Ocean’s 11, You’re Killing Me Here

Title: You’re Killing Me Here
Rating/Warnings: R for constant unwarranted advice, and a surplus of Vitamin C.
Summary: If only Saul knew half as much now as he did when Danny and Rusty were out all night defiling his ’73 Gremlin.
AN: For the 2005 Take the House fic exchange, written for jjtaylor who wanted Yenta!Saul and the gang sneaking into a movie theater. musesfool is twice the mod i am, and had to listen to all my niggly questions and whining while she was desperately trying to finish her own fic. A queen among mods, i tell you!

You’re Killing Me Here

Rusty Ryan felt like he’d been ridden hard and put away wet, and if it had been anyone but Saul, he might have tried to hide it, but Saul had known Rusty too long, and Rusty didn’t have the energy to expend on a doomed con.

“You look like shit,” Saul said as Rusty downed his third espresso and glanced around blearily at the patio of the café. He squinted in the Florida sunshine and wished his headache would fade. “My doctor tells me I should travel, Europe is so relaxing he says. What does he know?”

“I wasn’t exactly on vacation,” Rusty grumbled. He scrubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands and contemplated switching from espresso to rum. He blinked stupidly when the waitress appeared at his elbow with two plates of linguine alfredo.

“It’s the house specialty,” Saul explained, smiling at the girl. “You’re too thin.”

Rusty slid his elbows off the table to let the waitress set down the plates and found he couldn’t even muster up the energy to flirt with her. If she hadn’t had such glossy, dark hair, he might have at least managed a smile, but as it was he let his gaze slide quickly away.

The first bite of the pasta was perfect, creamy and rich, and it woke Rusty up more than anything had since his plane had left the ground in Italy. The irony was not lost on him, but it didn’t stop him from taking several more bites in quick succession.

“Should you be eating this?” he asked when he stopped for air. Saul eyed him, loaded fork in the air.

“Don’t use that tone with me,” Saul ordered. “I knew you when you were shaking down first graders for M&Ms.”

Rusty held his hands up in surrender and went back to eating, and the conversation died for a few minutes. He was corralling the last stray noodles with his fork when Saul leaned back and ran the napkin over his mouth. Rusty kept his head down and his mouth full as though that would warn off whatever announcement was coming.

“It was three years, what, last month?”

Rusty lifted his head to eye Saul coldly, lips pressed together. Saul knew exactly how long it had been, and Rusty didn’t appreciate the innocent act.

“Have you seen him?”

“No,” Rusty said shortly, pulling the napkin off his lap and slapping it down onto the table.

“You should call him,” Saul continued. “Or write him, or something.”

“No, I shouldn’t.” Rusty stood and pulled his sunglasses out of his pocket. “Thanks for lunch, Saul.”

“Oh, sit back down,” Saul rolled his eyes. “Always so dramatic. You aren’t fooling anyone, you know, with your Mr. Independent act.”

“Hey, this wasn’t my idea!” Rusty snapped, and felt immediately contrite. He usually had more patience with Saul’s button-pushing, but not today, and not about this. “Sorry. Look, I have to go, really.”

“The first time you brought him home,” Saul shook his head, “trailing after you like a puppy, with those big brown eyes, what did I say to you?”

“That I could see through any line but my own,” Rusty admitted grudgingly.

“You call him,” Saul pointed a finger, and Rusty just barely kept himself from shuffling his feet like a fourteen-year-old. “You write him, you send him some damn cookies, I don’t care. And get rid of those cigarettes in your back pocket, those dirty things’ll kill you.”

“Thanks for lunch, Saul,” Rusty repeated, slipping on his sunglasses and turning to weave his way between the patio tables. If he had turned around, he would have no doubt seen Saul raising his eyes skyward; he did hear Saul mutter, “God, give me patience for these morons.”

When he was out of sight of the café, Rusty stopped at a newsstand to buy some gum, drawing the half-empty pack of cigarettes out from his back pocket and tapping them against the counter as the man made change.

“Hey, your cigarettes!” the man called as Rusty turned to go, but Rusty waved him off. The first swallow of sugar burned his throat a little.

The gum tasted better anyway, Rusty told himself with a sigh. He blew a bubble that popped against his nose and thought that maybe he should head north with summer coming on.

******

Rusty knew Saul was sizing him up as they weaved their way through the crowd towards the stairs to the box seats, but he seemed to have passed inspection by the time he paused to buy some Italian ice, and Saul’s attention was back on the orange.

It was a mistake to let down his guard, though, because as soon as they’d sat down and Saul had caught his breath from the stairs, the conversation took a familiar turn.

“You’ve seen him?”

“He’s out.” Rusty lounged back against his chair and focused his eyes on his ice, but he couldn’t keep the corner of his mouth from curling up when he remembered Danny surrounded by the finest acting talent California had to offer.

“You’ve seen him.” Saul nodded to himself. “I can tell. Back to killing yourself with sugar rather than tobacco.”

Rusty rolled his eyes and took another bite.

“It isn’t healthy, you know,” Saul continued. “The way you fixate on things when you aren’t getting what you want.”

Rusty paused mid-chew to glance pointedly down at the betting slips Saul was waving at him. Saul remained unfazed. Rusty went back to chewing but remained silent, and after a few moments of the ‘can we get to business already’ look, Saul threw up his hands a little and made a ‘pah!’ noise.

“So, you going to tell me, or should I just say no and get it over with?”

“Saul, you’re the best there is. You’re in Cooperstown,” Rusty said. “What do you want?”

********

“How’s Saul?” Danny asked. Rusty slid into the bar seat beside him without answering and ordered two doubles. “Thanks.”

“It isn’t for you.” Rusty slapped Danny’s hand away and downed both the drinks in rapid succession. Rolling his eyes, Danny ordered two more drinks, and pushed the second one towards Rusty when they arrived.

“Same old Saul, then?” Danny asked with a slight smile. He toyed with his glass, twirling it back and forth between his thumb and forefinger, and gave a chuckle at Rusty’s scowl.

“Meddling bastard,” Rusty grumbled, downing the third drink a little slower.

“You could just tell him that we…” Danny pointed out.

Rusty grunted and slumped down onto the bar, face half-buried in crossed arms. There was an ad for the fight on, and it reflected off the bar in glaring reds and yellows that made Rusty’s eyes ache.

“Saul makes ten,” Danny said. “Ten ought to do it, don’t you think?”

******

Most of them filed out slowly in ones and twos, back to hotel rooms, excluding Linus who had been abducted by Turk and Virgil for the sole purpose finding a strip club in which to annihilate his lapdance virginity. Basher lingered, telling Danny and Reuben a story about one of his last jobs, Danny laughing in all the right places despite the fact that more than a third of it was unintelligible.

After warning the twins not to break Linus because they’d only had him for five minutes, Rusty returned to find Saul still sitting on the couch he’d occupied during the meeting, peeling the orange he’d pocketed from the buffet. Rusty set a hip on the arm of the couch and asked Saul what he thought.

“I think you should put that boy out of his misery,” Saul answered. Rusty gritted his teeth and just barely kept from replying that he had, several times in fact, one of which was not two hours ago and had nearly ended in Danny thoroughly defiling the cushion Saul was currently sitting on.

Rusty suddenly hoped that ‘remaindered’ didn’t mean what he thought it did.

“Don’t think I can’t see through the both of you,” Saul was continuing, shaking his head. “You sit in the back of the room and heckle, while he looks everywhere but at you. Time was when you would have never let him stand up there alone.”

“It was his pitch!” Rusty protested, back straightening. “And I wasn’t heckling, he forgets things! He’s not a detail man!”

Across the room, Danny looked up and caught Rusty’s eye, and the grin he wasn’t bothering to hide clearly had nothing to do with Basher’s story. Rusty gritted his teeth a little harder, but couldn’t stop the hint of a growl.

“The way you glare at each other,” Saul clucked. He waved a section of fruit at Rusty. “Here, have some orange, maybe it’ll put some Florida sunshine back in your disposition.”

A half hour later, Danny found Rusty in the kitchen, rinsing orange pulp from between his fingers. Rusty was cursing under his breath in a steady stream, and there was a bottle of bourbon on the sideboard.

Rusty allowed himself to be turned around and kissed thoroughly. After a few moments, he lifted his wet hands to the back of Danny’s neck, and the shiver that Danny gave when a few stray drops of water ran underneath his collar went a long way towards assuaging Rusty’s sulk.

Breaking the kiss, Danny leaned forward to rub their cheeks together.

“Anything else I can do,” he asked, lips brushing Rusty’s earlobe, “to cheer you up?”

“I think I saw some Cheez Whiz in the refrigerator,” Rusty replied, smiling just a little when Danny went tense under his hands for a second.

“You can take the boy out of the trailer park,” Danny murmured, and he didn’t finish his sentence because Rusty was kissing him again, edging them stealthily towards the fridge.

“I’m not looking!” Reuben’s voice called from the other room. “But I’d prefer you didn’t defile my new stainless steel counters. And don’t you dare touch my Cheez Whiz!”

Rusty narrowed his eyes, because there was only one other person who should have known that story, and it was definitely not Reuben. Danny chuckled nervously. Rusty shoved him up against the counter and promised revenge with the push of his knee between Danny’s thighs.

********

“He still doesn’t know, does he?” Danny asked. Rusty’s jaw clenched where it was resting against his bare hip, and Danny must have felt it because he rubbed Rusty’s scalp soothingly with his fingertips. Just to do something with his hands, Rusty reached over to flip Danny’s jacket off the bed before they did anything else to it.

Saul hadn’t been the only one to come back with a new suit, and Rusty had insisted Danny model it for inspection, which had led quickly to Rusty deeming it inappropriate for the current occasion. He hoped Danny had learned how to sew buttons back on during his time on the inside.

“He threatened to kill me today, you know.” Danny’s voice was even, but Rusty doubted he would mention it if it hadn’t made some impression. “He hasn’t done that since I was seventeen and I’d just brought you back from dinner in his ’67 Malibu.”

“He would have done it too,” Rusty spoke grudgingly, “if we hadn’t started out in his ’73 Gremlin.”

“You’d think he was more worried about the car than you.”

“He thought I could fend for myself.” Rusty smiled just a little in spite of himself. “The fool.”

Danny laughed, making the skin under Rusty’s cheek shift, warm and just a little sticky, and Rusty remembered how Danny’s lips had tasted of maple syrup from the IHOP pancakes at that last stop sign before they faced home and Saul, the breaking dawn turning the white leather of the Malibu pink.

“If only,” he finally sighed, “that man knew half as much now as he did then.”

******

“I’m thinking about a movie,” Danny said, stretching out the kinks in his shoulders after hours of unloading vault building materials. “Anybody interested?”

Rusty looked up from the schematics he was reading with Livingston to see Danny leaning against the doorway and weighed the pros and cons of taking a break. On the pro side, his back could use a stretch, but on the con side the interruption would probably wind Livingston up good and tight, and he had been hoping to have an early night. Danny’s choice of movie usually involved subtitles and a disheartening lack of explosions anyway, so Rusty didn’t think he’d be missing anything by saying no.

Plus, Saul had been focused on practicing his ‘I am Lyman Zerga!’ routine in the next room last Rusty had seen, so it was safe enough to refuse.

Rusty kept watching Danny just long enough to catch his eye and make the corner of his smile twitch, then bent his head back down to the schematics with a dismissive, “No thanks.”

“Yeah, what the hell,” Basher answered, sliding out of the armchair he’d been sprawled in.

“I’ll go, if I…can I?” Linus looked around, and Rusty didn’t have to look back up to see Danny fighting a smile. “I mean, if somebody else wants to go and there isn’t room…”

“Come on, Linus.” Danny finally put the kid out of his misery. “Last call, anyone? All right, see you bright and early tomorrow.”

The door was just shutting behind Linus, Basher, and Danny when a shadow loomed over Rusty and a hand came down on his shoulder. Livingston twitched. Rusty looked up and was not surprised to find Saul looming over him with a tolerant smile.

“You should go to the movie,” he said. He nodded at the schematics. “Take a break, you’ll strain your eyes.”

“I’m not really in the mood,” Rusty answered easily. Saul’s smile didn’t exactly change, but somehow got scarier.

“Go see the movie, Rusty,” he said.

“I don’t think…” Rusty started, but more twitching from the seat beside him interrupted. Rusty turned to see Livingston darting glances from Rusty to Saul, his fingers digging into the plans a bit, crinkling them.

“May-maybe you should just, just, just go.” Livingston’s voice sounded rather strained. “I can, I mean we’re almost, you should go.”

Rusty swallowed a sigh, but favored Saul with a dark look as he stood up from his chair and straightened his shirt.

“I guess I’ll go to the movie,” he said. Someone let out a muffled snort behind him, but when he turned to go, both Malloy twins were deeply invested in the Automotive section of the Las Vegas Yellow Pages.

He caught up to Danny and the others just as their elevator was arriving; Danny looked smug, Basher amused, and Linus befuddled.

“I thought you weren’t…” he started, glancing between Danny and Rusty.

“Changed my mind,” Rusty cut him off, and Linus actually blushed. Rusty shot Danny a glance that said he didn’t know what Danny saw in this kid, Bobby Caldwell or not, and Danny dipped one shoulder in a shrug and scrunched his hand in his pockets in a ‘you’ll see’.

Or maybe that meant ‘he lifted right out of my damn pocket’; the finer points of Danny’s bodyspeak were a touch different these days.

“Did you?” Danny asked as they reached the ground floor. Linus practically bolted when the doors slid open, and Basher followed, leaving the two of them behind. Good man. “Change your mind, I mean?” Rusty narrowed his eyes and grunted.

“I’ll drive,” he said.

It was a busy night at the movie theater, and Rusty was startled to realize it was the weekend, and he’d lost track of the days. Inside, the four of them perused the marquee for a minute before Danny sauntered around the box office line.

“Wait!” Linus called as Rusty and Basher followed. “Are you just gonna…we aren’t really…hey, wait up!”

Linus caught up just as Rusty finished assessing the concession lines and got in the one he deemed most favorable based on the length of the line versus the amount of butter the attendant put on the popcorn.

“Go on ahead,” Danny waved Linus and Basher on. “Theater six, we’ll catch up.”

“But wait,” Linus was still blathering as Basher pushed him forward, “what if they check out…”

“God.” Rusty shook his head, “it’s like a train wreck.” Danny laughed.

“He’s a little…”

“A little?” Rusty raised an eyebrow. Linus was struggling through the crowd, bumping into people and apologizing on all sides. “A little like…”

“Like some kid getting pinched with a hot snocone?” Danny asked as the last person in front of them got out of the way, and they stepped up to the counter.

“I thought we weren’t going to mention that ever again.” Rusty smiled thinly, and Danny apologized by ordering peanut M&Ms along with the large popcorn.

While the concession stand kid was filling their order, Rusty chanced another look at Linus and Basher. They were going past the ticket-taker separately, Basher hanging back for a minute while Linus tried to slip through when the attendant’s back was turned to answer another customer’s question. Linus’s timing was off, however, and he went just as the ticket-taker turned back. He held out his hand, looking bored and contemptuous while Linus made a show of patting down his pockets.

Basher looked over his shoulder and tilted his chin towards Linus in a ‘can you believe this berk?’ fashion.

But as Rusty was opening his mouth to comment on his confidence in Linus’s role in their operation, Linus actually did pull two ticket stubs out of his pocket and waved Basher forward. Basher blinked, shot a shrug at Danny and Rusty, then followed.

“Was that a lift?” Rusty demanded. “Did you see him make that lift?” His jaw was hanging just a little, and Danny popped a piece of popcorn in it with a smirk. Rusty tried to shoot him a dirty look as he chewed, but was utterly foiled by the bliss of butter and salt sliding across his tongue.

“Let’s just say,” Danny murmured as he was scooping up the popcorn and urging Rusty forward, “that with the right application of pressure and opportunity…”

“Yeah yeah,” Rusty grumbled, stealing some more popcorn, “you don’t have to spell it out.” He took a second look at Danny. “You want to pinch hit him, don’t you? God, you do. Saul’s going to have kittens.”

“He might.” Danny shrugged as they strolled right past the ticket-taker with no problem. “If I had any intention of telling him.”

“Good thing we’re getting in all this practice with that.”

******

In the aftermath of Danny being flagged, the ignominy of finding out about Tess from Linus was completely erased from Rusty’s mind by the dread of the pep talk that Saul was clearly preparing.

“Rusty,” he started, having apparently thought long enough about how Tess’s height was relevant to the situation. He pointed at the chair next to his.

“I don’t have time to talk about it, Saul,” Rusty warned, giving a pointed look across the room at Linus, who was having an emergency suit adjusting between Reuben and Danny.

“That’s your problem, you don’t have time,” Saul shook his head. “You never stop and think about what you’re doing…”

“Not now, Saul.”

“Sit down, Robert.”

Rusty sat.

“I’ve known you two a long time,” Saul began after a moment. “You and Danny, you’re the best. You’re a team.”

“Saul…” Rusty rubbed his temples.

“To see you fighting like this, you’re smarter than this.”

“Saul.”

“You know better than to let a woman come between you, especially on a job.”

“Dammit, Saul, why are you telling me!” Rusty finally exploded. “I’m not the one who, with ten guys depending on me, neglects to mention that I’ve been making an ass of myself all over the mark’s casino with my ex-wife!” Rusty didn’t mean the words, sort of, but they felt pretty damn good rolling off his tongue, and he could feel Danny’s wince across the room. “Why do I get the lecture?”

“Because one of you has to be the bigger man,” Saul said. He shrugged a little. “And where Tess is concerned…”

“Trust me,” Rusty said, rising to his feet, “Danny and I settled who was the bigger man a long time ago, with or without Tess. Linus, get over here, we have work to do.”

“You boys,” Saul muttered, shaking his head. “You boys will be the death of me.”

******

“Okay,” Rusty said as he came into Danny’s room and kicked the door shut behind him, “we’ve got twenty minutes until the package is delivered, and Linus is too psyched out to take any more direction. Take off your pants.”

“Did you give him the old ‘whatever you do, don’t’ routine?” Danny asked. He was sprawled out on his back in the center of his bed, The Simpsons blaring on the TV.

“Of course I did.” Rusty was already stripping off his shirt and his voice was a bit muffled by the fabric. “No more talking about Linus.” Tossing the shirt to the floor, Rusty crawled onto the bed and threw a leg over Danny to straddle his waist.

Danny laughed and started to speak again, no doubt about to extol some hidden Linus virtue, but Rusty cut him off with a fierce kiss. The Simpsons wasn’t the best mood music, but at least it served to cover the groan Danny let out when Rusty slid back just enough to give Danny’s erection a pointed grind.

“Now do what I say,” Rusty lifted his head just enough to say, pleasantly if breathlessly, “and lose the pants.”

“I think the romance is dead,” Danny commented, making no move to comply with Rusty’s request.

“That’s what Saul is going to be if I get one more pep talk,” Rusty growled, reaching down to undo Danny’s shirt buttons. He’d done such a good job of sewing them back on, it would have been a shame to rip them all off again, however satisfying.

“I can’t talk about Linus but you can talk about Saul?”

“We aren’t talking about Linus or Saul!” Rusty snapped. Danny finally did begin participate, undoing Rusty’s pants and tugging his cock free. Rusty left off from the shirt buttons to yank Danny’s zipper down.

“Watch it,” Danny warned, arching a little into Rusty’s hand and giving him a reciprocal stroke, “there’s important stuff down there.”

“If you,” Rusty growled, wrapping his hand around both of them and thrusting, “don’t shut the hell up…”

“Daniel, I was…” The door swung open and Saul took one step into the room before freezing. Rusty grit his teeth and his grip tightened until Danny made a pained noise. Saul blinked. “Never mind, I’ll work it out.”

“I told you I was the bigger man!” Rusty shouted at Saul’s fleeing back.

Not too many minutes later, Danny was rebuttoning himself while Rusty sprawled on the bed with the only available post-coital snack: a half-package of peanut butter crackers Danny had scrounged from one of his pockets.

“It’s the freaking Bellagio,” Rusty was grumbling through a full mouth. “And there’s no mini-bar?”

Danny leaned over to wipe a smudge of peanut butter from the corner of Rusty’s mouth with his thumb. “I’m gonna get Saul.”

“It’s unbelievable! This is Vegas, for chrissake, my every degenerate whim is supposed to be catered to!” Rusty grabbed Danny’s hand and sucked the peanut butter off his thumb.

“I hope we didn’t give him a heart attack,” Danny said.

******

“Rusty,” Saul said as Rusty was dropping the toupee in exchange for a black flack jacket, “what I said…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Rusty interrupted. “Bash, do you have the bags?”

“Right here!”

“What I mean is…” Saul tried again.

“Saul, really,” Rusty put a hand on his shoulder and gave him the wide smile that meant a job might go to hell and they’d all get pinched at any moment, “it’s fine. Everything’s cool.”

Saul stared at him for all the time they had to spare, which was about two-tenths of a second, but Rusty’s grin didn’t waver.

“All right,” Saul said, smiling a little himself. “All right.”

“Guys, let’s go!” Rusty called, giving Saul’s shoulder a last pat. “Who’s got the keys?”

******

“…the whole time!” Linus was complaining, bag of Livingston’s equipment dangling forgotten in one hand. “Why can’t I see these things!”

From his position untangling cords behind the monitor bank, Rusty smothered a laugh. Somehow Saul always managed to end up confidant of the greenest guys, the deeper the hidden potential, the better.

Not that Rusty could throw stones.

“I mean, did you know?” Linus asked. Saul shook his head, but it wasn’t in response to the question.

Rusty finally untangled one of the televisions enough to lift it and began carrying it out, shifting the bulky weight into a better position. On the way by, he caught Saul’s eye a little, and Saul’s smile ceased to be at Linus’ expense for a few heartbeats.

“No, I didn’t know,” he said, and Rusty grinned all the wider.

“Be careful with that!” Livingston shrieked.

******

“How you been, Saul?” Rusty asked. The Florida sunshine felt good on his face after too many nights teaching America’s golden children that a five-card stud was not Orlando Bloom with multiple Mastercards.

“I’ve been in Provo,” Saul answered. “I did well there.”

“How are the twins?”

“Full of choice information.” Saul raised an eyebrow. “You could have told me, you know. Saved us both a lot of time and embarrassment.”

Rusty laughed and waved the waitress over; he was in the mood for linguini alfredo.

“So,” Saul said after they had ordered, “you seen him?”

“I sent him some cookies.”

“Always with the junk food.” Saul shook a finger at Rusty. “You’re going to kill yourself with that, you know.”

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