Life in Slow Motion
by Angel Monroe

Disclaimer: I gave my soul to God for the book I'm writing. I have nothing left to barter for Veronica Mars. In other words, unfortunately, I don't own it.

A/N: Okay, so I wasn't going to post this yet, but I really need the inspiration that only reviews can bring. I've written a few chapters ahead and I wasn't going to post until it was finished, but again, reviews make it easier. So this is another 'what if' piece, obviously longer than usual, and begins during 2.21 when Lucky goes all Columbine on Neptune High. Flashbacks are in italics, but you guys are smart enough to figure that out for yourselves. Leave a pixie stix review to fuel me if you like it. I'm not begging. It just might help keep this one off the eternally unfinished list.

In slow motion, she saw Wallace grab for the gun and Lucky get there first. She held her breath as Lucky cocked it and pointed at a frozen Wallace's chest. And she screamed with the rest of the student body when Lucky pulled the trigger and blood sprayed across the pavement behind her best friend's shoulder.

Wallace sat on the bed next to her, silent and attentive. He didn't ask questions. It had never been their way. But this time there was no resentment in his self-restraint.

"This is so not an 'I told you so,' but do you see why I kinda keep things to myself?"

The way he looked at her when he told her she should stay smothered any initial reserve she'd had. He wasn't judging her for taking that damned drink without knowing where it came from. He wasn't telling her how disgusted he was that she may have unknowingly dated and slept with her half-brother. He was just sitting there, telling her maybe she should stay until she was alright. He had her back.

She knew he always would.

Lucky cocked the gun again.

"Lucky!" she screamed, standing. She wasn't sure what compelled her out of her hiding place, shouting a madman's name, but Wallace's blood was beginning to pool and Lucky wasn't going to let him be saved without a substitution. "Lucky!"

He turned the gun towards her, blood in his eyes, and Gia trembled at her feet.

"You want a hostage?" she pushed out with only a slight tremor. "You wanna take this out on someone? Take me. I'm the one who ruined your plans for Gia and got you fired."

Something cleared in his eyes and a terrifying smile broke across his face. "Veronica Mars." Yeah, this was a brilliant plan.

She faked a trip as she stepped out from behind the table, taking the opportunity to grab her cell from where it had fallen and stuff it into her pocket. He was there before she could reach her tazer, and she shoved Gia under the table instead.

"Veronica Mars," he repeated slowly, rolling it around on his tongue. He grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her up into a hostage position, wrapping his free arm around her shoulders and pressing the gun into her temple.

She would have screamed, would have cried and wondered why, oh why, she had done something so stupid, but Jackie was on her cell phone and pressing the cloth of her jacket against Wallace's wound. He was going to be okay, and that was worth it.

That was the only coherent though she could muster as Lucky pulled her to the parking lot and shoved her into his truck.

Keith sat at his desk, looking over the file in front of him while the radio played softly in the background. Another wife convinced her husband was cheating. Turns out she was right, but that wasn't the half of it. The fact that he frequented a gay bar two towns over in full drag with random men on his arm was something Keith wasn't looking forward to telling Mrs. Zimmerman.

The break in his favorite song broke his concentration and the radio personality's voice rang clear. "Breaking news, folks. Looks like Neptune High just became a statistic—as if it wasn't already. At about 1:15 this afternoon, a Thomas "Lucky" Dohanic, opened fire in the Neptune High School lunch grounds, injuring one student and taking another hostage. Dohanic is reportedly a disgruntled former employee of the school, dismissed last week after a yet unreleased incident. There seem to be no casualties at this time and names of the injured and the hostage have not yet been released. Full story at three."

From somewhere inside his mind, Keith watched the Zimmerman file fall to the floor.

When he'd gotten the call about a disturbance at the Kane estate, he knew it couldn't have been something small. They had their own people for the small clean-up jobs.

He would never forget the instant he saw Lilly Kane lying eyes-wide-open next to the pool. He wanted to cry for her. He wanted to cry for his daughter, too young to know such loss. But he was the sheriff and he had to remain professional, even though he'd known the girl for years, hosted slumber parties she'd attended and drove her home from school more times than he could count. Never mind that she was no more than a year older than his own daughter. Now she was just another victim, and that was how he had to see her to keep the tears back.

Veronica's gasp brought him back to himself. He turned to keep her from seeing, though he knew she already had. Still, he had to protect her from the pain. It was his purpose in life to keep her from pain.

In the months that followed, he failed a hundred times over.

He was just about to pick up the phone to call his daughter when it rang.

"Veronica?" he asked, hoping her voice would reply.

"Keith." It was Lamb's voice instead, eerily civil, and his heart sank. "Keith, it's Don."

"Which was she?" he asked. If he kept talking, he might not break down. "Tell me she's at the hospital, Don, and that she's alright. Tell me he didn't take her."

Silence met him and Lamb didn't have to say a word. He mumbled an uncharacteristically genuine, "I'm sorry, Keith," and said something about making an excuse for him at the courthouse. It wasn't until he hung up that Keith put his head in his hands and wept, but only for a moment before he stood up, grabbed his GPS tracker, and headed for the car. If he was lucky, maybe Veronica had her cell on her.

Logan had decided not to go to school that morning. After watching his father lie so convincingly on the stand, he didn't think he could face the insignificance of high school calculus. So he'd holed himself up in the suite, staying away from the television, the radio, or anything else that might remind him that he would soon be testifying in his own father's murder trial.

When he pulled up to the courthouse, escorted by one of the deputies, he tried not to listen to the questions shot his way. He'd always hated reporters—slimy, bloodsucking leaches—but since the trial began his hate had turned into a deep-seeded loathing. He couldn't get off the freaking elevator without getting a flashbulb in his face.

He sat on the prosecution's side, ignoring the hurt glances his father was throwing his way. The cameras loved it.

"Your honor," the prosecutor said as soon as proceedings had started, "I'd like to move for a postponement on the grounds that one of my star witnesses was taken hostage this morning and has not yet been recovered."

Logan looked up sharply, choking on air as Lavoie stood to object.

"Your honor," he grandstanded, "this is just a ploy by the prosecution to draw attention away from—"

He was cut off by the prosecutor's incredulous laugh, and Logan looked around the courtroom. Veronica wasn't there, and neither was Keith. He stopped breathing.

"I'm sorry, your honor," the prosecutor said, composing himself. "This is in no way a laughing matter, but honestly, I couldn't have planned this if I wanted to. You must have seen it or heard about it on the afternoon news: a student taken hostage at Neptune High School after an armed man opened fire."

A buzz started in Logan's ear and he thought he might pass out.

She wiped the blood from his face with a warm washcloth, cradling his head against the arm of the couch. Her eyes were so sad, so loving, that it almost made up for the fact that she'd accused him of murder. Of course, the fact that his father had almost killed her that night made up the difference, and he was just glad she could look him in the eyes.

He groaned and she made a soft shushing noise, running a hand over his brow. Right then he thought he might love her, and he wished he could say it. But part of him knew that she would pull away and he didn't have the emotional stability to handle that kind of disappointment.

"This hostage was your witness?" the judge asked, snapping him back to the present.

"Veronica Mars. Her father, another key witness, is out looking for her. Without these testimonies, I don't think it would be possible to weigh this trial fairly."

The judge nodded. "Do you have any other witnesses?"

The prosecutor turned just in time to see Logan's back as he disappeared out the door.

"Um, also looking, your honor."

The judge nodded again. "Postponement granted. Trial date will be set pending the outcome of recent events."

He knocked his gavel and the whole courtroom began to buzz.