"Hey, you!" said a voice behind her.
Veronica didn't even think. Her hand was out of her bag in a second, and she led with the
The tall young man standing behind her, right hand outstretched, was caught with one foot
stepping, and went down with a gurgle, heavily. Veronica took a step back and looked down at him - lanky frame, reddish wavy hair, narrow face, leather jacket--
Veronica tried to turn to see what had caught her - there was a bit of wood pinning her to
the wall by her collar. She reached up and touched the end, around the base, to make sure
that the only damage had been to her jacket.
Someone had put a crossbow bolt through her favourite jacket!
Heads were going to roll.
As soon as she got herself down from the wall.
She hadn't even heard it coming, more felt the impact as she was tugged back and the bolt
embedded itself in the wall. she tried to tug it free - it was definitely a crossbow bolt;
Logan had a crossbow he'd bought off eBay. They'd once spent an evening trying to see how
many times they could shoot the bull's eye painted on the back of an old couch dumped on the side of the desert highway. (This had, ostensibly, been in the interest of Veronica's love of meaningless violence, but she had privately suspected it had more to do with Logan's and her father's near-constant plotting to get Veronica proficient in better defensive weapons.)
So she knew it was a crossbow bolt.
That didn't make it any less bizzarre that someone had just shot at her with a crossbow.
She didn't have much time to consider far past the "holy shit, someone just shot at me with
a crossbow!" part of her reaction when a dark-haired girl stepped around the corner and
fixed her with a disturbingly calm stare - which Veronica noticed only passingly on the way
to staring perplexedly at the small crossbow she held in her hands.
Crossbow. That was never going to stop being weird.
The girl only looked at her briefly, eyes sweeping up and down, taking in her face, her hands, the bag lying slumped at her feet, the tazer dangling from one hand, gaze piercing and perceptive, before looking down at the young man lying on the floor at Veronica's feet,
face flooding with concern she didn't seem to know she showed, because the eyebrows kept
that same calm straight line.
"Bo?" she asked, voice not quite even, "Are you--"
"Bo" groaned and rolled over, clutching his chest where Veronica had pressed the contacts
"I'm fine," he grumbled. "I've been electrocuted before."
The girl said nothing, face caught halfway between amused and worried. "Are you sure?"
He got slowly to his feet, rubbing at his chest, and the slightly burnt spot on his t-shirt. He looked down and made a face. "I really like this shirt." He looked up at the girl. "Damn, Shirley, where'd you get that thing?"
"Stole it off of one of the tables," she said, with a thoroughly unconcerned shrug.
He stared, still, for a moment, before shaking his head. "I'm not even going to ask," he said, and then as one, they turned to look at Veronica, pinned to the wall like a specimen
insect. Throughout the entire exchange, the crossbow had not wavered for even an instant.
"So," said Shirley, "you got her."
"Um, no," grimaced Bo, "I tripped, and she tazered me. Different things, those."
Shirley took a step forward. "Why'd you tazer him?"
"That hurt, by the way," said Bo.
Veronica looked at them, mouth open. She then spent approximately ten seconds trying to
decide whether they were insane, trying to kill her for some reason as yet unbeknownst to
her, or whether there had been crossed signals at some point in the last five minutes.
She chose to believe the least uncomfortable option.
She did not choose to communicate her choice articulately.
"You were tailing me!" she accused, trying again, now that she was relatively
sure they weren't going to shoot her, to pull the bolt free. "And this was my favourite
jacket!" She frowned down at it.
Bo looked down at Shirley. "She's got a point, you know," he said, and Shirley glanced at
him, skeptically, before he added, "and I'm pretty sure she's not who we thought she was,
so..." he held his hands out before him appealingly, tilting his head to one side, and
Shirley shrugged, almost imperceptibly, and lowered the crossbow a little.
Bo took a step towards her. "Can I get you--" he paused, holding up his hands, when she raised the tazer a few inches. "This isn't going to work if you just zap me again," he
"And I know you're not going to just strangle me how, exactly?"
Bo looked lost. Shirley frowned at her over his shoulder. Veronica took a deep, calming
breath that was only marginally calming, but figured she didn't have much of a choice, being at a disadvantage by exactly one projectile weapon.
"Let's start this over again," she said, tazer still in the air. "Who did you think I was?"
Bo and Shirley looked at each other.
Veronica sighed, loudly. "Would it help if I showed you my PI license?"
That garnered a response from Shirley, whose eyes widened. "You're a detective?" she said,
quietly, but Bo laughed.
"You're kidding!" he said. Veronica scowled.
"Why does everyone always react like that?" she asked, but Bo was already toeing her dropped bag towards him, pulling out her wallet, and flipping through it until he pulled out her laminated license, along with the papers for the tazer.
"She's serious, Shirley," he said, handing over both, so that Shirley could squint down at
them, suspiciously, then hand them back.
"Yeah," she said, at length, "okay, that does help." She nodded towards Veronica. "Get her
"Um," said Veronica, "This is the part where you tell me who you are."
Again, Bo and Shirley looked at each other, and Bo shrugged, almost encouragingly, then
turned back to Veronica, holding out one hand.
"Bo Sawchuk," he said, gripping her hanging right hand before she could think and pumping it warmly. "She's Shirley Holmes. Now how 'bout I get you down?"
He didn't wait for her assent, just seized the bolt and pulled, and Veronica came free with
a little shower of giproc. She waved it out of her face with her right hand, and carefully
turned off the tazer.
"Did someone hire you to watch her?" asked Shirley then, and Veronica looked up, puzzled,
into clear, piercing blue eyes that held in them a hint of... something. She wasn't sure.
But it was sharp, and it was painful, and it made Veronica shiver, a little.
"What? Hire me?" Veronica blinked at her.
"You're a PI. Why are you here?" Shirley nodded at her outfit. "Nice disguise, by the way."
"Disguise? No-- I'm here with friends." She jerked a thumb up the hallway, in the general
direction of the main convention hall. "Including one sidekick who is so not getting paid
this month." She sent a dark look back up the hall. "No business, just pleasure." She
paused. "Almost, anyway. I go to Hearst."
"The college up the freeway?" Bo handed back her credentials. "Aren't you a bit... um...
young?" he raised his eyebrows, then glanced back at Shirley, and shook his head. "Never
"What does that make you two, anyway?" she asked, crossing her arms, and caressing the hole
in her collar carefully. Maybe she could get it fixed. The hole wasn't that big.
"We're here on... we don't have licenses," amended Bo. "Sort of a personal... thing."
"Bo," said Shirely, quietly, but with a warning tone, and Bo closed his mouth immediately,
tilting his head questioningly in her direction. "We did shoot her, Shirl," he said, in a
low tone, his posture changing slightly as he addressed her, this time. Shirley shook her head slightly, looking momentarily much younger than Veronica had first guessed. Bo looked a few years older than Veronica herself, and she assumed Shirley was about the same. But a
passing moment of vulnerability appeared there, and Bo sighed, with what looked like
familiar frustration, before it vanished again.
Veronica tucked her papers and the tazer carefully back into her bag, feeling suddenly very
tired. "You know what? I did try to electrocute you. Let's call it even." She raised one eyebrow, looking at Shirley, who returned her gaze fearlessly and with something approaching challenge. But gradually she pressed her lips together, and nodded.
"Let's go, Bo," she said, and turned and walked back up the corridor. Bo lingered a moment
longer, smiling at Veronica.
"I'm really sorry about scaring you," he said, "Shirley gets a bit carried away, sometimes,
and sometimes she takes me with her."
Veronica, smiled back, grudgingly, though without too much effort. He was kind of cute, and that sort of smiling was built-in, and he knew it.
"That's all I'm going to get, isn't it?"
He shrugged, already moving up the hall after Shirley. "Yeah, it is. Sorry."
A moment later they were gone, and Veronica frowned down at her jacket once more, brushing
giproc off the lapel.
"V?" came a voice, and Veronica looked up to see Wallace and Piz standing at the junction of the corridor, looking concerned and slightly embarassed. "What'd we miss?" Wallace was
looking at the hole in the wall behind Veronica's head. She turned and glanced at it, then
"Nothing big, Wallace my man," she said. "Just a misunderstanding."
Veronica clapped them both on the shoulders and they headed back towards the convention
hall. As they emerged into the noisy throng of booths and people, Veronica felt the last
jitters leave her, but still felt a mild, passing uneasiness at the memory of the look in
Shirley's eyes, wondering just who, or what, they were after at a comic book convention that could put that kind of fear in somebody's face.
It bothered her, but shortly it slid into the background of her thoughts, and by that night, as she drove her friends (and their several hundred dollars' worth of purchases) back to campus, chattering and laughing, she'd forgotten about it altogether.