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H50/Oceans Crossover: The Break-Even Point 1/6

January 28th, 2011 (03:02 pm)

MASTER POST


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

 

-o-

PART ONE

It starts as a bet.

Like most things in Turk's life, the thought doesn't cross his mind until someone else brings it up, and then when they do, it's all he can think about.

"I bet you can't hold a real job," Virgil says, lifting his nose smugly.

"I don't need to bet," Turk replies, arms crossed defiantly over his chest.

"Because you can't do it," Virgil says.

"No, because I don't want to," Turk says. His brother is insufferable most of the time, and ever since he got married, he's been even worse. Working nine to five sounds a little like a death sentence in reality, but Virgil seems to flourish with the so-called perks.

Of course, for consistent sex and homemade meals, Turk might reconsider.

But that would require an extended relationship and while Turk likes girls, they still confound him most of the time, so he'll stick to odd jobs and driving gigs, legal or not, and ride the bounty paydays from one to the next.

"You can't," Virgil says, singsonging it a little.

Turk glowers. He doesn't know why he visits his brother so often, except for the fact that his own fridge is broken and his so-called friends seem to object to his habit of falling asleep on the couch by nine PM. Virgil's wife, Sarah, is nice, but she thinks Turk's a bad influence, and ever since Virgil got his steady job, he's been on the straight and narrow.

He's also been a lot less interesting to be around.

But he gets cable, including HBO, so that works for Turk in the end. "I can," he insists, indignant.

"You wouldn't even know how to start."

Turk gestures in protest. "Yes. Yes, I would. You go out and apply to fritter your life away behind a desk."

"It's more than that."

"How much more could it be?" Turk asks, and he's not being sarcastic, even though his voice sounds like it.

"A lot."

"Oh, okay," Turk says. He's seated on the couch; Virgil's on the chair. The TV is on some program that neither of them watch. "And what is it you do?"

"I write computer programs," Virgil says. "I develop important applications."

"Important applications," Turk repeats, and lets his brother's words undermine themselves by virtue of their meaning alone.

"Very important," Virgil says, clearly bristling a little, but it doesn't help much to disprove Turk's point.

Turk laughs outright. "Doesn't sound that hard."

"You'd never even get an interview," Virgil says with confidence.

It's Virgil's sheer certainty that pisses him off more than anything. The fact that he's never been at a legitimate job interview that didn't involve questions about how fast he drives and what laws he's willing to break is not relevant. "Yes, I would."

Virgil lifts his chin. From the kitchen, they can hear the sounds of Sarah cleaning up after dinner. "Prove it."

"I don't have to prove it."

"Prove it," Virgil says again, more insistently now.

"Okay," Turk relents. "I'll prove it."

Virgil stops and looks at him. "You're going to prove it?"

Turk shrugs and gestures widely. "I said I would."

"You're really going to pretend like you can do this?"

"No, I'm really going to do it and show you that it's not nearly as hard as you make it out to be."

Virgil looks at him for another moment, then looks back at the TV. "You won't make it."

Turk snorts, shifting in his seat. "Will."

They're still at it a half hour later, until Virgil's wife sits down between them and asks them what's on.

-o-

It's the next day when Turk realizes that he has no idea what he's gotten himself into. He probably wouldn't have remembered the bet at all, except that he falls asleep at Virgil's house and his brother wakes him up by slapping him upside the head with the newspaper.

Turk groans, and tries to roll over on the coach.

Virgil laughs at him. "The early bird catches the worm," he says, positively chipper.

Turk buries his head. "I'm not a bird and I don't like worms."

Virgil smacks him again with the paper. "If you want a nine to five job, you have to get up before nine."

At that, Turk rolls back over and looks up at his brother. Virgil is dressed in a collared shirt and it's tucked in to his pants. He is shaved and overall presentable. He's also smirking.

"I knew you couldn't do it," Virgil says.

Turk glares, snatching the paper as he sits up. "I can do it."

Virgil shakes his head, an air of arrogance about him. "Sure," he says.

Flipping open the paper, Turk looks at it critically. "I can."

"I give you half a day," Virgil says with a shake of his head. He starts moving toward the door.

"I don't need half a day!" Turk calls after him.

Virgil laughs. "I'll even give you a clue," he says over his shoulder as he opens the door. "Look in the want ads."

"I knew that!" Turk yells as the door closes.

It's only after Virgil's car starts in the driveway that Turk looks at the paper again, trying to remember if he knows what the want ads look like at all.

-o-

The want ads are interesting.

For example, people sell things in the ads. From classic cars to obscure collectibles. Turk wonders why he hasn't seen these before.

After an hour, he realizes there's jobs in there, too.

Lots of jobs. Everything from IT help desk support to elementary school teachers. Sanitation workers, secretaries, personal assistants. Corporate positions, manufacturing jobs.

Turk is surprised to know there are so many legitimate opportunities out there. One reason he gravitated so naturally to crime was that real work seemed hard to come by, but now it seems that's not the case. There's literally something for everyone out there, and for another hour, Turk's a little in awe of it all.

Then he really reads the ads.

They want experience and resumes. References and credentials.

Turk isn't even sure what all of that means, but he's pretty sure that citing roles in major thefts, both domestically and internationally, is not going to cut it. And while he's sure that Danny or Rusty could provide pretty convincing references, faking the rest is going to be pretty hard.

More than that, Turk doesn't even know what he's qualified for. He knows how to work a computer, but he's no genius. Unless they want a sloppy hack job, he's probably not the guy. He knows how businesses operate, but only in terms of weaknesses and risks. He can wait tables and cook and he's pretty decent at security, but he needs something to show his brother that he's not the dumb half of this equation.

He needs something good. Something to show Virgil what he's capable of. Something that takes skills, but isn't stuffy. Something that requires experience, but doesn't make him want to blow his brains out just thinking about it.

By noon, when Virgil comes home for lunch, Turk's still on the couch in his boxers but he's smiling proudly.

"I found it," he says.

Virgil raises his eyebrows.

"The perfect job," he boasts.

"You're serious?"

Turk nods. "Like a heart attack."

Virgil actually looks impressed.

-o-

Virgil is less impressed when Turk tells him what it is.

"A cop," he repeats. "You're going to be a cop."

Turk's actually a little excited about it. He's pulling on his pants while Virgil methodically eats a sandwich at the table. "Yeah," he says. "I mean, it makes sense."

Virgil blinks at him, then shakes his head. "No, it really doesn't make sense."

Turk frowns, zipping his fly. "Yes, it does."

Virgil puts down his sandwich and looks at Turk plainly. "How does that possibly make sense?"

Turk reaches for his t-shirt from yesterday. He smells it briefly, deems it acceptable, and pulls it over his head. "I've totally got the right skills."

"Name one."

Turk looks at him, sitting down at the table. "Name one what?"

"One skill you have that makes you qualified to be a cop."

Turk reaches across the table and picks up the loaf of bread, pulling out a slice. "I have lots of skills," he says, taking a large bite.

"Every job you've had has involved breaking the law," Virgil reminds him.

Turk nods readily, shoving the rest of the piece into his mouth. "Exactly," he says between chews. "And I was completely aware of every law I broke. As a cop, you just have to reverse it and you're good to go."

Virgil actually gapes.

Turk extracts another piece of bread, getting up and pounding the table. "It's perfect," he says. "Oh, hey, can I come by for dinner?"

Virgil shakes his head. "You're insane."

Turk's brow furrows. "That's a no to dinner?"

"That's a no to everything."

Turk moves to the door, spinning and pointing at his brother with a grin. "So I'll see you at six?"

-o-

Turk goes back to his place and promptly remembers why he doesn't like spending time there. It's small and crappy, and while he can afford more, he lacks the initiative to move.

Besides, his money is better spent on things like fast food and fast cars, and he pays a fortune for garage space outside of Salt Lake where he keeps the cars he likes to buy and tweak. He imagines that could be far more fulfilling if he actually knew the ins and outs of how cars go together, but that would take more time and effort than Turk is usually interested in expending. After all, Turk's not really one for details. At least not details he's not being paid to remember. Anyway, he can do the basics and is remarkably capable of jerry-rigging anything under pressure, but in his free time, he's sort of into instant gratification when possible.

So, really, mooching off Virgil for everything from food to housing is just easier and allows him to pay a mechanic when he tackles a car issue that requires actual finesse.

Still, somehow the dismal state of his apartment always takes him by surprise. He wonders if he should take the time to buy curtains instead of the sheets he's thrown over his windows that are hard to open and close. He might not notice most of the time, but the truth is, work has been slow lately, and he blames Rusty and Danny for that. Sure, working on the Ocean jobs made him a big name all things considered, but most of the gigs he's been offered since seem kind of boring in comparison.

Because really, how do you get excited about knocking off a local jewelry store when you've helped execute the biggest heist in all of Vegas' history? The fact that he's mostly broke even after all that doesn't help much, and Turk sort of figures that that's why he's in this predicament at all. If Danny and Rusty had never tapped him to knock over the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM, he wouldn't have known what it was like to work as a proper criminal, as Basher would put it, and he could have spent his years quite happily as a petty thief.

As it is, he doesn't know how much money he has left, which seems hard to imagine, but it's true. After Benedict tracked them all down for revenge, Turk decided to put away whatever he had left, just in case, because running all over Europe with a death sentence was not exactly his idea of a good time, no matter how well it turned out in the end. And he really didn't like Virgil having anything to lord over him, so being a bit more frugal had seemed like a smart idea at the time. The problem is, of course, that he'd asked Danny to help him invest it, and the conman had done such a fantastic job of hiding it that Turk doesn't actually know where it is.

If he really needed it, he could just tell Danny, and Turk knows that. But he grew up in places worse than this, so he doesn't really see the problem, especially since splicing cable is easy and hacking modems for free wireless beats dealing with bills anyway.

Besides, he'd always assumed he could rely on other jobs for the day to day living expenses, though the usual gigs aren't that interesting to him, and he's sleeping at his brother's place more often than his own.

Ultimately, this is Danny and Rusty's fault. And Virgil's for letting him stay. And Sarah's for making Virgil buy a house big enough for Turk to crash at.

And somehow, he figures, this is also his mother's fault, because she never let him have a paper route when he was young and made him share a room with his brother all the way through puberty.

How that has got him here, sitting at his apartment, trying to forge a resume, he's not sure, but it's something of a solace.

At this point, Turk will take what he can get.

-o-

After staring at the paper for an hour, Turk has a revelation.

The internet.

He learned how to make sushi online and he even learned how to rebuild a carburetor online, so he figures that possibly - maybe - it will have some information about resumes. Hell, the internet even has a complete list of NASCAR drivers, so it has to have something of use.

His laptop is always on, and he pulls it over to him at the coffee table, clearing away a spot. He types in the URL for Google and waits impatiently while it loads. He hesitates at the keyboard, staring at the blinking cursor in the search box.

Unable to think of anything else, he types "cop resume."

A second later, the results pop up and Turk clicks on one, scans the page, and begins to smile.

-o-

Finding out what he has to do is the hard part, it seems. Turk's always been good at following orders, at least orders that are beneficial to him. So even though his teachers were convinced that he was slow and uninspired and despite his mother's daily rants about his lack of motivation, Turk's always done his best work under someone else's know-how.

He knows this is why he's been hired as widely as he has. Turk doesn't get paid to think; he gets paid to do whatever needs to be done, from driving a car to creating a distraction to working a service job to build a cover. His teachers wouldn't believe it, he's sure, and his mother curses him when she sees him at their yearly Christmas get together for his inconsistency, but he's good in those contexts and no one can deny it.

Not even Virgil, even though he tries. Because deny it as Virgil might, no one asks for just Virgil on the job, and there's a reason for that.

So in this venture, finding out what he needs to apply for a job is the pinnacle he needs to get over. He figures it's all downhill from there.

After all, how hard is it to forge a few documents, pay off a few references, and create a persona to pitch?

The answer is: not hard at all.

He knows his way around a word processor, and following the guidelines he finds, he types up a history that looks solid, but not too impressive. Of course, this takes some additional work, and he has to do a few searches to find out the names of some relevant schools and places of employment. The schools are a bit of a stretch, but from all his odd jobs for gigs, it's rather easy to fill in the blanks with things that sound plausible and that he could talk about realistically if asked.

Filling out the basics is easy, but he knows that substantiating some of it will be harder. He'll need a diploma, both for high school and for college. He could use his own, but the fact is that Turk Malloy has enough of a record that there's no way he'd get hired for this kind of job.

No, he's got to work this like a normal job. He needs to create an alias, complete with fake IDs. He knows a guy who knows a guy who has done work for Linus, so he figures that he's got to be legit. He can swing a driver's license and a social security card pretty easy, and he thinks if he has the specs on the diploma he needs, that shouldn't be too hard for him to replicate either.

Turk just needs to double check his years to make sure the timeline makes sense, pick a name, and make some calls.

That's all simple, except the name.

He hates picking names.

It's hard to find one that sounds believable but not too generic, because if he's working a job, he doesn't want to have to answer to Billy Bob. Even he can't take himself seriously, and if he doesn't buy it, no one else will.

No, he needs something simple but flexible. Maybe with an easy nickname. Common but still unique.

He comes up with Williams pretty easily, since that's the street he grew up on. He figures that way he won't forget it, and easy recall is important to pulling off a seamless con. The first name is harder, though, because he's overthinking it.

At first, he thinks of Reginald, because he could dig being a Reggie. But there's something not quite right about it, and a cop named Reggie doesn't jive for him. He considers Rob, which is nice and short like Turk is, but the b at the end bothers him. He thinks historically for a second, and comes up with George, like their third president or something, but he decides that he can't envision that name without a powdered wig, so it's a no-go

He nixes Peter and Samuel and Nick. He considers Steve and rejects it promptly.

He needs to think of people he knows and respects. People who can always get the job done. People who are confident and smart, who people gravitate toward and want to be.

People like Danny Ocean.

Turk stops, considers that.

Danny Williams.

Somehow, it works.

-o-

Turk's played enough cons that getting into character comes easily. Usually he's playing a maintenance guy or some low rung service agent, but an act is an act is an act, and Turk can play a part with the best of them.

So really, walking into the police station as Danny Williams, recent Police Academy graduate, is actually easier than finding the job and making the resume. He just has to find the right button up shirt and a tie that matches and then he can waltz right in like he has every right to be there.

Because Danny Williams does have every right to be there. Danny Williams graduated in mid-top of his class, with particular skills in interrogation techniques. Danny Williams was born out east but moved out to Utah after high school to follow his girlfriend, and he's got all the paperwork to prove it.

Danny Williams worked a series of odd jobs, mostly security and waiting tables, while paying for his girlfriend to start medical school. She dumped him when she got into her residency and he went to the Police Academy for a new start.

Danny Williams is ready for a new start, and it's a damn good story that Turk can buy into. Not because he's ever had a steady girl or bothered to work long enough to pay for anything, but because a fresh start sounds kind of nice. Working with Ocean is the best and worst thing that's ever happened to him, and no matter how hard he tries, Turk Malloy will always be defined by that.

Danny Williams, not so much.

This works, he thinks with a smile as he walks up to the desk. This really works.

-o-

It's almost a little creepy how nice everyone is to him. They all smile and direct him where to go. There are pleases and thank-yous and sirs abounding. Turk's pulled enough cons in the hospitality industry to know how to work it, but it's only when it makes him blush that he realizes how few times he's been on the receiving end.

When he gets into the interview, there's a harried looking man behind the desk. He's got sort of wild hair, that he seems to have attempted to tame with hair gel and a fine toothed comb.

In all, he's only been mildly successful.

His attire is a bit more upscale, the blue shirt looking crisp at the collar and the tie immaculately kept in place. He looks like a professional, Turk decides, from the hair gel to the tie.

"Please, have a seat, Mr. Williams," the man says with something of a smile as he gestures at the seat in front of the desk.

Turk smiles back, easing his way in. He's read about interviews online, and he has his paperwork ready, just in case it's needed. He sits straight and looks the man in the eyes, because that's how it's supposed to go.

Strangely, a job interview is a lot like working a con. A lot of finesse and some partial truths. This works in Turk's favor as he swallows back the vestiges of his nerves.

"So," the man continues. The nameplate on his desk reads Joseph Vincent. He shuffles papers before looking back up at Turk. "Mr. Williams, tell me, why do you want to be a police officer?"

This isn't the first question he expects. According to his research, most interviewers start off with softball questions, easing their way into the nitty gritty of procedure and whatnot. There are supposed to be questions on personal philosophies and skill sets, and Turk has thought about all of that in enough detail to come up with an answer, but this one catches him off guard.

He blinks. "Excuse me?"

Joseph Vincent's look is direct. "I'm just curious why you are interested in becoming a police officer," he says.

At first, Turk thinks to be suspicious. Maybe there's been a flag on his background. Maybe Joseph Vincent with his professional looking tie is onto him. Maybe it's time to bolt, and call this thing a wash. It's not like Virgil will remember this bet in the long list of brotherly wagers between them.

But Joseph Vincent is serious. There's no malice, no underlying doubt. He just wants to know.

Why does Turk want to be a cop?

Somehow, he knows that saying he wants to stick it to his dick-wad brother might not be the best response.

But why does Turk want to be a cop?

Then he remembers, that's really not the question at all. Why does Danny Williams want to be a cop - that's the question that matters.

Turk's not real good with feelings and he's all awkward when it comes to honesty. He figures that's why con men make the best friends, because they expect fibs amongst friends, and as long as they are all honest that they're liars, it seems to work out.

But that doesn't mean that Turk is devoid of self expression, especially when it involves the con.

He swallows and nods seriously, his eyes never wavering. "I want to make myself a better person," he says. "And I figure, if I can do that while helping make the world better, too, then that's a win-win all around. You know?"

It's not the most eloquent answer in the world, but Joseph Vincent seems to ponder that before nodding his head. "Yes, I suppose I do," he says. Then his face softens a little and he seems to look at Turk a bit friendlier.

When the interview is over, Joseph Vincent shakes his hand and tells them they'll be in touch.

-o-

Turk's not nervous.

He may not be able to sleep a lot at night, but that's to be expected with the sudden development of a hum in Virgil's air conditioner. He may be fidgety, but he's cut back on the alcohol for this whole job interview thing, so there's nothing to take the edge off. And Virgil's cable's been on the fritz, and back at his place, someone must have found where he spliced the cable, so he hasn't had much to do.

It's not that he's nervous about the interview.

Virgil laughs at him when he takes his phone out, checking it. "You're nervous."

Turk scowls, stuffing it back in. "The vibrator hasn't been working," he says. "I'm expecting a text about a car part."

Virgil nods, spooning a bite of cereal into his mouth. "You're actually nervous."

Turk takes a bit of his toast and glares. "I'm not nervous."

"You're nervous," Virgil says again, with a growing certainty that makes Turk want to take his toast and jam it down his throat.

Turk pulls in his urge for violence, because he knows his brother is trying to rile him up. The fact that it's working almost pisses him off more than the lack of a phone call, but contrary to what Virgil may tell others, Turk is adequately well versed in the art of self control. "I am not."

Self control, yes. Lying to his brother under pressure, maybe not so much, but Virgil is such a little dipstick, that there's hardly any point.

"You really think you have a chance?" Virgil asks, because when all else fails, Virgil always has condescension in his bag of limited tricks.

"I have a chance."

"Have you met yourself?" Virgil asks.

"For the record, I clean up very nicely," Turk replies stiffly.

"Getting a job is about more than shaving."

"I know that."

"Have they called?"

"They'll call!"

Virgil stops, looks at him with new wonder. "You actually want them to call, don't you?"

Turk shrugs. "Isn't that the point?"

He shakes his head. "No, no, no. I mean. You'd actually say yes."

"I told you, I can work a nine to five job," Turk insists, still defiant.

"You also told me that you were capable of pulling an A in English class senior year."

"It's not my fault that Ms. Hollenday doesn't consider GQ to be a legitimate source!"

"What about when you told me that you could break the sound barrier?"

"How was I suppose to know that it was a barrier you couldn't see?"

"And you think they're going to call you?"

"No," Turk says, pulling his shoulders back with pride. "I know they're going to call me."

-o-

They call.

For a second, Turk doesn't recognize the number on his caller I.D. He goes through a mental list of all the possibilities, because sometimes he gets calls from ex-girlfriends and ex-partners, and he prefer those in voicemail where he can delete their rants without having to fully endure them.

But it's not a girl who thought they had something and it's not a business partner who may or may not have lost money in a joint venture and it's certainly not one of his friends, which means-

Turk swears.

His ringtone is almost over, and he's shaking so hard that he can barely see straight. This is it. Make it or break it, and Turk's never been one to lay his cards on the table and walk away before seeing how the game turns out.

He answers at the last second with a breathless hello, heart pounding and blood rushing in his ears. For a second, it's just him and the phone. Him and the possibility.

It's a little heady, and the hair is standing up on the back of his neck, just like the seconds before starting a con.

"Danny Williams?" the voice asks.

Turk swallows, adjusts his voice. "Yeah, this is Danny Williams," he says.

"This is Joseph Vincent with the Salt Lake City Police Department," the voice says.

Turk's chest tightens, he holds his breath.

He can practically see Joseph Vincent, sitting behind his desk, playing with his clean tie and his crisp collar. He's probably lounging at the desk, sitting there, Turk's file in front of him.

Joseph Vincent draws another breath, and says, "I've called to talk to you about a job."

-o-

Somehow, he finds the willpower to make Virgil call him.

Turk is rather proud of this feat. Normally, he'd go straight to Virgil's house, nod at his wife, and then promptly start gloating. Turk learned early on that victories needed to be celebrated and that when no one else was going to give you credit, you had to take it for yourself.

Virgil has complimented Turk willingly twice in his life. Once, when they were eleven and Virgil's attempt to hack into the school's servers almost got them both suspended, Virgil told Turk that his ability to lie without remorse was impressive. Amoral, but impressive. Turk hadn't known what amoral was, but the genuine awe in Virgil's voice when the principal had let them go was more than enough for him.

The second time was the night Virgil met his future wife. She'd been a blind date for Turk, and when they stopped back at Turk's place for some coffee, she'd met Virgil. Turk had fallen asleep playing Gran Turismo and the next morning, Virgil clapped him on the shoulder and said that Turk certainly knew how to pick them.

Turk had been too tired to really figure out what his brother was talking about and the thought of his brother moving in on his girl would have been annoying if Turk had any intentions of making her his girl. And besides, the second compliment in two decades was a reason for smugness, no matter what the circumstances.

So it seems clear to Turk that Virgil will not yield this point willingly, and therefore Turk understands that he needs to make his brother work for it. Virgil's already borderline impressed with his efforts, and his brother's desire to rub failure in Turk's face will supersede any possible decorum he might otherwise show.

In short, Turk knows Virgil will call.

Of course, patience is a virtue, and Turk's never been very virtuous, but he's managed to knock over three Las Vegas casinos, so he thinks he can surely do this. Because he wants to hear the veiled anticipation in his brother's voice, to hear the hesitation before Turk completely and unequivocally proves him wrong.

Virgil calls at 10:45, which is exactly fifteen minutes after Sarah goes to bed. Turk's been desperately trying to watch a documentary on PBS and despite his newfound aura of self control, he can't stop himself from answering immediately.

"So?" Virgil asks. "Have you been officially rejected yet?"

Turk snorts, and he's so proud that his brother's jibes don't even make him blink. "Guess again, genius."

"They haven't called?" Virgil almost sounds hopeful.

Turk shifts and straightens. "They called."

"And?"

"And I'm the newest addition to Salt Lake City's finest, babe," he says, proud and smug and borderline gleeful.

There's a pause on the other end of the line.

"What's that?" Turk asks. "No comeback? No witty insult?"

"You're serious?" Virgil asks, and the disbelief in his voice is so plain that Turk can almost see his slack face and big puppy dog eyes.

The thought makes Turk grin. "Completely."

There's another pause. Then Virgil swears.

Turk laughs.

-o-

Turk rereads the police handbook three times before his first day. He has the code memorized and practices giving Miranda rights in the mirror while getting dressed. He takes the time to polish his shoes and fold his collar crisply, polishing the badge on his uniform.

It's always important to look the part. Half of pulling off an effective con is looking like you belong.

The other half is acting like you belong.

And if there's luck involved in there somewhere, Turk needs that, too.

-o-

Turk gets a desk. It has a computer and some drawers, and there's even a few pens left in a cup on the top.

He also gets a partner named Michael Davis.

Michael Davis isn't that much older than he is, but he's been on the force longer.

"I've always wanted to be a cop," he explains to Turk. "Went to the academy straight out of high school."

Turk spins the story about following his girlfriend from Jersey, her medical school pursuits, and ultimately having to redefine himself.

Davis takes it quite seriously. "Well, I think that's great," he says. "I mean, to go out on a limb like that. Takes some real courage."

Turk shifts awkwardly. "Nah, it's nothing."

Davis looks earnest. "Don't sell yourself short," he says. "Starting something new, especially after doing one thing for so long - that's real bravery. The important stuff."

Turk doesn't want to admit to anything, so he smiles a little instead.

Davis nods resolutely. "Well, then," he says. "Let's go out there and make the most of this second chance."

-o-

It's not quite what he imagined, but Turk's notion of police work has mostly been derived from NYPD Blue and CHiPs, so he figures it's not too surprising that there's some discrepancies.

First, there's a lot of paperwork. On his first day, he has to fill out three reports and watches as Davis fills out another five. Turk reflects briefly that if he had known how much writing was involved, he may have opted for a different career path.

But he likes riding in the police cruiser. That is, he likes that he gets to ride in the front. They're surprisingly spacious and comfortable, and while they have no excitement on their first patrol, Turk is anxious to see what it's like to lock someone back there.

It's also a strangely social job. Davis takes him on a foot patrol downtown during lunch, and Davis talks to just about everyone they see. He seems to know the local business people and he smiles at children as they walk by.

Normally, this would make Turk uneasy, but when he sees that everyone is smiling back, it sort of makes it seem okay.

It actually seems nice.

Turk has never been one to live respectably. As a teenager, he spent most of his time skipping classes and trying to smoke joints in the school parking lot. His greatest service to the community, he figured, was stealing cigarettes from the convenience store.

However, when he tried to convince Virgil that this type of petty theft was actually geared toward dismantling the power of Big Tobacco, his brother laughed at him, but then again Virgil was a geek who got wedgies in the locker room at school, so his opinion had never meant much to Turk in that regard.

Graduating had been the pinnacle of his success, and he was pleased to discover that there was no notation on his diploma to indicate that he had eeked out the lowest passing GPA possible. It made his mother proud, which was a first and a last, but he had no intention of doing anything with it.

Virgil, on the other hand, was the great family hope. From his parents to his second cousins twice removed, the Malloys dabbled in activities that ranged from slight infractions of the law to full on felonies. But Virgil, with his genius level IQ and high GPA, was supposed to get away from it all.

Turk had no such expectations and no such ambitions. Instead, he took a job at his father's car dealership, which was the Malloy family's latest soon-to-be failed business venture. From there, he started picking up a few odd jobs his father passed his way, most of which were somewhat less than legal, and after some time he built a reputation as a go-to guy in small local crime. When he finally met Danny Ocean a few years later, he was eager to work for something that would do more than pay his monthly paycheck.

In all, it was no surprise that he was good at crime. But when he visited Virgil at school and discovered his brother's secret life as a bookie, he found out his brother was good at crime, too, and they both realized that they had more in common than they thought.

The years that followed were pleasant, as far as Turk was concerned. They were never wanting for money, and working a gig with his brother was actually kind of fun. He didn't care what it was, as long as it paid, and if that meant Turk avoided the rest of normal society, then that was okay with him.

And yet, here he is. Walking the streets in a uniform and with a badge, making chitchat with the people he might have otherwise stolen from. As it is, it's hard not to case the joints, see the entrances and exits and size up how much they might have in their cash registers. But the patrons smile at him and thank him, and Turk wonders if this is what it's like for most people in this world.

He thinks, maybe living under the radar wouldn't have been so appealing if he'd known what it was like to be on the radar.

It's a crazy thought.

Crazy, just like this job. Because there's paperclips and partners and police cruiser and people. And best of all, there's a paycheck to rub in his brother's too smug face when all of this is done.

-o-

Turk goes to Virgil's after work, and takes off his shoes with a frown.

Virgil is sprawled back on the couch and lifts his chin. "Something wrong?"

"My feet hurt," Turk says, rubbing his heel a little bit.

Virgil snickers. "One day on the job, you're already complaining."

"I'm not complaining"

"Your feet hurt," Virgil mimics gleefully.

Turk picks up a shoe and chucks it at him. Virgil deflects it and it flies over the couch. "It was an observation."

Virgil chuckles. "And I observe that you're whining like a little girl after one day."

"These are new shoes!" Turk insists.

"You're never going to make it."

"I made it this far, didn't I?"

"You'll never make it," Virgil says again.

"I will."

"Won't."

Turk will, paperwork and respectability and tight shoes be damned, if only because his brother says he can't.

-o-

Turk's always been the smallest guy in class. He's the kid who never fit into the smocks during art class and had to wear all his pants rolled up to his ankles. Being small, other kids always pegged him as an easy mark, which is why Turk figures he went out of his way to prove otherwise.

A few misguided kids in the second grade learned that the hard way when they tried to take Turk's apple at lunch. Turk didn't like apples all that much, but punching them out had less to do with nutrition than the general principle of the thing.

Since then, Turk never fancied himself a bully, but he didn't shy away from a fight. If someone pissed him off, he found they listened far better to his fist than his words, and if that made him kind of a jackass, Turk's always been sort of okay with that. And sure, he knows that he probably shouldn't get his kicks from making other people feel small, but after spending a lifetime looking up at people, it's sort of hard not to.

That's what's really nice about the uniform. Respect. Even if people don't like cops, he's carrying a loaded gun, and they know how to respect that. Turk's not power-hungry necessarily, but he can't deny that he likes the way people treat him when he's on duty.

All things considered, he sort of thinks his first arrest will be awesome. He gets to be a bully, jackass and in the right, all at the same time. That's a win-win all around.

And this kid deserves it. He's a punk ass, stupid enough to shoplift at a convenience store. That's not a big crime, but the moron decides to run when Turk and Davis show up. It's a short chase, and as Turk hauls him to his feet, turning him around, Davis chuckles. "You want to do the honors?"

Turk blinks, for a second not comprehending.

Then the kid he's holding curses and Turk understands.

Pulling his cuffs and hooking the kid's wrists is harder than it should be, and the Miranda rights he took so much care to memorize seem clunky on his tongue.

When he's done, Davis prods the kid's shoulder. "Okay, let's move it. A little faster now."

The kid stumbles forward, still cursing, and for a second, Turk can only watch.

He remembers, not that long ago, being a kid just like that. Pissed off and stupid, and while Turk's never been stupid enough to knock off a convenience store, he's been stupid enough for a lot of other stuff. His record isn't spotless, and that's not even considering the crimes he's committed but never quite been connected to.

And still, Turk knows what it's like to wear a pair a cuffs. He knows what it's like to screw up. He knows what it's like to get caught being a moron. If he hadn't created this second chance, that could be him Davis is walking away, just that easy.

Yet, Turk's the one in the uniform, slapping on the cuffs.

Davis glances back at him. "You coming?"

The kid looks back, too, with accusing eyes. He doesn't know, of course, couldn't possibly know just how little right Turk has to stand on this side of the law, but Turk feels the accusation all the same.

Part of him wants to run. Wants to bolt right now, leave Davis with no questions and no answers. Because it's not like Turk's not a quitter. He is a quitter-all the time. He quit all the classes he could in school and quit every other legitimate job he's ever managed to land. He's quit relationships and credit cards and scams-the whole nine yards.

And maybe that's the thing. Maybe that's what's different. Because arresting this kid is like looking at himself from the outside. And what's weirder is that it bothers him. Turk doesn't want to be that kid. He doesn't want to be a bully or a criminal or some two-bit nobody. Not now.

Apparently, Turk has morals and ideals and all that damned crap he made fun of most of his life. It was all just buried somewhere deep inside him, happily latent while he went about other, more profitable pursuits. If Virgil had never made that bet, Turk doesn't know if he'd be standing here, having these doubts, and no matter how much it freaks him out and pisses him off, he can't change that now.

(And maybe he doesn't want to, but he's not ready to think about that just yet.)

Still, here he is, a criminal who's pretended too long, and if he hasn't earned standing here, in this uniform just yet, he thinks maybe someday he'll come close enough.

-o-

At the end of his shift, Davis claps him on the shoulder. "You did good out there," he says.

It's a typical Davis kind of thing to say, cliche and all that crap, but as Davis stands there, holding his gaze, somehow it feels like more than that. "Really?" Turk can't help but asking, his cover slipping just a little.

Davis nods resolutely. "Of course," he says. "You're going to be one hell of a cop someday, Danny Williams. I can promise you that."

With that, Davis walks away, and it seems sort of funny. Davis is the kind of guy who can't lie, so it's hard to think he could be wrong about this.

And harder still to think he could be right.

Turk stops for a beer on the way home, because he's not sure which answer bothers him less.

-o-

Turk's first arrest is hard.

His second is easier. The cuffs go on smoother, the Miranda rights roll off his tongue.

The fact that these two jackasses tried to mug a little old grandmother helps. Because Turk's been a jackass most of his life, but even he has standards.

Even if he didn't know it until now.

-o-

"I had the worst day today," Virgil says, sitting down hard next to Turk on the couch. He's already drinking a beer and at the rate he's downing it, he'll need another before dinner is served.

Turk looks at him blandly. "Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?"

"We had the most inane issues today," Virgil complains. "Someone uploaded their code wrong and it screwed the whole thing up. Our servers got overloaded and we had clients calling nonstop with management breathing down our neck to get it fixed."

Turk is less than impressed. "I had to chase a pair of vandals three blocks."

"That's, what, ten minutes?" Virgil says, gesturing. "I'm talking about the entire day."

Turk raises his eyebrows. "When we caught up with them, one of them smacked me in the head with a spray paint can." He leans forward so Virgil can see the blood still caked in his hair. "Davis wanted to take me to the hospital."

Virgil appraises the bloody lump with something of disdain. "I've never written so much code in my life."

"We were driving them back to the station when we got a call about a robbery in progress," Turk continues nonchalantly. "This time, it was a high speed chase."

Virgil's eyes go wide. "That was you? I saw that on TV!"

"I thought you were busy all day?" Turk points out, as innocently as possible.

Virgil's eyes darken. "I looked up for two minutes."

Turk smirks. "Sure."

-o-

When it comes to cons, shorter is always better. The less time you're invested in a character or role, the less likely you are to get made. Anything for the long haul takes time and dedication, because it only takes one lapse in awareness to screw the whole thing up.

All things considered, Turk is pretty good at this, and answering to Danny comes about as naturally as anything after a few weeks. Identifying himself as Officer Williams still gives him a bit of a head rush, but he can say it without blushing, which he figures is most of the battle.

No, practically speaking, Turk can maintain this con-but when it starts spilling over into his personal life, it gets a little messy.

But there's not much Turk can do. The guys at the station want to do drinks after their shifts and when Officer Bowden gets married, he's invited to the bachelor party. Turk's never been one to say no to drinking and strippers.

Breaking loose with the guys at the precinct is easy enough, but one night he's out knocking a few back and watching a game with some of the guys, when he gets a call.

He's a little buzzed and he's relaxed, so he doesn't think twice to check the name when he answers.

When the voice on the other end asks how Turk is doing, the buzz gets killed just that quickly. Because getting called to work a job from a guy he should probably arrest is awkward, especially when his new buddies are right next to him.

Turk's nerves must have showed, because Davis leans in. "Hey, is everything okay?"

The voice on the other end says, "I just wanted to discuss an opportunity with you."

It's like a rock and another really hard rock, and Turk barely manages to tell Davis that he's just going to step outside to take this one.

It's not a gig that's worth much of anything and the son of a bitch who wants him has a history of shorting him on the final payout, and that's why Turk says no.

(At least, that's what he tells himself.)

When he goes back inside, Davis asks if he's okay again, and Pinelli looks equally concerned.

Turk laughs it off, tells them it's an idiot he used to know who just doesn't know how to take a hint.

If Davis and Pinelli doubt that, Turk buys another round.

The next day, while drinking coffee to stave off his hangover, Turk goes through his contacts list and gives everyone ringers. If he hears Frank Sinatra, he knows what kind of business it is. Bon Jovi, and it's for Danny.

And somehow, it works.

PART TWO