DISCLAIMER: Veronica Mars and its characters are the property of Rob Thomas and UPN. No infringement intended.
SPOILERS: 1x11 Silence Of The Lamb, 2x14 Versatile Toppings, 2x22 Not Pictured, 3x01 Welcome Wagon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

A Few Steps From Exploding
By gilligankane


Q drops off the map; just up and leaves Bond and doesn't look back even once; doesn't call, or write, or even visit. Bond never hears from Q again and it's almost like Q never existed in the first place.

Mac kind of does the same thing, right after graduation, as the crowd swells and surges and you're standing there with a stupid piece of paper that cheerily announces your "entrance into the real world" as Clemmons claims. Your dad is somewhere in the crowd, probably making out with Wallace's mom under the bleachers, and Wallace is crying over Jackie leaving for Paris, and you're standing almost on top of the flag pole, desperately trying to spot the whiz kid herself.

But you can't see her. Out of all these people, you can't see the girl with the twinkle in her eye and the crazy colored hair and the sheltered smile. Your eyes scan the parking lot: her car is still here, but you can't see her.

"There's my girl!" Your dad comes out of the wall of human bodies followed by – surprise, surprise – Alicia Fennel, the grins on their faces too telling.

"Have you seen Mac?" You're already looking over his shoulder. Wallace waves at you sadly; Logan grins as if he's pretending he's not the loneliest person here. But – dammit – you don't see her anywhere.

Ryan Mackenzie runs by you, laughing hysterically, and you almost want to gag, because Lauren Sinclair is hot on his heels, and it's a combination of Mac's genes and shit-eating grin all rolled into a blur of ten-year-old innocence. You're tempted to call out after them, but they're gone in an instant and it's almost like the memory of Mac goes with them.

"Whoya looking for kiddo?" He slings an arm around your shoulders and you exchange exasperated smiles with Wallace and Company before answering.

"Oh, uh, no one I guess," because a quick glance to the parking lot tells you that her annoying green bug is gone.

"Well, we've got a party to go to, so hop to it baby." Wallace this time.

"What did I say about calling me 'baby?'" He just gives you his sugar sweet smile and dances to the car, his little brother tagging along excitedly. Darrell doubles back, jumps up and clings to you like he's four again, and you have no choice but to swing him so that his hands are clutching your neck and his feet are wrapped around your waist.

The Mars' and the Fennels: you almost seem like a family.

You call her when your Mars/Fennel plus guests party winds down, but you get her voicemail, so you hang up, then call back again, just to leave a message.

"Hey Mac, its Veronica. So, I was thinking about having a movie night, this Friday. I thought we could watch the Bond flicks – even if Q's not in them all. Give me a call when you come out from under that graduation gown someone sank you in." You hang up and head back into the living room, then head straight back into your room, because your dad is making out with Alicia on the couch.

She doesn't call you.

A month goes by, then another, and before you blink, you're piling through the doorway along with a hundred other freshman, trying to get a seat in Psych 101 that isn't too close to the front, but it's too far away where it's blatantly obvious you're not paying attention.

And there she is.

Her hair isn't blue and her eyes aren't shining, but she's sitting in the middle of the lecture hall, one hand propped up under her chin and the other idly twirling a pen and she's actually there, in the flesh.

You have a momentary flash of irrational hatred, because she ignored you all summer long and she has the nerve to sit there and ignore you and act like she did nothing.

She didn't. You did.

Ryan asks you solve a crime but you don't know the victims or the motive and it feels like you're digging through a sandbox, looking for sand.

"Hey there Sherlock, how's the crime fighting?" Mac's voice cuts through the silence of the empty room and you'd jump if you weren't trained not to be surprised. She grins sheepishly, but you don't really care, because an interruption from Mac is one you don't mind.

That's what you do mind: that Mac doesn't bother you like everyone else you've ever met.

She starts talking about she wanted to make sure there was no confusion; that she's not a part of the gay and lesbian community of Neptune, but all you can hear is the words "curious" and "lesbian" and "thought about" and before you know it, you're kissing her.

Really kissing her, the way Logan used to lit you up and put you on the bathroom counter kind of kissing.

The kind of kissing that clearly says: "not only would I like to shove my tongue down your throat, but I'd also like to take your lesbian virginity."

Mac pulls away and blinks at you a couple of times before she turns on her heels and runs.

She doesn't come back.

"Mac!" You're running after her, chasing her like a cheesy romance novel.

Except, this isn't a cheesy romance novel – this is Hearst College and you have to dodge the anger girls with shaved heads just to even attempt to chase after her, but that doesn't work, because you lose her in the crowd and then you're just standing by yourself again and everyone is looking at you.

You're about to give up; to call it quits when you see her just standing there, looking lost without her blue hair, looking like the world just kicked her in the gut.

"Mac?" You're not yourself either. Mac breaks you down, takes away the snark and the sarcasm and leaves you nothing but vulnerable. She breaks you into this time little pieces of emotions that define everyone else in this world; thanks that never defined who you were, because you couldn't be bothered with things like that.

Things like feelings.

"Veronica, I don't think we can be friends."

The way she says that, it breaks your heart and now you know, in case anyone ever asks again: Veronica Mars does have a heart somewhere under all that deflection.

And now it's damaged goods.

"We could be…" But you trail off, because Mac is a genius for a reason: she's usually right.

"I have a boyfriend," she spits out violently, like a burning arrow at your heart.

You feel the need to be the one to break her. "Well, so do I."

You don't.

Q drops off the map; just up and leaves Bond and doesn't look back even once; doesn't call, or write, or even visit. Bond never hears from Q again and it's almost like Q never existed in the first place.

Mac does the same exact thing, except she leaves you standing there in the middle of the quad, watching her go with a plastic smile.

Mac does the same exact thing, and you can't take your eyes off her as she leaves you, not turning to look back at the mess she's made.

The End

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