When Mrs. Grubber announces they all have to pair up for a team project on the War of 1812, Veronica is honestly incredibly close to groaning out loud. Team projects are possibly the worst part of high school so far – in the 7 months since she walked into the doors of Neptune High, nothing has quite matched the hatred she feels for everyone she inevitably gets stuck with. And then everyone presents awkwardly, most of them horrible orators, on the same damn subject, with varying degrees of success, and they all have to listen for several classes in a row. Everything about it makes her want to gouge her eyes out. She should have known their US History teacher would spring one on them too; after all, it had to come at some point, but she was hoping it wouldn’t happen. Maybe Mrs. Grubber hates those projects as much as she does, she thought. She was wrong, apparently. Mrs. Grubber has shitty taste.
When Mrs. Grubber announces they all have to pair up for a team project on the War of 1812, Logan immediately turns to the one person in the class he can stomach having to go through another project with. It’s not that he hates his classmates – most of them, anyway – but starstruck idiots gawking at his house in the hope to spot Lynn or Aaron Echolls when he’s trying to get them to focus so they can be done and he can get back to his friends… it gets tiring. Veronica is sitting a few seats back, in the row beside his, and looks about as enthusiastic as he is to be assigned another school project. Still, for once, he only feels a little bit of dread at the excruciating prospect of working hours towards a fruitless presentation no one actually gives a crap about hearing. Veronica has been to his house in the past, though not much because the four of them usually hang out at Lilly and Duncan’s, not his or her place, and she has done absolutely no gawking, so it’s already a victory.
It takes her a second to catch his eye, like she forgot she has a friend in the class, which kind of stings, but she nods enthusiastically. When the final instructions are given, Logan picks up his books and brings them over to Veronica, pulling a chair to sit with her at her desk.
“So, thankfully for me, I’m paired with the smartest girl in the class.”
She rolls her eyes at him. “And thankfully for me, you know you won’t get away with not doing any of the work while I’m watching you.”
She doesn’t disagree with being the smartest girl in the class because, well, why would she? She is. Logan appreciates that she doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know. And she’s right. He wouldn’t dare slack under Veronica Mars’ watchful eye. And he knows she’d be easier on him than on most people, so he marvels at the callous risktaking some of his classmates seem to want to partake in, judging by her reaction to group projects.
“How do you want to play it? I’m thinking a song.”
She looks at him with horror. “Please tell me you’re joking.”
He shrugs, deciding to keep it going just a little bit more. “Why not? The teacher said to make it original. And I know you can sing.”
“Oh, it’s not me I’m worried about.”
He laughs at that.
“Besides, there’s original and original. We can just make our poster have a 3D timeline sticking out of it or something,” she suggests.
“Ohh, arts and crafts. My favourite part of any good team project.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
“A dance number.”
Veronica keeps getting surprised that Logan Echolls is her friend. Sure, he’s Duncan’s best friend, and he’s dating Lilly, and the four of them are practically always together – the Fab Four, Lilly calls them, and Veronica both hates how cringeworthy it is, and loves how catchy it sounds – but they don’t really do much, just the two of them. It would be weird… wouldn’t it? She can’t really put her finger on why, but it would be. She can’t really compare, can’t wonder if it would be weird if Lilly was hanging out with her boyfriend, because, quite obviously, Lilly and Duncan spending time together is natural. A side effect of living in the same house and all that.
It’s comfortable with Logan, surprisingly. She doesn’t know why she’s surprised. Logan has always been nice to her, a bit of a jackass, but all in good fun and with good intentions. He doesn’t say or do anything that will make her uncomfortable, and he seems to be a relatively good friend to Duncan. He’s funny, always has a witty remark at the ready and saves her a seat at their table if she’s running late. And his birthday presents are always thoughtful, she can tell he actually picks them out himself.
But Logan is also popular. So are Lilly and Duncan, and so is Veronica, as a by-product of sticking with the three of them, but he’s the kind of cool that is just innate and unattainable. He’s a surfer, his parents are movie stars, he’s handsome (even she has to acknowledge it) and he has quite the reputation within the female student body, despite being only fifteen. She’s not exactly sure how much of what is said is true, but she also doesn’t want to ask. They may be friends, but they’re not that kind of friends. And all that sort of conversation makes her uncomfortable. Duncan and she have been together for a while now, but they are not nearly there. Unlike Lilly and Logan, which Veronica knows all about from her best friend. But asking about the other side of the experience is just… wrong, somehow. Veronica really, really doesn’t want to know about Logan’s sex life and doubts she ever will.
Which is why she finds it odd they’re friends. Not just friends, but of-course-we’ll-do-the-project-together-is-that-even-a-question friends. Can-you-come-over-Saturday-I’ll-leave-the-front-gate-open friends. You-like-meat-lovers-pizza-the-best-right? friends. Veronica knows Logan doesn’t like having classmates over too much, taking their superficiality as a personal insult, it seems, so it’s kind of sweet that he immediately offers for them to work at his place. Of course, it could also have to do with the fact that it means he doesn’t have to get up too early or actually move from his house, but still. Veronica appreciates it. She doesn’t like having her friends over, much. There is her mother, of course, who Veronica sometimes wishes she could tune out. There is also Lilly’s insistence that Logan and Veronica come over to the Kanes’, since two of them are already there anyway. There is the fact that Logan is always a bit awkward with her dad, because he is the sheriff and… well, Veronica can’t round up all the lightly illegal things he does on the daily – the boy can drink – but it probably amounts to enough for him to not be totally at ease around law enforcement. He always seems a bit nervous, not so much that most people would pick up on it, but Veronica knows him and is generally observant, so she notices the way he pulls on his sleeves and seems to arrange his shirt better all the time when her dad is there.
All in all, Veronica finds herself surprised to be walking up towards the Echolls mansion, past the gate Logan has indeed left unlocked for her, carrying the books she checked out of the library the previous day. She rings the doorbell, juggling her bag, her books, and the simple action. Hopefully Logan isn’t still asleep.
Logan hears the doorbell and startles. Oh, right, Veronica. Is it 11 already? He looks down at his watch. It is. He gets up, ready to get it himself, since it is his guest and he doesn’t think they have anyone working today.
It had been a no-brainer to invite Veronica to come do the project at his house. It’s where most of his group projects end up being done anyway, she knows the address, he knows she won’t steal anything – not that he personally cares, but his father does, and Logan knows that it will definitely be counted as his fault if anything happens while a classmate is over, he’s learned that over the years – and that she’ll actually focus on the work, not marvel at the house and the people living in it. And then he can kick her ass at a video game of her choosing, so really it hadn’t even been a question in his mind.
Apparently, it should have been. When Duncan asked him yesterday if he was up for some surf during the weekend, Logan answered he couldn’t on Saturday because Veronica was coming over. Duncan got weirdly fazed about it, and Logan still doesn’t understand why. It’s not like Veronica and him need to ask Lilly or Duncan (or, god forbid, both of them) for permission to see each other… they’re friends, too. And even if they weren’t, they have a US History project to prepare, for crying out loud. Logan knows Duncan is a bit more insecure than he is, but yikes… if his girlfriend going over to a friend’s house (a friend who is also not single, Logan half wants to remind Duncan) has him worried, maybe the reasons for his insecurities are deeper than he wants to admit. It’s not like Veronica would ever do anything to hurt or harm Duncan, Logan or no Logan.
He’s still thinking about his best friend’s frankly weird behaviour when he opens the door to find Veronica, carrying what looks like half the books in the library.
“Let me help you with that,” is what he chooses to open with.
“Thanks,” she huffs, transferring some of her load to him. “I went to the library yesterday night. We should have all the info we need in there.”
“Yeah, and no one else will,” he replies, eyes wide. “Do we really need all this?”
“Do you want to have the best presentation in the class or not?”
Not really, he thinks, because he doesn’t much care. As long as he gets a passing grade, he’s fine. He’ll work for more than that, of course, especially under Veronica Mars’ watch, but it’s all the same to him whether he gets an A or a C. But he knows Veronica is aiming for Stanford, and that she decided freshman year was not too early to start having the best grades of anyone in their year, so he shuts up.
“So, are all those books for our benefit or rather so that other teams have nothing to work with? Because that’s diabolical.”
She snorts. “Please. All you 09ers can just buy the books, you don’t need to go to the library to get them.”
“I assure you no one buys books for research for random projects in freshman year.”
“I know for a fact Angie Dahl does.”
“Okay, but she’s weird. And intense.”
She glares at him.
“Which is… fine?” he tries to amend.
That actually earns him a laugh. It’s not easy to make Veronica Mars laugh, really laugh. She will give derisive snorts, she will purse her lips in mockery, she will sarcastically laugh quite a bit. She will even occasionally giggle, but he doesn’t think he’s ever seen anyone elicit that reaction in her except Lilly. So making her laugh, surprised and delighted, well, it makes him feel damn good about himself.
They take a break from their project for lunch, which is a nice change. Veronica usually treats lunch with her partners as more project time – but with the addition of something distracting them that they have to make sure doesn’t splatter all over their work. But Logan insists that there should be no talk of the project during lunch.
“You can’t think about the same thing all day, Veronica, you’ll go crazy.”
“Isn’t that what you do?” she teases. “Girls and video games.”
“Absolutely not. I also think about surf.”
Veronica rolls her eyes, taking a bite of her pizza. Meat lovers is indeed her favourite. Logan may live in a house in which she’s pretty sure she could walk for days without encountering someone else, but he still enjoys his pizza with friends and remembers what each of them prefers.
She could break his bad boy image in a fraction of a second, if he ever pisses her off enough that they’re not friends anymore for whatever reason, she realizes. With that oddly sweet attention to his friends and the combing through books she knows he does to find his weekly inspirational voicemail greetings, Veronica Mars could probably destroy Logan Echolls’ reputation.
When he looks up at her, asking “What?” and seeming startled that she’s looking at him with a small smile, something in her tells her that won’t happen. He couldn’t do anything that would make her want to do that.
“Nothing,” she replies, looking back at her pizza. “So, what is it you think we should talk about during our gastronomical lunch, if the history project is off limits?”
She isn’t sure if the sound coming out of him is a snort, a chuckle, or a chortle. Or maybe he just choked on air or something and tried to cover it up.
“You going to prom?” he asks her eventually.
“Freshmen don’t go to prom,” she replies.
“Lilly said she could probably get the four of us in.”
“Sophomores aren’t supposed to be at prom, either,” Veronica remarks, but she knows Lilly probably could if she sets her mind to it.
“I don’t think that’s enough to deter Lilly,” Logan says, voicing Veronica’s thoughts aloud. “She didn’t tell you about it?” he continues.
“No,” she replies with a shake of her head, “but she probably will. What, do you think we should go?”
Logan shrugs, wiping his fingers on a napkin.
“I don’t know, it could be nice. In any case, whatever Lilly decides is what I’ll do, we all know that.”
It’s true. Logan can pretend all he wants that he’s this big deal bad boy who follows no one’s rules but his own, but really all it takes is for Lilly to raise a finger and he’ll come running. Veronica isn’t sure if it’s sweet or sad. But Lilly has good intentions (most of the time, probably, right?), so whether it really is sweet or sad, she lets it go.
“If it doesn’t work out,” Veronica says, hoping it doesn’t, “we always have homecoming. And junior prom. And senior prom.”
“Do you think Lilly will come to our senior prom?”
“If you invite her, probably. She isn’t one to miss out on a party. Even if high school parties for a college girl would probably make her ‘lame’ list,” Veronica muses.
“And what if we’re not dating?”
“Why wouldn’t you be?”
Logan shrugs. It’s not exactly breaking news that the couple he and Lilly form is of the on-and-off variety.
“It’s in three years, Veronica,” is all he says.
“Hey, if you make sure to sneak in some alcohol, Lilly’ll be there,” she assures. “And if you’re in one of those ‘off’ moments again, I’m sure a bit of liquid courage and the romantic setting of prom can help you win her back.”
Her tone is ironic, because, prom, romantic, really? She may have some illusions, but not that many. She knows prom in all its iterations will most likely be a letdown and not as memorable as everyone makes it out to be, but she also knows Lilly has a flair for the dramatic (and so does Logan) so a grand declaration at prom might just do the trick for them, if trick there need be.
“She’d probably make a dramatic exit to keep me hanging,” Logan says with a fond shake of his head.
Veronica nods. “Definitely. But she’d be on your doorstep the next morning, making fun of what you said even if she secretly loved it.”
“She would be on my doorstep, but she wouldn’t make fun. You, on the other hand, you would make fun of a big declaration.”
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Try to get Duncan to make one, and we’ll see who’s right,” she teases.
“Something tells me over-the-top confessions and professions of eternal love aren’t Duncan’s thing.”
She laughs. “No, you’re right. They’re yours.”
“It’s a natural talent.”
“No, it’s because you’re a nerd who’s seen too many sappy movies and read too many sappy books.”
Logan smiles goofily and idly wonders how Veronica isn’t already bored by Duncan. He instantly feels horrible about it because, damn, that’s his best friend, isn’t that harsh? But the more he gets to know Veronica – not Lilly’s best friend, not Duncan’s girlfriend, but Veronica – the more he wonders how exactly Duncan and her ever seemed like the perfect couple. Because this Veronica, the Veronica he sees more and more of, isn’t the short blonde smiling silently behind Lilly, isn’t the proper girl waiting for Duncan after class. This Veronica is vivacious and witty, sharp and fascinating, but she doesn’t even seem to know that herself sometimes. He likes this Veronica better. He’s not sure Duncan would like this Veronica better.
“Hey, can you toss me the glue?”
Logan looks up and stops his finger tapping to see Veronica with a pen pinched precariously between her lips, which explains the muffled words, and holding pieces of cardboard carefully cut into squares, which explains the request.
“Sure you can catch?” he smirks, taking aim, taunting her.
She stares him down, unimpressed, and holds out a hand. She’s been watching baseball games since before she could talk, her father explaining to her absolutely everything about every single technique they saw in action. Yeah, she can catch.
Unless Logan throws like a loser, which he does. Veronica has to duck down under the table to catch the glue stick.
“Wow, that sucked,” she comments.
He laughs, surprised. “What?”
She holds up the glue stick and makes a face at him. “Is it really that hard to throw?”
“What about you tell me?”
She debates hurling it at his face, just to see how he reacts, but instead just tosses it lightly, to his chest. He catches it easily.
“See?” she says.
“Maybe you’re just a bad catcher.”
“It went over my head, Logan.”
He doesn’t even have the decency to look sorry about it, no, instead, he looks positively mirthful. Ass.
“You know,” he says after a few minutes of comfortable silence as they work side by side on their poster, “you’re pretty great, Veronica Mars.”
He sounds almost surprised about it.
They get it all done faster than they had anticipated. (Actually, Veronica had done all the anticipation. Logan had no idea how long it would take them and had just said “you can stay as long as we need.”) It leaves them a solid hour before Keith should come pick Veronica up, and she supposes she could call him and ask to come earlier, but she feels no rush to leave Logan’s just yet.
“Did you finish the assignment for French?” she asks him.
“Veronica, you do know that friendship entails we are allowed to talk about things that aren’t related to school, right?”
She rolls her eyes. “I’m just talking about what’s on my mind.”
“I’m not the one on your mind?” he exclaims, a hand to his heart. “That hurts.”
“You kind of are. I was wondering if you finished the French assignment.”
That’s not nearly good enough, Logan thinks, but whatever.
“I didn’t start it.”
“It’s due Monday.”
“So? I’ll do it tomorrow. Or Monday morning. No big deal.”
Veronica shakes her head. “It’s pretty hard, you might want some time to do it.”
“It’s because you suck at French,” he points out.
“One, that’s rude,” she says, pointing a finger at him, but he knows she’s not mad because of the smile tugging at her lips. “And two, some of us didn’t get to spend weeks in Paris promoting our parents’ movies.”
“One of the few advantages of coming from the house of Echolls.”
Veronica is certain there must be more than a few, but nods along.
“Can you help me, then?”
Logan thinks he should probably write down the date in his calendar. Veronica, asking him for help with schoolwork?
“I can try. What is it about?”
“You didn’t even read it over?”
“No need. I have all I need in my head, ready to go, whatever it is.”
“I just don’t have the vocabulary to describe myself. How much can a person say about their own self?”
He raises an eyebrow.
“You can probably say plenty,” she remarks flatly.
“That I can. But so do you! Is it, like, physical appearance or personality?”
“You didn’t even listen when she explained it in class?”
“Why are you surprised?”
She rolls her eyes and takes out the instructions.
“There,” she says, “’Décrivez qui vous êtes.’ Describe who you are. Could this be any vaguer?”
“Tu es ravissante,” he supplies.
“What does that mean?”
“Look it up,” he challenges with a smirk.
“Hypothetically, if you weren’t dating Duncan.”
“Would you date me? Hypothetically.”
She thinks for a second.
“Hypothetically,” he nods.
“Hypothetically, if you weren’t dating Lilly.”
“Would you? Date me? Hypothetically.”
He shrugs. “Hypothetically, sure.”
Veronica has never flirted with someone who wasn’t her boyfriend before. Come to think of it, she hasn’t ever really flirted with Duncan either. He’s not much of a flirt, unlike his sister. And Veronica, either. Usually. But this kind of banter… it’s fun. She should try it more often. With Duncan, of course. Logan here is just compensating for the lack of Lilly in the room in the only way he can, apparently. With hypotheticals.
“And would you kiss me? Hypothetically.”
“Logan,” she warns.
It’s getting weirdly real, weirdly serious. He doesn’t have that laughing edge in his voice, anymore. She’s not blushing and trying not to giggle, anymore.
“Hypothetically!” he defends himself.
“Hypothetically… I guess.”
“Under what conditions?”
Veronica isn’t sure if she loves this or hates it.
“If I wasn’t dating your best friend and you weren’t dating mine and I had romantic feelings for you, I’m sure you’d be a remarkable kisser. Hypothetically,” she adds, an afterthought. Just to show none of this is serious. Like this is definitely the first time she’s ever wondered how good a kisser Logan can really be.
“Are you going to ask it back?”
“It would kind of be rude not to. So?”
“Cool,” she says flatly.
It’s a bit hard to focus on Mario Kart after that.
Logan isn’t sure what compelled him to ask that, to ask any of that. It is utterly inappropriate and probably the closest thing to cheating he has ever done. So why doesn’t he feel guilty?
Things with Lilly have always been complicated. That has to be the understatement of the century. And he would absolutely hate to add yet another layer of complexity to everything. But he has, and now he doesn’t know what to think.
He loves Lilly, he does. But he has no trouble imagining that one day, she’ll be out of his life. Dramatic door slamming or hitting a fatal point where they just can’t take it anymore or simply drifting off to their own lives. These things happen, and he knows it can happen with Lilly, he knows it probably will. But he also knows that at this stage in their life, they’ll always gravitate back to each other. If they split again, she’ll probably sleep with someone else, or at least let him believe she did, he’ll get jealous and want her back. And she’ll come back. Her plan will have worked, they’ll both think they swindled each other and ultimately be happy with the idea that they are the one for each other.
Logan knows he’s lucky to have Lilly, he knows it’s something he needs to treasure. And he knows she’s playful, for lack of a better word, and she wouldn’t think twice about doing what he just did with Veronica. It wasn’t even anything, it was barely flirting, so Lilly would shrug it off. He knows she would. But Logan doesn’t. It feels suffocating, suddenly, feels like it should be a bigger deal than it is – he flirted with her best friend, and he doesn’t feel guilty, he just feels… weird, tingly, maybe – and at the same time a smaller deal than it is – why is he still thinking about it? Lilly would have forgotten it already if it had been her, and he wouldn’t even blame her – and now Logan is confused.
Logan hates being confused. He much prefers it when there are clear cut lines, clear morality, clear decisions to be made. But he has never really lived that. He wonders what that might be like for people who have.
Is he supposed to tell Lilly about it? She’ll probably laugh at him and tell Duncan about it, and Duncan will definitely not laugh it off. He’d probably get mad at Veronica, just a little bit, and at Logan, more than at Veronica, but it wouldn’t last as long. No, telling Lilly – or Duncan – seems like a bad idea. But he can’t just pretend it didn’t happen because, damn it, something in him tells him it meant something. What? That, he has no clue. But maybe there is something he can do about it. A temporary fix that won’t fix anything. Just to ease his conscience.
“Veronica, you will not believe what just happened!”
“Hey, Lilly,” Veronica replies, switching her phone to her other ear.
Lilly rarely bothers with traditional greetings – way too boring. It suits Veronica fine, it cuts the bullshit and gets to the actual point much faster. She settles onto her bed, ready for whatever juicy gossip Lilly has decided couldn’t wait until Monday. Veronica doesn’t care for gossip all that much – she’s no Carrie Bishop – but Lilly adores it, and always has something on every person at school. Even the seniors, who should probably guard their secrets more closely than they think around short blonde sophomores. So Veronica listens, and soaks it all up. Everything could come in useful at one point or the other, right?
“So who’s your victim today, Lils?”
Lilly sounds surprised by the question.
“Whose gossip are you sharing today?” Veronica clarifies, looking at her nails. She should redo them soon.
“No gossip,” Lilly says airily, and that’s when Veronica knows something is wrong. There’s something fake in the cheeriness of her friend’s voice. She sits up in her bed, frowns.
“Is everything okay?”
“Oh, yes,” Lilly continues with the same tone. “Logan broke up with me,” she says.
“Oh, Lilly… I’m sorry.”
It’s a bit surprising, really, how affected Lilly sounds, since she’s usually the one dictating when they break up and get back together, like it's all just a game. Just yesterday Veronica remembers she was talking to Logan about how he and Lilly always managed to fall back together. She wonders what led him to even break them apart this once.
“Did he say why?” she pursues, standing up to walk around her room.
“No, just the usual.” Lilly gives a laugh that sounds halfway between bitter and fond. “He used my old excuse. You know –”
“’I just need some space for the moment,’ yeah, I know,” Veronica replies, smiling despite herself. Well played, Echolls. It almost sounds like payback for all the times Lilly dumped him using a bullshit reason. Of course, she’s still on Lilly’s side. She isn’t sure if all breakups lead to people having to choose sides, but that’s how Lilly has always played it, and so she sticks to it. Lilly knows better than she does. Besides, Logan knows she always sides with Lilly by loyalty, but that in reality there is no such thing as team Lilly and team Logan. They’ll just get back together and everyone’s weak effort to pick a side will be forgotten.
“So now I don’t know what to do!” Lilly exclaims dramatically, sadness and/or bitterness and/or offended shock at the idea of having been the one dumped, all evaporated. There is only playful Lilly, plotting Lilly, the one Veronica knows she has to try to keep under control, left. The last time she didn’t keep her under control, Lilly made out with the captain of the high school football team to make Logan jealous, which sounds fine until you know he was a senior and she was thirteen. So, Veronica learned to be careful.
“You’ll get back together soon,” she says, trying to soothe her best friend. It’s true, too. It sounds like the cliché the romcom best friend serves the heroine because she is just meant to be with the love interest, but in reality it’s based on observation, experience, and knowing the two parties too well. So what if Logan and Lilly aren’t “meant to be” in the end? They’ll play this dance for years to come, pretending they are. And everyone around them will believe it. Veronica wants to warn them both about it, but she knows it won’t end well for her. She doesn’t know anything about love, anyway. Right? Not compared to Lilly, at least. So if Logan and Lilly want to dance around each other until they’re both out of high school, then… good for them. Or bad for them. Whatever, in any case, it’s their own decision and their own problem.
“Oh, I know,” Lilly waves off. “But in the meantime, there are so many things I could do. Or, more accurately, so many people.”
Veronica groans. “Lilly…”
“No one older than eighteen, I promise! At least not until next time he fucks up,” she adds, and Veronica can see her devilish grin vividly.
“I am! So I was thinking… Casey Grant. Yes, no, maybe?”
Veronica shakes her head with a fond smile. Yes, Lilly is incorrigible and probably objectively an awful person (and girlfriend). But she’s her best friend, and she wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world.
The Wednesday of that week is the first class of presentations in US History.
“If you raise your hand for us to go first, I will not hesitate to kill you. I don’t care if your dad’s the sheriff,” Logan whispers to Veronica when Mrs. Grubber asks for volunteers.
Logan hasn’t brought up breaking up with Lilly all week, so Veronica doesn’t ask him about it, either. But her curiosity is killing her. One day they were talking about Lilly getting them all into prom, and the next he broke up with her. Boys were impossible to understand.
“Mr Echolls, you seem to have some things to say,” Mrs. Grubber declares as no one volunteers. “Let’s hear it,” she continues, motioning for the two of them to come set up their poster.
Veronica would laugh if she wasn’t so nervous about presenting first. She wouldn’t have volunteered.
“Can I just say: congratulations?” she whispers to Logan as they stick their poster to the board.
“I didn’t know she’d tell us to go first!” he hisses.
“Well, next time, don’t be such a smartass,” she mumbles, trying to reach the top of the board. “And stick this, I can’t reach it.”
“Does Miss Mars need help?” he jeered quietly, easily accomplishing the task.
“I hope you know your part,” she replies.
“Of course I know my part. Most of it.”
Veronica widens her eyes at him, and he’s pretty sure it would be a glare if she wasn’t so nervous.
“Logan, Veronica, are you ready?” Mrs. Grubber asks.
“Yes,” Veronica nods, before launching into the introduction.
As she’s talking, Logan watches her from the corner of his eye. She’s animated, sure of herself. It’s not something she is often at school. It’s the same kind of intensity she has when she tries to explain to Duncan and him why Dirty Dancing is an amazing movie. (He loves it too, but won’t admit it. It’s not very manly. And besides, he enjoys her takes on it.) At school, she’s usually subsided, hiding behind Lilly or Duncan, or even himself. Sometimes literally. Seeing her like this… he realizes she really does want to have the best presentation in the class, and hell if he isn’t going to help her do exactly that. When she finishes talking and looks up at him quickly to let him know she’s done, he starts what might just be the best presentation he’s ever given.
Mrs. Grubber sure seems to think so, at least, when she speaks up once the unenthusiastic required claps of their classmates die out.
“Great job, the two of you. This sets the bar very high for the rest of the presentations.”
She smiles at them and Logan is pretty sure it’s the first time the warm, proud gaze of a teacher has landed on him. Really him, not just by mistake or pity or because he was Aaron Echolls’ son. Huh. No wonder Veronica feels invigorated by being the best.
When class is over and everyone files out, Logan stays back to wait for Veronica as she packs away her things.
“Congratulations again, both of you,” he hears a voice behind him say. He turns around and see Mrs. Grubber approaching them, then realizes they’re the only students left in the class. “Logan, you surprised me.”
That’s a polite way of pointing out my less than stellar performance in the written exams, he thinks.
“When he puts his mind to it, he’s not too bad,” Veronica replies, a teasing glint in her eyes as she looks at him rather than at their teacher.
“I’m not supposed to tell you until all the presentations are done, but… you both got an A,” she tells them while backing away back to her desk with a conspiratorial look, and Logan can’t help the smile creeping on his face.
Veronica jumps up to hug him, a reflex, probably.
“Yessss!” she says, smiling from ear to ear and buzzing with enthusiasm. “We did it!”
“Don’t you ‘do it’ every time?” he asks, smiling down at her energy and returning the hug.
“Well, yeah. But not with you as my partner,” she points out, stepping back away.
“We should do it more often, then.”
They walk out of the class, and it’s not until they’ve reached Veronica’s locker and he waits for her to switch out her books that he realizes it’s probably the first time Veronica’s ever hugged him. It felt nice. Being Veronica’s friend has all sorts of advantages, it seems.
The snickerdoodles she bakes to congratulate him when he does well on his finals is still his favourite of the advantages, though. He knows he isn’t the only one who gets home baked snickerdoodles, but he doesn’t care. They’re delicious.
The next week, in French class, Madame Rousseau hands everyone their assignments back, and Logan angles his copy towards Veronica with a smirk. Of course he got an A. When she gets hers, she finds a B+, and Logan leans in from his seat on her right.
“I can’t believe I managed to get a better grade than Veronica Mars,” he whispers, boastful.
She rolls her eyes and smiles, then whispers back: “Don’t get used to it.”
Behind them, Duncan looks on, puzzled. Since when do they have inside jokes? It’s not even an inside joke, he notices a second later. Just camaraderie and easygoing banter. For a flash, he hates it.
When she gets home, Veronica is suddenly reminded of the word Logan called her when she was over at his place for their US History project, that she never got around to looking up. In the rush to finish the assignment, she hadn’t thought about it again, but now, as she puts away her copy with all her other returned exams and assignments in a box in her closet, she itches to know.
She goes to fetch her French dictionary – where did she put it again? – and flips it all the way to the letter R. She scans the pages, looking for a word, and – ah, there it is.
Ravissant, ravissante (adj.):
Qui est extrêmement joli, charmant, qui plaît beaucoup par sa beauté
Huh. Extremely pretty, charming. Or something along those lines, her French is still not great. “Lovely” is the closest English word she can find.
It’s too late to write it into her assignment, and besides she isn’t sure she would have done it anyway. But it does make her smile, the word dancing behind her eyelids as she puts away her books for the evening.
She’s never been called ravissante before.
It’s kind of sweet.
(In a sneaky way, because she had to look it up. Very Logan.)
The nicest thing Duncan’s ever called her is beautiful. Which is nice, and, hey, he’s a 15-year-old boy, he can’t be that eloquent. Most girls her age have never been called beautiful by a boy. (At least not in a way that didn’t make them want to crawl into the sidewalk because it was someone they didn’t know calling it from across the street.) But anyone can be beautiful.
Veronica has a feeling Logan doesn’t call just anyone lovely.
She’s not sure how long she’s going to like that word – ravissante – but so far she can’t get enough of it. Ravissante. It rolls well on her tongue. Ravissante. Is she, really? She’s pretty sure she dials down her sweetness when she’s with Logan, he makes her snarky nature come through. Maybe he finds that lovely. Maybe it is.