So, here I am, neglecting fandoms that I should be updating and writing for a fandom that is virtually nonexistent. Why, you ask? I don't even know.

BUT! Seriously, Brothers Bloom is one bloody good movie. So good that I got off my lazy butt and actually wrote something for it. If you haven't seen it, go watch it now. This story won't make much sense if you haven't seen it, anyway. XDD

So, this started out as three ideas, which all somehow merged to form this one-shot. Basically, it's Stephen's POV + My Theory for Stephen's Decision + How the Movie Really (should have) Ended. So, enjoy!

Disclaimer: If I owned Brothers Bloom this would be part of the movie.


The Day I Con You

Stephen knew that the day will come. He always did.

Sure, he'd hoped that the day wouldn't come too soon, but he still knew. He still prepared for it.

He always knew that he'd fall. He had known that ever since the day they fled from Diamond Dog. The day he plucked out the bastard's eye when he realized what his ex-mentor was doing…doing to…

Well, let's not go there, shall we?

As he led his younger brother down this path of life that they had taken, he had subconsciously let The Plan form in the deepest part of his mind, because he knew, he knew, that one day, he'll fall. One day, there'll be no Brothers Bloom. One day, the legend will finally become just that – a legend.

But he'll be damned if he let his brother go down with him.

So The Plan formed. It grew. It manifested. At one point, he had taken a tiny space in his notebook to jot it down. He made sure that Bloom never found out about it. He couldn't.

The only other person who knew about it was Bang Bang, and she showed him just how much she liked The Plan by promptly chucking the notebook (which she had so gleefully pick pocketed from him) into his face.

One look at the Asian girl's face told him exactly what she had seen. She all but glared at him from across the room as she pointed an accusing finger at the paperbound booklet.

Why? Her eyes asked.

He looked up at her with a tired smile, willing her to understand.

You know exactly why.

Then Bloom walked into the room, and that tired, genuine smile morphed into the devious smirk that they all knew so well.

They talked. They laughed (well, Stephen laughed, and Bloom just stared at him with his mouth in a curve that could barely pass off as a smile). They joked. And he brought up that old joke and ignored a certain Japanese girl's penetrating glare.

"The day I con you is the day I die, Bloom."

Bloom didn't know it, but it was more a promise than it will ever be a joke.

Bang Bang avoided and ignored him for the rest of the night.

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She forgave him.

Or at least she decided that she could still work with him. Whichever it was, Stephen was glad that she didn't vanish on him. He needed to find Bloom.

As they took the train to Montenegro, he quietly told her about her part of The Plan if (when) it ever got down to it.

She responded by stealing the notebook from him again for the sole purpose of chucking it at the back of his head.

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Penelope was good for Bloom, he decided.

As he watched them on the deck, he gave a wry smile. He'd never seen Bloom smile so much in the span of twenty minutes. It was certainly doing wonders for Bloom's mental health.

Then everything clicked. Penelope was perfect. She was someone that Bloom could turn to, when they eventually had to fall through with The Plan.

She was the one that Stephen could entrust Bloom to.

So, as their adventure continued, Penelope was integrated into The Plan. And even though he reminded Bloom again and again not to fall in love with her, it was mostly for show. He knew it was far too late to stop this relationship from growing.

As he watched them, holding hands an all, in the middle of Prague, he couldn't help the smile that formed on his face.

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The visit from Diamond Dog, if nothing else, solidified Stephen's resolve regarding The Plan. He knew, without a doubt, that he would have to execute it. He knew he had to, or Bloom will no doubt fall into Dog's hands. He swore to every deity that he knew of that he'll never let that happen.

But, as Bloom cradled his head and gently rocked them back and forth in the pool of cackle bladder blood, Stephen found himself dreading the day he'll ever have to carry out The Plan.

He hid the smile as Bloom socked him in the face.

It didn't matter. She'll come back. She had Bang Bang's number, after all.

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The moment the Russians started shooting, he knew that something was very, very wrong.

It wasn't the fact that they started shooting. He had told Dog to play it as real as possible. It was the fact that they started shooting before they reached their designated point.

He silently cursed himself for trusting their ex-mentor, all the while yelling at Bang Bang to drive safely. As the car did a flip, he looked back at Bloom, just to see how he was fairing.

He didn't count on seeing his younger brother stare right back at him with wide, terrified eyes. Time seemed to slow down as the unvoiced question hung between them.

All Stephen could do was flash an apologetic smile before the vehicle and reality came crashing down, and they barreled into the forest.

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He should have seen it coming. Dog wasn't one for quick, painless deaths. All things considered, he shouldn't be surprised when someone grabbed him roughly by the shoulders.

But he was.

He still fought. Against the pain and haze, he fought. But he was weak. He was disoriented. He was helpless.

All he could think was God, please, please, please don't let them take Bloom, too.

The name of his brother died on his lips as a thunderclap exploded at the back of his head, and he knew no more.

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He bit back the hiss of pain as a dirty thumb purposely pressed into the cut on his cheek.

"Look at you, Stephen." The gruff voice he had come to hate with everything he had spoke to him, a sickeningly soothing tone to it. Like he was talking to a scared child in the middle of a thunderstorm.

"Look at how far you've fallen. Where is your intellect now, дорогой?" The thumb traced the cut back and forth, until the sting became a molten-iron burn, and it took everything Stephen had to stop himself from crying out.

His arms unconsciously pulled at the ropes binding his wrists as he tried to shift away from the touch on the uncomfortable chair. But the hand held him in place, and his captor chuckled at his attempt.

It only fueled his hatred for the Dog.

The thumb ghosted across his face and began circling the eye that was all but swollen shut. He didn't – couldn't – stop the hiss this time.

"I am sorry about the eye." The same silkily gruff voice (oxymoron, ha) said. He even sounded apologetic. It made Stephen want to gag. "But it's nothing compared to what you did to me, да?"

He glared at him the best he could with a bloody face and only one eye. Which, honestly, was pathetic. His tormentor only smiled down at him, his only visible eye shining with delight at the pain he was causing. Stephen resisted the urge to shiver. He wasn't afraid of him. He couldn't afford to be.

But apparently, the tensing of muscles was enough, and the older man chuckled before finally, finally removing the accursed thumb. Stephen allowed himself to relax for a moment as Dog talked to the thug behind him in rapid Russian.

He let his mind wander, and he found himself again thanking whichever deity that looked over his screwed-up life that they didn't get Bloom. What was he doing now? Was he looking for him? Was Penelope with him?

One thing he was sure about was that Bang Bang was safe. At least, she should be. If she actually listened to him and followed The Plan. She must have. She never disobeyed him before.

He was brought back to reality as Diamond Dog placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Your brother should join you soon." The Russian said, almost cheerfully. He must have felt the muscles tense under his hand, because he chuckled (again). "Don't worry. He won't be coming against his will. In fact, he's just dying to get here. Anything for his beloved brother, да?"

Stephen felt sick. The last thing he wanted was for Bloom to get in trouble – in danger – because of him. But he knew Bloom would come. Of course he would.

"And when he comes, you will ask him, if his petite little girl friend paid the ransom." Dog continued casually. "I would've loved to have Dima here ask, himself, but if my memory is correct, Bloom never picked up on any Russian, did he?"

Of course. Stephen scoffed internally. I didn't let him.

Outwardly, he leveled a stare at the Russian, appearing to be impassive. He let defiance show through his eye, letting the question hang in the air.

What if I don't?

Dog's lips pulled into an upward curve. It wasn't a smile. Smiles had mirth behind them. "If you don't…if he does anything he wasn't told to do, my dear Dima would not hesitate on putting a few holes through his body. And there will be nothing that I can do. Paranoia is one of Dima's greatest traits, after all."

Stephen found himself wishing that he had ripped out his other eye, too.

"Well then, I shall be taking my leave." The one-eyed con man straightened and smiled coldly down at him. "Wouldn't want Bloom to face me so soon, now, do we?"

The he turned and said to Dima, "Делай, что хочешь."

By the smirk that appeared on Dima's face, even Bloom could've guessed what he had said.

Do whatever you want.

As Dog disappeared beyond the drapes, Stephen glared up at the only Russian left and braced himself.

If nothing else, he had to look strong for Bloom.

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Sometimes Stephen hated fate for giving him such an idiot of a younger brother. Said younger brother who came, alone and unamred. Who asked him if this was a con. Who wouldn't. Fucking. Run. Even at gunpoint.

Stephen was by now convinced that he (and Bang Bang) is the entire reason why Bloom was even alive right now.

Still, it didn't stop that bubble of pride when the idiot brother slipped out the gun and began shooting at Dima. Didn't stop the moment of dread when he realized that Dima had another fucking gun, and Bloom was way out in the open (idiot!). Didn't stop him from jumping in front of his idiot brother and taking the bullet for him.

As they tumbled to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs, Stephen knew that this was it. He studied enough wounds in his career as a con man to know that his was serious. He knew he wouldn't make it.

He knew it was time for The Plan.

So, even as Bloom begged him to say that it was fake blood and to tell him that he had just pulled of the greatest con, Stephen took a deep breath, pushed back the pain, and willed his body to hold on for just a bit longer. And he looked up at his idiot for a brother and smirked. Deviously.

"You said it, not me!"

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"It's the greatest magic trick I've ever seen."

Of course this would be the only time this trick ever worked. He didn't know if he hated or loved irony for this. He silently sat down and slipped the card into his sleeve.

"You're the only audience I ever needed."

It was true, Stephen realized. Despite all the fun, all the enjoyment, all the thrill he had while planning cons, he'll always remember that it all started with the idea of letting Bloom have an excuse, a reason, to talk to that girl.

The door swung open slightly, letting in some light.

"I love you."

So did he. And really, that was all he ever needed to hear. To know.

"I love you."

He chuckled weakly at himself, letting his body take its final breath.

I love you, too.

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The light got brighter. There was a loud BAM as the door slammed against the wall.

Hands grabbed him. Arms hauled him out of the theater and into a car. Fingers rubbed at his face even as he felt something tighten around the gun shot wound at his back.

His eyes fluttered open for a second, and he saw a flash of bright, blinding yellow and two chocolate orbs glaring at him for all he's worth.

Weakly, he managed to whisper, "The Plan."

Ruby red lips spoke three words that he heard everyday, but sounded absolutely beautiful in that sentence. In that order.

"Fuck the plan."

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Another three months.

Penelope was asleep upstairs. It was about three o'clock in the morning, but sleep was the farthest thing from Bloom's mind.

He stared at the man before him, unable to move, dreading that this was just a hoax, yet hoping, that this might be real.

He took a tentative step forward, his throat dryer than sandpaper, but still spoke the one word that mattered.

"How?"

Stephen smiled. Genuinely. Tiredly.

"Bang Bang." He said.

The two embraced, with the taller sobbing uncontrollably into the other's shoulder, and the elder rubbing comfortable circles into the other's back. The moon and an occasional sparrow were the only witnesses to this raw emotional scene.

Bloom's hands gripped tightly and twisted at his brother's clothes, afraid of letting go. He controlled his sobs enough to take a few breaths.

"I hate you."

Stephen chuckled.

"I know. I'm a son of a bitch."

The End


Because we all know that's the real ending to the movie. They just didn't show it. XD

Yeah, now that that's out of the way, I think I'll go back to SO. I really want to continue that one. At least finish off the arc I am currently leaving everyone hanging at.

~ruth~