ROUGH DIAMONDS

Case 1: In a Picture I Found

Author – Chantelle1979

Rating – T

Summary – Logan and Veronica join forces to solve a case. LoVe.

Author's Note – This is a slightly AU fic. I have only seen the first season and I don't want to know any spoilers, so I don't know how everything played out. As I don't want to guess, my fic has everyone knowing that Aaron Echolls is Lilly's murderer, but the whole Logan and Weevil cliffhanger never happened. Also Logan and Veronica have never gotten together and Duncan has issues with Logan because of his father. Enjoy!

ooooooooooooooo

I.

"There's another one up today," Wallace stated as he dropped his books down on the cafeteria table. He had been kept back after class and hadn't had a chance to catch up with his best friend. Veronica looked up at him with a frown.

"Mr. Snap-happy strikes again. I know. I saw him put the photo up this morning." Wallace looked at her in wry amusement as he sat down opposite her.

"Well, don't rush to tell me who it is or anything. It isn't like this guy hasn't caused the biggest disruption at Neptune High since..." He kept the rest left unsaid.

"Since Lilly was murdered and Mr. Hollywood was found guilty, you mean," Veronica finished for him. Wallace shrugged his shoulders.

"It's okay, you can say it. But in answer to your rant, I'm not in a rush to tell you anything because I don't have anything to tell." She started to gather up her things for the next class.

"Am I hearing you right, Trixie Belden? You've been working on this thing for six weeks and you have nothing?" Wallace paused as he thought back on her words. "But you just said you saw him put the photo up today. How could you possibly have nothing?" Wallace grabbed up his things and quickly followed her.

"Let's just say that video taping is not an infallible way of getting evidence. I set up my camera, but he seemed to know it was there. He even looked straight at it a couple of times." Wallace looked at Veronica non-plussed.

"So...that should be enough for you. It's a standard make, model and license plate situation."

"Usually, but this guy was wearing head-to-toe black. I can't tell his build as he's wearing a great big non-descript black jacket and beyond baggy pants. I can't even make out his height as he so cleverly hunched over. This son of a bitch is making many people's lives hell, and that is all I've got. This sucks." They both had reached their lockers and Veronica rested her forehead on the cool metal of hers while Wallace opened his.

"What you need is some time off this case. You've been working on this thing non-stop, and frankly, you're starting to get a little boring," Wallace joked hoping to get Veronica to smile, but it didn't work.

"Great. My only friend thinks I'm boring. Plus, I'm failing at the one thing I'm good at." Wallace wasn't used to Veronica acting like this, and he didn't like what he was seeing. But she had been in negative mode for the past couple of days and nothing he said seemed to do any good. He was starting to feel conflicted by wanting to help and being annoyed at her at the same time. That, of course, brought on feelings of guilt.

"Veronica, as wonderful as this pity party is turning out to be, I have to go to basketball practice. But I know if anyone can get this guy, it's you." Wallace squeezed her gently on the shoulder and headed to the gym. Veronica softly banged her head on the locker. No matter what faith Wallace had in her, she knew she was getting nowhere.

Seven weeks ago, a photo had appeared on the school's bulletin board in the hallway. It showed a junior, Miranda Reynolds, dressed in full Nazi costume, straight down to the shaved head. She and some nameless fellow Nazi's were shown laughing at what looked like a dog that they had just fatally beaten. This wouldn't have been surprising if Miranda had a history of weird behavior. However, she was an extremely peppy brunette cheerleader who was always first in line to volunteer at bake sales.

Everyone put the photo down to a nerd with way too much time on his hands and an unhealthy addiction to PhotoShop. And it would have remained that way, if not for the fact that three days later, Miranda had shaved off all of her hair and told her parents that she was leaving home to further the cause of the Aryan nation.

Before the gossip could die down, another photo appeared. Different person showing totally out of character behavior which later turned out to be true. Six photos later and there was still no break in the case. Just as she began to sift through all the facts in her mind for the thousandth time, Veronica noticed two feet appear beside her.

"I see the late nights of tawdry sex are catching up to you." Veronica raised her head to glare into the eyes of Logan Echolls.

"However, your nights of the sound of one hand slapping seem to be agreeing with you." She turned back to her locker and opened it. Logan moved a little closer which unnerved Veronica a tiny bit.

"Seriously though, Veronica. You look like you haven't slept in weeks." She turned back to him with a look of disbelief. Her built-in reflex reaction was to answer him with a sarcastic comment, but he looked sincere and she did need someone to help clear her head. She decided to take the chance.

"Six weeks, to be precise." Logan hadn't really expected her to answer him, so it took a couple of seconds to get his head in the conversation.

"Ahh...the photos. I'm guessing the old Mars magic isn't exactly hitting it on this one then." Veronica swapped her books over and closed her locker.

Let's just say at the moment it feels like I can't get anything right. Someone could hand me a big ol' map saying, 'He is here', and I still wouldn't be able to find him." She turned to walk to class and Logan followed behind. He was silent, so Veronica thought that a couple of questions was going to be the extent of their conversation.

"Do you want... some help with it...I mean...from me?" Veronica stopped abruptly and spun around.

"Okay, what the hell is going on here? Who are you and what did you do to the Logan Echolls I know and hate?" A look of hurt an danger passed across Logan's face. The hurt disappeared in a second, but the anger remained.

"Oh, I'm sorry. How could I even dare assume that lowly scum like me could dare approach Veronica Mars on her pedestal for one. Forget it." Logan straightened his backpack and glared at her. Veronica wasn't sure what to say to that.

"You have to admit, Logan, that this offer is kind of coming out of left field. Most of the time you seem to barely tolerate me. So if this is some new little game that you've come up with..."

"Look, I though you needed help. I was wrong. I do still remember that we used to be friends. I noticed that Wallace has been busy with basketball lately, and it's not like Duncan wants anything to do with me at the moment. Plus, I'm not saying this negatively, but you've been looking so worn out lately." Veronica had to admit that Logan didn't seem to have an ulterior motive but then again, she could never be too sure with him. He was still looking at her expectantly, waiting for a decision. Veronica definitely did need the help and Logan had been having a hard time lately.

"Okay, okay. It looks like we're a team." Logan gave her a little smile of thanks. "If you're not doing anything after school, meet me at my car after last period, alright."

"Sure thing, boss." Logan saluted to her and spun around. "This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship," he continued over his shoulder as he walked off to class.

"Or a murder-suicide," Veronica muttered to herself as she headed in the opposite direction.

ooooooooooooooo

"Duncan, my man. If we keep meeting like this, I'm going to start thinking you're stalking me."

"If I was going to take up stalking, Weevil, I surely wouldn't be after your bald head."

"Hey, people only talk like that to me once. The next time they try it, they find the reply quite painful."

"I'll keep that in mind. I want you to do a job for me."

"Excuse me, I think you might be mistaken. I don't do jobs for anyone."

"I know you do things for Veronica, and she's not paying you $2,000."

"Are you kidding? What could I possibly do for you that would be worth $2,000?"

"Just meet me behind the shed near the bleachers today at 4:00 if you're interested."

"And what if I say no?"

"If you show up, you're saying yes. And I don't think that it needs to be said that this is private and nobody needs to know about it."

"Fine, whatever. I''m leaving...By the way, stop following me."

"Just remember, 4:00."

ooooooooooooooo