"I told you this wasn't a good time," the amused voice of his quarry rumbled in Hobbs' ear. "Did you think I meant I needed to shampoo my hair?"
Hobbs sighed, flexing his biceps a little to reduce some of the strain on his arms, and glanced over to his left. Dominic Toretto grinned wryly back at him from close range, arms stretched above him by chains much like the ones currently suspending Hobbs above the concrete floor. Neither of them was exactly a lightweight, but the chains were thick enough to bear them, and the pipe they had been secured to seemed unfortunately solid.
"There's a lot of ground to cover between 'I have a headache' and 'my dance card's already full'," he replied, raising his eyebrows in challenge. "I'm not a mind reader, Toretto."
"Pity," Toretto smirked at him. "Still. I kind of thought you might have caught a clue from the fact that I was running for my life when I ran into you."
"It was a little déjà vu," Hobbs admitted, cocking his head to one side in lieu of a shrug. "But Reyes and his lieutenant are both dead; I guess I just didn't expect you to have pissed anyone else off that badly in the three months since I chased you last. My apologies for underestimating you."
"Oh, this ain't new business; this is old business," Toretto replied, sobering as he cast an eye toward the three armed thugs waiting at the door fifteen feet from them. "These are Braga's boys, I think, and not very inventive, either; Reyes used this tactic on us once."
Hobbs shifted again, the chains clanking slightly as he pulled his wrists apart, testing the strength of the lock that held the links together. "Arturo Braga. The one you and O'Conner ran down?" He remembered seeing a mention of that case in Toretto's file; it had strengthened his initial impression of the man as a thug, that he'd thrown away his freedom in pursuit of mindless vengeance. Several very hectic days in Rio, however, had given him a more appreciative window into Toretto's motivations.
"Mmm, yeah. Could be Verone's, too, if they were looking for Brian," Toretto mused.
Hobbs frowned as he mentally paged back through O'Conner's file, then snorted. "Just how many internationally active drug lords have you fucked over between the pair of you, anyway? Any more suitors likely to crash this party?"
"Nah," Toretto drawled. "Just as well; two's more than enough for one occasion. I don't do threesomes without a lot more incentive. Which begs the question." He eyed Hobbs up and down, a speculative light in his dark eyes. "Just how flexible are you?"
Hobbs' brain stalled a little at that, but he refused to admit he was having trouble translating that particular innuendo to their situation without a lot of irrelevant mental detours. He would not be the first one to blink. "Never had any complaints yet," he volleyed back. "What'd you have in mind?"
Toretto grinned. "Give it a minute," he said, then turned back toward the goons and shouted something pungent and patently offensive in Spanish.
"Huh," he concluded a moment later, chuckling. "Definitely Braga's. Ready?"
Ready or not, they were coming-- and Hobbs figured out what Toretto had meant a few seconds later when the other man arched his body back and whipped his legs up to waist height to wrap around one of the assailants. He wasn't quite limber enough to reach the man's throat, but it was effective enough to pull him within the circle of Hobbs' reach-- and Hobbs could certainly manage enough lift with his arms to deliver a solid kick to the thug's chin. He flew back, colliding with another assailant on the way; both were knocked to the ground, the second trapped under the limp weight of the first. The third man had prudently hung back out of reach-- but luckily, the thrashing around had weakened Toretto's chains just enough for him to break free with a massive effort of straining biceps.
Hobbs wrenched at his own chains, hoping to duplicate the effect, but he was still a sitting duck when the last man standing lifted his gun to aim for Toretto. The fugitive was already in motion, headed for the shielding presence of a convenient stack of barrels, but without a weapon of his own he wouldn't be able to take out the gunman alone.
"Not today," Hobbs muttered, gripping his chains as tightly as he could and levering his body upward with all his strength. He was already half upside down before a spray of bullets crossed the room; he felt a stinging burn across one of his shoulders as he managed to hook a foot on the pipe above him and create a little slack to work with around his hands, but that was all.
Fortunately, the men that had captured them had only done a cursory search. They'd removed his thigh holster and patted him down for other guns or obvious weapons, but they'd missed at least three of his knives, one of which was secured to the inner surface of his bulletproof vest where he could just reach it with his bound hands. It took some quick contortion work, and he was pretty sure he'd strained something in his already sore shoulders with the wrenching throw he'd had to make to put enough force into it, but the knife sank in solidly at the juncture of shoulder and neck while the gunman was focused on Toretto. He went down like a sack of potatoes.
That left just the second assailant, still struggling out from under the body of the one Hobbs had kicked, and Toretto free to duck out of his impromptu shelter and stomp the shit out of him. Toretto was only a little the worse for wear, mostly from a bullet graze across one bicep; the dark stains down the front and back of his black muscle shirt were probably just sweat. Hobbs wasn't really a fan of warm climates himself-- he'd resorted to trying antiperspirant on his shaved head once or twice, to his long-lasting and very itchy regret-- but he certainly appreciated the way it outlined every ridge of muscle on Toretto's firm body.
He swore at himself mentally for the distraction, then shook his head and carefully unhooked his foot from the pipes again, bracing himself to swing back down near floor-level with a minimum amount of additional torque applied to his arms. Whatever fault in Toretto's chain had allowed the other man to break free, it wasn't present in Hobbs' bindings; Toretto would have to find a key and free him.
Time for another twenty-four grace period, Hobbs supposed, grunting as he took all his weight on his shoulder joints again. He could just reach the floor with the toes of his boots if he tried; not the most comfortable position, but it relieved the ache while he watched Toretto search the fallen men.
It occurred to him then, belatedly, that he wasn't at all worried that Toretto would abandon him; use the situation to his advantage, maybe, but not just leave Hobbs there to hang for Braga's amusement. A strange thing to think about a man who'd done his best to kill him with his fists a few months before and came damn close to putting a wrench through his head. Then again, he had saved Hobbs' life when he hadn't had to only a few minutes after that.
They stay when they should run, Hobbs remembered Neves saying that week; they steal gas and then give it away. Save the life of a federal agent for no discernable reason, then turn right around and run rampage through a procession of dirty cops. Toretto was no hero, but neither was he a villain; he was a there but for the grace of God go I, if Hobbs had been a little unluckier as a kid or a little less disciplined in his training. And maybe that was part of the appeal, the reason he was still staring calmly at Toretto when the man finally came up with a key and strode back into Hobbs' personal bubble.
"Tempted?" he said, tipping his chin at the key in Toretto's hand with a smirk.
"Mmm." Toretto made a considering noise, glancing up at the lock above Hobbs' head, then down the length of his body again. "Maybe a little."
"Not the best place for it, though."
"Give you a raincheck? Someplace a little more private, and a little more ... horizontal."
The low rumble of Toretto's voice went straight to Hobbs' traitorous dick-- which wasn't deaf to the fact that Toretto hadn't said word one about losing the chains, either.
"Sounds more exciting than whatever Braga had planned for us, that's for damn sure," he replied.
Toretto snorted, then finally reached up with the key. "You're all right, Agent Hobbs," he murmured, chest to chest with Hobbs as he fitted the key to the lock.
"Luke," Hobbs replied roughly, suppressing an involuntary shudder.
Toretto paused, key unturned, to stare thoughtfully at him at that. "On second thought," he said, dark eyes meeting Hobbs' in all seriousness. Then he pulled back without fully undoing the lock, leaving the key just where Hobbs couldn't quite reach it with Toretto standing so close. "Call me Dom."
Hobbs mood fell at that, but not enough to keep him from picking up the gauntlet. "See you soon, Dom," he replied.
Toretto's expression was just as amused as it had been the last time they'd faced off over an ultimatum-- but there was an undercurrent that definitely hadn't been there before. "Looking forward to it," he said. Then he leaned forward, biting suddenly at Hobbs' lower lip and copping a thorough feel.
Hobbs couldn't stop a reflexive thrust into that hand, or a groan from escaping as the other man pulled away. "Fucker," he hissed.
"Definitely looking forward to it," Toretto repeated himself, grinning.
Then he headed for the door, leaving Hobbs back at square one ... or two and a half, depending on how he counted.
He knew which arithmetic he preferred.