Among Thieves (On A Scam)
by zahra

Rusty met Danny on a scam.

Of course, at the time, Rusty was scamming Danny, but Danny's never held that against him.

Rusty had just taken thirty-seven dollars and eighteen cents from Danny and two of his associates, and although Danny didn't seem very put out, his friends definitely didn't share his point of view.

If Danny hadn't intervened, who knows where Rusty would have ended up. Besides, at the time, Rusty was thirteen and Danny was sixteen, and Rusty was far too young to know any better. At least that's the defense the lawyer used when Rusty got caught swiping windshield wipers six months later. Rusty never said anything about wanting them for Danny's new car. He never said anything about Danny period, because that was how it worked between them.

Danny did for Rusty, and Rusty did for Danny, and no one ever said anything about it.

That's just the way it was.



For Rusty's eighteenth birthday, Danny bought him a motorcycle.

It was the best present he'd ever received.

To this day, Rusty still talks about it like he can't buy a fleet of his own.



Danny and Rusty used to knock over jewelry stores and do armored car heists. One day they robbed a guy named Benson Thoroughgood, who apparently had a lot of enemies. Very rich and happy enemies. That's how they met Ruben.

He flew them out to Vegas for a 'consultation'.

Rusty wore his maroon suit with the matching silk shirt. Danny wore a navy blue three-button suit off the rack. Ruben told them later that they had offended his sense of taste, and he had almost thrown them out on principle. Not that Ruben really had many principles, but apparently their 'connection' changed his mind.

Rusty remembers the way that Ruben looked at Danny, and the leers that he swears were there.

That night they all got seriously drunk, and Ruben told them they made a good pair.

They never bothered to contradict him.

Two days later they flew out to Belize.

Rusty still remembers how hungover he was. He remembers that Danny rubbed his back.



Rusty was born to scam.

When he was four he used to sweet talk his babysitter into letting him stay up an hour past his bed time. When he was in first grade, he landed himself a girlfriend who was two years older. When Rusty was in fifth grade he regularly convinced his Math teacher that his homework had been taken by the schoolyard bully, who, in fact, used to work as his ringer. Rusty never had time for stuff like homework anyway, he was always too busy in the streets, with his friends, doing anything and everything to avoid going home when his old man was there.

Rusty was never able to scam his old man.

Rusty scammed girls and guys. He taught Danny, and Danny taught him everything there was to know about anything worth knowing at all. They didn't need tests to measure their intelligence, they proved it with every job they did every hour of the day.

They made a living doing what they loved.



For Rusty's twenty-first birthday, he and Danny got drunk at a no-name Irish pub.

On the way home Danny kissed him.

Or maybe Rusty kissed Danny.

No one said anything about it the next morning though, so nothing changed.



The mess in Belize did more than just introduce them to Ruben, it introduced them to a whole new kind of life. Flash clothes and celebrities who were nothing more than shells of real people. Rusty was never impressed by a bunch of children who were coddled for being able to lie well. He knew that Danny felt the same.

When Rusty was twenty-five, he and Danny attended a party thrown by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

For 4, 598 people it was just another swaree with free champagne. For he and Danny it was casing for a job.

At least it was for a while. But then Danny met Tess Hartland.

Rusty never even saw her coming.



Emma Miller was her name when Rusty was sixteen.

At nineteen the girl was Dana Marshall.

Rusty wasn't stupid. There were certain things that weren't always accepted among thieves, but it was all right if no one girl lasted very long.

No one was enough to come between he and Danny.

They were that strong.



Basher wasn't there for the job with the Incan ceremonial mask.

To this day, Rusty thinks that might have made all the difference.

If Basher was there, and if they hadn't been forced to rely on the new guy then maybe things might have gone differently in the end. Rusty can't even remember the fence's name, but that's quite possibly because he wound up paying out a lot of money to make sure that the guy was forgotten permanently. All the same, if the fence's balls had dropped before the deal and he hadn't backed out, or if Danny had just listened to Rusty and not tried to branch out. Pointless conjecturing does nothing now, but what the hell did a bunch of East Coast kids need with an ancient mask anyway?

It was all down to Tess, and Danny's desires to impress her even if she didn't know about them.

If she had known. If she hadn't known. If she hadn't existed at all. Rusty went through every possibly scenario while Danny was away, it was the same game he'd played every day since Danny married Tess.

When Danny went to jail, Rusty had to fend for himself for the first time in sixteen years. There was never a question of his ability to do it, only of his desire to go it alone. It always came back to Danny, and for a long time Rusty lacked incentive because it was locked up in Jersey, probably pining for some dumb ass woman who didn't want him.

But Rusty wanted, and so he waited.

That's more than could be said for anybody else.



Tess was never worthy of Danny, and Rusty always knew that.

He waited around because he knew that it wouldn't last. There was a bond between he and Danny that had survived almost 20 years, and nothing was stronger than Rusty's sense of loyalty and honor.

At least Rusty knew enough to appreciate Danny the way he was.

Rusty cooled his heels a long time, but it was an hour if it was day. Teaching B-list celebrities how to fleece their friends was good for a laugh, but it wasn't as though he needed their money. It wasn't as though Rusty did it for a living. It was just entertainment to kill time until Danny came back.

And then he did.

Danny's first night out he came to see Rusty, and for once things were the way they were always meant to be.

They didn't talk about Tess.

They didn't talk about Danny doing the time in Rusty's stead.

They didn't talk about Rusty waiting around because Danny was the only person he gave a damn about.

Instead they did what they did best together. They collaborated on a scam.


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