Disclaimer: I don't own a copyright license to Fallout: New Vegas or any of its characters ... unless you count Lola as she's technically a custom character, but oh well. Okay, a heads up: this fic is rated for sexual themes both implicit and explicit, swearing, gore, violence and probably for some more disturbing scenes later on. I'm a big fan of the Black Widow/Cherchez La Femme perks for some reason, so I guess that was the starting point here, therefore, we have a Courier who ... has some less conventional methods of getting what she needs. Let me know what you think! :)

Chapter One - Disconnection

How many caps had she gambled away here already? How many had she spent on vodka that came in polished shot glasses and could be knocked back in seconds? By now, it was probably a damn sight more than she had spent on ammunition and weapon repairs put together, and while this was a recent development, it was still a development. It was something that Lola could not ignore any longer – the fact that her stockpile of caps was dwindling. She guessed she was down to no more than a hundred by now, and she had to admit, Lady Luck had played a large part in that.

The woman sighed as she slumped over the roulette table. She had since taken to waving her hand over the numbers at random, thinking that it could not be any worse than if she had intentionally picked a number, and besides ... she had her ways of ensuring the house didn't let her down. Subconsciously, she had resolved only to gamble at The Tops – there was too much at stake to do something like this at Gomorrah, and while her reputation with the White Glove Society was gleaming, she did not think they would take kindly to her way of doing things. So, The Tops it was – bat her eyelashes and she could get a few chips for nothing. Blow the right Chairman and she could get even more, and a few drinks to boot if she put on a private show.

This was the way she did things, whenever and wherever she could. It didn't always work, although this was usually more to do with the person in question than her own shortcomings (or so she liked to believe). Sure, she had learned to get along well with some submachine guns, and even some more heavy artillery, but ammo was expensive, and sex was cheap, for her at least – she knew well that her stockpile of caps had only become a stockpile because she had saved several hundred bullets by screwing rather than shooting.

Even that had gotten stale, though. So, there she remained, gambling in The Tops and listening to the rumors that floated in and out of the casino nightly. Some of them were true, but she didn't like to think too much of them. Work was work, anything she could do to get others on her side and gather up a few caps here and there.

"Can I get you anything, doll?" But of course, the Chairmen knew exactly who she was. How could they not know? Sure enough, one of them with his polished shoes and slicked back hair winked at her. Lola rolled her eyes.

"How's about you get me summore of those chips, hm? Lady Luck ain't getting any tonight, if you get what I mean." Sure enough, a grin flickered across his face, and he leaned in a little closer.

"Let's see if we can't do somethin' about that then, huh baby? Of course, nothing's free ..." She knew this line. 'Nothing's free' – then again, she wondered if he'd know anything about scavenging in the wastes. Even if he had done at one point, he had since forgotten it, that was for sure. The correct phrasing was 'Nothing on The Strip's free'.

"So you know what the usual rates are?"

"Doll, every cat in this place knows your rates."

"Can't say I'm surprised," She muttered, losing another ten chips to the dealer as she did so. "But you're forgetting I ain't the one who asked first this time." A smirk crossed her face as she witnessed the barely visible look of shock that flashed across his face. He shook it off quickly enough, but he was disappointed, no doubt. She could only work well on stubborn targets, however, and he had come across as a little too ... eager.

"Well, you know all you gotta do is ask, baby." He did not seem pleased at all, but his voice barely wavered as he walked away from the table, perhaps hoping that she would change her mind soon. She would, no doubt. She was seriously running low on chips, now, and had not yet turned her attention towards the blackjack table.

She knew her current state of drinking, gambling, screwing and repeating was just to nothing more than boredom, and perhaps even disconnection from the outside. She had probably only been on The Strip for a few weeks, at most, but it felt like a lifetime, and she could not yet bring herself to leave. Furthermore was the point that she had work to do, and she couldn't do it alone; she had been waiting, for the weeks, or the months, or however long she had been there, for news ... oh, the irony that she was intending to conspire with the man who had technically killed her. Lola shrugged it off. Chairman charisma, a smile shot her way, but there was far more to it than that – Yes Man was helpful, but not helpful enough. She didn't trust herself to go through the motions correctly, so the only thing left was to track Benny down.

This was not a mean feat by any chance. Isolating herself in The Tops meant that the only rumors that had really drifted in and out were mostly related to 'someone being allowed inside the Lucky 38' and the 'Great Khans leaving the Mojave.' She supposed people had to hold their tongues in the casino about virtually anything else, but it didn't help when the only news she had gotten for such a long time was news she already knew about.

"Where you going, doll?" The dealers always asked this question when they saw her leaving, and they only got a response if she had had a particularly lucky streak. Tonight was not one such night. She waved a hand listlessly before heading towards the elevator quickly enough, and somehow, she always managed to forget which room actually belonged to her. 'Belonged to' was a stretch, of course. Her rent was paid in much the same way as she paid for anything else, but it was a place to sleep and shower if she wanted; she knew she could have waited it out in the Lucky 38, but somehow, she figured she was going to be a lot less welcome around there sometime soon ...

"Thought you might wanna hear me out before you lay that pretty head of yours down, baby." Lola raised her eyebrow, already in the process of unbuttoning her shirt when she heard him.

"You got news, Swank?" Not like it really mattered. 'Sit around and look pretty', he told her. Damn, she had done a lot more that sitting around and looking pretty, and didn't he know it. Still, she inclined her head towards the room she was about to enter, set herself down on the sofa without caring for her shirt.

"I do. And I think you're gonna dig it."

"Let's hear it, then." That smirk. Always the same smirk, and always the same on men when they wanted the same thing.

"Don't get ahead of yourself, pussycat." For a moment, Lola was frozen. It was not like she hadn't heard the term used casually around before, but it still took her back to the note left on the chair the morning after. She bit her lip, knowing what was coming.

"Give me the info, Swank, and I'll give you what you want when you're done." It was so obvious he was not convinced, and yet, she could not bring herself to stand up, to act, rotate her hips to the side a little and pus out her chest. Sometimes, this was all it took – she just didn't feel up to it tonight.

"Doll, you know I can't let you do that. You might just run out on me." He had a point. It showed how little they still trusted her, and who could blame them, really? A little snooping around in the basement had won her the trust of the White Gloves. Some basic scientific knowledge and more underhanded means had gotten her in with the Omertas. The Chairmen, however, were a different matter entirely, and she knew that it would be a long time before she won them over, no matter how many sexual favors and other odd jobs she performed for them. It would take a lot more than that – it would take its time, until she enacted the plan she had become so set on.

"You think I'd do that to you?" In spite of herself, Lola knew that now was the time for it, if ever. The faintest smirk crossed her face, a false look of mischief, and Lola got to her feet, continuing to loosen the buttons on her shirt. Keep your eyes on the prize ... she thought as she advanced, slowly, with the kind of swagger only Vegas could teach.

"Now, that's more like it," For the time being, at least. She paused with her hand on the button of her jeans, letting it hover there for a while – she knew she was taunting him, and didn't much care. "Keep on going like that, baby, and you can ask me anything you want about this joint." A tempting offer ... but that's not what I want. Her hand continued to play around the button, Lola taking more and more steps towards him. Eventually, she hooked her fingers around his leather belt, and used them to pull herself closer.

"So what was that about me running out on you?" She murmured in his ear, purposely breathless, loosening her muscles so that she could move around with ease, snake like. Hers was a venom unlike any others, of course. Not so much poisonous as addictive – most of them wanted more of it time and time again after the first bite. Sometimes, she ran from them, but at other times, it was all she could do to serve them again and again until they had had their fill. She felt his body tense beside her; she always managed to take them by surprise. Swank was no exception.

"I-I didn't mean it, babydoll ... just ... can't be too safe, you know? This info, it's heavy." Ah, how even Swank could not convince her that he was as cool as anything, not while she was pressing herself up against him. She already knew what he was going to say, of course – what she needed were the specifics. Gently, Lola bit her lip, exhaled softly, a warm breath on his neck. Anything she could do to soften the blow she was about to deal.

"You know something about Benny, don't you?" If he had been tense before, it was nothing compared to how he was now. In a split second, Lola's face had split into a wide grin and she had turned away from him, not bothering to put her shirt back on. "Oops. Cat's out the bag now, huh?" As she turned slowly back towards him, she could not quite read his expression. He might have looked dumbfounded, but there was something more than that; a kind of disappointment, and she did not even have to guess why. She had rumbled him. In a way, she almost pitied him for this. She could tell that he was considering the possibility of being unable to have his fun with her tonight, because she had reached the solution far too quickly. "Aw, don't feel so bad about it." Time for her approach. She didn't know exactly what he knew about Benny, yet.

"Damn it, doll, you know how to let a guy down." For a second, her eyes flashed – not so much dangerous as suggestive. She had stopped caring about her own degradation, just enough to shake her head slightly and drop to her knees.

"Funny, I though down was exactly where I needed to be," There it was again, his muscles tensed, and this time, it was not his neck she breathed against. She licked her lips as she looked up at him, noticing how he was strangely powerless against her; it was a look she was used to, and was incredible just how quickly she could render a guy vulnerable to her attacks. "So," She started, moving closer, hands playing at his belt again. "Where's Benny?" She started to unfasten his pants, and he did nothing to stop her. Why would he? They never objected. She stopped just as he was expecting he to go on. "Tell me, or you'll be waiting a long time for this." It was clear that he did not want to let her know just yet, fearful that she would take it all and leave him there. She watched for a moment, Swank thinking over his options in his mind, knew that she had to do a little more, in order to win him over ...

"I-I heard ..." He started, just as she leaned in – first contact. "The ... The Legion. C-Cottonwood Cove, or something ... something about a Fort." It might not have seemed like it, but Lola took it all in. She wasn't even concentrating on her job, instead thinking over how it was so close, now. She almost wanted to paraphrase it, to say that triumph was so close she could almost taste it ... but it was clearly not triumph that she could taste.

Only the next few days would tell. She's have to get herself back into fighting shape once again – the Wasteland sure was a harsh mistress, but she didn't have enough weapons to fill an armory stashed away for nothing.