Title: Lying in Real Time
"My life is a series of 16mm flashbacks streaming in real-time. Jake Kane would love it."
Those were the last words Veronica Mars had said to him. Logan hadn't understood at the time, so why it all made sense now was beyond him. As Veronica staggered across the patio in a white dress made blurry by vodka-goggles and paper lanterns that couldn't quite keep still in the late December air, Logan knew exactly what she meant.
When he blinked Logan could swear he saw the ocean behind her and Duncan smiling as he wrapped his arms around Veronica's waist. Lilly's laugh echoed in his ears, inviting and chilling at the same time, and then it was gone. Another blink brought back the New Year's buzz and frenetic noise that can only be heard at high school parties and rock concerts.
It had only been two months since Lilly's death and to say that Logan was over her would have been absurd. There was no such thing as 'over Lilly'. The words couldn't be in the same sentence, let alone put together like they were some sort of naturally occurring phenomena, hot springs or snow-capped mountains. 'Over Lilly' was a myth, just like unicorns and the Yetti. 'Over Lilly' was a hateful lie.
One that Logan told himself almost every day.
It wasn't like he hadn't tried to make it true. He'd tried plenty. Logan did all the things an ex-boyfriend was supposed to do. He dated girls rumored to be easy. He got drunk, high, low. He went skinny-dipping with half the pep squad and made more trips to Tijuana in those two months than he'd made to the dinner table in as many years. But he never did any of them as well as Lilly. Lilly played the part of the ex, flaunting her new toys and her blackberry full of phone numbers, like a three-time Emmy winner. Logan was an amateur by comparison, and after her death - murder - untimely demise, he had almost stopped trying. What was the point of proving you were over someone that, technically, everyone was now over? Six feet over, to be exact.
Shelly Pomeroy's party was just one more excuse to show that he lead now, that he'd cast off his understudy wings. Tonight was another showcase evening of the Pomeroy's diplomatic skills; bringing students from all walks of life, well at least the one, together for booze, naked hot-tubbing and a little bit of forgetting the one thing no one could stop talking about long enough to forget Lilly.
His intention had been to just come and watch the show, to pretend that the actors in the piece weren't friends and classmates that never seemed to become the roles they played. It was like watching his father's movies. All the make-up and hair extensions in the world never made the guy playing the good cop good. He was still Aaron Echolls and the big silver belt-buckle that was supposed to signify 'hero' was still a weapon in Logan's eyes. The swimsuits and big smiles were just costumes, and to Logan the performances were mediocre at best. Two thumbs down.
The party wasn't bad as far as forgettable popcorn flick parties went, at least until the vodka midnight combo and a few liberal drops of the TJ special made all the girls look like Lilly, and the ones that weren't imitating Lilly's patented come-fuck-me-walk, looked Veronica-shaped. Or at least some version of Veronica Mars that Lilly would have loved.
Logan had never actually seen Veronica high, or stoned or whatever she was now. Drunk on champagne and puppy dog love that never went all the way, that he'd seen, but drugs were never her thing, no matter how many times they were offered. It was more than a little ironic that only after losing all of her friends would she do the things they had been doing all along. Her collapse into a chaise lounge beside the pool had been poetic in a thumping glazed eye kind of way, and for a moment Logan didn't want to watch anymore.
He still thought of Lilly in real-time, too. His cell-phone still rang at 7:41 each Friday night, even if no one else heard it. Veronica's breath still caught and held for a full minute before letting out a little squeak that broke his heart and made the sound of his own name the most frightening two-syllables in the English language. He still lied and said he couldn't make it to Duncan's house in less than three hours because they had only just left Tijuana. He still drove to the ocean and started a screaming bonfire, dancing around its flames cursing Lilly's name and begging her to forgive him for letting her go.
No one ever seemed to smell the saltwater and ash that followed Logan around on the weekends like Lilly's ghost.
Logan took another drink. He wasn't sure why, he was already plenty drunk, but he kept grabbing the flask from his pocket or whatever fruity combination the freshman girls stuck in his hand, and drank. Somewhere, there had to be two minutes together that weren't all about cold dead Lilly or Veronica the ex-sheriff's daughter or Duncan the boy who could not smile. He wasn't sure how many little vials he'd have to bring back from TJ before he figured out where those two minutes were, but Logan was willing to keep trying.
With a renewed buzz, he accepted that tonight wasn't going to find that break from real, so he put on his most mischievous grin and grabbed a salt shaker from the barbecue table. Crouching beside Veronica, he waited for her to open her eyes, whispering her name just quiet enough that no one else would hear. Satisfied that she was too far-gone to notice, Logan ran his tongue over her collarbone, sprinkling the salt over the wet trail left behind. "I knew there was a little sour under that sweetness," he said, taking the slice of lime on his current drink and sliding it between her lips.
Grabbing a shot of tequila from an unsuspecting fifteen-year-old, Logan threw back his drink, lapped up the salt and covered Veronica's lips, lime and all, with his own.
"Dude, what the hell are you doing?"
Caught in the act, Logan stood up, turning to Dick and flashing a lime-blanketed smile. "Just getting the party started."
Logan sprinkled more salt over Veronica's chest, and handed the shot-glass to the first person that walked by. "Must I always be the event coordinator?" Logan asked the gathering crowd as a bowl of limes was placed into his hand and half a dozen bodies fell into line for their turns.
It was cruel, he wasn't so drunk that he didn't realize that, but somewhere under the din of horny teenagers was Lilly's voice, accusing and screamed-into-a-cell-phone-loud, "Veronica told me you kissed her! That's it Logan, it's over." Somehow it seemed fitting that Lilly's ghost would be just as bitchy as he'd convinced himself she was in life.
Shaking the memories from his head and the salt from his hand Logan tried to enjoy the complete absurdity of the past months.
Duncan's voice and a stray fist finally pulled him out of his daze. Logan set his drink down and grabbed a cup of sprite from the girl Dick had been shoving in Beaver's direction all night. The fact that she had yet to take her eyes off of Logan seemed of little consequence to Dick's continued matchmaking attempts.
Taking a second drink from a table, Logan spilled the last few drops of liquid-X into the cup, practicing his apologetic face for a second before catching up to Duncan as he tried to keep Veronica from tipping into the pool.
"Sorry man, you're right." Logan handed him the drink, "That's no way to have fun."
Logan had intended to watch. He'd watched the first act of this particular play for more than a year, the courtship and drama and separation. Part of him wanted to see the culmination, part of him just wanted Duncan to smile and stop acting like it was still the morning after. This wasn't the morning Logan had held his best friend's rocking body for hours without so much as a hint that Duncan even knew he was there, this was the morning Duncan woke up. Or at least Logan hoped it would be.
Fumbling for his keys for a minute, Logan finally grasped them, and waved them over his head. "Who wants to help me sober up enough to drive home?"
Three or four girls looked up, all with eager smiles, but it was Beaver's would-be conquest that stepped forward first. "Guess that depends on if your Xterra has carpet."
"I'll steal you a pillow off the couch," Logan said, taking the girl's hand and leading her through the maze of bodies and patio furniture.
'Over Lilly' was still a myth just like 'Happy Duncan' and 'Innocent Veronica', but like most myths worth telling, it was worth telling often.