Viva Las Vegas [Veronica Mars]

Viva Las Vegas
by Jennifer-Oksana
Fandom: Veronica Mars
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Rob Thomas, UPN, and other entities own V-Mars. I just borrow from love.
Summary: Lianne is not leaving Las Vegas today.

Las Vegas is smoldering cigarettes, theme architecture, and anonymity. Everyone is just another tourist, equally watched and equally dull through the cameras hidden in shiny black globes. Even if you knew someone was in Vegas, finding them could be impossible. Crowds of stupid tourists work better than a hundred counterintelligence devices. The traffic is always terrible, and the hospitality staff hates the masses with blunted intensity. They couldn’t tell you from Adam, whether you spit on them or gave them a hundred-dollar tip.

And there’s always somewhere to go when you can’t sleep. Lianne taps her cigarette into an ashtray, still surprised at how easily available they are. In California, it’s easier to find the blood of a blonde virgin than a place to smoke. Here, the smoke curls into everything, and Lianne suspects she reeks of cigarettes, and her nose is itchy and bloody from the dry air. It’s still comforting to be able to sit at a bar next to an old man feeding nickels into a video poker machine, sip at a decent White Russian, and breathe the smoke in.

She’s in the nickel slot section of the Tuscany, off the Strip, but no less Vegas for that. If Lianne wanted, she could gamble at Vons, but there wouldn’t be space and time for the cigarette and the drink, and she’s not in Vegas to gamble. Lianne’s here to be anonymous, and there’s nothing more anonymous than drinking and smoking at a casino bar. The bartender is almost off-shift, the gamblers are busy feeding the addiction, and Lianne is almost blurred from the booze and smoke.

It’s easier not to feel things that way. Not to think about the shitty one-bedroom furnished apartment waiting. She uses the bed, the microwave, and the shower. Everything else is untouched.

Sometimes she thinks about getting a job at Steve Wynn’s new casino under a new name, and starting over once and for all. She could be anybody, and nobody would ask her anything. If Keith or Veronica passed her in her ridiculous costume (stylish, sexy, but understated…the Vegas of 2004 is all-business, no more of this themed nonsense) they might not even look twice. It’s a strangely comforting thought.

She misses them. Of course she misses them. In fact, she’s missed them so much and so long that it’s like the way bartenders and dealers and all the other staff hate the tourists. It’s a given, but it’s hard to feel anymore. Lianne has lived with this pain so long that she can’t remember any other way to live, and that makes the missing less real.

And the missing won’t change anything. She can’t go back to Keith or Veronica. Veronica doesn’t need someone like Lianne in her life. Keith loves her, and without Lianne around, maybe Veronica will turn out okay. She’s so smart and so talented and a college a thousand miles a way, three thousand miles away, will take her out of Neptune for good and Veronica can forget.

Lianne cannot forget, and she cannot change. She’s not seventeen and thank god, but the pains of that age heal. Lilly Kane can fade like the boys who didn’t call, like backstabbing friends. Veronica is safer without Lianne in the picture. She and Jake agreed about that. She and Keith tacitly agreed to that.

The last swallow of White Russian is too much milk and Kahlua, sickly sweet and without the bite of vodka to clean it up. Lianne’s head aches from the cigarette smoke, and there’s a hint of all the blood she’s been losing on the tip of her tongue, nasty and metallic.

Lianne doesn’t want another to clear her palate. She wants to go home. Not to the apartment, where she will drag herself shortly to sleep the shallow, dry-mouthed sleep of alcohol and low humidity as the desert tries to mummify her in her sleep. Home to a warm bed, a husband to sleep next to, a bathroom that doesn’t smell stale and overused.

Nobody is going to look at her here and ask if she’s lonely, though. If they did, she might break and go home, no matter how stupid and dangerous that would be. If she felt something other than numb, even for a moment, Lianne might admit she’s tired of hanging around the edges of the western desert, dropping into Neptune once in a while, and then disappearing again. Phoenix. Vegas. Maybe Tucson next, where the wind and sun makes everything look ready to be reclaimed by the desert. Maybe Barstow, though the closer she is, the more dangerous it is. Fresno. Bakersfield. Santa Barbara, because of the traffic that makes it further to Neptune than Neptune to Vegas. Tijuana. It’s not as though she has a list, though Lianne’s considered her options.

She exhales, the smoke curling in the air and hanging for a moment. The machines beep and cling, and the old man feeds another nickel into the video poker’s slot.

He doesn’t win. She leaves a dollar tip for the bartender and walks away, because sometimes stories don’t resolve neatly. Motives don’t get explained, epiphanies don’t happen, there’s no grand happy or deeply sad resolution. Sad women fumble for the keys to their cars, thinking of sleep and family. Old men with gambling problems feed nickels to the video poker slots.

Pretty much the way it always goes.

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