vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Perspiration (12/?)
AUTHOR: [personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 4,124
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 [personal profile] boobsnotbombs and [livejournal.com profile] zaftig_darling. All remaining errors are my responsibility.

1~Precipitation 2~Precarious 3~Paranoia 4~Prevarication 5~Probation 6~Predicament 7~Paradox 8~Please 9~Perilous 10~Palpitation 11~Precipice

RECAP OF THE FIRST ELEVEN CHAPTERS: (Highlight to read ~OR~ click here to skip directly to the new chapter)

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 Logan's probation has officially been revoked, and both he and Keith are listed on the NCIC computer system used by law enforcement.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.

Keith and Veronica mount a daring rescue of Logan. With Veronica driving, they flee the scene. They successfully manage to trick the police into thinking they're heading east on the highway, but instead backtrack to a parking garage not far from where Logan was arrested. They steal a new car, Keith dresses as a woman, and Logan and Veronica hide in the trunk so they can get through the police roadblocks.




The car descends down the steep ramps of the parking garage, a short straightaway and then a sharp turn to the right over and over again. Logan and I get tossed side-to-side twelve times, twice for each level. We stop, engine noises purring unfamiliarly right below our ears, and I picture Dad feeding dollar bills into the automatic machine.

We hear a loud metallic ka-chunk as the barrier arm lifts, and a few seconds later the car proceeds, turning right into traffic.

"I can't believe that getup on your dad," Logan whispers in my ear.

"It's worked pretty well in the past."

"Yeah, as long as he doesn't enter any beauty contests. ...What were you and your dad talking about while you were doing his makeup? You seemed upset."

"I'm not upset," I say. But it's not true. He can't see my face, and that's just about all that's keeping me from bursting into tears. I've never felt so exhausted before. I snuggle against him. "Hold me tight, okay?"

"Of course." His arms encircle me strongly. "Did he see us last night?"

"I guess. I think he thought he was dreaming, but then when I woke up and he looked at me...I hate lying to him, you know?" I remember the morning after I had sex with Duncan for the first time, I'd thought that Dad could see it on my face. "Dad was worried we were going to run off together and leave him."

Logan sighs. Sometimes the contrast between our respective fathers is a gaping chasm. "Your dad is really badass, Veronica. What happened back at the Walmart? I was in the backseat of the squad car thinking it was all over, and then all of a sudden your dad was yanking open the door and pulling me out."

"Dad went over to the Walmart on foot and waited for the paramedics to leave. When Dad cued me, I made a diversion by firing one of the guns and screaming. Then when the policeman came to check it out, I drove over to the Walmart and picked you guys up. We had recognized the model of police car, and Dad knew just where the emergency release lever is for the back doors."

"Holy shit. Your dad could've gotten killed. You could've gotten killed. Jesus Christ, Veronica. Fucking badass." Logan sounds like he's in church, worshipping Dad: The Church of the Latter-day Badass...Saint Keith, the patron saint of weaponry and car chases. Logan strokes my hair, his lips right by my ear, and whispers, "Thank you. I don't know why your dad rescued me but...jesus, Veronica, thank you so much."

"I think he decided that you'd do just about anything to save my life if necessary, and that makes you okay in his eyes. Something about you being willing to go to jail to beat up Mercer and Moe, I guess."

The car throttles down, engine noise decreasing as the vehicle slows, and Logan and I roll toward the front. Logan braces his leg against the wheel well and grasps me tightly to stop our motion. A red light, I assume. I hope. We stay silent until the car starts up again, a smooth acceleration that soothes us.

Logan sounds bewildered. "Your dad really didn't mind that we were...you know, hanging out last night?"

"All he said was that he's really worried I'm going to get pregnant. That it would be a disaster for us. And he's completely right. We knew that. We were careful, and we will be careful."

"Yeah."

I have to tell him. I have to explain what's going to happen next, but I don't want to. I just want him to hold me tight and pretend that nothing's wrong.

I can't hold back a deep sigh as I begin. "Logan, Dad told me that we're going to have to split up once we get through the roadblocks."

His grip on me tightens and I hear his breathing speed up in my ear. "Split up?"

"There was a man and his wife that Dad tracked a few years ago, the Hanrahans. Huge bounty on them, because they stole two million in bearer bonds and disappeared without a trace. Dad finally caught up with them, mostly because he got lucky. He always said it was the most ingenious disappearing act he'd ever seen."

Logan begins tracing circles on my abdomen as I talk. It feels nice to be so comfortable with him again, but knowing that I'll be saying goodbye to him soon makes it all bittersweet.

"They split up right away and used Greyhound buses. They paid cash and bought tickets for big cities, Harry went toward Chicago, and Lisa went toward Miami. But they never went all the way to their destination. They'd either exit the bus at a hub or just never get back on at a rest stop. The bus drivers don't care if you leave. All they do is count heads and make sure no one extra gets on board. So when Harry got to, say, Kansas City, he'd buy a new ticket to Dallas, then get off somewhere else and do it again."

"That is pretty smart. There's no record of where you get off?"

"Right. As long as you don't have checked bags, no one pays attention. Dad estimated they changed routes about twenty times each before they ended up in Caribou, Maine—just about as far north as you can get without crossing over the border. Then they tried to get into Canada by hiking in with some tour guide, and that's how Dad caught up with them. He said he'd never have found them if they'd just stayed under the radar in Maine."

"I'm glad your dad's not tracking us."

I laugh. "I never thought of that."

"Pass me that water," he answers.

I fumble around and find it where it's rolled into a corner. "Not too much...it's got to last a while." I feel him nodding. He drinks, and then I take a few sips as well.

The car veers right suddenly. It's disconcerting not to be able to see where we're going, and our bodies are taking a beating as we bump against the other items we'd had to put in the trunk with us. The heat in here is intense already after just a few minutes. The Arkansas sun was shining brightly this morning and the forecast had called for a high of 92°. The carpeted floor of the trunk feels like a heated electric blanket against our skin.

"It's fucking hot," Logan says, reading my mind.

"We could always get naked," I tease.

"Yeah, right. No thanks, I want to keep on Mildred's good side."

"Yeah, well, Mildred wanted me to go over with you how it's going to work when we split up. He might not have a lot of time to explain things to you." I teach Logan everything I know about traveling on Greyhound: using cash along with a fake ID to buy a ticket, the way that the routes are structured in a hub system, how not to attract attention. He listens carefully, trying to absorb it all.

He asks tentatively, "What about the guns your dad just bought? Do we ditch them?"

"I don't think there are metal detectors on Greyhound. It's all pretty loose. We can risk keeping a weapon in our backpacks, with the safety on of course. If you see security, you can always ditch a gun before you board. You'll have to scout it at every stop and be aware."

Logan sighs heavily. "Guns. Security checkpoints. I'm not looking forward to this."

"I know what you mean."

"You know that I don't want to split up, but I can see why your dad thinks it's a good idea," he concludes.

"I don't want to split up either."

I must have sounded morose, because he reaches for my chin, turning my face to his. "It's not fair. I just got you back," he whispers.

From up front, Dad yells loudly, "Checkpoint ahead. Quiet."

I can feel Logan's tension. "Fuck fuck fuck," he breathes.

The car slows, then stops, and then we hear a murmur of voices. Logan and I don't move a muscle.

We begin moving again, and Logan and I both exhale as one. His mouth seeks mine, and he kisses me.

"We did it," I whisper.

"Your dad did it," he says. "He really kicked ass today."

The car accelerates, veering left and throwing us sideways again, and I decide that we're on a highway now. I've lost track of direction completely, and I wonder where Dad's heading.

Logan asks me a few more questions about Greyhounds, and I answer them, realizing that he's truly scared about the next step. "You'll be okay," I reassure him.

"I'm worried about you, all alone."

"Hah. I'll probably be safer without you beating up everyone who looks at me wrong."

"Nice." He hugs me to him tightly and finds my hand in the dark, twining his fingers with mine. "I'm sorry I keep doing boneheaded things."

"Like performing CPR on an old lady to save her life? Way to play the hero card to get on Dad's good side."

He's silent for a moment. "It was terrible. I was watching her die, and I knew I could save her."

"I know. I'm proud of you. It's good what you did."

"No. I knew when I decided to do it that...well, that something was probably going to go wrong. But I remembered how disappointed in me you were about, you know, about Mexico, the fire." I stiffen in his embrace, and he keeps talking. "I've done so many stupid things, Veronica. I don't know if I'll ever manage to be a good person. Even when I do the right thing it's the wrong thing."

"Logan, it's not fair that you had to be in that situation this morning. But you did the right thing."

"Yeah." He doesn't sound convinced at all.

"You don't get to take all the blame for the predicament we're in, you know. I'm the one who stole the hard drive. I'm the one who ran into Benes Hall without backup, and threw myself at a rapist with only a unicorn for a weapon." It's an exaggeration—of course I'd had my taser that night, but now I'm feeling guilty about telling him to shut up earlier, when he'd been saving a woman's life. So I deflect...and it's true. When the hell have I ever thought about the consequences of my actions? They certainly never crossed my mind when I crawled through the doggy door in Pemberton Estates...and here we are, on the lam in Arkansas.

"A unicorn?"

We'd never been able to talk about Mercer and Moe. Neither of us was ever brave enough to bring it up when we'd reunited. They'd taken a plea deal, so there'd been no trial, thank god. So Logan never knew what that night had really been like. "I— I stabbed Mercer with a toy unicorn that night when he was trying to pull me out from under the bed. We were fighting—"

"I know. When I called Wallace, he told me you had a big cut on your face and you were really banged up. That's when...oh fuck, I think that's when I decided I was going to beat the living shit out of them. And Mercer was my fucking friend. God, Veronica."

"You called Wallace?" Ever since Logan told us about his probation, I'd been wondering just how that sequence of events had occurred...how he'd found out I'd been hurt. And, at the time, I'd been devastated that Logan didn't call. Even though I hadn't had the right to be upset about it.

"I— I didn't think I was allowed to call you."

I suck in a breath. We'd been so stupid.

Logan says, "You'd been telling me that you could handle yourself and I didn't want you to think I was telling you, 'I told you so.'"

"Damn it," I say. I feel completely wretched. I'd acted like a child the whole year, pushing away everyone who logically told me that I should be more careful.

"I'm so sorry, Veronica—"

On top of the day's stress, thinking about this is breaking me. My voice quivers. "No, you don't understand...my fault, the whole thing. I was an idiot. I was lucky I didn't get killed. You should have said 'I told you so.'"

"Well, if you're so sure about that, okay then. I told you so, Veronica." He blows in my ear and tickles me. I gasp, and he says, "You saved that girl that night. You can't beat yourself up because you didn't have an army on call. You tried to get help. But the main thing is...I don't want to do this right now. I'm not going to see you again for...what do you think? How long are we going to split up?"

"I don't know," I reply, miserably.

"I don't want to think about everything we did wrong this last year. I just want to hold you and memorize the way you feel...to remember until I get to hold you again."

"What do you think it's going to be like?" I ask softly.

"What, the bus ride?"

"No, Chapel Hill. When we get there."

"I think we're going to find jobs and hang out together all the time. I'm going to get really good at sneaking into your bedroom. We'll fight about who gets the remote and who has to do the dishes. Your dad's going to decide he likes me."

"He already does."

"Maybe. We're going to have really quiet lives. No investigating, no paparazzi."

"Really boring," I agree. "Just the way it should be. Crazy Eights on the weekends for something special."

"Totally."

We lie quietly, and I wonder if he's picturing it the way I am, a small little house at the end of a cul-de-sac so that no one notices us, working hard, but surviving. Getting old together, and trying to be happy. The constant hum of the road beneath us is soothing, and I close my eyes to picture the future more clearly.

"It's really hot," I murmur. Sweat is dripping from my forehead into my eyes, and my shirt is soaked with perspiration. My head aches from the heat.

"Yeah."

"It's too hot. I think I'm going to take my shirt off," I reply. I know it's ridiculous, but I'm having a hard time seeing why I shouldn't. It's so goddamn hot in the trunk. "What do you think?"

"Thought you'd never ask... Of course I'll fool around with you, baby," he teases.

"No, silly. I'm not really going to do it. But we're going to pass out if we don't cool off."

"I don't think I could be anything other than hot and bothered around you, you know."

I elbow him a little harder than necessary and pull my damp shirt away from my skin, wriggling slightly in a futile attempt to try to get a little cooler.

Logan groans. "Stop."

"What? What's the matter?"

He pushes me away a fraction of an inch, all the space that the trunk allows. "Friction...in kind of a critical area. Jesus Christ. This is like my worst nightmare—you're in my arms and I can't do anything about it."

Tartly, I respond, "Just keep reminding yourself of that last part—not doing anything. Imagine Aunt Mildred popping the trunk and discovering us in flagrante. If she catches us playing hide the pickle back here, she's gonna pull a knitting needle out of that giant purse and stick it where the sun don't shine. Oh my god, it's hot."

"Well, at least it's dark, you libidinous hussy, so I don't have to see how beautiful you are, all sweaty and warm for my form."

I giggle loudly. "Hussy." It all seems incredibly funny all of a sudden, and I can't stop laughing.

"Veronica?"

I'm dizzy from laughing, giddily imagining Aunt Mildred giving us a talking-to about the dangers of sex on the lam. "Better hide that pickle, Logan!"

"Veronica?"

"Logan?" I laugh hysterically.

"Veronica! I think there's not enough air back here."

"What?" I feel him rooting around in the trunk, feeling for our backpacks in the dark.

"Veronica, try to drink a little water while I call your dad."

I fumble for the bottle, Logan's concern penetrating my lightheadedness. Buut I'm overwhelmed by dizziness when the car sways slightly, and I have to stop moving. "I don't feel so good," I moan, with a little hiccup.

"C'mon, pick up," Logan mutters.

Pick up, pick up, pick up. Dad never picks up. Not on the roof. Not with Moe. Where is Dad? Daddy, pick up. Silly Daddy. "Pick up, pick up, pick up," I echo.

I hear Dad's voice faintly through the earpiece. "What's up?"

"There's no air back here. It's really hot. We have to stop. Soon...Veronica can't stop laughing."

"I can too stop laughing," I protest, with a little giggle. "Silly Daddy. Why won't he ever pick up?"

Logan says tensely, "No, I don't know where the water bottle is. It's rolled away and we can't find it. I'll keep looking for it....yeah, I'm okay for now....Okay." He drops the phone and puts his hand on my forehead. "You're very warm."

"Warm for your form," I say, and start giggling again.

"Jesus Christ! Take steady breaths and try not to laugh, Veronica. I don't want to have to save two lives today."

We feel the car slow down, and we turn right, then left, then finally a sudden braking and two quick turns in a row that make my head start spinning. "Oh god, I'm going to throw up." Logan squeezes my hand. I remember: we're splitting up. I don't want to split up. I feel completely miserable.

The trunk lid is popped before we've even completely stopped. The fresh air is unbelievable; I breathe in, gasping. Dad's face, made up as Aunt Mildred, looms over us. "We're in a park. Weekday, kids are in school...I think it's safe." He reaches in and helps me scramble over the edge of the trunk. I sit on the bumper and gulp in fresh air.

Logan asks, "Is there any more water?"

Dad shakes his head. "I didn't want to stop for anything."

"Right. But her forehead feels warm."

Dad frowns and puts the back of his hand on my brow. "Soak a T-shirt or something in some of the water and put it on her head. I think she's got heat stroke." He pats my hand. "Are you feeling better?"

"Yes. I'm fine. This is embarrassing," I protest. Logan puts a folded-up damp T-shirt on my forehead and I'm too weak to argue. He pushes the water bottle, two-thirds empty, into my hand. I take a couple shaky sips and try to pass it to him, but he shakes his head.

"Finish it, Veronica." To my dad, Logan says, "You said this was a park? Maybe there are drinking fountains."

"We passed a ball field." Dad points down the road.

"I'll walk over there and get some more water. I need some too." He takes the empty bottle from me and walks away.

Dad disappears for a moment. I twist and see him rooting in the glove compartment. He returns and begins fanning my face with some papers. "I'm so sorry about the heat in there, honey."

The breeze from his fanning feels better than I'd like to admit. "It couldn't be helped," I reply. "How long have we been driving?"

"About forty-five minutes."

"How much longer?"

"Maybe an hour. I think you better ride up front now. And now that we're out of El Dorado, I can put the back seat down a little so Logan will get some air into the trunk. I'll crank the AC and we'll keep talking, make sure he's okay. I'd put him on the floor again, but I'm afraid someone will see us moving boxes around if we stay here too long."

"I don't know, Dad. It's pretty hot back there. Logan's okay for now, but..."

Dad stops fanning and assesses me again, holding the back of his hand against my brow. "All right. We'll put Logan between the seats. Someone can be on lookout while we repack the car."

"There's no one around. We'll be all right if we're careful and quick about it. Where are we headed exactly?"

Dad starts fussing with his girdle. "Hate this thing...how do women do it? Oh...if everything goes okay, Shreveport. I'm going to put you on a bus first, then Logan, and me last. I'll stop somewhere and ship all our belongings to Chapel Hill before I dump the car."

"We're still going to Chapel Hill?"

"Yeah, I still think it's a good choice. I'll go straight there and start looking for a place to live while I'm waiting for you guys to join me."

"Someplace nice, right?"

"Someplace nice and safe, Veronica. We're all going to be okay."

I brush a few tears out of my eyes. Suddenly, I feel completely exhausted, but I know I've got to keep going. "What are you going to do about Logan? They've seen what he looks like now. He's got to change the way he looks."

"I know, and I've got an idea about that. My first priority is to make sure you're safe, but I promise you, Logan will be okay too."

Suddenly I'm paralyzed with fear, as I realize that Dad might very well be sacrificing himself in order to get me and Logan out of harm's way. I nod, but there's nothing okay with this plan at all if Dad doesn't survive.

I'm so tired...beyond tired. I'm a shadow, a wisp, wrung-out and spineless. All my fault, all of this. I want a do-over, a rewrite of the whole last year so that we could be anywhere but here.

Logan jogs back, a full water bottle in hand. I watch him hurry towards us, the concern evident on his face, and I wonder why I've always been so hard on him, and not nearly hard enough on myself. He frowns as he looks at me, taking the T-shirt from me and wetting it again before replacing it on my forehead. Pushing the bottle into my hands, he says, "You're still really flushed. Drink it slowly. Little sips, Veronica. I had plenty at the fountain and we can get more, so drink it all."

Logan takes my wrist and to my surprise starts monitoring my pulse. More of his first-aid training, I assume. I've never really given him credit for anything, I realize. Why? How many people would do anything but run if they were caught in a fire? One in a million? He'd been sleepy and drunk that day, maybe even drugged by Mercer. My anger about his failure to help down in Mexico had simmered in my consciousness for months—typical Logan, I remember thinking self-righteously.

And Madison...she'd thrown herself at him when he was at his lowest and again probably too drunk to even protest. He'd sworn to me that it didn't mean anything, but all I could do was obsess about it. I resolve that if we ever get somewhere safe, I'm going to try to give him the benefit of the doubt, like he deserves.

I watch Logan's face. His lips move as he calculates my heart rate. "Her pulse is still really fast," Logan says to Dad. He asks me, "Do you still feel like you're going to throw up?"

I shake my head. "No. I feel better. I swear."

Dad looks at Logan with concern. "You're sure you're okay?"

"Yeah."

"Veronica explained to you what we're going to do? Splitting up and taking Greyhound? You understand how it works?"

"Yeah, I understand. But I'm not too happy about leaving her alone. Especially if she doesn't feel good."

"It can't be helped. They're going to be looking for us together—this is the only way."

I chime in, "He's right, Logan. I hate it, but we have to do this."

Logan sits on one side of me on the bumper and puts his arm around me. He doesn't even pretend for Dad's benefit and just surrounds me with his love and concern. Dad, in his ridiculous getup, takes the other side, and I wonder if, after today, I'll ever get to be with the two men I love most in the world again.


Continue reading...'Peregrination'.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-25 11:39 pm (UTC)
sarahbrand: a lone figure looking out over a vast ocean (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarahbrand
Hey, haven't been commenting much recently because life has been fairly crazy, but I wanted you to know I'm still reading your fic and enjoying it. Looking forward to seeing what happens next!

I just recently rewatched some VM, actually... the early part of season 1, mostly. It's interesting to go back to the point where Logan's still in full-on "psychotic jackass" mode. And the deadpan snarking is just as good as I remembered.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-26 02:54 am (UTC)
schuylerjo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] schuylerjo
Wow, I really see a flip in Veronica in this chapter. I'll admit...it is a struggle for me to see her acting logically. And in a caring way. But I'll try to get used to it! Thanks for letting me know it was up, I forget to check dreamwidth sometimes!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-06-26 06:04 pm (UTC)
afrocurl: (VM - Kiss)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
Thanks Veronica, for finally taking some of the fault. It's making me like you much more than in the series (yes, I totally trust you V as a writer, but it's hard to break those old bitter habits.)

Separating is a good plan, but it's going to break my little shipping heart...

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-02 08:21 am (UTC)
medjunkie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] medjunkie
Yay you updated hope this means you are feeling a bit better. I'm sad that they are going to have to split up, but can see that it gives them a better chance. Love all the reflection you have Veronica doing, and the way this crisis has pulled her and Logan together.

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