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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

H50/Oceans fic: The Break-Even Point 2/6

January 28th, 2011 (03:08 pm)

MASTER POST

PART ONE...PART TWO...PART THREE...PART FOUR...PART FIVE...PART SIX
 

PART TWO

The thing with Davis is that he's funny.

He's a guy who can't hold his liquor and he's the most gullible person that Turk has ever met. The guy buys Girl Scout cookies and believes every joke before everyone snickers at the punchline. Sometimes, Turk looks at him, and thinks what an easy mark he'd be. Run of the mill cons have never really been Turk's thing - he prefers bit parts in larger operations, if truth be told - but Mikey Davis makes him think sometimes.

But Davis always gets him a cup of coffee when he's at the pot and will spring for an doughnut even when Turk doesn't ask. He always remembers what Turk's doing and asks him relevant questions about the night before. He knows Turk's a rookie and makes sure to check to see if Turk's comfortable with what's going on, but he's never condescending about it.

Davis is funny. And nice.

After a few weeks, Turk still sees Davis as a mark, but instead of wanting to con him, he wants to make sure that no one else tries anything. He walks one step closer to Davis on busts and starts picking up coffee for him when he's at the pot himself.

Partners, Turk thinks with something of satisfaction. That's what partners do.

-o-

After a month or on the job, he has to have a review.

This is something Turk only understands in theory. On cons, they don't really take the time for one on one evaluations. If you're not pulling your weight, you get subtly threatened or kicked off entirely, and since Turk's never had that happen, he's really not sure what to expect from his captain.

He likes Joseph Vincent, though. He likes his punctuality, his crisp appearance. The man's impeccable in a way that no one else ever has been. He's not cool like Rusty and he's not all knowing like Danny, but there's something comforting in his stolid appearance.

Still, the idea of getting reviewed sort of freaks Turk out, like parent-teacher conferences where all he ever heard was how he showed no interest or motivation at all.

Joseph Vincent invites him to sit down and closes the door. Turk sits uneasily in the same chair he interviewed in, while his captain makes his way behind the desk and settles down.

He smiles at Turk as he goes through the papers on his desk. "So, Danny, how are you today?"

"Fine, sir," Turk says, smiling back as best he can.

Joseph Vincent nods, puts a sheet of paper on top. He adjusts his tie and picks up a pen before looking back at Turk. Then he cocks his head. "Are you nervous, son?"

Turk can't help it: he fidgets. He knows better than that, because it's a clear giveaway, but he's so sincerely nervous that he doesn't even know how to hold it in. The entire thing makes him laugh. "Maybe, a little."

For a second, Joseph Vincent's face is frozen impassively, and Turk fears the worst. That maybe he really is a bad cop, that maybe Virgil was right. That maybe this is just like all his conferences and he has no interest or motivation in anything.

It strikes him, just for a moment, as odd that he should care at all. He's lost as many bets with his brother as he's won and he never wanted to hear praise from a teacher, so why the hell does this matter?

It doesn't, he steels himself. He can give Joseph Vincent and his tie the finger and stalk on out of here whenever he wants, just because he can.

Then his captain smiles. "Why, son, there's no need to be nervous," he says with a hearty chuckle. "I've got nothing but good reports about you, and your flair for paperwork is something I wish you could teach everyone else."

For a second, Turk thinks he's imagining it. Because. Praise? Actually doesn't almost compute.

He's cheeks are flushing, but not in uncertainty. It takes a long moment to recognize the emotion.

Pride.

Damn it, Turk is proud. Because, the truth is, he's worked his ass off for this job, and someone actually has noticed. If he had known that this is what it felt like to succeed, maybe he wouldn't have been so accepting of half-assed mediocrity for most of his life.

Joseph Vincent shakes his head. "No, Danny, just relax," he says. "These reviews are formalities. You're quite the cop, and I just want to make sure you know it."

It occurs to Turk that he's never heard anything like that before, but that he'd really liked to hear it again.

-o-

When his phone plays Sinatra, it catches him off guard. He doesn't get a lot of calls from people outside of work and family these days, so he stares at his phone for a moment before he remembers he has to answer.

He nods across his desk to Davis. "I'm just going to take this outside."

Davis looks up benignly and smiles at him.

Outside, Turk ducks across the street, pulling into a doorway before picking up.

It's a legitimate job, with real payout involved. He likes the guys behind it, and it'd be easy enough to pull off.

All things considered, he should take it.

Still, he glances across the street at the police station. He thinks of Davis at his desk and his stack of paperwork to go through.

Frowning, he turns back to the door and asks if he can call back with an answer tonight.

The voice on the other end is a little surprised, but says okay.

Turk hangs up, pocketing his phone. He sniffs once, straightening his uniform before heading back to the station.

-o-

He thinks on the job offer all day, which makes him almost useless on patrol. Davis tries to make small talk about baseball and hot dogs, but all Turk can say is, "Yeah, uh huh."

At the end of the day, Davis asks if everything is okay.

Turk remembers his acting skills and smiles broadly. "Yeah, fine," he says. "Just a little tired."

Davis looks uncertain, but doesn't question him on it. He says, "I'll see you tomorrow then, partner."

Turk's stomach lurches but he keeps smiling. "Yeah," he says. "See you tomorrow."

-o-

He doesn't go home, but stops off at Virgil's. He's neglected to go grocery shopping for about two weeks, and though he could probably make do with Ramen again, he knows that Virgil's wife doesn't know how to cook for less than ten people.

It's funny, but Sarah has been friendly to him lately. She tells him one day that he looks nice in the uniform, and the fact that it pisses Virgil off to hear her being nice to him is just icing on the cake.

She greets him warmly and says dinner will be ready in ten minutes. It smells good - something with marinara sauce, if he had to guess, and she's pretty awesome with the pastas - so he thanks her and heads off to the living room to find Virgil.

Virgil is sprawled on the couch, still in his dress clothes. He doesn't look up when Turk comes in and merely shifts in his seat when Turk sits down heavily next to him.

"Long day?" Virgil asks.

Turk shrugs. "Pretty average. You?"

"We had a programming crisis," he reports. "Average."

Turk nods and they lapse into silence while the local news plays. "I got a job offer today," Turk says. "I didn't know you had applied for anything else," Virgil says.

Turk chews the inside of his cheek. "No, I got a job offer," he clarifies.

At this, Virgil looks at him. "Oh," he says. He pauses, thoughtful. "You going to take it?"

Turk gathers a breath. "It'll pay good."

Virgil nods.

"Low risk."

Virgil nods again.

Turk sighs. "I have no reason not to take it."

Virgil lifts his eyebrows, then flicks his badge. "I can think of at least one."

"You think?" Turk asks, truly curious.

Virgil laughs, smirking a little as he turns his head back to the TV. "Do you know how many job offers I get and turn down?"

Somehow that's a relief. "Really?"

Virgil is still snickering. "It's all about risk management," he says.

"You just don't want your wife to throw you out," Turk comments.

Virgil's smile fades. "At least I have a reason," he says. "You just like being a cop."

Turk's hackles flare. The fact that it may be true is not something he cares to consider at the moment. "That's not it."

"That's not it," Virgil repeats facetiously. "Then what is it?"

"It's a good con," he defends.

"Oh, so it's a con now," Virgil says.

"Yes, it's a con."

"Who are you conning?"

Turk hesitates, then shuts his mouth with a glare. "You never know when being a cop will pay off."

"Right, so your stock in donuts will soar."

"It's a good con," Turk repeats with a little more vigor.

Virgil laughs again with a knowing nod, turning his attention back to the TV. "Uh huh."

"It's true," Turk says, more insistently.

Virgil shrugs with infuriating ease. "Whatever you say."

Turk's eyes narrow. "It is."

-o-

After dinner, Turk thanks Sarah. He snubs his brother and goes back to his place. Still, he thinks about what Virgil said, about how it's okay to turn down jobs. Being a cop is a good con, and he can still hear Davis saying, "See you tomorrow, partner."

He's not ready to give that up just yet. Damn it, he's just not.

He makes a phone call and says he's out for this one, but maybe they can catch him another time.

-o-

He works a lot of cases with Davis, covering a whole variety of things. Traffic violations are pretty par for the course, but they pick up other stuff, too. Domestic disputes, robberies, assault, vandalism. It's remarkable to Turk how many things people call the cops for.

Most of his cases are small, disconnected things. It takes a day to sort them out, finish the paperwork, and move on to the next thing.

Until the string of broken windows on the south side of town. It starts off as just one or two disconnected incidents, but when he picks up a call about a third, he asks Davis if that's normal.

Davis looks at the information and then flips through their old case files. He pulls a few other files and sits back, shaking his head and grinning.

"Looks like you found us a real case."

Turk looks at him, not sure what to say.

Davis gets up, pulls his things together. "It's time for some real police work," he announces, and he's excited with a bounce in his step.

Turk hurries to follow, and wonders how he missed out on the fact that he hadn't been doing the real thing before.

-o-

Real police work is kind of amazing.

It's a little of everything Turk's done - interviewing, canvassing, going through paperwork - but it brings it all together and requires much more attention to detail. It's like putting together a puzzle, and for the first time, he thinks he has some idea why Danny Ocean does what he does so prolifically.

Because there's something invigorating about it. Seeing the big picture and honing in on the relevant details. When he goes home from work, he finds himself thinking about the case, jotting down notes on napkins as he comes up with new insights.

He stays late, even when his shift is over, and once he even calls Davis at home when he comes up with a new idea.

"You're really into this one aren't you?" Davis asks, and he sounds amused.

Turk frowns. "Is that a problem?"

"No, no," Davis says. "It just means you're a cop."

The answer weirds Turk out so much, that he hangs up the phone and makes a point to stare at the TV all night, no matter what's on, ignoring all the notes on his coffee table as best he can.

-o-

He can't help it, though. Just like Danny Ocean could never walk away and Rusty Ryan always spends more than he makes, Turk can't leave the case alone. He's enjoyed things before, but he's never felt so connected to anything he's done in his life - not even a con. It's a strange thing, because he's always thought that he's been happy with his life, but he's never felt this type of total satisfaction before. Ever.

When they finally catch the pair of morons who are pulling the jobs, he feels so good about it all that it's all he can talk about at Virgil's that night.

Virgil listens politely. When Turk pauses, he says, "You really are taking this seriously, aren't you"

Turk tenses. It's reflex to be defensive. "What?"

"You're really enjoying this job."

It's true. Turk knows it, but hasn't let himself think about it. But it's true. He's been downright giddy about this case. Obsessed. It's taken over his life. He's been working this job so long, that he's stopped thinking like a criminal, and started thinking like a cop. He's been less of Turk and more of Danny and he hadn't realized how far it was going until Virgil is sitting there, looking at him like that.

This isn't good, Turk thinks. He's always kept himself separated from the con. It makes it easier to cut and run when he needs to. And he always needs to. Always has, always will. It's a con, Turk reminds himself with bitter clarity. A con.

Because he's not really a cop, no matter who tells him he is. Turk Malloy is still a criminal living outside the law, playing whatever angle he can to make a buck and leverage some power for himself. He has to play the part, he tells himself, trying to curtail the enthusiasm. He has to play the part.

He shrugs stiffly. "It's all part of the con," he tries to explain.

Virgil snorts a little. "Uh huh."

"It is," Turk says. "I have to play the part. Solving cases is playing the part. It's just part of the con."

As if he can say it enough times and it will finally be true.

-o-

It's a little harder to believe that this is all part of a con when the gunfire starts.

Sure, it's easy to play cop when he's pushing papers and giving speeding tickets. Even investigation comes easy enough, and Turk's worked harder for some of the cons he's been in on. But the nice thing about working with the likes of Danny Ocean is that while it's all dangerous, they've got contingencies and easy outs in place to cover their asses in case of emergency.

As a cop, Turk's got a partner and a gun, and while he's used some of his escape routes in the con before, this one is one he's not quite ready for.

Because he can BS his way through procedure, but taking out his gun and firing is a whole new level of screwed the hell up.

Turk can fire a gun, and pretty decently. It's one of those common male pastimes, right up there with NASCAR and model cars. He got his first BB gun when he was eight, but he'd been using one he stole since he was six, so he knows how all this works.

But something he doesn't know is that firing at birds in the desert is a whole hell of a lot different than a pair of robbery suspects running down an alley.

Especially when they're firing first.

He and Davis get the call, and it's just around the corner on their patrol. When they come in, Turk expects the crime scene to be empty, but turns out that it's hot. The front door is smashed and when they run inside, there's a hysterical clerk pointing toward the back.

Turk doesn't have a chance to freeze, not with Davis charging headlong in the direction of the woman's frantic jabbing. For all of Davis' goofiness and oddities, he's downright cool under pressure, and Turk is sprinting to keep up.

The back door is ajar and they blast out at full speed. They skid, and by the time Turk gets his footing, Davis is already moving down the alley.

Without thinking, Turk follows, and it's not until he hears the gunshot that he realizes just how close they are to the perps.

Because that bullet is close enough that he hears it ping off the dumpster behind him.

Swearing, Turk takes a dive, rolling quickly out of the way to find cover. He's surprised when Davis isn't following, but has his gun pulled and is returning fire.

Another volley comes back at them, nicking the fire escape on the building, and Davis finally heads for cover, but not before laying down another round.

Pressed against the wall, Davis glances back at him. They're on opposite sides of the alley, Davis in a doorway and Turk behind the dumpster. The perps down the way are still firing, inexplicably looking for a fight.

Of course, it probably doesn't help that Davis is still firing at them, effectively cutting off what would otherwise be a clean getaway.

Until Davis' gun jams.

At first, it's just another lull in the gunfire, but when it stretches on, Turk realizes that his partner is vulnerable and the bad guys are going to get away.

Davis has to duck, curling in when a new round of fire hits closer to him. It's not a fair fight. There are two of them and one of Davis, who is still trying to fiddle with his gun.

Except that's not the case. There are two suspects, two cops. That's why all patrols have partners.

It's not just for talking buddies. It's for this.

Turk breaks out into a cold sweat, and for the first time since starting this job, he wishes he could call the whole thing off. Because he can pretend through a lot of stuff, but this? He's either in or he's out, and he can't half-ass it this time.

But what choice does he have? Let Davis die? Let them get away? Turk can't say for sure what they'll do, but if Turk doesn't act now, it could go from bad to worse, just that quick.

Another round of gunfire cuts through the alley, and Turk takes a breath, pulls his gun and gets to his feet.

Turning, he spins out far enough for a clear shot, narrowing his eyes to aim at the first suspect. His shots aren't perfect, but close enough, and he sees the suspect roll away.

When a new volley of gunfire clinks on the dumpster, he ducks back again, heart pounding. When there's a pause, he pulls out again, alternating his fire between the first suspect and the second.

Return fire is almost immediate, and Turk pulls back just enough to protect his body but keep firing. He doesn't have a lot of rounds left on this clip, so he has to make them count.

He fires his last shot, and he sees one of them go down, falling to the ground with a cry of pain.

The other promptly turns heel and runs, and Turk is fumbling to reload while trying to move after them.

But Davis is yelling into his radio, about back up and medical assistance and one suspect headed north.

With his gun reloaded, Turk approaches the perp, who doesn't resist when Turk gets closer. His eyes are pained, cheeks stained with tears. He's holding his thigh, which is seeping blood quickly on the pavement.

Turk kicks his gun away, keeping his aim steady. The guy shows no signs of fighting back, swearing and crying on the ground.

Turk doesn't know him, but he recognizes him all the same. A petty thief. A guy looking for a quick buck. In reality, they're probably not all that different. It's just that Turk knows how to pick better scams.

But that could be him, and he can't shake that. He can't shake the way it felt to be fired at, the way it felt to see Davis so vulnerable. He can't shake the guy's face, the tears and the blood, and wondering if he has any right to be here at all.

As they're processing the scene, Davis comes up to him, puts a hand on his shoulder. "Thanks for bailing me out, man," he says, and he's genuinely grateful. He doesn't seem to notice that Turk didn't draw his gun until it was almost too late. "It means a lot."

Turk swallows hard and tries to smile. "It's nothing."

"No, it's something," Davis says. "It's a hard thing, first time drawing your gun. But you did great."

Turk takes a breath, and tries to believe it. But his arms feel like jelly and his heart won't stop pounding, and he sees the way the guy falls again and again in his mind.

It could be him, he still thinks, gun still warm in his holster. Maybe it should be.

-o-

There's a lot of paperwork for firing your gun in the line of duty, but all things considered, Turk prefers it. Being at his desk feels safe, and while he's never been averse to risk, this seems different somehow. Cons are dangerous. Heists aren't for the faint of heart.

But Turk shot someone today. He almost saw Davis get shot. He hasn't even let himself consider just how close he came to taking a bullet himself.

As it is, he still remembers the way the perp fell to the ground, the sight of his blood. He's going to be fine - the bullet only winged him - but there's a weight to this that Turk is only beginning to understand.

The immediate fear and revulsion was one thing, but the growing sense of reality that has followed is entirely another. Internal Affairs is checking his gun, and he's scheduled to talk to their captain tomorrow, and the report is asking for every detail he can remember (and quite a few he can't). Turk's always done what needs to be done, but it's different this time.

He's different this time. Because he's not just running into his brother and making a scene. He's not just driving a van to make a clean getaway. He's not traipsing into museums with a woman with a pillow shoved under her dress. He's not wearing a SWAT uniform and putting on a good show. Hell, he's not even being taken to prison just to be broken out.

No, this isn't just another con. This is police work. Cops do this stuff, and they do it every day. That's why Davis can look so calm, that's why Davis didn't hesitate. Davis is a cop.

Turk's not a cop. Turk's a low brow criminal who's playing a card to show his brother he can. He's working a gig because it's a silly bet that might pay off in some way. Turk can wear the uniform, he can hang out with the guys, and he can know the police code, but it's more than that.

And Turk doesn't know if he's ready for more than that.

The thing is, when it's a con, it's easy to let go of it all. He might feel guilty about duping someone innocent, but in the name of the greater good of the team, it's always an easy sell for him. He can compromise morals and break laws, and he can lie and cheat and steal, and none of it has ever really bothered him much, because really, it's never been him. It's a con, a ruse, and once it's over, he's going to go back to his simple life and do the same things he's always done. Drink heavy, watch TV, play with cars, and piss off his brother.

He can walk away here, too. He knows he can. Danny Williams is no more real than the man in the moon, and if Turk walks away, there's no strings attached that he can't cut completely.

Except...the way Davis pats him on the shoulder to tell him he did good. Except the way it feels. It's not a good feeling, but it's not a bad feeling either.

It's just a real feeling. And somehow Turk knows that no matter how far he goes or how completely he burns this alias, that feeling won't leave him. It's fear and it's guilt and it's pride, and the fact is, Turk isn't sure he wants it to go away.

So he files his paperwork, lets Davis buy him a beer. And he'll be back tomorrow, just to see how long the feeling lasts.

-o-

"You shot someone!"

Virgil is a little beside himself at the news.

It's probably Turk's fault for bringing it up, but when Virgil asks how Turk's day was, it's all he can think of.

"You actually shot someone!"

Turk shrugs, and is suddenly glad that Virgil's wife has to work late tonight. They're splitting a frozen pizza all the same, and Turk's still nursing a beer. "He fired first."

"Yeah, because you were chasing him," Virgil says.

"He robbed a store."

Virgil stares at him. "You do remember that you robbed a casino."

Turk nods. "Three."

"Did you want a cop to shoot you?"

"I didn't carry a gun."

"I think you're missing the point."

Turk shrugs in frustration. "He was trying to kill us!"

"Which is why you should have let the police handle it!"

"I am the police!"

Virgil's mouth opens wide, then closes. His eyes are a little bugged. "You're not actually a cop, you know that, right?"

"I have a gun and a badge," Turk points out.

"Danny Williams has a gun and a badge," Virgil reminds him. "You're Turk Malloy, and Turk Malloy's a poor excuse for a criminal on the best of days, so you really shouldn't be running around popping people. This is a little out of hand, don't you think? Even for you?"

Maybe it's because it's been a long day. Maybe it's because he's a little buzzed. Maybe it's because Turk's spent the day trying to take this seriously and Virgil is making it a joke again. Maybe it's just because part of that - all of that - hurts.

Turk downs the rest of his beer and shakes his head. He gets to his feet. "Just never mind," he says.

"This isn't something I can never mind," Virgil says. "You shot someone! This was a dumb bet and you shot someone!"

Turk moves toward the door and doesn't look back. "You wouldn't understand."

"I think I understand better than you do," he says.

Turk doesn't slow down, doesn't look back.

"Turk!" Virgil calls.

Turk ignores him, opens the door and lets it slam behind him. Safely inside his car, he grips the steering wheel, eyes burning, and he refuses to blink. After a few long breaths, he starts the engine and goes home.

-o-

Turk goes to work the next day. The captain calls him into his office. Turk doesn't listen to most of it, answers the questions in staccato syllables, so he's surprised when the captain smiles at him, holding out his hand. "You did good, son," Joseph Vincent says, nodding tightly against his pressed collar. "You did good."

Turk can only hope that's true.

-o-

Turk doesn't go to Virgil's house for a while. After two weeks, he gets a commendation from the mayor, for courage displayed in the name of duty. There's a small reception and he gets his picture taken for the papers.

The next night, Virgil calls him. "So, uh. I saw your picture."

Turk shrugs coldly. "Yeah."

There's an awkward pause. "So you really saved your partner's life?"

Turk chews his lip. "They made it sound like more than it was."

"Davis is your partner?"

"Sure."

"He says, Danny's just that kind of cop. He'll do anything for what's right, even if it might be dangerous."

Turk hasn't read the story. Hasn't wanted to. The quote makes his stomach churn.

"I mean, that's pretty amazing," Virgil says. "I can't believe they gave you an award."

"Yeah, well, I didn't ask for it," Turk says, a little curt.

"I know," Virgil replies readily. "I just. You're better at this than I thought."

It's a small admission, but Turk hears it for what it is. An apology. A validation.

In all, it's more than he's gotten in so many years of brotherhood.

And it makes all the difference. Because Turk's been trying to believe it himself. He's been trying to believe that he's doing the right thing, that he's good at what he does. That this isn't a mistake, even if it is still a con.

Virgil swallows, continues. "I just had no idea you could pull it off," he says. "A con for this long. And this complicated."

He doesn't say that it's more than a con, and Turk doesn't either. If they're both thinking it, that's something else entirely.

"It's a good cover," Turk says. "Might come in handy."

"Yeah, if I've ever been robbed, I'll know who to call."

"If you're robbed, you probably deserve it," Turk points out.

Virgil chuckles. "Like you don't."

Turk smiles. He can't argue that point, and doesn't really want to. "People won't suspect a cop," he still offers, a little smug.

"Yeah, you may have a point."

"Of course I have a point."

Turk can practically hear his brother roll his eyes. The fact that he doesn't have a comeback means more than anything else.

"So you want to come over?" Virgil asks, a little shy, but trying not to show it. "My wife made cookies."

This piques Turk's interest. "Chocolate chip?"

"And oatmeal," Virgil confirms.

Turk makes good time.

-o-

For a while, life is pretty good. It's simple and predictable. Turk goes to work and jokes with Davis. He does his job, and does it well. After work, he hangs out with the guys and visits Virgil. This is the longest Turk has gone without trying something stupid, and in all the time that passes, he doesn't even realize just how long it's been.

Until he gets the call.

The ringer surprises him - most of his old contacts have stopped calling. Turk's declined all the jobs he's been offered, and the criminal world knows how to take a hint. But when he picks up the phone curiously, he recognizes the number and his heart skips a beat.

Danny Ocean.

He's getting a call from Danny Ocean.

Danny Ocean might make a social call, but he never makes a pointless one. Turk can say no to everyone else, but it's always hard to say no to Danny. Because Danny's plans are the plans you don't say no to, because the payoff's always too good.

That's why Turk almost doesn't answer it.

But it keeps ringing, Sinatra's easy melody twisting in his head. Danny's calls are always important, and yes or no, Danny will understand. Turk has to know.

Picking it up, he swallows back the lump in his throat and ignores the dread in his stomach. "Hello?"

-o-

In Vegas, Reuben looks bad. Turk's never been one for the sick and hospitals, so he's not sure how bad it really is, but Turk figures when you're hovering near death, the degrees of screwed up actually don't matter.

They all show up, one by one. He and Virgil make good time, on emergency leave from work to visit their sick uncle. Some of the team takes longer, flying in from around the world, and when they're all finally there, they share a solemn solidarity.

But Danny has a plan. And Rusty has some ideas on how to pull it off.

As Turk listens to the primitive details, he realizes that of all their farces, this one will be the most involved. It's less of a job than it is a lifestyle change.

Danny looks at them, one by one by one. "It's your choice, and I know what this is asking," he says. "Take a week or two, and then tell me whether you're in or out."

-o-

Turk and Virgil go back to Utah for the weekend. The drive is quiet, tense. There's a sadness.

"So what are you going to do?" Turk asks.

Virgil just stares at the road. "I have to talk to my wife."

Turk watches his brother a minute more, and sighs, looking out over the flash of their headlights on the highway, and tries not to think about how bad this really is.

-o-

The next day, back at home, Virgil comes over. It's late, but Turk hasn't slept. He hasn't done anything except stare at the wall and think about the jobs he's pulled.

Virgil alternates between sitting on the edge of Turk's sagging couch and pacing across his dirty floor.

"We have to do it," Virgil says, rubbing his chin. "We don't have a choice."

They've been having this conversation for nearly an hour. Turk gestures from his chair. "You said you were done."

Virgil glances at him. "It's Reuben," he says. "The son of a bitch almost killed him."

"Danny and Rusty can do it without us," Turk points out.

Virgil shakes his head, starts pacing again. "A job this big? We're down one without Reuben anyway."

Turk rubs his palms on his thigh absently. "It's a big risk," he says. "You have a wife. A job."

Virgil sits down again, looking at Turk bleakly. "They'd do it for us," he says.

Turk sighs, letting his head drop back against the chair. It's the truth they keep coming back to, the point they can't argue away. "Yeah," he says. "I know."

-o-

Virgil goes home late, but Turk can't sleep when he leaves. He lays on his bed and stares at the ceiling wondering how this got to be so hard. Working a job for Danny Ocean should be a no brainer; doing it for one of the team, even more so.

But Turk's never had this much to lose before, and he's not sure how it got that way. Being a cop was a bet, a silly con. It was never meant to make him respectable.

But the thought of leaving the precinct, of not being Davis' partner - is hard. Harder still is thinking that one wrong move on this job, and he ends up being just like the nobodies he's locked up.

He's always known the inherent risks of a life in crime, but working to undermine one of the biggest tycoons in all of Vegas? They are suicidal.

Of course, they've always been a little suicidal, so Turk's not sure why it bothers him now, especially when his so-called day-job requires him to carry a gun.

But this isn't about that. It's not about the risks or the benefits, it's about Reuben, who's lying in a hospital bed after being screwed over by Willy Bank.

That's an image Turk doesn't like, and he understands why Danny's voice had such an edge on the phone. This is personal.

Being a cop is dangerous - Turk knows that by now. But being a criminal is more so, because a cop in the line of fire is a hero, but taking one when working just outside the law is screwed up. Criminals have no one to turn to for help except other criminals, which is why a bond among thieves is so damn important.

And to think, this wasn't even a con. Reuben was playing the game legit, and he still got screwed. But another thing Turk's learned from his time as a cop is that the best criminals are the kind you can't nail to the wall, and Reuben will never get retribution from the law.

Because Reuben's a Vegas mogul who could be past his prime. He's had good business deals and shady ones, and no one wearing blue is going to look twice at his heart attack and hold Willy Bank accountable.

Turk doesn't want to admit it, but there are some things the law can't do and there are some crimes his badge can't rectify. If he's going to help Reuben, he can't do it as Danny Williams.

No, Danny Williams is pretty useless to Reuben. But Turk Malloy...

Turk Malloy can make a difference. It's just a question of whether he's going to or not.

-o-

It's a decision that Turk makes, but he somehow knows that Danny Williams would agree. Because Danny would do anything for Davis, and if he can pull a gun and shoot someone for a guy he's only known a few months, then Turk will go out of his way to make sure that Willy Bank pays for what he did to Reuben.

Because Reuben's a partner, just as much as Davis is. Reuben and the rest of the guys - it's not a question of what's smart, it's a question of loyalty. When Turk decided he was in all those years ago in Reuben's living room, he made a lifelong commitment, and he can't ignore that now.

The fact that Reuben tried playing it right and got screwed just makes it more important to Turk, because he understands the need for second chances, and it makes him hate Bank even more for taking that away from someone who was playing the game as honestly as he could.

Decision made, Turk picks up his phone. It connects, and Danny Ocean answers on the other end.

Turk doesn't have to say much, but he says the thing that matters: "I'm in."

-o-

If Turk's in, he's in, and he knows when he makes the decision just what it means.

It means months of work and preparation. It means spending money and working undercover. It means late night meetings and thorough plans. It means leaving Utah and moving to Vegas.

It means quitting his job.

Even if Turk could handle the commute from Nevada to Utah, there's something deeply problematic about upholding the law in one job and undermining it in another. He can't be a cop and a criminal - at least not at the same time. So if Turk's in with this gig, he's out of being a cop.

Turk tells himself that this was inevitable. It's never been a permanent thing. This is a long con, a silly bet. Walking away shouldn't be hard.

But when he files his two-week notice, it really, really is.

-o-

Turk tells himself that he doesn't want to burn this cover completely if he can help it, which is why he puts in for notice and cites personal reasons for leaving. Joseph Vincent calls him in and looks at him quite seriously, holding up the notice. "I have been looking at this all morning."

Turk sits uncomfortably in the chair. "Yes, sir."

Joseph Vincent's face is pinched. "Are you serious, son?"

Turk blinks. He's never given notice before, but he's pretty sure he did it right. He double checked the policy and everything. "Yes, sir," he says, less certainly than before.

His captain sighs, shifting. He's wearing a blue shirt with navy pinstripes and his checkered tie is neatly knotted under this collar. "You're one of the best damn cops I have right now," he says. "Reliable, thorough. Everyone likes you, and you've got a clearance rate that puts some of our veterans to shame. Did you get a better offer? Moving to the private sector?"

Turk realizes now that he's not in trouble. Joseph Vincent isn't chewing him out. He's trying to get him to stay.

It's a little flattering and a lot confusing. Turk's brow furrows. "No. I mean. There's just some things I need to do."

"We can fast track you into taking the sergeant's exam. I think you're a shoe-in. Even a detective. You name it, son, we can do it."

These are things Turk hasn't even started looking for, and the sudden possibility is a little overwhelming.

Even more so when he knows he can't take it.

This isn't his life, and it can't be his priority. He forces a smile, and shakes his head. "Really, sir, it's something I have to do for a friend. I've loved my time here, but I have to do this."

"I can respect loyalty - I really can," his captain said. "But think about what you're doing here. Think about what you're giving up."

Turk has. Turk has and he will. Even if he can't change it, he'll always know what he's sacrificed. "I know," he says, a little stiff.

Joseph Vincent sighs, pushing the paper away from him. "I'm not filing this just yet," he says. "Give it a few days and really make sure that you're sure about this."

"I'm sure," Turk says.

His captain looks a little pleading. "Just give it a few days."

-o-

In a few days, Turk's answer is still the same.

It's just harder to admit that.

-o-

On his last day, Turk is anxious to be done. These two weeks have been hard. Everyone has asked him why and no matter how many times he explains it, it's never easier to accept. By the end, he just wants to leave so he doesn't have to think about it anymore.

He has his box packed with his possessions from his desk. There's some photos of him and the guys, and some other random paraphernalia he's collected from his time on the force. He leaves the cup and the pens, and gives his stapler to Davis, who's spent the last few months coveting it.

He's about ready to walk out, when Davis takes him by the arm. "You didn't think you'd get out that easily, did you?"

At first, Turk fears the worst, thinking after everything, he's actually been made. But when Davis pulls him into the conference room, he sees half the precinct there, with a cap and drinks and a banner that says, "Good Luck, Danny."

It's a makeshift party, but Turk almost cries right there on the spot, because he can't deny it anymore. He's not just leaving a job, he's leaving a family, and picking one family over the other may be necessary but it's certainly not easy.

As Turk eats the cake and drinks the punch and laughs with his colleagues, it's definitely not easy.

PART THREE