And here it is, for the perusal of anyone who doesn't watch the takethehouse comm.
Title: Plan E
Summary: There was a thing one time, in Belize.
Notes: starfishchick asked for a gen, heist-fic style account of what happened in Belize. This was my attempt at doing it. It didn't come out quite as I wanted, but I hope it's decent anyway. Danny/Tess mentioned, Rusty/Danny implied. If you squint a bit. Also I am late, and I apologize. musesfool can flog me if she wants. Written for the takethehouse challenge.
"Crime is a product of social excess."
-- Vladimir Lenin
"Crime is a product of social excess."
-- Vladimir Lenin
"I'm here to clear out an account and a personal box." Danny smiled – quick and perfunctory, a rich businessman giving a token to the little people. He smoothed the lines of his Armani jacket fussily and waited with poorly disguised impatience.
The clerk lifted an eyebrow, rolling his eyes when he thought he wasn't seen. "Name please, sir?" There was more Creole in his accent than there was Spanish, but such seemed to usually be the case here.
"Tishkoff. Ruben Tishkoff." Danny glanced about as he spoke, as if bored by the proceedings.
The clerk – sharp boy – looked dubious. "Just a moment, Mr. Tishkoff."
Rusty could tell from the way the boy walked his way over to check the computer that this wasn't going to work.
It was a burden being right. The boy, a smug expression on his face, returned a moment later with what could only be the manager. Rusty turned and walked out, hearing the tail end of the conversation as he did. "I'm sorry sir, but I opened that account personally for Mr. Tishkoff. You are most assuredly not him."
"Of course I'm not – Mr. Tishkoff is a busy man, he can't be bothered to take care of something as trivial as this himself. He's asked me to do so in his place. I can get him on the phone if you like – I'm sure he'd-" Rusty caught the flash of green as the cell phone came out, but knew that wouldn't work either. So did Danny, but Danny always had to try anyway.
"I'm sorry sir. I'm going to have to ask you to leave-"
Rusty leaned against the side of the building outside and waited. Danny wasn't long. "Told you it wouldn't work. You don't look like a Tishkoff."
"Neither do you."
"True." Rusty squinted up at the white stone of the building above him. "Plan B?"
"Plan B," Danny agreed. "Hungry? Could do Nerie's. Ruben said it's good."
"What does Ruben know?"
"Who to call, apparently. Should have known this would be a mess just because he asked us. Knows food too. Just let me call Tess."
"Nerie's it is." They had known it would be a mess. They'd just gone anyway. Because Rueben was a good debt to have. And because the messes were the most fun to clean up. "Where are you this time?."
Danny shrugged. "At a seminar in Philadelphia."
"Hope you remembered to pack warm."
"I did. Luggage is in storage." Danny gave him a measuring glance and Rusty shrugged in response. "I'll only be a minute."
"Sure." It was never only a minute with Tess. Part of why Danny liked her, Rusty knew. She was good at seeing through bullshit.
Rusty had never been to Belize. Normally, that would be a problem, since Rusty liked to know the towns he worked in. He liked to know the way the streets ran and how the traffic piled up at rush hour. He liked to know the best places to eat and the right sort of ponds for the wrong sort of people to feed the ducks at. He liked to know the city, and for the city to know him. He liked having the ability to blend into the streets or stand out from them as he chose.
Belize was foreign and the streets ran in spider web patterns he couldn't discern. Normally he would worry, but Danny had been here before, so he didn't. He let Danny know the city for him, and just enjoyed the novelty of a new place.
Rusty liked new places. He liked familiar faces in new places because faces told different stories depending on where they were. The wrinkles on a man's forehead could say completely different things in Vegas than they did in New York, for example. New York was about business and movement and speed. Vegas was about leisure and risks and the stories people told without meaning to reflected that. He didn't know the energy of Belize yet. He knew the sort of bar they were in, though. The Downside was a dive, but Rusty liked dives sometimes anyway.
In general, Rusty liked people too.
This asshole, however, might be an exception. He worked for the Mikes in the broadest sense of the term, but that didn't make him likeable.
"Aye channhot halhp youh, shirsh, Aye dhue nhot knhow thish nhamhe." Rusty spoke Spanish, French, Japanese, Vietnamese, German, and English. He figured this guy spoke at least three of those. He didn't think he spoke any of them very well. Or he didn't want them to know he did, anyway.
Rusty would bet a large that he could speak perfect English, if he wanted to.
"That's not what Big Don says," Danny said evenly. Rusty didn't know Big Don, but he knew Danny, and he could tell that no one knew Big Don. Big Don was bullshit.
"Bigh Dohn ish mishtakhen." Asshole's lips twitched and his eyes thinned. Yeah, he knew Big Don was bullshit too.
Danny leaned in close. "Tell you what. Maybe you don't know, but I'm betting you know who does. I'll give you a minute to think it over. Maybe go ask in back. Here's a picture. Maybe it will refresh your memory."
It was a good handoff, but Rusty still saw the flash of green Danny passed over.
Asshole smiled, slipping the cash into his right pants pocket. Rusty was pretty sure his name was Rainin, but Asshole was more suitable anyway. "Ih'll gho shee."
He heaved himself off the stool and lumbered into the back. Rusty tapped footsteps onto the underside of the table in time with his steps. "Like a walrus," he commented archly.
"Less graceful," Danny returned. "And he knows the score. He'll be back to stall us."
Rusty paused, considering that. "Will we be able to understand?"
A faint smile across Danny's lips. "We'll use sign language."
"Don't speak that."
Rusty switched the topic. "Think there's another angle?"
"There's always another angle."
"Sarcasm doesn't get us anywhere."
"It makes me feel pretty," Danny deadpanned, and Rusty felt a smile quirk the corners of his mouth despite himself. That had been the emerald heist in San Fran. $600,000 take and the lunatic they'd partnered with insisted on keeping half to make a collar for his dog. Danny'd stolen the collar three days after it'd been made and wore it for half a day until the buyer showed up. Because it'd made him feel pretty.
Asshole burst back out of the backroom and both watched him. Danny tapped a finger on the bar. "He called them?" He glanced at Rusty and Rusty gestured noncommittally. "You think he called them."
"He called them." Danny was quiet a minute. "Fifteen minutes?"
"Bet we'll wind up with Four?"
"Three. Four's an idea man. Three's an arm."
"Yeah." Danny slouched in his chair and Rusty counted the exits again, just in case he was wrong. He wasn't wrong often, but it happened. "Martini?"
"Here?" Rusty gave him an incredulous look. Dive like this wouldn't mix a decent drink. "Beer."
"Beer," Danny agreed as Asshole came back, all smiles and stalling techniques. Rusty hoped there would be time afterward to come back and rob the cash register here. Just because.
He smiled at the lift when Danny took the cash back. Asshole didn't notice. Of course he didn't. It was a good lift, and he was Danny Ocean.
"You didn't mention the sensors." Rusty held the binoculars to his eyes. "Or the sensors. Or the extra set of guards."
"I didn't notice." Danny's voice was only slightly chagrined, and Rusty spared a moment to look down at him and lift an eyebrow. "I figured it wouldn't matter," He amended a moment later.
"Because we're translucent and weightless at night? Undetectable to the human eye?"
"Not exactly." Danny paused, considering. "That would be nice though."
"Take the fun out of it. No challenge."
"Would make for a nice take though."
"I don't know. Think of the logistics of it. Everything we take would float around while our invisible selves carried it out. It'd stand out. Floating bags of money, lockboxes, priceless artwork."
"Maybe they'd think it was ghosts."
"Maybe. But they'd probably still arrest us."
"Can we do it?" Danny stood next to him, squinting down at the bank. He couldn't see anything of use – Rusty had the binoculars, but he squinted like he could. Even Rusty was almost convinced, and he knew Danny couldn't see shit that far away at night. Bad nightvision.
"Maybe. Or we could have. If it was there."
Danny blinked. "What?" Rusty handed him the binoculars so he could see for himself the gaping hole where lockbox #46-A should be. "In the office?"
"Too risky. Timing's off. Pass by the offices every two-turns. By the boxes every four. Could have done it on the boxes. Office – probably not. If it's there."
"Where would it be if it's not there?" Rusty didn't answer, just waited. "The Mikes."
"Possible." Probable, really. The Mikes had everything they didn't, here. Connections, transportation, set up – and a grudge.
Rusty rolled his eyes back toward the bank appraisingly. "We have a plan C?"
"We will by tomorrow."
"Plan C." He slipped the binoculars back in their case. "Want ice cream? There's a place down the road."
"Sounds good." Danny waited until they were on their way before asking what Rusty knew he'd been about to. "You don't like her?" It was more statement than question.
"Not that. I like her fine. Just not with you. She's too complicated."
"I like complicated."
"Not this complicated. She's not the type who'll jones on her man being a thief."
"I hate that type anyway."
"Me too." Rusty was quiet a minute and then added. "She's too smart. She'll see through."
Danny shrugged and ended the topic for the moment. "Probably."
"I think we should talk about how it will go with Tess." Rusty's wrists were beginning to itch from where they were tied to the chair. He resented the fact that they'd used cheap nylon cord. You'd think they could at least have sprang for cuffs. Cuffs didn't itch, at least.
Danny gave him an incredulous look. "You think now is the best time for that?"
"I'm bored. I'm itchy. I'm hungry, and the Mikes aren't here yet. Or whichever they send, anyway. So yeah. Pretty much. Where does she think you are again?"
"Business trip in Philadelphia."
"What business is it?" Rusty knew, but he liked to make Danny say it. Danny could chose perfectly suitable covers when he wanted to, but he tended to like the ridiculously unsuitable ones. Rusty remembered when Danny had convinced some small-time mark that he was a set designer for Captain Kangaroo. It hadn't been the oddest cover Danny had ever chosen.
"So travel agent?"
"We prefer the term coordinator."
"How do you feel about thief?" Danny gave him a slanted sort of grin and Rusty, not for the first time, wondered if Tess knew who Danny was at all. "More importantly, how would Tess feel?"
"That's the question, isn't it?" Danny raised his eyebrows and there was a slight distance in him that said he really didn't want to talk about this now.
Rusty ignored it. It was his prerogative to push when something needed pushing, one earned over years of working together. "This is what, fifth 'business trip' in seven months? She's not stupid. She'll get wise. And don't think I don't know why you took me to that gallery show of hers."
"Nice pieces there. Thought you might appreciate them." Danny was smiling, a glint of humor in his eye. Rusty wondered how long Danny'd been waiting for this conversation. Probably had a bet going with Saul or Basher about it.
"Yeah. Real nice. Nice to seven figures each, easy. With a good fence." Danny's mouth twitched and Rusty shook his head. "You can't steal from your wife. It's . . . ." he paused, searching for a word. "Unethical."
Danny didn't laugh, but it was there in his expression and Rusty sighed. It had not been a good word choice. Ethics weren't really an issue in their line of work.
Asshole's flunky, tall and bald and smelling unpleasantly of boiled lobster grinned a bit at them and spoke in broken French. "Is not nice to lie to your wife. The women, they always know, yes?"
Danny looked blank and Rusty grinned, answering in the same language. "His wife already knows. She doesn't say anything because she's hiding her own secrets." He leaned as close as the cords would allow and murmured. "Used to be a man."
Flunky chuckled and spoke in equally broken English. Rusty was getting a bit curious as to what the native language for Asshole and company actually was. "Ah, Mr. Ocean. It is not good to lie to your wife. Or she will lie to you, too."
Danny threw Rusty a look and Rusty smiled innocently, knowing full well Danny knew every one of his innocent looks and never bought any of them, since Rusty was never innocent. Can't play a player – it was a cliché for a reason.
"I'll keep that in mind." They both heard the crunch of tires outside the building at the same time and smiled slightly.
Flunky chuckled again and heaved himself off of the stool he was sitting around. "I think that your company is here. I will just let you get acquainted."
Rusty squirmed, trying to get a more comfortable position and failing. "100 says it's Three."
"Considering our luck it'll go wrong and be One."
"Three." Rusty repeated confidently.
Mike Three was tall, well built, and probably not named Mike. None of the Mikes were, save maybe Mike One, but no one really asked. Rusty had never liked Mike Three. The Mikes were, generally, not too bad of a group. Took high-pay jobs, only worked with their own. There were about seven Mikes in rotation right now that Rusty knew of. Which meant two more at least working under the radar, probably. The Mikes were good like that.
Rusty and Danny had both turned down offers to be a Mike at various times. Danny liked Two, who was short, Italian, and told the filthiest jokes Rusty had ever heard. Every woman who knew him thought the old lecher was the sweetest old coot they'd ever met, too. Rusty liked a good bluffer, and Two was great.
Three was shit. He was muscle, plain and simple, and only just bright enough to not screw things up enough to get tossed out. Word was he was looking to move up, and not happy that Two wasn't in any danger of demotion anytime soon.
Three smiled, gold tooth glinting in the cheap track lighting. "Isn't this special. Aren't you two a little far from home base?"
"Could say the same for you, Mike," Danny offered.
"Weren't you working that job in Phoenix?" Rusty added.
"Come to think of it, heard that went south in a big way. Lost half your crew to a lockup, didn't you?"
"Good thing you got away though," Rusty finished, watching the way Three's nose twitched. He was almost too easy, really. No challenge.
"Rueben sent you, didn't he? Bastard never had an eye for talent." Mike grinned. "Pays well though."
"Very well." Danny leaned forward, lowering his voice to a conspirator's tone. "And gave us ample for . . . provisions." Rusty kept his expression deadpan as Mike looked at him for confirmation. "Two's been two a long time. Might be time for a change. Not likely to happen though, is it? Unless someone . . . a rich bachelor with a habit of keeping friends in certain circles, maybe, happened to have some inside information on Two's side projects. Kind of projects that One wouldn't like to know about."
"And if this bachelor had certain lockboxes back, he could foreseeably see his way clear to giving a fine young man a certain edge on his competition. A provable edge."
Mike looked between them a minute. "Alright . . . what do you suggest?"
Danny smiled and Rusty let the ropes he'd already managed to untie slip all the way off, scratching gratefully at his wrists. He gave Danny a significant look. "We'll talk about that later."
Danny shrugged and smiled again as he smoothed his jacket. Mike Three watched with barely disguised eagerness. Rusty sighed inwardly. Too easy.
Rusty peered down, silently counting as Danny stood beside him, watching. "What?"
"You want to ask it. Just ask." Rusty looked at him. "You're fidgeting. It's a tell."
"Don't do it with anyone but you," Danny returned.
Rusty smirked a bit. "I know. So go ahead."
"You think I should tell her?" Rusty didn't say anything and Danny repeated himself, the question becoming a statement. "You think I should tell her."
"How do you think it will go?"
Rusty was a detail man. He dealt in variables. He had a pretty good idea it wouldn't go well. "I don't know. She's your wife." He lied. He didn't bother to lie well; they never managed it with each other anyway.
Danny waited a moment and then shrugged. "Alright, how many?"
"Six outside, three in."
"No sign. Two's there. He looks good. Lost weight. Hair's different. He just went out the side."
Danny nodded. "Back entrance?"
Rusty nodded. "Looks like the only option. Entrance is guarded, but not the alley. Draw them out."
"Too bad Basher's not here. Best distractions in the business."
"The loudest anyway." Rusty lifted the binoculars again and heard a distinctive and unwelcome click. "Or we could just leave entirely."
"Wasn't much keeping us anyway. Just touristing."
Rusty turned slowly around and lifted his hands, dangling the binoculars by their strap from his fingers. "We'll just be going then."
"Funny place to tourist. Would have thought you'd be off on the beach making the ladies swoon and the men envious, not hanging about an old warehouse." Mike Two smiled and motioned to the two men beside him to lower their guns. They did so, smirking a bit. Rusty didn't recognize them – they were hired muscle, not Mikes. "Rusty, Danny – been a long time. Suppose you're here for Rueben?"
"Something like that." Danny smiled and shook the hand Mike offered, Rusty doing the same a moment later. Mike had a good shake. Strong and dry and friendly. "How you doing?"
"Not too bad. Got sent here as insurance with Three and Four. Overkill if you ask me, but you know how One is about Rueben." Mike rolled his eyes. "Like a dog with freakin' bone. And two weeks with Three's is worse than the lockdown. 'Bout to say shove it to One and pull out anyway." He grinned, obviously intending no such thing.
"Yeah, I remember. Can't say I blame him though – it was his wife." Danny knew that too. And she hadn't so much been his wife as his fiancé. Wife now, which was probably why One hadn't let it go.
"Yeah. Who knew Ruben had it in him still? Always figured he was limp as a noodle, all the shit he complains about being wrong with him. Heard you got married, Danny. That true? Some girl finally tear you away from Rusty? How you dealing with it Rusty? You seeing anyone else?"
"Jealous like a shrew. Cries all the time," Danny said cheerfully.
"Can hardly get through each day," Rusty added, giving Danny an amused glance. "His wife thinks he's . . . what is it again? Investment banker?"
Mike snorted. "Yeah, bet that holds up." Rusty always had liked Mike Two. Sensible guy. "So what, you going to try to lift it off us?"
"Thought about it. Thinking not, now, considering."
Rusty caught the appraising look on Danny's face and guessed the direction it was going before Danny asked. "Plan D?"
Rusty lifted an eyebrow, playing dumb. "We have one?"
"We have one," Danny affirmed.
Mike smiled a bit, waiting. Rusty grinned at him. "You know any good Italian places around here? Ones Three doesn't know, maybe?"
"I might." Mike motioned to the guards to return to their posts. "You boys working this alone, so I don't have to worry right?"
Rusty shook his head, grinning. "Of course." The fact that they were didn't matter. It was more the thought that Two would trust them. Two never trusted anyone. It's why he was good.
"Right. C'mon then. You look like shit by the way, Rusty. Where the hell did you get that shirt? A flea market?"
Rusty looked down at the Hawaiian shirt he wore. He liked it. It clashed with everything, but it was comfortable. "Wal Mart."
"You're hopeless," came from two directions at once as they followed Two.
Mike Three paged over the pictures slowly, comprehension dawning slowly. Extremely slowly. Rusty could have gotten some doughnuts in the time it took him to comprehend. Why they'd made him a Mike at all, Rusty had no idea. "You pricks set me up."
"Well yeah," Danny admitted. "We had a good reason though."
"We didn't like you," Rusty supplied. Three was bristling now, and Rusty didn't bother to turn his head to where Two's men were. He'd made them on the way in, when he'd found the exits. "Plus there was that job in Reno you soured. We owed you one."
Danny flicked a glance at Rusty. "That was him?"
"It was," Rusty affirmed. He took the pictures back – he thought the lighting in the back of the Downsides left his skin washed out and wondered if he could find that girl who gave facials in London again – and held them out for Two.
The man, shorter than anyone else in the room but with the kind of terrier-mentality that said he didn't know it, grinned as he took them. "You're a good lad, Rusty. You know what the first rule of the Mikes is?"
"Loyalty to our own." Danny supplied. He saw Three's dismayed look and grinned the flippant smile he always had when he was winning. It wasn't a rare smile. Danny won a lot. "One told me over drinks once. When he offered me a spot."
"Told me at his country club." Rusty added, knowing his smug smirk wasn't quite as charming as Danny's winning smile and not particularly caring.
"Right. Which lets you right out . . . . Kevin. Conspiring with rogues like this to undermine me – ought to be ashamed. I'm hurt. Deeply wounded." Two winked at Mike Three and gestured to his boys, who escorted Three out. Kevin. His real name was Kevin. Rusty made note of that. He had a feeling the name would come up again. Kevin went without protest. He wasn't stupid enough to try to go against the Mikes. Two turned his grin on Danny. "One's grateful. Three's been suspect a while, but we needed proof. Don't move against our own without proof. You know how it is."
"How it should be." Danny quirked an eyebrow. "And the lockbox."
"Funny thing that is. Turned out my boys found nothing in it, when they opened it up. One's disappointed, but won't mind too much. I think he enjoys hating Ruben anyway. Wouldn't have known what to do with himself if he actually got something on him."
Rusty wasn't so sure of that, but he didn't say that out loud. He just grinned as Two clapped him on the back a little two hard. "Tell your wife I said hello." He took the envelope Two slipped him and tucked it in his pocket, smiling at Two's wink.
"Will do. Not that you're allowed anywhere near her, Ryan. She's got a thing for blonds." Two crooked a stubby finger at Danny. "You call me. We can take the wives. Do lunch some night."
"Yeah, I'll do that," Danny smiled charmingly and Two snorted and walked out. Rusty figured there was a snowball's chance in hell that would ever happen. Two's wife was in the business. She was short and foul mouthed and utterly irredeemable. Rusty'd lost two takes to her in his career. He liked her almost as much as Two.
He handed the envelope to Danny without looking at it. "Good thing we didn't have to go to plan E."
"Which was?" Danny looked through the envelope quickly and put it away, grimacing slightly. He shook his head at Rusty's questioning glance. "No. It's right. Just wrong. Two's solid."
"So what was it?"
"Change our names to Mike and avoid Rueben for the rest of our lives."
Danny laughed, mouth quirking sideways. "This was better."
"Much." Rusty began to walk out and then stopped. "She'll be angry. She'll be hurt. She won't understand. She'll maybe ask you to stop. And she'll leave if you don't. But it'll be better than finding out on her own. She wouldn't forgive that. And don't steal from her gallery. She'd call the cops herself if she knew."
Danny nodded. "Ah." They both knew that whatever happened, Danny wouldn't go clean. It wasn't in them. They stole to steal. So they could smile or smirk when they won and feel the smile all the way through them like current. It wasn't about the take. Not really. Though that was nice too, sometimes. "Hungry?"
"A little. Room service?"
Danny smirked. "Room service."
"What's in the envelope?"
"Pictures of Rueben with Terry Benedicts' sister."
"Ah. That explains the threats to buy him out."
"We'll call him." Rusty grinned. "He'll owe us."
Danny grinned in response and slung his arm over Rusty's shoulders. "It's a good debt to have."
"It'll come in handy, sometime." Rusty paged through the pictures – lifting them seamlessly from Danny's pocket – on the way back, and then wished he hadn't.