She never saw herself as the sentimental type. She hadn't been sentimental since her mid teens, and she really didn't regret it. A life ruled by emotion and ethics was sweet and made you feel all fuzzy, but it didn't help in the end – it got you dead at the bottom of a ditch because you didn't think even the School Bitch should drive home in tears alone after that prank. It didn't count for anything.
Money counted. The exchange of those shiny coins or colorful pieces of paper for goods or services. Enough money and you could do anything, feel anything, and no-one could stop you. So she did what she had to – she got money. Big Dick was rich, and nice enough, so it all worked out perfectly for her. Despite her best interest, she tried not to forget about Cormac.
She probably should have, but she couldn't shut her sentimentality down completely. 27 years, 7 months and 16 days and he was the only person she could just love and be loved. So she sends millions of emails and keeps a secret house, makes calls to the Fitzpatricks and keeps a calendar for 2006 hidden, his release day highlighted. So maybe she's still fourteen a little.
She never cared for her stepsons. Dick Jnr. was a moron and a sleaze, and Beaver was creepy and hated her. So she just tried to avoid them – though they did bring a Logan-shaped benefit, that was useful.
Dick's big runoff? Wasn't useful. And then Beaver decided she was some airhead he could use, that he was so much smarter than her – she let him think it.
It was a little surprising when she realized it was true. That kid always creeped her out a little, but mass murder? Hardly expected. And that whole mess with the mayor and blackmail and why he was so fucked up anyway – damn. And, smart as he was, he clearly wasn't very good at blackmail. But she's not complaining that loudly, since he gave her 8 million in his ill-gotten gains – and she doesn't like to think about him dying for that to happen – and it's annoying she has to run when Liam starts anchoring for a bigger cut.
She's still overjoyed to see Cormac, though. She had money (in a priceless painting), she had the man she loved, she had a plan to runaway to a tropical island – what more could she want?
It's only when she can't move and the walls are splattered with blood that she gets it. Being sentimental made you all sweet and fuzzy, but it didn't count for anything – it got you dead in the middle of nowhere because you dared to think something nice might just happen to you.
She wasn't ever strong. It's not like that was a secret – since she was a child, she had always been indecisive, a pushover, easily hurt, unable to stick up for herself. Nothing ever really changes over the course of your life – that's why she sits back and pours another glass when she hears the belt on skin.
She should stop it. There's a good chance she could stop it – if she could make Aaron see how much he was hurting Logan, how much he was hurting Lynn, things would get better. Aaron was human, he loved his family – no matter how much he was playing it up for the press, no matter the things he did, he did love them.
Logan didn't cry about it – he hadn't done that for years. He would walk out blood flowing down his back, dry-eyed and vicious-tongued. The sight would make her knock back another drink, and soon the hangover and guilt would get the aspirin and valium and whatever other pills she needed in her hand. Occasionally, she'd try and reach out to Logan, to comfort him – he'd never let her. She'd see an anger in his eyes that the way he looked at Aaron could only hope to imitate – her belief was he hated her more than he hated his father. She wasn't sure she blamed him for that.
She can only really remember Logan letting her comfort him once – after Lilly died. It was a strange week, because after Lilly died it seemed like they were okay – Logan was a mess, but he let himself fall apart on her shoulder, he didn't look at either of his parents with anger. Aaron stopped with the belts and beatings for a while, let whatever Logan did off the hook – tried to play the good father, told him how sorry he was. Neither his wife or son were naive enough to think it would last, and it didn't, but things were okay while stewing in Logan's grief, and Lynn hated herself for being a little glad it happened.
It was almost a relief the next time Aaron pulled out the belt.
She still has that compulsion to stop it, to fix this. She looks at Logan with whatever bruise he has now, and she feels sick. But she can't. She's not strong enough to fix this, she doesn't want to try and she can't think what it is that's so bad she can't risk it.
She does love her son, despite everything. And she does love her husband.
She just can't save them.
When she was a girl, she never thought she could wind up this way. No, Lianne Reynolds was going to live a long and happy life with the man she loved. When she was seventeen she was fairly sure she knew who that man was – she and Jake had been together for years, off-again-on-again, true, but that would settle down. Until the summer fling with her lies came back, Celeste talking about a child – and sure, it annoyed Lianne a little that Jake had slept with some fling when she had been with him for years and they hadn't gone that far, but she guessed it was a good thing. It could convey his respect toward her, how she was significant in his mind, and Celeste... wasn't.
Funny how nothing ever seemed to come of that pregnancy. Funny how Jake never explained.
Keith was a good man, a kind, honest, loving man. She was truly blessed to have him, she knew that. From a truly rational perspective, she was lucky that she had lost Jake, who was clearly fickle (and now married to Celeste), to be with this wonderful man. But Lianne wasn't rational – she missed Jake, and he missed her. That's pretty much how she wound up in a dingy Camelot motel room with her skirt wound her waist.
It wasn't fair to anyone, she knew that – it wasn't fair to just, honest Keith, it wasn't fair to Jake and Celeste, not to give their marriage a chance. It wasn't fair to the bright, beautiful children Celeste did have, and it wasn't fair to her own Veronica.
Poor, sweet Veronica – she wasn't meant to have been born like this. Her paternity should never have been in doubt, not with how innocent she was, not with the way she looked up at her father adoringly. She was Veronica Mars, through and through – Lianne had to keep believing that. She played the good mother, as if tucking in her daughter when sick, as if giving her soup and putting the thermometer in her mouth, could make up for her hidden sins.
Now she's slumped over a bar somewhere in Arizona, shuddering at the thought of her sweet, innocent Veronica in a rifle shot. Karma is a bitch, if a time-delayed one. She misses her daughter. She misses her husband. She misses Jake, even though he probably was behind all this. She feels like she should run back to Neptune and try and fix all this. She doesn't.
She just orders another beer like a good little alcoholic, and tries to forget how happy she could have been.
She loved her daughter. She doesn't expect anyone to really know or believe that, but she did. Lilly was wild and uncontrollable, invoking envy in girls and arousal in boys, Lilly was wildly embarrassing – but Celeste did love her.
It could just be so hard to love Lilly. Lilly who spat on the concept of respect and public image. Lilly who would get drunk and drag brother, boyfriend and friend along with her. Lilly who would collect numbers for any boy who took her fancy. Lilly who loved Veronica Mars and dragged her into their lives.
Yes, it was Duncan – strong, pure Duncan – who loved Veronica it that sweet puppy way, the way of high school romance that should pass (but might not). But Lilly had the love of a best friend for the girl – they needed each other, Lilly acting like she could press Veronica into her skin and never let go, which was foolish given the way high school friendships usually went, but Celeste couldn't just let it go. She needed Veronica Mars out of her life now, and there was only one real weapon for the job – the truth.
It didn't even work. Because even as Duncan broke and ducked away from the girl he loved so much, Lilly had no reason to let it go. She had taken Veronica as a friend and it would not end, and Celeste wanted to scream. However it quickly ended when they found Duncan clutching Lilly's body.
She knew in a moment that no-one could ever know. It wasn't Duncan's fault, and Lilly wouldn't want him locked away – she loved her brother. And Celeste loved them both – so she lied. It would be what Lilly wanted.
She was tempted. Tempted to tell the truth and make this all someone else's problem, because she honestly thought she had been through enough. Chalk outlines and interview rooms reminded her of pain in her stomach and a doctor's comforting voice ("I'm sorry Miss Conathon. The miscarriage happened quickly – there's nothing we can do,"), but she doesn't give in. Because she is stronger than that, and because she has lost two children and will not sacrifice a third.
She feels Lilly everywhere. A ghostly presence she knows isn't real, but she appreciates the movement of light or quiet giggle that makes her heart skip for a second anyway. She misses Lilly, despite the wildness and embarrassment – but she just looks at Duncan and understands. Lilly loved her brother – she would want this.
It's not until months later when she's sipping a glass of wine alone, somewhere in Napa, looking at the TV and watching Aaron Echolls go free. She just imagines the way this will go down in history – sex, lies, money and videotape. The world will all know the horrible story, and she will be cast as the evil matriarch at the center of it. The world will never know the truth.
The world won't know how much she loved her daughter.