"...experts remain puzzled over the unexplained meteor shower that hit downtown Los Angeles in November. NASA physicists continue to look into the possibility that the phenomenon may be connected to the meteor strike that occurred over Kansas in 1989; however…"
"Hey! I was watching that!"
"How can you possibly be related to me and also this much of a geek?" Lilly snarks, as she shoves the remote control into her pants, where she is almost positive Duncan won't go looking for it. And if he does, well, that'll just liven things up a little. Lilly has now been on the road for almost a half-hour, and she's ready to add some color to the trip. Educational television is not part of the plan. Unless it's sex-ed, of course. "Who watches the Discovery channel anyway?"
"I like the Discovery channel," Logan says.
Lilly glares at him, and he shrugs.
"What?" he says. "I do. Space exploration. Sharks. And weird fighting insects. And don't forget dinosaurs."
"This is so not hot, Logan," Lilly says. "If you have any intention of taking my panties off later, you better say something sexy pretty quick."
"Hey!" Duncan exclaims. "Things I did not need to hear!"
"Life and death. Predator and prey. Devouring each other. Survival. Strange creatures. What's not hot about that?"
"Only everything," Lilly says.
"Well, sometimes there's animal sex, right, D.K.?"
"Bestiality doesn't turn me on," Lilly says, smacking him on the shoulder.
"Really?" Logan says, innocently, as Lilly climbs into his lap and starts trying to tickle him.
Duncan and Veronica begin to laugh, as Logan succeeds in liberating the remote from its hiding place, and tosses it back to Veronica, who catches it deftly.
"Traitor!" Lilly shrieks, and tries to grab at her, but Veronica slides out of reach.
"Don't worry, Lilly," she says. "We won't make you watch animal porn."
Lilly smiles wickedly at her. "What if I ask nicely?" she breathes.
Duncan puts his head in his hands, as Veronica and Lilly giggle.
"So what are we going to do while we're in L.A.?" Veronica asks. "We should make a list."
"A list?" Lilly says, disbelievingly. "Have you ever heard of spontaneity, Veronica Mars?"
"Sure," Veronica says. "It's in the dictionary, right after 'sorry you didn't get to do everything you wanted to in L.A.' and right before 'oops, I woke up with a bad taste in my mouth next to some guys named Rocko and Bob, and a tattoo of the Taco Bell Chihuahua some place unmentionable."
"Hey, that was a great night."
"You're kidding, right, Lilly?" Duncan says. "Veronica? Please, please tell me you're kidding."
"Relax," Logan says. "She didn't have a tattoo last time I checked."
"But maybe that's only 'cause I know a domme who removes tattoos in a very hot kinky sex-scenario. Very Story of O."
"Do you really?" Veronica asks.
"No," Lilly laughs.
"Seriously, guys, what all are we going to do?"
"What do you want to do, Ronnie?" Logan says, playing with Lilly's hair.
"I really hate when you call me that."
"What do you want to do, Ver-on-ica?" he repeats, this time drawing out every syllable of her name with great emphasis.
"You are like, the most infuriating person alive," she says. "How do you put up with it, Lilly?"
"He's good in bed."
"And you," Logan says, smirking, "have not answered the question."
"Well, I definitely want to go to the Getty," she says. "I haven't been there for a few years."
"Yeah," Duncan says. "We should take a picnic."
"Boring," Lilly says. "You guys do that; Logan and I'll explore downtown."
"And then, maybe we can visit the studio?" Veronica adds hopefully. "Your dad's shooting with Matt Damon this week, right?"
"Right," Logan says, with no expression at all.
"Yeah," Lilly says, feeling Logan stiffen next to her. "Eye-candy everywhere. We should definitely do that."
"Hey man, maybe we could go play laser tag, while they're at the studio," Duncan says. "They just opened that new Star Wars theme-place."
"Whatever," Lilly says, looking with distaste at the expression of relief on Logan's face. She hates it when Duncan smoothes over her edges with kindness. Logan likes her like that, likes her cruel and capricious. It suits the drama in his head. And without that, he'd just be boring. "If you really want to leave us alone on a movie set, with all those gorgeous stars around, undressing us with their eyes… I guess that's up to you."
Logan kisses her too hard. She smiles against his mouth, and then pulls away to say, "Don't worry. Your dad'll keep an eye on us."
He kisses her again, sliding his tongue over her teeth, and then puts an arm around her. He looks back at Duncan. "Laser tag sounds good, dude."
Veronica looks slightly unsettled and intensely curious, as if something has happened that she doesn't quite understand, and is dying to figure out. Lilly smiles at her reassuringly.
"Maybe we can get into a club, or something."
"We don't have fake ID," Duncan says.
"We'll figure it out," Logan says.
"Did you remember to bring everything?" Lilly whispers.
"Don't I always?" he replies, kissing the top of her head. "It's all in the bag."
"And Thursday night is the Coldplayconcert, right?" Duncan asks, obviously deciding not to ask what Logan and Lilly have cooked up between them. Which is good. No sense in letting him freak out too much until the moment of truth.
"This is going to be great," Veronica says.
"Of course it is," Lilly says, with relish. "It's going to be better than great. It's us."
Duncan looks out the window, as Lilly, Logan, and Veronica squabble over the last few chocolate covered espresso beans. He wouldn't mind one either, but he knows a lost cause when he sees one. If he didn't he might advise Logan to give in right now, but he's well aware that his best friend will fight to the bitter end, even when everyone knows he's destined to lose. Duncan prefers to sit back and watch the show. Less strain, more amusement. Living with Lilly has taught him that, among many other less probable things. Lilly, the impossible, the infuriating, the insane, the wonderful. He wouldn't make it through a day without her, he thinks. Or without wanting to strangle her, either.
He looks at Veronica, who is wielding a pout and trembling lip against Logan with great success, almost matching Lilly's ear nibbling. As always, he feels that swell of gratitude that threatens to overwhelm him whenever he looks at her. She's so perfect, and she loves him, and he can never quite believe that she's really happening to him. He never wants her to change.
She slides back over next to him, loot in hand, and he puts his arm around her. He knows she's not quite as delicate as she looks, but he loves the feeling of her nestling into him anyway.
Lilly decides she's had enough of the air conditioning, and makes them all open the windows and the skylight. There's a breeze blowing, and the sky is that perfect shade of turquoise that sometimes happens around one in the afternoon. Veronica leans over him to stick her head out the window. Her hair is whipping into his face, and he sputters in protest.
She pulls her head back, and laughs at him, and he can't resist kissing the tip of her nose, and then her mouth. Her lips are glossy and cherry flavored. He thinks she just might be the sweetest girl in the world.
"You'll never believe what I learned last weekend," Veronica says. "You guys will love this, seriously."
"What?" Logan asks.
"How to jack cars!" she says.
"Who are you, and what have you done with Veronica?" Lilly says.
"Yeah well, one of the guys from the auto-body shop was waiting to bail someone out, and I was waiting for my dad, and I wanted to practice my Spanish. He looked kinda bummed to be there, so I think he was glad for someone to chat with."
"Veronica, you are so gone in 60 seconds!" Logan says. "When can we expect you to embark on your life of crime?"
"I only got the theory. But," Veronica adds, "I was thinking it'd be also be really useful if someone locked their keys in their car."
"Only you, Veronica Mars, could make breaking into cars sound wholesome."
Duncan laughs and shakes his head. He's having a moment of utter relaxation – he's with his favorite people in the whole world, over-caffeinated and criminal though they may be, his parents are in Morocco - too far away to be annoying for once, his girlfriend's tucked under his arm. No school for another week – all is well with the world.
That's why it's such a shock when the sun is suddenly blotted out. The air goes sepia toned for an instant, before everything turns black, before night falls like a curtain around them. The limo swerves violently and Lilly screams.
Veronica can feel tears of shock and delayed reaction running down her face. Somehow managing to avoid hitting the car in front of them, Mr. Jeffries has managed to manhandle the limo out of its swerve towards the divider, and yank it onto the shoulder.
Now he has turned on the brights and the overhead lights, and is looking back at them worriedly.
"Are you… you kids okay?" he asks, voice shaking.
Duncan is holding her close, and Logan and Lilly are holding hands.
Logan looks around before answering for all of them. "We're fine, besides maybe a little whiplash," he says, voice cracking a little. "What the hell is going on?"
"I don't know," Mr. Jeffries says.
"An eclipse?" Duncan says, unsteadily, looking out the window.
Suddenly, they hear gunshots, and Veronica jumps. Looking around, she sees her friends are all equally freaked out. A car alarm goes off somewhere in the distance.
"Do eclipses just happen all at once without any warning like that?" Veronica says, her voice coming out much higher and more shrill than she intends it to.
"I'm pretty sure they don't," Lilly snaps.
"Well, I think one just did," Logan says, sounding relatively calm again.
"We have to see what's going on," Mr. Jeffries says, turning on the radio to see if they were reporting anything on the news.
"…reports in that this solar eclipse has covered Los Angeles County. Please stay tuned for further updates."
"Should we go back to Neptune?" Duncan asks.
"Maybe," Mr. Jeffries says.
"No, that's ridiculous," Lilly says. "We're much closer to L.A."
"Yeah," Logan says. "Besides, it's an eclipse. Not exactly dangerous. Just kind of weird."
"Eclipses don't make the sky pitch black at one in the afternoon, Logan," Duncan says. "It's like the middle of the night out there."
"Maybe we should wait here and see if the light comes back," Mr. Jeffries says, shaking his head, and changing the station on the radio. "Then we can turn around, and I can get you kids home."
"…the eclipse may be caused by sun spots. If you are on the road, we have word from the Department of Transportation that the speed limit in L.A. county is now 30mph…"
"Look, sitting here by the side of the road isn't helping. We're in a limo – pretty soon, someone's going to try something on us. We're already hearing shots."
"Your parents will kill me if I let anything happen to you," Mr. Jeffries says, sounding nervous.
"So, don't!" Logan says exasperatedly.
"We should just wait here for a while, maybe…maybe call 911?"
"Dude, that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Look out the window – it's bumper to bumper out there. What are they going to do, send us an ambulance because it's too dark outside and our driver was being a pansy?"
"Logan!" Veronica says.
"Veronica, shut up. Jeffries, you get paid to take me where I'm going. So fucking earn your paycheck, man. You've driven at night before – this is not that big of a deal. We need to get to Bel-Air, and then we can get in touch with people and see what's going on," Logan says. "We'll drive slow, like they said on the radio, and everything will be fucking fine, okay?"
"Whatever we're doing, could we just do it?" Lilly says, and she sounds both irritable and scared at the same time. Veronica does not like the sound of Lilly's voice like that at all. Lilly is meant to be fearless and fierce at all times.
"Let's get back on the road," Logan says, with some authority.
Logan glances over at Duncan, who is still glaring at him. Probably he shouldn't have told Veronica to shut up, but doesn't he get any credit for extreme circumstances? And, you know, being right?
Logan tries to muster up some righteous indignation. "I'm sorry," he finds himself saying instead.
Duncan's eyebrows are about to make contact with his hairline. It's almost worth it just for that.
Veronica seems unimpressed, however. "Are you apologizing to me?" she asks.
"Yes," Logan says. "And you know I never do that, so you might want to appreciate this moment as a precious token of our friendship."
"Well, you should apologize to him," she says, nodding at the front seat.
"Are you kidding?" he asks. "We would have been sitting there until we were the limo that time forgot! I know he's not driving people around because he aced his SATs but come on, even if he wants to polish up his acceptance speech for the Darwin Awards doesn't mean I want him to take us along for the ride!"
"Logan! You're being a total jerk," she says. "For no reason. The poor guy was just freaked out."
"It worked, didn't it?" Logan wonders why they can't ever just smile and say thank you. Maybe this'll be the moment.
"You should still apologize," she says.
Or, you know, not. Logan looks down at Lilly who is curled up next to him, unusually silent, and wonders why Veronica's disapproval still works on him at all.
He sighs to himself, and raps on the glass divider. Jeffries pulls it down, and looks back at him. They are inching along through this weird darkness, so this is less dangerous then it could be.
"Are you okay?" Logan asks. He certainly seems calmer, which may make him marginally more useful. Jeffries nods.
"Look, about back there," he starts.
"Don't mention it, Mr. Echolls," Jeffries says in leaden tones.
"O-kay," Logan says. "Don't worry, I'll get my dad to give you a bonus for today. Hard labor, hazard pay. You do the math."
Jeffries closes the divider again, without responding. Logan can feel Veronica's eyes boring through the back of his skull.
"What?" he says, before turning to look at her. "You saw me being pleasant, didn't you? All sweetness and light, just for you, Ronnie."
Veronica shakes her head, and tries to look firm, before giving up and laughing. "Logan, you're just about as pleasant as an M-16."
"That's why you love me, right?" he asks, batting his eyelashes at her exaggeratedly.
"Logan, stop hitting on my woman," Duncan says. That's when he knows all is forgiven.
Hours and hours later, they are finally off the freeway, and climbing up into the hills of Bel-Air.
"Uh, this can't be good," Veronica says.
They have all gotten out of the car, and are currently looking at the huge black iron gates that are ominously hanging open. There is no one anywhere in sight.
"I think utterly creepy is the word you're looking for," Lilly says.
"That's two words," Duncan says.
Jeffries is eying the gatehouse, and its complete lack of personnel, and shaking his head. "I knew this was a bad idea," he mutters.
Veronica pulls out her cell-phone and discovers that she has no service. "We can't even call anyone," she says. "Does any one else have signal?"
No one does.
"Fine," says Logan. "Let's head back down into the city and find a hotel or something."
"Shouldn't…shouldn't we see if everyone's okay up at the house?" Veronica says.
"It's totally deserted, Veronica," Lilly says. "I don't think there's anyone here."
"Yeah, but doesn't that seem weird to you?" Veronica replies, her voice gaining some confidence. "We can't just drive away without looking."
"I'll check it out first," Duncan says.
"Good plan," Logan agrees. "I'll go with you. Is there a flashlight in here somewhere?"
"No, you won't," Jeffries says grabbing his arm. "I'll go and look. You kids stay in the car. I'll come back for you."
"Jeffries, my man, when did you suddenly grow a pair?" Logan says. "You don't even know the grounds. At least I've been here before."
"Just stay in the car till I get back. There's something very strange going on here, and I am not going to be the one explaining things to your parents if one of you gets hurt. Next time, Mr. Echolls, you might want to remember that being responsible for other people is a hell of a lot harder than just flashing around Daddy's wallet."
Surprised, Logan looks at him, but can't think of anything to say before the man takes a flashlight out of the trunk and heads up the drive to the house. "Stay in the car," he says over his shoulder, before he disappears into the dark.
"Whose house is this anyway?" Veronica asks, nervously looking at the time on her cell phone. It's been forty-five minutes, but no one wants to say anything.
"Friend of my dad's," Logan says. "Magnus Bryce. He's out of the country though. It's just supposed to be the staff here. My dad stays here sometimes when he's filming in L.A." Logan knows he's talking too much and too quickly, but it feels like Jeffries has been gone a really long time. Even if the grounds are huge.
"The driver's been gone a long time," Lilly says.
Everyone looks at her. "What?" she says. "We're all thinking it, aren't we?"
"Okay," Logan says. "I'm going to go look for him."
"Oh, no, you don't," Lilly says. "We are not getting picked off one by one here. This is not our own private Blairwitch Project, okay?"
"Look, maybe we should go for help," Duncan says. "I can drive."
"What?" Lilly says. "Whatever, Do-nut, I'm the one with a permit."
"Yeah, and I still drive better than you do."
"Look, we're not going off anywhere," Logan says. "We have to find Jeffries first."
"Maybe he just went off and left us. He didn't seem to be too fond of you, man," Duncan says.
"Yeah, or maybe he fell down or needs help or something."
"Logan's right," Veronica says. "We have to look for him. Then we can use the phone inside the house."
"We don't have a flashlight," Duncan says.
"I have one on my phone," Logan replies. "It's little, but it's better than nothing. Let's stay close together, okay?"
"You get no argument here," Duncan says.
"Jeffries," Logan calls, waving the little, tiny flashlight. "Can you hear us?"
"Anybody there?" Duncan yells.
"Guys, I think you should stop yelling," Veronica hisses frantically.
"What?" Logan says.
They all stand stock still. Silence.
"I can't hear anything, Veronica," Lilly whispers.
"Look over there," Veronica whispers back, pointing to the woods. There appear to be fiery lights burning off in the distance, and then moving through the trees.
"Yeah," Veronica says. "Can we walk a little faster?"
They pick up their pace. And then Lilly falls down.
"Lilly, are you okay?" Logan says, as he tries to pull her to her feet.
"Yeah," Lilly says, gasping for breath, "I tripped on something…" and Logan turns the flashlight onto the ground and illuminates Jeffries' chauffeur-cap lying there.
"Oh God," Veronica says, and stares at it, frozen in horror.
"Come on," Logan cries, urgently yanking Lilly along behind him, and beginning to run.
They finally make it up to the porch. The door is unlocked, the house is lit up, but there appears to be no one there.
They have slammed and locked the door behind them, then locked all the windows, and the back door as well. Rather, Lilly, Duncan and Veronica have. Logan is simply pacing back and forth furiously.
"You okay, man?" Duncan says.
"What the fuck do you think?" Logan snaps.
"It's not your fault," Veronica says.
"Whose fault is it?" Logan asks.
"Nobody's," Duncan says. "Besides, maybe he's okay. He must have dropped his cap when he was running or something. I mean, if he were hurt, or dead, or whatever, wouldn't there have been a body? It was all empty lawn where we found the cap. We didn't hear any shots or anything…"
"Spin me another one, D.K.," Logan says bitterly.
"Logan, you're jumping to conclusions. We have no idea what happened here. Let's find a phone and call 911 so they can look for him, and incidentally, come get us out of this," Lilly says, sitting down in an armchair.
"Right, phone," Logan says. "That's one through there, I think."
Veronica hurries into the next room, with Duncan chasing after her.
"We found it," Duncan eventually yells back to them.
"Lilly," Logan says and puts his head in her lap. "We should have tried to get back to Neptune."
Lilly pets his head. "It's okay, baby."
"I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt," Logan says.
"I know," Lilly says, "and maybe he didn't."
"Are you scared?" Logan asks.
"No," she says.
"Good. You know I'll always take care of you, right, Lilly?"
She laughs. "God, you're being dramatic," she says. "A little Black Hole Sun action, and you're so freaked out that you're making vows?"
"I'm not kidding, okay? I promise I'll never let anything hurt you."
Veronica and Duncan come back into the room, looking somewhat discouraged.
"What happened?" Lilly asks.
"Well, we couldn't even get through at first. Their circuits are totally overloaded. When I finally got someone, he said that there's widespread chaos down in the city," Veronica says. "Everyone's going insane. Fires have broken out all over L.A., and riots and crazy people."
"Crazy people?" Logan says.
"Yeah, apparently people are just going spontaneously psychotic. Some reaction to the sun spots or eclipse or whatever. Maybe that's what happened to Mr. Jeffries. Anyway, the emergency people are totally overwhelmed, when they heard we were in a house, they said it might be hours before they can get anyone up here. They said to sit tight, barricade ourselves in, and wait."
They all look at each other.
"Okay, first of all, did they really say that? That doesn't even make any sense. Sunspots?" Logan says. "Are they serious?"
"That's what they said. We wanted to tell you what happened first. I'm going to call my dad now," Veronica says. "Maybe he can think of something. And you should call yours too, Logan. He'll probably be worried."
"Yeah," Logan says. "Call yours first. I have a feeling it'll be more useful. My dad only plays a hero on T.V."
"…Dad, I'm okay. We're all okay...I know, I'm sorry, I haven't got a signal up here…We got up to the house, but the driver, Mr. Jeffries disappeared, somewhere…I know, Dad…There's no one in the house though…Yeah, it's totally empty…Yes, there's food and water and everything…a no-fly zone? Dad, what's going on?...This is crazy…Right, we'll wait. No, we won't let anyone in…Yes, every half-hour…Don't worry, Daddy...I love you too…Okay."
"What did he say?" Duncan asks.
"It's crazy all over. All this part of Southern California is a no-fly zone right now. Dad's going to get a police copter to come pick us up as soon as they open up the sky. Right now, there's nothing we can do except wait it out. We're supposed to lock all the doors, and the windows, and not let anyone in. Even the 911 operator said that like, three times. It's weird."
"Out of all the things that are weird, you pick that?" Lilly says.
"You should call your father, Logan."
"Right," Logan says, taking the phone and starting to dial. "This should be a treat….Hello? Dad? Yeah, it's Logan…No, I know, we don't have reception up here for some reason…We're in L.A…at the Bryce house…the house is totally empty…Dad, listen for a second, Jeffries is gone…He went to check things out at the house and never came back…He said he didn't want us to get hurt…We couldn't find him, Dad, don't you think that's more important than the house being empty?...what? Virginia? Virginia Bryce???...Right, right. Of course, you just happened to run into her…Whatever. Look…Veronica called her dad, and he's going to send a copter as soon as they lift the no fly thing…Yeah, we'll stay in touch. Right."
Logan stares down at the phone in his hand, and then throws it across the room. It smashes against the wall.
"Logan," Veronica gasps, horrified. "You broke the phone."
"Don't worry, Veronica," he says. "I'm pretty sure they have more."
"Are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm just peachy. My dear old dad is even better though. It seems, he was taking a break from the arduous task of filming his latest crap pile, and as the sun went out, he was at the Beverly Wiltshire having lunch, or something like it, with Virginia Fucking Bryce, who seems to be concerned about the empty state of her childhood home. Even more concerned, if that's possible, than my dad was at hearing about Jeffries."
Duncan and Veronica look at each other uncomfortably, but Lilly remains unconcerned.
"That last bit was sarcastic, in case anyone was confused," he adds.
"Do you want to call your mom, Logan?"
"She's in Maui," Logan said. "And anyway, no need to trouble her with this, as Dad put it."
"Yeah, no point in calling ours either, right, Donut?" Lilly says.
Duncan says nothing.
"Well, not exactly the trip we had planned," Lilly says, cheerfully. "You see, Veronica, this is why lists are silly."
"I don't think even you could have foreseen this one, Lilly," Veronica says.
"I'm bored," Lilly says, leaping up from the kitchen table, around which they've all been sitting and devouring hugely over-stuffed sandwiches.
"The sun's gone out, our driver's gone AWOL, we're stuck in a mysteriously empty house, L.A.'s gone postal, and you're bored?" Duncan says, wearily.
"Exactly," Lilly says. "We have to find something to do."
"You're unbelievable," Duncan says. "Staying alive not good enough for you?"
"Hardly," Lilly says. "Come on, let's go look for the liquor cabinet."
"What?" Veronica says. "That's a majorly bad idea, Lilly. We have to stay alert!"
"We're locked inside a house up in the hills. Your dad's going to call us when something happens. What do we have to stay alert for at this point?"
"When you put it that way," Logan says, "it almost sounds sensible."
"You guys are crazy," Duncan says.
"Hey, I don't know about you, but after the day we've had, I could certainly use a tasty beverage. Or several."
"How do you want to die?" Logan asks, slurring a little. He is brushing out Lilly's hair with an ivory handled brush they've found in one of the dressing rooms upstairs.
"Yeah, that's not morbid or anything," Veronica says. They are all huddled on the white mohair rug that covers most of the living room.
"No, seriously," Logan says. "I want to know."
"Old age," Duncan says. "In my bed. Hopefully at the exact same time as the person I love."
"Duncan, that's beautiful," Veronica says, taking another swallow of her gin and tonic.
"How about you, Veronica Mars?" Logan says.
"I don't know. Duncan's version sounds pretty good."
"If I had to," Logan says, "Crushed by an elephant on the point of orgasm?"
They all stare at him.
"What?" he says. "Too weird for you? If not that, then I think I'd like to OD on heroin. Perfect bliss, definitely sounds like the way to go. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to be old. Senility kind of sounds like a bitch. How about you, Lilly?"
Lilly pushes him away from her, gets up, and begins prowling around the room.
"I'll tell you guys a secret," she says, opening a silver box sitting on the mantelpiece.
"What?" Logan asks, taking another long swallow from the bottle of tequila.
"I'm going to live forever," she says.
"Oh, yeah?" Veronica says, giggling.
"Mm-hmm." she says, and strikes a pose with the cigarette she has found in the silver box. "I am far too fabulous to die."
"Lilly," Veronica cries, "you don't smoke!"
"I do now," Lilly says, lighting it with a match, taking a couple of long drags, and then ashing emphatically on the carpet.
"At least find an ashtray, Lilly! God, talk about not dying, that's what's going to kill you," Duncan says, taking another gulp of his rum and coke.
It is the middle of the second day, the sun is still blacked out, and they are all starting to go a bit crazy. Over the news, they've heard that the riots are only getting worse, though they seem to mostly be concentrated in densely populated areas.
The roads into Los Angeles County have been closed. No one can get in. No one can get out. No one can fly in either.
Logan's dad appears to be still comfortably ensconced at the Beverly Wiltshire. Logan has not destroyed any more phones while talking to him, but gets an oddly dead look in his eyes after they have spoken.
They hear that more and more people are going insane and terrorizing the city.
Veronica has spoken to her dad regularly, but even so, he appears to be getting increasingly worried. Of course there's nothing he can do but wait.
The television anchors are saying that it's sunspots. That have blacked out the sun only in Southern California. They all look at each other and shake their heads. This doesn't seem logical somehow. Lilly shrugs. It is what it is, she says.
Luckily they have enough food in the house to get through a month, easily. That's one thing they don't have to worry about.
The Kanes have heard the news and are flying back from Morocco. Logan's mother has called from Maui.
Everyone is waiting. They don't know for what.
Logan looks aimlessly out of the window. He hasn't started drinking yet today, but he certainly wants to. He's not used to having so little to do. He wishes he had found a Play Station, or something, but the house appears to be sadly lacking.
Veronica comes up behind him.
"What are you doing?" she says.
"Wishing there was something to do," he says.
"Do you think the world is ending?" Veronica says, looking up at him.
"I don't know, the sun blacking out, endless night. It just seems kind of apocalyptic."
"The world's not ending," Logan says, looking out the window at the night. It's two in the afternoon, he thinks to himself.
"Are you sure?" she says.
"No," he replies. "But at least, you're the people I'd want to be with if it was."
Veronica doesn't say anything, but she leans her head against him.
"You're really short, you know that?" he says.
She punches him in the shoulder.
"I hope Jeffries is okay," he says.
"Yeah," Veronica says.
"I kind of wish I hadn't been such a jackass," Logan says.
"You have to think before you say things, that's all."
"Yeah. Not so good with that. I think I'll get a tattoo. 'Poor Impulse Control'"
"Yeah," Logan says. "Definitely. Where should I put it?"
"I think on my forehead. That'd be a big hit with the ladies."
"Um, really?" she says, obviously not wanting to set off another of his insane outbursts.
"No. You really are gullible, Veronica," he says.
"Logan!" she says, and punches him lightly on the shoulder again.
"What?! It's true," he says, laughing.
"I'm not gullible. I'm trusting. Especially of my friends. Although apparently, they all seem to betray me in the end," she laughs. "Maybe I should get a new set."
"We'll always be friends, Veronica."
"You won't get rid of me that easily."
They stare out the window again.
They break out the single malt scotch that evening, and Lilly sits at the piano and sings Billie Holiday songs. Veronica joins in.
Duncan and Logan drink and smoke cigars that they've found in Mr. Bryce's study.
Everything feels very surreal.
"I feel like I've read this novel, dude," Logan says finally to Duncan.
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. World's end, people locked together for eternity. I just think I've read it already."
"I just can't figure out if it was horror or sci-fi. Or fantasy or what."
"It's life, man. Maybe it's all three."
Lilly is sitting up on the kitchen counter, while Veronica looks in the refrigerator for limes.
"I found lemons," she says, her voice muffled slightly. "Will that work?"
"No," Lilly says. "Limes or nothing."
"Aha!" Veronica cries, triumphantly. "Found them."
She pulls her head out of the fridge, armed with a bag of green citrus fruit.
"Should I cut them up?" she asks.
"Here's a knife," Lilly replies, handing one to her.
Veronica stands next where she is sitting on the counter, and cuts the limes into carefully precise quarters.
"Do you think the sun's ever coming back, Lilly?" Veronica says.
"If I knew that, Veronica Mars…," Lilly says.
Veronica laughs. Lilly continues to watch Veronica cut each of the quarters in half, making perfect little eighths.
"Are you ever going to have sex with Duncan?" Lilly says.
Veronica jumps a little, and cuts her finger. They both look at it as blood begins to well out of it.
"It doesn't hurt," Veronica says, sounding surprised.
"Don't worry," Lilly says. "It will."
She takes Veronica's finger in her hand, draws it up to her mouth, and begins to suck on it. Veronica looks at her, and bites her lip.
Lilly licks at Veronica's finger and enjoys the coppery taste in her mouth.
Then she lets it slide slowly out of her mouth. Veronica is breathing a little harder, and Lilly smiles.
"I love you, Veronica," she says. "You know that, right?"
"Yeah," Veronica says. "I love you too."
"I know," Lilly says. "Let's go back. The boys will be missing us."
Veronica is curled up on the couch, snoring delicately. Duncan covers her up with a blanket, and pets her hair, before wandering off to get himself another drink.
Lilly finds him in what appears to be the library, which seems to only include books published before 1600. Duncan is beginning to wonder, what kind of people, exactly, these Bryce's are.
"I found absinthe," she says.
"Isn't that dangerous?" he asks. "And illegal."
"What's worth having, and isn't?" she says. "I'm dangerous."
"You're not dangerous," he says.
"You have no idea," she says, sitting in his lap.
"Lilly, what are you doing?" he says.
"Have some," she says and puts the open bottle up to his mouth.
"How do you always get me into trouble?" Duncan says.
"I like corrupting you," she says.
"You've only been doing it since I was born," he mumbles, and takes a drink. It's bitter and chemical and it burns.
"They used to call it the green fairy," Lilly says. "The wormwood makes you hallucinate."
"It's weird," he says.
She kisses him on the mouth, and for a second he kisses her back, for real. Then she gets up off his lap, and smiles at him.
He stares at her, mouth open, and feels his eyes go a little wet.
"Lilly, what are you doing?" he says, feeling his voice crack.
"Nothing much, little brother."
"Where are you going?" he feels himself pleading, just like he used to. Please play with me, Lilly, please. Chasing after her, always.
"I'm going to go find Logan," she says. "I think I want to fuck."
He looks at her, and doesn't say anything, feeling dizzy and broken and confused.
"If you're lonely, you should go wake up Veronica," she says kindly, and somehow that's the worst thing of all.
Logan licks absinthe off of Lilly's breasts, and works a finger up inside her. He looks at her face, which seems slightly abstracted, as if she's not really with him.
He tweaks her nipple, hard, so she'll come back.
She moans and then reaches down to lick his cock, and then she nips at him with her teeth and scratches him with her nails.
She turns over then, and he pulls her up on her hands and knees, shoves his fingers back inside her cunt, spits in his other hand and moistens his cock.
As he slides into her ass, he smiles. Now, she can't ignore him, or think of other things. Not with him throbbing inside her, filling her everywhere.
He knows how to get her to forget everything but him.
They wake up on the third day with hangovers. Bad ones.
Eventually they stumble into the living room, and look at each other. They all look as bad as they feel.
"At least there's no glare," Logan mumbles.
Veronica throws a pillow at him feebly, but it only travels about a foot before landing on the floor.
"Nice one," he says.
"Shut up, you," she says.
"I'm never drinking again," Duncan moans.
"That's what you say now," Logan says.
"Excuse me," Lilly says. "I have to go throw up now."
It's Duncan who sees him at the window.
"Logan!" he yells. "There's someone outside the house."
Logan comes running, with Lilly and Veronica close on his heels. "What?"
"There's someone here," Duncan hisses. "Looking inside the window."
"Oh God," Lilly says, clutching at Veronica.
Logan peers out through the blinds. "I don't see…yeah, there's definitely someone there. I think I'll get a better view from that other window."
He walks over to the other window, and looks out. "Hey!" he exclaims. "It looks like Jeffries!"
"Logan," Veronica says. "We can't let him in."
"What? Why not?"
"Because," Lilly chimes in, "that's what they said on the news, remember? The psychotics? Some people get caught outside in this and go insane."
"Look at him, he's prowling around the house. He's circling like some kind of animal."
"It doesn't look normal."
"Wait, he's coming up to the porch."
"If he's insane, can't he just break in?" Duncan says.
"Lilly," Logan says. "Go and get me the butcher knife from the kitchen. Hurry!"
Just then the doorbell rings.
Logan grips the butcher knife, and goes up to the door.
"Hello?" he says. "Who is it?"
"It's Eric Jeffries. Let me in!"
"Um, I can't do that, man. They told us not to on the news."
"I'm hungry," he says.
Logan looks back at his friends.
"If he were crazy, he wouldn't ring the doorbell, would he?" Duncan says.
"But if he wasn't crazy," Lilly says, "wouldn't he have shown up before now?"
Veronica goes to the window, and gasps. "Also, I think he's brought some friends with him."
"What?" Duncan and Lilly join her at the window.
"Yeah," Lilly says. "There's definitely more of them out there."
"LET ME IN!" Jeffries yells from outside the door. "Haven't you rich little brats done enough damage?"
"Jesus!" Logan says, gripping the butcher knife more firmly.
Duncan puts Veronica and Lilly behind him and goes to stand next to Logan. "I think if he could get in, he'd already be in here with us," he whispers.
"Yeah," Logan whispers back, and then raises his voice. "Dude," he says, "I'm really sorry about that. But I still can't let you in. Go into the city and get some help."
They all huddle in the foyer, Logan still clutching the butcher knife, until the crazies seem to lose interest and disappear.
"What the fuck?" Logan says, eventually.
"I think you speak for us all," Duncan says.
"Yeah," Logan says.
After that, they all stick very close to one another. Which is why they all hear the banging noises from the basement at the same time.
"What's that?" Veronica says, her voice rising sharply.
"It's a strange banging noise," Logan says.
"Do you think those crazy people are starting to break in?" Lilly asks.
"I think it's coming from downstairs," Duncan says, trying to hear better.
"Okay," Logan says. "We're all going to the kitchen to get knives for everyone. Then we're going downstairs to see what the hell is going on."
After they are all armed, they creep down the stairs. The banging noise is definitely getting louder.
They come to a steel door that is locked shut, with a strange design engraved on it. Someone is banging on the other side of it.
Logan motions the rest of them back, and goes up to the door to test it. "There's no way anyone's coming through that," he says.
"There's a key," Veronica says, pointing to a key that's hanging next to it.
"Hello?" they hear from inside the door. "Is someone there?"
"Uh…yes?" Logan says. "Who's that?"
"Who are you?"
"Uh…you tell us first," Logan says.
"I'm Gavin Park," the voice says. "I'm Magnus Bryce's attorney."
"Why are you locked in the basement?" Logan asks, looking back at his friends.
"Tell me who you are, first!" the voice says. "Who are you working for?"
"Working for? Nobody."
"You're lying!" the voice says frantically. "Nobodies don't stay with Magnus Bryce."
"My dad's a friend of his."
"Who is your father?"
"Aaron Echolls," Logan says.
"The movie-star?" the voice says.
"Yeah," Logan says.
"Where's all the staff?" the voice asks.
"They were gone when we got here."
Duncan steps up to the door. "It's our turn to ask some questions. Why are you in the basement? Have you been here all this time?"
"No," the voice says. "There's an underground door to this basement. I thought I'd be safe up here. You have no idea what it's like out there. I barely escaped with my life."
"Why here?" Duncan asks. "What about the authorities?"
"The authorities!" the voice actually seems amused. "Mr. Bryce's house is one of the safest places one can be. I wasn't counting on the staff being gone though. I wonder why they ran out. I'd have thought they'd be better trained than that. So hard to find good help these days."
"I think the sun going out for no reason had something to do with it," Veronica says.
"You really don't know anything about it, do you?" the voice says.
"We know there are psychotics roaming the streets. How do we know you're not one of them?"
"Psychotics?" the voice laughs. "Any of them been around? You didn't let any in, did you?"
"No," Logan says.
"Well, I can assure you, I'm not one," the voice says.
Logan jerks his head towards the others, and they move away from the door.
"What do you think?" he whispers.
"He doesn't sound crazy," Veronica says. "But for some reason, he kind of gives me the creeps."
"Yeah," Lilly says, "but we can't exactly just leave him in there."
"Sure we can," Logan says. "For a while, anyway."
Just then the phone shrills into life, and Veronica runs towards the stairs to answer it.
Logan, Duncan and Lilly all look at each other, and the metal door.
"Hey! Guys!" They hear a joyful yell from upstairs. "It's back!"
They run up the stairs and look out the windows to see that the sunlight has returned.
"Nothing has ever looked this gorgeous," Lilly says, looking outside.
"Except you," Logan whispers, and kisses the top of her head.
"Logan," she says. "You're still holding a butcher knife."
He smiles. "So are you," he says.
Veronica is talking excitedly on the phone to her father. She turns to them, after hanging up. "He's sending the helicopter to get us," she says.
"Thank God," Duncan says, and kisses her.
"Let's go tell Mr. Park," Logan suggests.
Oddly, the lawyer seems less pleased than one would think, but he quickly agrees to come out the underground entrance, and meet them at the porch so they can see him.
When they finally see him, he turns out to be an Asian man, who looks strangely dapper considering his suit is covered in blood, filth and grime of all descriptions.
He tells them the psychotics fear daylight, so they can be fairly sure that he's not one, and this seems to coincide with what they've heard on the news.
They tell him to wait outside anyway, and he laughs a little, and perches on the porch swing with what appears to be perfect complaisance.
They see the police copter make its way towards them, and land on the grassy lawn at the foot of the hill
When Veronica sees her father step out of the helicopter, she runs out of the house and straight into his arms.
Mr. Park shakes his head at their enthusiasm, as Lilly and Duncan hurry past him towards the helicopter as well.
Logan follows more slowly, smiling at his friends bounding down the driveway ahead of him. He looks back at the house and reflects that it will probably never be the same again, and can't really find it in his heart to care.
"So, do you think I can get a ride, Mr. Echolls?"
"Should be okay, but you need to ask the sheriff."
The lawyer looks at him consideringly. "You look like you're thinking deep thoughts, Mr. Echolls."
"It's been an odd couple of days," Logan says, standing still for a minute. "Out of this world, sort of."
"You have no idea," Mr. Park replies. "You liked it?"
"I didn't think so at the time, but yeah. It was dark, but interesting. You know?"
The lawyer smirks a bit, and from somewhere about his person, manages to withdraw a perfectly pristine business card.
Wolfram & Hart
Gavin Park, Esq.
Attorney at Law
"Keep this, Mr. Echolls," he said. "You never know when you might need a good lawyer."
"Right," Logan says, already planning on chucking it at the next opportunity.
"Do me a favor, Mr. Echolls? I know you're planning on throwing that out first chance you get. Don't. Give it to your father, instead."
"I get it," Logan says, and begins to walk towards the helicopter. "Always scoping rich clients, huh?"
"Of course," he says smoothly. "And we have an excellent entertainment division as well. But really, promise me you'll give that card to your father. For the sake of a shared adventure if nothing else."
"Even if I do," Logan says, "there's no guarantee he'll do anything about it."
The lawyer smiles. "True," he says. "But let's just say, I have a feeling about you two. And once you start with us, it's hard to go back."
Logan looks at him, and he looks right back steadily.
Logan can feel the hair rise on his arms. He shivers and looks towards his friends, who are beckoning towards him from the copter. Veronica yells at him to hurry up. He takes a deep breath.
"I'll give your card to my father," he says, "just for the hell of it." ….but I'd call a drunken public defender before I ever called you, Logan finishes inside his head.
"Exactly so, Mr. Echolls," the lawyer says, and smiles again shark-like. "Exactly so."