At Any Cost

Chapter One


Weevil would never approve what they were about to do. Going against the head of their gang was not one of their more brilliant ideas, but Auggie and Miguel knew that this would work against the Echolls kid. The two had tried several different methods to make him talk, per Weevil's orders, but he still claimed innocence and ignorance at what had truly happened the night Felix had been murdered. It was Auggie's idea, after playing yet another game of Russian roulette with Logan, to bring her into it. Everyone knew that Veronica Mars got under Echolls' skin in a variety of different ways. Auggie began to muse about bringing her there, in the garage where Logan was being kept, her life threatened just enough to make him panic. Echolls might want to play hero, give up his ridiculous claims of innocence if Veronica was frightened enough. Of course, making Veronica Mars scared would take a whole other level of danger, since the girl seemed unflappable now. It wasn't that Auggie didn't like her. She and Weevil had some sort of mutualistic relationship that ended in both of them getting out of trouble for the favors they offered up. He didn't mind helping her out. But this was for Felix. They had known Weevil would never agree with them; never agree to let Veronica become involved in their vigilante justice. Veronica would probably be able to talk Weevil out of it anyway, and get herself and Logan out of whatever trouble they were in. Weevil had some sort of soft spot for the not so rich white girl and going against that was dangerous for both Auggie and Miguel. Auggie knew it was worth taking the chance, though, especially if they got the results they had been trying for. Getting Felix's killer to accept the blame would be worth any kind of fall out he might receive from Weevil. Weevil would be able to talk Veronica out of pressing charges, even if she was completely pissed off at being used like a pawn in this war between Logan and the gang. She would accept it as another favor, eventually, he was sure. Weevil would just owe her big. And he would owe Weevil big. He sent Miguel after her, warning him of the dog, of the dad, and most of all, of her.

Despite the line of work she was in, Veronica Mars had never really considered she would be kidnapped. Her father was never involved in cases that dangerous, with the exception of Lilly's, and the worry of her being kidnapped for ransom or as a threat to get him to back off, so it had never crossed her mind. She rarely feared for her life, most of their work now consisted of getting the money shot of cheating spouses and her father was always out catching bail jumpers. Her investigation of the bus crash had proved fruitless so far, so she hadn't even stumbled onto anything threatening to the party responsible. Veronica had seen a lot of troubled families and unconscionable people in their business, but she had never expected to be dragged from her apartment in the middle of the night, while her father was away investigating an insurance fraud case, and Backup tied to a table, muzzled, unable to fight off her attacker in any way. She didn't scream, though she was actually frightened. She would remain tough, and be ready to look for a chance of escape when the opportunity presented itself. She tried to remain calm and unsurprised, but she couldn't when she was tossed onto the front of a motorcycle, the kidnapper's arms wrapped tightly around her. He was a member of the PCH gang. He had to be. Hardly anyone else drove motorcycles in Neptune. How could Weevil let this happen? She knew things had been different since the battle between the haves and have nots had worsened, since Logan had been accused and freed of Felix's murder and various acts of arson had occurred between the two groups. But she didn't believe that he would allow this to happen. Something bad had to be happening. She had no doubt. She thought there would be no more surprises, at least until they got to where they were headed, but she was wrong. She hadn't expected the drug to be pushed over her mouth, she hadn't meant to breathe it in, and she most certainly hadn't intended to lose

consciousness before they had arrived.

Logan Echolls had almost always been a cocky bastard, no denying it. Since the age of two, he'd demanded his will be done and accepted nothing less than that. He had always been sure of himself and truly believed that every bit of privilege he'd been given was obviously well-deserved and those who didn't have it, didn't deserve it. He had his moments of vulnerability; though not many claimed to see a softer side of Logan. Logan put up a good front and he'd cling to that image for as long as he could. However, when the gang members had brought him to this place, he was no longer able to keep up his typical façade. He'd been terrified and he wasn't afraid to admit it. Having a gun pointed at various parts of his anatomy did not bring pleasure to him, and he didn't know how to get out of this terrible situation he'd been put in. Still, his anger and displeasure at being tied up and forced to scream about how he didn't know what had happened that night on the bridge sustained him. He hadn't prepared himself for how low the gang was willing to go for answers, though. No idea at all. He saw her hair first, dangling in front of her face as her arms stretched over her head. He recognized the form instantly and a cold sweat broke out over his body. Why did they have Veronica? The gang had never gone after her before, not since that day she had fought against them and cut the scrawny kid from the flagpole. This was not a good sign, this showed there was dissention amongst the bikers, because as much as Logan hated Weevil, Logan was aware he wouldn't let Veronica be dragged into their battle, directly. He tried not to flinch or show any kind of emotion at what he saw, but it was too late. The one with the gun had seen the look on his face and a slow smile spread over his face.

"Yeah, it's probably good she's unconscious right now. I'd hate for her to see you cry when you finally give me what I want."

Logan wished desperately that he could recognize the voice, know who had kidnapped him. He'd never really desired to know the lower half, particularly the biker gang. After all, they'd all end up serving him after they graduated high school, what was the point in getting to know them? Now he wished he'd given the gang a little more consideration.

"Why the hell did you bring Veronica Mars into this? I don't know if you missed the news, but she was locked in a freezer by my father around the time that Felix was killed. You can check that alibi. It's in every major newspaper, tabloid, and news-station in the nation."

Logan's comment obviously irritated the masked man. He continued his work of tying Veronica to the chair, her hands bound in front of her, while he wrapped the rope around a chair. Her head lulled in front of her in a sort of ghostly calm that freaked Logan out a bit. He couldn't only wonder what they had done to her. The man finally snorted.

"We don't think this tiny blond overpowered Felix. We know it was you, that's why you are here. She's just our way to make you own up to your actions and realize that even though this is a rich white man's world, you're not going to just get away with killing one of ours." Thug Number One, as Logan fondly began referring to them in his head as, said smartly at Logan.

"Yeah, yeah, I've heard this speech before. You only got off because of your rich daddy…" Logan stopped the accent he'd used to imitate his captor and paused long enough to make his point, "my rich daddy who is now rotting rightfully away in prison for killing my girlfriend. So obviously your 'it's a rich white man's world' excuse isn't that viable."

"You're father killed a rich white girl. You killed a poor Mexican boy. There's no comparing that."

Logan rolled his eyes, trying to make his bravado return after his breakdown of pitiful screams when he thought his hand was going to be blown off. The minute he saw Veronica he knew he had to stop worrying about himself for two seconds to get her out of this mess. This was the reason she'd broken up with him, wasn't it? She was afraid he'd end up getting them both killed because he'd been so careless with his retaliation against the gang. Maybe she'd been right. At first, he'd assumed it was just a ploy to separate herself from him so she could return to Duncan's warm, yet boring arms. Now he wondered if she had possibly seen something like this happening, after all, she was the girl detective.

"Still, Veronica really had nothing to do with this. Go ask your ring leader. I'm sure he'll tell you to leave her alone."

Logan fell silent when he saw the two guys exchange glances. A small, boyish laugh erupted from his mouth, a dangerous action for someone with a gun in his face.

"You mean Weevs doesn't know about this? You went behind his back to catch me and Veronica. Oh, this is rich. He's going to be happy when he finds out. He'll probably have you beaten to a pulp for defecting or something. Isn't that what you people do?"

Logan was pistol whipped before he knew what was happening. He'd obviously struck a nerve and he was ready to continue along that line of talk when they both left the room abruptly, leaving him behind with an unconscious Veronica. He felt helpless at being unable to free himself or Veronica. He hated feeling like he had no control over the situation. He hated feeling so weak when he was used to being self-reliant. He hated the position he was in and the position he'd evidently put Veronica in. And he had no idea how to keep then both alive, when all he had was to provoke the two the way he would provoke Weevil.

"What…" He heard the word mumbled quietly, almost so quiet against the silence and harshness of the room, that he didn't know if he'd truly heard it. He tried to turn his head to where he could see Veronica and he could see her head wavering from side to side, as she tried to shake the grogginess fogging her head.

"Where am…what's…."

"It's okay, Veronica." Logan tried to make his voice soothing, but he rarely could reach that. His voice usually had that playful, antagonizing tone that in actuality soothed Veronica more than what he was doing now.

"Logan?" She was confused now. She remembered being in her apartment, seeing Backup muzzled and tied to a table, and being thrown on the back of a motorcycle. Weevil. The PCH gang. They'd taken her, but for what reason, she was unsure. She hadn't been involved with any of them lately, she'd tried to stop calling on Weevil to help her out of certain situations. Tried.

"What's going on?"

"Oh, you know, the usual. Kidnapping. Threats. Imminent death."

Veronica tried to move, but found that she was bound to the chair she was seated in. Her head was pounding and she couldn't think straight. She couldn't clear her head, no matter how much she wanted to. She remembered him putting something over her mouth. The jerk must have drugged her. She sighed and took a survey of her surroundings, though it was hard in the dim light.

"Why'd they kidnap me?"

"I'm not really sure. I kind of upset our captors a bit, you know, using big words and complete sentences really confuses them."

Veronica was almost amazed that Logan was able to keep his sharp edge with him after what it looked like he'd been through. His face was tired, his hair mussed, a bit of blood trickled down his mouth. Then again, she shouldn't be surprised. Logan had always had this attitude of the world owing him something, and he kept it with him no matter what happened. The only time she had seem him collapse was when he had finally accepted that his mother was dead.

Logan continued his way of explanation, "But they took me so I'd admit to blame for Felix's death. They don't seem to buy my account of not remembering anything after standing on the bridge railing. Unfortunately, admitting to something I don't remember isn't any better than refusing to admit it, because either way I'm likely to end up badly beaten or dead or something delightful like that. You know the biker gang, working to make the world a safer place by killing one 09er at a time."

Veronica took a deep breath, ignoring the dank scent of mud and oil in the room where they were held. She wouldn't show her fear. She was Veronica Mars, girl wonder, and she didn't let anything rattle her. Letting the gang know that she was scared of them would be what they wanted. She'd never played scared of them before, so she wasn't going to start now. She met Logan's eyes and she nearly gasped. The intensity of worry in his eyes shocked her. Knowing how worried he was worried her. Logan was scared. And it wasn't just for himself.

"It's going to be okay, Veronica. We'll get out of here."

Veronica's voice was slate when she replied. "Damn right we are."