A/N: And last chapter of this fic. Just to prove that not everything I write is impossibly long. And also because this is where the story ends. :)
A/N2: InSilva says I am only slightly here. *sulk*
As he'd figured, Rusty spent most of the night trying to talk Danny down from the ice cold heights of fury.
"You know he didn't lay a finger on me," he pointed out for the nineteenth time.
"Doesn't matter," Danny answered again tersely. "He was going to - "
He raised an eyebrow. " - you seriously think I couldn't take Terry Benedict in a fight?"
"I seriously think you shouldn't have to," Danny said levelly, and that was a little difficult to argue with. There was no justifying Terry's behaviour in Danny's eyes. Hell, it wasn't like Rusty was exactly happy with it himself, but he figured that all of Danny's instinctive responses came with a number of tiresome consequences.
"Terry's just trying to make me uncomfortable," he argued softly. "He's looking for a reaction. Let's try not give him what he wants, huh? It sets a very dangerous precedent."
Danny's lips were thin. "Tomorrow - "
" - oh, tomorrow goes ahead," he agreed at once. Now they had absolutely no need to feel guilty for taking revenge on Terry before he'd technically gotten around to screwing them over.
And hopefully that would be enough to satisfy Danny. It was just annoying that Terry's little foray into sexual harassment had come at a time when they were being caught on camera. Because maybe he might have got around to telling Danny at some point, but he'd have made sure they were a long way away from Vegas when he did.
"Terry's...insignificant," he reminded Danny. "He couldn't matter less."
"I should've never made you do this," Danny said heavily, looking away from him.
He looked at Danny. "Made?"
"You know what I mean," Danny said, leaning in closer to him on the sofa so their shoulders brushed lightly together.
"This was our idea," Rusty told him firmly. "And it's worked just fine. Terry's..." He shrugged. "Terry is Terry. And tomorrow he gets to see himself in a whole new light."
That won a smile from Danny at last.
Tomorrow would not be a good day for Terry. And, more importantly, tomorrow, between the club and the benefit, Wyatt would wind up losing his money, his reputation and everything that mattered to him.
Providing everything went to plan.
"You ready to do some gambling?" Samuel asked cheerfully as Wyatt met him outside Stars.
He smiled back. "Naturally." Really, Samuel was a bit of an idiot. It wasn't right that a fool like that had such a brilliant scheme. He wondered if there was a way he could get to Samuel's contact himself. Then he'd be calling the shots. Still, that was a thought for another time. Right now he had eighty six thousand dollars in a briefcase, and he was ready to become fantastically rich and have the pleasure of wiping the smile off that manager's face. "You said your contact had something special for today?"
"Yeah." Samuel nodded eagerly, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. "The race fixers my friend knows normally just go with the second favourite, you know? Or something middle of the range like before. But every year or so, when they figure they can get away with it, they have some no hoper that's actually a dead cert and pay the favourites off. Result? A winner with impossible odds."
"And anyone who bets on him gets rich," he breathed.
"Exactly," Samuel grinned. "Now, come on. My contact won't hear till last minute again. We don't want to miss the start of the race."
No they certainly did not.
Rusty grinned to himself and took another swig of Red Bull as he watched Linus and Wyatt walk into the club on the monitor.
"Okay, Linus is in," he announced into his headset. "Everyone set? Turk, Virgil?"
"No problem," came the answer from Virgil.
"I looked better in the SWAT uniform," Turk complained.
Rusty grinned again. "We all did," he said nostalgically. He didn't need to look round to know that Danny was smirking from the other side of the room where he was watching the races. Livingston twisted round and shot him a look. He shrugged. "Frank?" he checked.
"Ready," Frank confirmed.
"Bash?" he said finally.
"Everything's set," Basher told him. "Just say the word.
Alright then. He looked over to Danny enquiringly.
"All three are still looking good," Danny confirmed, not looking up from the screen.
Good. Didn't matter if the horse won or lost this time around, but the margins were tight enough that it at least mattered whether or not it started reasonably. They had to make sure Wyatt wouldn't turn on Linus immediately...and afterwards he'd have enough to be thinking of.
"Sioux City Sally in the three thirty," Danny said decidedly after another minute. "Two hundred to one. First thirty seconds are just fine, although after that..."
"I'll get the feed lined up," Livingston said hurriedly.
"We'll be quick," Turk promised.
"From what I hear you always are," Virgil sniped.
Shaking his head, Rusty was already texting Linus.
Despite having heard the entire conversation, Linus carefully didn't announce the name until after he'd had sufficient time to actually read the text. "Sioux City Sally in the three thirty," he said in a hushed voice.
Wyatt glanced at the clock on the wall worriedly. "That's only five minutes," he hissed. "Come on."
Linus was already moving, heading up to where Frank was waiting at the counter. "Hundred thou on Sioux City Sally to win please," he said nonchalantly, handing over his briefcase.
Frank pursed his lips. "Two hundred to one? It's your money." He took the case, made a show of counting the cash, put it in the safe and then wrote out a betting slip and handed it to Linus. Behind him, Wyatt was bouncing on the balls of his feet impatiently. Linus resisted the urge to grin at Frank and moved out of the way politely.
"Eighty six thousand. Sioux City Sally. To win," Wyatt blurted out. "Quickly, if you don't mind," he added, banging his case on the counter.
Frank raised an eyebrow and made no move to take the case. "There's an eighty five thousand maximum bet for non members," he told Wyatt coolly.
"You telling me you don't want to take my money?" Wyatt demanded, his voice high with indignation.
"I'm telling you we're only going to take eighty five thousand dollars of your money," Frank said in a tone of patient aggravation.
"Fine," Wyatt said with ill grace, taking the thousand dollars back.
Refusing to take a mark's money. Linus had to admit, this was a new one. "Come on, let's go watch our horse win," he told Wyatt cheerfully, laying his hand on Wyatt's shoulder. And that was the signal.
"Livingston," Rusty said, and Livingston was already playing the start of the race on the big screen in the main room. "Okay, Bash?"
"Fuses set," Basher confirmed.
"We're ready," Turk said.
He glanced at the monitors. Wyatt and Linus were watching the race.
Time to bring everything down. "Go," he said.
The explosion hit whilst Wyatt was eagerly watching the race, willing Sioux City Sally to break. He would swear the ground actually shook beneath his feet, and a second later the lights cut out and the room was filled with smoke. He stumbled backwards fearfully, his heart hammering in his chest.
"What was that?" Samuel demanded shrilly, grabbing Wyatt's arm in a bruising grip. "What's going on?"
He didn't know. A bomb? An earthquake? It wasn't impossible; everyone knew about the earthquake that had hit the night of the grand opening of the Bank. Oh, God, he didn't want to die!
"Police! Everyone down on the ground!" a voice bellowed, and there were armed police officers silhouetted in the doorway.
"It's a raid," Samuel said in a strangled whisper. "Oh, fuck. I can't afford to get arrested."
Neither could Wyatt. And even though they'd probably get off with a caution, just the fact that the police were involved...his reputation...oh, God. And if they dug deep enough, and found out about the inside betting...that was serious. They'd be lucky to get jail time and not just get flat up executed by the guys behind this.
"We have to get out of here," Samuel said wildly, echoing Wyatt's thoughts exactly.
They were right at the back of the room. Everyone was milling around. People were shouting and screaming. Could they make a break for it? Did he dare?
"Come on," Samuel said, hauling at his arm and dragging him towards the rest room.
He resisted, staring at the counter. "My money..." he protested feebly, and immediately shut up when Samuel looked at him. Right. What mattered was escaping.
The restroom was deserted, but there was a large window at the end of it.
"I'll see if I can get this open," Samuel said anxiously.
They didn't have time. He grabbed the garbage bin off the floor and slammed it against the window. The glass shattered everywhere.
"Or we could do that," Samuel said, nervously glancing over his shoulder.
Wyatt was already struggling to climb up and out. He more or less fell to the ground, his hands and knees lightly bleeding. He could hear Samuel struggling behind him, but he didn't slow down, he just took off running, gripped by the undeniable need to get away.
He could hear sirens and shouting not too far away. He swallowed hard. Let him get away. Oh, God, let him get away.
"Hey!" A shout behind him, and he half turned his head in time to see Samuel being forcibly tackled to the ground by two uniformed cops. He manage to raise his head and look up at Wyatt. "Help me!" he pleaded.
No chance. He ran and he didn't stop running until he was close to the other end of the strip. He stood panting and out of breath in an alley, doubled over, his hands on his knees, his chest aching. Eighty five thousand dollars – gone. Just like that, and no hope of getting it back. His contact to the race fixers – missing. And he didn't hold out much hope of seeing Samuel again either. Either he'd be in prison, or he'd be skipping town. Everything had just gone to hell, and the only consolation was he hadn't actually got arrested.
God, this was a nightmare. He looked at his watch and groaned. And after all that, he'd have to head straight to the art centre, get ready for the fundraiser and act like nothing was wrong.
Linus groaned and twisted his head around to look up at Turk and Virgil, dressed up in their cop uniforms and taking their time to actually get off him. "Guys...did you have to hit me so hard?"
"We had to make it look realistic," Virgil said unrepentantly as Linus struggled to his feet.
"You didn't want to risk Wyatt actually coming back to save you from the big bad cops, did you?" Turk added.
Virgil looked down at his brother. "Big? Really?"
A scuffle threatened to break out momentarily. "Guys," Linus said. They ignored him. "Guys!" he added a little louder and this time they looked round to see what he wanted at least. "Don't you think we should get back? We might be needed."
Unlikely – barring anything unforseen, their part should be done. But even if he wasn't involved, he wanted to watch. He wanted to see how it all turned out, after all.
They barely got a nod of acknowledgement when they arrived back. It looked like Danny, Rusty, Saul, Yen and Reuben had already left, but Livingston and Frank were sitting around the monitors, watching the action intently. Livingston had hacked the feed from the security camera in the gallery, and they had another monitor set up to show the view from the camera Rusty had planted in Wyatt's office.
"Is Wyatt back yet?" he asked.
"Not that we've seen," Frank said without looking round. "We're assuming he is going to go back to the office first."
Reuben snorted. "If he doesn't, he's a bigger fool than we thought."
Linus had spent quite a bit of time with Wyatt now. That wouldn't altogether surprise him.
Fortunately, at that moment, they saw Wyatt walk into the office and bend down over the safe.
They all leaned forwards as he keyed in the combination, watching intently.
"Eight six five two one," Livingston said into the microphone, as Wyatt swung the safe open and threw his last thousand dollars inside. "Bash, get ready to cut the power."
So far, so good.
The receptionist didn't even give Rusty a second glance when he walked into the art centre. He was familiar enough now to be part of the furniture, and that was exactly what he needed. Especially since she and the doorman were too busy being puzzled by the sudden, unexpected power failure that had left them reliant on the back up generators. Of course, they were worried about the lights being a bit dim and the AC being off, when really they should be worried about the cameras being off.
Half an hour until the fundraiser started, and that was more than enough time to stroll into the deserted gallery and stand carefully in front of Reuben's Van Gogh and Terry's Picasso, and wait for the commotion outside to reach him. That was Saul. Insisting that as the premier reporter for Art in America, he was entitled to see Wyatt for an interview right now.
He smiled; Saul should keep everyone distracted for at least ten minutes, and he quickly moved to the corner of the room and opened the narrow grille and looked up. The air duct was tiny. Completely impossible for anyone to fit inside, even the world's greatest greaseman. But there was a crawlspace immediately above that was wider, and it was from there that the self-declared world's greatest greaseman was glaring down at him.
He grinned and held out a hand, and Yen dropped the two rolled up forgeries down to him.
Okay. He had to move fast. Saul couldn't keep everyone out forever. He made the switch as quickly as he could, and stood back for a moment to check that everything was exactly as it had been when he walked in. Looked good. It was a pity, really...Wyatt really was an excellent forger.
Hurriedly, he picked the genuine paintings up and took them back to the grille. There was a clamp dangling on a wire, and he attached them and gave it a tug, and Yen reeled it up quickly. He waited until the paintings were in Yen's hand. "Thought you hated fishing, Amazing." He grinned at the hand gesture that came his away an calmly shut the grille behind him and walked back into the centre of the room. "Basher..." he murmured, and a second later the lights blinked and shone brighter as the power came back on.
Now he was ready for the party.
After the disaster of this afternoon, Wyatt was surprised that the fundraiser seemed to be going so well. He'd barely had enough time to shower and change before everything had kicked off. Starting with his interview with Richard Falcon from Art in America. He didn't think they'd actually got around to scheduling an interview, but somehow he'd been late for it. Thankfully Falcon hadn't seemed to mind and the questions had been flattering and he'd allowed him to talk about himself and his work and his dreams at length.
It seemed like Falcon was impressed, and now he found himself holding court with a gaggle of journalists. Art and lifestyle correspondents from the local outlets, mainly. But they all seemed impressed with the art and the company, and the elegant waitresses with their trays of champagne and canopies. He sighed with happy relief. So maybe he'd screwed up with the racing, but he was certain he could turn the good publicity from tonight into cold hard cash.
He frowned as he suddenly spotted Danny Ocean from across the room. That was...odd. What was he doing here? And it looked like he was on crutches too. Excusing himself from Falcon for a moment, he hurried across and was accosted by Reuben Tishkoff. "Wyatt! This is a good party you got going. My painting looks good on your wall. Not thinking of keeping it, are you?"
He laughed politely. "No, no. You'll have it back tomorrow as planned." And then a few months later, the man standing next to you will steal it. God, Tishkoff was such a fool.
Tishkoff noticed him looking at Danny. "Oh, this is my friend, Danny Ocean. He's just passing through. Danny, this is Wyatt Traynor, our gracious host."
"Nice to meet you," Danny smiled, shaking his hand like they'd never laid eyes on each other. Wyatt did his best to imitate him. "I was visiting Reuben and he was nice enough to invite me along tonight."
"I see you've hurt your leg?" Wyatt said curiously.
"Fell down the stairs," Danny said with a tight smile. "Occupational hazard."
Huh. He supposed falling down the stairs would be. He smiled to himself, revelling in knowing something no one else did.
Terry looked across the room to where Ocean and Tishkoff were talking to Wyatt. Seemed like they were making progress with their little scheme.
From what they'd said, they would have already stolen the paintings at this point. They'd just be waiting for the right opportunity to plant them.
Ocean had a set of crutches. And as pleasant as it was to consider that maybe he'd met with some kind of accident, it was far more likely that the paintings were concealed in them.
He met Rex's eyes for a moment and Rex nodded grimly to him.
Rex was his newest hire. An ex cop with all the skills that suggested, and more importantly, someone that none of Ocean's band of troublemakers would recognise.
He'd follow Ocean, and when Ocean made the switch, he'd let Terry know. Ocean's people and Wyatt would be caught together. His enemies all dealt with at once.
That would be a very good day indeed.
Linus grimaced at the monitor. It wasn't looking good.
"Too many reporters," Livingston said nervously. "He's not going to be able to get away without someone seeing."
"Anyone able to provide a distraction?" Linus asked.
"Already on it," Rusty answered calmly.
Rusty was conscious of the effort it was taking Danny not to look at him as he crossed the room, but it wasn't as if he actually needed eye contact to know what Danny was thinking. Disapproval and concern topped by amusement, resignation and a healthy dose of righteous satisfaction.
Terry Benedict was standing by himself in a corner, apparently having just finished up talking on his cell phone. Checking in with his staff, no doubt, making sure nothing had caught fire in his absence. Terry was such a control freak, and Rusty resolutely ignored his own rising phone bill.
When Terry saw him coming his eyes flickered. A hint of panic and worry, and Rusty had no doubt he was remembering last night.
"Hello, Terry, " he murmured, his eyes dancing. "I thought since you're so intent on helping with this job, you wouldn't mind providing a distraction."
Terry glared at him with an expression of deep seated and entirely justified mistrust. "What sort of distraction?"
"Don't worry," Rusty assured him. "Just act naturally."
He drew his hand back, conscious of everyone around him.
The loud crack was satisfying. The look on Terry's face, even more so.
"Mr Benedict!" he said loudly, into the suddenly silent room, his voice high pitched and quivering with absolute outrage. "Keep your hands to yourself, please."
Linus stared blankly at the monitor. Rusty had just slapped Terry Benedict. Rusty had just slapped Terry Benedict.
He turned to Livingston. "We're dead, aren't we?"
"Uh huh," Livingston agreed dully.
"Least no one's looking at anything else," Frank said optimistically.
It took Terry twenty minutes to make it absolutely clear to the assembled crowd, and especially the journalists, that the little incident with Ryan had been a misunderstanding, nothing more. He wasn't in the habit of groping life models, certainly not male ones, and definitely not ones as infuriating as Robert Charles Ryan. He managed to calm himself by imagining exactly what he would do to Ryan when this was over. Perhaps he would make sure that Ryan stayed out of prison, just so he could send his people to bring him back in order that he could personally explain to Ryan exactly what he thought of this indignity.
Let them have their moment of triumph and invulnerability. Very soon he'd bring their world crashing down around them.
Rex gave him a nod and he smiled coldly to himself. He had them right where he wanted them. Time to call in the Las Vegas PD.
Danny smiled. The real paintings were planted. Now all that was required was for someone to unearth the fakes. That was Saul's cue.
He broke off from holding court on the wonders of art revival to gaze closely at the Van Gogh, a blatantly-obvious puzzled frown on his face. "Is everything alright?" Reuben asked loudly, attracting the attention of everyone in the immediate vicinity.
"There's something wrong with this painting," Saul said even louder, attracting the attention of everyone in the room. "It's a fake."
"That's impossible," Reuben said firmly. "I had it valued just last week to check the insurance for the exhibition. It was absolutely genuine then. Are you sure, Mr..."
"Richard Falcon. Art in America," Saul introduced himself. "Acknowledged expert in Van Gogh's early work. And I'm telling you, Mr Tishkoff. Your painting may well have been genuine last week, but if that's the case, this is not your painting."
There was a suitable gasp from all around them, and a couple of quick-thinking journalists started taking pictures. Danny smiled to himself; they hardly needed to orchestrate this part of the con. Mob mentality would do it for them.
"What's going on?" Wyatt demanded, pushing his way through the crowd.
"Apparently, since it's been in your care, my priceless painting has turned into a fake," Reuben told him, his eyes narrowed.
"Impossible," Wyatt said with a nervous laugh, and Danny wasn't so sure he could look guiltier if he actually tried.
"This one too," Saul announced authoritatively, moving over to the Picasso.
"No," Wyatt blurted out instantly. "No, they're genuine. They have to be." He stared at Danny, a look of panic and confusion on his face, obviously trying to figure out how to accuse Danny without incriminating himself.
Fortunately, Terry Benedict was on hand to save him the trouble. He swept over with a couple of cops close behind. "Of course the paintings are fake," he announced disparagingly. "That was Wyatt's plan all along. He's working with Ocean there, and I can prove it."
Danny smiled. "I seriously doubt that."
"The real paintings are in Wyatt's studio," Terry went on, talking to the police sergeant beside him. "My man saw Ocean putting them there himself."
The man in question stepped forwards. "Rex, Stevens, Las Vegas PD. Retired. On Mr Benedict's instructions I followed the suspect to the art studio. He walked in and was inside for several minutes."
The cops looked at him. Danny shrugged. "I was looking for the rest rooms. Got caught up looking at Wyatt's latest painting. It's very...interesting."
"Well," the police sergeant said. "Seems to me that we should go and see if the paintings are in this studio." He looked at Danny and Watt in turn. "If they are, then it looks very bad for both of you."
Danny nodded cheerfully. Terry was right on schedule to try and screw them over. He followed the police round to the studio along with everyone else. Wyatt made a break for the front door and was grabbed by a couple of cops and brought back, struggling and protesting.
At this point, he might as well have written a signed confession.
Terry's lip was curled as he looked at Danny. "Now we'll see," he said viciously, flinging the studio door open.
Right, smack in the centre of the room, mounted on an easel was a copy of 'The Birth of Venus'. With Terry Benedict's face in the place of Venus'.
Danny had to admit, Marc had really excelled himself.
"Now that's disturbing," Reuben commented.
"Private commission for you, Terry?" Rusty murmured.
Terry was just standing, gazing at it in evident disbelief. "That's...but that's not..."
"It's certainly not illegal," Danny said calmly. He smiled at the police sergeant brilliantly. "But I'm sure you can understand why having accidentally opened a door, I was startled enough to want a closer look."
"Yeah," the cop said, sounding dazed, staring from the painting to Terry. "Yeah."
From behind them, there was the sound of hushed giggling and a steady flash of camera phones.
One of the cops searching the studio gave a shout and held up a bundle of papers.
Half finished copies of the Van Gogh and the Picasso. Apparent practice runs, more of Marc's excellent work. Danny had planted them while he'd been planting Venus Terry.
The cops moved away from Danny towards Wyatt. "Where are the paintings?" the sergeant demanded. "Come on, what have you done with them?"
"I don't know..." Wyatt stammered.
"He's got an office across the hall," Rusty offered.
The circus moved across the hall, Terry silently fuming.
"Right. Get that safe open?" the sergeant ordered.
"Of course," Wyatt agreed with growing confidence. "But there won't be anything here. Only I have the combination."
The safe swung open to reveal the Picasso and the Van Gogh, exactly where Saul had planted them, neatly rolled up and waiting.
"No!" Wyatt burst out. "Not, that's impossible. I...I..." He looked like he was having the worst day of his life. Probably he was. After all, that was the point.
"Wyatt Traynor, you're under arrest on a charge of forging and grand larceney. You have the right to..."
Danny managed to resist the urge to grin.
Wyatt was broke, under arrest, his reputation shot to hell. And, incidentally, Terry was confused and humiliated.
Later at Reuben's, and there was beer and pizza and an air of celebration.
"You know what I don't get?" Reuben commented. "When we went into Wyatt's studio, I was expecting to see those paintings Wyatt did of you."
Rusty just smiled.
"Danny removed them," Saul deduced.
Removed and destroyed. Might be art, but they were also evidence.
"I've still got mine," Linus announced with a strange mixture of apology and smugness.
"That's okay," Rusty told him. "I've seen yours. I'm completely unrecognisable."
"Hey!" Linus protested half-heartedly, and shrugged.
"So," Turk asked, elbowing Linus in the ribs. "You seen anything you like?"
"Nothing I ever want to see again," Linus said fervently.
"It's Rusty, you're bound to at some point," Livingston said with a shrug.
"Still not an exhibitionist," Rusty objected mildly.
"Benedict still has his painting, right?" Frank asked, frowning.
Rusty shrugged. "His is almost as bad as Linus'."
"I'm not that bad," Linus muttered sullenly.
"Not to mention - " Rusty continued smoothly, as though there'd been no interruption.
" - Oh, Terry has enough to worry about," Danny finished, smiling sharply.
The rumours had already started spreading. Plenty of people were laughing at Terry Benedict tonight.
Yen stared pointedly at Rusty and asked whether Terry was likely to come after them.
"Nah," he said easily. "He was slightly upset to realise that his little proposition was caught on camera. Bit hard for him to argue that it was unprovoked." That had bothered Terry but not nearly as much as the expression Danny had been wearing when they'd told him about it. Rusty hadn't been able to hear exactly what Danny said, but judging by the way Terry had paled, Danny had managed to get his feelings across precisely.
Linus cleared his throat loudly. They all turned to look at him. "I just wanted to say..." he began awkwardly. "I mean, I know you all..." He struggled a second and then seemed to give up. "Thanks, guys," he said simply.
"Anytime, mate," Basher said sincerely.
Rusty grinned. "You can even hide out at The Standard when your parents find out," he offered generously.
"Oh, that's not going to happen," Linus said confidently. A second later his phone started ringing. He glanced at it and paled before answering it. "Uh, hi, Dad..."
Rusty looked around. "Two hours and forty minutes. Pay up."
Eight rounds of scowls and muttering as they dug into their pockets. He grinned at Danny. Revenge was fun.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed that, please review