Word Count: 2740
Rating: PG for teh bad words
Spoilers/Timeline/Warning: set in s2, but no specific spoilers for any recent episodes.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Never mine. Rob Thomas, I bow to your infinite greatness and can only hope to bring some odd life to your characters. Oh, and Sark is mine. Not that that's relevant in every fic, but I gotta make sure people know.
Summary: all you do is sit back and watch and, what, wait for it to all figure itself out?
Notes: Thanks, as always, to Becca for the beta. She roooooooooocks. This was written for sarkastic's Logan/Veronica ficathon. The request was dettiot's, who wanted Wallace/Logan interaction; Veronica/Keith interaction; and no Duncan bashing.
There is something about capping off your high school graduation with an 09’er wedding, Logan thinks.
He is lounging on the grass, watching the chaos that is happening on the Neptune High football field and thinking about how insane his weekend was going to be. The graduation ceremony on Saturday, the pre- and post-grad parties and then the finale to top it all off on Sunday: the wedding of Dick Casablancas and Gia Goodman.
Only in Neptune.
“Seniors!” Clemmons’ voice booms over the speakers, followed by screeching feedback. “Please find your seats in front of the stage, quickly.”
Logan picks aside the chairs, looking for the one with his name taped to the back. “Echolls, Echolls, Echolls; oh, here we are.” He cocks his head and smirks at the person on the right. “Now, I know my grades weren’t that great, but even I know ‘Fe’ doesn’t come after ‘Ec’, at least not at Neptune High.”
“Yeah, I was a little confused about that, too,” Wallace is slouched, playing with a paper ball that used to be on his chair. “But Jake Eisseman’s at Cambridge already, Laura Estavan said she’d ‘rather die before showing up at this fuckshow’ and Tyler Faiston, well…”
“Probably simmering nicely in a pile of crystal meth,” Logan finishes, sitting down and tipping the chair on its back legs. “Yeah, I supposed you’re the lesser of all evils.” He taps his fingers on his thigh. “Come on people, let’s get this show on the road.”
“Got somewhere important you need to be?” Wallace asks, bouncing his paper ball off his elbow.
Logan kicks the legs of the chair in front of him. “How about we call it the Bachelor Party of the Century?”
“Oh yeah. Dick’s last great hurrah before the ball and chain get attached.”
“I highly doubt marriage and a baby is gonna do anything to tame Dick,” Logan says dryly. Wallace laughs until Clemmons taps the microphone again in irritation.
Logan can’t help but tune out the principal’s voice. The air around him is alive with anticipation, but it leaves him unaffected. Graduation is not a milestone for him; it’s merely another marker along the path. The whole process bores him and he wonders why he even bothered coming today. It’s not like he cares what happens in everyone’s life after tomorrow.
Mostly everyone, that is.
He hears Clemmons announce a name and this jolts him into awareness. “What was that?”
Wallace glances at him. “You didn’t know?” he whispers.
“I probably should have guessed,” he murmurs, slightly ashamed. He turns his head to look behind him, but he can’t spot her. “She’s not here?”
Wallace opens his mouth to answer, but Clemmons dismisses them at this moment and the crowd stands to get their gowns. Wallace shrugs and waves as he leaves to join his friends.
A few spots down Gia is struggling to stand, trying to get a good grip on one of the plastic chairs that are being knocked around. Logan stands and offers her his hand. She smiles gratefully. “It’s so hot,” she says, fanning her face. “I probably shouldn’t come, but graduation is so exciting, don’t you think?”
Logan smiles as he escorts her over to the racks and tables set up with the different graduation favours. “‘Exciting’ is one word I’d use for this weekend.”
“I just can’t wait!” Gia gushes so enthusiastically that she almost topples over. “Oh, and Logan, I have to speak with you.”
“All ears,” he offers.
“I know this is Dick’s big night and all, but could you keep it a little under control? Just a little bit? At least if he’s going to get himself thrown in jail, can we make it, like, nothing that’ll keep him over Sunday? I mean, graduation…well, he didn’t even come to this,” Gia waves her hands around. “But Sunday’s so much more important…”
“I’ll do what I can,” Logan interrupts her. And lord knows he will.
“You missed your graduation rehearsal,” Keith remarks as he leans against the door frame.
Veronica shrugs. “The only reason to go is to get the cap and gown and Wallace is getting mine for me. The whole rest of the process is easy: sit and bake in the hot sun, smile and shake hands while I get the fake diploma, listen to the long boring speeches…”
“Give a short, non-boring valedictorian speech?” Keith smiles.
“Which I’m sure my classmates are dying to hear.”
“Well, I’m dying to hear it, sweetheart,” Keith walks over and bends down to brush her hair back. He nods to the bed. “What’s with Backup?”
Veronica rolls her eyes at the dog, who is laid out on the bed with his head tucked under her pillow. “I think he doesn’t like the boxes.” She gestures around the room, at the various packed and unpacked bags littered around. “He has abandonment issues, you know.”
Keith sits at her desk. “So do I.”
“Dad…” Veronica sighs.
“I know, I know, we’ve had this talk. I just wish you didn’t have to go so soon. Or at all.”
“It’s just that this is such a great opportunity, Dad, an internship with one of the greatest journalism professors in the country!” She reaches over and grasps Keith’s hand. “I wish it didn’t start so early either…”
Keith tugs her a little, leans down and wraps his arms around her shoulders as she awkwardly sits up to hug him back. “I know I have to let you go sometime. Just wish it wasn’t so soon.”
They sit like that for a long time before Keith begs off helping pack to watch baseball. Veronica finishes off the box with her sweaters before grabbing the pillow and giving her dog’s head a loving rub. “Don’t you be going all emo on me too.”
Backup gives her a half-hearted lick. She sighs. “Me too, buddy.”
Saturday dawns bright and hot, perfect for most of Neptune. By 10:30 AM, the polyester gown is sticking to the back of Logan’s legs. He pulls it away and adjusts his sunglasses, wincing at the pounding headache.
Wallace is spinning a mini-basketball on his finger. “Overindulged a little?”
“Hey, I’m the best of the lot. I’m upright.”
Wallace grins, then waves to someone beyond them. Logan turns to see Keith Mars holding hands with a pretty woman waving back. Veronica’s dad and Wallace’s mom? Stranger things have happened in Neptune.
Dick is sprawled in his chair, either sleeping or passed out. Logan looks down the row to see Gia with a portable fan pointed at her flushed face and rubbing her covered belly. And if he tilts his head slightly to the right even more, he can see Veronica, her head bent over her lap.
He wishes they hadn’t had to sit in alphabetical order.
The speeches are long and tedious and no one is listening. Logan slumps in his seat and pulls his hat low on his brow, playing with the white tassel. After a few minutes, Wallace pokes him in the side, then throws his ball at Dick’s head. Dick’s waking snort is loud enough to startle the speaker.
Logan snickers. “Nice shot.”
Wallace shrugs. “Just making sure he didn’t die over there.”
Mercifully the speeches end before the heat overwhelms him and the slow process of handing out the diplomas begins. Dick looks like he’s going to vomit on Clemmons, but makes it back to his chair before he passes out again. Gia waves cheerfully to the dozens of cameras snapping. When Clemmons hands him the scroll, Logan expects a smart remark but the principal smiles genuinely and Logan is surprised enough that he returns it. Wallace gets cheers from his basketball buddies, making up for the lackluster reception that Logan had. Veronica gets a mixed reaction; Keith hoots as if it’s a sports event but many of the students merely applaud while mumbling under their breath. And when Weevil’s hand closes around his scroll, Veronica gives a great whoop and Logan scowls.
Okay, so maybe he and Weevil aren’t blood enemies anymore, but he can justify hating the guy for that whoop alone.
He’s toying with the cheap white ribbon that’s wrapped around his diploma when they announce her, to more cheers this time. He keeps his head bent, stares at his lap, because he wants to look at her and he doesn’t at the same time.
Her speech is short and succinct and so very Veronica; she gets polite laughter at her first joke and by the middle the crowds response is real. He manages to look up, not directly at her, but he can face the stage and smile.
Leaving the stage she’s swept up in a three way hug, Keith’s arms the first and the tightest. “That was wonderful, honey.”
Alicia is next, soft arms and light perfume. “Congratulations, Veronica.”
And then it’s Wallace’s turn, and they nearly choke each other in enthusiasm. “That was killer, Mars. They’ll be talking about that one for a long time.”
“You lie,” she cuffs him lightly across the head. “But you lie with love, and that’s what counts.”
Keith hugs her again and through the groups of people hugging and laughing she spots Logan far off on the side of the field removing his gown and tossing the graduation outfit on an empty table.
She doesn’t know whether to feel pity or a measure of satisfaction seeing him. There are days she feels like reaching out just to hold him and others where she knows that his isolation and somber behaviour is all his own fault.
She doesn’t manage to dredge up any satisfaction today. Even if Logan has no one else, it isn’t right he should be alone.
And he’s in the back of her mind as their little group walks off the field. That one little glimpse stays with her during dinner and after, so much so she unconsciously looks for him at all the parties she ends up bouncing around to. And it frustrates her, because she hasn’t obsessed over Logan in such a long time, that one little glance has so much weight in her mind.
One glance she just can’t forget.
It’s bright and warm Sunday as well, to Gia’s good luck and Logan finds himself with the happy chore of dressing the groom and making sure Dick makes it through the ceremony conscious.
Dick is less than confidant that he’ll be able to go through with getting married at all. “I didn’t even propose…it was just…assumed…oh god.”
Beaver is laughing into his chest. Logan combs through Dick’s hair to make it neat and ties his bowtie. “Don’t fuck it up, Dick.”
Instead of replying, Dick runs to the bathroom to retch loudly. Beaver smirks. “And you keep your mouth shut,” Logan adds.
“I didn’t say a word,” Beaver sulks.
“Let it stay that way then.”
Up the aisle, Logan escorts another sulking figure: Madison Sinclair. Why Gia asked her to be a bridesmaid when Madison’s jealousy is so blatant, Logan can’t figure out, but since he’s ensured that Madison won’t make a scene, he doesn’t care. He’s the only one making sure this day doesn’t turn into a circus.
Dick makes it through the “I do’s” and if his words are quiet and a bit slurred during the vows, no one notices anyway. Gia is giddy as ever - under the disappointing stares of her parents - so much so that she interrupts the ceremony happily to inform the crowd that the baby was moving, and almost knocks Dick off his precarious position, when she grabs his hand to place it on her rounded abdomen.
At the justice’s proclamation of ‘husband and wife,’ the crowd, mostly made up of Neptune High’s latest graduates coping with violent hangovers, applauds mechanically, and Logan can escape to a quiet corner on the country club yard with a filched pack of cigarettes and a bottle of cheap vodka.
He watches the action on the lawn and the sun go down and just enjoys, as he has for the past months, the feeling of detachment from the fray. No one approaches him, which suits him fine.
He sits in the quiet shade and watches the crowd for her.
It’s on the lighter edge of twilight when he catches Wallace’s eye, drawing the other boy away from a deep conversation with Jackie. “Good thing Dick’s still too drunk to realize his best man’s done a disappearing act,” Wallace sits and stretches on the cool grass.
“I’ve done my job,” Logan mutters, finishing the rest of his bottle.
They sit in silence for a while, because Logan has no idea what, if anything, he meant to say in the first place. He just wishes he had another bottle now.
Wallace sighs, and sits upright. “She’s leaving tomorrow, probably at dawn.”
“She got a summer internship at the university, with one of the best professors in journalism or something like that. They want her to start early, and it’ll last until school starts in the fall, so she won’t be coming back to Neptune.” Wallace yanks out tufts of grass and rubs them between his fingers.
Logan looks sideways at him. “Why are you telling me?”
“I don’t know,” Wallace confesses, not meeting Logan’s eye. “I don’t know if she wants you to know or not. There are times…it’s something I’ve noticed watching both of you. I don’t know if it’s stubbornness, or being scared, or that neither of you can handle anymore shit in your life, but all you do is sit back and watch and, what, wait for it to all figure itself out?”
Wallace stands. “Maybe that’s how life is supposed to work, but hey, I’m tired of this whole thing. Of course, this now means that I’m karma’s bitch, but I think I can handle that.” He jerks his head to the right. “I really don’t think anyone’ll care if you skip out, seeing as they haven’t noticed anything yet.” With one last smirk, he takes off into the crowds.
Logan leaves just as swiftly.
He loses most of his nerve when he pulls up outside her place and watches her pack her the last of her boxes into her car. He’s never been afraid of rejection, but it’s not rejection that he fears when he sees her.
He watches her shift a few boxes around to make room when suddenly he’s tired of watching.
She doesn’t notice until he’s only a few feet away. “What are you doing here?”
“Came to offer my best wishes and all that,” he says. “I mean, congratulations. Just…wow.”
She crosses her arms over her chest and doesn’t respond.
Finally he speaks again. “Wouldn’t do me any good to ask you not to go.”
“Why, Logan?” she asks, her voice almost breaking with weariness. “What’s the point of doing this now? Nothing has changed, not in the least bit.”
“Because I…” he cuts himself off and runs his hand over his mouth. Before he speaks again, he places his hands on her shoulders and lowers his voice. “Because before this, I never realized…I’ve been living my life without actually living it. Even graduation; nothing ever really meant anything before, not in a way to make me want to do anything to change my life.”
He lets his hands fall to take hers. “Look, this isn’t a proposal; this isn’t to ask you to stay behind or anything. I just…I just wanted to let you know. ‘Cause I’m tired of, you know, not saying it.” He grimaces. “Take that however you want.”
Veronica is looking down at their joined hands. He gently pulls them from her light grasp, smirks and turns back to his car. About halfway across the street she catches up, pushes his shoulder to turn him to her again, and stretches up to press her lips to his.
They kiss for a long time, standing in the middle of the street on a cool summer night. He doesn’t want to pull away, ever. When he does, he stays close to her, presses his forehead against hers.
“I’ll write,” she whispers. “I have your address. We can…write. I promise.” She lets him hold her for a few more minutes before breaking away.
Watching her go – watching again – there isn’t a familiar emptiness. He’s done letting life figure itself out.