Unexpected by InSilva
Summary: Helping where help is needed and unexpected – what Danny and Rusty do best. One-shot.
Disclaimer: didn't create Danny or Rusty.
Gary Clark didn't know what to do but drowning his sorrows in a bar seemed like a good start. He hadn't been out drinking since the Dolphins reached the playoffs but this bar was never too busy. He joined the guys at the counter, squeezing in between an old guy who looked like he'd been there since Kennedy and a dark-haired man who looked like he was just killing time.
Gary ordered a large glass of whisky that he drained in one hit. He signalled the bartender for another, told him to leave the bottle and let out a heavy sigh that spoke of the weight of the world on his shoulders.
"You want to talk about it?"
Gary glanced sideways at the dark-haired man with the good looks and the easy manner. He hesitated. With all that had happened, off-loading to a stranger was so damn tempting and yet…
The man must have seen the longing in his eyes because his own face just creased into a smile.
"Come on," he urged, pouring out the whisky into Gary's glass and that was all the encouragement Gary needed.
The story was simple enough. There was a business – Gary's garage – which was a profitable little business and a bad guy called Daley Hamilton with a proposition to launder stolen cars. And there was a woman involved, of course: his wife, Barbara-Ann.
"Like the song?"
"Like the song."
His wife kept the books of their little garageand she kept them precisely which meant that even if Gary had wanted to go along with Daley's plan, Barbara-Ann would have spotted the discrepancies in a heartbeat.
Daley had left him with a smiling ultimatum of one week and disappeared in his Merc and Gary had the sinking feeling that there was really no choice in the matter. Daley had talked about how terribly careless some garage-owners were when it came to naked flames. Gary and Barbara-Ann lived above the garage. There was no way Gary would risk his wife's life.
Go to the police. That was what Barbara-Ann would say if he told her but Daley had warned him about that too and Gary had asked around a little. Daley meant business.
So here he was, three days in, working all the hours that God sent and heading straight out to the bar afterwards so that he could avoid Barbara-Ann as much as possible.
"I thought maybe I could buy him off," Gary said miserably. "Not that we've got a lot of money. Do you think that would work?"
The stranger pursed his lips. "How much are we talking?"
"$35,000," Gary said and couldn't keep the awful hope out of his voice. It was the one thing that he'd come up with that might work. "That's what I can lay my hands on in ready cash. I could raise more if I took out a loan against the garage itself…?"
There was a rueful shake of the head. "Something tells me that there's never going to be enough money."
Gary's shoulders sagged. That was what logic and reason were telling him too.
"But don't worry," the man added (and that was a truly ridiculous thing to say). "Because I can help."
"Danny Ocean," the man announced like it was supposed to mean something.
Gary blinked and automatically shook the extended hand.
"I don't like hearing stories about people being taken advantage of. So here's what we're going to do. You're going to go back to your garage, you're going to get a good night's sleep and then tomorrow lunchtime, you come right back here and we'll talk about how we're going to fix this."
Call him crazy, call him desperate, but he believed Danny. Gary went home and slept better than he had in an age.
Lunchtime the next day and Gary walked back into the bar with a real spring in his step. He'd put feelers out and the same people who had told him that Daley was serious, had told him that Danny Ocean was a force to be reckoned with. A legend. An absolute legend.
Danny was waiting for him at a table, a blond-haired man sitting beside him and they both looked up and greeted him with a warm smile.
"Gary, hi. This is my partner, Rusty Ryan."
Rusty Ryan. People had mentioned him too in passing. He was part of the magic.
Rusty was a good-looking man too. Sharp dresser like Danny. Gary wasn't a suit-wearer but he could tell these two liked their fashion. Suddenly, he felt a little self-conscious in his overalls. He wished he'd washed his hands more thoroughly. Not that Danny and Rusty seemed to mind.
The bartender brought over a round of beers and food and Danny nudged a plate of sandwiches in Gary's direction.
"I explained to Rusty what the situation with Daley is," Danny told him, biting into his own BLT.
Gary looked around anxiously but the only person within earshot was the old guy from the previous night who was slumped headfirst at a nearby table, mouth open, silently snoring. Gary doubted he'd made it home at all. Maybe he was hiding from his wife too.
"Daley's a bastard," Rusty said softly, sipping the beer. "He's well-known for schemes like these."
"Does he ever-" Gary's throat was dry but he forced out the question that was eating away at him. "Does he ever kill anyone?"
Danny and Rusty exchanged glances and then Danny wiped his mouth with a napkin and sighed as if Gary was owed the truth.
Gary couldn't help the whimper. He grabbed the bottle of beer and took a long swig.
"I'm sorry, Gary," Danny said gently. "Like Rusty said, he's a bastard. On the plus side, you've got us. We're going to help you."
Yes. Yes. Gary felt the relief flood through him. They were going to help. Everything would be alright.
"I can pay you," Gary gabbled. "I don't know what you charge but I can get you some money- $5,000, $10,000, maybe?"
There was a quiet laugh from Rusty and Danny shook his head. Gary swallowed hard. He didn't know how much more they were looking for. He didn't know how much more he could take out without Barbara-Ann noticing.
"That's not how we operate," Danny said firmly.
"We do this because it's what we do," Rusty explained.
Gary looked from one to the other, at the truth on their faces and nodded slowly, accepting. Maybe this was part of the legend. He felt his heartbeat steady and he made himself pick up a sandwich and bite into it. This was going to be OK.
Rusty leant forward and automatically, Gary did the same.
"We're going to sort out Daley but he can't know we're coming."
"Element of surprise," Danny agreed, waving the BLT.
"So we need you to play along."
"To pretend to play along."
Danny finished his sandwich and licked his fingers. "Contact him and tell him you're thinking about his offer."
"Keep him sweet."
"Tell him you're going through the finer details of how it's going to work and you'll be ready to give him an answer at the weekend like he's asked."
"In the meantime-" they said in unison and then grinned at each other. Danny made a little "After you" gesture.
"In the meantime," Rusty said, "you can relax and leave everything to us."
"What are you going to do?" Gary asked.
"Need to know basis," Danny winked reassurance. "Come back here tomorrow night and we'll let you know how things are going."
"Can you do that?" Rusty asked.
"Yes." Gary gave a nervous smile and got to his feet, his chair scraping along the floor. "Yes. And thank you. Thank you so much."
They saluted him with their beer bottles and he stepped away, lighter in his heart.
The lightness of heart lasted all the way through the next twenty-four hours and beyond. Barbara-Ann had cried a little as he apologised for his behaviour with a bunch of flowers and an explanation of pressure at work getting to him. Daley had been delighted and agreed to give Gary all the time he needed as long as he had an answer by the deadline previously threatened.
Now, Gary was walking back into the bar, eager to find out how Danny and Rusty were getting on. He spotted them at a table at the back and they acknowledged him. Gary smiled. He turned back to the bar to order a drink and was greeted by a friendly "What can I get you?"
"Beer, thanks," Gary said absent-mindedly and then frowned. "You're not the usual guy."
"I'm Barney," the man said helpfully. "Usual guy's got food poisoning."
Gary thought of the lunchtime sandwiches and paled.
"Not from here," Barney added hurriedly, handing him the bottle of beer. "You want some food?"
"Yes," Gary decided. Danny and Rusty had treated him to lunch yesterday and he wanted to repay the favour even though there was no way he was ever going to be able to repay the bigger favour. "Burgers and fries for me, please, and whatever my two friends would like."
"Sure," Barney smiled. "I'll get someone over."
Gary headed over to the table at the back. Close by Danny and Rusty was what looked like the most intense card game in history, judging by the amount of money on the table and the scowls. Funny, but at one point, Gary had thought he might take his life savings down to the dog track and see if he could make enough to take Barbara-Ann and himself far away from all of the nightmare. Now that he had Danny and Rusty on side, he felt like he was betting on a cert.
Danny looked up and smiled as Gary approached. "Gary. Good to see you. You alright?"
Gary sat down with his beer and beamed. "Yes, everything's fine-"
He broke off as he glimpsed Rusty's bandaged right hand. Rusty saw him looking and pulled it out of sight, under the table.
"What happened?" Gary asked, his eyes wide.
Danny and Rusty looked at each other and Danny shrugged. "Little run-in with one of Daley's men. Nothing to worry about."
"I'm made of tough stuff," Rusty added with a grin.
"But still…" Gary's little bubble of confidence was burst. Even the best weren't immune from Daley. And this had happened because they were helping him. He bit his lip.
His burger arrived in front of him and poised with his notepad, the waiter looked expectantly at Danny and Rusty.
"We're good," Danny told him.
"I wanted to buy you dinner," Gary protested.
"You don't have to give us anything," Rusty said. "This is about you, Gary."
It was all for him. They were like Robin Hood or Jesse James or something. Just not quite real.
"What happened?" he asked again and when they looked like they weren't going to share, his voice became insistent and louder. "I need to know. I need to know what Daley can do."
They were silent. Then Rusty licked his lips and said, "Got my hand shut in a car door a few times as a warning. S'just a sprain."
It didn't look like a sprain. And Rusty was still glossing over what happened so it must have been so much worse. Some of his worry must have shown on his face because Rusty went on:
"It's OK, I can still play the piano."
"And we're not going to let it happen to you," Danny added. "Or Barbara-Ann."
Barbara-Ann. Oh, God.
"Please," Gary began, "please-"
"How did Daley take the news that you were up for the deal?" Danny interrupted.
Gary took a deep breath.
"He sounded happy," Gary said, picking up a few fries. "Like it was what he was waiting to hear."
"Good, good. That means he'll be blindsided."
"What…what are you going to do? I know you told me it was on a need to know basis but I really…can't you tell me? Even a little bit? It would be good to feel safe again."
"I guess we owe you that," Danny said softly. "OK."
"Danny…" Rusty didn't look thrilled about revealing the plan.
"Bare bones," Danny promised and then turned back to Gary. "We're setting up a sting. Tempt the mark in with a little convincer, lead him on and set him up. Pass the details to the authorities and Daley goes down."
"For a long time," Rusty added.
It sounded…It all sounded mysterious and magical and Gary found himself nodding.
"When?" Gary asked the 64-thousand dollar question.
"Day after tomorrow," Rusty said and it felt like a promise.
Right before the deadline. Gary felt his shoulders sag with relief.
"See you here tomorrow lunchtime for an update," Danny smiled and they stood up and walked away.
Gary let out a long breath he hadn't realised he was holding. He glanced down at the table. Huh. Vinegar and ketchup had arrived and he hadn't even noticed: just showed how distracted he was. He applied both liberally to the fries and then shifted round in his seat so that he could see the rest of the bar.
The card game next door seemed to have broken up; he could see a couple of the players arguing in front of the sports channel. Barney was leaning across the bar, chatting to the waiter. The world was going about its business blissfully unaware of the underbelly of danger.
Calm down, he told himself. Danny and Rusty were in control.
Whatever he told himself, Gary couldn't shake the feelings of dread. On the way to the bar the next day, he was sure he was being followed. Paranoid, he told himself, paranoid. Daley didn't have any reason yet to think that he wasn't going along with things.
He greeted Barney, grabbed a beer and headed over to the table at the back. He was there first this time but he didn't have long to wait till Danny appeared.
"No, he's busy getting things set up for tomorrow."
Tomorrow. All part of the plan. Just talking to Danny made him feel calmer.
"Do you want a drink?" Gary offered.
"No, I haven't really got time. I'm on my way to see-" Danny stopped himself.
"Daley?" Gary guessed.
"Someone," Danny said carefully.
"The convincer," Gary said, remembering and Danny shook his head with a laugh.
"Alright, yes, the convincer." Danny looked amused and impressed. "Nothing too much, just flash a little-"
He stopped and patted his pocket.
"What is it?" Gary asked.
Danny swore quietly. "Someone's lifted my wallet."
"What?" Gary nearly choked on his beer.
"Yes, yes." Danny looked seriously annoyed with himself and glanced sharply at Gary. "Don't tell Rusty."
"Of course not," Gary promised.
Danny checked his watch. "Damn! I've got the meeting. You've got to excuse me, Gary, I need to get a thousand bucks from somewhere and head on out."
Danny was already on his feet when Gary had the brainwave.
"I can get you a thousand bucks. No problem."
Danny stopped. "What?"
"I can get you the money."
"No, no, Gary, that's not necessary. I sort out my own screw-ups."
"Please. I want to do what I can. I can't do what you do but I can get you the cash."
Danny checked his watch again and then let out a deep breath. "Alright."
They stood in front of the nearby bank and Danny pocketed the money.
"It's just for show, Gary. I'm not going to hand it over. It's just to demonstrate what I'm made of so that I'm taken seriously. You understand?"
"Thanks," Danny said, breaking into a smile. "I'll have this back to you tonight."
"At the bar?"
"That's right. See you later."
And Danny was gone.
It wasn't until two hours later that it dawned on Gary that he'd handed over a chunk of money to a man he didn't really know.
He sat next to the old guy who must live at the bar and nursed a beer and spun a beermat between his fingers, steadfastly ignoring Barney's attempts to engage him in conversation.
Oh, but he'd been a fool. What did he know about these two? Just because the word on the street said that they were miracle-workers, just because he wanted to believe so much… The thing was, he did believe in Danny and Rusty. He'd invested so much in them. He didn't want to be wrong. He didn't want to be let down. He didn't want-
It was Rusty with Danny at his heels and Gary's sigh of relief was audible.
"You want to grab a table? I'm just going to take a leak."
Rusty disappeared and Danny's smile was broad as he looked at Gary's face.
"Thought I'd run out on you? Here - and there's an extra hundred bucks for keeping it quiet from Rusty." Danny passed over a wad of money. "And thank you, Gary, it worked a treat. Come on. Let's buy you dinner."
The rest of the evening passed in a happy haze of beer and stories. Gary was telling them about meeting Barbara-Ann and moving down to Florida to be with her and the success of the garage and a hundred other reasons to be happy.
By the time, he rolled home to Barbara-Ann, Gary couldn't stop smiling. Everything was going to be OK.
Gary woke up on the morning of and the smile was still in place. Today was the day that Daley and his threat went away. After today, real life could start again.
He was humming happily to himself over a car engine when he looked up to see Danny in the doorway of the garage. Anxiously, he beckoned Danny into the office and shut the door.
"It's all good," Danny assured him. "Daley's place isn't far from here and I've got to pick something up from Rusty before I meet him. After your stories last night, I thought Rusty and I'd drop in here. Give us a chance to see your place. Hope you don't mind."
"Of course not," Gary beamed.
He'd barely had time to make Danny a coffee before there was a knock on the office window and they looked up to see an unsmiling Rusty.
"Shit," said Danny with feeling and strode to the door, yanking it open.
They were speaking in low voices but Gary could hear the gist. A guy named Faruk hadn't come through. Gary caught the words "$30,000" and "45 minutes' time" and "Gary and Barbara-Ann". Seemed like Danny was more than a little angry with Faruk and Rusty was more than a little apologetic. Both of them seemed out of ideas and Danny was pacing furiously.
"What do you need the money for?" Gary asked.
Danny looked at him.
"I overheard," Gary said lamely and Rusty shook his head. "You need the money for the meeting with Daley?"
Looking like it was the last thing in the world he wanted to explain, Danny nodded.
"He's selling me a hot car. Rusty's going to smuggle himself in there to lift some incriminating paperwork and to switch the cases with the money. Only suddenly, there's no money." Danny shook his head. He turned to Rusty. "We could always…?"
Rusty shook his head. Whatever Danny was suggesting, Rusty didn't think was viable.
"What's with Faruk, anyway?" Danny said angrily. "He knows he's going to get the money back."
Rusty sighed. "Faruk is a law unto himself."
"Don't be kind to him! The man's so damn unreliable!"
"He has come through for us in the past, Danny-"
"But not now! Not when it matters! This time tomorrow Daley is going to be all over this garage. Maybe if I went to see Faruk-"
"Because that went so well the last time-"
"It's Gary and Barbara-Ann's livelihoods here-"
"I made sure he knew it was serious-"
"I can give you the money."
They both stopped and stared at Gary.
"What?" Rusty said.
"I can give you the money," Gary said again. "$30,000, right? I've got that here in the safe. You can take it to your meeting, make the switch and walk out with it."
Danny and Rusty looked at each other.
"Don't give me any garbage about not wanting anything from me," Gary said firmly. "I know you want to do it all yourselves but this is something I can do. Some way I can help. Please."
He dropped to his knees without waiting for an answer and produced neat little bundles of cash which he laid on the desk.
"Please," he said again, looking at Danny and Rusty.
Still they hesitated and then a look of pragmatism washed over Danny's face.
"Alright. Thanks, Gary." He looked at Rusty. "We've got to move."
"I'll see you tonight at the bar, right?" Gary said, helping to load the money into a neat little attaché case that Rusty had produced.
"Get the beers in," Rusty smiled.
"We'll have something to celebrate," Danny added.
He had got the beers in. They were going flat now. Gary checked his watch for the umpteenth time and tried not to look at the entrance to the bar. They'd be walking through the door any time now.
Barney pushed a bowl of peanuts in his direction and he took a handful. God, he hoped they were alright. Suppose Daley had sussed them. He'd already had Rusty hurt. Suppose the pair of them had been found out and even now were at the bottom of the nearest river? Suppose…suppose they told Daley that he was involved.
Gary swallowed. They wouldn't do that. They weren't the sort to do something like that. Suppose they had been kidnapped. Suppose they were tied up somewhere waiting for unspeakable things to be done to them. Maybe he could free them. He wasn't awfully brave but maybe he could… Except that he didn't have a clue where the meeting was being held.
Gary sighed and took another handful of peanuts. All he could do was wait.
The door opened and he looked round immediately but it wasn't anyone special. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Barney raise his eyebrows and the man nodded. A memory stirred. It was the waiter. Coming on shift, no doubt.
It was Barney who'd spoken and Gary blinked.
"How do you know my name?"
Barney smiled. "I know you're waiting for a couple of people."
"Danny Ocean," said the waiter, leaning up against the counter.
"And Rusty Ryan," wheezed a voice from behind him. The old-timer climbed up on the seat next to him.
"Who…?" Gary licked his lips. "What…?"
"They're con men," the waiter said bluntly.
Well, he knew that. It wasn't like they were conning… He must have swayed because the waiter's hands shot out to catch him.
"My money," Gary whispered. "My money."
"It's OK," Barney said at once. "In fact…"
The door opened again and one of the poker players from the other night walked in with a neat little attaché case and put it on the bar in front of Gary. As if in a dream, Gary opened it to see rows and rows of dollar bills.
"You got it back from Daley?"
The waiter and Barney exchanged glances.
"Daley never had it," Barney explained gently. "They never went near Daley."
Tomorrow, Daley would come calling. Tomorrow, Daley would expect him to co-operate and…and he'd told him he would. He'd agreed. Gary's heart sank.
"That's taken care of too," the waiter said. "Daley is facing some serious investigations."
"He won't dare come after you," Barney promised and there was absolute truth in there.
"And Danny and Rusty?" Gary asked heavily. He'd liked them, damn it. "What happened to them?"
"They…had to skip town," Barney told him. "But they won't be trying anything like this again."
"We need to thank you," the waiter added. "We've been after them for some time."
"You picked a good bar to come drinking in," the old-timer added.
Gary stared at Barney and the waiter. "Are you cops? You're cops, right?"
That made sense. And the old guy was probably their informant or something.
The waiter grinned and Barney's eyes twinkled like that was the best joke they'd heard in an age.
"Well, then, who are you?"
"Oh, Gary," Barney smiled. "Haven't you worked that out yet?"