hurricanes & heartaches (rejeneration) wrote in loveathons,
hurricanes & heartaches
rejeneration
loveathons

Nuclear Winter - rejeneration

Title: Nuclear Winter
Author: rejeneration, but you can call me Jen
Pairing/Character: Veronica/Logan, Duncan Kane, Lilly Kane Jr., Elaina Echolls
Word Count: 4,550
Rating: NC-17 for language, sex, and adult situations
Summary: I’m not even sure what to say about this one…
Spoilers: This is future fic, but through S3 to be safe.
A/N: I want to give fair warning here – this fic is dark. My muse has been leaning in this direction for a while now, so I had to give it a go. I wrote this for the "Snowed In Challenge" at loveathons, even though this is probably three hundred and sixty degrees different from what they had in mind. There are additional notes at the end.
A/N 2: Heartfelt and loving thanks to rindee for going back over this with her fine-toothed comb. She always, always, always knows how to make things better. She's constantly amazing me.

This’ll be the last thing I write in vm fandom for a while (I’ll probably concentrate on finishing Erosion in my hiatus). Thanks to everyone for entertaining me while I’ve been here.


-1-


It starts in silence.

-

At twenty-two, Veronica’s just as fearless as she was at sixteen, but her road’s been fraught with danger. By the end of her freshman year, she’s solved two murders, a kidnapping, two rapes, and has been a victim – wounded, jaded – each time. She solves another kidnapping, this case leaving her shaken through the last part of her sophomore year. Right around that time, Logan finds his way back into her life. She doesn’t call it fate or kismet, but she swears she could feel him coming this time around.

A chain reaction occurs during her junior year at Hearst – Lianne’s death, Keith’s spiral into depression, and Logan’s quiet resolve throughout it all - the events slide like dominoes, clicking one on top of the other. He's by her side at her mother’s funeral, black suit, silk tie, his hair highlighted by the fading sun.

Later, she admits, she didn't hear a word. No pax vo biscum, no requiescat in pace. She only concentrates on the warmth of his hand. She imagines an invisible cord, a slip of a thread that shimmers imperceptibly, allowing his love to branch through her system. She closes her eyes, picturing an exchange of energies between the two of them as they toss the first shovel of dirt over the casket. She credits the string for keeping her afloat.

One day, in their apartment, as Keith’s breaking down, Logan tells her he’s getting Keith some help. Logan's determination is plain as day; time, money, they’re of no consequence on this one. She’s going to let him do this, as much for himself as for the two of them. He's been trying for years to show her she can depend on him. Now he's insistent. For the first time in their relationship, and without argument, Veronica lets him do whatever he thinks is necessary.

Six months later, with Keith recovering in the best private hospital on the West Coast, Veronica takes a case that brings her closer to her own death than any before. At the end, Liam Fitzpatrick presses the cold steel of a Remington revolver to her forehead, the hollow barrel leaving its mark … just before the hammer clicks back.

The Calvary comes, just in the nick of time, red-blue lights and sirens. But a gunshot between his eyes, Liam's warm blood and tacky brains clinging to her cheek, sends her the biggest wake-up call she'll ever get. It's enough to leave her heaving her guts out, crawling towards Lamb on a disgusting bar-room floor, desperate for an out.

She's just as fearless at twenty-two as she was at sixteen, but by the time she collapses at Lamb's feet, wakes up in a hospital room to her lover's raw, naked fear, she's ready to consider other pursuits.

-

Graduating from Hearst is their last Neptune moment, the caps barely out of the summer sky when, outside the Student Union, he proposes with a lopsided grin. As Veronica stops abruptly, gaping at him on bended knee, Wallace stops short behind her, sending her off balance. By the expression on her face, she’s trying to convince herself it’s the bump that throws her off kilter. Not Logan looking at her like this, all arrogant smirk and engineered bravado. Like always, he catches her before she falls, anchoring her around the waist with a steady arm.

“Veronica Mars,” he smiles confidently, but he knows she can see the insecurity underlined in the fine creases near his eyes. “It's about time someone made an honest woman out of you. Marry me."

His infectious, dirty chuckle sends a jolt straight through her, or maybe it’s his mouth’s nuzzling under her chin. Either way, she gasps, and it’s not from the size of the diamond in the box he flips open with his thumb, or from his breath blanketing warm across her skin. They both know it’s from the ridiculously unimaginable security of it all. Neither of them can believe all the pieces finally fit without the mystery and colossal complication that seems so them.

They’re graduates now, her with a B.S. in Criminology, him with his in Social Psych. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to hesitate – Keith’s recovery, grad school, which one of them will actually have to learn how to cook – but he can see she’s not thinking “no” and holy shit, he always thought she would! He always imagined she’d look a little like a cartoon character – a long, white puff of smoke, with only her shadow extending down a stretch of dirt road - but Veronica slips her arms around his neck, gathering crowd be damned, and kisses him hard. She’s the one to split their lips apart, slide her tongue over his, and swallow his startled groan as his arms tighten possessively.

When he backs off, his eyes search hers for an answer, like she hasn't already said yes with her mouth, and her touch, every molecule of her body vibrating on a frequency only they share. "Be my wife, Veronica," he murmurs softly, stroking her jawbone with his thumb. "Please. Marry me?"

She laughs, hugging him half-a-dozen times, murmuring the same word over and over. “Yes. Yes. Yes!”

-

Snow falling in thick, white sheets always reminds Logan of their honeymoon; Veronica dressed in bulky pink layers, smiling at him with wind-burned cheeks, before the two of them clasp hands and trek back towards the lodge.

Ajax looms over the tiny village at its base, but the swirling powder swallows everything, even the dusty yellow street lights. The fire's warm, though, and they have enough provisions to last at least a week, so as long as the power stays on, there's no problem.

Check that, he thinks when she pretends, all innocent, like she's just trying to thaw her numb fingers. They slip - chilly, unstoppable - inside his unzipped fly, and wrap around his aching cock. He's hot and hard in her hand, propping himself on his elbows against the shiny rose quartz. He stretches long, lean, releasing the button from its denim loop so she can play. It's not that there's a problem, not really, he just knows she's trouble when she has this look in her eyes.

She opens him like a gift on Christmas morning, peeling off his clothes with avid suspense, hurried hands stroking, mouths kissing and sucking, tongues sliding against each others. Once she has him naked, she bobs down and kisses the tip of his cock, makes sure he sees the shimmer on her lips, the express way she licks them clean. Fucking Christ. The love of his life can be a dirty-girl.

She rolls her tongue over him until he's rocking his hips, his fingers slipping through her hair, short huffs of breath caged inside his chest. Then she crawls up his body, lifts the slip of her gown and slides down his length.

Pulsing warmth, he fits inside her - long-lost, probably fated. He pulls her mouth to his, his hand around her neck, the muscles in his legs burning as he thrusts. She's going to make him cum, her lips trembling against his. "You're mine," he whispers, fingering the ring on her hand.

"I'm yours," she confirms, her flushed cheek brushing his.

His fingers glide between her sticky thighs, thumb sliding over her as he watches, memorizing every detail. He burns her image into his mind. It isn't until they're both so close that he leans into her, grabs her tight, and whispers into her ear, "Look at me. See me when you cum, Veronica."

Blue eyes flash open, her mouth forming a perfect circle, half-broken sobs escaping her. As soon as she quivers, Logan moans her name and erupts inside her.

Alone together, buried under a mountain of snow, he convinces himself this is the happiest he'll ever be.


-2-


Their sex has never been just inout, inout, even though those are the mechanics. On the night they conceive their daughter, he holds her as close as he can, and she marks him with her teeth and nails. They steal from each other - love, hope, happiness, an unquestionable end to their damaging past. Lying together in the afterglow, they can almost feel it finally happen.

Seven and a half subsequently irritable months later, their daughter makes her sudden debut. She only weighs three pounds, could easily fit in the palm of her daddy's hand, but she's rushed to the NICU before either of them has a chance to really touch her. She spends the first three weeks of her fragile life hooked to machines, but she gets stronger every day, every time Veronica nurses her, every time Logan sings her to sleep. It's like the bond they share spans to Elaina; the more they love, the healthier she becomes.

Almost four weeks after her birth, they're finally allowed to take her home. They tuck her into her bassinette, spin her mobile, take turns watching her sleep. Veronica finds him in the nursery at three in the morning, gently touching the soft down of her hair. She slips her arms around him, pressing a kiss between his shoulder blades, and pulls him around to see the apprehension on his face. "She's so tiny," he whispers, placing his palm over Lainy's back. His fingers splay the width and almost the entire length of Elaina's little body.

"Yeah, but she's feisty," Veronica nods, smiling at him with confidence. "Don't forget she's an Echolls and a Mars." She winks at him and he relaxes some. "She's going to be fine, Logan. You'll be fending off the boys in no time."

Logan's answering smile is wry. God help the kid who tries to get to first base with his baby girl. Death will be preferable to dealing with an overprotective Logan Echolls.

-

Veronica’s as beautiful at thirty-two as she was at sixteen. Shortly after she finishes her dissertation on Women and Crime, she accepts an offer to teach at Stanford. The classes are big, intro courses, but she likes the anonymity of it, and the small hope she holds for finding some break-out talent. Some days she feels guilty, with Logan at home, playing Mr. Mom, but he tries so hard to reassure her that this is her chance to make a real difference. He wants that for her, and it really means a lot.

Logan sneaks into the long lecture hall almost fifteen minutes into the lesson, Lainy strapped to his chest in her Baby Bjorn. She coos quietly - soft, unobtrusive - but Veronica would know that sound anywhere, her head snapping up, eyes squinting into the crowd. In the top row, Logan smirks, pursing his lips to blow her a sloppy kiss. She licks the Cherry-Cherry-Quite-Contrary off her mouth, reading his expression for every obscenity it's worth.

Later, when the room's dark, and the building's closed, he fucks her on the desk. She crosses her legs around his waist, digging her heels into his ass, and begs him for it harder. He answers her with long, slow strokes, not satisfied - never satisfied - until she's screaming loud enough for security to hear.

Veronica's just as beautiful at thirty-two as she's ever been, her hair past her shoulders, small laugh-lines crinkling the corner of her eyes and mouth. Logan doesn't think he's ever seen anything so sexy as the small wrinkles. It means she's happy, smiling too much, frowning too little. He never thought he'd actually be able to pull it off.

After the passion is spent, he helps her dress. "Next time you get to be the naughty school-girl," he teases, pressing his warm lips to the nape of her neck.

Veronica coughs, laughing. "But you look so cute in the Mary Janes," she smirks, patting his cheek. "Come on, Lolita, it's getting late and I'm starving. I think there was a promise of Italian takeout on the way home if I let you have your way with me."

"Who'd have thought I'd have to resort to bribery?"

-

At first the cough doesn't seem like such a big deal, but it gets worse. Lainy gets it, too, crouping all day, the two of them running high-grade fevers. Logan takes them to the emergency room, but it's filled with people coughing and choking and burning up.

The lobby’s overrun, mothers holding crying children, people doubled over in pain. The staff triages the cases based on severity, putting Veronica and Lainy close to the end. Logan’s anger simmers, watching his wife and child tremble, getting worse as the hours progress. He presses a soft kiss to her forehead, gently stroking her hand, before he heads towards the administration offices. Logan tries to find someone to bribe – he’s ready to write a fucking check now, if only a doctor will see them – but the phones are ringing off the hook, people frantically moving about. No one even sees him.

“Hey!” Logan shouts, trying to draw some attention. When it doesn’t work, he yells louder. “HEY! I’m ready to buy a god-damned wing of this place if someone will look at my family.”

From a corner office, an older woman crosses toward him, takes him by the elbow and drags him down the hallway. Once inside the darkened meeting room, she looks at him, her eyes watery gray. “Listen to me,” she murmurs. “We’re not even sure what this is. I just got off the phone with the CDC and it's bad. California, Washington, Oregon, I just heard Nevada, and it’s spreading fast.” She clasps his arm a little tighter – shaken, humble - before taking a deep breath to continue. “We’ve had eight hundred and fifty people admitted in the last twenty hours. There’s another three hundred being triaged right now. Stanford University, El Camino, Sequoia, Kaiser Permanente, even Cedars-Sinai, we’re all running out of options and... room. Nothing we’ve got is touching this. Nothing. And none of us are ready for a crisis of this level.

"There might be something that slows whatever this is," her voice drops to a whisper, more like she's talking to herself than him, "but it's just word-of-mouth right now, from one of the administrators at Sinai; trouble is, it's nothing you're gonna find in a hospital. My advice to you, son... if you've got money, use any connection you can to find this." She scrawls two words onto a pad and slides the thin sheaf of paper into his hand. "It's government, a biomedical agent developed after Aum Shinrikyo. I can't make any guarantees-"

"No," he nods. He wants to say he understands, but their world - Veronica's, Lainy's, his – is about to change in a very big way, and he has no idea what it really means. All he knows is he has to make his family well again. They'll deal with the aftermath later.

-

All the shady things he’s ever done pale by comparison, back-room drug deals, arson, fraud, none of it comes close to the dangers involved in picking up black-market pharmaceuticals. Especially now. It takes him two and a half days to find the stuff, calling in every marker and favor he has, draining their bank accounts.

She’s shivering when he comes through the door, sweat clinging to her bangs, her face pasty-white. His hands shake when he fills the vial, trying to cleverly distort the pain in his voice. “Sorry Sweetpea,” he says with as much comfort as he can, biting the cap of the syringe between his teeth, “but there’s only enough for you and Lainy.”

“Logan!” she cries, grabbing at his hands, her eyes wild with fear. She doesn't ask why he doesn't have enough. She already knows he spent everything they had, exhausted every resource for what he was able to get. “Share it with me,” she begs, her eyes flickering like they used to when she was young and hatching plans. "We’ll each take half. It’ll be okay. Half, we’ll each take half.” But he’s already pressing the needle into her arm. “Please, Logan,” she negotiates, thrashing in sudden panic. “Please!! I can’t do this without you!”

“No can do, babe,” he soothes, capturing her arm in his strong hands. He slips the needle-point through her tissue-thin skin, straight into a weedy vein. Lainy wails when he turns his back on his wife and does the same to his little girl.

“Logan, please,” she whimpers, her strength slipping away, a side-effect of the drug. Her fingers linger over the pulse in his wrist.

“I’m sorry, Veronica,” he apologizes in an anguished whisper. “I did the best I could, but we both know how hard it is not having a mother around, and I just can’t risk the possibility.” Thankfully, her eyes close before he has to see them cloud over with terror and recognition. He palms her hair away from her forehead, pressing a kiss against the fever-breaking dampness. “Lainy needs her mommy, and I need you both." His voice drops to a bare whisper, tears streaming down his face. "You have to get better, Veronica. You have to... for me."


-3-


The ground is solid on the day he buries them – his wife and daughter swathed together in black satin and red oak, canonized versions of Madonna and child. He kisses their lifeless skin - cold, vacant - one last time before they shut the lid. Forever.

No one comes – their friends, their family either dead or dying or just disappeared, trying to outrun the inevitable, fighting harder than he had. He'll never forgive himself for not doing more, for being too weak and pathetic to save them. For not getting sick himself, and for surviving when they hadn’t.

It started with an empty silence, a hollow sound engulfing the razor-sharp shriek of two concurring flatlines. Except for the silence, he doesn't hear a sound. No pax vo biscum, no requiescat in pace. He tries to concentrate on something other than the raw emptiness chewing a hole right through him. The invisible cord, a slip of thread that once vibrated with love, is dead, as dead as she is. There's nothing left to give him strength.

He doesn't hear a thing, not a god-damned thing, not even Duncan's voice behind him, calling his name. "Logan... Logan?"

Duncan catches him as he sags to his knees.

-

Duncan Kane’s been out of the world for a very long time. When Jake and Celeste die, their attorneys break a decade long silence to settle the estate. Duncan has no idea what he's walking back into, but the headlines aren't welcoming. CNN's ticker-tape keeps a death toll, the number growing exponentially each time it wraps around his screen. There's really only one reason for him to return, and it's got nothing to do with his parent's money.

When he finds Logan graveside, he knows he can't leave him there. Logan never acknowledges Duncan's presence. Not when he's lifting Logan out of the dirt, not when he's shouldering him back towards the car. Logan slumps - dead-weight, catatonic - against the leather seat.

"Logan, we can't stay here," Duncan murmurs as the limo pulls away. "Listen, I'm sorry about Veronica. I'm so fucking sorry about Veronica and the baby." He's trying not to cry, but his voice betrays his grief. "You can't stay here, Logan. Not by yourself. Come home with me, back to Australia. I have to get back to Lilly."

"Go," Logan chokes, voice cracking as he tries to hold it together. "Go take care of your family, man."

"Outside of Lilly, you're all the family I have left." It's not an action he thinks all the way through, but Duncan laces his fingers between Logan's, the cold titanium of Logan's wedding band a shocking contrast to his warmth. The second Duncan touches him, Logan collapses, body shaking. The high-pitched tremor of each heart-wrenching sob slashes straight through Duncan’s soul.

-

Lilly Kane's only stake to her namesake’s legacy is her exotic, wide-eyed beauty. But, unlike all the stories she's ever been told about her colorful aunt, Lilly prefers darkened corners to center stage. She'd much rather spend rapt hours in their library, listening to Duncan read about the ancient Aztecs or the vanished Mayan empire, than hang out with kids her own age. Duncan's always been her best friend, and for her that is preferred.

So it's almost surreal, when she wakes up on the day her father returns home, rushes downstairs to greet him, only to find a stranger sitting in her dad's leather chair. He looks familiar, like a carefree boy she's seen in pictures, smiling and laughing, draped around her aunt. But the man staring vacantly out at the ocean no longer represents the boy, his face devoid of any happiness. Lilly knows his name, a faint wave of reverence darting through her. His sudden presence feels almost sacred. Logan Echolls’ link to her parents' past is nearly legendary.

Lilly opens her mouth to speak, but Duncan stops her, startling her with the weight of his hand on her shoulder. “Come on, Lilly,” he murmurs, gently guiding her away.

In the quiet corridor outside his study, her father cups her cheek. “Logan’s lost a lot, Lilly. He’s going to need some time to heal. Promise me you’ll help by giving him some space.”

“Anything, Daddy.” She nods like a good girl, but Lilly Kane can’t help the riotous joy she feels, thinking about the possibilities of having Logan Echolls in their home.

-

Duncan does his best to accommodate him, but by the forth day of not eating, not drinking, barely shifting positions in the chair, Duncan’s apprehension reaches new heights.

“Logan, please. You have to eat something. The water, at least drink the water.”

But Logan’s been comatose for days, staring out at the wavering shoreline, barely blinking. He’s been seeing his past – remembering the tangled construct of his life. Ten years, maybe longer, spent living, loving, growing. Finally learning that having a family didn't mean betrayal and broken hearts. Unfortunately, he'll always equate the word with pain. If the pain of loving hadn't broken him, the pain of losing might swallow him whole. And Logan would almost let it, if it weren’t for small distractions.

Unbeknownst to Duncan, Lilly’s been watching him. Kneeling next to Logan’s side, late at night, long after Duncan’s climbed the marble staircase to find his bed. She watches over him, old albums spread out at their feet. She holds a photo in her delicate hands, gingerly placing it in the waning light. “Tell me about her,” she urges, tilting her head so that her hair feathers across her cheekbones. “Please, tell me about my mother.”

It isn’t until the next night that Logan actually answers. Lilly cradles a picture of Meg in her tentative fingers, gazing at it like she can wish her mother back into the living world. “She was a sweet girl,” Logan murmurs hesitantly. “You have her eyes.”

Lilly presses her head into Logan’s lap and cries.

The next night, they whisper to one another - cross-legged, clandestine - sharing secrets like children. Lilly asks him to tell her about Veronica and Lainy, so he softly slips their picture from his wallet, sharing as much as he can. She hangs on every word, absorbing their story like a Shakespearean play - comedy, tragedy, star-crossed lovers destined to fail. Afterwards, he tells her about Lilly, all the things he can remember about Meg, about Duncan as a little boy.

When he finishes, he falls silent, Lilly's lids sagging under the heavy tug of the hour. "Time to go to sleep," he mutters, nodding towards the door.

Lilly picks herself up from the floor, carefully hugging her albums with crisscrossed arms. Just as she's passing across the thick mahogany threshold, she turns back to him. "They’re angels now. They’re with Lilly and mummy, and they’ll protect them. I know they will.”

-

Two nights later, shouting wakes her.

“Logan, you can’t keep doing this! I didn’t bring you here to die.”

“Just… let me go, man.”

“No, goddamn it! Do you think this is what she would have wanted? Do you think she’d want you to have survived, only to kill yourself because you can’t live without her? It's over, man. She’s gone! You have to move on!”

“Fuck you. You have no idea what it’s like to go on after you’ve lost your wife and child! You have no idea, so fuck you, okay?”

“You don’t think I know what it’s like to survive someone’s death, Logan? Do you think it was easy for me after Lilly? After Meg?”

“You don’t get it! It was always her, Duncan! It was always her. She was everything! She was the sun, the air, the moon - she kept me breathing! My baby girl, she was every peaceful moment I never had! They were my life! And I couldn’t save them. I did NOTHING!”

“You did everything you could! What more could you have done, Logan? It was too late. It’s been too late for a lot of people.”

“It wouldn’t have been too late if she’d been with you. You could have saved her.”

“What are you talking about?”

“If she’d left with you when you ran with Lilly, if she’d been with you. If I’d never loved her. She would have been happy. She would have been alive!”

“My God, Logan, is that what you really think? She might have been alive, but she would never have been happy! I wasn’t what she wanted, Logan. I wasn’t what she needed. You were.”

“Just let me go, Duncan. Let me go! There’s nothing here for me, anymore.”

-

The mantle clock chimes twice when she finally creeps down the stairs. She finds Logan standing at the window, his moonlit face apparitional. “He needs to let me go.”

She shakes her head, sad tears forming on her lashes. As a little girl, she and Duncan used to play hide-and-go-seek, stormy days spent tucked away in the immense French wardrobe. With warm breath condensing and scratchy winter wool grazing her ruddy cheeks, she'd listen to Duncan mellowly make his way to one-hundred. Eventually, he'd climb in beside her, pull the heavy oak doors shut, and together they’d search for Narnia. Her father had always been the dreamer, weaving tales of castles in the sky.

Taking Logan’s hand in hers, she gently leads him out of the study. They climb the stairs, side by side – soundless, astucious. At the end of a long hallway, she tugs him into a room, closing the door with a soft click. Inside, the wardrobe doors are already thrown open, a blanket and pillow within. She sneaks past him, crawling into the massive structure, begging him without words to follow. He drops to his hands and knees, fitting himself at her side, watching as she hauls the doors shut by thick velvet ropes.

Settling into the darkness, Lilly sniffles, brushing her small hand over his. Logan’s pain is similar to her own, aching for something that’ll never return. Deep in her heart, she knows what he needs, an end to his pain. “Close your eyes, Logan,” she whispers, shaking a handful of Seconal into his fist. “Time to go to sleep.”

He swallows them dry, satisfied in the knowledge that, while one Lilly Kane screwed him over, another came through for him. Eventually, the Universe evens out.

-

It ends in silence.

Additional AN: I wrote this piece to be experimental. I wanted very short, almost fragmented sections, stark in contrast, vague in detail, with a Hitchockian feel. Everything from parts one and two is supposed to be read as though it could be seen through a specific speaker’s point-of-view (Veronica’s at times, Logan’s at others), when in all actuality, it’s Logan replaying these moments in his head. The point-of-view is supposed to be formless enough to allow for it. So by the forth day of sitting idle in Duncan’s study, you’re supposed to understand that parts one and two are Logan’s reflections. I don’t know if I actually pulled it off, but that was my intention.
Tags: all fiction posts, challenge - snowed in smut 2006, member - rejeneration
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