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Toretto in his Bones

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Brian nearly grits his teeth but fights with himself to keep the calm half-smile on his face. The smile that says he’s not overly invested in this, that this is barely something he’s concerned over, that the tension in Penning’s office barely bothers him at all.

Keep your cool, Brian. That’s your meal ticket .

He drums his hand on his thigh, just for a moment, just to have somewhere to put all this pent-up energy, low and coiling in his gut, ready to spill out, whether in words or actions. And at this point, flight or fight are equally likely.

Those words have echoed in his head, for five years now, as true as they’ve ever been. He’s known his cool was his power long before Dom told him, long before he even joined the police academy, really.

If he loses his cool now, there’s no guarantee he’ll ever get this opportunity again.

Finally, from across the desk, Penning looks up from the paperwork Brian’s spent longer than he’d usually bother with on. Penning looks at him like he can’t believe how stupid Brian is. “How would you even be able to trust him?” He demands. He’s not aggressive about it, but he’s clearly doubting whether Brian’s functioning fully as an agent or not right then.

Brian swallows before answering, composing himself. “He’d have an incentive,” he says evenly. “He bails on us, screws us over—no pardon. And Toretto would be invested in getting back. If nothing else, for the sister.”

The sister. Mia, who Brian hasn’t seen since he saw her cradling Jesse’s body, nearly five years ago.

Well, that’s not true. She slammed the door in his face, once, allowing him to see half her face before she processed who was at her door and made it clear she didn’t want to see him ever again. When he came by to see if there was anything he could do. After Miami, fresh new Fed badge burning a hole in his pocket, not that he showed her. She hadn’t been very receptive, and he had been able to take a hint.

Penning gives him a long, hard look. “You need Toretto?”

Brian mulls that over. He could…he could do it alone, he supposes, although that seems to be a good way to get shot. Not that that’s ever really stopped him before.

Or he could go along with Letty’s original plan, and have her be his partner. She’d be good, great even, could handle the pressure, and the job, and, obviously, the driving.

But Dom is better than both of them. Brian could get Braga’s attention on his own, he knows how good he is now. But with Dom around, they’ll blow Braga out of the water. So yeah, Dom’d be a legitimate asset to the FBI even if he isn’t a strictly necessary one.

Not that he’s going to tell Penning that. That would be counterproductive, would defeat the whole purpose of being here, of putting his career—hell, his life—on the line.

“Guy’s the best driver I’ve ever seen,” Brian says, as evenly as he can.

“Better than  you?”

“Been five years since I’ve tested that theory, but…yeah,” Brian says. Doesn’t even hurt him to admit it. He’s good, certainly better than he was five years ago. Even if he played up the stupidity just a little bit then, hitting on just the right amount of naive kid and promising racer to get Dom to look at him twice until it didn’t matter anymore, Brian knows he could never have beat Dom.

Alone, he can win any race Braga sets, impress his way into anything. But together—if he can trust Dom to have his back—there’s a better than zero chance they’ll come back alive, with the information they need to take Braga down.

Penning heaves a sigh so large Brian isn’t convinced his jaw won’t disconnect in protest. “You know you’re a pain in my ass?”
“I’ve heard.”

“You know you’re on the hook for the property damage, earlier.”

Brian winces. The chase maybe had gotten a little out of control. He’d like to say he isn’t like that, but, well…it’s not the first time.

“So, does that mean…?”

Penning taps his pen on the edge of his desk. “Make it worth something. Get this done. Enough people breathing down our necks about it, anyways.” He pauses a moment to look Brian over. “You have a way to get in contact with him?”

Once, it would have been a test. Enough people assumed Brian was dirty, back then. Hell, enough still do. It doesn’t feel like a test today though. Just a question.

“I can get a way,” Brian says lowly.

Penning nods, raps his knuckles against his desk. “Do it, then.”

Brian nods, then stands. “O’Conner?” Penning asks when Brian is almost at the door.

“Yeah?”

“None of the others would work?”

Brian almost smiles, thinking of the parade of wanna-be racer agents the FBI has given him to pick through, all of them easily discarded, most of them as bad as the Customs agent from Miami. “It’s gotta be him,” he says, before leaving and carefully closing the office door behind him.

He takes a deep breath outside the door. Collecting himself, he can’t believe what he just did. Honestly, this is what he’s wanted—what he hasn’t allowed himself to even think of—for years now. Not that he can think about that too hard, open that can of worms. Not here, not during this. Maybe not ever.

He should call Letty. Tell her to let Mia know, let the word spread. Figure out how he’s going to get the conditional pardon to Dom in the first place.

One more stop. He puts his game face back on, mild smirk in place, and makes his way over to Trinh, the new kid who has honestly been more useful than half her more experienced colleagues put together.

She grins when he sidles up to her desk, seemingly set off by his own smirk. “Penning give you good news?” She asks.

“You’ve got no idea,” Brian replies.

There’s silence, for a beat. “You gonna share?”

“Not yet. Not until it’s a done deal.”

“You’re not leaving or something, are you?” She asks, brow furrowed. “Transferring?”

Brian briefly wonders if that’s the type of shit normal people get excited for. “Nah,” he says. “It’s a case, Trinh. Don’t worry. And speaking of. I need to see what we have in impound.” He lets a real smile show. “You know what I’m looking for.”

 

He doesn’t call Letty until he’s well and truly away from the office. Letty might not technically be wanted—anything they could have gotten her on at all is well past the statute of limitations, considering they couldn’t really link her to more than reckless driving if they actually expected a conviction—but Brian’s not going to be stupid about this.

“It’s me,” he says when he hears the line pick up, not pausing for a hello , not giving an introduction. “They agreed.”

Letty sucks in a breath so sharp Brian can hear it over the phone. “For sure?”

“Yeah,” he says shortly, cradling the phone between his ear and shoulder as he drives, shifting, moving in and out of traffic. “For sure. Get word out, huh?”

“Yeah,” she says. “Yeah, I—hey, Brian?”

“Mhm?” He asks, eyeing traffic ahead absently. He’s been back two years, is well-settled into how much he hates LA traffic again, but. Jesus, he still hates it.

“Thanks,” she says in a rush, before hanging up, leaving the end call signal echoing in Brian’s ears.

Bemused, Brian clicks off the phone, deposits it on the passenger's seat, and begins to plan.

 

Letty calls him back in about eight hours. Not bad, all things considered, Brian thinks. He’s at the gym, steps off the treadmill to take the call.

She doesn’t bother with pleasantries, either. “He’ll meet you in Tijuana. Says it’s the closest he’ll come to US soil without some sort of guarantee.”

Fair enough. “I’ll be there,” he says. “When?”

Four days later, Brian’s in a crappy bar in Tijuana, beer in front of him that he’s been working for over an hour, because it’s either that or slamming shots like the college kids at the high top a few feet away.

He’s not sure if he’s better served sober or drunk for this one, but he figures he’ll dodge a punch better sober. If it comes to that.

Brian’s not sure how things will land. Which usually isn’t much of a problem for him. Dom talks about living his life a quarter mile at a time, and Brian had empathized, even if Dom had seen it as a deliberate choice and Brian as a matter of necessity. He’s never been able to see, to predict, very far ahead. The road twists and turns and is full of hidden potholes and detours, ever since he was a kid. He’d gotten used to just rolling with it, to not letting it bother him, to being adaptable. It’s what makes him so good as an undercover agent.

But still. It’s Dom. Adaptable or not, not knowing how this will go is throwing Brian off. And it’s setting something off in Brian’s gut, something he doesn’t want to think much about.

He pulls his t-shirt away from his skin. It’s hot as hell here, even inside, even after the sun’s begun to set, and he’s still sweating lightly. Not enough to really bother him, maybe, but enough to notice.

He ditched the suit for this. Wouldn’t have made any sense, anyways, to go down to Tijuana in a suit that screamed “I make a federal agent’s salary and I dress like it.” But he’s—sure, they’re his weekend clothes, what he keeps for the few days when he’s not working, the stolen hours between cases when he can’t quite sleep, but he’s slowly realizing that these look like Brian Spilner’s clothes.What does it matter if Spilner and O’Conner were one in the same except for a few crucial truths? Dom’s still going to take it as a con.

Doesn’t matter. Not like he brought an overnight bag, and, anyways, Dom’ll be here any second. No time to make any changes; Dom will just have to take take Brian at face value or kick him to the curb.

There’s a mirror in the back of the bar, and Brian uses it to his full advantage to watch the door, so he catches the moment Dom walks in. Hard not to. The guy still stands out in a crowd, big and built, imposing and not just because of his size.

Brian takes a sip of his beer.

Dom’s narrowed eyes latch onto Brian as he makes his way over. Brian fights the urge to turn around. Maybe get his hands up, ready for a fight.

Whatever. If Dom wants to sock him, Brian’ll let him get one in. One. It’s not like he doesn’t deserve it, probably, and, anyways, it’s not like he hasn’t had worse.

Of course, he pushed a guy off a roof and fell three stories just four days ago. He still feels that one.

“Brian.”

Brian allows his eyes to slide closed, just for a second. That voice. Deep, like the bass cranked up to eleven, and always somehow warm. Even when Dom is an angry, mean bastard, at his absolute worst, he can’t quite shed the warmth.

“Dom,” he says without turning around. He takes the paper he has in front of him and slides it over to the empty stool Brian’s been glaring people out of for the past hour. “Here it is.” Better get this handled up front; Dom might not feel that he has much reason to trust Brian’s promises.

Dom skims the terms of the deal, all laid out in black and white, and then glances back at Brian, seemingly unconcerned. Brian finally turns to face him as Dom slides onto the stool next to him. “Not gonna read it?”

Dom shrugs. “Be a pretty elaborate con to get me back, wouldn’t it? Easier ways to do it.”

It’s true, if Dom was a fish the FBI were even still interested in. Mexico technically extradites; Brian got him all the way to Tijuana, basically the border.

“So, it’s real, the job is real, the pardon is real,” Dom says, signalling to the bartender that he wants a Corona by pointing at Brian’s. “What’s next?”

Dom’s beer is set down. He doesn’t hesitate in grabbing it up, taking a long drink as he continues to watch Brian.

Brian shrugs. “Race is in a few days. Get some cars ready. Race. Sure Mia an’ Letty’ll love to see you between now and then.”

Dom brightens. “I get to go home?”

Brian swallows. “Well, uh…you can visit. They ain’t gonna hold you in jail or anything, but they’re worried you’re a flight risk. So. You’ll be staying with me. Just ‘til the job is done.”

Dom’s eyebrow raises, but he seems to be taking it in stride. At the very least, he’s not fighting it yet, which Brian’ll take as a win.

Dom reaches into his pocket and throws some money on the bar. “Let’s go, then,” he grunts, stopping only long enough to pocket his deal as Brian follows him out.

Dom’s car is obvious, among the rentals and crappy cars in the lot. Brian looks at him out of the corner of his eye, can’t help the small smile. “Another RX-7, huh?” He asks. Wants to make a comment about imports and bites his tongue.

They’re not friends. They’re nowhere near friends. Whatever it might have once felt like, at least for Brian, Brian was lying. It doesn’t really matter if almost all of it was true, or if it was his job, or, hell, even that Dom was a criminal. They’re not friends, and Brian doesn’t get to tease him about his car.

“If I had to run, I’d want something with some speed,” Dom shrugs.

It’s not the worst logic Brian’s ever heard, although he wonders what Dom’d do, when that quarter mile is up and Brian would be, if not on top of him, still right on his tail. That’s the thing about police chases criminals don’t really consider: there’s no finish line where they win and then the race is over.

Of course, Brian’s driving a piece of shit, so in the RX-7, if Brian can guess even half of what Dom’s done to it, Dom really could outrun him. But Dom should think Brian would show up with a little something of his own.

Brian makes a split-second decision. He’ll get Penning to send some junior agent to pick up his piece of shit car, all he’s allowed himself, all the bureau really trusts him to have. It’s not like it’s a huge loss, even if it’s not there anymore by the time they get to it. Hell, insurance payout might be worth more than the car. And he’ll spin it to Penning. Babysitting the criminal, he guesses.

“Right,” Brian says. “So. Guess you’re driving. Let’s go.”

Brian slides into the passenger’s seat, no room for argument, and takes a subtle look around. Dom clearly put some work into this. Brian wonders if he’s been racing, how he’s managed that, then snorts to himself. The man got away from LA with a cut of one and a half million dollars. Split five ways, that’s still more than enough money to trick out a car and enter some races. And, assuming he didn’t abandon it by the side of the road somewhere, that Supra was worth a fair bit too.

Dom is silent as he enters, puts the car in gear, and drives them towards the border. Brian doesn’t say anything, content to watch the lights of Tijuana pass them by for a bit, but as they pull closer to the border, he has to ask. “Do you have a passport?”

Dom raises an eyebrow. “You think I got down here with my passport? Stopped off at the house, grabbed my papers, with LAPD on my ass?”

Brian bites his tongue, wants to say they weren’t on Dom’s ass—not for a few hours, anyways—because they were too busy being on Brian’s. He doesn’t. Wants to ask what the hell kind of papers Dom’s been using to get by, but figures that’s the type of question that Dom won’t answer and could get them onto real shaky ground real quick, considering Brian’s profession. “Figured. Here,” he says, fishing it out of his pocket and tossing it into Dom’s lap.

“How…?”

“The FBI wants this case handled,” Brian says shortly. “Don’t much care how I do it. So, your passport. Pretty sure I’m supposed to take it back from you as soon as we cross the border.”

They get through customs. Brian doesn’t take the passport.

Now in San Diego, they have a ways to go and the sun is going down. The car’s silent except the hum of the engine, tense in a way that makes Brian a little twitchy. He takes a deep breath.

“Not gonna ask me where I’ve been?” Dom asks.

“Figured you’d tell me if you wanted to. Figured you’d want to keep that to yourself. In case you have to run again.”

Will I have to run again?” Dom’s hand tightens on the wheel.

“Shouldn’t, but, fuck. You know the FBI,” Brian says. “I’m doing what I can, Dom. I believe in keeping your options open.”

Dom side-eyes him. “You’re a shitty cop.”

Brian huffs in lieu of laughter. It’s the first thing Dom’s said to him that sounds even remotely like when they talked five years ago, and of course it’s about him being a cop. If only Dom knew the truth.

 

They make it to Echo Park long after dark, but Brian’s pretty convinced Letty and Mia will be waiting for them. Well, for Dom.

It’s not like he can fuck off, though. He can’t really let Dom out of his sight, so he follows Dom up the walk, onto the porch. Dom doesn’t have a key, apparently, because he knocks and waits, leaning against the frame.

Mia opens the door, and Brian wants to pull back into the shadows. Maybe wait in the car.

He doesn’t have time to make that decision, though, because Mia slaps her brother hard enough for it to make a thud that echoes on the small porch, then launches herself at him, arms around his neck and face in his chest.

Dom, for his part, seems surprised by none of this, and just lets her, bringing his own arms up to hold her.

Letty edges around them, seemingly content to hold off her own greeting to Dom for a moment. She comes to a stop a few feet away from Brian, watching.

Mia finally pulls back, her eyes wet but not crying. “If you ever…” She threatens, but the words seem to get lost.

“I know,” Dom rumbles. “Mia, I know.”

He turns to Letty, arms at his side, spread just wide enough to indicate he’s perhaps hoping for a hug. If he is, he must be disappointed, because Letty rips a chain from her neck and slaps it against Dom’s chest. One of Dom’s hands comes up to grab hold of it before it falls, chain slipping halfway through his suddenly clumsy fingers before he catches it.

Letty walks right by him, only turning once she reaches the door. “Dinner’s in twenty,” she says, despite it being almost eleven pm, and then walks the rest of the way inside, after Mia.

 

Dinner’s an awkward affair, tense. Bowls passing, forks scraping, no one looking at each other, no one talking. Brian half-wonders if he made a mistake, if he really should have just waited in the car, set this up like some sort of stake-out.

At least on a stake-out, silence is expected.

He can’t figure them out. He knows Mia wanted her brother back, even if she never would have said it—or anything else—to him. Knows Letty wanted Dom back. Knows how hard she pushed, the intel she brought him, the courage it took to come to the FBI with that. But here they all are.

As soon as it even remotely looks like people are done, Brian jumps up, declares he’ll get the dishes, that cooks don’t clean. He grabs plates and utensils at random, bringing them into the kitchen, filling up the sink, and beginning to wash.

Dom joins him five minutes later, grabbing a hand towel while Brian hears the TV turn on in the next room, hears low voices.

He keeps washing for a moment, but really, the silence is becoming unbearable. There’s been a lot of silence in Brian’s life, and precisely none of it came from the Toretto house, before today. There was always someone, always something, here. It’s making him a little twitchy.

“Well that was…something,” Brian says as evenly as he can.

Dom snorts, beginning to tuck plates and cups and silverware back into the proper cabinets. “What’d you expect, the welcome wagon? Mia told me to stop a hundred damned times, that I’d get my ass in trouble. And Letty…I left her behind. You expect a thank you and a hug?”

“With how hard Letty pushed to get you back…something like it,” Brian admits, finishing the last of the dishes and grabbing another hand towel so he can take over the drying.

Dom shakes his head. “Family is where they gotta take you in. Doesn’t mean they have to be happy to do it. They love you, they don’t gotta like you all the time.”

Brian frowns. Dom and the others had spent enough time giving him lessons on family, inadvertently and on purpose, mockingly and in a ‘pitying the sad sack’ sort of way. If family is about cold welcomes and obligation, Brian’s pretty sure he’s just fine without one.

If he’s—privately, in the thoughts he can’t really control nor stop—been thinking of the black hole inside of him for the past five years as the result of missing the Toretto house, then this hasn’t exactly gone a long way to soothing that hurt.

Dom grabs beers from the fridge, casual as anything. Like it hasn’t been nearly five years since he’s set foot in this house, like he still buys the beers with his salary at the corner store on his way home from work. “C’mon, then,” he says. “Gotta face it.”

Brian follows him when he takes the beers to the living room, passes them out silently and then takes a seat on the couch. Mia sits stiffly on the opposite side, but she does relax, slowly sliding closer to her brother.

Brian, for his part, grabs the free armchair and tries to tune everyone out.

It’s Letty who breaks the silence. “So,” she says, voice drowning out the TV. “Braga.”

Dom inclines his head. “Braga.”

“I…The Charger’s in the garage,” Letty says, awkward, not looking at him as she speaks. “Racing shape. If you ever wanted…”

Dom leans forward, suddenly, and reaches for her hand on the arm of her chair. It’s awkward and stretched, and she pulls back for a moment before letting him take hold. “Thank you,” he says, sincerity making his voice even deeper than usual. “You didn’t have to—”

She laughs. It’s an almost mean sound, cutting and sharp, short-lived. It makes the hairs on the back of Brian’s neck stand on end. “What else was I gonna do, Dom, since you decided I should sit at home and wait for you?”

The silence is back. Brian, for the first time since he moved back to LA, thinks longingly of his shithole apartment. “Let,” Dom says lowly. “That’s not fair. I—”

I get to decide what’s fair right now, Dom,” she interrupts him coolly. Brian’s always thought of Letty and Dom as perfect for each other, both made of fire, constant and easy to burn over, flaring and flashing, but here Letty is, and she’s definitely got plenty of ice inside her veins. It makes Brian shiver.

“Can we not—”

She stands, abruptly, forcing him to drop her hand. “Come on,” she says, leading the way up the stairs, not looking to see if he’s following. He is.

Which, of course, leaves Brian with Mia.

Brian closes his eyes, wonders if he can pretend he’s asleep. He’s not going to begrudge Dom and Letty this, whatever it is—a fight, makeup sex, undying promises, whatever—but he feels like he might physically catch fire where he sits.

“So,” Mia says, as soon as the door upstairs closes. “You’re planning to bring my brother undercover, huh?”

Chapter Text

Brian swallows. “Mia…”

She makes that sound, in the back of her throat, that makes them all shut up. Always has, even Vince, even Jesse, even Dom responded to that sound. “No. No, Brian,” she says. “My turn to talk.”

Brian swallows and just nods, turns to face her fully, thinks of that little Tijuana bar and how easily he’d have let Dom punch him, wishes this was that easy. But Mia, despite having a temper Brian privately thinks of as a Toretto temper , despite having slapped her brother good earlier, never does with her fists what she could with her words.

Words hurt more, Brian thinks, and braces himself.

“You know, at first, I wanted to kill you,” Mia says lowly. “I’ve never wanted that before. Not Kenny Linder, not the cops who took my brother away, no one. But you…I was ready to kill you. If nothing else, so Dom wouldn’t have to, ‘cause I’m not sure if he could. Not with you.” She shakes her head. “What you did…we’re all about family and you used that, Brian.”

Brian bites his tongue. It’s her turn to talk, and he doesn’t have much to say. Or rather, he doesn’t have much that he will say.

He could say he was just doing his job, that Dom had been pulling off dangerous truck hijackings, there was no arguing that, that someone was going to die and for Brian, the million dollars in property were incidental compared to that. He could say he hadn’t purposefully used the family thing, wouldn’t know how to if someone drew him a map and gave him step-by-step instructions, that the family thing had been more of an accident than anything else. He could tell her that most of it wasn’t a lie.

He doesn’t.

“Why are you doing this?” She asks.

“Doing what?”

“Getting him…getting him a pardon. Getting him involved with this mess.”

He debates for a second. “Dom’s a good driver,” he says slowly. “He’ll be…he’ll be an asset to this job.”

“Is that all?”

“It’s enough.”

Mia turns away from him, her jaw working. “And the rest?”

“Your brother was guilty as sin for the crimes he was accused of,” Brian says quietly, refusing to beat around this particular bush. “But even with all that…I didn’t want to see him go to jail.”

“Why not?” She demands. “Why’d you let him go?”

Brian thinks about it for a second, but gives the most honest answer he can, the most honesty he’s capable of, because she deserves it more than anyone. More than Dom, probably. Brian already gave Dom his keys. He left Mia high and dry, screwed over, alone. The least he can do is give her some honesty when she asks. “In that moment, there…I think I respected Dom more than I did myself,” he says. “It didn’t matter, that he’d been the one behind the truck jackings and I’d been lying to my bosses and myself for months. He had something , and I wasn’t gonna let him go back to jail.”

Mia looks him over, straight through him, taking in everything. Sometimes he thinks she’s a mind-reader, that both Torettos are, with that look of theirs. But that’s stupid, because they wouldn’t have let him within a hundred yards of their family if they were.

“Okay,” she says after a moment.

“Okay?” He asks hesitantly, unclear on what exactly has just happened.

“Okay,” she repeats. “This is your chance, Spilner-O’Conner-what-the-fuck-ever. I was…I was mad enough to kill you, but you…you saved Vince, could’ve died fifty times when you did, didn’t have to. You shot Tran, for Jesse. You let Dom go. Maybe kept him from…” She shakes her head, doesn’t have to say it. Maybe Dom had just been racing that day. Maybe he’d been hoping the car would be a fraction of a second slower, the train a fraction of a second faster. They’ll never know. Dom certainly will never say. “It’s been five years. I can admit that you fucked up, but you didn’t exactly fuck up this family alone and did a whole hell of a lot more to keep it together than most of us managed. So. This is your second chance, Brian.”

Brian bites his lip. He’s not looking for second chances. He doesn’t think. But he’s not exactly going to pass it up, if she’s offering.

“Thanks,” he says, instead.

She settles back into the couch, like a massive weight has been cut away from her. She draws her feet up under her as Brian watches out of the corner of his eye.

”How…how’ve you been?” He asks hesitantly, not sure how far exactly second chances go.

She grins, tired but as strong as ever. The Mia Toretto smile, he thinks, sunshine and strain but always, always ready to come forward, because, honestly, Mia Toretto is made out of steel.

“Okay. Got someone running the cafe for me most days, couple kids taking shifts for her. Med school, now. UCLA.”

“Yeah?” Brian asks. “So, it stuck?”

“Yeah. It stuck.”

“How much longer do you have to go?”

“I start my residency next year. So, a while.”

Brian can’t imagine spending that long on anything. He’d barely managed to graduate high school, gotten an associate’s degree through night classes while at the LAPD, turned that into a bachelor’s degree with more night classes and online classes at the FBI’s insistence. The math he can handle, most of the time. The rest of it was just something to get through for the job, to make the higher-ups happy.

“You like it?”

She smiles. “Yeah. I do.” She tilts her head towards him, neck loose and eyes inquisitive. “How have you been, Brian?”

“Fine.” It comes out quick and he winces. Non-answer, evasive as ever, don’t give out any information you don’t need to. He schools himself. “Uh. Good. Going on three years with the FBI now.”

“You like it?” She asks.

“Sometimes,” he admits. “Most of the time. I don’t—I’m not expecting anyone to understand, but…most of the time. I’m pretty good at it, anyways.” For a certain value of good. Penning is ready to pull his hair out about Brian most days, Stasiak wouldn’t spit on him if he was on fire, and Trinh seems to be the only agent who even can remotely stand Brian, but Brian gets jobs done and no one can deny it. He’s still a good undercover agent. Still a good liar, he thinks, but he’s not going to exactly share that with Mia.

“We don’t have to understand,” she murmurs. “As long as you’re happy. And as long as you don’t bring trouble home with you.”

The word home makes him jump about half a mile, something even he can’t control. Mia has mercy on him and doesn’t mention it.

“Seeing anyone?” She asks, and it sounds innocent, too innocent. She’s got one more thing to say.

“Mia, I…” He doesn’t know how to say this. How to apologize for it. It wasn’t a lie. They weren’t in love. He didn’t promise her anything. But it was still dishonest, because Brian Earl Spilner was maybe the best parts of Brian O’Conner, but he never really existed.

“Save it,” she says. “That’s one ship, that once it’s gone, it’s gone. Get it?”

“Yeah, got it,” he replies. He didn’t expect—didn’t want —anything different. As long as it’s out in the open, now.

“It was an honest question, Brian,” she says.

“Nah,” he says. “The job, you know?”

“Too bad,” she says absently. She doesn’t offer her own answer to the question and Brian does not ask. Never let it be said that he can’t see some lines in the sand. Second chance or not, one of them is still clearly running this show and it’s decidedly not him.

The house goes quiet. Brian strains his ears, knows the bedrooms upstairs aren’t exactly well sound-proofed but still hears nothing, no fighting, no fucking. Decides he probably doesn’t want to know.

After a moment, Mia stands and stretches. “I’m going to bed,” she says. “I have class tomorrow. You take care of my brother, you understand? Bring him home to me.”

Brian swallows. “Yeah. Yeah, of course.”

She looks him over, seems to take his word, and nods. “Don’t think they’ll be done anytime soon,” she says. “Do you want a blanket? A pillow?”

There’s four bedrooms in this house, and while Brian knows that no one sleeps in the old master, that still leaves one. Unless it’s Letty’s room, unless she’s not planning on staying with Dom. It doesn’t matter, though, because he has very clearly not been offered it. “That’d be great, thanks,” he says, and takes off his shoes while she’s gone.

Bunking down on the couch, the room illuminated by the porch light seeping through the filmy curtains and the little blinking light on the cable box, Brian takes stock of the day.

When that proves overwhelming, too much—how the fuck do you categorize something like this, break it down into manageable pieces when the whole world shifted—he lets himself drift off into an uneasy sleep.

 

Brian wakes at dawn the next day, sunlight insistent in streaming across the room, hitting him in the eye. He groans, sits up, looks around.

The Toretto living room. He’s had dreams like this.

Only this is too real, because Brian’s dreams fade away to wisps when he wakes up. Why bother holding onto something worth nothing?

The living room, the sun, the Corona bottles on the little table remain solid. He cracks his neck, stiff and sore, although whether it’s from falling off a building or sleeping on a couch is anyone’s guess.

He groans. Somehow, this house has a fundamental design flaw of the only bathroom being upstairs. He makes the trek up, as quiet on the stairs as he can be, remembers which ones creak and avoids them best he can.

The bathroom looks different. The Lava Soap is gone from the counter, more of Mia’s stuff is spread out, makeup palettes and hair care stuff. Brian winces, wonders if Dom’s seen it yet. Wonders how it feels to see a space shared evenly between the two of them decidedly have no more room for Dom.

When he emerges from the bathroom, Dom’s there, leaning against the wall, arm’s crossed over his chest, which only emphasizes the fact that the metal cross—the one Letty shoved at him the day before—is once more dangling around Dom’s neck. Brian swallows. That can’t be a good sign.

“Sorry, did I wake you?” He asks, even though he immediately knows he didn’t. Dom doesn’t look like he’s slept a wink, bags under his eyes and a tense set to his face.

Dom just jerks his head and grunts. “Go start coffee,” he orders, and Brian, having nothing better to do, makes his way back down to the kitchen.

It’s a new coffee maker, too, which is probably a good thing; the old one had been on its last legs when Brian had been here last. This is one of the new, fancy ones, that you can use to put on a pot or just make a cup. Probably better for Mia, when she has to be at class early.

By the time the coffee is done, Dom’s downstairs, in fresh jeans and a white t-shirt, seemingly freshly showered. Brian doesn’t know if he imagines it, but he thinks Dom smells a little flowery.

The cross is still there, and Brian resolves not to acknowledge it. Not his business.

“What’s the plan for today?” Dom asks, getting mugs out.

Brian accepts one. “Need to get myself a car. But first, need to go to my place and change.”

Dom looks him over, slow, taking him all in in one sweep. Brian tries not to shift. Wonders what Dom sees, what he thinks about Brian’s loose-fitting clothes, his sleep-rumpled look, his probably sleep-matted hair.

“Some Fed suit, huh?” Dom asks, a little bit of a smirk present.

Brian feels a little woozy, like it’s five years ago, like this could have been what it would be like, if Brian somehow told the truth earlier. “Man, fuck off,” he mutters, his own smile present.

“‘M I gonna get to come back?” Dom asks, drinking his coffee. And just like that, Brian finds himself firmly back in the here and now.

Brian swallows. “All goes well, we’ll be on the job in a couple days…we might be a little thin on the ground for a bit. Then, well. You’re pardoned, Dom. So yeah. You’ll be back.”

Dom raises his mug up again, sips slowly at it. “Didn’t think I’d ever get to come back,” he admits. “Thought I’d have to visit Mia in Tijuana, Ensenada maybe, every couple years. So. Whatever we need to do. I’m good with it.”

Brian checks his watch. It’s almost seven. “We gotta go,” he says. “So I can get dressed ‘fore we meet Trinh.”

“Am I going with you to the FBI?” Dom asks.

Brian grins, exhausted but lighting up picturing it. “Yeah, man,” he says, finishing his coffee and grabbing Dom’s empty mug, giving each a quick wash. “Let’s go. Penning won’t be happy if we’re late.”

 

Dom looks like he stepped in dog shit, looking around Brian’s apartment. “This is a shit hole,” he says.

Brian looks around, tries to see it through Dom’s eyes. It’s not so bad. Certainly not so bad that he thinks a guy who’s been on the run for five years should get to judge. Sure, the paint’s peeling, and there’s holes in the wall in the hallway. And the place is always a million degrees, and you don’t open the windows unless you want the smell and the smog. And the neighbors suck. And the carpet—well, better not think about the carpet.

But it’s got a fridge and a stove and a tiny little bathroom that most of the time has hot water and room for a bed and no bugs, and, after two hours’ work, the doors and the windows are pretty damn secure. Brian can’t complain.

“I’ve lived in worse,” Brian says, shrugging as he locks the door behind them, gesturing Dom to the goodwill couch while he goes to the closet, digging for a suit for today.

“Yeah? Like where?” Dom asks.

Like that trailer he and Mom moved to when she lost the house, he thinks, although that hadn’t felt that bad at the time, not as a kid who was happy to just have his mom. Or the house with his step dad, which had looked nice as any place he’d ever lived but had had his step dad as the trade-off. Or a couple of the foster homes had been shit shows, or fuck, Juvie. His first apartment in LA, that had practically been a flop house, all he could afford and even then he fell behind on rent pretty quick. And some of his undercover assignments…

“Harry’s backroom was no picnic,” he says eventually. Harry’s backroom was the size of a shoebox and never managed to regulate temperature, always, always too hot or too cold. And it was far from the worst place Brian’s ever crashed.

“Thought Mia was fucking with me when she told me you lived there,” Dom says. “You brought her there?”

Brian bites his lip, wondering how deep he’ll dig himself in trouble here, considering the whole break her heart, I break your neck spiel. “Well, we weighed it real carefully against going back to your house, and decided not having you five feet away won,” Brian says, now walking towards the bathroom, hanging the suit on the hook on the back of the door meant for towels. “Make yourself comfortable, I’ll be out in five.”

It takes closer to ten, but he has to get into a damn suit in the steamed-up bathroom. Being in a towel in front of Dom is just a little too much for him right now.

Dom looks him over and smirks when he steps out of the bathroom, ready to go except for his wallet and shoes. He goes to the dresser to slip his things into his pockets, then to his wingtips by the door. “Don’t know how I ever didn’t pin you as a cop,” Dom says slowly. “You certainly fit the bill.”

Brian scowls. “Should’ve listened to Vince.”

Dom stands, that slow rising he does, stretching and suddenly taking up an ungodly amount of space. “See, the way I figure, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about this: you weren’t there, we’d’ve been a lot worse off.”

It’s true, but Brian didn’t ever expect anyone but him to be the one to see it. He quirks his eyebrow. “You’re in a forgiving mood.”

Dom shrugs. “I can be forgiving. ‘Specially considering…everything.”

Everything. Like the Supra and Vince and Johnny Tran and bringing Dom back to LA. Brian doesn’t know what to do with that.

So he just doesn’t respond, finally grabbing his badge and gun, before walking over to the door, making it as blatantly obvious as he can. “C’mon,” he says. “Trinh’s waiting and I want some wheels.”

Dom takes one more look around the place. “And where, exactly, am I supposed to sleep tonight?”

Brian shrugs. “Flip you for the bed later.”

“Nah,” Dom dismisses him. “We’ll stay at my place.”

Brian’s eyebrow raises. “First of all, pretty sure it’s Mia’s place now. Second, what makes you think we’re in any way welcome?”

“Told you,” Dom says. “Family is where they have to take you in.”

“That might work for you, but what about me?” Brian asks.

“Think it covers you just fine,” Dom says. “Now, pack a damn bag. Let’s go.”

Kind of numb, brain racing, Brian does what he’s told.

 

So Brian leaves a bag filled with clothes—another suit, some t-shirts, a pair of jeans, his Converse, socks, underwear, a tie—in the back of Dom’s Mazda while they go into the FBI building to meet with Trinh.

Brian considers it decent revenge, how tense Dom gets in here, surrounded by Feds.

Trinh has it all set up, screens and screens of cars for him to flick through, every import the FBI has in impound on the West Coast. Brian feels like a kid in a candy shop, grabbing up cars, plans already coming together in his brain.

“I’ll have them dropped off at the garage,” Trinh says, taking the pictures down.

“No,” Dom says, voice making them both jump. He’s been pretty quiet, watching from the back of the room. “Take it to my garage.”

Brian looks at Dom. “Letty going to be cool with that?” Brian asks, as casually as he can, because it’s not like Dom has much say what happens at DT’s, anymore, other than his name on the side of the building and Mia getting money off the place.

“She’ll be fine,” Dom dismisses, and Brian does not want to step in this shit with Dom’s maybe-ex, so he chooses to take him at his word. It’s on his own head if he’s wrong; Brian isn’t going to protect Dom from Letty. Everyone else, yes. But not Letty and not Mia.

Trinh gives him a look, and Brian shrugs. “Honestly, his tools are probably better anyways,” Brian allows.

Dom looks triumphant. Brian doesn’t let it get to him though. Just see how triumphant he looks after a meeting with Penning.

 

Penning keeps them for hours, going over every little detail. Admittedly, they don’t help, arguing and poking at details, rejecting procedures and trackers and supervision.

He finally lets them go, and Brian hustles Dom out of the FBI building before they can cause any more trouble. By the time they get to DT’s, Letty is already bitching them out, complaining—rightfully—about the mess the FBI made, dropping off three cars wherever they felt like and getting in the way of paying customers.

They play vehicle Tetris, shuffling cars around, using the grassy side lot where the Airstreams used to be parked for the donor cars until Brian needs them up on lifts, until Letty’s satisfied and they’re good enough for Brian to begin ripping them to pieces.

When Mia’s car pulls up to the market, Dom leaves off lightly heckling Brian about his cars to go follow her inside. Brian supposes it makes sense. They haven’t really had any time to deal with this together yet.

So Brian, now left in peace, keeps ripping up the pearl white Skyline, taking what he wants from it. It’s sweaty, grueling work, and Brian feels muscles he hasn’t used in a while get woken up the hard way. It’s not like he forgot what it felt like, to do magic with cars like this—it’s just that he didn’t really let himself remember. It was too tempting, and the FBI kept too tight a watch on him to let himself be tempted.

So, wiping his forehead on his t-shirt, Brian makes his way outside, where the sun is still brutal, even at this hour, but at least there’s a breeze. He makes his way around back, where there’s some shade to be found.

Letty’s there. She’s wearing a bathing suit and shorts, her coveralls discarded, lying out on one of the old plastic lawn chairs, sunglasses on, enjoying the late afternoon sun, Corona in hand. Brian freezes, debating backing away, hiding out in the garage until someone comes to get him.

Letty’s observant, though. “C’mere, Buster,” she says, jerking one hand sharply towards herself. Brian does, steps slow and a little hesitant.

He and Letty never really had much, together. She wasn’t hostile—no more than her usual personality, anyways—but wasn’t exactly welcoming, either. Until she reached out when she came back to the States, they’d never really had much of a conversation, just them.

Brian’s seen her practically eviscerate people before though. He’s not looking forward to it, if that’s what’s coming. Still, he sits down on the picnic table near her chair, straddling the bench to look at her and wait.

She pushes her glasses down her nose, looks at him. “So,” she says after a moment. “You dragged his ass back.”

“Yeah,” Brian says, shrugging.

“Thanks,” she says, only the slightest delay before she says it. She sighs. “I should go back in. We are up to our eyeballs in work. Any way I can steal Dom tomorrow? Put him to work? Considering it’s his name on the side of the building?”

Brian shrugs. “As long as I have him in my sights, we’re fine.” Letty looks around deliberately, making him flush. “I mean, I know where he is right now.” Or he can guess, anyways. Loosely. He’d hear a car if one started, at the very least.

“Don’t trust me to bring him back in one piece if you leave us alone? Promise I won’t hurt him too badly.”

“Me trusting you isn’t really the concern. More like…the AD trusting us. And no, I don’t think he trusts you to return your technically-wanted boyfriend to FBI custody.”

She winces, which makes Brian wince, because, yeah, he’s probably stepped in it, somehow. This is what he gets for even marginally sticking his nose in other people’s business.

“Not my boyfriend,” she murmurs.

“Right,” Brian says, wishing firmly for anywhere but here . “Sorry.”

It’s silent for a moment, only broken by the sound of traffic on the street. “If he’s anything, he’s my husband,” Letty says eventually, after taking a long swig of the Corona.

Brian jolts like there’s electric current running through the picnic table. “You uh…really?” He asks, inelegant. For someone who has always had the gift of gab, who can charm and talk his way out of anything, Brian finds himself too frequently tongue-tied around this group.

She nods. “In the DR,” she says lowly. Her face scrunches up, bitter and vitriolic. “Same night, he walked out on me.”

Ouch. Brian honestly isn’t sure why she hasn’t murdered Dom yet. He wouldn’t really blame her.

“I don’t even think it’s legal. He got a priest, but not like we had witnesses. Didn’t sign anything. So, not like we have to do much to end it. Probably.”

Brian can see it now, falling together in his mind. Spontaneous decision, Dom wanting to show how much she meant to him, Letty wanting to hold onto Dom while he slipped away. Bad decisions all around, maybe, but who exactly is Brian to judge? No witnesses. No friends, no family. A secret, meant to be sweet and gone sour, sitting on her soul.

“You tell anyone else?” Brian asks softly, but he’s pretty sure that he knows the answer.

“Not even Mia. And, considering it’s over…maybe I won’t.”

“Over?” Brian asks, mouth working faster than his brain. Over. Like that cross necklace the two of them passed back and forth back around Dom’s neck, Letty slamming it into his chest, as if she’d rather punch him but knew the necklace would hurt more. “I’m sorry,” he says, before she answers his dumb question.

She shrugs. “I blame you for a lotta shit, Brian,” she says, and he likes that she’s at least honest, always, to a fault. “But this wasn’t one of them. You didn’t make him walk out.”

“He’s back now, so—” Brian doesn’t know why he’s defending Dom, why he’s getting his nose involved in business that is absolutely not his.

Letty shakes her head, anyways, interrupting him before he can complete the thought. “You don’t go back on your vows. Not like that. What we promised, ride or die, and he left, just like that…” She shakes her head, then nails him with a look so hard Brian feels it more than a punch. “He left first,” she says fiercely, like she needs him to understand. “He left first.”

Brian understands. Brian knows what being left behind is like, he gets it.

She must see something in his eyes, because she nods and turns away. “What a way to end nearly ten years, huh?” She says, getting up and not waiting for an answer, clearly done with the moment. “C’mon,” she says, not looking at him, and Brian doesn’t look too hard at her, gives her the moment to pull herself together. “Mia’ll need help with dinner. You don’t got a ride, judging by what I saw in the garage. I’ll drive you back. Mia can get Dom back.”

Brian groans, stands, cracks his neck.

“You hurt?”

Brian debates mentioning falling off a building and decides against it. “Just—the couch. Slept on the couch, last night. If Dom’s really making us stay here, then I guess I will be again.” He’s assuming all three bedrooms are in use, that Letty isn’t exactly going to be crawling into Dom’s bed.

She does look at him, then, then smirks. “Mia didn’t tell you the sofa is a sleeper?” She asks.

Brian freezes. “For real?”

“For real. Always has been. Dom put a decent mattress on it, too.”

Brian winces. Looks like he hasn’t been completely forgiven, then.

Chapter Text

Brian wakes up with the sun again, the curtains still flimsy and ineffective, but at least the bed is far more comfortable this time around. He makes himself some coffee, filling the pot, knowing the crowd will be through after him.

He takes the mug outside with him, walking in the early morning air to the garage out back. Dom’s Charger, half under a sheet, is parked to one side. Brian leans against the side of the garage, finishing his coffee and watching the sun finish rising over Echo Park.

The nice thing about working undercover is that, once the assignment starts, no one really expects him to show up at work. No suits, no Stasiak, no bullshit. He can build his car, race it, do what he needs to, with minimal intrusion from on high. Sure, they have a lot they want to say to him, all the bullshit Penning was peddling yesterday, but it’s all stuff Brian can tune out once the job starts. They know he’ll get their results. He always does.

By the time he’s finished his coffee, he can hear noises from inside the house. Sure enough, Dom emerges a moment later, already dressed and his own mug in hand, only it’s one of those to-go mugs. “C’mon. I’ll drive you over.”

The garage isn’t opened yet, but Dom apparently never gave up his key or acquired one yesterday. He lets them in, opening the bay doors to let light in. Brian goes straight to the Skyline, slowly coming together, and Dom meanders over to the work orders, lined up neatly. They get to work in relatively companionable silence.

The others filter in about an hour later, Letty first, then her new crew of mechanics. They look like three kids who probably work cheap if Letty lets them use the tools for their own cars in their personal time, and they get to work with a single word from Letty.

Someone turns music on and sound fills up the space. Everyone, thankfully, leaves Brian alone to work.

Which leaves him elbow-deep in the car when Dom walks up behind him.

Dom’s not a quiet man, too big, too fond of clunky boots for that, so Brian hears him coming, has a moment to put his game face on.

Dom doesn’t get too close though, just leans his hip against the lift, watching. “Look at that. Buster became a gearhead.”

Brian bites his tongue. Wants to say that, sure, he was no Jesse—no hidden genius, no near-magic ability to see in some extra dimension, to breathe life into nothing—and he was no Dom—raised in and around cars, with a father to teach him everything he’d need to know—but he’d done alright. He’d modded most of the Eclipse himself, pulled his weight on the Supra. Dom’s seen his work before. He’s done alright.

He doesn’t say anything though, just wipes his face and looks up at Dom. “What’s up?”

Dom snorts. “That thing gonna be ready?”

“I’ll get it done,” Brian says. The truth is, this he could practically do in his sleep, even with the years of little activity.

“Want a hand?”

“Nothing else to do?” Brian asks, looking around pointedly at the bustling garage. Letty hasn’t exactly given Dom marching orders, though. Dom helped out because he wanted to, and seems to have stopped because he wanted to. Brian’s not really clear on who’s in charge here.

“Well, I was plannin’ on going to do the books, but I think Mia’d kill me.”

“Smart,” Brian says. He tilts his head, considering. He hasn’t worked on a car with anyone in a long time. Since the Supra, really. He weighs it carefully, proving to Dom that he can do this on his own, that “the buster” is more than capable, versus getting this time. Once this is done, Brian doesn’t have many illusions. He’ll be pushed back aside. He’s not family. Might as well get one last chance to work on a car with Dom. “Sure,” he says. “Might as well.”

Dom nods, and, thankfully, he doesn’t require further instruction.

 

The sun’s high overhead when Dom pulls Brian out from under the hood. “Lunch,” he orders.

Brian knows this routine. They go to the market, or someone ventures a little further for carry-out, or Dom brings in leftovers from Sunday barbecue, and everyone stops and eats, appreciating the good food. He has weeks and weeks of this routine, five years old but indelible in his mind.

“I’m almost done,” Brian says. He’s close, almost race-ready. He can see it all coming together, and while he knows it’ll be there after lunch, he’s a little worried about losing the thread.

Plus, Dom’s never met the Brian O’Conner who won’t be pushed around, at least when it comes to Dom. He never exactly let Vince or Leon shove him around, but Dom…Brian had been undercover. His job had been to get in with the guy. Undercover Brian is always the most amenable Brian to other people’s bossiness, to whatever varying degree is required.

Dom frowns at him, and Brian vividly remembers how little Dom is used to being questioned or ignored. “Yeah, and it’ll wait ‘til after lunch.”

Brian is equally unused to taking orders. From Penning, maybe, although the supervisor would probably be the first to admit that Brian is more like a badly trained dog: he does what he’s told when he feels up to it, and only then. “Dom,” Brian says. “I’ll get to lunch when I get to lunch.”

“When’ll that be? Dinner?” Dom asks sarcastically, and Brian tries not to blink just because it might be accurate. “C’mon. Lunch.”

Brian grits his teeth. He was pretty amenable, as Spilner. Don’t piss off the mark, don’t push them too hard. As covers went, probably one of Brian’s more agreeable.

Spilner might have been cool, but that all came from Brian, solid ice and stubborn, and Dom better know he isn’t pushing Brian around, now that they’re on different footing. Not even over lunch.

“You’re hungry, you go. Just don’t wander too far. I’ll get lunch later.”

“Would you quit being so stubborn?” Dom demands, stepping closer to Brian.

Brian isn’t afraid. He’s not exactly calm, but Dom doesn’t scare him. Not really. Just gets his hackles up, a little bit, and that’s more from not knowing exactly how they fit together then thinking Dom would really hurt him or anything. “Right back at’cha,” Brian says. “Just worry about your damn self. Go eat. Come back out. Don’t. Whatever.”

Dom stares at him for a moment, makes a sound that might very well be mistaken for a growl, and stomps off.

It’s a victory, Brian knows, but it feels very strange for a victory.

 

The sun’s getting low by the time Dom joins him in the garage again. “Where you been?” Brian calls.

“Mia let me look through the books,” Dom mutters, sidling up to the car. “Look, Brian—” he shakes his head. “It’s gonna take some time. Some rough patches. To make things work.”

Brian barks a laugh, because the race is tomorrow , they’re going undercover and from there it’ll be about a week, probably. Maybe a little more to get a good, solid pin on Braga. Then it’ll be done, and they’ll be parallel roads again. “Sure, Dom,” he agrees, easy-going again, because why make a rift where there doesn’t need to be one? “Long as you remember that I’m not one of your crew.”

Dom just stares at him, eyes drifting over Brian, up and down, again and again. Brian can’t help wonder what he’s thinking: I know? Not much of a crew anymore? You were, but you ruined it? Don’t need any pigs on the team? Dom doesn’t grace him with answers though, just nods sharply. “You gonna bite my head off if I tell you it’s quittin’ time and Mia’ll have our heads if we’re not home in time for dinner?”

Peace-offering. Brian can deal with that, can give one right back. Besides, Dom practically asked this time; maybe, in whatever temporary-truce this is, they can make this thing work. As Brian O’Conner and Dominic Toretto, Brian’s stubborn bastard icy self and all. He throws his grease-rag down. “Nah,” he says, looking one last time under the hood before shutting it. “Basically done here, anyways.”

 

Dinner’s a little better. Marginally more conversation, after two days of poking and prodding each other. “Dom, say grace,” Mia orders, and Dom just quirks his lip and does it, hands held around the table.

Dom’s hands are big, warm and calloused. Brian hasn’t exactly had much chance to hold Dom’s hand before, but Letty menouvers so she’s not sitting next to Dom, which leaves the space for Brian.

Dom drops his hand as soon as he’s done, but the calloused rasp of his skin leaves Brian’s hand tingling throughout the meal.

“So,” Letty says, sliding her bowl forward before leaning back in her chair. “Tomorrow.”

Dom nods. “Tomorrow.”

“Just…be careful,” Mia says. “Take care of each other, right? Come home…together.”

Or don’t come back at all , Brian can hear, the writing on the wall directed at him. Bring Dom back or don’t bother coming back around. His second chance is on tenuous grounds.

Not that he needs Mia’s reminder. Getting Dom back home, alive and safe, is a given. A requirement of the job, really.

“Yeah, Mia,” Dom says, voice low. “We know. We’re comin’ back, okay?”

Mia purses her lips and doesn’t say anything, just staring at the table until Brian can’t take it anymore and begins to clear the table.

“You got a real thing for doing dishes,” Dom notes, coming up behind Brian with a stack of plates once more.

“Well, can’t cook. Might as well bring something to the table.”

“How you gonna survive if you can’t cook?”

“I can make eggs and shit,” Brian defends himself lightly, scrubbing at a glass. “Microwave dinners. Sandwiches. I get by.”

Family meals weren’t exactly a part of Brian’s repertoire. Cooking for one just never had the same effect.

Brian turns the water off and sets the last dish in the drying rack. “Tomorrow, after the race, I’m gonna go back to my place. Just in case they get curious. I’ll circle back here when I know it’s clear.” He turns to Dom. “You have to promise me, you’ll come straight back here.”

Dom’s lip twitches. “Scout’s honor.”

Brian doubts he was ever a boy scout. “Dom. I am not kidding. If Penning thinks I’m losing control of this, he will send in agents to sit on you, sit on the house. Sit on the garage, the shop, Mia, Letty. Okay? So, come back here. For both our sakes.”

Dom shrugs. “Not like I have anywhere to go. I’ll be home.” He looks at Brian intently. “You do realize, there’s only gonna be one spot, right? One winner, one spot.”

Brian has realized, yes, not being an idiot. Brian shrugs. “I’ve got a plan.”

“Good, making sure you have a way in,” Dom says, and he almost keeps his voice even, expression neutral as he says it.

“Making sure I —hey, shithead, what’s that mean?” Brian asks indignantly, but he can feel a smile pulling at the edge of his lips.

Dom smirks in turn. “You know what I mean.”

Brian’s half-tempted to throw the wet dishrag at him, see how the smirk holds up to that.

Fuck it. He might as well, if this will really be all over soon. He throws the dishrag, but all it does is bounce off, then send Dom laughing, out of the room.

 

Brian takes his shiny new Skyline—and he’s planning on keeping this car, Penning can just figure that one out, there is no way he’s surrendering this beauty back to the impound lot when the job is done—and heads for the race.

He makes a circuitous loop first, just in case anyone gets curious about where he’s been.

The race scene sets Brian’s nerves alight, even if he can’t quite forget the job. Still. It’s a race, all thumping music and lively people, people desperate to strut their stuff.

Brian hasn’t raced in years. He’s driven fast, been on high-speed chases on both sides. But not a straight-up race. The Feds don’t really trust him, they like what he can do but they keep an eagle-eye on him.

Campos is…something about him sets Brian off. Guy’s a creep, sure, and full of some sort of smarmy confidence, but, hell, it looks like he is Braga’s right-hand man. For the Braga Cartel, that’s pretty big weight. Brian resolves to keep an eye on the guy because he’s got to be packing something bigger than he looks.

The race is… Well, Brian thought he might have had this one. Dom’s never seen him really race. Brian never got a chance, at Race Wars, and besides, this isn’t a quarter mile drag, where Dom will probably always be king. This is Brian’s bread-and-butter. So when Dom blew the NOS too early, Brian thought he had it in the bag. But of course it was a ploy, to line him up for the bump. Brian probably should have seen that coming. Hell, in another world, maybe he’d have done it himself. Not to Dom. Never to Dom. But it’s a devious enough idea that it would intrigue Brian if he wasn’t so goddamn pissed off.

I didn’t know there were any rules, Dom says, eyebrow quirked and smirk suppressed.

“That’s bullshit!” Brian snaps.

“Yeah, go cry to your Mama,” Fenix says, and Brian grits his teeth, shoots Dom one more glare, and walks out.

On the way out, Dwight harasses him about the Skyline—now in need of yet more work—and, as soon as he’s gone, Brian feels a grin slowly, stubbornly creeping up.

Well, at least he’s got a target in mind.

 

The sun is practically up by the time he gets back to the Toretto house, unfollowed and exhausted. Dwight will likely be out of jail by the evening, but it hardly matters. It’s enough time. He honestly expects the call from Yasher any second now.

For a technically-wanted criminal, Dom’s way too trusting. Brian fishes the front door key out of the cushion on the porch swing, where it’s been since at least 2001, and opens the door.

Only to find Dom on the sofa bed, bed made up and Dom perched on the end of it. “Where the hell were you?” He demands, voice even rougher than usual, probably from lack of sleep.

Brian blinks. “Told you. Making sure I wasn’t followed.”

“All night?”

“I got myself a way in. Just waiting for the call.”

“What’d you do?”

“Dwight’s gonna be otherwise occupied for a few days,” Brian says evasively. Framed a guy for drug possession. Not like anything’ll stick. He’ll make sure of it; asshole or not, he’s not here to ruin the guy’s life for being in his way.

“You mad at me or somethin’?” Dom asks.

“Hey, long as we can all admit you cheated, I ain’t gonna hold a grudge over a race,” Brian says.

“There weren’t any rules.”

This is Brian’s problem, right here. He and Dom are never playing on quite the same rulebook. Cop and criminal. Mentor and…whatever the fuck Brian wanted them to be, the thing Brian has good guesses about but doesn’t think too hard about consciously. And tonight. Brian would have never bumped Dom. Not even for the win.

“I’m not mad, Dom,” Brian says, suddenly exhausted. “I’ve been working, okay? Got myself an in. No one’s followed me, so I’m good. For tonight.”

Don tightens his jaw but nods at Brian. “Fine. See you in the morning,” he says sharply, turning away.

“Yeah, you will,” Brian says, half-threat and half-reassurance. “And you can help fix the damage you did to my fucking car.”

 

The party seems to make Dom tenser than a junkie in the back of Brian’s old patrol car, but Brian’s relatively relaxed. The beer’s good, the pool’s fine, the music makes his blood throb. Really, this is the easy part, the undercover agent’s stock job. It might be even easier, because no one’s really watching him too closely. After all, he’s just a dumb driver.

That all said, he’s still in some kind of shock that he walked out with the shot glasses, that no one questioned him.

When he returns to the party, dirty shot glasses in his jeans’ pockets, Brian looks for Dom. Can’t find him.

What was it Campos said? Booze, broads, whatever they wanted? Well, if they think he’s just a dumb driver, might as well put some work into meeting those expectations.

 

“I said, only pussies run nitro-meth,” Dom says, cool as anything as Brian looks around. Drugs, guns, and the lot of them in the middle of nowhere; the perfect recipe for a murder.

“You looked under my hood?” Fenix demands.

Brian tries to keep his cool as sparks—and flames, and bullets—start flying. He can’t blame Dom, not really, not when he just saved all their lives, but damn, he wishes the man didn’t take such an incendiary approach to creating a diversion.

If wishes were horses, he thinks, as he forces his way to the Hummer and spins around. “Get in!” He shouts at Dom. “Get in the fucking car.”

Dom does, and Brian shows Dom exactly what he’s picked up in the last few years. Hummers aren’t really his style, but this thing is big and mean and it’s going to get them where they need to go.

The drive isn’t that long, but it’s definitely long enough for Brian to get himself back under control. Great. Great . Talk about colossally going to shit.

He pulls them over under an overpass, hopefully out of the way enough for a few minutes, then punches Penning’s office line into his cell.

“We got the shipment,” Brian starts.

“What the fuck?”

Brian winces. “Fenix and his crew were planning on shooting us all. That’s how they keep their routes hidden, why Campos holds his races so often. Dom and I got out. Blew up the cars. Stole their Hummer. It’s full of about sixty million in drugs fresh from Mexico.”

There’s a beat of silence. “Bring me the drugs. And Toretto.”

“What? No,” Brian protests. “I thought the point was to get Braga. We can still get him. And Dom’s pardon…”

“Clock’s stopped ticking, O’Conner,” Penning says. “A sixty million drug bust ain’t that bad. It’ll buy him a hell of a lot of goodwill with a judge.”

Bullshit. Absolute, total bullshit, they promise clemency and give goodwill back. “A sixty million dollar drug bust is pocket change to Braga’s operation,” Brian shoots back, trying to keep his voice as level as possible. “It’s not what we’re here for.” He ends the call, before he loses his cool, before he digs them into a hole.

Call over, he walks around back to find Dom; it’s easy, if he just follows the blood trail.

Dom’s got the top case opened. “So, this is what sixty million dollars looks like,” he says evenly.

No , Brian thinks. This is what your last chance at freedom looks like . He says, “we need to get you to a hospital.”

“We need to get this hidden.”

Brian looks at it, then the Hummer. “I think I know a place.”

 

The impound lot is pretty ingenious: cops never look under their own noses, Brian finds. The Hummer blends in perfectly.

He just has to hope no one decides to poke around.

“You know, you owe me a ten second car.”

Dom smashes a window and gives Brian an expectant, shit-eating look that, if circumstances weren’t so dire, would probably make Brian laugh.

As it is, he accepts the car and drives them to the Toretto residence.

 

Dom’s a little twitchy on the drive back, and Brian hopes it’s from pain but knows better than to really believe that. Dom’s wired, and that, more than anything else, makes Brian nervous.

Getting shot at? Manageable. The FBI pulling the rug out from under him on this op, possibly leaving them hanging in the wind? He can work with it, keep his cool and power through. Hell, the plan is already half-formed in his mind. But Dom, getting twitchy? That spells disaster, plain and simple.

Dom’s all about control, all about keeping that massive, powerful anger he has under wraps. But it simmers in him, always there, and when it boils over—which Brian fears is coming—then God help anyone who stands in his way. Dom’s anger is always there, a fire slow-burning over the coals that can sometimes flare up, brutal and angry and able to take down everything in its path.

So, Dom’s angry and Brian can see why. He’s goddamn angry too. After all, Brian promises him a pardon, and here they are. Goodwill. What a goddamn joke.

They don’t say anything as they drive. Brian parks off the street, just in case, and the two of them make their way inside, the silence like a third person tagging along between them. Fuck. Brian rubs a hand over the back of his head. It’s approaching three am, but there are still lights on.

Well, I brought him home , Brian thinks sardonically. For how much longer he’ll be able to stay, though. That’s up in the air.

Brian knows one thing. He isn’t bringing the drugs in to the FBI, and he certainly isn’t bringing Dom with him. Not for anything less than a full pardon. That’s what he and Letty started this crazy scheme for, that’s how they’ll end it, plain and simple.

Once the front door closes, and Brian looks around, relieved that, lights or not, at least they’re not sitting up waiting for them to get in.

“Get some sleep,” Brian says quietly. “We’ll work it out in the morning.”

Brian probably should have known that that wouldn’t diffuse the situation. Dom’s anger finally starts to show, not quite boiling over yet but definitely starting to upset the lid of the pot. “Sure the FBI won’t be waiting to arrest me when we wake up?” Dom asks, anger and sarcasm braided together tight enough to sting when it hits Brian. “SWAT knocking down my front door?”

Brian shakes his head. “I won’t let them touch you. They made a promise.”

Dom scoffs. “Awful naive of you. Wake up. The Feds, they have no plans of keeping their promises.”

“I’m not going to let them take you, Dom,” Brian repeats, trying to keep his voice even, trying to keep his cool, trying not to lash back. Doesn’t need to fan the flames.

“Would be pretty easy. Easier than getting Braga. Hell, you’d probably get a promotion out of it.”

“That’s not fair,” Brian replies automatically. “If you remember, I had that chance once before and I gave you my keys instead.”

“Yeah, well, you were a lousy cop. But they gave you a second shot, you must have learned something.”

Brian opens his mouth, closes it, probably looks like a fish. Tries to keep his cool, to let himself be icy about this. Tries to let it roll off his back.

Dom’s mad. Dom’s mad and he’s lashing out and words are better than fists. Dom’s cornered and feels trapped and lied to, and, okay, betrayed, and Brian gets it. All his training—juvie, police, fed, and life—tells him to diffuse the situation, to not feed into it. That Dom is one moment away from snapping, that Brian needs to find a way to turn off the danger.

Brian’s brain doesn’t listen. He opens his mouth.

Chapter Text

“I was a pretty damn good cop, Dom,” Brian says, anger worked up enough to be visible, hands clenching and unclenching as he stares down Dom. “You know how many undercover jobs I worked? More of the penny-ante little Vice jobs than I could count, distribution and intent to sell, stolen goods and prostitution. You weren’t exactly my first big case, either, Dom. I was good . Under for months at a time. Built relationships, turned it all over to the cops. Betrayed people, people who thought they were my friends, sometimes. Real assholes, underbelly of society. You know how many of them I let go? Lost sleep over? None.

“I did my job, I took those assholes down, didn’t bother me at all. When the FBI showed up, they picked me ‘cause I could drive and I knew what the fuck I was doing. Did it before you, did it after you. You’re the only one I ever didn’t bring in.”

“So, what’re you saying?” Dom asks, sardonic lilt to his face, one that promises pain. “I’m special ?”

“God fucking knows why I did what I did,” Brian says, hand curling and uncurling from a fist with the slight hint of a lie, the only one he’s told, the only one he will. “But I did. So, yeah, fuck you. You all were special.”

“Sweet,” Dom says sarcastically. “But you’re still a Fed, and I’ve got no illusions. They’ll take me down instead of Braga, call it even.”

“I won’t let them,” Brian says stubbornly.

“What’re you going to do?” Dom asks, mocking. And that’s enough. The idea that Dom doesn’t take him at his word, doesn’t trust him enough to believe that Brian will go to the ends of the Earth, is too much.

“What I’ve always done! If you haven’t noticed, Dom, I’ve given up a hell of a lot for your team. You were fucking guilty, but I did it anyways. Lied to the LAPD, to the FBI. Blew my cover to save you guys, to save Vince’s life. Hell, I jumped onto a moving truck, no safety line. Shot a guy, gave up my car, my career. Almost landed in prison. Got chased out of this city. If you haven’t noticed, you all got away clean except me. I had everything I needed to arrest you all. Could’ve washed my hands of it, let the Feds take care of it, and yeah, gotten a promotion out of the deal. I didn’t. So fuck you if you think now, suddenly, Penning asking me to turn you in is what’s going to stop me!” His voice is getting loud, Brian realizes dimly. If, by some miracle, Letty and Mia had been asleep upstairs, they weren’t anymore.

Brian can’t stop it, though. Can’t stop it spilling out, all the things he’s wanted to say in his darker moments, all the things he’s kept back. The things he’d never say to Mia, because Mia deserved to yell at him and he doesn’t get to yell back.

But Dom—Dom’s different. God knows why: Brian knows his seeming betrayal had hurt Dom as much as anyone. Dom doesn’t trust easily, doesn’t trust much. Brian hadn’t done much to earn that trust. Brian Spilner and Brian O’Conner weren’t that different. But what he’d done, it had been enough. It had left a permanent scar across their relationship.

And yet Brian felt like Dom had betrayed him right back. It was stupid, because Dom never knew there was anything to betray. Still. Brian had put his job, his reputation, his name on the line, over and over, insisting that it wasn’t Dom. That Dom was too controlled, too smart, to do something so stupid as the truck jackings.

He’d been putting his head in the sand. He’d known, in his heart, that Dom was doing the jackings, that he was guilty and Brian should bring him in. He’d known for sure, that day at Neptune’s Net. Even if Dom hadn’t outright confirmed it, even if it wouldn’t have been enough for a judge, it should have been enough for Brian to pursue the lead, push for more. But he’d given them chance after chance, and let it all get away from him. And even when he’d known, he’d ignored his job, his duty. His brain, hard-wired for evidence and arrest and conviction, had suddenly shifted to minimizing damages and controlling fallout.

Brian was willing to die for Dom and his family, and he’d walked away—run away, more like—with nothing for his trouble.

They didn’t owe him, not a thing. He was a cop, it was his own dumb fault he bought into whatever thing Dom was peddling. But it still stings, when he allows himself to think about it in private moments.

So he lets go. Might be his only chance.

“Didn’t ask you to do any of that, Brian,” Dom says after a moment.

“Didn’t have to,” Brian shoots back, temper rocking back suddenly, that icy baseline, tempered and cooled but not going away.

“Why’d you do it, then?” Dom asks. He sounds calmer. Anger already burning out.

Brian pauses. Not sure if he can put this into words; God knows he couldn’t when he was talking to Mia.

It’s words he’s never really had to find before, meanings he’s never had to parse. He was fine with being a cop. Empty life, no one to go home to, no one caring if he came back or not except Tanner, maybe. It made him a good UC, not worried about who would be sad if he died, not worried about holding onto his identity. And if his life was pretty damn empty, well, he didn’t know any better.

Until the Torettos. Until the crazy, over-active, amped up life he stumbled into. Quiet moments with tuna sandwiches or in the garage, washing dishes for a family, grace and dinners and Coronas, long drives and…just people. There.

“‘Cause you guys were the first family I ever had,” he says, low, the honesty being dragged out of him. “And whether I’m actually a part of it or not, it doesn’t matter. I’m in this now. And I refuse to ruin it.”

Brian takes a deep, ragged breath. Can’t believe what he just said, how much ammunition he just gave Dom. If Dom’s still mad, he has everything he needs and then some to lash back. It’ll be easy, like low-hanging fruit.

Well, no one invited you in , Brian imagines. You’re not part of this family and never will be. Don’t need any Pigs here .

Instead, Dom looks still. Frozen. Like Brian’s somehow applied his icy touch, like the anger has well and truly blown over. Extinguished.

That’s the thing about Dom. It’s quick, it’s brutal, it’s out of control. Then it’s over, under control once more, unless you somehow make it boil over again.

“We should go to bed,” Dom says after a long, pregnant moment. “Figure it out in the morning.”

It’s closer to morning than not, but Brian doesn’t say anything. What he does say is, “Your shoulder.”

“Mia’ll help me with it,” he says, already turning away towards the stairs.

Brian bites his lip. He’d really like to use the bathroom, but he has a feeling following Dom upstairs is just asking for trouble.

 

Brian doesn’t sleep, just sits on the couch and thinks of what exactly sixty million dollars can buy. He could buy Dom a new life, away from here. New papers, new address, in the non-extradition country of his choice.

But that’s…if he wanted that for Dom, if Mia and Letty wanted that for Dom, they would have left him alone wherever the fuck he was.

Sixty million dollars is a hell of a leverage, he thinks. They can work with that.

Whoever is coming down the stairs doesn’t bother to avoid the creaky steps, making Brian turn.

Mia looks sleep-ruffled, hair still a mess, but she looks exhausted as well, dark circles under her eyes.

“Couldn’t sleep?” Brian asks.

He gets a ghost of a smile out of her, just the slightest quirk of her lips. “No. For some reason, shouting woke me up in the middle of the night.”

“Sorry. I, uh—”

“It’s okay,” she says. “Besides, after that, I was up anyways. Dom had a hole in his shoulder, remember?”

Brian winces.

“He wound you up good, huh?” She asks, actually coming over to sit on the other end of the sofa bed.

Brian tilts his head in her direction, not sure how much he should say, how far this goes. “Your brother has a pretty unique ability to piss me off,” he admits.

“We noticed,” Mia says wryly. “He gets under your skin.” She shrugs. “You get under his.”

Brian shifts. It’s true enough. No one makes him quite as angry as Dom. He doesn’t let them, has shut that down years and years and years ago, but Dom somehow worms his way under those defenses. It’s pretty fair, Brian figures; Mia isn’t lying when she says that Brian does it right back, sometimes.

“Been sitting on that a while, huh?”

“Maybe.” Brian frowns, thinking at what she probably heard. “I’m not…that’s not what I want you guys to think. That I feel that way. I don’t blame you guys. My choices.”

“Mhm,” Mia hums. She looks at him for a long moment. “You’re family, Brian. You know that, right?”

Brian huffs. “I’m not…”

Mia raises an eyebrow. “Only family would take the shitty deal you got for us. I might’ve wanted to kill you, Brian, but really…you walked the walk, when it came down to it.”

Brian just shakes his head. “Mia. Just ‘cause I’m here now, doesn’t mean you have to—”

“Shut up. Brian. Listen. You think any of us would’ve invited you back if you weren’t family?”

“You hate me.”

“No one you hate quite like family. Besides, it’s not hate …Brian, how you and Dom get each other going? That’s family. Only family can do that to each other.”

Brian shifts uncomfortably. “You guys don’t really sell that family thing, huh? You and Dom, all obligation and the people you hate the most.”

Mia smiles. “Yeah, well. You bought it anyways, huh, Brian? Now. I know you’re a shitty cook. But you can help me get breakfast together. I think whatever you and Dom have to say, it’ll go better with breakfast.”

So Brian, not really knowing what else to do, follows her to the kitchen.

 

After breakfast, Letty heads off to the garage after giving them all a long look, and Mia heads to class. As soon as they’re both alone, Dom makes the call to set up the deal.

“I don’t like being shot at,” Dom says wryly into the phone, and Brian all of a sudden has the urge to check out the wound from last night, even though he knows Mia’s the expert here.

Dom closes the phone, and just gives Brian a nod. Sixty million dollars in drugs, traded for one face-to-face meeting. It’s simple. It’s incredibly dangerous and has just as much a chance with ending with them both shot as it does with them both free, but overall, simple.

“Why aren’t you here right now?” Penning says as soon as he picks up the phone. “You better have one hell of an explanation. You disobeyed a direct order. Where’s the shipment?”

“It’s safe.”

“Safe?”

“Safe,” Brian repeats firmly, then fills Penning in on the plan, like he’s the one who gives the orders here. Doesn’t matter. Brian can feel the writing on the wall: however the rest of this plays out, his time with the Feds is probably pretty much done. Might as well get as much mileage as he can out of it first.

“There’s a price,” Brian says.

“Of course there is.”

“Same one as before. We bag Braga, you let Toretto walk.”

There’s silence on the line for a minute. “You know the difference between a cop and a criminal?”

Brian swallows. Sure he does. “No, Sir.”

“One bad decision. Keep that in mind, huh, son?”

“Sure thing,” Brian says, as lightly as he can. Lets it roll off of him: whatever Penning might say, whatever Brian’s better judgement might know, decisions made for Dom won’t ever be a bad one. “We have a deal?”

"Goddammit. Fine. We have a deal. Braga for Toretto.”

 

“The good news is, once we get this guy, you’re a free man.”

“Is that what they told you?”
“Yeah.”

“You still put milk and cookies out for Santa Claus?”

Brian grits his teeth. Dom doesn’t mean it, he thinks. Needling him. Under his skin. Trying to feel Brian out.

Family, Mia said.

“I told you before, Dom,” he says, offering his car keys. “I ain’t letting it go any other way.” He holds the key to the Impreza out insistently. “In case things go shitty.”

“Like old times?”

Brian swallows. Doesn’t want to think about Dom driving away again. Won’t stop him, though, if it comes to that. “Yeah,” he says.

 

The actual meet is a disaster, but not on their end. Fucking Stasiak, jumping the gun. It should have been obvious, Dom and Brian weren’t making the ID for a reason , something was up, something weird.

Campos is Braga. Brian’s honestly kicking himself. He should have seen it coming. Asking Campos if he’d die for Braga, that little smirk, “ especially me.” How fucking obvious in hindsight.

Brian lets them haul him and the dupe Braga into the FBI building, watches Dom and Yasher and Campos all get away. At least Dom’s gone, he supposes, but he knows how much deep shit they’re in now.

“Do you have any idea how much trouble you’re in, O’Conner?” Penning’s voice is unyielding as he spells it out for Brian, just exactly how fucked they all are.

Brian did his job. He did everything he should have, he played by the rules, mostly. But he knows how this works. His op, him in the field. He’ll eat the failure so the higher-ups can feel good about themselves.

“He ain’t the first bad guy you’ve helped escape the law’s grasp.”

There’s only ever been one. Dom. And Brian hopes to God that Dom got away clean, wherever he want. That he’s not in an interrogation room down the hall, that they’re not going to spring that on him to leverage some cooperation he can’t give because he doesn’t know anything.

But of course. If this has to go bad, it’s real easy to make it look like it’s Brian O’Conner’s fault. Brian, who let a criminal go five years ago. Easy to trot out that record, remind everyone of the footage of the manhunt.

Hell, Brian’s got a juvie record, and, as sealed as it’s maybe supposed to be, he knows that’s always meant jack shit to law enforcement. It’d be easy. Brian O’Conner is a lifelong criminal. Wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s done it before. It’s his fault this bust went wrong.

“ —Off active duty,” Brian hears. He starts.

“What about Braga?”

“That’s no longer your concern.”

Brian swallows. He should listen to that. He has no reason to want Braga. No reason, that is, other than Braga being a criminal and screwing with them.

And maybe Dom’s freedom. Maybe.

They should have kept the drugs.

 

Brian gets a fucking expensive cab back to Echo Park. There’s an FBI car parked half a block away, unmarked and shitty and obvious as all hell. Brian bites his lip.

When he knocks, though, Mia opens the door and lets him inside. “He called,” she says quietly. “He’s at your apartment. They weren’t smart enough to stake out there.”

Brian nods, somewhat impressed that Dom thought of that. Wonders how he got in. Needs to stay for a few minutes, not just run out and lead them right to Dom, needs to wait for another damn cab to come get him. Thinks about what they’ll need. Starts moving, looking to gather up his few possessions.

Mia puts her hands on him, pushes at his shoulders until he’s facing her, stopped in his tracks. “Hey!” She snaps. “Talk to me!”

“What do you want me to say?”

“What happened?”

“The FBI screwed us, that’s what happened. And I’m not gonna let it stand. I promised Dom his freedom and I’m gonna get it.”

She looks him over, long and hard. “This thing you’re planning—it gonna be stupid?”

Brian shrugs. “Probably. I’m open to suggestions.”

She bites her lip. “You both come back, you hear me?”

“I hear you,” Brian says. “I’ll bring him back.”

“You’ll both come back.”

All Brian can do is nod. Seemingly satisfied, she turns away, letting him up from the pin of her stare.

Brian moves mechanically, looking to gather up what he needs, waste a few minutes so the FBI on the corner don’t think it’s weird, how fast he came and went.

He finds his duffle, still mostly packed. He fishes through it for the keys to his apartment, can’t find them. Well. That explains how Dom got in. “When’d Dom swipe my keys?”

“Couple days ago. He thought you were gonna bolt.”

It should be unsettling, but it’s not. Dom wanted him here. Brian was more than a means to an end.

It’s a tiny spark of warmth, but it’s almost enough to combat the churning in his gut left behind by everything else going on.

 

Dom opens the apartment door once he verifies it’s Brian. “They’ll send someone here sooner or later,” Brian says by way of greeting. “They’ll want to keep an eye on me.”

“They after you too?” Dom asks, eyebrow raised.

Brian shrugs, dropping his duffle on the floor. “I’m a pretty convenient scapegoat. Look at Brian O’Conner, he let another criminal go.”

Dom winces. “So, looks like we both need an escape hatch.”

“What we need is leverage,” Brian says.

Dom nods. A plan is born.

 

Letty drops off the Charger a few blocks away in an alley. They never even see her, just get the text message that it’s taken care of. Dom’s abandoned the Impreza, a few blocks in the opposite direction. He slides the key back to Brian, who pockets it without a word.

Dom calls Yasher—Giselle, he calls her, and Brian does have to admit that, after the meet that went bad, he gets it—and sets up a meet for them.

All of that done, all that’s left is to wait.

“You know this isn’t gonna be smooth,” Dom says.

Brian snorts. “When is it ever?”

“You know the FBI isn’t gonna just thank us for this.”

“They might have to. Braga, he’s a big deal. Legit. Our deal with Penning, there’s no reason that shouldn’t still stand.”

Dom looks at him like he thinks he’s an idiot, but then just shrugs. “Let’s hope you’re right.”  He paces the room for a moment, but Brian’s apartment isn’t really big enough for pacing, just one room to turn around in, like a tiger in the zoo. “Be a lot easier to just turn me in.”

Brian starts. “Hey, man, fuck you. I—”

Dom holds up a hand, placating, and Brian actually feels himself compelled to fall silent, to listen. “Not saying you would,” he assures. “Just, it’d be a lot easier.”

Brian doesn’t know what to say to that, how to respond. Sure, it’d be a lot easier. Lots of things were easier but it didn’t mean Brian did them.

“Keep wondering why you didn’t,” Dom admits. He’s walking towards Brian’s pathetic little kitchen, mostly used for the coffee machine and microwave.

“I told you, I couldn’t—”

“Family, yeah, I heard,” Dom interrupts, apparently determined not to let Brian finish a sentence tonight. “You did it for the family, not to tear us apart. Bri, you know shit all about family.”

Brian bristles, but Dom’s already turning around and giving him the little smirk, taking the sting out of it.

“Yeah, well,” Brian says, shrugging. “I’m learning.”

Dom just looks at him, thousand-yard stare that pins Brian in place, melts his insides a bit. Then he nods. “Guess we need a plan, then,” he says.

Brian swallows, follows Dom into the kitchen and fishes some beers from the fridge, about the only thing in there. He hands one over. “Yeah,” he agrees. “Guess we do.”

 

They sit at the border at dusk, looking over the hill. Brian leans against the front bumper of his car. “This is where my jurisdiction ends,” he notes. If he even has a badge anymore. Not that it matters, right then.

Dom holds up the little piece of paper, the last piece of their puzzle. “This,” he says, “is where mine begins.”

Neither of them make a move to go. It’d foolish, anyways, until the sun’s gone, to make a run at the border.

“You know, she’s right. This is practically suicide,” Brian says conversationally. “You want to run, right now—I wouldn’t stop you, wouldn’t blame you. Get across the border and just go.”

Dom gets very still. “And what’ll happen to you?” He asks.

Brian closes his eyes. Maybe nothing. They can’t prove much. Maybe everything.

No offer to go with Dom, though. Dom’ll take the escape hatch, and leave Brian in his dust, and Brian should be well used to it. He can pick up the pieces of his life. He’s done it before. He’ll do it again.

“I’m not running,” Dom asserts. “Not anymore.”

Brian swallows. “What changed?”

Dom’s mouth twists into a small smile. Deep thought, Brian thinks, wishes Dom would share, but he only gets one word. “Family.”

Dom comes over and leans on the hood next to Brian, hips practically brushing. “You wanna run?”

Brian snorts. “Where’d I even go, man?” He asks, and that seems to be enough. They wait for sun to set, and then make their way across the border.

Chapter Text

It’s a long drive to Braga. Brian isn’t tired, though. He’s amped up, wired. It’s always like this for him, when the adrenaline and tension is high.

Dom seems pretty much the same, no sign of the strain of the last few days in his posture or his eyes. They pull up to the little town and make their way to the church where Braga’s guys are standing out front.

“A church?” Brian mutters as they slip around back.

Dom shrugs. “God’s forgiveness can be a powerful thing.”

Brian looks at the back door dubiously. “God ain’t that forgiving,” he says, although Dom’s the religious one between them. Brian wouldn’t know God if he showed up in front of him, never said a prayer in living memory until Toretto family dinners.

Once the door is open, they’re dead silent, waiting for the priest to leave.

Dom steals up behind Braga. “You ain’t forgiven,” he says.

Braga looks up, and Brian doesn’t know why he didn’t peg Campos’ smug face as the cartel leader sooner. “You boys looking to arrest me?” He asks.

The conversation goes back and forth, and Brian just watches, gun cocked.

“You and me, we’re a lot alike,” Braga asserts, smirking. “You’re no hero.”

“You’re right,” Dom says to Braga. “And that’s why you’re going back across the border.” He grabs Brian’s cuffs and cuffs Braga, hauls him up. “Let’s go.”

Back out the back door, Braga’s employees none the wiser, shoving him in the passenger’s seat of the Impreza, and Brian has a brief moment to hope that this might even be easy. After everything, they maybe deserve a little bit of easy.

Braga turns to him, smug smirk in place. “You’ll make it a couple miles out, if you’re lucky,” he warns.

Brian grits his teeth, and knows it’s probably true.

 

When it’s all said and done, when the cars are destroyed, Fenix is dead, Braga’s still cuffed, half-dead, and they’re back on the US side of the border, Brian allows himself to rest.

Flop, is more like it. Flop back on the sand and scrub, because he doesn’t have the energy for much more.

There’s a hole in him now. Dom’s by his side, hand on him. “Keep pressure there,” he orders, voice unbelievably gentle as he presses.

It hurts like a motherfucker. Brian grits his teeth and adds his own hand.

“You’ll be okay,” Dom says, voice low and soothing. He presses a little harder.

“You gotta go,” he whispers. “Dom, you gotta run.” He doesn’t think he’s imagining hearing sirens coming.

“I’m not running,” Dom says.

Brian can half-manage a laugh. It hurts. “Dom. We got Braga but I don’t…I don’t trust them to keep their deal. Let me work out your pardon. Go.”

Dom shakes his head. “Told you I wasn’t running and I meant it,” he says. “Listen to me, Brian. I ain’t leaving you behind again, okay?”

Brian vaguely registers Dom’s free hand coming to grip Brian’s free hand. The squeeze is tight, the fingers and palm calloused, and Brian wishes he was more alert to take this in.

Unfortunately, his attention is split three ways; the wound in his gut, the sirens growing closer, and Dom.

“What’s your plan, then?” Brian challenges. “Dom, even if…even if everything goes right, if they take Braga and give you your pardon…where the hell do I fit in?”

Both of Dom’s hands tighten, the squeeze of Brian’s hand almost making up for the pressure in his gut. “Always room for family,” he says.

“Family,” Brian repeats, half-disbelieving.

“New lesson, Bri,” Dom says, half a smile on his face, lighting up his eyes. “Since you’re learning all about family. Family don’t run out on each other.” Dom squeezes his hand once more. “And I only make mistakes once.”

Brian’s breath catches; hard to tell if it’s the injury or the words, but he’s pretty sure it’s Dom’s words.

The sirens are getting closer now. Brian closes his eyes, but Dom squeezes him until he gets the hint and opens them again. “I’ll take care of it,” Brian says muzzily. “I’ll make sure you get taken care of.”

Dom squeezes his hand again. It’s pretty nice, Brian thinks. His thoughts are getting a little fuzzy, but he knows that that’s nice. That he likes it. Wishes it wouldn’t stop. “Let me worry about you for the next few minutes, huh?”

Brian’s head rolls, kind of listless. “I gotta ask you a question.”

“Shoot.”

“You know, if you hadn’t cheated, I would have won, right?”
Dom’s hand leaves his, and Brian almost whines at the loss. It’s on his face a second later, though, ostensibly to tilt his chin so he’s looking directly at Dom, but Dom’s leaves his hand there, thumb rubbing back and forth on Brian’s jaw. “You hit your head hard,” is all he says, all serious except for the slight smile around his eyes.

Brian laughs, winces when that makes his whole body burn. “Don’t make me laugh,” he says.

Dom keeps rubbing along his jaw. “Just relax.” He turns to look over his shoulder. “Help’ll be here in a second.”

 

When the Feds arrive, Dom stands up from Brian, squeezing his shoulder just once as he moves. He puts his hands behind his head the first time he’s asked, doesn’t say anything, makes no trouble.

“Get him help,” Brian hears. “I’ll go with you if you get him help.”

Dom’s led to the back of some agent’s piece of shit car. Brian’s loaded into a medical chopper. Brian doesn’t see where Braga’s put, but, at this rate, he doesn’t really care.

 

Brian wakes up in a hospital, sewn up and doped up. Mia is there. “Dom?” Is the first word he manages to get out. His memory is fuzzy, but the image of Dom being led away in cuffs is crystal clear.

Slightly less clear is everything that came before, and Brian isn’t sure if he imagined it all—that warm, rough hand on him, Dom’s eyes inexplicably gentle—or not. God, he hopes not.

Mia starts. “He’s in jail,” she says tonelessly. “County. They’re arraigning him tomorrow.”

So he hasn’t been in the hospital that long, then. But even that thought is drowned out by the throbbing anger, the painful, sharp swell of disgust .

He did it again. Made promises he couldn’t keep, and look where the Torettos ended up this time.

“Sorry,” Brian says, squeezing his eyes shut to get himself back together. He heaves a deep breath, which sets off another round of throbbing pain, but it all just centers him. “I’m not gonna let it stand.”

“Brian—“

“I promised you all,” Brian interrupts. “I promised him.”

“He said you told him to run,” Mia interrupts him right back, never one to share the air time when she has something to say. “He said you told him and he chose not to. That he wasn’t running anymore.”

“You’ve talked to him?”

“One phone call. And he used most of it to check up on you. And apologize.”

Brian winces. “We’ll—does he have an attorney?”

“Not yet.”

“We’ll get him one, then,” Brian says, thinks of his savings, FBI salary going largely unspent. No car to spend it on, no family to support. “The best. And I’ll…I’ll start working out a plan.”

“Brian, what are you going to do?” She asks.

Brian looks at her, really looks, gets his eyes locked on hers. “Whatever it takes.”

 

Brian is not a planner by nature. He lives his life a quarter mile at a time, watches the pieces fall into place and then improvises, which he does better than most.

Well, the problem they’re facing now is a little more than a quarter of a mile, and the pieces haven’t fallen into place yet. But they still need a plan. For Dom, Brian makes an exception.

He checks out AMA—Against Mia’s Advice, because not a single one of the doctor’s has a thing on the look Mia Toretto is shooting him when he signs the paperwork—then, docile, lets Mia drive him back home.

Her home. Whatever. He’s a little fuzzy, still, from the drugs.

Letty’s there waiting, all tension and sharp lines and anger coiled so tight it’ll explode the minute she’s given half a chance. “What the fuck happened to your precocious pardon?” She snaps at him, but she’s looking somewhere over his shoulder even as she does it, like  she’s looking for another target to latch onto, a fight, maybe.

Brian tries to keep his gait even as he walks over to the couch, but isn’t too proud to sit, even if it leaves the both of them towering over him. “That’s what I want to know,” he says. “We got Braga.” He shoots Mia a look. “We got Braga, right?”

She nods. “It’s been all over the news.”

Brian makes an expansive, there you go gesture. “So it should be a wash, at this point.” They broke—well, they broke quite a few laws in getting Braga, Brian’ll admit that much. But they caught a drug lord. The FBI had bent more for less in the past.

“I need to get to work,” Brian says, pushing to his feet and wincing.

“Can you even walk?”

“Enough,” Brian says. He pauses a moment, realizing that he doesn’t have a set of wheels. His own personal shitty car is probably still in Tijuana, if not in pieces. The Skyline is a burnt out husk, the Impreza a block of useless metal now.

Shit. The Charger. One thing to add to his nebulously forming to-do list, he supposes.

“I need a ride,” he admits.

 

Brian storms through the FBI with as much gusto as he can, considering the wound in his side barely held together with stitches.

“What the fuck,” he says by way of greeting, opening Penning’s office door.

He’s beyond cool, left it in the rearview probably somewhere around the U.S.-Mexico border. The ice is melting, rage and intensity lighting up his nerves, and Brian can’t bring himself to care.

“O’Conner. You’re still on administrative leave—“

“Fuck that. I wanna know why my guy, who was promised a pardon , is sitting in County.”

Penning blinks. “Neither of you were anywhere even approaching an FBI sanctioned operation when you brought Braga in. People are dead, O’Conner. Toretto is a criminal. The terms of the deal—”

“Braga’s men are dead,” Brian says, cutting right across Penning. “Because they shot at us. We got you your drug lord. Let Toretto go.”

Toretto , because he’s a professional. Because he’s a professional making objective statements about a case. Not Dom . Not let Dom go , like he so desperately wants to say.

“He’ll have his day in court,” Penning says, unrepentant. “I imagine you and I will both speak on his behalf.”

“Are you this much of a bastard?” Brian demands. “He nearly died completing this job for you, like we asked , and we go back on our promises.”

“You remember the difference between a cop and a criminal?” Penning asks again.

Brian grits his teeth. “One bad decision.”

“You’ve made some pretty questionable decisions, lately, O’Conner. Make the right one now. Trust the law. Trust that it’ll work things out for Toretto.”

Brian nearly shouts at him to fuck the law, fuck the process . Nearly tells him to consider this his resignation.

Keep your cool, Brian. That’s your meal ticket .

He swallows it back down. An FBI agent can testify on Dom’s behalf. Act as a character witness. Talk about how instrumental Dom was to bringing down Braga.

An FBI agent, come to think of it, can do a lot of things. Things that might be useful, in this half-formed plan of Brian’s.

He stands. “Guess I’ll go be on administrative leave, then,” he says, and walks out.

 

He almost leaves, but stops by Trinh’s desk on the way out. “Hey,” he says.

She drops the folder she’s flipping through. “I thought you were in the hospital.”

“They let me out,” he says, stretching the truth slightly. “Look. I’m on leave, still, but I wanted to ask a favor.”

“Of course. Name it. Whatever I can do.”

She’s always been helpful. Too helpful now, maybe, biting her lip and waiting. “I need…the scene, when they brought Braga in. If they’ve started excavating those tunnels. There’s probably the mangled body of a ‘70s Charger down there, and I want it back.”

Her eyebrow raises, but she nods. “I’ll earmark it for you,” she promises. “Anything else?”

“Yeah,” he says, takes a guess at what’s going on with her. “You’re not responsible for the bust going bad, okay? That one’s all Stasiak.”

She deflates, like her strings have been cut. “Yeah, okay,” she mutters. Then, “see you around, I guess, Brian.”

And, despite the fact that she just promised to get the car to him, it almost sounds like goodbye. Not like she won’t keep her promise, just like she seems to know something’s changed. That he won’t be back.

 

Next is the lawyer. Brian does his research, pays the guy an obscene amount of money, then lays as much of the story out as he’s comfortable with. Because he’s not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Brian’s uncomfortably aware of what Penning said, of how true it probably all is, how many lines he’s crossed, how many bad decisions he’s made. Brian’s been a good cop, a good agent. A little impulsive, maybe. Doesn’t play nice with others. But he knows where the line is and he doesn’t cross it. Except for Dom, and even laying out the times he’s crossed it as evasively as he is here is a stark picture.

The lawyer just blinks at him. “So, you’re an FBI agent paying the legal fees for your former mark?”

“Dom’s…family,” he says slowly, not thinking too hard about it even as he can’t help thinking very hard about it. “And he doesn’t deserve to go down for this. He kept his end of the bargain.”

Brian expects some sort of reaction. Expects the guy to think he’s off his rocker, but all he does is nod and start handing Brian paperwork. When Brian asks, he shrugs. “You’d be surprised,” is all he says, and, well, Brian can work with that.

Brian checks one more thing off his list.

 

Dom’s formally charged. It doesn’t look good. Brian sits in the courtroom, watching Dom and the lawyer, watching Dom enter his not-guilty plea.

They’re really reaching here, all the way back to the truck jackings. Hauling out the old warrants, the statements they’d managed to get out of that truck driver in exchange for his immunity five years ago, the destroyed Civics left on the side of the road, covered in prints and DNA and irrefutable proof Dom had been part of the truck jackings.

Obstruction of justice, illegal border crossing, grand theft and receiving stolen goods, a thousand other things. Brian listens to the list read with his fist clenched in his lap.

Then, to add insult to injury, the judge denies bail. Seems to think Dom’s a flight risk. Brian wants to shout that he’s never been less of a flight risk in his life. If Dom wanted to be gone, he would’ve been gone before they got near him with the cuffs. He chose to stay.

Brian bites his lip to keep his cool, to keep from shouting out at the massive injustice of it all.

They irony is, it’s all true. Dom is guilty as sin on nearly every count, but none of this should matter. They should all be at the house at this point. Maybe at DT’s, for Dom.

Dom makes eye contact the entire time he’s escorted out. Brian holds his gaze. It’s the least he can do.

 

The body of the Charger has to be towed back, and it really doesn’t even deserve to be called a car, right then. Still, Brian knows when a car has good bones, and this car has good bones. It’s overwhelming, though, figuring out exactly where to start, how to turn this into a car , into Dom’s car , again.

Letty, thankfully, solves the issue. “Ain’t gonna get fixed standing around,” she says, and so the two of them tackle the project, whenever she can get away from the day-to-day stuff at DT’s.

 

Mia visits Dom every chance she gets. Letty goes a handful of times. Brian rations his visits, careful, like they’re a precious resource to be savored. Or, more likely, like the prosecution will definitely bring it up at the trial if Brian looks overly invested.

“Hey, Bri,” Dom says at the end of one of Brian’s trips to County. “Make sure you take care of them, alright? Mia’s not even done with school yet, and—“

“Don’t talk that way,” Brian snaps. With a wounded sound, a sharp tap of his foot, he continues, “Don’t you fucking dare, Toretto, I—“

“Someone’s gotta be a realist.”

Brian grits his teeth. “I promise,” he offers from between them, then gets up and leaves.

 

“Hey, Letty,” he says, over the slowly re-emerging Charger. “I need you to put out some feelers for me.”

“What’re you looking for?” She asks, picking her head up to look at him. Clearly exhausted, bags under her eyes from long days and double-duty at night with him on the Charger, she still gives him her full attention.

“Cars that’ll be a little harder to trace,” Brian says. “Think the Civics from the truck jackings.” Because they need anything that’ll make it a little harder to see them coming, if it comes to that.

He puts one hand on the hood of the Charger. Except for her. He wants the FBI to know, know this is because they went back on their word, fucked him over. That they could have avoided everything if they treated Dom with the respect he deserved.

She considers. “Just in case?”

“Just in case,” Brian agrees.

“You know those’ll cost you.”

Brian thinks of his dwindling funds, between the legal fees and the Charger and everything else they’ve planned, thinks that it does not matter one bit. “Go for it.”

She huffs, her lips curling up into a smile before she gets back to the car. “You know, pretty sure we were wrong about you, Buster.”

“Oh yeah?” Brian asks.

“Well, you definitely ain’t a cop anymore,”

And Brian…can’t really argue that. Finds that he doesn’t want to.

 

The cars show up a few days later. Letty keeps them at DT’s, writes up fake work orders for them and everything, just in case someone comes snooping around.

Brian visits Dom again and has to pinch his own thigh hard enough to bruise to keep himself from saying anything. The trial is coming up, and Dom doesn’t seem any more optimistic than he had last time.

“What’re you going to do next?” Dom asks him, conversational, like they’re at lunch somewhere.

Well, Dom , Brian thinks, that depends on whether this ends with you free and clear or us all as wanted criminals. Way I see it, though, those are the only two options .

He tilts his head and says nothing.

 

They finish the Charger. Letty and Brian step back to admire their work, all matte black paint and American steel and that mean, mean look. Letty runs a finishing cloth over the hood.

Brian feels the strange urge to kiss the car. Not that he hasn’t gotten weird pseudo-sexual urges about cars before—wires get all crossed, somewhere, for guys like Brian—but this feels different. Dom’s car, restored to them. A good omen, maybe, that Dom’ll be restored to them soon too.

“Think we’re ready,” Brian says softly.

Letty snorts. “You don’t do anything halfway, do you?”

Brian wants to point out that this is a pot, kettle situation, that she just rebuilt a car from the ground up for her ex-husband, that she’s planning to leave everything behind, orchestrate a jailbreak, leave the country for the same man. In comparison, Brian doing the same for Dom doesn’t seem like that much.

Dom’s just like that, Brian figures. Gravity, Mia said. Pulls you to him, can’t help it. And Brian isn’t exactly trying very hard to help it anymore.

 

Penning gives good enough testimony, explains what a big deal Braga was, how many millions of dollars of drugs he pumped into American streets, how Dom had helped bring him down, was undoubtedly critical to doing so.

Penning’s testimony is good. Brian’s should get Dom off, an apology from the Governor, and, hell, probably a medal or something.

That lawyer he’s paying so much goddamn money for proves his worth. Plays up Brian’s good side, makes him look like a law-abiding, accomplished LEO who puts bad guys away. Brian’s got enough commendations under his belt that it works. If that guy says Dominic Toretto deserves a pardon, who the hell is going to argue?

Brian can’t help it. He looks at Dom as he testifies. Dom stares back.

But the worst part is, when it’s all over, Brian isn’t really sure if he made a difference or not.

 

“Mia,” he says, the night before the verdict is to be read. Everyone’s tense. Dinner has been silent again, quick, forks banging because no one’s particularly careful. They shouldn’t have rushed so much. Now they have nothing to do, and many hours left to fill. The work’s done, the cars prepped, everything ready, no matter how it goes tomorrow. And no one’s sleeping tonight. “Mia, you know…if we go through with this, there’s no coming back. No changing your mind. No more med school, no more cafe, this house, your friends. None of it. Are you sure—“

“Shut up, Brian,” she interrupts, and he does.

 

Brian holds absolutely still while the verdict is read, Mia on one side of him and Letty on the other. He barely lets himself breathe.

Mia buries her face in his shoulder, and Brian brings his arm up automatically around her. Anyone else, it would look like he was comforting a grieving sister. Probably plays into the ideas a lot of them have about him, that Brian’s here because of Mia.

Brian knows better, though. She’s not crying, not grieving. She’s angry , goddamn angry at the system that failed them all so dramatically.

Brian untangles himself from her and gets up to walk out. He has work to do.

He can feel Dom’s eyes boring into his back, and wishes that he could signal that it’ll all be okay.

 

Brian looks around the house. Mia’s taken some of the photographs, late last night, and packed them in a box that goes into the back of the Civic. Some of their parents, some of them as a family, some of the team, before everything got ruined. Everything else is essentially undisturbed.

It already feels like a mausoleum, empty and a little cold in a way it never had been. The house is owned outright, Brian knows; Mia had told him, when they’d been hashing out details. It’ll probably just sit here, a weird memorial to what once was, after the FBI is done combing through it.

Brian shivers, then leaves through the back, locking up behind himself.

Then he goes over to the garage, rolls the Charger out. He feels the power of that car under his hand, bucking a little wildly. It doesn’t really belong to him and wants him to know it, he thinks.

Well, they’ll have Dom back soon enough, he thinks with a pat to the steering wheel.

 

It’s like they rehearsed this, they run so smooth. Brian uses his badge to subtly poke around, getting access for the prison bus route. They come on the bus right where they should, right when they should, Brian in the lead, Mia, Letty, and Tego and Rico behind him. They get into formation, head off the bus, cause the crash.

Brian’s the only one who gets out of the car. Not that he thinks the others will escape suspicion, but if his is the only face that gets made, so much the better.

He has Dom out of his chains in less than a minute, bolt cutter crunching through the chains between his cuffs while Dom gapes at him like a fish. The cop in Brian wants to take the bolt-cutters with him, leave the criminals for the LEOs to find. The criminal in him wants to make some chaos to cover their asses and, right now, the criminal wins. He leaves his bolt cutters in grabbing distance to the guy who was next to Dom, then takes Dom and runs back to the Charger, sliding back into the driver’s seat and hitting the gas the second Dom’s seated, his door not even fully closed yet, tearing off down the highway.

Chapter Text

“What the fuck ?” Dom asks, staring around wildly as Brian accelerates away from the scene of the crash. There’ll be enough chaos there that it’ll take a while for them to sort out exactly what happened, exactly who’s missing, but every second counts right now.

“Told you I’d take care of you,” Brian says, taking the wheel one-handed so he can reach into the back. “Change,” he orders, handing Dom a pile of clothes Mia packed for him.

Dom does, slowly, and Brian can’t tell if it’s shock or it’s just legitimately hard for a guy Dom’s size to change clothes in a car like this. Prison orange gets tossed out the window, jeans and worn-in t-shirt slid on, Dom straining his body in the seat to get the jeans over his hips, and Brian tries not to watch. Reluctantly, Dom slides the stupid Dodgers cap Brian picked out at some street corner vendor the other day onto his head, hopefully obscuring his recognizable bald head and face a little bit.

“How…?”

“What, you weren’t expecting this?” Brian jokes, but it falls kind of flat as Dom keeps just staring at him. “C’mon, Dom. We weren’t going to let them do that to you.”

“Who’s we?” Dom asks, eyes narrowed as he finally seems to catch up.

Brian looks in his rearview, making out the collection of cars just behind him. “Letty, your friends Tego and Rico. Mia.”

“Mia? Brian—”

“You tell her no when she’s made her mind up about something,” Brian says flatly. “She wasn’t letting you go again, Dom. If you decided no more running so you could be a family, she decided running’s just fine with her if it’s the only option left.”

Dom huffs, letting the air out of his lungs long and slow. “Fine,” he allows, settling back into the passenger’s seat. “What’s the plan?”

“Plan?” Brian asks, eyes on Dom instead of the road. “We’re gonna get over the damn border and run as far as we have to, Dom. That’s the plan.” Dom’s jaw works and Brian relents. “Glove box. New papers for us. We’re fast enough, we’ll beat the APB.”

Not if we’re fast enough. They are . They will be. Brian’s timed them, run the numbers, and there’s no room for error.

Dom nods, rummages through the glove box and pulls them out, flipping through the passports with half his attention. “And the others?”

“Same deal,” Brian says.

“You all thought this through? You can never go back, you know.”

Brian huffs. “No shit,” he says. He pauses. “I left my badge and gun on the kitchen table when I left this morning. Mia picked up what she wanted at the house, Letty picked someone to leave in charge of DT’s. We’ve been planning this since the day I woke up in the hospital. Dom, we’re sure.”

Dom makes eye contact with him for a long, pregnant moment, then nods once, short and sharp. “Alright,” he says. “Let’s get to the border again.”

 

Getting through goes fine, and Brian tries not to show that he holds his breath the entire time. Dom beside him doesn’t seem much better.

They don’t get more than a second glance, though, not among the crowds of tourists and commuters going over around them, so the APB must not be out yet, or at least Dom’s name in particular not flagged. It’s all Brian can do to not floor it as soon as they’re on the other side. No sense in sending up any more red flags than they already have.

Brian drives for another thirty minutes or so before he signals the others, one quick honk to get their attention, then his turn signal to turn off at a gas station.

Brian, Letty, Tego and Rico end up filling the cars while Mia grabs her brother like she’s never going to let go again. Dom holds her back, kisses her hair, and, when Brian catches sight of Dom’s face, he feels his heart break.

Dom truly never thought he’d get to do this again. Twenty-five to life, no possibility of early parole, three visits a month if he’s well-behaved and a lackluster hug permitted only if a guard is feeling generous.

Brian’s hesitant to break them up, so he leaves Rico to keep a lookout while they go to pay for the gas—cash only, now, for the foreseeable future, cash is king and they all drained every last cent out of their bank accounts before they left—and load up on food and water.

They’re still holding each other, talking now, and Brian hesitates. Letty, thankfully, has no such hesitation. She gets into her Civic and leans on the horn, shouting at them in Spanish to get a move on.

Laughing and flipping her off, they do.

When he approaches the Charger, Brian holds out the keys to Dom.

“You keep doing this,” Dom says, a small smale breaking up the too-grim expression Brian’s seen on Dom as of late.

Brian swallows. He’ll keep doing it, too. However often he as to.

Although, as he slides into the passenger’s seat next to Dom, he hopes it ends this way from now on.

 

Dom lets Letty take the lead, since she knows where she’s going. He paces her, but it seems like it only takes a fraction of his attention, because it keeps wandering, around the car, out the window, onto Brian.

Brian, for his part, is restless even as he tries not to show it. He’s not good at being a passenger, and, even as much as he trusts Dom, as happy as he is to be sitting here, he is too keyed up on adrenaline to really do this right now.

“You need to calm the hell down,” Dom says, eyes apparently good enough to spot Brian losing it even if he tries not to show it.

“Can’t. Too wired.”

They’re not stopping, and Dom doesn’t have to tell him that. Letty’s taking them down along the 2. The goal is to make Hermasillo by nightfall and, short of bathroom and gas breaks, there won’t be any stops.

It takes something extraordinary to encourage Mexico to extradite, but they aren’t going to be taking any risks with this one.

“Then talk to me or something.” Dom taps his thumb against the wheel while talking, and Brian doesn’t know if it’s his way of distracting himself or just enjoying the car.

“About what?” Brian asks.

“About yourself, Brian, fuck.”

Dom says it like it’s obvious, but it’s really not. It’s really kind of out of left field, honestly. “You know everything about me,” Brian protests.

Dom takes his eyes off the road to give him one hell of a disbelieving look. “I know exactly four things about you, Brian.”

Brian scoffs. “Not true.”

“I know your name—is Earl really your middle name?—I know you like your stupid imports, I know you used to be a cop, and I know you are loyal to this family far past what most people would consider reasonable. Lots of gaps there, Bri.”

“You know more than that,” Brian mutters, although he’s not exactly a font of personal details. He knows it, too. It’s good practice for an undercover agent, but Brian’s made it a habit longer than that. It’s no one else’s business. “I don’t know what you want to know,” he admits. “I’m not good at this.”

The highway opens up, and Letty picks up speed. Dom follows suit, and it’s silent for just a moment. “I’ll ask then,” Dom says.

“What, like twenty questions?”

Dom gives him the side-eye. “Yeah, but I figure, since you know everything ‘bout me, I’m owed a few more than twenty.”

“I don’t know everything about you,”

“Feds give you a file on me?”

“Yeah,” Brian admits. “Memorized one on each of you before I went under the first time.”

“There you go, then. Where’d you actually grow up?”

“Barstow,” Brian replies automatically, because Dom’s gravity and giving into him is so easy. It wasn’t that hard a question, yet.

“Nice there?”

Brian shrugs. “I guess.”

Dom seems smart enough to not press for more information, just ask more questions. “Who’d you live with?”

“Dad and Mom ‘til I was three or so. After that, Mom and me ‘til I was thirteen. Step dad in there when I was seven.”

“And then?”

“Foster home, foster home, foster home, juvie, group home, aged out.”

“What happened?”

“Dad walked out. Step dad wrapped the car around a tree. Mom and him died on impact.”

Dom winces. “Sorry.”

“Long time ago,” Brian says. Not like they’d been one big, happy family then, either.

“Juvie was real then?” Dom asks, and it probably says something about Brian that he’d rather talk about juvie then his parents.

“Oh, shit, yeah. Two years, for boosting cars. Probably could have been released earlier, but…well…” Brian gestures to himself self-deprecatingly. “I got a lot of shit and I didn’t take it lying down too well. Lots of fights.”

“You win?”

“Most of them.” Enough, anyways.

“Good. Why a cop?”

Brian’s silent for a while, probably too long. Dom doesn’t get impatient, though. Just waits him out. “Thought, if I was a cop, I’d be able to protect people from assholes like my step-father,” he admits, very quiet. “And, you know. Protect myself, maybe.”

It’s like dragging broken glass out of his throat, to say it, but Dom doesn’t poke at the wounds, even if Brian thinks he probably wants to.

Brian continues on, tries to make his voice light, which is to say, it comes across like a lead balloon. “Stupid. Wrong career path for that. I wanted to look out for kids, I should’ve gone into social work or something. I know better now.”

Dom lets the silence hang for a moment, before asking, “Favorite food?”

Brian latches onto the easier question like the lifeboat it undoubtedly is. “I’ll eat anything,” he starts. “Kids like me didn’t get to be picky. Long as there’s no peanuts. Which sucks, ‘cause let me tell you, adding some PB&J to my Ramen diet would’ve been nice, back in the Academy.”

“You’re allergic to peanuts,” Dom says flatly.

“Yeah?” Brian asks, the ‘so?’ implied. He’s aware. Like, bone-deep aware, like his mother drilled this fact into his head when he was still a toddler. He’s allergic to peanuts. He can’t trust other people to know that, so he has to make sure to avoid them. As he got older and the adults around him kept shifting, that became critical.

“Full-on allergic? Like, can’t breathe, need a hospital?”

“Yeah?” Brian says again.

“You have one of those pen things?”

“Not on me,” Brian says. “I actually don’t know the last time I carried one.” He’s been prescribed an epipen, but it doesn’t work well with the undercover angle, and he’s moved a lot.

“You didn’t ever think this would be good information for us to have?” Dom accuses, voice still oddly flat. “Didn’t think we’d need to know?”

“I’m an adult, think I can figure out what not to eat.”

“That’s not the point,” Dom rumbles. “You practically lived in our house. We could’ve accidentally killed you!”

“It’s not that bad,” Brian protests. “Only way someone could really set me off by accident is kissin’ me or something, and that wasn’t happening, so…”

Dom smacks the steering wheel. “Any other medical conditions we should know about?” He demands.

“No,” Brian says, watching Dom’s hand, now settled back on the wheel, but tighter than it was before. Somewhere here, he fucked up. “I’m sorry.”

Dom exhales sharply. “You weren’t kidding. ‘Bout being bad at this.”

Well, that stings. “Yeah, well. I told you,” he says, turning a little towards the door, closing himself off.

Dom’s hand lands lightly on his shoulder. “Bri. If we’re gonna make this work. You gotta tell us things. And since I’m pretty sure leavin’ your badge behind and organizing a prison break kinda sticks you with us for the long haul, we gotta make this work.”

Brian, slowly, turns back out, opening his body towards Dom instead of to the door. He nods. “I’ll try.”

Dom huffs. “That’s all I ask. Bare minimum, don’t let us accidentally kill you. Pretty sure I’ve eaten peanut butter sandwiches in front of you before.”

He has. Brian remembers watching the whole spectacle very closely from the other side of the garage.

It’s silent in the car for a moment before Dom lobs him an easier one. “Tell me how you got the Charger back,” he says.

Taking the bait with relief, Brian does.

 

Letty honks and pulls off at a ramshackle motel just outside of Hermosillo not long after dark. Brian does the math in his head, runs over the map he’s memorized. Not bad, he thinks.

They check in and get two rooms—Tego and Rico don’t plan to stick around, Brian knows, were just here long enough to make sure they get away clean—before finding a place to eat.

Dom orders beers all around, which Brian finds particularly funny, considering Dom’s the only one without any money. Still, after grace is said by a nearly-tearful Mia, Dom holds up his beer and everyone follows suit. “To family,” he says gravely, and they all echo him before taking a drink.

Dinner is a messy affair, plate after plate being ordered, round after round of beer, a mix of fast Spanish Brian can only partially keep up with and English, laughter and choking back tears.

This feels more like a Toretto family dinner, Brian thinks. Sure, the old gang isn’t all here, but at least it’s not silent.

At one point, Dom leans over and asks, quietly, “You even speak Spanish?”

Brian snorts. “I was a cop in LA for five years before I moved to Miami, and you think I don’t speak any Spanish? I’m fine. Not fluent, but fine.”

Dom smiles. “Good. You can get the next round, then.”

Getting the next round doesn’t require much by the way of language skills, more like pointing and cash, but Brian returns to the table with another round of beers.

Thankfully, when the beers are done, they head back to the motel, hugging and shaking hands with Tego and Rico before they go inside. The girls take one room, leaving Brian and Dom the other.

Brian’s exhausted. Truly, utterly exhausted. Hasn’t been sleeping well in general, and he can feel it in his bones, the adrenaline crash from today catching up to him, so he flops onto the bed nearest the door, shoes and jeans and all.

Dom explores a moment, reminding Brian vaguely of a big cat pacing its cage at the zoo, before he grabs the bag Mia made him and goes into the bathroom, where the shower quickly turns on.

Brian groans. He doesn’t have to wash the stench of a cell off of him like Dom probably does, but a shower still sounds good. Too bad it would involve moving.

The water shuts, there’s some rustling, and Dom appears, leaning against the doorframe and arms crossed over his chest, once more dressed in a clean t-shirt and jeans. “You need to change, at least.”

Brian grunts, mutters, “make me,” into the pillow, and lets his eyes slide closed.

Which is why he’s more than a little surprised when Dom wrestles him upright, bare feet softened by the cheap carpet as Dom makes his way over to the bed and gets his arms around Brian, hauling him off the bed.

“Hey, man, screw you,” Brian tries, squirming slightly, tired and not wanting to put up too much of a fight.

Dom doesn’t want to hurt him either, just holds him still. “You said make you,” he points out, and without even seeing him, Brian knows he’s grinning, that grin that changes his whole face, makes it light up. That there’s something in the air, or maybe it’s the four or so beers they’ve both had. Maybe it’s being free in the middle of Mexico, or the last vestiges of adrenaline.

Brian turns into his grip, getting a better angle, and drops his center of gravity, throwing Dom off balance so Brian can get his arms around him right back.

They end up on the floor, wrestling, play-fighting, and they’re laughing through it, when Brian gets his legs around Dom because that’s what he does , he’s got these freakin’ long legs and, at some point, he figured he might as well learn to use them to his advantage. He has them wrapped around Dom’s middle, trying to gain the leverage to flip them, and Dom has Brian’s wrists pinned, clearly thinking that would give him the advantage, and they both freeze.

Neither of them are quite capable of letting go for a few seconds, frozen in time and space as the realization of their position sinks in. Finally, finally , Brian pulls himself together enough to drop his legs, and Dom releases his wrists.

“Get changed, seriously,” Dom says as he stands up, setting himself to rights, and, if he sounds curt, Brian tries not to read into it.

 

Thankfully, the moment seems to just be a moment, and the next morning, everything is normal again. Dom drives the Charger, and Brian sits in the passenger’s seat after a brief hesitation abruptly ended when Dom rolls the window down and barks out that Brian better not be waiting for a damned invitation.

They’re a couple miles down when Dom abruptly asks, “Why’d you become a Fed?”

Brian goes still. “We still playin’ twenty questions?”

“We at our destination yet?” Dom challenges and, fair enough. Might as well let Dom ask his questions.

“After I let you go, I ran. Ended up in Miami, was good for about a year. Feds caught me. They needed me to go undercover, needed a guy who could drive and knew what he was doing enough not to get himself shot. Offered to clear my record, like none of it ever happened. Otherwise, they were dragging me back to California and probably straight to Chino. Cleared a friend of mine, too, for our trouble. Well, I was just gonna go back to working at Tej’s garage, living on his stupid houseboat, surfing, racing on weekends, but it felt…empty. And, you’ve seen it, I get twitchy. Need the rush.”

“So you became a Fed,” Dom says neutrally.

“No rush quite like being a UC,” Brian says. “Plus, I’m good at it. You might’ve noticed I’m a liar, Dom. People like doing what they’re good at.”

Better to own your shit then let someone else feed it to you, Brian’s long since figured. Yeah, he’s a liar. He is. He’s good at it. There’s no one waiting for him at home and no one to call him on his shit, and he lies a little too well and uses it a little too frequently. It just is.

“You didn’t lie to us,” Dom says carefully.

“Huh?”

“You didn’t lie to us. Much,” Dom clarifies.

Brian snorts, even though he’s thought similar things before. “I lied left, right, and center, Dom.”

“Nah, you didn’t,” Dom says, voice confident and lazy, eyes drifting to Brian instead of the road. “Tell me what a lie was about then, and what was true. I’ll ask and you answer.”
Brian swallows. “Okay.”

“You mod that Eclipse yourself?”

An easy one to start. Brian’s sort of grateful. “Most of it. When the FBI handed it to me, there’d been some work done, but yeah, I did most of it.”

“You like Mia’s sandwiches?”

“When I told you I’d eat anything, I wasn’t kidding. And she was so surprised when I kept ordering them after that first time…it was worth it.”

“Was Mia…was the thing with her for the job, or…”

“You know, at first, I didn’t think she was serious?” Brian asks, trying to remember. God, it felt like a million years ago. Then again, yesterday felt like a million years ago at this rate. “Since she told me she doesn’t date your friends and basically asked me out to make a point to Vince.”

“Yeah,” Dom says.

“She was, though, or, well…I don’t know if you’d really call us serious but maybe it could have been. And I liked her. Not just for the job. You’d already let me in, at that point. I liked her a lot. ”

“And now?” Dom presses.

Brian swallows. This isn’t the line of questioning they were on. This isn’t what was real and what for for the job. He debates blowing Dom off, because he’s already had this conversation with Mia and that should be enough, right?

But this is Dom, and Brian doubts he’ll take that as an answer, and, really, way he figures it, he owes Dom the answers to a few questions, even hard ones.

“Mia says it’s like a ship,” Brian says. “And once it sails, that’s it. I think she’s right. Mia was perfect for Brian Spilner, probably pretty damn close to perfect for Brian O’Conner five years ago.”

“But not now.”

“No, not now,” Brian agrees. He’s not the same. None of them are. No use lying about it. “We’re both pretty okay with that. Friends.”

“Good,” Dom says. He focuses on the road for a second, which is somewhat ridiculous; there’s nothing so important about this stretch of highway that it needs any more than a minimal amount of attention. “How ‘bout the race? The raid, was that planned, coming to save me?”

Brian snorts. “No. Look, not gonna lie—I took advantage of it. But someone genuinely called it in, made a mess for us there. I got lucky, finding you so quick.” He looks at Dom, out of the corner of his eye. “I might’ve…played up that race a bit. Guessed at the kinda dumb kid you’d take under your wing.” Brian figures Dom’s already guessed this, but he’s not going to hold it back.

Dom nods. “Anything else planned, scripted?”

Brian thinks for a moment. “Nah. Not past the minute the race started. I tend to wing those things. Planning isn't really my style.”

“So, you weren’t from Arizona, your last name isn’t Spilner, you were a slightly less of a dumb kid than we thought, and you were a cop. That’s four lies, Bri. Not too bad.”

“Four big-ass lies.”

“Yeah,” Dom agrees, because he doesn’t sugar-coat things and Brian’s always liked that about him. “But, way I figure, you were pretty honest about the rest, so. I think we can call it even.”

It feels like benediction, like absolvement, and Brian has to turn his head to look out the window, in case Dom see whatever the hell is on his face right then.

 

When they stop for gas later, Mia says in that no-nonsense way that Dom’s riding with her. No one protests, except for Dom, who refuses to surrender the Charger.

Eyes rolling, Mia climbs into the passenger seat after tossing the keys to the Civic to Brian, who catches them gratefully.

As soon as they hit the road, Brian opens her up, buzzing past the others until they’re barely specks in his rearview, letting the car eat up the highway and settle some of the anxiety inside his heart.

 

When they stop for the night, they haven’t quite made it to Guadalajara, but that was a long-shot, anyways, Brian figured. Whatever they’re doing, they’re certainly managing to outpace any potential authorities, both American and Mexican, and right now, that’s good enough for him. It’s not like they have a specific end goal, or a time frame to follow.

They get motel rooms and end up at the halfway decent nearby restaurant. It’s slightly more subdued than the night before—adrenaline’s burnt off, now, and they’ve been driving for two days—but no less happy, Brian thinks.

Letty grins at him over her dinner. “You ever think you’d end up here, Buster?” she asks.

Brian huffs. “Ever since I met you all, I’ve stopped thinking about shit like that and just rolled with it,” he says. “Nothing about you all is predictable.”

“Damn right,” Letty says, seeming to take it as a genuine compliment, and, hell, who’s to say it isn’t?

“We need to start thinking about a destination that’s not just away from here ,” Mia says.

There’s silence around the table for a second. “Vince is in Brazil,” Dom says. “Could get ourselves started, maybe find a place to settle.”

Brazil is…a long fucking ways away, Brian knows, but hell, they have time. And a long fucking ways away doesn’t sound all that bad, when it comes down to it.

“Works for me,” Letty shrugs.

“We’ll need a place,” Mia says. “Somewhere we can settle.”

Dom nods. “Somewhere nice. For four.”

The others just take that in stride, like Dom’s stating the obvious, but something about it makes a little part of Brian glow inside. He should have known better: Dom’s already said he’s in this for the long haul. Dom stole his keys to keep him from running, trusted Brian a million times over, asked him to look after Mia. Dom doesn’t lie. Not about family; Brian’s learned that much.

“Where we gonna get the money?” Brian asks, instead of examining his constant need for reassurance. “We’ve got some left, but we’ve gone pretty dry getting ourselves this far. Unless someone’s got a secret Cayman's account they haven’t mentioned yet…”

Dom just grins knowingly at Letty, who, for the first time that Brian’s seen, smiles right back at him, unguarded and happy. “Yeah, Papi,” she says. “Nice to have you back.”

“We might know a trick or two,” is all Dom says.

It all sounds very illegal. The kind of illegal thing Brian might once have been inclined to at least consider stopping. But he looks around—he’s at some backwater Mexican restaurant with a group of criminals, after having just yesterday orchestrated a prison break himself. He thinks he can adapt.

 

Back at the motel, there’s no play wrestling, no fooling around, not even much talking. Brian catches a shower and changes, and Dom does the same.

They don’t talk as they fall asleep. Dom falls asleep first, and Brian finally falls under to the sound of his soft snores.

Chapter Text

Brian is woken up by the blankets being unceremoniously ripped off of him before the sun is even fully up the next morning. “What the fuck?” he mutters, still face down into the pillow.

“C’mon, up an’ at ‘em, I’ll flip the mattress if I have to,” Dom threatens. Brian believes him, and musters the will to push himself semi-upright.

Brian groans. “The girls already up or something?”

Dom ignores him, moving around the room and getting ready for the day while Brian pulls himself together. He reluctantly hauls his ass upright and out of bed, reaches for his bag left on top of the crooked nightstand—best way to avoid bugs, keep the bag sealed and elevated on a non-upholstered surface—and pulls out fresh clothes.

Why are we up at the asscrack of dawn?” Brian isn’t exactly someone who sleeps until noon, but when he has an opportunity, he does like to wake up on the right side of sunrise.

Dom’s still pacing. It’s not like his stuff is very spread out. He’s apparently as conscientious about bugs as Brian, or maybe he just keeps his stuff consolidated and at hand in case they have to leave in a hurry. He’s pacing, like a caged animal.

Brian, suddenly more awake, studies the room. It’s certainly bigger than a cell, but it’s still pretty closed off.

“At least write them a note,” Brian urges. “Slip it under their door. Tell them we’ll be back in an hour. If they don’t know where we are, they’ll freak.”

Dom jerks his head in agreement, and scribbles a note on the motel stationary while Brian gets dressed.

Dom slips the note under Letty’s and Mia’s door, then, to Brian’s astonishment, does not head for the cars. Instead, he takes off walking down the road, pace even and leisurely.

Brian huffs. Sure, Dom can definitely take care of himself. Still, it’s probably not the best idea, to walk down the side of the road in the pre-dawn light, in the middle of Mexico, in a town they have no familiarity with. Brian falls in beside him anyways.

“We have a destination in mind?” Brian asks after a minute or two, saying we like it’s we on this walk together, and not Dom, and Brian tagging along.

Dom grunts. “Coffee might be a start.”

Brian shrugs; he can work with that. Would like a cup himself. He feels his jeans pocket, thankful he dragged on the same pair as last night and still has some pesos in his pocket. “Good with me,” he says, and they return to silence.

It’s nice out here. Quiet, no traffic, no city lights. Just them, really, and isn’t that a kick in the head? The thousand times Brian wasn’t able to stop himself from thinking about Dom, about Dom leaving him behind—or Brian leaving him behind, really, Dom might have physically left first but the way it works out is a bit fuzzy—and wondering if they’d ever see each other again, and here they are. Hundreds and hundreds of miles away, on the run. Just them.

Brian gets a sudden flash of desert scrub, wrecked cars, pain in his gut, and Dom holding his hand. Cradling his face. It’s fuzzy but he knows it’s real, that his didn’t make this up. He quashes the sudden desire to reach out and grab Dom’s hand, just to see if it feels like in his memory. That would be weird. Too much. And, as wound as Dom is, liable to get Brian hit.

Brian can see a little shop up ahead, the corner market type that already has lights on. Good bet there’s coffee. He walks towards it and Dom follows.

Dom orders for them, ordering cups for them and Letty and Mia, but seems to shut down when Brian has to pay. Brian bites his lip, pays loose attention to the change he gets back and more to Dom, who’s staring off at the wall like it’s personally offended him.

Brian doesn’t know how to fix it. Dom wouldn’t take too kindly to being offered money of his own, no more than he does Brian and Mia and Letty paying now. Dom’s been making his own money, managing his own finances, since he left prison the first time. At least then, he had two businesses and a job to fall back on.

Mia might have more luck than Brian. Might be able to argue that, since they co-owned the businesses, half of everything she had to withdraw from her accounts was Dom’s anyways. Not that Dom’s paid into their accounts, these last few years.

A race might be good, Brian thinks. The Charger’s certainly more than up for it, and, if Brian can find one, he and Mia can front the buy in, let Dom pay them back and keep the winnings, give himself a little cushion so he doesn’t feel so dependent.

All Brian knows is, if he seriously thought he was one bus ride away from being locked up for twenty-five years, he’d want a little control over his life, too.

“So,” he says, once they’re outside the shop and walking again, “I know we decided on Brazil, but I figure, long as we keep moving, it doesn’t hurt if we take a slightly roundabout way to get there.” Dom just grunts, which Brian knows means he’s listening. “I was thinking, maybe we could find a race.”

Dom’s silent for a minute, but, once the motel is in sight once more, he nods. “Good idea,” is all he says, but it makes Brian light up inside.

 

They’re back before the girls get up and even read the note Dom left, but Dom isn’t in a particularly patient mood, practically banging down the door and shouting that they better get their coffee while it’s hot.

Letty steps out primly, wearing worn boxer shorts and a tank top half-rucked up on one side that does nothing to hide that there’s no bra underneath, hair a mess, snatches the coffees from them, and retreats back inside, slamming the door in Dom’s face, which leaves Brian laughing himself into fits as he settles against the hood of the Charger to wait.

 

Once they’re pulling out, Dom doesn’t waste any time asking his questions. Today, Brian thinks, it’s more to distract himself than it is Brian; even behind the wheel, Dom is practically vibrating. The questions are lighter, less probing, less urgent. More like Dom just wants the car not to be silent.

“First kiss?” Dom asks.

Brian closes his eyes. “Neighbor. Sarah-Anne. I was twelve.” And she’d giggled every time she’d seen him for weeks, after, Brian remembers.

“Who really taught you to drive?” Dom asks.

“Foster mother,” Brian says. One more lie, he remembers; hadn’t he told Dom and the others it was his mother? “Although, well…she tried to teach me. She was one of the good ones. But I didn’t need much in the way of lessons, ‘cause I’d already been driving a couple years.”

Dom smiles a bit. “Yeah?”

“Boosting cars.” Brian shrugs, remembers the first one. Right after his mom died, taking out Mrs. Guirrere’s old Buick in the middle of the night, because she was ninety and left the keys in the visor. She probably would have let him use it, honestly, if he offered to pick her up a pack of smokes.

He’d been perversely fascinated by the machine, needed to understand what had killed his mom, needed to prove he was better than his step-father. Needed to conquer the car.

It had taken him about four minutes behind the wheel—the four minutes to get himself set up and moving—to figure out two things. One, which he’d really already known: the car was no more responsible for what happened to his mom than he was. And two: Brian wanted to be behind the wheel of cars forever. Which was kind of the problem, really, because that little realization got him into all sorts of trouble over the years.

“Got caught and sent up about three months after she took me out after I got my learner’s permit, ” Brian says, grinning obscenely around the words. “But hey. The five car pileup story I told you guys was true.”

“Seriously?”

“That’s a pretty dumb lie to make up,” Brian says. He looks at Dom out of the corner of his eye, sees him more relaxed. Good. “Her insurance covered that one, thank God. Not my fault.”

“Think I wrecked for the first time when I was about twelve,” Dom says fondly. “Dad would’ve had a hell of a time explaining that to insurance. Made me do most of the rebuild myself.” He smiles for a minute, then turns to look at Brian. “First car.”

“That I stole, or that I owned?”

Dom gives him a full-on grin. “How ‘bout both?”

Brian talks, and talks, and even sometimes lures answers out of Dom. They keep going back and forth until Letty honks and flips on her turn signal, guiding them all to a gas station, and Brian starts when he realizes they’ve talked their way through most of a tank of gas.

 

When they’re done re-filling, Letty tosses Brian her keys and demands that she be the one chauffeured around now. Brian blinks, didn’t think she wanted to really be alone in a car with Dom, but he’s not going to pass up the opportunity to drive, so he accepts the keys.

Letty and Dom pull out in front, Mia right after them, and Brian takes up the rear.

It’s a lot of time to think, on the road like that, passing through roads that don’t take too much of his attention.

He thinks about that big house, Dom and Mia and Letty and him talked about. With enough room for four, he thinks. Maybe, if he’s lucky, a beach. A garage, of course; that’s a given. A big old kitchen, with a nice table for family dinner. A grill out back.

He wonders if Letty and Dom will rekindle what they have there. Ten years, and Letty said he went back on his vows and left and she didn’t give second chances, but maybe once time passed, things would change. It would be nice, for them; they were happy together, loved each other.

It makes something sour swoop in Brian’s gut, something selfish and sour, because if that happens, Brian’s certainly never going to get Dom’s hands on him again. Never going to figure out if they’re as warm and calloused as he remembers, on his face. Which is just as selfish a thought, really, to want that. And a stupid one. It was never going to happen anyways, Letty or no Letty.

It isn’t Brian’s to have or want, that simple, end of story, regardless of who Dom is or isn’t with, because at the end of the day, he isn’t and won’t be Brian’s.

It’s not like Brian’s not aware that he’s a little queer, bisexual, bent that way sometimes. It’d been a hell of a secret, something he hasn’t acted on since in the Academy, furtive and hidden, something shoved away. Not like the LAPD was a particularly inclusive organization. Hell, not like anywhere Brian’d been before or since that had been, either.

And Brian had still gotten shit for it, because he was pretty and young and other officers definitely thought he was sucking cock to get the assignments he did. Or on assignment. Definitely, absolutely, that must have been the thought after the Toretto case. The cops who’d questioned him the first time, before he bolted, before they tried to charge him, had implied that much.

But even after all that, when Brian had been a little more free—his reputation cemented as the best in Miami, it’s not like anyone was going to push too hard at what he did behind closed doors—Brian’d abstained. No guys that interested him. Few girls, too, really.

Well. Brian was a little hung up, probably.

Not like he’d been in love with Dom or anything. Not like he’d let him go because he expected something in return. None of that had been about this underlying attraction, except for the fact that Brian can admit that Mia was right—Dom is gravity, and Brian maybe got sucked in even more than most.

Shit , he thinks, because there’s a reason he avoids feelings. Walls of ice, keep himself apart. Makes things simpler.

Torettos have never been simple, he figures. It’s just the way it is.

The real question though: is Brian prepared to live in this theoretical house, with Dom and the others, and feel this way with nothing in return?

He huffs. It’s a pretty easy mental tabulation. Like he’d trade the family to protect his feelings. Feelings or no feelings, family is more important. He can ignore this shit—has been ignoring this shit, probably for years —for them. Easy, problem solved.

It just doesn’t feel that way.

 

Dom drives straight for Mexico City. Brian frowns; if he remembers the map right, they could avoid the city and all likely congestion entirely pretty easily.

Maybe there’s a good racing scene there. Maybe Dom knows something Brian doesn’t; not like Brian’s ever fled the country through Mexico before.

Sure enough, Dom stops in Mexico City. It’s still damn early, only mid-afternoon, so there must be something here. He guides them to a little restaurant, where they all pull off and get out. Mia stretches, pulling her body long and lean, right in the parking lot, letting out a groan as something clearly slides back into place. Brian feels for her; as much as he loves cars—and he does , absolutely and totally—long-haul driving is a pain in the ass. And, as much of a good sport and a trooper as she’s been, Brian would have to be blind to not have noticed how hard this has been on Mia.

There’s something in the air between them all, captured in the tight set of Dom’s shoulders. Contrasting that, Letty is all easy grace, getting them a table and ordering a round without asking if anyone wants one.

“I’m gonna peel off for a bit,” she says, once the beer arrives. “Have family down here. Gonna stay with them for a while.”

That…is not what Brian expected, and it takes him a minute to catch up.

Mia is thankfully faster than him, and asks what’s on his mind. “But you’re coming back?”

“Yeah,” Letty assures her, easy smile and reaching out to touch the back of Mia’s hand where it rests near her beer, just for a second. “You know me. Never leave for too long.”

Dom doesn’t look surprised, just marginally unhappy, Brian realizes. She must have told him in the car. And then Brian realizes he should probably be paying more attention to Letty than Dom.

“—Catch up to you all in a few weeks,” Letty says. “Haven’t seen the family in too long.” That part’s a lie, Brian knows, watching her eyes shift, her shoulders tighten. Still, it’s not like Letty would ever come out and say I need some space . Hell, maybe she needs to be the one to leave, to make it all nice and even. Not really his business, he figures.

“Well,” Mia says, putting a smile on, “You know we’ll be waiting when you’re ready.”

“I’m not leaving yet,” Letty says. “Dom’s looking for a race tonight, no way I’m gonna miss that.”

Mia gives Dom a sharp look, who shrugs and says, “It was Brian’s idea.” Which, of course, means Mia’s piercing gaze swivels directly to him as Dom throws him under the bus.

Brian shrugs. “Thought it could…you know…let off some steam,” he tries, not about to say, in front of Dom and Letty, that it might help Dom feel more in control of his life for a few minutes.

Mia’s glare persists for a few minutes before she sighs. “I guess so,” she allows. “It can’t hurt, right?”

 

Turns out, Letty has cousins in the racing scene, a fact that should surprise Brian not at all. The cousins, kids younger than Mia who wish they drove ten second cars, hoot and holler over their cars when Letty brings them around, and tell them where to find a race with no trouble at all.

To thank them for their time, Dom pops the hood of the Charger and lets Letty show them around for a few minutes while he watches lazily, reclining against the hood of the Civic, arms crossed loosely over his chest. Brian watches too, watches the boys hang off Letty’s every word, watches the girl, quiet and withdrawn before, sneak up to Letty’s side. Letty slings an arm around the girl’s shoulders as she explains, pulling her close.

Mia walks up to Dom and says something to him. He shakes his head. She says something else, gets no reaction out of him, and rolls her eyes before walking away.

She comes over to Brian. Brian looks her over as she approaches. She looks good, he thinks. Better than she has in a while, truth be told. She looked awful these past few weeks, through the end of the trial, and even their plan hadn’t made her feel that much better. Hell, she’d been so worried, so stressed, she kept making herself sick.

That seems to be behind them. She’s practically glowing now, and Brian guesses the value of family for a Toretto is no joke.

“So, a race, huh?” She says quietly.

Brian shrugs. “He was pacing the motel room like we’d locked the door from the outside this morning. He looked like I sucker punched him when he realized he couldn’t pay for coffee.”

She sucks in a breath. “He has money.”

“He’s not gonna take it,” Brian says gently. “He doesn’t want it.”

“Fine.”

“C’mon, Mia. You can’t hate the racing that much.”

“He’s a reckless idiot when he thinks he has something to prove,” she snaps, but keeps her voice down, conscious of how close Dom is. “And we can’t really afford extra attention.”

“One race,” Brian says, because while the reckless idiot thing rings true—hello, Dom raced a fucking train to make a point, once—he’d be a bit of a hypocrite to point it out. “We’ll be gone in the morning.”

She exhales, long and slow. “Not like I can stop him.”

Brian thinks she underestimates herself, always has. If she asked Dom, told him not to go, then he probably wouldn’t. He learned his lesson, not listening to her about the truck jackings.

Letty shoos the kids away, closes the hood, and ruffles each boy’s hair, gives the girl a one-armed hug and a kiss to the top of the head, calling them names as she tells them to scram, that she’ll see them tomorrow, to keep their asses out of trouble. They laugh outright as they dart away.

 

Brian leans against Mia’s Civic as the contenders line up to race, letting the tension bleed out of his shoulders. It had gotten a little heated there, for a minute, convincing Dom to take his buy-in from them. Dom probably wouldn’t have tried to put his pink slip up, considering the Charger is about fifty grand worth of work and it’s a two grand buy-in, but it was damn close, and Brian’s got enough pride for ten people, most of the time, but Dominic Toretto has honest to God got him beat.

Letty rubs at his shoulders, once, twice, more mocking than helpful. “Poor baby,” she coos, all false sincerity.

Brian shakes his head. “He’s a pain in the ass.”

She looks at him sideways. “Don’t I know it. Ten years, remember? Your fucking turn.”

Brian should have a response to that, he really should, but the cars are pulling up to the line and some girl is queuing them up.

When she drops her arms, the Charger jumps off the line on two wheels, and Brian sucks breath through his teeth, realizes he’s never really watched Dom race, which seems like a grave oversight now.

When Brian himself is all hyped up on competitive energy, the feeling of a car underneath him, it’s a special kind of beautiful, a high he rides and milks for every drop, something manic and crazy and so, so tight. This is different; there’s no competition, nothing in it for him but the pure pleasure of seeing art be made.

And it is art, for sure. Dom races as if it’s some psychic skill, like he and the car are one, like he just knows how every other driver will react, like there’s a cosmic force guiding him hitting the NOS. He passes the finish line a full car length ahead.

Brian shakes his head, unable to dislodge the stupid grin as he makes his way over, using his height to muscle the way through for the three of them.

Dom’s grinning too, Brian sees as he gets closer. Whether it’s racing in general or a contact high from the NOS or finally feeling better, Brian can’t say, but whatever it is, he’s just happy to see it. Dom looks good. Lighter when he smiles, less like the Atlas-figure he resembles the rest of the time.

The race organizer puts the stack of cash in Dom’s hand. Enough to give Dom a quick little cushion, just like he thought. Certainly enough to buy his own coffee tomorrow morning.

Brian hip-checks him when he gets close enough. “Not bad, huh?” He says, jerking his chin at the car. “Buster did alright, huh?” He’s teasing, mostly, although he’s honest enough with himself to admit, privately, that having Dom praise his work would maybe mean something.

Dom doesn’t, though. He doesn’t say anything at all, doesn’t react to the crowd around them, all pressing closer to get the measure of the newcomer with the skills. He just stares at Brian like there’s something to see there, then, slowly, infinitesimally slowly after the NOS rush, touches Brian’s face, thumb tracing Brian’s jaw.

Brian’s eyes slide half-closed, and he learns quickly that his fuzzy memories of lying in the scrub with a hole in his gut are muted , like someone turned off half his sensory input because this feels like fire , calloused finger catching on the two-day stubble Brian’s working, forging a bristly, fiery path across Brian’s jaw.

The hand gentles, the thumb stops moving, and Brian stops breathing altogether when the grip changes, something meant to hold him, perhaps steer him, instead of just touch.

Dom’s kiss is like lightning, a quick, unpredictable strike that sends electricity throbbing through Brian’s body, making him arch closer, looking for more contact, looking for Dom’s heat. Brian kisses back, brings his hands up, groping for Dom’s shoulders, looking to reel him in—

As soon as Brian’s fingers make contact, Dom breaks the kiss and backs away. His eyes are a little wild, shifting back and forth: Brian, to the crowd, back to Brian, somewhere over his shoulder. His hand is still on Brian’s jaw, until he pulls away, as if scalded.

“Holy shit,” Brian hears, distantly, and he thinks it’s Letty but he can’t be assed to care , not when Dom is in front of him like this, looking two seconds away from bolting.

Brian looks for the magic words, something that will settle that look in Dom’s eyes. “Dom—” He starts.

Dom gets back in the car, about as fast as Brian’s ever seen him move, door shut and shifting into gear before Brian can really process what happened.

Dom pulls out, nearly clipping Brian on the way past, and Brian’s sure he’s not the only one watching, but right then, he feels like he and Dom are the only ones in the world, and Dom’s leaving him behind. Feels like Dom’s dragging a piece of Brian with him.

Chapter Text

Brian’s staring, he knows he is, rooted to the ground, unable to move, unable to sort out exactly what just happened. A hand—Mia’s, he somehow knows right away, Mia’s—lands on his shoulder and gently steers him away. “C’mon, Brian,” she says. “Let’s go.”

Probably a good idea, not to be in this crowd. Who knows how they felt about that display, what they’re thinking. Probably a good idea for Brian not to be in public, anyways, gaping like a fish as he is.

So, with a slight shove from Mia, he gets his act together and walks back towards the cars on auto-pilot, the crowd parting for him like the red sea. Shit.

“Did you know?” Letty’s voice demands, but she’s not talking to him. Mia. She’s asking Mia. “Shit, I knew—something—but never in a million fucking years would I have—”

“Letty,” Mia interrupts, quieter. “Leave it.”

Mia drives him back. Brian’s too off-kilter to be behind a wheel.

 

In the morning, the Charger still isn’t back at the motel. Brian hoped it would be, but didn’t honestly expect it.

After a pretty sleepless night, he still doesn’t know what to think. Just knows that Dom isn’t coming back.

Letty looks awkward as hell in the parking lot, scuffing her boot on the concrete, not looking at Brian. “Call me when you get settled,” she says, mostly to the space between Brian and Mia. “Or I’ll call you when I get back on the road. Or if he shows up here.”

He . Like they’re not going to say his name or something.

They all have burners, that Tego bought for them right before the prison break. They haven’t turned them on yet, hadn’t wanted to get on the grid that way, saved them for emergencies. Brian turned his on the minute he saw the Charger wasn’t in the parking lot when dawn broke. Just in case.

He’s not even really sure if Dom has the number, which is a pretty grave oversight. Still, if Dom wants to get in contact, Brian’ll be waiting. No idea what he’ll say, but waiting.

They both hug Letty goodbye, and at least she gives Brian a real hug, so Brian can say she’s more weirded out than angry.

Brian gets into the Civic shotgun. He’s not sure if driving would be good for him or lead him to cause an accident, but he knows Mia, at least, isn’t going to let him figure that out for himself.

“It’ll be okay, Brian,” she says after twenty minutes or so of silence.

“Trying to convince me or you?”

I know everything will be fine. I’m telling you it’ll be fine. Dom’s sorting his shit out. He’ll be back. You two will figure it out.”

“Figure what out,” Brian says, just to be a pain.

“Letty might’ve been surprised. I’m not. Not really, not when I think about it,” she explains, not rising to his bait.

“Seriously? None of this surprises you?”

“Should it really have? You two love each other.”

Brian flinches. “Don’t…don’t read into it. Dom just had…an adrenaline high. It could’ve been anyone.” The idea of it being anyone—some random race bunny, Letty— makes Brian’s stomach turn.

“Bullshit,” Mia says, almost gentle. “Brian, I’m not…I’m not upset about it.”

Well, that’s great, Brian doesn’t say. But Letty is, and Dom sure as hell is, and Brian’s got no idea how he even feels at the moment. But it’s great that Mia, at least, isn’t upset.

They drive slower, after that. They don’t talk about it, but they do, stopping a little earlier at night, getting later starts, making a couple extra stops during the day. Giving Dom more time to catch up.

It’s not something Dom wants, apparently, because he doesn’t come. He knows where they’re going, knows the route they’ll take. He could find them in a heartbeat. He chooses not to, something Brian pretends doesn’t make him incredibly bitter.

“Dom doesn’t like surprises,” Mia says on the third day, cutting across the silence of the car. “He was just…surprised. He’ll deal with it, and be back.”

“He kissed me,” Brian says sullenly. “Not the other way around.”

“You can surprise yourself,” Mia replies. “He…Jesus, Brian, you think my brother knew he was queer?”

“Is he?” Brian says rhetorically. “Dom went through a lot of shit recently, Mia. He reacted to adrenaline. He doesn’t mean it like that.”

“Why are you so focused on proving Dom doesn’t care about you?” Mia asks sharply. “Don’t tell me it’s because you don’t return the feelings.”

Brian swallows. The answer is pretty easy, honestly. Because, as much as he wondered if he could handle living with them and knowing he’d never get what he wanted, Brian knows that would be a thousand times easier than actually getting his way on this one. Brian has no idea what to do when things go his way. Never really has.

If this is a thing, then it’s a very breakable thing, something Brian definitely doesn’t know how to handle. If walking the tightrope of not doing anything inappropriate when he didn’t know how to be a part of their family would be difficult, this would be a thousand times harder. Because Brian’s got no idea how to make people stay.

He’s not explaining that to Mia, though.

“How do you know I feel that way?” He asks instead. He means it to be challenging. Make her question herself. It comes out a little too broken for that, he thinks, and, damn, he used to be good at this kind of thing.

Torettos, always ruining him.

Mia doesn’t look at him as she answers, which is honestly good, because Brian is sure, whatever is on her face, he can’t handle it. “Seriously?” She asks, and when he doesn’t provide a response, she sighs. “Brian. You gave him your keys. You got him a pardon. Busted him off a prison bus. You gave up everything for him. Do you need me to keep going?”

Brian swallows. No. That’s more than enough.

“Because I can keep going,” she says ruthlessly, apparently not heeding his silent desire to stop this. “The way you look at him, for a start.”

“I don’t…” Brian should know better than to open his mouth. Once you do, you’ve acknowledged the premise and given it validation. If you want to steer a conversation, you have to take control early; he’s already lost.

She looks at him now, really looks. “Yes, you do. It’s okay , Brian. I’m not mad at you.”

Brian hasn’t really even been worried about that, even before she said something that first day, not more than a little niggling feeling. Mia was serious as hell when she said she was done with him. She’s moved on, Brian knows that, is happy for her. One date. They had one date, and maybe a promise of more but it was five years ago. And sure, there would be something incredibly valid in her being pissed that her ex really wants her brother, but that hasn’t been his main concern.

“How do you know he feels that way?” Brian whispers eventually. He feels like he’s back in middle school, asking about who likes who and who likes-likes who, but he can’t stop himself because dammit, if Mia has any magical insight here, he’d love to hear it.

Mia purses her lips for a moment, running the words over in her head. “He’s never treated anyone like you,” she says eventually. “Ever. He trusted you easy, let you in, wanted you around. Smiled more. And when you turned out to be a cop, it hurt him. A lot.”

“So, you’re saying he has feelings for me ‘cause I hurt him,” Brian says, voice as dry as he can muster. “That’s…great.”

Mia shrugs. “You both hurt each other, huh?” True enough—he remembers shouting at Dom in the Toretto living room, remembers Mia listening to them from upstairs while Brian aired his own dirty laundry. “Besides. That’s not…the biggest thing is, he didn’t run.”

“For you.”

“No, Brian. Not for me. Dom and I…I don’t need him around anymore and he knows it. I love him, but I don’t need him. We have a system and it works. You don’t need him either, I know. But you wanted him to stay. He stayed for you.”

Well. That’s enough to send Brian into a deep, thought-filled silence for a hundred miles or so, until Mia pulls the map out of the cup holder and throws it at him, ordering him to navigate them around El Salvador.

 

They started off still getting two motel rooms, but, it turns out, being on the run and highly wanted makes sitting in a hotel room by yourself a highly isolating experience. They’ve started booking one, with two twin beds, and, whatever else might happen, at least they know someone else is there.

“When’d you know you were…” Mia gestures expansively, towel wrapped around her hair and a pair of old shorts and an overlarge t-shirt that might be Dom’s on. The gesture does nothing to clarify the question, so she huffs. “Queer?”

“Oh,” Brian says. He shrugs. “Long time ago. High school, probably.” Ninth grade, he thinks, hazily, remembering shame-tinged suppressed thoughts he would never, ever mention to anyone. Before Juvie, or else it would have been a really rough awakening. “Couldn’t tell people. Still don’t.”

She looks like she’s considering it a moment before she nods. “Imagine not,” She murmurs. “And my brother?”

There’s no sense in lying to her, in keeping up this charade that none of it is real. And anyways, this might legitimately be the only time in his life that he gets to talk about it. Dom will come back. They’ll sweep it under the rug. It’ll all be gone, nearly forgotten. But for now, in this room, it can live and breathe.

“When it happened or when I knew?” he asks quietly. Lets it hang out there.

“Either.”

“When it happened…probably a little the first time we raced. Definitely when we took the Supra out the first time together.” He closes his eyes a second, remembers Dom looking over at him, saying “smoke ‘em,” in that way of his, conveying complete confidence, Dom holding on for the ride when Brian went for it, showing off a bit, the complete trust between them that day, openness Brian isn’t sure he ever had with another person before or since, shared between them in that car. “By the end…well, I gave him my keys,” he says, by way of explanation.

“And when you knew?”

“Probably about twelve hours before he did.” That’s a simplification, of course, because Brian knew…well, probably when he gave Dom his keys, honestly, definitely long before Dom kissed him. But Brian’s powers of suppression are nothing short of magical, and the longer he didn’t have to deal with the fact that Dominic Toretto is human gravity really meant I love Dominic Toretto, probably , the easier life was for him.

She huffs, mutters something that is most definitely critical of men, and flips the towel off her hair, rubbing it dry.

“Dom’s going to come back,” she says, sitting upright again. “And when he does, you two will sort this out.”

Brian kind of doubts that, but it’s still really, really nice to hear.

 

Brian wakes up in the morning already thinking about the day. If they drive hard, they can make it all the way through Nicaragua and a good chunk of Costa Rica today. Or they could take it slow, like they have been. Give Dom a chance to play catch-up. A chance he might not even want, really.

He gets coffee for himself and tea for Mia, an apparent recent obsession, and pastries for them both, brings them back to the room to Mia, who wakes up with the smell.

“Thanks,” she says, already starting on the tea and selecting her favorite pastry. Brian just keeps his fingers clear until she has her food.

There’s a ringing from Mia’s bag, and they both tense up.

“Probably Letty,” Brian offers.

“Probably,” Mia says, already scrambling for the burner phone. “Hello? Dom?”

Brian drops his pastry, suddenly no longer hungry, too tense to eat. The conversation seems mostly one-sided, Mia only interjecting occasionally, when suddenly she holds the phone out to him. “He wants to talk to you.”

Brian takes it, throat dry as a bone suddenly. “Dom?”

“Bri. Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Brian, I…I think I fucked up.”

Brian closes his eyes. Prepares to hear the litany of reasons why Dom wasn’t thinking clearly, why it was a mistake and Dom doesn’t want him to get the wrong impression.

“Why I left, that’s…that’s not about you, okay?” Brian must make some kind of noise, some kind of disagreement, because Dom continues. “No, listen. This is me, figuring my shit out, ‘cause when you and I have this conversation, you deserve to have me with my shit figured out.” Brian doesn’t ask what shit he’s figuring out. He probably should, but it’s a little too much to pull himself together enough to ask.

Brian sits frozen for a minute, debating what to say. “But we will have that conversation?”
“Yeah. In Rio, okay, Bri? You both get there. I’ll meet you. I promise.”

One thing Brian knows about Dom is he’s good to his promises. If he says he’ll be there, he’ll be there.

“Okay,” he manages.

“Hey, I—We’ll work it out, right?” Dom says.

Brian hums. “Yeah.”

“Good. Put Mia back on, will you?”

Brian hands the phone over, and the two talk quietly for a minute. Then Mia says goodbye, and hangs up the phone.

“Guess we need to get a move on,” she muses. “It’d be kinda embarrassing if he beat us there.”

Brian nods, already up and moving, already getting his bag ready. If his math is right, they still have a hundred or so hours to drive, even at the speeds they take their cars. They have very little money left, will be stretching it to make it that far. They might end up living out of the car for a bit. It’s going to be a long week.

 

When they make it to Vince’s last known address, Mia looks pretty bad. She hasn’t complained or anything, but Brian can tell. She’s thrown up a few times, isn’t eating as much as she should, is getting stiff as anything sitting in the car.

Brian’s been worried, and she won’t give him a clue what’s causing it. He’s not sure if it’s Dom being missing or the long journey or if she got sick drinking the water somewhere or something. She just smiles, tells him she’ll be fine, that she just wants to get there already.

Twelve hours a day in a car haven’t helped her any, he knows. A couple times, they didn’t even stop, just trading off night and day shifts, driving towards Rio with an ever-focused determination.

Dom doesn’t beat them to Vince, but at least he called ahead, told Vince they’d be coming, that Dom’s coming too. It’s the first they’ve heard from Dom since he called them at the motel.

It’s weird, to watch Vince be all domestic, playing with the kid, having a wife. His whole attitude towards Mia’s changed, softer, somehow, and, if he doesn’t like Brian, he’s at least not openly hostile, which is really as much as Brian could want.

And then Vince is offering them a job, and Brian swallows. They really shouldn’t. Not right now, not just them.

But the last three nights, they’ve been trading off driving, and not because they wanted to get there faster. They’ve been pinching pennies, knowing their funds are dwindling and not knowing what’s coming ahead. Mia’s been particularly worried.

So they accept.

 

Mia keeps calling it house money as they sit on the train, waiting for go time. She’s looking at non-extradition countries in a guide book and talking about house money, and features and amenities she’d want the house to have. Like a dishwasher, the one thing the Toretto household never had. Multiple bathrooms. A big yard. Maybe a pool or something.

Brian has his own list, just watches her make hers with a smile, occasionally interjecting items. “Big windows,” he says, thinking of Dom and how trapped he looked in the motel room with tiny, curtained-over windows.

Mia nods pseudo-seriously, suppressing her smile. “Of course. And a beach, right?”

“And a garage.”

“Now that’s just a given.” Mia looks around the car, and suddenly her face gets truly serious. “Here we go,” she says, standing up, and Brian’s right behind her.

 

Brian can’t accurately explain how relieved he is to see Dom there, when they open up the side of the train car. And not just because he’s been missing Dom like he’d miss his right arm; something about this job is starting to feel weirder and weirder, and having Dom there is one extra layer of security.

All Brian knows is this isn’t a simple swipe. If the DEA is involved, Brian doesn’t want to be within ten miles of the place. They’ve travelled literally thousands of miles to leave the US government behind, and here they are, on Vince’s word, delivering themselves to a bunch of DEA agent’s front door.

“Told you he’d turn up,” Vince says, smirking slightly. Mia’s already running for him, throwing her arms around him.

Dom hugs her, tells her not to worry about him, then levels a grim stare at Brian. Brian suddenly feels like an idiot, like a kid who broke something and won’t own up to it, almost all that relief gone in a second under that look. Not how he pictured this going, when Dom finally showed back up; he certainly didn’t want to be here, taking a stupid risk on a stupid job they’re clearly in over their heads on.

Vince leaves first, then all of a sudden Dom is putting Mia in the GT40. Smart, to get Mia out of the way, although Brian feels his muscles tensing as Dom antagonizes Vince’s “friends” without even saying a word. This place is a powder keg, and Vince’s friends aren’t exactly sending off calm and collected waves. Brian already has half a mind to beat the shit out of Vince when they meet back up, for dragging them into this job, for describing it the way he did. Dom whispers something to Mia, and then she’s gone.

And, Brian realizes half a second before the others do, going the wrong way.

Dom gives Brian a look, when the fighting breaks out, and Brian is immeasurably glad when he just gets it, when they can sort this out without any awkwardness, any weird pauses, any missed communication. Brian takes half, Dom takes the other. They have each other’s backs, don’t get in each other’s ways.

When one of them shouts to go after Mia, Brian makes the running leap onto the tow truck, which turns deadly fast. He can barely get a grip, barely keep himself from sliding off and likely under, and once he gets himself up into the cab, the guy has a damned blowtorch, which Brian only just keeps out of his face. He might have stopped the guy from going after Mia, who is now long gone and away, the GT40 leaving them all in the dust, but he’s definitely causing new problems. Things are absolutely out of control, and the truck ends up in the side of the train. Brian winces, looking at the damage, then taking in the bridge the speeding train is heading directly for. The speeding train that he’s currently perched outside of.

“Dom, bridge! There’s a bridge!”  Brian shouts, getting Dom’s attention to his immediate, precarious situation.

He should have known that Dom would never leave him hanging, would do whatever it takes to get to him. He makes the jump to the car, knowing without a single doubt that Dom will absolutely be there when he lands.

They land in the water, and, when he pops up, it’s honestly nice to just see Dom again, knowing they both survived whatever the fuck that just was going off a cliff, all of it.

Then the guys with guns show up, and Brian figures, well. This is just how the day is going, really.

 

“All I care about is the car,” the man in the suit says. “Tell me where it is, and I let you go.”

Brian feels it like a fist around his heart, the danger they’re in. Fucking Vince, he’s never held much animosity for the guy before. Sure, he didn’t like him, but Vince was a dick. That was expected. Brian couldn’t hate him, though, no matter what he said, because he was a dick who was right about Brian. Now, him and his stupid plan and his stupid lie about the risk attached might just get them all killed. Brian figures he’s entitled to hate him a bit now.

“This roofing plastic says you’re full of shit,” Brian notes, looking around.

The guy threatens Mia. He should know, it’s the one thing you don’t do. Brian and Dom share a look.

Then the man leaves the room, and Dom gives Brian another look. He has one of the men between his legs seconds later, choking him out. Dom breaks his chains in a display Brian can’t help but pay a little more attention to than he should, considering his current predicament, then knocks out two of the guards before breaking Brian’s chain. Brian drops his goon to the ground.

“You alright?” Dom asks, and he actually reaches out to touch, running hands over Brian, starting at his shoulders, working his way across Brian’s torso.

Brian fights the urge to shake him off. It’s too much, and while Brian might not be much for predictable, steady paths, he’s not much for not knowing what he’s getting himself into, either. Dom’s an unknown, a massive unknown, and Brian doesn’t know how to compensate for this.

He takes a deep breath, studies the room while Dom touches his fill, then answers the question. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, I’m fine. You?”

“Fine,” Dom says shortly. “What the hell have you gotten us into?”

Brian feels a stab of guilt, probably justified, really, considering, well— Dom certainly didn’t make the decision to start this. “Vince either didn’t know or he lied to us. Nothing is like what he said.”

Dom looks at him long and hard, then nods. “C’mon,” he says, stepping away from Brian, and Brian feels a little lost, with distance suddenly between them. “We need to find Mia.”

 

Later, when Brian examines the chip Vince inadvertently led them to, he can’t really process what he’s seeing. Stares at the numbers in front of him. A hundred million dollars. No wonder this drug lord Reyes was so bold, trying to get this back.

Brian’s seen people kill a lot more people for a lot less money.

Mia’s the one who says it, quietly. Dom probably doesn’t even hear her. “ That’s house money,” she says.

Brian would respond to that, would say—well, he doesn’t know what. Absolutely, let’s go for it, sounds like just our type of crazy? No way, it’s suicide, let’s stick with what we can handle? Since when is this our type of thing? He would respond, but something changes. A noise. The hair’s on the back of his neck, on his arms, stand on end.

The noise picks up. Someone’s moving. Brian stops breathing, scanning the warehouse.

Dom’s the one who says it. “Run.”

Chapter Text

When they make it out of the storm drain, winded and a little beat up but no one shot or dead, thank God, Dom’s all ready to split up, to send Brian and Mia off again while he goes who knows where. Brian swallows. It’s logical enough, even if he doesn’t want to ever let Dom just run off on them again.

Mia puts a stop to that quick enough, anyways, so Brian doesn’t have to bother coming to terms with it or finding an excuse. “I’m pregnant,” she blurts out, leaving them both staring at her, right there in the gutter, in broad daylight, unable to move, unable to process this.

“I already lost my family once,” she says, hand on her stomach, and Brian’s brain is moving at a million miles an hour. Suddenly things make a hell of a lot more sense. She’s been sick lately, a lot. How long has that been going on, exactly? He wracks his brains. The food aversions, the tea, hell, even the fact that she’s been wearing big shirts recently. She was glowing . “I’m not going to do that again.”

Dom’s looking at her, like he has x-ray vision and can see the baby or something. Then he looks at Brian. Then back to Mia’s stomach, then Mia’s face.

Mia seems to read the look as well as Brian can, and her offense is a lot more verbal than the low, bristling hurt Brian carries over that. “Fuck you,” she snaps, hand still on her stomach. “Three months. During the trial. I went to school with him. Happy?”

“I—” Dom at least knows when to quit before he digs the hole too deep, with Mia.

“Promise me. Wherever we go, whatever we do. We stick together.”

And then she extends her hands, just the gesture enough to haul both of them in, no room for argument. She grips them tight and they hold her right back.

A baby, Brian thinks. She’s pressed right up against them and he can’t feel anything yet. But he will. She’ll get bigger, and then there’ll be a little one. A little Toretto, Jesus, just what Brian needs in his life.

Oh god , Mia’s smile, Mia’s big eyes, on some chubby-cheeked little kid…

“Yeah, little sis,” Dom says, face in her hair but voice carrying. “I promise.”

 

While they look for a safe place to set up for the near future, Brian thinks about the baby. Baby. Jesus.

There doesn’t seem to be any discussion of Mia’s unplanned, out-of-wedlock, father hereto unnamed baby and whether or not she’ll keep it. They’re on the run, wanted fugitives, illegally in a foreign country. They’re homeless. Not the greatest child-rearing environment. Brian abruptly remembers how Catholic the Torettos are and wonders how that all works, but it’s not really his business.

A baby. He wonders if he gets to be Uncle Brian. They seem like that type of family, where everyone is cousin and Uncle and Aunt, everyone. Rome’s family had been like that.

Which had always been weird for him, because it had always been just him and his mom, and even she was barely there. No one else ever really counted. Not his dad, not his step father, not his foster parents. Just him, and, when she could be, Mom.

“What do you remember about your father?” Brian asks, looking more at the night sky than Dom as they sit outside the condemned building while Mia sleeps inside, curled up on an arm chair under a jacket because it’s all they could find, and Brian’s stomach lurches a bit at the thought. She’s pregnant. There are no excuses. They have to do better.

Dom tells him. Tells him about barbecue and the job and helping Mia with homework, wistful remembrance coloring his voice until Brian can’t help but look over. “I remember everything about my father,” he concludes.

“I don’t remember shit about mine,” Brian admits freely, words pouring out, a little stream. Brian’s mind is like a dam, keeping himself and the rest of the world separate. Perhaps rounds and rounds of twenty questions loosened it. Perhaps it’s just Dom. “I don’t…I don’t remember him yelling, I don’t remember him smiling. I don’t really remember what he looked like anymore.”

He does remember that last day. Remembers his dad walking out. Or maybe he’s just created this memory so he has something to hold onto. A hair ruffle. The nickname sport . No face, no particular grasp of the voice or the tone. Something normal, something solid, something only remarkable in the fact that it never happened again .

Brian’s biological father hadn’t been bad . By all accounts, he’d been pretty normal. Mediocre job that allowed him and his wife to own a mediocre house for them and their kid. He didn’t hit Brian like his step father had, didn’t raise his voice that Brian remembered. Food was always on the table, bills paid mostly on time. He just…walked out one morning. Didn’t come home from work. Sent along divorce papers sometime later.

Brian taps his fingers along the dilapidated railing. “Did you really think…Mia and me…”

Dom grimaces. “I like to live in a world where my sister is still ‘bout fourteen,” Dom says. “And too shy to ask a guy out. Therefore, no strange guys from school I haven’t gotten to check out first. And if it had to be someone…you’re not a bad option.”

Brian just stares at him, because it is a damn odd sentiment, considering the elephant in the room between them. Nice, maybe, only decidedly not.

Dom shakes his head. “No, I didn’t really think it was you.”

Brian nods. “She’s gonna need us.” Brian might’ve been a child, a bit of a brat with a wildstreak and no clue how the world worked, but he knows what his mom went through. She worked herself to the bone to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads. She married an asshole to give them a better chance. Brian won’t see Mia go there. He won’t.

“Yeah. She’ll have family, Bri. Don’t worry about her. And…You won’t be like your dad, Bri.”

Either of them, Brian thinks. Or the others too, really, because only half his foster fathers had been great people. He won’t be like any of them, because as long as Mia Toretto wants him around, lets him around this baby, Brin is going to find some deep, previously uncovered well of paternal instinct and figure this shit out.

When Brian gets his breath back after that little revelation, he looks inside. Sees Mia asleep, head barely poking out. Three months, she said.

“We can’t keep running.”

Dom nods. “We use this. Do one last job. Get Reyes’ money. Then we disappear, forever.”

“Buy our freedom,” Brian says, already thinking about it. House money . Even more urgent now. “You know, we’re talking about taking down the most powerful guy in Rio.” When Dom nods, Brian smiles. “We’re gonna need a team.”

Hyped up on the idea, Brian turns to go back inside, to get moving, to get doing. Dom catches his wrist. “Bri.”

“Yeah?”

“That conversation we were gonna have.”

Brian swallows. “Yeah?”

Dom draws in a breath so deep it moves his shoulders, makes his fingers tighten briefly on Brian’s wrist. “I…everything, right now—”

“After this. We’ll work it out, after all of this.” Because that way, Brian can be a coward. If Dom’s going to tell him…well, what he still assumes Dom will tell him, despite Mia’s reassurances, then he can put it off. If Dom’s going to tell him that he wants to try this, then Brian doesn’t have to figure out how to adapt to a shifted worldview of some upside-down, impossible reality while on the job.

Dom seems to hold that breath for a second. “Sure, Bri,” he agrees. “After this. I promise.”

 

When the next day rolls around, Mia’d never be able to tell the conversations they had the night before. They slot in together, as easy and comfortable as always.

“What kind of crew are we talking?” Mia asks.

They spell it out. Wheel-man. A liar. A tech-guy. Infiltration. A couple utility players. Precision drivers.

“Guys who don’t crack under pressure,” Dom says. “Guys who never lose.”

Brian’s grin feels big enough to split his face. “Oh, you know we got that.”

 

“Did you say a hundred million dollars?” Rome asks, frozen in his tracks.

Brain grins, looking at the crowd around them. Tego and Rico, Dom’s friend Han. Giselle, Roman, Tej. Letty, Mia, Dom. Himself.

Everyone they need to rip off a hundred million dollars from a drug lord, then disappear forever to start new lives.

“A hundred million dollars,” Dom confirms. “And here’s how we’re gonna do it.”

 

Somehow, Letty and Brian end up in a car together, watching one of the drop houses. Brian has binoculars out, but it’s slow going. No one’s moving yet.

“So, you and Dom, did you…” Letty trails off, although it sounds almost more indecent when she doesn’t say it.

Brian knows he’s fair enough that his skin shows a blush. He doesn’t blush often, doesn't embarrass easily, but it’s like a billboard when he does. Letty doesn’t miss how he pinks up, he knows she doesn’t. “No,” he says shortly, knowing it won’t make her drop it, yet still hoping.

“Why not? You guys chicken out?”

“Haven’t talked yet.”

“Why not?”

“Job.”

Letty snorts, indelicate and indicating exactly what she thinks. “Right. So you’re just gonna…leave it out there?”

Brian shrugs, focusing very firmly on the cash house. “Sometimes it’s better not to know.”

“That is such a pile of bullshit,” Letty says empathetically. She grabs the binoculars from his unsuspecting hands. “No, I’m serious, Brian.”

“Letty, we need—”

“We can see just fucking fine, Brian,” she interrupts, not letting him change the subject. “Better not to know? Well, let me clue you in. We should all be in the know here, Brian. I might’ve been surprised at first. Sue me. I dated the guy a decade, never even hinted at liking dudes. But Mia’s right. You two…if you’re worried about what he’ll say, don’t be. It’s neon-sign-in-Times-Square obvious. Trust me, Dom Toretto’s in love and all that. Unless you don’t want this. Then find a way to let him down gently.” She looks at him for a moment. “Yeah, didn’t think so.” She hands the binoculars back. “Don’t hurt him, Brian. Be happy with him. He’s your problem now.”

Brian’s so busy thinking about that, he almost misses Dom’s check-in over the radio.

 

When they’re all out staking out Reyes’s drop houses, Mia gets left behind. Dom bills it as “running communication” in front of everyone, but gives her a long, hard look as soon as they have some privacy.

She huffs. “Fine,” she acknowledges. “Guess someone has to feed us anyways.”

“No peanuts.”

“Is that some weird pregnancy thing?” Mia asks, attention already half gone. “Never heard of that one before.”

“Nah. Brian’s allergic,” Dom says.

Mia’s attention comes back, and she turns on Brian with a speed that has him rooted to the floor. “And that’s something you told us, right? And I’d just forgotten, ‘cause it’s been a long time? I’m going to choose to believe you told us.”

“He don’t have an epipen, either,” Dom butts in helpfully.

Brian pictures steam coming out of her ears. Somehow, the addition of the cartoon image does not help the situation. “The minute we set foot in a non-extradition country, you’re going to get one.” Brian nods; she ignores it, because she clearly was not waiting for his approval. “Right. No peanuts. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“You have to throw me under the bus like that?” Brian mutters as soon as Mia wanders off.

Dom just looks at him weirdly. “Bri. You need to take better care of yourself.”

“I do okay.”

“If that was true, then making sure she wasn’t gonna feed you something that will kill you wouldn’t be a problem,” Dom says, before walking away to Han.

Letty comes up behind him and claps him on the shoulder. “Yeah,” she says quietly, “if you’re still looking for a sign…that’s it, Buster.”

Brian flushes. She grins, grips his shoulder hard for a second before letting go. “Your problem now,” she echoes, then walks off after Mia.

And Brian…yeah, okay. It’s a thing. A thing he doesn’t know how to deal with, really, because what the fuck does he do with Dom being all disappointed with Brian’s lack of regard about an epipen? But Brian wouldn’t call it a problem . Not really.

What he would call it, he has no idea. Except for something that makes him warm inside.

 

When it becomes clear they’ll need some faster cars—because they’re robbing a police station, Jesus Christ, Brian thought he was done actively fucking over law enforcement, but apparently not—Dom and Brian head out to find a race.

The plan’s coming together, between the ten of them. So far, Brian hasn’t had much to do beside watch a cash house for a bit, so he’s more than glad to stretch his legs. Even more glad at the thought of getting himself a real ride.

“Oh, that,” Brian says, staring, unable to keep the longing out of his voice as he makes his way towards the sweet car, temptation too strong to resist entirely. “Look at that. All motor, no tuning issues. Always wanted one of those.”

Dom gives him a look before the local talent emerges, all aggressive posturing. It makes Brian smile a bit, even if he keeps it to himself. Thousands of miles away from home as they might be, they’ll never be quite out of their element. Dom Toretto will never not be the King of the ten second drag, in LA, Baja, Mexico City, or Brazil, and they all know it, scent the challenge. “You got a lot of balls to bring your problems here, Toretto. Not to mention…a cop.”

Brian grimaces. “Yeah, we can keep that on the low.” Not like he’s a cop anymore. Not like he has a badge to start busting up street races with.

Dom looks right at Brian the entire time he puts up his pink slip, the entire time the deal is struck. Car for car. He keeps looking at Brian as they move to the line, and Brian feels himself unable to look away, rooted to the spot. Brian’s not sure quite what the look says, but it pulls at something inside of him, makes him bite his bottom lip as he watches. Dom breaks eye-contact as he revs the engine, ready, watching for the flag drop.

“No kiss for luck?” A voice beside him says.

Startled, Brian looks away at the person beside him. She’s small, definitely dressed for the occasion, and grinning at him. “Huh?”

“Should’ve given him a kiss. For luck,” she repeats. “How do you expect him to win for you otherwise, him?”

The damn blush is back. “We’re not…like that.”

“Hmmph,” she says.

There’s screaming, and Brian jerks his gaze away from her as Dom races off the line. He leans closer, watching the great beast of the Charger, watching Dom show off inside.

“Maybe be on the finish line, huh?” The girl says, still right by his ear, even if Brian isn’t watching her. “If not a kiss for luck, then at least one for victory.”

She laughs as she walks off, and Brian continues to blush, but allows his feet to carry him towards the finish line.

 

Everything about how Dom races is an art, an aggressive, assertive art of being the best and just knowing he is. Knowing he’ll be first off the line. Knowing he has the timing down better than anyone else on the road. Knowing he owns the road, owns the space. Knowing he knows his car better, built her better.

And he’s always, always right about it.

He’s a full car length ahead by the end, skidding to a stop before climbing out of the car. He gets mobbed by the crowd, who apparently like new blood and a fresh show as much as anyone. Dom doesn’t stop for them though, just makes his way over to Brian.

Brian pushes through the crowd towards Dom, allowing them to meet somewhere in the middle, and Brian firmly quashes the butterflies in his gut when Dom quirks that half smile at him. “Good show?” He asks.

Brian swallows. “Always.”

The guy pushes through the throng to Dom, holding out his keys, face marred by disgust. “Here you go. She’s yours.”

Dom steps to the side, opens his posture so his arm and side is open towards Brian. “Nah,” he says. “She’s his.”

Brian starts— he certainly didn’t race tonight—but nevertheless accepts the keys when they’re shoved in his hand, but with a kind or stunned shock, even if he tries to keep it off his face.

The race groupies move on, attention span short and ready to watch someone else, satisfied that they’re not going to provide much more entertainment that evening. “Why’s she mine?” Brian asks, racking his brain. Dom doesn’t owe him a car. They’re even on that score, that half-serious, half-joking calculation they’ve had going back five years now. The Eclipse, the Supra, the Impreza. Even all the way around.

Dom just looks at him, eyes serious, like Brian’s missing something. “You wanted her,” Dom says. “Right?”

“Yeah. Didn’t win her, though.” Bit of a sticking point, really, because Brian hadn’t lied to Dom, all those years ago, when he told him he paid his own way. Doesn’t take what he doesn’t earn. Works for everything he has.

“Nah, I did,” Dom agrees. “An’ I say she’s yours.” He takes Brian’s hand, folds it around the key. Electricity passes through the touch, all warm and sharp and Brian must be a masochist, because he wants to chase it, wants more.

Dom doesn’t disappoint, just holds on for a second, his hand wrapped around Brian’s, wrapped around the key. “Said you wanted her, so she’s yours.”

Brian manages to make eye contact, feels it like it’s fire invading his body, manages to keep the eye contact anyways. Dom’s eyes are somewhere between the warmest caress and something that makes his hair stand on end.

Before Brian can figure it out, though, or muster up an argument against taking the car or decide if he even wants to make said argument, they’re being shouted at to “move the fucking cars” out of the way of the next race. Dom huffs a laugh, still with that half smile, just for Brian, and they do.

Brian’s given first crack at the course Han set up to mimic the police station, in his brand new car which he can’t really bring himself to reject. And not just because he wants it. Brian’s very, very good at not having things he wants very badly.

He’s far less good at not giving Dom what he wants, and Dom clearly wants him to have this. Wants him to have a goddamn car he didn’t earn. Wants him to have things he wants .

Well. He can’t deny it feels good under his hands.

“Camera caught you,” Han announces once he steps out. Brian is…disappointed, he supposes, but still a little high on the drive. It is a damn sweet car. He’ll muster up real disappointment in a minute.

“We’re gonna need a faster car,” Dom says. He looks at the others. “We brought this one in. Your turn.” People scatter.

Dom makes his way towards Brain, a slow swagger that makes it so Brian can’t help but watch. He used to watch it around DT’s, as they worked on the Supra, or at backyard barbecues, the way Dom moved like he owned the word, like it would wait for him and get out of the way when he got there. He walks closer and closer, practically boxing Brian in against the car. Brian holds still, holds his breath, but, despite Dom looming over him, he’s not afraid. Never afraid of Dom. Maybe once he would have been, although he’s not even sure if that’s true.

“Should’ve had you race last night,” Dom murmurs.

Brian snorts. “Like you’d let me put up the Charger’s pink slip. ‘Sides, quarter mile’s your game.”

“Yeah,” Dom agrees, because he’s not a modest guy, never has been, and honestly Brian likes that. He doesn’t boast, doesn’t rub it in other people’s faces unless there’s a point to it, but he doesn’t downplay it, either. He’s the best. He knows it. “But would’ve been beautiful to watch. And I haven’t gotten to watch in a long time, Bri.”

“Dom. Prison break, Braga, Campos’ race? Any of that ringing a bell?”

“That ain’t a race,” Dom says. “That’s work. Different. ‘Sides. I couldn’t just watch .”

Fair enough. Hadn’t Brian been thinking the same thing a while back? About how nice it was, to just get to watch Dom race? See him in action?

Dom steps closer, and Brian’s ass hits the driver’s side door. “Liked watching you drive.”

Brian swallows. “Bet you’ll get plenty of chances while we figure this out.” He manages to turn his head enough to jerk his chin at the course, before inevitably turning back to Dom.

“Good.” Dom sways a little closer, then pulls back. “Know you said to hold off. Wait ‘til the job was done.”

“Yeah…”

“What’re you afraid of, Bri?” Dom asks. “I ain’t gonna run on you again. You have my word on that.”

Dominic Toretto’s word is as good as gold, can be taken to the bank, and while Dom’s already promised Mia this, it is somehow reassuring to have a Dominic Toretto promise of his very own, that, come hell or high water, Dom will be here in the morning.

“We’re on a job…” Brian offers. It sounds weak even to his ears. He’s pretty sure it’s the voices of Letty and Mia mocking him in his head.

“Mhm…”

Brian takes a deep breath. Pulls himself together. He’s not going to get weak-kneed over Dom. Not here, not in public, not in the middle of the job. Not at all. He can pull himself together, control himself. He changes his posture, so he’s more sprawled against the car than cornered against it. It gives him a few more inches, makes him feel slightly more in control of the situation. “Dom. We can’t…now isn’t the time. Later.”

“You always gonna have an excuse, O’Conner? You don’t want this, let me down. I can take it.”

Brian’s mouth feels dry. “I…no bullshit?”

Dom seems almost amused. “I’d prefer it, yeah.”

“I’ve got no clue what to do if I get what I want,” Brian says, voice low and tight. “No fucking idea. So, rather than try to figure it out in the middle of this mess…”

Dom gives him a long, piercing look. “Alright, then,” he agrees. He sways in and kisses Brian. It’s quick, chaste, the only actual point of contact between their two bodies, and over before Brian really knows what to do with it. Dom gives him a lopsided grin as he backs off. “Just remember, that’s what’s waiting, if you want it,” he says, turning to saunter off.

Brian blinks after him, not really sure how to process this, how to handle Dom who ran out on them after kissing Brian in comparison to the Dom who teases and kisses him in broad daylight . After giving him a car, of all things. What, Dom came back and just decided he wanted this, and now everything’s changed? Different, now, the rules shifted between them once again? “What makes you so goddamn confident all of a sudden?”

“You ever know me not to go for what I want?” Dom returns without even turning around and, well. Fair enough, Brian figures.

 

“How you feeling today?” He asks Mia, helping her unload bags of groceries in her attempt to keep this motley crew fed.

She rolls her eyes at him. “Tell me it’s not going to be like this for the next six months.”

“No promises,” Brian says, figuring it’s better to be honest. “So…”

She huffs. “Fine. Not even nauseous. With your mother-henning, no wonder Dom thought you were the father. Might make you come to some doctor’s appointments with me, when I can, just for that.”

“Hear mother-henning is the family thing to do,” Brian says, unpacking another bag, not even arguing about the doctor’s appointments. It doesn’t exactly sound like a punishment.

“Yeah. Speaking of my brother…Giselle said you guys had a moment today.”

Brian tries very hard to hide his wince and isn’t sure he succeeds. “She saw?” He doesn’t wait for an answer. Doesn’t really need one. “What’s he playing at, anyways?”

“Oh, no, I am not getting involved in this. For one, I don’t get involved in my brother’s love life. For another, helping my ex hook up with my brother crosses too many lines for me. I just wanted you to know…she knows, some of the others probably do too. So if that’s why you’re putting him off…it’s not an issue.”

Brian bites his lip, because she’s right. It’s not fair to ask her. Not fair to ask Letty, either. A disaster to ask Dom. A different but probably worse disaster to ask Rome about it. He’s left without a place to go at this point, really.

She sighs. “Giselle,” she calls, voice only slightly elevated to reach further into the warehouse, where Rome and Tej dragged in couches and tables the other night. “C’mere.” Giselle does, practically appearing out of shadows as she’s so good at doing. Brian tries not to jump. “Tell him what you told me,” Mia instructs, then leaves, regardless of the fact that the food isn’t completely put away.

Brian studies her. He likes her, can’t help it. Likes the way she takes no shit, likes the way she gave them Braga’s location without a second thought, likes the way she answered Dom’s call without even asking what the job was. Still is a little leery around her, though, and not just because she could kill him without much effort.

Giselle shrugs, an elegant look on her. “Just that, once I saw it, I realized I already knew. He already told me.”

“He told you?” Brian demands. Bullshit. Absolute bullshit , no way in hell had Dom said anything, no fucking way he’d actually even figured it out first—

“Maybe he didn’t realize,” she says. “When we first met, at Campos’ party? I asked him what kind of girl he liked.”

“And, he, what, said me?” Brian scoffs.

Her smile says she knows more than him. “Maybe he didn’t realize it. Men are slow. But, looking at you now…he described you.”

Brian dismisses it with a wave of his hand. “You’re reading into it.”

“No, I’m not,” she says assuredly. “Because his look that night…it’s what told me he was taken, not available for me. And it’s the same look he has everytime he looks at you.”

She doesn’t leave room to argue or debate, just walks out, leaving Brian to unpack the rest of the groceries and mull that over.

Chapter Text

“Hey, guys, we have a problem!” Mia shouts from the computers, calling to the rest of the team.

“Yeah, the whole team just got burned,” Brian adds, looking over the alerts coming in over her shoulder. Extremely Dangerous . A good way to get them shot on sight.

Everyone else makes their way over from their little living area, coming to see what all the fuss is about as Brian pours over the details flashing across Mia’s computer screens.

“This guy, Hobbs, he’s…he’s Old Testament,” Brian says slowly, looking around. “Blood, bullets, wrath of God…that’s his style.” Hobbs is the last guy he wants on their ass, because Hobbs is pure in a way that will not benefit them. He’s not in this for the promotions or the glory, he can’t be bought or mislaid. He’s some sense of righteousness, pure fury that Brian really, really doesn’t want to cross.

“Think we need to get some fresh air,” Dom says, and the surety in his eyes both frightens and invigorates Brian. Dom’s confidence is catching. It’s also liable to get them all killed.

Brian just nods, though. He’s not exactly going to be the one known for his impulse control, not when Dominic Toretto is around.

 

Tracker placed, message sent—and Brian probably should not get a sort of perverse thrill, watching Dom mouth off to Hobbs, watching him lead the racing community of Rio with just an arm wave, but he does and he doesn’t deny it, at least to himself—they make their way back to the warehouse.

Tej makes a move to go check over the tracker with Mia, while others move off, probably to get some sleep. Dom leans against the hood of the Charger. “Hey, man, you okay?” Brian asks, hands in his pockets as he draws near.

Dom pats the hood next to him, and Brian falls into place. “Old Testament, huh?” He rumbles.

“From everything I heard, everything I ever saw…Luke Hobbs is a wrathful God on your ass. You can’t escape him and he’ll kill you if he’s set his sights on it.”

“You think he’s gonna get us?”

“Think we need to be careful,” Brian says.

“Yeah.” Dom says it almost dismissively, like it’s a conclusion he’s already come to, accepted, dealt with. Brian hopes it is, hopes Dom isn’t blowing this off. He knows they’ve done everything they’ve can, he just has to hope that it’s enough. “He really hated you, huh?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, me, I get. I’m a piece of shit ex-con who got away with the truck-jackings, ran from the law for five years, and busted out of prison. Understand why a guy like Hobbs might take issue with me. But you…”

Brian shrugs. “Yeah, well. I’m a dirty cop, Dom. Cops like Hobbs don’t take too kindly to dirty cops. Out of the two of us, I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the one he wanted to shoot more, ‘cause sure, you don’t exactly follow the law, but I make them look bad. That’s worse.”

Dom starts the minute dirty cop crosses his lips. “You’re not—”

Brian manages to summon up a wry, twisted smile. “Course I am.” It hurt, at first, to come to terms with that term for himself. Dirty cop. What he spent his adult life hating, and now here he is, up to his eyeballs in it twice over. “Dom. I broke the law.”

“Yeah, but—”

“Guys like Hobbs, the but doesn’t count for nothing,” Brian says. He closes his eyes for a split second. It’s almost funny to hear Dom defend him from this charge, considering Dom’s been calling him a shitty cop for months now. But dirty cop and shitty cop don’t mean quite the same thing, not in Dom’s book, as Brian knows full well. “But nothing. I’m a dirty cop.”

“That bothers you.”

“Shit yeah it does,” Brian says. “Dirty cops are—are scum, you know? In on the take, hurting people, in it for themselves. That’s what I always thought. That it was a real obvious line, here’s right and here’s wrong, that some things might be blurry but that ain’t one of them. Well, here I am, on the wrong fucking side of that line.”

“You regret it?”  Dom asks quietly.

Brian takes a deep breath. “Nah,” he says. “Don’t regret anything I’ve done for this family.”

Dom’s looking at him. Brian’s not quite looking back. “You’ve given up a lot for us. Don’t think…don’t think I realized how much, ‘til you told me that night.”

That night Brian had screamed it at him, what it had cost the first time, to take care of the family. “Dirty cop,” Brian points out. “Since…well, shit. Hard to pin it down. Probably since that day at Neptune’s Net, ‘cause that’s when I knew for sure. You were jacking those trucks. Might not have had hard evidence, but I knew. And I pretended I didn’t. Definitely when I went after you guys. Let you go.”

Dom’s face scrunches like he’s thinking hard. “Dirty cops are…are mob guys. Shaking down business owners, roughing suspects up, taking a cut. Not…not guys looking out for their families.”

Brian’s little wry smile is back. “Sure they are,” he says. “Broke the law, didn’t I? And in the eyes of people like Hobbs, it’s one and the same.”

Dom shifts off the hood, like he needs to get up and pace. Brian, for the first time lately, is the one who reaches out. He grounds Dom with a hand to the shoulder, a light squeeze that stops all movement. “Hey,” Brian says. “I don’t regret any of it, alright? Dirty cop or not…I’ve made my peace with it. This family’s worth it.”

Dom tenses for a minute, then leans back against the hood. He’s still stiff, but manages to summon a smile for Brian. “When’d you get so damn good at family?” He asks.

Brian laughs. “Still suck at it,” he admits freely. “But I’ve always been a learn as I go type of guy.”

“And what’re you learning?” Dom asks. And just like that, the air shifts. It’s not much, but enough. The tentative, unspoken, world-shaking thing between them blossoms up once more.

It’s easier to talk to Dom when they don’t acknowledge it. If they act like whatever they were, instead of whatever they are. But if there’s one thing Brian knows, it’s that you can’t ever go backwards. Maybe they never really were that thing, if everyone else is to be believed.

“That when we’re done with this,” Brian says, looking Dom straight in the eyes, “We’re going to get that house for the four of us. Five of us, now, I guess. And it’s going to have whatever the fuck Mia wants it to have. And we’ll help her with the baby, and we’ll figure out our shit as we go.”

Dom nods seriously. “Sounds smart. ‘Cept I’m miles ahead of you, O’Conner. I’ve been figuring out our shit since I left your ass in Mexico City.”

Brian’s throat feels dry. “Oh yeah? What’d you figure out?”

“That, wherever this takes us, whatever happens next for us…doesn’t have to change anything we’ve already got.”

Brian’s brain turns that over for a moment. “That’s what spooked you?”

“Part of it.”

“Me too,” Brian admits.

Dom manages that smug half smirk. “I know.”

“Oh yeah, how?”

“‘Cause this is the most normal conversation we’ve pulled off since that race,” Dom says, pushing himself off from the hood. “And whatever else we do, whatever else we add…nice to know I was right, and we’ll still have this. Now, c’mon. We gotta make the cameras work tomorrow.”

Brian follows Dom, more on auto-pilot than anything, turning all that over in his mind.

 

“The window’s too small,” Han says, climbing out of the car. “The only way to beat the window…is with invisible cars.”

Brian looks at Dom as he mulls that over. “I know just where to get them.”

 

“It should not be this easy,” Brian says, disgruntled on behalf of his former profession, but sure enough, they pull five black-and-whites out of the lot and onto the city streets without any hassle at all. Giselle gets them over the fence, but no one makes even a half-assed attempt to stop them rolling five black-and-whites out of the police lot.

Different city—hell, different continent— but the feel is familiar. “Been a while since I’ve been in one of these,” he comments.

Dom grins at him. “First time I’ve ever been in the front seat.”

Brian can’t help but picture it. Has seen pictures of it, an official photo slipped into Dom’s file after he was arrested for the death of Kenny Linder. Was probably shoved in the back of a couple of black and whites, after they arrested him in the desert.

Never again, as long as Brian’s still breathing.

Rome finally rolls up. “Hey, Rome, what took you so long?” Brian calls. “Thought you’d be showing up with some chrome spinners or something.”

Then Rome drops his challenge—a hundred-thousand quarter mile.

“Yeah, your broke ass got a hundred grand?”

Then Han raises it to a million, and Letty’s open laugh is what seals the deal. She revs her engine. “Oh, you’re on.”

“Million dollar quarter mile.”

“You only live once,” Rome says. “Let’s do it.”

“What you say, Dom?”

Dom grins at him. “We talking or we racing?”

“Just don’t cheat this time.”

“Gotta let that go.”

The light changes. Rome’s off the line a half second early, lights going, and Brian has the briefest flash of him, like he was when they were fourteen, fifteen, before they were arrested, laughing like a maniac behind the wheel of sports cars they had no business being in. Then he’s all focus.

Everyone here’s some of the best drivers in the world, each and every one a formidable opponent. But as much as Letty edges up on him, or Han on Dom, it’s really just a race between the two of them. Him and Dom.

Brian’s practically holding his breath, a bad way to drive but he can’t help it, every nerve thrumming with the energy, with the engine, as he pushes for just a little more. Five identical cars, for all intents and purposes, no NOS systems, no upgrades, just who can muscle the most out of their car.

He crosses under the next light a nose ahead and suddenly it feels like he can breath again, like all the air comes rushing back in. “Yeah! Owned you! Owned you!” He shouts, grinning so wide it hurts his face a bit.

Dom’s grinning too when he pulls up beside him though, so Brian figures he doesn’t take Brian’s trash-talk too badly. “Good race, O’Conner.”

“Thanks, Dom.”

“Whatcha gonna do with four million dollars?” Dom asks.

Brian hasn’t really even been thinking about the money. Brian’s never really had anything to put money into, besides necessities and cars, and holy shit , he will have fourteen million dollars when all is said and done. “ Holy shit ,” he says, and he’s experienced enough to realize that he’s probably half-stoned from his win but not really in a position to do much about it. “Holy shit I’m gonna have the greatest car.”

Dom laughs. “Lookin’ forward to it.” He revs the engine. “C’mon. ‘Fore the actual cops show up.”

 

They pull their cars into the warehouse, and Dom wanders off. “You know how long I’ve been waiting for that shit?” Brian says to Rome when he walks up.

“Told you he didn’t see it,” Han says to Letty.

Brian looks between the three of them. “Your man right there? Let off the throttle at the line. You didn’t do nothing. He let you win,” Rome says.

Brian looks between them. Roman might screw with him. Han wouldn’t. “Bullshit,” he says anyways, but just gets a raised eyebrow.

“Nah, that’s just wrong ,” he protests.

Letty just gives him a chuckle as they walk off.

He looks over at Dom, who’s looking back, eyebrow quirked at whatever he sees on Brian’s face.

“That true?” Brian says, walking over.

“What true?”

“You let me win.”

“Winning’s winning,” Dom says, in that bullshit way of his, deliberately not answering.

“Sure, when it’s really winning. Not when you let me win.” Dom cocks his head, neither confirming nor denying, which, really is all the confirmation Brian needs. It takes some of the air out of his sails, sours something inside of him.

Brian’s never been handed anything a day in his life, but the assumption that he has has always followed him. That Brian got off working a shitty beat and on undercover assignments because he sucked some dick, that his pretty face got him in Tanner’s good books, that the FBI took him back for more than just his undercover skills.

And now, here they are, and it’s the same bullshit all over again, only this time it’s kind of true.

Dom just cocks his head, watching Brian. “I like watching you race. Liked watching you win,” he says. He figures out pretty quick that that’s not helpful. “‘Sides, once you get that car, we’ll go again.”

“Damn right. ‘Cause I am keeping your money.”

“Counted on it,” Dom says. Dom jerks his head towards the others. “C’mon. You gonna mope, or you gonna join us?”

Brian’s half-tempted to say mope , just to be a petulant asshole, but he bites his tongue. “Yeah, alright,” he says instead. “I’m comin’.”

Dom lets Brian go first, falling in right beside him. “I missed that smile, you know,” he says as they walk, voice gruff. “Seein’ a lot more tonight than…pretty much any time, recently.”

Well, Brian hasn’t had a ton of reasons to smile lately, considering the circumstances. Sure, they’re free and they made it to Brazil and Mia’s pregnant and they’re all together, but an international drug kingpin want to kill them—again—and they have Hobbes up their asses and Dom and him, however much progress they’ve made, are still up in the air. “I’ll smile a lot more when I kick your ass in the next race,” he says, but he’s smiling as he says it.

Dom laughs. “Sure thing, Bri. Whatever you say.”

 

They’re closing in on the job, just around the corner now, which means things are getting tight. Details need to be looked after, they need to be ready. Brian’s ice starts building back up. He needs it, to be ready to go, to be ready to work.

So he’s not exactly ready to be welcoming and accommodating when Vince, who almost got them killed , walks through the front door. But Vince saved Mia at the market and Brian would forgive just about anything for that, and Dom invites him back with open arms, in that very Dom Toretto-way. “You hungry? Good, ‘cause you’re saying grace.”

Brian shakes Vince’s hand, even summons a smile. Doesn’t particularly want him here but won’t say no. Whatever happened, Vince is family. And if they can let Brian back in, if Dom and Mia can forgive his sorry ass and open their doors to him for a second chance, then Vince certainly gets a second chance. Even from Brian. Especially from Brian.

Letty, for her part, walks up to her old friend and hugs him hard enough Brian’s worried ribs are going to crack, then socks him in the arm hard enough a bruise is a guarantee. Brian winces, but Vince doesn’t flinch.

Brian gives them some privacy, wonders through the gathering, the impromptu barbeque that’s happening. He remembers his first one, at the Toretto house. “It’s almost like a family ,” he’d said, right? Everyone had looked at him like an idiot. He’d felt like one, too, under their stares.

He looks around the room now. The faces have changed a bit, new ones added in, Jesse lost forever, Leon disappearing. But he gets it now, looking at the group assembled in front of him. Family.

He’d had a foster mother, the same one who taught him to drive, who liked those inspirational, cross-stitch pillows and samplers. Had a couple about family. Brian wonders if there’s one for this. Family is the people who will rip off an international drug kingpin with you . Probably not.

He makes his way over to Mia, who’s camped out next to the computers with a plate of food piled high, which she is digging into, apparently not caring much about the reported quality. “Hey,” he says.

“Don’t start,” she warns him.

“Wasn’t gonna. Mind if I sit, or is that starting?”

She grins. “Try it and see.”

Despite the warning, he takes his chances, sitting next to her. She does nothing but brandish her fork playfully for a second before digging back in.

Just when Brian’s about to offer to go get her more—which she would probably deem as starting , but if she’s hungry, he wants to make sure she has what she needs—Roman’s loud voice cuts across the quieter moment. “We’re less than twenty-four hours from the biggest celebration of our life. Ya’ll need a refill. This is serious stuff.”

Brian takes the beer, but Mia tries to evade, turning away from it. When that doesn’t work, she tries to tell him no. “No, I’m good. No, no. I’m good.”

Rome, naturally, doesn’t hear her, because it takes a bullhorn and a flashing neon sign to get through Rome’s head sometimes. “No, she can’t,” Brian says a bit louder than Mia, trying to cut through Rome’s pushiness.

Rome turns to him. “What you mean, she can’t? What you mean…” It seems to dawn on him. “Are you serious right now?” His shout, of course, attracts the others, everyone getting up to work their way over. “Are you serious?”

Mia nods, and Brian can’t help but grin. Shit, it’s like finding out all over again. A baby. Little Toretto, six months away and counting.

“Shit, is that why you let him beat you at the quarter mile?” Rome calls to Dom while Giselle reaches for Mia, smile on her face. “That was a baby gift.”

“Whoa, whoa whoa,” Brian says, hands up like he can physically ward that off. Mia’s laughing into Giselle’s shoulder while she hugs her, no help to him, and he makes a mental note to get her back. Probably in six, eight, ten months. He can wait. “Not my kid. Not my kid.”

Dom’s laughing at him, too, Brian can see now. Brian narrows his eyes. Asshole. Dom , he can get back at a lot sooner. Once this job is done, he should watch his back. “ Why is everyone assuming this?”

Rome turns to him, shit eating grin on his face. “You know, you’re just every white suburban Dad stereotype waitin’ to happen.”

Brian just flips him off. Not even Rome’s attitude is enough to dim his smile as everyone takes a turn hugging Mia.

Tej and Roman trade a couple of crude jokes that thankfully make Mia laugh—if they hadn’t, Brian’s pretty sure he would have been obligated to punch them—and Giselle asks about when the baby’s due. Letty doesn’t seem surprised. Brian wonders when Mia told her, if she knew before they did. Probably.

“You know,” Brian says to Dom when he gets closer, “I’m gonna take what’s left of that money and buy that kid one kickass gift.”

“Nah. I get first car. ‘Sides, kid’s a Toretto. Gotta buy American. None of your shitty imports.”

Brian blinks at him, watches Dom’s face slip into an even wider smile. “I was thinking beachfront real estate, but you know what, for that, fuck you. Skyline it is.”

“Why don’t you worry about your own car first, huh, O’Conner?” Dom teases, nudging Brian with his shoulder on the way by him, walking towards the rest of the gathered crowd.

Dom holds his Corona up when he draws close to the group. “A toast.” He waits until he has everyone’s attention. “Money will come and go. We all know that. But the most important thing in life will always be the people in this room. Right here. Right now. Salut, mi Familia.”

“Salut.”

Brian takes a drink, looking around.

“Now,” Dom says. “We’ve got a job to do. So, everyone eat, drink. Celebrate. But, be ready tomorrow morning.”

With laughter and one more clink of beer bottles, they move to do just that.

Chapter Text

Brian’s given into the urge to pace. They’ve been waiting now for what feels like hours, waiting for Mia to give them the go signal. It’s time to get this done, to get their money and get out, and all they need is a clear window, one Hobbs-free opportunity to steal a hundred million dollars and clear right out of town.

He’s not the only one restless, but most of them opt to wait by their cars. Brian, who’ll be last out, doesn’t have to worry so much. He just needs to start. Needs to do something .

“Hobbs is on the other side of the city!” Mia finally calls out from the computers. “We’re not going to get a better window.”

Dom, all business, calls out the job. Dom, Letty, Vince, Mia, and Brian are left behind as the others rush out, and Brian’s keyed up, raring to go, wishing he was behind a wheel already. “One hour away from the rest of our lives,” he says to Mia.

She looks over at him from where she’s watching the computers, half a smile on her face. “Yeah.”

It’s Vince’s voice that breaks the spell, the lull of waiting that’s settled over the warehouse. “Cops!”

Brian curses, reaches for Mia, trying to hustle Mia out, at the very least, get her out the back and out of trouble. He can’t do much for the others, they’ll have to make their own way, but he can do this.

But they get cornered, boxed in by Hobbs and his team. Brian scans the exits, finds none. Hobbs and his team must have been watching them, spoofed their tracking somehow, fucked with them, because they know this place, truly have them cornered. Mia’s already got her hands up, biting her bottom lip as she looks around, and Brian follows suit. Brian wants to snarl that the guns are overkill, but he knows these guys. Trigger-happy, shoot first, ask questions later. Better not to cross them. He lets them be corralled. Not that there’s much of a choice.

Dom starts a knock-down, drag-out brawl with Hobbs, the kind that’s going to get Dom killed, whether now or later, because if Hobbs doesn’t take him out, then the other agents certainly will.

Punches are flying and both men are taking a beating. They go through glass and Brian’s heart lurches, watches the blood flow and neither of them so much as flinch as they continue to pummel each other.

Mia’s screaming for him to stop, voice raw. Brian feels like his heart is in his throat, like he can’t speak around it, can’t fucking breathe . He lunges forward. Someone grabs him around the elbow: Letty, holding him back from getting in the way, getting his own head bashed in by one of the two going at each other on the floor. Brian can’t help it, he strains against her grip, but she’s strong and she’s stubborn and she doesn’t let him go get his head bashed in.

Dom raises a wrench and Brian swears his heart fucking stops altogether. But Dom stops. Maybe it’s Mia’s screaming finally getting through, maybe it’s his own conscious, whatever. He stops.

He looks up at them, from his knees, face sweat and dirt streaked and a little bloody, and Brian’s never seen a man so defeated. Not at the train tracks that day, not when he was sentenced. Never.

Brian lunges forward again, not really thinking, this time acting on autopilot, needing to get to Dom, to do something, offer something , but he’s held back again, this time for a DSS guy whose grip is a lot less forgiving than Letty’s.

Brian hangs his head, unable to look at Dom, at Mia, at Letty, at Vince, as the five of them are cuffed, as Hobbs, spitting blood on the floor, leads them to his truck.

 

Brian can’t quite catch his breath for a moment, which is ridiculous, because he’s not the one who was just in a fight. He just can’t get enough air, can’t get it together. If only he could get enough air, he could think this through, come up with a plan, and…

There is no plan, when it comes to Luke Hobbs. He told them from the beginning. The man is Old Testament. You don’t fuck around with him. He’s all bullets and blood and wrath of God, and he caught up with them. God like that always catches you, in the end.

They’re put on a convoy, Hobbs up front and the five of them restrained in the back. Hobbs’ local liaison watching them. Brian takes a deep, ragged breath, trying desperately to fill his lungs, once the truck starts moving.

Keep your cool, Brian. That’s your meal ticket .

He closes his eyes for a second. They have only a few feet between them and the blonde officer, another foot or so between them and Hobbs, and not much hope to do anything with it. They’re chained, the truck is moving, everyone but them has a gun. Soon enough, they’ll all be on a plane back to the States, where it will all be over.

Brian knows his own rap sheet. Knows Dom’s, Mia’s, Letty’s. Knows they’re sticking them with the deaths of the DEA agents, knows Dom will get assault on a federal officer tacked on for Hobbs and, hell, the rest of them may very well become accessories to that.

Knows they’re looking at serious, serious time. Never-get-out sorta time.

Brian closes his eyes. Dirty cops don’t survive prison. Pretty ones like him die bloody fast.

Can’t think about that now. Can’t change that now. He made his bed, now he’s going to lie in it. What he has to focus on is what he can change.

Brian leans as close to Mia as he can, keeping an eye on the blonde officer without looking directly at her. “Tell them I made you do it,” Brian says to Mia in an undertone, hoping his voice doesn’t carry.

Mia starts. “Brian—”

“Shut up,” he hisses, probably the rudest he’s ever been to her but there’s no time. “Tell them I threatened you. And Letty. Made you do it.”

No one would believe it, really. Hobbs wouldn’t, and probably no one else. But who would want Mia Toretto when they could have Brian O’Conner? She’d point the finger at him. He’d cop to it, too. It’d make it all nice and neat, and no one would ever have to ask how sympathetic a defendant Mia Toretto or Letty Ortiz would look, how a jury would react to a crying, pregnant Mia Toretto.

He can’t do anything for Dom, already convicted and sentenced to twenty five years to life before the prison break and botched train heist, nevermind the assault on Hobbs. He can’t do anything for Vince; no one will ever believe Brian coerced him. But he can use people’s biases against them, make them believe that the big, bad corrupt cop threatened the two pretty women into helping him. Get them out of trouble.

At least reduce their sentences, so they see the outside of cells again. So Mia’s kid gets to know their mom outside of a prison.

He certainly can’t do anything for himself, because he absolutely is guilty of everything but killing those DEA agents. He’s going to prison, and they’ll take joy in putting him there, and it’ll almost certainly kill him. What does it matter, if they add a few more charges? He won’t get extra dead, or anything. And if it helps the others, then it’s the right call.

“Think about the baby,” Brian whispers. He looks up, scans the car. The blonde cop is watching them, but she doesn’t say anything, not even telling him to stop talking. Whether she thinks they’ve been reduced beyond the capability to be threats or just doesn’t think it matters is beyond Brian. Hobbs is talking to his driver, looks like he didn’t hear a thing, didn’t know there was anything to hear.

Then he looks around the back. Letty’s stone-faced next to Mia, might have heard some of what he just said but doesn’t acknowledge it. Vince looks practically green, and Brian suddenly remembers his kid, his wife, that this guy has a whole life he will, in all likelihood, never see again. Not like Rosa and Nico will come for visiting hours. Vince can’t exactly sponsor them for green cards.

And Dom’s staring straight at Brian, eyes not moving an inch even with the bouncing of the truck. Brian can’t really get a read on his face, but thinks there’s something in his eyes. Regret, maybe. Regret that it all ends here, probably. That it’s over before any of it—their new lives, the house, the baby, them—started. Brian takes a deep breath and stares right back, refusing to blink, to flinch.

Whatever happens next—and it’s going to be awful, so deeply, awfully miserable, of that Brian has no doubt— they’ll have this moment. And if this is the last time they see each other, they better look their fill. They’ll all be separated soon enough, and it might be forever. Not like anyone’s going to be stupid enough to let Dom and Brian near each other. They won’t be allowed to write each other.

Hobbs shouts out a warning of the ambush a second before the truck in front of them is just gone, hit by a rocket and gone . They start taking fire, and suddenly Hobbs is out the door of the car, gun drawn, and the blonde cop is left to watch them.

Brian studies her for a moment. Good cop, he thinks. Wants to do the right thing. Believes in justice. Rare breed. Hobbs wouldn’t have picked her if that wasn’t true.

“Cut us loose,” Brian says, rattling the chains, already holding his wrists out.

“C’mon, cut us loose!” Vince echoes.

Her eyes flick back and forth between them, uncertainty present. But Brian can see the calculation, the resolve. She nods, and Brian lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

 

The streets are horrific, an absolute kill box. Reyes’ crew thought this through, positioned themselves well. Hobbs’ men are sitting ducks, taking heavy fire from weapons that have no rights being on the streets.

Officer Neves looks hesitant about handing them guns, but it’d be pretty ridiculous to send them out there to help without them, so Brian doesn’t let her squeamishness get in the way, instead just taking one as soon as he’s cut loose and letting the others follow suit.

“Stay in the van,” Dom barks at Mia, who’s hauling herself into the front seat. She looks up and nods.

Brian bites his lip. The least they can say is that the truck is bulletproof, but in a minute or two, it won’t matter. Reyes’ men are here for a massacre, and they will wipe out anyone standing between them and killing the five of them. They’ll kill everyone until they can just walk into the van.

Brian leaves Mia a gun and pushes the back door open.

Most everyone’s dead. That’s Brian’s first assessment, everyone’s dead and, Jesus, this really does feel like a war zone. He, Dom, Vince, and Letty have the advantage, at least, entering the fight with fresh ammo, and start to pick off Reyes’ men. Dom goes to get Hobbs, who seems to be the only one left alive, while Brian and the others provide cover.

Retreat is the better part of valor, Brian figures. Reyes fucked them, and good. As soon as they all get in the car, Neves floors it, not much caring what might be in her way.

 

Dom looks frozen, like a bulldozer couldn’t knock him off his place at Vince’s side. Brian swallows, can’t get a good view, isn’t sure he wants one. He’s seen plenty of bodies in his life, but Vince is…seeing Dom, seeing Dom take this in, is enough.

It’s like Jesse all over again, reality punching them in the gut, spiraling out of control, only Brian didn’t have to stick around and watch the after affects when Jesse died. Now he’s here, watching the terrible stillness.

Han breaks it, because he didn’t know Vince, doesn’t care about him beyond the fact that someone’s dead, five people almost went to jail and he doesn’t want either of those fates for himself. Brian, distantly, hears him making a plan to get them all out of Rio as he continues to watch Dom.

“Not to run away,” Dom rumbles, voice deep and full of so much anger, such a deep, bitter current that it makes Brian flinch. Not from fear, because he’s never really been afraid of what Dom’s anger would do to him, except maybe that afternoon when Brian called for the Medivac—for Vince, which is a fresh wave of misery—but from his own hurt. That Dom can hurt this much. “To finish the job.”

There’s bickering, of course, and they’re rational enough. It’s a suicide mission, at this point. They don’t have a plan. Reyes is waiting, and he’s clearly well armed. Vince is dead.

Brian agrees with them, but he can’t look away from the look on Dom’s face. The look that says he understands them, but he’s impenetrable to that bullshit. His mind’s been made up. They’re doing this batshit crazy thing. Because Vince is dead, and Dom is all about family, and vengeance and blood is so deeply encoded in Dom’s DNA it’d be just about impossible to stop him from doing this now.

And Brian…well, sticking it to Reyes sounds real good, right about now.

Hobbs is the one who cuts through the noise. “I’m in. I’ll ride with you, Toretto,” he says. “At least until we kill that son of a bitch.” Brian looks at him, looks at that righteous fury. The wrathful god found a new target, and until he takes that target out, the enemy of his enemy is his friend.

Everyone shuts up, takes that in. Brian steps forward. “So, Dom, what’s the plan?” He says. They’re doing this. He knows it, Dom knows it, Hobbs knows it. Better get to it. “Can’t go sneaking around anymore.”

Dom shakes his head. “We don’t sneak. The only thing he cares about is money. We pull that, we pull him.”

 

Once Hobbs and Neves leave to report in about what happened, about the carnage taking up a city street, Dom turns and pulls Mia in, then Letty, then Brian, checking them over with his eyes, with his hands, like he’ll spot a bullet they’ve all somehow missed so far. “You’re all right?” He checks, two, three times for each of them.

“Fine,” Brian says automatically, raising a hand to touch back, going to the cut on Dom’s face, right above his eyebrow. It’s deep, might scar. Brian frowns, runs his thumb just under it. “You took the worst of it. You okay?”

“Fine.”

Brian doesn’t believe him. Debates letting him get away with it, but takes a deep breath and decides against it. Dislodging Dom’s hands from him gently, he drops his hands slowly, dragging them down Dom’s neck, shoulders, chest, ribs, checking for injuries as he goes. Dom’s breath hitches a few times, but Brian watches closely and he doesn’t see pain until he gets to the ribs.

“Hurt?”

“It’ll be fine.”

“Not what I asked,” Brian says, palpitating the skin.

Dom huffs. “Not broken. I can breathe. Little sore. Didn’t we go through a window?”

Hobbs and Dom did, in fact, go through a window, among other things, and if some bruised ribs and a couple cuts are the worst of it, then Dom should count himself lucky. Still, Brian doesn’t stop, working his way down the rest of Dom’s torso.

Just when he’s debating if he wants to go any lower—and the look Dom’s giving him is half-daring him to—Rome walks up. “Look, cuz, we may have the Hulk on our side for now, but no way he gonna let us walk off with that money. What’s the plan?”

Dom and Brian both blink, the connection, the moment, broken. After a second of lingering, Dom turns to Rome. “Alright, listen up,” he says, his voice not particularly raised but drawing everyone in anyways, as it always does. “New plan. Need everyone here to get to work.”

 

They don’t have a ton of time, what with Reyes getting more and more bold, more and more protective of his money. But they do need a little time, to get things worked out. While Tego, Rico, Tej, Rome, Giselle, and Han are out hunting down pieces and parts, Letty, Mia, Dom, and Brian are left tensely around Vince’s body.

“Need to get him back to Rosa,” Dom says lowly.

Mia bites her lip. “Until we’ve taken out Reyes…”

Dom shakes his head. They don’t know how much time they have. Hobbs might be on their side for now, but it’s not permanent. Once Reyes is dead, they might not be able to come back here. And none of them can bare the idea of just leaving Vince behind.

“I’ll go,” Letty says suddenly, arms crossed defensively over her chest. “Reyes ain’t after me, I didn’t steal his stupid chip. Doubt his men got a good look at my face. I’ll take him to Rosa.”

“Are you sure?” Dom asks quietly.

Letty takes a deep breath. “Yeah. Someone needs to bring him home. Should be family.”

Dom nods tightly. He doesn’t let any of them help get Vince ready to go, cleaned up and wrapped in a sheet. Brian helps move Vince to the car, eyes hard, because shit, he might not have loved Vince, but he can be here to support Dom, literally carry this weight with him.

Once they have Vince loaded in and ready to go, Neves walks up. “You’re bringing him to his family?” She asks softly.

“Yeah,” Letty says shortly, watching her.

She nods. “I’ll go with you.” The whole group tenses. She sees it, would have to be blind not to, but doesn’t back off. “With Reyes’ men out there, you’d be crazy to go alone. Besides. He was gunned down in our streets. His family deserves to hear it from the police.”

Brian doesn’t say that he doubts Rosa will be comforted by the police, considering how things tend to go in the Favelas. Then again, he did his share of bereavement calls. Not much of anything is a comfort. She doesn’t seem like she’ll hurt and at least she speaks the language, unlike Letty. He nods.

“Get back as quick as you can,” Dom says tightly. He touches the sheet, three gentle fingertips right where Vince’s forehead would be, and lets the touch linger for a second. “Tell Rosa we’re thinking of them. And…be safe.”

 

When Giselle slips away to get the garbage truck and Rome distracts Hobbs so he doesn’t notice her sudden absence, Mia makes her way over to Brian. “We going to talk about what you said, back there?”

“Nothing to talk about,” Brian says shortly, closing the hood on his car. “It was the right call.”

“Brian, they would have killed you.”

Brian looks up at her. She’s bitten her lip to the point where it’s all chapped, and she’s bitten her nails down, too. This all better be over soon.

House money , he reminds himself. Some big fucking house on a beach, somewhere, for the five of them. As soon as this is done.

“Mia, adding one more charge wasn’t gonna make a difference. What we were looking at, all of us, we were never seeing the outside of a cell again.”

Of course, for Brian, any sentence is a life sentence. He knows that. She knows that. They all know it, really. He doesn’t have to say it out loud. The point is, adding years on the end won’t matter, because dead is dead is dead.

“I couldn’t…Brian, I couldn’t say that about you, let people believe…”

“Listen to me,” Brian says firmly, wiping his hands clean so he can walk over to her. “Say what you need to say to take care of yourself, alright? You and the baby. Lie, blame me, whatever. I don’t care.” Brian decides to be honest. If she feels like she’s the one killing him, she’d never do it. She’s too good. “Mia, you know. If they get me back to the States, in prison, I’m dead. Just a question of how long. So…it doesn’t really matter. Do what you have to. And it’s not like…everyone I care about, who cares about me, is here. Not worried you’ll ruin my reputation. You’ll know the truth. That’s enough for me.”

She bites her lip, doesn’t make any promises. Brian wants to force one out of her, but knows that this is the best he’s going to get, because Torettos are stubborn as anything he’s ever seen. “It won’t matter, will it?” She says quietly. “‘Cause we’re going to finish this, and then we’re getting to a country with no extradition, and that’ll be it.”

She’s not naive. She’s making herself believe it, which is really all any of them can do at this point. “Right,” he agrees. “We good?”

She reaches out and squeezes his shoulder. “We’re good.” The shoulder squeeze doesn’t seem to be enough, because then she’s hugging him, a full grab than sends him off guard for a moment before he’s holding her back. “Brian. Thank you.”

“Hey. Anything for you guys. You know that,” Brian says. He hopes she does, anyways. He pets her back a few times. “You didn’t tell Dom about this, did you?”

She pulls back, eyebrow raised. “What do you think?”

Brian winces. Right. Yeah.

“You should maybe deal with that. Sooner rather than later.”

Brian takes a deep breath. Yeah.

 

Brian fnds Dom near the wrecked body of the Charger and winces. He hasn’t really gotten to study that wreckage yet, considering how quickly Hobbs hauled them out of here after wrecking her and how busy they’ve been. It looks pretty bad.

He’s sick of seeing this car wrecked.

“I don’t know whether to punch you or kiss you,” Dom says without turning around.

Brian stops a few feet away. “Leaning in a particular direction?”

“Ask me again with this is done. Jesus Christ, Brian.”

Brian wants to ask if that qualifies as a prayer or a curse, but doesn’t want to sway Dom towards the punching direction. He takes a few steps closer. “You know I’d do anything for you guys.”

“There’s such a thing as too much.”

Brian closes his eyes. “No, there’s not.” It is one hundred percent the truth, something Brian found out somewhere along the way. Long before Hobbs arrested them. Before he decided to go after that prison bus. Maybe as far back as when, fully knowing what would happen next, he gave Dom the keys to the Supra. There is no cost he won’t pay. Not for them.

Dom’s silent for a minute, completely still, staring straight ahead. Then he wraps an arm around Brian’s shoulders, pulling him in, so Brian’s pressed to him, shoulder to hip.

Brian leans into it, letting Dom take some of his weight. “Can’t stand seeing the Charger like this,” he says.

“Just a car, Bri.”

Brian snorts. “Bullshit.”

Dom’s Dad’s car. Lovingly maintained, never driven until that day at the tracks, rebuilt by Letty, then Brian and Letty again. This car’s driven from LA to Rio, seen the world with them. This isn’t just a damn car.

This car is where Brian feels like he met Dom, for Christ's sake. He knew Dom, liked him, respected him, even, when Dom first let him into the family for the first time. But their conversation in the garage behind the Toretto house is where Dom turned every preconceived notion Brian had, every piece of information the FBI had force-fed him, on its head. In all likelihood, it’s where his loyalty shifted, half here, half in the Supra, and if Brian’s not ever going to get that Supra back, he’d prefer not to lose the Charger too.

Dom shrugs, the arm around Brian rising with the shoulder before settling back around Brian. “What do I know? Mia says it’s a curse. Maybe it is.”

Brian closes every last inch between them, taking away any gap of air, making sure Dom really feels him in his space. “Nah,” he says. “Just a car. Damn good car, though. And you love that car.”

“Loved,” Dom says. It’s hard to argue with that—the Charger isn’t exactly road-worthy right now, and every one of them is still working under the assumption that they’ll be moving out of here with a fire under their asses.

“Hey!” Hobbs barks out from halfway across the warehouse, up on the platform they used for monitoring the track. “We gonna finish this or not?”

Dom sighs, then gives Brian a squeeze before letting go. “Hey, Bri?”
“Mhm?”

“We live through this, I’m leaning towards kiss.”

Brian snorts as he leaves, but doesn’t move to follow him, just looking at the wrecked carcass of the Charger for a minute longer.

Chapter Text

“Alright, alright!” Letty shouts, hanging halfway out the window to her car, revving her engine. “Let’s go make some money!”

That seems to be all the signal they need, because cars start peeling out of the warehouse. Brian keeps right on Dom’s tail, following him behind Elena and Hobbs to the police station.

It’s amazing, Brian thinks, how long they prepared for a stealth mission, how much effort they put into that, when the answer turned out to be the complete opposite. Literally every cop in Rio is firing on them when they hook the cables to the vault, and Brian’s pretty sure that they couldn’t make more of a scene if they tried, tugging a ten ton vault behind them.

Driving with Dom is…Brian doesn’t have an accurate comparison. There’s nothing like it in the world , the feeling he gets, like they’re pieces clicking together. Two bodies, two cars, but somehow one mind, one movement. They don’t even need to talk, half the time, radios remaining silent as they read each other’s driving.

Driving with Dom in a race is one thing. One electrifying thing. Driving with Dom doing something that’s probably never been done before, something just a little better than impossible, something so dangerous and demanding and adrenaline-filled, is enough to drive Brian absolutely wild.

He’s wired a little backwards. Always has been. Got more pleasure from boosting cars in high school than chasing girls, considered a more dangerous assignment with the FBI its own genuine reward. But now, having the best of both worlds, Dom, someone who gets him on such a deep spiritual level, and the cars and the adrenaline, together, is a mind-blowing, truthfully kind of erotic experience.

Not that Brian allows himself to be distracted. Much. This is a job; it takes every ounce of concentration to pull off what they’re doing, as crazy as it is. Still, it’s something to store away. For later.

They wouldn’t make it half as far as they do without the team, without Han, Letty, and Rome clearing them a path, Mia calling it out. “You just made yourself a ten-second window. Make it count.”

The hand off goes smooth, like they’ve practiced it a hundred times instead of Dom verbally sketching it out once in a stolen moment, and Brian whoops as they pull away. Dom turns just long enough to grin at him, and then they’re away, ten second window gone.

But then they’re on the bridge, and Reyes’ crew is closing in.

“There’s too many of them! Hey, there’s too many of them, we’re not gonna make it!” Brian calls, eyes looking for a window, scanning for options that he just doesn’t see coming.

“You’re right,” Dom says, calmly. Too calmly, Brian realizes. “We’re not. You are.”

“What’re you talking about?” Brian demands, starting to panic, get jittery in his seat, irrationally wanting to grab Dom and pin him in place. Not let him do whatever dumb thing he’s about to do.

“Mia’s gonna need one of us,” Dom continues, voice still level. “Look after her, alright?”

Brian swallows around the lump in his throat. “No, I’m not leaving you. Stick to the plan!” He can’t… he can’t do anything, he realizes with a sudden jolt. He can’t do anything to stop Dom, nothing but stare and hope and beg, and Dom doesn’t seem to be moved.

“This was always the plan,” Dom says, and then he releases the line, leaving Brian speeding away up the bridge, car still full throttle and released from its burden, while Dom begins to turn himself and the safe around. “Never too much for family, Bri,” he says, and then his radio cuts out.

“Damn it!” Brian shouts, pounding the steering wheel.

“ —Dom, you listen to me. You cut loose and—” Mia. Dom doesn’t seem to be listening to her any more than he did to Brian. Brian swears again, then flips his radio off. Not like Dom’s going to suddenly start responding, and he can’t afford the distraction of the others trying to get through to him.

He spins around, and almost loses control and has to course correct when he sees the carnage Dom’s bringing. He’s using the safe like a weapon, and Brian’s not sure how exactly he’s calculating his swings but he’s doing it, like he can direct the safe to do his bidding on the back of his car.

He’s wiping out Reyes’ men’s cars and cop cars, taking out as many as he can, clearing a path. Brian’s not sure exactly what he hopes to accomplish. He can’t take them all, can’t get away. Even if he manages to get to Reyes and take him out, there will always be more.

Brian frowns. Dom’s always been too fond of the idea of going out in a blaze of glory for his liking.

He keeps a little bit of distance, otherwise he’ll probably get caught in one of Dom’s swings without Dom even knowing he’s there. But Dom over-extends, the safe goes over the edge, and he has to bail out of the car.

Brian’s out of his car in a second, there to cover Dom, shooting ZiZi twice in the chest. “Thought I told you to go on,” Dom says, not looking at him as he gets himself off the ground.

Brian wants to hit him. Or kiss him. Like Dom said, it’s kind of a toss-up. “Not without you,” he says. “Not again.”

Dom turns, slow, and Brian watches as he moves, both because he’s so fucking glad to see Dom still alive, and because he’s evaluating for injuries. Looks okay. A little banged up, definitely stiff, some road-rash. Nothing broken, probably.

He lets out air he didn’t even know he was holding. They’ll be okay. Dom’ll be okay.

Hobbs rolls up, too late for the party but just in time to shoot Reyes.

“You know I can’t let you two go.”

Brian tenses. They knew it, that Hobb’s loyalty would end when the job did. They didn’t want to be here, anywhere near Hobbs, when all was said and done. They could make a break for it, to the car. They can outrun Hobbs. The question is, can they all clear out before Hobbs gets back to the warehouse.

“ —Way I see it, you’ve earned yourself twenty-four hours. Money stays, though.”

That’s it, then. Twenty-four hours, the vengeful God showing mercy. It’s a weird look on Hobbs, but Brian isn’t going to question it. Just walks over to the car.

Dom reaches for his keys, and Brian, for the first time ever, snatches them back, taking a step away, firmly towards the driver’s side. “Nah, see, that’s your car over there,” he says, pointing over the guardrail and into the water. “You wanna drive, you don’t wreck your car, get me?”

And Dom just gives him that crooked smile that makes Brian’s heart melt a little bit before he climbs into the passenger’s seat.

As soon as the door is shut and they’re moving—better not give Hobbs a chance to change his mind, or closely examine the vault—Brian flicks his radio back on. “I’ve got Dom,” he says.

Brian’s looking at Dom more than the road, like he has to make sure, but it’s okay. Dom’s looking right back.

 

Brian’s pretty sure there’s some prayer going on as Tej works the safe open. The room’s silent enough to hear a pin drop, for sure, and Brian wrings his hands.

He’s in a weird space, coming down off one adrenaline high, crashing a bit but still in limbo, waiting on the money. It’s messing with his head, making him a bit loopy.

The vault clicks, then slides open, stacks of bills sliding along the floor with it. Brian can’t help watching their trajectory until they come to a stop, then lets his eyes slide up. His breath catches in his chest.

They’ve been saying a hundred million dollars, but he realizes now that he really had no concept of what that would ever look like, how much green that is, exactly.

It’s Rome’s laugh that cuts through the silence’s in Brian’s head, that introduces sound back into the world. He’s laughing like a maniac, like he did when they boosted something particularly sweet.

Then everyone else filters in, Giselle’s laugh muffled by a kiss, Letty’s wild, disbelieving laugh. Mia comes up and hugs him tight, around the neck, there and gone, seemingly going person to person. “House money,” she says, laughter in her voice before she moves.

Shit. House money. It’s all real, now. All here. This is their chance. They can disappear, start over, have everything they ever need, ever wanted.

Dom’s not moving, just taking it all in, a plan coming together, everything, for once, working out for them. Brian moves to his side and actually takes his hand, rubbing his thumb along Dom’s knuckles, which makes Dom jump a bit, but Brian couldn’t care less, because Dom basically tried to kill himself an hour ago and now here they are, pulling off probably the greatest heist in history, each ten million dollars richer.

Dom settles after a second, anyways, his hand relaxing as he looks over at Brian, smile fixed to his face.

“We gotta move, Dom,” Brian says, because as much as he hates to ruin the moment, Hobbs was serious about the twenty-four hour lead. And hell, they did walk away with the money; that couldn’t have endeared them to the guy, although how Hobbs could have ever thought they’d do anything else, Brian doesn’t know.

Dom nods. “Alright, let’s pack it up,” Dom calls, and then Rico’s rolling out industrial trash bags, and everyone’s filling the trunks of cars with trash bags full of cash.

They split pretty quickly, hugs and handshakes and claps on shoulders, until it’s just Letty, Dom, Brian, and Mia left behind.

Letty’s grinning. “Forty million dollars,” she says.

“Forty million,” Dom agrees. “Think that’ll buy us a place to land?”

“Think we can make it work,” Mia says.

“Good,” Dom says, moving an extra sack of cash into the back of one of the cars, moving hundred of thousands of dollars like it’s nothing. “‘Cause we’re gonna need you to scope out a place for us.”

“Not coming with us?” Letty asks, but her lascivious grin makes it clear she knows exactly what’s going on. She just wants to make them say it.

“Nah,” Dom says easily, not giving in but not denying it either. “Brian and I’ll take the long way.”

“Need this then,” Mia says, handing them a burner phone. “And we expect to at least hear from you soon.”

Dom pockets the phone, and Mia throws her arms around him, pulling him close, burying her head in his chest. Dom holds her, rubbing hands up and down her back. “Be safe,” Dom says into her hair.

“You too,” Mia says, letting him go and latching onto Brian next, hugging the air right out of his lungs, so tight it’s all Brian can do to hold her back, not let her fall over with the force of it. “I’ll see you guys soon, right?”

“Real soon,” Brian promises. “Hey, so. I made four million bucks on a street race the other day, and I’m thinking beach.”

“Noted,” Mia says, laughing. She pulls back, holding his arms and looking at him for a second before backing away to stand by Letty. “So, a beach for Brian. Any other requests?”

“We’ll need a big garage,” Dom says.

“Well yeah. We’re Torettos, that was a given.”

And Brian just smiles dopily. Torettos . He likes the sound of that.

 

Mia and Letty head off into the sunset, Letty driving her Civic out of Rio, back weighed down visibly by all the cash. Dom moves to the passenger’s seat, not even disputing Brian’s claim to the keys. Seems to have taken Brian’s comment about him forfeiting his right to drive when his car fell off the bridge seriously.

“Where to?” Brian says, thumb tapping along the wheel as he leaves the warehouse behind.

Dom doesn’t look relieved, though. He still looks serious, like he’s on a mission. “Got one more job to do.”

Brian knows the way to Rosa’s house still. She’s out, which is probably a good thing, honestly. They don’t have time for chit-chat. Every minute they’re not putting distance between them and Hobbs is a minute lost.

They leave the money, though, a few million dollars, enough to get them anything they need and them some. A new house, a college fund for Nico, whatever she wants. Dom leaves a note, and then they slip out the way they came.

Once they’re back on the road, Dom seems to relax. He settles back against the seat, letting his body sprawl. “Alright, O’Conner,” he says, characteristic drawl creeping into his voice. “Where we headed next?”

Brian grins. It’s a rhetorical question, he knows. Nowhere to be but the open road, away from here. So he picks a direction, and opens her up.

 

Dom sleeps after the first hour, and Brian reaches over to wake him up an hour later.

“‘M not concussed, Bri,” Dom says, glaring at him from one half-open eye.

Brian’s unrepentant. “Uh-huh. Prove it.” Brian watched that stupid stunt Dom pulled earlier. Frankly, he’s impressed Dom’s not already dead, nevermind concussed.

“Ask me whatever you want,” Dom says, sitting upright.

“What’re you going to spend your money on?” Brian asks.

“Car. The kid. What else? Thought you were supposed ask questions like my name and where I was born.”

True enough. “Where were you born?” Brian says half-heartedly.

“Lived at 1327 my entire life,” Dom says.

“What was your first job?” Brian asks. These are shitty questions, because Brian is only relatively confident of the answers.

“Dad got ten years free labor outta me at the garage and the track ‘fore I was good enough for him to start paying me,” Dom says. “‘M I good?”

“You’re good,” Brian says, although he’s not really convinced Dom is in any way good. He’s at least not going to die of a concussion probably. “Go back to sleep.”

Dom just stares at him for another moment before doing so, head lolling against the back of the seat. When his eyes are already closed, he reaches out, over the shift, and his hand lands on Brian’s thigh.

Brian holds very, very still until he knows Dom’s asleep, keeping his foot steady on the gas. Once he knows Dom’s asleep once more, he takes a deep breath and looks away from the road a minute, just to look at Dom’s hand, big, blunt and tan, against his beat-up jeans.

He doesn’t wake Dom for another three hours, and Dom doesn’t move.

 

When Dom wakes, Brian’s already scanning for a gas station. They’re really running on fumes. Dom stirs slow, lazy like a cat waking up. His hand doesn’t move off of Brian’s thigh.

“You know,” he says, when Brian finally finds a gas station to pull into, “This was Letty’s original idea for making money.”

“Pumping gas?”

Dom snorts. “Jacking gas trucks. It’s what we did in the Dominican.”

Brian considers that. “Seems less dangerous that robbing Reyes.”

“You should’ve seen our last job.”

Brian doesn’t doubt it. Jobs with Dom seems to always end up big and loud.

“Doesn’t matter, though,” Dom continues, stretching in his seat. “We won’t ever need money again.”

The back of the car is weighed down with their ill-gotten gains. Mia could buy three mansions, send the baby to an Ivy League school, buy gold-plated teething rings and a crib made out of diamonds, and they’d still never be able to spend it all. They’ll never need money again.

Brian knows better though. “It’s not always about the money.” The truck jackings hadn’t just been about money. Sure, the family could use the money. Jesse was paying his dad’s legal fees, Vince was paying his mom’s medical care, Dom was paying off the last of the garage and Mia’s college. But there were easier ways, easier crimes. Team Toretto is all about the adrenaline.

Dom smiles, slow and lazy, satisfied from sleep and, most likely, the satisfaction from the job well done. “Think we can find a different type of adrenaline rush these days.” He looks around. “Where are we headed, anyways?”
“Paraguay, first. Get over the border tonight. Then I figure, on to Argentina over the next few days. We can decide further from there.” They’re not exactly bound to South America, either. The papers Brian bought them to get them into Mexico have been burned, but they have enough to buy new identities good enough to get them on planes to go wherever they want.

Dom nods approvingly. “If you’re headed inside, I want a drink.”

So Brian pays for their gas with cash, adds on a pile of snacks and bottles of water and soda to tide them over, because he has no intention of stopping again until the tank is empty once more.

When he gets back to the car, Dom’s already in the driver’s seat and apparently not ready to tolerate arguments from Brian. “You need to sleep,” he says shortly. And Brian can’t really argue with that—he did sleep, a little bit, before the job, but it feels like it’s been months at this point—so he lets Dom drive.

He doesn’t sleep right away. Sometimes he has a problem with sleep, finds it hard to get out of his head, gets too keyed up. Dom seems to know though, because he reaches a hand up, works it into Brian’s hair, scratching at his scalp.

No one’s done this since Brian’s mom, some half-remembered sense trigger Dom unlocks. Brian’s eyes start to droop, his shoulders unlock.

“I miss the curls, you know,” Dom says, voice low, like he’s half-attempting to hypnotize Brian to sleep. It might be working.

Brian snorts, but everything is a little dulled, a little slow. “They made me look sixteen.”

Dom doesn’t respond to that, just keeps rubbing at Brian’s head. If he has to let go to shift gears, Brian is long asleep by then.

 

When Brian wakes up, he’s momentarily disoriented. It’s dark, the car is moving, and scenery is flashing by, too fast to place. He flails.

“Easy, Bri.” Dom’s calm, measured voice settles him almost instantly. It all comes back to him. The job, the twenty-four hour head start. The fifteen or so millions dollars in the back of their car, Dom and him driving to Paraguay.

“Where are we?”

Dom glances out the window. “Avar é .”

Brian furrows his brow, thinking over the map. “I slept for…three hours?”

Dom nods. “Just about. You feel better?”

“”M good,” Brian says, stretching a bit in his seat, popping his back. “No trouble, right?”

Dom looks over at him. “We’re in the clear now.”

He makes it sound so easy, like it’s done, but they still have the United States government on their ass, and Brian isn’t going to forget that. “Dom, we can’t—”

“I’m not saying we pull over and set up shop right here,” Dom interrupts. “Or head back to the States. But the worst is over. We’re free.”

Free . The word itself tastes weird, unfamiliar and new. Brian turns it over a few times. Finds that he likes it a hell of a lot.

“Dom, I…what the hell do we do now?” Brian asks.

Dom turns to him, grins. “Whatever the hell we want, Bri.”

 

They hit Londrina before they really talk again. “If you could go anywhere, where would you go?” Dom asks.

Brian raises an eyebrow. “Twenty questions again?”

“Got three hundred miles or so to go still. You gonna tell me no?”

“Never,” Brian says, honestly enough. “If I could go anywhere?” He thinks about it. Honestly, he spent so much of his childhood thinking about away , then so much of his adulthood making himself be satisfied with here . The idea is a little foreign.

“You know where we’re going?” Brian says.

“Do you?”

“Wherever it is. That’s where I want to go.” When Dom just looks at him questioningly, Brian shakes his head. “You don’t—Dom. I’ve never had anyone, anything. No place to be. The last time I’ve actually wanted to be anywhere is in the passenger seat of the Supra. Not saying it would’ve been the right call, that I was welcome or that I should’ve been or anything. But as soon as you left, I knew it’s where I wanted to be. So where we’re going? That’s where I want to be.”

Dom just stares at him for a long moment while he drives, then pulls the car onto the shoulder. He throws it into park.

“Dom, what? I—”

“Shhh,” Dom says, and that’s the last thing he says for several minutes, because he’s reaching for Brian. He takes Brian’s face in both hands, tilting him and pulling him in before leaning in himself and kissing Brian senseless.

This isn’t like in Mexico City. This isn’t a lightning strike. It’s hot and electrical and overpowering, but the randomness and spontaneity of a lightning strike is gone. It’s all warm, consuming, assured in a way that Brian feels through every fiber of his being, and Brian leans into it, gets one hand on the back of Dom’s head as Dom pushes open Brian’s lips with his tongue.

Dom takes what he wants, and this seems to be like everything else. He’s self-assured and demanding, but giving in his way. Taking care of people, like he always does.

Kissing in cars might revv Brian’s engine in all the right ways, but the angle is never great, puts a crick in his neck. He pulls back reluctantly, licking over his lips, watching Dom watch him. “What was that for?” Brian asks.

Dom leans forward, just far enough to rest their foreheads together. “Told you I’d kiss you when this was done. You objecting?”

Brian realizes belatedly that one hand is loosely fisted in Dom’s t-shirt. “No,” he says shortly, pulling Dom in for another kiss.

Chapter Text

They don’t stay there, on the side of the road. They have hours and hours of driving left to do before Brian will feel even remotely safe to settle down. Dom might not feel the same urge to get as far away as possible as fast as possible as Brian does, but he seems willing to indulge.

Driving doesn’t exactly prevent them from kissing, though. Short little things, pecks on the long straightaways, each one as electrifying as the last, each one promising more to come. Brian keeps compulsively touching his lips with his tongue, with his fingers. They tingle a bit. Dom seems to take that as an invitation to kiss him again. It creates a cycle, one that Brian’s happy enough to let go on.

“You know,” Brian says, pulling away from another kiss. They’re getting nearer to the border. “We’re going to need to talk about this.”

Dom gives a short laugh. “No shit.” He kisses Brian again, this time biting his bottom lip before he pulls away. “You volunteering to start?”

Brian, temporarily distracted by the tingling in his lip, takes a moment to process the question. “Okay,” he says after a moment. “Why’d you run in Mexico City?”
Dom stares at him for a second. “Starting means talking, not asking questions,” he accuses mildly. “But okay. Fine. I’ll go first. I left ‘cause I freaked the fuck out.”

Brian isn’t sure if he could pull off a look any more unimpressed. “No shit.”

“Yeah, okay.” He looks very studiously at the road for a moment before turning back to Brian. “Brian, everything about you freaks me the fuck out. First some dumbass punk getaway driver worms his way into the family. You know the last person we let in? Jesse. Kinda special circumstances. Not the most accepting bunch. But you were in. And I…probably had these feelings then, to be honest. But then you were a cop and I didn’t have to deal with it. And then…” Dom shakes his head. “I don’t do change well.”

That sounds remarkably similar to what Mia told him, after Dom bailed on them. “But you decided to come back.”

“Bri, I ain’t ever gonna leave you behind,” Dom says, reaching over to squeeze Brian’s thigh. “I know I’m a hot-headed idiot sometimes. I get angry, walking out is honestly the better option ‘cause otherwise I shout and I hit. But I know I’m gonna come back to you, Bri. ‘Cause this is real. And I do want this. You know what I thought, when I drove away?”

“What?” Brian asks after a moment’s pause.

“That I already missed you.” That hangs out there, hot and heavy, for a moment while Brian takes it in. Dom missed him. Dom wanted to come back. Might not have been ready to, but he wanted to.

“Missed you too,” Brian admits.

“Your turn, Bri,” Dom says. “What was up in Rio? Think I was gonna bail on you again?”

Brian thinks it over. “Nah,” he says. “You came back, you said you were back, I knew you were back. I trust you. I just…Dom, maybe you haven’t noticed, but things don’t tend to go my way very often. I don’t know what the fuck to do with this and it scares the shit outta me.” It’s as true as it ever was, as it was in Rio, in Mexico City, but somehow it feels less frightening, now. That Brian doesn’t know, but it’s all going to be okay, because Dom’s here beside him.

Dom’s grip on the wheel tightens. “You don’t want this?”
Brian gives a short, sharp laugh. “Did I say that? I didn’t say that. I want this. I told you, Dom. If you asked, I would’ve…I would’ve left with you that day at the train tracks, alright? It’s not about if I want it, it’s about if I know what to do with it.”

“You gonna bail?” Dom asks. He shrugs, looking back at the road, like it doesn’t bother him much. Brian can see the tightness around his eyes though. “I guess it’d be your turn, considering.”

“Nah,” Brian says. “If you don’t mind being patient with me. I’ll figure it out right here.”

Dom leans in for another kiss. This one’s a little longer, but Brian’s not about to protest. It’s not like he doesn’t trust Dom’s driving. He gets one hand up onto Dom’s face, stroking along his slightly stubbled jaw. His thumb keeps stroking even after Dom pulls away, smiling softly at him.

“Figure it out together, Bri,” Dom says before turning back to the road.

Brian takes a deep, ragged breath, much more than should be justified for a relatively little kiss. Then he leans into Dom, best as he’s able, and Dom drapes an arm around his shoulder as they drive.

 

About forty minutes over the border into Paraguay, Dom pulls over at a motel. They’ve been driving for about eighteen hours, crossed an international border, and seen zero law enforcement other than border patrol the entire way. They’re as safe as they’re going to get, considering what they did yesterday.

Plus, they both need showers, and real meals, and sleep in a bed. The front seat of the car isn’t the best place for them to sleep, tall as they are.

Dom pets the hood. “Knew this car was worth it,” he says.

Brian snorts. “You just wanted to impress me.” Brian eyes the distinctive blue, thinks they’re going to have to ditch her before too long, whatever Dom says.

“That too. Worked, didn’t it?”

It definitely did. Brian doesn’t say anything, just lets Dom get them a room—better to avoid the blonde guy making an impression—while Brian digs around in the trunk.

They don’t really have possessions, left Rio with basically the cash and the clothes on their backs, in too much of a hurry to do a thorough sweep of the warehouse. They’ll need to go shopping, Brian thinks.

The parking lot is empty, but Brian’s still careful, making sure the purpose of the bags in their trunk aren’t immediately obvious. He opens one and slides a banded stack of bills into his pocket, which creates an awkward bulge, but he and Dom will be able to split the stack in a moment.

Dom comes out, saunters across the parking lot, then brackets Brian in against the trunk, hands on either side. “Got us a room,” he says. “And directions towards a restaurant.”

“Good,” Brian says. He twists, cocking his hip towards Dom. “Grab some cash from me.”

Brian should have maybe thought this through a little more, and he can’t decide if it’s the best idea or the worst when Dom reaches into his pocket to pull out some of the cash. His fingers linger a moment longer than necessary, before he pulls out the money and shoves it in his own pocket.

As soon as Dom’s fingers are clear, Brian turns around, putting his back to the open trunk and his chest inches from Dom’s. He scans the parking lot once more. Still empty. Then he shrugs. Not like they couldn’t defend themselves, or be on the road again in ten seconds flat if they needed to be. Plus, Dom did just have his hand in Brian’s pocket: if there’s a line, they’ve probably already crossed it.

So he reaches up to hold Dom’s face and tilt him into a kiss, which Dom eagerly returns, stepping even closer.

With his free hand, Brian fishes the car keys from Dom’s pocket, then holds them up for Dom to see. “But I’m driving,” he says, breaking the kiss.

Dom grins, backing off so Brian can move and close the trunk. “Your car.”

 

Dinner is an exercise in frustration. Dom stares at him the entire time they eat, and Brian can’t say he’s much better. He learned some tricks about his mouth and forks a long, long time ago that Dom seems to appreciate.

“You’re a smartass,” Dom growls at him as they’re walking out the door, bill and tip left in cash on the table.

Brian grins. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He can feel Dom’s eyes on him as he walks back out to the car.

 

They return back to the hotel after dinner, carrying in their bags, leaving the cash piled by the foot of the bed, then lock the doors and pull the curtains. Brian looks around the motel. Not terrible. He’s definitely stayed in worse.

“Reminds me of your shit hole apartment.”

“Hey, now that’s not fair,” Brian protests.

Dom tilts his head, considering. “You’re right, that place was worse.”

“Just ‘cause it wasn’t a home I’d lived in for thirty years doesn’t mean it was bad .”

“No, the fact that it looked like the set of a horror movie made it bad,” Dom says, reaching into the bag for clean clothes. “I’m gonna take the shower first.”

He doesn’t ask, but Brian doesn’t really protest. He just sorts through the bags, lays claim to a bed, and waits for Dom to come out.

Whatever bad-mouthing Dom wants to do about this place, at least there’s enough hot-ish water for two, and Brian luxuriates under the shower when it’s his turn, scrubbing away the sweat and dirt from the job and the road.

Once he’s clean, he uses a hand towel to wipe off the mirror, then pulls out shaving cream and the cheap disposable razor, taking a moment to clean off his face. It feels nice to scrape off the days of travel, of planning. Like the job really is behind them, like they really can relax now, start over.

When he gets out of the bathroom, dressed just in a pair of shorts—it’s muggy in the motel room—Dom’s sitting on one of the beds, the TV on, the burner phone by his hip. “Mia an’ Letty are fine,” he says. “They headed North, all she’ll tell me over the phone. Settled for the night. Gonna keep moving for a bit. Then they’ll get papers, look for a place. Letty knows a guy.”

“We’ll need to get on that sooner rather than later.” Good IDs will go a long way to making them more secure. At the very least, it will give them pretty much unrestricted travel access.

Dom shrugs. “We’ll get there, Bri. One day at a time.”

Right. Quarter mile at a time, that’s Dom. “You never worry? Never think about the future?”

Dom slides a bit further down onto the bed, letting the pillows support his neck, turning so he can track Brian crossing the room. “‘Course I do. But if I let myself, all I’d do is worry. Everyone needs something, always something to do. Easier if I just…don’t get too far ahead of myself. ‘Sides, the way I’ve been going, don’t know what’s still going to be there tomorrow.”

Brian swallows. Thinks about that for a minute. Wonders if he should be hurt. Because here he is, and he has sold his soul to this, to the Torettos, to Dom. He is pretty much the dictionary definition of never able to go back . He crossed the line so far back he can’t even see it in the rearview anymore. He is ride or die for Dom, at this point. Might as well admit it, in his own head, even if he’s not stupid enough to think that other people—Mia, Letty, Giselle, hell, probably fucking Elena and Hobbs—don’t know.

And if Dom views this as something he can still do a quarter mile of a time, then they are, once again, playing by a different rulebook.

Brian decides, fuck it . There’s no room for misunderstandings in this one, not this time, because they’re getting back in that car tomorrow, and Dom better know where this road ends before they do. He sits down on the bed next to Dom, then lies down, propping himself up on his side. “I’ll tell you what’s gonna be there tomorrow, then,” Brian says neutrally. “I’m gonna be here. Letty and Mia will be waiting for us, and there’ll be a house soon, and then a baby that needs us, and you damn well will be there for your niece or nephew. And your family, if you called any of them back, you know they’d be there in a heartbeat. They took down Reyes for you. They’d do it again.” He reaches out to Dom, taps his fingers along Dom’s t-shirt covered stomach. “And for worrying…we got a lot to worry about. Hobbs is on our ass, we’re wanted by the US. But the worst of it’s behind us. And I don’t need anything from you, Dom.” Dom looks up at him, eyes heavy-lidded. “So, how ‘bout we carry those worries together?”

“Little more than a quarter mile, huh?” Dom says, knowing what Brian’s stuck on.

“How long you willing to give me?”

“The whole damn race. After, too. I wasn’t…I didn’t mean this. I ain’t questioning us.”

“No?”

“Nah,” Dom says, turning so he’s on his side too, pushing closer to Brian. “This all only works if it’s you and me.”

Brian feels the same way. He doesn’t need Dom, can go on without him, picked up his life twice without him, but it’s hard. Colder, less colorful. He definitely smiles less, laughs less. “Well, I told you, after the job, we could figure it out, and now we got all the time in the—”

“Hey, Bri?”

“Yeah?” Brian says, voice a little breathy. Dom’s very close now, and he’d hate the breathiness but he can’t help it, not with how he can feel heat radiating off Dom’s skin, he’s so close.

One of Dom’s big hands lands on his bare hip, right above his shorts. “How ‘bout we save the rest of the talking for later?”

And Brian…Brian can get on board with that.

 

Dom’s all focus, like Brian’s a car he’s working on figuring out, nice and slow, poking around under the hood. He tests this and that—a touch here, a lick there—just to see what reaction it’ll draw. He’s got his lips secured around Brian’s left nipple, lightly biting just to hear Brian’s hopefully quiet gasps, when he pulls away and looks up, chin resting on Brian’s sternum, and asks, “You done this before?”

“Had sex?” Brian asks, meaning to be sarcastic, probably coming out brain-dead, because, well, Dom honestly already has him halfway there. He’s had sex. It’s been a long time.

“With a guy.”

Brian swallows. “Not when I really knew their names,” he admits. “It was never…I was never…”

“I get it,” Dom says easily.

“You?”

“Nah.”

Jesus. No wonder Dom bailed in Mexico. Talk about a guy who doesn’t-like-change having his world upended. Brian doesn’t ask about prison, how that does or doesn’t factor into Dom’s experience or worldview, but, from his own knowledge, he’s sure it didn’t exactly help the situation. “Not worried about it?”
Dom flashes him an absolutely devastating grin, and Brian’s glad he’s lying down already. “Figure you’ll show me the ropes, O’Conner.”

Brian bites his tongue, doesn’t say it’s been a literal decade since he’s had so much as a handjob from another guy, and just nods. “Whatever you want, Dom,” he says, because, fuck it, that sentiment is and always remains true. He strokes a hand over Dom’s head, still stubbly, marveling a bit at the texture. He does it again. And again. Dom’s eyes drift partway closed, lulled by Brian’s movements. “Just tell me what you want. You set the pace.”

If Brian thought that would slow them down, he was greatly mistaken. Dom’s never done a single thing slow in his life, and about ten seconds after Brian finishes saying this, Dom’s hand is in his shorts. “No underwear?” Dom asks, biting his bottom lip as he teases through Brian’s pubic hair.

Brian’s mouth feels suddenly dry. He swallows a few times, trying to re-wet it, trying to get his bearings. “I…I forgot to bring some in with me.”

“Mhm. Sure,” Dom says, and then his hand is moving again, getting a real grip on Brian’s cock, and sweet Jesus, those calluses feel like nothing Brian’s ever felt before, little electric sparks making him buck into Dom’s grip, and Brian never wants to feel anything else ever again in his life , this is good, this is all he needs from now on.

“Like that?” Dom asks, and Dom’s a confident guy, it would sound rhetorical, teasing, except Brian knows it isn’t.

“Jesus Christ, yes, that’s good,” Brian murmurs, eyes sliding closed as Dom continues to stroke him. Brian raises one leg, planting it wide. This pulls his shorts a little tighter, making Dom have to re-adjust to keep moving his hand, but it’s probably not a bad thing. Brian doesn’t want to go off in his shorts. They need a plan of action, here.

If Dom just wants to feel another guy’s cock for the first time, fine. Brian’ll let him. If he wants to do it through the shorts so he doesn’t have to look at it—dicks look weird, and somehow they always look weirder than your own, Brian gets it—then Brian will indulge him. But if Dom wants more, they need to work it out, and soon-ish. It’s been too fucking long.

Even with his eyes closed, Brian can still feel Dom out, like he has a sixth sense for exactly where Dom is. He finds his t-shirt and pushes at the hem.

Dom gets the hint and works his t-shirt off, and Brian opens his eyes to watch. He’s seen Dom without a shirt before. Hard not to, around the Toretto house, around DT’s. The house has one bathroom, for god’s sake. The garage gets hot. Brian’s long been an admirer of Dom’s shirtless form.

This is something else. Something special, because before he’d reminded himself not to touch—that he wasn’t supposed to want to, in the first place—and now…

“Can I…?” He asks, not even having it in himself to be upset at how breathless he already is.

Dom nods, so Brian kneels up, hands already moving in front of him as he knocks Dom down to the mattress where Brian was just a moment before. Dom looks stunned, eyes wide and trying to take everything in, tracking frantically until Brian kisses the look right off his face, hands moving up and down his abs in what he hopes is a soothing enough motion. At any rate, Dom’s hands find Brian, one in his hair, pulling him close, the other on his spine, so Brian thinks he’s doing alright.

He wants to…he wants everything with Dom, really. Everything, anything. There’s a world of possibilities and Brian wants them all, that’s always his problem when it comes to Dom, isn’t it?

“I wanna suck you,” he says, lips pressed against Dom’s throat. The hand in his hair tightens, a fist convulsing before it releases, and the groan that rips through Dom vibrates against Brian’s lips. Brian chuckles. “That a good thing?”

Fuck it’s a good thing,” Dom says. “I…really?”

Brian bites his lip, nods. It’s been more than a decade. Doesn’t even remember the last time. Doesn’t remember it being particular good, or special. But he knows he wants it now, because Dom’ll love it, he knows that, and he’ll like doing it, knowing he can do that for Dom, tasting Dom, having that with him.

Brian pulls back so he can look Dom in the eyes, sees the naked, raw look on his face. He nods. “Yeah, I…yeah.” Brian didn’t think it would be possible, but his voice has gotten even lower, rougher. It sends shivers down Brian’s spine.

So Brian, slowly, keeping eye-contact, lowers Dom’s sweats and underwear, watching his cock spring free. He gets distracted, lets Dom take care of kicking his pants free, but he feels he can’t really be blamed.

Jesus, you’re gorgeous,” Brian breathes, lowering his head to Dom’s hip, just resting there a second.
Dom twitches, seemingly trying to hold as still as physically possible and failing. “I’m…”

Brian grins, pressing a kiss to Dom’s hip, wonders if he shouldn’t push it but feels a little too punch-drunk to stop himself. “What’s the matter, shy about me complimenting your dick?”

Dom squints down at him. “It’s just…gorgeous. Really.” He says it so unimpressed, like he thinks Brian is lying to him or something.

Brian bites his lip. This isn’t the time to tell Dom that he has lied to people like this before, seduced them for a cover, used his pretty face and smooth talking to get information or a way in. Not that he necessarily slept with those people—almost every time, it was just flirting, maybe a little more, nothing he regretted too bad—but he could tell Dom there’s a distinct difference between when he’s faking it and when he’s not, and that he could teach Dom pretty easily to spot the difference, that Dom would know that Brian is or isn’t fucking with him. Like a girl faking an orgasm, he thinks suddenly, and then has to muffle his smile against Dom’s hip.

He doesn’t share either thought with Dom, just looks up at him and smiles before pressing a series of kisses, daringly closer to his cock, biting lightly at the skin. “Call it like I see it.” Brian looks up at him, making sure to make eye contact. “Feel free to grab my hair,” he says, because he’d have to be an idiot to have missed Dom’s thing about it. “Just don’t hold me down, okay?”

Dom nods, which is about all the reassurance Brian needs. He starts out slow—it’s been a really, really long time—but even that seems to get to Dom, Brian’s tentative little lick at the head making Dom’s back arch. Dom’s already leaking a little bit, and it’s gratifying to know that Brian’s not the only one really, really turned on.

Dom’s big. Brian had truthfully known, had seen outlines and been able to make an educated guess, but knowing and knowing, because it’s in his face, are two entirely different things. Jesus. He licks his lips, then the head again, before taking the head in and sucking.

He’s all clean from the shower, salt from the pre-come, and a little bit of musky sweat from Brian getting him all worked up, which is enough for Brian to get a dopey feeling in his chest as he works his lips down a little further, applies a little suction, tries to remember exactly how to do this and make it good. Judging by him needing to use one hand to hold Dom’s hip steady, he’s doing okay.

He uses his other hand to roll Dom’s balls, slow and teasing. Dom’s huffing now, one hand squeezing in Brian’s hair and the other squeezing the motel sheets. Brian doesn’t think Dom’s likely to be a loud lover, but he can probably get him to be louder with a little bit of applied effort. He slides a little further down, hollowing out his cheeks and sucking, applying his tongue just so.

That gets an actual reaction that might qualify as verbal a huff and a little moan that might even be Brian’s name. Something warm blooms in Brian’s chest that has nothing to do with his slightly reduced oxygen intake.

All too soon, Dom’s tugging on Brian’s hair, moaning and grunting, and Brian takes it as the warning it is. He debates trying to swallow, thinks it might impress Dom, but has no confidence he can do it without sputtering and gagging, so he pulls off, uses his hand to stroke Dom off.

Dom comes in thick spurts onto Brian’s bare belly, and Brian watches his face the whole time. Some other time, he’ll watch the money shot.

Dom’s face gets tense for a split second, everything contracting almost like he’s surprised before it all goes lax, and Brian can’t resist leaning forward to kiss him, bite at that full lip. Dom’s kiss back is clumsy but Brian hardly minds.

When they pull apart, Dom looks wrecked, sprawled out on the bed, eyes hooded, his own come smushed between his and Brian’s bellies. Brian half-wishes he had a camera. This is a side of Dom he’s never seen before, never even knew existed.

Well, with any luck, he’ll see it a lot more often.

“Gimme a sec,” Dom slurs. “Then I’ll get you.”

Brian lies on the bed, tries for seductive but probably just looks stupid, all long limbs. Dom doesn’t seem to mind though. “Take your time.” Honestly, watching fucked-out Dom is its own reward.

Not that Brian doesn’t want an orgasm. That, he really does want. So he pushes his shorts down, gets them out of the way by kicking them to the floor, and begins to slowly, teasingly, stroke his own cock.

His grip isn’t tight enough to really do much, but then again, Dom’s got him pretty keyed up. Between Dom touching him and sucking Dom and watching Dom, a light breeze might set Brian off.

Dom stops him by grabbing Brian’s wrist. “Told you I got you,” he says.

“Mhm.” Brian lets his dick go. “What’cha gonna do, then?”

Dom cocks his head, considering. “What do you like?”

Brian takes it for what it is—a request for help Dom so rarely gives. Admitting he might not know what he’s doing.

Brian…likes many things, he knows, including a lot of things that are only theoretical, because he hasn’t had the best opportunities to do them before. Many of those things are not things he will suggest to Dom tonight.

“Sit up against the headboard, legs spread,” Brian instructs, and, mercifully, Dom does as he’s told. Brian slides between his legs, pressing his back to Dom’s chest, letting all his weight rest on Dom. Brian then takes Dom’s hand, and guides it back to his cock, where Dom takes apparently instinctive hold, causing Brian to buck his hips a bit.

Dom doesn’t need further instructions, and Brian’s not really in a place to give them. It’s been a long time. It’s been a pretty hot night for him.

It’s Dom. That’s really the only excuse he needs.

When he comes, it’s all over Dom’s hand and the sheet, and he ends up collapsing backwards completely onto Dom, head lolling and all. Dom just chuckles and supports him, pressing a kiss to the side of his head.

Which is…nice. Dom kisses a lot more than Brian thought he would, honestly, when he allowed himself to think about things like this. He thought Dom was too gruff, probably, that there was an undeniable soft center there but things like kisses would get lost in the mix.

He has a feeling he’s in for many surprises, that fantasy and reality will clash in weird ways. After all, he and Dom both know each other better than anyone in the world—the absolute epitome of ride or die, after what they’ve done—and not at all. How much time have they actually spent together, all told? Not counting when Dom was in jail, about two months.

Brian’s more than okay taking a good long while to figure it all out together.

Dom wipes his hand, then Brian and himself, on a corner of the sheet, then hustles Brian over to the clean bed, which seems like a sensible enough idea. Both still naked, they slide under the covers, and Dom throws an arm around Brian, preventing him from sliding away.

Which is just fine with Brian, who snuggles closer, back to chest under Dom’s arm. “You know,” he says, in the steadiest voice he can manage, considering the whole situation has pretty effectively knocked him on his ass, “too bad we were so quick tonight. I was more than willing to let you fuck my ass.”

Dom’s arm tightens around him and Brian grins, quick, there and gone, into the dark of the room.

“Nah,” Dom says. “‘Cause first time I fuck you, it’s gonna be over the hood of my car. Trust me.”

Brian’s breath hitches. “Okay, you won this round,” he says breathlessly, unable to stop thinking about it now.

It’s a damn good thought, even if it does make it slightly harder to sleep.

Does make for pleasant dreams, though.

Chapter Text

The next morning, they switch cars. Dom gets them a good deal on a halfway decent old Trans Am painted an ugly peeling green, and Brian might be sad to lose his car but it’s rather distinctive. “Temporary anyways,” Dom says, shrugging. “We’ll get better cars soon.”

Brian grins, stroking one hand over the hood of their new ride. “We gonna be car collectors now?”

“Would it be so bad?” Dom asks. “Big garage, full of our projects.”

Brian thinks about it. “We could start a business,” he says slowly, sliding into the passenger’s seat, “fixing up project cars, selling them on.”

Dom starts up the car, thinking on it. “You’d never sell ‘em,” he predicts. “We’d get too attached.”

Which is probably true. The happiest Brian’s ever been is when he and Dom built the Supra together. If he could have that car back here today, he’d take it in a heartbeat. “Would that be too bad?”

Dom smiles at him. “Nah,” he says. “Rich enough for it it, aren’t we?”

They keep saying it, but it hasn’t really sunk in yet. “I can’t even process what we’re gonna do with that much money.”

“Buy a lot of cars.”

Not the worst way to spend the rest of his life, Brian thinks.

 

They’re driving on through Paraguay, on their way towards Argentina. Dom’s pushing ninety, but it’s not a rush. No place to be, and really no worry that someone’s right on their ass.

No, Dom’s pushing ninety because he can, because it feels good to drive, because it makes something throb inside both of them. Brian has half a mind to ask if Dom was serious, about what he said last night. If he wants to make that fantasy a reality right now, right here, on the side of the road here in the middle of nowhere Paraguay.

Then he thinks about Dom, who had his first sexual experience with a guy last night, and bites his tongue. Too fast. Let this be at Dom’s pace.

Besides, he has that thought again about fantasy and reality, and the reality of it is is it sounds like a good idea, and Brian will make sure it happens if it’s the last thing he ever does, but fucking takes a lot of work, and he’s not sure either of them are ready for that.

Brian hasn’t been fucked in ten years.

“So…we looking for my sister the fast way or the slow way?” Dom asks, interrupting Brian’s train of thought.

“You think she needs us, right now?”

“Think she’d just as soon not see us for a little while. Considering everything.”

“Then let’s take the long way,” Brian says, grinning.

 

They have to stop to go shopping once more that evening. Turns out, the reason Brian didn’t have any underwear the night before wasn’t so much that he didn’t bring them into the bathroom as he didn’t pack any beside the pair he escaped Rio in.

It isn’t like any of Dom’s will really fit him, either. “Skinny little hips,” Dom murmurs in Brian’s ear, walking up behind him as Brian admits defeat and sets his bag aside. Both of Dom’s hands span Brian’s hips to make his point, squeezing slightly as his dick rocks against Brian’s jean-clad ass, so Brian assumes it’s not much of an insult.

“You planning on finishing what you’re starting?” Brian returns, grinding back against Dom, fully derailing the two of them from finishing packing for the morning.

They come that way, slow and lazy and building between them, with sloppy kisses that put a crick in Brian’s neck that Brian can’t really bring himself to care about. Dom flicks open the button on Brian’s jeans, works a hand in, strokes him slowly. “Maybe we shouldn’t get you underwear,” he mutters into Brian’s neck. “Kinda like this.”

Brian laughs, cut off sharply by Dom biting at his shoulder. “Yeah, you want me available at all times?”

Dom makes a noise that might be agreement, pressing kisses and bites into Brian’s neck and shoulder as he keeps working Brian slow, Brian working his hips, bringing the two of them closer and closer.

They both come in their jeans. It’s at that point they realize they only have the one pair each, and shopping becomes even more of a necessity, whatever Dom might say about Brian’s underwear situation.

Brian, despite the tackiness drying between his legs, despite his clammy jeans, can’t stop smiling. Jesus, Dom was right. They probably should take the long way. Considering everything, Mia and Letty would probably prefer it until they get this out of their system.

 

After their shopping trip, they shower—separately, unfortunately, and Brian might just have to figure out if he has the courage to call Mia and see if he can find a tactful way of mentioning that, maybe, in addition to the house having multiple bathrooms, one of them should possibly have a bigger than average shower—and change into fresh, clean clothes.

The motel room is like any other, boring and routine. Brian’s busy putting purchases into duffle bags so they can be sealed against insects when Dom looks around and sniffs. “Still better than your apartment, I guess.”

“Man, what do you have against that place?” Brian asks, not really too offended, not attached enough to the place to be. He does spare a brief moment to wonder what happened to the stuff he left behind there, how much damage the FBI did when they undoubtedly flipped it for nonexistent clues. Then he remembers he doesn’t care about any of that stuff. “It wasn’t that bad. I’ve definitely slept in worse.”

“See, that worries me.”

Brian looks around. “It’s not worse than this motel room,” he decides. “I mean, there was nothing wrong with it.”

“How long you live there, Bri?” Dom asks.

Brian does the math in his head quickly. “Two years, almost.”

“Yeah, see, that’s the difference. Motels like this, they’re blank, meant for passing through. The fact that your apartment was the same…not good.”

That’s…not a bad point, Brian has to admit. He shrugs. “Not much time,” he says. “I worked a lot. Didn’t live there much, really. It kinda was more like a hotel, I spent more time at whatever place I set up for my cover identity.”

Dom nods. “You always undercover?”

“Most of the time. It’s what the Feds brought me on for. It’s what I’m good at.”

“Always what you did for LAPD too?” Dom asks.

“‘Bout a year on a beat, but I think they always intended to tap me for undercover. Vice at first, then worked my way up.” Brian shrugs, self-conscious now. “I’m good at it. Always was. I was…am a pretty good liar.” He looks at Dom out of the corner of his eye, sees how he takes that. Dom doesn’t so much at twitch, so Brian keeps talking. “Plus, it’s…it’s easy to do a cover story, when there’s nothing tethering you to real life. Didn’t want my life, didn’t want the ones I made up. Was real easy, just slip back and forth. Until, you know, you.”

Dom gives him that half smile. “Me.”

Brian shrugs. “What, you thought I gave my keys to just anyone?”

“You must’ve really liked what we showed you.”

Brian looks at him. Not like any of this is a secret. “Didn’t know how good it could be. And Spilner and O’Conner, they weren’t too different, so it was…nice. Me but more, without all the cop stuff. Not every job was like that. Hell, most weren’t. Most were miles away from anything that felt even sorta like anything I wanted to be, so I had no trouble leaving them behind.”

“You’re that good, huh?” Dom asks. “Make a whole new person, completely unlike you?”

Brian swallows. Doesn’t say he was doing it as a kid, in Juvie, even with Rome. That every new family, new home, was a time to reinvent himself, that he had enough practice and he was damn good. He just nods.

“What kinda jobs?” Dom asks.

Brian studies him, knows Dom’s not enough of an asshole to makes this some kind of trap, but it feels like one anyways. “Little shit at first,” Brian says after a moment. “Lots of drugs. Then it went bigger, infiltrations, following it up the supply chains. That’s when they found out I was any good, stuck me with bigger assignments, jobs got real. Had to invent real identities for myself. Met real lowlifes. It was…” Brian shook his head. “It wasn’t all drugs. Organized crime, a couple’a times, gangs sometimes, when a white guy would do, prostitution twice, couple robbery crews. Good people, bad people, all of them I lied through my teeth for.”

“But not to us,” Dom says slowly.

Brian nods. “But not you guys. So yeah. Spilner ruined me for undercover work, really, though the Feds didn’t know it yet.”

“Why?”

“Once you have a real identity, one you want…you’d have to be an idiot to give it up. And maybe I could keep going ‘cause I lost you all, but I wasn’t stupid enough to give you up a second time.” He shrugs. “Maybe I could’ve kept going. If they didn’t fuck you over like that, if they gave you your pardon and…somehow…we were able to square the cop thing. I’ve seen other guys do it, go under and be glad to take the mask off and go home again. But doesn’t matter. They fucked you over and my choice was made.”

Dom gives him a look, a look that he’s given Brian a long time that Brian’s never been able to fully interpret, all intense eyes and pursed lips. Then Dom tugs him in for a kiss, and, well, Brian guesses he has his answer about what that look means now. Brian probably has his own I want to kiss you look.

Dom pulls away, leaving Brian kiss-stupid and heavy-lidded—whatever else you can say about Dom, and it’s a lot of things, you can never say that he does anything halfway, never gives anything less than his all—and goes to pull his boots back on. “C’mon, Bri,” he says, throwing Brian’s shoes at him, which he thankfully has the instinct to catch. “Let’s go.”

“Where?” Brian says, and they seriously will have to work on this, because he cannot become slow every time Dom kisses him, he just cannot, it can’t be how they live their lives.

“‘Cause I’m talking you out for dinner.”

Brian pulls his shoes on. “Oh, yeah? Sounds fancy.”

“Not really one for fancy dinners.”

“That’s okay,” Brian says. “Neither am I.” He gets his shoe on. “Let’s go.”

 

Restaurant options are a little thin on the ground, and neither of them are up for much in the way of exploring. They make it work though. They’re not exactly picky.

Dom even remembers to tell the grandmotherly looking store owner about Brian’s peanut allergy. Brian rolls his eyes. “I haven’t even had an allergic reaction since I was nineteen.” Which had been, he’ll admit, the product of being poor and being stupid about food labels. He never made the same mistake again.

“And if you’re careful, we won’t again. Maybe we should get papers in the next few days. Get you to a doctor,” Dom says.

Dom says we . Like Brian’s peanut allergy—drilled into his bones, subconscious and ever-present—is something they both share, like it’s both their jobs to make sure Brian doesn’t end up with his ass in the hospital. And maybe it should piss Brian off, because Brian doesn’t ask for anything, doesn’t need anyone, has reminded himself of that a thousand times.

Relatively confident no one’s watching them, Brian squeezes Dom’s hand. Dom squeezes back, easy as anything.

The food is delicious, thankfully peanut-free, and they do talk about the best way to get documents while they eat. Brian’s contacts don’t extend this far South. Dom’s don’t exactly either, but his time on the run made him know a lot more guys who know a guy than Brian does.

Brian smiles into his drink. “Panama, huh?”

“Never told you?”

“Nah.”

“Yeah. Panama City. After the DR. After Mexico.”

Brian nods. “Knew Mexico, ‘fore you guys even left really. Logical place to go. Beach in Baja, right? Letty told me about the Dominican. Didn’t know about Panama, though.”

“Guess I did pretty good, staying one step ahead of the cops,” Dom gives that crooked grin, and Brian doesn’t have the heart to say that there wasn’t exactly a manhunt for him, and certainly no one in their right mind would have placed Brian on it. “If we ever get separated…if we ever have to run and there’s no plan…that’s where we go.”

“Why there?”

“Good as place as any, right? Safe, well-protected…not connected to me yet. There’s a little mechanic’s shop…” Dom describes it, describes the children in the street and the old man who runs the shop and the auntie who leased him the flat. “If you get there, wait for me and I swear Bri, I’ll come for you, ‘cause I ain’t leaving you behind again.”

It’s as close a declaration of love as Brian’s ever heard in his life , even he in his messed-up heart knows that, and it almost makes him tear up a bit. His hand finds Dom’s, remnants of the food set aside. “I’ll be there,” he promises, as close as he can get to giving it back.

Brian looks around. They’re all alone, the old woman in the back, and he decides, fuck it, they deserve this. It’s been a long time in coming. So he leans forward and kisses Dom, slow and sweet and hoping it says the words he’s not quite up for yet.

Judging by the way Dom kisses him back, the message is received.

 

Dom hurries then out of dinner after that, then back into the car. He starts driving, and Brian’s content to lean back and relax until he processes that they’re definitely not going back to the motel. “You lost?” He asks.

“Nah.”

“Looking for something?”

“Somewhere quiet,” Dom says, eyes scanning roads and road signs as he drives.

Brian just settles in to wait, figuring they’ll get there when they get there.

“You were serious, about what you said last night?” Dom asks, voice clearly very careful even as he drives them further and further out of town.

Brian said a lot of things last night, but he knows what Dom’s asking about. “Yeah.”

Dom nods, and, seemingly coming to a decision, pulls to the side of the road. “So was I.”

Brian’s mouth goes dry. He was serious, is serious, but Christ, thinking about it and doing it are different things entirely. How long has he been thinking about this? If he’s counting dreams, suppressed thoughts, those little things that sneak up on him too fast for him to squash, years and years.

Jesus.

Still, there are practicalities to consider. “More than happy to blow you again, Dom,” Brian manages to say. “But fucking—we’d need lube.”

Dom raises an eyebrow. “Look in the glove box.”

So Brian does, and, sure enough, there’s a bottle along with a string of condoms, tucked right behind the title, the manual, and the stack of napkins Dom’s already shoved in there. Brian pulls it out. “When the hell did you get this?”

“When you were looking for underwear.”

“When’d you put it in here? I would’ve seen you,” Brian argues.

“When you were in the shower. Now, are we gonna play twenty questions again, or are we gonna fuck?”

A fair enough question, one that sends blood throbbing to Brian’s dick, but he needs to be reasonable, in control, here for another minute. “Dom, do you…you know…it’s not the most straightforward process…”

Dom huffs. “I know the mechanics, Bri. Done that part before.”

Brian rather not think about that. He wasn’t worried about that bit, anyways. Sure, fucking an ass isn’t quite like fucking a pussy, but as long as you understand the crucial differences, tab A enter slot B still pretty much applies. He still needs to make Dom understand. “Dom. I haven’t done this in probably ten, eleven years. Last time was some seedy club in San Diego, the prep sucked, and we used a condom but I tore bad enough that I still went to get tested, just in case, and I was fucked up for a while. Paint a clear enough picture? What I’m saying is, I fucking want this, but make sure you have the patience for it.”

He doesn’t care if Dom’s a little bit rough, if it hurts a little, because he can take it and he knows with Dom it’ll still be good , but he’s not here to end up with his body broken because of this.

Dom leans forward and kisses him, reaching into the glove box to fish the lube and condoms out even while his other hand snakes under Brian’s t-shirt. “You want this?” He asks, a hair’s breadth from Brian’s lips, his breath fanning over Brian’s face distracting him in all the best ways.

“Yes,” Brian admits. Not like it’s a hard admission. Of course he does. With his whole body, like a yearning he can’t quash.

“Good. Then let’s do it. Talk me through it,” Dom instructs, his hand still under Brian’s shirt. His blunt nails scrape lightly as he withdraws, making Brian shiver and his brain short. Dom leans back and opens his door, hand behind him as he gets out of the car.

Brian bites his lip, because, Jesus , here they are, this is happening. They’re going to have sex on the side of the road for the first time in a South American country while on the run from the United States government. Sounds about right.

Sounds like a dumb plan. They should be in a bed, room to spread out and go slow, take care of things.

But that’s not quite how they do things, Brian thinks, scrambling to get out of the car behind Dom, every ounce of hesitation gone. He undoes his button and fly as he walks around to the hood, pushes his jeans down below his ass, then leans forward, putting his ass on display for Dom.

Dom takes immediate advantage, palming Brian’s ass, rubbing and kneading in a way that has Brian closing his eyes, letting his chest relax against the hood, letting his legs spread a little further.

“You need directions or something?” Brian asks, hands flexing against the hood when Dom doesn’t get a move on.

Dom grunts, pinching Brian’s ass lightly in retaliation. “Thought you wanted to take this slow.”

“I said don’t break me. I didn’t say anything about slow.” Brian flexes his back, from shoulders down to his thighs, one slow ripple of muscles, letting Dom watch the play, hoping he takes the hint. If they’re going to do this, they better do this. Brian wants . “I don’t do anything slow, Dom.”

Dom chuckles. “I’ve noticed. And I ain’t gonna break you, Bri. Tell me if I hurt you.”

Brian hears the snick of the lube bottle opening, the distinctive squelching sound of Dom squirting some out, rolling it between his fingers. “You got this?”

Dom’s always been a show don’t tell kind of guy, Brian figures hazily, as that first finger starts to circle his rim, slow and teasing, blunt, calloused, slick finger exerting just the right amount of pressure to drive him a little crazy. Dom clearly knows the mechanics of what he’s doing, at the very least.

Either that, or he’s as good at figuring Brian’s body out as he is at any car’s.

The breach of the first finger is a little tense, but Dom’s patient, responding to Brian’s tensing and giving him a moment to calm down, to remember that he does, in fact, like this, want this. He kisses along Brian’s spine as he waits, bending himself double over Brian.

Brian moves his hips, a slow, experimental twitch, and when it doesn’t hurt, he gives his okay. “Go for it,” he says, pillowing his arms under his head, giving his arms something to do.

Dom takes him at his word, slow and steady on one finger, then two, then three only when Brian’s pushing for it, arching his back and probably shaking his ass like a whore. Dom doesn’t seem to mind. Certainly doesn’t comment. Just gives him the finger and soothes down Brian’s back with his free hand.

“Dom, I—”

“Yeah, Bri,” Dom says, voice low and soft, like he really knows what Brian was about to say, like he really just gets it. For all Brian knows, he does.

Brian hasn’t done this in a decade, has considered it very firmly a bad idea since then, but damn does it feel good with Dom, and damn is he ready for more.

It’s as natural as everything else between them, as driving and bantering and just being, and Brian’s always been addicted to being in Dom’s gravity but he thinks this might be taking it to a whole new level.

“Now,” Brian says, because he’s ready, he knows it, and even if he isn’t, if he doesn’t get more this second he is going to lose his goddamn mind. “Now , Dom. Fuck me now .”

Dom knows better than to ask if he’s sure, than to fuck around. He pulls his fingers out, slides on a condom, holds Brian open with one hands and pushes himself in with the other, slow and steady. Brian closes his eyes, bites his lip. Dom is big . Three-fingers-aren’t-quite-enough big. Bigger than Brian really can process at the moment.

But it’s just a burn, and it’ll go away. It’s almost good, promises more to come, and Brian leans into it, feels Dom’s broad, warm hand on his hip grounding him like a point of fire. Dom goes slow, for once, slow and steady, and Brian relaxes under the pressure, opening up for Dom.

“Thought about this a lot,” Dom admits lowly, voice rough.

Brian bites his lip, hard, to center himself. “How often’s a lot?”

“How many night’s between Mexico City and Rio?”

Jesus. That thought, right there, makes Brian’s dick, half-hard, twitch back full force.

Dom’s holding steady, but seems to realize the correlation between his words and Brian’s arousal, probably a rough situation for a guy as action-oriented as Dom, but he makes due. “Pictured you…Jesus Christ, Brian, my first wet dream since I was still a teenager. Pictured you on the Charger. Waiting for me. Teasin’ me.”

Brian’s picturing it now, as Dom thrusts a little deeper. He works his own hand down around his cock, stroking half-absently.

Dom thrusts again, and then he’s bottomed out, and it’s like they’re both holding their breath, waiting. Brian moves first, as pinned as he is to the car. Next time, he’s going to insist on being on his back, he thinks, get some leverage. He pushes slightly. No pain. Not even much of a burn. “Dom,” he says. “Dom, c’mon, fuck me, I—I want—” He wants Dom to fuck him. He wants Dom to fuck him now , until he needs the car under him to hold him upright.

Brian becomes acutely aware of where they are. Pants around his ankles, shirt still on, spread out on the hood of the beat up old Trans Am on the side of the deserted road, evening air cooling around them, as Dom waits to fuck him. He bites his lip, everything about this too surreal to be believed. He needs something solid, something substantial, to ground him.

Dom fucks into him, one long, hard thrust, and Jesus, yes, that’s what Brian needs. It punches a moan out of him, which he stifles the best he can in his arm as Dom pulls out again before pushing back in, setting a rhythm.

Brian moves around, biting his lip, looking for that magic angle. Knows it might not work out, considering, well…considering they’re just figuring this out. Happy to have Dom in him at all, really.

But Dom’s talented, and Brian should really know better, because Dom’s playing the game too, experimenting with his thrusts until, suddenly, it feels like Brian’s brain is sucked out with a straw, liquidated, everything in him liquid fire.

“Jesus Christ ,” Dom says reverently, having to hold Brian steady when he goes boneless under the now perfectly angled assault, and no one can say Dom doesn’t learn fast, because he keeps going, right at Brian’s sweet spot.

Dom grabs his hips tighter, pulling him up into his thrusts, and Brian goes more than gladly, working himself over in time to Dom’s thrusts.

Dom comes first, hands gripping Brian’s hips tight enough to probably leave bruises, which Brian isn’t exactly upset about. Brian’s not far behind, hand working himself faster and faster.

When Brian’s fully lucid again, he’s lying flat on the hood, legs barely supporting any of his weight. He groans and rolls onto his back, then pushes himself onto his elbows.

Dom studies the scene. “Huh,” he says. “Come on the hood of a car is a lot less sexy in reality.”

“Oh, shut up,” Brian complains good naturedly, swiping at Dom and missing by a mile. His arms are a little clumsy.

“Just saying. We have to drive back like that,” Dom continues, but he’s smiling.

Brian sighs, then pushes himself the rest of the way up, stripping off his ruined t-shirt. He wipes the hood, then his hands.

Dom’s busy putting the lube away and tying off the condom. Brian sighs and pulls his pants up. “C’mon,” he says, “before we give someone a free show.”

Dom grabs him before he can go too far, though, reeling him in and kissing him hard, all tongue and teeth in a way Brian definitely isn’t going to protest, claiming and rough and solid. When Dom lets him go what feels like an eternity later, and only a few inches away, Brian asks, “What was that about?”

“You’re kidding, right?” Dom asks, deadpan and all serious, before kissing Brian again, one hand still holding his wrist, one cradling the back of his head.

Brian can work with that, one hand in Dom’s back pocket, chasing his tongue, because, fuck it, sometimes it is nice to get everything you wanted and realize it’ll just keep coming. It’s a novel feeling, and Brian’s just starting to believe it, but tonight’s going a long way to making the message stick in Brian’s mind.

When they break apart, Brian smiles. “Thank you,” he says.

“Shouldn’t I thank you?”

“We could thank each other?”

Dom considers him. “Or we could get in the car and go back to the motel, and not thank each other for somethin’ we both want.”

Fair enough, Brian supposes. No use in arguing, either. He holds up the keys he pilfered from Dom while they were kissing, grinning while he goes to the driver’s seat, sliding in and starting the car, waiting on Dom.

“So, we got your fucking on the hood fantasy,” Brian says a few minutes into the ride. “My fantasy next?”

“If you think that one’s played out, you’ve got another thing comin’,” Dom says. “But sure, Bri, I’ll bite. Where you dream about fuckin’ me?”

Brian looks at him sideways, trying to play it cool. Honestly, the fantasies he’d been planning on bringing up had all been about getting fucked, but… “That on the table?” He asks, as carefully neutrally as he can.

Dom shrugs. “Sure. Someday. Not sayin’ tomorrow, but…”

“Sure, Dom,” Brian says, and he can’t help the grin. “Whenever you’re ready. I’ll tell you all about what I’ve been thinking.”

Because Brian has plans . And not just for fucking Dom, although that is definitely on his list. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever, to be honest—Brian O’Conner has miles and miles of plans in front of him.

Chapter Text

Brian’s driving when they roll up to the new house. Dom’s asleep, so Brian gets an uninterrupted moment to take it all in.

It’s everything Mia said it would be.

Huge, for starters. Six bedrooms. One for Mia, one for a nursery, one for Letty, one for each of them—they haven’t quite told Mia yet that they’ve shared a bed every night since they last saw each other, and she either genuinely hasn’t figured it out or, more likely, is daring them to admit it—and a guest room for the family. Four full bathrooms and a half bath, too, plus one of those outdoor showers by the beach. Big kitchen, dining room, living rooms, entertainment room, huge, wrap-around porch, beach access.

In short, it’s everything Brian could ever dream of, many things he hadn’t even thought of. A little slice of Toretto-brand paradise.

Brian mostly-gently shoves Dom’s shoulder. “Dom. Wake up.”

Dom blinks slowly, looking up at him for a moment before seeming to process the situation and looking at the house in front of them. “Holy shit,” he murmurs. Then, “look at that garage.”

Brian snorts, but it’s true; the free-standing garage a little ways off from the house is impressive enough. It could be their own little over-the-top hobby garage or, with a little work, a top-of-the-line business. They’ve batted the idea around a bit, in the last few weeks, between traveling to Argentina, and waiting for papers, and seeing a damn doctor, and traveling to Chile, then Peru, before getting Mia’s call.

“We gonna go in?” Brian says, not waiting for confirmation before opening the car door, stretching his legs, glad to be out. They really pushed it, this last leg, to get here, once Mia called.

She’s five months pregnant, as she so vividly reminded them. It’s time for them all to be together again.

Dom follows him, neither of them bothering to unload the car just yet. When he comes around the car, Dom takes Brian’s hand, lacing their fingers together. Brian looks down, then up at Dom, who just raises a challenging eyebrow at him. Brian’s not exactly going to fight him on this. Doesn’t want to. Makes something inside him go all soft, honestly.

He squeezes Dom’s hand, and they make their way up to the house.

When no one answers their knock, they make their way around, following the meandering wrap around porch to the back, towards the beach. Their instincts were correct; Mia’s on an Adirondack chair back there, hands on her now visible stomach as she reclines, watching the beach.

She moves to get up when she sees them, and they both start forward to stop her, which she takes with good grace. “Alright, alright, I get it already,” she says, small smile on her face. “You made it.”

“Made it,” Brian says, grinning as he looks around. “This place is awesome.”

Mia settles back, wiggling to get comfortable. “It really is great, huh? Took a little bit of time, but…it’s true what they say. Nothing money can’t buy.”

“How’re you doing?” Dom asks.

“Everything aches ,” she complains. “And there’s a lot to do. There’s gonna be a baby here soon, Dom.”

“I know,” Dom says. “We’re here to help now.”

“Well good. Letty told me I should make a list, and I did. It’s stuck on the fridge.”

Brian laughs. Sounds about right. “We’ll go find it in a bit,” he promises. “Where is Letty?”

Mia points, down to the beach. Brian looks, where he sees Letty’s dark head against the clearest blue waves he’s ever seen in his life.

And next to her…he squints, taking in the blonde hair, trying to make out a face. “Is that… Neves?” He asks, voice half-strangled, watching the two of them, watching their hands swinging between them, fingers laced together.

“Didn’t expect that,” Dom says, but, despite his words, his voice is remarkably more level than Brian’s.

Mia huffs. “Don’t think you get room to talk, Dom,” she says, nodding at the still-clasped hands between them, and suddenly the tension is ratcheted up to eleven. She huffs again, looking back out at Letty and shaking her head and rolling her eyes. “You know I’m happy for you two.”

Dom leans down and hugs her, one-armed, not letting go of Brian’s hand. She hugs him back, then jokingly swats him on the shoulder. “Thought I told you there was a to-do list,” she jokes. “Let go! Didn’t invite you here for hugs .”

Dom manages to get in a kiss to the top of her head before, laughing, she shoves him away.

 

Elena’s seemingly a permanent arrangement at the house, set up in Letty’s room and with a place everywhere. She slots in nicely, and Letty has a mean look, daring them to comment. Brian wouldn’t say anything anyways, knowing full well it’s not his place, and besides, from what little he knows, he likes her well enough. Her being a cop who worked for Hobbs makes Brian a little twitchy, but nothing he can’t tamper down.

Dom seems to, for once, know exactly where the line in the sand is, and, between him and Letty, this is it. He got Brian. She got Elena. They got divorced, they work as friends, it’s simple and it works.

Brian honestly can’t fathom how it works, but it does.

“You always know she’s…into girls?” Brian asks as they bring their bags upstairs after dinner, finding an empty bedroom. It has a perfect beach view, even complete with a balcony, which Brian is already itching to check out. “Or is it as much of a surprise as us for you?”

Dom snorts. “Letty likes what she likes. For a long time, that was me. Wasn’t always, though.”

Brian takes that for what it is, poking around the room. They’ve gone all out on this place, feels more like some luxury resort then some place Mia moved into a week ago. Dom’s already putting clothes in drawers, so Brian follows suit.

“And…we’re good with the cop, being here?”
Dom snorts. “Bri. Seriously.”

Brian flushes, because, okay, point . “I made a couple pretty bold statements about not being a cop anymore.”

“Trust me. If Letty’s giving her a chance, so has she,” Dom says. “Of the two of us, I’m the soft touch.”

Somewhat mollified, Brian finishes emptying his duffle bag, then folds up the empty bag and hides it away in the closet.

Dom comes up behind him, bracketing him in. “Tomorrow, we can think ‘bout them,” he says lowly. “What d’you say for tonight, we…break the bed in?”

It’s cheesy, and Brian snorts. “It’s eight at night, Dom,” he says, side-stepping out from under Dom’s arms. “They’ll notice if we don’t come downstairs.”

“Much as I wish Mia didn’t, I think everyone in this house knows exactly what we’d be doing,” Dom says, one eyebrow raised patiently. “So…”

It’s a fair enough point, and Brian’s always weak for Dom. “So, think any of them plan on going outside?” He asks, eyeing the balcony doors again.

 

Mia’s not kidding about the list. It’s things they’re more than happy to do, of course, because they told Mia they were in this, that they were a family , and family, even Brian knows, helps each other at times like this.

Between the five of them, the workload is actually manageable. It’s not all for Mia and the baby, either; really, it’s everything they need to do to turn this highly luxurious and well-appointed mansion into, as Mia puts it, “an actual family home.” Which means decorating and cleaning and, yes, assembling baby furniture and painting and moving furniture and so much more. They get it done.

Dom and Mia go into town one day and come back with a truckload of baby furniture, and Elena and Letty paint the nursery. Mia goes on an absolute spree that makes Brian back away a little in fear, buying artwork with crazy big price tags, then cheaper, more reasonable stuff, until parts of the house almost resemble an art gallery. Elena plants flowers, rows and rows of them, spendings days outside in the sun getting them set up and ready. Letty comes home with a big old porch swing in the flatbed they’ve given in and bought, and the very next day Dom takes the truck and buys two small trees to plant in the front yard that’ll grow as the years pass.

Car magazines make it to the coffee table, and Brian likes relaxing into Dom’s side as they flip through them in the evening. Coronas fill the fridge, courtesy of Dom’s or Letty’s regular beer runs. Elena buys chocolate, seems to sway Mia to indulging with her. Slowly but slowly, the mansion feels less like a resort Mia found them and more like the Toretto home.

Brian assembles baby furniture when provided boxes, moves out the couch Mia decides is uncomfortable and helps Dom shift in the new one, works with Dom and Letty in the garage for hours getting it set up to be up to snuff, and makes himself generally available as an all-purpose heavy-lifter.

Which is apparently not satisfactory for Mia, or Dom for that matter, who both purse their lips in that Toretto way and give him sideways looks that set his hackles up. Like he’s being judged , like he isn’t doing this right, only he has no idea what he’s doing wrong or how on Earth to do this right .

So he tries harder, moves more shit and gets through the list, helping out with their projects. If Letty says the bathroom in her and Elena’s room needs a new sink faucet, Brian will install it no problem, doesn’t need to be asked twice. He’ll fix the loose board on the porch, get Mia that tea she drinks obsessively, help Dom in the garage, even if they don’t have any real cars to work with yet. He’ll vacuum sand off the living room floor without being asked for the thousandth time—Elena’s the one who rolls her eyes and buys some sort of sand-catching mat for the back porch—and then he’ll patiently go where directed during dinner prep. It’s still not enough, evidently.

It all finally comes out in bed. The sex has only gotten better with practice. More creative, too, and Brian’s been enjoying it. But his teeth are always on edge, these days, because he can’t go more than five minutes without feeling someone watching him. Like something’s wrong with him.

Dammit, he knows he doesn’t belong in their happy little family unit. Knows he isn’t cut from this cloth, meant for this life. But he fucking warned them, said it upfront and gave them their chances to back out and then some. He didn’t lie this time, not even a little. If they didn’t want him, flaws and all, well, that’s on them.

If he’s doing something wrong, then they damn well better explain what to do better next time.

So, yeah. The sex is good. The afterglow, not so much, anymore. His thoughts are too crowded, mind moving too fast.

“What’s goin’ on in there, Bri?” Dom asks, voice soft, low, beside him on the pillow. One hand comes up to tug gently at Brian’s hair. The curls are coming back in, and Dom seems to like that. Screw FBI regulations and professionalism and looking like a damn adult, anyways.

Brian hesitates a second, bites his lip, but he’s said he’s going to be honest with Dom, and if he’s doing something wrong, he needs to know. They need to know, can’t go waiting for him to figure it out, because he never will.

“Am I doing something wrong?”

Dom sits up, just enough to get a good look at Brian. “Any of that felt wrong to you?”
Brian rolls his eyes. “Not fucking. Idiot. With…being here, I guess. You and Mia…and now even Letty and Elena, you all look at me, like I’m an idiot, like I’m doing something wrong, and I’d like to fucking know what it is, Dom. ‘Cause I’m not figuring it out on my own, alright, so have some pity and tell me.”

Dom’s silent for a moment, and Brian thinks they’re both holding their breath. “You plannin’ on leaving?” Dom asks after a moment, and it’s so completely out of left field it leaves Brian feeling like he got socked in the gut, like his next breath won’t come.

What ?” He demands, sitting up too now, scrambling for purchase. Then, the thought comes. “Do you…want me to?”

“No,” Dom snaps, fast and angry, which paradoxically makes Brian relax a bit, because if the idea of him leaving can make Dom pissed, things must not be all bad. “Of fucking course not, Bri. But it’s…Mia’s right. That’s what it looks like.”

“It’s what what looks like?” Brian asks, bewildered.

Dom stares off somewhere over Brian’s shoulder for a minute, clearly gather his thoughts, while Brian gathers the blankets over himself, like some sort of ridiculous defensive shield. “You don’t do anything to make this place yours,” Dom says at last. “You unpacked your clothes, but you haven’t even bought any new ones. You own two pairs of jeans, Bri, but you won’t go shopping. You do what we ask but you haven’t asked for anything. You’re all gung-ho to spend your money on whatever weird baby invention thing you and Mia read about, but you haven’t spent a dime on anything for yourself. You don’t decorate, you don’t add anything. Nothing about this place says Brian O’Conner lives here .”

Brian processes that. Thinks it through. Of course this place says Brian O’Conner lives here. Dom and Mia Toretto live here. Where the hell else would Brian O’Conner live? He’s either with them, or he’s dead. There aren’t really other options.

As for the rest of it…he thinks about Mia’s sudden interest in art and fancy china patterns, and Dom planting trees and building furniture, Elena’s flowers, Letty’s porch swing and paint. He swallows.

“Dom, I…I don’t…” He closes his eyes, slows his breathing. When the hell had it gotten so fast? “After I was thirteen, everything I owned fit into a trash bag. That’s how they moved me. Trash bag full of clothes, new house. Eighteenth birthday, trash bag full of clothes and that was it. Shit, Dom, you saw my apartment. And before that…we had no money, Dom, no space in the trailer. Dom, I’ve never owned anything in my life.” Nothing except cars, he thinks, and even that’s pretty damn questionable, because as much as he loved them, they were always a means to an end, disposable.

Brian worries his lip with his teeth, thinking it over. He doesn’t remember the house with his mom and dad, not really. Remembers the trailer, remembers it being tiny, remembers there being no money, remembers him mom never being there. Spent most of his time with Rome, anyways. Remembers his mom showing off his step-father’s place like it was some great mansion, but being told not to touch pretty much everything on the first floor anyways. And then his life, condensed to trash bags.

After juvie, even the trash bags disappeared. He’d built his life back up to a sad, half-empty trash bag after, but he’d been let out into the world with that, looking to make his way. No time to make a mark on a home. Spent little time in those places anyways.

Shit, Brian spent so little time being Brian O’Conner in those years he couldn’t figure out who he was, nevermind who his house should be.

Dom’s thumb pulls his lip free from his teeth. “Hey,” he says, but doesn’t finish the thought.

“Told you I was bad at this,” Brian reminds him, because, shit, he had , he cannot be blamed for this one.

“Long as you’re not planning on walking out, I couldn’t give a fuck,” Dom says. “Everything else, we can figure out.”

“You really thought I would bolt?” Brian asks.

Dom considers him. “We thought…we know this isn’t exactly familiar to you, Bri. We thought it was too much, and you were doing your best to hold in there but were getting twitchy. I’m glad we were wrong.”

“Dom, I’m never, I can’t…” He takes a deep, stabilizing breath. “Where you are, I am. Unless you all tell me to get lost, I’m in this. I might suck at it, but I’m in it.”

Dom kisses him, holding Brian’s chin as he does. “Then put some effort into this place,” he says. “C’mon. What does Brian O’Conner want in his home?”

Dom lies down then, settling back down, stealing blankets back from Brian, but Brian doesn’t immediately follow. He thinks about it. What does he want in his home? What does he care about, what does he even like? Jesus, this is hard, and—

“In the morning,” Dom interrupts, arms around Brian’s waist dragging him down so he’s lying down next to Dom. “Not right now. Jesus Christ, Brian.”

“Well, now I’m too distracted to sleep,” Brian says.

Dom grumbles for a moment, but he pins Brian to his back and rolls over him, which is really good enough for Brian. He’ll take it.

 

The next day, Brian goes into town and comes back with construction materials and the receipts for three custom-made surfboards, all meant to be ready within three weeks.

“What do you need three of them for?” Dom asks good-naturedly, as he helps Brian set up a rack for the boards on the porch.

Mia snorts. “What do you need three cars for, Dominic?” She asks from where she rests on her favorite chair.

Brian saves them from the inevitable discussion. “I figured, there’s six of us here.”

“Oh, no,” Mia says, wagging her finger. “Mini-Toretto needs to be this tall—” She gestures, approximately waist height— “before they can ride that ride.”

Brian shrugs. “Works for me. Got nothing but time.”

Brian tries to outwardly ignore the way Dom and Mia smile at each other at that, but, judging by the way Dom leans in and kisses him, he doesn’t succeed. That’s alright. He’s trying, and they should all know it.

 

Brian buys patio chairs for their little bedroom balcony and makes Dom sit out there with him, which Dom does, without a single complaint, even when Brian makes him stay out well after dark, with a slight chill in the air, just watching the stars appear in the sky.

 

“The coffee-maker, Brian?” Letty says, unimpressed.

Brian shrugs, standing his ground, made easier because Dom’s about two feet away and clearly watching the exchange, and Brian’s been constantly replaying their conversation since the moment they had it. “The old one’s still in storage, if you really liked it better,” he says.

She huffs, but Elena smiles at him on her way through, so Brian takes it as a win and makes himself another cup.

 

Brian doesn’t really care about the art on the walls or the pattern on the bedspread or the curtains. Plates are plates, and his only thoughts on the dining room table is there should definitely be enough seats for all of them. His opinions on should we do carpet in here are carpet is a bitch to clean , especially, he imagines, with a baby. Even that, though, seems to be counted as enough of an opinion for the others.

He likes the couch as much as any other, and sure, it’s comfortable, but he didn’t really register that the old one was uncomfortable until it was replaced. Honestly, he’s running out of ideas for inside the house. He buys clothes. A few knick-knacks, when he and Dom go into town. Touristy-kitschy stuff, mostly, odds and ends. Dumb shit. It looks nice on the dresser, though.

They don’t look at him like he’s going to bail anymore, even if he’s not constantly making changes around the house, making his mark. Still, though, it’s not something he can forget.

He’s wandering, one day. Mia and Dom are in town, at a doctor’s appointment. It’s getting close to time, now, just another month or so. Letty’s gone too, probably picking up one of the thousand things they’re stocking up on before the baby comes.

He finds Elena out by her flowers, on her knees in the dirt. She’s got a big old sun hat on, because Dom’s tiny trees don’t provide much in the way of shade yet. Brian frowns and goes over to help her.

She grins at him, quick and sharp in that way she has. “You know much about gardening?”

“Nah, nothing,” he admits, fingers already in the soil. “Direct me, will you?”
She’s quick and efficient, giving him orders, and soon enough, he’s pulling weeds alongside her. They work in silence for a bit, baking under the sun, and Brian can feel the back of his neck heating, no doubt going red even with the deep tan he’s developed lately. He doesn’t stop.

“I haven’t done this in years,” she says eventually, wiping sweat off her forehead, pushing escaped tendrils of blonde hair back. “And even then, it was a window box. We didn’t have a yard. Could never afford anything like that. But I loved it. Always relaxed me.”

“That’s nice,” Brian says, looking over at her, stopping for a moment. “Do you miss Rio?”

“No,” she says. “I thought…I thought I’d never leave. That I would spend forever, avenging my husband. But, with Reyes dead…Letty convinced me the living deserve to live. Rio was holding me back.”

Brian’s clearly missed a huge part of her story. “I’m sorry about your husband.”

She inclines her head at him. “You would know, about the dangers of being a cop.”

“Well, I wasn’t a very good one,” Brian deflects.

Elena laughs. “You and I, we’re both bad cops together, then.” She returns to pulling weeds for a moment, absently missing several as she goes. “You didn’t come out here to relax, Brian. What relaxes you?”

Brian thinks about it for a moment. “Hey…you have any contacts left in Rio?”

 

“Okay, okay, Brian, I’m coming,” Dom grumbles, as Brian propels him along.

Brian bites the inside of his own cheek to keep from talking. He—and Elena, and Letty, and Mia—have worked too long and hard for him to blurt it all out now.

So he propels Dom towards the garage as the sun sets spectacularly over the water behind them, casting the world in reds and oranges. Brian can feel the eyes of everyone else at his back, but they’re holding back, giving him and Dom this space first.

“What’s this all about?” Dom asks. “Been home five minutes, can’t it wait?”

Mia had kept Dom out of the house all day, easy for her to do without arousing suspicion, as her due date gets nearer and nearer. Weeks left, now, and it feels like they always need more stuff , and Dom, as the ever-loving older brother, is happy to oblige. She ran him ragged, and Letty, Elena, and Brian had worked in the garage, Dom none the wiser.

Brian opens the bay door, stepping to the side, gesturing for Dom to go first. He does, and then he just…stops.

Brian bites his lip, hoping it’s a good kind of stop. The kind of stop that means he made the right call, giving Elena and her contact a crazy sum of money to get the shell of the Charger here.

“How…”

“Elena helped, and Letty, and Mia,” Brian shrugs. “But, I figured, it was just sitting there, and we would, well…not like we can’t afford to fix it.”

Dom opens his mouth, and Brian does not want to hear him say anything about how the car is cursed or any other such bullshit again. “Dom,” he interrupts smoothly. “The happiest I’ve been in my entire life might just be fixing the Supra with you. I want that again. Here. In our home. No lies between us, our…family. Us. So. What do you think?”

Dom’s frozen for another second before he strides to Brian and grabs him, one hand in his hair and the other on the small of his back, before he kisses him hard. Brian melts into it, grabbing Dom’s shirt with one hand, the back of his scalp with the other.

“Yeah, okay,” Dom says hoarsely once they break apart, hands migrating to rest on Brian’s hips. “So, what’s the other one?”

Brian grins. It’s pretty much dumb luck that the Nissan GT-R he’s chosen has also shown up today, but he’s not complaining. “That’s my car,” he says. “What, thought we’d share wheels forever?” The Trans Am was a perfectly serviceable car, if either of them were inclined towards perfectly serviceable.

Dom grins, looks the car over appraisingly, then groans.

“What?” Brian asks, concerned for a moment that he might have overlooked something.

“We’re doing it, aren’t we?” He asks.

“Doing what?”

“Starting a business,” Dom says. “We’ll get a taste for it, restoration jobs, turning out ten second cars, soon we’ll have too many to keep, and we’ll have to sell.”

Brian laughs. “Not the worst thing in the world.” Considering the million other places they could be, the million other ways their lives could have turned out, it’s probably the best option possible, as far as Brian’s concerned.

Dom nods, serious now. “We’ll need a business name.”

They’re getting a little ahead of themselves, but Brian doesn’t protest. “Toretto’s.”

“Don’t want your name in it?” Dom asks.

Brian shakes his head. Doesn’t Dom know? That what Mia told him, so long ago, back at DT’s, was as true as anything? That there are six people living here, and there might only be three of them who are Torettos by blood, but that doesn’t mean much. “Toretto’s is just fine.”

Chapter Text

Dom walks outside to the back porch to watch the waves, coffee in hand. It’s quiet, this time of the morning.

Usually, he wouldn’t be awake this time of the morning, or, if he was, he’d be in bed with Brian. But Jack’s been collicky, and he’d been the one to stay up with him last night. He’s down now, for a while, at least. Dom has the baby monitor on him, turned down low.

It’s taken some adjusting. For one thing, none of them really know what the fuck to do with a baby, and it’s not like they can call their parents and beg for help. Dom wishes he could call their mom and dad, call them and ask how the hell they did it all.

But wishing will get them nowhere and they have a real live baby with real needs, so they figure it the fuck out. They spend sleepless nights in shifts, and take turns rocking him when he cries, and change diapers, and get thrown up on, and get soaked at bathtime. They freak out over every little thing and rush to the internet and then freak out some more.

Somehow, Jack grows.

Dom loves his family. Always has, always will. But Jack’s something special, holding a place in Dom’s heart that will never be occupied again, unless Jack gets some siblings, because Dom didn’t know his heart could be so damn big, that he could feel so much . He wants to give the boy the world and hide him from everything, all at the same time. Wants to take him racing for the thrill and take the slow way, just so he doesn’t miss a moment

And Brian’s right there, every moment. They all are, but Brian’s a particularly special surprise. Except nothing about him is a surprise anymore, like he’s always been there, and Dom can’t really describe the feeling, of knowing Brian, and everything he’ll do and say and is , like he knows himself.

They don’t say it often, neither of them particularly good at it, but Dom knows in his heart that this is what love is.

So it really doesn’t surprise him when Brian comes and sits next to him on the porch swing in the predawn air, looking over the waves, his own cup of coffee in hand. Brian’s quiet on his feet, and whether it’s police training or growing up like he did or just Brian, Dom doesn’t know, but even if he can’t surprise Dom anymore, he sure can sneak up on him.

“Jack finally go down?” He asks after a moment.

“For now, anyways.”

Brian hums. “You could’ve come back to bed,” he says, but he takes a sip right after saying it. Neither of them are getting back to bed this morning, at least not to sleep.

“Nah. He’ll be back up soon.”

“Someone else can take over. You’ve had a long night.”

“I don’t mind,” Dom says.

Brian leans into him a little more. “Know you don’t. None of us do.”

They lapse into silence, but it’s comfortable. The waves crash in the background, steady and constant, just like Brian’s breathing in his ear. Dom feels his eyes start to droop, even despite the coffee.

A whine over the baby monitor spoils that. Dom’s alert in an instant, half up before Brian puts an arm across his chest. “Wait,” he instructs.

Sure enough, Jack actually settles back to sleep, which is definitely a good sign. He’s been so sickly, but if he’s sleeping and self-soothing, the house might manage to stand another day. Dom slumps back into the porch swing.

Brian makes a weird humming noise, and it takes a long moment for Dom to realize it’s the same noise he’s started to make to soothe Jack. The awful thing is, it’s working, so he rolls his eyes and shoves at Brian’s shoulder.

Brian, the asshole, just turns to grin at him. “What?”
Dom just shakes his head, sets the basically empty mug aside, next to the baby monitor. The sun’s starting to come up now, slowly.

Brian leans his head on Dom’s shoulder. Dom absently slings an arm around Brian, rubbing a thumb up and down Brian’s arm.

Dom never thought he’d end up here. He thought a lot of things about his life. Thought he’d be a racer, take over his Dad’s shop, be with Letty forever. Thought he’d be the King of the LA streets, the guy who got away with it. Thought he’d be on the run forever, thought he’d eventually get used to being alone. Thought he’d be able to forget about Brian. Thought he’d go to prison for life.

Whatever else he thought, this was never on the list, but honestly, he’s more than okay with it. He has his sister and his nephew, Letty—his best friend, his sister, not his wife—and Elena, who’s fast growing on him, a sister in her own right. And Brian. Brian.

He squeezes the arm he has around Brian a little tighter.

No one should get the kind of loyalty Brian has to give. Brian, who gave up his life time and time again for Dom, who came back for him, who tried to trade himself for Mia, who stayed for Dom. Brian who doesn’t know how to build a home or have a family but is learning, slowly but surely, because of them.

There were lots of twists and turns his life could have taken, lots of wrong turns and regrets—Kenny Linder, Jesse, the truck jackings, Vince—but, if this is where the road led to, he can’t really bring himself to regret it all too much.

Brian sits up properly, smiles at him, that blinding flash of white. “Maybe get started for the day,” he says. “Sure someone else can take Jack, if you wanna get to work.”

Dom’s just as liable to do damage as fix any, right this moment, considering how much sleep he’s had. “In a minute,” he says. “Not like there’s a customer waiting. Relax.” They don’t do that, don’t work for customers. They’re self-employed, work when they want, on what they want, and sell them when they’re done. There are always buyers. It gives them control over the process, and means they don’t have to put up with bullshit. And if people don’t like it that way, well, not like they need their money.

Brian does as asked, relaxing back into Dom’s side as the sun continues to come up.

Dom turns the baby monitor up, just to hear Jack snuffle on the other end. A few minutes later, a light flickers on behind them and Dom can hear footsteps in the house. Probably Elena, a habitual early riser, although it could also be Mia, who’ll need to feed Jack soon.

Either way, it relaxes him. Everyone’s okay. Everyone’s here . In their own little place, well-protected and content, shuffling along in the early morning hours.

Dom lets his arm tighten around Brian once more.

He knows his family. They’re not going to be content with this forever. It’s not in their nature to be content, to settle. They’re going to get sucked into something, some score, some high, some job, that will be big enough to convince them to get back in the game.

It’s better to accept the inevitable now, before it happens, Dom thinks. Process it and move on, so it doesn’t drive him nuts when it comes.

But it’s not here yet. Right now, it’s still quiet. His family is still in the house, the baby’s sleeping, and Brian is still in his arms, and Dom is determined to enjoy it while it lasts.