Hey all! Sorry I haven't updated in like... well, five months ;) My muse was kind of mean for a while, but it must have gotten all better 'cause I wrote most of this yesterday :D So here it is:) The update on the timeline will be here soon, so be on the lookout! I can't manage to get the link up though... If you can manage to get on the mooners(underscore)fiction community over at LJ, the entry number is 20052...
CHAPTER 15: SACRIFICES
"Are you sure you can do this?" Veronica asked Logan as they passed through the hotel lobby. The call was certainly unexpected. It could become a situation if it wasn't handled, and they couldn't afford that so close to Lynn's "extraction" as Logan had called it. There had been some pricey charges on one of Lynn's credit cards. They needed to find out who it was and how they had the card. One of the bigger scenarios involved Aaron having found them out, now attempting to catch them red-handed.
"I'm kind of banking on acting genes of some sort right now, but… yeah, I got it."
"Good, then work it. Here we go." Before approaching the desk clerk's attention, their faces dropped, turning on some 'worry'. The man saw them, standing straighter but still a bit on guard.
"Can I help you?" he asked, hands on the counter before him.
"Yes… we've been receiving some strange phone calls. A-and at first we thought it might just be some prank caller who gets off on…" Veronica let out the deluge of words. Logan put his hand on her shoulder, then the other on her arm.
"Easy," he spoke soothingly. She reached out to squeeze the hand on her arm, giving a nod.
"Lately the calls have become more threatening. We had the calls traced, the last few came from your hotel," Logan explained, sliding a sheet across the desk. He'd had to admit it was impressive to watch as Veronica produced the fake document. The scenario itself had been cooked up just as fast. The man observed the sheet a moment before sliding it back.
"I don't believe the young woman is the one you're looking for."
"Young woman?" Logan repeated.
"She's a bit of a handful, but she's harmless." Logan took the sheet, then Veronica's hand to pull her along, away from the desk.
"Thank you," he told the man.
"Logan?" Veronica asked as they stopped a short distance away.
"We need to get her out of that room."
"Long story. Can you do it?" he asked quickly. She stood there a moment before taking out her phone and dialing.
"Hi. My card was stolen…" Logan nodded to himself as Veronica went about canceling the card.
"Now what?" he asked as she hung up.
"Well, we wait. Logan, what's up? Do you know who's using the card?"
"I have a vague idea," he ran a hand through his hair. They sat side by side, waiting, silently at first.
"You did good back there," Veronica finally spoke.
"Might get that award just yet." She smiled weakly. "I've been meaning to tell you…" he turned to her some minutes later. Just then, something caught his eye behind Veronica. "There," he nodded subtly. Veronica turned, squinted.
"Isn't that…" she started before Logan moved past her, approaching the woman passing by and tapping her arm. She spun around, surprise and a hint of relief on her face.
"Trina, what the hell…"
"Come on now, cheer up. Aren't you happy to see me?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?" Logan asked calmly.
"Right." She paused then, noticing Veronica behind her brother. "Veronica, hey! You've become quite the news item, haven't you? Hey, I know some people, we could turn it into a…" Before she could go on, Logan cut in.
"What are you doing using Mom's card?"
"Stepmom, and that's nothing to worry your head about, bro." Logan sighed. "Well I'd love to stay and chat guys, but I have to go and find myself a place to crash. See ya." She went off like nothing had happened. Veronica walked up to Logan.
"You shouldn't have mentioned the card."
"I know… If I screwed this up for her…" he shook his head.
"You don't know that," she tried to reassure him. "Look, for now go home. I'll figure this out, I promise." He pondered this, quiet.
"Okay," he finally nodded. He looked over to her. "Thanks."
"Sure," she smiled weakly.MARS HOME
After leaving the hotel, Veronica drove home. The whole way, all she could think about was 'what if things DO get screwed up?' – 'what if this gets out?' She'd been bent on keeping her father in the loop on everything, and here she couldn't confide in him. She just hoped work would keep him distracted enough he would keep him distracted enough he wouldn't see…
The idea came upon her as she pulled up to her place. She grabbed her things and headed inside to her room, grabbing her phone and dialing Logan's number. It was a few rings before he answered.
"Sorry, couldn't talk," was his greeting.
"Listen, I think I may have a way for you to kill two birds with one stone."
"If you can find Trina, figure out if she'll be trouble for us or not…"
"Shouldn't be too hard…"
"Then if that's the case, convince her to come home, make her something to keep your dad busy while we wrap things up."
"I can do that," he told her, just as she heard Backup's barks indicating Keith's return.
"Okay, I'll call you later," she hung up just as Keith entered her room. "Hi," she smiled, putting her phone down.
"Please tell me that was the pizza guy…" She smirked.
"Sorry." He shrugged, sitting on the edge of her bed to face her.
"So…" he sighed.
She gave him a confused "So…" back. He smiled.
"How's… things?" his gestures gave her a hint as to what he was referring to.
"Well… Celeste hasn't called back yet, not that I'm even remotely surprised." Keith nodded.
"So why don't we give this whole thing a push?"
"What do you mean?"
"Find a little… incentive? Like those pictures?" Veronica sat up.
"What, you don't think I'd do it?" She shrugged.
"So how do we find them?"
"Did she say where she hid them?"
"No… she wouldn't have left them here. Maybe a safety deposit box?" He smiled and nodded.
"So now we find the bank."
"How do we do that?" she asked. He paused, smiling up at her.
"Leave it up to the pro," he patted at his chest with a smirk.
"Can I watch?" she smirked back.THE NEXT MORNING – MARS INVESTIGATIONS
"Yes, that's right." Keith snapped his fingers to draw Veronica's attention. She sat up, rubbing at her eyes to wrestle herself away from sleep. "Yes, that's the one. You're a lifesaver," he scribbled something down before hanging up.
"You got it?" she asked with high curiosity." He sat back, shrugging with his hands out. Veronica grinned and stood to go take a look at the notes he'd taken.
"Hey, hey, not so fast. First things first, let's look about a key?" She sighed and went back to her chair. "Thank you. Now… do you think she might have it with her in Philly?" Veronica shook her head.
"I looked through all her things when she told me about…" she let him complete the thought. "So it has to be at the house?"
"Maybe," Keith nodded. "So… another scavenger hunt?"
"School," she nodded back. "Plus I have to go see Wallace first about something."
"Oh, Veronica, my birthday was months ago, you know," he pointed out innocently.
"Good to know where your head is, but that ain't it." She came over to kiss him goodbye. "See you."ECHOLLS HOME
Logan was sitting up in his room playing video games when he heard voices from downstairs. He knew well who had just arrived – his manipulation had apparently worked. He'd had to call around to people he knew his sister might go to, something with its many unfortunate necessities. Eventually he had landed on the right number.
Within three minutes he could claim with high certainty that Trina had not taken notice of anything to come and knock down their house of cards. So he played the concerned brother – just enough and within his expected behavior – and convinced her to come home. By the end of it, she likely thought it to be her very own clever idea. An hour had passed before he heard the voices from downstairs.
"Logan, come down son?" his father called up. After a moment he did just that. When he arrived at the bottom of the staircase, Trina made her way over to him with a laugh.
"How about a welcome hug for your big sister?" she approached with open arms.
"How about not…" he tried to decline but she already had him in her grasp.
"Play nice," she whispered before pulling back. She sighed, looking around. "Well, it's good to be home, even though the circumstances…" she articulated with her hands as she turned to Logan. "I was just telling Dad how I had been trying to get home since I heard about Lynn's… accident," her voice trailed awkwardly on the end.
"Right," Logan nodded before moving past them. "Well, academia waits for no man," he pointed out as he left. Trina stood there a second, looking up as she felt hands on her shoulders.
"It's good to have you home sweetheart," Aaron gave her a smile. Trina gave a smile back.
"Of course," she assured.NEPTUNE HIGH GYM
When Veronica arrived, she had to be careful not to get plowed over by a couple of giants. "Good reflexes…" she let out a breath.
She scanned the people currently in the gym and was relieved to see the person she wanted to be there was, and the one she didn't want to be wasn't. She stood by the door, curious to see how long it'd be before Wallace saw her, or how long she'd hold to patience. It was a toss up. It ended up that he saw her just as she was about to call out to him. He tossed the ball to someone before jogging over to her.
"Let me ask you something. Would you happen to know where one could get one of those foam fingers. I feel the need to show some… okay, maybe not…" she dropped the cheery, sharing a smirk with him.
"Didn't think so," Wallace agreed.
"Okay, trade off: I need your help with something."
"When don't you…" She glared a moment.
"Hey… So I'm trying to get through to this guy and I happened to see he's one of your teammates. Cale Endecott?"
"Yeah," he nodded. "Why do you…"
"Would tell you if I could, but I promised I wouldn't. All I can say is I've been trying to talk to him and he's had me on brush off every time."
"Yeah, he's been jumpy lately, missed some practices but he comes to all the games. Coach would probably kick him off if he wasn't one of his 'up and comers'. They got him in there and they're not letting go."
"Okay, well, do you think you could try talking to him, slowly work me into the conversation, no pushing, see if he'll bite?"
"How urgent are we talking?"
"No messing around," Veronica shook her head. Wallace nodded.
"You got it."
The rest of the day went by, a virtual battle of the wills on the matter of waiting. They still had twenty four hours standing between them and the end of Lynn's stay in Neptune. The stress rested firmly on this time where they had to be removed from the hotel, unable to know whether something was to go wrong.
At the end of the day, Logan went off to the hotel and would call Veronica with the all clear once he got there. When Veronica got home, she could hear some kind of commotion somewhere in the apartment. Backup was calmly sitting halfway between the kitchen and the living room. When he spotted Veronica he was quickly up, wagging his tail as she crouched and welcomed him.
"Hey, what's all this?" she asked, getting the expected clueless look. She stood to follow the noise. It appeared to originate from deep within Lianne's closet, Keith's feet sticking out. He sat there, rummaging through the items in the closet. "Dad?" He poked his head out.
"Dare I ask?"
"I never knew your mother to be so much of a pack rat."
"Looking for the safety deposit box key?" she guessed as she went to sit by him.
"Yeah… So far, not so much on result."
"But what a lovely mess," she looked around, picking up a box he'd pulled out. She started looking through the things it held. "Once we have the key, we'll need a way to get in there without Mom's consent, won't we?" she asked.
"Well, a death certificate would work, but then…"
"They might recognize me or her, don't want this to turn into some news item." Keith nodded.
"Just leave it to me."
"Okay, she nodded back. "What…"
"Let's just say someone owes me."BACK AT NEPTUNE HIGH – GYM
"Come on, speed it up!" the coach called to the players.
Wallace did as told, at the same time keeping an eye on Cale. He'd shown up for once, which made things easier at the very least. It wouldn't necessarily be a piece of cake, but it'd be close enough. When everyone split off, Wallace made his way over to Cale's side.
"Hey, how's it going?" he greeted him casually. Cale didn't ignore him, but he didn't look too sure either.
"Good," he nodded.
"I was wondering if you could give me a hand on something…NEXT MORNING – ENGLISH CLASS
"So you talked to him?" Veronica asked Wallace as they sat whispering.
"Yeah. I asked him for help on the game, we talked…"
"How'd it go?"
"Still a work in progress."
"Well already you're closer than I've managed to get."
The bell rang and they started to head out. She saw Logan was trying to hang back, so she got the hint there. "I'll catch you in a bit, okay?" she told Wallace. He saw Logan too and turned back to give her a look. "Please? Finally he turned and left. Veronica and Logan both made to take their time as they picked up their things. "All set?" she asked as they focused on their desks, not each other yet.
"Looks like it," he spoke simply.
"Why wouldn't I be?" he asked, not even fooling himself. So Veronica didn't linger on it.
"How's the Trina thing going?"
"Well you know her, she's playing the doting daughter. Gotta hand it to her, that's one part she knows how to play." Veronica smiled at that.
"So your dad…"
"As far as I can tell, we're good," he assured her.
"Okay… Then that's that." She paused. "How are you doing? You guys been talking?" Logan shrugged a bit, scratching at the back of his neck. She wanted to say more, but she wouldn't have known where to start. She finally turned to look at him though, hesitating before she spoke. "I'll see you tonight."
When Logan looked up in her direction, she'd already gone. Grabbing his bag, he left as well.NOON, ECHOLLS HOME
"We had a room looking out over the ocean where we'd see the sunset. Very exotic," Trina told her father as they sat for lunch.
"Lynn and I went to that very hotel on our sixth anniversary. It was breath taking," Aaron reminisced with a nod. Trina grew quiet, taking a sip from her glass.
In the momentary silence, the sound of the door broke clear through.
"Logan, is that you?" Aaron called out. There was another silence before Logan entered the kitchen. "Why aren't you at school?"
"It's called lunch. I just came to grab something for tonight, working on that project with Veronica," he spoke as he turned to head upstairs.
"Is that what they're calling it these days?" Trina chuckled. "Is that what you guys were doing at the Neptune Grand the other day, working on a 'project'?" she air-quoted. Logan stopped and turned, never letting an emotion carry over as his father spoke.
"The Neptune Grand?" he repeated.
"Veronica wanted to check it out for something on the way, she… never really said what," he lied, pulling the story out of who knew where. "I have to go," he turned back to finally go upstairs. He knew it might not be particularly incriminating seeing as how Lynn wasn't at the Grand, but it still put concern in him that he didn't care for.AFTERNOON – BANK IN NEPTUNE
"Right this way," the teller instructed Keith and Veronica, guiding them toward the deposit box room. Veronica looked to her father quizzically.
"About this favor you were owed…"
"My lips are sealed," he shook his head.
"Of course they are," she chuckled.
When they were shown to their box, there was a definite feeling of dread in the air. What were they about to find?
"You do it or I do it?" Keith held up the key. She took it, and soon the box was out. Opening it, they found a folder. Veronica took it out and looked to her father. He nodded. Turning the folder around, she opened it. Her eyes grew wide.
It was just as her mother had said… gun sights. The fact that it had all been true was almost more troubling than seeing herself with those red targets printed over her.
"It's true… all of it," her voice wavered. She put the folder down, taking a few steps back, tried to breathe. Keith took the pictures, didn't even look at them yet. His daughter's well-being was more important.
"Honey? You okay?" he wrapped his arms around her.
"Y-yeah," she pulled back, her eyes looking filled with new strength and determination. "We have to take care of this. After what they put us through… I think it's time we did something about it." Keith smiled, filled with pride.
"Okay." She remembered she had to meet Logan soon, sighed.
"I have to go. Something else… I'll see you at home, okay?"
"Yeah, sure," Keith nodded. She nodded back and left. He looked at her until she was out of his view. He looked down to the folder. He'd figure this out for her, rest her worries.
Leaving the bank, he went to his car. He must have sat in that seat for five minutes before finally tempting a look at the pictures that had been the jump-start to his hell year. Soon he knew what he had to do and he drove off.OUTSIDE MARS INVESTIGATIONS
Veronica had practically ran from the bank to the office. She needed to get something before meeting Logan. She took to the stairs two by two, hurried to her desk and grabbed her bag from under it. When she stood, she gasped in shock to find Cale Endecott standing before her.
"You scared me…" she tried to catch her breath.
"I know what you're trying to do," he spoke firmly.
"You can tell Wallace to back off. Please, just leave me alone." And with that, he turned and left.
"Cale, wait!" She called, but he was already gone. She barely had time to take that in before her phone vibrated.
She picked it up and read the message – it was Logan, "Where are you?" She quickly replied that she was on her way and dashed off.EIGHT YEARS AGO
"Hold it, please? Just give me a minute. It'll only hurt a little, I promise," Lynn assured her son as he sat on the edge of the bathtub and she sat before him. She lightly dabbed at a swollen and cut part of his face. He winced but settled quickly. "Why'd you have to provoke him like that, you know how he gets," she tried not to cry.
"Right, so it's my fault, isn't it?" Logan spoke firmly.
"No, no," she took his hand. "I didn't mean it like that. You just… have to be careful."
"I hate him."
"He's your father."
"You should leave him. We'll live on our own, just us."
"He can't keep hurting us…"
"Sweetheart, I know it's hard for you to understand but I love him… He gave me you…" He remained silent. "Just be careful, alright?"
"You too," he replied. She smiled tearfully.PRESENT – ROADSIDE OUT OF NEPTUNE, NIGHT
Veronica pulled the car over. She looked to Logan at her side, Lynn on the backseat. "The car's over there," she nodded. "Everything you need is in the bag next to you," she told Lynn. She turned to Logan. "I'll wait here."
"Thank you Veronica. I don't know how to show how much this means…"
"Just don't lose hope out there." She nodded, taking the bag and heading toward the other car, as Logan also got out, following her.
When they got to the car, Lynn put the bag down and hugged her son tight.
"You saved my life… every day… I love you Logan, remember that," Lynn cried.
"I love you too," he spoke emotionally. "I wish it didn't have to come to this."
"Me either," Lynn agreed.
"You should go."
"Yeah… Take care of yourself."
"I will." She looked into his eyes.
"We'll see each other again. I promise."
Soon she got in the car, driving off into the night, leaving Logan in her wake.NEXT MORNING – MARS HOME
Veronica walked out of her room sleepily trailing her feet. "Morning sunshine," Keith spoke from his seat in the kitchen.
"Sun won't shine until I have my coffee." She got herself a cup, fixed it up the way she liked and took a sip. And Keith spoke.
"The man who took those surveillance pictures? His name is Clarence Wiedman." She looked up at him.
"Hey, that sign that says 'P.I.' isn't just for show."
"So who is he?" Keith hesitated. "Dad, come on, spit it out.
"He's the head of security at Kane Software." Veronica looked as shocked as he figured she'd be. "I don't want you to be pursuing him, especially not on your own. You don't know him. I do, and believe me when I tell you it's better that way."
A moment later, the phone rang. Veronica's look to Keith broke as she answered. "Hello?"
"Hello Veronica." She recognized the voice.
"Mrs. Kane…" That drew Keith's attention.
"I didn't wake you, did I?"
"You didn't. What can I do for you?" she asked, perhaps still semi-asleep, too much to possibly guess what she could want.
"Apparently it's what my husband can do for you. You want that paternity test? You got it." Veronica gripped at the phone.