The cell was probably the worst-smelling cell Rusty had ever been in, and that was saying a lot. Rusty had been in prisons all over the world, under every kind of political regime (though usually, he had to say, not for this long at a time). He was what you might call a cosmopolitan of incarceration, and if he said a cell stunk, that meant something. He just wasn't entirely sure what.
He looked up at the ceiling, which was sporting some kind of festive mold, listened to the distant voices and shouts of the prison, and tried to figure out what country he was in. He should be able to remember, but they had been hitting him pretty hard on the head, you see, and so it turned out to be actually rather challenging.
Also, he was thirsty and it had been a long time since anyone had checked in on him. Maybe a couple of days. That wasn't good. He tried shouting, but it came out more like a hoarse croak that fell dead against the walls of the prison. He tried again, and it put him into a coughing fit, which was bad, because every muscle that was moving hurt like hell.
He almost didn't hear the cell door creak open, but the screech of metal against stone finally caught his attention. He turned his head as much as he could and took a guess.
"Agua," he muttered with a dry tongue and not much hope.
"Do I look like a waiter to you?" the familiar voice cut through the fog. Rusty tried to sit up, but only made it to his elbows. He squinted through his puffed-shut eye at Danny, who was leaning in the doorway with his arms folded, wearing a rumpled suit.
"In that getup, actually, yes," he said.
Danny shook his head and laughed briefly. The guard who had opened the cell said something in a language Rusty couldn't parse, and Danny handed him an envelope.
"Think you can walk?" Danny asked.
"Oh, sure," Rusty said, and passed out.
Rusty woke up to someone jabbing hot irons into his face. "Hey hey hey!" he yelled, and clawed at whoever it was.
"Rusty," Danny said firmly from somewhere. "Let's try not to get you rearrested."
Rusty shivered and dropped back on the narrow, hard bed. The guy sewing his face up said something too fast for Rusty to get, and Danny answered him. Just the right tone. Danny was the worldliest son of a bitch Rusty was ever going to meet, and Rusty had never been gladder about it.
Which didn't exactly make it hurt any less to get stitched up without painkillers. "Fuck," he said, "you couldn't get any morphine?"
"You try it."
"No thanks. I'll live vicariously through you."
Eventually, the doctor left. Rusty opened his eyes. Danny was sitting closer than he'd thought. The room was tiny and shabby. A small dusty window at the foot of the bed looked out over the rooftops of...somewhere.
"So," Danny said.
"So. It turns out that Peter Markov isn't entirely reliable," Rusty observed.
"You don't say."
"If only there had been some way to figure that out in advance."
"If only," Danny said.
They fell silent. Danny was leaning forward with clasped hands, but he was looking out the window. He hadn't shaved.
"You were off the grid for nine days, Rusty," Danny interrupted, turning his head back to look at him.
"Yeah. Sorry about that." He coughed painfully. "Time flies when you're having fun."
"I bet it does."
"Also, there was this thing about 'I can't be implicated in this kind of crap anymore' that I seem to recall."
"Yeah," Danny said. "About that."
His face was serious and still. It was probably the face he gave Tess when things went wrong. Rusty shut his eyes. "I guess that's a thing of the past now."
"Correct." Danny's fingers ruffled briefly through his hair. Rusty could have whistled with surprise if his mouth wasn't so dry. Damn. He must have nearly died.
"Yeah," Danny said, and Rusty could hear him taking off his shoes, "you almost did."
The bed dipped under Danny's weight. "Try not to do that one again."
Rusty rested his head cautiously on Danny's shoulder, ignoring the twinge that ran down from the stitches above his cheekbone. "I'll do my best."