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Chisolm's 7

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

2012

 

 

“Another two clicks to the left.”

 

“Got it. And?”

 

“Alright she’s holding steady. You can bring the drill back right…here.”

 

Sam Chisolm lifted the heavy drill, placing the cutting edge up against hardplate. Its tungsten-carbide edge could pierce through any safe on the market. But they didn’t need to pierce through any safe: just the one they were in front of now on the fourth floor of a deserted bank in the dead of the night.

 

Sam calmly adjusted the drill until it was completely perpendicular to the door of the safe. It was far from the first bank he’d ever robbed. And while the details could vary from bank to bank, the routine stayed the same: breathe, focus, relax, and rob.

 

He didn’t even need to question his partner when he adjusted the drill bit until it was dead in the center of the sharpie mark he’d drawn onto the safe’s door. He trusted the man’s eye implicitly. After all, he’d been robbing banks with Goodnight Robicheaux long enough.

 

“Alright, you’re good to go. Now remember, this safe’s got the glass relocker only half an inch behind the plate. Crack it and we’re through.”

 

“Thanks for the pep talk,” Sam said dryly.

 

“Anytime.” Sam didn’t need to see Goody’s face behind his black mask to know the man was smiling.

 

“Count me off,” Sam said, flexing a gloved finger over the drill’s trigger.

 

“Half an inch of drilling starts in three…two…one…go.”

 

Sam pulled the trigger and the drill revved powerfully to life, steel shavings flying as the drill cut through layers of metal. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Goody counting silently to himself off a stopwatch, one hand held up to tell Sam when it was time to stop. Over the sound of the drill they had to use nonverbal signals.

 

Sam felt the drill steadily working its way through the thick, tightly-packed steel of the safe. Goody’s fingers spread apart as a warning to Sam and Sam prepared to kill power.

 

Then Goody’s hand came closing into a fist and Sam immediately released the trigger. After the screaming of the drill the vault felt deathly silent as the last sounds of splintering metal faded away.

 

“Okay,” Goody finally said quietly, reaching for the safe’s dial again. “Two clicks back.”

 

He carefully turned the knob, one click, then one more, and then there was a thunk and the unmistakable sound of tumblers falling into place.

 

Goody turned and raised his eyebrows at Sam.

 

“Care to do the honours?”

 

Sam straightened up and stepped in front of the safe. He lifted his black mask up to his forehead and felt Goody do the same beside him. And then he swung the door open.

 

“The fox is in the henhouse,” Goody said with a laugh in his voice as he craned his neck to get a better look. “ What do we got, Sam? Gold? Diamonds?”

 

“Even better,” Sam said, reaching inside and pulling out a sheaf of bills. “Bank bonds!” he said with an ironic grin, tossing the stack over to Goody. “The ones we were planning on the entire time!”

 

“The plan has a distinct lack of romance but I’ll take it,” Goody said with a grin as he flipped through the papers before dropping them into a black duffel bag.

 

Sam shook his head as he continued to pull the bearer bonds out of the safe and handing them off to Goody.

 

“Here we are in the middle of the night, about to make off with almost five million dollars worth of bonds and you’re complaining that there’s no drama in your life?” Sam teased him.

 

“I’m just saying, it would be nice to ride off into the sunset with something a little more exciting than money once in a while,” Goodnight said cheerily.

 

“My fault your ass has seen too many cowboy movies?” Sam asked.

 

“Seeing as how you watched half of them with me…yes.”

 

“Well,” Sam said, dissembling the drill. “I guess cowboy movies are kind of applicable here.”

 

“Why’s that?” Goody asked as he zipped his duffel bag shut.

 

“We pretty much are Butch and Sundance at this point.” Sam spun the drill as though it were a pistol and jokingly blew on the muzzle.

 

Goody snorted. “I take it I’m Sundance?”

 

“Well you sure as hell ain’t butch,” Sam said with a grin as he jostled Goody while standing up. Goody made a sound of protest as he picked up his own bag, and they headed towards the door.

 

They made their way down the back stairwell, the security cameras disabled long ago.

 

“Any plans for your cut of the take?” Sam asked, knowing that despite Goody’s focus on the job he was probably already dreaming of far off places.

 

“Nothing concrete,” Goodnight said as they wound their way down the stairs. “But I see a yacht in my future.”

 

“A yacht,” Sam repeated amused. You had to hand it to Goodnight: the man knew how to enjoy money.

 

“Well a tastefully small one of course,” Goody said with a grin. “Just so long as it’s seaworthy, secure, and with a deck where I can sit back with a book and go deep sea fishing. I don’t know about you, my friend, but I need a break.”

 

“And deep-sea fishing is gonna provide that?”

 

“Hopefully some fish too.”

 

Sam stopped short in his tracks as they hit the lobby.

 

“Well pull in your reel, partner, because we’ve got a problem.”

 

Flashing lights were surrounding the lobby of the bank, illuminating Sam and Goody’s faces in red bursts as the lights came in through the windows. And a split second later there was the piercing wail of a siren.

 

“Shit,” Sam cursed emphatically. “The safe must have had a silent alarm.”

 

“But that model shouldn’t have a –“

 

“Then they must have upgraded it,” Sam said, trying to count how many police cars were outside but it was impossible to tell the way their lights were whirling around. And over the siren he could barely hear himself think.

 

“Come out with your hands over your head!” came a megaphone-amplified voice, cutting through the cacophony of the siren.

 

“We’re trapped,” he heard Goody say in a queer voice.

 

Sam turned around and saw Goody staring at him, the man’s face chalk white, lit up by bursts of red. He was looking at Sam but his eyes were hollow, years away.

 

“We know you’re in there, Sam Chisolm! Repeat! Come out with your hands over your head!”

 

Sam looked out the windows and then back at Goody who was still in the shadows, still hidden by the doorframe. The feds outside probably hadn’t seen him yet. Goody’s lip was trembling as he stared through Sam, and Sam felt his heart sink but he suddenly felt resolved. He knew what he had to do.

 

He reached out and took the duffel of bearer bonds from Goody, throwing them out into the middle of the lobby floor. He threw his own bag containing the drill next to it, and gripped Goody’s shoulders, shaking him.

 

“Goody! One of us can still make it out the back exit if you leave now. You gotta get out of here.”

 

“They’re everywhere,” Goody whispered and Sam shook him hard.

 

“Goody!” he barked and Goody blinked startled, and his eyes swam back into focus as he looked at Sam.

 

“Sam?”

 

“Go on, get!”

 

“You crazy?” Goodnight said, shock and ache written plainly in his eyes as he came back to himself. “You’re just gonna surrender?”

 

“This is your final warning!” the voice thundered outside over the megaphone.

 

“They already know I’m in here but they don’t know you’re with me,” Sam said. “Someone’s gotta take the fall and I’m not gonna let it be you.”

 

“We’re coming in on three!”

 

“I’m not leaving you,” Goody said in cracked voice.

 

“Oh yes you are.” Sam gave him a small smile. “Who’s gonna water my plants?”

 

“One!”

 

“Sam,” Goody whispered.

 

“Two!”

 

Sam gave Goody a quick, hard hug and then shoved him backwards into the stairwell.

 

“Beat it, Sundance.”

 

“Three!”

 

There came the crash of a battering ram on the lobby doors and a team of SWAT burst through the door. Sam lifted his hands over his head and had just enough time to see Goody’s heel disappearing down the stairs before he was being slammed to the ground, hands were frisking him for a gun that wasn’t there, and a voice was reading:

 

“Sam Chisolm, you have the right to remain silent…”

 

 

 

 

5 years later

 

 

Sam Chisolm stepped out of the detention facility, squinting up at the sunlight. He was wearing the black clothes he’d been arrested in, wishing that that particular getup had included a coat at the time. But the early morning chill was invigorating as Sam steadily made his way down the path leading away from the jail. Sam wouldn’t have described himself as someone who was particularly ‘giddy’, but being on this side of the gates for the first time in five years? Sam felt a distinct sense of buoyancy, and once he passed the guards he couldn’t help the way his lips tugged up.

 

He slid into the waiting taxi and gave the driver the name of the nearest train station, and he looked thoughtfully out the window as the cab took off, the jail getting smaller and smaller behind him. The joint hadn’t been too bad when all was said and done, and Sam certainly hadn’t been idle either. For a resourceful and enterprising man like Sam, jail could sometimes feel like nothing more than an extended ‘time out’. It helped that this wasn’t Sam’s first go around either. He knew how to stay out of trouble in the joint and how to create it when necessary. Affable enough to be on the good side of most guards and inmates, and intimidating enough to be spared the bad side of the rest, Sam had fallen back into the jail rhythm easily enough. And with a reduced sentence for good behaviour the five years had gone by quickly enough.

 

But Sam was bored. Jail was still jail, and even if you could manage to find some degree of freedom in it, at the end of the day it was still someone else calling the shots. And that didn’t suit Sam at all.

 

Sam had plans. And while it was possible to set plans into motion on the inside, you could only get so far. The outside world had been waiting for Sam too long.

 

So Sam cranked down the window in the back seat of the cab, sat back against the creaky leather, and let the fresh air come rushing in as he drove off to meet it.

 

 

*

 

“Fire!”

 

A cacophony of bullets rang out, the gunshots echoing around the large room.

 

“Reload!”

 

Goodnight Robicheaux took off his earmuffs and looked down at the row of paper targets. He didn’t have to pull the targets in to know almost none of them had been hit. He looked back down the firing line.

 

“What the hell do you call that?”

 

No one met his eye, the row of tanned, toned bodies squirming uncomfortably under his sharp gaze.

 

“Anyone care to answer me? Or am I just talking to the air here?”

 

A sudden blast of a handgun interrupted him, shortly followed by a man swearing.

 

“Adrian!” Goodnight barked. “Was that you?”

 

“It was an accident Mister Angel, I was just –“

 

“First rule of gun accidents!” Goodnight interrupted loudly, looking at the rest of his class. “Go! Anyone!”

 

“All guns are loaded –“ one young man with spiky bleached hair began.

 

“Wait no, I remember,” a girl in a high ponytail said, raising a thin arm. “There are no ‘accidents’, only negligence,” she rattled off, finishing with a beaming tabloid-practiced grin.

 

“That’s right, Beckah. Go spit out your gum.” Goodnight looked back at the offending Adrian. The kid was slated to be on some upcoming cop show filmed on a studio lot meant to pass for New York. Goodnight didn’t bet on it lasting longer than the pilot.

 

“And congratulations, Adrian, you’ve earned your classmates another hour of safety and posture practice. No I don’t want to hear it!” he said at the chorus of groans that had arisen. “We’re taking this from the top. Magazines?”

 

“Out,” a chorus of voices chanted back in unison.

 

“Bolt?”

 

“Back.”

 

“Safety?”

 

“On.”

 

“Chamber flag?”

 

“In.”

 

“Guns?”

 

“Down.”

 

“Step back.”

 

Goodnight made his way down the line, working with each person individually on their stance, his gruff demeanor dropping considerably once he was teaching them one on one. Goodnight was supportive and encouraging in a way that forgave his totalitarian approach. Goodnight could be patient. But if there was one group of people who tried his patience like no one else? Actors.

 

“See, but in the scene my character is firing while coming out of a roll,” a young black man with a silver earring explained. “So I don’t see why I have to keep practicing standing up, you know?”

 

“My character’s kind of like a rebel in the police force, you know, like a real maverick,” a girl said in a sultry, throaty voice, looking earnestly at Goodnight. “So I just think she’d probably shoot with one hand, not two.”

 

“My movie is a World War Two period piece, and didn’t they have like…heavier rifles back then? And stuff? Like wood or something? Shouldn’t I have like…a weighted rifle? Or something?”

 

“My character doesn’t have a lot of experience with guns in the script, so I’m worried if I practice too much it’ll ruin the authenticity of my performance.”

 

Goodnight rubbed his temples. Actors.

 

“Okay you know what,” he declared once he’d decided Young Hollywood was ready to try shooting again. “I think you’re all lacking the proper ‘character motivation’. Two hundred bucks to the first person to get within the inner three rings of the target.” He pulled out a couple bills from his pocket and smacked them dramatically onto the table in one of the booths, the young actors’ eyes lighting up. It was pocket change to the group of starlets and Goodnight knew that, but he also knew that the money wasn’t the appeal. No classroom could resist a competition.

 

“Line up.”

 

His students took turns firing, good naturedly catcalling each other as they lined up to shoot, eagerly watching each actor fire, groaning theatrically when they missed. Finally some young up-and-coming actor playing a gangster on a new drama fired off a decent shot, not a bullseye but still within the first three rings of the target like Goodnight had said. Goodnight presented the bills to him with a flourish while the rest of the students whooped and cheered.

 

“All right,” the young man said with a grin. “I’d like to thank the Academy. Oh hey, Mister Angel, think I’m ready to practice with the Uzi?”

 

“No chance,” Goodnight said with a faint smile. “You gotta walk before you can crawl.”

 

“Reverse that.”

 

Everyone’s heads spun around – including Goodnight’s - to see where the new voice had come from. A figure stepped out of the shadows of the doorway and Goodnight felt his chin drop and his heart lift at the same time.

 

“Oh really?” Goodnight asked, only just managing to keep his grin down. “And what exactly do you know about shooting, stranger?”

 

“Enough to know that any shot you make I can match,” Sam said mildly, but his eyes dancing at Goodnight.

 

Goodnight bit the inside of his cheek. “This sounds an awful lot like a wager.”

 

Sam’s lip twitched minutely and he turned to face Goodnight’s class. They were all staring uncertainly at this stranger in black who radiated a sense of calm, authority, and maybe just a slight hint of danger and trouble not far behind. God, Goodnight had missed him.

 

“Well?” Sam said raising an eyebrow. “Who wants to bet fifty bucks I can kick your teacher’s ass?”

 

There was a pause. And then suddenly Goodnight’s class were all calling out eagerly and producing bills that they waved around in a flurry.

 

Goodnight rolled his eyes but stepped amiably up to the closest stall. He shucked off his suit jacket and pushed up his embroidered silk sleeves, deftly loading the gun in the stall. He looked across the whole target line, visualizing a line of sight towards each of the twelve targets. And without breaking a sweat he lifted the gun and squeezed out a series of shots that hit the row of targets dead center. Every one.

 

He set the gun down and looked archly back at Sam, his students whooping smugly, sure of keeping their fifties.

 

Sam picked up the gun Goody had left him. His shoulders dropped and he looked down at the targets, calmly but with a thrum of intensity. And then he was firing off twelve shots, slower than Goodnight had but no less controlled.

 

When the sound stopped reverberating the class leaned forward, peering down at the line of targets, which didn’t appear to have a single extra mark on them.

 

“What?” one girl asked. “He didn’t hit one!”

 

“No he hit twelve,” Goodnight said amused, looking back at the targets, his own bullet holes slightly widened. “His shots just went through all of my shots.”

 

The students squinted. And when they slowly started to realize that the stranger had indeed managed to hit each bullet hole Goody had left behind, their jaws dropped.

 

“Now I think your class owes me…” Sam did a quick headcount of how many young actors were in the room. “Six hundred dollars?”

 

“I’ll add it to their bill,” Goodnight said, now not bothering to hold back his grin. “Class dismissed.”

 

They waited while the students filed out, Sam’s eyes twinkling at Goody. And once the last student left they stepped forward into a warm hug, Goodnight laughing a little against the man’s chest, squeezing him hard.

 

“Fucking hell I missed you. How was prison? You get the cookies I sent?”

 

“I can’t believe you actually baked a lockpick into them.”

 

“Aw I knew they’d catch it. That was just to make you laugh.”

 

“I wasn’t laughing when they confiscated my cookies.”

 

“I’ll bake you a new batch.”

 

“What, next time I go to prison?”

 

“Exactly.”

 

They stepped back grinning and Sam reached down to pick up a stray flyer lying around the facilities.

 

“Alastair Angel’s Shooting Class for the Stars?” Sam read skeptically from the front cover which featured a glossy photo of Goodnight in a James Bond tux and holding up a pistol while winking at the camera. “The hell kind of name is ‘Alastair Angel’?”

 

“I don’t know,” Goodnight said. “What kind of a name is ‘Goodnight Robicheaux’?”

 

“Good point.”

 

“At any rate, it seems to attract clients,” Goodnight said. “You wouldn’t believe how many studios send their actors over anytime some coverboy needs to learn how to shoot a gun for a movie.”

 

“Don’t they have stuntmen for that?”

 

“Yeah but then how will the stuntmen preserve the ‘integrity of the character’?” Goodnight said in mock-horror, parroting a phrase he’d gotten more than once.

 

“And this is how you make your living now?” Sam asked. “Christ, you can’t last one day without me, can you?”

 

“Hey it pays better than bank bonds,” Goodnight joked, and then went quiet, feeling the familiar clench of guilt that he always felt over how their last job together had ended.

 

Sam must have seen it in Goodnight’s face because he set the flyer down.

 

“Goody…”

 

“I shouldn’t have run,” Goodnight said in rush, five years of self-blame pouring out of him at once. “You just let yourself get arrested, and I should have stayed with you. We’re partners, we did the same job, but you were the only one who went to jail for it, and…and I haven’t seen you in five years, Sam.”

 

Goodnight swallowed and looked at the floor and Sam reached out and took his shoulder.

 

“I knew what I was doing,” Sam said gently but firmly. “It was my job, Goody, you understand? Mine. Security was my responsibility and I messed up. Someone's always gotta take the fall and it was right that it was me. You only ran ‘cause I told you to.”

 

“I know,” Goodnight said quietly. “But I still shouldn’t have done it.”

 

Sam smiled at him. “You’re a good second, Goody. But you can buy all my drinks for the next five years if it would make you feel better.”

 

“It would,” Goodnight said, relieved that Sam didn’t appear to be harboring any resentment. “Wanna start now? ‘Alastair Angel’ is officially off-duty.”

 

Sam laughed. “Sure. But do you mind if we have company? There’s someone I want you to meet.”

 

Goodnight looked at him curiously and Sam just raised his eyebrows. Goodnight felt that familiar kick of adrenaline before the curtain went up on a job.

 

“Oh no.”

 

“What?”

 

“Do not play coy with me, Sam Chisolm, I know that look.”

 

“What look?”

 

“The look that says you’ve got something up your sleeve. Christ man, you’ve been out of jail for what, five minutes?”

 

“Five days,” Sam said innocently.

 

“It only took you five days to come see me about a job?” Goodnight scoffed.

 

“You sound surprised.”

 

“I am,” Goodnight said, reaching for his jacket and giving him a grin. “I thought it would take you three.”

 

*

 

“Goody, I’d like you to meet Emma Cullen.”

 

“Enchanté,” Goodnight said automatically, shaking the hand of the woman Sam had just introduced him to, looking at her curiously. He wondered who she was and why she was meeting with a couple old criminals. She gazed back at him assertively enough, but she still didn’t strike Goodnight as part of the world he and Sam occupied.

 

They sat back down in the booth of the private room on the second floor of the bar, Emma pulling some folders out of a large leather briefcase, some hair falling into her face as she did. She’d pulled it back into a businesslike bun, but a few red strands had worked their way free, wisping in the opposite direction, impossible to tame.

 

“Emma works for RC Legal,” Sam explained as Emma set up her files on the smooth shining table.

 

“The law firm?” Goodnight asked.

 

“I’m a criminal lawyer,” Emma explained, moving their drinks to the side to spread out some folders.

 

Goodnight eyed her warily. “Is that so?” So that was why she didn’t seem particularly cowed by the company she was keeping but even so, why were he and Sam meeting with a criminal lawyer?

 

“I’ve been in touch with Emma for the past two years. She wrote to me with an interesting proposition,” Sam said. “And now that I’m out, seems like we can actually get the ball rolling on this. If you’re in.”

 

“Prison pen pals, huh?” Goodnight commented absently before looking keenly at Emma Cullen. “And what exactly is this ‘proposition’?”

 

Emma smiled slightly as she twirled a pen between her fingers, raising an eyebrow at Goodnight. “How much experience do you have with casinos, Mr. Robicheaux?”

 

Goodnight looked between her and Sam.

 

“I take it you don’t mean as a guest,” he said slowly.

 

“Sam’s already signed on with me as client, just as a formality,” Emma said easily. “Anything said here will be kept in the strictest confidence, but we can speak in hypotheticals if you prefer.”

 

“Well hypothetically,” Goodnight began. “I’d say I have more experience with banks. No one’s ever robbed a casino before.”

 

“Well that’s not entirely true,” Sam cut in. “Just no one’s ever gotten away with it.”

 

Goodnight rolled his eyes at him before turning back to Emma.

 

“Which casino are we ‘hypothetically’ talking about here?”

 

She took a sip of her drink. “The Gold Rush.”

 

Goodnight looked at Sam incredulously and then back to Emma.

 

“The Gold Rush? Bart Bogue’s casino?”

 

“One and the same.”

 

“You know what Bogue is capable of?” Goodnight asked, lowering his voice as though the casino tycoon were standing there behind him. “The last guy they caught counting cards in there? Bogue didn’t just have his goons beat the shit out of him, they went after the father’s church and –“

 

“- burned it down?” Emma said. “Yeah I know. He was a client.”

 

Emma pushed a heavy looking binder towards Goodnight. “Bogue is a crook. And I don’t just mean in the normal Vegas mogul way. The man’s dirty through and through and his entire casino is rotten to the core.”

 

Emma flipped the binder open, running her finger down the columns inside. “A lot of it is the normal transgressions you expect in running a casino. Subliminal messages in the slot machines, games rigged for you to almost win so that you keep you gambling longer, pheromones pumped through the casino air that are meant to lower your inhibitions, make you bet more…”

 

She turned a page showing a number of graphs. “But while insidious, those are quite commonplace and hard to define in a court of law. Bogue’s real corruption is all financial. Tax fraud. Swindling investors. Dirty contracts. If it involves cheating both guests and employees, you can bet Bogue’s done it.”

 

“Emma used to study corporate law before specializing in criminal law,” Sam explained to Goodnight.

 

“Although you’d be amazed how much crossover there is,” Emma said dryly.

 

Goodnight read through the long list of numbers, and even without the steely conviction in this Emma’s voice, he could tell that they would check out.

 

“So why don’t you have him arrested?” Goodnight asked. “It looks like you’ve got enough in the way of evidence. Why not just take him to court?”

 

Emma looked at him dryly. “Think I haven’t tried? That man owns half the lawyers and judges in Nevada. He’s got them all in his pocket and they’re there to cut you off at every turn. But if you persist, keep trying to get at him, keep pushing…well, he’s got people who’ll push back.”

 

A muscle ticked in her jaw as she gave Goodnight a level look. “He’s not just a crooked businessman. He’s a thug as well. There’ve been plenty of instances of his people going after lawyers, trying to get them to drop a case. And when bribing them doesn’t work, well, intimidating them generally does. Threats or more.”

 

Goodnight raised his eyebrows. “You know lawyers he's tried to intimidate?”

 

“I was one, Mister Robicheaux,” she said simply before flipping to a different page. “And I have anonymous testimony from over a dozen more but who won’t testify against him in court because they’re scared of repercussions for them or their families. One lawyer was so badly beaten he was hospitalized and later died. And after that, everyone got spooked.”

 

Goodnight scanned the statements, shaking his head and taking a sip of his drink. “Well, you’ve certainly done your homework, Ms. Cullen.”

 

“Mrs. Cullen,” she said quietly, not taking her eyes off the binder. “My husband was the one who died.”

 

Goodnight’s mouth fell open, but before he could say anything at all her eyes were flicking back up to his and pinning him in his seat.

 

“I’ve tried to take him to court, Mr. Robicheaux, I’ve tried to go about this the normal way, but this is not a normal man we’re dealing with. He needs to be taken down and so does his entire casino. And if robbing him is the way to do it, so be it.”

 

“Even if it means that as a lawyer you’d be breaking the law yourself?” Goodnight asked her reasonably.

 

Emma fixed him with a long look. “The law I swore an oath to protect isn't the one I'm dealing with anymore. And if the law can’t honour itself anymore, then I’m not going to honour it either.”

 

Goodnight stole a glance at Sam.

 

“And you’re in?” he asked him. “This is the one you want to do?”

 

“It is,” Sam said.

 

Goodnight let out a breath. “Well what the hell. I’m in too.”

 

“Excellent,” Emma said, snapping back into a businesslike demeanor and gathering her things. “Glad to have you on board.” She extended her hand and Goodnight shook it, with a slightly shaky laugh.

 

“Sure. I’ve always wanted to see Vegas again before I die. And who knows, this way I might get to do both.”

 

“Why Mr. Robicheaux, are you nervous?” Emma asked, finally a glint of amusement in her eyes.

 

Goodnight looked up at her and she gave him an ironic smile.

 

“You should be.”

 

 

*

 

Sam tipped the room service waiter generously, wheeling the silver cart inside, not wanting the waiter to see the mass of papers and blueprints and other nefarious looking files they had spread out over the mattress of one of the suite’s large beds.

 

“Is that the food?” Goodnight asked, looking up from a folder that contained a copy of the Gold Rush’s floor plan. “Yes, bring it here, I’m starving.”

 

He took one of the plates from Sam and lifted the warming cover, breathing in the scent of steak frites with a satisfied sigh, but then he squinted at the plate.

 

“Damn, they forgot my mayo.”

 

“You and your French fries will survive,” Sam said dryly. “You’re not the one who’s been eating prison food for five years.”

 

But he felt a flicker of fond nostalgia. He’d almost forgotten that particular habit of Goody’s and it was that detail more than anything else that finally hammered home the fact that he was out.

 

Sam uncorked a bottle of wine and glanced over at Goodnight. The man had stopped inspecting his dinner and was looking at Sam curiously.

 

“How did you and that winsome warrior even manage to plan this much already while you were in prison anyways?”

 

“Coded letters mainly,” Sam said.

 

Goodnight had speared a piece of steak and was pointing it at Sam accusatorily. “You taught her our code didn’t you? Traitor.”

 

Sam grinned. “Didn’t think you’d mind if I included you on the job.”

 

“I don’t,” Goodnight said, popping the piece of steak into his mouth. “I’m just surprised she reached out to you in the first place.”

 

“So was I,” Sam said honestly, remembering the letter he’d received addressed to ‘Sam Chisolm, Nevada State Penitentiary’, its contents confident, concise, and clearly aware of who he was and any reputation he might have. “And truth be told she’s already done most of the legwork for this plan. But she knew she needed actual criminals if she ever wanted to get it off the ground.”

 

“Well you’re both nuts,” Goodnight said with feeling. “And you’re gonna need a crew as nuts as you are.”

 

“I know,” Sam said, handing him a glass of wine, his lips twitching. “Why do you think I came to see you first?”

 

Goodnight grinned and they clinked glasses there on the mattress, surrounded by food and files on the mattress, the way they always used to plan a job. It felt just like old times.

 

“So let’s talk players,” Goodnight said around a mouthful of food. “Just you and me isn’t going to cut it. Something like this? We’re gonna need five guys at least. First of all, who’s bankrolling this whole thing?”

 

“Jack Horne,” Sam said, finally digging into his own meal, unable to resist the sound of appreciation he made at the first mouthful. Food was so much better when it hadn’t been reheated and slopped unceremoniously onto his tray in the cafeteria line.

 

“The former casino owner?” Goodnight said, screwing up his forehead. “Thought he found religion.”

 

“He did,” Sam said. “But his old casino was bought out from under him by Bogue. So he might still have some motivation.”

 

“Alright,” said Goodnight, swirling the wine around his glass. “What about IT? This one is gonna take a hell of a lot of tech work.”

 

“I was thinking Vasquez for tech,” Sam said, and Goodnight made a sound of recognition through his sip of wine. “You know him?”

 

“Met him a couple times,” Goodnight said, wiping a stray drop of wine from his lips. “But never worked with him. I know he’s supposed to be good though.”

 

“He is,” Sam said. Sam had worked with him once before. But even if Sam hadn’t already seen Vasquez’s skills for himself, the tech man’s reputation still preceded him.

 

“Drivers? Muscle? We’ll need two more guys for those.”

 

“Just one,” Sam said. “I got a recommendation on a new kid who can do both. Goes by the name of Red. Still a relatively new player but there’s already a waitlist a mile long just to get him on a job.”

 

“So how’re we gonna get him?”

 

“His village elder owes me a favour,” Sam said. “Pretty sure I can get an introduction. And pretty sure the potential money to be had in casino-robbing will do the rest of the convincing.”

 

Goodnight snorted. “If money go before, all ways do lie open. Alright. And what about demolitions? If this batshit plan is going to work we’ll need someone on explosives. Got anyone in mind?”

 

“I do,” Sam said slowly, casting a glance at Goody. “But I’m not entirely sure you’re gonna like it.”

 

Goodnight blinked at him, and then he groaned as understanding dawned.

 

“Oh god, not Faraday.”

 

“He’s the best, Goody.”

 

“He’s reckless, Sam,” Goodnight said. “And…unpredictable.”

 

Goodnight was poking fixedly at his food but Sam could see the tightness of Goody’s mouth from where he sat. The man’s shoulders were tense in a way that went beyond simple annoyance, and Sam felt a stab of guilt. He knew about the job Goodnight had been on before he’d started working with Sam. It had gone south in a way that would have left anyone traumatized. He didn’t blame Goody for wanting to avoid jobs and people that were even the slightest bit erratic.

 

“It’s not gonna be like that, Goody,” Sam said gently. “We might have more people than we’re used to with us, but it’s still gonna be me calling the shots. And I’m not gonna let anything happen to you.”

 

“You haven’t yet,” Goodnight said quietly. And he looked up at Sam with a slight smile before stealing a French fry off of Sam’s plate. Sam just snorted and took one off of Goody’s.

 

“Anyways, he’s mellowed out. I promise,” Sam said. “And on top of demolitions he’s a card sharp too, and on a casino job specifically that could come in handy for us.”

 

“Alright alright, you’ve convinced me,” Goodnight said. “But for the life of me I will never understand your soft spot for that kid.”

 

Sam shrugged taking a sip of wine. He knew Faraday was young, hardheaded, difficult to corral, saw himself as separate from the rest of society, but honestly…he reminded Sam a lot of himself at that age.

 

“So what do you think in general?” Sam asked, wanting Goody's opinion. He swept a hand over the mass of papers that covered the mattress. “Of the plan?”

 

Goodnight looked over them, nodding almost to himself.

 

“It’s good,” he admitted. “But…”

 

He looked back up at Sam. “But this thing is too tied up in security. I just don’t see how we can do it without someone already on the inside.”

 

“Exactly,” Sam said, pleased Goody had reached that conclusion himself. “We’re gonna need to use an actual casino employee to bypass a lot of the security for us. And I’ve already got someone in mind.”

 

Sam handed him a folder and Goody flipped it open.

 

“Goody, I’d like you to meet our inside man.”

 

Goody looked up at Sam incredulously. “Seriously? Am I reading this right?”

 

“You are.”

 

“This says Bogue’s 'head of security’.”

 

“It does.”

 

“What, you’re just going to somehow charm Bogue’s own head of security into helping us?”

 

“I’m not,” Sam said with a grin. “You are.”

 

Goody huffed out a disbelieving laugh. “Well in that case…”

 

Goodnight looked back down at the man’s file and thoughtfully straightened the photograph inside.

 

“Enchanté, Billy Rocks.”