See What You’re Worth

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by templemarker

Notes: I read Six to Eight Months, and this story happened.


There are little things that mark them as Danny’s. The Cracker Jack boxes Rusty always has lying around, the shiny red of Tess’s hair. The way the television’s always on and they order pizza at midnight. Remnants of Danny when he’s not around, things to remind them of what they’re waiting on.

They travel a lot, because they’re avoiding the noticeable henchmen that are following them and don’t have anything better to do, really. Eight months loom over their heads like a thief suspended on a wire, when before it might have passed with a simple nod and smile. They don’t have anything better to do, so they stop in Reno and charm the blackjack dealers, ride horses in Colorado. They have cornbread in Iowa and see Linus in Chicago and really they don’t say a word about why they won’t go any farther than Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina.

Tess is with Rusty because she didn’t have anywhere else to go; or, more realistically, anywhere else she wanted to go. She watches out for Rusty, sneaks green things into his never-ending stream of food and always rents Cary Grant films. She plays off him, learning a trade she barely knew existed before now. Tess is beginning to be comfortable in the role of straight man, quick eyes and quick speech combining to make a useful accomplice in the small fleeces and heists they pull–not because they need the money, but because they don’t have anything better to do. And Tess might as well learn these tricks, anyway, so that she never gets taken in by them again.

Danny has marked them with his slow smiles and careful hands. Every time one of their hands slips and rests in the small of the other’s back, that’s Danny there with them. The little abortive, protective movements they make towards each other: those are echoes of Danny. Sometimes it’s nerve-wracking, and they split off from each other for a few days because it hurts too much to see the reflection of someone not there in each other’s eyes. Six to eight months, and they drag on forever.

Rusty is with Tess because of a promise that was never spoken, a handshake that said hello and goodbye and take care of her for me. Rusty sends cakes that say Happy Birthday and Happy Father’s Day and Happy Arbor Day to Danny in prison, but only after he lets Tess pick them out. He keeps her quietly comfortable and teaches her the trade, showing her the ways every trick is built off one, the original–just like Saul taught him, taught Danny. Going back to the basics isn’t easy, but it’s good for him because he sees more clearly now the ways in which both he and Tess have been taken for everything they have. One trick on which everything was built on, and Danny was always better at the vision than he was.

When Tess threads her fingers through his, his sleeve rides up just a bit so that the beginnings of his tattoo can be seen. It was Danny that egged him on, dared him to do something he’d been dreaming of for years; it was Danny that sat in the corner and watched his jaw clench and his muscles twitch as he got the whole thing done in one day, calling him an idiot fondly, his eyes raking up and down the reddening skin of Rusty’s arm. When Rusty slips Danny’s ring on her finger, feeling the shock run through her body where it’s pressed close his, he remembers looking at her from a dark spot in the restaurant where Danny gave this to her, the happiness on her face and the way it fit so snugly around her finger.

There are little things and there are big things that Danny Ocean has used to mark the ones he wants to keep forever. All of them are indelible.

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