Apprehension by InSilva
Disclaimer: Still don't own. That should not be a surprise.
A/N: Day 2 of the 2011 Advent Calendar. Offered with virtual chocolate. And glitter.
Chapter Three: Arrival
It was possible they had been in stranger situations. It was more than possible that there would be future situations of equal peculiarity. As it was, standing handcuffed and barefoot and almost certainly abducted in a large farmhouse kitchen and being greeted by a little old lady with big blue eyes who looked like she had "sweet" written all the way through her…well, that was definitely in both their top tens.
"Fuck…" Rusty muttered with a mirthless laugh and Bawtry's fist connected with the side of his face.
Unable to save himself, he fell sideways on to the tiled floor. Bawtry dragged him back to his feet.
"What the fuck-"
Rusty's indignation was cut off with a backhanded blow that sent him to the floor again. Bawtry's foot rested on his chest and Bawtry bent his knee, his weight pinning Rusty down, leaning down to talk to him.
"There will be no profanity in front of my mother, Mr Ryan. Is that quite understood?"
Rusty's eyes flicked from Bawtry to Clyde to Danny…Danny silently begging him not to do the stupid thing. And he'd already done that once tonight. Bawtry shifted his weight and the pressure on his chest increased.
"Is that understood?" he asked again.
Oh, well, what the hell. Rusty grinned up at him. "Fuck, yeah."
Bawtry took his foot away and tutted. "Clyde? I think Mr Ryan has a serious issue with authority. Not to mention manners. He needs a little tuition."
"My pleasure," Clyde rumbled and hauled Rusty upright and back out of the door and as he disappeared, Rusty saw the look that was a successful mix of the helpless, the exasperated and the fearful on Danny's face.
"Let's check your pockets, Mr Ocean," Bawtry suggested, patting him down and pulling out any and everything useful.
"You going to tell me what this is about?" Danny asked. "Because I've been arrested before and this is nothing like how it goes down."
Bawtry chuckled. "All in good time, Mr Ocean. Now take a seat," he invited, pulling out a chair at the kitchen table. "It's possible Clyde might be a while."
Danny didn't have too many choices. He sat down and smiled a smile that he was nowhere near feeling as the old lady fussed round him, setting the table.
"I didn't know we were having any more guests, Don," she clucked and Bawtry looked shame-faced.
"I'm sorry, Ma. It was a last minute thing."
"Such a handsome, well-turned out young man, too."
Danny's smile turned up a notch. "Mrs Bawtry, you say the nicest things."
She giggled and went to the oven. "Lucky I made enough to go round."
Silence filled the kitchen and Danny resisted the urge to watch the back door. He wanted to. He wanted to charge out of there right now and find Rusty and…and Bawtry was watching him. Bawtry was watching him closely. Bawtry was busy looking for reaction.
Danny had seen it before. Not often but occasionally. People who knew what they were looking for and how to use it. It was a sophisticated strategy and Bawtry surprised him by adopting it. And the equation was a simple one to calculate.
If Danny showed any anxiety that was out of the ordinary as far as Rusty's welfare was concerned, then Bawtry would know what to do to control him. And that could mean – would mean - more pain for Rusty. It usually did. It was all too fascinating a concept for someone to leave it alone once they'd discovered it.
Worked the other way too, of course. And Rusty knew the rules as well as he did. No weakness. Nothing to exploit.
So he sat and smiled and made polite small talk with Mrs Bawtry and waited and kept his face calm and even and all the time, he ached to dive out of the door and to find Clyde and to explain to him, even with both hands tied behind his back, how very wrongly he was behaving.
This wasn't the way the world worked for Tess. It was worse than finding out that Danny had been arrested because at least that was within the rules that she understood. Right now, she felt like she had when she'd been on the phone to Danny and looked out of the window and seen Terry and everything usual had fallen away.
She sat and watched as Isabel explained what had happened to Saul and she tried to guess the other side of the conversation. Isabel's expression moved between controlled and expressive but she wasn't giving much away with her words.
"I see." An eyebrow raised. "Are you-?" A long pause. "OK. No, that's fine. This is where Rusty and I were staying." She gave the address. There was another pause and then her voice turned business-like. "Don't be ridiculous, Saul, or I will speak to Marian." Her voice softened. "Look after yourself."
She closed the call and sighed.
"Saul had an argument with a ladder yesterday and broke his leg."
Tess winced. "How is he?"
"Back home now. He's all for coming down here," Isabel said, adding doubtfully, "but I think he's going to listen to sense."
"Marian won't let him," Tess said at once. She'd met Marian. Warm and pleasant and definitely no-nonsense.
"No. He said he'd contact the others."
The others. The others who moved in the world of the con. Reuben and Frank and Bobby and all of them. She'd gotten to know them as individuals over the last few years. Danny's idea. He was trying so hard to involve her, to acclimatise her gently.
"Come on," Isabel said. "Saul's going to send reinforcements. Let's get back to the apartment."
That didn't make sense to Tess because her home was closer than the rented apartment but maybe Isabel hadn't thought about that. She'd leave it for now because there was a more important point to discuss.
"We can't go back to anywhere. We need to be doing something," she insisted stubbornly. "They're out there and we have to find them. We have to."
She wasn't going to lose Danny again. Not after all they'd been through.
"We will, Tess." Isabel sounded definite. Like nothing was going to stop her and Tess envied her the control and the impassive. "But we're not going to do it in ballgowns."
A laugh exploded from Tess and she slapped her hand over mouth, shocked at herself.
"It's OK." Isabel smiled. And then the smile wavered. "It'll be OK."
And Tess saw her eyes and realised Isabel was just as scared as she was.
Rusty was propelled through the back door and however hard he tried, Danny couldn't control the little sag of relief in his shoulders at seeing him again. He gave Rusty a casual once over. Rusty's face was unmarked but there was the fresh remnant of pain in Rusty's eyes that suggested Clyde had not been gentle.
How you doing?
I'll live. You?
All the better for seeing you.
"You're back just in time for supper," Bawtry beamed. "Oh, pat him down, Clyde, would you?"
Danny watched Rusty's lips curl just a fraction as Clyde pawed his way over him, fishing out phone and keys and other assorted essentials and tossing them on the side.
"I can tell you enjoy your job, Clyde," Rusty said, tight-lipped, as Clyde's fingers lingered on his body.
"I believe Clyde does take pleasure in his work," Bawtry agreed. He picked up the little sharp-bladed tool with interest. "Well, well. I have this little fella's twin just here. Who'd have thought? Is he clean, Clyde?"
"Yeah," Clyde nodded, straightening up. "He'll do."
Rusty sat down heavily the other side of the table, opposite Danny.
"Make yourself comfortable, Mr Ryan," Bawtry suggested. "Ma's about to serve up."
Bawtry sat at the head of the table and Clyde took his seat beside Rusty. A plate of meat and vegetables and gravy was placed in front of each of them by Ma.
"Are you still on duty, Don, or can you have a beer?" she asked fondly.
"Beer sounds good, Ma," Bawtry smiled at her. "One for Clyde too."
And two Buds, nicely chilled, were produced.
"What about our other guests?"
"Don't you worry none about them, Ma. They got water aplenty if they want it. Well, dig in, gentlemen."
Bawtry and Clyde started eating with gusto and Ma sat down in a rocking chair close by, busying herself with needlework. Danny and Rusty looked at the plates of food and then up at each other and frowned slightly.
No more than usual. Danny...do you think-
One way to find out.
Danny cleared his throat and stated the obvious. "Mr Bawtry? We both still have our hands cuffed behind our back. Would appreciate it if you'd free us so that we can enjoy Mrs Bawtry's delicious cooking."
There was a giggle from Ma as she worked on the sampler and an altogether nastier look of amusement on Clyde's face.
"I just bet you'd like that, Mr Ocean. Bet you'd like me to hand over the keys to the car outside too while I'm at it. No, I'm sorry. The cuffs stay on."
There was a pause and they worked their way through that thought and looked at each other hard to make sure the other had got it.
"You expect us to eat without using our hands," Rusty said.
Bawtry paused and chewed for a moment. "That's about the size of it."
Danny's nose wrinkled slightly and it earned him a flash of amusement from Rusty and then the amusement fell away.
Hoping I'm wrong.
"You mentioned water," Rusty said. "I'm kind of thirsty right now."
Bawtry's grin was in no way reassuring.
"Show him, Clyde."
Clyde put his knife and fork down and wiped the gravy off his chin, then got to his feet and dragged Rusty upright.
"You really need to work on your people skills," Rusty told him earnestly and Danny saw Clyde's fingers tighten.
There was a certain relish in the way Clyde pulled Rusty across the tiled floor and then shoved him hard in the middle of his back so that Rusty fell to earth, his cheek breaking his fall. Danny winced inwardly for him.
"There," Clyde said.
Rusty raised his head to find a dog bowl filled with water.
"You're gonna have to share," Bawtry told Danny with unmeant apology. "But any time you fellas want a refill, you just have to ask."
Danny saw Rusty sit up and the look flashed across to him.
I hate being right.
"Can you pass that box down, Ma? That's right. That big one. Thanks." Bawtry fished inside the box and produced a Polaroid camera. He trained it in Rusty's direction. "You want to take a drink, Mr Ryan, you go right ahead when you're ready."
"The urge has left me," Rusty grinned at him and turned to Clyde. "Sorry to interrupt your meal."
Bawtry sighed. "Bring him back, Clyde."
As Rusty was returned to his seat, Bawtry put the camera to one side.
"So that we know where we stand, gentlemen. The cuffs stay on. You can eat, you can drink, you'll have shelter for the night. And whenever you want to relieve yourselves, you let Clyde know. He'll take you to the bathroom."
"But the cuffs stay on." Danny got it. He heard the little hiss that meant Rusty got it too.
"Clyde can help you out there," Bawtry advised and Danny bit his lip at the look Clyde was shooting in Rusty's direction. Bawtry's expression hardened. "We quite clear on everything?"
Danny looked down at the food and across at the water bowl and then at the camera. "Crystal," he agreed.
A/N: Marian appears in "One Year, Two Years, Always, Ever".