vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Premeditation (23b/?)
AUTHOR: [personal profile] vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 4,102
RATING:
PG13, maybe 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, sexual situations.
DISCLAIMER:
I don't own any rights to Veronica Mars. This story is written as a tribute only. An early version of this was 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.

For the NC17 version of this chapter, click here.

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 21~Prognosis 22~Paternity


Click here to read a summary of the whole story from the beginning.

And for just the last time on 'Precipitation': (Highlight to read ~OR~ click here to skip directly to the new chapter)

In Neptune, an all-out war rages between the Fitzpatricks and the PCHers, with Sheriff Van Lowe seeming to be focusing his efforts on prosecuting only the Latino gang members. Vinnie is blaming the crime spree on Sheriff Mars's administration, and Keith theorizes that Vinnie is working with Liam Fitzpatrick, who appeared to have bankrolled Vinnie's successful for sheriff. In addition, it's likely that, with the current power vacuum, Neptune will become the main entry point for drugs coming into the U.S.

They discover that a suspicious fire was set at the junkyard belonging to Weevil's uncle shortly after they fled Neptune, and Veronica immediately surmises that it's the work of Gory. Mac and Wallace are under suspicion for possibly having helped Veronica, Logan, and Keith elude arrest.

Veronica insists on looking up information on the Sorokins, and both Gory's father Sergei and his uncle Lev were refugees from Soviet Russia, hardened criminals who had been in the gulags and later relocated to California. Lev had been convicted of the murder referenced by Gory on the Castle video, and to shorten his sentence, he testified against his brother Sergei in a racketeering probe. Shortly thereafter, Lev was killed in prison, and they conclude that Sergei was likely behind the murder as retribution for Lev breaking the Russian thieves' code of silence, Vory v Zakone.

Veronica realizes that Gory was not afraid that the video would be sent to the authorities, but rather that his own father would discover that he'd told a family secret to a fraternity. And a man who would kill his brother for ratting might very well kill his own son for the same crime, especially for something as trivial as the Castle.




Chapter Twenty-Three: Premeditation

Snippets of last night's hushed argument about Gory needle me into consciousness. It's early, barely light in the bedroom, and Logan slumbers next to me. He'd argued passionately for sending The Castle video straight to Gory's father—fry the bastard, he'd said—and he'd been completely confused by my apprehension.

The thing is that I've already killed a man. There are times when I can convincingly claim that Ponomarev's death was an accident. Well, when I'm being rational I can see it that way. But this would be premeditated murder, just like...

...You are not a killer, Veronica....

It's just like Beaver stepping off the roof in slow-motion as we pull away the net, and then we have to somehow live with ourselves forever as he pinwheels down, car alarms blaring and the heavy thwunk of flesh meeting something solid. Judge, jury, and executioner, that's what we were that night.

No. No. It didn't happen like that. Not quite.

...Beaver, don't....

How many seconds of your finger tightening on the trigger before it actually becomes premeditated? How many milliseconds of doing nothing to stop Beaver before it becomes your fault? I always imagine that little monster roasting on a slow-turning spit in hell, braised and sizzling. Is it my fault he jumped? I say no. Most days, at least. Beaver had a choice. I didn't shoot him. We gave him an option, told him "Don't!"

No. That was most definitely not premeditated murder.

(...then why does it still bother me?...shut up, shut up, shut up...)

Anatoly Ponamarev, however... Him or me, him or me, him or me—my mantra that keeps me just this side of sanity. And to rat out Gory to his Dad feels pretty goddamned purposeful, more purposeful than a random blind shot around the side of a gazebo. Him or us, him or us, him or us. I'd have to expand my repertoire. My brain synapses hurt just thinking about it, and the gnawing in my stomach ratchets up again.

And Dad understands how I feel. He hasn't declared a preference, but he laid out all our options last night. Option number one: Do nothing, and continue hiding. Try to figure something else out. Or number two: Send the video to the FBI, and maybe the feds would reopen the case against Gory's father. But that would probably only anger Gory even more, he'd pointed out. And the last option—send the video to Sergei Sorokin. Show him just what his son was doing at that fancy private school.

We'd be signing Gory's death warrant, at the hands of his father. And for what? We still couldn't go back to Neptune, unless we surrendered ourselves to the authorities. Stylin' orange jumpsuits and shoes without laces, how very fashion forward.

Logan said it's him or us. And it's not that I disagree, but I won't be so cavalier about this decision. It changed me when that bullet found its target in Chicago. A sudden jolt of anger suffuses me—damn them for turning me into a killer.

But what worries me is Mac, Wallace and Weevil, still left behind in Neptune. Even Cliff might be in danger. If it comes down to protecting them, I would hand-deliver that video to Papa Sorokin.

I'm jealous of Logan all of a sudden. He doesn't know what I know, what murdering someone does to you. He thought he did, up on the roof, but really he didn't. For the first time in a long time, I envy him. He can condemn Gory to death. And I can't.

Not yet.

And my dithering—is it going to be what destroys us? When did I become this frightened little worm? I remember how it used to feel, when I'd jump into action, consequences be damned. It used to feel good.

Hello, consequences.

I imagine Gory meeting with Jake Kane after our little tête-à-tête in the food court. Gory had been carefree that day, completely unworried about this stupid blonde chick who was a minor pain in his ass. A hot lay with a smart mouth, and nothing more, he'd thought.

...you know what you should do with your sudden popularity?...

And then Jake would have told him what I was capable of. I picture Gory squirming as he found out that I'd solved murders, taken down the great Aaron Echolls, outsmarted Timothy Foyle, and survived Beaver and Mercer. Even more alarmingly, I'd somehow cracked an encrypted hard drive in record time and had the balls to walk in the front door of Pemberton Estates to hand it to my nemesis. I wasn't just some bimbo doing a naked cheer, but rather someone quite a bit more formidable.

I wonder if Gory had seethed, with Jake telling him to calm down—I've got it under control, Gorya—and Gory had ignored him. Maybe Gory called in favors, getting people to help him. There must have been mobsters loyal to Gory's uncle who were pissed at his dad for killing Lev up in Corcoran State Penitentiary. A few phone calls, and Gory had a crew willing to do his dirty work, willing to do whatever needed to be done to keep Gory's secret from his dad.

First it was a warning shot across our bow, pissing on Logan's bed and breaking the fish sculpture. When we'd disappeared, Gory had gone to the police and filed battery charges to try to drive us out. And when we still didn't surface, he'd set fire to the Navarro junkyard and started nosing around Cliff.

Was Jake still trying to get Gory to calm down, telling him that the Castle had too much to lose for some crazy vendetta? No. I think Jake was afraid of Gory.

And then I have another thought. It won't just be Gory's father who will be furious with him. Every powerful man in The Castle will be gunning for him if the organization is destroyed because of Gory's smarmy porn video.

...it was instinct. I always forward porn—when it's good....

Gory's childish stunt would infuriate the judges, senators and executives who'd prefer that The Castle remained a secret. I bet Jake was afraid of them, too—there'd be hell to pay because Jake had trusted the Castle's secrets to a juvenile mobster with poor impulse control.

I wonder suddenly why Jake Kane was in charge of the Castle. Is it because of something he knows? Or maybe he was elected by the others?

I go around...and around...and around...and still all I can see is no way out, no path to redemption, no savior stepping up to help us. People in power, with unknowable resources, ready to jail us, maybe even— Sociopathic mobsters clearly ready to obliterate us from the face of the earth.

So what do you do when everything's impossible? You shove those feelings deep down, way deep down, and you live in denial. You plaster a smile on your face and you keep going.

...I'm always here...if you need anything. But you never need anything...

I know 'denial'. I've been living this way for quite some time.

But sometimes, you do something just 'cause it feels right. Because you finally find the guts to do it. Because it's all there is, really. Because you do need something, Veronica. You need someone. So you scootch down, pushing your pajama bottoms off, and throw a naked leg over the slumbering guy next to you, who seems to love you even when you screw up. Sometimes, he seems to love you even more when you screw up.

...hold that thought for later....

One of his eyes opens. It's still swollen and multi-colored from Dad's fists two nights ago. He winces against the light and then smiles as he sees me, naked from the waist down, perched atop his pelvis. "Hmm. Good morning?" It's a question fraught with possibilities. One finger traces a line down my thigh, and I shiver.

...courage. You can do this....

I whisper, "I was thinking..."

"No, you? Veronica Mars was thinking? I don't believe it." His voice is hushed, and he glances at the clock—6:13am, no, 6:14—and the closed bedroom door before tilting his head hopefully.

I pull off my T-shirt and lean down to his ear. "I was thinking, carpe diem, baby."

He huffs a laugh and grins when I toss my shirt to the side. "Yeah, carpe diem, baby."

...Lilly laughing, 'Carpe diem, baby, die young and leave a beautiful corpse....

I smile and I see he's remembering her too; we can smile about Lilly and her outrageous pronouncements nowadays. There's just a trace of the sadness that will never completely go away.

But he gets it. It's all we have left. Carpe diem. Don't think about it. Seize the day.

And denial feels good. It's a slender digit torturing my flesh with feather-light strokes, the feeling of his body's contours threatening to overwhelm me. And then a finger pressed to my lips, warning me to stay silent, just before he rolls us over and settles in on top of me. Rushed exhalations brush my neck as he presses his body against mine.

"Damn," I breathe. What have I been so afraid of? As if he'd ever say no— I gasp a little when his finger moves right there.

"Shh." His hand fumbles up and finds my mouth, squelching my pants. Logan looks at me and stifles my helpless moans with his hand. Our eyes are tethered together as he caresses me. My eyes flutter shut and he nips me, hard enough that I understand and open my eyes to him again. He wants me to watch as he destroys me.

I deny that the world is ending, that there's anything wrong on this earth. All there is in the world is a moist, sloppy pressure right where I need it. There's no end to this, no beginning, nothing but circles and sucking and my body trapped by his strong limbs. His hand releases my mouth with a warning look, and a sudden caress melts me—too much and not nearly enough.

My palm flies to my mouth as I whimper; my other hand scrabbles at the sheet, seeking a handhold to steady me. I lose the surly bonds of earth, flailing and falling, at his assured touch.

Still he demands my eyes as I shudder and surrender. Exorbitant wet sounds of lips and tongue striving and seeking, and pinpricks of intensity all over my body. My eyes water with the stress of staying quiet and yet he continues, past a throbbing exultation into the humming beyond and then another ineluctable, impossible vibration after that. I'm trembling again, my eyes pleading for respite, and he forces a last gasping quake, taking all that I've got and more.

He pulls himself up my body to kiss me, my muscles ennervated and contrite under him. I whimper into his mouth as he tongues me, sloppy and demanding. "Want you to turn over," he whispers—no, insists. "Come on, Veronica."

Isn't it enough that he's taken everything? But it's not, and firm hands roll me over, adjusting me to his liking. A kiss above my ear, an exhalation, "stay there," and then I sense the subtle movements of boxers hastily discarded and a condom being ripped open.

Moaning soundlessly into the pillow, I arch my back in an impossible angle. Strong hands, still calloused from surfing, grasp my hips and steady me. I long to keen my distress and my desire—my denial of this whole insane world.

It's rough and hard, pounding and pummeling—that indescribable aching, primal and instinctual. He drapes himself over my back and whispers, his tongue and lips wet against my ear, "Come on, baby. I love you. Come on."

He slows and it's everything I've got not to whine and thrash. I hear, through gritted teeth, I think, a strangled exhortation, "Come on," as his hands hold me in place. Our flesh slaps loudly, and there's a slight rhythmic squeaking from the old mattress—oh god, oh god, please let Dad not hear this—and still he makes love to me.

He breathes in suddenly, his whole body tensing over me, and we struggle and clasp, ease and tense, one final summoning to let us vibrate together.

We collapse to the bed, his weight heavy upon me. Logan grabs my hair, still animalistic, still in the throes of whatever we just did, and turns my head, possessing me with a kiss. It's practically a growl: "Carpe diem, baby."

*****

It's a long day at work, followed by another marathon computer session in our basement lair that evening. Logan is convinced that his sailing scheme will give all of us an opportunity to start over. The day was spent amassing a selection of suitable used boats, seaworthy but affordable, and he shows us the blogs from the Newport-Bermuda race, with competitors talking about sailing at 7.5 knots with a favorable current and lots of sunshine. He tries to restrain his enthusiasm when he points out that last year the fastest boat made it to Bermuda in 72 hours. There's the hint of a real smile on his face for the first time since he told us about his probation. It's easy to be sucked into his optimism, and I guess he's living in denial in his own way.

"Except we won't be able to stop in Bermuda, you know," Dad points out. "That's British territory. We would have to turn and head south before we alert any of the harbor authorities. No rest in a luxury hotel like the race participants get." He leans forward, clicking through the race website with interest. A smudge of grease mars Dad's uniform shirt, and he looks tired. He always looks tired now. But there's a spark—a hint of hope on his face—and I resolve to give Logan's idea a fair hearing in spite of my reservations.

I plaster a smile on my face and listen to them discussing the possibilities. Logan expounds on the typical wind directions and currents this time of year as I scan the race blogs. My heart sinks when I read 'The Newport Bermuda Race is called the "thrash to the Onion Patch" because it usually includes sailing in rough water.' I can't shake my fear that one of us is going to get hurt or worse if we do this.

Logan must be psychic, because he draws my attention to an entry in the trivia section:
'Total entries: 4,860 boats with approximately 51,000 sailors

Total miles raced: (approximately) 3,200,000 miles

Lives lost: 1, in a fire on the schooner Adriana, 1932 (ten sailors were saved from Adriana by a competitor, Jolie Brise)'
I feel his eyes on me as he says, "Those are damned good odds. Most of the participants are weekend sailors with minimal ocean experience. The course has been documented extensively." He starts to explain several different possibilities for 'watches', shifts on deck, that would make sure that he was on duty during the riskiest time around midnight but would still make sure that all three of us got adequate rest. And then he shows us some notes he's made about supplies: how much fresh water, diesel fuel for the engines in case we're becalmed, canned food and other provisions, and safety gear.

"What about when we get there?" Dad asks.

Logan smiles ruefully. "That's the hard part. I'm trying to get a sense of how much scrutiny we'll have when we get where we're going."

"Which is?" I ask.

"I'm still figuring that out. At first, I thought Cuba, but your dad's right, we'll attract too much attention there. It's hard to get information, but the few people who've sailed there say that the government's up in everyone's business, and we'd have a hard time finding jobs. Maybe the Dominican Republic instead."

Dad nods. "You might be right. Enough graft and lax government that we could slide under the radar." He stretches. "Okay, I declare a moratorium. We need a break. Let's talk a little bit more about this tomorrow, and then we'll vote. What do you say? Quick game of Monopoly, maybe spades?"

Logan is bursting with energy and dying to work on this, but he sees that Dad and I are both weary, so he suggests, "How about 'Spit'?"

I say, "Get ready to be annihilated, sucker."

A half-hour later, with the game still going strong and none of us making any headway on getting rid of our cards, Logan excuses himself. Dad shuffles and says offhandedly, "Going any better with him? You know, the relationship stuff."

I sigh. It's never going to feel normal to talk with him about Logan. "Yeah. Better."

Dad snorts. "You're positively eloquent."

I think about telling him that we had epic sex this morning but settle for a serene, "Things are progressing."

He laughs a little louder. "Sure sounded that way this morning."

I gasp, feeling my face redden. "I hate you!"

"You love me."

"No, I hate you!"

Dad leans over and kisses me. "I'm here if you need to talk about anything. He seems a little less depressed, now that he has the sailing thing to focus on. You know, I think I'm starting to like him." He shakes his head, as if bewildered.

"Well, you didn't kill him when you heard us this morning, so that's something," I retort.

Logan reappears while I'm still fuming. "What? What are you guys talking about?"

"Never mind." I shoot Dad a glare and, putting on a poker face, he keeps quiet.

I watch the two of them as we finish our game. Logan and Dad really are getting along, in a way I never would have predicted. And Logan's black mood about being stuck in the apartment seems mostly to have abated, for now. They team up and frustrate me over and over again, both of them slapping my hand out of the way to place their own cards. Then the two of them battle it out, with Logan finally getting rid of his cards and holding his hands over his head like a championship boxer. "Na, na, na, nah...na, na, na, nah...hey, hey, hey... goodbye!" he sings, completely off-key. "The new 'Spit' champion, ladies and germs."

"Very mature," I snipe.

"Pfft," Dad says. "Says the pot to the kettle. Don't worry, Logan, she's just not used to losing this game."

I give in to my inner five-year-old and whine, "You two ganged up on me. Meanies!"

*****

"You're still worried about sailing offshore." Logan caresses my arm and pulls me tight to his chest.

I feel really safe right this second, lying in bed with him, and I wish he wouldn't push me—my chest tightens as I picture the three of us battling a monster typhoon in a rickety sailboat. "Yeah, I keep imagining, I don't know, storms and waves and hurricanes, what do you call it?"

"A rough passage."

"Yeah, that's it. A rough passage, me puking my guts out and the three of us holding on for dear life. And Logan, I don't know anything about sailing. What if I screw up, pull the wrong rope and tip the boat over?"

"You're not going to do that. It's very logical, and you're smart. And it's 'line', not rope."

"I hate when you do that. I'm trying to explain how I feel, and all you do is correct my jargon and tell me I'm wrong."

"I'm sorry. I promise I'll teach you. We'll take a day or so and stay close to shore until you get comfortable at the helm. Believe me, I don't want to do this if you're tentative. I'm going to make sure you're as competent at sailing as you are at everything else you do."

He chucks me under the chin and I push his hand away in annoyance. "It's not just fear about the sailing itself. It's also really..." What is it? I can't even express it. "It's cowardly. It's final. It's running away and starting over and never ever doing the things I thought I'd do."

"It also might be incredible. Blue, blue water; sunny days and the wind keeping you cool and pushing us to someplace where we'll be safe. We could hop from island to island. People dream about sailing around the world. And it's so beautiful in the Caribbean. White sand and crazy turquoise water, a color you've never seen, nothing like the Pacific. The people are awesome—lots of cool degenerates who dropped out of civilization, beach bums and eccentrics."

"Yeah, that's the tourist areas...it's not going to be quite so cool living with the natives and trying to make a living. What are we going to do for work?"

"The same thing we're doing here, except I can get a job too." He plays with my hair for awhile. "I know it's a leap into the unknown. It's very scary, especially for a control freak like you."

I elbow him. "I am not a control freak."

"Ow." He strokes my arm for a while. "I know you think you can investigate our way out of this. But—"

I say it. "I know I can't." It makes my stomach hurt to admit it. We might be able to eliminate Gory, but our other problems aren't going away.

"It might be good not to be so scared all the time."

"Yeah. Maybe."

"Definitely. Just...try to keep an open mind about it, okay?"

"Okay."

When I fall asleep, I dream that I'm underwater. Logan is trapped inside the overturned boat and his white face, panicked, presses against a porthole. I can't do anything to get him out, and I watch helplessly as he tries to hold his breath and finally fails. Dad floats by, eyes open and blood gushing from a head wound.

I start awake, breathless. Logan's next to me, sleeping heavily. Cuddling next to him, I try unsuccessfully to fall asleep for the rest of the night and think about everyone we've left behind in Neptune: Mac and Wallace, Weevil, Backup, Cliff, Piz, Parker, even Dick.

I wonder if they're safe, what they're doing, and what Gory might be plotting to try to get to us. Mac might be lying awake right this moment, trembling in fear; Weevil could be nursing a burn on his arm. Wallace is arguing with his mother about the trouble that girl got him into once again. Cliff's actually hitting the law books, seeking a solution that just isn't there. Logan and Dad are living a life of code words and disguises, facing an existence of crappy jobs and cowering in basement apartments. They're all frightened and miserable, because of me and my ridiculous vendetta.

And when the dawn comes, I've decided that I want to send the Castle video to Sergei Sorokin. It won't make up for what I've done, but it's all I can do.

*****

The next evening, Logan spends two hours going over everything in his master plan. It's really quite impressive; he seems to have thought of everything. He has a budget, a timetable that takes into account several different wind directions and speeds, a chart that details all the entry requirements of countries we might try to visit, and a list of five used boats that we could afford with our limited funds: one in Annapolis, three in Norfolk, and a fifth here in North Carolina in Wilmington.

Finally, Dad says, "Okay, I think we should vote. You've convinced me, Logan. I vote yes."

Logan says, "You know what I think."

They both look at me. I want so much to make them happy, to do this thing for them that they think will save us. But I find myself whispering, "I vote no. I'm sorry." And I truly am sorry, but I can't agree to this crazy plan.

Logan starts to speak, but Dad puts a hand on his arm to silence him. "We said it had to be unanimous. She's decided."

I add, my voice only a little louder, "But I've changed my mind about the video. I want to send it to Gory's dad."

"You're sure?" Dad asks. I nod, and he asks Logan, "You still want to send it too?"

"Yeah."

"Then it's unanimous."

And I feel just fine about that decision. It feels right. Except I made it for the exact same reason I shot down Logan's plan: I'm afraid.

Continue reading...Paralysis

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