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Picking Winners

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A new team was already taking the field by the time Veronica finished talking to Terrence Cook. Coaching a kid's baseball game was a step or two below his usual Hall of Fame appearances, but ever since Lamb had taken him in for questioning, she supposed he could use all the good publicity he could get.

Of course, she wasn't sure that coaching a Little League game was the most appropriate activity for a man accused of blowing up a bus full of kids, but Neptune's own particular brand of logic had always been an acquired taste.

As he handed the papers back to her, she glanced over at the men currently spilling onto the field. Definitely not Little League. From what she could see - which was a lot, given the cut of their uniforms - there was nothing little about them.

"... your father, will you?"

She turned back to Terrence, who was apparently still talking to her. Okay, so maybe she shouldn't get too distracted just yet.

"Sorry?"

"Say hello to your father for me."

"Sure," she said, offering what she hoped was a friendly smile. "He would have come down in person, but he's been really busy with the case."

He didn't look like he believed her, but he nodded, anyway, before he left. A month ago, her father would have jumped at the chance to come down and talk to the great Terrence Cook himself. Now, it was just another in a long line of disappointments that had torn Veronica away from her calculus homework instead.

Which she really should be getting back to. The thought, unsurprisingly, didn't fill her with a huge amount of enthusiasm. Not when it was a perfect seventy degrees outside and a baseball field full of players in tight pants was competing with the dubious allure of math.

Deciding that taking a short break probably couldn't hurt, Veronica moved forward to watch as the game began. Now that she was closer, she could make out the writing on one or two of the jerseys, and her desire to get back to her homework vanished completely.

Who wanted to be indoors studying when the alternative was spending an hour or two watching the fine men of the Balboa County Fire Department?

So maybe her homework could wait; it wasn't like she was exactly lagging behind in class. And she'd already finished running errands for her father, which meant the afternoon was hers. Suddenly feeling very confident about her decision, she sat down over by the outfield, and watched the man stepping up to the plate, who was scuffing the ground and twisting the bat in what she could only imagine were strong, capable hands.

This was definitely a better use of her time.

He connected with the second pitch, and started running. At the same time, one of the outfielders turned towards her, and she smiled as she recognised Eddie.

"Hey, Veronica," he greeted her. She debated asking him whether he should really be talking to her, but the ball was already on its way back to home, so she guessed it was probably okay. "Come to cheer us on?"

"Absolutely," she said. "I just wish I'd thought to bring my old pep squad uniform."

He laughed, and she looked around the field.

"So, who are you guys playing?"

Then her eyes fell on the player now standing on second base, and she felt the bottom drop out of her stomach.

Never mind.

"Sheriff's department," he said, but she barely heard him. She was too busy revising her opinion of the player's capable hands.

Lamb had never been capable of anything in his life.

"Good luck," she said absently, and Eddie returned his attention to the game.

Of course Lamb was here. She hadn't really expected to get an entire afternoon to herself, had she?

He rounded home with the next batter, crossing the plate with what looked like a satisfyingly painful slide. He brushed his hands over his pants - his extremely tight pants, which she was trying very hard not to notice - and left the field, thankfully in the opposite direction from where she was sitting.

"Give 'em hell," she muttered under her breath, as the next batter struck out. If she could stick around long enough to see Lamb's team lose, maybe her day wouldn't be a complete waste, after all.

The first half of the game ended after a few innings, including one truly impressive home run, and a pick-off while Lamb had a lead off the first base, during which Veronica had to try hard not to laugh and alert him of her presence. It wasn't like she was exactly hidden, but with her hair pulled back and her face down, she could probably pass for any other casual bystander.

There was a refreshments table set up over by the other side of the field, and she debated with herself for a minute before following Eddie over there, waiting until nobody was looking before snagging a cup off the table.

There was nothing wrong with sharing, right? Besides, she hadn't had lunch, and the way she saw it, she was providing a valuable service by watching the game.

"Veronica."

Sacks' eyes widened slightly as he saw her, and she slid her empty cup back onto the table.

"What ... um, what are you doing here?"

She gave him her most winning smile, which was usually enough to make him nervous. "Just came to cheer on my favourite team."

He looked pleased and a little surprised, and she didn't bother to correct his assumption.

"That was a nice home run out there."

"Thanks," he said. She thought he might be blushing, but it was hard to tell under the flush of colour already on his cheeks. "I -"

"Veronica Mars."

Veronica sighed as she turned around. There was no-one else who could say her name with quite the same level of frustration; she should have known she couldn't avoid him all afternoon.

"Deputy," she said. Lamb rolled his eyes, but she guessed that familiarity had robbed the title of most of its sting. "Fancy meeting you here."

He let out a breath, as if he had to prepare himself for the conversation. "What are you doing here, Veronica?"

"Just thought I'd watch the game," she said, trying out her most innocent expression. "I am allowed to be here, aren't I?"

"Sure you -" Sacks said behind her, and she couldn't help smiling as Lamb cut him off with a dirty look.

"I'm supposed to believe you just happened to be here today?"

"Actually, yes. Believe it or not, I actually do have better things to do with my weekends than follow you around."

"Cute," he said. "But if you're waiting around so you can see me in the locker room, you're just going to be disappointed."

"I have no doubt about that."

Lamb frowned. "Come on," he growled to Sacks, and stalked back off towards the field.

It was almost too easy, sometimes.

She pulled her homework out of her bag as the game started up again, but she couldn't quite manage to concentrate on it. She'd have more luck at home, she knew, but Lamb kept glancing over at her with a scowl that never quite left his face, and she knew that her leaving would only make him happy. It wasn't often that she was able to piss him off so thoroughly with absolutely no effort on her part, and it was an opportunity too good to pass up.

Unfortunately, trying to gauge his reaction meant that she kept looking at him, too, and between his movements and the uniform that left little to the imagination, her gaze kept being drawn to all sorts of places it shouldn't.

Like his hands, curving over the seams of the ball. Or -

Well, like she said. His pants left very little to the imagination.

He stepped up to pitch, and was surprisingly good at it. She knew he'd played football in college - he'd been fond of reminding her, back when their conversations included more than veiled threats and pointed stares - but he'd been a running back, not a quarterback. Still, he could throw, and she shared a commiserative glance with Adam as he was struck out.

She cheered as Eddie stepped up to the plate, which earned her a glare from Lamb. Eddie rounded second off the first pitch, and she cheered louder.

It was close, in the end - well, close-ish - but judging by Lamb's expression, he didn't particularly care what the score had been. He shot her a triumphant look, as if he had beaten her, and not the team she was cheering for. Which would have been a lot less impressive, since she wasn't exactly into the whole playing sports thing.

Not that him winning was impressive.

When he stripped off his jersey, though - damn. Apparently baseball wasn't the only physical activity he did.

And she was going to stop right there, because she did not need to follow that line of thought.

Lamb seemed to think differently, though, because he was heading right towards her, as if he'd picked up on her moment of weakness. She shoved her homework back in her bag and stood up, quickly thinking annoyed thoughts.

He was grinning at her, which made it easier. She hated that grin.

"Aren't you supposed to save that sort of thing for the locker room?" she asked, before he could say anything.

His grin turned into a definite smirk. "Just thought I'd give the fans a show."

"As far as I can tell, I'm the only fan here, and I'm not interested." Okay, so that was partly a lie, but it would be a cold day in Hell before she admitted to feeling anything other than animosity towards Lamb.

He shrugged, as if the brush-off rolled right off his shoulders. His strong, tanned shoulders.

Damn it.

"What are you still doing here, Veronica?"

She raised an eyebrow. "You're the one who came over to talk to me."

He stood there for a minute, like he was waiting for her to admit that, fine, she actually came here to insult him or bug him about a case or generally make his life miserable. Which, admittedly, had been a pleasant side effect, but it wasn't why she'd come. When she said nothing, he turned, and started heading off in the other direction.

She sighed.

"As long as you're here," she said, running a little to catch up to him. He laughed, like he'd been expecting it, but didn't stop. "Why did you question Terrence Cook?"

Well, she already knew that, but it was as good a start as any.

"I'm not going to discuss a police investigation with you."

Right, like he was suddenly worried about professionalism. "What did you find out?"

He gave her a look, and slowed down as they reached the locker rooms.

"Are you planning to arrest him?"

"Why do you care?"

She wasn't about to tell him that her father was working for Terrence. If anything, it would only make Lamb more determined to prove that he was guilty. "I'm just surprised to see you're finally doing your job, is all."

He snorted, and headed into the men's changing room. She hovered in the doorway, caught between leaving and getting some real answers out of him.

"This is the men's room, Veronica," he said, looking faintly amused at her indecision. "Unless you really want to see me naked, I'd say we're done here."

He stripped off his pants even as he said it, leaving her with no chance to respond. And, double damn. If she'd thought his baseball uniform left little to the imagination, that was nothing compared to the sight of Lamb in his underwear.

She wasn't sure what had showed on her face, but he must have seen something, because suddenly he was crossing the room towards her, pinning her against the door frame.

"You need to leave," he said, his voice low and dangerous, and she met his gaze.

"Or else what?"

He answered by kissing her, hot and furious and not at all like she would have imagined.

Not that she ever imagined kissing Lamb, of course.

"Or else that," he said, and his voice was husky and a little breathless.

Damn, she was good.

Unexpectedly, so was he.

She didn't mean to kiss him back, exactly, but it happened anyway. Clearly, the two hours she'd spent sitting in the sun had addled her brain. The kiss was slower this time, but just as insistent, and she gasped as she felt his hands on her, grabbing her waist.

Yep, she clearly had brain damage of some kind. Or else she was light-headed from having skipped lunch. Because there was no way she was doing this because she wanted to, right?

Wrong. Oh, god, she was going insane.

Lamb broke the kiss to pull her shirt up over her head, and that would be her cue to leave, if she still wanted to. Do not pass Go, do not make out with the sheriff in the men's locker room, just get the hell out of there.

She reached down to help him unbutton her jeans.

He pulled her into the room, closing the door behind them before pressing her up against the wall. She could feel him hard against her, and she closed her eyes, wrapping her hand around him.

She'd been wrong, before. She definitely wasn't disappointed.

She wasn't disappointed, either, when his fingers brushed against her clit. And his hands proved to be very capable when they slid inside her, curling forward to find the spot that, up until now, she'd been pretty sure was a myth.

It would be an exaggeration to say she saw stars, but she did get a good look at the satisfaction in Lamb's eyes as he got her off.

It should have been a turn-off.

It wasn't.

"Is that the best you can do?" she managed, and it probably would have sounded better if she hadn't been panting a little as she said it.

He smirked, and she wanted to shoot him. Or maybe kiss him. It was all beginning to blur together, a little.

"That isn't even close."

No, it certainly wasn't. Lamb might not be the world's best sheriff, but he certainly knew how to get the job done in other areas.

Twice.

She'd hate herself, if she could muster up enough energy to feel anything at all.

He kissed her as her breathing started to return to normal, softly, almost as if he actually liked her. That wasn't nearly the weirdest thing about her day so far, but she filed it away for future consideration. Much later, once she could actually think straight.

"Well," she said, clinging onto the word as if it would help her find more. As far as post-sex repartee was concerned, it could use some work, but at least it hadn't been 'wow.' "I should probably leave."

Lamb looked at her, his expression almost genuine for a second, and then it was replaced by something else.

"You don't want to get cleaned up?" he asked, his voice low in her ear, glancing towards the showers. He was still touching her, his hands skimming over her hips, and she shivered.

Actually, that sounded like a much better idea.