A/N: Hellooo. I was having a teeny bit of writer's block with The Benny and Nicely Chronicles, and this has been bouncing around in my head for a while, so I thought it was the perfect time to write it!
Not really related to TBANC, just my headcanon backstoryish prologuey thing of how our two favorite gamblers met. :)
Hope you enjoy!
-The world's only consulting BaconWrappedRainbows
Alexander Lee Johnson skittered nervously down the sidewalk. His hazel eyes tried to cut through the downpour around him. The roads were nearly empty, save for a few hurrying to get out from the heavy rain. This fact made the skinny young man huddled in a soaking, hand-me-down coat that was far too big for him look even more out of place as he flitted around the streets of Times Square.
He was looking for someone. A man by the name of Nathan Detroit. That name, whispered to him from the lips of a drunken gambler was all he had to go by. Although he didn't know any better than to trust the stranger. He had only been in New York for a month now. Alex came from a quiet life in a small town. He was extremely eager for some excitement, and this seemed like an exciting place. But after weeks of living in rundown motels and searching desperately for a job, he was turning to the more illegal kind of employment. Nathan Detroit ran a crap game, and needed assistance. Sounded exciting. And Alex would be making money, too! He couldn't turn it down.
However, the young man didn't know that accepting the job would mean locating Nathan Detroit in a city as big as New York, while it was apparently monsoon season.
Johnson turned a corner onto a dirty back alley, thinking this would be a good place to find a gambler. Sure enough, slightly ahead, a tall man wearing a trench coat and a black fedora leaned against the wall of a deserted apartment building, just out of the rain. He was decidedly very intimidating, and Alex would've run away if it were not for the man noticing him. His head turned eerily slowly to face the young man, making Johnson's heartbeat quicken.
Why did he think he was brave enough to meet a strange gangster on a back alley?
"Are you… Nathan Detroit?" Alexander managed to ask, barely loud enough for the other man to hear.
"No." he answered, his voice deep and (at least to Johnson) very menacing.
Alex was about to apologize awkwardly and bolt off, but the stranger continued.
"But I work for 'im."
"Oh…" he mouthed noiselessly. So he would be spending an awful lot more time around this terrifying man.
"You must be that new guy. Nathan told me you'd come," he said, walking towards Alex.
"Yes, I am… I think, anyway…" Johnson replied, resisting the urge to run away. To his relief, instead of walking up to him, the tall stranger opened the door of the apartment building.
"Now come in, I think you've stood outside in the rain long enough."
Alexander rushed inside nervously.
He was very relieved to be out of the rain, but his current accommodations were not much more pleasant. He was indeed in the landing of an abandoned apartment building. There were several surprisingly clean, out of place wooden tables and chairs set up in the center of the room, but everything else was covered in dust and cobwebs. The lights didn't work anymore, so it was quite dark.
"This place is gonna be demolished in a week or so, but Nathan an' I thought we could squeeze one more game in our favorite location," said the man, shedding his coat and hat and placing them on one of the tables, revealing perfectly gelled, dark brown hair and a nearly pristine suit. He turned to Alexander, who was nervously taking off his coat as well.
"Name's Benvolio Southstreet, but I go by Benny. And you are?"
"Alexander Lee Johnson," replied Alex.
Benny frowned, tilting his head to the side. "Hmm… No, that doesn't work…"
"What d'ya mean?"
"Well, most don't go by their given names 'round here. Unless they're real important, like Nathan. Or me. We'll need to find you another name."
Benny sat down and stared intently at Alex for a few seconds, perhaps trying to figure out a name. Now that his hat was off, Johnson noticed the colour of his eyes. A piercing blue, extremely noticeable against his dark hair. He had quite nice eyes, actually. That was the first non-terrifying thing Alexander noticed about Benny Southstreet.
The gambler shook his head. "No, I can't think of anythin'. Now sit down, won't ya?"
Alexander obeyed immediately, taking a seat directly across from Benny.
The two men were silent for a moment, listening to the heavy, steady beat of rain on the building. Johnson ran his hands through his messy, dripping wet hair, attempting to fix it. Benny smirked at the younger man's efforts.
"So…" Southstreet began, breaking the silence, "How's it goin'?"
"Nicely… nicely…" he stuttered awkwardly, still not comfortable around the gambler.
"Nicely…" repeated Southstreet slowly… "Nicely Johnson…"
"Nicely!" Benny almost yelled, smiling, "That's the perfect name!"
Benny looked out the window. "And not a moment too soon. Here comes Nathan!"
Another soaking wet man entered the building, this one about Johnson's height, but much more well-dressed and chubby. He had dark hair and a thin moustache, and was wearing a brown hat and a very surly facial expression.
"Why hello there, Nathan!" Benny said.
"What lovely weather we're having, huh?" Detroit replied, very sarcastically.
"Yes, it is quite wet out there, ain't it?"
Nathan removed his hat. "And is this that new guy who wanted a job?" he gestured to Alex.
Benny nodded. "He's Nicely Johnson."
Alexander smiled at Nathan.
"Alright, so, how much gambling experience d'you have, Nicely?"
The young man slumped down in his chair. "Uh… Not very much… actually…. not really any… at all…"
Nathan frowned. "Oh, you're one of those. Well, Benny, you know what to do. He's all yours."
Southstreet nodded, standing up.
The younger man cowered away, unsure where this was going to go. But, judging by the fact that Nathan had left the room and the somewhat less than ecstatic expression on Benny's face, it couldn't be good.
As Southstreet walked over to where he had left his coat and withdrew a few items from the front pocket, Nicely silently prayed that Benny wouldn't kill him. His terror rose as Benny eyed him curiously. He was almost ready to run before Southstreet sat down, smiled a bit, and said:
"Well, Mister Johnson, I'm going to teach you how to play."
Alexander sighed in relief. "Okay."
A few hours after Alex- er, Nicely Johnson had gotten the hand of writing markers, rolling dice and believing firmly in luck, the long-awaited crap game arrived. Nicely was shocked at the sheer amount of people that arrived, and how much money was being thrown around as if it were completely worthless. But with Benny (who turned out to be a rather nice man after all) walking through the process with him, guiding him every step of the way, he felt a lot safer. In fact, by the end of the long night, he had almost become friends with Benny Southstreet.
It was two in the morning when the game was finally done.
Nicely was exhausted, but surprisingly, Nathan and Benny seemed very energetic. He supposed they had been doing this for a lot longer than him and were used to staying up very late. There was also the adrenaline of gaining a rather generous amount of money that was keeping them awake and smiling.
"Well, I'm leavin'," said Nathan, grabbing his hat quickly, "See ya!"
"See ya!" called Benny.
As soon as the door closed behind him, Southstreet turned his attention to his new, barely awake colleague.
"Well? How did ya like that?"
Nicely yawned, rubbing his eyes. "That was fun."
Benny smiled. "Tired?"
Nicely gave a sleepy nod.
"Tell ya what," he said, walking up to Johnson, "How 'bout you stay at my place tonight? I doubt you'll make it to wherever you're stayin' without passin' out."
"Mm… That would be great; thanks Benny," he muttered.
"No problem. Come on," the taller man put on his coat and hat, wrapped Nicely's coat around the shorter man's shoulders, and guided a very sleepy Nicely Johnson out the door.
On the taxi ride back to Benny's apartment, Southstreet didn't bother to wake Nicely when the young man fell asleep with his head leaning on Benny's shoulder.