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Ghost of a Touch

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You dream:

Lilly Kane straddles you, pressing you down against her bed. She’s barefoot and topless, wearing only a pair of jeans that probably cost at least two hundred dollars. You’re stripped down to your underwear, and she slips a finger under the cup of your blood-red bra, sliding it against the flesh beneath. You gasp as her cold finger touches your skin, and she smiles.

She lowers herself on you and the smooth fabric of the pre-washed denim rubs against your bare stomach. Her denim-covered ass slides back across your panties and onto your thighs as she lowers herself down to you, those beautiful white breasts hanging there right in front of your eyes, and kisses your shoulder.

“Veronica,” she whispers. “Veronica Mars.”

* * * * *

You wake up in a flush, breathing heavy. You look at your alarm clock: 3:30 A.M. Damn.

Still, you know there’s no way you’re going to back to sleep after that dream so you pull on a bathrobe and make your way to the kitchen—or what you call the kitchen, in this dump of an apartment—to make yourself some tea. Between the leftover purity test money you didn’t spend on the Bug, Cassidy’s retainer for playing webmistress for his site, and a few other undisclosed sources of income, you have enough money to move out of your parents’ (well, not really your parents’) house now that you’re 18, but you still can’t afford the rent for anything nicer than this run-down apartment in one of the shadier areas of the 02er zip.

You stare at the teapot as it sits on the burner, not whistling. You feel strangely discomfited, although you can’t say why. So you had a crazy erotic sex dream about the late Lilly Kane. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. After all, Lilly Kane was pretty hot when she was alive, and you could probably find C.M.♥ L.K. scribbled in one of your notebooks from middle school, followed by a C.M.♥ M.S. the next month (and how disturbing is that in retrospect, now that you know what you know about Madison?).

But it is disturbing, nonetheless, because no matter how hot she may have been a year ago, the fact is she’s still dead now, and sex dreams about dead girls are, well, crazy. But it’s more than that. The dream was so clear, so vivid, and now you feel like you’ve woken up to some surrealist nightmare. You’re on edge, you can’t sit still, and you can’t break that feeling of being watched. Each moment is filled with a strange anticipation, as you watch numbers change on a cheap LCD alarm clock and listen to the mice run through the walls, until at least you take things into your hands and pick up the phone—this place may be a dump, but you made sure it was wired, even if the cable is illegal—and dial Veronica’s cell.

“Hello? Mac?” Veronica says, groggy. You woke her up, of course. “Do you know what time it is?”

“3:36 Pacific Standard Time,” you announce with faux cheer. “No, wait, now it’s 3:37.”

Of course, Veronica’s not exactly in a mood for jokes. “Mac, come on. What is it?”

How do you tell her you had a bad dream and need her to come over and make it better? You’re a senior in high school, not a kindergartener. “There’s something I need to talk to you about?” you say. “It’s about Lilly Kane.”

“I’ll be right there,” she says, and you try to tell yourself that she is coming because you asked her to and not because you mentioned Lilly. You’re not convinced.

* * * * *

It takes Veronica less than ten minutes to get to your apartment, which oddly enough is the same amount of time it takes your piece of shit stove to get the water in your teapot to boil. You pour Veronica a cup with a fresh teabag, and reuse a teabag for yourself.

Veronica just sips her tea, and the two of you sit on your puke-green couch you picked up from Goodwill for thirty bucks in awkward silence. “So, what is it that you need to talk to me about?” Veronica asks at last.

“Did you ever dream about Lilly Kane?” you ask her, hesitantly.

“What?” asks Veronica, and stares at you, the accusation evident on her face, You woke me up at three in the morning to ask me about my dreams?

“Please,” you say, and are surprised at the sound of desperation in your own voice.

Veronica softens. “All the time,” she admits, looking away. “I thought it would stop when we found her killer, but—”

“But?” you echo. “What happened?”

She puts her tea down and sighs. “Nothing,” she says. “It doesn’t matter.”

You don’t push any further, simply sit and sip your tea.

Eventually, even the great Veronica Mars breaks under the stress of silence. “It was the day of the bus crash,” she says. “We were stopped at a gas station, and all of a sudden I see Lilly running. I followed her, and there on the other side of the station was Weevil, and when I turned around, the bus had left without me.”

You stare at her, processing the information. If she had gotten back on that bus, then—

“She saved your life.”

Veronica nods, thoughtful. “She used to haunt me night and day. I learned to listen her.” Then she blinks, and then she shakes her head and is back to her usual no-nonsense self. “Now what is this all about, Mac?” she asks, looking right at you.

You tell her about your dream now, even though you can feel your cheeks turn the same shade of red as the streaks in your hair as you begin to describe it. In stuttering, unsure sentences, you begin to tell Veronica about Lilly, on top of you, naked except for that pair of jeans. You pause, uncertain, then add how you felt underneath her as she kissed your shoulder and touched your breast—

No, wait. Not your breast. You never had a bra like that.

“And then she said—she said your name,” you tell her, but Veronica is already looking just as flushed as you. She’s not looking at you, just breathing in and out, as if in a trance, as if she were in a different world and you were not in the room with her, speaking to her. “That was you in that dream, wasn’t it?” When you say it, it is almost an accusation. “Not me.”

She doesn’t answer.

“The dream,” you ask, almost afraid to hear the answer. “Did it happen?”

“No,” she says at last, shaking her head. She stares out into space for a long pause, and you finish your weak tea, thinking of Lilly Kane, and of Veronica, and of yourself, and of might have beens that never will be, before she finally adds in a whisper, “But I wanted it to.”

You don’t wonder why Lilly Kane—if it even was Lilly Kane, but if skeptical Veronica is willing to believe that Lilly’s ghost is looking after her then you are too—would give you one of Veronica’s dreams. You don’t think about what it means that Veronica Mars used to have sexual fantasies about her best friend. And you certainly don’t think when you kiss her, because it doesn’t take thought, any more than it requires thought to take a breath or make your heart beat. And is your heart ever beating as the two of you make your way towards your bedroom.

Now it’s Veronica, not Lilly, who is pulling off her shoes and her socks and her shirt and her bra as she pushes you down on your too-hard bed with a hole in the mattress, and you know she isn’t wearing two-hundred dollar jeans, even though they probably did cost more than the pairs you picked out of the five dollar bin at the Bargain Bucket. She unties your bathrobe and pulls it open underneath her, cradles your breast with her hand as she kisses your shoulder vigorously, slipping her mouth open to massage your shoulder, then your neck, with her tongue.

And then, as you kiss her back and get lost in a whirlwind of kissing and touching, you can swear you can feel the ghost of the touch of another mouth and another pair of hands. “Veronica,” you whisper to her. “Veronica Mars.”