Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for what Rusty is going to do to Danny later.
Summary: The guy wasn't there.
AN: For musesfool's LJ Anniversary! 4am wouldn't be the same without you *hugs* ourloveissointertextual!
I Have No Time For Such Details
The guy wasn't there.
Danny glanced around again just to be sure, and had already turned halfway towards Rusty to ask where the guy was before he remembered that he'd set up the details for this particular jaunt, not Rusty, and thus Rusty would have no idea where the guy was.
The "Hmm" was out before he could stop it, and Danny winced internally as he sensed Rusty tightening his grip on his carry-on.
"So," Rusty shifted the sucker to the other side of his mouth so he could address his partner casually, "where's the guy?"
"Hmm," Danny said again, because Rusty had already heard the first one anyway. There definitely was no guy, nor anybody else he could possibly pass off as the guy even if he did want to try and con Rusty out of noticing his glaringly absent details.
"What's the backup plan?" Rusty inquired. Danny didn't answer as he gave the airport terminal one final fruitless scan, because they were too poor currently to have a backup plan. "Tell me we have a backup plan, Daniel, because if I get picked up carrying this…" Rusty shifted his carry-on just enough that it made a noise like heads rolling.
"Hmm," Danny said helplessly, finally turning his head just enough to see Rusty's face. Rusty looked him right in the eye despite the sunglasses and cracked the candy off the stick with all the subtlety of a fourteenth century battle mace.
Funny he should mention those.
"You're never working the details again, Daniel," Rusty said very pleasantly, but it was the smile that made the scary go from a man with a six-inch switchblade in your shower to a man with a six-inch switchblade in your shower in a clown suit. "I am going to find myself a boarding pass that says Atlantic City on it, and I suggest you do the same in the next," Rusty checked his watch, "thirty-two minutes."
He sauntered off, angrier even than that time he'd been Ella Fitzgeraled by that woman with the poodle, and Danny couldn't even imagine what he would be in for when they got home, but thinking about it wouldn't get him a boarding pass in the next thirty-one minutes. A drink was clearly in order.
Danny always had been better with improvisation than with details, because sitting at the little airport bar so originally named 'The Landing Strip' was the perfect mark. Middle-aged man, wedding band, slightly drunk, and best of all, Danny noticed as he slid on to the stool next to the guy, a boarding pass to Atlantic City poking out of the side of the carry-on sitting beside him on the bar.
"How about that!" Danny slapped the bar to make sure the man was looking and gave him a conspiratorial eye-roll. "I come all the way out here from Chicago and as soon as I step off the plane they cancel my conference!" Danny hailed the bartender. "Two more of these." He waved at the mark's drink without really looking to see what it was. Didn't really matter in an airport. "Where're you headed?"
"Atlantic City," the man answered, a touch of slur across his words, and he didn't sound happy about it, which Danny welcomed as a bonus.
"Atlantic City?" Danny leaned his chin on one hand wistfully and watched the mark out of the corner of his eye as the bartender slid their drinks towards them. "I met the first girl I ever loved in Atlantic City."
"Oh yeah?" The guy wasn't on the edge of his seat, but he did raise his glass to clink against Danny's when Danny held his up.
"Man, she was something," Danny gave a good ol' boy chuckle. "Blondest hair you ever saw, cutoff jeans, bare feet. She was eating a snow cone, and her whole mouth was stained red. The things we did on that boardwalk…good thing she was legal, you know?"
There was a pause as Danny sipped his drink and discovered its primary ingredient was bad rum. Come on, he urged silently, come on you bastard, Rusty's going to fucking kill me…
"So what happened?"
"Well," Danny frightened off his smile with another mouthful of the 'rum', "you know how it is. Atlantic City was her home, she wanted to stay, and I wanted bigger and better things. So I moved on."
Best not to rush this part. Danny took a long drink and let his eyes glaze over with some of the choicer memories. The mark followed along perfectly, watching him until he'd set down his glass and toyed with the cardboard coaster for a moment.
"She's still there, though, and sometimes I wonder…if I were to just show up…"
Danny let that thought trail off into nothingness as he took another corner-eyed glance at the mark and saw him leaning heavily on one hand, finger circling the top of his glass thoughtfully. He couldn't believe this might actually work, and with—Danny flicked a look to the clock over the bar—fourteen minutes to spare. All that remained now was to tap it into the hole, nice and easy.
"You got anyone special waiting for you there?" he asked.
"No," the mark snorted, "just my wife." Danny chuckled along with the braying laugh the man gave at his own wit. When it passed, the man looked even more depressed than he had before. "She went down for the weekend, you know, just to get away? Next thing I know, she's calling me from a pay phone and saying I have to come get her because she lost the car."
Murmuring all the right things, Danny signaled to the bartender to give the man another drink. Sorry to hear it, saddest story in the world, isn't it, some people are like that, it's a disease.
"I hate Atlantic City," the mark grunted with more feeling than he'd shown during any mention of his wife.
"Too bad we can't trade places, right?" Danny had nailed it, he knew he had, he felt it in his fingertips, the perfect blend of nostalgic and casual and suggestion, and he could actually see the moment when the idea took root behind the man's slightly unfocused eyes.
"Well, why not?" The man was working on an expression that he probably thought was devious, but didn't hold a candle to Rusty when you'd already eaten the first peanut butter cup and second was halfway to your mouth. "Let that cow find her own way home!"
Danny made it to the gate with six minutes to spare, and found Rusty somehow tearing off pieces from a soft pretzel without getting salt everywhere.
"That was fast." Danny raised an eyebrow, noting with relief that Rusty seemed much calmer. "Who'd you unleash the famous Ryan charm on?"
"I just lifted mine, it took like twenty seconds. Left me enough time for a drink." Rusty smiled a very knowing smile that made the back of Danny's neck prickle. "That was a nice story of yours."
"You liked that?" Danny shoved his hands in his pockets and jingled his loose change.
"I did." Balling up the paper that the pretzel had come in, Rusty tossed it into a nearby trash can and adjusted his carry-on so that he could put an arm around Danny's shoulders and move him towards the boarding line. His fingers pressed into Danny's neck just hard enough so that Danny knew Rusty hadn't forgotten his threat about future jobs. "I especially enjoyed that part about me being legal."
"You know me," Danny turned the Ocean grin up to full wattage and rolled his shoulders in apology, "I'm not so good with details."