A/N: For InSilva, as she asked for it. Despite the fact that probably no one else even remembers it. Yes, not even me. :)
A/N2: And because no one else remembers it...previously, on Murphy's Other Law...Danny, Rusty, Saul and two friends of theirs named Kieran and Eddie were hired to break into Alexander Cabot Northridge's house. Unfortunately, they discovered Northridge had been murdered, leaving them the main suspects and subjects of a police man hunt. They discovered that the man who hired them was called Teddy Rush, and their contacts who set them up with the job had recently died in mysterious circumstances. While breaking into Rush's house to track down possible taped conversations regarding the job, Danny and Rusty were caught and left to die in a walk in freezer. Now read on...
The light came long after all thoughts had left Danny's head and he'd surrendered to the cold.
It was bright and dazzling and painful and Danny was pretty sure they were meant to be staying away from the light. He tried to move but his legs wouldn't cooperate and Rusty was dead-weight in his arms.
"Fuck," a voice said perfunctorily.
Huh. He wouldn't have thought God swore.
He stared stupidly as the figure silhouetted in a halo of white light came closer, unable to get to grips with what was going on, unable to even fully recognise where they were or what had happened.
He started to come back to himself as Rusty was dragged out of his arms. No! He had to hold onto Rusty. It was important that he kept Rusty close and he wasn't even exactly sure why.
He struggled fiercely, but Rusty was easily pulled from his grasp and hauled away into the light.
No! No, this wasn't right. Gritting his teeth against the pain and the cold, he let himself fall forwards and tried pull himself along on his hands and knees towards the light, because he had to follow Rusty, no matter what he had to follow Rusty.
"Fuck," the voice said again, and seconds later Danny felt strong hands under his arms, roughly hauling him into the light.
The warm air hit him with an almost physical force, and he lay slumped on the floor, gasping for breath. Gradually memory returned. The break in, being caught, the freezer, sitting with Rusty, waiting to die... He swallowed, pushing all thoughts of acceptance out of his head.
There was a man standing over him. Danny stared up stupidly. He vaguely recognised him, but he couldn't put a name to the face. The man's lips were moving but he couldn't follow a word.
Scowling, the man leaned forwards and slapped Danny in the face. Hard. "You with me?" he demanded urgently. "We don't have much time. We have to get you out of here right now. I need you to help me with your friend."
Rusty. Forgetting everything else, Danny crawled across the floor to where Rusty was lying, pale and unmoving, his eyes closed. Frantically, Danny tried finding a pulse, but his fingers were too numb and he couldn't tell. With a harsh sob, he pressed his hand against Rusty's face, shook Rusty's shoulder, silently begging Rusty to open his eyes and look at him, not to leave him.
"He's alive," the man said, watching Danny thoughtfully. "But he won't be for much longer if we don't move. Teddy's men could be back at any moment."
Danny nodded, his hand clutching Rusty's tightly. He looked up at their rescuer. "Th-thank you," he said his teeth chattering. There were a hundred questions he should be asking right now, he knew that, but he still couldn't concentrate and Rusty wasn't moving.
The man nodded. "You got someone waiting for you outside?" he asked abruptly. "A...getaway driver or whatever?"
"No," Danny said, shaking his head automatically, and ironically now that he was a little warmer he could feel the crippling cold. "There's jus' two of us," he managed to add with difficulty, and no matter what, that was always the right answer.
"Right," the man said. "Well, we need to get you out of here anyway. Can you walk?"
Truthfully, he wasn't even sure he could stand. But he nodded anyway and leaning heavily on the wall, managed to drag himself to his feet. Was more a question of willpower than strength, and he was already out of breath.
But they had to get out of here, the man was right about that. Didn't seem likely Welsh was going to come check on them, but that didn't mean no one would happen by. Gritting his teeth, he started to reach down to pick Rusty up, only to find the man already crouched beside him, pulling his own jacket off and wrapping it around Rusty's chest surprisingly gently. "There you go," the man murmured and Danny tensed. He didn't know this man. He didn't know anything about this man and as he watched, the man picked Rusty up easily, cradling him snugly against his chest.
The sight set Danny's teeth on edge. "I can carry him..." he started, moving forwards.
The man looked amused. "No. I really don't think you can," he said firmly. "Come on. The parking lot is this way." He walked off quickly, Rusty still unconscious in his arms. Danny hurried after him, struggling to keep up.
He wasn't denying that the man had saved him. And everything he'd done suggested kindness. But they had broken in. Motivations weren't exactly clear here. Hell, he wasn't even sure if the man knew who they were. And still he didn't exactly have a choice but to trust their lives to him.
Just as they'd walked long enough for his tortured lungs to start screaming they reached the car park, and without hesitating the man walked up to a Mercedes, opened the door and laid Rusty on the back seat.
"I can drive you down the street, but after that you're on your own," he said, turning to Danny. "I need to get back before I'm missed."
Danny looked at Rusty. "N-need to get him t-to h'spital," he pointed out tersely.
The man snorted. "Every cop in the city looking for you and you want to check into the hospital? Really?"
Rusty needed help. Why should he care whether or not he got arrested if Rusty died.
With a sigh, the man shrugged. "It's your funeral. But why don't you try to warm him up yourself first. Get in the car, anyway."
Everything had been taken out of his hands. But he didn't feel like he had any choice. He slid into the back seat beside Rusty, and dragged Rusty close to him, rubbing his chest and arms and back, trying to warm him up.
"Why're you helping us," he asked as the man sped off.
In the rear view mirror, he could see the man's jaw tighten.
"We have a common enemy," he said shortly. "I want to get to whoever killed Alexander and set you up. Probably even more than you do."
Like a bolt from the blue, Danny suddenly remembered exactly where he'd seen the man before. In the Corinthian bar the other day. Kent Lamming. Alexander Cabot Northridge's best friend. "'m sorry," he said sincerely.
Kent glanced at him in the mirror, shock in his eyes. "Yeah. Yeah." He sighed and for a while there was silence.
Rusty stirred in Danny's arms, moaning softly and opening his eyes for a second, and it didn't seem like he really saw or recognised Danny, but it was something and Danny held him all the tighter.
"Here," Kent said shortly, pulling the car up outside a run down looking motel, its hourly rate proudly lit up in neon. "This is the best I can do. Get your friend warmed up, get out of here and call me when you know you're not being followed." He passed a business card back to Danny. "I think we got a lot to talk about."
Probably they did, Danny thought, as they got out of the car and Kent spend off immediately. But that was a later problem. Right now, Rusty was all that mattered.
Saul could feel the anxiety rolling in the pit of his stomach as he strode back into the hotel, Kieran hurrying to catch up with him.
Again and again, he tried to convince himself that Rusty and Danny would be waiting back in the room, but even so, he wasn't surprised to walk in and see only Eddie there.
"Did you find them?" Eddie asked anxiously.
"No," Saul admitted heavily. "I managed to speak to Rush...as far as I could tell, they haven't been caught."
"Which is good," Kieran chimed in. "Maybe they just caught sight of the cops and had to lie low for a while."
Maybe. It was possible. In fact, it was the most likely explanation...but all the other possible explanations were so much worse that he couldn't leave it. What was he supposed to do? Go put his feet up, watch TV and just hope that the boys found their way home?
But if the cops didn't have them, and the bad guy didn't have them...Saul was running out of ideas. Tempting as it was to just run out and start scouring the streets, that wouldn't really get him any further forwards.
God. It seemed like every step of this job was cursed.
"Maybe they got fed up of this colossal fuck up and skipped town," Eddie suggested darkly.
"If you can't be helpful be quiet," Saul snapped, and winced immediately as Eddie's face grew stormy. Yeah. He shouldn't lose his temper. He knew Eddie didn't exactly mean it, he just didn't like things going wrong. But right now he was too worried to try and keep Eddie sweet.
"Hey, let's all calm down, yeah?" Kieran said, looking alarmed. "I'm sure the guys will be back any minute."
Saul didn't share his optimism.
"Sorry," Eddie muttered sullenly. "I just want out of here, that's all."
The apology was genuine enough. And it wasn't as if Saul didn't understand the fear and frustration. But still, he wondered how much longer Eddie would be content to follow their lead. If Eddie chose to strike out on his own, the odds were good that he'd get caught. And then things would get really complicated. But for now..."I apologise," he said formally. He sighed. "I'm going to go make some calls."
The only contact he really had in this city had been the late Max Keene, but he knew people all over the country. Maybe...hopefully...someone would be able to give him some information.
Danny tore his eyes away from the speeding car and turned to look at the motel. It was dilapidated to the point of falling down...but there'd be blankets. Hot water, probably. He should be able to get them warmed up there.
He glanced down at Rusty slumped against him. His eyes were closed again, but he was at least partly standing on his own. And when Danny squeezed his shoulder he reacted, snuggling closer into Danny's chest.
Taking a deep breath he made up his mind. He could still take Rusty to the hospital if he had to, but right now they'd try going it alone.
His arm tight around Rusty's chest, taking most of his weight, they stumbled up to the entrance. The guy behind the desk didn't even look up from his magazine. "Yeah."
"Room," Danny managed to say, fumbling in his pocket for his wallet, and with frozen fingers, he just about managed to draw out a handful of bills that he didn't even bother to count. "There. And there'll be more l-later 'f you haven' seen us."
The guy still didn't look up. Danny had to figure there was no chance he'd be able to respond to a description anyway. "Sure," he said uninterestedly. "You're in eighteen." He reached behind him and picked up a key and dropped it on the desk.
On the third try, Danny managed to make his fingers close around them clumsily.
They staggered out into the courtyard and Danny stared around vaguely, looking for the right door. Rusty moaned and stirred against him, taking a step forwards and almost slipping out of his grasp. Danny gripped him tighter.
"Let that boy go," an angry voice demanded.
Blinking, Danny looked over to see a woman standing a couple of feet away. She was wearing too much make-up and too few clothes, and she was staring at him like he was the root of all evil.
"You should be ashamed of yourself," she continued.
Danny looked down at Rusty, considering the drowsy and vacant look in his eyes, the torn shirt revealing Rusty's bare chest, and the bloody swollen lip and black eye.
"What have you done to that poor boy?" she demanded.
"He's twenty seven," Danny said stupidly, and right now it was all he could think of to say. He shook his head. "There was a fight...I'm just trying to get him taken care of."
She snorted. "A likely story. I know your type."
"I'm not my type," he protested. "I need to go."
He managed to walk past her, and miracle of miracles, practically walked into room eighteen. Thing was, now they didn't only have to worry about people looking in for them for the break in, or Northridge's murder. She might just call the cops and accuse him of something unspeakable.
He groaned. Seemed impossible that job could get any worse.
There was a thermostat just inside the door and he turned it up high and dragged Rusty through into the bathroom. It was absolutely filthy, the shower smeared with grim and mould and a dozen other things, he didn't even want to try and identify, but that didn't matter right now. He knocked the water on and sprang back as it spluttered down onto him. That felt boiling. And that probably meant he was even colder than he'd thought.
Grimacing, he turned the temperature down for the moment, and pushed Rusty into the stall, crawling in after him.
Skin to skin contact. That was the thing, right? Clumsily he stripped them both and pulled Rusty close to him, wrapping his arms and legs around Rusty and resuming rubbing his back and chest, desperately trying to warm both of them up.
Seemed an age before Rusty tilted his head back and blinked up at him groggily. "D'nny?" he mumbled. "We dead?"
Danny's laugh was tinged with hysteria and relief. "We're wet and we're naked. I'm curious as to exactly what kind of afterlife you're imagining here."
Rusty grinned weakly at him and his head dropped forwards again.
Danny grabbed his chin firmly and wrenched his head up. "Oh no you don't. You need to stay awake, Rus''. Talk to me."
"Wha' 'bout?" Rusty yawned.
"Anything," Danny said, shrugging. But Rusty didn't answer and Danny's mind raced. "Alright. That jewellers on Long Island. Where I bought Tess that necklace last month."
"Buchanans," Rusty supplied foggily.
"Exactly," Danny nodded. "How would you hit it? Quickly."
He listened as Rusty stumbled through a plan, broken sentences and half-finished thoughts, and when Rusty finished he suggested another target and another, coming up with increasingly unlikely places.
"Wriggle your toes and fingers while you talk," he ordered when Rusty paused for breath, and he started doing the same.
Rusty screwed his face off. "H-hurts," he complained.
Yeah. Yeah, it really did. But that was probably a good sign. Blood still flowing.
The water was starting to feel cold and he reached above his head and turned the temperature back up. "Keep talking," he told Rusty quietly.
They sat in the shower until Danny had stopped shivering and Rusty was able to form coherent sentences. Then they stood up and got dried with the single grotty towel and stumbled through to the bedroom, lying entwined together, wrapped in the stained blanket, sharing as much body heat as possible.
It would be far too easy to fall asleep like this. And Danny didn't think they were in any danger from hypothermia right now, but there was still Rush and the cops to worry about.
"Danny, what happened?" Rusty asked sleepily. "Last think I 'member was the freezer."
Quickly, he explained about the rescue and Kent Lamming, and Rusty frowned. "Huh. You think he was for real?"
Danny shrugged. "Maybe. If he already suspected Rush...he might think we know something that could help."
Rusty nodded. "Or he could be hoping we can - "
" - lead him back to the others," Danny finished with a grimace. "Yeah."
"We can't take any chances," Rusty said softly.
No. They really couldn't. He sighed. "Okay. You - "
" - think so," Rusty agreed, and as Danny watched, he carefully got out of bed and stretched stiffly. Honestly, he looked like a good breeze would knock him over.
Rusty looked through the bathroom door and sighed. "You had to turn the shower on before we got undressed? Those clothes are soaking."
"Sorry," Danny said unapologetically. "Had other things on my mind." Like keeping you alive, he didn't say, and Rusty shot his a look that said sorry and thank you and Danny dismissed it with a roll of his eyes.
"Okay, " Danny said as he wrung out his shirt and gingerly pulled it on. "So we need to get back to the car - "
" - pick up the tapes," Rusty contributed.
Danny nodded. " - and find out if we've been followed and get back to Saul and the others ."
"Before Saul goes completely out of his mind," Rusty added.
Danny glanced at his watch. "Probably a few hours too late for that."
Rusty sighed. "Can't phone him from here," he said glumly.
No. At least one person knew they were here, and the last thing they wanted was someone pulling the phone record. And their cell phones were safely back in the car.
"Come on," he said tiredly, looking towards the door. "Let's get on with it."
Saul had struck out a couple of dozen times and by now he'd called just about everyone he knew, waking people up and asking questions they couldn't answer.
No one knew anything. He was no further forwards and he was growing desperate.
It was almost four in the morning when he heard a sound in the corridor outside, and heart in mouth, he stepped out into the hall.
Rusty and Danny were standing there, and his absolute relief at seeing them was tempered by the sight of them. They were both pale and bruised and damp, and when they saw him, Rusty just smiled wearily.
"Hey, Saul," Danny said tiredly. "Things got complicated."
He stared. "Tell me about it."