Disclaimer: I do not own anything to do with Ocean's 11. I own Carson, Moffatt and Felding. Anyone want them?
A/N1: This is a continuation to 'Falling like dominoes'. I strongly suggest that you read that first. Really doubt that this will make sense without it. I'm hoping it makes sense with it.
A/N2: This story is set beginning from one day after the end of the Benedict job and the plan is to continue until a couple of weeks before the events that would be Ocean's 12 if we weren't firmly in an alternate universe. This will therefore be a certain number of chapters long. Any questions?
A/N3: This fic is rated 'M'. And while there is nothing in this chapter that merits the ratings, in later chapters there will be. I'd look out for chapter 3 for a start. At any rate, there are adult themes throughout. *shrug* But, if you've read 'dominoes' you probably knew that already.
One day later
They'd driven out of Vegas after the party at Reuben's finally came to an end. Scattering and leaving the scene of the crime had always been part of the plan. They'd driven for a few hours. Stopped in some anonymous hotel in some even more anonymous town and gone straight to bed.
Rusty's nightmares woke them four or five times during the night. Memories and permutations. Fifty seven varieties of pain. Each time Danny spoke to him, urgent, calming words until – eventually – he was sure of where he was and he clung to Danny and accepted, cherished, the love and comfort on offer.
In the end, a little before dawn, they managed to get just under two hours of continuous, uninterrupted sleep. More than he'd managed in....a long time. A very long time. And when he did wake, he wasn't crying or shaking enough to disturb Danny. Which was probably good. Any sleep might seem miraculous to him, but Danny was used to more. Still, he hesitated, staring at Danny, sleeping inches from him, selfishly wanting the company, the comfort. Eventually he got up and, bleary eyed, headed out to the balcony. He leaned on the railing and stared out at the city below, feeling the breeze on his face. It felt nice. Reassuring. If he concentrated on the sensation he thought that maybe he could convince himself that he was still free.
The nightmare clung to him, even though it hadn't been one of the worst ones. He grinned; it was nice to have some kind of scale to these things. Nice to have the idea that some occasions of helddownhurttrappedforced were less than others. But that time, the time he'd been dreaming about, it had been Moffatt and Jones, Moffatt's cellmate, and it had been a stolen moment behind the laundry, and it had been fast, time had been of the essence and there'd been no games, no words, no teasing, no kisses and lingering touches – no pretence that it was anything other than what it was.
That was the best way. If it had to happen. That was best. He bit his lip and sat down heavily on the railing as he imagined Danny's face if Rusty explained that there were ways he preferred to be fucked. And he knew, or thought he knew, or was almost nearly sure that he thought he knew that Danny wouldn't be disgusted. Horrified, shocked, angry, heartsick. Not disgusted. Not repulsed by the level that Rusty had sunk to. Didn't stop him imagining it. Didn't do anything to ease the disgust he felt at himself, the shame at everything he'd allowed to be done to him. That was wrapped so tightly around him, embedded so deep in his mind, his soul, that he couldn't imagine it would ever change.
He drew his knees up to his chest and shivered. What happened now? So they were together now, him and Danny and that was...well, it was. They were. A glorious, undeniable fact. And Danny had promised that he wouldn't leave, and Danny really was staying with him because he wanted to. Needed to. Danny loved him. And that was all true and that was all undeniable, but the whispers in the back of his mind were so very loud. Asking why. Demanding to know how Danny could stand to look at him when he couldn't bear to look at himself. Reminding him that they'd had all this in the first place, and Danny still left before. Insisting that there were things that he had done that would drive Danny away all over again, that would be beyond even Danny's ability to understand or forgive. Saying that it didn't even matter what Danny was offering, because he simply didn't deserve it.
"Rusty!" Danny's voice sounded hushed and urgent, and with difficulty he turned his head to see Danny and, with an effort, he smiled a good morning.
"Rus'?" Danny's voice was calm. Forcibly so. Frighteningly so, and he was standing absolutely still as if he was afraid to get closer. "Would you mind getting down from there?"
He blinked and looked around him slowly. Oh. He was on the balcony. Perched on the very corner of the railing, most of his weight on the wrong side of the twenty storey drop. He stared down over the edge, the ground below so very far away, and it seemed like Danny had forgotten how to breathe.
Quickly he moved backwards, scrambled down until the balcony was under his feet and Danny was gripping his arms tightly, pulling him inside, away from open spaces and long drops.
Danny let go the moment they were inside and stood staring at him, wide-eyed and shaking. He sank bonelessly onto the nearest chair and looked up anxiously at Danny. "I wasn't thinking," he assured Danny frantically. "I wasn't. I just..." He shrugged. "Just wasn't thinking."
"I know," Danny said heavily. "You didn't look like you meant to. You looked blank. Like you had no idea where you were. How much better do you really think that makes it?"
He would say sorry, but it wasn't what Danny wanted to hear, and besides, they both already knew he was. He reached forwards instead, reached for Danny's hands, searching for everything he – they – needed.
Danny took his hand and held it against his face for a long moment. "There's someone who wants to hurt you, Rusty. And it's you. And that's different from everything we've had to deal with before. But it's still..." Danny trailed off and shrugged. It's still us. I'm going to protect you, Rusty read, as easily as if Danny had said it out loud.
He smiled slightly. "Why do I get the feeling that you're not going to let me out of your sight again?" he asked wryly.
Danny looked serious. "I never meant to in the first place," he said, and he gripped Rusty's hand tighter, in ridiculous apology, and the look in his eyes was even more pronounced, the look Rusty had seen so often, the look that was always there now, the I-could-have-lost-you look, and Rusty wrapped his arms around Danny tightly, in a desperate, joint need for reassurance, promising that he was here, that they were together and he was going to do his very best to make sure things stayed that way.
They spent the rest of the day drifting and doing very little. Walking round shops and into cafes. Ice cream and coffee featured heavily in their non-plan. To Danny's intense relief there was no repeat of that morning. That was probably the very worst way to wake up he'd ever experienced, and he couldn't bring himself to even contemplate the could-have-beens.
Still, there were a few bad moments. Three moments. Three painful, inexplicable moments when he saw Rusty's eyes glaze over. When he saw Rusty start to vanish in on himself and he had to act quickly to stop Rusty getting lost entirely. So far simply reminding Rusty of his presence was enough. He could only hope that continued. And he didn't know what had triggered any of the incidents today, didn't know what combination of words, looks, people, thoughts, might affect Rusty. Certainly people were inclined to look twice at Rusty; the marks that Carson had left were still vivid and Danny knew that even before, even at the best of times, Rusty would have been intensely aware of that kind of scrutiny. Now it left him vulnerable and Danny wasn't really surprised when Rusty quietly suggested that maybe they could go back to the hotel for dinner. Eat room service. Watch TV. Together alone.
Of course Danny wasn't looking too hard at the bruises either. Not because he thought Rusty would be uncomfortable. Every time he saw the physical evidence of what Carson had done, he started thinking about ways to break a man out of prison and things that could be done once he was there. And as wonderfully tempting as the thought remained; Carson wasn't what was important. Rusty was. And he mustn't even come close to forgetting that again.
They got up to the room and Danny turned the TV on and turned his attention to the room service menu. After a moment of quietness and no comment, he glanced up, frowning. Rusty was perched uncomfortably on the very edge of the sofa, glancing uneasily at the door and the windows. He was quiet, unnaturally so, like he was doing his best to not exist, and Danny hated it.
"Rusty - " he said softly.
Rusty blinked and looked at him and did his best to smile. "I think the club sandwich sounds good," he suggested brightly.
Danny sighed. "Good guess. But there isn't a club sandwich on this menu."
"Oh," Rusty paused. "What sort of room service menu is this?"
"What is it?" Danny asked gently.
"It's a sandwich with three slices of bread. But that's not important right now." The joke was automatic.
"Rusty," Danny chided.
"It's nothing," Rusty said dismissively, and again he tried to smile, but he wouldn't meet Danny's eyes.
"It's not nothing," Danny answered firmly.
Rusty shrugged. "It's stupid anyway." His eyes were fixed firmly on the floor.
Carefully – slowly – Danny stepped forwards and put a hand on Rusty's shoulder. Rusty jumped – flinched – immediately and Danny swore and moved his hand away quickly but Rusty reached out and grabbed his hand before he could.
"Don't," Rusty said abruptly.
He hesitated, torn between wanting to comfort and not wanting to trigger any memories. But what Rusty wanted took priority, and Rusty wasn't letting go of his hand. He stood at Rusty's shoulder, listened to Rusty fighting for control and silently promised all over again that he wasn't going anywhere. Presently, Rusty's breathing slowed to normal, and he looked up at Danny in wordless request.
Smiling reassuringly he sat down on the sofa, careful to leave a comfortable distance between them, right up until the moment when Rusty sighed and leaned over the sofa, pressing himself close against Danny's side, his head leaning back against Danny's shoulder. Unthinkingly – or at least trying not to – Danny slung his arm comfortably and comfortingly around Rusty's shoulders, and he could feel Rusty relax a little, could sense the contentment.
They sat in silence for a while, and gradually the tension crept back in. Not directed at Danny though. Not about the touching. And Rusty was staring at the door again.
He took a deep breath and wondered, savagely, who Rusty was afraid was going to come through that door. Wondered who Rusty was subconsciously waiting for. Wondered who had hurt Rusty so much. Rusty tensed against his shoulder, pulling away a little, and his gaze fell to the carpet.
It was with a wrench of revelation that he turned the thought around and everything fell into place. Rusty wasn't afraid of who might come in. Rusty was afraid that he couldn't get out. Trapped just by being in one place a little too long.
"Rus'?" he said gently. "We can leave anytime, you know. Right now, if that's what you need. Or what you want."
Rusty sat up, away from him, hunched in on himself. "Stupid," he said, and Danny didn't know if he meant the fear or himself.
"It's not," he said softly and firmly and he found himself kneeling in front of Rusty, clutching his hand tightly. "Rusty, it's me, remember? That means you get whatever you need. Want. I promise. You want the moon, I'll find a way to get it for you." He stared up into Rusty's eyes and he let Rusty see that he meant every word.
After a moment Rusty smiled slightly. "Good thing for you that I don't, right?"
"Oh, I'd find a way," Danny promised. He would.
"I want to leave," Rusty said, quiet and hesitant.
Danny nodded and stood up. "Then we go."
Time and space and whatever Rusty wanted. And things were going to get better.
Hope you enjoyed that. Please let me know what you think.