Note: Usual spoiler warnings for both series. That includes Season 8.
‘I’m never getting married. You want an absolute? Well, there it is. Veronica Mars--‘domestic partner.’ Going on six years now. Know how to ice a healthy, long-term relationship? Buy a ring. I’ve seen it too many times to be convinced otherwise. Don’t believe me? Don’t care. The camera doesn’t lie.’
Throwing her camera strap over her shoulder, Veronica left the safety of her parked LeBaron. She hopped the guard rail, and hurried down the rain-soaked hill. At the bottom she ducked down and took camera in hand, carefully stepping towards the underside of the overpass--her target. ‘May I present Exhibit A.’
Thank god she had excellent zoom, because she wasn’t getting any closer. Normally, there’d be homeless sleeping there, trying to keep warm around fire-lit barrels. Tonight? They were chased off by the offensive sight of a giant, adulterous male troll, pantaloons at his ankles, banging his troll wife’s sister in an unpleasant place. She didn’t see the attraction; she just snapped the money shot. ‘Why capture a moment that would make even the most prolific, adult film star wince? That’s the job. Wait for the compromising position, point, click, and profit.
‘Why choose this line of work? Especially now that it’s cost Dad his life? All started with a murder.’
She shook her head at the scene before her, suppressing the urge to throw up in her mouth. Then she made her way back up the hill, not needing or wanting to see the climax. ‘Some girls lose their best friend and just have a good cry. I preferred vengeance. So when my shamed, ex-cop father opened a detective agency, I helped make the guilty regret their evil deeds. Until I found the murderer.
‘By the time I did, the world had gone gray on me. Couldn’t go back. This is what I do. And there’s never any shortage of evil deeds being committed. Just ask my partner.
‘”Evil” though? Has its different degrees. Yet another spouse cheating on the troll he vowed to? Not her kind of deed. She prefers when she’s able to express herself more...aggressively.
‘Did I mention she’s a superhero?’
The LCD on her cell phone, shining from her bag on the passenger seat, caught her attention. She grabbed the phone, and saw the call she just missed. ‘I’m a little bit vengeful, she’s a little bit violent...no better combination. Which I’m not about to risk over a cheap, gold band. Even if the law allowed it. Neither is she.’
She smiled, then called the number back while pulling onto the road. “And how was your evening?”
Arriving at their office/home, Veronica did her most impressive job of parallel parking yet. To the right of the entrance was a glass window with the “Mars Investigations” logo proudly displayed and being pelted with rain; the blinds were drawn on the other side. The sky had opened up again, so she hurried into the building.
There was a staircase leading to the apartment upstairs on her right, on her left, a door that led into the office, and in between, a short, dark hall that led back into the alley. She was going to head above, but saw the office light...lit. Though they salvaged the couch, fish, and safe, this wasn’t the “Mars Investigations” of Neptune.
It was one space. No waiting room. The couch sat low against the wall where the window was. On the far side, a potted plant sat in the left corner, the safe and fish tank in the right corner. In between those corners were a desk and two chairs.
The only sound was the bubbling of the water cooler to Buffy and their latest client’s left, who were mid-room. Buffy was standing, while their client lay. Because he was dead.
“He tried to eat One-Eyed Willie,” Buffy defended her actions, seeing that Veronica was present. “I had to.”
“Wouldn’t be passing judgment on what others may find edible behind closed doors, now would you?” Veronica questioned, walking up to the body of the Quath demon.
“Except he’s our Willie, behind our door.”
Veronica’s eyebrow quirked as she thought of several, different responses, but instead, she just let it go and dropped her bag to the floor with a sigh. “I’ll get his legs.”
When she did, Buffy got his arms and they started carrying him out of the office.
“And they say *I* have impulse control issues,” commented the detective. “We’ve talked about this.”
“We’re never gonna attract much foot traffic if ya keep--“
“Then why, pray tell--?”
“I just do. ‘Buffy’s issues’ after. Carrying now.”
In the hallway, Veronica spoke again. “So...you caught my sly, double entendre back there, right?” She accented “entendre” in heavy French.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “You’re still the queen of quick-witty.”
Veronica was relieved. “Whew. I was afraid age was making me rusty.”
“It was big and anvil-heavy. Catching wasn’t hard. In fact, kinda hurt.”
“I work only with what I’m given.” The detective stared at the slayer as though she were laying blame.
Buffy’s jaw dropped open. “Nuh-uh. No.”
She stared hard at her woman. “There was no giving. Just me being forced to take. I think, after this? Your issues are first.”
“Impossible. I’m practically perfect in every way,” Veronica slowly smirked. “I’m supercali--“
The slayer flatly told her, “Your end’s drooping.”
They sat upstairs in their small, kitchen nook sometime later, eating a nutritious dinner of Chinese food. Veronica was half doing that, and half cycling through the photos she’d captured tonight. Buffy was going to ask her how she could look at...activity like that, while still maintaining an appetite. But the cordless rang.
“If that’s Mr. Troll’s soon-to-be ex,” Veronica said while swallowing egg roll, “tell her to come by tomorrow at nine. And since the news might just nix that oath to swear off newborns, probably oughta make sure our invoice has been filled. In case she--oh, I don’t know--needs to lose her head. Unexpectedly.”
Buffy choked on her Wonton soup in disbelief. “So her it’s okay to slay?”
The detective nodded after a moment. “After I smell cash.” She pushed her cup across the table towards her cough-plagued girlfriend, smiling. “Agua?”
Buffy accepted the offer, eyes narrowed. She downed the whole cup like it was liquor, and she was already three sheets to the wind. Then slammed it to the table. Aggressively.
“You can’t just randomly invent ‘Slayage Do’s and Don’ts’ whenever you f...” She was about to rant, but she trailed off, abruptly forgetting her anger to curiously ask, “...They’re in the handbook, aren’t they?”
She frowned. “Why would Giles give you a copy and not me?”
Because Veronica requested one, simple as that. It was all part of an effort to keep furthering her grasp of what “The Slayer” was. The thing read like one of those “Know Your Place” pamphlets for women of the ‘50s. Outdated long ago, it was misogynistic bull crap thinly hidden by a faux-“girl power” cover.
Once she gleaned all useful factoids, it was to be burned.
“Honey, you’re your own handbook,” answered Veronica complimentarily. “But the world’s varying grays were no invention of mine; though we *are* fairly acquainted.” Beat. “Consuming fish? Gray like a ‘Termite Terrace’ production from the Thirties. Consuming the unfortunate consequence of Trojan’s shoddy QA department? Tell me you see the difference in shade.”
“It’s wrong that you always have an answer,” Buffy smiled despite herself. “Even if it gets sorta buried under scarily-bottomless references to *everything ever*.”
“Hasn’t this ground already gotten well-covered? That’s why you ‘heart’ me. I’m supercali--“
Oh. Was that the phone still ringing?
“Hello?” Buffy said once she’d reached for the thing, having left it haphazardly on this very table after the last phone conversation, and clicked it on. “Oops. Hey, Will. Sorry, Veronica was...being herself, and... Yeah. Exactly.”
She grinned at the other blonde across from her, and it was *that* blonde’s eyes narrowing this time.
“How are you guys?”
She got up from the table, tongue sticking out in defiance.
"What's new with 'Toil' and 'Trouble'?" Veronica asked, now at the sofa, head turned toward Buffy, who walked out of their bedroom after only a scant seven and a half minutes.
Buffy saw that dinner’s remains, remained on the table as she kept walking, joining Veronica in their living room nook. Their place wasn’t spacious, but they got by.
“Willow said we should turn on MTV. The original,” she answered, draping an arm across her girlfriend’s shoulders.
“Did Paris pick her new BFF? Is ‘Headbangers’ Ball is making a comeback?” Veronica cracked, to which Buffy silently stared until, “Fine, but if I miss out on a shirtless and oiled up Josh Holloway...”
The slayer’s staring then became glaring, and the detective immediately addressed her error by saying, “I meant Elizabeth Mitchell,” and compounding it.
Guiltily coughing and smiling contritely, Veronica clicked the remote. “Okay then...’Music’ Television it is.” As she sarcastically spoke the name, she shook her head.
“C’mon, this isn’t a new thing. The last time it was actually music-focused was how many years ago now? Cope already,” Buffy told her bluntly.
“It isn’t the lie itself that gets under my skin, it’s that each generation keeps paying the lie forward,” Veronica felt the need to explain, before she began to really pay attention to the channel. “What the hell?”
She and her couch-mate both leaned forward to get closer to the screen, making sure their eyes weren’t playing tricks on them.
“Harmony?” Buffy uttered, slack-jawed.
“Remember when the worst thing you could say about reality TV was that it gave anyone with a *pulse* their nine hundred seconds of shame? Those were the days,” said Veronica faux-wistfully.
“New low, sunk to,” agreed Buffy. “This could get bad.”
“No, this could get renewed.”
"I...can’t even...” Buffy didn’t have the words. After a moment, she looked rather disgusted. “My god, she’s *way* too ’Bloodlust Barbie.’ I mean, wow.”
“Elle Woods, she’ll eat your heart out. She’s legally dead and loving it,” Veronica said with a grin, and seeing Buffy’s raised eyebrows, continued with, “Tagline on the inevitable movie poster. Mark my words.”
“At least we’ll know when the next apocalypse is coming.” Buffy was trying her best to shrug it off, but the more she watched, the more she couldn’t. “I suddenly hafta burn all my pastels.”
She sighed, closed her eyes, and pinched the bridge of her nose. “This...this isn’t funny. She’s a killer. With literally no soul. ‘Cause she’s a *vampire*. An unbelievably dumb one who couldn’t pick out an outfit even when she had a reflection, but still...evil. How can people miss the completely *beeped*-up-ness?”
“Yeah, and Butch Patrick’s a werewolf,” Veronica scoffed.
“People are stupid.”
Veronica had leaned back from the TV, her thumb rubbing massaging circles on the back of her tense girlfriend’s neck. “Sure, so she says, thus raising my hopes that we’ve finally made progress, but it never seems to stick.”
Buffy grabbed the remote from Veronica’s lap. She was almost afraid to hit the “Info” button, and when the onscreen guide came up, she knew why.
“Episode five?! Where have we been?” She exclaimed.
“Not giving two shakes about a channel that willingly airs crap like this,” replied Veronica. “I distinctly remember thinking, ‘Ah, so this is what a positive life decision looks like.’”
“A positive till now maybe.” Buffy then thankfully remembered, just to get her mind off Harmony’s stardom, “Also, Will and Tara? They're um, getting married."
Veronica nodded, “Mmm”-ing past her lips. "Prop 8 be damned."
Then the phone rang again, and this time she was the one who picked it up, saying low, "If one of them is knocked up, you owe me a twenty."
“It was ten. You’re extorting your own girlfriend,” Buffy pointed out, frowning. “In what world is that not an issue?”
“Only to better wine and dine her,” Veronica insisted, kissing the frown away. “Did you know there’s a brand spanking new Bennigan’s just past the city limits?”
Before Veronica got the chance to answer the phone, they heard knocking coming from downstairs. Asking each other the obvious, silent question, Buffy went to see who was at the door. Meanwhile, Veronica finally spoke to the waiting caller.
“Is it safe to assume there’s an elopement in your future? I hear Holland’s balmy this time of year. In lieu of the stale and well-worn, ‘I do,’ you could take a hit from a suggestively-shaped bong together. At the altar. Guarantee there’ll be no leftover wedding cake.”
“Get Buffy out. Now. And lay low.”
Okay, that wasn’t Willow.
Now Veronica was tense. “Who is this?”
“They’re coming for her.”
“Uh, hi. Can I help--?”
As the slayer opened the door, it took her a second to see that the two men on the other side were holding badges. They invited themselves in, and wasted no time in physically forcing her to turn around so they could handcuff her. She couldn’t even react.
“Buffy Summers, you’re under arrest for the murder of Steven Grabowski. You have the right to remain silent--“ One of the police detectives began.
“I’m waiving. ‘Steve’ who? This has to be a mistaken identity thing, or-or identity theft! Like those commercials--you’ve seen, right? I could be fifty-two, a guy, and living in a trailer park in Texas,” she rambled, hearing the cuffs close around her wrist as Veronica rushed down the steps.
Looking at one another, their first thought was, ‘Did we hide the body well enough?’
“Think you’ve got the wrong blonde, Detective...is it Briscoe or Green?” Veronica inquired of the men.
They paid her no mind.
“Hmm. Might be the murder weapon,” the other detective said, eying the wooden, coat rack next to the door.
Couple nights ago, a hanger had been broken off. Someone needed a makeshift stake in a hurry. The two, small blondes seemed equally confused and nervous as Buffy was hauled off.