They make each other right away, of course.
Not that anyone else would’ve been able to tell. Johnny’s face freezes for barely a second before it smooths out again, all wide open grin and easy slouch, and Henry doesn’t even do that much — he just takes in the sight of a man he hasn’t seen in months and keeps on going, not even a ripple of surprise breaking through. Working on the fly without any prep is a dangerous business and doubly so if you walk in on another grifter’s con, but Henry’s been at this long enough that he can play bad odds anyhow and still come out on top.
“Hey there, Sloan,” Johnny says, leaning back and sprawling out, arms spread wide and resting against the back of the booth. He’s the very picture of ease but Henry can see the edge of something hard in his eyes, hard and shuttered and brittle, just like the last time they’d been face-to-face. “Long time no see.”
“You two know each other?” Gantry asks, looking between them with a calculating sort of interest, already sniffing something out.
He’s clever, this mark, which is half the reason Henry went after him in the first place. That and the fact that he runs his club more like a prison than a place of work, treating his girls like they’re nothing more than spoiled pieces of meat. Still, Henry would’ve left it alone — he’s supposed to be laying low, after all — but one of the girls knew Billie and Billie asked for his help, and whatever else Henry might be, he’s not the kind of man who says no to a friend.
And right on cue, as if he can tell what Henry is thinking, Johnny’s mouth twists a little. Gantry notices that, too.
“You could say that,” Henry replies, sliding into the chair opposite them. “Didn’t expect to see you here, kid. You’ve come a long way.”
“Oh, I get it,” Gantry murmurs. His smile takes on a knowing slant that makes a warning bell sound off in Henry's head; this can't be leading anywhere good. “You knew Tommy here when he was just starting out, is that it?”
“Taught me everything I know,” Johnny says. “Ain’t that right, Sloan?”
Johnny takes a sip of his drink — or pretends to, anyhow — and looks Henry in the eye. And just like that, it’s like old times again, like nothing at all has changed: they’re on the same page and heading in the same direction, and Henry knows exactly what kind of game Johnny’s trying to play. He glances around the club and yep, there they are, scattered in between the sallow-skinned girls and fat cat patrons. A handful of young men, well-dressed and elegant and almost pretty young men, scanning the room for a very specific type of customer.
Henry doesn’t slip up but it’s a pretty close call. He covers it by leaning across the table and stealing Johnny’s drink, downing the rest of it in one swallow. The burn in his throat is an easy excuse for the hoarseness of his voice when he finally answers the question.
“You could say that,” he says again.
Gantry gives him a quick, assessing once-over, then shrugs a little.
“Yeah, okay,” he says. “I can see that.”
Beside him, Johnny’s grin all but freezes over. “You here for business, Sloan?” Johnny asks. “Or pleasure?”
Anger spikes up inside him, too fast and too hot for Henry to completely hide it.
“Why not both?” he shoots back, grinning sharp enough that for just a second, Johnny almost looks like he regrets it. “I mean, I’m no fool,” he adds. “You don’t really think I taught you everything, do you, kid?”
“You taught me enough.” Johnny’s voice is flat. “I don’t need anything else from you.”
Henry remembers the look on Johnny’s face when he’d hauled him off his knees and shoved him away; surprised at first, then angry. Like Johnny was the one who was being mocked, whose deepest secrets were being waved in his face like a goddamn float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The attitude didn’t surprise him, not really, but the form of it sure did; Johnny could be a hot-head sometimes but Henry never pegged him for cruel. Luther wouldn’t have stood for it, Henry’s sure of that, but then again, Luther was the one who told him that the kid learned fast.
The only way to grift a grifter, after all, is to find the one thing they value more than the con.
“Still talking a big game, huh?”
Henry leans back in his chair, taking up space, making sure Gantry’s watching as he lets just a little of his true thoughts show up on his face. He knows that Johnny will see that too, that he’ll be able to pick out what’s fake and what isn’t just as easily as he can tell counterfeit from real green.
“Say, Mr. Gantry,” Henry adds, smiling wide, “has he been making you much cash so far? Because I can tell you this much for free — pretty as that mouth is, it ain’t gonna get you much if all he does with it is run it off.”
Johnny’s face colours, deep enough that Henry knows it’s not entirely for show.
“He got you there, kid,” Gantry says, barking out a laugh. “But there’s a lesson for ya — don’t burn your bridges till you're sure there’s nothing left on the other side.” He lights a cigarette and Johnny does the same, probably just to have something to do with his hands now that Henry’s emptied his glass. “How long did you two work together, anyhow?”
Gantry’s still grinning but Henry senses danger in the air, feels the prickle at the back of the neck that every grifter knows is a sign you can’t ignore. A con swinging south, maybe, or a hook not quite sinking in, and Henry can tell the guy’s fishing for information now. But Henry's got no idea how long Johnny’s been working this or what his full play really is, and if he says or does anything that contradicts whatever Johnny’s been feeding the guy, then they’ll both be forced to fold.
“Not long enough, apparently,” Henry replies.
He’s got no choice but to follow Johnny’s lead, as well as his own instincts. But that right there is part of the problem: his instincts aren’t as clear as they should be, not when Johnny’s watching him with that bitter curl on his lips, not when the sight of it brings back memories that should stay dead and buried.
Henry looks Johnny up and down, disdainful and dismissive, and things start spilling out that he thought he'd locked up tight.
“This seems like a class joint, Mr Gantry," Henry says. "But Tommy's not ready for the big leagues yet. What you got here,” he adds, with perfect cold aim, “is nothing but an amateur.”
Johnny-as-Tommy, of course, bristles at that — but not before Henry sees a flash of real anger in his eyes, making them seem even bluer than usual. “Now listen here, pal —”
“No, you listen.” Henry leans forward and his voice sharpens, enough that Johnny’s jaw visibly clenches. “I remember when you first came to me,” he says, and knows that he's edging a little too close to the truth now but unable to make himself pull it back. “Lost and alone and so, so green... I taught you the ropes, kid, I showed you the moves, I took you into the family. Hell, I even bought you that suit.”
Henry laughs but it sounds wrong; soured up and twisted, somehow. Johnny’s staring right at him but his face is like stone and Henry can’t tell if it’s a warning or not. The thought makes his stomach knot up a little; not that long ago, he’d have been able to tell at a glance. Hell, not that long ago, he wouldn’t have even needed to do that much — he’d just know.
“Yeah, you remember that, Tommy?” Henry continues. “Got you a haircut and a shave and fixed up your nails... Prettied you up real nice. Made you look the part so well that you actually started believing it.”
Johnny flicks ash from the cigarette he isn’t smoking but otherwise stays very still. It’s the kind of stillness that Henry recognises; either Johnny doesn’t know what to do next or what he wants to do is sock Henry right in the mouth. And honestly, Henry isn’t sure which option he’d prefer to be true.
“So why’d you leave, then?”
Gantry’s sudden question takes Johnny by surprise, Henry can tell — he takes a drag of his cigarette but is too slow lifting it to his lips, obviously trying to stall for time. No one else should’ve picked it up but Gantry’s eyes are sharper than ever, watching Johnny’s every move as he waits for an answer.
“It’s no big secret,” Johnny replies eventually. He shrugs, but it’s noticeably stiff. “Just a misunderstanding, that’s all.”
Henry can practically hear the wheels turning in Gantry’s head as he looks between the two of them, a thoughtful expression on his face. He’s got no idea what Gantry might be thinking but the guy’s obviously suspicious, and as the silence stretches out Henry wonders if maybe he should just cut his losses and find some excuse to go. Johnny got here first, after all.
But Billie asked him personally and he’s pretty sure the con’s still salvageable, with or without Johnny’s help. He just needs to get Gantry alone — which was his original goal in coming to the club in the first place.
“Look, Mr. Gantry,” Henry starts, but Gantry interrupts him.
“Misunderstanding, huh?” he asks, fixing Johnny with a long, hard look. Johnny, however, gives him nothing. “Well, I’d hate for it to get in the way of your investment offer, Mr. Sloan,” Gantry adds. “So why don’t I offer you a special deal, just to sweeten the pot a little?”
“A deal?” Henry repeats. He makes sure he sounds nothing but curious but apprehension tightens his chest — this is a trap, it has to be.
“Yeah, a deal.” Gantry gestures to Johnny. “That’s the deal right there.”
“What do you mean?” Henry asks, even though the queasy feeling in his stomach makes him pretty sure he knows what the answer will be.
“I mean I’m offering you the kid,” Gantry says. “On the house. You can sort out your misunderstandings all night. Any way you want.” He tosses back the rest of his drink and shrugs. “I got half a dozen just like him ready to go. Ain’t no skin off my nose if it takes him a while to recover. Or if he recovers at all.”
Henry only just manages to resist the urge to grab the glass from Gantry’s hand and smash it right into his smug, smirking face.
“That’s real generous of you,” he says instead, forcing his mouth to stretch into a smile. “But it won’t be necessary. The investment offer still stands, there’s no need for —”
“Oh no, I insist.” Gantry smiles again, but it doesn’t reach his eyes. “You won’t be disturbed, I promise. Tommy knows which room to use and he’s real discreet. And then you and me can talk business in the morning.”
There’s nothing else for it. Henry’s been cornered and Gantry knows it; if he refuses, Gantry will know for sure that something fishy is going on.
“Okay, then,” Henry says. “Sure.” On the other side of the table, Johnny stares at him with a look on his face that Henry can't even begin to read. “Thank you for the offer, Mr. Gantry. I accept.”
“The room’s not rigged,” Johnny mutters, head down, as they make their way upstairs. Gantry’s still watching them from the bar. “Blackmail ain't his game, not for — not for the customers who use this room. He likes to make 'em heartsick instead." Henry almost laughs at that, the irony hitting him from all sides. "Says it keeps 'em coming back," Johnny adds. "He'll probably send one of the other boys up to listen in at the start, though.”
“Then I guess we only have to make it look good for a little while,” Henry says. “Should be easy for you, right?”
He hears Johnny suck in a breath at that but doesn't look up, keeping his eyes fixed on each carpeted step that leads them up to the rooms on the second floor. The kid might be good enough to keep his thoughts off his face but the possibility of seeing even a hint of them is too big a risk for Henry to take. He can do this, he tells himself. He can do anything for a con. Fake that he cares, fake that he doesn’t care, fake that he’s with someone who actually gives a damn. Hell, it’ll be easy, Henry thinks, watching as Johnny unlocks the door and steps into a room at the very end of the hall. All he has to do is keep his eyes shut, keep the lights off, and just pretend he’s with anyone else. He’s a grifter, for god's sake; nothing’s real unless he needs it to be and everything else he can ignore.
Until, that is, he follows Johnny into the room and the door clicks shut behind him, and Johnny gets right in his face. And then everything — every time he stared too long, every time an innocent touch would linger, every time Johnny’s flashing smile made him grin helplessly in return — it all comes rushing back like a river of fire and turns all of his lies to ash.
“What do you mean, it’ll be easy for me?” Johnny demands, pushing him hard against the door. “Once ain’t enough, is that it? You need to rub it in my face again?”
“What the hell are you —”
But just as suddenly as he’d shoved him into the door, Johnny stumbles back and lets him go.
“Ah, hell, forget it,” Johnny mutters, scrubbing a hand over his face. “What does it matter, anyhow? It’s not like you’re gonna stick around.” He straightens up and plasters on a smile that’s so obviously fake that Henry almost flinches — Henry, who’s had Feds on his tail and guns to his head and never let his poker face so much as twitch. “You want to give ‘em a show, old man?” Johnny asks, and stalks forward again. “I’ll give you a goddamn show.”
And then he’s pressing himself right up against Henry, palming him through his slacks and breathing hot against his jaw.
“Remember, Sloan,” Johnny whispers into his ear. “We gotta make this real convincing.”
Johnny’s hands are moving with more skill than Henry expected — too much skill, Henry realises, for this to be the only time he’s ever done it. A hot wave of jealousy curls in Henry’s stomach at the thought of it, followed fast by the cold betrayal he’d felt the first time. If Johnny was — if Johnny actually knew what he was doing, if he’d already done it before? Then what he did the last time they’d been alone was an even lower blow.
But Henry hasn’t survived the grift for 30-plus years by always playing it safe. Sure, he’ll back off if his crew or his freedom’s on the line — pride ain’t worth a damn if you’re stuck alone in a cell. But the only danger here is the kind that Henry can never admit out loud, the kind that won’t come back to bite him in the ass until much, much later — when they’ve gone their separate ways again, when there’s no job to distract him from memories he knows he’ll never shake. Memories he’s about to make, right here in this very room.
“Like this, you mean?” Henry asks, and hauls Johnny closer by the hips.
And — Christ, the kid’s rock-hard already, hard and hot and Henry doesn’t let himself overthink it, just goes where his instincts take him like he does with any con he works on the fly. He lines them up and starts moving, lets his hands slide low and indecent, and when Johnny’s wide surprised eyes squeeze shut on a moan Henry just pulls him even closer.
“This convincing enough, kid?” Henry whispers, too quiet for anyone who might be listening outside the door to hear. “You gonna fold? Or are you gonna call?”
Johnny’s eyes flicker open. This close up, they’re just about the bluest thing Henry’s ever seen — bluer than the sky on a clear summer’s day, bluer than the Pacific down in Mexico. But then something clouds them over, walls coming up that never used to be there before, and Johnny takes a deep breath before saying, in a voice so flat that Henry almost wants to take it all back:
“You better be playing to the end this time, Henry... all in. Because this time, I call.”
And then he sinks to his knees, and his fingers are practiced and deft, and before Henry can do much more than stare, Johnny’s got him bare in his hands already. He tightens his grip and he’s licking his lips and then he’s leaning forward, and it — it would be easy, Henry thinks, temptation pulling at him hard, it would be so goddamned easy. Take what’s being offered, take whatever the hell he wants, and just chalk it all up to the con. But Johnny’s staring up at him with a dead kind of look in his eyes, one that was echoed in the flatness of his voice, and despite Johnny’s hand starting to move, touching him in ways that make it harder and harder to think, Henry knows that something is wrong.
Johnny should be laughing at him. Johnny should be triumphant, shoving the proof that he was right all along in Henry’s face. It’d be one for the history books: a two-bit street worker pulling a fast one on the great Henry Gondorff, master of the big con — who in the end, turned out to be the easiest kind of mark of all.
But Johnny is absolutely silent, and his mouth’s set in a grim, hard line. And all at once the play seems a little too real, the lies too hard to tell from the truth — Henry feels like he really is just some slime ball egg-sucker at some slime ball’s club, the kind of man who’s only here for one thing. To get serviced by a pretty-mouthed stranger, by any nameless, unwanted —
“You were drunk.”
It comes out sounding a little like a question and Johnny abruptly lets him go.
Henry swallows thickly. “You were drunk,” he repeats. “I could smell it on you. You were drunk and you were laughing and you knew — you knew that I —” He cuts himself off there; no point in saying it out loud and humiliating himself any further. “And you know what?" he adds. "I’d have let it go. God knows I’ve done some stupid shit myself, after a few too many. But you didn’t stop, you kept coming at me, kept laughing like it was all some big dumb joke, and then you got down on your knees like you thought it didn’t even matter and —” Henry closes his eyes. “But that’s the thing, kid. It mattered. Still does.”
It’s a long time before Johnny says anything, and when he does, his voice is a lot closer than it should be. Henry starts a little; he hadn’t heard Johnny stand up.
“I wasn’t drunk.” Johnny’s voice is very quiet. “I’d been working, Henry. I wasn’t drunk.”
Henry shakes his head. “You reeked of it, pal. Like a goddamn still.”
“Reeked of what?”
“Yeah,” Johnny says, voice heavy with a hundred things unsaid. “Gin.”
Always drink gin with a mark, kid, he can’t tell if you cut it.
It was one of the first things Henry ever taught him.
Henry opens his eyes. Johnny’s still watching him with a closed-off look on his face, but it’s a damn sight better than the dead-eyed one he had on before.
“And I didn’t know anything,” Johnny adds. “I just thought…” He trails off and shakes his head; laughs a little, hollow and tired. “Jesus, Henry. Everyone kept telling me you were the best there ever was. How could the best not notice when somebody’s —”
Johnny cuts off and looks away. But he’s holding himself so still, like he’s bracing for a blow, and Henry plays that night back over in his head: Johnny’s laughter, Johnny’s smile, Johnny’s eyes as he sank to his knees. And then he flips it over, looks at it from Johnny’s point of view — Henry’s anger, Henry’s disgust, Henry leaving and never coming back and not even saying goodbye.
“You were drinking whisky downstairs,” he says. His voice isn’t steady and Johnny turns to frown at him when he hears the shake in it.
“Yeah,” Johnny says, slowly, like he's puzzling something out. He hesitates, then adds, “You drank half of it, though.” He licks his lips and Henry can’t help himself, not anymore, gaze flicking down to watch Johnny’s tongue leave a damp sheen across his mouth.
“Guessing you’re not drunk now, either?” Henry asks, and lifts his head. Johnny looks him in the eye and very slowly, very carefully leans closer.
“Stone cold sober, pal.”
Henry takes a deep breath. And then he reaches up and touches Johnny’s face, and Johnny — Johnny lets him.
“Then I fold,” Henry says, voice a rusty whisper. “I fold.”
Johnny shuts his eyes. And now Henry can see the tells so clearly, now that he knows they’re actually there to see: the shadows under Johnny’s eyes, the tightness at the corners of his mouth, the tension in his shoulders and neck. They’re tells Henry knows very well, not least because he's seen them in the mirror every day — all signs of a man who believes he'll never get the thing he wants, but who keeps on wanting it all the same.
But when Johnny tries to get down on his knees again, Henry pulls him up and shakes his head. And before any doubt can creep back in, Henry slips his own jacket off, then his waistcoat and suspenders and shirt, and after taking a second or two to steady himself, he shucks his slacks and everything else he’s still got on until he’s standing naked as the day he was born.
Johnny just stares at him, apparently at a loss for anything to do or say. The flush is back on his cheeks, though, like it was back downstairs at the bar, and this time, Henry lets himself admit that it makes the kid look extra sweet. No point in denying it — there’s nothing Henry can hide behind now, and no way Johnny can misunderstand what he wants.
He steps closer and reaches out. Johnny comes right to him, no pause or hesitation at all, and Henry has to take a moment to try to calm the sudden hammering of his heart. It doesn't work too well, though, and Johnny can tell — of course he can tell. They’ve had whole conversations across crowded rooms where neither of them said a word, a look or a tilt of the head all they needed to be understood. It’s no surprise to find that this isn’t all that different.
Johnny stares at him, half-wondering, half-surprised. Then he leans in, a little uncertain, and Henry understands this, too. It’s a question, a request, and it’s one that Henry knows just how to answer.
He cups Johnny’s face with both hands and kisses him full on the mouth.
Johnny opens up for him right away, like he was just waiting for it all along. But when Henry’s hands start to wander, one settling at the back of Johnny’s neck and the other sliding down over his arm, Henry realises that Johnny’s whole body is held as stiff as an ironing board, unable — or unwilling — to move.
Henry pulls back a little. Johnny’s got his eyes shut tight and both hands are curled into fists at his sides, forcing himself to keep so still that he’s actually shaking with the effort of it.
“Hey,” Henry says. He waits until Johnny opens his eyes again before taking hold of his wrists, then guides those stiff hands to his own bare waist. “I said I fold. Pot’s yours for the taking.”
Johnny’s fists slowly uncurl, fingers pressing carefully into Henry's skin.
“You know,” Johnny says, rough and unsteady, “maybe we should split the take.” His head is bowed, staring at his hands on Henry’s waist like he can’t quite believe they’re really there.
“You sure about that?” Henry asks.
Johnny looks up and meets his eyes. “Yeah, I’m sure.” And then, for the first time all evening, there’s a brief flash of one of his bright, sun-gold grins. “You know I’d only blow it.”
Things move faster after that.
They tumble into bed in a tangle of arms and legs, Johnny’s suit still half-on — fly undone and shirt hanging open, and after a bit of a struggle and a lot of breathless cursing, they manage to get the rest of it out of the way. And then it’s nothing but bare, naked skin and taut, wiry muscle, and when Henry presses right against him, no space or fabric or misunderstandings left between them at all, Johnny's whole body just seems to melt right under him.
“Ah, hell,” Johnny gasps, hands skimming up and down Henry’s sides like he doesn’t know where he wants to touch first. They settle, eventually, at the small of Henry’s back, fingers splayed out and encouraging him to move.
Henry’s happy to oblige. It’s not long before they find a rhythm that has them both panting, teetering on the edge already, as in sync with this as they are with everything else. Slickness spreads between them as they slide against each other, the headboard hitting the wall in a steadily increasing beat. But soon enough the kisses start getting sloppier, and their thrusts get more and more desperate, and as much as Henry wants to drag this out he knows he won't be able to last much longer.
He manages to slow himself down a little, just enough that he can push himself up to better see Johnny’s face. The kid's flushed and sweaty, hair sticking up in damp clumps against the pillow, and when he opens his eyes they’re darker and hotter than Henry’s ever seen them.
“Mine for the taking, huh?” Johnny asks, voice low and rough. The hands on Henry's back inch lower and lower, a calculated and very deliberate tease.
"That depends." Henry rocks his hips again and grins when Johnny’s fingers suddenly dig in.
“On — on what,” Johnny manages, panting.
Henry steadies the pace even more, rubbing against him so slowly that Johnny’s eyes turn bright and pleading, until he’s biting his lip to keep from crying out.
“No point in that, kid,” Henry whispers, brushing his mouth over Johnny’s. “We’re supposed to let ‘em hear.” He ducks his head, slides down a little lower, and licks roughly over a nipple. Johnny makes a tiny sound at that, so Henry does it again, harder this time. “I want to hear you,” he admits into Johnny’s chest. “Let me —”
“That your answer, then?”
Henry lifts his head. Johnny still looks about ten seconds from wrecked but that lightning bolt of a grin is back on his face now, and damn if it doesn’t make Henry’s heart beat hard enough to pop right out of his chest.
“What are you talking about?” he asks roughly, shifting up again, needing to feel the curve of that smile against his own mouth.
“I let — you hear me,” Johnny manages, panting between messy kisses, when Henry speeds things up again. “And then I can — I can — oh, Christ —”
Johnny’s face twists, and he never does finish his answer. Henry quits teasing, the sight — and feeling — of Johnny so close and so desperate making everything else seem pale and unimportant now. He needs to see this with his own eyes, to feel this against his own body, needs to hear it loud enough that there's no chance he'd ever forget: Johnny’s eyes shut tight and his head thrown back, Johnny moving with him thrust for thrust. And when Henry suddenly slows down again, so slow that Johnny’s nails dig in so deep they break the skin, Johnny's gasps turn into moans and his moans turn into words and the words are so blue that even Henry might have blushed to hear them. As it is, Henry's only got enough brainpower left to recognise his own name being choked out — but coming from Johnny's mouth, at the exact moment he topples over the edge, it sounds every bit as filthy anyhow.
“Sloan,” Henry corrects, when Johnny’s spent and boneless under him, still trying to catch his breath. “Come on, kid. Even a rookie knows not to screw up on names.”
Johnny cracks one eye open. “You’re pretty smug for a guy who hasn’t even —” He reaches down between their bodies and smiles when he finds what he was looking for. “Yeah,” he adds, smile widening into a grin when Henry can't help but push into his hand. “Thought so.”
Then he rolls over, pushing Henry onto his back, and after searching Henry’s eyes for a moment, he starts stroking fast and rough.
“Johnny,” Henry gasps, hands fisting the sheets so tight he thinks he might rip right through them. “Johnny, I —”
Johnny's hands are slick with his own come and it’s clear he’s not messing around. And he doesn’t let up, eyes strangely serious and watching so intently that Henry actually feels his face heat up.
You’re too damn old to blush, he thinks, but it’s a distant thing, nowhere near as important as Johnny tightening his grip and stroking even faster, as Johnny leaning down and catching his mouth. And unlike the hand on him — practiced, confident, bold — the kiss is so gentle, so careful, so sweet, that it takes Henry completely by surprise. And in the end, that’s the thing that does him in: Johnny’s wide smile against his mouth, kissing him and kissing him like he might not ever stop.
When Henry comes back to himself, he finds Johnny still watching him, propped up on one elbow and a lock of gold hair hanging in his eyes.
“Tommy,” Johnny says. Henry just blinks at him, and Johnny shakes his head. “Now who’s the rookie, huh?”
Henry almost leaves it be — crack wise, maybe, or better yet, kiss the smirk right off of Johnny’s face. But the fact that they’re here like this, together, after coming so close to throwing it all away? It proves something that Henry’s known for a while now. Whether they're on the job or in bed, whether they're on good terms or bad, it doesn't seem to matter — they’ve always been in sync, him and Johnny. They always end up heading in the same direction and landing, eventually, in the exact same place. And even though Johnny’s getting to be one of the best in the business now, he can’t quite hide the flicker of uncertainty in his eyes, or the shadow darkening the smile on his mouth. Not from Henry, not anymore.
“That ain’t your name, kid,” is all Henry says, quiet and even, but it makes Johnny go very, very still.
He lays down after a little while, moving slow and deliberate, and winds up close enough that his hair brushes Henry’s cheek.
“We’re still on the job, though,” Johnny says, tensing up for only a second when Henry throws an arm around his waist and pulls him close. They need to clean up, but it can wait a little while. “Or will be tomorrow," Johnny adds. "Hook ain't in yet.” He shifts a little, fingers brushing Henry’s hand where it rests against his stomach. “We’ll do all right, won’t we?”
Now that things are different, Johnny doesn’t say, but Henry hears it all the same. He’s right to be a little worried — working on the fly is one thing, but this is a swerve that Henry never expected and one he never even thought to plan for.
Johnny’s not just asking about Gantry. They’re going to need to put on an act for the whole damn world tomorrow, not just this one mark, and if they manage not to screw it up themselves then it’s an act with no end date in sight.
Pretending to be things you’re not, faking and deflecting and weaving lies so pretty that people want to believe you, that people won’t even notice they’ve been had… It won’t be easy. In some ways, it’s never been easy.
Good thing Henry’s a grifter, then.
“Yeah, Johnny,” Henry answers, lips brushing the back of Johnny's neck. “I think we’ll do just fine.”