13 years ago…

Veronica sat in the bathtub and gnawed on her bottom lip. Once she had chewed the dead skin off, her lip had started to bleed, so she stopped that and started kicking her heels against the side of the tub, her knees bouncing in nervous anticipation.

Veronica Mars was wearing jean cutoffs and a yellow tank top and sitting in her bathtub with the shower curtain pulled half-way closed. It was half-closed in an attempt to hold onto her sanity because from where she sat, she could see Mac sitting on the toilet seat, but she couldn't see the pregnancy test sitting on the counter. From where she sat, she couldn't watch it slowly, agonizingly slowly, turn blue or pink or form one line or two. Because she would go absolutely nuts if she had to watch a plastic stick decide her future. Who knew five minutes could last such a long, long time.

"How much longer?"

Mac looked at her watch. "Two minutes. Thirty seconds less than the last time you asked."

Veronica glared at her. "A little empathy, Mac, would not go amiss."

Mac sighed and nodded. "You're right. I'm sorry. This is no time for snarkiness." She mustered a half-hearted smile. It was awkward. "Do you want a hug?"

Veronica rolled her eyes and laughed. "Shut up."

Mac glanced over at the pregnancy test, lying deceptively innocuous on the counter. "Oh!" she said, her back straightening. "Veronica… I think something's developing…"

Veronica flinched, her stomach did a somersault. Here we go. Mac grabbed the test and the box off the counter and sat down in the tub next to Veronica. "Okay," she breathed. "What are we looking for?"

"Gimme the box." Veronica read the instructions again. "Okay, so basically, two lines, pregnant; one line, not pregnant."

Mac held the test to the light and squinted.

"Well?" Veronica prompted.

Mac frowned and shook the plastic stick, inspected it again.

"Mac!"

"I'm just making sure it's dry!"

"I don't think it works like that..." Veronica grabbed the stick from her hand.

Two blue lines. Clear as day.

"Mazel tov?" Mac said quietly.

Veronica groaned and put her head between her knees. "Oh. God."

They both jumped at a knock on the bathroom door. "Honey?" Keith called. "Did you fall in?"

Veronica tried to steady her voice. "No, Dad!"

"Everything okay?"

"We're fine! Just doing girlie stuff!" Veronica leaped out of the tub and stuffed the pregnancy test into her back pocket. Mack hurriedly crumpled the box in her hand and shoved it into her pants pocket just as Veronica threw open the bathroom door.

Keith Mars took a step back in surprise. In what was, in Mac's opinion, an Oscar-worthy performance, Veronica pasted a perky smile on her face. It was what Veronica dubbed her "Blonde Smile." But would her dad buy it?

Keith glanced around the bathroom with an air of nonchalance - and failed miserably. "Girlie stuff, huh?" He nodded and then looked puzzled. "Mac?" he mused, "Is our humble bathtub a hip, new hang-out? Should I hang a mirror ball? Class the place up a bit?"

Mac laughed nervously and climbed out of the tub. "Uh, yeah, sure. Why not?"

Veronica grabbed her elbow and pulled her out into the hall. "We're going out, Dad."

"Are you going to be back for dinner? I was gonna grill some dogs. Mac, you're welcome to -"

"No," Veronica cut in. "We're meeting friends for pizza and then working on a project. For school. A school project." Keith squinted at her, a sure sign of suspicion.

"It's for a class," she finished lamely.

"Riiiight," her dad said, nodding. Then brushing it off, he shrugged. "Well, there's always leftovers. See ya later, sweetie."

Mac barely had enough time to grab her purse as Veronica tugged her out the front door.

"We need to go pick up more pregnancy tests. That one had to have been defective," Veronica muttered.

Mac sighed. "Wouldn't it be better to just go to your doctor?"

"It was all that shaking you did. You probably broke it…"

Mac hit the remote to unlock her Beetle. "Yeah, I don't think it works like that…"

Veronica slid into the passenger seat. "Just drive, Mackenzie," she ordered.

Mac turned the key in the ignition. "Just don't throw up in my car, Mars," she retorted. Mac hit the gas.

Two hours later, they were back in Mac's dorm room, five positive pregnancy tests strewn on the floor between them. Some had plus signs, some had matching blue lines, and one had turned pink. But they all meant the same thing. Veronica Mars was knocked up.

Veronica leaned her head on Mac's shoulder and wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand for the umpteenth time. She sniffled and Mac squeezed her hand in a gesture of reassurance. She felt so stupid, sitting there on the floor of a Hearst dorm room sniffling away over an unplanned pregnancy. Veronica had seen it before; one or two girls since freshman year. She'd walk into a bathroom at school or the bathroom on that very floor and there'd be a girl or two girls, locked in a bathroom stall, or sitting on the edge of the sinks, one sobbing her eyes out, moaning How could this have happened!?!, the other trying to comfort her. Veronica had gotten out of there as fast as she could, rolling her eyes and thinking how stupid those girls were. Wow, had that high school sex ed unit been completely lost on them? Didn't they know better?

Well, Veronica knew better. She knew exactly what had happened: summer break. Too much tequila and ice cream and a late night/early morning at Dog Beach with Logan Echolls. She'd stolen his ice cream cone and darted away down the beach and of course he'd chased her - that's what she'd wanted - and when he'd caught her she'd screamed and laughed and he'd thrown her down on the sand and lunged for the ice cream. She'd smeared it on his nose and Logan had paid her back by snatching it out of her hand and smearing it on her chin. Veronica had sat up on her elbows and grabbed his face and laughed, kissing his nose, her tongue darting out to lap at the ice cream. He'd laughed as the dessert fell from his hand, forgotten. His lips had pressed against her chin and sucked and she giggled and pushed him away half-heartedly. Logan had grabbed her hand, a smattering of vanilla across her knuckles, fingers sticky-sweet, and licked them clean. She'd stopped laughing then.

After that, it was sticky kisses and the warm ocean breeze brushing their skin. The sand had been warm between her toes when he slipped her shorts down her legs and kissed the pale, tender skin at the back of her knee and she had panted against the shell of his ear and wriggled her fingers into his pocket, searching for his wallet and the small, foil packet it was sure to contain. Her fingers had searched and searched and she had come back with nothing and he had groaned in frustration and cursed his lack of foresight. With her lips grazing his ear and his hands in her hair, she had murmured, I don't care, I don't care, because she was already on the pill and they were both STD-free and it had only been each other for over a year and she couldn't stop, didn't want him to stop, Don't stop... and her name was a mantra on his lips and his legs twined with hers and and… And.

Veronica pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes and saw stars.

Congratulations, Mars! You've become the dreaded cliché!

Veronica used to be one of those girls.

A long time ago, when she wore pastels and brushed her hair one hundred strokes each night and Prince Charming hadn't been past second base, she had imagined white weddings and blue-eyed babies and a shining diamond on her ring finger. But then the prince dumped her and her best friend got her skull bashed in and her mom's sometimes annoying habit of drinking too much spun out of control and her parents marriage turned brittle and crumbled to ashes. Lianne blew out of their lives and left Veronica with the dry, parched taste of dust in her mouth, but also with the realization that a ring does not mean forever. Family, love - nothing is permanent.

Veronica changed - and not just her hair and clothes. The skin of her heart hardend, creating a nearly inpenetrable layer that few people managed to get through. She had no desire, time, or patience for white silk and chiffon or babies and cribs and cute little onesies. Veronica could barely take care of herself. She could barely protect herself. How could she be expected to protect another human being?

"Are you going to tell Logan?" Mac's voice was uncharacteristically gentle.

Veronica sat up. "He has a right to know," she said. "I don't know what I'm going to do yet, but... he has a right to know." She shuddered and wrapped her arms around her knees. "I don't know how I'm going to tell him, Mac," she whispered.

"You could always text him." Veronica chuckled. "No, really," Mac insisted. "You could. You could text: Guess what? U r my baby daddy." Veronica couldn't help cracking up. "Oh my god, Veronica. Could you imagine him getting that text while driving? Or in the middle of Business Communications? He'd fall right out of his desk."

Veronica snickered. "Yeah, I think texting him the good news is out," she said sardonically.

"So then," Mac bit her lip, "it's good news?"

Veronica sobered. "I'm not really the kids-type, you know? I mean, it's not the worst thing that could happen to us…" Veronica started gnawing on her lip again. "Good news, bad news…" She gave Mac a weak half-smile.

"I guess that depends on Logan."

*****