Disclaimer: Joss and Rob Thomas own their respective creations. I do not. FOX and Warner Bros. also own. Again, I do not.
Note: Okay, I had a challenge up, then I didn't, because I changed my mind slightly. Then I started writing it. I fudged the timelines so Veronica and Buffy could be the same age. That means instead of Buffy being 17 in 1998, she is now 17 in 2005.
At 2:52 AM, a knock came on Veronica Mars' apartment door, waking her from her dream. It involved Lilly and a swimming pool. Closure through slumber. It happened.
Would the media circus begin this early? She got out of bed to discover. It couldn't be her father; he was still in the hospital, with Wallace's mother at his side. It wouldn't be Duncan, because he went with his software mogul father to the station. There was a chance it could be Wallace, which would be sweet of him, but really, she held out hope that it was Logan. She needed to know he was all right.
But when she opened the door, it most definitely was not her troubled (ex?) boyfriend standing on the other side. She was taken aback at first. "Oh my god. Buffy?"
"Hey, Marsipan." A desperate-looking Buffy Summers greeted her old friend. "I'm sorry it's...it's really late, isn't it?" She said apologetically. "But the radio--"
"How are you even here?" Veronica wondered, and then did something she didn't do very at all--she hugged her fellow, petite blonde. "No...more vital question: why are you? 'Cause people lucky enough to miraculously escape Neptune's stranglehold don't tend to come back and re-surrender their throats. Not of their own free will, anyway."
"Didn't used to think it was so bad." Buffy smirked, hugging her back. "But I guess things change."
After a beat, both laughed at the enormity of that understatement. Their embrace broke as the laughter grew in intensity, before slowly dying. It was a welcome release.
"Okaaay...on *that* note," The teen PI spoke after a deep breath, "let me show ya around the new, slightly more compact, digs."
"And here we are back at our lovely, kitchen/living *and* dining room combo." Veronica announced as they exited the small hallway, having just come from her room. "Exciting, no? Dad and I perfected designing on a dime...with cero ayuda from Cable, thank you very much."
She sat on the couch, Buffy following. "Upside--at least you're not homeless."
"How come I'm sensing that the actual end to said upside is, 'Like me'?" Veronica filled in what she perceived to be blanks left by her friend. "I've heard being almost burned alive can completely throw all sixth senses out of whack though, so..."
"You're not wrong." Buffy sighed. "About the first part, I mean. I kinda ran away." Then Veronica's words registered. "'Burned alive'?" The radio left that detail out.
"'Ran away'?" Veronica questioned back when there was another knock. "Damn." Her hand went to her friend's knee, to secure attention. "That thought? Vice grip. Because catching up suddenly became priority on my 'To Do' list."
This time? Logan Echolls was at the door.
"This could be the concussion," Logan prefaced, lying prone on the couch, head in his maybe girlfriend's lap, "but it's hard to miss that B.S. smell. You should let your apartment air out."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Yeah, hasn't gotten any funnier since 7th grade, Logan."
"Or any less lame." Veronica added, even if it was obvious.
This was the first time Logan appeared to notice the slayer. She'd stood out of the way for the most part, hearing him recount to Veronica how he'd knocked out Weevil on the bridge where his mother committed suicide, bringing the wrath of the PCHers down on himself. He was beaten unconscious, and when he came to, he had a bloody knife in his hand, and one of the bikers lay dead.
There'd been someone there, some bystander who called the cops. Logan tossed the knife into the water and came straight here. On the way, he heard what Buffy did--his father was apprehended and charged with the murder of Lilly Kane, as well as the attempted murder of the once sheriff and his teenage daughter.
Logan was claiming not to have killed anybody, and being in a similar situation herself, Buffy felt inclined to believe him. But when did he and Veronica...?
"Wait...you mean we're *not* back in junior high?" Logan asked, faux-surprised. "Darn, I really thought we did the time warp again. You remember, don't you, Summers? When my dad wasn't screwing and bashing our best friend's skull in, and you hadn't left town without even going near her funeral?" That stung as he knew it would, and Buffy hung her head. "But, back to the future." Could he sound less earnest? "All the practically perfect Pats-i out there...and *who* gets plucked? *Who* gets Veronica drugged, almost raped?" Buffy knew remorse when she saw it. "Starts with a 'yours,' ends in a 'truly.'"
Her head had shot up at the last event, and when Veronica met her eyes she mouthed, "He drugged you?"
Veronica looked down at the hurt, angry young man using her as a pillow. "Logan..." The latest knock of the pre-dawn hours seemed loud in the apartment. She was getting annoyed. "Geez, where's Monty Hall when you need him?"
Eight minutes later, Deputy Leo, the third man who'd dared to fall for her charms and got burned for his trouble, was putting a handcuffed Logan in the back of his Crown Vic. Veronica didn't see any of this, however. She remained in her apartment, too confused and exhausted to do anything else. She and Buffy sat in a bit of awkward silence, as neither expected such complicated developments, until Buffy had to break the tension.
"So...you obviously got over Duncan." She commented lightly, having noted the way the young, handsome deputy talked to her. "Exactly how many guys have you dated while I've been not here?"
"FYI? When cleared of a major felony...traditionally? The most common reaction touches down anywhere inside 'ecstatic's' ballpark." Veronica told a not-so-relieved Buffy, a half-an-hour later as she sat at her laptop in her bedroom. "Some might even aspire to reach that magical land where poor, defenseless wallets get rodgered coming and going by a giant, freaking rodent." Nothing. "Aren't feeling the Diz, you can always 'Yabba Dabba Doo' it. Just work with me here, Dum-Dum."
Buffy looked over her shoulder at the screen, while petting Backup. "Are you sure you're reading it right?"
"Which one of us was 'Spelling Bee' champ five-years running in elementary school?" Veronica asked rhetorically, tooting her own horn. She held up her hand. "That's right, folks." She sighed in exasperation. "Buffy, trust me. I learned how to crack police report code a long time ago." She whipped out her (dad's) "Mars Investigations" business card, and passed it behind her. "These days? This is how I make my bread.
"Three witnesses--uh, 'Rupert Giles,' 'Alexander Harris,' and 'Willow Rosenberg'--all told the cops the same story. That you were nowhere near the scene at the time of the murder. Instead, the fingered guilty party was...an addict on PCP, who broke into Sunnydale High School with a gang. All of whom were also apparently on PCP." The detective's eyebrows arched as she continued to search.
Considering that Logan had admitted he was wanted for murder, Buffy quickly figured, what the hell, and tore the Band-Aid off. Besides, her attempt to act casual when Leo entered the apartment was seen through by everyone present. She had to come clean, or Veronica would've simply gotten her to spill.
Once it was out of the bag, Veronica went straight to work seeing if there was indeed an APB, and was prepared to help clear her name. Yet she didn't seem so gung ho to believe in Logan's innocence. The girl was certainly different. Tough. A little hardened. Like Buffy herself.
"I hafta be not in Sunnydale, Veronica. People got hurt 'cause of me. My friends, my mom...can't face them. Except now I have no legit excuse for hiding."
"Wanna talk about it?" Veronica offered gently, rousing long-atrophied skills to do so.
Buffy put that question back to her, "Do you wanna talk about your year?"
"Before these eyes get some shut? I can honestly say...one-hundred percent, fark no. And for flavor, let's park a 'hella' in front." Her yawn had perfect timing. "Are you staying anywhere?"
"Been at the Camelot for two days." Buffy said with a cringe.
Veronica matched it and then some. "Tell me you're joking." Buffy was not. It took every ounce of self control for her to avoid throwing up every time she walked into her motel room--there were stains. "Well, all those fine, upstanding adulterers doing the 'Walk of Shame' to their cars in about five minutes are gonna be awful disappointed when they don't have you to ogle." She smirked. "You're crashing here."
The slayer smiled. "Your dad won't mind?"
Veronica made a "pshaw" sound. "Oh, only when we lie about *why* you're crashing. And there's a whole week before that has to happen." That's when Keith would be discharged. "Plenty of time to think one up one that'll make him proud. Sell it, we buy you a two, possibly three-day window. Then he calls your mom, and I'm grounded till college. Which, hey, might not be such a negative."
Buffy's smile had weakened a bit.
Veronica got out of her chair, and headed for the hall. "I'll get you a pillow and some blankets...we can pretend it's a slumber party. Unless you want the couch."
"Nah," Buffy shook her head, "I miss slumber parties."
"Yeah," Veronica smiled softly, memory lane calling, "me too. Be right back."
Soon she was friends with her bed again, and Buffy was lying on the floor, Backup at her feet. Veronica tried to fall asleep, but she had to know; it was nagging at her. Wouldn't let her rest. All those files on PCP gangs and the related deaths...
"So either Sunnydale isn't saying 'No' to drugs just to spite Nancy Reagan, or--"
There were several moments of quiet breathing, and then--
"Had a feeling you were gonna say that."
She asked for it. Some stops on memory lane they weren't proud of, and each girl dozed off thinking about them.