vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Pursuit (14/?)
AUTHOR: [personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
PG13/R for this chapter
Sometimes it's best to just get the hell out of Dodge. Set right after 'The Bitch Is Back'.
Spoilers for the whole series, especially season 3.
I don't own any rights to Veronica Mars. This story is written as a tribute only. Beta'd by [personal profile] boobsnotbombs and [ 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 12~Perspiration 13~Peregrination

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 Logan's probation has officially been revoked, and both he and Keith are listed on the NCIC computer system used by law enforcement.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

In the trunk, Veronica explains to Logan that they'll be splitting up, each of them taking zigzagging routes via Greyhound, hoping to meet up in a few days in Chapel Hill, NC. The heat builds up quickly in the car, and they're forced to stop when Veronica begins showing symptoms of heat stroke.

On the Greyhound, Veronica hides in plain sight by teaming up with another young woman. But then she is noticed by three horny college boys, who attach themselves to her and prevent her from ditching at the stop she intends. Forced to go out of her way, she spends a few hours in the Joplin, MO, bus terminal before catching a bus for Atlanta.

In the layover at St. Louis, she recognizes a schizophrenic man she'd seen in Joplin, accompanied by an ominous-looking man in a brown suit. Just before the man catches up to her, she jumps on another bus bound for Chicago, even as she realizes that her pursuer will know exactly where she's going and when she'll get there.

I keep my eyes averted from the other passengers and head for the only vacant seat on the bus, on the three-passenger bench seat that extends across the back row. It's the least desirable seat on the bus, with non-reclining seats and unfortunate proximity to the restroom. There's not really enough room for me to sit, with two surly passengers already sprawled out on the seat, but it's my only choice. The guy in front of me, a stoner dude with stringy hair wearing an AC/DC T-shirt, begrudgingly moves a little so I can sit down in the middle. A very large black woman with a magazine sighs before moving infinitesimally closer to the window and pulling her bag closer to her feet. "Sorry," I mutter. "Almost missed the bus...good thing it was running late." Stringy-hair guy rolls his eyes and the lady completely ignores me.

I settle in as best as I can, my backpack tucked under my calves and my arms pulled in tight to avoid pissing off my prickly neighbors. The entrance to the fragrant restroom is right by my row. This is a disaster: everyone using the john will see my face. My heart shows no sign of slowing down, with the adrenaline rush of blood thumping in my ears. I start pacing my breathing and finally my body calms down enough so I can think.

Trying to figure out what the hell just happened, I replay what I remember from the Joplin bus terminal. If that schizophrenic guy was acting, he's the best actor I've ever seen. And there was no reason for him to continue the act in the St. Louis terminal, so I decide that he's for real.

My instinct is that Brown Suit Guy is a P.I., not Russian mob, because he was alone, and, while he looked strong and capable, he didn't have the requisite scars and tattoos of a gulag refugee. And his suit was too cheap. There's a reason P.I.s are called cheap gumshoes—the job usually doesn't come with a 401K, and the income stream is, to put it mildly, highly variable. Just because he's a P.I. doesn't mean he wasn't hired by Gory, but the likelihood is that he's a private dick chasing a large payday for capturing a fugitive.

The final clue that Brown Suit Guy is a P.I. is the fact that the schizophrenic guy is still alive. Russian mobsters tend to dispose of witnesses without thinking too much about it. But a P.I. couldn't leave the schizophrenic guy in Joplin, where another enterprising bounty hunter might have stumbled upon him. So he brought him along, and that way the schizophrenic guy could help spot me as well. And it was a break for me, because then I had a warning. Otherwise, I'd be in his custody right now.

Thin evidence, but the alternative is harder to contemplate. It reassures me to come to this conclusion—I know how P.I.s think. And I know Brown Suit Guy won't do anything that would cause collateral damage. I'm betting that he won't have any backup, either, not wanting to share the bounty and overestimating his ability to deal with 'just a girl'.

My best guess is that Brown Suit Guy followed a hunch and checked out bus stations outside of El Dorado, gradually expanding his search. If he was knowledgeable about Greyhound, he would have known to concentrate on the hub stations where passengers almost always have to make transfers. He got lucky that he found a station that I'd just been in, with a witness who remembered a petite girl traveling solo who was about the right age. We left Joplin at 5:30am. The bus is slower than a car. So he could have driven like hell and beaten us to St. Louis, bringing the witness along to help identify me.

My main advantage is that he doesn't know just how tough and determined I am. It takes a second to penetrate my panic, but I realize that although I'm scared I'm not paralyzed. I'm going to beat this guy. Somehow. I haven't figured out how, yet, but I will.

What does worry me, though, is that now someone knows we've split up, and the logical assumption is that all of us are on buses. Dad and Logan are in more danger than ever.

I've got an unused burn phone in my backpack that I'm not supposed to use until I get close to Raleigh. Weighing all the pros and cons, I decide that it's worth the risk to warn them by text. I'm a little worried that nervousness will make Logan more vulnerable rather than less, but at the very least he can try to stay on whatever bus he's on as much as possible, staying out of terminals where a friend of Brown Suit Guy might be looking for him. So I send two duplicate text messages to the phone numbers Dad had insisted we memorize rather than store in the phones.
omg ran into marlowe im ok eta now l8er keep on gh & stay cool in the heat c u soon xoxo anastasia
We'd set up code words to make sure that each of us hasn't been caught and compromised. 'Princess' is the code to let the others know that the caller isn't in custody. I'm hoping that using 'Anastasia' will cue them as to my authenticity and still preserve the word for use later when I'll need it. 'Marlowe'—well, Dad will know right away that I mean 'P.I.', and I'll punch Logan when I see him if he can't figure it out after all the times we watched 'The Big Sleep' together. 'gh' is all I can think of to tell them to stay on the bus and out of the terminals as much as possible.

The cell phone is unusable to me now, and I need to get rid of the data on it before I dump it. And I've got to be quick about it, in case this P.I. is smarter than I think and apprehends me with the phone still on me, with cell phone numbers in the call log that will lead him right to Dad and Logan. But it's too cramped in this seat, with the stoner dude and the bitchy fat lady breathing down my neck—too easy for them to see what I'm doing. I'm pretty sure stoner dude was trying to read my screen as I was texting, so I stow the phone until I can find a more private situation.

A few minutes later, the bus starts to slow down. I check my watch: 1:33pm. Over the intercom I hear, "Springfield." The stop is little more than a parking lot. Three passengers get up to disembark, and I hustle to grab one of their seats, managing to snag a window seat just before the stoner dude, who'd had the same idea. He gives me a dirty look and takes the aisle.

As the bus makes a wide turn and merges back into traffic, I see a black Crown Victoria with its blinker on, waiting for us. Brown Suit Guy, I assume. The Crown Vic is more confirmation that it's a P.I., probably an ex-cop who never quite got used to a civilian car.

The stoner dude reclines his seat to maximum before crossing his arms and shutting his eyes, pointedly ignoring me. I guess I'm not his type. And thank you, God, for that small favor.

Still, I turn my body and lean my head against the window so there's no way he can see the screen on my phone. I erase the call log and then send thirty bullshit texts ("c u l8ter" and "where u at", etc.) to random California and New York numbers to overwrite all the SMS slots on the SIM card. This will effectively erase my text from the SIM card's limited memory. It's the best I can do on the run.

"Huh. Sure got a lot to say," the stoner dude comments, watching me from half-lidded eyes. "Thumbs getting tired, sweetheart?"

"Friends back home," I reply. Fuck. I can't resist adding, "Kind of nosey, aren't you?"

"You know, you're a real bitch."

'You know what you should do with your sudden popularity? Just lay back and enjoy it.' It's universal: in high school, in a college food court, on a bus...I'm a bitch wherever I go. I should shake it off, but I'm tired and cranky, and this guy is pissing me off. "Yeah, that's what they keep telling me. You know what? I figure, I might as well own it. Know what I mean? What's your excuse?"

He scoffs and turns away, closing his eyes again.

Yep, making friends and influencing people wherever I go. So much for my new leaf. "Um, before you go to sleep...I need to use the restroom." He doesn't move, so I try to push past his extended legs. "Excuse me! Move!" I shove against his legs, and he finally pulls them in so I can pass without giving him a lap dance.

"Watch it, you fucking skank!" As soon as I'm up, he moves over and takes the window seat.

In the cramped bathroom, I take out the phone's battery and soak the handset in water in the tiny sink. Replacing the battery, I power the phone up, which should fry the internal phone circuits. The display, to my satisfaction, lights up momentarily and then turns into the black screen of death, with a weak attempt at vibration as it shuts itself down. I flush the SIM card down the toilet, watching carefully to make sure it stays down and doesn't float back into the bowl. The toilet on the bus is served by a holding tank, so the SIM card won't really be going anywhere, but it's pretty likely that no one will be looking there before the tank is emptied. As soon as possible, I'll dump the busted handset somewhere.

Even if someone later manages to recover the phone or the SIM card, I hope I've reduced the possibility that my pursuer or a forensic investigator can pull any information off the phone that will lead them to Dad or Logan. It's not a perfect solution and nowhere near as good as a sledgehammer, but what I've done has probably rendered most of the data unusable.

I head back to my seat, where my lovely seat partner has ensconced himself by the window. Now that I've warned Dad and Logan and bricked my phone, I've got to figure out a plan.

I'm assuming that Brown Suit Guy is following the bus, based on the Crown Vic I observed at the last stop. He'll be watching carefully at every stop to make sure I don't get off. If I do try to get off, he'll try to get me alone and take me into custody with a citizen's arrest. If he's a P.I. like I think, he's going to try to avoid violence.

That's if he's truly a P.I. or a Fugitive Recovery Agent. There's obviously no bail for him to recover, but Vinnie could have offered a reward for information leading to my arrest. And once Brown Suit Guy detained me, he'd have to call the cops immediately. If he hurt me in any way or transported me any distance at all, he'd be subject to a personal injury lawsuit and charges of kidnapping.

I've been so scared that I haven't really thought this through. Even a bounty hunter can't take a fugitive into custody unless they've signed a bail bond agreement that effectively signs away the defendant's civil right not to be kidnapped. I've definitely never had to post bail, although Lamb certainly tried. If this guy's on the up-and-up, actually trying to get a reward from the Neptune Sheriff's Department for my arrest, all he'd need to do to earn his fee is call the Illinois State Police and tell them I'm on a bus headed to Chicago. The cops would be waiting at the next stop to arrest me; Brown Suit Guy would have a nice payday without even getting his hands dirty or breaking a sweat.

And since we've been traveling for two hours, with no state police in sight....

He's either planning to kill me or kidnap me. And probably wants to torture me to find out where Logan went.

All he needs to do is get close enough to pull his weapon and something really bad will happen.

Suddenly I wonder if Dad and Logan are already dead, gunned down in the men's room of some squalid Greyhound terminal. I picture Dad, makeup smeared and skirt askew, lying bleeding next to a urinal...or Logan, a gaping wound in his shaven head, dumped in a deserted ravine. I'm overwhelmed by the desire to hear their voices one last time and bricking my phone seems like the worst decision I've ever made...pick up, pick up, pick up!

I force myself to think about what I've got to do next instead of obsessing about Dad and Logan—I've got to get away from this guy, somehow. If I— If I—

If I fuck up and get captured, they'll use me to get to Dad and Logan before they kill me, I finally finish, with an knot in my stomach the size of an artery-busting stromboli from Cho's Pizzeria.

My timetable tells me we have stops coming up at Decatur and Champaign, both with short layovers, and then Markham, Chicago-95th/Dan Ryan, and Chicago. I've never been to Chicago, but I'm willing to bet that both the Chicago stops are pretty bustling, especially in the daytime. Chaos is my friend in this case; he'll have to park his car, somewhere on city streets which is probably difficult in downtown Chicago, and then hurry into the bus terminal to intercept me. Whereas at the rest stops, he can track me continuously without much difficulty. My only chance to lose Brown Suit Guy is to stay put on the bus until we get to the Windy City.

My stomach rumbles loudly, nerves as much as hunger. I haven't had anything substantial to eat since that turkey sandwich last night, about fifteen hours ago. I'd planned to get a good meal in St. Louis, an actual hot lunch to try to keep my energy up. All I have is one of the granola bars from this morning, and I dig it out and eat it between sips of water. I'm glad I have it, but it's a pitiful substitute for lunch, especially when I'm burning energy the way I have been the last twenty-four hours. All of a sudden I feel exhausted and dehydrated.

The stoner dude is watching me again. What an ass. "What now?" I ask testily when he doesn't stop staring.


The bus driver announces that we'll be stopping in five minutes at Decatur, saying that there will be a fifteen minute rest stop. My seat partner stretches, obviously intending to take advantage of the layover.

" you want to make a little money?" I ask, surprising myself as much as him. "I'll give you twenty bucks if you buy me a couple sandwiches and two Cokes, maybe a candy bar."

He snorts. "Why don't you buy it yourself?"

"It's complicated." He rolls his eyes and scoffs again. Thinking fast, I lean over and whisper conspiratorially, "My ex-husband is following the bus. He's been harassing me for months. He caught up to me in St. Louis and the only way I could get away was to jump on this bus. I'm going to have to try to ditch him in Chicago. Until then, I need to stay on the bus. If he catches me..." I shrug, as theatrically as I can. "I've got friends in Toledo who are gonna help me if I can get there."

"Is that what the deal was with all those texts?" he asks suspiciously. "Why'ncha just get an order of protection?"

I point to the scar under my left eye where Mercer had split my cheek, and then I show him the burn marks on my right wrist from the burning refrigerator. "Believe me, an order of protection doesn't do shit when a guy wants to hurt you. By the time the cops get there, you could be dead. He's broken my collarbone, my wrist...I had a skull fracture last year. I still get headaches." The last part is certainly true—my head is pounding from hunger, fatigue, and stress.

My unlikely hero's pasty face looks dubious. "You don't even look like you're sixteen."

"I'm almost twenty. I've been divorced for a year, married for eight months before that. Mama said not to marry him. Now she told me, you made your bed, now lie in it, and she won't help me. And Duane says in the eyes of the Lord we're still married." He stares at me, trying to decide whether he believes me. I add quickly, "I'll save you the window seat."

"All right, all right."

I give him two twenties. "Something healthy. Ham and cheese, or turkey, tuna, something like that."


Everyone except for a couple people sleeping get off the bus. As they file off, I move over to the window seat and watch. Brown Suit Guy's Crown Vic is parked two cars away and he's leaning on his car, watching all the exiting passengers. My pursuer appears to be alone, and I wonder what happened to the schizophrenic man. Probably dead in the St. Louis bus terminal bathroom, I think morosely.

I realize that stoner dude could be calling the cops right now. It's nerve-wracking to be relying on him for anything.

The last of the passengers get off the bus. I watch as Brown Suit Guy pushes himself off his car and walks over to the bus. Tensing, I pull my backpack into my lap and slide the safety off the Glock again. But he doesn't try to get on the bus and instead walks alongside, peering into the windows. I shrink back, hiding from him. Without hesitating, he stops exactly at my window and bangs his fist on the glass, hard.

One of the passengers, smoking in the parking lot, stubs out his cigarette and runs inside to get the bus driver. By the time the driver has reached the bus, Brown Suit Guy is back in his car. The driver walks around the bus one time, checking for damage, then mounts the steps and looks inside; everything looks okay, so he shrugs and goes back inside the restaurant. I don't say a word even though I'm quivering in fear.

Message received, loud and clear.

In a few minutes, stoner dude comes back on the bus with a large bag. I stand up to let him take the window seat, and he passes me the bag, which I open and start pawing through immediately. A turkey club, tuna on whole wheat with lettuce and tomatoes, a Snickers bar, and two Cokes. Heaven. I suppress a little moan and grab the tuna sandwich.

My seatmate regards me suspiciously as I unwrap the sandwich and take a large bite. "Hey, people were saying some old dude was bangin' on the bus. How old is this Duane anyways?"

I stop mid-chew. You fucked up, Veronica. Either that or you married a fifty-ish fat guy at seventeen. I kill a little time by swallowing and wiping my mouth. "Um, that might be Duane's dad. He's a retired cop...and, uh, a deacon in the church so—"

"Bullshit. Are you on the run from the cops?"

Right...because that's what cops usually do, bang on a bus to intimidate a felon. Wondering just what the stoner dude's story is, I lower my voice and say, "Shh. I guarantee you that guy is not a cop. If he was a cop, all he'd have to do to capture me is make one phone call to the state police, and they'd be pulling over this bus before you could say 'Back in Black'."

"What's he want with you?"

"Pretty sure he wants to kill me." My voice shakes a little, to my disgust.

"Did you steal money from him?"

"No. No." I shake my head vigorously. "You really don't want to know why he's following me."

"But you have money," the stoner dude persists. He nods toward my backpack.

"What are we talking about?"

"I'll help you...for a price. Five hundred?"

"That's a lot of money." I'm actually relieved that stoner dude named a relatively low price, considering I'm carrying thirty thousand dollars, but if I don't haggle with him, he'll realize that I've got substantial assets. "I was thinking more like two hundred—"

"Don't screw with me. Five hundred or I turn you over to the old guy."

"Okay, okay!" He puts his palm out, and I add, "Half now."

He scoffs. "You'll just run off after I help you and I'll never see the rest."

"Yeah, but if I give it to you now, you'll pocket it and turn me over to him." The bus is loading up again, and a couple of people are staring at our whispered conversation as they pass. I lower my voice. "I'll make it six hundred, three now, three later."

His greed wins out, and he nods his agreement. He sticks his hand out. "I'm Lynard. You know, like the band. 'Freebird'? 'Sweet Home Alabama'? My parents were big fans."

Unbelievable. I shake his hand and reply brightly, "Julia, like the chef."

"Huh?" It goes right over his head, as I expected. But I probably shouldn't be fucking with my new ally, anyway. My halo is becoming extremely tarnished, just one day after my resolution to be nicer. After I drop his hand, Lynard turns his palm upward. "Three hundred now, you said."

Continue reading...Plexus

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-09 03:39 am (UTC)
afrocurl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
Oh man, I never want to be on a bus ride through that part of Illinois. Not that I don't love Champaign, but ugh, that ride is LONG and ugly.

However, I really hope Lynard isn't as much of an ass as I think he is now...

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-09 02:54 pm (UTC)
celtic_flicka: UFO (UFO)
From: [personal profile] celtic_flicka
Ha! Seriously--there is *nothing* between Chicago and Champaign. Except cornfields. Lots and lots of cornfields.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-09 03:12 pm (UTC)
afrocurl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
Oh, you don't think Peoria is the height of fashion on that road? *snicker*

But yes, there is nothing on that drive that counts for anything. I know that and I haven't been been in the state for something down there for at least twelve years.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-09 07:40 pm (UTC)
afrocurl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
Well, remember that CF is from that state. I, sadly, have parents who went to university in Champaign-Urbana and still have friends around that part of the state.

But really, the drive is boring.

Oh joy...

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-09 02:53 pm (UTC)
celtic_flicka: UFO (UFO)
From: [personal profile] celtic_flicka
The partnership with stoner dude intrigues me. Looking forward to the next chapter!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-10 01:50 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] fickledame
Eeek, I wouldn't trust him with a barge pole. I hope Keith and Logan are getting on okay. Poor Veronica can't catch a break. I hope she's able to slip away from both of them safely, and get back to the others. While it seemed a good idea to split, I felt they were safer together. :(

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-10 02:57 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] fickledame
Hehe. We used to use barge poles to push canal boats and barges along, particularly through tunnels, so they had to be long. So that's where it comes from.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-10 07:43 pm (UTC)
sarahbrand: a lone figure looking out over a vast ocean (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarahbrand
Oh, man. O_O I hope Veronica manages to lose this creep in Chicago. (My memory's bad, apparently... where did she get the thirty thousand dollars? Did Keith have that much in savings?)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-10 07:52 pm (UTC)
sarahbrand: a lone figure looking out over a vast ocean (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarahbrand
Haha, yeah, I think Brown Suit Guy ranks quite a bit higher (lower?) on the creepiness scale. Anyway, can't wait for the next chapter!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-13 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is very very bad, i was fine like Veronica when i thought it was a PI, but you managed to ramp up the tension very cleverly with her pursuer being some one really sinister.
As for the stoner guy, what an wanker.It's horrible to see Veronica at his mercy.

Btw will follow your advice regarding a better standard of buses if/when I do get to do my tour of the states.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-16 10:44 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] vertejaune
I think it's really interesting that you've chosen to do this story in first person. I always really liked the Veronica voiceovers in the show- it often gave a great deal of insight into her motivations and personal triggers (as well as often being funny), so I appreciate how this story is showing her thought process. I am surprised by how much she seems to have mellowed- although she always was easier on Keith than anyone else, this new leniency for Logan is a bit unusual. I'll be honest, I like my Veronica at least a bit self-involved and judgmental. Her paranoia and self-reliance are such crucial elements of her character- I can totally buy her as giving into introspection on occasion, I think we saw plenty of evidence for that. But she always seemed to get over it pretty quickly and compensate for her weakness by being extra action!girl for a while.

I guess we're supposed to be attributing a lot of that to her freak-out from chapter one. I think it's totally reasonable that Veronica could have had a bit of a meltdown, realizing just what her actions have cost her father. But I'm not sure if I think the Gory Sorokin business was quite at this level yet. Yes, his family is tied to the Russian Mob. And no doubt he's very angry that Logan beat him up. I can even see him trying to get even with Logan by intimidating him. But I don't know if it was a reasonable reaction for Logan to feel like he had to violate his parole and flee the state. It's one thing for a mobster to kill or maim one of his own people to intimidate the others- but having a celebrity bumped off, especially right after the very public fight between Gory and Logan? Obviously it's important as a plot device, you want Logan with them to explore the dynamics of the characters, but I wonder if they aren't all overreacting on that front. If Gory filed an official complaint, he's certainly not done himself any favors for if he's intending to really hurt Logan (or Veronica). Gory is a sociopath, yes. But I don't know if that translates to being able to get the whole mob to do his bidding, and they've dealt with crazy murderous individuals after them before.

I guess I'm just not sure why any of them decided to run. Keith destroyed that evidence. That was bad, and a felony- but I'm not sure Wallace was right about other people being able to testify about what was on the DVR. If I remember correctly, Keith and a neighbor were the only ones who saw it, and there was no clear view of Veronica's face. That would be pretty weak evidence- not to mention the fact that the Kanes are unlikely to press that issue- Veronica has a pretty good hold over them these days, I doubt they would have had to actually blackmail anyone explicitly. Even if Keith was convicted, I would be skeptical about Veronica getting in any trouble. Obviously, they can't do a thing about Vinnie deciding to go after Keith for tampering with evidence, but it seems a bit premature for them to be taking off, I guess. Especially with Logan. Running just looks really bad.

Then again, it is a really interesting premise for a story. They've created so many more problems for themselves by going, it's going to be hell getting them to a point where they can go back- unless you never intend for them to go back, and I'm not sure how to feel about that. Statue of limitations on obstruction of justice, maybe? Logan's probation issue is probably muddling everything now.

I appreciate how you describe the state of their relationship by the way they're having sex. It's a great way to reveal things without having them actually have conversations about it, which wouldn't be nearly as realistic. The flashbacks, where it was all tentative and unsure and trustbuilding- which was of course wrecked by the pool burning made a nice foil for the desperate, clinging, we're totally screwed and just need to affirm this connection touching in the bathroom. On one hand, they're more familiar with each other, they know how to touch and what to do, on the other hand, it's almost impersonal. In the flashbacks, it's clear how much younger they are- how the trust issue is paramount, how they're so conscious of exactly who they're with and what is being allowed. Now, it's all about connection. Easier because they have a history, but it feels like they're trying to erase bad things, not build good ones. And the way that she says "Maybe", she has to know that it's not going to work, this isn't the right time. Not when they haven't worked anything out, they're scared and alone and someone is going to break and then badness is going to be flying all over the place. Personally, I'm not convinced they're actually capable of a healthy relationship. At least not without a long break of being single, learning to be friends again for real, and then trying it again if they ever actually mature.

I do love the little things, though. Veronica indulging herself doing voices and pushing the limit on how over the top to make her performance, the interactions with throwaway characters that allow her to be snarky, her distress about having to dress up like a little girl. And I like that you're still having her be Veronica. She pushes herself right to the point of heat stroke, she's being snarky and self-congratulating in her head when thinking about how she's being a more forgiving person now, and I'm basically just waiting for her to take a major risk by attempting to spy on the man spying on her. She needs to find out if he's a PI, or something more dangerous- I'm guessing she might attempt to stage a diversion so she can talk to the schizophrenic man. And honestly, I really hope she tries something. Learning that she needs to be more careful about breaking the law, that's good. Being more aware of when she's putting her friends in danger, also good. But Veronica without her giant brass balls? Well, that just wouldn't be Veronica. I like how she's not cowering like a little mouse, trying to be invisible. She's still using the resources around her in any way she can, even when they're questionable characters like Lynard. I really hope he ends up getting the short end of the stick after being such a jerk. I rather wonder if she thought to throw a few bugs and her laptop in her bag… unlikely, but it would be useful.

Anyways. I really like this story. Possibly even more than YOLD, because Veronica is on her own, kicking ass, taking names. She'll have the time and space she needs to sort out all her personal issues with what happened in Neptune, maybe find a balanced approach. Plus all that bus time, she can start coming up with a plan to get back to Neptune and make everything work out- I just can't see Veronica accepting a plan to stay gone and fly under the radar forever. I may be one of the few readers who really doesn't care much about the LoVe thing as much. It's my personal opinion that they're both a bit too damaged to jump into anything successfully, so I'm much more interested in reading about how they can independently evolve into successful people that can maybe eventually be together. For now, the actual plot is much more interesting. Can't wait to read the rest- hopefully I figured out the tracking thing correctly.

Sorry this review was all over the place. I tried to remember what I was thinking about for all 15 chapters. They'll probably be more organized when I get to review one chapter at a time. And thanks for being pretty much my primary source of entertainment for the past 40 hours or so. I'm probably going to have to rematch the series before rereading the stories, just to make sure I get everything. It's been about 9 months since I watched most of it, so hopefully I'm remembering things correctly and not just making stuff up.


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