A/N – Hi Everybody. This is my first VM story, so I'm pretty nervous about getting it right. I've written a bunch of stories for That 70's Show, but never VM – which is one of my favorite shows ever! Just so you know, this is a LoVe fic. Hope I do VM justice :)

PS - If I owned VM, I would be my own biggest fan, but instead I'm Rob Thomas's. (ie- I don't own Veronica Mars, but I wish I did!)


CHAPTER 1

Veronica Mars turned off the last lamp in her hotel room at the Neptune Grand, then perched herself on the interior windowsill and turned on her camera. She pressed the magnifying lens against the glass and zeroed in on a room directly across from her own. The hotel was U-shaped, and several of the rooms faced inward, so she was in a prime position to catch the action.

"The mark just entered the suite," she whispered into her tiny Bluetooth mic, as a pretty redhead in her late 20's, with more fake parts than real, walked into the room and put her purse down on the night table.

The redhead ran her hand along the bedspread, seemingly in thought, and then proceeded to unzip the expensive-looking, midnight blue, sheath dress that clung tightly to her every curve, letting it pool around her feet before kicking it to the side of the room.

She paced the room a few times and then picked up her cell phone and made a short, but seemingly tense, phone call.

For a woman who looks like she knows her way around the bedroom, this Philly appears to be rather nervous.

"Is she as smokin' hot as she looks in those pictures her husband dropped off?" a low voice rumbled mischievously on the other end of the line.

Veronica rolled her eyes and smirked. "If by hot, you mean 'hot to trot', then yes, very. She's already stripped down to her bra and underwear and her gentleman caller hasn't even gotten to the room yet. And did I mention she's wearing garters?" She looked down at her grey hoodie and jeans and felt a pang of inadequacy.

"Damn!" he said with marked appreciation. "Text me some pics once she has all her clothes off."

She giggled and changed the aperture on her camera to accommodate the dim lighting. "I most certainly will not! We are professionals," she said, faking indignation. "Get your mind out of the gutter, Weevil."

"My mind is the gutter, Vee," he quipped. "You gonna be okay out there by yourself? I know you're probably a little rusty," he said with a studied casualness she knew he was using to piss her off.

Veronica's mouth dropped open with genuine indignation this time. "I probably did more stake-outs in my junior year of high school than you have in your entire career Navarro, so settle down and maybe try on a smaller pair of pants, Mr. Big Britches."

He laughed heartily. "You were always too easy to wind up, Vee."

She fired off a few test shots. "Oh, she just took her bra off..." She lied.

The bald man perked up. "Yeah? How do they look?"

"You're not so hard to wind up either, Eli."

"It's good to have you back, shorty." She could hear the mirth in his voice and imagined him smiling into the telephone receiver.

The familiar weight of the camera settled into her small hands and she roughly exhaled her nervous energy. The job was simple, but it was the first one she'd done in years and she didn't want to screw it up. Veronica Mars had a rep to protect.

"That's your cue to say 'Yeah Weevs, it's good to be back'...or ain't it good to be back, Vee?" he asked her.

"What?" she said, as she was jerked out of her reverie.

"I asked if you were happy to be back," he repeated slowly, as if he thought her brain was working at half-speed.

"Oh." She thought about it for a moment. "I'll let you know in an hour. Bye Weevs," she said in the most honeyed tone she could conjure, then tapped the end button on her Bluetooth before he had a chance to respond.

It had only been a week since she'd returned to Neptune and she was already falling comfortably into her old routine – a routine that would have had her running for the exit if somebody had offered it to her five years ago. When she was a kid, she always dreamed of bigger things, but she recently learned the hard way that bigger isn't always better.

Veronica enjoyed her summer training course at the FBI, so she naturally thought the real deal would be the perfect fit. In a lot of ways it was. She loved the vast access she had to people and information, intel she could only dream of when she was first working a small town PI. It made her job infinitely easier, though admittedly less creative and definitely more boring.

She was trained well by the Feds, and could wield a gun almost as handily as she could wield her mouth. They also taught her how to defend herself – a skill she'd been sorely lacking as a teen.

In addition, each trainee was issued their own, bio-metric handgun, as well as a few other little neat gadgets that would put her dad's tech stash to shame, though she would always have a special place in her heart for her old faithful - Mr. Sparky.

However, the best part about the FBI was that no matter how unimposing she might look to some, when she was carrying her badge she commanded instant respect everywhere she went. Even just knowing it was tucked away in her pocket made her walk a few inches taller. No Don Lamb-type idiots with power dared to give her the side-eye or brush her off once she flashed her credentials. The badge commanded respect.

However useful the knowledge she gained was, after a couple of years training under the wing of the Bureau, her 'perfect fit' started to feel more like a noose that pulled tighter with each move she made. She was never one for rules, and the FBI had more rules in their organization than field agents. The kind of rules that impose dire consequences on those who dare to break them. For somebody like Veronica, this was akin to waving a red flag.

She experienced some of those dire consequences personally after her last big case, where she disregarded protocol and tried to apprehend the perp on her own. A 2" scar on the back of her neck and a gentle suggestion that she take a leave of absence for six months to 're-evaluate her commitment to the FBI', left her with serious doubts about her compatibility with the Bureau, and a career working in law enforcement, in general. Deep in her marrow, she knew that it wasn't working, but she was never one for letting go of a dream.

Veronica was abruptly pulled out of her reverie by the site of a well-built man in designer jeans and a clingy t-shirt gracefully sauntering down the hallway of the suite she was surveying. She could see his outline through the hallway windows, but they were tinted, so it was tough to get details like age or ethnicity. From his body though, she'd put him as somewhere between 22-38. Probably white or Latino.

"Hello luvah," she purred as she sat up straighter. She lifted her camera and tried to zoom in to get a clearer shot, but the man was faced in the wrong direction and was wearing a dark fedora that obscured his eyes.

Drat.

She frowned when she realized there would be no feasible way to get a clear picture of him entering the hotel room.

Que sera sera. At least the client's horny wife had the decency to leave all of the blinds open. I'll catch him then.

The woman's suitor lifted his fist but didn't knock, choosing instead to let it hover over the door for a moment. He placed a hand to his head and turned as if to leave, yet never took a step.

Having second thoughts, loverboy?

After seeming to wrestle with his decision for whatever reason, he finally lifted his hand again and rapped on the door a few times.

Veronica fired off a few more shots at the tinted glass with her camera, despite knowing they'd probably be worthless.

At the sound of the knock, the redhead's face registered dread, rather than excitement.

Not happy to see him, eh? Guess somebody's not as good in bed as he looks.

She shifted her body to get a better angle.

The woman opened the door and greeted her visitor with a broad smile and a kiss on the cheek. Not exactly the degree of warmth you'd expect a lady to greet her illicit lover with. She led him to the center of the room with a dutiful smile that suggested less that she was engaging in an erotic encounter and more that she was entertaining her husband's boss.

The redhead snatched the young man's hat from his head and placed it on her own head, then ran her hands down the center of his his chest, before tugging the ends of his shirt up to lift it over his head.

Now, that's more like it.

Veronica snapped away furiously. She zoomed in to get a tighter shot the man and found herself admiring his muscular back and arms, which made her feel just a little bit dirty.

It had been too long since she'd gotten laid and she feared it was starting to affect her brain. After porn fluffer, PI was probably the worst job a sexually frustrated chick could have. According to her partner, peeping was one of the 'perks' of the job, so maybe she should just sit back and enjoy the view without guilt like her bald friend does?

God, I forgot how much this job makes me feel like a perv. I seriously can't believe my dad let me watch all of this in high school, yet came storming onto the porch if one of my dates lingered too long when they kissed me goodnight. It was like letting me watch a porno, but only covering up one eye.

The couple was kissing now, and something about the guy's urgency, the way he embraced her, made Veronica flush from head to toe. However, as she peered into the viewfinder of her camera, she realized she was oddly alone in that feeling.

The redhead was clearly the aggressor, yet her eagerness seemed to belie the passionless manner in which she pawed her lover. She attended to the man with the level of enthusiasm of a paid whore – no, worse – a paid whore with a gun trained at her head. Strange, considering her boyfriend was built like Perseus and had moves to spare.

If she's this uninterested in her side piece, her poor husband must be sleeping with a freaking mannequin.

Her face scrunched up in thought.

Something in the sauce ain't right.

Veronica tapped redial on her Bluetooth.

"Miss me already?" Weevil asked, before the phone even reached his ear.

"You never gave me the details on this case, just a location and instruction," she said curtly.

"You never asked. It's a pretty cut and dry, cheating wife case. Nothing unusual," he said.

"I'll be the judge of that," she said, as she narrowed her eyes in an attempt to get a face shot of the woman's paramour.

"Gimme a second and I'll pull up the file."

The rhythmic sound of Weevil's rapid keystrokes soothed her frayed nerves. Why was she so nervous? He said it was a cut and dry case, she reminded herself. Cut and dry.

Who am I kidding? Nothing is ever cut and dry in Neptune.

"Come on, Casanova. Turn around and say cheese," she whispered under her breath as she refocused her lens. "Almost there."

"Okay, I got it. The husband's name is Sorokin," he said. "Do you need me to spell it?"

Her brow furrowed and she found herself distracted. "What? Did you say Sorokin?" she asked as she unconsciously lowered her camera.

Weevil cleared his throat. "Gary or Gory or something like that."

"Gorya Sorokin?" she ased, rising to stand on shaky legs.

"Do you know him, Vee? You sound freaked out," Weevil asked with obvious concern.

She took a deep breath and tried hard to focus her thoughts. Whoever this dumb chump in front of her was, he was in deep shit and needed to be warned immediately or he'd probably be sporting a pair of lead shoes by the end of the night.

No. With Gorya Sorokin involved, this wasn't an innocent lover's tryst. This broad had something else planned for the poor sap.

"You know him, too," she said. "Remember that douchebag who made a sex video of Piz and me at Hearst in my freshman year?"

"Fuckkkk," Weevil cursed slowly.

"He's got ties to the Russian mob. I can't believe it's a coincidence I'm here right now. I've been gone for years and my first case back is for Sorokin? No," she said, shaking her head. "Did he ask for me specifically?"

Weevil exhaled loudly.

"I'll take that as a yes," she mumbled to herself. "How could he possibly know I'm back in town? I travel with ghost IDs."

"Stay put Vee, I'm on my way. And even though it's kinda your calling card, try not to do anything reckless or stupid." He hung up the phone immediately.

"What do you want me to see, Gory?" She gazed out of the window, searching for anything that might be amiss.

Veronica scrolled through her phone for her father's number and called it.

She pressed her face to the window and cupped her hands around her eyes to reduce the glare from the lights outside.

Come on, loverboy. Turn around and show yourself to me. I want to help you, you poor idiot.

The phone rang several times.

"Hey sweetie, what's shakin'?" Keith answered with his typical chipper disposition.

Veronica hesitated before sharing her suspicions. Of course her dad knew of the Sorokin family, but not of her personal involvement with them. After weathering the election debacle and subsequent court case, she felt like it would only have been cruel to shovel on more disappointment. A ruined career and a long drawn out mistrial was torture enough, he didn't need to know that the entire universe could access a naked video of his daughter with just the click of a mouse. She couldn't knock him down, just as he was getting back on his feet again.

"Hey Pops. Something strange is going down at the Grand. I'm on a cheating spouse stake-out and something's off."

"Get out of there and I'll send a car to go check it out," he said, slipping easily into professional mode.

"No, dad. This case...the guy who hired us is Gorya Sorokin. Weevil just told me a few minutes ago," Veronica said, as she furiously snapped photos of the woman as she embraced the man and showered him with kisses.

Abruptly, the boyfriend sloughed the redhead off of him and tried to reason with her about something.

Uh-oh. Guess he's not as dumb as he looks.

"I repeat: Get the hell out of there, Veronica and let the PD take care of it!" Keith said angrily.

The tiny PI let out a silent scream of frustration. "I'm better trained than half your PD, dad. You're wasting time on the phone with me when you could be sending over some guys."

"Veronica..."

She knew that tone well. She'd heard it every time she missed curfew as a kid.

"Dad...I gotta go," she whispered as she tapped the off button on her Bluetooth. She knew she'd catch hell for hanging up on him later.

How many times do I have to prove to him how capable I am before he trusts me and just stops worrying?

The redhead and the man were arguing now. She tried to maneuver him toward the window, but he wasn't interested in heading that way, and preferred to pace the floor back and forth in the same pattern, like a caged panther. He was moving too fast for her.

The woman was standing as still as a statue when a look of utter panic crossed her face and she glanced out of the window, staring directly at Veronica, who jumped back in shock.

Can she see me watching them? What is she looking at?

Veronica ran to the farthest window in the room and tried to peer into the windows of the room directly next to her. She couldn't see a person, but she could see the unmistakable reflection a long-range rifle in her neighbor's window pane.

"Crap!" she said, as she unzipped her hoodie and drew her gun. She quickly took off the safety and placed it carefully back into her shoulder holster.

The redhead subtly shook her head no, as if pleading with the person in the suite next to hers not to do something drastic.

The boyfriend finally stopped pacing and crossed the room to face the woman, who was still loitering next to the window. He grabbed her face and turned it toward his, then dropped his hand and cursed angrily before leaned his forehead against the window with apparent consternation. What was he looking for?

"Yahtzee!" Veronica zoomed in and pulled the focus on her camera.

One click of the shutter is all the time it took for her brain to register the identity of the man in front of her.

Logan Echolls.

Her Logan, standing in front of a giant, glass bulls-eye with Gorya Sorokin's wife, unknowingly waiting to die. Her Logan, whose soulful eyes seemed to penetrate her through a couple of panes of glass, many yards of distance and several years apart.

"Shit!" she cursed as she dropped the camera and pulled her gun out of the holster. "Shit! Shit! Shit! Stupid Logan! So stupid!"

With all of the lights off in the room, she knew he couldn't see her, but she hoped he could at least feel her presence. He used to be able to.

Logan seemed to finally pick up on his paramour's fear, and followed her gaze to Veronica's neighbor's window. Defiance swept over his features and he dove for the blinds, which shut almost immediately, blocking the view entirely.

Several near silent shots rang out from the suite next to her and shattered the window of the redhead's room.

Veronica's face crumpled silently in agony and she froze as her hand reached the door handle.

Please...

She was jolted into action by the loud slam of the door next to hers followed by heavy footsteps running away, then swung open her own door and took off running in the opposite direction of the footprints left in the freshly vacuumed carpet.

One advantage she had over the assassin, was insider knowledge. Between her relationships over the years with both Duncan and Logan, she practically had lived at this hotel and knew the fastest possible route from anywhere to anywhere. For example, she knew gunman was about to run into a dead end and would have to backtrack.

The hallway was silent, except for her own ragged breath ringing in her ears as she sprinted at top speed toward Logan's room. She couldn't allow herself to pray for him. Praying would suggest she couldn't control the situation, and that's not something she was willing to give up.

Finding the door of the room slightly ajar, she slipped inside, shut it behind her then silently hitched the slide lock, careful to check the immediate area first for a second assassin, just in case.

On the floor, in a rapidly forming red pool, she spotted the redhead lying next to a bloody fedora. A fatal bullet wound had punctured her skull.

No sign of Logan.

She exhaled her relief.

Veronica advanced toward the bathroom and quietly turned the knob.

Suddenly, she felt a muscular arm stretch across her throat from behind and pull tightly. Struggling to breathe, she dropped her gun to the floor and flipped the attacker over her head onto his back.

They both scrambled desperately for the gun, and for the first time in five years, she found herself face-to-face with the man who has haunted her dreams for longer than she'd care to admit. He looked good. He looked amazing, actually, but now was not the time.

His mouth dropped open in shock and she quickly slapped a hand over it to shut him up as she picked her gun up off of the floor, then motioned for him to get behind her.

"Veronica Mars?" he whispered, his eyes widened in disbelief. "I guess I shouldn't be that surprised you tried to kill me, all things considered."

"If I wanted to kill you, you wouldn't have made it out of high school. Now shush," Veronica said curtly, signaling for him to shut up.

Logan held his hands up in surrender and followed orders, climbing back into the closet he recently sprang out of.

A bullet whizzed through the lock of the door and the handle jiggled open, catching on the safety latch. She heard a man swear in Russian, then knock the door open with one swift kick.

She could hear the gunman advance slowly at a consistent pace, stopping only briefly to look at his handiwork on the floor by the window before continuing onward.

Her hand steady and nerves steeled, Veronica tucked her small body behind the bookcase and waited for the shooter to pass in front of her.

The moment he stepped into view, she violently pushed the cold steel of her gun against the back of the man's skull, shoving him face-first into the wall. "Drop the gun, or I drop you," she informed him in her most authoritative voice.

The gunman froze initially, until he heard her speak, then relaxed his body and chuckled. "They sent a little girl?" He was a huge Slavic bear of a man, and clearly not intimidated by much.

"My gun's looking pretty big though, and it's pointed directly at your brain," she barked in a tone that let him know she meant business. "Drop your weapon or I pull the trigger."

He cursed in Russian and his meaty hand tossed a silver .45 handgun to the floor. "FBI or Neptune's finest?" he asked in heavily-accented English, his tone transmitting his obvious disdain for the latter.

Ignoring his query, Veronica shoved the gun harder into the back of his skull. "Hands behind your head and interlock your fingers." He groaned his displeasure, but quickly followed suit.

"FBI, then," he said with a smirk, as she pat him down for more weapons.

Finding none, she leaned over to pick his gun up while keeping hers trained on his head.

In a split second, he reverse-kicked her in the chest, knocking the wind out of her and sending her small body flying into the bookshelf. He then dove to grab his gun back, but she managed to kick it out of his grasp just in time.

As Veronica gasped for air, she watched helplessly as Logan launched himself at the assassin, knocking them both to the ground in a frantic tussle. The man was much bigger than her ex, but she knew he could hold the behemoth off for a while. After all, scrapping was Logan's specialty, and if anybody knew how to take a punch, it was him.

The gunman sent a firm right hook into Logan's jaw, cutting his lip with his pinky ring in the process, and the younger man answered him back by sharply bringing his elbow down onto the thug's couperose nose with a sickening crack, breaking it instantly. The hitman began to writhe in blind pain.

Logan tried to catch his breath between pants, and he wiped the blood off of his face with the edge of his shirt. "'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent' - that one's Isaac Asimov. Thought you might appreciate something from a fellow Russian."

Veronica shook her head in wonder as she finally regained her breath, rolling herself onto all fours. "Logan," she rasped, instantly gaining his attention.

The Russian used this distraction to take a swipe at Logan, but he was too late. Veronica lunged for her gun and pulled off a shot, easily winging him. The giant winced in pain, but refused to give up. He took one last run at her ex-boyfriend and she winged his other arm, rendering him defenseless.

He still wouldn't give up. It was clear to all that he was a dead man. He'd be killed by her or killed by the Sorokin family for failing them when all of this was all through. There was no way he'd live to see a courtroom.

Dead men tell no tales.

"I'm not going to kill you, so stop trying! You're just going to end up a quad if you keep this up," she snapped, steeling her gaze.

His eyes read defeat and he nodded sadly then rolled onto the floor and whimpered from the pain.

Veronica's gun was aimed at the assassin, but her eyes settled firmly on the man to his right.

"We have got to stop meeting like this," Logan deadpanned with his usual flourish. He leaned into the wall and a small smile played upon his lips.

She felt short of breath once more, but this time it was for an entirely different reason.


A/N – What did you think? Good/Bad/Ugly? Are they all in-character? Are you intrigued? Lemme know in the reviews section!

PLEASE NOTE: I'm in the process of editing these chapters, so if you see some style/structure inconsistencies, it's because I haven't gotten to those chapters yet. I'm also putting in some summaries at the beginning of each chapter.