Dom breaks the cockpit wall a millisecond before the airplane explodes. He feels good. Shaw is dead – finally, finally dead – and he’s got the stuff for Hobbs. His family is safe, too: he can see them in the distance, escaping the burning ruin of Shaw’s escape plan. This is sweet – the feeling of victory, the feeling of freedom. He feels like nothing can hurt him now; even when he loses the control over his car, he knows it’s not over. He climbs out of the wreckage, finds a way through the burning leftovers, and ignores the heat of the fire clawing at his body.
In that moment, he feels invincible.
They’ve been through so much, they’ve lost so many people. But he had had his chance to get things straight with Letty, and it’s okay, even though she won’t come back to him. At least now he knows she’s okay – she’s still with them, after all. And it’s over now. He still hears Hobbs’ words from the beginning: he can get them amnesty. Now, he can finally go home again. He misses the house in LA, the garage where his dad’s car used to wait for him every day after work. He wonders if he could get the shop back, and the garage. A wide grin is spread over his face and he feels like he could embrace the world.
That smile drops when he makes out Brian’s face.
He’s the first of the team that Dom can see clearly, because he’s stumbling closer to him. His blue eyes are dulled and full of despair, and Dom doesn’t understand. He doesn’t look hurt, even though he’s probably just as bruised as he is. But there’s no blood, no open wounds, nothing. What could possibly be wrong? He eyes his team. Roman and Han are hugging – he’s seen Gisele fall, he knows why. Tej is standing close to them, his face set grimly for once, just like Letty’s right beside his. Hobbs stands away from them, looking exhausted and a bit out of place.
It takes Dom a moment before he understands. He sees them all, everyone who went with him to Spain. Everyone who came with him to rescue –
His eyes dart to Brian again, and this time, he doesn’t look away. He sees it now: the same face his mother made when she had to tell her teenage son and young daughter what happened to their dad. His heart breaks the moment he gets within touching range of Brian. His little sister –
“Where is she?” he demands, because he can’t believe it. Mia isn’t dead. She can’t be. He promised to protect her. She’s a mother now. She belongs with Brian. She belongs with Dom. She belongs here!
“I –“ There are tears in Brian’s eyes, and his voice breaks as he stammers out an explanation. That he saw her, he found her, but the moment he wanted to get her out of there, one of Shaw’s clerks had shot her. She had been dead right away. He killed him, after, but that hadn’t brought her back.
“I came too late” Brian sobs out, and then he collapses.
Dom catches him, but he’s lost all control over his limbs in that moment, so they fall to the asphalt together. The words still ring in his ears, and he’s not able to wrap his head around it. Mia is dead. Jack will grow up motherless. There’s anger in him, because nobody should suffer that fate, especially not a part of his family. But mainly, he’s sad. So he clings to Brian and Brian clings to him. They share their grief the same way they shared everything else in their lives. With each other.
When Brian comes home to find his baby boy unharmed, he cries. Dom knows because he’s there. He’s waiting by the car they borrowed – the car that’s supposed to bring them back to the airport in a couple of hours so they can leave for the States, once and for all. He watches how Briand cradles the baby in his arms and holds him tightly, rocking from side to side softly. He’s so careful with Jack, Dom notices. He knows Brian as a guy for the rough things; he’s fast and he’s hot-headed and fearless. But when he has Jack in his arms, the man seems to slow down. He’s careful, almost appears afraid that Jack might burst in his hands and disappear.
It’s the last piece of Mia they both have.
Brian looks up the second Dom thinks that – it seems they’ve been thinking the same thing again. And then he moves his head a bit, beckons him closer. Dom can’t help but follow the invitation. He steps up to father and son, and carefully strokes the baby’s head. He’s so tiny, Dom thinks. And he also believes he hasn’t ever seen anything as beautiful as that little boy ever before.
“We need to leave soon, Brian” Dom says, his hand resting on Brian’s back. He saw him trembling, and it’s the only comfort he can give them right now. Dom already knows now, mere hours after Mia’s death, that he’s responsible for her family now. His family.
“I know” Brian answers quietly. “Let me just pack a few things. Will you hold him?”
And for the second time, Dom gets to hold his nephew. Even bundled in a bunch of blankets, the little boy perfectly fits into the crook of his arm. He’s so tiny. Dom watches him, carefully rearranging the covers around his face so he doesn’t get cold. Jack stirs a bit, blinks, and then stares up at his uncle with big, dark eyes. Dom knows these eyes. He’s never been able to resist them.
Jack has his mother’s eyes, and he knows it will break Brian’s heart every time his son looks at him.
He knows because his heart breaks again when Jack looks at him.
Dom cries when he’s back at the house. It’s still the same they left it almost two years ago – just a little dustier. He doesn’t know why it hasn’t been sold to another family, but he couldn’t care less. He’s back home. There are six cars in the driveway: Brian’s, Roman’s, Han’s, Tej’s, Letty’s and his. It looks weird because it’s a calm, lower class neighborhood and those cars are probably worth more than all the houses in this block. But he doesn’t care. This is family.
They’re all staying here now – at least for a while. They haven’t found places themselves in the last couple of days, and so they’re with them now. Brian took Mia’s old room, Dom’s in his, and the rest divided all the couches and guest rooms between themselves. It’s calm, still. Han mourns for Gisele, Letty tries to figure out why this feels like home, Brian looks out for Jack, and Tej and Roman don’t have any idea how to behave in a situation like this, so they lay low.
Dom hates it.
Which is why when Sunday rolls around, he’s bought a ton of food for a barbecue, and he prepares it for all of them, getting up in the early morning before anyone else. Tej’s eyes start glistening a bit when he’s the first to follow Dom outside Sunday before noon, because it’s like before. The huge table is set, and Dom’s just starting up the grill – it’s tradition. So Tej pats him on the back before he ushers them all outside. Roman’s first because “Oh man, I hope you can cook better than Tej” which leads to bickering between the two that has even Dom smiling along. Letty comes next, and she stays close to him, leaning on the trunk of a nearby tree.
“You’ve done well, Toretto” she says.
Dom looks at her. “Why?”
“Because they’re all sad, but you’re there for them. You don’t give up”
“I’m not one for giving up, Letty” Dom rasps out. He had never given up, and he will never give up.
“You gave up on me” she replies.
He shakes his head. “I didn’t. I just know you need space.”
She’s silent for a moment. “Things change”
There’s movement in the door, and Brian comes out, Jack in his arms. Dom meets his eyes, sends him a small smile. “Yeah” he replies. “They do”
Letty smiles, too, looks down, then shakes her hair out of her eyes. “Corona?”
It’s only been a week or two since it all went down in Spain, but they can smile again. Roman gives the best prayer Dom’s heard in a while, and the food seems to warm up their hearts enough that the people around his table can talk and smile and pretend, just for a while, that things are okay. They’re missing Gisele and Mia, and every other moment either Brian, Dom or Han space out for a while – the others, too, just not as often. But it’s okay.
It’s a beginning.
Weeks drag by. Dom decides to open a garage again – this time right here at the house, where he used to work on the Charger. After a while, the first customers start to come. He still has his reputation as the king of the streets, so the tuners come to him to find professional help with their muscle and import cars. And the neighbors still remember him and his family, still trust him despite the years he’s been gone. They bring the daily jobs, the tire changes, oil changes and general check-ups.
Han’s the first one to leave, only a few days after the first barbecue. “Tokyo” he says when Dom asks him where he’s headed to. “Gisele always wanted to go there.” Dom understands, and he lets him leave after reminding him that he’ll be there when he needs him. They’re brothers, after all. Life made them brothers, and he’s not going to let him down.
Letty’s next. She moves into a small flat close to where Dom’s house is, and she helps him build up the garage. She doesn’t leave after everything’s prepared for customers to come, and while she does protest the first paycheck Dom gives her, she takes it after a small argument and becomes his first employee.
Tej and Roman move their lives from Chicago to LA – at least it seems like that because from what Dom can tell, not much about their living situations and jobs has changed, only the city they’re in. It feels a bit weird that Tej has a garage, too; but they’re still friends, and he’s still over every Sunday for barbecue, and when they don’t know what to do with a car, they call the other. It’s good, really. Dom likes having his friends close to him.
They’ve been back in the States for almost two months, and for almost a week, it’s only been Brian and Dom in the house. It’s quiet. Brian spends just about every minute with Jack: he tries to give the boy everything that’s being offered for babies. He does lots of courses, massages and swimming and things that Dom can’t even pronounce. Toys and pillows and baby stuff litter just about every room by now. Dom, to be honest, is proud that Brian is doing so well. He’s a good dad. And Dom is busy in the garage, working on all the things he loves: cars. After he comes home, they eat dinner, and spend some time in front of the TV after Jack falls asleep.
It’s routine, and it’s good.
But one day, there is nothing more to do in the garage, no precious baby waiting for him to be repaired or restored or tuned, so he leaves early, only leaves a piece of paper in the window with ‘if there’s an emergency, call me’ and goes home. He finds Brian sitting on the back veranda, a foot rocking the crib with a sleeping Jack, his nose buried in a newspaper with a marker in hand.
There’s something about him that has worry settle down in Dom’s stomach.
“Hey B” Dom says, leaning on the fence. “What are you looking for?”
“Flats” Brian answers without looking up. “We can’t live off your money forever”
Dom startles, the words hurting like knives. How can Brian possibly think that he’s not welcome here for about forever? He’s family, he was the lover of Dom’s little sister, he wanted to marry her, he’s the father of his nephew. Most of all, he’s Dom’s best and closest friend. Dom would never want him to leave.
“You don’t have to leave”
“But Dom” Brian replies. “Jack needs space. He can’t sleep in my room forever. And I don’t want to stay in Mia’s room. Everything’s – everything reminds me of her. I can’t do that.”
Dom sighs. “Yeah. I know what you mean.” He moves to sit down next to Brian, their shoulders brushing. “But we could change that. We could – we could make this our home. And by the way, the house is far too fucking big for only one person.”
That draws a chuckle from Brian, and he puts down the pen to look at Dom. “You mean you want us to live with you? Jack’s loud.”
That’s true. The baby wakes them up at least twice per night, and during the day, he always wants attention. He gets sick easily, and they both are kept busy with him. It’s difficult, but Dom wouldn’t want it any other way. He’s the reason why the boy doesn’t have a mother and needs to be fed powdered milk, and he’s the reason why his dad can’t go to work and own money. He’s the reason why Brian has stopped smiling and why his eyes don’t shine like the sky anymore. So he at least wants to give them a home.
“I don’t care. You’re family, Brian. You and Jack are –“ He doesn’t say ‘all that’s left’, he catches himself before that. But by god, he knows that’s true. The others they are … they are family, too, obviously. But that’s his blood he’s talking about. Brian and Jack, they’re Torettos – one by birthright, one by love bond. “You were Mia’s family. I can’t let you down.” The ‘too’ hangs tick in the air between them.
Brian’s quiet for a while. He looks at his son, rearranges the pillows, and his face softens as he looks at him. Dom watches the leaves rustle in the garden, then watches Brian watch his son. It feels like home.
“Okay” Brian finally says quietly. He turns to look at Dom, and tries a smile. It reaches his eyes more than anything in the last weeks. “We’ll stay”
They give the house a make-over. Mia’s room is made into a room just for little Jack – with blue and yellow walls and cars that Letty paints all over. There’s a crib and a small closet and mobiles and toys and everything. They even put an extra-fluffy carpet on the floor. Brian then gets his own space in what used to be the master bedroom of the house. That doesn’t change much, but it changes something. It changes that Brian is here for real now, and Jack, too, and the three of them build a home for themselves now.
Coping doesn’t get much easier, though.
There are still nights where Dom wakes up soaked in sweat and with the taste of ash in his mouth. For a minute, he can barely breathe, and when he can, he often finds himself on the veranda. There’s an old swing that his mom used to read on, and it’s soothing somehow. He doesn’t feel like driving alone, anymore. It’s weird not to have Brian in front, next to or behind him, so he doesn’t race a lot anymore. His Charger probably hates it, but he can’t help it.
So he usually sits there and thinks and breathes the fresh air until he feels like he could be okay again. It takes hours. Sometimes he doesn’t sleep at all. Sometimes he waits until 5.30 and then gets breakfast for Brian and himself. Sometimes he goes jogging, or works on his charger in the dim light of the early morning.
One night, Dom steps out, shirtless because his tank top is soaked and with the fear clawing at his skin, he doesn’t want anything covering it. He’s been thinking about picking up smoking again, but there’s an infant in the household and he couldn’t do that to his nephew. He hasn’t found another way to fight the sadness yet.
He steps out, and he’s not the only lonely figure on the swing. At first, he startles. But Dom knows Brian in every situation, so he recognizes him right away. Brian looks at him for a second, then stares out into the night again. Dom sits down next to him, leans back, rests his elbows on the back of the swing.
“Why aren’t you asleep?” Dom asks his best friend.
Brian shrugs. “Jack didn’t want to sleep after his midnight meal. And after he finally did, I couldn’t.” Dom watches Brian’s fingers wring together, a nervous gesture he picked up after leaving the FBI. Dom wishes he could take some of that weight that has Brian doing that off his shoulders. The man doesn’t deserve so much hardship in his life.
“Are you thinking about -?”
“Me, too” Dom scrubs his hand over his head, and then starts swaying the swing again. Brian moves with it, his feet scraping over the floor softly.
“I miss her” Brian says after a while. His fingers are blotted red and white, because he’s squeezing them together so harshly.
Dom covers Brian’s hands with his own, plucks them apart. “I know” Suddenly Brian’s fingers are closed around his, and Dom’s breath catches in his throat. “I do, too.” He doesn’t let go of Brian’s hand. The touch feels good and soothing, anchoring. “She would be proud of you. You’re a fantastic father.”
Brian smiles a bit, lets his gaze drop to the floor. “Thank you. You’re doing fantastic, too. With the garage and everything.” There’s something like his old glint in his eyes when he looks up at him, something amused pulling at the corners of his mouth. “I never thought you’d ever be a good and honest citizen.”
Dom chuckles. “Yeah, me neither” His mother always wanted him to graduate college and then do something important in life. He just wanted to race. And after his parents died and he got out of Lompoc, he somehow needed to work out how to get Mia and himself around and – that’s how he got into illegal things. And he only got out of it because Hobbs was a far too desperate to get his suspect arrested – or dead.
Brian sighs. “I just don’t know what to do next.”
Dom squeezes his fingers. “We’ll figure something out”
Things get easier, somehow. Dom works a lot, but he gets a lot of help from Letty, and Brian, when Roman comes over and takes the little worm out for the day. Roman does that often – no matter what he says, he’s just as smitten with Jack as every other member of their family. They start driving again, too, on those days. Just closing the garage early and taking the Skyline and the Charger down the coastal routes, battling each other, but not racing for the win. They race for the race, because that’s what they can do best: feeling free with the foot on the gas.
The interstate is empty when they enter it, and for a while, they stay side by side, nose by nose. Dom looks over, and there’s something like happiness on Brian’s face. It’s not the wide grin he used to have, not the absolutely exhilarated expression he used to have whenever he challenged Dom for another race. But it’s a beginning, and it has Dom smiling, too. Their eyes meet, and when Dom presses on the gas, so does Brian. Dom feels the adrenaline in his veins, and he’s missed it. He watches the Skyline press past him, but just when Brian thinks he might get the upper hand, Dom presses down the gas and the Charger roars past the sleek import.
They start dancing again.
They dance at home, too, just not the same as on the streets. They have always worked perfectly on the streets – they are a team that doesn’t need verbal communication. They always knew which maneuver to pull next, and they didn’t have to talk about it – a shared look was enough. And that hasn’t changed just because they swapped their cars for a home. They work together like clockwork. The house never looks messy, because they both do what they can. One cooks, one cleans. They have a routine who’s turn it is to look after Jack when he wakes up in the night without having talked about it once, and all those little things. It’s weird.
Dom doesn’t want it any other way.
They keep up a routine of Sunday barbecues, Tuesday night movie marathons, and beach afternoons every Saturday, given the weather’s good enough. Sometimes, they are all together – the whole family. Sometimes they’re not. Almost six months go by before Han comes back from Tokyo, and then Letty leaves for Mexico to visit Vince’s family. They come and go, but Brian and Jack stay.
The baby boy starts teething and crawling, babbling, gets healthier. He laughs whenever he sees his uncle Dom, and Dom absolutely adores this boy. He loves spending time with him. He makes it easy to feel better, even though he looks more like Mia every day. But Brian does a good job with him, and Jack is a happy child. He gives them strength: Brian, who lost his love and the mother of his child, Dom, who lost his little sister, Han, who lost his girlfriend and a part of his future, and Letty, who only now starts regaining her past piece by piece.
Jack may have lost his mother, but he still has his family. He will never be alone.
Jack has been sleeping through for about two months now, but sometimes – like, two times per week at least – they still sit on the veranda together in the middle of the night. Dom doesn’t know why. But Brian wakes up every other night, and Dom sleeps so lightly that he hears him. And he doesn’t want Brian to face this alone, so he gets up with him, and he sits with him. Some nights they talk, some nights they don’t. It’s okay. Dom likes those nights with Brian, where it’s just the two of them and the darkness of the night. He would swap nights like these for a party night every time.
After one especially bad night, he finds Brian cuddled in a thick sweater – it’ll be winter soon, Dom spent half of the last month changing wheels on the cars in the neighborhood. The sweater is weirdly familiar – it takes him a second to realize that it’s his. He has his feet drawn up on the swing as well, his arms wrapped around his knees. He looks very, very young that moment. Dom sits beside him, running his hand down Brian’s spine in a greeting once.
“The bed’s too big” Brian says, after they sat next to each other for a while. “I keep turning around and expecting someone to be there, but I’m alone. And it’s fucking cold.”
Dom nods. He knows what Brian means. After Letty and he separated, he had barely been able to sleep the first months. It got better, after a year or so. It was better when he had someone lying next to him, even if it was just some hook up that he barely remembered the name of. He hadn’t hooked up since they got back to the States.
Then, an idea comes to him. He doesn’t know if he’s allowed to voice it. It’s – absurd, somehow. His sister has been dead for ten months, and yet he’s here doing stupid shit. Thinking, so far he’s only thinking stupid shit. But soon he’ll not be able to ignore the things that have been going on in his mind. He doesn’t understand it. Why it’s there, namely. Maybe it’s been there for longer than those ten months. Maybe it’s been there ever since Brian and Dom met. And maybe it came somewhere in between. But it fills him up now, threatening to spill over, and he has to really fight to bite it down.
But because he swallows the secrets up, the idea spills out.
“You don’t have to sleep alone.”
Brian looks at him like he just admitted to killing his mother. “What? How- and why?”
“We could –“ Dom doesn’t want to say it out loud. His mother always said that some things only got real when you said it out loud. “We could.”
“You mean ..?”
They’re silent again, for a really long time. Then, Brian turns and faces him, putting his feet on the floor. “Do you mean it?”
“And do you know what it means?”
He shrugs, now. “It’s something.”
That’s Brian’s turn to nod, “Okay”
Dom smiles, and Brian smiles back. He’s cold because he’s still in his sweat-soaked sleep clothes, and he’s not wearing socks. Obviously, Brian sees him shivering, and chuckles again. “Are you cold, Toretto?”
Dom shrugs. He doesn’t care. As long as Brian wants to stay outside, they’ll stay outside.
“C’mon, let’s get you inside before you catch a cold” There’s a chuckle in Brian’s voice. Dom likes how it sounds. So he nods, and they go inside. Their bodies brush here and there as they go upstairs quietly: arms, shoulders, fingers. And they both stop, side by side, to look into Jack’s room and watch the boy sleep quietly for a minute. The boy’s grown big. He’ll probably start walking soon, Dom muses. He hopes he’ll be able to see the first few steps.
Dom nudges Brian lightly, and they continue into Dom’s room. It seems natural that they would go there and not Brian’s room, but Dom doesn’t know why. He doesn’t care when he sits down on the edge of the mattress and watches Brian carefully strip out of his too-big-on-him sweater. Brian meets his gaze and then reddens sheepishly, then climbs into the bed. They lie down, side by side, and get comfortable – without touching. Dom feels wide awake, but he hears Brian yawn.
“Night, Dom” he murmurs.
“Sleep tight, B” Dom smiles, laying on his back, watching the shadows dance over the ceiling.
It takes like, twenty minutes for Brian to fall asleep. Dom listens to him breathe and rustle. As he himself is half asleep, Brian suddenly turns around and cuddles up to Dom’s side. His head lands in the crook of his arm, and he gets a hold of Dom’s middle. Dom startles, first. Then, he curls his own arms around him and pulls him close, before finally falling asleep warm and comfortable.
The first morning they wake up tangled together, it’s weird. Because they don’t know what to do with it, they stumble and fumble and Brian is redder than a tomato. But then they do the thing they do best: they improvise and just roll with how things are going. It’s alright. And then, it becomes routine, too. The room that belongs to Brian keeps his clothes, but every night he gets into bed with Dom. They barely ever talk about it, and they don’t get out on the veranda anymore. Instead, they lay in bed facing each other or the ceiling, and talking about the things going on in their heads. It’s good, now. It’s easier to sleep through the night, and it’s easier to forget about the bad things for most of the time.
“We should go on a vacation” Brian says one night, startling Dom a bit because he thought he’d fallen asleep again. He’s been lying on his chest for a while now. “Just Jack, you and I”
Dom laughs. He doesn’t stop stroking up and down Brian’s arm, though. “What did you think about?”
Brian shrugs. “Somewhere where it’s warm. And a beach. But I want to get there with a car. I feel like driving again.” His finger draws small patterns on Dom’s side.
“You do know that we can fly the cars over with us?” Dom replies.
“Yeah, but I also know that that’s fucking expensive. And I want to save up as much money as I can. For Jack. For –“
“His college fund. I know” Dom smiles at the dark air around him. He himself has been putting everything he has left over on a bank account for his nephew. He deserves a better start in life than Dom and Mia had.
Brian takes a deep breath. “We could fly, too. You don’t need a race car on a Caribbean Island.”
That has Dom laughing again. “So you want to save money with flying to the Caribbean?”
Brian laughs, too, and it warms Dom’s heart. “Sounds dumb, doesn’t it?”
“No, it’s okay. It’s fantastic.” Dom holds him a little tighter. “I’ll organize something.”
A couple of days later, when Dom has everything booked for the three of them, he tells Letty everything. She’s something like his best friend now. He still loves her – a part of her will probably always do. And sometimes it still means bittersweet hurt in his stomach when he talks to her, but it’s alright. She has been regaining her memories: one time, she even came in the garage and almost started to beat him up because she remembered how he left her in the Dom Rep. They even made sure to talk about what happened between them.
“I love you, Dom. But you’re an asshole and no, thank you.” Those were Letty’s exact words.
It got even easier after that. So it’s easy to just tell her, “Brian and I will fly to the Caribbean with Jack in a couple weeks.”
Letty throws the cloth she’s been using to clean up engine parts over her shoulder and straightens up, leaning against the VW she’s been working on. “So you finally figured yourself out?”
“What?” Dom looks up from the Mustang he’s been working on, too, startled.
“Don’t play dumb, Toretto! You know exactly what I’m talking about. You and blondie – everybody can see how fucking in –“
“Don’t say it” Dom interrupts her quickly. “Please. I’m not ready for that, yet.”
“There we go” Letty answers, with a knowing grin of hers. She was always too smart for her own good. “I knew you fancy him”
Dom sighs. “Even if. He had a child with my sister. I can’t –“
“You can.” Letty rolls her eyes. “She wants you to be happy. So be happy.”
Dom starts working again – he needs to keep his hands busy, because he doesn’t know what else to do. She’s probably right. “Can you get the garage while we’re gone?”
“Of course! Maybe I’ll ask Han to help out for the time. And you mother hen stop worrying about work, I’ll get this done.”
With the help of some old friends and distant relatives, Dom manages to find a beach house with a private beach for the three of them. It’s small but surprisingly spacious, and Brian’s eyes shine when he sees it. That’s worth every minute of calling people all over the world and every minute of the flight here – Dom’s still not too fond of airplanes. When they step inside the house, Jack squeals happily, and squirms until he’s let down. While the now a year old kid now manages to walk when holding onto his father’s or uncle’s hands, he’s not yet able to stay balanced alone, so when Brian puts him down, he starts crawling around and investigating gleefully.
“I hope the house is toddler-safe.” Brian says, what makes Dom chuckle.
“I warned them”
“Oh, thank god”
There’s only one bedroom, and Brian doesn’t even look surprised – they haven’t slept apart for months now. Still, Dom has been a little worried; what if things change with the circumstances? Apparently, though, they don’t. The room is tiny, barely enough room for the bed, two nightstands and a small dresser, but it appears huge thanks to the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the ocean and taking up almost the whole wall.
Brian is mesmerized by the view over the garden and the beach, while Dom is mesmerized by the sparkle in Brian’s eyes. For a moment, they just stand there watching the ocean, Brian breathing a little “Wow”. Only then, Dom breaks the silence.
“Is that what you imagined?”
Brian beams at Dom, and some of the boyish glee is back in his eyes. “It’s even better!”
It’s not the first time that Dom wants to kiss Brian. He already wanted to when he was still Brian Spilner, even though he never even admitted it to himself until Letty started mocking him at work a few months ago. But right now, with Brian smiling at him with so much gratitude in his eyes and so close to him, the urge to pull him close and kiss him senseless is almost overwhelming.
He doesn’t, though. Instead, he turns to his luggage. “So, you wanted to go swimming?”
They unpack messily, only enough to find their swim trunks and some towels, and then Dom prepares a cooler with some food and drink while Brian changes little Jack into his beach clothing.
“You should probably put sunscreen on, too” Dom says when he watches Brian basically plaster his son with lotion.
“You too – don’t treat me as white as I am!”
“I don’t get sunburnt, duh”
Turns out, Dom should’ve listened to Brian. The next morning, he’s red as a lobster and sore like a fresh-sewn wound. His whole upper body hurts so much he dreads to put on a t-shirt. When Brian sees him, he laughs so loudly he almost falls out of bed, only to only be suffocated by the pillow Dom throws at him before he leaves for the bathroom.
A long, cold shower at least helps to soothe the ache, but it doesn’t help that from what he remembers, Brian has already gained a nice tan yesterday, despite staying lathered in sunscreen.
“You’re an asshole” Dom tells the other man when he trods out of the bedroom into the kitchen.
Brian laughs again. His laugh finally comes easy again. “You just look hilarious, I am sorry” Dom should be angry: he’s in pain and it’s bloody unfair that Brian thinks it’s oh-so-funny. But Dom knows two things: one, if Brian were burnt, he would react the same. Two, he’s not angry at Brian. So he just laughs along and elbows him friendly.
“I so told you” Brian tells him, knocking their hips together. He’s careful not to touch the sore skin of Dom’s torso. “Just lemme finish breakfast, then we’ll get some aloe on your back”
Dom smiles, offers his help, and sets the kitchen table on Brian’s request. He gets Jack from where he’s playing in front of the patio door, and puts him in his stool, not after tickling the little boy to hear his laugh. It’s a routine they know from home: whenever Dom’s got a day off and can sleep in, Brian prepares them breakfast. They eat, chit chat back and forth, talk about the plans for the day and take turns feeding Jack small pieces of bread and fruit. With his two boys around, he almost forgets about the painful sunburn, until he moves too suddenly or carelessly.
Afterwards, they put the dishes in the dishwasher and make sure Jack is not causing havoc already before they head into the bathroom. Dom takes off his old, softworn tank top, the comfiest thing he took with him, and Brian rummages around for the lotion.
“Let me get your back” Brian murmurs, and Dom gladly turns his back to the blond. The lotion is cold and soothing, Brian’s hands soft in touch while his skin is slightly calloused. It hurts to be touched, but Dom feels the effect of the lotion almost instantly. It’s a quiet moment, full of promise and things yet to be said.
Dom bathes in the feeling of intimacy between the two, as he does so often; he still feels a little bit guilty. After all, that’s Mia’s fiancé he’s thinking about, the father to her son. And it’s only been a year since she died.
“She knew, you know” Brian says, barely louder than a whisper, and in moments like this Dom doesn’t doubt that Brian as telepathic abilities. Before he can ask what he means, Brian continues. “She knew she could never be you for me.”
“What?” A part of Dom remembers – still feels the burning chemistry between him and that blond sunnyboy in his Nissan. It feels like a lifetime ago, thinking back to those first days. But when he turns to Brian, he still sees the same look in those bright blue eyes.
“She knew that she wasn’t you, and she knew she could never make me feel the same about her that I feel for you. I loved her, I really did. But she wasn’t you.”
Dom has heard enough, then. He sends a quick prayer up to Mia, both to apologize and to thank her, and then he cups Brian’s face in his hands with a smile. His heart is racing faster than when he’s going down the road at 200mph, but it’s a good feeling.
Brian’s lips are dry and soft when he kisses them. It feels good, natural, and something settles inside him when he feels Brian shift closer, return the kiss. They take their time, and when they end the kiss, they stay close together, breathing each other in, soaking themselves in warmth.
“You are one of a kind, Dominic Toretto”
“And you, Brian O’Conner”
Something clatters to the ground in the living room, and the moment is broken when Brian rushes off to look after his son. Dom stares after him, and he can’t seem to stop smiling.
“Quarter mile at a time” he murmurs, putting his shirt back on and following his partner in the living room.
Jack calls them “dad” and “pa” growing up, and Dom never once corrects him.