Title: Ebb Tide
Characters/Pairing: Veronica Mars, Dick Casablancas, Logan Echolls, Logan/Veronica
Summary: The events leading up to the movie didn't just affect Logan and Veronica.
Rating: PG-13 for minor language and references.
Disclaimer: I don't own VM or its characters, nor am I associated with their owners.
Author's Note: I honestly did not ever expect to write anything of any significant length focusing on Dick, though I have no hard feelings toward him. And yet, here it is. Thanks to mack_the_spoon for the beta.
It's two days until Logan is scheduled to ship out. Veronica has been trying not to dwell on this fact such that her enjoyment of their remaining time together is spoiled, but it's not an easy thing to do. She also knows she's very far from the first woman to have to deal with this kind of situation (though she never once imagined she would be in it) – so it must be possible to deal with.
Sighing, Veronica gets out of the crappy little car she'd rented for those few times when Logan needs his to be elsewhere, and walks up to the beach house. Logan is out finishing up some final details with JAG Corps, but he'd promised to be back no later than about half an hour from now. Veronica decides she might as well wait outside, on the beach. She has her phone, and he'll see her car when he gets here. And she needs the fresh air after the day she's had, too.
Veronica heads for a driftwood log she and Logan have sat out on a few times since she's been back. But then she stops. There's someone already there. The wetsuit and surfboard, plus the familiar profile, make it easy to tell who it is even from where she is.
Veronica rolls her eyes, annoyed. She had wanted these minutes of solitude by the surf. She's about to turn around and go back toward the house when she notes something … off about Dick's posture. The problem can't only be because of the beer bottles (some empty, some full) in the sand around him, either. It's not like that's overly unusual for the guy.
It only takes her a few more seconds to decide. Then she takes a deep breath and walks over to him. Dick notices her approach before she gets within reasonable speaking distance. If Veronica didn't know better, she would have thought he might have quickly wiped moisture off his face as soon as he saw her. “Hey, Ronnie,” he says, with a smile. “You waiting for Logan? He's not around at the moment. Something to do with his Navy lawyers, I think he said.”
“Yeah, I know,” Veronica replies. There's a moment of awkward silence. “All right, I'm just going to come out and ask: are you okay, Dick?”
“What do you mean?” He tries for his usual carefree grin, but it still doesn't seem quite right to Veronica. “Of course I'm okay. I mean, the waves weren't as awesome as they should be today, but hey, there's always tomorrow, right?”
“Dick. You remember how I'm a private investigator, don't you?” She sits down next to him, gingerly shifting aside one of his empty bottles. “And you realize, therefore, that I earn my money from being observant?”
He shrugs and looks out toward the ocean. “Yeah, so?”
“So. What's wrong?”
At that, he's quiet for a moment before he scoffs. “Look, as much as I appreciate you pretending to care about anyone not named Logan who lives at this address, can you go wait faithfully for your man somewhere else? I kind of wanted to drink and brood by myself.”
Veronica puts up her hands and gets up. “Fine. Sorry. Didn't mean to crash your pity party, or whatever it is you're doing.”
She has barely made it a few feet away when he speaks from behind her. “You know, I never really said sorry.”
“What?” She turns around.
Dick is looking directly at her, but he looks away again when she meets his gaze. “I never said sorry.”
Eyebrows raised, Veronica tries to think what he could be referring to. “For what, Dick? The off-color jokes? The general boorishness that has characterized our entire history?” Though she couldn't keep herself from these words, her tone isn't as sharp as it might have usually been.
Dick doesn't answer immediately, instead taking a swig of his current beer. “No. Not those things. I was thinking more for, uh, for Cassidy. Like, trying to kill you, and everything.”
Veronica's jaw drops. That, she was not expecting in the slightest. She comes back over and sits down. “Okay. Um, can I ask what brought on this delightful trip down memory lane?”
He sniffles. “Just, you know, me thinking about how bad I am at noticing when people who are supposed to matter to me are about to end up dead. My brother. Susan. Carrie. Gia.”
“Oh.” Veronica feels a sudden surge of guilt – in regard to her behavior toward Dick Casablancas, of all people. She and Logan have been too wrapped up in their own feelings surrounding the murder of Carrie Bishop, and then Gia Goodman, to have really thought about how those deaths might have affected Dick. If she's honest with herself, Veronica thinks, it's hard for her to imagine Dick really seriously being affected by much. He's always seemed so … so...
“Yeah, I know,” Dick says with a watery chuckle. “Where's good old happy-go-lucky Dick? And who's this crybaby loser?” He points at himself and shrugs again. “Wish I could tell you.”
“Dick, your brother and your friends died,” she says finally, into the silence that falls after his admission. “Suicide, overdose, murder – any one of those is a heavy thing to deal with. I think it's okay for you to grieve.”
“That's what my therapist tells me,” agrees Dick. He sniffs again. After a beat, he reaches into the case to offer her a beer.
She's about to refuse, and then she thinks, What the hell. It's not like it's a crotch flask, right? She doesn't accept his offer to open it for her, though, and he grins at that.
They sit without speaking as they both drink. It's weird, but not in a bad way, Veronica decides. Then her phone chimes, and she pulls it out. The text from Logan says, I'm on my way. You there?
Ready and waiting, she texts back. She puts the phone away and looks at Dick. “Well, Dick...”
“Go ahead,” he says without bitterness, gesturing at the house. “You and Logan go have some more hot, making-up-for-lost-time sexytimes. I won't interrupt.”
“Thanks,” she says dryly. But as she gets to her feet, she adds, “And by the way, since we're apologizing: sorry for accusing you of being complicit in the Susan Knight thing, and then accusing you of lying about it. It's good to know Logan has at least one loyal friend left from high school.”
He salutes her with the hand not holding the beer. “Thanks. Hey, and props to you for coming back and getting him out of another murder rap, Ronnie. I wasn't sure you would – come back, I mean. But here you are.”
“Yep. Here I am.” By now she's almost completely okay with her decision to give up all that New York was going to mean to her. In no way did she need Dick Casablancas' approval. But she supposes she doesn't mind having it, either. “See you around, Dick.”>
“Catch you later, Ronnie.”