm rubbing off on you.”

She made a sound, disagreeing, and slapped him playfully on the chest.

“Take it back.”

“No,” he said as he shook his head and his eyes were alight with laughter.

“Take it back,” she repeated and rose up on one elbow. “Do it, or else...”

“Or else what?”

...he rolled them over and she shrieked, joyfully.

For now, it was enough.
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