can't stay here (meacoustic) wrote in takethehouse,
can't stay here
meacoustic
takethehouse

Fic: Get Right (gen)

Title: Get Right
Author: amatia
Summary: Rusty's sixteen when he meets Danny, in the courthouse waiting to see a judge.
Rating: PG-13 for language
Recipient: flyakate
Notes: I used elements from three of the requests in this story. It's kinda long. I didn't expect to end up writing fourteen pages of backstory! *g* flyakate, I hope you like it! (Many thanks to rossetti and schuyler for reading and more reading and beta work.)



(especially not such a handsome one)

He’d been Rusty since almost the moment he’d been born. His mom had insisted on a nickname so that there wouldn’t be any confusion, but the cops who show up at the truck stop are a pair that knew his dad. They call him Bobby Junior like they always had, and look at him like they can’t believe Robert Ryan’s kid turned out like this.

Outside the courtroom, he waits next to a kid who looks a couple of years older: cocky, grinning, and slouching coolly against the wall. Rusty can’t slouch like that, so he tips his head back against the wall and watches the flies buzz around the long fluorescent lights. They’ve been there a while already, him and this Danny kid. Rusty doesn’t know his last name, but he’s sure he’ll find out when Danny gets called into court. At the end of the hallway, one of the cops who arrested him is talking to his mom. Rusty tries not to look at her.

Danny nudges Rusty with his foot. “So?” he asks, and Rusty says, “Fuck if I know.”

In court, the cop who’d arrested him testifies that he doesn’t think Rusty was the ringleader, and that the other guys who’d been picked up with him were older, rougher, and probably had talked Rusty into it. The judge lets him go with community service and supervision, and his mom cries. She drives him home without saying a word, and they don’t talk for a week.

He runs into Danny from the courthouse at the community service center. “You got off easy,” Danny says, coming up next to him as they wait for their assignments. The woman handling the juvie cases gives them a dirty look.

“I’d say you did too, except I don’t know what you did.”

“I stole some stuff. And then I got caught. They’re making me pay it back. And do this.” Danny shrugs. “Guess I’m lucky they didn’t waive me into adult.”

Rusty nods, and the woman at the counter hands him his paper. Lawn mowing. Danny gets the same. “You can board the bus out back,” she says, and turns away. A lot of people have been doing that to him lately.

It’s the middle of summer and by the time they’re done, Rusty is hot and soaked with sweat. He’s still got ninety-six hours left to do, and it’s his birthday. He tells Danny this as they walk wearily towards the bus waiting to return them to the center.

“Yeah? I’ll buy you a soda.”

At the McDonald’s he orders a Sprite and explains the truck stop scam to Danny as if it had been his idea and not the Vasquez brothers’. Danny nods along approvingly and even though Rusty knows Danny must have read the article in the paper that had been published when Vic and Manny went to prison for their year and a month, he doesn’t once stop Rusty to remind him that it hadn’t been his plan all along.

In the fall Rusty goes back to school. Part of his community supervision deal is that he has to go to class – there’s even a form the teachers have to sign. Rusty goes, but he feels like he’s sleepwalking through it. The day usually passes in a blur until Danny comes to pick him up at the end. They drive around town for awhile, then go back to Rusty’s house for dinner. His mom likes Danny. He’d turned up the charm the moment Rusty had grudgingly introduced them, and now he’s got a standing invitation to dinner. Rusty’s not sure if Danny’s got somewhere else to go. He doesn’t ask.

In November, when he finishes his community service, Rusty gets a part-time job at an auto parts store. Danny tells him he has to get out of town for awhile, but he’ll be back, and Rusty’s welcome to come with. Danny leaves, but Rusty doesn’t.

In February, he buys himself a beat-up Ford. It runs well enough to get him where he needs to go, and for now, that’s all Rusty wants out of life. He works as many hours as he’s allowed, because it means less time he has to spend at home.

In April, Rusty goes out to his car when school lets out and finds Danny parked next to him, waiting. Leaning against the car with his arms crossed. He looks the same. “You get everything taken care of?” Rusty asks.

Danny nods. “Don’t suppose I can eat dinner at your place?”

“Mom won’t mind.”

They fall back into their usual pattern, except now it’s usually Rusty driving. One day in May he goes off their normal route and drives Danny up the highway a couple of miles to a subdivision filled with large, sprawling houses, their landscaping all climbing roses on trellises and puffy hydrangeas. “I want to rob one of these houses,” he tells Danny.

Danny looks at the house they’re idling in front of. “Well, you can’t rob this one now that you’ve parked in front of it.”

“I’m serious.”

“So am I. Go back out onto the main road to the KFC and park. We’ll walk back.”

“My dad was a cop,” Rusty says before they get out of the car in the lot. “He got shot when I was eight.”

Danny looks at him sideways, like he can’t believe Rusty didn’t tell him this before, and like he can’t believe he’s contemplating breaking into some rich person’s house with a kid whose dad died in the line of duty.

Rusty checks his hair in the rearview mirror before unwrapping a stick of gum. “Gum?”

“No.”

“I thought you should know,” Rusty says, shrugging and getting out of the car.

“Now I know,” Danny says. Rusty never brings it up again, and over the next two months, they start to come up with a plan. The thought of what could be in those houses fills Rusty’s every waking moment. The desire to separate those things from their owners hums through his mind like electricity. He cools it with popsicles while he and Danny work.

“Let’s think this through again,” Danny says, on his back on the park bench and looking up at the sky, “one step at a time.”

“We’re six steps into it already,” Rusty replies, tipping his head back to look at Danny.

“True.”

Rusty studies Danny’s face. Most of the time, he looks every inch the confident, cocky young man, but today he just looks tired. Rusty’s gotten better at reading him. “You okay?” he asks. He licks the back of his hand where the popsicle has dripped.

“Golden,” Danny says. His eyes follow a passing squad car.

“What’d you do?”

“What?” As if he hadn’t heard him. Rusty asks again, and Danny shrugs. “I think her parents called the cops,” he answers. “Guess she wasn’t eighteen like she said.”

Rusty doesn’t know who he’s talking about, and he doesn’t want to know. He reads the joke on the popsicle stick. “Maybe you should get out of town again,” he tells Danny. “Let the smoke clear.”

“That fucks with our plan.”

Rusty’s practiced his lock-picking skills every night for a month but it’s still a two-person job. He tilts his head, weighing the options. “Our plan can wait,” he says after a pause.

“You could come with me,” Danny suggests. “I know a place with better houses than what we’re looking at. Artwork, jewelry, all of it.”

After his arrest, Rusty had gotten a tear-filled lecture from his mom, mostly about how she couldn’t believe he’d done this, and what would his father say if he was still alive, and think of all the terrible things Vasquez brothers could have done to him. He’d stood there and thought about the money the scam had made him, and how having to turn it over had made his fingers itch. He looks at Danny again. Rusty has seen him shoplift in broad daylight, then head to customer service and return what he stole for cash without blinking. And that was just a quickie. Whatever it was, he could talk his way into it, through it, and out of it. Vic and Manny were thugs, plain and simple, but Danny’s smooth. And that’s what Rusty wants most of all.

“Silver serving dishes?” he asks.

Danny grins. “Right down to spoons for your coffee.”

In August, Rusty buys two tickets for the New York bus and packs a single bag. He meets Danny at the depot. They leave their cars behind.


(and I wonder where I'll wind up but I'm headed west I know)

Five years of misdemeanors and small-time B&E have put him down for the count. At least, that’s what Rusty’s telling himself. Danny split two years after they got the hell out of Dodge and Rusty’s only seen him once since then. He’s been hanging with Bobby Caldwell’s crew in Chicago most of the time. All small jobs, but Rusty takes whatever he can get. Until now. He’s twenty-two and he’s tired.

He sends his mom a postcard from Moline and moves on.

New York had been okay, a little overwhelming at first. It had taken Rusty awhile to get into the swing of things. To really synch up with Danny. But once he had, it was like Danny had always been there. Like there’d always been someone to finish Rusty’s sentences, to pick the lock he couldn’t quite get, to play cards with him until the sun came up.

Both of them were in and out of the casinos before they were actually old enough to get in. Danny had a couple of friends in Atlantic City, buddies from before he’d dropped out of school. And their older brothers, who were cool with helping Danny and Rusty get to the blackjack tables once it became apparent how good they were. Poker, blackjack, craps – Rusty was a quick study and cards were soon almost a sixth sense.

He hasn’t played in months now. Bobby wasn’t big on making money that way; he preferred things a little more tangible.

A stack of hundreds in your hand is pretty tangible, Rusty thinks, and he heads towards Vegas. He sleeps in his car in parking lots at night, wakes when the sun rises and puts gas every few days in his slightly newer, better-looking Ford than the one he left behind five years ago.

Some days he can’t believe it’s been that long.

When he runs into Danny at Bally's he's not all that surprised. "Well, well," Danny murmurs as Rusty slides into the chair next to him at the bar. "Of all the gin joints, Russ."

"That line is so overdone," Rusty replies, and orders some food. Has it put on Danny's tab. Thinks about gambling.

Danny looks over, his head propped up on his hand. “I think I might have a plan for after this. You in?”

“I’m in,” Rusty says. Whatever it is, it’s got to be better than working for Bobby.

“We’re gonna do this like we’ve got nothing to lose, right?”

“You bet.” Rusty clinks his glass to Danny’s and they drink.

Rusty makes a little money at blackjack, nothing spectacular. He doesn't really feel like cheating tonight, not with dinner and liquor sitting comfortably in his belly and Danny pressed close on his left. He'll push it tomorrow, but tonight he wants to relax. The cards are just right in his hands, a new deck but not too new, and he feels the tension that had plagued him in Chicago draining away.

It's way past midnight when they quit, and Danny offers to let Rusty share his room, which is good because Rusty can barely remember where he left his car. There's bad music in the elevator. Danny sheds his suit jacket the minute he steps through the door, Rusty thinks it slides off his shoulders like water. Rusty also thinks he's just a little bit drunk. He sits down on the bed and takes off his shoes.

"You and Bobby get along okay?" Danny asks after awhile.

Rusty shrugs. "Well enough, I guess. Think I was a little younger than he likes to work with."

"That's Bobby for you."

"Where were you?" Rusty checks to make sure his socks don't have any holes.

"Here and there. California for a few months. Jersey."

"Coast to coast, huh?" Danny nods and Rusty wonders why they're having this stupid conversation. "I'm going to the vending machine, you want anything?"

"No, thanks."

Rusty wanders down the hall and stands in front of the machine for a few minutes, thinking. Danny seems distracted, and it's obvious to Rusty that he doesn't want to talk about the two years since they saw each other last.

He gets Twizzlers and goes back to the room.

"We're out of synch," he announces to Danny without any preamble.

"We're not."

"You're lying."

"I'm not."

"Danny, you lie for a living," Rusty says, and Danny gets that look on his face like he's kind of angry. Rusty's pretty sure that most people never see that look. Danny's got a public face, a very public face, and then a face hardly anyone else ever gets the chance to see because they don't know him well enough for him to drop his guard. "Hell, you lie even when you don't have to."

Danny punches the wall, but not hard. It's just a gesture, and an empty one at that.

"See?" Rusty asks. "I'm right."

"Yeah," Danny says sharply, like that's all there is to it. Rusty rips open his Twizzlers and offers some to Danny, who sighs and takes one from the package. "I'm sorry I left you like that in New York."

"You're not, but it's okay," Rusty says easily, because it really is okay. "I wondered why, but you didn't offer to explain the last time I saw you, so I figure you're not going to explain now. Not a big deal."

Danny chews the licorice for a minute, thinking. "I had some debts I needed to pay, and I was all tapped out in New York."

"I would have covered you."

"Not this much, you wouldn’t have," Danny replies.

"I could have gotten it."

"Then you would have been in debt, too."

Rusty shoves a whole Twizzler into his mouth. "And you had to go to California for that?"

"There was a girl in California."

"Was she eighteen?"

Danny laughs. "Most definitely."

They spend the rest of the week in Vegas, and Rusty makes back all of the money he spent to get there and more. Danny hooks him up with a tailor he likes and doesn’t even complain too much about Rusty’s choice of shirts. They hit as many major casinos as they can, and Rusty drinks it all in. He’s banned from half the casinos on the East Coast, but his picture’s never circulated in Vegas.

“So fill me in on this plan of yours,” he says to Danny on Thursday as they pause in their tour of the blackjack tables to sit at the bar in the Excelsior.

“Let’s have a drink first,” Danny says, and orders a whisky. Rusty starts to order a beer, but changes his mind and gets a bourbon instead. He takes a sip, then cradles the cool glass between his palms as Danny starts to explain.


(if it weren't for me and you, the avenue would be incomplete)

Rusty always has to have a reason, and Danny knows this. They’re at a bar in Santa Monica and Danny’s laying out his latest. Rusty’s twenty-five but he feels like he’s forty most of the time. Still, the thrill hasn’t gone away, and Rusty knows what he’s good at.

Danny spells out his plan, and Rusty shuffles it into working order. This is what he’s good at. It feels like this is what he’s always been good at, and at night he lays awake wondering if he’s still going to want to do this when he’s fifty. He doesn’t really like the tradeoff between youth and wisdom that seems to inevitably occur in other members of their profession. You get a better handle on what you’re doing but less of a body to do it with. At least he doesn’t smoke.

Danny’s talking now about this museum in Cleveland – he’s really into museums lately – and Rusty wipes beads of water off his glass with his thumb. There’s horse racing on the television. “You know we need Saul for this,” he says, interrupting Danny’s monologue about the tapestry that’s worth a hundred grand. “We give him enough prep time, he’ll be our ticket into this place.”

“And then we wouldn’t need munitions.”

“Yeah, but we’d still need Phil to help the security guard that Saul replaces have his accident.”

“True.”

“Bribing someone on the inside shouldn’t be a problem.” Rusty watches one horse break ahead. “What’s with all the museums anyway?”

Danny signals the bartender for a refill. “Giving the art back to the people.”

“That’s very Robin Hood of you,” Rusty says with a chuckle and tips back the rest of his bourbon. “And Cleveland?”

Danny shrugs.

Rusty looks back at the television. Cleveland he hasn’t figured out yet and Danny’s apparently not telling. He knows there’s no girl in Cleveland, because there’s a girl in New York, and Danny doesn’t cheat on one woman with another. Maybe the museum is just that good. “I’ll go see Saul tomorrow.”

Saul’s in Florida and Florida’s hot, but Saul signs on without arguing and Rusty hands over the plane ticket. “Danny and I will pick you up from the airport,” he tells Saul. “We’ve already got the documents worked up and the guy on the inside willing to hire you, provided we have the cash to make that happen. And we do,” he continues, before Saul can ask or give Rusty the line about how he never used to have to spend money to make money. “I’ll see you next month.”

“It’s Ohio,” Saul grumbles. Rusty finds his own way out.

He sends his mother a postcard from Ft. Lauderdale, hoping she hasn’t moved. He hasn’t actually spoken with her in five years. He called once, but she wasn’t home, and he’d left a message on the answering machine saying that he was okay and that he’d talk to her soon. He’d never called again.

Danny’s still at their hotel in Santa Monica. “You ever think about getting your own place?” Danny asks when Rusty walks into the room.

Rusty shakes his head and empties his pockets on the nightstand.

“Because then you wouldn’t have to live out of a couple suitcases.”

“I happen to like my suitcases.”

Danny nods and goes back to his game of solitaire. The motel is quiet for once; last night there had been a rather intimate couple next door, complete with moans that went right through the thin walls. Not to mention the sound of the bed hitting the wall like a cliché. Rusty had burrowed deeper under the blanket and clutched the pillow close around his head. It hadn’t helped, and then Danny had started laughing, which made Rusty start, and when they’d finally managed to breathe Danny had walked over to the wall and pounded on it with his fist a few times. There had been a shriek from one of their neighbors, and then blissful silence. “The perils of spending most of your life in motel rooms,” Danny had chuckled.

“You thinking about getting a place?” Rusty asks now as he counts the money in his wallet.

“Maybe. Not sure.”

“This girl in New York, is it serious?”

Danny shrugs. “I don’t know yet.” He scoops the cards back into a pile and slides them neatly into the box. It’s a deck from the Bellagio. “I’m trying not to think about it, if you know what I mean.”

“Ah.” Rusty gets that. He’s had girlfriends like that as well, ones who thought they could change him, even if what they were trying to change him from was all a lie anyway. But Danny’s girl in New York has been a constant for more than six months, and that’s what’s different this time. Rusty stands between the beds and tries not to think about what it would be like if Danny got married. It’s not that they discuss their personal lives all that much, but Rusty knows criminals make lousy husbands most of the time.

“What’d Saul say?” Danny asks.

“Said yes. You call Reuben?”

“He’ll be waiting.”

“Excellent. We going down to the bar?”

“I’m going to the airport.”

“The airport?” Rusty asks, surprised.

“I’ll be back,” Danny says, smoothly and with a smile, “so don’t burn the place down.” He picks up his overnight bag. Rusty hadn’t even noticed it was packed.


(well it's bad luck and it's a hard luck story)

“That was not the plan,” Danny’s saying into the phone, and Rusty just rolls his eyes and stares at the ceiling. Danny keeps talking. “No, Bobby, you’re not listening – I know! You need to talk to Saul about that job, I didn’t have anything… no, I wasn’t even in Indiana.”

Rusty’s having a hard time not laughing, so he gets up and grabs the ice bucket. He can hear Danny arguing with Bobby halfway down the hall about this job that Danny hadn’t done.

The museum job in Cleveland hadn’t gone well, and then there’d been a jewelry store in London – Rusty’s first overseas job – that hadn’t been much better. But no one had gotten arrested, and in Rusty’s mind that was the difference between something not going well and something being a complete failure.

Danny’s off the phone when he goes back. “So?” Rusty asks.

“Fuck if I know,” Danny mutters, but he grins and scoops some ice into a glass. “It’s Bobby, and you know Bobby.”

“Yeah, I know Bobby.” Rusty cracks open the mini bar and hands over a couple little bottles.

It’s April and they’re in Vegas again. Rusty’s lost count of how many times he’s been there in the last ten years, but it’s always the best place to make back whatever money he’s lost since being there last.

Danny pushes a glass into his hand, and Rusty looks up from checking his possible snack options. “What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t doing this?” he asks.

“Trying not to drop the soap in some federal joint,” is Danny’s answer, and it’s good enough for Rusty.

A couple more days, and Danny leaves to see the girl - Tess - in New York and Rusty goes to scope out a possible target in Los Angeles.

In June, Rusty swings back through Chicago and stops by Bobby’s place. A nerdy-looking teenager opens the door and says that Bobby’s not there. “You his kid?” Rusty asks.

“Yeah, I’m Linus.”

“Linus, huh?” Rusty’s met Linus before, but it’s been years. “How old are you now?”

“Eighteen,” the kid says defensively.

Rusty unwraps a stick of gum and looks at Linus. “Will Bobby be back soon?”

“I don’t know when he’ll be back.”

“You know where he is?”

“I think Detroit,” Linus says quickly, too quickly for it to be the truth.

Rusty nods. “Uh-huh. I’ll try back another time. Nice to see you again, Linus.”

“Uhm, you too,” Linus mumbles, and shuts the door.

In August, Reuben calls the house Danny’s renting with Rusty in LA. “I’m having a little cash flow problem, some crap with the exchange rate and some angry South Americans. You guys are the best poker players I know. Come down to Belize and help a guy out, will ya?”

Danny looks at Rusty, who shrugs. “Sure, Reuben. We’ve never been south of the equator.”

Basher makes a face at them over whatever crazy small explosive he’s designing. It looks like gunpowder and saltines to Rusty. “Old man needs his bread and honey sorted out?” he asks.

“Yep. Don’t blow the house up while we’re gone.”

Belize is sweltering and there’s more to it than angry Central Americans and Reuben’s problem with the exchange rate. They end up having to drive a stolen car over the border into Guatemala to pick up what looks to Rusty like a painting wrapped in a sheet. The roads are bumpy, the air conditioning is broken, and Rusty’s never seen Danny in a short-sleeved shirt before.

“Can you believe this shit?” Danny asks, trying to roll the window further down as Rusty swerves around a pothole.

“Yeah, I can believe it.”

“This is possibly the most insane thing we’ve ever done.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll top it eventually.” Small children wave to them from the side of the road. Rusty maneuvers around another gouge in the road. “Check the map, will you?”

Danny does. “We’re good. I wonder what’s under the sheet.”

“When it comes to Reuben, we should know better than to ask.”

“Truer words never spoken.”

When it’s over, Reuben pays them well and they get to spend a week in a swank hotel eating shrimp cocktail and drinking by the pool. Rusty swears he’ll never say a bad thing about Belize again.


(the parade's shut down now the rain is running the show)

In December, Rusty gets up early each morning and goes for a run. He wears gloves, his black home invasion hat, and a fleece jacket. At the end of ten miles he’s wishing he hadn’t. He’s been laying pretty low, teaching rich tourists how to play cards. He hasn’t even swindled them out of any money yet. It’s almost respectable, and Rusty’s bored.

It’s not that Rusty wouldn’t rather be back off the almost straight and narrow. But everyone he’d consider pulling a job with, with the exception of Saul and Frank, is in the joint or waiting for their court appearance. He’s not sure where Danny is. Danny’s always been good at staying off of Rusty’s radar. Still he figures Danny’s not in prison, since any job big enough to fuck up enough to land him in prison would probably involve Rusty. Rusty would almost take comfort in that fact, except he has no desire to ever be locked up again, and he’s pretty sure Danny doesn’t want to start. Danny’s managed to stay out of jail so far, and how he’s done that, Rusty’s not so sure.

Right after they’d gotten back from Belize, he’d gone with Danny to New York to meet Tess over drinks. She was nice, but Rusty got the feeling she didn’t like him very much, and he made up an excuse after two rounds and left. He’d spent the next three months in Monte Carlo playing European roulette in the casino and enjoying chocolate granita and peach melba at Le Louis XV. It was much better than worrying about Danny. Rusty had even sent his mom a couple postcards.

He was rather disappointed when they banned him for life from the casino – apparently they didn’t like it when you won, kept winning, and weren’t very honest about your gambling practices. At least he could still go back to the hotel and eat.

Rusty stretches out in front of the steps going up to his apartment. He could go for the peach melba at the moment, but right now he can’t afford the hotel without the gambling to pay for it. A shame, really. He’d been overzealous.

“So what’s with this girlfriend of Danny’s?” Reuben demands when Rusty gets him on the phone one day in February trying to find Frank. He’s tired of the old rich folks, he’s tired of New York. It’s cold. Frank might have something lined up he can get in on.

“Huh?”

“Is it serious? Have you met her?”

“I don’t know, and yeah, I met her. Why do you care?”

“Danny’s too good to get out of the game like that.”

Rusty contemplates this for a minute while looking for the turkey in his refrigerator. “Yeah. I don’t know if it’s that serious, though.”

“Bullshit.”

“Would I lie to you?”

Reuben snorts. “In a heartbeat. Tell me.”

“I only met her once. I didn’t stay long enough to really get to know her.” Rusty cradles the telephone between his ear and his shoulder and makes a sandwich. “You couldn’t have asked Danny about this in Belize?”

“I was busy with other things in Belize. And nobody told me about Tess until afterward.”

“She was nice, I guess. And Danny seemed okay with lying about what he does for a living.” He cuts the sandwich in half. “Remind me again why we’re talking about this.”

“Because somehow I got left out of the loop!”

Rusty snorts. “Reuben, you’re too worried about being in the loop.”

“What are you doing these days?” Reuben asks.

“Teaching old folks to play cards, since I got kicked out of Monte Carlo.”

“You’re better off in Vegas anyway. You coming out here soon?”

“I might. I’m bored.”

“You’re always bored when you’re not pulling a job.”

Rusty licks mayonnaise off his thumb. “I thought maybe I’d go someplace exotic. Hong Kong, maybe.”

“Hong Kong’s overrated. Listen, come over for lunch the next time you’re here. And bring Danny. Without the girlfriend.”

“Gotcha.” Rusty hangs up. He leans against the counter and eats his entire sandwich before he realizes he forgot to ask about Frank.

He stays in New York a couple more months, checking with various contacts and researching a couple possible jobs he could do in Asia. In April, a week before he’s supposed to leave, Danny shows up at his now-bare apartment with his hands in his pockets and a look on his face that Rusty’s never seen before.

They go for lunch at the only restaurant Rusty still likes. Over french onion soup, Danny says, “There’s something I have to tell you.”

Rusty’s caught off guard. Danny’s never said that to him before today. There’s never been anything so important or potentially life-altering that he’s had to preface it with that. Rusty sips his drink. “What?”

“Tess and I got married,” Danny said quietly, and Rusty looks at his hand. There’s a ring on his finger that hadn’t been there before.

“I see.”

“Just one of those justice of the peace things. Had the office clerks for witnesses.”

“Yeah.” He can barely look at Danny right now, and that means it’s time to go. Danny’s out of the game now for sure. Rusty’s met Tess, and Danny marrying Tess is about the same in their business as getting religion. Tess is definitely not in the game. She’s so far out of the game that Rusty’s pretty sure the next time he sees Danny it’ll be with three kids, a dog, and a white picket fence.

Rusty’s allergic to dogs.

He doesn’t want to be doing this the rest of his life, but he’s not ready to get out yet, and he hadn’t thought Danny was either. “Well, congratulations,” he says finally.

“Russ,” Danny says as Rusty stands to leave.

“Yeah?”

“What’s the first rule of poker?”

Rusty stills, one arm through his jacket. “Yeah,” he murmurs, and leaves.

end


Lyrics, all Old 97’s: “No Mother”, “Streets of Where I’m From”, “Bel Air”, “Book of Poems”, “Designs on You”
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