Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N:
I didn't realize I had anonymous reviewing disabled, so who knows if I'll get more reviews than 7? (ha). Sorry if you went to review months/years ago and couldn't. I'm also sorry for the 2+ years delay on this update. I've got no real excuse to give.


Chapter Four:

Sunday June 16th – 10:10pm
Palmbrook Inn
Miami, Florida

Logan could sense the hesitantly slow steps beyond the motel room's front door. He took two long strides, and with a flick of his wrist and a hard pull, he threw the door wide open.

"About time," Logan muttered under his breath before commencing his pacing of the room, leaving Keith standing in the doorway with his arm raised, ready to knock.

"I'm sorry, Logan. My powers don't quite allow me to teleport across the country."

Keith's reply was void of emotion, an almost automatic response to Logan's impatience.

Keith took a moment to observe the young man wearing down the old, stained carpet beneath his feet. The carpet was a brown and orange color, with psychedelic patterns adorning every inch of space. The motel had clearly not been redecorated since the experimental 70s. Logan's features were tight, his brow fixed in a permanent 'v' shape. His shoulders were hunched, drawn in close to his chest, as if he were subconsciously shielding himself from an outside force.

"Logan."

The boy didn't stop.

"Logan!"

Finally, he stopped pacing and took a seat on the edge of the bed. His eyes remained trained on the hideous carpet.

"Logan, we won't get very far if you don't snap out of it and start talking." Keith's voice rose in volume and demand as he continued, "We can't help Veronica if you don't tell me what the hell is going on."

That got Keith the reaction he was after. Logan looked up, his attention heightened. The vacant stare gone in an instant.

"It's all my fault, Mr. Mars," Logan began, his voice low. "I waited far too long to go after her."

"Fuck!" The TV remote, the only solid object within reach, was now a scattered mess on the floor, having been thrown at full force against the wall directly in front of Logan.

Keith had learned from dealing with Veronica to be patient and calm, to allow the full story to be told before jumping to conclusions. It had proven to be a difficult task for both himself and his daughter, and tonight was going to be no exception. They didn't have time for a pity party.

"As much as I'd like an explanation as to how you and my daughter got involved in the same case, right now all I care about is getting her back safe and sound."

Keith sat down beside the distraught man, mimicking his pose.

"So tell me clearly and fast, who is Veronica investigating and how can I get my hands on the bastard?"

A spark of admiration flashed across Logan's face at Keith's obvious love for his daughter. He spoke of the Irish mob family and Larkin O'Malley's ruthless quest for riches, of how he first came across Veronica, slumped against a bar in a dungy pub in Brooklyn. He told of the lies, the shock, a line being crossed, and denial. He couldn't hold back. Couldn't hide what he knew about Veronica's situation. Keith would simply press him until he told all, and there was no time for a game of twenty questions.

Slowly, Keith's face lost it's hard edge and by the time Logan had finished sharing all the information he was privy to, the older man's expression matched what he'd seen on Logan's face as he'd entered the room.

"Oh, Veronica." Keith softly remarked to himself. "Do you have any idea where she could be?"

"Larkin was careful about covering his tracks. I don't know what Veronica found out that would bring her down here."

Interrupted by the ringing of his cell phone, Logan rushed to answer the call on the second ring.

"This better be good."


Sunday June 16th – 9:00pm
Sampson & Co.
Brooklyn, New York

"Bridget!"

"What?"

"Where the hell is the McArthur file? I can't find it anywhere!"

Bridget sighed and walked to the doorway of her boss's office. Resting against the doorframe, she smirked down at the man shuffling through a pile of discarded files. As he looked up, she straightened her back and brought her arms down and into her pockets. An agitated Sampson was like dealing with an ungrateful child. No need to provoke him further by acting indifferent towards his needs.

"I didn't hire you to sit there and look pretty. While you do a marvelous job at it, these files are not gonna organize themselves. Think you could be of some use and check the stack by that giant metal container, where these folders should be in the first place?"

Sampson's tone was only mildly condescending. Bridget knew better than to take him seriously when he was in one of his moods. She swore the man went through the same hormonal cycle as any healthy woman.

"You just want an excuse to keep me in your office all the time," Bridget breezed over her shoulder as she made her way across the room. "If Veronica was here, maybe you'd have time to actually solve a case now and then. That girl has some crazy organizing skills."

A silence hung in the air at the mention of Veronica. They hadn't been in contact with her for a couple of days now. Up until the previous Wednesday, Veronica had phoned to fill Sampson in on any new develops in the case almost on a daily basis. While progress had been slow, there was always new intelligence to share or decisions to be made.

"What did Veronica say the last time you two spoke?" Bridget tentatively asked. "The last time I talked to her, she seemed pretty on edge about something."

The older man pushed himself to his feet and rubbed a hand across his hairless head in distress. Business had been tough since Veronica had taken the O'Malley case off his hands months ago. Had it not been paying the bills, and providing a little extra for equipment, he'd of pulled the case a long time ago and had Veronica back in the office. He had no complaints about the money the job had provided the business, only complaints about the struggle to prevent the agency from being buried in a sea of unsolved cases and disgruntled clients.

"Some vague metaphor about finding the chest and just needing the key to unlock it. She's not always so giving in the information department. I swear she thinks it's her name on the sign outside."

Sick of looking and about to give up on his search, Sampson lifted a pile of folders off his desk to reveal an unopened, large envelope sitting underneath. The thick envelope had no return address, but the address for Sampson & Co. was typed out perfectly on a printed sticker, with a distinctive mark drawn on the side.

"Bridget…" Sampson drew out slowly in a strained voice, his back turned towards the girl. "When did this arrive?"

Bridget was in the middle of reading about the sordid affairs of a local public official when Sampson's cautious tone diverted her attention to the creased envelope clenched in his hand.

"I don't know," she rushed to explain, her eyes widening with slow understanding. "It must have arrived with the Saturday mail. I threw it on your desk after you ushered me out of the office because you had an important call to make."

Bridget stepped closer to get a good look at the personalized address sticker on the front. "Is that what I think it is?"

"Get the DEA on the phone. Now."


Sunday June 16th – 10:30pm
DEA New York Field Division
Manhattan, New York

It had been just over an hour since Rodriquez had received a phone call from a Mr. Edward Sampson regarding the whereabouts of Larkin O'Malley and the elusive Veronica Mars. With no time to lose, two mufti squad cars were sent to retrieve a package obtained by the PI detailing the activities of Larkin and some of his most important henchmen. The new intelligence was put to test by some of the DEA's best analysts on the east coast.

It was now up to Rodriquez to utilize all of his resources to get Miss Mars to safely and Larkin arrested on American soil. With the Miami Police Department's Tactical Narcotics Team on stand-by, he made a call to the agent he trusted to lead the sting with fortitude and fearlessness, whose connection to the former female FBI agent should prove vital to the dismantling of the O'Malley mob.


Sunday June 16th – 10:30pm
Palmbrook Inn
Miami, Florida

"This better be good."

"Echolls."

As Logan waited for Rodriquez to continue, Keith's cell phone rang from across the room. The timing was too convenient to be a coincidence.

Keith didn't recognize the number on his screen. For the second time that night, he answered in hopes it was his daughter. "Veronica?"

"No, no. Is this Mr. Mars?"

To get some privacy and hone his attention in on the phone conversation, Keith moved into the small motel bathroom. "Who is this?"

"I'm Edward Sampson, I work with your daughter, Veronica. I have this number as an emergency contact and I have reason to believe Veronica may be in danger."

"What do you have? Do you know where she is?" Keith was thankful for the forward, cautious thinking of his daughter. It may just save her life.

"She's in Miami-"

"I know that much. I got a call from a family friend in the DEA and caught the first flight here."

Relieved that the fellow PI was already in the city, Sampson continued. "Thank God. You have to move now. I've called the DEA and they're taking action. Before she left, Veronica sent me a package containing selective pieces of information. That was only to happen as a last resort. From what I can gather, tonight Larkin and his accomplice, Jacob Fisher, will be taking in a shipment down at the port in Biscayne Bay. She included a list of factories she suspected serve as the holding facility. I just checked with the city police and a car registered under an alias she uses was found near an abandoned building on Marshalls Road just this morning. According to Veronica's notes, a business associate of Fisher's owns the building. The police reported that no further action was being taken on the car due to no evidence of foul behavior and regularity of vehicle abandonment in the area."

Sampson started ranting about the uselessness of cops and the suspicion that should arise in such a situation. Considering the circumstances, however, he realized it might have been in Veronica's best interest that uniform police stayed away from the building. Remembering why he'd been talking so fast in the first place, he cut himself short and returned to the point at hand.

"I bet the DEA has figured this out already, but I thought I'd give you the heads up. Bureaucracy will make them act slowly. I've read your book, Mr. Mars. Sometimes it takes people like you to get things done fast and efficiently."

"Are you sure that's where Veronica is?" Keith asked, excitement and trepidation clear in his voice.

Sampson took his time to answer. "No, but it's the best I've got."

After getting the specific details from Sampson and promising to buy the man a really expensive beer sometime, Keith made his way back into the main room. Logan was still on his cell, head bowed and his left arm and leg extended out in front himself, leaning against the door.

Keith could see the tension in Logan's shoulders and arms. It was his way of showing frustration without resorting to physical violence. Keith could tell he was holding back, putting on an act, trying to suppress what he truly wanted to say over the phone. If it worked in their favor, then Keith will let the man violate whatever protocol necessary.

When Keith looked up from sorting his equipment, Logan had finished his conversation and had also begun to gather his belongings.

Just as Keith was about to correspond what he'd heard from Sampson, Logan stopped moving, turned towards him, and simply stated, "My supervisor is flying down and has organized a unit full of DEA and TNT agents to investigate an abandoned building they believe could be where Larkin is holding Veronica. Rodriquez seems to think I'd have the patience to wait and command the unit once a strategy has been coordinated. The man has too much faith in me." A brief smirk flickered across Logan's face.

Logan handed Keith a black jacket, threw his pack over his shoulder, and without a second glance at the other man, walked out the door.

Once Keith's body and mind had caught up with Logan, he mentally put the matching pieces together. "I'm guessing the DEA got their information from Veronica's boss."

If Logan had heard Keith's comment, he showed no response. He kept walking towards his rental car, parked right outside the motel room's door.

Only when he'd reached the driver's side door did he stop to look straight at Keith and ask, "I'm not waiting for anyone. Are you coming with me or not?"

If anything, thirty years in and out of law enforcement taught Keith that going in guns blazing was never a good idea. Adrenaline did not always serve as protection, and when the outcome was disastrous, bravery translated into stupidity.

That didn't mean they couldn't just devise a plan on the way there.

"Lets go."


Sunday, June 16th – 10:40pm
Abandoned Building
Miami, Florida

"What are you doing here?" Veronica muttered, as Sophia O'Malley slowly sauntered into the room. Sophia crouched down directly in front of Veronica and placing her hands on Veronica's knees.

Veronica made an effort to evade her touch and Sophia simply ignored her feeble motion. Sophia pulled down Veronica's blindfold, which had begun to creep below her eye level on it's own. Before Sophia had entered the room, Veronica's regained ability to see at least half of the room only served to remind her she was locked inside a pitch black, unforgiving, concrete box, with nowhere to run and the current cognitive strength of a fly.

"Listen, Veronica. I know you're not my number one fan right now, but there's not much time," Sophia rushed to say.

"I don't care what you have to say," Veronica managed to respond, pushing past the parched strip and layer of dried blood in her throat.

"Well tough, cause I know for a fact you're running on your reserves right now and there's nothing you can do but listen."

Sophia's counter was met with silence from Veronica. She could barely lift her head to look the woman in the eyes, never mind begin an argument over who really deserved to be the one sitting in the chair, rapidly loosing blood and the ability to feel their limbs.

Mrs. O'Malley stood up and took a step back before letting Veronica know exactly why she had returned, after standing back and watching without a flinch as Larkin did his best to turn her potential savior into an incapacitated mess.

"You don't have much time. Larkin has left to do business, but he won't be gone long. Which means, Veronica, you don't have long to live. I've never seen him invest so much time and energy into a single human being before. He's obsessed."

There was a brief pause as Sophia pulled herself up, turned her back, and crossed her arms; She appeared to be trying to remove herself mentally from Veronica's predicament.

"I didn't mean for it to get so out of hand. If I had known you were so close to ending this I wouldn't have interfered. You know Larkin doesn't tell me anything! It took me 10 years to even start questioning his actions and even then I thought he was cheating on me. I didn't know until yesterday that he was even in Florida. You should have seen his reaction when I showed up. I've never been so scared in my life. Thankfully he's been pretty preoccupied and hasn't given me even the slightest bit of attention."

Sophia was rambling. If Veronica didn't have much longer to live, she'd much rather spend that time in peace than spend it listening to her weak-willed client seriously believe that Larkin wouldn't take her life in a second. Larkin may not be a cheater, but he sure as hell cared more about his fortune than the love of his life, who was now a flight risk.

"Stop. Just, stop. I don't want to hear it. Do you really think he's going to spare your life, now that you know too?" Eyes and head drawn to the ceiling, Veronica managed to stop Mrs. O'Malley in her tracks.

She couldn't hold the position for long. The ache in her neck and the sensation of blood trickling down her throat brought her head back down with a cough.

"Either you help me get out of here or you leave. If you have even an ounce of humanity in you, it'll be the former option."

"I can't just walk out of here, dragging you along. There's no way you can stand on your own... I'm so sorry. He'll-"

"Please," Veronica pleaded, any pretense of dignity gone from her voice.

That's it. It's over. She had been reduced to begging. Not moments before, Veronica was ready to punch Larkin's wife dead in the face, now she was willing to trust her with her life. In her lifetime, there had only been a handful of people Veronica had trusted, and even then, that trust was either short-lived or highly dependable on good behavior and eye-for-an-eye tactics. To give this woman such a privilege meant all hope was lost.

Deep down Veronica knew there was no way they could successfully escape on their own. Although she hadn't seen them, months observing every strategic decision Larkin made told Veronica that there were at least two men stationed at the end of what she presumed was a hallway. They would be out of earshot to give privacy to whoever chose to visit the prisoner, but within shooting range if something went wrong. Even if they had a weapon on hand, which they didn't, they didn't stand a chance.

The room was suddenly cast into darkness. The door had been deliberately and swiftly closed. Why was it open? Then she remembered. There were no lights in the room for when it got dark outside. Every time a person had come to play with the human punching bag at night, the door had remained slightly open to allow light from outside to ever so slightly brighten the room; never enough so that Veronica could identify her attacker, yet always enough to allow the silhouette to appear overbearing.

Sophia was no longer talking. Veronica strained to hear if anything was going on outside over the ringing in her ear, having taken a direct blow earlier in the day. Or was it yesterday? Her latest outburst and sudden flux of mental notes were taking their toll on Veronica's level of consciousness. It was now taking every last muscle in her body, and burst of energy she had, to keep what little power over her body she had.

Her control ended; her chin rested calmly on her chest and her eyelids fluttered shut.

Then suddenly the faint sound of high heels on concrete stood out.

The sound of garden shears being pulled open and shut.

The sound of rope hitting the ground.

The sudden rush of pain as blood returned to her hands and feet.

The returned sound of high heels on concrete.

A brief moment when light spread throughout the room.

Silence.

Darkness.

Then complete darkness, as Veronica's body could no longer withstand the renewed freedom. Her whole body made the trip sideways, her hip connecting with the ground first. All she could think about before loosing consciousness was the irony of the situation and how she didn't even have the strength to move her arms up to cushion the impact, as her face made direct contact with the solid ground.


Sunday, June 16th – 11:42pm
Abandoned Building
Miami, Florida

He'd never been a fan of the all-black DEA combat uniform. From the cargo pants, to the sports cap and bulletproof vest, with DEA written in big yellow letters on the back. Logan had always hated wearing the outfit. It practically screamed, "Watch out! You're being busted!" There was no subtly in its approach. A DEA agent stood out like a diamond in a pile of coal on a sunny day.

He felt like less of a target as he slowly approached the building in the dark civilian clothes, gun firmly attached to his hand in his pocket, and Keith at his side.


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