vanessagalore: (!Precipitation)
[personal profile] vanessagalore
TITLE: Purgatory (32/32)
AUTHOR: vanessagalore
CHARACTERS: Veronica, Logan, Keith
WORD COUNT: 4,801/153,800
RATING: PG13 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 zaftig_darling and jenilyn831. 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 15~Plexus 16~Pier 17~Perception 18~Phantasm 19~Pendulum 20~Pyromania 21~Prognosis 22~Paternity 23~Premeditation 24~Paralysis 25~Panacea 26~Presentiment 27~Prevailing Winds 28~Pandemonium 29~Paradise 30~Possibilities 31~Pardon

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)

Keith's boss, Richard Stellner, demands to know who they are, and they tell him the entire story. Stellner offers to fly Jake Kane and Cliff McCormack down to the DR for a face-to-face meeting. At the meeting, they hammer out a deal for Keith to be Neptune's sheriff for two years in exchange for a pardon for all charges.

They are packed and ready to go, and Logan doesn't show. He's taken off in 'Panacea,' telling Veronica in a note that he doesn't want to hurt her but he can't go back to Neptune.

Chapter 32: Purgatory

Neptune is dreary gray after the technicolor excitement of life on the run. Misery and unhappiness rule a town of fearful people. After a flurry of news stories both pro and con when we first came back, Neptune residents now seem united in helping Dad get the town back under control.

Dad looks tired all the time. In addition to doubling the size of the police force, he appoints a community representative to organize neighborhood watches, and slowly we take back the streets. Federal agents help patrol for drugs crossing into Neptune over the border, and that alone brings a new confidence to the community. In an effort to bolster transparency and to gather support, Dad holds news conferences three times a week, outlining goals and enumerating every bit of progress.

With Jake's help, Dad recruits police veterans from other cities at exorbitant salaries; every officer hired by Vinnie is transferred to Parking Enforcement, or fired outright if cause can be found. Faced with the prospect of Vinnie's testimony, Liam made a deal and he's rotting in federal prison on conspiracy charges. Vinnie's disappeared—the rumor is that he accepted Federal witness protection.

I'm back at Hearst. I study. I work out. I sleep. I visit Dad at the sheriff's department. And I peruse all the cruiser forums for news of a boat called Panacea or any other Westerly Corsairs, since I assume painting a new name on the bow was one of Logan's first priorities. To my dismay, I find hundreds of boats named 'Panacea,' although none are the right type of vessel. But I have to eliminate each one from my list. Then I try accessing island databases to see if I can glean any information—permits, dockage charges, incident reports.

I set up Google alerts for every key word I can think of and contact P.I.s in Rio de Janiero, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Sydney, as well as operatives in the Caribbean. Logan had learned about backtracking and false trails from us so he could even be still sailing just offshore from the Dominican Republic. And with solar panels and a watermaker, he could stay on the water for weeks, maybe even months if he's very careful with his food supplies.

Some nights I imagine him crossing the Indian Ocean, keeping a watchful eye for Somali pirates. Or he's rounding Cape Horn, battling hurricane-force winds. Maybe he's in Tahiti, bedding some exotic woman to try to forget me.

No. I don't think Logan's doing that. I think he's grieving, the way that I am.

Backup seems worried about me. He lies next to me when I study in our new apartment, apparently asleep, but immediately alert at the slightest noise.

Mac and Wallace are more overt. They drag me to movies and concerts until I start ignoring their calls. I'd rather just wallow. Gradually, they stop calling, and it's just a quick wave across the food court once in a while.

Why didn't I realize what Logan was planning? He'd practically told me. And that morning when he'd awoken me to make love ... that expression that had confused me then had been sorrow, the same look that confronts me when I look in the mirror today.

And I'm angry at him, furious that he did this without discussing it with me. Would I have stayed with him if I'd known he was going to sail away?


Days turn into weeks, and then into months. I still feel like a stranger here, and although my hair's grown longer and reverted back to its normal color, I barely recognize the face in my mirror. Old habits die hard: in restaurants, I always take a table in the back so I can watch the entrance. I've got a new Glock and a concealed carry permit—apparently the judge who approved the permit is an old 'friend' of Jake's. I can't help it: I use cash for everything and make my calls on a disposable prepaid phone. I don't wear an iPod, preferring to stay on high alert at all times. I push myself to run and stay strong, just in case.

I set up a honeytrap on my Facebook, hoping to catch Logan's ISP when he clicks on a tracker concealed by a transparent pixel. But I'm overwhelmed by hits from curious people the world over, and I give up on trapping him that way. My relationship status stays set at 'in a relationship,' and every few days, I post updates that are only visible to him, begging him to contact me and come home.

I place one cryptic ad after another in the New York Craigslist 'Casual Encounters' section, and try to imagine him logging on in an Internet café and chuckling at my light-hearted missives that all end the same way: "The weather's beautiful here. I miss you."

At spring break, I take a cheap flight back to the DR, to see if he's hiding there. Just three and a half months after we'd left, and already most of the cruisers in Puerta Plata have moved on. There's no one I remember from our time there. Still, I ask if anyone's seen him. I give the dockmaster a hefty bribe, but he swears that he hasn't seen 'Randy' since we left. I don't have a photo of him with his platinum blond hair and beard, but I make a reasonable facsimile in Photoshop and take it around to the stores we'd frequented. No one's seen him since we left back in December. I contact Miguel, Dad's friend on the police force, and ask him to watch for Randy.

It's not that I don't understand why he did it. He'd changed so much. He wasn't really Logan Echolls any more. I remember him telling me he wanted to 'marry me' and have a family some day, and how right that felt to me, even if I didn't tell him at the time.

I drag myself back to Neptune and concentrate on my classes at Hearst. I sign up for summer session instead of looking for a job.

Got to keep busy.

One day, Weevil shows up on a new motorcycle and tells me we're going for a ride. He drives up the PCH at an alarming speed, and the wind on my face feels almost like it did on Panacea. He disliked Logan the most of all my friends, but now Weevil seems to be the only one who gets how I feel. Maybe it's because of his prison term: he understands what it's like to be a criminal, to lose everything you care about. He's experienced that one-second-too-long stare that I get all too often. And maybe he understands that Neptune feels very strange to me these days.

So we ride together.

He says, "Maybe you should start doing favors again."

"No favors," because my heart's not in it anymore.

Weevil and I are hanging out in the Hearst courtyard and someone catcalls, "Hey, that's the Sheriff's daughter, think she'll give us a cheer?" And later that day, I get a text from him—'Now I think *you* owe me'—with a photo of a car with two flat tires. It gets a chuckle out of me, and then I'm weeping. I truly don't give a shit about the video anymore. I just want Logan to come home.

Or to let me know where he is, so I can go to him.

At least once a day I think, He could be dead, and I would never know it.

Dad says to me one night, "Do you think he did it so you'd mope around for the rest of your life? He wanted to give you a chance at happiness. I think Logan wanted to come back with us, but he was too afraid of what his life would be like. And Veronica, he wasn't wrong. The paparazzi would have hounded him. I believe it's possible he might have fallen into drinking and getting into trouble again."

I turn on him. "No! He wouldn't. He'd changed."

"Yes. He did change. But he knew what his life had been like, and I think it was an act of survival to refuse to come back."

"I would have helped him. We could have made it work."

"You can't love someone if you don't love yourself first, and that's what he figured out. He didn't love himself here."

I storm out of the room as he calls, "Veronica? Honey?"

But I'm secretly afraid that he's right.

One day follows the next, misery bleeding from week to week, and I know everyone thinks I should snap out of it, but I don't.


As May approaches, I start to obsess. The sheriff's election is scheduled for the second Tuesday, and as Jake promised, Dad runs unopposed, but I'm nauseated and tense the whole day, worrying that something's going to go wrong. But it's a landslide, with just about a hundred write-in votes for Vinnie Van Lowe, as well as more than a few for Don Lamb. Sure, zombie Don Lamb is just what this town needs, I think.

The next day, I do something I've been putting off for months. I go to Navarro Wrecking and apologize in person to Weevil's uncle. He has an ugly burn scar on his left hand, and I tell him if he ever needs anything, he has a free investigator for life. I promise to talk to Dad about getting the Navarros a contract with the city to tow parking violators, and Mr. Navarro seems pleased.

Finals end, and now I have too much time on my hands waiting for the summer session to start.

Last year at this time, we were driving through Texas and just heading into Arkansas. We were going through prepaid phones like water, and trying not to attract attention. Dad was buying us weapons, we were disguising ourselves, and ... and ...

Logan and I were getting close. We were being honest with each other.

I'm drawn inexorably to the Greyhound station, a dank and smelly hellhole in the worst part of town, and I sit in the waiting room watching people getting on and off buses and wondering what they're running from. Most of the passengers look impoverished and pessimistic, resigned to traveling in the least comfortable way possible, and I know that's what I'd looked like too. I remember desperately trying to get away from Brown Suit Guy, completely afraid that I'd be caught and tortured into revealing Dad and Logan's location. I stumble home and fall asleep, tormented by dreams of endless bus rides and men pounding on windows.

The next day I go to Santa Monica Pier and wander around. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm restless and nervous, and I can't seem to concentrate enough to read a book or watch television. So I ride the Ferris wheel and buy cotton candy—one bite and it goes in the garbage. Same thing with a hot dog. But everyone seems happy here.

I flinch when I pass by the shooting gallery in the arcade, but it gives me an idea. The next day, I drive to a shooting range and I empty my gun into the targets, over and over. Telling myself that this is just being prudent, with the danger of Dad's new job, I realize after an hour of shooting that I'm actually a pretty good shot. I examine the human outlines on the target sheets and note the competent groupings. Neat little holes in the paper, right where I'd intended them to be, and in real life it'd be arteries spouting blood and dirtbags bleeding out on the way to the hospital.

Him or me.

The next day I go to Dog Beach to watch the sailboats in the bay. One of the boats looks to be almost the same size as Panacea, except with a maroon sail, and I pretend that Logan's on it, sailing here as a way to be close to me. When it tacks through the wind, I imagine the lines whipping through the blocks as the sail flutters and then catches, pulling the boat in a new direction. He'd be confidently walking up to the bow despite the heel of the boat, adjusting a line here or there and smiling back at me, because the boat would be going infinitesimally faster. He'd explain something about the cunningham or the halyard. And I'd smile, because: men and their jargon.

I remember how Panacea felt rumbling through rough water or slicing through the glassy stillness of calm seas: a journey of learning to let go, to trust each other when things got difficult.

My face scrunches up at the thought of him with an unkempt beard and hair practically in dreadlocks after months at sea without a real shower. His face would be windburned and reddened, roughened by the elements. Callouses sprout on callouses, and sailing gloves shred after too many blustery nights and ropes that don't cooperate. I worry that he's not eating a balanced diet. But he is finally Randy, not Logan, and I feel his peace, even though he's probably half a world away by now.

Would I have been happy being Vicky?

I return to Dog Beach the next day, and the next after that, until it becomes a routine. One day the sailboats are forming a ragged line in the water, and then I hear a distant gunshot as the boats surge into a race. Boats tack desperately for an advantage, the sails flipping 90° with precision.

The boats all change direction as they reach a certain point, and I remember Logan telling me about triangular racing courses, with boats sailing a predetermined route around buoys. "Rich assholes with their toys, trying to beat other rich assholes," he'd said disparagingly. It was so different from the survival sailing that we'd done—worlds apart from harnessing the wind to get somewhere, to get to our new life, to make a new life for ourselves.

One boat seems destined to win, with the majority of the pack close behind. A sole sailboat takes a different path, and I wonder if they're having trouble. They'd been struggling at the start and were way behind, although they've worked hard to catch up to the pack. None of the other racers follow them when they turn opposite to everyone else. It looks like they're just confused about the course. But then they turn again, and I see that they've caught a fresh wind that the other boats can't take advantage of.

Now the solitary sailboat is screaming along, in front of all the other boats. The other vessels have to scramble to stay out of their way, some arcane rule of the sea determining who has the right-of-way, and the outlying boat has somehow taken advantage and won the race. I can see people jumping up and down and high-fiving each other on the errant boat; they've won by following a different path.

And not giving up when everything seemed lost.

I will find him.


The next day, the weather forecasts rain, with a 'high dewpoint and the possibility of hail and strong winds.' I squint at the sunny sky; maybe some storm clouds are hovering over the desert to the east, but there's no way it's going to rain on the coast.

Except when I arrive at Dog Beach, the air itself is soaking wet and the sky is blackening. I step out of the car and walk to my usual vantage point. No sailboats today and the park is deserted; I'm the only one who ignored the forecast. The sea roils, and oppressive, billowing clouds obscure the sun. Thunder rumbles, and the skies open up and dump water on me. Kicking off my shoes, I walk to the water's edge.

Wind buffets me as I wade into the water: an onshore gust tries to push me back to land, and I stagger and stumble through turbulent froth. The temperature has dropped and I'm shivering. Within seconds, I'm soaked through and freezing cold, but I hold my ground.

I remember standing on the water's edge last year, waterlogged and despairing, with the turbulent sea threatening to take me and sweep me away for all my sins ... then the rains in North Carolina driving me home into Logan's arms—hitting bottom and finally telling Dad everything ... and the storm in Panacea, when at last I'd found my courage again.

The rain pummels me, washes me, purifies me. I've been broken down and reborn this past year. I may not be Vicky, but Veronica has changed.

I will find him.

The rain turns to hail, stinging me harshly, so I push my sodden hair out of my eyes and trudge back to my car.

And that's when Gory grabs me.


Gory drags me to a dilapidated maroon van, dented and marked with putty patches and primer. My old friend, Brown Suit Guy, is waiting inside the open sliding door. Gory pushes me kicking and screaming into the back, and Brown Suit Guy slaps me hard, stunning me into silence. There's no one to hear my screams anyway: everyone with any sense stayed indoors today.

They muscle me down to the floor and get my hands duct-taped behind my back. Gory yanks at the sliding door and then, cursing, finally slams it shut. He clambers into the drivers seat and starts the engine with a roar. We jerk backward, and I'm thrown from side to side as the van turns and then moves forward. I hear the rain tapping on the roof and the wipers thudding; a loud thunderclap shakes the van.

I crane my neck and see Brown Suit Guy rooting through my backpack and pulling out the new Glock. He tucks it into the back of his pants after admiring the upgraded magazine release button that Dad had insisted on. I say, "My dad is expecting me to call. He's the sheriff—there'll be an all-points bulletin as soon as I don't check in."

Brown Suit Guy shrugs. "I don't think so. He izz busy, busy, busy. So many bad peoples in this town. He doesn't have time for his pretty daughter." He finds my cell phone and scrolls through my recent calls. "See? You have not called him in a long time. ... Not too many calls, you need more friends." He eyes my wet clothing. "I think you are a little crazy, walking into the ocean today, but you make it easy for us to take you."

"Why are you helping Gory? Aren't you afraid of Sergei?"

"So you know about Sergei? You are a smart girl, not just pretty."

"I know he's going to kill Gory, and he'll kill you too if you help him."

"I take that chance. Gorya is the son of my sister—how you say? Nephew. We are very close. Many years ago, Gorya warned me when Sergei was coming to kill me, and I owe him my life." He spouts off a few sentences in Russian to Gory, who replies in Russian as well. "Da. Okay, little girl, now we tape the legs." I hear the duct-tape ripping and, although I kick and struggle, he just chuckles and sits on my legs to finish the job.

Now I'm really fucked. "What are you going to do with me?"

Gory says, "Hey, you want to shut up back there? We could tape your mouth if you like."

Maybe you should just lay back and enjoy it. Lay back ... you do have nice pom-poms. Lay back ...

No! I'm not giving up. "What good does it do to hurt me? Your father's seen the video."

Gory snorts. "Hurt you? No, a little more than that. It's kind of a family tradition. We kill people who fuck with us."

Brown Suit Guy adds, "And you kill my friend in Chicago. Why? Yobanaya suka. Stupid bitch."

"I didn't mean to," I protest, and then I wish I could take it back. Because, finally, I'm very glad I killed Anatoly Ponomarev in the gazebo that night.

And I'll kill these two if I get a chance.


Shivering from my wet clothes, I struggle to keep track of where we are. Point Loma Boulevard to Sunset Cliffs Drive, and now I think we're on the 8 heading east toward the Coronado Bridge. The wipers are working hard to keep up with the rain. I hear water splashing as we drive through puddles, and Gory curses the van's shitty defroster. I'm so cold, so cold. My body's beginning to cramp from being tied up; I have to do something soon. I have to think of something, have to think, have to think. I try to name every exit as we drive. Got to keep track, got to keep thinking—

Because if I don't, I start to remember my rape nightmare.

Naked on a frigid metal table. Gory fondling himself and coming closer. You do have nice pom-poms ...

No. Stop. We must be at the exit for 'Pacific Highway.' Then 'Camino del Rio.' The Coronado is coming up in about six miles. Maybe five exits between here and there. I rack my brain: 'Bachman Place' is next. When we get to the Coronado, I'll hear the steel plates under the tires.

You know what you should do? Just lay back and enjoy it.

I'd give anything for the porcelain sanctuary I'd had in Chapel Hill, with Logan's arms wrapped around me in the tub as I'd shivered and shook.

I'll never see Logan again.

Gory starts speaking in Russian again, and Brown Suit Guy walks up to the front to discuss something with him.

This is it. This is my chance.

I use my shoulder to push the wet hair out of my eyes. Rolling over, I look around the van for anything that could be used as a weapon. Empty buckets stacked near the back door; they might as well be a mile away. Folded tarps on the van floor—no help at all. But my Glock is right there, in the waistband of Brown Suit Guy.

They're not paying attention to me. I'm nothing to them, and I'm not a threat. Just a sodden, little girl, a pathetic nuisance that needs to be eliminated as a warning to all the other cockroaches that might get in their way.

You'd think they'd have learned after Chicago.

We're still moving; we've probably passed 'Cabrillo Freeway' and 'Texas Street'. There'll be a traffic slowdown at the Coronado Bridge; there always is this time of day. I need speed, I need the van hurtling along.

So it's now.


Right now.

Somebody might get hurt. Please, I hope no one gets hurt. Except these two fuckers.

Them or me. Them or me.

As quietly as I can, I use the side of the van to push myself up on my feet. Brown Suit Guy is leaning over Gory's shoulder, pointing at something through the water streaming down the windshield. I throw myself at him, spinning around so my taped hands can reach for the gun. But I miss and Brown Suit Guy stumbles into Gory, causing the van to swerve wildly. Horns blare and tires screech, but there isn't the sound of metal crashing that I'd dreaded.

"Fuck!" Gory screams. I try to roll myself over and flail at Brown Suit Guy—gun, gotta get the gun—but the van lurches again and I lose my balance, falling toward the passenger seat.

Brown Suit Guy turns and backhands me with all his strength, and I fly backward.

And everything goes black.





Gauze on my eyes, or something. Maybe fog? And my head hurts.




I try to raise my head up, and it's excruciating. I hear a squeaky little moan—is that me?


Blackness again.





So annoying. Worse than the goddamned one-arm bandits.

No, we're not in the DR anymore. I think.

I try to open my eyes, and the haze has cleared. Dad's concerned face looms over me. "Veronica? Veronica! Try to stay with us."

I swallow, and gag on the tube in my throat. My fingers twitch and some kind of sound emerges from me. Dad looks worried. He's scared. I'm scared.

Dad says in a soothing voice, "Don't worry, honey. Please don't try to talk just yet. Gory's dead; the other guy too. Yuri Grabianko—Sergei's brother-in-law, apparently they've been feuding for years. Near as we can tell, you did something to make the van swerve, and then a CHP officer noticed that the van had been stolen. The cop chased them, and they took off. With the wet roads and the high speed, they skidded straight into a tractor trailer. Gory and the other man were dead on impact. You've got a few broken bones and you've been in a coma for ten days. Your head got hit hard."

Panic: a coma? Fuck. Fuck.

He squeezes my arm. "You're going to be just fine. I promise you, you're going to be fine."

I want to tell him: 'Brown suit guy hit me. I was trying to get the gun. That's the last thing that I remember.' But I can't put the words together, and I'm so tired. So tired.

And then doctors come in, and I let the blackness take over again.


I exist in a jangled routine of blood pressure checks and doctors pulling up my eyelids to flash a light in my eyes. Sudden pinpricks of sensation score the soles of my feet. Why won't they leave me alone? I have a sore throat from a tube in my esophagus. Some fucker keeps squeezing my fingernails, and there's a platoon of white-coated medical students who keep waking me up when I'd rather just sleep. And the beeping doesn't stop.

Tired, so tired. The light hurts my eyes—so much easier to just keep them closed.

A nurse adjusts an IV in my hand, and then later, a doctor looms over me and tells me to cough. I gag as the feeding tube is pulled out and the pain in my throat is exquisite. Then the nurse is sitting me up and encouraging me to drink a little water. I splutter and collapse back onto the pillows, closing my eyes and embracing the nothingness.


He's here.

So I must have died after all.


Maybe not.

He's here.

He must see that I'm awake, because now he's hovering just like Dad. His blond hair is longer, swept back in a ponytail, his beard is a little shaggy, and he's tanner than I've ever seen him, with paler skin around the eyes where his sunglasses block the rays.

I still can't put a sentence together, with my throat scraped raw and my brain completely addled. But I manage, "Randy?"

And he smiles. "I came as soon as I heard.

"Checking on me?"

"Yep, every time I was in a port I read all the newspaper stories about the great job Sheriff Mars was doing here. I was in Bonaire when I saw the article about the accident, and I had to call Jake Kane to get me a passport and a plane ticket from Caracas. It took a few days." He touches my cheek, the way he always does.

With an effort, I say, "Not an accident."

"That's what the newspapers said at first. Veronica Mars, intrepid girl detective, seriously injured in a car wreck."


"I know. Your dad told me the whole story."

"Jake helped?"

"I blackmailed him, told him I'd post my copy of the hard drive on the Internet."

"You don't have the hard drive, silly." It's the first complete sentence I've said since I first woke, and it exhausts me. I close my eyes and try to gather my strength, because this is important.

Logan laughs. "Jake didn't know that. I did it just like you taught me, smarty-pants."

"How's Panacea?" I croak.

"She's great. She misses you. I miss you. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Veronica. I should have been here to protect you—"

I shake my head, which is a mistake. Blinding pain, my whole skull on fire, and I have to close my eyes for a minute. I feel his hand squeezing mine: he knows I'm hurting badly. When the nerve endings stop screaming, I whisper, "Gonna stay?"

"I'm not going anywhere. I'm right here."

"Figure it out."

"Yeah, we will."

A/N: Please take a moment to let me know what you thought of my story.
Author's note #2: Over on, I got a lot of comments that they felt that the final chapter of "Precipitation" really needed an epilogue. (Plus a resounding silence here.)

So I wrote one and posted it there. If you felt that something was lacking, check it out.

I think my original instinct was stronger (to end where I did) but because I was trying to get it all posted before the movie, I didn't really have time to mull my decision the way I usually do. The added section is how I planned to end a long time ago, but it felt unnecessary when I got there as I was writing. And I wanted to highlight Logan's action as courageous.

I would happily listen to your opinion on which works better.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-06-01 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you for your response. I'm so sad to think this was your last fic for VM, but it was a great one. I hope you may consider coming back one day even if it's to do more AU things that don't necessarily begin post-movie. Basically, I would read anything else you ever decided to write for VM.
Thank you again.


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