A/N I got this idea three days ago and it wouldn't go away until I wrote it. As mentioned, this is super dark and angsty, quite a different tone from "Knowing the Difference". I'm blaming it on the solid week of rain.
I have a little fascination with gender roles in society, what's considered "normal" and "acceptable" for men and women. I think, as a society, we're pretty unforgiving towards people who step outside of social norms. Anyway. I thought it would be fun to see Logan and Veronica switch places, to a degree. It will be 3 chapters. Hope you enjoy.
P.S. Before anyone asks, yes, I'm still working on my other story. ;)
Logan stands outside the bar, chewing on his fingernail absently as he glares at the people walking past him. He knows why they're looking at him. He's been standing here for over twenty minutes, now, pacing back and forth. They probably think he's drunk. He doesn't give a shit. He pauses and leans against the brick wall of the bar, taking one deep breath after another. Why am I being such a fucking pussy?
He reaches into his jacket pocket and produces his cell phone, quickly scrolling through names until he gets to the one he's looking for. She answers after two rings.
"Did you do it yet?" she asks, without saying hello.
"No. I got… held up. I'm on my way now," he replies. It occurs to him that it's the first time that he's ever lied to her, and he gets a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. It's starting already, and we haven't even begun. If I knew what was good for me, I'd turn my ass around and get back on a plane to New York… But I've never known what's good for me, have I?
"Well just try and get it over with quickly, okay? I want you back home." She sounds nervous, but she's not trying to talk him out of it. Well, not anymore. We already had that discussion, and she made her point crystal clear. She doesn't want me to be here. She doesn't understand why I came. He appreciates that she's not bringing it up again.
"Okay," he agrees. He looks at his watch, noting that it's already 10pm. Which means it's 1am there, and she's still up. She really is worried. "It's getting pretty late. I'll call you in the morning and let you know what happened."
"Just call me tonight, okay? I don't care how late it is." She pauses then, and her voice gets softer. "I do trust you, Logan."
He's not sure what to say to that, because he doesn't trust himself right now. Not one bit. It had been much easier to trust himself back when he was cuddled up next to her on the couch in their East Village loft; back when Neptune was just a vague memory in the vault he rarely opened. Logan sighs. "Okay. Love you."
"I love you too."
He hangs up the phone and takes another deep breath, steeling himself. He knows this won't be pretty.
As soon as he pushes open the door to the bar, his senses are assaulted. Alcohol ingrained into the wood floor, the walls, probably even the ceilings. A dozen colognes, mixed together. Billiard balls smacking against each other as college guys try to impress their dates. Muddy music on the jukebox and false laughter. Young bodies pressed up against each other in dim lighting, accented with glowing greens and yellows from fluorescent signs. And…her. Oh god, there she is. He isn't ready yet.
But it's her, he's sure of it. And worse, she's one of those young bodies pressed up against someone else. Logan swallows, almost losing his nerve. All of his preparation was for shit, all of those deep breaths a big fucking waste of time. The moment he lays his eyes on her, he feels like he's taken one to the gut, then another across the jaw. This is worse, so much worse than he'd imagined.
Logan knows immediately that he has to get out of there. I can't do this. I was a fool to even try. He turns and walks away, making it all of three feet before he stops and looks back at her. He sweeps his eyes down her body from head to toe, drinking her in.
She's wearing a black tank top and a short denim skirt, and yes, there they are, those fucking black boots. Her outfit could have been plucked straight out of one of his high school fantasies, which she'd starred in regularly…even back when he was supposed to hate her. Her hair is down in loose, wild waves… But he can't see her face, because she's got her tongue down someone else's throat.
He wasn't expecting to have this reaction after all this time, but here it is. Jealousy. Possessiveness. Rage. It's not just the fact that she's making out with another guy, it's the way she's doing it. With such reckless abandon, in the middle of the crowd, so indifferent to what people might think. He's only ever seen her act that way with him.
Logan feels like a petulant child, suddenly. I'm the only one who gets her that turned on. And she is turned on, that much is clear. Her eyes are closed and her head is thrown back. A slight smile plays on her lips, as some dude in a tight grey V-neck sucks on her neck. She has one hand tangled in his dark brown hair, the other cupping his ass.
And then Veronica pulls her head away, opens her eyes. Focuses her gaze directly on Logan. She stares at him as though she's known he's been there the whole time. The only reaction she makes is to broaden her smile into a wide grin.
Three years apart, and that's all I get?
He hates that she already has the upper hand, and he wants so badly to turn and walk away. But she's pulling him in like the fucking tractor beam on the Death Star, and before he knows it he's standing a foot away from her. After a brutal moment or two, she finally untangles herself from her partner.
"Well, well, well. Look who's decided to grace us with his presence," she says. Veronica nods to the guy next to her, who's still completely focused on her and trying to continue where they left off. "Do you know who this is? It's Logan Echolls."
The guy turns his head and looks at him, utterly disinterested. "Oh yeah? Any relation to that movie star?"
"You got it," Veronica replies, before Logan can respond. "That was his Daddy." Her eyes are no longer glassy and unfocused. She's glaring at him, making it clear that, yes, she knows how much he hates talking about his father with complete strangers. And that yes, she's doing this to hurt him. Logan is a little shocked that she still hates him so much, after all this time.
"Dude, that's fucked up," the guy says. "He killed that girl. She was hot. What was her name again?"
"Lilly," Logan replies quietly, never taking his eyes off Veronica. "Lilly Kane." He's searching for a reaction, a glimmer, something that proves that she's still inside of there somewhere. But she just stares calmly back at him, her eyes blank. There is no twitch in the muscles of her forehead, or her lips, or her brow, to betray her underlying grief. Nothing.
Veronica turns to the dude in the grey shirt, who's gone back to kissing her neck. "I'm thirsty," she informs him. She nods her head at Logan. "You want anything?"
He studies her, wondering if she knows about him. Wondering if she's been keeping tabs. But he just shakes his head. "No thanks."
"What do you want, darlin?"
"Something wet," she replies with a sly smile. She turns her gaze to Logan. "And hard."
"Mmm," the guy says, kissing her on the lips.
Logan watches as she returns his kiss, biting his lower lip and running her hands up his back slowly. After about three seconds he has to look away. He tries to keep his expression blank. He's sure it doesn't matter to her anyway, sure that she isn't even looking at him; but old habits die hard.
The guy leaves, finally, and they're alone. Veronica turns back to him, brushing her hair back from her face. Her cheeks are flushed, but her eyes are as flat as a shark. "So, who was it?" she asks. "Wallace? Or Mac?"
"Wallace," he replies. There's no point in lying about it. Logan knows that Wallace isn't ashamed that he asked for his help. Surprised, maybe, that I actually agreed. He should have known better.
"Figures." She rolls her eyes and leans against a small high top table, her fingers trailing absently across its surface.
Logan wants to tell her that it's good to see her, but that would be a lie. It's not good to see her. It's painful, and he feels like all of his organs are being turned inside out.
Her head is tilted now, studying him. She doesn't say anything, and they lapse into silence. Logan knows he's here to talk to her, not to stand there slack-jawed and staring. But he can't find the words. He sighs and runs a nervous hand through his hair.
"Veronica-" he begins.
"Save it. I know why you're here, and I don't want what you're selling."
"Wallace is worried about you. We all are," he tells her quietly.
"You all are?" She laughs. "Good to know."
"Look, he just wanted me to come out here so I could-"
"I know what he wants. He's made it clear." She looks at him with something like disgust. "Get out of here, Logan."
Her little makeout buddy comes back then, four shot glasses in hand. Logan gets a whiff as he passes him by. Whiskey. He turns his head away from the scent and takes another deep breath, for all the fucking good it does.
Veronica takes one of the shots out of the guys hand before he's even back to the table, and downs it quickly. She takes a second one and does the same. The guy laughs in appreciation, but Logan just stares at her. He tries, again, to keep his expression blank. But he knows the disappointment is clear on his face.
She looks up at him. "Is this what it felt like for you? All of those times I told you what a screwup you were?" She laughs again, but there's no humor in it. "I was a real pain in the ass, huh? Karma's a bitch. Guess I had this coming to me."
He steps towards her, his body painfully aware of how close she is. He speaks to her earnestly. "You weren't a pain in the ass. You were worried about me. Just like I'm worried about-"
"Fuck off, Logan!" she yells suddenly, pushing him hard in the chest. "Get the hell away from me!"
He stumbles backward into an empty barstool, steadying himself against the edge of a table. He looks up at her, stunned by her sudden mood change, stunned by her violence. She's never hit him before. Never.
Logan glances around the bar. He can see that she's attracted the attention of the bartender, who's nodding to one of the bouncers. This isn't happening; not tonight. He needs to step away and try again tomorrow.
Without a word, he walks away from her and out of the bar. He doesn't realize how hard his hands are shaking until he gets outside. Logan walks over to his car, stops, and looks back at the bar. And then he punches the side of his rental car, twice- three times- leaving a series of nasty dents.
He gets in the car and drives away, blood trickling unchecked down his knuckles.
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