vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Paranoia (3/?)
AUTHOR: [personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTER: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 2,664
RATING: PG-13 for this chapter
SUMMARY: Sometimes it's best to just get the hell out of Dodge. Set right after 'The Bitch Is Back'.
SPOILERS: Spoilers for the whole series, especially season 3.
WARNINGS: Very mild cursing.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any rights to Veronica Mars. This story is written as a tribute only. Beta'd by [livejournal.com profile] zaftig_darling. All remaining errors are my responsibility.



RECAP OF 'PRECIPITATION' AND 'PRECARIOUS': (Highlight to read)

Keith loses the election. Gory breaks into Logan's suite at the Neptune Grand, breaking the fish sculpture and peeing on Logan's bed, and Keith finds out that Vinnie and the DA plan to pursue felony charges against him. They realize that any investigation will cause Veronica's B&E at the Kane mansion to come to light as well. Veronica, Logan, and Keith decide to flee Neptune, and they lay numerous fake trails and drive to the east in a slightly illegal car provided by Weevil.



We talk as we drive. Logan is new to the concept of being on the run. Dad's an expert, having tracked down close to a hundred bail jumpers in the last few years. He relates cases as the miles add up. For each one, I make notes of the mistakes the fugitives made, and we talk about how to prevent them.

Cash is a no-brainer; we won't be using credit cards at all, and no bank account until Dad can grow us an identity. Prepaid cell phones for each of us, changed every week in the beginning, we decide. And we never call or email anyone from our old lives. Absolutely no texting or Facebook: in fact, no Internet at all, except at public libraries where Google caches won't betray us.

No subscriptions, no cable TV, no Netflix. We'll eat a basic diet: no restaurants, and no giving in to cravings for sushi, pistachio ice cream, or a special Cabernet Sauvignon. We'll find new hobbies, and leave photography, surfing, and softball behind forever.

And absolutely no investigating, and no favors for friends.

The trunk of the car is filled with machines from the office: digital camera, laptop, laminator, combo printer/scanner/color copier, drivers' license blanks, special printer stock for birth certificates and diplomas, even an embosser that makes raised seals—all the tools that will help Dad forge the identification that will keep us alive. Even Vinnie will be able to figure out the moment he walks into Mars Investigations that we're on the run, but we're betting that he's not smart enough to find us. Vinnie's not without resources, especially now that he's sheriff, but Dad's confident that we can elude him.

With cash as our only option, we're going to have to stay in an apartment rented by the week when we get to where we're going, most likely paid in advance, which will be more expensive than a regular lease. We talk about temporary jobs that won't require a social security number or references: landscapers, cleaning companies, babysitting, maybe restaurants under the table. Dad doesn't say it, but we're all too aware that it's getting harder and harder to find cash jobs that won't leave a trail.

The total of Dad's and my savings is $46,582. Logan's contributed another $76,993 and several pieces of jewelry that had belonged to his mother. I try to tell myself it'll be enough cash to keep us going for a while, but Dad warns us that it's not very much at all. One serious illness and we'll be wiped out. "Stay healthy," he adds, not completely joking. "No skateboarding, okay?"

None of us voice our worry that a sudden, emergency getaway might be pretty expensive too. A lot's riding on those fake trails that we laid back in California.

As we drive, I sew our real IDs into the linings of our backpacks, hopeful that someday we'll get to use them again. We plan on storing our real identities, along with some cash and an alternate emergency identity, with second-rate attorneys in three different cities along the way. If it ever gets dangerous enough that we have to split up, or if one or two of us gets hurt or apprehended, Dad hopes that this scheme will give each of us a start on a new life. We can't use banks, with all their Patriot Act requirements, so safe-deposit boxes are out.

Logan asks how we know we can trust these lawyers who usually cater to hookers and DUI scofflaws, and we don't have the heart to tell him that we probably can't. "Hey, Cliff always stays bought, doesn't he?" Dad jokes. "He can't be the only honest cheap attorney in the country."

Dad suggests hiding about a quarter of our cash in the car itself, as another backup plan we hope we'll never have to use. After some discussion, we agree this is a good idea. Logan uses his penknife to rip open a seam in the backseat, and I sew a pack of hundred dollar bills into the crevice.

As the miles go by, it all feels more and more unreal with all the discussions of hypothetical situations and elaborate responses. It seems like much more than a couple weeks ago that I was doing a ridiculous cheer for Piz before heading out for a delightful Joltin' Java and then my afternoon class.

Town and cities flash by, blurring into one long and depressing stream of Americana: Home Depot, Walmart, 7-11, MacDonalds, Starbucks, Walgreens, Mobil, Shell, Dunkin Donuts, and Denny's. It's a blur of fluorescence and tawdry two-for-one deals, and parking lots jammed with cars and people who don't have to hide from mobsters or low-rent-P.I.s-turned-sheriffs with an axe to grind.

Mid-morning, we stop in a suburb outside Phoenix and open a Mailboxes Etc. post office box, using Dad's legitimate ID and a prepaid credit card, and buy the first of many prepaid phones that we'll be using. Dad tells the Mailboxes Etc. employee that he's going to be traveling extensively in the next year and needs to be able to forward his mail to many different addresses, and the employee shrugs, allowing Dad to prepay for an entire year without a hint of suspicion.

I explain to Logan the concept of disinformation—how we'll be using a network of these maildrops and phones, with automatic forwarding, both for leaving false trails and as a genuine way of receiving mail and contacting people in Neptune if we really need to. Logan admits that his head is spinning a little, but he understands the basic concept: the more information that clouds our tracks, the better. We want to have Gory and Vinnie looking for us all over the world for as long as possible, in order for our real trail to go cold.

For a few moments, as I go over the concept of maildrops with him, I feel like myself again. I slip into my old persona, my old confidence and that intellect that I always took such pride in shining through the way it always used to.

But then I remember, and I lose my enthusiasm. It's quite different to be the one pursued, rather than the pursuer.

I never even considered what it would be like to have my actions bite me on the ass. It had been so easy to fool the FBI when Duncan left. Or so I'd thought. Maybe they'd come closer to catching me than I'd ever realized.

Dad had pushed for Chapel Hill, North Carolina when we discussed where we should actually go. He'd traveled there chasing a bail jumper and felt like there were plenty of opportunities for cash work until we created a new life for ourselves. Logan and I would blend in with the college students living there, and there would be pizzerias and coffee shops catering to students that might need employees, and might not be scrupulous about checking out-of-town IDs or references.

It was close to Raleigh too: Dad needed access to public records in a large city to start the process of making new identities. And neither we nor Logan had any relatives or friends anywhere near there...no one would look for us there, we hoped.

So Chapel Hill it is. It feels very far away, via back roads. Way too much time spent out in the open, with traffic cams, state trooper speed traps, and gas station security cameras seemingly everywhere I look. There are too many ways we could screw up and let Vinnie or Gory know exactly where we are. I scrutinize the cars that pass us, worried that this driver here seems to be staring at us; that driver over there appears to be just a little too Russian-looking for comfort.

The first night and full day on the run, we drive a little over a thousand miles, reaching Lubbock, Texas via secondary roads around eight o'clock. When we stop, we pick a run-down motel on the outskirts of town. All three of us are exhausted; the little naps we've taken along the way have done nothing to relieve our fatigue. I'm longing to hide in a motel room for the next eight hours, after imagining Gory's face in the rearview for the last twenty-six.

*****

After four fast-food meals in a row, Logan volunteers to drive to an all-night grocery store we passed a few blocks back and returns with the fixings for sandwiches and a store-made salad. We choke down tasteless ham and cheese sandwiches, and Dad tells us he's going to go for a little walk. "I'm wired from caffeine. I need to try to wind down so I can get some sleep," he explains. I realize he hasn't slept for three days, at least.

And then Logan and I are alone, for the first time since we left Neptune.

"A little TV?" he suggests. "Who knows if we'll have one where we're going."

Logan turns on the TV and perches on the edge of the bed to watch a baseball game. I pick one of the chairs by the window, about as far away as I can get and still stay in the room. Logan raises an eyebrow. "I don't bite, you know."

"I know."

"I was really worried about you after the election."

"I know."

The television announcer drones on. 'That is low inside, ball two—two and oh....New baseball thrown into play. Darren O'Day for the Rangers. Three balls, no strikes. Saunders the hitter. Rangers three, Mariners two, in the bottom of the sixth. O'Day getting ready. Now the pitch. Ball four...and Saunders takes the base.'

"Did you get a chance to talk to Parker before we left?" I ask suddenly, knowing that it's virtually certain that he didn't have time to call her. What a shitty friend I am...I didn't even think about her until now—didn't even consider that he might still have feelings for her, and she for him. Ashamed, I realize that I forgot that someone other than me might care about Logan's welfare and might be upset that he's skipping town.

And then I remember. 'He's all yours, Veronica.' "Oh. You broke up with her, didn't you?"

"Yeah."

"About..."

"About the Piz thing. She broke it off." Logan slides backward on the bed and starts to lean against the headboard before stopping short. With a pronounced intake of breath, he winces and sits up.

"What is it?!" I rush to him.

It hasn't really hit me until right this moment: Logan and Dad are all I have left in the world. I can't bear the thought that something's wrong.

"It's nothing."

"It's not nothing, you're hurting. Did you get hurt when you—"

Why the hell do I have such trouble saying it? When you defended my honor. When you took it upon yourself to punish him for me.

"I think he punched me in the kidneys." He avoids looking at me. "There's been a little blood when I piss."

"Let me look at it. ...Logan, goddammit, let me look at it!"

A heavy sigh, and he unbuttons his shirt. I help him ease it over his shoulder—noting that the whole shoulder must be aching as well, based on the way he's moving it—and on his back, I see a large bruise. I touch it gingerly.

"Ow."

"Do you think you need a doctor?"

"No, I've been through a lot worse. I'll pee blood for a couple days, and then I'll be fine. Trust me, I know."

I refuse to think about how he knows that.  "What about an ice pack? Maybe some Tylenol?"

"I think heat, not ice. And Tylenol would be good," he admits grudgingly.

I pull the curtain back and look at the street. "There's a drugstore down the block. They look like they're still open." I motion toward the very unimpressive coffeemaker next to the sink. "If I get you a hot water bottle, I can heat water in that."

"You don't have to bother—"

"It's been hurting you all day, hasn't it?"

He nods. "Didn't want to say anything. It's really going to be fine, Veronica. Please don't worry."

I grab my backpack and go. Frankly, it's a relief to do something, anything, to help.

When I return, Dad's come back also, and Logan's under the covers. How did I not see the pain on his face all day? I bustle around, heating the water, getting Logan a glass of water to take the Tylenol. As soon as I bring the filled hot water bottle to him, wrapped in a towel, he lays it on the mattress and rolls onto it, with visible relief as his body makes contact with the warmth.  "Yeah, this feels good. Thanks."

"Don't...please don't keep things from me. I want to know if something's wrong."

"I'm okay." His eyes flick to mine before looking away. "Just need to get some rest."

There's a moment of awkwardness as we all realize that we haven't figured out who's sleeping where.

Dad breaks the silence. "I can sleep on the floor if you're—"

"Don't be ridiculous," Logan interrupts. "The two of us'll take this bed. Veronica can have the other one."

I lie awake listening to the two of them sleeping, five feet away from me. Dad's soft snores blend with the slight whistle of Logan's breathing, from the deviated septum that he really should get fixed. Dark angular shadows of unfamiliar furniture loom, occasionally highlighted by the sweep of headlights penetrating flimsy curtains as a car turns into the motel parking lot. An undefinable odor permeates the room, the amalgamation of hundreds, maybe thousands of guests, some of them running away from something, some of them running to something...but all of them with secrets to hide.

A car idles outside our door, and then it shuts off. The engine tick, ticks as it cools, and then there is a ka-chunk as a car door slams. Far off voices discuss something very important—something that absolutely needs to be resolved at two a.m. Footsteps, a quiet jangle of keys, the gentle scrape of a shoe on pavement...and the sounds doppler away down the breezeway to another motel room. A car radio blares from the street, followed by abrupt silence when it is switched off.

I miss Backup snuffling next to me as he slumbers, his occasional whining and pawing as he chases rabbits in his dreams...his warm, solid, constant presence. I'd cringed at the thought of Backup, injured or even shot, as collateral damage when Gory finally caught up to us, and the decision was easy. Wallace took him in for now and promised to find him a good home. It's better that we don't have to worry about him, to stop every few hours to walk him as we drive away from our lives. And I remember tracing Tom Cruz by his ridiculous Catahoula Leopard dog—we can't put a disguise on Backup.

Part of me foolishly hopes that someday I'll be able to be reunited with my dog again. That I'll have a normal life again.

How could you have been so stupid, Veronica?

I doze at last.

And I wake up with his hands around my throat, a heavy weight pressing on my body, and a harsh whisper filling my ears, "Just lay back and enjoy it." I whimper and cry out, and Logan shakes me awake.

He whispers, "You're dreaming. You're okay."

"I thought— I thought it was..."

"I know."

"I'm sorry for everything."

"Me too."

Like an alcoholic craving a drink, I wish he would curl up with me and hold me like he used to. But he doesn't. He just sits on the bed, holding my hand. Apparently that's all we can muster up these days. Hand-holding. Perhaps we've regressed to eighth grade.

"I don't know how to do this."

He squeezes my hand a little tighter. "Yeah. Me neither."

Continue reading...Prevarication

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-23 07:45 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I don't know why, but this section is easily my favorite part thus far. Some of the details really brought the story to life for me. I felt it all and saw it all as if it were really happening.

"...Cities flash by, blurring into one long and depressing stream of Americana: Home Depot, Walmart, 7-11, MacDonalds, Starbucks, Walgreens, Mobil, Shell, Dunkin Donuts, and Denny's."

This is just one example of how spot-on your description is. I see the setting so clearly. And I love how your details not only bring your fictional world more into focus, but they also just reinforce the tone of your story. The idea of Americana being synonymous with gnarly suburban sprawl, consumerism, ugly architecture, and complete utter shit just kind of drives the desperation inherent in their lives home for me.

I think Precipitation was a little more montage-y. I never quite had a full handle of what was going on, just kind of brief images and flashes of what Veronica sees. And while this section maintains the compression/fluidity that a montage style allows, I feel like there's something you did in this chapter that allows me to have a better handle on what's actually going on.

Perhaps it's just a perfect balance of showing and telling.

I can't wait to see where this goes.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-23 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] boobsnotbombs.livejournal.com
Above comment is from boobsnotbombs.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-23 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I am just a happy happy girl lately, having worked my way through both parts of Year of Living Dangerously and now having this. I think what really catches my interest about this piece is how emotionally packed every word is. The tension is very palpable, and I think the present tense helps that out (I personally have a terrible time time pulling off present tense when I write, but I love reading it).
Hope you don't mind if I friend you on LJ (I'm skatey).

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-23 10:05 pm (UTC)
sarahbrand: a lone figure looking out over a vast ocean (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarahbrand
Can't wait to find out what happens next! I don't like to think of them being on the run forever, but with both Gory and the police after them, it's completely believable that they might have to do that. :(

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-24 07:16 pm (UTC)
medjunkie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] medjunkie
This is really bleak in a very good way. I think the idea of them all on the run, fugitives, being hunted instead of (in Keith and Veronica's case) the hunters is greast. There is a huge amount of scope here, for tension and excitment in terms of the chase, and relationship building as well. It's inevitable that Logan and Veronica will have to assess their relationship as they assess themselves.
I really hope that you feel inspired to write more.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-25 03:58 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This was an intense and informative chapter. I'm really getting into it! The methods to escape a prior life are pretty fascinating.

Coming from a very small midwestern town, seems like it should be easier to disappear, but I agree with them, that it is always going to get harder as technology improves. For myself, I feel pretty anonymous in IL.

Thanks for continuing!
Wilcorules

(no subject)

Date: 2010-11-27 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] fickledame
Oooh, I love it!

I love road trip fics. I can't believe she left Wallace, Mac and Backup behind. I mean, I get why - but the thought of her never seeing them again makes me feel ill.

Also - it made me laugh when Veronica said her savings were pitiful, and then said she had over $40,000! As my savings are non-existant - it feels a lot! But I get what you mean, it's not much to live on forever.

Right, on to the next part!

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