vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore

TITLE: Plexus (15/?)
AUTHOR:

[personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 3,780
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 12~Perspiration 13~Peregrination 14~Pursuit

Last time on 'Precipitation': (Highlight to read ~OR~ click here to skip directly to the new chapter)

After her narrow escape from 'Brown Suit Guy' in St. Louis, Veronica ends up sitting next to a stringy-haired stoner dude, with whom Veronica has a bitchy exchange. Veronica warns her dad and Logan by sending them a text, and then 'bricks' the phone in case she's captured. Brown Suit Guy is ostentatiously following the bus as it heads to Chicago, and in desperation she asks the stoner dude to buy her some food at the rest stop. While Veronica's hiding on the bus, Brown Suit Guy threatens Veronica by banging on her window. She enters into an unlikely partnership with the stoner dude, Lynard, as the bus continues on to Chicago.



It turns out that Lynard makes the trip from Chicago to St. Louis and back once a month to visit his dad in the medium-security prison just outside of St. Louis. It's a break for me that he's not only knowledgeable about the route but he's also predisposed to give a criminal the benefit of a doubt—he says more than once that his dad got a shitty deal, without going into details. I don't volunteer any information about my 'crimes'. When he presses, I say mysteriously that it's much better if he doesn't know, and of course that's not too far from the truth.

We spend the next four hours plotting what we'll do when we get to the Chicago terminal. He draws a rough map of the station for me ("spent hours in that fucking hellhole waiting for buses that were delayed") and at the next rest stop, he buys me a new black T-shirt and a map of downtown Chicago after extracting an additional forty dollars from me.

About twenty minutes before we're due to arrive in Chicago, I take one last trip to the restroom. After changing into my new black T-shirt (inside out to hide 'I popped my cork in Champaign, Illinois'), I try to coax my hair into a different look, parted on the side with my bangs flipped off my face. Rubbing a little deodorant on my hands, I make my hair look a little greasy and scrunch it into messy waves to match Lynard's effortless rock-groupie chic. I wish I'd thought to bring hair gel with me, but it works well enough. Heavy mascara is next, and I carefully blacken the edges of my eyelids with eyeliner and add dark eye shadow.

As I check one last time in the mirror, I notice that my hands are shaking. Pulling them into tight fists, I rejoin Lynard in our seat. He does a slight double take when he sees me, which I decide to view as a hopeful sign.

After letting off maybe a quarter of the passengers at 95th Street, we head up the Dan Ryan Expressway into downtown Chicago. I'm surprised, because I'd been expecting a dense mix of tall apartment and office buildings like New York City. This is gray and industrial. As we approach the city, there are clusters of two- and three-story brick buildings, squat prefab warehouses with loading docks, and lots of train tracks. This is a place where people work.

There are more and more taller buildings, and then I see a great hulking building that must be the Sears Tower dominating a jagged skyline. There's an orderliness to the skyscrapers, dagger-like spires mixed with impassive blocks of geometric perfection. And traffic...not Manhattan or Los Angeles traffic, but almost. The highways are stacked two and three high in places. It all feels very purposeful. The bus slows as the traffic builds.

We exit the expressway and I feel myself tense up. The bus proceeds down an almost residential street before turning into a more commercial section. The skyline recedes, eluding me. Innocent bystanders go about their business, in cars, riding bikes, or on foot. We pass a few storage companies and slightly seedy commercial operations. The Greyhound terminal appears on our left, glass, brick and blue steel, with fanciful posts and cables atop the roof, all painted in a tacky azure color. I guess all that extraneous metalwork is supposed to look like the rigging of a ship, but its quirkiness does nothing for me. My heart's pounding with a wild merengue rhythm and time has slowed to ten frames per second. I shrug my shoulders and stretch my neck, trying to get rid of a little tension.

"You okay?" Lynard asks as the bus turns left on a side street and then again into the terminal.

"Yeah." I'm okay. I'm okay. I tell myself that Brown Suit Guy might get me, but it won't be because I gave up. Lynard doesn't know that I'm armed, and when he looks away momentarily, I check again that my Glock is accessible in my backpack. It feels too small, too weak.

Just like me.

I want my daddy...

I'm going to do this. I'm going to walk out of this terminal alive. I can do this. I'm going to do this.

I want my daddy...

The bus pulls into a slot with a hiss of brakes, jolting some of the more eager passengers who are already scrambling down the aisle. Lynard and I get right in the middle of the pack. I'm leading, and I fumble behind me for his hand. We've got to stick like glue for this to work. Once we emerge from the bus, Lynard throws his arm over my shoulder, and I snake my left hand in the back pocket of his jeans and lean my head on his shoulder. PDA just might be my best hope for a disguise.

I really don't want Lynard to get hurt. I hate having to worry about him too.

I want my daddy. I can't do this. I've got to do this!

One of the attendants has opened the bay beneath the bus and is piling suitcases by the curb. We smooch a little as we watch for Lynard's gear to emerge. When he spots his bag, we push arm-in-arm through the crowd beside the bus, with a few people protesting our rudeness. He grabs a small overnight bag, and as we walk into the terminal, he's all over me, nuzzling my neck and groping me.

The terminal is full of people—the busiest of any of the stations so far. Tucking my hand in my shoulder-slung backpack, I wrap my fingers around the Glock and ease off the safety. I try to keep my attention ostentatiously on Lynard, and look around with my peripheral vision. To my right, four backpackers, sporting dreadlocks and rarely-washed clothes, lounge against a pile of framed backpacks and check a map. On my left, an unkempt woman is wandering around muttering something about a 'motherfucking motherfucker' while three college kids are gathered around a boy playing the guitar. Ahead is a large group of tourists, European, I think, based on their clothing and unusual suitcases. There's a long line at the ticket counter, and the intercom constantly spews updates about bus arrival and departure times and gate changes. But I don't see Brown Suit Guy.

"Can you see him?" I coo into Lynard's ear as we embrace. "He's wearing a brown suit, close-cropped gray hair, about six foot." I run my fingers up under his T-shirt, and a lady makes a moue of disgust as she passes us.

Lynard, about seven inches taller than me, looks over my head and around the terminal. "Yeah." He pretends to kiss the top of my head as he gazes directly behind me.

"Where? Use a clock face."

"Huh? Oh, right. Four o'clock. Back against the wall."

I keep my face strictly forward, with my head planted on Lynard's shoulder, and I don't react. Okay, so, like I figured, that means he sped ahead of the bus and parked. Which means he's on equal footing with me, for the moment. "Lynard, does he see us?"

"Not sure. Uh, Julia? Somebody's with him. And they're moving in our direction."

"Stick to the plan," I say. Shit, shit, shit. What if he has more people helping him? Watching the entrances or...fuck!...waiting in a car. The terminal is loud and chaotic; three different people knock into us as they hurry for their bus. It seems like I can discern footsteps behind me, getting closer, but it's got to be my imagination.

We walk straight up to a policeman. If he recognizes me, I'm screwed, but I'm betting a low-level fugitive from California doesn't merit a BOLO in Chicago, even after a daring gun-fueled escape in small-town Arkansas. Lynard tells an aggrieved story about some old dude who stole his wallet as he was getting his bag. He turns around, looks for a moment before pointing out Brown Suit Guy to the officer. "That guy over there." Out of the corner of my eye, I see that Brown Suit Guy is moving toward us. The guy with him is young, beefy, and angry-looking, with possibly a Slavic cast to his features. I don't dare look at them more than a millisecond.

"Honey, I got to go to the ladies' room," I say, whining a little and ignoring Brown Suit Guy. I reach up and kiss Lynard's face as I press three folded hundreds into his palm.

"Okay, go. I'll catch up with you," Lynard replies, right on cue, his fingers tightening around the bills. He turns back to the cop and insists, "Dude...I need that wallet. I'm sure it was him."

The police officer and Lynard start walking directly toward Brown Suit Guy and whoever his companion is. I don't look back, but just start moving.

I walk purposefully to the street exit, mindful of Lynard's map that I've committed to memory. The bunch of tourists I saw earlier is going in my direction, and I meld into their group. I chance a look back, and I see the cop talking to an impatient Brown Suit Guy and his companion, with Lynard looking on.

Lynard, get the fuck out of there! Tell the cop you made a mistake...now!

As the tourist group and I burst through the doors onto the street, I break free of the others and hustle to a cab pulling up to the curb, cutting in front of a few people patiently waiting with their luggage. I ignore their protests and throw myself into the cab, telling the driver, "Union Station, please. And I'll give you an extra twenty if you hurry."

"Lady, there's only so much I can do in this traffic. If I could wave a magic wand, don't you think I would?"

"Do your best." As we pull out with a lurch, someone bangs on the window.

The cab driver jumps. "What the hell? Stupid tourists."

But I'm quite sure it's not a tourist. The window pounding seems to be a theme with this guy. "I'm not kidding about that tip," I remind the driver. There's a chorus of honking behind us, and I turn around to see a blue sedan barely missing a collision with a white station wagon. It looks like three men in the sedan, and in the front passenger seat is Brown Suit Guy. They're two cars behind us now.

My driver, a middle-aged man with a slight Polish accent, looks in his rearview mirror and sees the sedan trying to pass the car directly behind us. "What's going on back there? Lady...I repeat, what the hell!"

"It's five minutes to Union Station. The sooner you get me there, the sooner you're rid of me."

"Yeah, not if I put you out of the cab. Life's too short for this! I got agita like you wouldn't believe."

"If you stop this cab, they'll be on top of me before you can hit the gas. And I think it's a very strong possibility those guys don't want to leave any witnesses. Including cab drivers."

The driver's head whips around, his face pale and drawn. "Are you serious?!" Without thinking, he lets up on the gas and the cab slows down.

"Like a heart attack. Please...we've got to get away from that car!" The traffic light ahead, upright on a pole rather than hanging overhead, turns yellow, and I add, "Gun it, and turn up there!"

The taxi speeds up, and just as the light turns red we turn right. The cabbie says, "You still want Union Station? We're heading away now—"

"Make a few turns and then head for Union Station," I reply tersely, my eyes trained on the traffic behind us.

It's not as easy as it sounds. Half of the intersections give you no choice, with either one-way streets or left-turn prohibitions. We make two more rights and then go straight for six blocks, passing under an expressway. The taxi passes a couple slower cars then speeds up as we hit a stretch of light traffic. I'm dismayed to realize that parking isn't the huge issue here that it is in New York City; that small advantage I thought I had over my pursuers melts away.

"Do you see them?" the driver asks.

"Don't think so."

"I can either turn here for Union Station or make a few more turns...lots of one-way streets here."

"I see that. Yeah, make a few more turns while I watch behind us."

We're halted at one light that seems interminable, and then we make a figure eight, three rights and two lefts. This cabbie knows Chicago well, which is a lucky break. I start to breathe a little easier, and I realize that I've been clutching the Glock since the bus terminal. My fingers are aching with tension, and I stretch them a few times, still keeping the gun a finger's width away inside my backpack. The driver hits the gas and just makes the left turn on West Jackson Boulevard as the light is changing.

And then I see them, several cars behind us. I don't know if they got lucky and saw us meandering around or if they figured out that I might head for a transportation hub to make another getaway.

The cabbie says with relief, "Hey, we did it! That's the station up ahead, the side entrance. Main entrance around the corner."

Fumbling for two twenties in my purse, I don't tell him the bad news yet. I scan the scene. There are several vacant taxis idling beside the side entrance, and on the cross street, opposite the main entrance, there are many more. I'd hoped to jump on the first train out of Chicago, wherever it was going, but even if I manage to buy a ticket and get aboard before my pursuers catch up to me, they'll know exactly where I'm going again. Plan B it is, I think to myself.

Ten feet from the cab stand, I say, "You're just going to drop me off. Don't wait for a fare. They're right behind us—"

"What??"

I push the money at him and open the door. "Go...now!" He guns it as I slam the door, and I run around the corner into the main entrance of the station at full speed.

In front of me are the steps I recognize from 'The Untouchables', leading down to the bright Great Hall beyond with its rows of benches and a looming arched ceiling. Lynard was right: the station is huge, and he'd promised that there were a million places to hide, with shops, food kiosks, and waiting areas all over the place. And more than a few dark areas behind the decorative columns where you just might find a drug deal going down, he'd told me with a knowing smirk. A methodical search of the mezzanine and concourse would eventually turn up a petite fugitive, even if she kept moving, but I don't plan on being here that long.

I glance from right to left. As my eyes adjust to the darkened interior, I scan the unlit balcony on either side of the long staircase. There are three tourists in shadow to my left, leaning over the balcony and videotaping the Great Hall. I walk over there and stand just beyond them. They give me an annoyed look but don't say or do anything as I pull off the black T-shirt to reveal a yellow tank top underneath. I stuff the tee in my backpack and pull my hair back into a ponytail, combing it with my fingers. The woman tourist's face looks as if I've skeeved her out by performing my hygiene in her personal space.

And then I wait. I pull out the bricked cell phone and pretend to use it left-handed to take pictures of The Great Hall below. My right hand, cramped with stress, stays firmly grasped on the Glock inside my backpack. The huge clock above the street exit tells me that two minutes pass, but it feels like twenty before Brown Suit Guy and the other man from the Greyhound station enter the building. That leaves the driver outside in the car, I calculate. My pursuers, their eyes unaccustomed to the darkness of the balcony, give my area only a cursory look before hustling down the stairs. Brown Suit Guy heads left and his partner veers right once they're down in the Great Hall. As soon as they're out of eye sight, I exit the building, walking as calmly as I can.

I turn left, in the opposite direction from which I came, walk to the end of the block, and cross the street with the light. Right in the middle of the intersection, I discreetly drop my busted cell phone where it will certainly get crushed by traffic within seconds. It's just a few steps to the first waiting cab, and I get in without hesitation.

"Navy Pier, please," I instruct the driver.

His voice drips with false bonhomie, apparently assuming that I'm just another tourist. "Welcome to the Windy City. I hope you'll enjoy your stay."

Two of my pursuers are still in Union Station. Did the third guy see me leave? I watch behind the cab but don't see the blue sedan. I think.

I check my watch. 7:35pm. Twenty-five hours since I first got on a Greyhound in Shreveport, Louisiana. "How late is Navy Pier open?"

"Ten p.m., ma'am." A few seconds later, when we stop for a light at an intersection, he asks, "Would you like me to take Lakeshore Drive or West Illinois?"

"Excuse me?" I've been going over what Lynard had told me about Navy Pier, which frankly sounded like tourist hell to me, but was far enough away from the train station that I'd be able to detect a tail, and was a great place to ditch my pursuers if necessary. "I don't know. Whichever's faster."

"You got it." He swings the cab into a right turn. I keep watching behind us, trying to spot a blue sedan jockeying for position. We're on a one-way street headed east, three lanes fraught with danger—too damned easy for a car to maneuver and catch us. I see a silver subcompact, a delivery truck, and a white paneled van. The only sedan I see is an older tan General Motors model about four cars behind us. There are several cabs, both behind us and on either side of us.

Is that one cab a little too close? I realize that Brown Suit Guy could have discerned my fakeout at Union Station, grabbing a taxi just as I had, and my heart starts pounding again. Forcing down my panic, I tell myself that he didn't see me get into this cab, there's no way he knows I'm—

"Something wrong?" the driver asks. I turn and see him watching me in the rearview mirror.

"Oh, just someone I thought I knew back there," I say, as casually as possible. My voice quivers a little, to my disgust. "Guess I was wrong." I'll have to be more subtle when I watch.

We're driving through a canyon of skyscrapers, tall buildings dwarfing us in our tiny vehicle. There are more and more taxis as we proceed. The cab turns right again onto a divided street with a cutout in the middle.

The cab driver announces, "We're on upper Wacker Drive now, a double-decker road that runs along the Chicago River. Trucks and local traffic have to go on the lower level. It was completed in 1926 and is considered the precursor to the modern highway."

"Really."

Another block, and he points at a black glass building on our left and launches into a long spiel about the Willis Tower—"you know, the Sears Tower." I take the opportunity of his concentration on his subject matter to check behind us again; no blue sedan that I can see.

We turn left onto another one-way street that we're sharing with several buses. I turn to my left and pretend to ooh and ahh about the Sears Tower, but in reality I'm watching to see who turns along with us. Two cabs and a red coupe follow us down the cramped four-lane street lined with parked cars and delivery trucks on both sides. A bus pulls out from a bus stop after the red coupe, blocking my sight further back. There's some jockeying for position, but nothing that seems too nefarious.

"On your right, Giordano's Famous Pizzeria." My stomach rumbles at the thought of a real meal after too many sandwiches in a row. A few blocks later, he points out the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Bank of America, and the Chicago Board of Trade. But my attention is drawn to the McDonald's on our right—I'm suddenly starving.

The neighborhood deteriorates, with a check cashing place, a cheap-looking burrito barn, and a dilapidated church. We pass under the elevated train, and I'm suddenly overcome with the longing to be an actual tourist here, to be wandering these streets with Dad and Logan, taking corny pictures and stuffing ourselves with Chicago deep-dish.

The canyon of buildings around us opens up, and I can see to the eastern horizon. The setting sun behind us is turning the sky ahead subtle shades of blue and purple. We enter a large grassy, tree-filled area, 'Grant Park', I recall from the map that Lynard had procured for me.  The cab driver points out the sights as we move through the park.  "Symphony Center…Art Institute of Chicago…Petrillo Bandshell."  This greenspace is symmetrical and orderly: too beautiful, too serene, too impossibly normal compared to my situation.

I look back again, and see a sedan behind us. Dark grey? Blue? I can't tell with the glare of the setting sun in my eyes. The cabbie is lingering a bit in the park, trying to give his fare the full tourist treatment, and the sedan is pacing us perfectly. I tell myself it can't be Brown Suit Guy's buddy. There's no way.

But when we get in the left lane to turn, the sedan does as well.

And when we turn onto Lakeshore Drive ("...originally built by the city to provide a carriageway for millionaire Potter Palmer's lakefront castle...") the sun glare diminishes, and I can see that the sedan following us is definitely dark blue, with a single person behind the wheel.

Continue reading...Pier

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-16 07:01 pm (UTC)
afrocurl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
Now I really want that shirt from Champaign! DAMN!

Also, I'm far too nervous for Veronica right now, as I'm sure is your design. Just know you're evil, V.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-16 07:24 pm (UTC)
afrocurl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
I really want that shirt! It's hilarious, especially since I'm sure that plenty of college kids get popped there. ;)

I haven't been in Chicago since 2004, and that time I went between a hotel near the Pier and the Palmer, but seems good. (I'm utter crap at the geography of that city--haven't spent enough time in it properly.)

You really are. I'd hate you, but I really don't. (Also, you got me to read something other than X-Men fic for a bit--that's a feat worth knowing right now.)

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-17 08:37 pm (UTC)
ext_83307: (Logan)
From: [identity profile] skatey.livejournal.com
Really enjoying all the Chicago bits--as a Chicago girl, you're doing a good job with the city! Especially with the downtown traffic and all the one way streets. Now you've got me mentally outlining where Veronica should go to lose these guys...

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-18 01:18 pm (UTC)
celtic_flicka: UFO (UFO)
From: [personal profile] celtic_flicka
Dude. I had a really freaky dream last night and it's all your fault. I dreamed that I was "on the run" with one of my kids and trying to hide out at a motel and figure out how I could change her appearance and all that. I woke up with my heart beating a mile a minute and couldn't fall back to sleep!

I blame you. And Lynard.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-18 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] vertejaune
Sorry if my comments on the last chapter seemed like I was slamming the entire concept of this story. As far as fanfiction goes, I generally accept that especially in the beginning or in the more out there stories, the authors are going to have to do whatever is necessary to get the characters to the place where they want to start the story. A story about Keith, Veronica, and Logan together on the run is a very interesting premise and I've quite enjoyed it. So I'm sorry if my last comment came off as unduly critical. I do see why the characters made the decisions they made- I was just wondering if it was really their best option, I suppose. And I think you have a very good point about Keith getting gradually more and more willing to break the law. I can't say that I noticed it during the show, but looking back it really does seem as though he takes more and more risks, acting further and further outside of the letter of the law as he has to protect Veronica from the consequences of her increasingly reckless behavior.

I have a reasonable amount of familiarity with Chicago and I thought you did a good job of describing it. I can see Navy Pier being both a good choice and bad choice. On one hand, it gets pretty crowded there. They could hardly attack her and get away with it- but that would draw attention, and Veronica would prefer to avoid cops. Getting lost in the crowd is a nice idea, especially for someone so little that can just dart between people, but hitting a brick wall of people could allow them to catch up to her before she can blend in, especially if they're right behind her. I'm wondering just how many people are involved in this pursuit- and if they've somehow managed to tag her. With a big city like that, they've managed to do a pretty good job staying on her tail.

Also- I've never come across the word agita before. I like it. Always a plus when I can justify entertainment reading on the grounds that it's educational.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-07-22 11:30 am (UTC)
medjunkie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] medjunkie
This is torturous but in a good way:)Whoever is after her is very determined. I know the story is from Veronica's pov but feel very curious as to how Logan and Keith are getting on

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