Crashing by InSilva

Summary: Rusty and Danny. Occasionally, it can be war.

Disclaimer: not mine, not mine, not mine.

A/N: A little "Only Fools" echo in here. Acknowledging it now.


Rusty caught Danny's elbow. "So that I'm clear, I am in fact your gay, sidekick groupie?"

Danny looked at him. "How badly do you want those jalapeño peppers?"

"I'm beginning to wonder."


Earlier…

They had been going out for dinner. Danny had fancied sea food; Rusty wanted Mexican: they'd settled for pasta. As they walked through the hotel foyer, they'd passed a host of business suits that were headed for the conference and meeting rooms.

Once they'd gotten outside, they'd walked past a window showing the large cocktail and networking area filled with more suits: more importantly, as far as Rusty was concerned, it was also filled with canapés. Danny had actually walked on a couple of steps before realising that Rusty wasn't with him.

Looking back, he saw Rusty transfixed. Danny came and looked over his shoulder, trying to identify the object of desire.

"Chicken satay?" he hazarded.

"Jalapeño peppers, deep-fried, cream cheese," Rusty rattled off.

Danny squinted at the indiscriminate, breadcrumbed objects. "You sure?"

Rusty's gaze was unblinking. "I'm sure."

Danny looked at Rusty and asked a different question. "You sure?"

Rusty turned his head to Danny. "I'm sure."


They were met at the door by a life-size Barbie doll in a strapless, fuschia pink, velvet cocktail dress. Danny and Rusty's smiles both appeared.

"Gentlemen!"

Flustered, she actually took a step back and dropped the programme she was holding. She bent down to retrieve it and Danny and Rusty exchanged glances.

Too much.

You think?

You want to…?

Oh, be my guest.

"Sorry to startle you," Danny began as she straightened up. "We were just wondering if we were in the right place."

"Oh, this is the Symposium for the Alliance of Accountants," she gabbled, "Mid-Western Division."

"Of course it is," he nodded. "And you are…?"

"Krystle," she sighed happily. "With an 'le'. I'm your organiser and hostess for the evening."

"Well, Krystle with an 'le'," Danny let a hint of the smile return, "I think we're expected."

"Oh," Krystle's face fell. "But everyone's here. Unless…oh, I'm so stupid! You're Mr Brookes' replacement, aren't you? Mr Ronaldson? Mr David Ronaldson?"

"I am," Danny nodded. "I am Mr David Ronaldson."

"Oh, I am so pleased to meet you!" Krystle's eyes were wide. "I really wasn't sure you were going to make it! After that phone call…oh, I'm so pleased your plans worked out!"

Amused, Rusty watched Danny handling the adulation. It would have been easier to deal with, Rusty thought, if she hadn't been barely nineteen. As it was, it just felt very wrong.

"And you…?" she turned to Rusty. "You can't be Lesley."

"No, obviously I'm not Lesley," he agreed.

"Lesley was going out of town, right?"

"Correct."

"They work with me," Danny said suddenly. "They're partners. Lesley and-"

"Oh, you're Gavin! Oh, you look just like a Gavin!" Krystle squealed.

Rusty winced. It had definitely been a squeal

"Gavin, that's right," Rusty nodded, not daring to glance at Danny. What did a Gavin look like anyway?

"You know I've been talking to Lesley so much this week. We've got very close. Lesley just sings your praises," Krystle shook her head with a smile. "Says you're considerate, sensitive, intuitive…everything you'd want in a partner."

"Wouldn't you think?" This time Rusty did look at Danny who was, he knew, biting his lip. Hard.

"And he said he completely understood how you felt about Mr Ronaldson." Krystle's hand flew up to her mouth and she looked guiltily at Danny. "Oh, I shouldn't have said that."

Wait, wait, back up. He…?

"Lesley said that?" Rusty asked.

"Oh, he does understand," Krystle said earnestly. "He said Mr Ronaldson was just so inspiring and he knows that you like to follow him round all the time but he completely knows the reason why."

Rusty and Danny got it at the same time. Leslie...

"Never mind me chattering away, you come with me," she giggled and led the way into the room.

"Just you know, do your best to control yourself," Danny said sotto voce as they followed Krystle.

"It'll be a struggle, believe me," Rusty warned in an equally low voice. "Partners? Where did that come from?"

"As in accountancy firm partners," Danny explained. "I didn't know you and Leslie were an item."

Rusty caught Danny's elbow. "So that I'm clear, I am in fact your gay, sidekick groupie?"

Danny looked at him. "How badly do you want those jalapeño peppers?"

"I'm beginning to wonder."


The jalapeño peppers were tasty, Rusty had to admit. Succulent and creamy and a faint hint of fire. He liked; he liked a lot. What he wasn't enjoying so much was a giddy Krystle, limpet-like at his side, pumping him for information on the wonderful David Ronaldson.

"He's so much more handsome than I expected," she confided. "I guess you can see how attractive he is. It must be so difficult to hide how that makes you feel…"

Danny was standing with his back to them, chatting to Lawrence and Colin who had come up from Kansas. Even so, Rusty knew he was drinking it all in.

"Oh, David certainly knows what I think of him."

"He's amazing, isn't he?"

"One of a kind," Rusty nodded.

He frowned slightly. Krystle was either really into accountants or it was infatuation at first sight. Or both. Danny was doing nothing to discourage it. He'd turned round and flashed a grin at her earlier which had sent her into raptures. Rusty knew he had only done it to annoy and to provoke Krystle into further comment.

"Don't you think, perhaps, you should mingle?" he asked Krystle hopefully.

She stared at him wide-eyed. "Oh, no. David is the real VIP here tonight. I have to look after him."

Danny looked over his shoulder at them both again and smiled a killer smile. It was enough to draw a small, breathy moan from Krystle. Rusty gave him a flash of bare teeth. He decided he'd had enough of being a reluctant member of the David/Danny fan club.

"If you'll excuse me," he said and headed off to the bathroom, swiping another couple of jalapeños on the way. They were poor comfort but they were comfort.


He returned to Danny, minus Lawrence and Colin, in discussion with a rapturous Krystle.

"Oh, Gavin!" she cried as he approached. "I think it sounds wonderful!"

Rusty shot a suspicious look in Danny's direction: Danny, who was standing next to Krystle with his arms folded and who was biting the edge of his thumb, eyes bright.

"The Caribbean! And the doves at sunset! And the poetry reading! Leslie is such a lucky man!"

"Sorry, Gavin," Danny said with a total lack of sincerity, "but Krystle wanted to know details."

Since when were you about the details…?

"What about the local children sprinkling rose petals down the aisle?" It was soaked in sarcasm but lost on Krystle.

Danny's eyes were alive with amusement. "Mentioned that too."

You are unbelievable.

"And the silk suits! Armani, of course. And the white roses!"

"And Rachmaninov's Second…" Danny prompted.

"And saying the vows to Rachmaninov's Second!"

"If you ask nicely, Gavin may share the vows."

Gavin will be too busy kicking your-

"And asking Mr Ronaldson to give you away!"

"What?" That bit brought Rusty up short.

"When you begged him to be a part of your special day…"

"Begged him…right."

"And he worried what Leslie might think but you convinced him it would be so magical!"

"I told Krystle I wouldn't miss it for the world."

"Huh." Rusty's eyes promised war.

"Look at the time!" Krystle suddenly exclaimed. "We'd better be going in."

She headed off and Danny waved a hand. "After you, Gavin."

"The wedding from hell?" Rusty hissed as they followed Krystle. "Tell me, have I been particularly obnoxious to you today?"

"Look, Krystle brought the subject up-"

"Have I?"

"No," Danny conceded.

"Well, there is still time."

They were walking with the crowd into a candlelit dining room with round tables of twelve, silverware and glasses.

"Dinner," Danny said placatingly.

"Through dinner as well? I don't think so," Rusty was having none of it. He scowled as they weaved their way further up the room, automatically following the splash of pink. "You know what? The jalapeños are done. I'm out of here."

Danny caught up a menu. "You're out of here when there's "Trio of Far East Brûlées with Lotus Chips". What's a lotus chip anyway?" he frowned.

Rusty wavered.

"Very well, then. Leslie is going to be devastated."

Danny's eyes narrowed. "What about?"

"The great David Ronaldson seducing me and then blackmailing me into repeat performances. I just feel the need to tell someone understanding over dinner."

"She'll never believe you."

Rusty's smile was grim. "The way I tell it, she will. You really weren't a gentleman."

Danny opened his mouth and closed it again, suddenly looking round. "Rus…?"

Rusty glanced round, taking in their surroundings. While the other delegates were taking their seats at table, they had reached the foot of a stage. There were a few steps up and Krystle was beckoning frantically from the top of them. Rusty swiped one of the programmes from a nearby table as an announcement came over the PA system.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry to inform you that our pre-dinner guest speaker has not been able to make it here this evening."

There was a general groan. Rusty was busy flicking through the pages.

"I know you were all looking forward to hearing about his battle against the elements when he was stranded up that Peruvian mountain."

Rusty grabbed Danny's arm. The programme showed the photo and profile of-

"Alvarin Brookes cannot be here tonight but his colleague, David Ronaldson, who also survived that epic three day journey, is here."

"Shit," Danny said with feeling as a spotlight picked him out and the applause started.

He turned to Rusty. "Emergency phone call-"

"-five minutes."

"Two," Danny corrected. He looked round the room again. "Shit," he said again.

He climbed the steps and strode on to the stage to thunderous applause. Rusty followed and stood with Krystle in the wings.

Danny looked out at the room of expectant faces and then down at the microphone.

"Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you so much for having me here tonight. I am certain Alvarin will be kicking himself for missing this opportunity to speak to you. This is really his epic story and I don't know that I'm going to be able to do it justice. It's quite unrelenting in places and the memories are just so very fresh. I hope you'll forgive me if there are times when emotion simply overcomes me and I lapse into silence. I certainly won't be in a position to answer any questions at the end of it. It's just so raw an experience. I'm sure you understand. After all, if I can't count on the Alliance of Accountants, whom can I count on?"

There was a swell of laughter at this line. Danny realised that he'd come to the end of his opening speech. And still no interruption. He shot a glance off stage to see Krystle and Rusty watching him. Both had their heads tilted to one side and their hands clasped in front of them.

Danny could see Rusty mouthing to Krystle. "He's just such a hero. It gets me every time."

He smiled bravely at Danny.

Danny stared back at him. You are so dead.

"Slide show!" Krystle suddenly exclaimed. "He wants the slide show!"

Slide show! Eyes wide, Rusty mouthed the words to Danny. He smacked his forehead, eyes gleaming. "What was I thinking? Of course, he does."


Later…

"So. I particularly liked the time you had to drink your own urine and you made yellow snowcones to make the experience more palatable."

A pause.

"I know nothing about mountaineering."

"Trust me, it showed."

"Do you think they believed I was overcome with the reminiscences?"

"Oh, it was convincing. It was all I could do to stop Krystle running after you. I told her you were recovering from a breakdown and it had all been too much."

There was another pause.

"So…Mexican?" Truce?

"Seafood." Accepted.

Pasta, they agreed.