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Unfinished Business

Chapter Text

The sun is setting over New York City, the barbecue’s beer supply is all but depleted, and Deckard Shaw has a job offer. Well, more of an offer he can’t refuse. The two American federal agents inform him that if he does ten missions for Mr. Nobody's department, he’ll get his criminal record wiped clean (in all U.S.-allied countries, at least.) If he doesn’t… the two men leave that to his imagination.

Apparently, what earns one the forgiveness, or something close to it, from Dominic Toretto and his “family” isn’t enough to win over the U.S. government. A shame. But Deckard hasn’t made it to the age of 48 in his line of work without learning how to roll with some punches. Besides, if the last few days are any indication, this would be an exciting indentured servitude.

Deckard notices Hobbs over on the opposite side of the roof. His pint-sized daughter is listening raptly to the British hacker, Ramsey, but her dad seems more interested in the conversation Deckard’s having with the Nobodies, Mr. and Little. When their eyes meet for a moment, Hobbs gives him the now familiar look that Deckard’s not sure is more “come hither” or “come at me, bro.” Maybe it’s fifty-fifty. Both men quickly look away.

“Distracted, Mr. Shaw?” Mr. Nobody says, a hint of a smile in his voice.

Deckard scowls. “Just considering my options.”

He takes the deal.

**

Deckard decides another drink is in order before he starts thinking about what his life’s going to be for the foreseeable future. Hobbs happens to be standing near a promising-looking cooler. It turns out to be empty but for one of those inexplicable Belgian ales he’s noticed scattered throughout the gathering. Deckard fishes it out of the ice. Things could be worse, he reminds himself. He could still be in maximum security prison.

“They make you a deal?” Hobbs asks.

“They did,” Deckard says, standing. He looks around for a bottle opener. Hobbs silently offers the one attached to his key chain. Deckard holds out his beer, and the other man removes the lid, and that look is back for a second. “Cheers,” Deckard says, and takes a long drink.

“You take it?”

“Yeah. Ten missions for a clean record. Is that about what they normally do?”

“You’re not exactly a normal guy,” Hobbs says.

“Yeah, I guess most normal guys couldn’t knock you out a window.”

“Is that a compliment?”

“More of an observation,” Deckard says. “You’re saying ten’s high?”

“Ten’s high. But the stakes of the missions could be on the lower side. It’s hard to say.”

Deckard nods. At least he knows he has no idea what he’ll be in for. Except… “Suppose I might be seeing you around the office, then. So to speak.”

“Daddy just quit his job, actually,” the daughter pipes up. Ramsey’s been drawn into what looks like yet more competitive flirting with Tej and Roman, and the girl has turned her attention to them.

“You did?” Deckard asks Hobbs.

“I more retired,” Hobbs says, the possibility of an apologetic note in his voice.

“I bet you’ll un-retire in like a week though,” the girl says.

Hobbs messes up her hair. Her mouth frowns dramatically, but her eyes are smiling. “You calling your daddy a liar?” he says.

“No, just a workaholic,” she says.

Hobbs sighs. “This is my daughter, Samantha,” he tells Deckard. “Sammy, this is Deckard Shaw, who… I know from work.”

Samantha has a surprisingly firm handshake for her age and size.

“Do you also like to do ridiculously dangerous things all the time?” she asks.

Deckard cracks a smile. “I have my moments.”

“Didn’t I just retire?” Hobbs says.

“For now,” Samantha says, under her breath.

They’re having a moment, this little two-person nuclear family within a found family. It reminds Deckard of his most recent family contact, earlier that day. He had dropped his brother, Owen, off to catch a flight back to England with their mum, before he delivered the as-yet-unnamed baby Brian to Toretto.

“You’re both alive, then?” his mum says in lieu of a greeting. She kisses both sons on the cheek. Then, of course, she starts telling them off. “Why do you have to keep doing these types of things? I’m constantly worried sick over you two. Why couldn’t you have got normal jobs?”

“You didn’t have a – “ Owen tries to defend himself.

“Don’t you start that now, Owen Christopher Shaw. I know they say people in comas can understand what you’re saying to them, but I’ve still got a lot  I plan on repeating to you on the plane.”

Deckard grins.

“What are you smiling about?” his mum asks. “You have taken years off my life these past few months, with your rampage of revenge, and your bloody maximum-security incarceration. Did I raise you to get arrested?”

Get caught, she must mean. And no, she certainly didn’t. “No, mum, but – “

“Your sister’s given me two lovely grandchildren, even if they’re all the way over in Spain. And Owen’s at least settled down and got married. I haven’t even met one of your boyfriends in ages!”

“He hasn’t had one in ages, mum,” Owen says, and Deckard glares at him.

“Deckard, you’re nearly fifty!”

 “Oi, forty-nine in a month!”

“Oh, forgive me, that's a perfectly respectable age to be perpetually single with a rented flat,” his mum says. Owen laughs.

Really not in the mood for this conversation right now (not that she doesn't have valid points, if he lets himself think about them), Deckard says, “Right, do you two mind if I go deliver this baby? I’ll see you at Christmas.”

His mum, ever the dramatic, places a hand on his stubbly cheek and says, “I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t care about you, darling. And if you didn’t make such bloody stupid decisions.”

Little Samantha Hobbs might get on well with his mum, Deckard realizes. They would make quite the formidable guilt-tripping tag team, if that opportunity ever presented itself. God only knows how that would ever happen, but the thought probably indicates that Deckard’s dealt with far too much with family today, in all its forms.

“Well, if she’s right, and you do un-retire,” he says to Hobbs, “I imagine I'll see you around.”

As much as Deckard wants to drag Hobbs to the nearest empty room and do whatever it is they need to do with/to each other, now’s clearly not the time. The two men shake hands, both gripping a little too hard.

“Unfinished business has a way of drawing people together,” Hobbs says.

It’s either a threat or an incredibly cheesy pick up line. Either way, Deckard can’t help but hope it’s true.  

Chapter Text

Their paths don’t cross again for another four months. Deckard’s in the middle of his third mission for Mr. Nobody. This one’s in Vancouver, Canada. Shaw and Little Nobody (whose nickname had stuck, much to his chagrin) are in a standoff with notorious human trafficker Devon Bouchard and his flunkies in a warehouse. It’s two on six, with each party crouched behind crates of explosives on opposite sides of the room. It’s not the wildest situation Deckard’s ever gotten himself into, but not bad for a Tuesday.

Then a bright green Lamborghini Centenario smashes through the warehouse door.

“What the…” Deckard starts, then recognizes Tej Parker at the wheel of the Italian sports car. “Fuck.”

The trafficker and co. are stunned for just long enough for Letty Ortiz, Dominic Toretto, and two Hispanic-looking men Shaw doesn’t recognize to enter, armed to the teeth. There’s a moment when Shaw thinks this is it; they’re all about to go up in flames, and he should probably say his prayers for the first time since about age eleven. But somehow Toretto’s team seems to know about the explosives, and doesn’t shoot. So now they’re all in a Mexican standoff, and this is turning into one of Deckard’s more interesting Tuesdays.

The trafficker and Little Nobody start yelling over each other, with Dom interjecting in his low, confident rumble. Deckard’s trying to figure his way the fuck out of this when Hobbs is suddenly beside him, oversized gun and body barely concealed behind their section of the crates. From the look on Hobbs’s face, Deckard guesses they’re equally surprised to see each other.

Hobbs says something Deckard can’t quite hear.

“What?” he mouths.

Hobbs slouches and moves closer (it’s gotten hot in this warehouse, Deckard realizes at this moment), and repeats, his mouth close to Deckard’s ear, “Fuck are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same question, Sasquatch. I’m clearly working.”

“Roman got himself kidnapped.”

What?

“Roman – “

“I heard you,” Deckard says. “You wouldn’t happen to have a plan that won’t end with us being blown into human confetti, would you?”

**

Standing outside the smoldering remains of the warehouse, Deckard isn’t quite sure how he’s still alive. But he is, and Bouchard and his crew are being loaded into the back of a Canadian special forces van in handcuffs, and Roman Pearce is in the Lamborghini, begging Tej to give him the keys. Dom, Letty, and Hobbs occasionally egg them on. That’s the Toretto family back together, then.

**

One would think a super-secret department of catching the baddest bad guys and whatever-the-fuck else (Deckard doesn’t have full security clearance yet, so he wouldn't know) would put its agents up in somewhat Bond-worthy hotels, but that is absolutely not the case. This hotel is hosting a convention for office supply salesmen, and only a small percentage of said salesman currently at the hotel bar are even using their weekend away from home as an excuse to get hilariously plastered.

Deckard sits at the opposite end of the bar, nursing his second whiskey on the rocks. He’s annoyed at his teetotaler fellow agent’s decision to turn in early, forcing him to drink alone, but he’s relieved to be rid of the younger man for the moment. Their skill sets do compliment each other on paper. However, the exciting and challenging moments of this job have so far been more than balanced out by awkwardly silent car journeys.

“Give me one of what he’s having.”

It’s the voice of that other American special forces agent Deckard doesn’t get on with, but he can’t deny he's glad to hear it at this particular moment. Its owner doesn’t need to know that though. Deckard keeps his gaze on his whiskey, not acknowledging Hobbs’s presence beside him at the bar.

Hobbs opens a tab, and holds out his glass toward Deckard. “To not getting blown to – what did you say earlier? Human confetti.”

It would be ridiculous not to drink to that, and to continue not to make eye contact afterwards.

“You’re a whiskey man?” Hobbs says, his tone a little accusatory.

“And what’s wrong with that?”

“Don’t you think it’s kind of a cliché? For a man our age, drinking alone at a bar?”

“I’m not drinking alone, am I? And I’m on my second, so you’d better hurry and catch up.” Deckard finishes his drink. “Third.”

“Okay, give me a minute.”

On drink number five (and six, as it’s a tequila shot and a Corona each) (Hobbs says it feels weird to hang out with Dom without drinking the latter afterwards, which Deckard thinks must be some kind of Southern California thing, but he’s past griping about beer selection at this point) they move to a booth in the corner. By now it’s just them, a few of the younger, more resilient office supply salesmen, and Michael Buble’s almost offensively inoffensive musical stylings over the bar’s sound system.

They do the shots, and Deckard closes his eyes for a moment, leaning back and stretching out his legs. They brush Hobbs’s under the table. Hobbs kicks him lazily. Deckard kicks back a little harder.

Hobbs is giving him another look. It’s in the same general category as that one from the barbecue, but it’s a lot clearer about the type of physical activity it’s suggesting.

“You and the Ken doll sure were lucky we showed up when we did,” he says.

Deckard snorts. “Lucky? You think we were doing worse off before a Ferrari crashed through the bloody wall?”

“How long was that standoff going on before we got there?”

“That’s none of your business, ex-agent Hobbs.”

“That’s what I thought. Someone needed to shake things up.”

“Nearly blow things up, more like.”

“Don’t pretend you don’t like it that way,” Hobbs says, and starts on his Corona.

“How the hell were you a cop for so long?” Deckard asks.

Hobbs shrugs. “Got the job done.”

Deckard shakes his head. “Americans. Christ.”

Hobbs rolls his eyes, then seems to have a tiny revelation. “Oh, shit. I still owe you a rematch.” He takes another sip of his beer. “No, you owe me a rematch.”

Deckard laughs. “You just remembered?”

 “You just got fuckin’ irritating again.”

Deckard waves at the bartender. “Oi! Can we get two more tequilas?”

The bartender, a twenty-something woman of Asian descent, with glasses Deckard would guess are fashionable, raises her eyebrows and says, "Can you walk over here to get them?”

Hobbs laughs. Deckard scowls at him. 

“You haven’t even started on that beer,” Hobbs points out.

“Don’t you tell me – “

“It’s bad drinking etiquette! I – “ Hobbs covered his face with his hands, laughing again.

Deckard can’t help but grin. “I can’t believe you’re a fuckin’ giggly drunk.”

Hobbs uncovers his face. “I’m not," he says, deadly serious. 

“Sure.”

“Hey, asshole. Drink your beer.”

Deckard complies and chugs about two thirds of it, bringing him even with Hobbs. “Happy?” He turns back to the now amused-looking bartender. “I’m coming for those tequilas.”

At the bar, which he makes it over to while walking in basically a straight line, thank you very much, the bartender slides him the shots and the bill. “We close at two,” she says.

He looks around for a clock. He finds one. It tells him it’s 1:50 a.m. “Okay, give me one – two more shots. One more round of shots.”

She shakes her head. “I’m cutting you and your friend off.”

“Hey, mate. One, he’s not my friend. Two, we’re both highly trained, basically secret agents, and we’re in peak physical condition for men in their forties. We’re not going to vomit all over your floor.”

She just slides him another bill. “I… have never heard that one before. If you could please give this to your non-friend, that would be great.”

Deckard looks at the identical bills. “Just put everything on mine.” On his department-issued credit card, that is.

“Okay, you got it.”

Deckard makes his way back to the booth, shots in hand. Hobbs raises an eyebrow at him. “Did you just pay for my drinks?”

“Don’t get your knickers in a twist; Mr. Nobody just paid for your drinks.” Deckard slides Hobbs the shot. “Cheers.”

As soon as the liquid has burned its way down his throat, Hobbs says, disappointed. “You look way too out of it for a rematch right now, man.”

“You should look in a mirror. You look like if you tried to throw a punch right now you’d end up falling on your stupid, very symmetrical face. I’m fine,” Deckard says, and before Hobbs can respond, adds, “Besides, we’ve  got a bigger problem. Bar closes in – “ he looks around for that clock again “five minutes.”

From the look on his face, Deckard can surmise that his drinking not-buddy understands the full gravity of the situation. “Shit.”

“Exactly. What are we gonna do now?”

Hobbs spends a moment deep in thought. “Well, first,” he says, and finishes the last of his beer. Deckard does the same. It’s a solid plan, but it’s left them at another dead end. And there’s yet another obstacle that could seriously limit their options, one that Deckard’s alcohol-impaired brain just remembered, and that Hobbs probably doesn’t know about yet.

“Hobbs. I should tell you – “

But the other man’s lips are on his before he can finish that sentence, and now the only thing that matters is that this is happening. Deckard’s never been one for public displays of affection (if that’s what this can be called), but right now he’s wrapping his arms around Hobbs’s neck and biting his lower lip and pressing himself against that incredible body as Hobbs moans at a volume that only Deckard can hear and wraps one of those muscular arms around his waist and slips his tongue in his mouth. But Deckard’s never been one for self-righteous, gung ho, All-American, stupidly tall, just-the-right-amount-of-grey-in-the-beard, body it’s a fucking travesty he hasn’t seen naked yet (where was he going with this? Oh, right –) absolutely insufferable arseholes either. So today’s a big day for him. Really not bad for a Wednesday morning.

When they finally break for air, Hobbs says “You can call me Luke.”

The corner of Deckard’s mouth turns up. “Okay, Luke. You can call me Deckard.”

Hobbs – Luke moves in for another kiss, but Deckard pulls back. “There’s something you should know,” he says.

“Okay?”

“I’m sharing a room with the Ken doll.”

Luke’s face falls and he sits back in the booth. “Fuck.”

“Um,” says the bartender’s voice, “You guys have to leave now. Sorry.”

“One second,” Luke calls.

“You’re not even staying at this hotel, are you?” Deckard asks. Luke shakes his head. “Very presumptuous.”

“Hey, I presumed right.”

Deckard declines to respond to that comment, and asks, “Where are you parked?”

“You really want the first time to be in the back of a Range Rover?”

First time? Again with the presuming.” Not that the man doesn’t have multiple valid points, but still.

Luke flushes, which is a truly a sight to behold. “I mean, I – “

“Sorry, the bar’s closed,” the bartender says again.

Deckard sighs and stands, and Luke follows his lead. Then they see Little Nobody, who seems to have put his full suit and tie back on for this, walking towards the booth, and realize she wasn’t talking to them.

“I called you three times,” Little Nobody says accusingly to Deckard.

“What?” Oh, right, that’s the –

“That’s the protocol; three missed calls and then the agent is presumed to be – “

“Alright, alright,” Deckard says. “You knew I was in the bar.”

“The bar’s closed,” Little Nobody says.

“For five minutes,” Luke cuts in.

“Ex-agent Hobbs, do you want to explain why, despite having quit the department and having inflicted a massive amount of property damage today that you’re lucky we’re writing off, I’m finding you here compromising my agent right now?”

They’re both silent for a split second, wondering exactly what he means by “compromising” (how long has he been in the bar?), then Deckard says, “I’m off the clock, aren’t I? I’m pretty bloody sure I can get plastered with whoever I want” at the same time Hobbs says, “Hey, if it weren’t for that massive amount of property damage, your ass would be dead and riddled with Canadian human trafficker bullets.”

Little Nobody laughs. “I feel like I just caught you guys smoking behind the middle school gym. Shaw, obviously I’m not in charge of what you do once a mission’s over, but you need to leave your phone on vibrate, at least. Hobbs… it’s weird that you’re here right now, especially considering how much I thought you two wanted to kill each other, but… yeah. That’s all I got.”

“Great, thanks,” Deckard says.

The bartender, now with jacket on and purse over her shoulder, walks up to them. “You guys really need to leave,” she says, almost pleading. “I’ve closed up everything and I worked a double shift today and I need to go home.”

“Sorry to inconvenience you, ma’am,” Little Nobody says. “We’ll be on our way.”

“If you’re really not staying here, you should get an Uber or something,” she says to Hobbs, handing him back his unused credit card. “You’re shitfaced.”

“I will. I’ll get one,” Luke says, a little sheepishly.

The three men make their way to the lobby. Hobbs takes out his phone to get a ride. Apparently there are actual limits to the risks Toretto & co. will take behind the wheel, Deckard observes.

“Well, I’m sure I’ll see you around,” he says to the taller man. He's really not sure at all, but he'd like to be. Which is something he decides to blame on the alcohol.   

Luke looks up from his phone. “Right, Yeah, I’ll – “ He holds out the phone to Deckard. “You should give me your number in case you want to check out that place the next time you’re in L.A. The gym I can’t remember the name of. Or the address of. So I can text you the name and address.”

Deckard takes the phone and enters himself in the contacts. “Right, yeah. Text me the name of that gym. That you were talking about. That kickboxing gym.”

“Right, yes, the kickboxing gym. I will text you that information,” Luke says, taking his phone back and shoving it in his pocket, then immediately taking it back out again to finish getting a rideshare.

Deckard thought that was a pretty smooth, covert exchange between two men at this stage of inebriation, but Little Nobody sounds very amused when he says, “Okay, well, now that that’s all worked out - Shaw, we have a flight in three hours.”

Chapter Text

The car drops Luke off in front of a modest, two-story house just outside of Vancouver. Of all of Dom’s “cousins” that seem to be spread evenly all over the globe, the Liang-Jones family are some of the most surprising. They’re a married couple with two kids and a minivan, and Luke still isn’t sure how exactly Dom knows them. He thinks he remembers Letty saying that Dom officiated their wedding and/or saved the wife (a mechanic)’s life. But that intel was probably more readily accessible before the tequila. Whatever the origin of that bond, it was enough for the family to let Dom’s family crash at their place while they’re on vacation, even though they know Dom’s in town to pick a fight with a crime boss.


Luke finds the key in the potted plant by the door. He unlocks in the door in an amount of tries that would have seriously undercut his “Wrath of God” moniker from back in the day. He pulls off his shoes, managing not to disturb Leo on the couch and Santos on the air mattress in the front room, and more-or-less steadily makes his way upstairs. Tej and Roman are asleep in the twin beds on either side of the kids’ room, leaving Hobbs what was described earlier as “the shittier air mattress.”


But back in the day, Luke reflects, as he lies back on the slightly deflated mattress, the world spinning a little, he would have never imagined himself here, with these people. Much less that he would consider them family. Or that he would be pursuing a guy like Deckard Shaw for any reason other than to bring him to justice.


“Hobbs, that you?” Roman whispers.


“It’s me,” Luke says, already halfway to unconscious.


Roman stifles a laugh. “Tej,” he whispers. “Tej.”


“What, Roman?” Tej finally answers, after Roman says his name a few more times, at increasing volume.


“Hobbs just got in and he’s faded as fuck.”


“I’m not,” Luke protests with the little of his energy that hasn’t been stolen by alcohol.


Sheets rustle as Tej sits up in bed. “Where’d you go?”


“Went to meet a guy at a bar.”


“Man, you should take me along next time. Let me wingman for you,” Roman says.


“Do not let him wingman for you,” Tej says.


“Hey, shut up, Tej. I’ve gotten you laid like six times.”


“I’ve gotten myself laid while you were around like six times. In spite of you.”


“Don’t need any help from your…” Talking is too much effort and Hobbs forgets what he was going to say, so he ends up going with “easily-kidnapped ass to get laid, Roman.”


“Sure, that’s why you came back here trashed at three in the morning,” Roman says. “You guys didn’t get any, did you?”


“No… we made out, and then… it didn’t happen,” Luke says. But the new contact in his phone and his still-swollen bottom lip are better than nothing, so he adds, “Maybe next time,” mostly to himself before he falls asleep.


Roman sits up in bed. “Did he just say…”


Tej lays back down.


“Tej.”


“What?”


“Did Hobbs just say he made out with a dude?”


“Sounded like it.”


Roman lays back down, then sits back up again. “Since when is Hobbs gay?”


“Uh, since this whole time?”


“What? How did you know?”


“I mean, I didn’t know, but I kinda figured.”


How?”


“I have really good gaydar. Yours is terrible. We’ve been over this before,” Tej says. “Go back to sleep.”


**


The debriefing gets over with close to 7:00 p.m. When Mr. Nobody finally asks, “Any final questions or comments?” Deckard requests, as politely as he can manage, a new partner. This request is laughed off and declined, but he thinks it was worth a shot.


Deckard and his still current partner, Little Nobody, exit the building in the same direction, towards the parking garage. They’re based out of New York City, where driving oneself is probably the least effective mode of transportation, but both men do it anyway. Little Nobody lives outside of the city proper, and Deckard, though set up by the department in an apartment in Queens, refuses to do anything that could fall under the category of “becoming a real New Yorker.” He drives more than necessary, both for amusement and out of spite for his current situation.


“Kickboxing, huh?” Little Nobody says as they walk towards their respective cars.


“What about it?” Deckard replies.


“You’re… into it?”


Deckard wonders when he ever brought up kickboxing to Little Nobody – oh, right, early that morning. In the drunken aftermath of being cockblocked. Not that Little Nobody ever needs to know about that aspect of that situation.


Deckard realizes he hasn’t turned his phone back on since getting off the plane; he had headed straight into the debriefing. He probably has at least one new text message.


“Yeah, I’ve been into it for a couple years. Decades, I suppose. Why?”


“Just making conversation,” Little Nobody says. He unlocks his Honda Civic. “I didn’t know Agent Hobbs was also into kickboxing.”


Deckard’s car is at the far end of this level of the parking garage, and he keeps walking towards it as he answers, “I don’t know how into it he is. I hardly know the guy.”


There’s a moment of silence in which Deckard reaches his car and opens the door.


“I’m just surprised it wasn’t in his file, I guess. It was in yours,” Little Nobody says.


Deckard turns to face him. Little Nobody was a better operative than he thought, if they hadn’t noticed him in the bar. Or, more likely, they were drunker. Or maybe he’s actually talking about kickboxing. “Maybe he’s just into it more casually. I wouldn’t know.”


“Look, I’m not trying to be weird about it or anything,” Little Nobody says. “I guess I was trying to banter? But we don’t really… I was just surprised to see you two… getting along.”


“Jesus Christ,” Deckard says, very much ready to drive away from this conversation. “You’re telling me you’ve never gotten drunk with someone you intended to fight and ended up snogging them instead?”


“Can’t say that I have,” Little Nobody says, grinning. “That sounds pretty specific to your situation.”


Deckard sighs. “There’s no ‘situation,’ alright? You know what they say about Las Vegas? Let’s apply that to Vancouver.”


Little Nobody looks like he’s going to try to say something else clever, but seems to wisely decide against it. “Fair enough,” he says. But then, when it all seems mercifully over and Deckard’s about to shut the door and start the car, his partner says, “I hear there’s a few missions around L.A. in the pipeline. You want me to see if we can snag one? So you can check out that gym?”


Deckard feels his face go red, and is glad Little Nobody is surely too far away to see it. “I don’t care one way or the other.”


He shuts the car door (It’s closer to a slam, and maybe more than a little defensive) and drives as quickly as he can out into the New York traffic. At the second red light he hits, he digs his phone out of his pocket and turns it on. It’s at one percent battery and dies almost immediately. Which makes no difference to Deckard, because he’s a grown man checking on his correspondence and not a teenager waiting for a text from a crush, and he should really be paying attention to the road anyway.


**


After it has become clear that Tej has absconded with the Lambo, Roman 1) sends his friends several strongly worded texts in all caps, 2) sulks, 3) sends Tej a sulky text, even though his angry ones have yet to get a response, 4) realizes his flight home is in an hour and a half, and finally 5) runs out the front door of the Liang-Jones house just as Hobbs is starting up the Range Rover, asking to carpool to the airport.


Roman is uncharacteristically quiet for the first twenty minutes of the drive, so much so that Luke wonders if that kidnapping incident went worse than the other man had let on. As Luke considers if he should bring it up, Roman breaks the silence.


“So…” he begins, “Do you remember any of the stuff you told me and Tej last night?”


“Nothing specific,” Luke says, bracing himself to get roasted, racking his mind to remember some specifics.


“Well,” Roman says, “In case you remember, I made the generous offer to be your wingman the next time you decided to go out on the bar scene. But, uh, due to some knowledge that I did not have at the time, I’m going to have to withdraw that offer. Not ‘cause, you know, I’m not rooting for you, bruh, but, honestly, about half my wingman strategy consists of me also getting laid, and, uh, I don’t know how that would work at those types of bars. So I think my game would be really off.”


It takes Luke a moment to process that statement. “What exactly did I say last night?”


“You, uh, you may have said you met a dude at a bar and made out with him,” Roman says, fidgeting with his seatbelt. “Which I now realize was maybe something you did not want people to know about, but – okay, so, I asked Tej if he knew you were gay, and he said yeah, he figured, even though you never brought it up, so I kind of asked everyone else in the house if they could tell you were gay, and, uh, now everyone knows. About that. Including Brian and Mia, because I also texted them that question. And Ramsey.”


“Wow. Okay.” Luke has to process that for a second as well. “That was a real fuckin’ dumbass thing for you to do, Roman.”


“Yeah, I – yeah. Sorry, man.”


They drive in silence for a few minutes.


“It’s not that I’m – in the closet or anything like that,” Luke finally says, “but usually when I’m with you guys I’m in work mode, which doesn’t really cross over with dating mode.”


Roman snorts.


“What?”


“’Dating mode.’ First of all, imagining you in ‘dating mode’ is hilarious. Second of all, I don’t know why or how you’d keep those things separated.”


“Yeah, I know you don’t.”


Roman ignores any dig in that statement and says, “So this dude – are you, like, dating this dude, then? He’s like your boyfriend?”


“He’s not my boyfriend.”


“Are you blushing right now? Oh my god.”


“I’m not!”


“One sec,” Roman says, “I have to send this to the group chat.”


“Do not send this to the group chat.” Hobbs considers leaving the group chat for the thousandth time since he was added to the group chat.


“Okay,” Roman says, message sent, “So he’s not your boyfriend. You guys just made out. But you want him to be your boyfriend.”


“No, I – okay, yeah. I do. But he can’t be.”


“Why not?”


“He’s…” Luke could explain everything by admitting the guy they’re talking about is Deckard Shaw. Because despite all that’s changed since their first meeting and all they have in common, Shaw is still an amoral mercenary. Luke may have gotten less Old Testament over the years, but there are still things he can’t excuse, even if he might be able to understand and even respect where Shaw was coming from. They were on the same side completely by chance.


Shaw would’ve been a great post-mission hookup, but now that’s a twice-missed opportunity. If Hobbs still had his old job, maybe that’s how this thing would play out. But now that he’s retired, the chances of his “three days in a hotel room in some country where the local authorities take that long to sort out the aftermath enough to let him go home” fantasy becoming a reality are slim to none.


Shaw doesn’t fit into his new lifestyle, his post-DSS lifestyle, at all. But for some ungodly reason (maybe an undiagnosed head injury? He should get that checked out) Luke wants him to. The more he thinks about Deckard Shaw, and he’s been thinking about him far too much for a while now, the further his fantasies drift into dangerous territory. Falling asleep next to him, waking up next to him, cuddling on the couch while they argue over what to watch on Netflix after Samantha’s asleep… but Luke doesn’t know if the Deckard Shaw in his head has much in common with the man he’s experienced in real life. “He’s not boyfriend material,” Luke says.


“So, like, he’s hot, but you’ve got nothing in common?” Roman asks. He grins to himself. “You know what, I’m actually good with this gay stuff. I could totally wingman for you.”


“We have too much in common,” Luke says, taking the exit for the airport. “And none of the good stuff.”


“So… everything?”


Luke rolls his eyes. “You’re welcome for helping you get un-kidnapped, by the way.”


Roman shakes his head. “You would have come running if Dom told you the crew was after some dude who cut off Letty in rush hour traffic.”


“I would not.”


“Hobbs, you’ve got weird, pent-up, retired Terminator energy. You gotta go back to work, or, like get a new hobby. Or actually get laid,” Roman says. “You did not need to blow up that warehouse. I saw you see that I was tied up in the car outside. You were like, ‘Well, I could save Roman like we all came here to do, or I could go all Michael Bay up on these dudes without him. Even though Roman could probably diffuse this badass Mexican standoff we have going on with his alpha communication skills.’”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Luke says.


Roman just looks at him.


“I’m adjusting,” Luke concedes. After a moment, he adds, “And I’m bisexual, by the way. If you’re going to blab about it you might as well be accurate.”


**
Deckard’s phone is fully charged by the time he gets back to his apartment from the gym. He grabs a protein bar and turns it on, taking a seat on the bed he’s convinced was originally a display at Ikea that the department bought in its entirety. (This is also his working theory about the origins of all the other furnishings in his department-issue flat.)


He has four new messages. Two are from his sister: one picture of his niece and nephew and one passing on his mum’s comments about how it would be lovely if everyone stayed out of prison and/or comas at least through her seventieth birthday (for which she does not want (read: she is expecting) a party.) Another is from an old contact asking if he’s interested in a job he can’t take due to the nature and time commitment of his current work for the American government (seven more bloody missions to go.) The fourth is a message from an unknown number. It says: This is my number. – Hobbs.


Deckard stares at the message for a moment. It was sent at 2:20 a.m., when Hobbs was still drunk and most likely in the rideshare. Deckard wonders what he should reply, if anything. He types “Thanks,” then deletes it. What is he doing here? Is he trying to flirt? He’s terrible at flirting via text, as proven by his attempt at Grindr a few years ago. And what would flirting even achieve when they’re on opposite coasts? And why is Deckard even asking himself this many questions about one text from one man he isn’t sure he even likes on a level beyond the purely physical, especially when sober?


Deckard sighs and heads to the shower, leaving his phone on the bed and clothes on the floor. Working out is usually his one fool-proof way to relieve tension, but he can’t seem to sweat Luke Hobbs out of his system. Attempts to turn this into something productive have backfired. Strategizing about the best way to win a one-on-one rematch against this worthy opponent have turned into fantasies of being fucked hard on the floor of his old DSS office. (Not because he doesn’t come out on top in the fight, just because he really, really wants it that way. He still hasn’t worked out that transition in his fantasy.)


Deckard takes his half-hard cock in his hand. Christ, but they should have fucked in the car back in Vancouver. It wouldn’t have been the no-holds-barred Olympic shag session he (or Hobbs, judging from that “first time” comment) had in mind, but it would have been something. In the back seat, mostly clothed, riding Luke’s cock while the larger man sucks on his neck hard enough to leave a mark he’d have to hide from the other agents…


He imagines Hobbs here now; his hand wanking him off instead of his own; Deckard bracing himself against the corner of the shower. He’s fucking him with slow, deep thrusts, and when Deckard tells him he needs more, he says Sure you can handle it? He doesn’t wait for an answer because they both know full well that they can handle everything the other has to offer (maybe beyond this moment, beyond sex) and gives it to him hard and fast, no holding back – and Deckard comes all over his hand.


After a moment to recover, he turns off the water and starts toweling himself off. This thing Deckard has for Hobbs keeps getting more and more inconvenient the longer it goes on unresolved. His stupid brain or subconscious or whatever keeps taking it somewhere beyond fucking and/or fighting. Maybe it’s because he’s used to getting what he wants so much more quickly than this. Maybe it’s all his mum’s harping on about him settling down finally getting to his head. Either way, this thing with Hobbs needs to be over like his ten missions need to be over. Deckard doesn’t know what he’ll do when either is resolved, but it’ll be up to him to decide. No attachments holding him back besides the ones he was born into.


Deckard returns to his phone and sends two messages: a text to his sister re: the complications of showing up for mum’s seventieth when he’s not allowed to leave New York City except for work, and an email to Little Nobody saying that if one of those missions in L.A. seems to be in their wheelhouse, he wouldn’t have anything against picking one up.

Chapter Text

“Good morning, Mr. Reisner, Mr. Shaw,” Mr. Nobody says as the two men enter the El Segundo, California, warehouse. “How was Macedonia?”

“As good a place to get shot at with a rocket launcher as any,” Deckard says.

“Glad to hear it,” Mr. Nobody says. He gestures to the several large computer monitors behind him, displaying images of several men and what looks like live security camera footage from a ritzy apartment building. “Ready for mission number five?”

“Ready as we’ll ever be,” Little Nobody says.

Deckard nods and crosses his arms over his chest, waiting for the onslaught of his boss’s particular style of exposition. As expected, it isn’t long coming.

“That’s the spirit,” Mr. Nobody says. He points to a screen with mugshots of six different men, all Caucasian, but without much else in common. “This is Winston Moretti, your target. As you can see, he’s a master of disguise. Such a master, in fact, that he can even evade God’s Eye.”

“What’s he done besides trick your computer?” Deckard asks.

“Nothing worth our attention, until recently. These mugshots are all from arrests for drunk driving and motor vehicle theft. Last time they put him away for it, he got out early for good behavior. Seemed to have turned his life around. That is, until his girlfriend called an FBI hotline claiming he had a rare bioweapon in his possession,” Mr. Nobody says.

“That’s a hell of a step up,” Little Nobody observes.

“That’s what the FBI thought. But after a little digging, they found out that Moretti had been recruited by a radical luddite organization while in prison. Members call themselves Pastoralists, and have published manifestos – that’s right, even manifestos get sequels these days – about the need for mankind to suffer a new plague to set back the development of technology and cull the population,” Mr. Nobody says. “The night before the FBI was going to bring in Moretti for questioning, his girlfriend turned up dead, and the suspect disappeared. And we need you two to find him.”

“Why us? Why not the FBI?” Deckard asks.

“A good question, Mr. Shaw. The FBI was working on Moretti’s case, and tracked him to Los Angeles. Specifically, to this penthouse,” Mr. Nobody says, gesturing to the one of the streaming videos. A 20-something, white man in a t-shirt and boxer shorts enters the living room of a clearly expensive apartment. He yawns, scratches himself, and exits the feed. A few seconds later, he reenters with a bottle of vodka and a box of Lucky Charms, and turns on an Xbox.

“Oh god,” reacts a female voice with a British accent. Deckard and Little Nobody turn to see Ramsey enter the room. “I see you started without me.”

“I thought I’d spare you a recap,” Mr. Nobody says. “But you’re going to get some of it anyway. The charming specimen you all see on the screen here is Gavin St. Germain, an aspiring DJ and bona fide L.A. trust fund kid. He hasn’t had a hit song, but he has an entourage, and a penthouse in one of the city’s most expensive apartment buildings. This building’s residents are very rich and international. They’re trust fund kids like Gavin, business people, entertainers, et cetera, from around the globe. A virus like the one in the bioweapon released in the vents here could be spread worldwide in a matter of weeks, or even days. And Winston Moretti is frequently in this building as member of Gavin’s entourage.”

“But we don’t know which one,” Little Nobody says. “And because God’s Eye won’t work, we need to get hands on.”

“Exactly,” Mr. Nobody says.

“Okay, that was a great monologue,” Deckard says. “But still, why not the FBI? And why do we need one of the world’s best hackers on our side?”

“I can answer that,” Ramsey says. “I’ve been to a few of this guy’s parties. The security in and around that penthouse – I’m talking tech and manpower – is next level. The people in there have serious money. And Gavin’s comes from his dad, who’s a senator, ex-military, and all about appearances. He’s not someone the FBI or any other government agency wants to piss off, and he’d be extremely pissed off if he found out his son was under investigation. That’s why you’re here: next level secrecy. And I agreed to help mostly because Gavin’s a dick. And I’m as susceptible to a bio-weapon as anyone.”

“There we go. Straightforward. Thank you,” Deckard says. “Can she do all our briefings from now on?”

--

It would be too conspicuous for three new residents to suddenly show up in a penthouse with a years-long wait list, so Mr. Nobody puts Deckard, Ramsey, and Little Nobody up in the almost-as-ritzy apartment building next door. Deckard and Ramsey are in one two-bedroom unit (a married couple, a restauranteur and an artist you would have never heard of, if anyone asks), and Little Nobody is next door, posing as a bachelor venture capitalist. Mission headquarters is Ramsey’s bedroom, where they take shifts watching the livestream of Gavin St. Germain’s penthouse.

Once they identify Moretti, they know they’ll have to be in and out as quickly as possible. Ramsey isn’t sure how long she can keep the building’s cutting-edge security system down, but that’s how long Deckard and Little Nobody will have to capture Moretti and get him out from the 25th floor unit, past the additional security teams of the building’s rich and powerful residents. They have one chance to get it right without interference from the DJ’s senator dad.

The climax of the mission is sure to be anything but boring, but trying to pick Moretti out of the entourage gets old fast. Their third Friday night of the mission, Deckard, Ramsey, and Little Nobody sit in front of the monitor in Ramsey’s room eating take-out Chinese food, watching Gavin St. Germain and his entourage party. The penthouse is packed with people, with about three scantily clad women for every v-neck-wearing man.

“How is this party almost exactly the same as the one on Wednesday?” Ramsey asks. “They should least switch up the playlist.”

“I wish we could arrest them for all that coke and MDMA,” Little Nobody says. “Just for something to do.”

“You know who I hope turns out to be Moretti?” Deckard says. He points at the screen. “That guy. Mr. Ironic Mickey Mouse Chain. Just ‘cause I’d really like to kick him in the face.”

“Nah, he’s nowhere near as bad as Throwback Frosted Tips Guy,” Little Nobody says, taking a bite of General Tso’s.

“You’re both wrong,” Ramsey says. “The worst one is definitely Tim. Can’t stand him. I gave his male romper boutique a bad review on Yelp like twenty minutes ago, and I’ve never even been there.”

“Well, that may have compromised the mission, Ramsey,” Deckard says sarcastically. “We should probably just call the whole thing off.”

Ramsey pokes him in the arm with a chopstick.

“Ignore him, Ramsey. Shaw’s just cranky because we’ve been here for a month and he hasn’t been able to go kickboxing yet,” Little Nobody says.

“Shut the fuck up,” Deckard mumbles, pretending to be very interested in the screen.

Ramsey looks from man to man. “Kickboxing? Okay, what’s this in-joke?”

“You remember Hobbs? He’s like six foot five, bald, tattoos, works with Dominic Toretto sometimes?” Little Nobody asks.

“You mean the guy I saw take out a drone with an ambulance? Yeah, I remember him,” Ramsey says. “What about him?”

“Shaw fancies him,” Little Nobody says, doing an impression of Ramsey’s accent that earns him his own poke in the arm with a chopstick.

“Do you?” Ramsey asks Deckard.

“I barely know him,” Deckard says, still focused on the screen.

“Okay, so you do,” Ramsey says. “I thought you two must have history, actually. When we all thought Dom killed you, back during the thing with Cypher? Hobbs punched a wall so hard it dented. He was really upset.”

“Really?” Deckard asks, more incredulous than anything. He’s been been justifying and/or denying anything resembling feelings towards Hobbs for months. He somehow never thought to wonder whether Hobbs might have developed any for him.

“Really,” Ramsey says. “You should text him.”

Little Nobody laughs.

“I’m not going to text him. It’s not that kind of a thing,” Deckard says.

“Yeah, Ramsey,” Little Nobody says, grinning. “It’s like this intense, macho rivalry, but sometimes they accidently make out instead of punching each other.”

Now it’s Ramsey’s turn to crack up. Deckard scowls at both his coworkers.

--

8 gallons9 gallons… As Deckard watches the numbers tick up while refilling his gas tank the next Saturday he thinks he might have finally gone a little stir crazy. He’s actually appreciating being out in the L.A. air right now. At least they managed to narrow the number of potential Morettis down to two the previous night. And Ramsey was sent a picture of a tricked-out computer station from Tej, who then claimed it was sent by mistake, sparking a debate about whether this was the tech geek equivalent of a dick pic, (and, more importantly, scrutinizing somebody’s potential sex life besides Deckard’s.)  

The tank full, Deckard takes his receipt and gets back in the car. As he pulls forward, a black SUV pulls up to the pump he was using. Deckard nearly does a double take when he sees who steps out of it. Speak of the devil. Or, rather, of his potential sex life in an Under Armor t-shirt.  

Deckard quickly reverses and backs into a space in the parking lot. He checks himself in the mirror – okay, good, nothing stuck in the teeth – and gets out of the car. “Oi, G.I. Joe.”

Luke Hobbs looks up from the gas pump in surprise. “Deckard. You’re… here.”

Deckard walks over to the SUV. “Yeah, I’m in town for work.”

The corner of Hobbs’s mouth curls up. “Took you long enough.”

“Thought I’d give you some time to get ready for that one-on-one you were talking about.”

“Oh, I’ve been ready.”

Deckard leans back against Luke’s car. “Then how about now?“ His phone vibrates in the pocket of his suit jacket. It’s Ramsey. “One second.”

“We figured it out. It’s Tim,” she says as soon as he answers the phone. “Get back here as soon as you can.”

She ends the call abruptly. Deckard looks at his phone for a moment “Bloody great timing,” he mutters. But he doesn't know when he'll get this chance again, and he can't stand the idea of not getting another one. He can salvage this. He looks Hobbs in the eye. “Alright, change of plans. Would you by any chance be interested in helping fight a couple dozen private security teams, and then going back to yours and fucking me six ways to Sunday?”

Hobbs, looking a bit shell-shocked, says, "I think that's the best damn pickup line I've ever heard."

Chapter Text

 After over a month of surveillance, it’s finally time to put the plan into action. They know Winston Moretti is disguised as Tim, the entourage member who recently opened a male romper boutique in Beverly Grove. They know Tim is Moretti because Ramsey saw him attach an item fitting the description of the stolen bioweapon to a ceiling fan near a vent in the penthouse. So they also know that they might not have much time to pull this off.

The entourage is currently engaged in their usual Saturday day-drinking, pot smoking, beat-making, and video games. It’s 3 p.m. now, so this could continue for another three to eight hours (unless, of course, the bioweapon goes off before they can get there.) Once they have Tim/Moretti, Little Nobody should be able to discretely transport them away from the apartment building in the back of the mock-up Amazon Fresh delivery van built in Mr. Nobody’s El Segundo base.

The tension for this mission lies in the elements of the situation the team can’t control. Ramsey can disable the building’s security system and power grid, but she’s not sure for how long. Deckard is confident he can take on most of St. Germain’s entourage easily, but has no way of knowing how much combat training Moretti may have had. More importantly, he doesn’t know how many of the building’s security guards and how many members of the rich and powerful residents’ private security teams will impede him on his way to meet Little Nobody. This, he explains to Ramsey, is why it is actually a smart move for him to introduce another variable to their already high-stakes, time-sensitive endeavor at the last minute.

“Let me repeat back what you’ve just told me,” Ramsey says over speakerphone as Deckard drives toward the apartment building. “You’re bringing a date to our top-secret fake kidnapping… because you happened to run into him at a petrol station.”

“It’s not like he won’t be able to handle himself,” Deckard protests.

“We’ve been planning this for a month! You can’t just add someone who has no idea what’s going on, even if I have seen him redirect a torpedo by hand!”

“I filled him in on the basics. And we’re not on a date; don’t be ridiculous.”

“Your life is ridiculous,” Ramsey says, “But it seems like you’ve already convinced yourself this is a good idea.”

“Ramsey,” Deckard says, in a more serious tone, because he’s learned from experience that it’s important to keep your tech happy, or at least not actively panicking, “We know what we’re doing. It’ll be fine.”

Ramsey sighs. “I suppose you’re the expert when it comes to the action shit.”

“I am the expert when it comes to the action shit.”

 “Well, good luck. If it all goes well, I’ll see you in El Segundo.” With that lackluster endorsement, Ramsey hangs up.

Deckard decides he should probably just text Little Nobody about this development, and do it when they’re about to enter the building and it’s too late for him to call them off.

--

Luke Hobbs has known the importance of trusting his instincts for a long time now. In his experience, a man can train and study and strategize until he’s got qualifications up to his eyeballs and backup plans for his backup plans, but when there’s five seconds on the clock it always comes down to gut instinct.

 As he parks a few spaces away from Deckard in a pay lot, Luke’s gut is chewing him out for the decision he just made with either his dick, his heart, his adrenal glands, or some unholy combination of all three. He can justify this as helping save the world, or at least a number of the people who live in it, but that’s not something he knew when he joined the mission. Or when he started flirting with Shaw almost the second he saw him, despite all those great reasons he came up with not to pursue the man any further.

Luke might need a better strategy for resisting temptation than “Just say no.” But he can figure that out after he stops a terrorist and gets laid. This can be a cheat day from building strength of character.

He gets out of his car and opens the trunk. He opens a duffle bag and digs out a black sweatshirt, grey beanie, and blank tank top (clean, thankfully.) He tears off the bottom few inches of the shirt and holds the cloth over his nose and mouth. It’s long enough to tie around the back of his head to use as a makeshift mask.

“That’ll work,” Deckard says, approaching him. He has changed from his customary suit to a long-sleeved black t-shirt and black pants, a ski mask peeking out of the left pocket. “And I have two guns, but something tells me you won’t be needing one.”

Luke reaches back into the duffle bag and retrieves two handguns of his own. “Something was right.”

“Last chance to get your civilian arse out of here,” Deckard says. “They hired me to do this, but you’ll really just be committing felonies.”

Deckard, damn him, raises a very good point. One that Luke has purposely neglected to consider on the drive over. His presence on this mission is not in his best interests. Mr. Nobody’s department covered for him in Vancouver, but they might not now, especially if something goes wrong. But Shaw is wrong about this being his last chance to get out. He’s been in too deep for a while now – maybe since Deckard turned up in L.A., maybe since Vancouver, probably since Luke read the more classified version of his file and realized he has no idea who this man really is, but something in him needs to find out. As stupid as joining this mission is, Hobbs has yet to find a better way to get to know someone than by fighting alongside them.

“Yeah, well,” Luke says, “People have been telling me I should get a hobby.”

The corner of Deckard’s mouth twitches up. “Come on, then.” He starts walking past Luke, out of the parking lot.

Luke closes the trunk, locks his car, and jogs a few steps to catch up with him. “So I’m guessing we’re going to want to keep the gun use to a minimum.”

“Right. Gavin’s entourage should be unarmed, besides the shotgun he keeps under his bed. Might be a few knives among them. Definitely glass bottles and kitchen tools they could try to use if they’re feeling improvisational, and one of these blokes is in a terrible sketch comedy troupe, so he might be,” Deckard says.

“Sounds like you’ve seen them perform.”

“Twice.”

“And for free,” Luke says. Deckard rolls his eyes. Luke continues, “You should probably give me a rundown of the game plan sometime before we get to the building.”

“It’s fairly simple. Once we get there, Ramsey will disable the security system. We’ll take the maintenance elevator to the twenty-seventh floor, and when we get there, she’ll cut the power. We break into the penthouse and act like it’s a robbery. You grab the bioweapon from the ceiling fan – it’s the only thing stuck to it; you can’t miss it – and I’ll grab Moretti on our way out. We return to the parking garage via the stairs, and take out whatever security tries to stop us. Little Nobody should be there by then with the getaway van.”

“And you think we can get away from the building before the cops get there?” Luke asks.

“I think if we don’t, my partner’s become a competent enough driver,” Deckard replies.

 "Competent enough,” Luke repeats, amused. “High praise.”

Deckard shrugs. “I’m not the easiest man to satisfy."

Luke holds back a grin. “I can respect that. But you won’t have to worry about that with me.”

“I guess we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?” Deckard nods at the high-rise across the street. “There’s the building.” He checks his phone. “And the security system is already down.”

They cross the street at the next crosswalk and walk around the back of the building. They enter the parking garage and walk quickly to the maintenance elevator to the left. Once they’re on their way up, Deckard dons his ski mask. Luke puts on the hat, pulls up his hood, and ties the cloth over his face.

“Quite the look,” Deckard says.

“Am I embarrassing you, your majesty?” Luke retorts. “Sorry I wasn’t robbery-ready.”

They arrive at the twenty-seventh floor. Deckard presses the button to keep the doors closed, and takes out his phone again. “Alright, she’s about to cut the power.” He puts the phone back in his pocket, draws a gun, and pushes the button to open the doors. Barely a second after they’ve entered the hallway, all the lights go out.

The sunlight from a nearby window is enough for Deckard to identify St. Germain’s unit. There are no markings on any of the doors, which Hobbs thinks must have something to do with the building’s hyper-exclusive status, but just seems dumb to him. Deckard knocks on the first door to the right, and Hobbs draws his own weapon.

“What is it?” a male, American voice says from within.

“Maintenance,” Deckard says.

“That was fast,” the young man says as he opens the door. Deckard immediately knocks him out with a pistol whip to the head.

Shaw and Hobbs enter, Hobbs closing the door behind them, as the four other men in the penthouse yell and curse and back away from the door. The one with that frosted tips hairstyle Hobbs hasn’t seen in years picks up an elaborate bong from a coffee table and brandishes it like a baseball bat.

“Who the fuck are you?” Frosted Tips Guy says.

 “Does it look like we want you to know?” Deckard replies. “This is a robbery. Put your hands behind your head and face the wall.”

 Frosted Tips reluctantly sets the bong back on the coffee table and complies. The rest of the men follow suit. Luke notices beer cans and bottles of vodka strewn around the room, and wonders if any of these kids are drunk enough to try something really stupid.

 “Off to a good start. Now, what’s the combination to the safe?” Deckard asks.

The men are silent for a moment. One of them, a brunette with his hair in a bun, wearing what looks like a turquoise jumpsuit with short pants, finally says, “We don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?” Deckard says. He steps forward and presses his gun to the back of the speaker’s head.

“Holy shit, Tim,” Frosted Tips whispers.

“Shut the fuck up,” Deckard says, “When we were planning this, my friend here just wanted to waste all of you entitled pricks at the beginning. Said you’d only get in the way. But me, I like to think of myself as a nice guy. I thought you all could play along without us even needing to hurt you. Quintuple murder seems a bit excessive for a Saturday afternoon. Don’t you think so… Tim, was it?”

Tim swallows. “Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. That seems super excessive.”

Luke looks away from Deckard’s performance to search for the bioweapon. There’s something that resembles an air freshener on one of the blades of the ceiling fan. He carefully removes it and puts in in the pocket of his track pants. “Not if these sumbitches don’t give us that code,” he says, hoping Deckard will get the hint.

“Oh my god,” says one of the men who hasn’t spoken before, nearly hysterical. “We don’t know! Only Gavin would know, and you knocked him out!”

“Did you hear what I just told your friend?” Deckard asks.

“You – you said you didn’t want to kill us?”

“Jesus Christ,” Deckard says. He pulls Tim away from the wall and pushes him towards Hobbs. This must be the infamous Winston Moretti, master of disguise. Luke wraps an arm around his neck and puts a gun to his head.

“Step away from the wall,” Deckard continues.

The young man who spoke up complies, and Hobbs notices that he’s wearing a large chain with a blinged-out Mickey Mouse on it. This faux-robbery is making him wonder if he’s even more out of touch with youth culture than he thought. Is this how people are dressing now? Maybe Samantha would know. Or Roman. He’ll probably ask Samantha.

Fashionable or not, Deckard kicks Mickey Mouse Chain Guy in the face, knocking him to the ground. “I told him to shut the fuck up,” he says, and turns to Hobbs. “You were right; we don’t have time for this. Time for plan B. Tell whoever’s responsible for Tim that he’s being held for ransom,” he tells the entourage.

“We’ll be in touch,” Luke says. “Don’t move until you hear the door close or your buddy Gavin will have to find some new jackasses to prop up his ego.”

They back out of the penthouse into the hallway. Tim/Moretti immediately starts to struggle. Luke tightens his chokehold and increases the pressure of his gun against the man’s head, a little impressed by the man’s level of feistiness and idiocy. “I can’t believe you’ve made it this far in life with so little sense, boy.”

“You aren’t criminals,” Moretti gasps as his face goes red. “You work for the government.”

Deckard starts down the hallway towards what must be the door to the stairs, and Luke pulls Moretti along after him. “I’m more of an indentured servant/independent contractor,” Deckard says, “And the big one’s a nutter with no hobbies.”

“Hey, you fucking recruited me.”

“Yeah, I recruited a nutter with no hobbies," Deckard says. “But yeah, Winston, you’re on the right track.”

“You can’t prove anything,” Moretti says, and then immediately contradicts that statement by shouting as loudly as he can with a partially blocked windpipe, “The Pastoralists serve a higher power than any government! We serve the earth, and mankind, and a return of mankind to communion with the earth, a goal which will be achieved no matter how many of us fall, for when we fall we will all return to the earth –“

Moretti is silenced by a knock-out punch to the face from Deckard.

“Didn’t you want to hear the whole rant?” Luke says, hoisting their unconscious prisoner over his shoulder. “I bet he practiced that in the mirror a couple times.”

“Maybe when we aren’t about to be attacked by rent-a-cops,” Deckard says.

Luke turns to see four security guards stepping out of the elevator. “That was fast.”

“It’s a very expensive building,” Deckard says, and runs forward to quickly and precisely dispatch the guards before even one can draw his taser. The man may be lacking in boyfriend material, but he’s got style in spades.

“You’re going to get to have all the fun here,,” Luke says, kicking open the door to the stairs.

“You can’t spend all that time in the gym and then complain when you get stuck with the heavy lifting,” Deckard says.

They make it down three out of twenty-seven flights before the first of the private security hits.

--

 They’re both breathing hard, drenched in sweat, and almost certainly developing bruises by the time they make it to the parking garage, where Little Nobody is waiting in the faux Amazon Fresh van. There’s a few tense minutes in which Little Nobody has to shake some cops while driving an easily identifiable vehicle, but, as planned, he manages to lose them by pulling into an Amazon warehouse. (They find out later that the cops ended up pulling over a confused, actual delivery driver, who becomes a viral sensation after giving a profanity-laden live interview on CNN.)

They sit parked in the warehouse, silent, until the sirens fade into the distance. Hobbs, sitting across the empty back of the van from Deckard, propping up the still unconscious Moretti with one arm, pulls down his mask with the other. Deckard takes off his ski mask and uses it to wipe some of the perspiration off his face; these things were not intended to be worn in Southern California in September.

The two men make eye contact. Deckard unwittingly starts to smile, and then Luke is smiling back at him, and then Deckard has to look away because he’s about a second from telling him they need to go to bed together for about a month starting as soon as they can get hold of some lube and a box of condoms. This is not something he wants to communicate in front of an audience.

Said audience turns around in the driver’s seat and glares at Deckard. “Incredibly fucking unprofessional,” Little Nobody says. “I just – I can’t believe you. I can’t.”

“I brought back-up,” Deckard replies, as innocently as he can manage.

 “You brought a date,” Little Nobody says. “You brought a civilian plus-one on a beyond classified mission. What is wrong with you?”

“Yeah, Deckard,” Luke says, still grinning, “What is wrong with you?”

 “You…” Little Nobody starts, then cuts himself off. He takes a moment to stare at the steering wheel, then look back at Hobbs. “You can’t pull this shit anymore. You don’t work here! You quit! You can’t just keep showing up whenever you feel like it!”

“It’s pro-bono,” Luke argues.

“It’s insane,” Little Nobody says, “You’re both insane. Oh my god.”

“You should fire Shaw,” Luke volunteers. “That’s what I would have done if one of my team had gone behind my back like this.”

“Oi,” Deckard protests. To his partner, he says, “What you should really do is should start the van, drive us to El Segundo, and finish the mission like we planned before somebody notices we shouldn’t be here.”

“Oh, so now it’s important to stick to the plan?” Little Nobody says, but he starts the van and back out of the warehouse, rejoining the L.A. traffic.

--

The debriefing takes five hours, and most of that time is spent waiting. When they get to the El Segundo headquarters, Moretti, now conscious and yelling Pastoralist mantras again, is taken into custody. Deckard wants to ask someone what kind of fucked up due process the man’s getting, but he feels like the answer is probably above his security clearance. It rubs him the wrong way when the “good guys” flout the same rules they push on everyone else; it has since before they (the “they” across the pond, but same bloody difference) used this against him. Moretti’s clearly guilty, and Mr. Nobody’s brand of corruption a response to another, more insidious kind, but this still hits a little too close to home.

Deckard, Little Nobody, and Hobbs wait in a conference room, obviously being watched from behind a two-way mirror. They’ve been stripped of their phones, guns, and, of course, the bioweapon. There’s no way of telling the time. They are told that Mr. Nobody will be there soon.

“Soon” comes and goes. Luke gets so bored that he takes off his sweatshirt and starts doing pushups. Deckard watches out of the corner of his eye for a while, then starts giving Luke shit. Luke gives it right back and starts doing his pushups with one arm, and they still can’t have sex so they almost end up having a one-armed pushup contest until Little Nobody puts his head in his hands on the table and tells them they need to stop because this is so uncomfortable for everyone else and the energy in the room is weird enough as it is. He has a point. They make do with glaring at each other across the conference table.

After another long stretch of time, someone brings them sandwiches from a nearby deli. When they’re halfway through the sandwiches, the same someone opens the door again and a wide-eyed Ramsey enters the room.

 “Do any of you know what’s happening?” she asks. “I got a call from one of Mr. Nobody’s guys telling me to hide all evidence of our surveillance, and wait in the apartment until someone came and got me.”

 “He will be here as soon as he can,” the sandwich-and-hacker-delivery-boy says.

“Any idea when that’ll be?” Deckard asks.

“That’ll be right now, Mr. Shaw,” says Mr. Nobody, appearing in the doorway. He looks like his usual inscrutable self on the surface, but something seems off. He picks up a sandwich from the table and takes a bite. “Mm. They do great roast beef, don’t they?”

“Mr. Nobody, what’s going on here?” Hobbs asks.

“Did we do something wrong?” Ramsey asks.

Mr. Nobody sighs. “You did many things wrong in the eyes of the law, yes, but the mission went off without a hitch.” He points to Hobbs. “You’re getting your job back, by the way. Don’t even try to argue with me about this. You either work for me, or you’re going to prison. Fortunately, our records show that you’ve been back working for me for the past two weeks. You’re welcome, Newly Reinstated Agent Hobbs. Now you won’t be the de facto scapegoat if another, even bigger wave of shit hits the fan. Agent Shaw, you’re due for a ninety-day performance review coming up soon, because you decided to start working for us full time about a two and a half months ago. You’re thinking about applying for citizenship. We’ve really rehabilitated you. Of course, you still have five missions to go before we clear your record, and then you can quit. But for now, I’d prefer not to throw you under the bus for my mistake either.”

Deckard nods. Maybe this particular lawman isn’t as hypocritical as he thought. “Understood. But what was your mistake?”

Mr. Nobody takes another bite of his sandwich, and takes his time chewing it. “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. But for some reason, Senator St. Germain thought to call me about his son’s buddy’s kidnapping. Directly. Said he wanted to avoid the media attention an investigation by the LAPD or FBI would bring.” He shakes his head. “Could be nothing, just paranoia on his part. A coincidence. But then, it could be… something.”

There’s a moment of silence, which Ramsey breaks. “Do we have to go into hiding?”

“No,” Mr. Nobody says. “Unless things get a hell of a lot worse overnight, we’ll still have you all fly out tomorrow. As far as anyone outside the department knows, you’ve been here at headquarters investigating what turned out to be a dead-end lead on Cypher. And they could only find that out with an extraordinarily high security clearance. So,” he says with finality, standing, “You kids grab a car and get yourselves out of here so I can go back to lying to an elected official of this great nation.”

Deckard, Ramsey, and Little Nobody file out of the conference room into the tech-and-gear-heavy section of the warehouse, where they find their phones and weapons on a desk with a variety of car keys. Luke stays behind with Mr. Nobody, looking like he wants to negotiate more than argue. Ramsey and Little Nobody grab the keys to a Mustang.

“Coming with us?” Ramsey asks.

“I think I’ll hang around for a bit,” Deckard replies.

Ramsey gets it. “Oh, right. Well, you two have fun. Try not to miss the flight or I’ll divorce you.”

Little Nobody sticks his head out of the driver’s side window. “I would also tell you to have fun, but you’ve been a shitty partner today, so.”

Deckard looks at the ceiling. “You know, I always used to work alone when I had a choice.”

A few minutes after they drive away, Hobbs enters the garage. He’s finally taken the beanie off and appears lost in thought. He sees Deckard and his brow unfurrows, and he walks towards him. Getting butterflies in your stomach is something happens to twelve-year-olds and daft romantics, so Deckard thinks he’s probably just now feeling the effects of those kicks to the abdomen he received around the seventeenth floor.

Deckard tosses Luke a set of keys. “You told me you were going to take me back to yours.”

“And I’m a man of my word.”

They don’t talk, don’t even look at each other for the forty-five minute drive to a house in a suburb of Los Angeles. Luke pulls into the driveway of a blue, two-story home with a sliver of yard, the type of place honest work can get a man in this city. On the inside, it displays the Spartan sensibility for interior design that a lifetime of military service and international travel brings (and that Deckard shares, to a certain extent), frequently disrupted by evidence of the presence of a pre-teen girl. There’s a purple beanbag chair in the living room. In the kitchen, there’s a science textbook on the table and report cards and pictures on the fridge.

Deckard takes a closer look at a few of them while Luke pours him a drink. “Do you coach your daughter’s football team?” he asks incredulously.

“I do,” Luke says, handing him a whiskey (not too cliché for a man their age to drink in his own home, apparently), “They were league champions this year.”

“Of course they were,” Deckard says. He downs half his drink and turns away from the fridge. He’s here to get this man out of his system, and small talk isn’t going to help with that. “Mind if I use your shower?”

Luke leads him upstairs to the master bedroom, points him to the bathroom attached, and leaves when Deckard tells him to come back in a few minutes. He nearly goes in for a kiss beforehand, but seems to think the better of it. Which Deckard appreciates, because the next time they touch he really needs them not to stop.

He washes and dries himself, and reenters the bedroom with a towel around his waist. Luke is already there, looking like he’s washed as well, sitting on the edge of the bed in grey boxer-briefs and nothing else. There’s a nearly-full bottle of lube and a roll of condoms next to him. He stands when Deckard enters the room. “Damn.”

Deckard lightly pushes him back down on the bed. He lets his towel drop to the ground and straddles Hobbs’s lap before the other man can get a particularly good look. Luke takes hold of the back of his head and kisses him hard. They moan into each other’s mouths, and the kisses become all tongue and teeth and months of pent-up need. Deckard starts feeling up the torso usually teased by those stupidly tight shirts. Luke slides his hands down Deckard’s muscular back to grope his ass.

They’re both getting hard now, and Deckard moves down to lick and kiss Luke’s neck as he grinds against him. He realizes Luke must have put on cologne while he was in the shower. For some reason, Mr. Maximum Effort felt like he needed to take some kind of additional step to seduce Deckard at that point. It’s kind of adorable. Deckard would bet money that the same man who put him through a glass table would make him breakfast in the morning. But he’s distracted from this revelation by another, more pressing one (as in, the one literally pressing against him.)

Christ, but you have a massive cock,” Deckard says under his breath.

Luke pulls him in a little closer. “Is that gonna work for you?”

Deckard kisses him, once again hard on the mouth. “It’s really going to fucking work for me.” But he appreciates that Luke isn’t one of those guys who just assumes real life sex should work like porn, and, goddammit, he’s appreciating way too many things about this man right now.

Luke reaches between them to take Deckard’s cock in his hand and says, “You’re not exactly small either.”

Mm.” Deckard thrusts into Luke’s hand a few times. “Need you to fuck me against the wall. Right now,” he manages to say.

 Luke takes his hand away. “Then go face the wall and spread your legs,” he says, voice equally strained.

 Deckard obeys. He looks back over his shoulder to watch Luke finally removes his underwear and grab the lube and one of the condoms from the bed. Luke takes Deckard’s hips in his hands, and presses his erection between his cheeks, teasing. Deckard takes one hand away from the wall to pull Luke in for another long kiss, biting his lip hard.

When their lips part they stand like that for a moment, forehead to forehead, until Deckard whispers, “What are you waiting for?” and Luke kneels behind him and Deckard moans and presses his forehead to the wall and arches his back as he feels the man’s tongue draw circles around the rim of his asshole.

Then Luke’s tongue, warm and wet, flicks inside him, and it flips a switch in Deckard’s brain that causes him to curse like an incoherent sailor until Luke pulls away.

“Fuck, you’ve got a dirty mouth,” Luke says, sounding all amused and turned on and proud of himself.

 “You’re the one who stuck your tongue up my arse,” Deckard counters.

“You’ve got a great one,” Luke replies, giving it an appreciative slap. He stands and takes hold of Deckard’s hip with one hand, while the other slowly slides two lubed-covered fingers inside him. He pumps and scissors them and angles them to brush his prostate, and it isn’t long before the sensation is overwhelming.

“Stop,” Deckard gasps, “Don't want to come until you're really in me.”

The seconds after the loss of Luke’s fingers while he puts on the condom and lubes himself up are somehow more agonizing that all the nights Deckard’s spent waiting for this put together. Luke pushes in slow, but once he’s all the way in there’s no question of how this is going to go. He pulls nearly all the way out, then thrusts back in hard. He keeps going, fast and rough, with Deckard pushing back to meet his strokes. It’s at once too much, and something he can’t get enough of.

Then Luke’s hand is on his cock again, and it’s not long before Deckard, body sore from the fight and spread open and thoroughly filled and buzzing with stimulation, comes with a desperate, wordless moan. Luke follows soon after. He rests his hands against the wall on either side of Deckard’s, no longer erect but still inside him, their bodies pressed against each other. When they can manage more than this, Luke pulls out and turns Deckard around. Deckard takes his face in his hands and pulls him down for a deep kiss, filled with as much want as before. He has still has the rest of the night to get it out of his system, and he plans to use as much as possible.

“We’re going to need to do that again,” Deckard says.

Luke laughs under his breath and kisses him again. “I think this might be the most I’ve ever agreed with you.”

Chapter Text

As usual, Luke Hobbs wakes up a few minutes before his alarm is set to go off. After he quit the DSS, he had thought it might help him adjust to civilian life if he woke up a little later, so he started setting his alarm for five thirty. But his biological clock had gone AWOL. He would spend five to five thirty every morning lying with his eyes closed, willing himself to go back to sleep. It never worked, and, defeated, he went back to setting his alarm at five. Now he finds he wakes up every day between 4:54 and 4:58 a.m.

It is not an everyday occurrence, however, to wake up and feel the warmth and pressure of another person’s body against his. But this morning Deckard Shaw is lying half beside him, half on top of him, his face resting on his tattooed left pec, an arm across his torso. Thinking back to the night before, Luke recalls the moment they, in a post-orgasmic haze, found themselves in this position. I’m not bloody cuddling with you, Deckard had said, nuzzling his chest, Gonna get up and call a cab in a second. Luke had made a non-verbal noise of acknowledgement and wrapped an arm around him.

This is the first time Luke has seen Deckard looking relaxed, or anything close to it. Almost innocent. Luke finds himself trying to memorize the sensation of his even breathing. He looks at the ceiling and asks himself how he got into such dangerous territory with this guy. Then he realizes he can’t remember the last time he felt this relaxed.

The alarm goes off. Deckard sits up and surveys his suroundings, once again on the alert.

Luke turns off the alarm. “Morning,” he says.

Deckard gives him a wary once-over, as if the last fifteen hours could have been an elaborate set-up. “Morning.”

"You were going to leave during the night.”

Deckard gets out of bed. “I slept in. I’ll be out of your hair soon as I’m dressed.”

One arm behind his head, Luke appreciates the view. It’s far from something he’d want to kick out. “Just thought you might have missed your flight.”

 “Oh. No,” Deckard says. He catches Hobbs’s gaze and holds on it it. “I’ve got some time.”

Luke lets his eyes roam down Deckard’s body; hears his breath catch so slightly only another trained field agent could tell it happened. “Do you.”

“Think you can go another round?”

 "With you? Bring it.”

Deckard walks around to Luke’s side of the bed and picks up the bottle of lube and one of several condoms scattered across the carpet. He pulls back the sheets and straddles him, sitting back on his thighs. Deckard runs his index finger along a vein on Luck’s cock, and Luke’s hips buck involuntarily. Deckard’s mouth curls up in a smirk. “Did you enjoy not having to go easy last night?”

“I did,” Luke admits, his eyes flickering closed for a moment as Deckard starts slowly, deliberately stroking his growing erection. He runs his hands up Deckard’s thighs. “And now I get why you’ve had trouble being fully satisfied.”

“Don’t flatter yourself, Hercules.”

Luke cups the side of Deckard’s face with one of his hands, and they both move forward just enough to meet for a kiss. It’s gentle for a moment, but that was never going to last and soon they’re kissing like it’s a competition, albeit one they both know they’re going to win.

When they break for air, Deckard is on top of Luke, hard against his stomach, face flushed. Luke rolls them over, and Deckard scowls up at him. Luke kisses his forehead and grabs the condom from between the folds of the sheets.

“I could still wipe the floor with you in a fight, you know,” Deckard says, spreading his legs.

“You could sure try,” Luke replies as he unwraps the condom.

 “You’re lucky you’re handsome.”

Luke, coating his cock with the remaining lube, looks down at Deckard and fights to stop himself from saying something incredibly corny along the lines of you’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever laid eyes on and I think you should miss your flight, and ends up saying, “You’re lucky you slept in.”

Deckard lifts his hips as Luke’s thumb circles his asshole. “Why? So I could lay here all morning without you fucking me?”

Luke, taking the unsubtle hint, pushes two lubricated fingers into him to the knuckles. “So needy.”

“Only ‘cause you’re a tease,” Deckard says, slightly breathless.

Luke wonders if the other man realizes he’s barely moving; Deckard’s doing most of the work here, fucking himself on his fingers like he hasn’t gotten any in months instead of hours. Luke adds a third, which slows Deckard down a little. “A tease, huh?”

“Don’t act like you don’t – fuck me, yes – don’t know, with all your bloody innuendo and, mm, doing bloody bicep curls with the bench back in prison –“

 Luke pulls his fingers out and positions himself with his erection at Deckard’s entrance, hands on either side of his biceps. “That was hot for you?”

Deckard gives him a look that somehow both seriously questions his intelligence and says shut up and fuck me five minutes ago.

 “That part was supposed to be intimidating,” Luke says.

“You? Intimidating?” Deckard smirks.

He wraps his arms around Luke’s neck and pulls him down for a kiss before he can respond. Yeah, he might have to let this one slide. Especially considering how achingly hard he is, and the way Deckard’s sucking on his tongue.

He buries himself in Deckard in one thrust and doesn’t waste any time; starts pumping in and out of the tight heat of him as Deckard moans and bites his lip so hard it nearly breaks the skin. Luke fucks him harder in response and their mouths part and Deckard wraps his legs around Luke’s waist. He braces himself against the headboard with his left hand, and reaches for his cock with his right, but Luke pushes it away and pins it above his head.

“We both know you’re gonna come just from my cock in your ass,” Luke says, and Deckard curses at the ceiling and looks for a second like he might go over the edge right then and there. There’s a lot Luke has yet to figure out about this man, but in bed he’s far from a difficult case to crack.

Deckard frees his right arm and uses it to drag Luke down again and kiss him hard. “Bastard,” he breathes.

 "Slut,” Luke says, voice low, in his ear, and Deckard buries his face in the crook of his neck and reaches orgasm with a muffled shout.

Luke’s strokes start to get less even, and Deckard licks his neck and murmurs, “Come on, darling” and he climaxes. Arms shaky, he collapses onto the other man for a moment. Deckard’s legs are still around him, one heel digging into the top of his ass, for another moment after he pulls out.

They separate and lie beside each other for a moment, looking at the ceiling. Even eye contact would be too much right now. At least for Luke. Before this weekend, Luke would have thought that eventually his desire for Deckard, all those stupid fantasies, would fade, but now, after fighting together, after last night and this morning… the situation is critical. But in this moment, the world quiet except for their breathing, close enough to feel each other's body heat, he doesn't mind.

--

When Luke leaves the room (to make coffee, he says), Deckard gets up to retrieve his clothes and phone from the loo, and assess the situation. So the sex was good. The sex was really bloody good. He had thought it would be. And they make a good team in the field; they had both realized that back in New York. But there’s a new element Deckard never could have predicted: he kind of likes Luke and likes being around him and thinks it might be a good thing for them to get to know each other better.

Shit. All those quips from Ramsey and Little Nobody were right. Last night was definitely a date.

Deckard puts on his clothes, dirty but not especially rank from the mission yesterday, and takes his phone out of power save mode. He orders an Uber. Alright, so he has a thing for Hobbs - still has a thing for Hobbs. He’s also still a man who commits to his goals, and his goal right now if to finished the remainder of his ten missions and get his old life back, his life before Owen got himself knocked out of a plane and into a coma and he’d never heard of Dominic Toretto or Mr. Nobody or the man whose bed he just shared. He needs to stay as detached as he can from anything or anyone incompatible with that. This has just been a  temporary lapse in judgment, a distraction from a frustrating period in his life.

When he walks downstairs to the kitchen and smells fresh coffee and sees Luke frying eggs in a faded All Blacks t-shirt he has another temporary lapse in which he gets the appeal of domesticity. To a certain extent. But this is temporary, and, thankfully, his ride is already here.