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California Screaming

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Summary: Veronica Mars meets some newcomers to Neptune, and finds that her safe little world has just gotten a lot more dangerous.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > Veronica Mars > GeneralBoosterFR1559,45034710,70516 Mar 0513 Aug 05No

Back to School

3: Back to School


Not much you can do after a show stopper like that, so I thanked Weevil and drove over to the gym on Goddard and Seventh. No luck there -- Tim’s Gym was closed.

Honestly, who comes up with these names? Still not as bad as Kumquat Mae, the vegetarian restaurant down by the beach, or the Junk and Disorderly shop. The paint was peeling off the door, there was a general air of run down, and there couldn’t have been that much natural light inside, judging from the painted-over skylights. Huh. Not unusual for this neighbourhood, but why would Casey be around here? Heck, she wouldn’t have been caught dead around here. Literally. Triton Beach was a good three miles from here, in the highly expensive estates area.

I pulled my camera out of the car and took a few photos of the gym. Hey, you never know… I glanced at my watch and drove away.

I still had a few things to do at school.

~+~

Those things being a) Abuse Wallace, b) Abuse Wallace some more, and c) watch the jocks. Wallace, under protest, came along with me to the sports field. Fortunately for me, and not so for Wallace, the basketball team had finished early. We scrambled up to the top of the bleachers and made sure we had a good view of the regular Monday training that was coming to an end. I did, of course, have my camera with me.

“Girl, just what are we doing here?” moaned Wallace, obviously still pissed about the taser threat.

“Aha!” I said, holding one finger up in protest (and a vain attempt to shut him up). “That would be part of my cunning plan.”

Wallace looked at me. “Your cunning plans ain’t been working out so good recently. This one in particular does not sound so hot.”

“If…,” I interjected, “If my source inside the school administration had been able to get me the information I wanted –“

Wallace frowned. “Oh, don’t be going there, Veronica Mars. You know my momma likes me having that job, and I’m not gonna do anything too blatant – even for you, girl.”

Weasel. But a weasel with a good point. His mother’s coming around to me, but we’re not there yet. So naturally I changed the subject.

“Whatever. I still need to know what car Todd McArthur has. Casey, crazy bitch that she might have been, had one honking big Achilles heel. You’re new – you never experienced the suffering that could occur.”

Wallace still didn’t look too impressed. I carried on regardless.

“She was one of the single most jealous people in Neptune High. Todd even looked at another single girl in her presence, everyone would hear about it. If she was down in Weevil’s neighbourhood, odds are good that she was following Todd.”

I focused the camera in on the guys on the practice field. There they were, all warming down from their training. And just what sort of track star shows up to practice four days after his girlfriend’s been killed, and one day after her body’s been stolen?

“Todd’s the type of guy who might use that gym. Way I understand it, his family wasn’t always that rich,” I mused to Wallace as I took several long distance shots of Todd, just in case. Now we just had to wait for them to finish and see which car Todd went to.

~+~

We waited.

And waited.

Todd and the coach seemed to be going through an awful lot of training and discussion together. As the various after-school activities ran down, the parking lot emptied. At the rate things went, I might as well have just photographed all the cars left and narrowed it down from there. Still, I was determined to have a picture of Todd with his car to take back to Weevil again.

Wallace got bored and went home. Next time, I’ll share some of my worst stake-out stories with him. Do you realise just how difficult it is for a girl to wee into a bottle?

There was a brief interesting moment when Logan Echolls walked past.

Logan, Logan, Logan. How do I put this? Logan is a jerk. A rude, arrogant jerk, who spent the last year not only being the single biggest pain in my ass, but generally being unpleasant to most people in his vicinity. Not to mention smashing my headlights with a tire iron. Not that I bear grudges or anything.

Still, he was Lilly’s boyfriend before she died and the four of us (me, Lilly, Duncan and Logan) did have some great times together. Okay, Lilly and Logan were broken up when she died, and okay, maybe some of that was my fault, but still… One whole year of put-downs and rudeness and arrogance can’t just be wiped out overnight.

On the other hand, this was a guy who’d broken down and cried on me when his mother died recently. One of the single most awkward moments of my life. And hey – he’d had some trust in me to ask me to find her. Logan Echolls – a mystery wrapped in an enigma, covered in rich boy my-father-can-get-me-out-of-anything arrogance.

And yes, I use ‘arrogance’ a lot when talking about Logan. It’s so perfectly him.

Today, Logan being Logan, he said nothing, just made a rude gesture towards me with his hand and carried on walking. Obviously making fun of my inner turmoil.

Jerk.

~+~

It was almost dark by the time Todd headed home. There were only a few cars left, and my snap ‘em all plan was looking better and better. Still, I really should have guessed the black Escalade was his That’s the thing about the newly rich families – they tend to buy big when they strike it lucky. There’s almost an inverse relationship between the flashy extravagance of the car and just how recent the money windfall is.

Happily perched at the top of the bleachers, I managed to snap several photos of Todd getting into his car. As his Escalade drove off, I noticed a blue Lexus pull out from a fairly shaded part of the parking lot and follow him. Interestingly, I hadn’t seen anyone go near that one, which made it likely that whoever was driving it had been waiting inside all this time.

I snapped another couple of shots on the off chance of it being something interesting. And then congratulated myself when I recognised JJ driving it.

JJ following Todd earlier today? Could be coincidence. Twice in the same day? Something hinky for sure.

~+~

I just needed to grab a last few things from my locker, so I headed back inside Neptune High. If I was going to get that stupid Politics essay done, I was going to need the really thick textbook. The one that could keep a door shut by itself. It’s generally easier to leave it in my locker until I need it. Even Wallace wised up after carrying it for me a couple of times.

”No, no… we’ve just got here, after all. No firm idea on who made the call yet, but it’s got to be someone local.” Robin Wood, the new History teacher, had just come round the corner, speaking loudly on his cell phone. Naturally, this was at the point where I’d just dropped that damn textbook into my shoulder bag, so I greeted him with a graceful stagger to the left.

Way to impress the new teacher, Veronica.

He just looked at me and smiled. “Of course, what I really need is the expert knowledge of a professional finder-out. I’ll speak to you later, Giles.”

He hung up, and smiled again at me. Okay, I was cutting him some slack for being new, and good looking, but that didn’t extend to laughing at my uncoordinated self.

“Miss Mars, isn’t it?” he asked, politely ignoring my swinging shoulder bag. “I understand you’re a person who gets things done around here.”

I blushed. God help me, I blushed.

“Well,” I stammered, “My Dad’s a private investigator, and I might have, you know, picked up a few things from him.” And I giggled.

Inside, I was cringing and hitting my head against the nearest blunt object. I’m Veronica Mars, dammit! I do not do weak – and I especially do not do giggly.

“I’ll walk you to your car if you don’t object, Miss Mars,” he said, falling into step beside me. “After all, it’s getting dark out there now, and you never know who’s out there.”

Awww… over-protective, much? Minus point right there, buster. Still, it would give me a chance to pump him. I mean, find out more about him. Shut up.

“You have quite the reputation among the staff, Miss Mars,” he said, as we headed down the corridor. “Most of which is fairly impressive for someone your age.”

Ding! Another minus point right there. Still, I supposed there was no harm in making small talk. “Neptune High must be quite a change from your last job, what with no longer being on a principal’s pay. Where were you before?”

The side of his mouth quirked in a cute way. Bad Veronica – no noticing the adorable goatee. “Heh. They did mention your insatiable curiosity.” He glanced at me, suddenly intense. “No, we’ve just come down from Cleveland. See what we can find around here.”

Whatever he was looking for in my face wasn’t there. Was I meant to react to Cleveland or something? Some sort of school for disgruntled ex-principals? Me – I was more concerned about the ‘we’ bit.

“We?” And the normal incisive Veronica Mars wit and breezy manner had officially left the building.

Robin (when did I start thinking of him just as Robin? That wasn’t good) had the grace to look abashed. “Oh, yes, a friend of mine decided to take a trip down with me, and see what it was like, too. She’s thinking of moving down here for good, depending on things.”

“She?” Ah, the world famous Veronica Mars one word questioning technique. I so needed that brick wall to hit my head against right then.

Thankfully, at this point, we had reached the parking lot. “Just a friend of mine,” said Robin easily. “This your car?”

I flushed. Okay, it wasn’t as spotless looking as the vast majority of the cars that normally parked there, but it was mine, and more importantly, it worked. I just hoped he didn’t see the spot where Backup had drooled on the back seat.

“Yes, it is,” I snapped. “Thank you so much for escorting me off the school property, Mr. Wood. It was highly appreciated.” I climbed in and slammed the door somewhat loudly. Petty, but you have to take these small things when you can. I beamed up at him. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be going home now.”

He stepped back and smiled as I reversed the car out of its spot. “Take care out there, Miss Mars. There are some strange people out after dark these days.”

No kidding, Sherlock. And in some ways, really creepy. Ewwww.

As I drove home, I could have sworn I saw Casey Drake over by the Sunset Pines Motel on Jordan. I shook my head and swore to get more sleep. I see dead people; how much more Sixth Sense can you get? Sheesh.

~+~

That night, while I struggled with my Politics essay, there was another attack. And another death.



End part three
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