vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Predicament (6/?)
AUTHOR: [personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTER: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 3,499
RATING: PG13 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: 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.



1~Precipitation 2~Precarious 3~Paranoia 4~Prevarication 5~Probation

RECAP OF THE FIRST FIVE CHAPTERS: (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. Once they're on the road, the dismal reality of life on the run begins to sink in. Logan reveals that he's on probation for beating up Mercer and Moe in the Neptune jail. Keith, feeling Logan is endangering them, wants Logan to go on his own, but Veronica chases after Logan, and Keith reluctantly decides to keep going as a team. Logan tells them about his preliminary hearing and his plea agreement, and Veronica realizes that the party in Aspen when Logan slept with Madison was right before Logan's hearing.



We're smack dab in the middle of nowhere, at a gas station in Vera, Texas. Neptune feels far away, and the whole thing feels completely unreal. A pickup truck pulls in next to a gas pump, running over an old-fashioned black rubber pneumatic hose that warns of a customer. There's a loud ding-ding, and an attendant runs out to gas up the truck and clean the windows. A very large dog lounging in the bed of the pickup glares at us as his owner chats amicably with the gas station attendant.

Dad goes over what he wants me to say one more time, and I take one of our prepaid cell phones and dial Cliff's number back in Neptune.

"Cliff McCormack. 'Because friends don't let friends plead guilty.' Ask about our three-for-the-price-of-two divorce special."

As Dad had instructed, I masquerade as Inga Olofson, the longtime secretary at the Neptune Sheriff's Department. "Cleef. Inga here. I'm calling on the behalf of Sheriff Van Lowe."

"Yes, Inga. How can I help you?"

It's a punch in my gut to hear that familiar, deep voice and know that I probably won't ever see him again. That's if we're lucky. Cliff was one of the few who stood by my dad when he lost the recall election, and the only one who stopped by to make sure Dad was okay when Mom skipped town a short time later. And when we first opened Mars Investigations, Cliff made sure that Dad had enough cases to put food on the table by giving our business cards to his divorce clients who were seeking proof of infidelity or hidden assets.

Slipping into Inga's skin has always been easy for me, from the very first time I did it to play a practical joke on Dad years ago, and now I play it up bigtime. "Ja, the sheriff, he's a leetle swamped, and needs to speak to you on a case from 2006 where you vere the attorney of record."

"What case is that?" Cliff sounds wary, suspicion firing on all cylinders.

"I beleef you represented a client named, let me see here, Miss Sugar Jones, and the incident was a petty larceny and false imprisonment that occurred at the South Coast OB-GYN Society Annual Convention? Ach du lieber, I see something in the file about bondage and lewd conduct charges as well, vat in the vorld makes people do tinks like that—" Dad's slicing a finger across his throat, not happy with my improvisation.

"Yes, of course I remember that particular case. One of the highlights of my illustrious career. Uh, Inga? How are you doing? I heard you were...extra busy lately with the transition." It's clear to me, but hopefully not to any potential eavesdropper or government wiretapper, that Cliff is complete aware who's calling him.

"Ja, busy, very busy. Tell me about it. Could you be so kind as to giff the sheriff a call on his private line at your earliest convenience? When you can talk without interruption...he has a few important tinks to discuss with you. Do you have a pen?" I read off the number of a second prepaid phone.

"I'll call the esteemed sheriff this evening. Will that be all right?"

God, I miss him, with his sardonic outlook and his beautiful wry voice. "Ausgezeichnet, Cleef. That would be great." I smother a chuckle as I play it to the hilt.

"Ausge—" Cliff laughs. "Nice speaking with you, Inga."

"You as well." I hang up.

"Ausgezeichnet?" Dad repeats. "You don't think that was laying it on a little thick?"

Logan asks, "What does it mean, anyways?"

"'Perfect,'" I explain. "Which it was."

Dad shakes his head. "You gotta restrain yourself, Veronica. Keep it simple."

"I've heard Inga say it a million times," I reply defensively.

"I'm not kidding, Veronica. It was fun to screw around a little when we were pretexting to catch a bail jumper. Now it's—"

"I got it, I got it! I'll keep it simple from now on. I just...god, Dad, I needed a little laugh. Everything just feels so hopeless right now. But Dad—even if someone was listening...it'll be all right. I think I nailed the accent."

"Yeah, you did. I'm still sort of appalled at how well you can imitate her." Dad's fumbling with the keypad on the second prepaid cell.

"What's he doing?" Logan asks.

"He's setting it to automatically call-forward to this phone," I reply, motioning to yet another phone.

"So when Cliff calls phone #2, it will forward to phone #3," Dad explains. "And meanwhile, we're going to destroy the phone we just used and phone #2, and then we'll dump 'em. If someone figures that it was us contacting Cliff, and I think it's likely that Cliff's phone might be under surveillance, they'll have to trace phone #2 first, then they'll find out it was forwarding to phone #3—"

"Which we'll destroy after Cliff calls us back," I finish. "Call-forwarding to a third phone is another layer of protection, another bit of confusion to slow Vinnie or Gory down."

"Or," Dad says thoughtfully, "we might just leave that phone without the airtime card in a train station somewhere along the way and hope that someone picks it up and starts using it."

"Right, disinformation. It's getting a little pricey," Logan observes. "All these prepaid phones."

"But we're not going to be calling home every day, and I'd rather we took every precaution. It's possible to triangulate the location of a prepaid phone, given the proper warrants and Homeland Security-type equipment, so we need to assume that any call we make back to Neptune will eventually be located. We knew it wasn't going to be cheap to disappear. I have a couple jobs for you guys."

He hands me the phone we've labeled number one.  "Veronica, call phone #2, so we can make sure it forwards to #3."  I check the numbers and start dialing.  Dad hates the tiny keypads on cell phones, and if he could, he'd never use one.  And these economical phones we've bought have particularly minuscule buttons.  He watches me, a little amused at how easy it is for me to navigate on these devices.

"What's my job?" Logan asks.

"One second." Dad steps out of the car and retrieves a soft-sided bag of tools from the trunk, dropping it with a clunk in the back seat by Logan's feet. "Once we get moving again, I want you to smash phone #1 and #2 into tiny little pieces and drop them out the window every few miles."

"Ah, a task that plays to my violent tendencies."

"Exactly."

*****

Traffic is favorable all day, and, with only a couple more stops for quick meals, we make it all the way to El Dorado, Arkansas by nine p.m. before deciding to stop for the night. Dad puts prepaid phone #3 on the bureau, and it feels like all three of us are itching for it to ring, or perhaps dreading it.

"We made good time today," Dad tries.

"Yeah. We ought to make it to Chapel Hill in two more days if we keep this up," I reply.

Logan's drumming his fingers on the table by the window, barely paying attention to our conversation. The curtains are drawn—an ugly green and black pattern on worn fabric—and the room feels claustrophobic and tawdry. Dust bunnies are congregating in the corners, the bedspreads are dirty and wrinkled, and there's a disturbing brownish-red stain on the ceiling. I try the TV, and, despite the flickering "Free HBO" sign out in front of the motel, the reception is lousy, and I turn it off with a sigh.

"I bet if you sprayed some luminol in here, it'd light up like Christmas," I observe, half-joking. I point up to the stain on the ceiling. "Anybody wanna guess how the stiff got whacked in the room above here? Gun shot? Knife?"

Logan makes a disgusted face. "Ugh."

"Hey, I'm just trying to pass the time. I say it was Colonel Mustard with the lead pipe. Miss Scarlet was such a whore."

"Way to focus on the positive, Veronica. It's probably just a rust stain from a water leak." Dad goes to his suitcase on the bureau. Rooting around, he pulls out a deck of playing cards and begins shuffling. Logan and I exchange a glance—cards? "You know, we have to be careful at all times now. Check everything twice, watch each other's backs, think about every single thing we do. But number one priority, we have to get along. We're in tight quarters, we're stressed, and our lives are literally on the line."

He begins to do a riffle shuffle with the cards, with that expert proficiency that I'd always tried to emulate. We'd always had a lot of fun playing with card tricks. I remember him teaching me the fan spread—that trick of spreading the cards in a half-circle that had so freaked out the boys before I kicked their ass at poker. Dad passes me the deck, and I do a Pharoah shuffle with a waterfall, and then a quick Greek shift, cutting the deck at the break. I smirk at Logan, who rolls his eyes at my shenanigans.

Dad says, "I'm sorry I lost it today. I'm still very unhappy that Logan didn't tell me everything before we left, but we've got to keep going here. Which means, sometimes we have to relax a little. I need to relax a little. How about a game of 'Cutthroat' while we're waiting for Cliff to call?"

I chuckle softly. Dad and Mom and I used to play this variation of spades all the time when I was little. Dad's right. We need this. I didn't even consider that Dad might be freaking out too and needing a little escape from all the stress. We've been so dependent on him to take charge—for Dad, it hasn't let up for a moment, since the day I crawled through a doggy door. "C'mon, Logan, it'll be fun."

"Yeah, I don't know that game. We're not talking about playing for money, are we? Because I played poker against Veronica once, and I was lucky to still have my boxers at the end."

Dad makes a face. "Boxers? I don't think I want to hear that story. But yeah, she's a card shark all right."

"Just like you taught me. We'll teach you, Logan," I reassure him.

"Don't worry, I won't let her cheat," Dad says. "You should see her play 'Spit'. It's just pathetic to see a grown woman care so much about a child's card game."

Logan's never played spades, but he's played hearts, and he picks it up fast. We play several rounds, and it feels incredible to let the tension slide away for a few minutes. We haven't thought about anything other than running or the terrible things that happened in Neptune for days now. Dad tells Logan a few embarrassing stories from my childhood, and I pretend to be upset, but truthfully, it's nice to see them talking and getting along.

And then the phone rings. The cards fall to the table unheeded and our small talk ceases. The cell rings again, the trilling ominous and blaring in the silence of the room. Dad walks over and retrieves the phone, thumbing the send button as he walks back to the table. The phone has a low-quality speakerphone, and Dad triggers it and says, "Hello?"

Cliff says cautiously, "Is the sheriff there?"

"Yeah, this is the sheriff." Not exactly a lie: some people still called Dad sheriff even when Lamb was in charge. He had a few staunch supporters who refused to accept the results of the recall election.

"Am I correct in inferring that you have two companions with you, Sheriff?"

"That's exactly right."

Cliff clears his throat. "I believe we can speak freely. I'm on a brand new prepaid phone and I'm not anywhere near my house, my car, or my office."

"Good. It's as safe as it can be where we are as well. Just to be clear, can you confirm that you're not recording this conversation, and no one else is listening or recording?"

"Yes, that's correct. I am not recording this conversation, and no one else is listening or recording. No one other than myself or you is even aware of this conversation."

Dad's eyes briefly meet mine. Did he really think Cliff would...?

Dad asks, "What's happening with the charges against me?"

"They've filed charges, felony spoliation of evidence like we thought, and they've issued an arrest warrant for you. And in the Register this morning, Vinnie gave a statement that Veronica was a person of interest in the case and that he expected to be filing additional charges. He hinted that he's got a solid witness to bring before the grand jury to testify about the compromised evidence and that he'll be amending the complaint and trying for criminal conspiracy charges. The scuttlebutt around the courthouse is that there's some sort of salacious video floating around. I don't suppose you want to tell me what that is."

Fuck. 'Criminal conspiracy'—Walter Harvey must be testifying about what was on the DVR. And salacious video, oh god, oh god. Fuck, fuck, fuck! Fuck Vinnie and the horse he rode in on. Dad's face has gone white, and Logan looks palpably frightened.

Cliff is saying, "Vinnie's throwing mud at the wall and hoping something will stick. And you guys not being there to answer the charges...well, it's going to look bad. You know that I don't know exactly what happened, but—"

"It's better you don't know. Cliff, there's another matter. When we left, I was not aware that Logan was on probation. He's explained to me that it was a misdemeanor, and that he's on informal probation and hasn't even been checking in with his P.O. But you and I know that he shouldn't have left the jurisdiction without permission. I'm very concerned about the consequences of this. What's the status on his probation?"

I sneak a glance at Logan. He looks nauseated, the good times of a few minutes ago completely forgotten.

"You're right to be concerned. I heard his probation's been revoked, and a warrant was issued for his arrest when his probation officer wasn't able to contact him."

"Can they do that?" Logan interjects.

"They can do pretty much anything they want. Perhaps your high-priced attorneys should have gone over that with you. Once you're on probation, the concept of innocent until proven guilty gets thrown out the window, and all it takes is a preponderance of evidence of misconduct for you to head back to the slammer. I hope you're okay with bunk beds and scratchy orange jumpsuits...and perhaps a new best friend named José, with colorful prison tats. However, I could hook you up with some soap-on-a-rope, no extra charge."

"Shit," Logan mutters.

Cliff continues, "There's some talk that the judge wants to rescind the deal they made with you for a misdemeanor, and he's going to allow the DA to refile the original felony battery charges from last December. The real problem is the new charges; no one's going to cut you any slack now."

"The what? What new charges?" Logan asks.

"A man named Gorya Sorokin filed battery charges against you. Apparently you started a fight with him with about two hundred witnesses in the food court at Hearst College? Two felony battery charges in six months is usually considered a bad thing, even for sons of beloved Hollywood actors."

Logan looks like he's about to explode. I put a hand on his arm to try to calm him down, and to my surprise, after avoiding all physical contact for most of the day, he takes my hand and holds on tightly.

Dad looks very grim. "Cliff, do you know anything about this guy Sorokin?"

"I know that his fancy lawyer walked into my office and threatened me with grave consequences if I didn't tell him where my client was. I explained that Logan Echolls hasn't been my client for quite some time."

I break in. "Cliff, he's connected. The Sorokins are Russian mafia. Gory threatened to kill Logan. We think he broke into Logan's suite at the Grand the night before we left."

"Yes, I surmised that Mr. Sorokin was somewhat...unsavory, shall we say. Logan, how did you get mixed up with the Russian— Never mind, I really don't want to even know. Please don't tell me."

Dad interrupts, "Cliff, you need to be careful. That phone call the night before we left—"

"Yes, I've already spoken to our esteemed Sheriff Van Lowe, who informed me that he had subpoenaed your phone records. He was quite persistent, asking what we'd talked about that night. I told him the truth and nothing but the truth: you asked me about the gossip at the court house. He asked me if I knew where you were and if you were on the run, and I told him truthfully that I had no idea."

"With those two felony charges, do you know if Logan is on the NCIC?"

"I would think so." My heart sinks as Cliff confirms that the arrest warrant for Logan has gone out on the law enforcement computer system used nationwide. Cliff continues, "You probably are as well. I hope you guys have enough money; the word on the street is that Vinnie's looking to freeze all of Logan's assets. I hope you're being exceedingly cautious in your movements. Note that I absolutely do not want to know where you are."

"Yes, we're being cautious."

"You do realize that the paparazzi are probably going to pick up the story as well?"

"Oh god," I whisper.

"You're damn lucky—Lindsay Lohan got drunk off her ass and drove her car off a curb a couple days ago, and that's all over the news. And then of course Paris Hilton's heading to jail next week for violating her probation, and the tabloids are in a frenzy over it. Otherwise, Logan's little problem with the law would be the top story on Entertainment Tonight. You better hope these girls keep snorting coke and showing off their crotchless panties in limos." Cliff pauses. "Keith, are you sure you're doing the right thing? I'd be happy to put together a legal team to try to work out the best possible scenario—"

Dad sighs. "Cliff, we decided that any of our legal solutions had too much risk when you added in the factor of a Russian mobster on a vendetta."

I chime in, "If there's even such a thing as a fair trial in Neptune. Dad wouldn't stand a chance. And all the creeps who Dad's put away over the years...you know he'd never be safe in prison."

There's a long silence, and then Cliff says, "I guess the best I can hope for is that I won't be seeing you."

Dad says, "Dump that phone as soon as possible, okay? And be safe. Don't take any chances with this guy Sorokin. Go to the feds if necessary and ask for protection."

"Yeah, I know. Good luck."

Dad hangs up. I can feel Logan tensing. He's expecting Dad to explode again. But Dad seems to be in shock. We knew how much trouble we were in, but Cliff has made it that much more real. It's just about as bad as it can be. I can't imagine how hard it is for Dad, to try to make all these decisions for us. We're always looking to him to make decisions and be strong, and Logan and I keep making it ever more difficult.

I look at Dad, unshaven with a bald head, and Logan with blackened hair, and their disguises are not nearly good enough. My brain keeps superimposing prison bars over their faces. That vision I'd had of the judge hammering down his gavel haunts me again, with a new twist: both Logan and Dad in orange prison garb, with chains around their waists and their faces black and blue and swollen from beatings, their expressions nervous and despairing as the jury foreman reads the guilty verdict.

We're sixteen hundred miles away from Neptune, and it doesn't even matter. Every police computer in the U.S. has a picture of Dad and Logan now, and probably of me too, eventually, if Vinnie gets his way. If the paparazzi get wind of this story, every newstand will have a picture of Logan on the front cover of the National Enquirer, and maybe even my picture as well. I'm praying that Britney shaves her head again...anything to distract the goddamn paparazzi.

And that video of me doing a cheer? You tell me...what's viral times a billion?

It's all so much worse than it was. We've totally fucked up by running.



Note: Lindsay's accident actually happened in May 2007, the time of the season 3 finale, and Paris's jail sentence was scheduled to begin on June 5. Britney shaved her head on Feb. 17, 2007.

Continue reading...Paradox

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-17 11:50 am (UTC)
medjunkie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] medjunkie
Oh no, I can't think how on earth you are going to get them out of this, it just gets more and more impossible every chapter.
I loved Veronica's impression of Inga, and the light notes of Logan and Keith starting to warm up to each other. I think Logan has been completely thrown by all this, and I wonder whether he is going to get more participatory in the future, at the moment he is uncharacteristicly passive. But I guess that Keith and Veronica are the experts. I think their only hope is to go abroad, which would be coo. Why don't you bring them to the UK?!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-18 05:38 pm (UTC)
medjunkie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] medjunkie
I don't think that the slight humour or the little bit of thawing between Keith and Logan jarred at all. I do think Logan is a bit passive at the moment, but I don't think this is unrealistic, because of the situation he finds himself, he is well out his comfort zone and perhaps frightened not for himself but for Veronica.
I think you are probably right about the UK not being their best destination, we have a pretty reciprocal extradision policy with the states.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-17 06:07 pm (UTC)
afrocurl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
This was a suckerpunch, and one that I should have seen coming, but didn't even register.

There's so much that's bleak right now, but in the context of everything, it feels right.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-18 06:12 pm (UTC)
afrocurl: (Stock - Collection)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
I'll give into YLD at some point (when I have all the time in the world), and when I don't, I don't mind M/D at all.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-17 07:16 pm (UTC)
sarahbrand: a lone figure looking out over a vast ocean (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarahbrand
Well, damn. :(

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-17 10:12 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
haha, oh man, of all the small towns in the South and you chose El Dorado (the 'a' is pronounced like 'sat' and not 'fart'). I'm from New Zealand, but I spent a few weekends in El Dorado with a friend. Veronica and co will definitely not be recognised there!

Keep up the good work. I'm curious as to where this is heading. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-19 04:03 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
You are truly an artist at writing VM fanfic. I love reading your work. I can't wait to find out what happens. Looking forward to some LoVe.

Anonymous Orlando

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-19 07:45 pm (UTC)
jesstherobot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jesstherobot
Dear lord, everything seems so bleak at the moment. You're right that seasons 3 really is what got them into this predicament, though I have no doubt that, had there been a fourth season, they wouldn't have had any problem with going "la la nobody got hurt by all this." I did appreciate the moments of levity between Keith and Logan, and it think it strikes the right tone -- it does feel a little strained, but I feel like that's only to be expected, given their situation, and how hard they're all trying. It was wonderful to "see" Cliff, even if for only a little while. You do his voice excellently.

Love it all, as usual, though I have to admit it's getting a little stressful to read. My poor heart. Remember how you used to assure us that YLD was "safe for candlewaxdreams"? Do we get a similar assurance for this? The lack is starting to make me a little nervous... :P

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-19 11:08 pm (UTC)
jesstherobot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jesstherobot
Awh, apologies, I did not mean to make any unseemly demands regarding personal emotional comfort, heh. Trust me, I am planning to keep reading even if in the end rocks fall and everybody dies. (And I am in fact quite thrilled to hear you're planning on this being another lengthy epic. I am settled in for the long haul.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-21 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
It's been said above (I meant to reply to this several days ago, but such is life), but things are not looking good. Oy. I like Veronica's internal freak out and the fact that she realized she screwed up--it feels a bit more like the very first chapter and less like the last few chapters, which she at least had plans to keep focused on.
And yeah, running away to the UK would not work, they always give me the third degree when I try and get in there. Maybe Italy? No one cared about me at all when I went there.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-12-21 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is skatey from LJ...one of these days I'll get around to activating over here.

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