vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Palpitation (10/?)
AUTHOR: [personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 3,506
RATING: PG13/R 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 and [personal profile] boobsnotbombs. All remaining errors are my responsibility.

1~Precipitation 2~Precarious 3~Paranoia 4~Prevarication 5~Probation 6~Predicament 7~Paradox 8~Please 9~Perilous

RECAP OF THE FIRST NINE 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. They reach out to Cliff back in Neptune and find out that Vinnie has filed charges for Keith's crimes, and, more ominously, Gory has filed a complaint on Logan for having assaulted him in the food court. Logan's probation has officially been revoked, and both he and Keith are listed on the NCIC computer system used by law enforcement.

When Keith leaves on a mysterious errand, Logan and Veronica comfort each other, talking about some of their mistakes and misunderstandings. Keith returns, reeking of scotch, with newspapers and tabloids, and they search for any mention of themselves. But they've been pushed off the front page by the escapades of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, and the only mention is a small article about Logan in the 'Weekly World News', a trashy tabloid. Later that night, Logan and Veronica find each in the motel bathroom and reunite, in an episode fraught with tentativeness and memories of old times, bad and good.

Keith privately tells Veronica he knows about the bathroom encounter, and is surprisingly calm—on the surface. He tells Logan and Veronica that he feels that they haven't been cautious enough, and they will not only have to work harder on their disguises, but he is also purchasing weapons for all three of them. They split up, and when Keith and Veronica go to pick up Logan, they see him being arrested, while an elderly woman is being treated by paramedics.




I know this feeling. This is stars tumbling nauseatingly overhead as I sway from foot to foot, a thousand bits of embedded asphalt roofing searing the nerve endings of my palms. This is a clear black night of wind and vertigo and distant traffic noises, and the residual muscle twitches of 50,000 volts jangling my internal wiring. This is hitting speed-dial with no answer, pick up, pick up, pick up!, and then fireworks—the person you love most in the world exploding in front of your eyes. And suddenly, walking off the side of a building seems quite reasonable.

This is Logan, disappearing from my life, as we glide past at five miles per hour.

"Honey. ...Veronica! Stay with me. What do you see?"

"Wha— What?" I turn to Dad.

"I want you to turn around and tell me everything you see. I don't want to be too obvious that we're interested more than anybody else, and the last thing we need is for me to rear end somebody."

It takes a second to penetrate. "What?" I'm a broken record. I'm broken.

"What do you see?" Dad adjusts his mirrors to try to watch as I turn around in my seat.

"Um. The cop is talking to Logan. Logan has handcuffs on...behind his back, he's leaning against the car. The cop is looking through Logan's backpack. There are a couple shopping bags next to the car that say Walmart." I see him leaning against the cruiser, and I realize he's lost weight, his jeans sagging from his hips. What was it, ten days ago that he mistakenly beat up Piz? I wonder if he's had a decent meal in all that time.

Dad interrupts my train of thought. "Just one cop?"

I struggle to pay attention again. "I think so." I don't understand what Dad is doing. Why are we— Aren't we going to just leave Logan, run for the hills as fast as we can?

"Keep watching. I need to know right away if you see a second cop, but I'm betting they ride solo in this town...in the daytime, at least. What about the paramedics?"

"Two of them. They're working on an older woman, maybe 70, 75. She's awake, but not moving much. She's got an oxygen mask on, and there's a defibrillator, and they've got an IV going. ...Now the cop is pushing Logan into the back seat and closing the door."

Dad nods. He could see most of that in his mirrors. "How many people standing around?"

"Maybe fifteen, twenty."

"You sure you don't see another cop?"

"Positive. He's talking on the car radio now."

I glance back at the road ahead. It's three lanes here, with the middle one reserved for left turns, and the ambulance has blocked two of them. No one's directing traffic, but people are being reasonably civilized, mostly taking turns, one car from the north and then another from the south.

"What's happening now, Veronica?"

"The policeman's got a clipboard, and he's talking to the people gathered around."

"Interviewing witnesses," Dad muses. "What make of police car is it, Veronica?"

How the hell can he be so calm? What are we going to do? "Chevy, I think."

"You need to be sure, Veronica."

I strain my eyes. "Definitely Chevy. A few years old."

"Like that cruiser Sacks usually takes?"

"Yeah, like that." I'm sure, now that Dad reminds me. The Chevy cross logo, same shape headlights and horizontal black grill in a curved cutout. The familiar light bar on top. Not black and white, with the black and tan lettering and trident logo of the Neptune fleet—this car is solid white with bold blue lettering saying 'POLICE' on the doors and 'City of El Dorado' on the rear bumper. But yes, just like Sacks's car.

I feel a little more in control as I concentrate on watching. Dad glances at me quickly before returning to watch the road. "You're okay?" he asks.

"Yeah."

"Good."

"What do you think happened?"

Dad shakes his head. "I don't know. An accident, maybe, and Logan was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Suddenly we're past the bottleneck, but Dad immediately puts on his blinker and turns right into a parking lot. Several detached buildings are set about thirty feet back from the roadway, with a passthrough between each building leading to the back, where there is more parking, and presumably loading docks or service entrances. At either end, there is dense, scruffy landscaping badly in need of trimming or replanting. The building on the end, where we are, displays a large sign, 'For Rent', and the building next door advertises exotic dancers. Two doors down is a Chinese restaurant with one car in front, a bagel shop, and a check-cashing place. There's not much activity altogether.

Dad looks around one last time before driving through the passthrough and parking behind the building, the car still running. There's no one around. A dumpster, two hinged lids ajar, and scattered broken beer bottles are the only things behind the building.

"What are we doing?" I ask.

"Come on." Leaving the driver's door open, he walks to the trunk, popping it as he goes. He retrieves a red suitcase full of disguises and hands me a blonde wig, a large floppy sunhat and oversized sunglasses. "Put the glasses and hat up front, and put the wig on."

I would have known anyways not to discuss his instructions, but his voice makes it clear. There is one person in charge right now. By the time I get back, my wig in place, he's put on a wig and a ball cap, and he's using a marker to change the license plate from 3E3 76C to 8B8 Z6O. "Grab those two blankets and the lock picks and throw them in the backseat," he mutters tersely, concentrating on his task. "Take the police band radio up front too and plug it into the lighter." The new plate number he's inking wouldn't fool anybody in law enforcement, but I'm guessing Dad's hoping a civilian witness will take down the wrong number.

He moves to the front of the car to repeat his task with that plate. I put everything into the car and join him just as he stands up. "Take the Glock," he says, handing it to me. I check the safety as Dad walks back to the rear of the car and rummages in the trunk again, donning a black windbreaker that looks vaguely official. From his briefcase, he pulls out a clipboard, a pen, and a few important-looking forms, and finally his old sheriff's badge on a lanyard.

Because we left town so quickly, he never turned in his official badge, I realize. I wonder if he's got an actual uniform stored in the trunk as well. He loops the badge around his neck and hides it underneath his polo. "I'm going across the street. As soon as the ambulance leaves, I'm going to dial your phone. Make sure it's on vibrate."

I check it as he talks. "Here's what you're going to do."

I nod, paying close attention as he tells me his plan.

*****

After moving the car to the front of the building, pointing in the direction of the exit onto the roadway, I sneak back as quickly and discreetly as I can behind the empty storefront. I wait nervously, pacing a little, my cell phone gripped tightly in my left hand and the Glock, safety off, in my right.

It smells of old rotted trash and stale beer behind the building. I lean against the building, waiting for Dad's signal, and try to control my fast breathing as a breeze pushes an empty plastic water bottle around the parking lot.

I'm not sure whether to hope or not hope. The thought crosses my mind that I might get hurt, might— I check the safety on the Glock again and tell myself I'll be able to shoot when I need to.

If something goes wrong, if Dad gets arrested too— What happens if...if I'm alone?

I look again at the cell phone, sure that twenty minutes have gone by, but it's been only five minutes since Dad left me alone. The traffic noise from the busy street beyond the building sounds like a murmured rush, a constant blend of accelerating and decelerating traffic noises and the occasional penetrating blare of a radio.

A rat pokes his head out of the dumpster and I suppress a scream. I check the phone again.

Ring, dammit!

I hear the distant 'whoop, whoop' of a siren, and then the cell vibrates right on cue. Pointing the Glock directly vertical, I fire three quick shots into the air and start screaming. I count to ten and fire once more before screaming again, this time a loud blood-curling scream as if I was in mortal danger.

It's not hard to sell it, because my life depends on it. Our lives.

My phone vibrates again. Stuffing the Glock in my waistband under my shirt, I duck around the side of the building, on the opposite end from the passthrough. One of the scraggly bushes tears at my shirt, and I rip the cloth free and run to the front where the car is waiting. I start up the car and pull into the street, barely checking to see if any cars are coming. As I drive toward the Walmart, I plop the sunhat on my head and put on the glasses—silly ruses that anyone who knew us would know were bullshit. But the idea is that someone might see only the hat and miss the face.

Fifty feet down the road, in front of the Walmart, I see a figure leaning into the driver's seat of the police cruiser—Dad's unlocking the back door with the emergency release lever. By the time I pull up, he's yanked the door open and he's helping pull Logan out. I swerve into oncoming traffic and stop with a screech of brakes right beside them, reaching behind me to open the door for Logan, whose hands are still manacled behind him. Logan scuttles onto the seat. Dad's retrieved Logan's backpack and purchases, and he throws himself into the backseat right behind Logan, yelling, "Go!" I hit the gas as he pulls his legs in and slams the door.

*****

Logan's breath is raspy in the enclosed space of the car as we hurtle down the road. "Why the hell did you do that?"

"What?" I look back at him in the rearview mirror, but just for a second, because I'm concentrating on driving. We're heading back in the direction from which we came, so it's relatively familiar. The cheap motel we stayed in last night is coming up in a couple miles. Even though the bottleneck has thinned out, there's still too much traffic and I'm forced to weave into the left turning lane to pass slower cars. Each time I pass another car, I feel incredibly conspicuous, as if there was a neon sign on the car declaring that we were fleeing the law.

Up ahead, I see a sign reading 'W Hillsboro St.-To Magnolia Highway / US Highway 82, Next Right'.

"Not too fast, Veronica." Dad is breathing hard as well. "Turn right up here. As soon as you can, turn the radio on."

The light is a steady green as I turn right onto West Hillsboro.

No sirens. No all-white police cruisers with flashing lights looming large in my rearview.

It could be just another sunny day in Arkansas, but it's not.

Logan, still upset, protests again, "You should have left me. Now they'll be chasing all of us."

Dad barks, "Logan, be quiet and turn your back to me, I'm going to try to get these cuffs off."

I reach down and flip the dial on the police radio. We hear some static as the radio scans available frequencies, and then a police dispatcher's faint voice.
All units, shots fired at 2730 Northwest Ave, Walmart shopping center. Suspects have fled in a gray Ford Taurus, partial license 8B8, heading southbound on Northwest Ave. Any units, respond. 11:37.
Logan turns around and I catch his eyes in the rearview. He looks defiant as ever, and I remember that he's been detained in a police cruiser more than a few times. "You guys are crazy. Why didn't you just leave me there?" he repeats.

"Logan, listen! You're going to do exactly as I say," Dad says as he works the lock picks. "When I tell you, and not before, you and I are going to lie on the floor. We're going to have to pull the blankets on top of us to hide us from sight." He leans forward to look a little closer at the cuffs, and then there's a satisfied mutter—"Got it"—as one cuff is released.
This is unit 228 responding. I'm on Route 335, heading eastbound, ten minutes to the scene.

Unit 228 responding to 2730 Northwest. Any units in the vicinity of Highway 82, respond. 11:38.
Logan pulls his hands in front of him, one cuff still attached and the other dangling. "Don't you understand? They know we're here now—"

"Logan, shut up and do what Dad says," I say. The road opens up into four lanes, and I take the left lane, speeding up a little. Up ahead, the road merges directly onto US Highway 82 West, with a sign indicating a curving ramp on the left to go east. "Dad, which direction when we get to Highway 82?"

Dad peers intently around us, looking at each vehicle. "I'll tell you in a second," he replies, almost absent-minded as he watches the traffic, assessing the possibilities. "Okay, Veronica, there's a car up ahead in the left lane. Pull along beside it on the right, and maintain the same speed. Then, just as you get to the left turn for the onramp, cut them off and veer left over two lanes onto Highway 82 going east. Make sure they remember us."

"Okay." My fingers clutch the wheel too tightly, and I remind myself to breathe and relax. Dad knows what he's doing. It's okay, it's okay, we're just running from the frigging cops. Fuck!

We see the arrow indicating the onramp, and Dad says, "Now, Veronica!"

I hit the gas and pull ahead just enough to get clear of the other car, and we swerve left onto the highway ramp. There's a blare of horns, and, if I'd bothered to look, I'd bet a few extended middle fingers.

Dad is turned around looking to see if anyone has followed us onto the highway. "Good job, Veronica. As soon as we're clear of any cars around us, ditch the hat and wig and we'll get on the floor."

The onramp curves sharply onto the highway, almost reversing our previous direction. Slowing my speed to a more dignified level, I watch in the rearview as Dad gets on the floor between the seats. Logan gingerly lies on top of him and covers them up with the blankets.
Dispatch, do you have any information on suspects?

Three suspects. First suspect, identified as Logan Echolls, wanted in California on two charges of felony battery and probation violation. 19 years old, light brown hair, 6', 170 lbs. Older man believed to be Keith Mars, 45, 5'8", weight 165, balding, ex-law enforcement, indicted on evidence-tampering. Third suspect, Veronica Mars, daughter of Keith, female, 19, 5'1", 100 lbs., blonde, licensed P.I., burglary suspect. Suspects believed to be armed and dangerous. Neptune Sheriff's Department advises suspects are extremely resourceful. 11:41.


Copy that, dispatch.
Logan's voice is a little muffled. "Oh my god. I'm so sorry."

Dad says, "You can tell us what happened later. We gotta stay under the blankets for now. Veronica, is it clear?"

"Yes, all clear. We're on the highway going east." I take off the hat and wig.

"Put the cruise control on...57."

"It's 65 here, Dad."

"Okay, 64 then. Take the first exit, remember?"

"You got it." Dad's measured voice is the only thing that's keeping me from screaming my head off.

"You're stopping?!" Logan sounds incredulous.

If we get through this, I'm going to hurt him. "Logan, Dad knows what he's doing. He knows police procedure. We're backtracking instead of running."

Dad's muffled voice adds, "There's no way we'd get this car through a roadblock."

We travel just a minute or two, and then I see a sign for Haynesville Highway. "Here we go." I put on my blinker and merge right to exit.

"Tell me what you see, Veronica." Dad's voice is so freaking calm. I don't know how he does it. I feel like my voice is at least an octave higher than usual.

"I'm on the offramp, and the road goes underneath the highway running perpendicular."

"Go left and get back on the highway westbound."

"Okay." There's only a stop sign at the end of the exit ramp, and I speed up to get there, blowing off the stop and turning left well in front of a car coming down the road from my right. We travel underneath the highway, and I turn left back onto the highway, reversing our direction—heading back toward downtown El Dorado.

"What's happening?"

"I blew through a stop sign. There are only a couple cars...we're back on the highway going the other direction."

I focus on Dad's voice as he instructs me. "Okay. Retrace our steps; get off 82 and head back onto West Hillsboro going east. Go past Northwest Avenue a couple blocks until you see the big office tower on your right."

I jump a mile high when the radio scanner suddenly crackles with static.
What's your 20, unit 230? 11:46.

Unit 230 responding. Heading east on US82. Five minutes to the scene.

230, any sign of the gray Taurus? 11:47.

Negative.
And right on cue, as we approach the turnoff for West Hillsboro, from the left a squad car flies by directly in front of us, full lights and siren blaring. It precedes us as we retrace our steps back into town.

"Veronica?" Dad's voice is tense.

My voice is a little shaky. "They're in front of us. They didn't see us." I merge right onto West Hillsboro eastbound, as calmly and confidently as I can, considering that I'm trembling with adrenaline. This might be the hardest thing I've ever done: driving back into El Dorado, where all the cops are on high alert. Every instinct is telling me to pull a U-ey and go back to the highway, heading straight out of town.

"You're okay?" Dad asks, persistently.

"I'm great." Yeah. I'm just great.

"Don't change the plan. You're behind them, they can't see you."

"I know. I'm okay."

When we get to the intersection of West Hillsboro and Northwest Avenue, we hit a stoplight. A older man in a pickup truck glances over at me and looks away, uninterested. I try not to look to the left, in the direction of the Walmart a mile away where everything happened twenty minutes ago. The light changes, and, resisting the urge to gun it, I accelerate sedately with the traffic.

"Okay, we're past Northwest Avenue," I announce.

"Look for the big white tower on the right. Biggest building around."

"I see it."

"All right. You're going to go past the main building and then turn right into the parking garage. Take a ticket from the machine and go all the way to the top."

I stop at an orange barrier arm and punch the button for a ticket. It's an unattended garage, and in the adjacent lane there is an automatic payment machine for exiting patrons. Seconds tick by, and there's no response. "Come on, come on, come on," I mutter, barely resisting the urge to push it again, when the machine finally spits out a thick white ticket. The arm raises interminably slowly and I go, following the signs for 'Parking Straight Ahead↑', up a steep incline into the garage.

As we climb levels in the parking garage, the number of parked cars begins to thin out. We see one car exiting, going in the opposite direction, and I hold my breath, hoping that he's not paying attention. I go past two levels with no parked cars at all, and I see a daylit space up ahead—the top level of parking is open-air on the roof. Slowing down, I pull into a parking spot in the last enclosed section, shut off the car, and slump over the steering wheel.
All units. We have a phone tip that a gray Taurus, female driver, two male passengers is heading east on US-82 at a high rate of speed. 11:58.
In my rearview, I see Logan and my dad struggling to a seated position.

"Good driving, honey." Dad squeezes my shoulder, and I burst into tears.

Continue reading..."Precipice"

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-18 05:03 am (UTC)
afrocurl: (Stock - Collection)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
Oh damn...now I'm just antsy for what's going to come next. There's only so many things that I can imagine right now--and none of them are good.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-18 03:48 pm (UTC)
afrocurl: (VM - Kiss)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
Heh, I saw it posted and had to read (I also don't have to be at work for another two hours).

You can take pleasure in it--but I know you are nice.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-18 07:58 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] boobsnotbombs
I think that writing-wise this is my favorite chapter so far. I have a soft spot for figurative language and imagery, and I think you used those devices quite skillfully this chapter in order to escalate the tension.

I like, for example: "...the machine finally spits out a thick white ticket." I think the violence/anger of the word 'spits' associated with something as mundane as a parking ticket machine conveys so well the heightened importance things take on during these kinds of conflicts. I also love the early paragraph where Veronica remembers the roof.

The details were also spot on. My favourite: " At either end, there is dense, scruffy landscaping badly in need of trimming or replanting. The building on the end, where we are, displays a large sign, 'For Rent', and the building next door advertises exotic dancers. Two doors down is a Chinese restaurant with one car in front, a bagel shop, and a check-cashing place." I can visualize it so well -- especially the check-cashing place detail and the Chinese food restaurant. One really gets an idea of the kind of place this is.

I appreciate that even during these high action sequences you take the time to get the details perfect and make the writing really sing.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-18 06:26 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] boobsnotbombs
Is it funny? How come?

Writers are always getting better, so I wouldn't disagree with that assessment. I don't know that this chapter was particularly better or worse than the others. I just meant that I really enjoyed the balance of language and action. You know, it's easy to be language forward in non-action sequences. But there was a lot going on here and you still managed to capture little details. Like, consider the first chapter -- although things are happening, it's mostly Veronica thinking, and those are the kinds of scenes where language always tends to flourish. But when it's all "wam bam car chase!!!" language doesn't always come first...but I appreciated that you still put lots of work into the prose and setting the scene.

I didn't catch any word-o thingies while reading, but I'm pretty bad at that. I never catch yours until the second read, at least.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-05-20 03:56 pm (UTC)
medjunkie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] medjunkie
That was incredibly suspenseful, I knew you would have to gegt Logan back somehow but I wasn't expecting such a daring rescue, did you do lots of plotting and research to write that? I imagine as a non writer that such detail rich writing, with a convuluted escape is hard to do.

Wow!

Date: 2011-05-21 09:52 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I just rewatched the show last week (or maybe fully watched for the first time would be more accurate) and I really love this follow up.
It's intense, and suspenseful! And I love that you're continuing based on canon and bringing up so much stuff from the past.
I suppose I'm a a bit disappointed - it's been so long and there's not more to read!
I had vaguely thought that cracking the drive would give Veronica enough ammo to use to get them out of trouble, but once you start using blackmail against powerful people, you are playing a very dangerous game.

I can't wait for much, much more!

Re: Wow!

Date: 2011-05-22 05:49 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ah, I didn't realize this before - what's bothering me is there's no endgame. They are running away, and have no plan to clear their name or get to a non-extradition country. What's the plan..? Or is the fake IDs and get new jobs going to work - but people will still be looking for them always. Well, witsec for turning all that info in *might help*.. but I just kinda figured that they would be blackmailing their way out, like veronica did at the end of the last episode.

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