vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore

TITLE: Prognosis (21/?)
AUTHOR:

[personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 7,257
RATING:
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. All remaining errors are my responsibility.
AUTHOR'S NOTE:
Thanks for your patience. Sorry about the delay in updating. I'm probably not going to be able to update consistently for a while.

 

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 15~Plexus 16~Pier 17~Perception 18~Phantasm 19~Phantasm 20~Pyromania

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

Veronica has a terrible day of worrying after finally deciding to tell her father about Shelly Pomroy's party; at J. Crew, she lashes out at her co-worker, Jeff, when he makes a pass at her.

Veronica nervously tells her dad about the rape, explaining Cassidy and Duncan's roles that night. Keith presses her for more details, and Logan, over Veronica's objections, tells her father that he was the one who brought the Liquid X to Shelly's party. Keith blows up and reacts physically, striking Logan several times, and Veronica has a dissociative crisis, brought on by PTSD and the unrelenting stress of their escape from Neptune. She locks herself in the bathroom to escape the altercation between Logan and her dad.

Keith and Logan, working together, get her out and calmed down. While Veronica is out of it, Logan tells Keith about Veronica's nightmares; Veronica knows she *should* be furious with him, but she isn't. Veronica realizes that her dad lashed out the same way that Logan had with Gory, and she tells her dad that he's just like Logan, in all the important ways.


 


Warm. Soft. Quiet.

I squint through a slit in my eyelids, braced for the intrusion of light. My head feels muzzy and a little achy, and it takes a second to register exactly where I am. Chapel Hill, but why am I sleeping in the bedroom? Something happened, something...not good. Subtle sounds of movement tickle my ears as I discern a familiar shape walking from the bureau to the closet. "Hey," I croak.

"Hey, yourself, sleepyhead." He turns, and I wince at the sight of Logan's face, with its massive black eye and swollen lip.

Memories flood my brain of Dad slamming his fist into Logan's face and me hiding in the bathroom—but I don't want to think about my meltdown quite yet. "Oh my god, your face," I whisper. Dad. Logan. Fuck. Fuck!

He shrugs. "It'll be okay. Just a black eye." It's unspoken: Aaron did a lot worse.

"That bruise on your back from Gory finally healed and now—"

Setting some folded laundry on the bureau, Logan walks over to the bed and sits down next to me. "Stop. It's okay. How'd you sleep last night?"

"What time is it?" I struggle to sit up. My whole body's stiff from sleeping too long, and I feel a little lost in time and space.

"Ten a.m. You slept for about twelve hours."

"Wow. I haven't done that in ages."

He nods. "Yeah. Maybe you needed it? What about the, you know, the nightmare?"

"I don't think I dreamt at all last night. I was exhausted—I don't even remember falling asleep."

"Good, that's what I thought. No dreaming is good."

He doesn't say it, but I automatically add on, 'See? I told you so. I told you it'd help to tell your dad.'

I hug my knees to my chest. Dad punching Logan...huddled in the tub, noises...somebody holding me until I stopped struggling. Not quite memories, but flashes that I struggle to make sense of. They must have broken the lock on the door last night to get me out of there. Shame...so weak. I push it all away; there's information to gather, to process.

My memory of the conversation with Dad before the fight is clear enough, and I focus on Logan—foolish Logan—admitting his part in the circle jerk otherwise known as Shelly's party. I clear my throat; I'm phlegmy and parched. "What possessed you last night to tell Dad about bringing the drugs? I wasn't going to mention that."

"Yeah, I know. That's why I had to say it." Logan looks away, and I wonder what's going through his head. "I knew you were going to put a good spin on it."

"And what would have been wrong with that?" My voice sounds really fucking weird.

"Spinning that night hasn't done us any good so far. It's been a giant wall between us. I just wish I hadn't reveled in being such a jackass to you. I mean, I understand that I was upset about Lilly, and, yeah, I was just a kid. But to freeze you out, to torment you because of what your dad was doing? Which, by the way, was his job?"

It was worse than freezing me out, I think. I got raped by a couple of '09ers, and then you and your cronies called me a slut for over a year. That's kind of despicable.

And then it occurs to me. When Logan and I were together over the summer between junior and senior year, he made sure that everyone treated me with respect. The nasty insinuations written in bathroom stalls stopped. The catcalling and slut-sneezing disappeared, for the most part. So I would have thought that when we broke up a few months later, Logan and his crew would have gone back to their petty cruelties.

But other than Logan and I personally sniping at each other, the exquisite torture of sophomore and junior year—the barbs about my mother and my supposed lack of chastity, the public humiliation of scurrilous graffiti and slanderous rumors—never quite resurfaced at that level again. And I don't believe it was solely because I'd solved Lilly's murder or that I'd reunited with Duncan, although I'm sure both of those facts helped.

It certainly wasn't that my fine classmates had forgotten the art of bullying as retribution. They'd tried to destroy Jackie when her father was arrested. I remember how keenly I'd understood exactly what she was going through, even if I'd had a hard time bonding with her personally.

"When we broke up the first time and I got back together with Duncan..." I don't know how to ask it. Does it even matter? But of course it matters; I always have to know everything. "Even after we broke up, you told everyone to leave me alone, didn't you? The rumors and the graffiti, I mean."

"What?" He looks at me, a little off-balance from the non sequitur. "Senior year? Yeah, pretty much. Except it was kind of hard to get Dick to go along."

"I never realized you did that."

"I was angry with you for dumping me, but I still loved you too. And I was ashamed of how we'd treated you, especially when I found out about Shelly's party. I never would have admitted it to you, but, yeah, I tried to keep a lid on it, as much as I could."

'I've tried every day to make it up to her.' "Thank you for that."

There's a really awkward silence. How the hell do you get past a history like ours? Finally I say, "We didn't tell Dad that you were the one who dosed Duncan. Can we agree that maybe he doesn't need to know that? I really like you alive, okay?"

"All right."

Worrying at my lip a little, I taste blood. I remember gnawing at that flesh last night during our discussion. "I swear to you that I've forgiven you for that night. You didn't know what was going to happen."

He shakes his head. That closed-up eye nags at me; the swollen lip accuses. "I think I did know what might happen. I think I would have done anything to hurt you that night. You don't know how angry I was, about everything. I was incredibly angry at you, and I don't think I ever thought about how unfair that was. As if you could control your dad. And now that I've gotten to know him a little bit," he grimaces ruefully, "I understand how his moral compass wouldn't have allowed him to rubber-stamp a snow job by the Kanes."

Please...let these confessions stop. My head spins and the room tilts vertiginously; I hate everything about this. If only I could run somewhere, hide somewhere where his bloodied face wouldn't haunt me...

He's looking at me expectantly, and I know it's my cue to respond. To proclaim my understanding. To spill my guts. I remember long sessions with Dr. Dave sophomore year where he exhorted me to "share" my feelings to no avail. Guess that head-shrinking didn't really 'take'.

You've got to do this, Veronica. Hesitantly, I put my hand on his, and he grabs it and holds on. I inhale and let my issues fly. "I was angry too. And I was in shock about everything. I'd lost my best friend, Duncan had dumped me, and all of a sudden all my friends hated me... At least a part of me went to that party to say 'fuck you all'."

Again, he looks away, hiding himself from me. Shrouded, denied, strangled. We're a great pair; maybe that's what I should hang on to. "Logan, I missed you. It wasn't just that I'd lost Lilly and Duncan, I'd lost you too. You changed overnight into someone who hated me, and I thought you were gone forever."

Logan turns back to me, and I see the pain on his battered face. "What do we do? How do we make it better, after all this time? How do we stop hurting each other?"

How is this helping? I'm longing for a platitude-of-the-day calendar to give me advice. Unassisted, all I can manage is, "We're here together now." He shakes his head, because it's not nearly enough. I continue, "I want to try to get past this. It's the first time we've ever really talked about this—maybe it'll help. Like you said, I needed to talk about it, and I never did. And I'll try not to push you away like I always do." I feel a little virtuous, admitting my frailties and conceding his wisdom. Surely I should get points for that.

"What if— What if you're just saying that because I'm here with you guys—because I'm your only choice now? Would you be saying that if we were back in Neptune and not on the run?"

He's so earnest and concerned; pretty much the perfect boyfriend. Too bad I'm not the perfect girlfriend.

Hesitantly, I reply, "I think so." Logan winces a little at my tentativeness. Pulling his hand free, he scratches his head and the psychic wall between us rematerializes. I feel exhausted; this business of being sincere and open feels never-ending and too fucking hard.

'You really think a relationship should be that hard?'


I shake off my fears and explain myself. "Logan, I'm trying to be honest. I do know that I fought for you to be here with us. It would have been easy to leave you behind in Neptune, or to let Dad give into his doubts when we found out about your probation. I have to tell you, I can't even imagine allowing Dad to abandon you. I want you here with us." On some imaginary tote-board, my credits are skyrocketing. I fought for you, goddammit, doesn't that mean anything?

"You're just feeling guilty," he replies, his voice filled with self-loathing. "You think this is your fault."

"It is my fault, and you guys won't let me fix it." Anger seeps into my consciousness. "Stop making me prove my love to you every five seconds." I inhale sharply; that came out a lot harsher than I intended. "Logan, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that."

"I think you did."

"You know what would really help? If you decided to work with me, instead of against me. Agree with me that we should try to figure out a way to get our lives back! It doesn't mean that I don't love or respect you, just because I want to go to college, have a career, live wherever the fuck I want to in the world."

"What the hell, Veronica? You know, you were the one who fought the hardest back in Neptune, that we needed to run. And now—"

"Yes, because Dad would have gone to prison and Gory would have killed you if we'd stayed! That doesn't mean I was planning on giving up on life forever—"

"I'm scared, all right? You always think you know everything, that you can do anything whether it's dangerous or not. I remember the way you tried to blackmail that judge. You were amped up, excited about it, and then it blew up in your face. This is exactly the same. I trust your dad, that lying low is our best option. I'm scared you're going to get us all killed."

"You've made that incredibly clear." We stare at each other, both of us breathing hard with the effort not to yell and scream.

we're doing it again we're doing it again we'redoingitagain

I close my eyes and focus on a pinpoint of memory: falling into bed with him yesterday, surrendering myself to be one with him again. My hand fumbles, searching for his. Ten fingers press hard and weave together, the tendrils of our fragile connection assimilating and reestablishing.

His voice is rough and weary, conciliatory but wary. "You made a huge concession yesterday. You told your dad like I wanted you to. I promise that I won't fight you on this if you promise that you're being careful."

"I'm being careful. I promise."

"Most days I just want to get the hell out of here. Find a beach somewhere. I need the water; I need wind and waves so I don't feel crazy. When you guys aren't here, sometimes I pull a couple pillows over my face and just scream my head off." Pulling free from my hand, he stands up and walks over to the window set high in the wall. His eyes focus on the sliver of blue sky visible through the glass. "It feels like I've been stuck inside for a year."

I've been so consumed with my own angst that I've forgotten how terrible it is for him to be confined to this small space. "It's not going to be forever."

"Yeah, it is. Some bottom-feeding gossip rag is always going to be dredging it up, and I'm never going to be able to go out in public. Unless I start packing on the pounds and get plastic surgery. It's not like I haven't thought about it. A new nose, cheek implants, maybe some collagen for my lips."

"Ew." He doesn't laugh; his gaze stays focused on the window. I ask, "You're serious, aren't you?"

"Yeah. I've been thinking a lot. I also had an idea how we could leave the U.S. without being detected. Maybe we could even get to a country without extradition."

"How?" Logan turns from the window and comes back to the bed. The intensity of his expression scares me. "Logan, what's your idea? Come on, spill."

"Maybe tonight, at dinner. I think your dad wants to hang out with you this afternoon. At least that's what he said at breakfast—something about 'daddy-daughter time' since you don't have to work today. I'll tell you both my idea tonight; I'm still figuring out the details."

I punch his arm. "Why must you always keep secrets from me?" Suddenly I grin. It feels so good to joke around a little.

"Ow." He rubs his shoulder ostentatiously. "I was going to bring you breakfast in bed and maybe suck your toes for a while until your dad got home. But now? I think I'm going to watch 'The Price Is Right'. Did you know that Bob Barker is retiring?"

"Ooh, toe-sucking."

"Did you hear what I said? Bob Barker is retiring. He's a Hollywood icon. Sheesh. Get with the program, Mars. Always focusing on the trivial stuff."

"There's nothing trivial about toe-sucking."

"Really?" He looks at me, wondering if I'm joking.

"I'm kidding!" Except I'm not. Simple little words: Hold me. Make love to me. Why are they so hard to say?

Logan says, a little too innocently, "Would you do me a favor? Could you put on those new high heeled shoes you bought in Chicago?"

I play along. "With what outfit?"

He leans over and whispers in my ear. "Nothing at all. Completely nude. Stark naked."

I whisper back, "Did you know I brought your favorite bra with me? It was quite a sacrifice; I had to choose between it and a very special pair of socks that Lilly gave me for my birthday." C'mon, c'mon! Don't you get it? I'm flirting! Don't you want to be with me again?

Logan rolls his eyes. "Well, I'm glad my favorite lingerie's more important that a pair of socks." Very casually, he asks, "Are you talking about the purple bra?"

And then he winks, and I'm flooded with endorphins. Banter—it's the one thing we're great at. So I punch him again. "I've never had a purple one! The black one, you idiot. Remember? After the Radiohead concert?"

"Hmm." He rubs his arm and pretends to think. "Low-cut lace, with a little bow? Hooks in the back? Performs amazing feats of gravity-defying support? Mm, cleavage. I have fond memories of taking that bra off you."

I smile, the good memory and our easy repartee attenuating our sadness for the moment. I do feel a tiny bit better today. One whole night without a nightmare. "Hmm. I definitely recall you struggling with the clasp that night."

"You lie. There's not a bra in this world that I can't unhook in under two seconds."

"Oh, that sounds like a challenge."

He rubs his thumb and forefinger together and then flicks them open. "Bra-lapalooza 2007?"

I shoot back, "That's totally off the hook."

He snorts. "You're on. Have your manager call my manager to set it up." Logan stands up and stretches, a little creakily. It's obvious that Dad's blows hurt him more than a little. "So, breakfast, what's it going to be? Scrambled eggs or cereal?"

I'm crushed that he doesn't intend to take advantage of our time alone to make love to me again. It's my fault—I'm too scared to throw myself at him; how's he going to know what I want if I can barely embrace him for fear of another trip to my porcelain safety zone? A little banter is all I can muster up to let him know what I want, and it's a pathetic attempt at foreplay. The thought that he might reject my caress, even out of trepidation or misplaced concern, nauseates me. I'm such a coward.

But at the same time I'm certain it's not just me who's afraid. He's jittery after the fistfight, and I know he's obsessing about our problems, just like I am. Maybe he even regrets making love to me yesterday. So, returning his smile, I conceal my heartache. "I can make my own breakfast, you know. I'm not a fragile little baby."

"Unh-unh. Your dad gave me specific orders that you were to take it easy today." I fight back a giggle as he pulls up the blankets up and tucks me in again, the covers drawn overly tight and restricting my movements. "I plan on delivering you to him in your currently pristine condition."

"Pristine? You're making me a mummy!" I protest.

"Yeah. Exactly. But you're safe. What's it going to be?"

"Eggs, but—"

"I know. No eggshells. I think I've figured it out." He plants a kiss on my forehead and disappears out of the bedroom.

*****

I sit in the passenger seat of the car Dad borrowed from his boss as we drive toward Raleigh. Apparently, the landlord is pretty ecstatic to have such a responsible employee, so he'd offered the use of a car so that Dad could run errands for the apartment building. And Dad had announced that he'd gotten permission to use the car for our "surprise" today.

"Where are we going?" I ask, for the thousandth time.

"It's a surprise," he replies, as he did every other time. He turns to me and smiles, that familiar beaming expression I'm used to, but underneath I can't help but see that awful rage from last night.

'WHAT DID HE DO? WHAT DID HE DO?' And then a fist moving fast, and Logan slumping to the floor.

"How do you feel today?" Dad asks.

I tense. Is his smile fake? Does he usually show his teeth that way? His brow is a little furrowed; is that normal for Dad? "What do you mean?" I ask, stalling.

"I mean, How. Do. You. Feel." He huffs a little laugh. A little chuckle to put me at ease? Would Dad really be that deceitful? To a stranger, sure, but to me?

"I'm good."

He sighs. "Veronica, did you sleep okay?"

"Yeah, no nightmares. Why won't you tell me where we're going?"

Frowning, he gazes at me. Appraising my mental condition? Deciding what the hell to do with me? "You love surprises, honey—what's the matter with you? Usually by now, you'd be guessing that I'd finally gotten you that pony you've always wanted."

"Nothing's the matter," I rush to say. "I slept really well. Really, Dad, I'm fine."

"I'm sorry I got so upset last night. And I'll never forgive myself for hitting him, especially after what Aaron put him through." He sounds sincere.

"I know. It's okay."

"I think you're going to feel a lot better after today." Dad concentrates on the road, peering at the unfamiliar road signs and consulting directions written on the back of an envelope. "Logan thought it was a good idea too."

'We were trying to figure out if you needed a doctor. Maybe a hospital. You scared us.'

Oh god. Oh god, ohgod, ohgodohgod. "Daddy, I swear, I'm going to be okay. Please don't take me to a hospital."

"What?"

"I don't need to see a shrink. I just...I just got a little, I don't know, I'm tired, I guess—"

"Veronica!" Dad wrenches the steering wheel to the right and pulls the car off the road as the car behind us honks furiously. He slots the gearshift into park and scoots across the seat to take me into his arms. "We're not going to a doctor. I wanted it to be a surprise...but we're going to one of those family fun centers. Go-karts, batting cages, videogames, and all the crappy junk food you want. Daddy-daughter time, like we used to do when you were younger. You haven't had any fun in ages, and I thought it might cheer you up."

"You're not just saying that so I'll calm down until we get to the hospital?"

"Jesus, Veronica!" He clasps me even tighter. "I swear."

And now he's probably reconsidering his plan and wishing he was taking me to a doctor. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry!"

"I am worried about you, honey. But I thought that just forgetting about all our problems for an afternoon might be the best medicine of all. Remember how we used to race go-karts on Sunday mornings?"

When Mom was hungover, Dad would get us out of the house rather than walk on eggshells until she felt human again. "Yeah, you're right," I reply listlessly. "Sounds like fun."

"At some point, we're going to talk about everything. But don't you think it might help to just be silly for a few hours?"

"What if somebody recognizes us?"

"No one's going to recognize us. I'd worry if we were in a bus terminal or a train station. But no one's going to be looking for us in a place like this." He falls silent. "...Maybe we should do this another time, and you should just get some more sleep—"

"No, I'm all right." I've got to prove to him that I'm not a whackjob. Feeling wretched, I smile at him and try to keep my voice steady. "You're right, this is exactly what I need."

*****

It turns out that Father Does Know Best. Because after I kick his ass racing go-karts and he schools me in batting, I feel a little bit like Veronica Mars again. 'Family Time Fun Palace' is neon and glass, filled with the sounds of two-stroke motors revving, aluminum bats connecting, and videogame theme music on endless repeat. The place is swarming with kids attending birthday parties and divorced dads trying to win the love of their noncustodial offspring, and it feels so normal that I can actually breathe. We might be a little older than the average clientele, but no one looks at us twice, and I actually scream with delight when I beat my old man at air hockey.

Dad and I have bought a dinner of bacon cheeseburgers and nachos dripping with the fake cheese stuff. There's not a bit of nutrition in our choices, and I wolf it all down with a cherry cola as he looks on approvingly.

With his mouth full, he mutters, "Maybe you just had a deficiency of orange food coloring."

"Excuse me?" I retort.

He wipes his mouth with a napkin. "Annato, the stuff they use to color cheese. It's well known that you'll go crazy without it."

I stick my tongue out at him. And then I laugh, and it feels like the most natural thing in the world to be here joking around with my dad.

He pretends to look thoughtful. "Then again, I might be confusing that with Vitamin C."

"Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy. You know, like pirates?"

"Arrr. Avast, me matey. Have some more processed cheese-food, honey. Who's your daddy?"

It's been forever since we've done this routine, but I know my line by heart. "You are."

*****

After a final rematch on the go-kart course, where I prove my superiority once again, we leave the Fun Palace and head back toward Chapel Hill.

"Feel like talking a little?" Dad asks.

"Yeah. Sure."

He pulls into the parking lot of a busy shopping mall and cuts the engine. We sit in silence for a few minutes. Finally, I say, "It starts when I'm running away from Brown Suit Guy, outside of Navy Pier."

I tell him my whole nightmare. It takes a long time, because I have to keep explaining. Things that I should have told him ages ago: what Mercer said and did that night in Benes Hall, how I'd investigated my sex video, confronting Domonick Desanti and Gory. Then how I'd recruited my friends to help me and inadvertently put them and Logan in harm's way. And the way I'd ruined Dad's life with my stupid vendetta. All the details I'd left out when I supposedly told him everything the night before we left Neptune. He doesn't say much, just hugs me and keeps murmuring, "It's going to be okay."

And then I start telling him how I'd investigated my rape junior year, and that's when I start to cry. I hide my face in his chest so he can't see me as I talk, and his arms snake around me, pressing me to him, like he'll never ever let me go.

I tell him everything: discovering that Logan had brought the drugs, and then questioning everyone who'd been at the party. Sifting all the information, assessing the truthfulness of the people who used to be my friends. Willing myself to remember, and driving myself crazy assimilating the snippets of truth with my actual memories. Imagining what had happened while I was drugged and helpless. And then putting it together that it had been Duncan, and confronting and eventually forgiving him, only to have the rug pulled out from under me a year later on the roof.

My sobs finally cease with a last little hiccup, and he says, "I understand why you didn't tell me. You're probably right; I would've interrogated every boy in the school." His voice is so gentle it makes me start crying again. "But I wish I'd known, because I also would've tried to make it a little easier for you. I can't imagine how awful it was to suspect your friends. And then, when you found out about Cassidy...oh, Veronica, I just hate that you went through that alone."

"I wasn't alone. I had Logan."

"Except that Logan was involved. Can't you see that there's no way he could be your confidante?"

"I suppose. I had Mac, too, you know. Now that was an uncomfortable conversation, telling her that cute boy she'd been falling in love with wasn't just a mass murderer, but also a rapist." I'd thought at first that telling Mac that Beaver had completely fooled me as well would make her feel better, but she'd only been more depressed and upset about their tentative makeout sessions. At least she'd dodged the chlamydia bullet, I'd told her, and then regretted it when she ran out of the room to puke her guts out. Mac had had a shrink to talk to, so after that uncomfortable conversation, we'd skirted the subject by tacit agreement.

Dad grimaces. "You told Mac, but you couldn't tell me?" A slight edge to his voice, anger reined in. I feel his body tense, and his hug crushes me a little harder.

"You would have insisted I tell the sheriff's department. And there was no way I was going to Lamb again with that story."

"Burning in hell's too good for that— That cretin."

I wonder what he would have called Lamb to someone other than his daughter. "Agreed."

He sighs. I feel rather than see his appraising glance, and wonder what he's struggling to say. "So, uh, last night. I really couldn't sleep after what happened. And neither could Logan. We ended up talking until four a.m. He's pretty concerned about you—and about the two of you. I never thought I'd say this, but he really loves you. Claims he always has. Do you...do you know how you feel about him?"

I pull away from his embrace and sit up. No good can come of this. "Dad! I'm not discussing my lovelife with you. And I'd really rather you didn't discuss it with him either."

"Surely you can see that we're in a rather unique situation, and romantic complications...would complicate things."

"Surely? Don't call me Shirley. Geez, Dad." A flip comment is always appropriate when your dad is trying to get the deets on your lovelife.

"Veronica. I'm serious. What's going on with you and him?"

Dad's not going to give up. And I see his point. He needs to be apprised, and maybe he can even help. After all, he was in a dysfunctional relationship for years. Codependent, they call it. Is that what Logan and I have? A codependent relationship? Oh, this is so awful. Let this be over. Please, let me wake up in Neptune, with my dad parentally oblivious to my romantic entanglements.

His fingers drum on the steering wheel—Dad's trying to figure out what to say to me. He thinks this is helping me. Before he can take a breath in to press me harder, I say, "I...I'm not really sure what's going on with us."

"He's worried you're getting involved with him again only because you feel guilty."

'Involved'. Parent-speak for hooking up. Doin' the nasty. I try to focus, but it feels insane to discuss primal urges with my parental unit. "Yeah, I know he's worried. He said that to me today. It feels like he's always asking me to prove that I love him."

"It's a lot of pressure. Here's the thing. You don't have a girlfriend to talk to about this stuff. I think you're going to have to talk to me about it."

"Oh god. Dad, no."

"Yeah, 'oh god'."

"I don't mean—"

"I get it."

We lapse into silence again. I watch the people hustling in and out of the shopping mall; so very normal, so wonderfully normal. They've got their phones pressed to their ears, talking to their friends. Moms wrestling with strollers and oversized shopping bags; a toddler perching on his dad's shoulders. Teenagers testing the limits of freedom, hiding things from their parents in the natural order of things.

If I don't say it, I'm going to explode. "Dad, I want to try to get our life back. You've got to let me investigate the Sorokins, or I'll go crazy."

"Veronica—"

"I got one of those wireless modems I told you about." I barrel right past his reflexive intake of air. "I haven't done anything with it yet. Please say that I can at least try to figure out why Gory's people were so intense in Chicago. I think my dream is trying to tell me something."

"I think your dream is telling you that you feel guilty about the man you shot."

"You mean the man I sent to the big gulag in the sky?" I ask sarcastically. "Of course I feel guilty."

"Honey, first of all, it was an accident. You weren't even aiming, you told us."

"Yeah, right. An accident. Shooting a gun at a person, and then being surprised because the bullet hit him. Yeah, that's an accident all right! Do you think he had a family? Kids? We don't even know. Anatoly Ponomarev got a toe tag because of me, and I don't even know if anybody's grieving for him."

"You might be dreaming about it because you need to talk about it."

"Arggh!" Hunching over, I rub my eyes with my fists and try to grind out my frustration. I sit up suddenly and yell at Dad, "I'm so fucking sick of hearing that. I'm talking! I'm talking!" I start to beat on him with my fists, and he grabs onto my wrists. I'm whimpering and sobbing, fighting against his grip, and he just lets me cry it out.

"Shh. Shh. It's going to be okay, Veronica. Shh."

Exhausted, I slump against him. He strokes my back for a long time, just letting me breathe in and out.

I mumble, "I miss Wallace. I miss Mac."

"I know you do."

"I'm so sorry about everything—"

"Shh, it's okay."

At last, he murmurs, "What do you say we go home?"

"Yeah. Let's go home." He kisses the top of my head and I sit up.

As he drives, I lean against his strong shoulder, his capable arm protecting me, for the moment anyways. I can't tell if I feel better for having talked to him; I just feel so intensely right now that gradations of comfort are beyond my understanding. But I know that it felt good to set aside my worries for a few hours. "I had fun today."

"That's good. Fun is very good," he replies, squeezing my shoulder.

"I wish Logan could have come. He needs a fun day out too. You know, he's got some harebrained scheme he's been dreaming up. Some crazy way to get out of the country. Or else he wants to get plastic surgery on his face."

"It might come to that, Veronica. The press isn't letting up, and he can't stay hidden forever."

The thought of plastic surgery is depressing because it's so permanent—an admission that our lives are gone. I don't want to think about Logan with a new nose and chin. The disguises are bad enough. I run through a mental array of new faces for Logan, each one more disturbing than the last.

All my fault.

Duncan's probably got a new face by now too. Maybe one day we'll all run into each other and none of us will recognize the others. And that depresses me even more.

And then I realize: Dad never gave me an answer about using the modem.

Back at the apartment, Logan lets us in when I knock and call "Honeybun." I can see him assessing me as I sit down in the living room, and I'm too tired to deal with his smothering concern. It irks me to realize that he's exchanging glances with Dad, and I lash out. "I'm fine. You can ask me directly, you know. We had a lot of fun, and then we talked. Happy?"

"Um, not when you say it like that," Logan replies. "Honeybun."

"Sorry," I say. I mean it, but I'm still so cranky about the plastic surgery discussion that I can't really sound sorry. Logan gives me a questioning look, and I avert my eyes.

"We did have fun, but we missed you today," Dad says. "We wished you could have come too."

"Hey, I had a kickass frozen pizza and 'King of Queens' reruns on the tube to keep me company. I saved you a piece of pizza, honeybun."

"Call me that again, and I'm going to hurt you," I retort.

Logan plops down on the sofa next to me and extends his hand. I take it, and I feel the relief emanating from him in waves. He whispers, "Are you sure you're okay? You really talked?"

"Yeah. But can we not dissect it?"

"Okay, okay."

Dad takes the chair across from us, and I flash back to the evening before, Logan holding my hand before I launched into my tale of woe. My body tenses with the memory. Under my breath, I murmur, "Please, no more secrets. No more revelations."

"Huh?" Logan asks.

Aloud, I say, "So what's this plan you're cooking up? Come on. I waited all day. Patiently. Which is quite uncharacteristic for me."

Logan takes a deep breath. "We buy a sailboat and set sail for the Caribbean. We could get something decent for maybe fifty grand—the secondary market for boats is really depressed. We register it under a corporation so it can't be traced to us. My da— Aaron always did that so it was harder for the paparazzi to find them."

Dad muses, "They're not as strict with boat registrations as cars. And it's harder to patrol an open ocean."

Logan adds, "And then we set sail, heading east for Bermuda, and then south to the Caribbean. Specifically, Cuba. There's no extradition to the U.S."

"It's not quite that easy," Dad says. "Cuba's not the fugitives' paradise people think it is, unless you have unlimited funds, which we don't have."

"Uh, Dad, did you hear him say 'Bermuda'?" I turn to Logan. "Are you talking about sailing into the Bermuda Triangle? With two people who don't know how to sail? Isn't that kind of, you know, insane? When we were talking about a boat back in Neptune, we were thinking a motorboat, and we wouldn't have been far offshore."

Logan is shaking his head. "It would take too long if we stayed close to shore. The winds are in the wrong direction. It's better to go east to Bermuda, and then south, like a..." He hesitates. "Like a triangle. And if we're going to beat the hurricane season, we'd have to make a run for it soon, and then get into a protected harbor once we're down there. Otherwise, we'd have to wait until November."

"Hurricanes? You are insane," I pronounce.

"I know how to sail, Veronica," Dad says. "Maybe we should think about this."

"Dad, you haven't sailed since I was born. And my experience is holding the tiller for Duncan while he peed over the side."

"I've done that route," Logan persists. "Well, at least to Bermuda, which is the hardest part because you have to cross the gulf stream. There's a yacht race every year in June, and Enbom's dad took me and John along a couple times. Three to six days to Bermuda, and then from Bermuda, it's a beam reach all the way to the Virgin Islands. Which means an easy sail—maybe another week to ten days depending on the wind. I've sailed with my parents all over the Caribbean. Bareboat charters, they call it. My parents were always half in the bag by noon, but I loved it, so I did most of the skippering. I can do this. I can show you guys what to do. We'd watch the weather before we left, and wait until we had favorable conditions."

"Don't people die sailing offshore?" I persist. It's scaring the crap out of me that Dad seems to be actually listening to this ridiculous plan.

"When did you lose your nerve?" Logan asks me.

"You got a lot of balls saying that. You've been accusing me of being reckless for the last year. Now I'm being responsible, and you're the crazy one."

"Okay, if we're going to stay here, then I think I need to have some plastic surgery done. I can't hide anymore. I'm losing my mind." The desperation is apparent in Logan's voice.

It feels like the walls are closing in on me again. My breathing is weird and unregulated, and I'm hot and cold simultaneously, with my palms sweating and my face flushing. My eyes flutter shut, and the next thing I know, Dad is leaning over me, his hand grasping mine. "Veronica? Stay with me. Logan, get her a glass of water. Veronica, you need to slow your breathing. Count: in for four, out for four. Come on, do it with me. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four."

Logan sets a glass of water down in front of me. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you. I'll drop it. It was a stupid idea."

The controlled breathing helps, and now I feel like an idiot. "You're not crazy. I shouldn't have said that."

Dad says quietly, "It's worth discussing. Right now, we've effectively disappeared. We can assume that the easy border crossings—airports, cruise ships, bridges, places like that—still have us on a watch list. And if we'd tried to leave by boat from Neptune, I think the Coast Guard would have caught us. But they can't patrol the entire East Coast. And a small sailboat on the open ocean would be very hard to detect."

"If one of you gets hurt, I'd never forgive myself," I say. "I don't care how many times you deny it, this is my fault. And, Logan, you've been telling me for days that you think lying low here is our best option."

"Lying low here is better than trying to blackmail the mob the way you want to do. And you know that I'm listening to your dad because I think he knows what he's doing. He's been tracing fugitives for a living, and if anyone can hide us, he can." Logan sounds persuasive, even passionate. "But I don't think I can exist hiding in a basement apartment for the rest of my life. Can we at least talk about trying to start over in another country? From the Caribbean, we could try to go anywhere in the world. Somewhere where our money would last a long time. Somewhere where I can have a life, too."

"Does it have to be all or nothing?" I ask. "Let me access the Internet, see what I can find out. And you act like you're going to be able to the grocery store and pick out a boat—isn't it going to be a little difficult to find a decent used boat? You know what would help with that? The Internet. And then once we have some information, we can make a decision together."

Dad sighs. "This Tor protocol you talked about. You're completely certain it masks our IP location?"

"Yes, Dad. I'm certain."

Dad looks thoughtful. "If we're going to try this sailboat idea, I think it should be unanimous. We all agree that it's our best option, or else we don't do it."

Logan nods, and I say, "Absolutely."

"Get the modem. I want to see this Tor in action before I set you loose on the world wide web."

Frowning at him, I get the modem and our laptop. I boot up, plug in the modem, and start the Tor program. It's ridiculous, but I imagine Jake Kane hunched over a keyboard in Pemberton Estates, tenting his fingertips like Monty Burns and waiting for us to step into a trap. Dad watches the screen intently; Logan pulls up a chair so he can look over my shoulder. I go to a Google start page and ask, "Where first?"

"The Neptune Register," Dad says tersely.

There's a slight delay as our keystrokes fly electronically through multiple nodes around the world, covering our tracks the way we did on the Greyhounds. Finally, the page loads; it's a kick in the gut to see the familiar masthead. The three of us silently scan the day's headlines.

My voice is a little shaky. "What the hell is going on in Neptune?"

Continue reading...Paternity

(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-23 06:31 am (UTC)
sarahbrand: a lone figure looking out over a vast ocean (Default)
From: [personal profile] sarahbrand
Aaaah, cliffhanger! I hope they figure out a way to go back to Neptune... I guess starting over in another country wouldn't be that bad, though, all things considered.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-24 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you for continuing this story. I love all your Veronica Mars stories. I very seldom comment because I have a problem putting my thoughts down in writing but I felt the need to reassure you that your story is still being read. I miss VM, especially Logan and I love the way you portray him. Keep up the good work!! Looking forward to the next update.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-25 05:19 am (UTC)
afrocurl: (VM - Kiss)
From: [personal profile] afrocurl
Oh that's a change of pace...

But I'm glad to see that Veronica got out some of her issues, and had some fun in the process.

Also, it's more than interesting that Logan had that idea--I really like it, though I think that there's something in Neptune to complicate it.

Precipitation

Date: 2011-10-25 01:59 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Please Please Please don't stop!! I am way too involved in this story for it to not continue!

I know that this fandom is dwindling, but I just really wanted to let you know that there are still some of us out here! I'm with the previous poster about how much I miss this show. I've been watching old Party Down eps just to get my fix of anyone from the VMverse!

I have read ALL of your VM fics (at least once!) and I just want to really thank you for all of the time & effort you put into making each story of the highest quality.

Sorry for such a gushy comment, but I guess my separation anxiety is kicking in...I had this horrible feeling that you may not finish this story...or may not write another VM fic. I just wanted to take the time to let you know that you still have readers out here hanging on your every word! LOL
Please keep it up!!

Thank you!!!
Melanie

(no subject)

Date: 2011-10-25 02:34 pm (UTC)
celtic_flicka: UFO (Default)
From: [personal profile] celtic_flicka
Woot! I'm jazzed about the idea of Veronica getting back into detective mode!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-05 12:51 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] fickledame
Argh, don't leave it there! Ugh, poor Veronica being someone who doesn't overshare, having to tell everyone everything.

It's interesting you have her tell Mac about Cassidy, as I can't see her telling her ever, really, at least in my head!

And I can feel Logan going stir crazy. There must be a way for him to go out - somehow. :/

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-05 12:52 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Also it would be a reset button - but no Wallace or Mac. Her never seeing them again makes me really sad.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-06 05:25 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Read this a while ago but must confess have been very distracted and uber busy recently and not so good with my reviewing.
I loved it of course. Its good to see Veronica trusting her father and starting to heal a bit more.
As for the plastic surgery idea NO DONT MESS WITH THAT GORGEOUS FACE!!!!!!!
Medjunkie

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-07 03:43 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Still here! Take care of yourself, Vanessa, and I look forward to the next chapter when you can post it.

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-07 03:44 am (UTC)
schuylerjo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] schuylerjo
And, as usual, I forgot to log in :).

(no subject)

Date: 2011-11-29 06:36 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I just started reading this series today. I've been meaning to read it for a while, and today was the first time that I had free to do so.

And now I've read all 21 parts and I WANT MORE!!!!

This is AMAZINGLY interesting and in character, and I want to know what happens next, and I love Veronica's meltdowns. Normally, stories in which Veronica is shaky and meltdowny annoy me, because she did it so few times on the show. But this is PERFECTLY done, because it's not making Veronica weak; it's just that she's been repressing for so long, and now these issues are so big, that they're breaking out, regardless of what she needs to be able to do, and in spite of her fear and her meltdowns, she's able to keep going and do what needs to be done, but make no bones about it, it's NOT easy, and have I mentioned how much I LOVE this series?

Seriously, LOVE.

Want. More.

Please?

(no subject)

Date: 2011-12-07 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jeymien.livejournal.com
Oh man... I just caught up with this. What a cliffhanger? Just what the hell *has* been going on in Neptune!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-12-13 08:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
So I'm up in the early hours of the morning feeding my four month old and trying to find something to entertain me so I can stay awake and I think to myself, "Self, you haven't checked out any VM fanfic in a looong time...maybe even years."

So I log onto livejournal and find this...and it is SPECTACULAR. Your writing is so suspenseful that the baby fell asleep and I put him down and ran right back to read more instead of going to sleep myself and let me tell you, sleep is like my #1 priority 99.9% of the time. You HAVE to keep going. Please!

(no subject)

Date: 2011-12-19 10:15 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
oh! i hope that you are still writing this. this is so wonderful. amazing plot and beautiful descriptions. and i love that veronica is holding on by a thread; i think that seems very reasonable and realistic. she has been going crazy all year and it makes sense that all these things are catching up with her.

i know it's a quiet fandom but i agree with the other posters; it is still alive and we are in love with this story. i love your writing and though it's better that i've run into an end point (since it's five am...) i am desperate to know WHAT IS UP IN NEPTUNE?!?!

i so hope you're continuing this!

(no subject)

Date: 2012-02-02 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Wow! I love this.
I'm really late to the VMars party and to FanFiction in general, but for some reason, I just can't let this show go (or at least Logan). So for the past month or so, I've been tearing through fanfics like a junkie, and I can honestly say this is the best I've ever read. I'm astounded at the level of detail and research you've obviously put into this.
I love how you how you really get into your characters' head space. You really capture that crazy feeling that most of us feel at some point where you crave love and intimacy, but fear it because of it's potential to destroy us. Very excellent piece of work. I really hope that at some point you can find time in your schedule to finish this.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-02-23 09:27 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
OMG, found this today and got completly pulled in. I need to know what happens next. PLEASE update soon.

Love your fics!

Date: 2012-04-16 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi,
New to the VMARS fandom, devoured seasons 1-3 this year, felt an emptiness in my soul, and then devoured the 850k words that was YLD and YLD2. Your fics have actual plots beside the exploration of relationships, which is hard to find. Your writing is amazing; your plots are well-researched; you obviously have great maturity, planning and skills. I'll start on precipitation soon, but I have to reset myself from the YLD continuity.
Hope your health is improving and life is treating you well. I'll try to sign up for a dreamwidth account to post named comments soon!
Thanks for feeding my addiction!

Re: Love your fics!

Date: 2012-04-16 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] zmdr
I meant addiction to the veronica mars universe

Neptune: Don't go the way of Pluto

Date: 2012-04-17 03:24 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] zmdr
Just read to this point. I love this story. I like how you portray Veronica to be like a diamond: tough yet fragile. She has gone through so much in the tv series.
So many fics gloss over the happenings in the last episode, but I too interpreted it as a stark reminder that Veronica's actions have very real consequences. And hoo boy are they real!
So many possibilities! Why are the three heroes being pursued by the mob with a vengeance? Is a disappearance into the Bermuda Triangle on the way? Is Veronica going to get the psychiatric help she so desperately needs, ala YLD2? Is there no end to the suffering? :P
And, most importantly, What the hell is going on in Neptune? And why isn't it on the news in wherever they are?
Looking forward to the next installment!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-03-05 07:51 pm (UTC)
jenilyn831: Sunflowers (Default)
From: [personal profile] jenilyn831
I started this yesterday and can't stop. I am intrigued, it's fantastic. I decided to stop here and comment since I hadn't made any comments yet. What the hell is going on in Neptune? Why is everyone after them so heavily? I can't decide if I love or hate Veronica. I've decided to go with I love her but don't like her very much at times. I want to sympathize with her but then I feel myself getting angry with her because she's so insensitive to the feelings of those around her. Then I feel guilty because the poor kid has been through so much. Basically, what I'm trying to say badly, this story has me running the gamut of emotions. Both for and against Veronica & Logan. Never Keith though, he's completely badass in this fic.

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