by zara hemla :: veronica mars :: pg-13 :: there is nothing to juggling, decides lilly. set pre-series.

Lilly is six years old and Duncan a bit younger. Dad takes them to Las Vegas to see the Cirque du Soleil. It's amazing! Lilly loves the bareback rider and the sinuous, sparkling acrobats. She vows to her dad that she's going to join the circus as soon as she's old enough. He laughs and buys her another cotton candy.

In the middle of the show, a man stands in the center ring. He wears a top hat and a light shines down on him. He juggles swords and melons, firebrands, glass spheres as airy as bubbles. There is nothing to juggling, decides Lilly. You just have to keep all your torches in the air.

* * *

Logan and Eli are complete opposites, which is what makes them so fun. Logan is kisses in the hallway at school, he's the lunch table and the pep squad and the sleek lines of a Porsche Boxster. He's the bleak dry heaves of someone who's been strapped by his father. It's fun to comfort him, whisper love-words in his ear and see his eyes light up. He's like a puppy that follows you around. The puppy belongs to someone else and that someone else kicks it around, so you give it love to make up for all that, and it adores you, no questions asked.

Eli is another story entirely (she doesn't like to call Eli "Weevil." "What's a weevil, anyway?" she asked him once, and he shrugged, and she never got around to finding out). He has no father to speak of, and any strapping is done by him, not to him. His black eyelashes are so long and thick that when she sees him eyeing her up in school, her knees shake and she has to sit down. Eli is the back of the bleachers, the chrome and angle of a motorcycle, the dark thin shadow under a palm tree.

So she has them both. One for when she wants sweet sex in her bed, and one for when she wants rough trade in the back of a cabana. It's not that Eli wants to treat her like that, really, but she encourages it. "So the poor little rich girl wants to go slumming," he'd whispered when he'd touched her the first time. And she'd smiled and run her tongue up over places a good little girl would never know about.

Logan knows she's not a princess but treats her like one; Eli thinks she is a princess but wants to topple her off the throne. Which one could she possibly give up? They're both fantastic, and she just can't choose. She briefly considers talking to Veronica about it, but Veronica would just get all shocked and virginally prim. No help there.

And then on a Tuesday afternoon, she dresses up for Eli but goes to see Logan just for kicks. She locks her car up and strides to his front door, rings the bell, tugs her miniskirt up a little higher. Pictures the look on Logan's face when he sees the black bra through the white net tank top. Only it's Daddy who opens the door -- Aaron Echolls, a man she shouldn't be awed by, but come on, the man is truly larger than life.

"Hello," she says. Drops her gaze and lifts it back up a little, has the pleasure of seeing his eyes narrow, the pupils dilate a bit.

"Logan isn't here, Lilly. He went out with those kids he likes so much."

"Oh ..." she pouts. "Well, tell him I came by." She is turning to go when Aaron Echolls puts his hand out.

"He'll be back in a couple hours. Why don't you come in and wait?"

Lilly can't even help what she says next. Later, she will shrug it off. It's not like Logan will ever have to know.

"I heard you fucked three of your wife's friends at the Christmas party last year."

If he hears the expletive, he makes no comment. "Is that what you heard?" His hand moves from her arm, tracing up to her shoulder and then down along the line of her bra strap. Aaron Echolls. What a coup.

"Yeah." Breathless, a bit. Letting him draw her in through the door. Knowing that Logan could be home any minute. Of course, that's the most exciting part.

This couldn't harm her, could it? It's just a little fun. She'll just do it once. Once, and never again.

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