So cherry wrote a Take the House! challenge fic which you all should totally read, and it's Tess/Rusty, and now all I can think about is Danny coming back to find them.


The bistro down the street has bagel sandwiches for seven dollars and fifty eight cents, which Tess thinks is ridiculous for a bagel, some cream cheese, lettuce, and some organic sprouts, but the more gourmet food is the more it's supposed to cost. Terry always paid at least two hundred dollars for his meals, except he never really paid for anything because they always ate in a hotel he owned. Danny used to take her out for black tie dinners, and she never saw the bills but they probably ran to a couple hundred dollars a plate. New York was one of the most expensive cities in America, so the saying goes.

"You know if you eat that stuff," Rusty tells her, sitting down, "you'll be healthy and fit in no time."

He, of course, has his own tray, a breakfast bagel with two slices of fresh ham, organic scrambled egg-whites, and three different kinds of cheese. Even with all that and the espresso coffee on the side, Rusty's meal is too healthy for him. Tess puts her bagel down, half-eaten. "Some of us were not built to digest rubber," she says, as he bites into the bagel and swallows half of it in one bite. She wonders briefly what con Rusty's planning; not that he need work again for a long while, but she can remember in New York, he and Danny were never satisfied unless they were working. Of course back then, she just thought it was a different kind of work.

Rusty puts a hand on his heart; "you wound me," he says, "and even after I gave up the Waffle House to eat here."

Tess opens her mouth to retort, but whatever quip dies on her tongue as Danny sits down, cup of coffee in his hand. "A finer establishment I have never known," he says. Tess notices the coffee is to-go.

He and Rusty share a look first; Tess pushes her plate away as they look at each other. Rusty is the one to break the look, finally - he looks at his watch. "I didn't think the red-eye got in for another half-hour," he says to Danny, and glances at Tess.

Danny smiles easily, shrugs. "They bumped it up. What, thought you'd be safe from a public scene for another half hour?"

"Danny," Tess interrupts, but Rusty says,

"no, don't, Tess," and Danny shakes his head. Rusty crosses his arms, leans back in his chair. "Where are you staying?" he asks Danny casually.

"This little hotel down the street," Danny says, "maybe you've heard of it?"

There are a lot of things that Tess wishes had been different about her life before this moment; Danny looks at Rusty, inscrutable as always. the one thing about Danny that she doesn't have a problem with in Rusty is that when Danny's working an angle, nothing ever slips. She swallows, looks up at the two of them. "If we're finished--" she says.

Danny stands; Tess notices Rusty start to move, then decide against it, settle in his chair again. Danny says, "I have a meeting, actually," and then looks them over, first her, then Rusty. "I'll see you later," he says.

"Later, Danny," and Rusty nods at him, and for a bizarre moment Tess is reminded of the moment when Terry and Danny met; one of those moments she wishes had gone differently. There are a lot more things Danny could do to Rusty, though. She decides she doesn't want any more to eat.


Danny's gone the whole morning, and finds them while Tess is in Rusty's room, reading a book, and Rusty's in the shower. They haven't touched each other all day, they haven't said much of anything. Tess is attempting to immerse herself in eighteenth century art criticism, and Rusty is getting ready for a business meeting. It's nothing, it's a quiet, calm afternoon.

Rusty comes out of the bathroom, towel wrapped around his waist. He's looking through his extensive closet when the doorknob turns.

Tess sits up on the bed; Danny strides over to Rusty, fist cocked, and punches him in the jaw. Rusty staggers, falls back clutching his Armani suit, and Danny grabs his wrist.

Rusty holds still, asks, "how'd the meeting with Roy go?"

Danny purses his lips. "He needs a million."

So this is how it is, Tess thinks, and puts a bookmark in her book. Her legs are tucked up underneath her on the bed, she's curled up enough for both of them to sit down. Danny stands in the middle of the room and Rusty continues flipping through his closet. Rusty says over his shoulder, "well then."


"there's always Martin, next week," Rusty says, and holds up two suits. Danny nods to the one on the right, and Rusty puts the other one away, begins to dress. "There isn't enough time," Rusty says.

Danny finally sits down on the foot of the bed, and loosens his tie. Tess watches the two of them, as Rusty casually pulls the towel from his waist, puts his suit on as her and Danny watch. watches Danny, leaning back and thinking. She thinks about picking her book up again, because despite what she'd like to think, people don't always turn out quite the way she wants them to. She knows Danny too well to think he'd make a scene, but knows he loosened his tie, too.


They come back that evening with a bottle of red wine and pasta for her. Tess puts the book on watercolour away, because it didn't have anything in it she doesn't already know, comforting as it is to read something familiar.

Danny opens the wine, Rusty pulls the room service tray into the room. Danny gets as far as pouring the first glass before Tess is standing up. Rusty pauses, watching her, as Danny pours; then he takes the bottle and puts it down. Tess stands and waits for them to catch up.