Characters/Pairings: Veronica, Lilly, Duncan, Logan, Meg
Word Count: 1,855
Spoilers: Season One: specifically, Pilot and Weapons of Class Destruction
Summary: Veronica's surprise birthday party doesn't go as planned.
Notes: As should be obvious, each section follows immediately after the other. The title and section headings are all from She'll Hang the Baskets on the Wall by Cake.
1. In his mind, he won’t be coming back
Veronica Mars glanced at the clock as she wiggled into her swimsuit. Lilly and Duncan (and probably Logan, the way things had been lately) were coming over to swim in the pool, and she didn’t want to be naked when Duncan arrived!
She glanced into the full-length mirror on her wall: she looked presentable, anyway. Lilly had wanted her to buy a bikini, but she had refused. The pink floral pattern on this suit was totally cute, too, even if Lilly had called it “Puritan”.
“Where’s my fabulous almost-birthday-girl best friend?” Lilly burst into the room, all energy and bright eyes. She hadn’t knocked. She never did.
Not that Veronica minded, only—“What if Duncan had been behind you?”
Lilly rolled her eyes at the latest example of Veronica’s Puritanism while throwing herself on the younger girl’s bed. “So? You’re clothed, or as much as you will be when you’re swimming later.”
“But I might not have been! I could have been naked!”
“Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, because he’s not coming.”
“Wha--? Why? Is he sick or something?” Veronica suddenly had a vision of Duncan getting into a car accident, lying on the asphalt of the PCH with blood leaking out of his head, dying. “Did he get hurt?”
“No,” and here Lilly suddenly looked uncomfortable, which wasn’t an expression Veronica was used to seeing on her best friend’s face. “He wouldn’t say why. You know how Duncan is, though. Sometimes he just,” here she waved her hand in a vague gesture, “you know, does things.”
Veronica sat down next to Lilly, confused. “But why would he miss this? This is supposed to be our celebration for my birthday. Why would he miss my birthday?”
“Your birthday is tomorrow, silly.”
“Yes, but your family’s going away tomorrow—or have plans changed?”
“Not that I know of. Celeste is still dead set on having family vacation in Napa and I don’t know what I’ll do without you or Logan there to liven things up a bit. Maybe I’ll threaten suicide.” Lilly seemed to seriously ponder this possibility, and Veronica wasn’t sure if that was because Lilly was trying to distract her or if her friend really didn’t understand how big of a deal this was to her.
Hating how petulant she sounded, she exclaimed, “But it’s my birthday!”
Lilly rolled her eyes again, grabbed Veronica’s wrist, and propelled them both out the door. “I know, dorkus, which is why we’re not going to waste any more time talking about my brother!”
2. Don’t you know I’ve seen it all before?
Logan was waiting with Mrs. Mars in the kitchen, along with the rest of Veronica’s friends. He wasn’t really sure why Duncan wasn’t there, but he did know that Veronica’s (ex-?) boyfriend wasn’t going to show up later, either. Duncan was his best friend, but sometimes he was…odd.
He’d gone over to the Kanes’ house the day before, as usual (any excuse to leave his own house) and found Duncan, well he had been attacking--really, there was no other word for it—his own father. Jake Kane had always seemed like a good dad, in general, so Logan had had no idea where this had come from, but he had acted quickly and helped Jake subdue his own son. Since Jake hadn’t acted as though anything extraordinary had happened (just said, “Maybe you should go home right now, Logan.”), Logan hadn’t really felt comfortable asking about it.
So this morning, Logan thought he’d call before coming over for once, and Duncan didn’t seem to have any idea that anything strange had happened, either.
Except for one thing.
“So, it’s almost time to head over to the Mars’ house, eh, DK?”
There was a pause.
“I’m not going.”
Logan laughed at that. “What, you’re not going to your girlfriend’s surprise 16th birthday party? What are you, crazy? I think Veronica—”
“I’m not crazy!”
“Dude, chill, it’s just an expression.”
“I’m not crazy.”
“Okay, you’re not crazy, man, only…you should really go to your girlfriends’ birthday parties, otherwise they tend to get upset, you know?”
“She’s not my girlfriend. Not anymore.”
Logan had of course thought that Lilly would have the answer to this puzzle, but no such luck—she claimed to have no idea what had gotten into her brother, either.
Mrs. Mars’ voice broke into his reverie: “It’s time, here comes Lilly!” She picked up the giant cake, and they all headed out to the pool, where Veronica laid tanning. Logan couldn’t help but notice that Veronica had a very nice body, though she’d hidden it in a rather modest swimsuit.
Veronica smiled, but she still seemed preoccupied by some other thoughts, probably connected with Duncan. Then, as Mrs. Mars was cutting the cake, someone tactless (Madison Sinclair, he thought) asked, “Wait, where’s Duncan?”
3. Come summer, come fall
Veronica burst into tears.
Oh, dear, did Madison have to say that right then? Just a Girl is Duncan and Veronica’s song, isn’t it? I do wonder where Duncan is, but I can’t believe she just said it like that.
Meg reached for Veronica, drawing her into a tight hug. “There, there, Veronica. I’m sure Duncan will be by later. I’m sure he wishes he could have been here now.”
Lilly and Logan both grimaced at Meg’s words, so she knew she had done something wrong, but she wasn’t sure what it was.
Veronica made sure she didn’t wonder long. Lifting her head from Meg’s shoulder, the birthday girl sobbed pathetically, “No, he isn’t. He’s not coming, and he hates me!”
“Of course he doesn’t hate you, Veronica. How could anyone hate you?”
“Well, I guess we’re broken up, an-, any-, anywa-, a-, ayyy.” And Veronica was wailing into Meg’s shoulder again.
Not really knowing what was going on, Meg looked to Mrs. Mars for answers, but Veronica’s mom seemed to be frozen in horror. Next, Meg used her eyes to appeal to Lilly, but Veronica’s best friend appeared preoccupied with a text message.
Shrugging mentally, Meg realized that she was on her own for now.
4. Heard the slamming of the door
Listen, it’s not that I didn’t want to be there for Veronica. I mean, I know that it’s hard to get dumped—not that I have experience on that end, I’m usually the dumper, not the dumpee, but Logan’s puppy eyes are pretty fierce, which is like half the reason I take him back every time—anyway, the point is, I don’t really know what I could do to help her right now.
I don’t know why Duncan dumped her, except that my little brother is sometimes a complete moron, and really weird, too.
I don’t know how she can get him back, which is totally going to be her first question.
I don’t know what she’ll do without him, because they’re totally perfect for each other, in their little boring way. I mean, Veronica’s my best friend, but if she doesn’t show off her wilder side someday soon, I might have to kick-start her somehow, because this whole Puritan shy thing she’s got going on? Bo-ring.
So when Eli texted me, I went around the corner of the house to call him up.
“Yes? What do you want, Eli?”
“Lilly, I…I want to see you again.”
“Oh, stop it, Weevil. You only want me because I’m unattainable. In fact, that’s probably why I wanted you.”
“We could have been forever, baby. Come on, give us another chance.”
“Oh, fine. I’ll come see you as soon as I can get away.”
What? The boy’s a great lay.
5. Come winter, there’ll be baskets on the floor
Everyone else had left fairly quickly after Veronica’s breakdown (including, shockingly, Lilly), and now only Veronica, her mom, Meg, and Logan were left at the Mars house. Actually, Veronica’s mom barely counted, because she’d disappeared shortly after the breakdown, too: it’s just that she was still around, since her car was still in the garage, and Veronica knew very well that she was explaining this to herself only to keep her mind off the cause of her embarrassingly public crying jag.
And the fact that Lilly had left her to Meg’s care. Not that there was anything wrong with Meg, but Lilly was supposed to be her best friend, not Meg.
Logan’s continued presence was a mystery, but one she didn’t really feel like solving at the moment. He was just sort of hovering over the pair of girls right now, but Veronica was currently ignoring that fact.
“Listen, Meg, I’m fine now, and I’m sure you want to be gone. It can’t be comfortable for you, but I’ll be fine for a while, and I think I really do want some alone time.” Veronica made sure that her voice was also loud enough for Logan to hear the last several words.
“Okay, well, if you’re sure. I’ll call you later, okay?”
“Sure. Thanks again, Meg. You’re the best!”
Meg left, glancing back once or twice to make sure Veronica really meant it. Pointedly, Veronica arranged herself in a patio chair and closed her eyes. She settled into her misery.
Five minutes passed before a shadow blocked her sun.
“You don’t really want to be alone, you know.”
“Excuse me, but I think I know what I want, Logan! Please leave me alone and hang out with your stupid best friend. Or maybe your stupid girlfriend, who apparently doesn’t need a best friend. She obviously doesn’t want to be mine, or she’d be here.” The tears were threatening again, but Veronica willed them back.
When she opened her eyes again, it was to see Logan sitting on the side of the pool, legs dangling in the water. “Nah. I’m pretty sure we’re broken up, anyway. Again.” A mirthless laugh. “At least, if that was the booty call it sounded like that she was arranging on her cell.”
“That sucks. Looks like both the Kanes screwed us both over today. Well, actually, not unless Duncan did something to you, too.”
“No, not really, though he has been kinda weird lately.”
Veronica felt her forehead wrinkle. “Weird?”
“Yeah…” Logan seemed to shake off some thought. “You know what? Never mind. We’re not going to talk about him, ‘cause it’ll only make you feel worse. Trust me, I’ve got experience. What we’re going to do is get a little drunk, then do something completely unrelated to Duncan or Lilly.”
“Drunk? Have you forgotten my dad?”
“A little drunk. Just tipsy. Come on, there’s probably something in the house.”
Veronica watched him walk toward the patio door, sighed, and got up to follow him. She guessed he had been right: she didn’t really want to be alone.
And if she had to be around someone, at least Logan could empathize. He was something of an expert on dealing with breakups—Lilly’s fault, of course.
Veronica hoped she would never have that dubious honor, but she was kinda glad for it now.
She hurried to match Logan’s longer stride.