What Happens In Vegas

Gibbs got up from the chair in the crappy motel room and answered the banging on the door. "She's in the shower," he told the angry FBI agent on the other end of the door.

Antonio Vega glared at the older man: "give me one good reason why I shouldn't lay you flat?"

"Because I asked nicely?" Natalie asked exiting the bathroom dressed in blue jeans and a black spaghetti strap tee, her hair wrapped in a towel.

"Natalie…" Antonio sighed in exasperation. "Do you have any idea how worried I've been?"

"Worried enough to have someone track down my phone via GPS after we talked? Damnit, Antonio, I'm a grown woman, for Pete's sake."

"Then can you act like it for once?"

"Oh, like my twin ever did?" Natalie shot back. "Because it seems to me I sure as hell acted more of the adult then she did when I was picking up the pieces of your daughter's broken heart because she walked out on the both of you. When I was sneaking around so Jamie didn't feel completely abandoned. When I was picking up the slack for her with Bre then Chloe or Hope or what ever the hell the baby's name is now because of Tess and…" she exhaled as she looked over embarrassed to Gibbs.

"I'll go get that breakfast. You going to be joining us Agent…"

"Vega. Antonio Vega," Antonio sighed. "And I'm not usually. . . Natalie was my sister-in-law and I…"

Gibbs put his hands up: "No problems. I have a couple of team members I'd do the same for. You two talk. And I will be back so we can work out those logicistics we were talking about earlier," he finished as he grabbed his wallet and walked out.

"Oh, god Natalie tell me you didn't do what I think you did," Antonio sighed in exasperation once the door closed and they were alone.

"Well, if you think I eloped I can't," she said as she plopped down onto the bed in annoyance.

"You were plastered last night."

"Not that much."

"Natalie…"

"Look, this isn't like when Mitch tricked me into marrying him or when I ran off and married Jared. In fact at least with Gibbs I have an idea of what I'm getting into."

"Which is what?"

"He's been married multiple times. He's one of the good guys. I think I can be happy with him."

"After one nigh?"

"After one night where I felt more then… then before John's accident."

Antonio shook his head: "What about Jared?"

Natalie got off the bed in annoyance: "ask your good friend John McBain."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

Natalie swirled around and glared at him: "remember how he lied about Christian so he could 'protect me?'" she asked him.

"Yeah?"

"Well he's at it again. Jared was a plant. So was Nash. Now I would never let anyone know the truth about Nash because of Bre and because let's face it the various faces of Jess just couldn't deal with it, but Jared? Why dose everyone think I'm so damned weak that I can't handle knowing that the man I married on the rebound from the ever so vain and self absorbed John McBain who couldn't be bothered to stop chasing ghosts long enough to save me from my deranged sister was one of Mitch's minions'?"

"You're sure about that?"

"Mitch told me."

Antonio shook his head: "you can't believe…"

"He took way to much pleasure in telling me the news and my reaction. Then I went through some of Jared's things. Went back over the evidence John had presented me with. Jared set me and Jess up.
He killed Nash on purpose.
I think it was supposed to be staged. My guess is that Mitch couldn't control Nash as much as he wanted to and if I was isolated from the family I'd have to count on Jared all the more.
John has to have even more proof but…" she shook her head as she sank to the bed. "As soon as I realized the truth I hightailed it out of town. I warned Miles his brother was on the loose because no one else ever bothered to and I came to see Vincent and then last night happened.
So I got drunk.
So I helped get Devane arrested.
So I eloped with a guy I just met.
Why couldn't this work? Christian and I didn't. John and I sure as hell didn't. And I'm not going anywhere near the mess that Jared and I were.
Maybe doing this backwards. . . he's a good man, isn't he?"

"From everything I heard, yeah, although they say the second B stands for bastard."

"So he's the type of guy that my grandfather would've liked?"

Antonio laughed: "From what my boss said, hell yeah and then some. If nothing else he'd die to protect you."

"Now that would be a first."

"Hey now, John…"

"John had to save me after he got me in trouble and half the time I would've gotten my self out of it on my own," Natalie pointed out. "And let's not even go near the time I really needed him and he had you and Talia chasing after the ghost of the ever St. and not so dearly departed Marty Sagebrook. I mean really, what the hell were you thinking when I didn't show up when Rex was shot?" she asked as she came up behind him and smacked him upside the back of his head.

Rubbing the back of his head he went to answer her: "We were wrapped up in investigating Ramsey and…"

Natalie laughed hollowly as she interrupted him: "Wasn't Ramsey dead by that time. Let me think… YEAH he was. So you were off with John on his and Nora's vendetta against Todd."

"You don't even like your uncle Todd," Antonio couldn't help but point out.

"Funny thing. He and ditzy aunt Tina were the ones to figure out that Tess was out while the rest of you had your heads up your…"

"I get your point," Antonio cut her off, his hands up in defeat as he watched her moved angrily around the room.

"Do you?" Natalie asked as she sat down in the chair Gibbs had vacated and took the towel off her head, her hands rubbing briskly at her hair as one leg tapped against the other. "Because the way I see it is that by not listening to Jared you gave him the perfect opportunity to get himself locked in that damned room with me.
In hindsight it's pretty easy to see that he opened the door on my foot on purpose and then by the way he held it let Tess lock us in.
Talk about the chance to brainwash someone! Only no one went that route with him. No they were too busy trying to prove that Todd raped Marty."

"Natalie, she wouldn't have…"

"She consented to sleep with him. Said yes. Last I heard it didn't have to be informed consent and funny thing, she's still using him to have John toe her line."

"Jealous much?" Antonio wondered.

"How about bitter much? Nora's stupid argument made it sound like half the men in town were rapists. I mean, does the fact that you slept with Jess when she was Tess or Nash slept with Tess when she wasn't Jess or my dad slept with Niki Smith when she was pretending to be Mom make you guys rapists?" she asked.

"Never thought of it that way…"

"Don't think many people did because we were talking about Todd. And what about the real victims out there? How many are actually going to come forward after that travesty of a trial?"

Antonio shook his head: "You're off the subject."

"Am I?" Natalie asked. "Am I really, because it seems to me that Gibbs is really the first guy to be honest and up front with me that I've been invovled with since Seth and that's saying a lot."

"You're calling Seth trustworthy?"

"We both knew where we stood when we were together in AC, things got murky in Landview. Part of the problem being… well don't ask don't tell if you catch my drift."

"No way."

"Oh, he's out and he's proud. Last girlfriend he had was Jessica."

Antonio looked down at his hands: "and what about Christian. I know his lying about the John Doe thing was…"

"Criminal? Despicable? Hurtful because he made not only me but you and your mother bury him twice because he didn't want us to see him in prison where--- correct me if I'm wrong--- you spent a good portion of your youth with visits."

"He was protecting you."

"Well then maybe he should've thought of protecting me before he screwed my sister before we got married."

"That was before he met you."

"No, that was when he took her to NY to act as his muse. Jess made sure to let it slip in sly innuendo. And even if he didn't lie about that his gambling is why Jess and I got kidnapped by Flynn Lawrence and why we lost the cottage and… Chris was no saint but he had gotten it together now. I hope for his and even, I can't believe I'm saying this, Layla's sake he keeps it that way."

"If you knew he cheated why did you marry him?" Antonio asked in disbelief.

"Why'd I stay with him when he came back and was abusive and didn't tell anyone? Why did I put up with John's crap for as long as I did?

Why did I fall for 'Michael Lazarus's' song and dance? Or Jared's for that matter.
All for the same reason, Antonio, I wanted someone to love me. ME, little old Natalie Balsom from the wrong side of the tracks of AC turned Buchanan heiress who could barely get the time of day from her dad and fleeting attention from her brothers and would never be her mother's choice to save when it came down to it.

I've changed a lot since I first came into town and wore that red dress to the funeral that Asa returned from, but deep down, not so much. I still want the same things. Someone to love me, a roof over my head, a job that I can pay the bills with, and food on the table.

Most I've gotten, but not the love part.
That hasn't worked out for me.
I've played second best to Jess or ghosts or… it just doesn't matter.

Last night, for the first time in a long time I felt like someone might be able to love me for me, Antonio.

He doesn't know I'm a Buchanan and have a family who has money and I don't think he'd care.
He doesn't know I'm a royal screw up, although he's bound to find that out.
He knows I'm smart.
I'm sexy," she continued to a groan from the Hispanic man, "Cut it. I've seen you look me up and down once or twice, you just had it in your head that I was off limits."

"And if I didn't?"

"I ain't one of the Crammer girls. Doing brothers isn't my thing," she replied straight face, causing him to laugh. "Look, he likes my attitude, that I wasn't afraid to hold my own against him. That I could plot with him, make him blend in.
He told me he won't be a safety net for me. I think he's going to challenge me to be a better person and sure as hell keep me on my toes, just like I plan to do with him.

Tonio, I laughed with him last night.
I felt safer when he held me then I can remember feeling in a long time, and I've never felt it that fast or strong.
I told him about Ben in passing and I never talk to anyone about Ben.
Was this stupid? Maybe.
A mistake, something tells me no. That for the first time in a long time I've done something right when it comes to men.
It may not work out, then again maybe it finally will. Can't you at least be happy for me?"

"He hurts you I'm laying a beat down on him with Chris's help. Hell, I might even call in RJ for reinforcement. You do know you're the only Buchanan that he likes right?" Antonio said rising and crossing to her.

"That's because I covered shifts at his bar for lousy pay and never walked out on his granddaughter. Hell, how many times did I end up being the person to do the handoffs because you two hotheads couldn't deal with each other or mediated?"

Antonio laughed as he pulled her to her feet: "too many. Thank god he likes Talia."

"He knows?"

"Had to let him in on the secret. He does share custody of Jamie and since Tal and I are planning on getting married…"

"What about your mother?"

"Mami's a different story. Talia hid out at RJ's for Thanksgiving while she was in town."

Natalie laughed: "just let me know when the wedding's going to be."

"Hey, maybe we'll follow your example and elope. Slater did offer us one of his chapels…"

"Your mother's going to kill you…"

"She finds out that I've been keeping this a secret anyway I'm dead. And it's not like I can get married in a church thanks to your sister."

Natalie looked up at him sideways: "what, mental illness isn't covered in the annulment process or adultery?"

"If I wasn't still named as Bre's legal father it would be a hell of a lot easier."

"Dumb and dumber never had the paperwork done so that you were let off the hook?" Natalie asked surprised.

"Nope. Still waiting to get hit with child support one of these days."

"Yeah, Jess gets in one of her vindictive moods and she'd do it. But hey, she goes off her rocker again you can sue for custody," Natalie said as she hugged him.

"I'm out of here. And lay off your sister. She has issues."

"Don't we all?"

"Hey, at least she knew who she married."

"Her or her alters?"

Antonio laughed: "I'll call you later. Please pick up this time."

"If I'm not otherwise occupied."

"So didn't need that image."

"Hey, it's your mind that went there."

"I'll give you directions to the house. Bring the new hubby with you. We'll put him through the Jamie litmus test and let RJ grill him."

"RJ isn't family."

"Yeah, but with Asa not around some one has to warn him to stay in line with a gun and since I'm an officer of the law…"

"Get out of here…"

"Going. And know that I only got so upset because I care and love you."

"Back at you. And tell Talia that if she hurts Jamie, I will hurt her."

"Oh, I think she already knows… wait a minute, just Jamie?"

"Man up…" Natalie replied on a laugh as she pushed him out of the door the shut it. Leaning against it, she let out a sigh. "Yeah, you're in big trouble Natalie and isn't it going to be a fun ride…"