Title: Waking Up in Vegas
Rating: PG-13 (for language, minor violence and innuendo)
Summary: After being forced to work together, things take an interesting turn for Veronica and Lamb.
Spoilers: None (but takes place during an AU version of S3)
Disclaimer: Veronica Mars is not owned by me, but by Rob Thomas. I'm simply borrowing these characters for non-profit entertainment.
A/N: No worries if you can't stand the song - the only thing the song and fic have in common is the title. Oh, and this one already has a sequel written - it'll be up as soon as I can get it transferred from my laptop. Until then, enjoy!
The last thing Veronica could remember about the previous night was the hotel bar.
Keith Mars still didn't like the idea of his daughter going after criminals on her own, never mind how often she did it without his knowledge, especially not those out of state. She was a legal adult now, but that didn't mean much to him in cases like this. So for this job she was forced to have a partner. And not just any partner. Hence the late night in the hotel bar and her tequila and his seemingly bottomless bourbon glass.
This time the past hadn't mattered to Keith. He wanted his daughter protected and had to choose the lesser of the evils. It was either the hot-headed and even hotter tempered Logan Echolls who would shoot first and maybe ask questions later. Or a man who had been trained how to handle dangerous situations. He didn't like it, but Sheriff Don Lamb it was.
The bail jumper had been his collar in the first place too which was why Lamb hadn't fought Keith, too much, on this. It was business for both of them. Or that was how it had begun at least.
As she shook her sore head a bit more began to come back to her, at least she could find relief in knowing she hadn't been drugged. The night hadn't been completely wiped from her mind and she remembered feeling the need to get trashed.
Of course waking up, not alone, hadn't been part of the plan. She feared checking what she did, or didn't, have on but she certainly had an idea.
The only thing left was to look to her lightly snoring companion. With any luck he would be fully dressed on top of the covers but she knew she wasn't that lucky. Especially not when she remembered what had really sent them running for the bar.
24 Hours Earlier:
"Dad!" Veronica cried in their living room. No, she wasn't proud to sound like a five-year-old, but he was Lamb.
"No, Veronica. I don't want to hear it. You're working with Lamb and that's final."
"I don't need a babysitter! And certainly not in the form of Lamb. Have you forgotten -"
"Somebody has to make sure he does his job this time. Barry Coursey was his collar and you know he's already got a search out for him. Only thing is Vegas P.D. won't work with just any of his officers, he as the Sheriff has to be there."
"Fine. But why do I have to be?"
"Evidence. There are some things you need to get that he can't. There are places you can get into that he never could. Some that even I couldn't get into. That's why it has to be you and not me. It's the weekend so you don't have to worry about classes and you've been after me for how long about working more of your own cases? Here you go. Here's your chance to prove that you can handle it. But you have to work as a team on this one."
Team, right. Because Lamb would ever be on her side and let her do any real work.
Their argument was interrupted by a loud, sharp knock on the front door. One designed to make one jump out of their skin and answer if they knew what was good for them. At least there's one thing he could do like a Sheriff, Veronica thought with an angry sigh.
"That's for you. Do I need to go over the rules of this with you again?" Keith asked, knowing he likely might repeat them anyway.
Veronica sighed again and just before Lamb knocked loudly once more. "Stay safe, don't taser him, don't shoot him, don't lock him in the back of his cruiser, don't cuff him… to anything. I got it."
"Okay then. Let your partner in."
She groaned. Partner. Yeah right.
"Veronica," Lamb smirked.
God, she hated that smirk. It always made her want to punch him. Or knee him in the groin. Or something.
For once he wasn't in his usual uniform, having obviously opted for comfort instead given the drive they had ahead of them. Jeans and a black t-shirt, both clinging in ways no clothes should on a man like him. If he wasn't him she might have had an improper thought or two about said places, but instead she focused on her anger at the situation. Six hours in a hot car with Lamb. There. Now she was in the right frame of mind.
"Ready?" he asked her.
Veronica looked back to Keith as if to ask if she really had to go with him.
"You two be careful and get back here soon," Keith stated.
Lamb nodded as Veronica passed him on the way out. "Beautiful day for a drive," he sighed as he followed her towards the stairs. He wasn't stupid enough to walk ahead of her then. She would have pushed him for sure. Especially today. Sheriff or not that girl knew how to hold a grudge. Okay, they were even there.
Every little thing got on her nerves as he drove. For starters the fact he hadn't let her drive and then that he was doing ninety on the sixty-five mph highway, the eighties rock station he had playing on the radio, the smacking of his gum, the fact she had to be next to him, in the same car, breathing the same air. Had she mentioned how much she hated this? She thought she had but just in case she stated it again.
"Let's get one thing straight, Veronica. Neither of us asked for this and no one said we have to like it, but we do have to get through this without killing each other."
"Just think, Deputy, if you and your fellow officers had been paying attention when Coursey was headed to lockup we wouldn't be in this situation. Oh and maybe then some of that evidence wouldn't be missing either."
He groaned. "Like you've never managed to get your hands on evidence you had no business getting."
Damn it. Of course he knew. He was the one who had fired Deputy Leo after all. "At least mine was in an attempt to put a killer away," she nearly growled.
Lamb was just thankful he had already put the call in to the Vegas office. He already had Veronica to deal with, he didn't need a grudge match over jurisdiction when the crime had occurred in his county and it was somehow up to him to set up the transfer. And of course it just had to be in person. They couldn't make it easy for him and just do it over the phone. Oh no. Because that would make sense. And Mars? Just the icing on the arsenic-laced cake. It was true she had ways of getting people to confess, to trick them into a false sense of security, to lure them into traps. Doing his job for him, she called it. Though most of her methods were hardly on the legal side, now it didn't matter. They just needed to get back what he had taken and get him back to Neptune as well.
4 Hours Later:
"Stay close," Lamb stated as he climbed out of the car just outside of a dive bar that they knew was a favorite of Coursey's.
"Aw, Deputy, I do love how you want to keep me by your side," she sighed dreamily.
He glared at her sarcasm, taking long strides towards the bar. Anything to keep as much distance from himself and her as he could while still having to be mindful of where she was going and what she was doing. If he returned without Keith's daughter he knew he would end up with his balls shot off. Well, that would be if Keith decided to go the quick route with his punishment.
Veronica watched as Lamb strode ahead, ever thankful for the distance. If she had to hear him snap his gum or sing loudly and out of tune to yet another Guns 'n' Roses song or go on about his possible accommodation from the new mayor she was going to scream. Or taser him. Okay, she would be breaking her promise to her father, but she at least wouldn't be lying when she said that Lamb had started it. He opened his mouth. That counted.
"Remember the plan?" he asked as they stopped just outside the entrance.
"And you plan to follow it?" She had never been good at taking his orders and he wasn't about to have a repeat now.
She grinned sardonically. "Of course I do."
"The Crazy Horse auditions are down the street, honey," the tall, stocky bartender stated as he glanced to Veronica as she walked in.
Alright, maybe wearing a pair of short denim cutoffs and an all too well fitting tank top hadn't been the best idea but she knew it was going to be at least a 100-degree day (in the shade) and given that even Lamb was in jeans, something she couldn't remember seeing in years, she wanted to be comfortable herself. Besides she needed to get Coursey's attention and even Vinnie Van Lowe had said himself that there was little that got more attention than skinny blondes.
She fought the urge to come back with one of her usual quips and instead smiled brightly as she caught Lamb out of the corner of her eye moving towards the back of the bar, just waiting for her to make her move.
Nearly every pair of eyes fell on her as she walked further into the dimly lit building. Also not surprising, she wasn't seeing Barrett.
"Hi," she beamed when she reached the bar. "I'm looking for a friend. You wouldn't happen to know if Doogan's gonna be in tonight, would you?" The soft baby voice almost never failed.
"Look, sweetie, 'cause I'm only gonna say this once. Go work the corner like the rest of the whores. You won't be doing your business in here."
Lamb hadn't been too far to hear that and his eyes flashed in anger. In a second his gun could be in his hand, but he only tightened his jaw and watched. Why he cared what he had called her or what happened here he didn't know, only knew that he would be blamed for it and he wouldn't have it. If they touched her she would be the last thing they would ever touch. And if anyone called him her pimp there would be a brawl. Maybe it wouldn't be Sheriff-like to be the one to start said bar brawl but there were some things even he wouldn't put up with.
"Got a problem, pretty boy?" a large, tattooed man holding a pool cue asked Don.
"No," he answered, keeping his tone low and his blues on Veronica.
"I think you do. Come in here, don't order a drink, watching that little whore -"
"That's mine," he all but growled. "And she's been steppin' out. I'm here to find out who with. Heard his name might be Doogan."
"If it's trouble yer lookin' for, then it's trouble yer about to find," the man stated, stepping closer to Lamb.
Even at half the man's size Don was pretty sure he could take him. He did have some pretty decent combat moves he hadn't been able to use in a while. Most of the criminals in Neptune hadn't put up enough of a fight to give him a decent workout. Instead he'd had to settle for sparring with his deputies. Most of the time they weren't even a challenge for him. Worse came to worse he had his gun.
"He's tall, shaved head, goes by the name of Coursey. Or Doogan," Veronica tried again.
There was a look of recognition in the bartender's eyes but still he only told her, "Never heard of him."
"I think you have. So when does he usually come around?"
"I don't know what you're talkin' about little girl."
Okay, this was getting them nowhere, but after another ten minutes Veronica turned slightly and saw Lamb's eyes widen slightly towards the door.
There Coursey was, striding in without a care in the world.
It was for that reason too Don had been thankful he had been in plain clothes. The badge would have made their guy run for sure. His cell phone was to his ear a second later and Veronica couldn't help but stare for a second. Was one of his plans really about to work? Had the world somehow imploded without her knowledge?
No, no such luck it turned out as Coursey caught Lamb's stare and bolted.
"Tell them where we are," he called to her as he tossed her his phone and charged after the evading man.
She did as she was told, somehow impressed as she caught sight of Don catching up to the man easily and getting in a few good shots when trying to subdue him.
"Yeah, Snake Pit," she spoke to the female deputy. A second later she hung up and tucked Lamb's phone into her back pocket before reaching into her bag and pulling out her taser. Okay, her other, longer range taser that had all of one shot. "Move, Lamb!" she called as she raised it.
You've got to be shitting me, Lamb thought. Mars was telling him what to do in a fight?! It made sense he had to admit, he always had suspected she wanted him dead. His mind only had a split second to register that she just might get her wish when Coursey pulled a knife. He managed to remember that he still had his gun but he knew in the time it would have taken him to even reach for it Coursey's knife could be sticking out of him.
"I mean it, Lamb! Get away from him!" Veronica cried. She needed a clear shot and if the guy grabbed Lamb she would end up tasering him too and at that moment she really didn't feel like it. He was actually doing something useful for a change!
"Cute little whore," Coursey grunted before punching Lamb again. "Maybe I'll show her what it's like to be with a real man once I cut you down."
Lamb didn't reply, instead only kicking out and connecting with the side of the man's head. All of his pent up anger and frustration, mostly over Veronica, was finally coming out and he was finally able to take it out on someone. He couldn't help but enjoy this slightly and so what if he had bruises afterwards? Badges of honor - at least it would show that Veronica was wrong about one thing. He didn't always back down from a fight.
Veronica couldn't believe the man's stubbornness. Okay, maybe it wasn't considered cool to be saved by a girl, but damn it, getting beaten to a pulp or killed wasn't worth it. Especially not when she had promised to return Lamb in one piece. Why she cared about keeping that promise she didn't know. It's not like he had said she wasn't a whore. Maybe in his mind she was one, maybe he was just bitter he hadn't gotten there first. And with that she was shaking the thoughts from her mind. She had to concentrate on this, moving behind Coursey she waited until after he had punched Lamb yet again in his side, hoping she could get to him before Don had a chance to hit back. Sending a charge into the large man was almost too easy when a second later he was distracted by the sound of sirens in the distance, sirens that were closing in fast.
"I didn't ask for your help," Lamb snapped as he watched Coursey fall convulsing to the ground.
"You thought I'd let you have all the fun?"
"I have my gun. I was enjoying the workout," he muttered before wandering off to greet the arriving officers.
Veronica only crossed her arms over her chest and leaned against his cruiser. She watched as he shook hands, talked and just generally did the Sheriff thing. It didn't matter that it was more or less his day off or that they should technically already be on their way back to Neptune, he enjoyed the praise.
5 Hours Later:
The sun had set by the time they left the station. Having to talk in great detail about what had happened, why they needed Coursey back in Neptune, whose responsibility it would be to get him back there, when the transport would happen and of course there was that bit of missing evidence Coursey had swiped while in Neptune's Sheriff Department that Veronica had found stashed in Coursey's motorcycle saddle bag. At least one good thing had come from Lamb's talking with the other officers. He had been able to keep them distracted from what she was doing. After all it wasn't as though he had introduced her. Maybe that was why. Maybe that was just another part of his plan.
"So now what?" Veronica asked as they walked back to his car.
"I'm not driving back to Neptune tonight," Lamb shook his head.
"You want me to drive?" she smiled.
"No way, Mars. You're not getting behind the wheel of my cruiser. Forget it. You'd have way too much to play with and I'd get stuck with the bill. Not. Happening."
"Then what? We can't stay in Vegas over night."
"We can and we will," was all Lamb said before he climbed into the driver's seat. "There was a motel across the street from the fill-up station. We'll get a room there."
"You expect me to agree to this?"
"Yes I do because you and I are both under orders to remain partners until we get back to Neptune which won't be until tomorrow."
"I meant about the 'motel' part. Don't downplay your spending for my benefit, or do you just bring out the big guns for the girls you're trying to impress?"
"What are you talking about?" Already he was reconsidering the prospect of a shared room. Two beds or not this was sure to be a nightmare.
"You're not the kind of guy who wouldn't stay at a hotel on the strip given half a chance."
"I'm over twenty-one, you're nineteen, Veronica. You're not getting near the strip."
Of course that was easier to say before they were told the motel was 'full up.' Again Lamb found himself glaring at his companion's 'I told you so' grin.
"Well I guess I'll go get a room of my own. Have fun, Lamb," she grinned before patting his shoulder twice.
"Hold it, Mars," he called after her. "Your daddy hears I let you wander off, alone, at night, in Vegas and it won't matter that I saved your ass back at the bar, he'll castrate me anyway."
"Slowly," she smiled.
With that they rode, mostly in silence, to the nearest hotel. All the while Lamb did his best to ignore Veronica knowing exactly how he intended to pay for this. He was in town for business after all, no reason the expense should come out of his own pocket.
"How can I help you?" a smiling man asked from behind the large counter.
"We need a room," Lamb stated, keeping a close eye on Veronica beside him. Already he had toyed with the idea of cuffing her wrist to his own but the last thing either of them needed right then was yet more attention.
"A room? As in just one? As in us sharing?!" Veronica skeptically asked him. Somehow the thought hadn't occurred to her back at the motel from earlier.
"You think I'm going to leave you alone over night? Dream on, Veronica," he scoffed.
"We have adjacent rooms free," the man offered.
"Really, you could have us at opposite ends of the hotel, it's okay," Veronica told him.
"Don't listen to the bride. She's just got a case of cold feet," Lamb followed as he reached for his wallet.
"Whatever you say, cousin dear," she smirked. If he wanted to embarrass her, two could play that game. And she knew she was better at it.
The man tried to focus on the screen, seeing where he could put the bickering 'couple,' anything that would spare him from having to hear more of this and keep them from causing a scene in the lobby.
"One, you said, Sir?"
"One room, one bed, ignore her," Lamb went on.
"Isn't he just such a romantic?" Veronica asked in a sickeningly sweet voice as she curled her arms around Don's bicep. "You can see why I picked him. He's just so special."
"Here you are then, room 621, elevators are right over there," the man stated as he slid Lamb their room card keys and pointed to the other side of the lobby.
"What the fuck was that?!" Lamb demanded as Veronica began to walk towards the elevators ahead of him. "Were you trying to get us thrown out?"
"Do you ever stop bitching?! You're the one who wanted us to be roomies without even consulting me first."
"I told you I'm not leaving you alone in Vegas. Especially not over night. Last thing I need is a call at 4 A.M., either from you saying you need to be rescued or someone who thinks they would get a ransom out of me. Or fuck, probably Keith on the warpath after getting the news before me and I'd get blamed."
"Well if you'd been paying more attention and doing your job in the first place I wouldn't have had to come here and once again clean up your mess. So all in all, he'd be right to blame you. And call you to rescue me? I don't think so. You're hardly a knight in shining armor."
It took what ounce of self control Lamb had left not to come back with a crack about Logan or Duncan. Hardly contenders for the title themselves in his mind but he knew that would only escalate their fight and he was desperate to get to sleep before three.
"Do you ever shut the fuck up, Mars?" he all but growled.
She pretended to think for a moment. "What can I say, Lamb, you bring out the avid conversationalist in me. I just can't help it. And now that we're roommates I get to live out my fantasy of talking to you all night long. We can even share our deepest and darkest secrets, our hopes, our dreams, our fears."
He would never be sure if it was her victorious smile as she awaited his retort or that sarcastic sugary sweetness of her voice reappearing but something had finally made Sheriff Don Lamb snap. He wanted her quiet and he wanted it then. She had her taser, not him. There were far too many witnesses for him to use his gun. His cuffs wouldn't have been a help this time. There was only one thing left and now there was nothing left to stop him from taking hold of either side of her jaw and fastening his lips to hers.
For a moment the entire rest of the world seemed to fade and Lamb finally knew what it was to be at peace with Veronica Mars in the room. Only when his brain began to resemble some form of functionality again did he realize it was because he was kissing Veronica Mars. His sworn nemesis. The unrelenting thorn in his side. The only thing more astounding was that she wasn't shoving him away or biting him.
"You could've just said please," Veronica breathlessly stated when they finally parted for much-needed air what seemed hours later.
"Would've taken too long," Don replied just as huskily.
"You know, I saw a bar, should be, that way," she panted as she pointed to the area behind her.
"You're nineteen," he replied, his hands having since moved to the small of her back, still holding her just a little too close.
Veronica brought her arms around to Lamb's front. When had they been behind him?! She shook herself from that train of thought while she could and lifted her arms up between them. "You wanna arrest me, Deputy?"
"It's Sheriff," he growled as he dipped his head to her neck and nipped at her pulse point, which was fluttering wildly beneath his attention.
"Sheriff!" she gasped, her body ignoring her brain's pleas as she pressed herself further into him. "I've got a piece of plastic in my bag that says I'm twenty-two. Will you arrest me if I use it?"
He couldn't even look down to her wrists. "Last thing I need to see you in right now are my cuffs." So much pent up frustration, the one girl who could rattle him; he didn't stand a chance given that she wasn't refusing him now.
Her eyes widened at that and for once she was thankful for their height difference. He was looking behind her, over her, likely to the bar she had seen when they walked in.
"Let's - Let's just -" With that she was finally stepping back from him, blindly making her way back to the bar. Alcohol was good. Especially given what had just happened. She had kissed Lamb. Okay, he had kissed her. But she hadn't stopped him. Hell, she hadn't wanted to stop him. And already she wanted to kiss him again.
But she hated him.
Alright, 'hate' was maybe a little strong, there were worse people she had known. But still, the things they had said and done to one another. And yet there had been nothing like feeling his mouth against hers, claiming her. Too much intensity for one day, she decided. She wished she could say the incident back at the bar had been the most of it.
The hotel's bar, her tequila and his bourbon proved to be the last thing either would remember about their night.
Who had touched whom next, who had been the one to initiate the next kiss, all of that was a blur. Just as they had both decided it needed to be. Neither were ready for the truth.
Ready or not however with the morning desert light pooling into their suite Veronica was the first to realize just how much they'd had to drink and just what kind of truth they had been trying to drink away.
Only fragments of the previous night were coming but, but what she could see was vivid. Their kiss in the lobby, his hand on her thigh at the bar and shining in all its Technicolor glory before her now was the last piece of the puzzle. Not just what she presumed to be a naked Sheriff Lamb beside her covered only by the same bed sheet covering her own nude form, but a shining piece of jewelry on a very important finger.
She was just about to wake him, of course with a jab to the ribs, when the almost ear-shattering shrill ring of her phone sounded from somewhere on the floor.
"Answer the damn thing," he groaned. Of course she had marred a morning person. Of course.
"Hi, Dad," she sighed after the fourth ring once she had found the phone that likely would have hit the wall if she had found it sooner.
"Tell me the reason you didn't answer your phone last night wasn't because you got yourself arrested again."
Dad tried to call last night? Well that explains why my phone was on the floor at least. Oh God. Did he try to call while Lamb and I were - doing whatever it was that caused us to wake up in bed together, naked?
With a deep breath she tried to steady her stomach. "No, I was just really tired, I must not have heard it."
"Where are you now?"
She glanced over to Lamb who was turning over and holding the pillow over his free ear. "Vegas still."
"I heard they got Coursey. Sacks said he's on his way back now."
"Yeah. It was late when Lamb and I got done at the station last night and neither of us felt like driving back so we got rooms here."
"Without maiming him?"
Veronica would have laughed if not for the pain. "No I didn't shoot him or taser him," she glanced over to him again, "or cuff him." Get wasted, marry him and likely sleep with him however…
"When do you plan on getting back?"
"Later," Lamb grumbled as the volume on Veronica's phone was so high he could hear both sides of the conversation, beginning to realize he wasn't getting back to sleep any time soon.
She glared over at him. Did he want her father to find out like this? Did he in fact have a death wish? "As soon as we can, I guess."
5 Hours Later:
Lamb half expected to see Keith sitting in his favorite chair with his shotgun in hand, ready to shoot his brand new son-in-law. Veronica hadn't told him, but then Keith often seemed to know things just by looking at people. Add to that they had spent the night together and the world knew Don was no saint.
"He didn't say you had to come up," Veronica said as she looked to her companion.
"He doesn't want visual confirmation that you left me in one piece? I'm hurt," he replied, his tone lacking its usual bite. Veronica chose to believe it was the combination of a bad hangover and blinding morning sun.
"Guess he trusts me enough not to kill you." She sighed before adding, "Well, Deputy, it's been fun," before she moved to get out of the car. Though she turned her attention to the one and only thing that had distracted her from watching the road and all of the things that had irritated her on their way to Vegas the day before. "Here," she told him as she slid the ring off. She couldn't believe he was still wearing his, though she had to admit it looked kind of good on him. Like it belonged there. Mr. Veronica Mars. She almost smiled.
"Thanks," he scoffed with a roll of his eyes as he took it. "So I just get to, what, hold it for safe keeping?"
"It was a Vegas wedding, Lamb. One we don't even remember. It doesn't make it real."
"Actually it does," he sighed. Looking to her ring between his right thumb and index finger, he went on, "I might not know everything about marriage laws, but I know enough to know that even Vegas weddings are legal. Doesn't matter how drunk the bride and groom are or even if they're saying 'I hate you' minutes before the all important 'I do'."
"Did we - ?"
"I don't know. Just sounds like something we'd do."
She gave a slow nod. "For what it's worth, I don't remember hating you last night."
"Before or after the drinking binge?" Why the fuck did this hurt? They had never been together before, hadn't even liked each other for the last few years. Could barely even stand to be in the same room most of the time. But now… Why didn't he want to see her go? And why didn't he want to be stuck with her ring?
Veronica couldn't believe how this was sounding or that she was really saying this to him. Maybe they really had reached some level of understanding since getting married. On some level they had always known they were stuck with one another. They had just never imagined it being quite like this.
Don looked to the ring once more before looking back to her. "Who knows, Mars. Maybe one day you'll want me to put this back on you."
"I wouldn't bet on it. I still say it was the tequila that made me marry you," she grinned, though her voice proved that even she didn't completely believe her words. She hadn't been drunk when he kissed her, of when she had kissed him back more specifically.
"Whatever it is you need to believe, Mrs. Lamb," he smirked.
She could only laugh in her disbelief. She would never get used to that title and even if they did get a quickie divorce she knew he would never stop calling her that, not after this. Whether as an endearment or put down it was his new name for her.
It could be worse, she decided. Mrs. Dick Casablancas, Mrs. Vinnie Van Lowe. Maybe being Mrs. Don Lamb wouldn't be so bad. Well, provided she didn't become a widow the second her father began breathing again after being told the news at least.