Shutting her eyes, Meg hoped that when she opened them, he would be gone. Nope still there, and actually attempting to be bashful. Rubbing her back wearily, she opened the door.
“What do you want Duncan?” She hates the way his name sounds on her lips; just thinking about him makes her feel dirty.
“Hey Meg. How are you?” He’s still smiling softly, his eyes peering down at her. Typical Duncan Kane pose, shuffled feet, eyes never clearly on anything.
“I’m great Duncan, thanks for the checkup.” Turning she began to close the door, but his hand caught hers, forcing her to turn.
“I don’t want it to be like this,” he began, giving her another smile. “I never meant to hurt you.”
Meg looked down at his hand grasping hers, and swallowed. “How do you expect it to be Duncan?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Less mean comments, more of you.”
Meg let out a short laugh. “Veronica sent you here, didn’t she?”
“No she didn’t. I came; I want to talk to you.” Duncan’s voice had taken on a forceful tone, his face filled with purpose.
“Bullshit Duncan.” She can see the surprise on his face, and it makes her stronger. “Princess Veronica doesn’t like people being mean to her. Tell her to deal with it, she’s the one that taught me that’s how life goes.”
“Veronica’s taken a lot from everyone,” Duncan said. “This isn’t about her, this is about you.”
Meg felt the tears welling in her eyes, and willed them to go down. “It was never about me, don’t lie to yourself.” She took a fortifying breath, and stepped up, looking down on him. “Then again, you are good at that.”
Duncan pulled back, stung. “Look I loved you Meg. It’s just it’s Veronica, and she and I, well…” he trailed off and then a wistful smile came across his face, “we have history.”
“Good for you, glad to know it’s working out.” She pulled her hand out of his grasp, angry that she had left it there so long, and once again tried to open the door.
She slipped inside and shut the door behind her firmly. She could still hear him outside, his feet shuffling on the front porch, but she didn’t care. Meg Manning had no more tears to cry, and no more words to say. Duncan was a memory; how many times had she told herself that? How many times had someone else, someone who was exactly where she was, a victim of history, told her the same words, and whispered them in her ears when all she wanted to do was scream?
There was silence at the door now, and Meg let out a sigh of relief. She couldn’t do this anymore, she didn’t have the energy. The doorbell rang again, and Meg held her breath, hoping the right person was behind the door this time.
“A little bit of chemistry?” Logan was posed in front of the door, his chemistry book lying in his hand.
“Sounds great,” she replied, pulling him into the house.
Logan grinned at her hand on his collar. “Ooooh, we are frisky tonight, always good.”
“Bring it on big boy,” she replied laughing. She grabbed the door handle and was pulling it in, when it was ripped from her hands.
“YOU’RE WITH HIM?” The fury in Duncan’s voice was unmistakable, and Meg took a step back remembering the door of the Mercedes.
“Woah, Duncan, back up.” Logan had positioned himself in front of her immediately, pushing against Duncan’s chest.
“What, stealing another girlfriend Logan?”
Logan’s eyes glinted. “Wrong. You steal the girlfriends, I pick up the pieces when you find a new one.”
“You pick up the pieces? What the hell was last year?”
“Dude, I’m not in the mood to take a stroll down memory lane again. So let’s cut to the chase. Why are you skulking outside Meg’s house?”
“She’s my ex-girlfriend. What the hell are you doing here?”
“Considering my ex-girlfriend is probably laying spread eagle on your bed, I figured here was the place to be.”
Duncan’s face visibly tightened as he balled his fists. “Don’t fucking talk about her that way.”
“Finally learning to come to a lady’s aid, good for you.” Logan did a little twirl with his finger, his body now blocking Meg’s entirely
Meg rolled her eyes. “As much as I aspire to becoming Veronica Mars, let’s just skip this.” Logan and Duncan both look at her with equally confused expressions, allowing her to shove her way in between them. She pushes Logan back with one hand, staring Duncan in the eye. “Unless you plan on giving me $250 dollars, get out Duncan. Go home to Veronica.” As the words fell out of her mouth, she felt Logan’s chest tighten under her hand, heard the sharp draw of his breath. For a moment, Meg wished she could take it back. She had never meant to tell Duncan. It was her secret, her secret that only Logan knew. But Duncan was standing there, in her foyer, yelling about Veronica, and Meg didn’t care, she’d had enough.
“This has nothing to do with Veronica, Meg.” Duncan paused, his eyes clearing as he looked at her. “What do you need $250 dollars for?”
“Fees,” she replied coolly, sticking out her hand. “I know you keep it on you.” At Duncan’s confused expression, she sighed. “Look just give it to me, and I promise to be nice to the princess.”
“She’s not--” he seemed to struggle with the words before relenting, and pulling out his wallet. “This isn’t about her?” His voice held question in it as he placed the money in her hands, his fingertips grazing her’s a moment too long.
“Nope,” she replied. “This time it isn’t about her.” She counted the money out carefully, then turned and put it in Logan’s hand. He was looking at her cautiously, his expression guarded. Meg nodded at the money, “I’m paying you back. Now you owe me.”
“What the fuck Meg!” The animosity was back in Duncan’s voice, and Meg could feel Logan pulling at her from behind.
“I owed him. You owed me. Veronica will be happy now. Problem solved.”
“What? What did I owe you for? What did you owe him for? ” Duncan faced Logan more squarely. “If you got her involved in some stupid shit Logan.” He’s advancing, and Meg is envious of Veronica again. To have these guys so in love with her, to do anything for her. Running down that line of thought gets her nowhere though, and she really doesn’t want them to fight over another girl in her foyer.
“Don’t you mean the shit you got her into, Donut?” Logan’s voice is intentionally snide, and Meg can see he is working himself into frenzy. There’s either going to be a fight, or Logan’s going to reduce Duncan to tears. She’d love to see Duncan verbally flayed, but she’s too scared of the blood and gore that comes with it.
“Stop!” She yells, and has to step between them again, her hands on each of their chests. Here’s the moment, the moment where she can lie, and let things go. Where she can still be Meg Manning. Fuck it. She swallows, the looks Duncan square in the eye.
“An abortion costs 750 dollars. I didn’t have enough. Logan lent me the money and came to the clinic. I thought you should have to pay.” There’s a dead silence in the room, so quiet Meg wonders if crickets should be chirping. “That’s the expense of loving you Duncan, $750 dollars.”
“You did what?” There is something that looks like emotion playing across Duncan’s face. “But you believe in pro-life, in having the baby. You, you don’t believe in abortions.” He says abortion with disgust, his eyes cloudy with confusion and hurt.
She doesn’t reply, and leans back slightly, Logan’s steady breathing calming her. “I used to believe in a lot of things Duncan. You have that talent I suppose.” It’s vicious, ripping into him right now, as he realizes he could have had a child, and how much of a monumental bastard he’s been. She can see the cogs turning in his head, trying to rationalize, trying to keep her compartmentalized. His eyes turn to Logan, full of accusation, and she wants to laugh. “No Duncan.”
His eyes snap back to her. “You didn’t have the abortion?” His voice his hopeful, begging her to go back in her place, his compartment for sweet blonde girls.
“No, Logan didn’t talk me into it. He did hold my hand, and take care of me before and after.”
She can’t believe Logan’s been silent so long, but grateful. This is something that Duncan needs to see is just her. Meg Manning. Alone, a decision she made alone, that he didn’t help her make, because he was so desperate for Veronica Mars.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” His voice is anguished, and for a moment Meg remembers what it was like the first time she saw the blue in his eyes light up looking at her. She wants to hold his head in her shoulder, to make the pain go away. But it’s different now; she needs to look out for herself.
“I tried. But you wouldn’t talk to me all summer, and I got sick of trying to make you.”
“You never tried!” He looks at her wildly. “I would have helped; I would have done the right thing.”
“When? You were either in Napa, or holed up at Java the Hut making googly eyes at someone else’s girlfriend.” She can hear the bitterness in her voice, the anger, but god did it hurt the first time she saw him there. Saw him staring at her, all hearts and flowers, Veronica’s expression the same, sharing a piece of cake. Felt something break in her, the last vestige of belief in love having some sort of higher power, of meaning something more. She hated him, with a depth she didn’t know she was capable of. Walking outside that day, and seeing Logan Echolls slumped against his truck, his face in his hands, she hated Veronica just as much. Duncan and Veronica, they were selfish people. Meg knew she could be bigger, she could let it go, but she remembered Veronica’s words, about sticking up for yourself, and not giving a damn about anyone else. Apparently these were words Veronica lived by. If Duncan thought she was a Veronica replacement before, might as well go through with it all the way. She talked to Logan that day, and a week later, he held her hand while the nurse explained the complications of abortions. He didn’t flinch at the expense, and he carried her sobbing body out to the car afterwards.
Leaning against him now, she knows how solid he is. She knows he’s a jackass, and brutal, but those are qualities she can appreciate. Logan protects his own; she’s learned to do the same. “Duncan, just go home. You got what you wanted.” She knows her voice sounds tired, and relying on Logan this much, right now, isn’t a good thing. She can feel the tension in him, the need to lash out, but he’s holding it in.
“Meg how could you?” Duncan looks broken, beaten down, the way he did after Lilly died.
“How could you,” she replies. The anger is mounting in her, warring with her exhaustion and she just wants him to leave.
“This isn’t about Veronica!” he yells, angrily. “We were never about Veronica!”
“It was ALWAYS about Veronica,” she gasps out the name, and she can feel tears rushing to her eyes. Logan is even tenser behind her, and she just wants to lie down, and let them rip into each other over another girl in her foyer. Wants to let Logan loose, to inflict all the damage she knows he’s capable of. She wants to see what Duncan’s truly made of. But she won’t. Some part of the old Meg Manning still lives in her. Duncan is still glaring at her, his expression stony, and she just wants him to get it, to really get it for once. “You beat up your car, over Veronica. You moved to Napa, over Veronica. You used to hole up in your room, over Veronica. You started liking me, over Veronica! It was always her!”
“I loved you! I loved you, but she’s different, she’s who I used to be!”
Logan’s voice is scratchy when he finally speaks, so many emotions playing through it. “You can’t go back man. You never could.”
Duncan glares at him. “So that’s why you decided to go after her, right? You didn’t even think of anyone else.”
“The Veronica I know, and the one you know are very different people.”
Meg feels like screaming “SEE!” at the top of her voice. Her foyer, her body standing in between them, being cuddled by one, while scorning the other, but when the word “she” is used, there’s not even a question of who they are talking about. Veronica consumes them.
There’s a phone ringing in Duncan’s pocket, and he pulls it out, staring at the name. “It’s her.”
Meg wants to dance around with glee, the universe is agreeing with her, shoving the point into this clueless boy. Veronica Mars is the orbit they all move around.
“Word to the wise, pick it up, or she’ll go all McGyver on your ass.” Logan sounds likes he’s trying levity, but Meg can hear the sadness in his voice. She lets out an uncomfortable giggle at his quip, and the boys follow in suit.
“I know,” Duncan says. “She’s already done it once.” He’s staring down at the phone, blinking on and off, the annoying sound of an old Pete Yorn song on repeat.
Logan smirks, and Meg leans back again, there’s a quiet in the room now, like the storm has passed. She watches DuncanIf only he could have loved me, we could have been happy, we could have been a family. But it’s pointless now; it’s been pointless for a while. hit ignore, and a pang hits her heart.
“So are you two together now?” Duncan’s voice is tentative; he’s palming his cell phone in his hands, a very Logan like gesture. Meg can see the light flashing on and off, meaning someone is calling him again, but he keeps hitting ignore.
“No.” They say it in unison, and then both laugh. Logan grins down at the top of Meg’s head. “Meg’s too nice.”
“And we’re not you and Veronica, Duncan.”
Duncan immediately stiffens, grasping the phone tighter, the lights blinking out between his knuckles. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Logan laughed wryly. “It means we don’t have blinders on, we see shit for what it really is.”
“There is that,” Meg mused, pressing herself further into Logan’s chest. “What I meant is that we just don’t move on, and pick up a new persona along the way.”
“You’re different,” Duncan mutters the words, uncomfortable at the ease between them, uncomfortable with the entire situation.
“I’m wiser.” Meg’s voice has sympathy in it now. She suddenly doesn’t hate Veronica anymore, doesn’t hate Duncan. She did for so long, and she will never ever be the girl she was before them. But hating them isn’t worth it, they’ve dug deeper holes. “Go home to Veronica Duncan, she’s where you really want to be.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispers. He nods slightly at Logan and opens the front door, stepping out into the night. “I’m sorry.” He’s whispering it over and over again, backing away from the couple.
She knows she should say she is too. But she’s not. “Good for you Duncan.” His guileless blue eyes widen with the shock of that comment but she doesn’t give a damn. She doesn’t want his apologies, and slams the door in his face.
“My little warrior princess,” Logan’s coos in her ear, coming up from behind her.
“I’m not a princess,” she replies.
“My kick-ass ninja girl?”
“I’m not yours either Logan.” She lets herself lean against him. “Not when you still love her.”
He sighs softly in her ear. “I can’t help it,” he mumbles.
“I know.” She pulls away, and walks towards the kitchen grabbing his chemistry book on the way.
“My kick-ass ninja chemistry tutor,” Logan calls out.
“That, I am,” Meg replies.