Disclaimer: I don't own Ocean's 11, 12, 13 or any of the wonders therein. Oh, and in this characters quote Shakespeares'As you like it' and Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters. I don't own those either.
Summary: Just a piece of mindless fun, that has all the guys at a bar on a night off trying to answer the question - how do you come out to your parents? Slash
Note - This turned out to be a sequel to my fic Shell Game, but you really don't need to have read that to read this. In fact the only real link is that at one point I mention that Rusty had a funeral of sorts.
"See, the thing is," Livingston slurred insistently, "the thing is, well, it's like pasta, see?"
Linus didn't see.
"Spaghetti. Not spaghetti hoops, the other stuff. Real stuff. Because it's all tangled together and you can't hope to eat it piece by piece, so you need to twirl it up on your fork. That's, that's like family, that is. And the sauce is the other stuff."
He could feel a headache coming on. Perhaps when Danny got back with more drinks this might start making more sense.
"And sometimes, you need to grate cheese on top." Rusty interjected, with a stone-cold sober grin.
"Yeah!" Livingston agreed, punching the air before turning round to blink, bleary-eyed at Rusty. "Wait, what?"
The couple at the next table had turned to stare, but they looked away when Linus glanced over. He made a mental note to try and avoid discussing anything illegal tonight.
"I'd get 'em drunk first." Basher advised him as he turned back. "And get myself properly sloshed as well. That way, you've got the nerve, and if it all goes pear-shaped, you can deny it ever happened."
That was almost good advice. Well, compared to 'it's like pasta, see?'
"I don't see why you have to tell them at all." Virgil grumbled. "It's not their business, right?"
"Tell who what?" Danny asked, appearing with a tray of drinks. He exchanged a quick, meaning-filled glance with Rusty, who handed over a dollar bill, after they both looked over to the bar. "And why?"
"Some people cut it with a knife though. Spaghetti. That's not right. It's diser . . . disrep . . . disrespecting your parents."
"Linus is trying to figure out how to come out to his mom and dad." Rusty told Danny with an unimpeachably straight face.
"Wait, they don't know?" Reuben demanded.
Linus shook his head. "I just never got round to it." he explained.
Everyone took a drink.
"So why now?" Danny asked eventually. "Are you working on one of those 'Things to do before you're thirty lists?"
"Rusty!" Livingston suggested ecstatically.
Yen sniggered. Saul looked like he was trying to figure out a way to disconnect his ears from his brain. Danny blinked and knocked his drink back quickly. Rusty just smiled.
The people at the next table surreptitiously moved their chairs further away. Linus wondered if he could do the same.
He could feel the blush starting at the base of his neck, so he ignored Livingston and turned to Danny. "Something like that."
Actually, it was exactly that. He'd made one of those lists back in college, and since his birthday was in less than a month, it was looking less and less likely that he was going to achieve the stuff on it. Learning to play a musical instrument probably wasn't doable in the timeframe. Ditto developing a serious relationship. All his efforts to win a fistfight had been thwarted, and his dad had said long ago that if he tried to break into the White House one more time he was grounded no matter how old he was. Coming out to his parents, climbing a mountain and stealing over ten mill were the only things left, and he'd done the money thing, and heights made him dizzy.
"How about by letter?" Frank asked casually, contemplating his nails. "That way you can't lose your cool and say something stupid."
"Dude, just phone them." Turk interjected, waving his beer in the air enthusiastically, and spilling it over Virgil. "From another town. Or state. Or, you know, country."
"Hey!" Virgil punched his brother in the arm. "I'm all wet."
"You said it, not me." Turk muttered.
"More drinks?" Rusty suggested, standing up smoothly. "Same again for everyone?"
There was general assent. Livingston knocked his glass over and reached, absent-mindedly for Yen's, something that Yen seemed less than happy about.
"Get Livingston a soda this time." Frank suggested quietly.
Danny shrugged. Rusty grinned. "He's had a soda the last two times."
Linus, on his fifth or sixth beer of the night turned to watch Rusty head to the bar. "Why are Rusty and Danny paying for all the drinks tonight?" he asked no-one in particular.
Danny smirked but said nothing.
"They're not." Saul said, rolling his eyes.
Linus frowned. "Then who is?"
"No-one." Basher answered shortly.
He was too drunk for that. "Wha'?"
"They're scamming drinks again?" Reuben asked Saul with an amused look. "I thought they outgrew that."
Saul glared at Danny. "You don't outgrow stupidity."
"It's a game, or a bet or something." Basher told Linus.
"All the world's a game, and all the men and women merely players." Livingston had his head down on the table and he was giggling.
"Except for those that sell the popcorn." Rusty announced from behind them. He handed the drink round and held out his hand to Danny, who smiling gave him back the one dollar bill.
It was less of a game, Linus thought, absentmindedly watching them, and more of a non-competitive sport. Something suddenly occurred to him – he wasn't the first person to have to go through this. "Uh, Rusty? How did you come out to your parents?"
Rusty leaned back in his seat, glass in hand. "Never did." he said casually.
Remembering that there'd been no actual blood-relatives at Rusty's memorial service last year, Linus suddenly felt slightly stupid. The look that Danny was giving him didn't help. Still, he pressed on regardless. "How did you come out to Danny, then?" There were all sorts of family after all.
Danny choked back a laugh. "Trust me. You don't want to try that method."
Rusty looked just offended enough to give the impression that it was all an act. "It has a one hundred percent success rate."
"How'd you figure?" Basher asked looking from one to the other.
"Because Danny didn't scream or yell or freak out or say I was going to hell, or tell me never to darken his door from this day forth or anything like that." Rusty drained his glass and set it back down on the table with a thud.
There was a long pause while everyone at the table tried to imagine Danny doing any of those things. It proved to be impossible.
"It was your door too." Danny pointed out finally. "Throwing you out would have left me stuck for rent money."
"Ah." Rusty nodded. "It was an accountancy problem."
"Well, yeah. Wait, were we actually paying rent on that place?" Danny frowned thoughtfully.
Rusty tilted his head to one side. "We must have been, because – "
" - you're right, that was after – "
" - in the place with the purple ceiling."
Yen glared at them and said something that Linus didn't quite catch, but which sounded pretty uncomplimentary.
"Wait, you want to hear the story?" Rusty raised an eyebrow.
"It isn't going to help Linus at all." Danny pointed out.
Even Linus could tell that the general atmosphere was one of 'who cares?'. Which would have bothered him, if it hadn't been for the fact that he wanted to hear about it too. It was the sort of evening where enough alcohol had flowed that hearing embarrassing stories seemed the best way to go.
Sliding slowly under the table, Livingston yelled out "Nothing can help Linus now! Mwahahaha."
Frank reached out and grabbed him before he vanished altogether. "Just tell the story."
Rusty and Danny looked at each other for a long moment. "You want to - ?" Danny offered.
"Be my guest."
"Should I – "
"Start at the beginning. With Clarissa."
Linus could see Danny wince. "I was hoping you'd forgotten that bit." He leaned forward and smiled. "OK. Bear in mind that all this took place a couple of years before either of us was legally allowed to drink."
"In other words," Rusty put in, "We weren't one hundred percent responsible."
"Why not?" Virgil asked.
They looked at each other, and Danny shrugged. "We'd been drinking a lot."
Linus had the feeling this story was going to do nothing for his headache.
"So, I was seeing this girl, Clarissa. She was a few years older than me, gorgeous and with all the sense of humour of – "
" – a duck with toothache." Rusty supplied.
"Yeah." Danny agreed. "But it was good. Except that when we first met her, well, we were – "
" – careless – " Rusty said with a half grin.
" – inconsistent." Danny corrected, mouth twitching. "And she somehow formed the impression that Rus' was under eighteen and that I had some sort of responsibility for him."
"Oh, god." Saul muttered.
"No-one should have that respi . . . responsibility." Livingston agreed, blinking owlishly.
"That's not what I . . . never mind." Saul sighed. "But you went on seeing her." He glared at Danny.
It occurred belatedly to Linus that the only reason that they wouldn't correct her misapprehension was if they couldn't. Huh. Always weird when the truth got mixed into a good story.
"Yeah. As I said, it was good." Danny smiled. "So this one Friday night, I'd taken her out to a late dinner, because Rusty wanted space to think about safes."
"Strong boxes." Rusty corrected.
Danny cocked his head. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, remember it was for the thing with – "
"Right." Danny nodded. "The safe was the next month. Anyway, we got back to the apartment maybe two, three o'clock in the morning to find a naked football player getting whipped cream out of the fridge. So Clarissa started screaming and - "
"Danny." Rusty rolled his eyes.
"What?" Danny looked innocent.
"Can we stick to the truth?"
Linus blinked and even Rusty looked slightly bemused at what he'd just said.
"Is that a trick question?" Danny asked carefully.
Rusty sighed. "He wasn't naked; he was wearing boxer shorts. It wasn't whipped cream, he was just fetching a couple of beers. And he played baseball, though I admit you couldn't really tell by looking. Oh yeah, and Clarissa wasn't the only one screaming."
"That's right, your boyfriend was –"
"Danny." Rusty sounded slightly amused.
Danny paused. "I didn't scream."
"Danny." Definitely slightly more insistent.
"I yelled, maybe. Bearing in mind that up to that point I had no idea whatsoever that Rus' liked guys, so as far as I was concerned, there was a naked – "
Rusty grinned pointedly. " – Danny – "
" – semi-naked stranger" Danny corrected smoothly " in my kitchen."
"You thought someone had broken into the apartment?" Rusty asked.
"Yeah." Danny answered, as though it were obvious.
Linus could see the problem with that, even before Rusty asked "When was the last time you did any naked B and E?"
"Semi-naked." Danny corrected. "And Denver in '92. Remember?"
"Oh, yeah." Rusty shook his head. "Don't believe I managed to forget that one."
"Wait, what?" Linus demanded.
There was an expectant pause. "There was – "
" – a really good reason." they offered finally, and somehow Linus knew that that was all they were going to say. Apparently there was a limit on how many embarrassing stories were going to be told tonight.
"Anyway," Rusty resumed, "when I heard all the noise I figured that Danny must be home, so I wandered into the kitchen to see what had happened to the beer."
"When he appeared wearing only a bathrobe, I pretty much figured out what was going on." Danny put in.
"Did you mind?" Linus asked intently, still remembering the original point of the conversation.
Danny paused, and Linus assumed he was thinking. "Mind what?" he asked, eventually.
"That Rusty was sleeping with a guy!" Linus practically yelled in frustration.
The people at the next table were giving them strange looks again.
Danny looked like he was about to give a flip answer, but Rusty leaned in and whispered something in his ear and his expression turned thoughtful. "I was surprised." he offered. "For a couple of seconds."
"He stood there with his mouth hanging open." Rusty supplied. "It was hilarious."
Danny turned his head and grinned fondly at him. "There was a rabbit on your bathrobe. Anyone would be surprised."
"But did you mind?" Linus persisted.
"No." Danny said immediately, in a tone that said 'of course not'. "I figured it could only make my life more interesting – turns out I was completely right about that, of course –" He smirked at Rusty and Linus suddenly realised that he couldn't see Danny's hands and fought the temptation to look under the table. " - and Rusty was happy, so what was there to mind?"
"So you talked about it?"
They both looked at him, and then at each other with an air of amusement. Everyone else was looking at him too. Well, except for Livingston who seemed to have fallen asleep.
Right. Talking about things was probably easier when you didn't have to actually use words. Not that that helped; he just didn't have that kind of relationship with his parents – which was a relief of course. Because that would just be creepy.
"Anyway," Rusty cleared his throat "I made some introductions – guy's name was Jake, by the way –"
"And I offered to make frozen margaritas." Danny finished. Everyone looked at him. He shrugged. "It seemed a good idea at the time."
"Defn'itely." Livingston mumbled, waving his empty glass.
Linus shook his head. "And that was it?" he asked.
"Yes." Danny said immediately.
"No." Rusty said at exactly the same moment.
They stared at each other, the argument almost audible. Finally Danny looked away and Rusty grinned and leaned forwards. "That was when Clarissa spoke up."
Danny groaned. "Well, how was I supposed to know? She'd seemed normal enough."
Linus idly wondered exactly what Danny knew about normal. "She lectured you?"
Rusty laughed. "Nah, that'd have been easy."
"Yeah." Danny agreed seriously. "I would have thrown her out in a heartbeat." Rusty turned his head quickly, but Danny kept talking without looking at him. "No, she wanted me to do it."
Linus blinked. "What?!"
Basher started laughing. "She wanted you to give Rusty 'the talk'?"
"Something like that." Danny nodded. "She kept saying that Rusty was confused, and I had to make him see that it was wrong."
"That was when Jake made his excuses and ran away." Rusty put in, still grinning.
"Can't blame him." Danny agreed. "I was still stuck on the idea of you being confused. About anything. Ever."
"So what happened?" Frank asked.
Rusty and Danny exchanged a long glance. Danny rubbed his chin. "Well, I . . . "
"You did it?" Linus asked incredulously. "What did you say?"
"And why? Really, why?" Virgil put in.
"I don't remember." Danny said quickly. "It just seemed the easiest option. And I have no idea what I said."
"It started with a talk about hormones that was taken straight from daytime TV." Rusty said cheerfully.
Danny glared at him. Rusty smiled back. There was silence.
"And?" Linus asked, when it became obvious that neither of them was planning on continuing.
Suddenly they both looked embarrassed. "Ah."
"Well, - "
"I mean, it really had never happened before – "
" – or since."
"You started laughing, didn't you?" Saul said wearily. It wasn't a question. Linus found himself grinning. This was too good.
Danny shrugged. "He was pouting. I couldn't help it."
"It seemed the natural reaction." Rusty said defensively.
"Well, it didn't suit you."
"You started laughing." Linus shook his head. "Way to be professional, guys."
"Hey, we weren't pulling a job." Danny pointed out.
"So we're both pretty much doubled up with laughter, and Clarissa throws a couple of cushions, calls us both degenerates and leaves. And that's how I came out to Danny." Rusty finished his drink.
"Well," Linus said after a laughter-filled pause. "You're absolutely right. That's not the way I want to tell my parents."
Frank snorted. "No shit."
"Your round." Rusty said, looking at Danny, who rolled his eyes and stood up.
"Fr'zen margarita." Livingston crooned.
"I'll see if they do them." Danny smiled. He paused, and looked at Linus seriously. "I wouldn't worry about your parents, Linus. They'll be fine with it."
Yeah. He'd already figured there'd be no yelling let alone disowning. That actually didn't make it any easier. "I just don't know how to tell them." he muttered, burying his face in his hands as Danny walked away.
"How about the classic?" Basher shrugged. "'Mum, Dad, I've got something to tell you.' - dramatic pause, dun, dun, dun - I'm gay.' 'S been working on 'Eastenders' for years. Could work in real life, if a lot of alcohol is involved."
"Fr'zen margaritas." Livingston insisted. "Tell them about the pasta."
"No, it's got to be a letter." Frank nodded, slightly unevenly. "It's a lot easier to deal with feelings and stuff in a letter. And it's more personal than a phonecall." he added, glaring at Turk.
"Should be face-to-face." Reuben decreed. "It's the only way Bobby's going to take you seriously."
Yeah, Linus was inclined to agree. "But I still don't know – " he began to complain.
"Oh, shit." Rusty interrupted, staring over at the bar. They all looked round. One of the bartenders was glaring at Danny, and a couple of bouncers were walking over, very casually.
"This is what you get for goofing off." Saul said sternly.
Rusty seemed to ignore him. "Anyone got an official-looking ID on them?" There was silence. "Quickly." he added. "Anything."
Everyone made a show of patting their pockets. "Oh, hey." Turk pulled out a badge. "Traffic cop."
"That'll do." Rusty snatched the ID, did something really quick with a photo and a permanent marker that he pulled out of his pocket, and stood up. "We'll see you guys tomorrow." He started to head towards the bar, then stopped. "Oh, by the way, Linus - Bobby and Molly have known for years."
Then he pulled a pair of handcuffs out of his pocket and strode towards the bar.
Linus just sat there blinking. "Oh." he said helplessly.
"Does anyone have an explanation for why Rusty has a pair of handcuffs in his pocket that I'm going to be able to live with?" Saul asked slowly.
"Well," Reuben reached for a cigar. "He's got Danny in them now, and I guess they're heading back to the hotel, so – "
"Dude!" Turk interrupted. "Don't want to know."
"So whose round is it really?" Frank asked.
"Oh, look!" Livingston pointed happily at the corner of the room. "Karaoke."
Sometimes Linus couldn't help but think that he needed new friends.
Thank you for reading, please review.