AN: Looks who's writing another new fic when she has neither the time nor the energy to dedicate to it... woops?
So, some of you may have noticed that I had a bit of an identity crisis and changed my name... I am the same author that was once BananaLollypop, I just decided that the name I picked when I was 12 perhaps wasn't the best anymore. If you're ever over on AO3, I have a very similr account name over there (FanOfFandoms -check it out!).
I wrote this fic because I was basically outraged that they cut Alma out of NYSM2 without any explanation; like, come on, simple 'oh yeah, that didn't work out' from Dylan would have been eNOUGH WHY WOULDN'T THEY GIVE US CLOSURE?! *breathes*
But yeah, I basically reimagined the second movie but with Alma; I'll try my hardest not to make it too similar to the film! ENJOY!
Dylan had had a really, really long day.
He knew, really, he did, that leading the so-called 'investigation' into the Horsemen and their disappearances was an essential part to keeping the group safe. That was why, despite how difficult it was to maintain his cover and appease the ever-eager group of magicians, he'd persevered and made sure that the new head agent on the case was always looking in the wrong direction.
Dylan walked in the door of his apartment that evening even more exhausted than usual. It had been a rough couple of days, if he was honest, to the point where he couldn't help but collapse onto the sofa before he'd even removed his shoes.
He opened his eyes to find Alma standing above him, running a hand through his hair.
"Bonjour." He replied.
"You okay?" she asked, moving to sit next to him, a concerned look on her face.
Dylan turned slightly to face her, shrugging. He stayed silent for a moment before talking, "Henley's gone."
Alma, to her credit, didn't even look surprised, "You couldn't persuade her to stay?"
He shook his head, "I tried," he said almost defensively, "Atlas tried, Jack tried, Merritt tried… she wanted out. I don't think anything was going to convince her otherwise at this point."
Alma reached out and took one of his hands in hers, "It's not your fault."
"I know," Dylan said, but his voice was quiet and just wholly unconvincing, "I just… I wish I'd noticed earlier."
She didn't respond to that, knowing, from experience, that Dylan wasn't often one who needed to be comforted. "So, what are you going to do?" she asked, "You can't let Daniel and Merritt go on as a pair, you know that wouldn't work."
"I know, I know," Dylan said, running a hand over his face, "I was thinking, maybe… we could bring Jack back. It's just an idea!" he said, pointing at her firmly as he saw her face light up with a smile, "I need to run it by the Eye and even then it's going to be tricky with the FBI and everything…"
"Jack needs to be back on stage, Dylan," Alma said decisively, "You've seen how restless he gets. He needs drive, purpose."
Dylan looked at her through narrowed eyes, "You've been spending too much time with them," he said wearily, "You're starting to sound as impatient as they are."
"Well, can you blame them?!" Alma asked, standing up and gently pulling her hand from his, moving to the kitchen area, "It's been six months, Dylan. They're performers who are being asked not to perform; is it really so difficult to believe that they'd want to get back to work?"
She turned up the heat on the stove, slowly warming up the stew she'd made for their dinner.
"I'll call the Eye in the morning," Dylan said after a moment, "But even if they do let Jack back out there… it might be best to have a fourth person as well."
"I agree," Alma replied, leaning against the counter and looking at him expectantly, "Can I help you choose?"
Dylan cross the room to stand in front of her, resting his hands on her hips, "Only if you promise to stop bugging me about getting them back out there," he said, kissing her lightly, "I get enough of that from them."
Alma smirked, kissing him again, "Deal."
The house was quiet without Henley there. Daniel hated the quiet.
Obviously, he preferred complete silence over the sounds of Merritt and Jack joking around, usually at his expense, or over yet another conversation between Dylan and one of them about how they were 'still waiting on the Eye… be patient'…
But he missed hearing Henley's laugh (it was hard not to hear her laugh, regardless of how much space was between them). He missed her nagging him to join in with them, to stop hiding away and practicing his tricks alone when Merritt had come up with some new drinking game that would inevitably end in the mentalist himself getting far too drunk for anyone's liking. He even missed the inappropriate banter she shared with Merritt that Daniel firmly stated did not make him jealous despite it being a lie every time.
He missed Henley. A lot.
Their house in North Carolina was a vast improvement on the apartment the Eye had originally given them in New York; this house had a garden, with a view, and despite there being enough bedrooms for them to have one each, Jack and Merritt still insisted on sharing the bunkbeds in what he'd assumed had once been a child's bedroom. Daniel had been sure to comment about how appropriate that was for the two other men.
After six months, though… the house was starting to lose its appeal. Daniel would give anything to be where they were a year ago, jumping from hotel to hotel doing shows to get their name out, building a fan base and getting ready for the biggest shows of their lives.
Their new life, in this quaint little house in the middle of nowhere? Something of an anti-climax.
The morning after Henley left, Daniel woke up earlier than usual and took himself off on a walk. He didn't trust himself to be even slightly patient with either Merritt or Jack that day, or for several days after.
He wasn't annoyed at her for leaving. He'd considered it himself for a few times but Daniel was who he was; everyone knew that he wasn't one to just give up this kind of opportunity because he couldn't play the long game.
What annoyed him about Henley's departure was that she hadn't told him. She'd left, seemingly out of the blue, leaving Dylan to break the news (Merritt knew though; of course he did, because he could read them all like books by now and Henley had always been an open one).
There was a small forest area not far from the house; Daniel had found a small clearing when they'd first arrived and claimed it as his own, going there whenever the waiting, the wondering, got too much.
Today… today was too much.
He'd tried to be there for her; after their last heist, after the realisation that the Eye was real and they were all in and none of them were going to prison, he'd tried to give a relationship with her a go. He'd taken her on dates, listened to her, done everything he could to make her believe that he did care (because she was Henley; of course he cared).
It had become clear, though, to both of them, that they just didn't… fit. He loved her and she loved him but when they were put together it was just…
This was the kind of thought that had been plaguing him for a while. By that point, all things 'Henley' had rolled into one giant ball of thought in his head and he just played it all through over and over again until he convinced himself that the entire plan, whatever it was, was all going to fall apart.
"You have this look on your face, you know," Alma had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, but Daniel wondered when it was that he'd closed his eyes, "You can always tell when you're thinking about her because you look like you're about to explode."
Daniel didn't say anything, simply staring up at her. She came to sit down beside him and they both looked out across the fields that laid beyond the trees, taking in the natural beauty.
"How is it going to work without her?" Daniel muttered after a minute, not necessarily searching for an answer. "Merritt and I can't go out alone, we'll be a laughing stock. Jack's technically dead…"
"Much to his disgust," Alma agreed, "I know, Daniel. You remember… that thing Dylan always says? 'Be patient. Stay the course-'"
"'… The Eye has a plan', yes, I know," Daniel interrupted her, "But surely, whatever they had planned involved Henley and now she's… she's gone."
Alma could see him retreat back into himself again so she waited before talking, "Dylan spoke to the Eye this morning."
Daniel's head shot up, his eyes lit up with the kind of hope that had been absent for weeks.
"There's nothing concrete yet," Alma warned him, "But they're readjusting. Obviously, Henley leaving has changed things, but they have got a plan. You know I wouldn't say it unless it were true, no?"
Daniel nodded once, "So, soon?" he asked, "They… they're going to get back to us soon?"
Alma smiled slightly, resting a hand on his knee, "Give it a few more weeks. If there is nothing by then, I shall contact them myself, and then they really should be worried."
Alma patted his knee once before standing and moving away. She glanced back as she did so, studying his face again; she could tell that Henley was still there, an ever-present thought in his head, but he didn't look like he was going to explode anymore. She took that as a small victory and made her way back to the house.
Dylan took a breath before knocking quietly on Jack's bedroom door. The youngest Horseman had, apparently, been in his room since Henley left the night before; Dylan couldn't blame him for wanting the space.
Part of him wondered if now was the right time to be telling him the news he'd just received from the Eye (another part was telling him that he could answer that question by asking Alma but he already knew what she'd say and he was still doubting himself).
There was silence on the other side of the door until, finally, the door opened, revealing a slightly dishevelled Jack.
"Sorry, did… did I wake you?" Dylan asked. Jack shook his head, opening the door wider to let him in.
"I was just dozing," he replied, "I didn't sleep that well last night."
Dylan nodded, empathising entirely as he entered the room and closed the door behind him. "I, er… I spoke to the Eye this morning."
Jack flopped back on his bed, eyebrows raised, "Yeah? Did they set Henley up okay?" Dylan could hear a hint of bitterness behind the genuine concern in his tone.
"Henley made her choice," Dylan said quietly after a moment, "The Eye will give her a new life, but that doesn't mean she's gone forever. You can stay in touch."
Jack didn't reply, simply unlocking his phone and scrolling through it absentmindedly.
Dylan considered going into the conversation more, but stopped himself; they had more pressing matters to deal with and he felt like the Henley Conversation should be saved until all of the remaining Horsemen were present and willing to actually listen to what he was going to say.
"I didn't actually talk to the Eye about Henley," Dylan said, "I called them to talk about you."
Jack seemed to freeze, looking up from his phone to meet Dylan's eyes. "About me?"
Dylan nodded, allowing himself to smile slightly, "They want you back in the game, Jack."
Jack's face lit up and he jumped off his bed in excitement, "Seriously?! They're letting me get back out there?"
"I still need you for a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff," Dylan said, "But yeah. We're going to look into you coming back from the dead."
"Yes!" Jack exclaimed, "Man, this is great! I can't wait to get back on stage!"
Dylan smirked properly at the younger man's excitement, "Yeah, well, we've still got a long way to go. We haven't got anything confirmed in terms of shows yet and you know what the Eye's like; it could be weeks before we hear anything. All I'm saying is… get practicing, okay? Stop trying to teach Merritt, focus on yourself. He's probably a lost cause anyway if what Alma says is true…"
"She's pretty good at it, you know," Jack said with a grin, "The card throwing. She's got the technique down, I'm starting to get scared that she'll be better than me…"
Dylan rolled his eyes, "I can honestly say that you're the best at what you do, Jack," he said. He started to make his way before the door, pulling it open before Jack stopped him.
"Hey, Dylan, wait," there was a sudden air of seriousness as Jack looked at him pleadingly, "Just… promise me that this isn't just an attempt to make me feel better about Henley leaving. I don't want to get all excited about being a proper part of the group again just to be told that I'm going to be stuck backstage."
Dylan sighed, "Obviously there's a lot of things to consider and, more importantly, a lot of things we can't predict," he said, "But I promise, I'll try my absolute hardest to get you back out there. And if they say no to me, then they'll have to take Alma on and I know from experience that that's not pretty."
Jack smiled slightly at that, "Okay."
Dylan nodded to him once before leaving the kid alone.
He and Alma had both agreed that he was the best one to give Jack the news about getting back on stage, whilst she was definitely better suited to comforting Daniel and assuring him that they weren't just sitting around waiting for nothing.
They'd tossed a coin for Merritt.
Dylan had lost.
Merritt, out of everyone, had been the least surprised by Henley's absence. He'd also been the least bothered about the fact that they had to stay out of the limelight; he'd stated that if it was between going underground and going to prison, he'd happily choose the former.
Dylan had suspected that that had been a cleverly believable lie, but decided not to push.
When the Horsemen had first gone into hiding, the dynamic between the four of them and Dylan had been… odd. He'd gone from their worst enemy to the mastermind behind their entire operation in the space of about a minute and once they were on the other side it took some adjusting to.
Dylan knew that Daniel had found his feet as the head of the group, which was fine; Dylan was very much behind the scenes the majority of the time, and they needed someone to take the lead in the spotlight.
Henley, perhaps unknowingly, had taken up a position at his side; there was a clearer divide than there had been back in the days when she was his assistant, but nonetheless, they bounced off each other well, when they weren't trying to kill each other.
Merritt and Jack's roles were odd. Neither of them did acts that were especially typical of magic shows, which was perhaps highlighted by the performances put on by Daniel and Henley, but they undoubtedly worked as members of the group. A bromance had quickly been established between them, with gentle banter about Jack being a 'child' and Merritt being an 'old man' being thrown around all day every day.
Merritt and Daniel had a love/hate relationship that often resulted in many a heated conversation that would inevitably be broken up by either Henley or Alma. Jack occasionally made an effort to stop any conflict before it started, but that was a rare occurrence considering Merritt and Daniel's fights went from zero to sixty before anyone else recognised that any conflict even existsed. Nonetheless, the two shared a grudging respect for the other's talent and they had definitely learnt to put up with each other in the half a year since completing their first set of heists.
Merritt and Henley had shared something special; there was a level of understanding between them that wasn't shared by any other pairing in the group. Dylan had never really understood it until he saw the look on Merritt's face when she announced that she was leaving.
Whilst Jack and Daniel had both seemed a bit betrayed and hurt, Merritt was neither; on the contrary, he looked like he hadn't expected anything different.
Merritt answered much quicker than Jack had when Dylan knocked. The mentalist just smirked slightly.
"You lost the coin toss, huh?" he asked. Dylan shrugged.
"You tell me," he replied, following the man back into the room, "Is this going to be a shitty conversation?"
Merritt shrugged, leaning against the wall and facing him, "Something tells me you've got some good news to give amongst all this tragedy."
Dylan didn't miss the sarcasm in the man's voice, "Look, joke all you want, I know you're genuinely upset about her leaving."
"Yeah, well, what can I say? I thought I was finally getting close to getting into her pants." Merritt tried to laugh at his own joke but it trailed off after a few seconds. Dylan didn't say a word, just studying him until Merritt felt compelled to say more, "Okay, fine. I'm sad that she left. But I can't say that I blame her. Or that I didn't see it coming."
Dylan saw the brief expression on his face then and sighed, "You've been thinking about leaving too." He didn't ask it as a question; he didn't need to.
"Well, it's been months, Dylan," Merritt reasoned, "And I know we've all been rehearsing and practicing and whatnot but… I know I'm not the only one thinking that we're training for nothing. Henley was just the only one brave enough to shout it out and do something about it."
"I know," Dylan said, "Jack and Atlas have both voiced their concerns as well. That's where my good news comes in."
Merritt raised his eyebrows, "Then, speak, almighty messenger."
"I've got two pieces," Dylan informed him, "First of all, the Eye have got something in the works. I'm hoping that they'll send me something more concrete over the next few weeks, but in the meantime I've been told to tell you to get practicing. And I mean seriously this time."
"Hey, if you're referring to the fun and games Jack and I have been sharing then I think you should know that you haven't mastered a skill until you can teach it," Merritt said, his tone joking but with a hint of defensiveness behind it.
"Yeah, well, Jack's back in the game now," Dylan said, "So he's going to have to start working on a set instead of just attempting to decapitate anyone who walks through his door."
Merritt breathed a laugh, "I don't know how he does it," he admitted, running a hand over his head. "Was that the second piece of good news?"
"No," Dylan replied, "The second piece was that I'm cutting you loose."
Merritt simply raised his eyebrows at that, blinking at Dylan silently, "Well, I can honestly say that I didn't see that coming."
"Oh, not permanently, obviously," Dylan said quickly, "But I feel like you've all had enough of this house. I need to be closer to the FBI, I can't keep taking vacation days if I'm going to keep you guys off their radar. You need a break from each other to find yourselves again, and after that… then we can work on getting you all acting like a single organism."
Merritt scoffed quietly, "Yeah, good luck with that last part," he said.
"Well, I feel like you guys will fall into shape once Alma's worked her magic," Dylan reasoned, "Get packing. Unless you want to stay here?"
Dylan was genuinely asking him then, because he honestly hadn't considered before that moment that maybe they wanted to stay together; the Horsemen had been living together for what was almost two years by that point and no one had died yet.
Merritt considered this for a moment before shaking his head, "I think we all need some time out," he agreed, "Besides, I'm expecting whatever lodgings you've fixed for us to be pretty damn swanky, or I'll be filing a complaint."
Dylan smirked, "With who, the Eye?"
"Oh, no, no, no," Merritt grinned, "With Alma."
Dylan swallowed slightly, making a mental note to have Alma look over the apartments he'd picked out; he didn't doubt Merritt in the slightest, and a disgruntled girlfriend was the last thing he needed…
"Wait, you want us to leave?" Jack asked, "I thought we were just starting to get into something new!"
"Yeah, Jack's right," Daniel added before Dylan could explain, "How are we supposed to plan a show when we're dotted all over the place? And won't the FBI be on us straight away if we start moving around again?"
"Woah, guys," Dylan stopped them holding his hands up, immediately regretting getting all three of them together to tell them the news, "Just stop for a second, okay?"
Merritt rolled his eyes and Daniel and Jack both fell silent as Alma pitched in, "We're not making you leave," she said, "You're welcome to stay here if you want to."
"We're giving you options," Dylan continued, "I know that the last half a year has been… tough. We don't want you guys feeling the same way Henley did, so we figured having your own space somewhere closer to the city might be a better option for all of you."
All three men considered this for a moment.
"I guess it would be nice to be practicing on the streets again," Jack said. Dylan settled him with a firm stare.
"If I find out that you've been incarcerated for petty theft when you're supposed to be dead, I will rethink the decision to let you back on stage."
Jack held his hands up, "Hey, if I get caught, then you should probably throw me out the group anyway." He said with a smirk.
"So, just to clarify… we're still working together. We're still going to be meeting up and all that?" Daniel asked, looking genuinely concerned.
"Well, I hope so," Dylan said, slightly amused as he crossed his arms, "I don't know how you guys are planning on performing together if you never rehearse as a group."
He placed three files on the table, "These are the apartments we picked out and had the Eye approve," he said, "Take your pick, fight it out, whatever. Just let me know who's going to be staying where by the end of the weekend, okay?" He made his way towards the door, catching Alma's eye on the way; she made a subtle 'two-minutes' gesture and he nodded, making his way out.
Alma stood opposite Daniel, Merritt and Jack, her arms crossed, "I wanted to sound you out on something the Eye has planned before Dylan and I do anything about it."
The three men glanced at each other confusedly.
"Okay?" Daniel said, "Why do you look so concerned?"
"The Eye wants us to recruit a fourth member for the group," Alma said, "A new female member."
She could tell that all three of them were restraining themselves from bursting out their opinions.
"Henley's been gone two days and they want to replace her already?" Jack muttered, "Jeez, what does that say about us?!"
"Well, evidently we lack the female touch, which in this day and age is… well, everything," Merritt said, the sarcasm in his tone only partially genuine.
"No, no, guys, this is a good thing," Daniel said decisively, "This is show business. When one assistant doesn't fit the role, she gets replaced."
"Yeah, but Henley wasn't your assistant, Danny!" Jack said forcefully.
"Yeah, as she reminded me, like, eight thousand times," Daniel muttered, "And don't call me that."
"Woah, guys, stop!" Alma said firmly, "Look, nothing's happening about it yet. You don't need to fall out over this, okay?"
They were all silent for a moment. "Well, it'll probably be good for us all to get a bit of a break from each other," Merritt said, picking up one of the files from the coffee table. He flicked it open, looking over it briefly before nodding, "Yep, that'll do." He stood, handing it to Alma, "Tell Dylan I'll move in as soon as humanely possible." He left the room without another word.
"Tell Dylan I'll take whichever one Atlas doesn't choose." Jack said to Alma, before also leaving the room.
Daniel sighed quietly after Jack left, sitting back in his seat.
"Are you okay?" Alma asked him. Daniel shrugged.
"I'm glad we've got something to work towards." He said. He picked up the two files, opening each of them quickly before giving them to her, "I don't care which one I have," he said, "You pick. You know us well enough by now."
She didn't miss his obvious avoidance of her question, but she didn't question it; god knows, she certainly knew them well, and enough to know that getting Daniel to open up at that point would be as pointless as trying to teach Merritt to throw cards.
"Merritt wants this one," Alma informed Dylan, finding him sat in their shared bedroom looking at a sheet of blueprints and handing him the folder, "Atlas and Jack didn't care so give this one," she handed him a second file, "To Daniel, and this one," she passed him the last one, "To Jack."
Dylan nodded silently, setting them to one side before returning to looking at the blueprints. Alma raised her eyebrows.
"What's this?" she asked.
"It's… confusing," Dylan muttered, "They're provisional plans for the next show, but… God, this is going to take some fixing with the FBI."
Alma took the plans from him, looking over them and copying his frown, "They'll be on you in minutes if they're looking the right way."
Dylan nodded again, his face stretched into what Alma had long since subbed his 'thinking face'. "This is going to be a long game within a long game," he muttered eventually.
Alma smiled slightly, "Then it is just as well you're the expert," she said drily. Dylan smirked slightly at that, taking the plans back and putting them on top of the files.
"Are you coming with me to Washington?" he asked, taking one of her hands in his.
Alma shrugged, "Why not?" she replied, "It's not like I can learn all your tricks if I'm an hour away." Dylan rolled his eyes.
"You've got a lot to learn if you want to know all of them," Dylan said, kissing her lightly.
"Then it's just as well you're still playing the long game, right?" Alma said, smiling into the kiss.
Dylan pulled away after a moment, "What are we going to do if this goes wrong?" he asked, some of his concern finally showing through, "We've already lost Henley. Merritt said he was thinking about going. If we do find a new member and they hate her, then we're basically screwed."
Alma rested a hand on his cheek, "Oh, Dylan," she said smugly, "Then it's just as well I'm here, no?" She patted his cheek gently before standing up and leaving him alone to wonder just how disastrous this plan could be if she wasn't around.
Et voila! I actually have the entire fic planned out (we're probably looking at about 11 chapters) so I'm HOPING that I'll actually be able to finish this one! Reviews give me life (no but seriously, they mean a hell of a lot) so if you fancy dropping a thirty second note then that'd be FAB. Other than that, thank you ever so much for reading, and I shall see you next time!