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Danny opens the door like he's been expecting Rusty. Being Danny, the guy everyone knows and loves, the man who can find out what God's having for breakfast before the big guy knows himself, he probably was expecting him.

He's leaning in the doorway, no suit, no tie--this is his home, his sanctuary, the place where denim jeans and cotton t-shirts can make an appearance--and Rusty's still standing in the hallway, a duffel slung over his shoulder like he's coming for a visit. It's a testament to long years of friendship that Rusty appearing at Danny's doorstep is met with nothing more than a slight raise of one side of Danny's mouth, as if it had been planned forever and not a surprise.

"She called, didn't she?" Rusty asks, sliding his luggage back further up his shoulder.

"Yes," Danny answers, stepping back from the door so Rusty can walk in.

The apartment is quiet, made even moreso when Danny shuts the door and turns, his hands casually in his pocket (although Rusty knows there is nothing casual about it at all, that Danny is waiting for him to say something.)

Hey, it's over. She'd had enough. The thing that you--'you' as in the general, generic, not-anyone-specific 'you' and not youyou, or me--never talk about and don't know if she--and yes, I mean her--knows. She did. Does. And here I am.

Rusty doesn't say anything, choosing instead to look around the apartment. He's been here before, although not as many times as one might think--the life they lead doesn't really lend itself to summer grilling with friends, annual get togethers with the boys for some food and sports. Still, there had been times and although Rusty has only seen the place less than a handful of times, he knows there's something off. There are pieces of art and antiques that are worth the average gross national product of some of the smaller European nations mixed in with Crate and Barrel pieces. The television is muted and on the screen Russell Crowe is throwing Guy Pearce into a filing cabinet. There are two glasses on the coffee table and a bottle of the best vodka money can buy waiting behind them.

Danny didn't just know. Danny had been waiting.

Rusty might still be a little off his game, but even your average Joe off the street could tell--something's up.


"Gone." Danny takes hold of the straps of Rusty's duffel, his fingers sliding over the back of Rusty's hand. "Hungry?"

As if he needed to ask. Rusty lets go of the duffel. "I could eat."

"Just going to drop this off."

Danny starts toward the hallway that leads to the other rooms of the place and Rusty follows. He expects Danny to stop at the first guestroom, but Danny passes it by. Same with the second, and the office with the couch that Danny has owned for what feels like as long as Rusty's known him. There are a lot of memories in the fabric of that old thing.

Danny finally stops in the main bedroom, in front of an old wardrobe--a gift from Rueben, a thank you for the first Terry Benedict job.

"What are you going to do, give me a my own drawer?" Rusty feels some of his old self seeping back into his bones. Around Danny, it's impossible not to feel that way. It's why he came here. "There's not going to be any room between your clothes horsing and --"

Rusty stops mid-sentence when he sees what Danny's showing. The wardrobe doors are both open--one side is filled with expertly pressed suits, organized by label (Rusty knows), the other, where dresses of the best fabrics--silks, satins and sequins--would have been, is bare.

A more honest man, were he to find himself in the exact situation Rusty currently finds himself in--would probably feel sadness for his friend, would probably acknowledge that glint of relief that he himself is the not alone in the pain.

Rusty isn't that man. He takes a fraction of a second the decide which path to take. He knows he got off easy--someone else made the call for him--and a part of him feels a bad for what he's about to ask.

"Danny, where's Tess?"

Danny sets the duffel in the empty space of the wardrobe and looks over at Rusty. "Gone."

"What do you mean gone? What happened?"

They'd won her back. Terry had lost, Danny had won.

Danny's hands know where to touch, his voice goes low. He's a master and Rusty knows every one of his tricks. This isn't one of them.

"Isabel called." Danny's thumb smooths over the side of Rusty's neck, and he steps closer. "And Tess knew."

It's been years since they'd been here. Since before Tess's return.

"We won her back. We." Rusty makes a circling motion with his hand, encompassing them both.

The term lifelong love affair is a phrase created by poets and novelists to make the idea sound grand and romantic. It has a sweeping, epic feel that doesn't capture the reality of almost two decades of stops and starts. And all the while, never really talking about, never putting a name to it. And when Tess had come back, Rusty knew it was over. He can see now he'd been wrong.

"Tess knew, Rusty." Danny's hand has made its way down Rusty's back to his waist.

Rusty hasn't even touched Danny yet. In his defense, having your girlfriend kick you out, finding your best friend's wife has left him, and then having that same best friend appear to be very interested in rekindling the longest relationship of your life all in less than 24 hours is a lot to process at one time.

"It was never her fight to win," Danny continues, and by now, Rusty's starting to get with the picture.

Rusty slides his hand around the back of Danny's neck. Nothing too grand yet, there's still more of the story to know.

"There was never a fight," Danny says at last.

There's really not much a guy, even one who occasionally watches Oprah while enjoying a glass of wine, can say to that. And Danny's not asking him to.

This was always the easy part, how quickly they slip back into the routine. It wasn't unlike how they worked their cons. They simply knew each other so well. But when Danny's lips touch his, Rusty knows this isn't like every time before. Maybe it was what Danny said, what he didn't say. Or maybe it was the fact that they weren't getting any younger. Or maybe Rusty had known all along as well, that they were always going to end up here someday. Whatever it is, he isn't looking to question it.

He is, however, going to up the ante.

Danny kisses like he cons, a slow, calculated build up that leads up to the take. Rusty's technique, like his talent on a job, is to be the planner, the organizer, the one who, when is said and done, has put everything together so seamlessly as to appear effortless. Whether on a job or alone it's almost instinctual how they move together, fit together. And they both play to win. And sometimes, it pays to play a little dirty.

Rusty opens his eyes, watching as Danny kisses him. He smiles and bites Danny's lip.

Danny's eyes shoot open, and he jerks backward, his back pressing into Rusty's arms. Rusty's always been a particular fan of that feeling. He's even more of a fan when there are less clothes involved.

"Hungry?" Danny asks, licking at his bottom lip where Rusty bit him.

"Food can wait," Rusty replies, pushing Danny back toward the bed.