"It's nearly eleven, Duncan. What are you doing here?"
"Do you want to go for a drive?"
"Uh, sure. Hold on two seconds."
She reappeared a few minutes later with a sweater wrapped around one hand. "I just left a note for my dad in case he wakes up. He's kinda paranoid these days."
"I don't blame him."
"You nearly got yourself killed."
"Can we just not? Not again."
He nodded, leading the way to his car.
"Why you still up anyway?"
"Threw out my sleeping pills. Seems I'm an insomniac at heart."
She was unstoppable with an idea. That's why Lilly – with a mini skirt and t-shirt pulled over her bikini – sprinted out over her mother's lawn and into direct aim of the sprinklers. She was followed by Logan, breathless from laughing; he grabbed her around the waist spinning her slightly as the jets sprayed them from all sides. Veronica was slightly more timid as she skipped into the fray, squealing as the water rained down on her – Duncan was grasping her hand tightly and the last to be subjected to the warm, clean water running down his neck, catching in the corners of his smile.
Soon Lilly was grinning widely; her shirt clinging to her skin, arms stretched high above her head as she frolicked in the spray. Duncan wrestled Logan almost directly over one of the sprinklers, soaking him and he retaliated with a quick raise of one eyebrow before he grasped Veronica (who was staying at the edge of the water, minimal damage) from behind, picking her up and into the brunt of one of the beams of water. She screamed, struggling away as Lilly alternated between laughing so hard her chest hurt and slapping at Logan's arms.
The two sat quietly staring out the windscreen to the deep, dark water—slow and black on the horizon.
"Do you ever miss it? The four of us."
Veronica nodded her gaze still on the endless waves. "Yeah. I don't miss who I was back then, but I miss—I miss the four of us. It was easier."
"I'd have to agree."
The silence crept back into the air between them. Suddenly Duncan blurted out, "I thought I'd done it."
For the first time since they'd stopped the car Veronica turned to face him, eyes wide with intrigue.
"For a while…" he admitted.
"Is the epilepsy bad?" she asked quietly, wondering if there was a disease that could be so awful it would make Duncan think he had killed his own sister without remembering it.
"You never noticed," he pointed out.
"Logan told me something, told me he saw you have a fit."
Duncan nodded, lips pressed into a tight grimace. "Yeah, he was the only one and I never explained it."
"Did Lilly know?"
"Yeah, all my family know."
"And they still want you to go into politics?"
"I'm not crippled, Veronica."
"No, it's okay. This is why I didn't want anyone to know."
"I was bound to find out eventually."
"You do have a habit of digging up dirt."
"Only to get to the truth. I won't tell anyone, you know that right?"
"Cross your heart?"
"Stick a needle in my eye."
Veronica ran straight into Duncan's arms, shaking water out of her hair as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders – trying not to laugh. She pouted at Logan, trying to scowl through the long, wet locks of hair that had fallen over her eyes. He just smirked at her and Lilly's hands came down on his chest so unexpectedly that the two tumbled backwards onto the damp grass.
She giggled almost into his mouth and rolled off, laughter erupting from her lips as she stretched out both arms for help – shaking his head through his chuckle Duncan reached out to help his sister and was rewarded with a sharp tug that sent him flying, tripping over Logan who was now on his back in hysterics. Veronica's hands were clasped firmly over her mouth as she sobbed her laughter into them; eyes watering with the image of her boyfriend sprawled across his best friend. Lilly perfected her best (and most innocent) come hither look on Veronica, curling an index finger in their direction as she reached out a hand. The other girl shook her head profusely, skipping off in the other direction. Lilly took chase.
"So, now that I'm definitely not your sister do you think your mom's going to hate me any less?"
Duncan quirked an eyebrow in her direction and Veronica smiled wryly. "Yeah, you're right."
The grass tickled the backs of her legs where they were bare beneath her shorts and Veronica sidled up so that she could run her fingers through the ends of Lilly's hair – knotting it into little braids. The four of them lay against the lawn, heads on shoulders or stomachs. Duncan felt something tugging at his hair and just as he was about to swat Lilly's hand away he looked up over his head and realized that it was Logan.
"What the hell are you doing, man?"
Logan looked a little sheepish as he stopped attempting to thread the three short sections of Duncan's hair around each other, copying the pattern Veronica was making in Lilly's hair.
"I don't know dude, I was bored. And y'know, I just can't keep my hands off you."
Duncan didn't even sit up as he launched a hand above his head, aiming for Logan.
"You were drugged too, Duncan."
"Logan spiked your drink at the party."
"Let it go."
"Hating Logan isn't going to change anything, he's sorry. He was sorry."
"When did he tell you?"
"Right after you left his party. He wanted you to have some fun. It was stupid but it was right after Lilly…" she swallowed awkwardly, continuing, "and we were all kind of messed up."
"Why are you defending him?"
"I don't know. I guess I care about him, even if it's not, if we're not together."
"Do you still have feelings for him?"
"I don't think we would really work out."
"Because he won't talk to you?"
"Because we just wouldn't."
Lilly pushed the grape popsicle between her lips slowly, laving a tongue up one side. Logan groaned, throwing an arm across his face as he muttered.
"Can't you just eat that like a normal human being?"
She responded by licking her lips thoroughly, even though he couldn't see. Veronica blushed, a small giggle escaping her lips as Duncan had the decency to look mortified. Lilly flopped from her sitting position, twisting next to Logan who was still refusing to look at her; she walked her fingers up his arm, shoving the popsicle in his face.
His hand shot out suddenly, tickling her ribs and he caught her mouth in a quick, immature kiss as she squealed against him, squirming. The popsicle was dropped quickly onto the perfect green grass. Veronica leaned more soundly against Duncan's chest, the two of them propped against a tree, as she gave her popsicle a dainty lick. Duncan popped open a can of soda and let his hand slip back to rest on Veronica's upper arm, fingers brushing gently up and down the skin. She twisted lightly pressing her smile against his cheek as Lilly and Logan tussled on the ground.
"I used to see her."
"Me too, or I would dream she was there."
"And it was just like her. I hated it but now… I kind of miss her haunting me. It's like she's really gone."
"I haven't seen her for a while."
"When was the last time?"
"Last time I stopped my meds. I was really sick and I just kept seeing her everywhere."
"What did your doctor say?"
"That hallucinations were normal."
"Wonder what he'd say to me."
"You're not crazy, Veronica."
"For a while there I was beginning to think I really, really was."
"I lost everything and then I started to kind of get my life back and I started throwing it away to find the killer all over again."
"But you did it, you found him."
"Yeah, I did," she breathed tightly.
Lilly broke off a stem from one of Celeste's favorite begonias and weaved the flower into the hair behind Veronica's ear.
Logan and Duncan exchanged a look and Lilly rolled her eyes at them.
"Isn't she pretty, Logan?"
"Oh, yeah, V – you're a doll."
Lilly ignored him, flouncing over to Duncan.
"I like it," he decided pragmatically.
Veronica smiled up at him, fingering the edges of the bright pink flower.
"Do you ever think of us?"
"I miss it."
"Yeah, me too."
"It was easy, nice."
"I'm sorry, Duncan. I was fifteen, what we had wasn't some grand love affair—but it was good."
"Maybe now it would be better."
"Duncan, wait. I… I don't want to be the girl that bounces between two best friends."
"You still want Logan," he concluded dully.
"No. I—we haven't talked since I accused him of murder. I told him I would trust him and I didn't, I feel like I owe him at least this."
"Some advance warning. I don't want him to find out like you did."
"Veronica, will you go out with me?"
"Maybe, maybe we could get something to eat. Just dinner, no ties—see how that goes first."
"I'll take it."
She smiled through her bitter lip, "It's almost time for breakfast."
"I should probably get you home so you can eat that with your dad."
"If you ever want to come within five feet of me again, yeah."
"Then we'd better get going."
The sun was getting low and their hair was still damp from the sprinklers, hands sticky with the remains of melted popsicles. Duncan pulled back letting Veronica's long hair fall through his fingers.
They sat in his car for a while longer, staring out at the ocean. Duncan leaned over, his mouth pressing gently, hesitantly against her lips—she gasped a little at the unexpected contact and as Duncan pulled away he watched another little piece of Veronica fall through his fingers.