The Guy That You Came In With
by Amatia

They spend between three and six months commuting between Vegas and Atlantic City, cheating retirees from Florida out of thousands of dollars a night. "How much did you make tonight?" is what they always ask first on the phone, as opposed to "hey, how are ya?" or even, "think Danny got those cookies we sent?". Rusty usually rakes in twice what Tess does, if not more, but they don't make a bad team when it comes down to it.

"Maybe you ought to dye your hair," he says one night. Tess can hear the crinkle of what must be a potato chip bag on the other end of the line. "Get some new eyeshadow."

"Get some new eyeshadow?" she repeats.

"You know," is his reply. Things like that are the closest he ever gets to making fun of her for giving the straight life a shot. Besides, Rusty will never actually say she should spice it up a little, and Tess isn't sure if that's because she's Danny's wife or because it's just Rusty being Rusty.

She makes a mental note to ask Danny once he's out of prison.


Tess is the one in Atlantic City most of the time. Rusty fed her some line about Vegas being dangerous because of Terry, but it's dangerous for him too and he just brushes her off when she says it. Tess shrugs it off and enjoys a small fantasy in which Rusty's just jealous because she could make more money in Vegas than he could. She'd be making it flat on her back or on her knees, but it would be money, and that's one of those little differences between Danny and Rusty.

It wasn't like she hadn't gone from the bed of one criminal to another. At least Danny had been honest about it. Sure, she'd blamed him for having to skip town but when it came right down to it, their run in New York had been just about over. It's not like she misses the museum.


Danny calls and says he'll be out in a month, and one or the both of them need to come pick him up. Tess says sure, we'll be there with bells on and with some extra cash besides. Danny tells her he loves her and she can hear the noise of the other inmates over the line. "I love you too," she says to him, and counts out the hundred-dollar bills she'd won in a casino only hours from the prison.


She flies to Vegas without telling Rusty she's coming. A scarf and sunglasses cover her newly copper hair and a new shade of eyeshadow. He's easy enough to find in the lounge at Caesar's once it's past two. Rusty never goes to sleep until at least four. "Hey," she says, sliding into the booth across from him.

"New look," he replies, raising a coffee cup to his lips. "When'd you get in?"

"Couple hours ago." She orders a drink. There's a couple burly guys sitting in the corner. "He gets out in two weeks," she tells Rusty.

He grins. "Fantastic." Already Tess can see the schemes starting to come together behind his eyes. Rusty's plans always involve Danny, just like Danny's plans always involve Rusty. "Tell me something, Tess."

She takes the vodka from the waitress. "Thanks."

"Ever think about stealing one of those paintings from Benedict's gallery?"

Tess hides her smile behind the glass. "Just one?"

Rusty slaps the table and laughs. He shakes a finger at her. "I knew you hadn't changed."

It's the longest conversation they've had in years.


Rusty's staying at the Gold Coast. "I wanted the Mirage, but. Y'know," he says as he swipes the keycard.

"The Mirage is so you," is her reply, and he chuckles.

"Did Danny say anything other than when he was getting out?"

Tess drops her purse and scarf on the table. "No."

Rusty nods. "Think he's got a plan?"

"He's always got plans." She toes off her shoes.

"You want room service?"

Tess shakes her head and takes off her watch and earrings. Rusty picks up the phone and orders chicken fingers, fries, and two diet cokes.


They eat off the same plate, fighting for access to the huge pool of ketchup that Rusty dumped in the middle of the food. He reaches for the last piece of chicken and Tess smacks his hand away. He glares at her. "Not my fault you're not used to sharing," she says.

"I paid for it." Tess shrugs. Rusty's trying not to smile and she can tell. "You didn't even want room service," he mutters, but the smile is winning.

"You should have known I was lying." She drags half the chicken finger through the ketchup and sticks it in his mouth. "You think I should hang around here until it's time?"

Rusty just looks at her. "No, I want you to go back to New Jersey," he says when he's finished chewing. "Go steal some art or something."

"We can't possibly need more money."

"For the fun of it, Tess."

And he wondered why she and Danny still had problems to work out. "I don't steal for the fun of it."

"Neither do I."

She pops the last french fry in her mouth and gets off the bed to put the plate outside the door. "How long do you think it'll take to drive from here to New Jersey?"

Rusty shrugs. "Couple days, maybe. I'm sure we'll have a tail. Did you see those guys in the lounge?"

"So he knows you're in town." He gives her a look. "How come he hasn't tried to kill you yet?" She turns around and gestures for him to unzip her dress.

It takes him a second to answer, and when he does, his breath is hot on her neck. "Probably because you're here."


"I'm gonna go buy a car," he says the next day.

"Okay," Tess replies. The temptation to go into the Bellagio is like an itch under her skin, and she's sure Rusty knows this.

"Well, get dressed. You're coming with; I gotta make sure you look good in the car before I buy it."

Tess laughs, but it's the nicest thing he's ever said to her. She puts on her dress from last night, and they go to the used car lot. Rusty buys a car that doesn't look much different from the one he just sold. "Do you think I should dye my hair again before we get Danny?" she asks as they drive back to the Gold Coast.

"That's your choice," is his reply. "But I'm sure he'll be shocked at the new you."

She's not sure if he's being sarcastic or not. "Danny knows me," she says stubbornly.

Rusty reaches over and winds a few strands of her hair around his finger. "Maybe you should sit in the back when we get to the joint."


It takes them a week to get from Nevada to New Jersey because Rusty refuses to take a direct route. Their shadows switched cars before they all left Vegas but once someone follows you for a hundred miles on a road with more motorhomes and tractor-trailers than rides like Rusty's, a tail is easy to spot.

"You're much more fun to be around when you're in on the scam," Rusty says to her one day in the car, unwrapping his most recent junk food purchase.

"That is the size of your head," Tess replies, staring at the lollipop.

Rusty shrugs and offers her a lick. "No thanks," she says, and he checks the mirror before pulling back out into the highway.


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