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things gone wrong

Things Gone Wrong
by Molly
January 2000

There was one thing that bothered Dean Keaton more than anything else about this entire fiasco he found himself in: the way it was getting easier and easier to walk away.

Not from his life...at least, not exactly. He was used to that, and ditching everything to hightail it away from trouble didn't hurt anyone but himself. Usually. And even if it did, Keaton wasn't the type to worry about who he was hurting. Killers rarely do. He'd always been perfectly happy to be out for himself, and only himself.

Edie Finneran changed all that. Getting attached to her...it was nice, a welcome change of pace, especially in the scope of the new plan of living a "legitimate" life.

The new and improved Dean Keaton, changed so drastically he'd surprised even himself.

Yes, he liked it. So what if he did? That was the initial point, anyway; what was the use of living the straight life if he didn't enjoy it? Edie helped in that. She *was* the enjoyment to be had out of the straight life.

And so he found himself in the predicament of regretting, for the first time in a long time, something that indicated *decency* on his part. He didn't *want* to be so ready to walk away from her. He cared about her, he really did, and if he wanted to be perfectly honest (which he rarely did), he may even love her.

But now, as he stood at the top of the staircase and watched her work, he wondered just why it was getting easy. Within hours, he would be in California, hating what he had gotten dragged into but going along with it anyway.

And looking back at Verbal, he shook off any notions he may have been entertaining of blowing the whole thing off. Of cutting his losses and leaving everything for the others. He wouldn't have -- he *couldn't* have, not knowing them. Hockney, Fenster, and McManus would screw Verbal over without a second thought.

Which *really* shouldn't matter so much to him. But it did. It just did. For the same reason he finally turned away from watching Edie, at Verbal's urging, and followed him down the stairs. There was simply something about Verbal Kint that lured him in.

Keaton drove silently, the task of following Hockney's erratic driving a useful means of avoiding too much thought on what they were heading out to California to do. Verbal, too, seemed content to go it in peace, staring out the side window, his good hand fidgeting in his lap. "This is going to work out," he finally said, clearing his throat. "You'll see."

Keaton frowned and lit a cigarette. "Yeah," he muttered. "I'll see."

"You don't sound too sure of that."

"I'll tell you something you'll need to remember if you plan to keep doing jobs like this. The higher the risk, the more things that can go wrong. Don't forget that."

Verbal looked at him, then at the traffic ahead, and then back at Keaton again, and he spoke rapidly, his head bobbing slightly as it always did when he spoke. "What could go wrong?" His tone belied the confidence of his words, as he practically begged Keaton to reassure him. "We have it all set. Everything will go according to plan."

Keaton glanced over at him, and after a moment his expression softened. It was the damnedest thing, how Verbal always seemed able to make him a little less rough around the edges. "Right," he agreed. "According to plan. Now relax already, would you?"

"All right."

The hand on Keaton's leg actually came as enough of a surprise to force his leg to jerk, and he afforded a long hard stare in Verbal's direction before turning his attention back to traffic with a slight nod. Blowing out the breath of smoke he'd been holding, he cracked the window to let it out, then nearly groaned at the brush of Verbal's fingertips against his inner thigh. It wasn't even that his hand was moving all that much -- it had merely been *extremely* well-placed to begin with.

Pulling up behind the other car at a red light, Keaton finally turned his head to fully catch the other man's stare. Verbal had yet to look away, and there was more determination and surety in his eyes than Keaton had ever seen there before. It was only then than Verbal moved his hand, and with a slight stroke and a twist of the wrist he was cupping Keaton's growing erection in his palm, the warmth of his hand radiating easily through denim jeans.

Keaton's jaw hardened, and his eyes narrowed dangerously. Grasping Verbal's hand and holding it in place, he licked his lips slowly. "Do you have any idea the kind of things you're getting yourself into?" he bit out. "Any idea at all?"

Verbal shrugged with a simple tilt of his head. "More of an idea than you would probably suspect."

Out of the corner of his eye, Keaton saw the light change, and without warning flung Verbal's hand away. "Then maybe we'll finish this up later."

"Maybe?"

Keaton tossed his cigarette out the window. "Like I said," he muttered, "things can go wrong."

**end**