Disclaimer: I do not own them here or there, I do not own them anywhere.
Author's Note: How VLV *really* should have gone ...
Feedback: Positive or constructive comments? Let me know!
This fic was nominated best L/T in the Deep End Awards.
Exiled to the video arcade, Tess watched as Liz played game after game of pinball. "Great. Stuck in the party capital of the world with Liz Parker," she groaned.
Liz tore her eyes away from her game to give the other girl a quick, sideways glare.
"You know, if we're feeling dangerous, we could always challenge a couple of 8-year-old boys to Foosball. Or go to the Ice Capades." Tess's voice dripped sarcasm.
The little metal ball slipped past Liz's reflexes, and disappeared into the abyss. Game over.
"You know, for your information," she said, turning to face the blond girl, "I didn't want to come to Vegas in the first place. I knew that this was going to be the most miserable trip of my life. I *knew* it. But I didn't listen to my instincts." Liz gave Tess a level gaze. "And, by the way, Tess, I don't enjoy being stuck with you, either."
"Fine," Tess snapped, turning on her heels.
"Good." Liz's voice cracked as she bit out her parting volley. She banged on the pinball machine in frustration.
Tess yanked open the arcade door and made to leave, but the pain in Liz's voice caught her attention. She paused with her hand on the doorknob. "Liz, why did you think this would be such a miserable trip for you?"
Caught, Liz fished for a plausible explanation. "I ... uh ... I have bad memories about this place."
Tess turned to face Liz. The other girl looked so somber, so beaten down, Tess found herself strangely moved. "What happened that was so terrible?" she asked softly.
Liz shook her head, her dark hair falling into her face. "Tess, I ... I don't want to talk about it. I just shouldn't have come here, okay?" She turned back to the pinball machine, but she didn't play. She just stared straight ahead, visibly trying to pull herself together.
"Maybe ... maybe it's time you made new memories, then," Tess suggested tentatively, taking a few steps closer. "To replace the bad ones."
Liz returned the blond girl's gaze, but didn't speak.
"Look," Tess tried again. "The others have all disappeared, God knows where. So you and I can either also go our separate ways -- and, I have to admit, I've spent too much of my life alone for that to be terribly appealing -- or we can try to make the best of things. So we can't go back on the gambling floor. Fine. But there's a million other things to do here besides play video games." She was surprised at the pleading tone in her own voice. She really didn't want to wander around by herself. "Please, Liz? Maybe it'll take your mind off of whatever is bothering you, too."
"I thought you didn't like being stuck with me."
Tess shrugged. "I guess I was just pissed about getting caught by the stupid guard when I said that. Liz, I know we haven't really gotten along all that well but, come on, it's Vegas. There must be *something* we can do without getting on each other's nerves. After all the shit we've been through, I could stand to have some fun and forget about all that. What about you?"
Liz found herself giving Tess a small smile. Maybe the other girl had a point -- maybe a distraction was what she needed. Clearly the pinball wasn't distracting enough. "What did you have in mind?"
"Oh... ah... " Tess hadn't believed that Liz would really go for her suggestion and she was now caught short-handed. "Well, I know there's shows we could go to, or shopping ..."--Tess suddenly remembered the list of amenities Maria said the hotel boasted--"We could even go swimming, or..."
"Swimming?" Liz perked up at that. Swimming in February sounded awfully appealing all of a sudden.
"Yeah!" Tess was relieved that something had caught Liz's attention. "Maria said our hotel has a huge indoor heated pool. You want to go?"
Liz nodded, but then her face fell. "I just remembered -- I don't have a swimsuit. I came at the last minute, remember? I didn't bring any extra stuff like that."
Tess grinned. "Well, it just so happens that we are not lacking for money." She pulled the wad of cash Michael had given each of them out of her pocket and fanned the bills with a flourish. "I think maybe some shopping is in order! You in?"
Liz couldn't help grinning. Tess's enthusiasm was infectious. "Sure. Let's go."
"Come on, Liz, let's see it," Tess called through the dressing room door.
"Hang on, hang on," Liz answered, making final adjustments to the straps of her latest choice.
The two girls had had a surprisingly good time wandering around the shops. Not worrying about cost was a new experience, and in her increasingly reckless mood, Liz had ended up trying on a much wider range of suits than she normally considered. She was usually a plain tank suit kind of girl. But with Tess's urging she had tried on fancier one-piece suits, then tankinis, and was now venturing into all sorts of two-piece concoctions.
"Ok, I'm coming out," Liz finally announced. She opened the door.
Tess sucked in a breath, stunned. Liz was wearing a halter-top that tied in back, cut in a style that enhanced the shape of her breasts without looking fake. The boy-cut bottoms hugged her curves and somehow seemed sexier than ordinary bikini bottoms might have. The deep pink color brought out the warmth of her skin, and even highlighted the reddish strands in her hair. Tess hadn't had any idea Liz had such a great body, considering she mostly saw her in that unflattering Crashdown uniform. She was nearly speechless at how beautiful Liz looked now.
"Wow," Tess managed. "You should definitely get that one. You look great!"
"You think so?" Liz asked, a little self-consciously. She twisted in front of the mirror, trying to get a better overall view.
"Oh, definitely. You're going to have guys falling over themselves to talk to you!"
Liz gave a slightly wistful smile. "That's not really the goal, is it?"
"Why not?" Tess said airily. "We're here to have fun and relax, right? Why not have a little vacation fling while you're at it?"
Liz gave a small laugh at the idea of 'good little Liz Parker' having a fling. "I guess so," she said, shrugging good-naturedly.
"So come on, then, what are we standing around for? Let's get out of here. The water's waiting!"
Liz laughed again as she allowed Tess to propel her back into the dressing room, her small hands on Liz's bare back. "Can I at least put my clothes on and pay for this thing?" she joked. "Somehow getting arrested for shoplifting -- or indecent exposure -- might put a damper on our plans."
"Fine, fine, have it your way," Tess bantered back as Liz closed the door. Indecently exposed Liz. Now *there* was an interesting image...
"Last one in is a rotten egg!" Tess said, heading for the water.
"Oh, no you don't," Liz retorted, elbowing her out of the way.
The two girls raced for the edge and dove in.
"You little cheater!" Tess sputtered as they resurfaced.
"And you didn't think I could fight dirty," Liz taunted with a grin.
"Fine. The next time defeating an enemy involves jumping in a swimming pool, I'll put you in for the job!"
They both laughed.
The next half hour quickly disappeared as Liz and Tess made good use of the miniature water slide, going down normally, then head first, and eventually in tandem--hanging on to each other tightly as they slid down together--before trying other water games.
"Hey, can you do this?" Liz did a handstand in the water.
"Uh-uh. I always get water up my nose. But I can do this!" Holding her nose with one hand, Tess did a somersault.
Liz clapped her approval and Tess took a mock bow. "Thank you, thank you very much!" Tess said in her best Elvis impression as she tugged her blue bikini back into place. "Now you do it."
Liz did a flip as she was told, but her foot slipped on takeoff and she ended up thrashing around a little to make the complete circle.
"Hey, you little sneak, quit splashing me!" Tess joked, flicking water in Liz's direction as she surfaced.
"I didn't do it on purpose!" Liz splashed back.
"Well, *that* was on purpose!" Tess retaliated by tossing more water.
Liz lunged for the other girl with a mock snarl. "That does it, this is war!"
Screams and laughter-filled shrieks filled the air as the two girls chased each other around the pool, splashing mightily.
Tess finally managed to grab Liz's arm, but Liz merely splashed the blond girl with her free hand. A new battle quickly ensued as they wrestled in the chest-deep water, each trying to subdue the other.
Finally, Tess managed to pin both of Liz's arms to her side and used her own body to trap the other girl against the side of the pool so she couldn't escape. "Gotcha!" Tess crowed in triumph.
Liz conceded defeat with a grin, but then, as the moments ticked by and they continued to stand there, panting from their exertions, they suddenly became aware of themselves. Their bodies were pushed together, belly and breast and thigh, caressed by the water's undulations. Soggy tresses framed their faces. Moisture sparkled off the tips of eyelashes, and dripped off of lips in a way that was strangely enticing. Their faces were merely inches apart. Neither of them moved.
"I think,"--Liz paused to lick her lips, her throat suddenly unaccountably dry--"I think maybe I've had enough of the pool. Maybe we should go in and dry off."
"Right," Tess breathed, quickly releasing the dark-haired girl. They both hauled themselves onto the deck and, without a word, blotted themselves off with their towels and headed back to the suite.
Liz went straight to the bedroom she was sharing with Maria and closed the door, pausing to lean against it for a long moment. What was the matter with her? She couldn't shake that electric feeling that had come over her in the pool. It was almost as if she could still feel Tess's thigh brush hers, feel Tess's wet hands on her wetter skin, the softness of Tess's breasts against her own... Liz swallowed hard. Then, shaking her head as if to clear it, she reached back to undo her top's laces.
They wouldn't come untied.
Her arms crooked awkwardly behind her, Liz stood in front of the dresser mirror and craned her neck to see what was the problem. What she saw made her groan in frustration. It seemed that all the water games had caused her swimsuit to get all knotted up -- the laces were snarled together quite thoroughly. Liz closed her eyes for a minute, trying to gather herself together. Then she sighed. Well, there was no help for it -- she was just going to have to ask Tess for assistance. Reluctantly, she walked over to the next bedroom and tapped lightly on the door.
Tess responded promptly to Liz's summons. Clearly, she'd had no such difficulties with her own suit -- a V-neck T-shirt and a pair of shorts had replaced the blue bikini.
"Can you ... uh ... can you help me?" Liz turned around, pulling her hair up with one hand to expose the snarled laces.
Tess paused as Liz's mostly bare back and curved bottom came into view. All the images and sensations of that moment in the pool came flooding back, and she had to take a deep breath to regain control of her senses. Then, with trembling fingers, Tess began to work on the knots. She tried to keep her distance, but at one point her fingers brushed against Liz's damp skin, and they both jumped at the contact.
"There, it's done," Tess said at last, struggling to keep her voice from shaking.
Liz knew she should simply thank Tess and go back to her own room, but her feet seemed suddenly rooted to the ground. She couldn't have moved if her life depended on it.
"You ... ah ... want to change in here?" Tess finally asked, breaking the silence. "I'll just go and leave you to--"
"No, don't." Liz's hand shot out behind her and grabbed Tess's wrist before she could disappear. Slowly, Liz turned around to face the other girl. "Don't go," she repeated softly.
Tess swallowed as she took in the sight. Liz's top hung by the halter strings around her neck--the recently-unsnarled ties now sagged limply down her back. The pink material no longer caressed and contained her breasts, but merely dangled loosely in front of them, exposing the softly rounded curves at the sides and bottom.
Heart pounding, Tess studied the dark-haired girl in front of her, reading the unspoken invitation in her sable eyes. Then, with an equally silent response, she simply pulled Liz in close and brushed her lips with her own.
The room dissolved as all their attention became focused on that kiss. That first tentative gesture was soon followed by another kiss... and then another ... and another... the heat quickly rising as their hunger grew. Then, without breaking their embrace, they stumbled awkwardly back into Tess's room and closed the door with an unequivocal *click*.
"So," Tess said later, pulling Liz into a more comfortable position, "is this still the most miserable trip of your life?"
Liz stretched up so she could give Tess a kiss. "No," she said with a contented smile. "You were right -- I did need to distract myself, although," she chuckled a little, "I didn't think the distraction would take this form!"
"Well, it wasn't quite what I originally had in mind, either," Tess responded, "but it was fun, wasn't it?"
"Mmmhmmm." Liz practically purred her agreement. "There's only one problem...."
"What?" Tess asked, a small frown creasing her forehead.
"You said it 'was' fun. What if I'm not ready for the fun to be over?" Liz pulled herself up to kiss Tess again.
"Well..." Tess murmured against Liz's lips, "I suppose we could..." She let the sentence hang, unfinished.
"We could what?" Liz demanded.
"We could ... play cards!"
"What?!" Liz pulled away and glared at the other girl.
"Kidding, kidding!" Tess pulled Liz back in close and began to nibble on her ear, her fingers cupping Liz's breast. "How about another round of this sort of ... game ... instead?"
Without using any words, Liz made it clear that she found Tess's suggestion quite, quite splendid.
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