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art by syfyfan
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Eleven months ago.
The skeletons of several high end cars are found in a mall parking lot stripped of parts and tires. The cars were stolen from Nevada and Arizona. This was the fifth find of out of state cars being brought into California and chopped for their component parts in a month. What wasn't wanted from the cars was left in suburbs of San Diego, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. Authorities believe the parts are being shipped overseas.
Five teenagers at a party overdose on drugs; three die. Friends of the teenagers report that the dealer drives a "racing car."
Ten months ago.
Three black sports cars with dark tinted windows race along the highway, their green lit undercarriages glow in the night as they approach an eighteen wheeler. They race around, in front, behind, and one car passes underneath the eighteen wheeler, just clearing the bottom of the trailer.
The drivers call the test a win. The truck driver passes it off as teenagers out looking for a thrill.
Nine months, one week ago.
Multiple store fronts are riddled with bullets during a drive-by shooting. The shooters are all on motorcycles. The next day the stores receive new merchandise from a new supplier.
Nine months ago.
A blue Mazda RX-7 with white and green decals across the hood and doors weaves in and out of traffic on its journey up Interstate-5. It has several stops to make before making a second run down Interstate-10.
Same route the driver had taken last week and it will be the same route the two new drivers will be taking in the weeks to come. Tijuana to San Diego to Los Angeles across to Palm Springs and up to San Francisco and Sacramento.
Eight months ago.
Three black sports cars swarm an eighteen wheeler. A helmeted man climbs out of the sunroof of the lead car and fires a crossbow bolt with rope through the passenger window of the truck and pulls the window out.
The second car moves into position and another helmeted man climbs out of the car's sunroof and fires a thicker rope attached to a barbed bolt into the truck. The bolt punches through the passenger seat and embeds into the metal behind it. Within seconds the man has climbed out of the car, and as the black car slows down so does the truck, which gives the man a chance to jump from car to truck.
Minutes later the driver of the truck is left standing on the side of the road and his shipment of electronics is being driven away surrounded by three black sports cars with green lit undercarriages.
Over the next four months this will be repeated another seven times.
Seven months ago.
Another two stolen cars are found stripped of everything valuable. The cameras at the bank across the street catch one of the people from the truck that left the wrecks jump into a Nissan GT with undercarriage lights and flame decals on the door.
Two days later a dark green Toyota Subaru is pulled over for speeding and the driver is busted for transporting two kilos of drugs.
Separately the FBI and DEA approach the LAPD about working together. The three letter agencies wanting to tap the officers the LAPD might already have undercover.
Six months, three weeks ago.
The cars of three known San Diego street racers are found destroyed just over the border in Border Field National Park. The bodies of two of the drivers are found floating in one of the nearby estuaries. The FBI suspects an up and coming new drug boss from Mexico.
Five months, two weeks ago.
"O'Conner, my office now!" Sergeant Tanner bellowed across the room.
Brian has just finished a case and had been looking forward to several days off. Days where he would be away from the station. Away from cops and criminals. Days away from being Brian Turner, high school dropout and runner for a small time bookie who was now doing time upstate. The bookie's cohorts are either dead, turning states evidence or in jail.
He loves being a cop. He loves working undercover, but he’s afraid he’s beginning to burn out. That he needs to take a step back for a while.
Brian walks into his sergeant's office to see a black man in a suit standing there, that Brian instantly identifies as a Fed. This should be fun, he thinks. Not. As the man is introduced as Bilkins, Special Agent for the FBI.
"You're going under again," Tanner says, handing him a file. Inside is a new driver's license from Arizona and background. Brian Earl Spilner. Age, almost twenty-four, but same birth date as him. Good. First semester college dropout. Wannabe street racer. Job as an errand boy at Racer's Edge. His inner dialogue is going full throttle as it reminds him that this could have been him but as a high school dropout.
"Who we going after?"
"You bring this guy in," the Fed tells him. "We'll make sure you get that detective badge you want."
So much for a taking a step back.
Five months ago.
Brian stares into the mirror, hands gripping the sink. "My name is Brian Earl Spilner. I love cars and racing. I want to be the king of the streets. I am Brian Earl Spilner. I work for Harry at Racer's Edge. Spilner."
He repeats it over and over.
Four months, three weeks ago.
Brian stares at the lime green Mitsubishi Eclipse. "Car's a piece of shit," he mutters as he looks under the hood. "This'll get me laughed off the road or pegged as a cop instantly."
He starts taking the engine apart.
Four months, two weeks ago.
Brian runs the car through its paces. Start. Stop. Turn. Fast, faster. Braking. All perfect. This is not the way Brian Earl Spilner would drive. He has to drive like a newbie. A wannabe. Heavy on the gas. Reflexes just a little slower.
He guns the engine and using one of the lines of a parking space aims to stop just over it. The wheels roll over and Brian smiles. Rookie mistake. Excellent. He repeats it. He skids. He uses the NOS just seconds too late. Just seconds too soon.
He trains himself to be a newbie driver.
He is Brian Earl Spilner.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Growing up Brian dreamed of a lot of things like being a doctor, a fireman, a race car driver, a cop, and an astronaut. One and a half out of five wasn't bad.
He was normally a good judge of character. In his job he had to be or he could be dead in the blink of an eye.
Brian had been sure this assignment was going to be an in and out and then he could take the much needed vacation. That all changed the first moment he actually met Dominic Toretto. Brian had just instantly known there was something different about the man. He'd had suspicions from his observations sitting at the deli counter of the Toretto family store, but no real proof. Brian had known that the FBI folder hadn't contained everything, and he highly doubted what he suspected would have even been a passing thought to anyone else on this task force.
Dom knew things he shouldn't, but he wasn't psychic and it wasn't just intuition. He could hear and see things others couldn't. And if Brian was a gambler, he would bet that all of Dom's senses were heightened.
His grandmother had called them caomhnoiri--guardians. But Brian's Irish was rusty and his pronunciation had always pretty much sucked...though it had made his grandmother smile as she had told him stories when he was kid. She was the last in his family to use her ancestors' language on a regular basis or to tell the stories that had been passed on from generation to generation. His parents had never seemed interested in passing it along to their son. Then again, Brian's father had thought Grandmother O'Conner was losing touch with reality and her stories were nothing more than that.
But Brian had loved the stories. He'd dream of finding his own guardian--of being his or her keeper. Then his grandmother had died, his parents divorced two years later, he fell in love with cars, boosted one too many as a youth and got thrown into juvie. Juvie had scared him. When he'd gotten out he transferred to a different high school, got his grades up and went to college, and then almost immediately thereafter had entered the police academy.
Only in his dreams did he let the stories of guardians and their keepers come alive. He sometimes wondered if those dreams were what kept him from losing it while he was undercover. That was, until he met Dominic Toretto and he realized he'd met his guardian. The dreams had nothing on real life.
Then he realized he was screwed if he couldn't stop Dom and his family from pulling their little hijacking escapades--if it was them--or get the multiple undercover agents to look elsewhere...he was going to have to arrest his own guardian and he couldn't see himself doing that. For a man Brian would never have taken for being an idiot, if Dom was behind the hijackings, the man needed to have his head examined.
Brian glanced around at the other groups of racers standing with their crews and cars. He had an idea, now he just needed to whisper the thoughts into the right people's ears.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom knew Brian was lying to him about something. He even knew that Brian knew he knew. And how fucked up was that? But he also knew Brian was trying to figure a way to tell him whatever it was that caused the other man to have that look of panic in his eyes sometimes.
In the four months since Brian had first shown up at the store ordering the crappy tuna salad for lunch and flirting with Mia, many things had changed. After the night the Trans blew up Brian's car Brian had stopped pursuing Mia. Oh, he still ran interference for her with Vince, but Vince hadn't realized he was being played. Jesse was ecstatic with the wreck of a car Brian had brought to the garage, and with Brian, as he seemed to understand most of what Jesse rambled about when they sat together in front of Jesse's computer.
Dom had overheard Mia giving Brian the speech about him owning Brian now and about gravity. He was so happy that he hadn't been drinking or eating at that moment. He sometimes wondered about his sister. Though, he and Brian had been circling around each other for the last month so maybe she was onto something there. Not that he would ever tell his sister that.
Dom looked out at the garage where Brian was using the edge of his shirt to wipe the sweat from his face before he went back to work with Leon and whatever they were doing under the hood of the Supra. Letty was glaring at both of them. She was in a mood again and part of that was his fault. They were in one of the "off" phases of their relationship and lately there had been more offs than ons. Oh, the attraction was still there and when they were together that was all Dom could think about, but that's all there was. After sex his fevered emotions or whatever it was would calm. He knew he was using her. He was even beginning to think they were using each other. If his mother was still alive he was sure his ears would be burning with the Italian curses she'd be lamenting him with. That was right until she smacked him upside his head and told him to use that brain of his and do the right thing.
Brian chose that moment to look back at him and smile before taking the wrench from Leon. "You think he's going to come out of that office anytime soon?" he heard Brian ask.
Leon quickly looked around the garage. Glancing first at Dom in the office before looking over at Letty. "Nah, don't think so," he answered leaning back under the hood.
Dom heard Brian laugh and for a moment Dom thought he could almost feel the sound tickle across his skin. He was losing his mind. But God bless Leon because he was the only one in his crew that seemed normal at this moment. He was like a duck--nothing seemed to ruffle his feathers and he was comfortable going with the flow of things around him.
"Dom," Brian yelled, his head still under the hood. "Get out here unless you plan on losing this car during the race."
He wasn't sure who was more shocked that he actually got up and came towards the car, him or Letty, as he had never just come when she called. And, he could have sworn that Leon had smirked and given Brian a wink before backing away from the car.
"You're driving it. You'd be the one losing it."
Brian came back with, "You're footing the bill for it."
Dom grunted but moved closer so he could see that Brian and Leon had been following Jesse's blueprints quite closely. They'd only had to make two adjustments to actually get everything into place.
"Dom," Brian said, poking him gently with a finger. "Well?"
He had been lost in thought but pulled back rather quickly when Brian called his name. The poke registered at the same time. "Looks good," he said. "We'll have to take it for a test drive before we start on the rest of the chassis and the framework."
"We'll need to pull the dents from the undercarriage to get wheels on," Leon said. "We should be able to do that tomorrow."
"Then call it a night and go home," Dom told them. "Tomorrow we'll see if Brian here," he said, patting Brian on the shoulder, "actually brought us a car that can race."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian was beyond screwed now.
Thursday had been great. The test drive had gone better than anyone could have imagined, except for maybe Jesse. The Supra was going to drive beautifully once the frame was finished. Jesse had done a wonderful job with the schematics for the engine. The man really should be in school or have been hired by some big name car company.
But Sunday had sucked exhaust. And now Monday was like having his car blown-up. Again.
Brian wasn't sure who the worst idiot in the room was. It was a toss up between the DEA and FBI, but the LAPD was gaining quickly for the fuckups during this op. He had told the FBI to raid the Trans' warehouse on Friday evening, but Bilkins had put it off two days and then also decided to raid the Tran residence. Over the last month, Brian had seen that Johnny, and or Lance, cleared the family warehouse of all the illegally acquired items before Saturday mid-morning. And, that Johnny would never keep any of it at the family residence. If Johnny was afraid of anyone, it was his father.
The bust had been a bust. The Feds were blaming him. Bilkins, the FBI Agent in Charge for this op, wanted him to turn over evidence on Dom, but so far he'd found nothing--besides some of the illegal mods the garage did--that could be turned over. His sergeant, Tanner, was screaming at Bilkins and the other Feds. The DEA Agent in Charge was yelling into his phone in a corner across the room. He felt for the UC on the other end of it.
It was a disaster. Joint ops sucked.
Brian wasn't sure if the other UC was ATF or DEA as those two agencies seemed to be sharing an undercover operator and actually, he wasn't even sure if the person was male, all he did know was the person was no longer in LA. Brian hoped the person was following the leads he'd been dropping about the drug pipeline which might even lead to whomever it was smuggling the guns into LA.
He stared down at the glass in his hand. It was his third iced coffee-whatever that the baby Fed kept making. His other hand held a cigarette he'd bummed from one of the other officers. Brian hadn't smoked since he got out of juvie and he wasn't sure why he had even asked for it. Plus, he just knew if he smoked it Dom would know.
Brian crumbled the cigarette up and let the pieces drift from his fingers to the ground before wiping his hand off on his jeans. His cell phone chose that moment to ring. He knew who was calling too. The Toretto family dinner was in two hours and he was supposed to have already been at the house an hour ago.
He took a deep breath and flipped his phone open. "I'm stuck in traffic," he said.
"Uh, huh," Dom said in that voice that was slight pissed, slight amused. "Pick up ice and get your skinny ass over here."
"Yeah, Dom," Brian said, looking back into the house the DEA had confiscated and that was now being used as the base for this op. "I'll be there soon."
But Dom didn't hang up immediately like he usually did. "You okay?" Dom asked.
"I'm fine," Brian answered.
"You sure, Bri?"
He didn't know anymore. He was starting to feel trapped. If he'd said no to going under he'd have never met Dom but he'd not be on this case...but he'd have never met Dom. Brian sighed. "I don't know anymore," he answered softly.
"Brian?" And Dom now sounded worried to Brian's ears.
Brian sighed again. "I'll be there as soon as I can, Dom. We'll talk then."
"Yeah, we will," Dom said and added, "and don't forget the ice" right before Brian heard the click that indicated Dom had hung up.
"Oh god," Brian whispered to himself, his head resting in his hands. "I am so fucked."
"O'Conner! Get back in here!" Tanner bellowed.
It took Brian a second to switch gears and answer to his actual name--something that could get him killed if he did it out on the street. He bounced to his feet and grabbed the now empty coffee cup. He waved off the baby Fed and his next round of coffee for a bottle of water off the bar. "Sarge," he said when he was standing beside Tanner and opposite Bilkins, the Fed, and the DEA guy whose name he'd never gotten, and another agent who worked for one of them. "I gotta go."
"You in a hurry, O'Conner?" Bilkins did not sound happy, but Brian really didn't care. It was the Fed's own fault for not listening to the person undercover and supplying the information.
"As a matter of fact, I am," Brian said. "I doubt that Johnny or Lance are going to be using that warehouse again. They'll probably stay quiet for the rest of the month. I wouldn't be surprised if Edwin, Harry and the whole damn racing underground have heard about the Feds' raid. The separate groups will be closing ranks," Brian paused. "Probably through Race Wars."
"Brian," Tanner warned, grabbing Brian's arm tightly.
Brian twisted his arm free. "No, Sarge. I've spent the last four months under--getting in with Toretto's bunch, gathering information for us to bust the hijackers, counterfeiters, and thieves. I give them," and he looked right at the Feds, "all they need; even the day and time the warehouse was filled and told them when it would be empty. And what did they do? They waited." Brian clenched his fingers into fists because he hadn't thought about this last thing until just now. "The Trans will be out for blood, especially after raiding the family home. They'll know there's a snitch somewhere."
Brian spun around on his heel and head for the door.
"O'Conner!" Bilkins ordered. "Get back here!"
"No, Brian, go," Tanner said in response to the Fed. "We don't need your cover getting blown."
Brian waved over his shoulder and headed for his truck. The drive to Dom's would hopefully give him enough time to figure out what he was going to do.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom heard Brian's truck and put the grilling tongs through the handle on the grill lid. "Leon," he called, "turn those in about five minutes."
"Sure thing," Leon said, moving towards the grill while checking his watch.
Dom had to smile. He knew Leon was surprised that he was handing off the grilling duty. It was almost as if he could hear it in Leon's voice. He shook his head at the crazy thought and walked around the side of the house to the driveway where Brian was just pulling in.
He caught a glimpse of Brian through the driver's side window. The other man looked tired and worried and possibly even confused and was still sitting in the truck not making any move to get out. Dom approached the red truck and tapped on the window.
Brian startled as if he'd simply forgotten to get out of the car. He opened the door and swung his long legs to the ground. "The ice is in the bed."
Dom grabbed four of the six bags of ice. When Brian reached around him to lift the other two bags out of the bed of the truck, Dom sneezed. "When did you start smoking, Brian?" he asked.
He only tolerated Jesse smoking because it seemed to keep the younger man slightly calmer, but he was working on weeding Jesse off the cigarettes.
Brian froze and from his position next to him, Dom could have sworn that he felt the other man's heart began to race.
"I, I," Brian stuttered. "I didn't actually smoke it. Just...we need to talk, Dom."
Dom started walking towards the backyard knowing Brian would follow. "Bri, you really need to cut back on the coffee too," he said over his shoulder.
"You have no idea," Brian whispered.
Dom chuckled at the comment and then spun to look back at him when he heard one of the bags of ice hit the ground and break open. If he didn't know better, he would think that Brian was getting ready to bolt. "Brian?" he asked, worriedly.
If Dom had to describe Brian's posture and mood now, it would be defeated. He started to walk back towards Brian, but Brian waved him off.
"I swear Dom, I'll tell you everything after we eat." Brian sighed. "I don't want to ruin the meal for you or anyone else. Just, afterward, promise me you'll let me walk away after we talk."
"Brian?" Dom questioned and now he really was worried, but before he could finish he could smell burning meat. "Leon!"
Leon's response came back almost immediately. "I'm already turning. I'm already turning."
Dom watched as Brian sidestepped him and continued on around the back corner of the house to the yard. "Hey Leon," he heard Brian say cheerfully, as if a switch had been flipped on Brian's mood. "I see Dom let up on his 'only me' philosophy with the grill."
"Man," Leon said, flipping the last of the steak and chicken, "I haven't been this nervous since Abby Lynn climbed into the back of her dad's convertible with me."
Brian laughed. "I can only imagine, man."
Dom snorted as he poured two of the bags of ice into the coolers near the grill. "Let's hope this turns out better than that experience. Vince take the rest of the ice to the freezer in the garage."
"Why can't the...," Vince started, but a glare from Dom had him picking up the bags of ice and heading to the large freezer at the back of the house's garage.
Dom opened the grill to check on things.
"He just can't help himself," Brian stage-whispered to Leon and smiled at Dom when he turned to glare at the both of them.
"Not bad, Leon," Dom said, taking the large platter and removing some of the meat from the grill. "The corn needs a little longer."
Mia and Letty chose that moment to come out of the house with dinner plates and bowls of buns, chips, and potato salad. Brian jumped up from his seat to take the plates from Mia and started placing them around the table.
The entire meal went without problems or any real arguments except for who was going to win at Race Wars next month. Dom kept looking over at Brian and was glad to see the younger man had seemed to relax some and was actually eating his meal instead of just pushing it around his plate. Dom had noticed that most of last week Brian had spent mealtimes just picking at his food and not really eating and the man was skinny enough as it was.
When Brian started to help Mia clear the table Vince just couldn't keep his mouth shut and Brian's mood started sliding backwards. Vince's comment pissed off Mia who started in on Vince and that somehow escalated into a yelling match that Letty got involved in. Jesse inched as far away on the bench as he could and still keep the car magazine on the table and out of the food. Leon took several of the plates and bolted for inside the house and that just seemed to rile Vince even more.
Brian looked around the yard for a second and then continued on to the backdoor and the kitchen on the other side of it. Less than a minute later Dom heard Brian say, "Dom we need to talk now."
Dom looked at the screened back door and was surprised to not see Brian standing there. Maybe the other man had stepped back into the kitchen after calling him. He left the table leaving his sister, Vince and Letty still arguing and walked into the house to find Leon doing the dishes that were sitting on the counter. "Where's Brian?" he asked.
"Don't know," Leon answered. "He scraped off the plates but then left them here. He must've gone to the can or something."
Dom walked through the kitchen only to see Brian standing out on the front porch. "I know you can hear me Dom," Brian said quietly and that's when Dom noticed that neither the door nor any of the windows were open.
He walked through the living room and opened the front door. "How did you know I would be able to hear you?" he asked, coming to stand next to Brian on the porch.
"It's a long story," Brian sighed, running his hand through his longer than normal hair. "We need to talk somewhere where the others won't hear us."
"Brian," he started to say, but the expression on Brian's face spoke volumes. "Let's go to the garage."
Brian nodded and followed him around to the garage. The black body of the Charger wasn't covered by the oilcloth like normal as Dom had been working on the car that morning. Dom watched as Brian ran his fingers along the smooth edges of the front quarter panel.
"Can you pull the door shut?" Brian asked, not turning to look at him. "Please."
"Give me one reason, Brian, for all this secretive crap?"
Brain didn't turn around and his voice was barely a whisper but Dom heard it as clear as if Brian had whispered it into his ear and not whispered it from the other side of the garage.
"Because I'm a cop."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian flinched when the heavy wooden garage door slammed shut. He heard Dom growl and could only guess that his guardian--the guardian's, Dom wasn't his yet--teeth were clenched together when he spoke next.
"What do you mean you're a cop?"
Brian sighed before taking a deep breath and turning to face Dom. Dom was still standing next to the door, his back propped against it. Waiting. Brian sighed again and paced away from the Charger.
"That is...I am...," Brian continued to pace. This was not something taught to UCs, what to do when you decide to break your own cover because insert reason here. He highly doubted it would ever be either. This was normally what got UCs dead. He was sinking and Brian believed this was his only chance for so many things.
And Dom continued to stand by the door staring at him. Brian couldn't organize his thoughts. He didn't know what was more important right now. He didn't want to lose the family he had found, but he had little hope he'd be able to keep it. More importantly he didn't want to lose Dom.
"I need you to listen before you get more pissed than you already are," Brian began.
Brian heard the chain and lock on the outside of the door jangle and turned to see Dom pushing away from the door. He watched as Dom circled around the Charger and sat on the trunk. "Start talking, Spilner."
"O'Conner. My name is Brian Dylan O'Conner and I'll be twenty-eight on my next birthday, not twenty-five. I spent twenty months in juvie for grand theft auto--multiple counts, destruction of private property, and driving without a license." He gave a small shrug as he said the last one.
"I didn't hang around with the best crowd when I was in my teens. I had a friend, Roman, we got into all kinds of shit growing up. Juvie made him want to try everything again. Me, it scared the shit out of. It would have broken my gran's heart to see the path I was taking. I had to get away. By the time I got out, my father was way out of the picture. Grans would have hated knowing that too," Brian shook has head as if he'd gotten off track and it would help get back on. "My mom moved us to Northern California. Finished high school. Surfed. Repaired cars to pay for college. Raced. Surfed. Raced. Finished college. Went to the police academy. Surfed."
Brian paced past Dom who hadn't moved from his perch on the back of the car. He noticed Dom had his feet on the back bumper and his arms rested on his thighs. Dom was watching him, but hadn't stopped to ask him a question and his face was relatively blank of emotion. It was the look that Brian associated with Dom when the other man was holding everything close and waiting to make a decision.
"My grans, my father's mother. She was born in Ireland. Moved to the states in her early twenties when she married an American military man. He died in Vietnam," Brian said as an aside. "I spent a lot of my childhood with her. She told the best stories about growing up in Ireland. Stories passed from one generation of her family to the next. My father never cared for them. I loved them. She told me stories of the caomhnoiri--guardians. I dreamed of finding one. Of finding mine. They could hear and see things no one else could. Smell, taste, their sense of touch all so much more than normal. I knew what you were," Brian glanced briefly over at Dom but kept pacing, "after only a month."
Brian had been slowly testing his theory since then and almost everything had come back as positive. And the more he had tested, the further away he tested, the stronger the results had become. Even his connection to Dom had seemed to grow stronger. Faster too. This had been the fastest he'd been able to build a solid relationship with people on an op.
"What do you mean 'what I am'?" Dom asked. It was the first thing Dom had said in the ten minutes that Brian had been rambling and pacing. And it would be the time someone would come to bang on the door of the garage.
Brian froze in his pacing and stared at Dom. Dom stared back at him, but didn't move from his seat. "Go away!" Dom called over his shoulder. "We'll be over later!" Then the other man tilted his head to look at him again. "Now explain the 'what I am' thing?"
"Who was it?" Brian asked, ignoring Dom's question. He wasn't quite sure if he should be happy or not that for now Dom was forgetting the whole cop thing.
Dom glared at him as if he'd asked a stupid question.
"Dom, I could hear the banging on the door but not the voices on the other side."
Dom shifted slightly and looked from the garage door to Brian. "Letty and Vince."
Brian cringed. Not his two biggest fans, but asked, "And where are the others?"
Dom shifted again but answered. "Mia's in her room studying. Jesse and Leon are watching TV."
Brian gave a small grin and rocked back on his feet. "And how did you know that?"
"I just...I just know," Dom answered defensively.
This time Brian gave Dom a full-blown smile and bounced on his feet. "That's what I mean by what."
"O'Conner," Dom growled.
Brian continued to smile, even as he began pacing again. "You have," Brian paused, searching for the right word, "amplified senses. It's why you can hear the people on the other side of the garage door. Why you know where Mia is most of the time. How you knew I'd been overdoing the coffee intake or even the cigarette."
"Let's say I believe you," Dom said, his voice deep and clear. "What does that have to do with anything? What does that have to do with you being a cop? With you being here as a cop?"
"Nothing," Brian replied, stopping his pacing again to look directly at Dom. "Everything. God, I...am not explaining this well. It means..." Brian took a few steps back and slid down the wall adjacent to where Dom was sitting. He kept his knees bent, hands resting on the floor and head tilted back to lean on the wall. With his eyes closed he couldn't see Dom's reaction to what he said next.
"I wanted to be a cop so I could find my guardian." The next part was just above a whisper. "So I could find you."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom was quite sure Brian wasn't all that sane. Granted, all street racers were a little bit crazy, but Brian was further out there than he had thought.
"Let me get this straight," Dom said, "I'm a comic book superhero and you're an undercover cop."
Brian rolled his head to the side and opened his eyes to stare at him. "No, Dom," he said. "You are not a comic book superhero. Just a man with an extra set of...genetic skills. It probably runs in your family."
Dom licked his lips before asking again, "And you're a cop?"
"Yes, Dom, I'm a cop."
"You suck at it."
"Not really," Brian told him and Dom could hear how tired the other man sounded. "This is not my first undercover assignment. Not even my tenth. I got tapped right out of the academy because of the way I look--the all-American, California surfer kid that could pass for a senior in high school to a college dropout. I got this assignment for the same reason and because I knew cars. I've never once broken my cover."
"Until now," Dom said.
"Until now," Brian repeated.
"You in on the raid at the Tran home?" Dom asked, dropping his feet from the bumper to the floor so he could stretch out his legs.
"Yeah," Brian said. "Stuck in the van watching through the TVs."
Dom could tell Brian wanted to get up and pace again but was trying to stay in one place. "You have to understand," Brian began, dragging a hand through his hair. "There are several investigations going on and not all of them in LA. From counterfeiting parts, trafficking in stolen merchandise, hijackings, drug rings, sex trade, guns. You name it. The one common denominator has been street racing. The Feds and the locals are working together on this. If the bust had gone down on Friday like I suggested then everyone would have believed they'd hit the jackpot with the Trans and that would have just left the drug pipeline to shut down--at least the one the racers are involved with. Now they have nothing and still want everything. But there's nothing else to give."
He could see where Brian was going with this. "Everyone will lay low for a while. Pick up after Race Wars."
Brian nodded. "But Johnny, he's gonna be pissed. His father slapped him down, literally, when the Feds barreled into his home."
"Pissed is putting it mildly," Dom agreed. "He's going to know there's a rat in one of the crews."
Brian made a face. "Maybe. Tanner, my Sergeant, he understands how dangerous Johnny and Lance can be. He's planning raids on Harry, Edwin, and Webster's places for today," Brian looked down at his watch. "Probably already happened. The DEA and LAPD task force should score at least one of their drug bust at Webster's."
"And me?" Dom asked, his voice a dead give away to the fact that he was now angry. "Are they coming after my family too? Are you?"
Brian closed his eyes again and nodded. "No, not me. But yeah, along with Hector and Rizz's places," he whispered. "Tomorrow. The store and the garage--DT's," he clarified. "Mia will be in school. Keep Vince away, he's itching for a fight and if he gets picked up for attacking a cop Johnny will think he's the rat."
Dom growled and now he was the one pacing the length of the garage. He was beyond pissed. The problem was, he wasn't as pissed at Brian as he should be. The man was doing his job; and so far it seemed he'd been trying to protect the Toretto family along the way. Whether Brian knew they were behind the heists--or some of them, at least--was another question and one he wasn't going to ask right now. Yes, Brian had lied to him, but Dom had known the other man was lying to him about something and he'd still let him get close. He'd known from the moment Brian had picked him up at that first street race.
"Was the first race a setup?" he asked. "The cops rolling up like that?"
"No," Brian answered. "Though, admittedly, their showing up and me being able to find you on that sidewalk all worked in my favor, but that wasn't planned. A call came into central dispatch from a power company crew."
Dom tilted his head slightly and then went back to pacing. "Edwin just called to let us know his place got raided," he said and then stopped pacing and stared at the garage door as if he could see through it. "I've never really been able to hear inside the house before," he admitted, proving he had listened to everything Brian had been saying. "At least not from inside the garage with the door shut."
When he thought back on it, he'd always been able to track Mia, but she was his sister and he just took that for the whole big brother looking out for his little sister thing. The inside of the house from the garage, the backyard to the other side of the house, even the store office to the parking lot were all new--at least in distance and clarity, he thought, still running through events of the last couple of days in his head. And now, he was quite positive that the thrum he quietly heard in the background was Brian's heartbeat as it once again sped up from its normal slow, almost comforting beat.
Brian coughed slightly and then quickly muttered, "That could be my fault. Maybe, I don't know..."
Dom spun on his heel and walked over to where Brian still sat on the floor. "Explain," he said, glaring down at the other man.
"Every guardian has a keeper," Brian explained and even in the dim light Dom could clearly see Brian's deep blue eyes and the shocked look in them.
Brian poked him in his leg with an index finger and said, "Stop with the staring."
"I wasn't," Dom began.
"You were. For about a thirty seconds."
Dom shook his head slightly. "You have very blue eyes."
Brian grinned up at him. "So I have been told. Though I doubt anyone but you has ever seen them the way you have. How good is your night vision?"
Dom snorted. He'd just realized something about Brian. "You just love to change subjects don't you? Especially to shift the focus from you." He saw Brian shrug and he snorted again. "But, to answer your question, I can drive without headlights even when there's no moon. Keepers?" Dom added, a smirk playing on his lips as Brian squirmed like a little kid trying to hide something from his parents.
"Dom, I..." Brian began, while trying to stand up without touching Dom.
Dom reached down and pulled Brian up. He took a step back to give Brian room. "Just finish it, Brian. I promised I'd let you walk when you were done. I'm a man of my word."
"I know you are," Brian agreed. "Keepers. A keeper is a guardian's partner. They keep them from getting lost. Help with their senses by keeping them grounded. I wish my Grans was still alive she could explain this so much better."
"You're doing fine."
"There's so much I've forgotten," Brian admitted. "I thought," Brian stopped, and tried to walk around Dom. "It doesn't matter. Look Dom, whatever it is you're into, stop. Stop now. The only thing the police are going to find on you is that your sister can't make tuna salad and that people come to you to install the stuff they've legally purchased from Racer's Edge and other supply stores."
Dom grabbed Brian's arm as he passed him and spun the thinner man back to face him. "Finish it," he demanded.
"I need to be with you when the raid happens. After that I'll get out of your life," Brian said, trying to pull his arm free. "But stay clean. They'll be looking at you and the other racers for at least another three months. Longer if the Feds don't leave happy."
"What are you not telling me about guardians and keepers, O'Conner."
"They're sometimes...shit Dom, it's not that important. Trust me. At this moment, it's the least of your concerns."
Dom backed Brian into the wooden door. "You're my keeper," Dom stated, inhaling deeply. He'd heard the slips every time Brian had made them and tried to cover them up. Dom could still smell the remains of the cigarette on Brian's pants. He could smell the coffee Brian had spilt on himself, and underneath it all, he could smell Brian. And he found it calming.
"Dom," Brian began, but Dom wasn't going to let Brian skate around any more issues and Dom figured out the last part on his own. Instead he pushed Brian into the door and leaned in and kissed him.
He kissed him until Brian returned the kiss and then until they had to break for air. "You're mine, Brian Dylan O'Conner," Dom whispered into his keeper's ear. "Do you understand me?" he asked, before pressing Brian further into the door and kissing him again.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian had barely nodded before Dom was kissing him again. Brian's brain was shutting down. He had been sure Dom wouldn't beat the shit out of him for being a cop or for even lying to him since he came clean on his own and it had been for everyone's protection. He just hadn't expected the other man to kiss him. Brian almost sagged in relief; now he didn't have to explain that last part about guardians and keepers.
He'd known coming into this assignment Dom had a temper. He also now knew that the Dominic Toretto the Feds, and even Tanner, tried to portray to him was not who the man was today. Yeah, Dom had let his temper fly more than fifteen years ago and it had earned him a trip to Lompoc. But Dom had barely been out of his teens and had to stand there and watch his father die in a ball of fire as another racer ran the Charger into a wall. And, if Brian was right, Dom's senses had been heightened then--he would have heard his father's scream and literally seen the life leave the man. Now Dom had a tighter rein on his emotions and temper.
Brian sucked in a deep breath when he and Dom broke apart again and then he sighed. "You can't tell them who, what I am," he said quietly. "At least not yet."
Dom grunted and moved to lick at his throat and neck. Brian felt one of Dom's hands run gently through his hair before tugging slightly to get him to tilt his head further to the side. He wasn't sure he was getting through to the other man. "Dom, we need to," his next word became a moan and his hands clenched at Dom's waist. He tried again, "We need to..."
Dom stopped with one last lick and Brian nearly slid down the door, or would have if not for Dom leaning against him. "They're trying to talk Mia into coming out here to check on us," Dom said, huskily into his ear. "I'm really not done with you," Dom continued. "You're mine and I don't share."
"I'm still a cop, Dom," Brian lifted his hands to grip Dom's forearms. "Everything needs to play out. But whatever it is you're into, please stop." Brian all but begged. "It's not worth your life or the lives of your family," Brian pleaded.
"You're part of that family now, keeper."
Brian sucked in a breath at the title, but pushed at Dom's chest. He was glad that Dom took the hint and backed up a step. "I no longer know what I'm doing, Dom, and it scares me." And something inside of him lifted as he admitted that aloud. "If Tanner knew any of this he'd bench me so fast you'd think he was driving a ten-second car." Brian dropped his head so that he was looking at the floor and not his guardian. His guardian! he repeated to himself. His next thought moved to the fact that he really had gone native and that there was only so much he was willing to give up now.
"When we go back out there I need to be Brian Earl Spilner, newbie street racer and new mechanic for DT Procession Auto Shop. I don't know what to do about..." he raised his hand and waved it between them.
Dom caught his wrist and stilled it. "Don't worry, Brian," he said, his head tilted slightly. Dom then smiled. "Us being out here so long and with no screaming has led them to believe I've either killed you...or, well, Jesse already thinks we've been 'fucking'. His words. Of course that set off Vince and Letty again. Letty because it might be true. Vince because you've been chasing Mia and he's affronted for both me and her."
Brian's laugh came out more like a choked sob. "I cannot believe he hasn't figured out that she's seeing a boy in one of her classes, and yet keeps ragging me about being a cop," Brian said; quickly followed by, "What do you mean Jesse thinks we've been fucking?"
"You are a cop," Dom reminded him, before leaning in to kiss him again. This time their bodies lined up and it was clear that they were both interested in making Jesse's comment true.
"Not the point," Brian said, breaking the kiss. "What else is going on in the house?"
"Leon is trying to defuse the situation by telling everyone that it's none of their business," Dom answered, and then once again ran his fingers through Brian's hair. "He's been stepping up his role at the garage and around here," Dom said, leaning in to once again lick and bite at Brian's neck. "Expect I have you to thank for that," Dom breathed into his ear before sucking at the sensitive spot right below it.
Brian moaned and quickly lost his train of thought again as Dom pushed their lower bodies together again and again. He gripped Dom's forearms for a second before moving his hands up to the strong shoulders and then the other man's head. "We need," he panted and then decided to take matters into his own hands. Brian shifted his weight and moved his left leg between Dom's legs then moving his right leg up Dom's left, he twisted and tugged and was able to roll them both to the floor without, hopefully, causing either one of them much damage. They landed next to the Charger with Brian straddling Dom's waist. He smiled down at his guardian.
"What do we need?" Dom asked, gripping his waist tightly and looking up at him with a grin.
Brian looked into Dom's eyes before leaning down to kiss Dom. "We need to," and boy did he not want to say this next part, "finish this later," he said, straightening back up. Dom growled and Brian felt the other man's hands tighten on his waist. "I promise we'll finish this later, guardian," Brian said, softly running his fingers over Dom's chest. "But at some point Leon isn't going to be able to hold the others off from coming back out here."
Brian knew Dom was strong, but hadn't realized just how much until Dom was able to sit up and move them so that Dom's back rested against the tire of the Charger and yet never displaced him from his position straddling Dom's legs. "All right," Dom said. "Let's finish our talk, and later when I drive you home, you're mine."
"I'm staying in the back room of Harry's place," Brian argued. "We are not having sex on a cot in a converted storage closet at Racer's Edge."
Dom laughed. "Not where Spilner lives. I want to see where O'Conner lives."
"I...fine," Brian nodded. He wasn't sure how his neighbors would react to seeing him for the first time in almost five months. He couldn't even remember if he'd pre-paid the power bill or if he had just had it turned off this time. A part of him hoped, that if he still had a job when this was over, that this was the last time he was on an undercover assignment and ever had to worry whether his power was on, or if there was food in his house. For that matter, had he even paid his rent last month?
"Okay," Brian said, relaxing back on Dom's legs as the other man brought them up to rest against his back, "here's what I think we need to do..."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom kept his hands on Brian's thighs as he listened to his keeper talk. Guardians, keepers, Brian being both a cop and nearly five years older than he pretended to be, Dom would have thought he was going mad if the evidence wasn't there to prove Brian was right. But when he thought about it, he could easily see Brian as a detective helping a victim of a crime try to get justice.
He gently rubbed his thumbs and fingers into Brian's thighs. "I get it Brian," he said. "We'll finish your little plan tonight. First, we need to go into the house and show everyone I haven't killed you. Let them tell us about Edwin. Let Letty fume," something that he really didn't want to deal with but it was best to get it over with; just like pulling a band-aid off a wound--quick and fast was better. "Then I'll follow you to Racer's Edge so you can leave Harry's truck there and we'll go to your place. Tomorrow you'll ride into the store with me. I'll leave Leon in charge of the garage with Letty and Jesse there."
"Vince?" Brian asked, standing up, and then offering his hand down to Dom.
Dom grabbed Brian's forearm and let the other man help him to his feet. "I'm going to send him to Harry's to pick up an order that we're going to setup while you're dropping off the truck."
Brian nodded. "That could work."
"Glad you think so," he said, grabbing Brian and spinning him so his keeper's back was once again pushed against the wooden garage door. "Stop worrying, Brian," Dom said, his lips just centimeters from the other man's.
"When this op is over, I will."
Dom looked Brian in the eyes. "I'm not going to let anything happen to my family if I can prevent it."
Brian grabbed him by the sides of his head and brought their lips together for a heated kiss. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you if I can help it," he heard Brian say after the kiss, and before Brian shifted his body and pulled the garage door open.
They stepped into the night air just as Vince was slamming the back screen door open. Dom sighed and raised his right hand and signaled that Vince should just turn around and head back into house. Vince huffed but turned around.
He heard Brian's soft muttering of "this should be fun" and chuckled.
When they reached the living room Mia was sitting on the couch and Letty was in the wicker chair off to the side. Her arms were crossed and she was already glaring his way. Leon and Jesse were being mesmerized by the video game on the TV, as if Leon was trying to keep him and Jesse out of whatever was about to happen.
Dom noticed that Brian sat down in the cushioned chair against the far wall so that he too could stay out of the way, but Dom wasn't having any of that and sat down on the arm of the chair. "Okay, what was so damn important?"
"Edwin's place got raided by the cops," Vince answered. "And Ralphie called to say that Racer's Edge had cop cars all around it and Webster had been pulled in."
"Webster probably got busted for his drug lab. Bout time if you ask me," Leon said, putting the game controller down before glancing over at Vince.
Dom snorted as that part was at least true. Webster would have eventually gotten caught; the fact that it looked like a bigger bust was going down was just an inconvenience for everyone. "Great," Dom muttered. "Change of plans for tomorrow. Brian and I will open the store in the morning since Mia's at school and Mrs. Perez has to take her youngest to the doctor. Leon can handle any intakes at the garage while Jesse and Letty finish up the cars in the bays. Vince," Dom looked over at the person he'd known since grade school and knew there was probably going to be an argument, "I need you to go to Harry's and pick-up the order I placed this morning."
"Dom," Vince started. "Why can't..."
Dom growled. "Vince just do what I say. Go to Harry's and hope that the order is ready and isn't in the mess the cops probably left. We're going to need the extra supplies if we stand a chance at Race Wars."
Jesse finally turned from the TV. "We're still racing?"
"Yeah," Dom said, standing. "If we win it's good money and it'll be good for business. End of discussion for tonight. Spilner, I'll meet you at Harry's."
"Sure thing, Dom."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian climbed into the truck and counted to five before starting the engine and pulling out of the Toretto's driveway. He knew Dom was telling them that whatever they'd had planned between now and Race Wars was off. He could also bet that Vince was arguing for not stopping because he couldn't see the bigger picture.
Then there was Letty. That wasn't going to be pretty and Brian was quite happy to be in the truck and moving away from that eruption. Though he was hoping she wouldn't take any of whatever Dom was telling her personally. They had been on the outs for more than two months and in the last several weeks he knew neither she nor Dom had really talked to one another. Maybe Mia could introduce her to a college boy looking for an adventure. And while Mia was at it, maybe she could keep Letty from killing him when she found out that Dom's focus was now settled on him.
"I'd rather face Vince than Letty," he said putting his head down on the steering wheel as he stopped for a red light. He was fairly certain he could take Vince in a fight.
Fifteen minutes later he pulled into the side lot of Racer's Edge and turned the motor off but didn't get out of the truck. He didn't need or want to hear Harry yelling at him for the raid. Plus Harry could let something slip while yelling and Brian didn't need to deal with whoever else might be in the store hearing that he was cop. Brian made one quick call on his cell phone knowing the person on the other end would be able to turn his power back on if he had indeed turned it off. Then he leaned his head back, closed his eyes and waited for Dom to arrive.
A knock on the driver's side window jerked him from his light doze. He turned his head and saw Dom standing there. He popped open the door and slid out.
"We still need to make the order?" Dom asked, putting his hand on Brian's back and all but guiding him to the door.
"I figured if..."
"If I was there Harry couldn't yell at you?"
Brian stopped walking and stared at Dom, then shook his head to clear the new thoughts buzzing around in it. "Yeah, maybe," Brian answered and started walking again, hoping Dom didn't have some weird sixth sense too.
Thankfully when they entered the store Harry was nowhere in sight. Brian went immediately to one of the computers behind the counter and Dom stopped in front of him and started rambling off a list of supplies. Dom paid for the supplies and Brian printed out the order and put it in the prep pile for the morning guy to have ready. And within minutes Brian was climbing into the passenger seat of Dom's car and giving him directions to Brian Dylan O'Conner's apartment.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom wasn't sure what he was expecting, but what he saw of Brian's small apartment wasn't it. The power had been off until about an hour ago, leaving the apartment stuffy. Brian said he couldn't feel it, claiming it was probably Dom's senses at work. Outside of that, Brian's apartment actually looked lived in, or would if the other man was actually staying here and not in a storage closet at Racer's Edge. There was the hint of lemongrass--a scent Dom only knew because his sister enjoyed it--and no dust, which meant someone was coming in every few weeks to air out the apartment. There were several framed movie posters on the living room walls, a comfy looking couch with a handmade afghan folded neatly off to the side while the pillows looked like they'd just been tossed into place. There were the standard things Dom expected to see like a TV and stereo. Then there were the two small bookshelves full of books that, judging by the spines and covers, looked to have been read many times over.
The tops of the bookshelves were covered in knick-knacks that ranged from model cars to two silver framed photos and two smaller black frames. Dom moved to get a better look at the photos. The first one was of two children--one boy with blond curls, one girl with pigtails, and an older woman who Dom guessed was Brian's grandmother, the one who told him the tales of guardians and keepers. The other was of a slightly older boy with the same grandmotherly-like woman. The third looked to be Brian in his early twenties wearing a black robe and standing with another woman; if Dom had to guess he would say it was from Brian's college graduation. The last one was Brian and a dark-blonde girl with almost the same shade of blue eyes as Brian. "This your girlfriend?" he asked.
Brian laughed. "Cousin. That's who we stayed with when we first moved north. That was taken during one of our college spring breaks. She comes here to air out my apartment when I'm under."
"She a cop too?"
Brian laughed again. "No. And I'm sure she'll get a laugh out of that later."
"I figured you'd have a surf board," Dom commented, looking around the room again.
"It's at Nora's." Brian looked at Dom, and pointed to the picture to indicate who Nora was. "She lives closer to the beach than I do. And before you ask," Brian said, walking down the short hallway to his bedroom. "She knows all the same stories and she knows what I do for a living. She's the person I talk to when things get...complicated."
Dom followed Brian through the small apartment. The bedroom had the same sort of lived in quality that the rest of the house did--meaning not used a lot but trying for comfortable. "She know about me?"
"Yes and no," Brian turned to look at him. "But are we really going to talk about her? Cause if we are, how'd things go with Letty?"
"That well," Brian rocked on his feet and smiled over at him.
Dom took the several steps so that he was in Brian's personal space. "No more talk," Dom said, pulling Brian to him. He kissed Brian hard and deep until they were both gasping for breath.
He ran his hands up Brian's back and then down and back up under the other man's shirt until he could pull Brian's shirt over his head. He kissed Brian along the jaw and then down the neck to the shoulder while walking them back towards the bed. He pulled his own shirt off before pushing Brian down on the bed.
Dom had them both stripped within moments and then they were on the bed with Brian below him. He glided his hands down his keeper's body. His tongue followed his hands. He could hear Brian moan as he nipped and licked his way down from chest to cock to knees and back up again.
He swirled his tongue around Brian's cock and enjoyed the sounds the other man made so he did it again and again. The breathy moans and cry of his name as well as what he let his senses tell him, all said that Brian was about to come. Dom knew what he was doing; he was cataloguing his keeper--his scent, his heartbeat, his taste, everything that was Brian. He licked one more time and rode out Brian's climax. He crawled up the bed and kept his body balanced just inches over Brian's.
"You're mine, keeper."
Brian stared up into his face. "Yes, guardian, yours.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian would never have thought of Dom as clingy, and maybe it was a guardian thing, but Dom's arm was like a safety belt around his waist that was locked into position. Even as he began to pull away, Dom's arm tightened. He finally moved enough to get his arm loose so he could grab his cell phone from the side table. The black numbers that shone through the dull yellow glare said 5:23am. They'd been asleep for just over seven hours. The store opened at seven and it would take them almost an hour to get back to that side of town in morning traffic. Plus he needed to shower and he could do with some coffee.
"Dom," he said quietly, only to have the steel band that was Dom's arm tighten around him again. "Dom," he repeated.
"What?" Dom complained, his voice husky and rough from sleep.
"We have to get up."
He could feel breath on the back of his neck right before Dom's lips attached to a section of skin and he started to lick and suck. Brian couldn't help himself, he leaned into what Dom was doing even as he moaned because Dom's hand began moving down his chest. They really didn't have time for this. And to prove the point, his cell phone began to beep. It was 5:30am.
Brian rolled from the bed while Dom groaned at the alarm. He could feel Dom's eyes scanning his body. "We need to shower," he said, trying to ignore the fact that Dom's action made him feel energized and somehow content at the same time. "I think I have a shirt that will fit you," he said instead, going over to the dresser and pulling clothes out.
"If I'm right, there's stuff in the fridge and coffee in the kitchen." He left a single black shirt on the edge of the dresser and made a strategic retreat into the bathroom.
Brian turned on the water and gave it a minute to warm up before stepping under the spray. He let the water run down his head and back. While he showered he ran through the events of the last day: he was sleeping with a suspect, who happened to be a guardian, his guardian to be more to the point, he had blown his cover with said person, and had then brought him to his actual home. Yep, he was beyond going native now, he confirmed to himself. He was as deep as any suspect now and he needed to figure out a way to get them all out of this hole. And he hoped to do it without any of them going to jail. Brian closed his eyes as he tilted his head back under the spray of the water. He would figure something out but he was going to need some time and some help.
He turned off the water and quickly dried and got dressed. When he opened the bathroom door the smell of coffee almost made him forget everything. He followed the scent into the kitchen to see Dom standing at the counter staring at the coffeemaker.
Brian was afraid Dom had gotten lost in his thoughts or senses until the other man spoke. "There was a note for you stuck to the coffee canister."
Dom pulled the purple post-it note off the can and handed it to him. He looked down at the neat but obviously female handwriting and snorted as he read the note: I believe I won the bet. You owe me fifty. Will add it to your tab. ~Nora PS. Your surfboard misses you.
"What bet?" Dom asked pouring coffee into the two mugs that had obviously been left for them right next to the coffee maker.
"Umm," Brian said, trying not to blush and keep his heartbeat under control. He was fairly sure he kept the blush at bay, but his heartbeat was another matter--one he was going to have to work on. "It's an old bet; from when we were kids." Brian was thinking he might just have to kill his cousin the next time he saw her.
Dom raised an eyebrow before taking a long drink from his cup.
"I'll tell you later, promise," Brian replied, walking around the counter and opening the door to the fridge. Inside he found what he expected--enough food for breakfast. "Shower, Dom. I'll make us something to eat."
The other man put his mug on the counter and walked behind him. Brian felt Dom stop just as strong arms wrapped around him and Dom kissed his neck.
"You smell different," Dom whispered as if it was an everyday comment, "More you." Dom kissed his neck again before turning him so they could actually kiss. "Taste too. Coffee and adrenaline."
Brian nearly dropped the eggs he had in his hand. "Shower, Dom," Brian repeated.
"Sure," Dom said, backing away, a lecherous grin on his face. "We'll pick this up later."
Brian blew out a breath when he heard the shower start and turned back to the fridge and the ingredients to make omelets and toast. When he pulled two plates from the cabinet there was another post-it staring up at him. B- Call or come by if you need to. ~N
He pulled a sharpie out of the drawer and wrote "I will" on the note before sticking it on the cabinet door.
Dom came back into the room pulling the black shirt over his head. "Smells good," he said, pulling one of the kitchen stools out when Brian put a plate on the counter in front of it.
"One of the few things I can make that doesn't come out of a box," Brian said, quickly washing the skillet and putting it in the drain before joining Dom at the breakfast counter.
Now he just needed to get the cop part of his day over with and then, then he'd deal with whatever came next.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom watched as the cops pulled away and Brian slumped down onto one of the counter stools, stretching his arms out and then dropping his head onto them. "At least they didn't totally destroy the place," Brian muttered.
He snorted and looked around the store. The drug dogs had sniffed everything in sight including Mia's tuna salad. He hoped they enjoyed that smell. The agents had shifted and moved just about everything in the store, and then proceeded to even take the shelves apart. It would probably take them several hours to get everything back into shape.
Dom glanced over at the phone, waiting for it to ring. Waiting for Leon to call and tell him the garage had been raided. At some point he knew Hector would either pass by or call as well.
Brian had gotten up and moved closer to him while he was staring back into his office. "I'm fine, Brian. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Instead of saying anything Brian handed him a piece of paper and waited for him to look down and read. In Brian's neat scrawl it said: Be careful. I don't know if they got a warrant to bug and/or tap the phones at the store, garage, or house.
Dom growled, crumbling up the piece of paper and shoving it into his pocket. "Let's get this place back together so we can actually do some business." He walked towards an area where the shelves had been taken off the rack before speaking again. "And throw out that tuna salad and anything else the cops didn't put back into the cooler."
"Sure thing, Dom."
Dom got all the shelving units put back together and the two round display racks back into their stands before leaving Brian to clean up the few aisles of spilt products. He retreated to the small office, which looked like a tornado had blown through it. Half an hour later he was still trying to re-organize all the paperwork and order sheets when he heard several cars pull up outside of the store.
"Cops are at your garage, Toretto," Hector said, coming to stand next to the counter. "Guess they already came by here."
Dom came out of the office just as Brian headed to the side of the store with two large filled trash bags. "What gave you that idea," Dom replied. "We're just spring cleaning. They tear through your place like this?"
"About," Hector answered. "You know what's going down?"
"If I had to guess," Dom said. "Someone was using their cars to run drugs and who knows what else and the cops got wind of it. And now we're all paying."
"That stuff will kill you," Hector agreed. "They got Webster and the buzz has it they caught Rizz with stolen car parts."
Dom was not amused by that last bit of information. Brian had been right, a good portion of the street racing crews were into something illegal--even his. And the more the cops linked racers to the events, the higher the likelihood there were going to be raids and undercover agents and shit. "What the hell is he chopping cars for?" he finally asked.
Hector shrugged. "Tran's not happy either. Seems he got wrapped up in this mess too."
"That's our problem how?"
Hector shrugged again. "Just saying, but it looks like all the major and minor players of street racing got visits by the cops. Race Wars is going to be special this year."
Dom snorted. Special was putting it mildly. Dangerous was probably more fitting.
Brian came back in just as the store's phone started to ring and reached over the counter to answer it.
"Toretto's. Are they gone now?...No, they've been here...Left a mess...Letty and Jesse?...That's good. And Vince?...Probably for the best...No, he's talking with Hector...Probably as soon as Mrs. Perez gets here...No, Mia's at school until three....I'll tell him. Later Leon."
Dom shook his head slightly. "Well?" he asked since Hector didn't need to know that Dom had been able to hear both sides of the conversation.
"The cops just left DT's. It seemed to have faired better than we did. Vince just arrived back there from Harry's with the extra parts for the Supra and Jesse's Jetta so he missed all the action. Leon's words, not mine."
"He'd have gotten his idiot self arrested."
Brian shrugged and went back to re-shelving merchandise while Dom and Hector went back to their conversation. Hector left a few minutes later with a promise to let Dom know if he heard anything else.
By the time Mrs. Perez and her oldest son arrived to work the afternoon and evening shift the store almost sparkled. Dom on the other hand was beginning to see the problems he and his team were going to face.
He had to figure out a way to get rid of the cars, and that would first mean convincing the others the truckjacking really had to stop. They all had plenty of money, now it was just about the thrill. He also needed to convince them to lay low and ruffle as few feathers with the other crews as possible; at least until they were all in their cars and at Race Wars. Which actually gave him an idea, modify the other cars enough and then get them to people who would take them to the races. Some would lose the cars either to accidents or loss of pink slips. Moving the cars even further from his reach.
Dom looked out into the store where Brian was bagging a customer's purchase and watched the blond move. Brian must have felt him watching as he turned and gave him a smile. Brian was another thing. At some point the others would find out Brian was a cop. Even worse, the other crews were going to find out. He was going to need to find a way to spin that into a positive. That was going to take a lot more thought.
That just left Letty, the whole guardian and keeper thing, and the fact that he was sleeping with Brian to deal with.
Dom ran his hands over his face and head and sighed. He wondered if his life could get any more complicated.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian knew that either yesterday evening or today while he was working at Racer's Edge Dom would talk to his crew about whatever it was they were into and about laying low for a while. As a matter of fact Brian hadn't seen anyone in the last two days save Dom and that had only been for a few minutes yesterday afternoon. Part of him wanted to know what they were into, especially the part of him that was Dom's keeper. He couldn't keep his guardian safe if he didn't know what the other man was doing. The other part of him, the cop part, didn't want to know. If he didn't know, he couldn't arrest them. He couldn't inform on them and he couldn't hurt Dom. And best yet, he could claim in court and under oath that he didn't know.
Harry was giving him the silent treatment, which was more than fine with him. Though, Harry should be partially happy with all the hubbub that the raids had caused because in the last couple of days almost all of the crews had been in buying extra supplies and equipment for Race Wars. Harry would come out of this op more than well off and with a clean record.
Some of the tension between the different crews seemed to have trickled down to a lot of the regular racers and they weren't talking to each other more than they had needed. It was just something else that didn't bode well with Race Wars staying on the semi-nice side of things. He knew rivalries and pink slips were going to be the theme of that weekend and he had no doubts there would be several throw downs. He was also quite sure any new police action within the next two weeks would just be more fuel for the fire.
Brian rang up another two NOS packages and he'd stopped counting those when he'd hit two dozen. He smiled at the customers and kept the knowledge about what they were running under their hoods to himself. At least for now, it would definitely come in handy if he raced against any of them.
When an order pick-up slip was slammed down on the counter in front of him he looked up from the computer screen and into Letty's brown eyes. "Letty," he said, and his voice sounded calm, at least to his own ears.
He couldn't read anything from her expression. Brian took the invoice and keyed in the ticket number. The screen showed that it wasn't complete yet. "Give me a sec and I'll get this packed up for you."
He got nothing from her tone either and wasn't sure if that was bad, good, or just her regular indifference. It took him about five minutes to find the box containing her partial order and another ten to actually finish packing it up and place it on the dolly so it would just be a matter of rolling it out to her car. What he did know was this wasn't for the car she drove around town and, as of a couple of days back, was taking to Race Wars. These parts were for something else; for another make and model car.
Back at the counter he re-entered the invoice number and checked off all the merchandise before telling Letty the total. She handed over the cash. "Want me to roll this out to your car?" he asked.
"Letty, is everything okay?" He wasn't sure what had been said back at the house or in the past couple of days, so asking that question could be taking his life into his own hands. But he really did want to know she was okay.
Letty looked him up and down over her shades before popping open the trunk and passenger door to her car. They were going to need all available space to get everything loaded into her car. "I don't know yet," she answered, having seen whatever she needed in Brian before she could answer the question. "We'll see what the races bring," she added, pushing her shades back up on her nose.
She shook her head and gave him a small smirk he didn't know how to interpret. "It's not all you Brian. Besides, I'm going with Mia and a few of her friends for a girls' weekend."
Brian could almost hear the quotes around the "girls' weekend" and the slight puzzlement as to what exactly that would entail. "Umm, have fun," he offered.
Letty tilted her head and chuckled; again seeing whatever she needed in Brian's expression before answering. "That's the plan."
Brian watched her drive off and wasn't sure what to make of the exchange or the car parts. He just hoped that in the end she would be okay.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
When Brian didn't show up at the garage on Friday morning or answer his cell phone Dom went looking for him. His first stop had been the store but Mrs. Perez hadn't seen Brian since Tuesday morning. Racer's Edge had also been a bust. The girl at the counter said Brian had left about ten minutes before and was on foot.
Now the question was, where would Brian walk his skinny ass to and why wasn't he answering his phone? Dom drove in the direction he thought Brian might have gone and then began to worry. What if Brian's sergeant had picked him up again? What if they'd found out Brian was covering for him?
Dom clenched the steering wheel and put the brakes on where his thoughts were going. Brian had to have had a reason for taking off on foot. He drove several more blocks and entered a residential neighborhood before he thought he heard something familiar. He switched lanes and slowed down even more and trusted the abilities that Brian had so much faith in.
Up on his left he spotted a small park and he pulled into the first parking spot he could find. He tilted his head and was positive he could hear the soft rhythmic noise he now associated with Brian's heartbeat. Dom followed the sound until he spotted Brian sitting on top of a picnic table under a large shady tree.
When Dom got a little closer he realized that Brian was on his cell phone and that he could now hear both sides of the conversation. He stayed out of Brian's line of sight and just listened.
"...you're running yourself into the ground," a soft female voice said over the line.
"I know Nor, but I don't know what I'm doing," Brian said. "I like being a cop, but I like being with Dom."
"I can't believe I'm going to say this," Nora said, "but if you could go back and change things, not being a cop or have this Dom not be your..."
Brian didn't even let her finish. "No, no. Absolutely not. It's not that."
Nora sighed. "Brian, get through the case. He'll either clean up his act to keep you or, at this point, there's going to be a good chance you'll end up in the cell next to him."
Brian cringed. "You know that won't happen, Nor. I'm a cop, I won't make it a week in prison unless I'm kept out of general pop."
"Have you told him why you became a cop?"
There was silence and Dom knew that both he and Brian's cousin were waiting for an answer. He'd also taken the time to move a little closer to Brian's table.
"The full reason and not just about finding your guardian?" Nora nudged.
"No," Brian answered softly.
"Tell him, Bri."
"No, Brian, tell him. If he's who and what you think he is to you, he'll understand," Nora said and even over the phone Dom could hear the insistence in her voice.
"Fine, Bri, be pigheaded."
"Pots and kettles, Nor."
Nora laughed. "Look, come out to the house. Visit your surfboard. The waves this afternoon and tomorrow are supposed to be fantastic. Bring your guardian."
"You need to step out of the case to get your head back on or you're going to get yourself killed; or worse, it will destroy you both."
"He's not really the surfing type."
"I'm sure he's the 'watching Brian' type though."
"What?" she asked, trying to sound innocent.
Dom cleared his throat and then had to smile when Brian nearly dropped his phone. "Dom?"
"He's there? Brian! Did you wander off and not tell your gua...
"Umm, Nor, I'll call you later."
"Hi," Brian said, sliding his cell phone back into his pocket.
"Hi back," Dom replied, sitting down next to Brian.
"How'd you find me?" Brian glanced over at him.
"I used my superpowers."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian would have giggled like a madman but he didn't want Dom to think he was crazy. Although, maybe it was too late to be worrying about that now.
"You want to tell me what's up?" Dom asked softly.
Brian rubbed his hand through his hair before leaning forward to rest his arms across his knees. "Tanner called me this morning to let me know several more raids occurred between here and San Diego, and all the way to Santa Barbara." The raids closed two more drug labs, as well as several crews that ran the shipments. It meant the DEA guy had listened to what Brian had been hinting at and it seemed they were happy with the multiple busts up and down the state. It also seemed they'd gotten a line on the drug pipeline into California and Arizona. Someone named Braga. They hadn't caught the man, but they at least now had a name.
The Feds had managed to shutdown a kidnap-slave ring and a money counterfeiting operation operating within the underground racing community up north. Brian sighed. "Street racers need to stick with racing and stay out of other illegal shit."
Dom snorted at the comment, but Brian really hoped, really needed Dom to understood.
"What does Tanner want you to do that sent you to the park to use your phone?"
"Get you to talk. Get you to confess." Brian didn't look up while he talked. "I'm being pulled here and there--my job, my life. When this op is over I don't know where I will be, Dom. Or who I'll even be. You have to understand, if I'd had any evidence against you or your people I would have turned it in...or I would have before, before you became my guardian. I'm supposed to keep you safe. How can I do that if you get tossed in jail?"
"Brian," Dom tried to interrupt, but Brian ignored him.
"No," Brian said, turning his head to look up at Dom. "Tell me, honestly, think back over the last few months and tell me that your senses haven't been getting stronger? That certain things bother you more while others you can completely ignore by temporarily refocusing that sense to something else? Tell me that's why you know exactly when Mia's tuna salad is about to go bad?"
"It's always bad." Dom said, jokingly before admitting, "Your heartbeat is always at the back of my thoughts. It's how I found you; even over the rumble of the engine."
Brian lay back on top of the picnic table. "That's, that's awesome and frightening at the same time." He sighed and covered his eyes with his arm. "Now what are we going to do?"
He felt Dom squeeze his knee. "I think you listen to your cousin and take a few days to be you."
"What about the cars for the races?"
"They're basically ready. We still need to paint yours." Dom said standing up from the table. "Besides, Mia and Letty are apparently doing something this weekend that I don't understand. Leon is taking Jesse up to visit his dad. That normally takes Jesse a day or so to come down from. No one will be about until Sunday evening."
Brian moved his arm but didn't sit up; just rolled his head to keep Dom in sight. "What about Vince?"
"He's pissed at me, at you, at the world. He'll take his car and do something stupid and be back by Sunday evening or Monday morning."
"Come with me?" he asked.
Dom nodded before taking his hand and pulling Brian up and then away from the table. "I wasn't planning on letting you go alone."
Brian grinned and followed Dom back to the car. "We'll need to pick up a few things first," he said as he slid into the passenger seat.
Dom started the car before leaning over and pulling Brian's head around for a kiss. "I've closed it all down, Brian. No one will find anything because there is nothing to find anymore."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom watched as Brian relaxed into the seat as if a weight had been lifted off the younger man and Dom guessed that from Brian's point of view it had been. Somehow he felt better, less worried, as well. He pulled out of the parking space and into traffic and waited a few lights before asking Brian where he needed to go.
"You need clothes," Brian answered. "Back to your place and then a grocery store."
"Bag's in the back." He had originally planned for them to spend the weekend at Brian's place, but Dom knew this was what Brian really needed. And this would give Dom a chance to meet the other people in Brian's life. "Which way?"
Dom listened as Brian gave him directions to his cousin's place. If they were lucky and traffic stayed as it was they'd be there in less than an hour. "There's a store a couple of miles before Nora's place."
"She live alone?"
"No," Brian chuckled. "At some point she and Zach will get married."
"Are they cops?" He asked again.
Brian laughed. "No. They work for a private oceanic research company. They recover ships and stuff--something like that."
"Brian," Dom growled, knowing Brian was being vague.
Brian turned to look at him and gave him a happy grin. "It's hard to explain, but you'll see. If it helps, she has a degree in marine archaeology."
He let it go figuring that Brian wasn't trying to be difficult. If he had to put a word to the feeling he was getting from Brian it would be worry. Brian was worried about what he would think of his family. And Dom could actually understand that. If this didn't go well then yet another thing in Brian's life would be fracturing. Dom didn't think there would be a problem but he was beginning to understand that his keeper worried about a lot more things than he let on. That sometimes he cared more for the ones around him than himself.
As Brian seemed to relax more and more as they drove further away from Racer's Edge, Dom felt his own tension begin to ease. Overall, Dom knew he was coming to terms with the whole guardian thing. He'd used the last few days to sort of review his life. The more he had thought back the more he realized Brian's description of his senses were correct. He remembered when Mia and he were kids and she had broken her arm and somehow he just knew he needed to get to the playground that was a block from the house. Now he knew he had heard her cry out.
He'd counted at least a dozen other such incidents and just as many times when he'd had a headache that he thought was going to kill him--lights and sounds just too loud and bright.
"Turn left up here," Brian said, drawing Dom out of his thoughts. "It'll be faster."
Dom estimated that Brian's shortcut shaved off ten minutes from their drive. He pulled into the parking lot of the large chain grocery store and cut the engine. "Are we getting anything in particular?" he asked.
"Food," Brian said with a grin, climbing out of the car. "And beer if you want it."
Dom actually let Brian fill the cart and lead him around the store as it was evident the other man did this every time he visited. Steaks and chicken joined a sack of potatoes and the other miscellaneous vegetables and fruit already in the cart. A couple of bottles of soda and a bag of expensive coffee beans were next.
He just let Brian's ramblings as he explained the choices wash over him. Zach likes a good steak but rarely indulges, as he never knows if he'll be home or on a ship. The chicken holds up on the beach. Nora lives on coffee. She also makes these great homemade potato chips. Gotta get chocolate.
"I'm fine Brian. Just realizing that you shop like you drive."
Brian glared at him for a couple of seconds and then shrugged and grinned. "Whatever."
Dom snorted and followed Brian down two more aisles before they made it back to the front of the store. He paid for the groceries while ignoring Brian's mutterings about him being the guest.
"Keys," Brian said, while holding out his hand. "It'll be easier if I drive from here."
Dom raised and an eyebrow but handed over the keys. Three streets and five blocks later he completely understood what Brian meant. The houses, streets, and side streets were like a maze.
"Is there an easier way to get there?" Dom asked.
"Yeah, but it will take another twenty minutes because you have to go back out on the main road, but you'd still have to do this last little bit." And then they were pulling into the driveway of a small, two-storey, bluish-gray color painted home. One of the cars that Dom guessed was usually parked in the garage had been rearranged so Brian could just maneuver around it and park inside the garage next to an old Jeep.
"Your cousin does love post-its," Dom said, chuckling a little after he saw the one stuck to the driver's side window of the Jeep and addressed to Brian. Brian. Fix Me. The Broken Jeep. You promised.
"Yeah," Brian agreed. Pulling the bright green post-it off the Jeep's window before opening the door and reaching in to push the button that would close the garage door and hide Dom's car from view.
"What's wrong with it?"
"She said it was making weird noises and felt like it wanted to get stuck."
"And Zach can't fix it?" Dom asked trying to get a feel for Brian's family.
Brian laughed, but didn't get a chance to answer. And Dom got his first look at Brian's cousin. A few inches shorter, similar body type, darker blond hair, and up close the same shade of blue eyes. If he didn't know better he would have guessed she was Brian's sister and not cousin. Dom wondered why he hadn't picked up on all that in the photos at Brian's apartment.
"If it was a boat, sure. But I totally want it to stay on land."
"I heard that," a voice called from within the house.
"Zach," Brian identified.
"Welcome," Nora cheerfully said, obviously ignoring Zach. "Grab your stuff and come on in. Unfortunately Zach has to leave in a few. There's some type of emergency at the dock and he's on call today."
Dom pulled his bag out and grabbed two of the grocery bags while Brian grabbed the others. He followed Nora and found himself walking through a small mudroom before taking about four steps up into the kitchen. After that he stepped out of the way as Brian and Nora started unpacking the shopping bags onto the counter and rearranging things in the cabinets and refrigerator.
"It's probably safer if you're not actually in the kitchen when they do that."
He turned and saw a man in his early thirties. "Zach," the man said, holding out his hand. "Knowing Brian he probably didn't tell you anything besides my name."
Dom smiled and shook the offered hand. "Dom and you're right." He wasn't sure what he had expected, but Zach was obviously retired military. Navy if he had to guess.
"Well, it's nice to meet you. Let me show you around and you can drop your bag in Brian's room because those two," and he pointed back towards the kitchen, "will be like that for the next ten minutes. They won't even notice we've gone and come back. Then I have to go sort out some things on one of the research vessels."
He shrugged and followed Zach. "Here we have your typical dining room and over there we have the family slash living room and the actual front door to the house which hardly anyone uses. Half bath and laundry," Zach pointed to one door and then another. This brought them to a staircase that went up but first he pointed further down the hall. "And down that hall is mine and Nora's room."
The staircase actually went to a landing before angling back around. "Must have been a bitch to move stuff up here," Dom commented.
"You have no idea."
"This floor is basically Brian's if he ever wanted it. Though we do on occasion use one of the two very small guest rooms." He pointed to the three doors on the right. "And this," the only door on the left and it would put them almost over the garage, "is Brian's room."
None of the doors were completely closed and Zach pushed Brian's door open and motioned for Dom to enter. The room was neat and looked a lot like Brian's apartment. Zach gave a soft chuckle and Dom realized he'd said the last bit out loud. The only real difference was the two surfboards propped in a corner.
"Brian has his own bathroom so you don't need to worry about that."
Dom nodded and put his bag on the bed and then followed Zach back out into the hall. He tilted his head a little but he barely had to stretch his hearing to still be able to hear Brian and Nora talking in partial sentences and moving around in the kitchen.
"So that's the house. And how vague was Brian on what we do?"
"Something about ocean research."
Zach snorted. "Among other things, yes. There's salvage work and archaeological work as well. Though that's mainly Nor's job."
Dom was curious, how had a man in the Navy meet an archaeologist, so he asked.
Zach smiled. "Brian introduced us in college. She was my lifeline until I got out. And here we have the kitchen again and the wonder twins are still at it."
Brian and Nora stopped in mid-motion to glare at Zach and then went right back to putting away the groceries and making dinner plans.
"Give me a second Dom and I'll take you on a tour."
Dom snorted, gave Zach a grin, and shook his head. "Sure thing, Bri."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
"Nothing Brian," Dom said, liking the way Brian had seemed to relax even more. It was like this Brian was real and maybe that's what that itch he always felt around Brian had been. "Just something Zach had said."
Zach grinned then looked down at his watch. "Okay, have to go before someone sinks the boat or whatever it is they're trying to do. I should be back for dinner." He grabbed his keys from a hook by the kitchen door, kissed Nora, and was gone in less than thirty seconds.
"Is someone really trying to sink the ship?" Dom asked.
Nora laughed. "Not sure. The message we got said there was a leak. Then the second message was something about one of the guys, a girl at the bar, and a cue ball. The third was the sink was fixed. I'm guessing the sink was the leak and there's not actually a hole in the boat, but half the guys on the boat are retired Navy so who knows."
Brian hugged her. "I love your job."
"You want it?"
Nora gave Brian a glare that clearly said I have your number before smiling and shoving him out of the kitchen and toward Dom. "Go show Dom around and take him out to the beach. Commune with the waves. Dinner will be around seven."
Brian grinned and took that as a 'get out of my kitchen' and as Brian wanted the homemade potato chips that were on the menu he grabbed Dom by the arm and started the tour.
"So their house is kind of like yours but the master bedroom is downstairs. Hardly anyone uses the front door. They normally use the side door by the garage." They started up the stairs. "Upstairs we have..."
"Your floor, which they occasionally use one of the small rooms for guests."
Brian paused on the landing. "How did you know that?"
Dom chuckled. "Two ways. One, Zach already took me on the grand tour."
"And the second?"
Dom continued up the stairs and towards Brian's room. "I can smell your scent up there. It's fading but," he paused searching for the right word. "It's like the walls almost breathe you."
Brian leaned on wall near the door. "When they first bought the place I helped them with the painting and putting the furniture together. And I lived here for a while until I thought I was encroaching on them."
"I know." Brian sighed and walked over to sit on the edge of the bed. His shoulders hunched a little and he stared at the floor. "On my third real undercover op, not the baby ops during my first year, someone followed me home. Not here," he said when he saw the look on Dom's face. "But I was afraid of what would happen if after a case someone came after me and found Nora instead. Plus, I didn't come out of that op in a good place. So, I moved out."
He felt Dom sit down next to him. "I told Zach. He told me I was welcome to come move back in whenever I wanted. I told him when I made detective I would. When I didn't have to pretend to be someone else ninety percent of the time."
Brian flopped back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. "I passed the Detective's exam right before getting assigned to the truckjacking case. But the Feds are using it. I get the badge only if I close the case. I get tossed to street patrol in a squad car if I don't. Politics with the Feds and LAPD and I'm just a pawn." He closed his eyes. "Welcome to the chess board, Dom."
Dom gripped his knee and he continued. "I like being a cop. I've wanted to be one since I was kid. I just knew that if guardians were real that's how I would find mine. It was a kid's dream. Then the family down the street from us was...the wife and son--a friend--was murdered, and the younger girls--four and seven--were taken...kidnapped. I watched the police and the detectives as they came and went. I watched them bring the kids home and find the guys who murdered my friend and I wanted to be a cop even more. It could have just as easily been Nora and me dead or missing...or our moms." Brian took a deep breath. "But I'm not going to let them toss me on the street because the FBI blew the bust. I have an open invite to join the research ship if I want it." Brian took another deep breath. "I honestly never thought about doing it until about twenty minutes ago but I know I don't want to be tossed to some station and riding around in a patrol car with the stigma of fucking up an FBI op that I had no control over. And it would be easier on you if I wasn't a cop when this was all over."
"Why work undercover?"
Brian put his arm over his eyes. "At first I liked the adventure of it all. The small ops that lasted a week were child's play. There were about a dozen of those before I got pushed to the bigger cases. The ones like," and Brian stopped.
"Like the one you're on now," Dom finished for him.
"Yeah. The first one had been a exhilarating. Drug distribution in a couple of high schools and the nearby community college. There'd been a couple of ODs, some robberies and then a shooting before they'd sent me under. It was a ride. And I got the dealer, the distributer, and the cook."
"You are an adrenaline junkie."
He lifted his arm and looked over at Dom. "Pots and kettles, man."
Brian stood up and stripped off his shirt. He headed for his closet. "We're going to the beach," he said, pulling out a pair of boardshorts and a long-sleeved rashguard. He really didn't want to talk about being a cop anymore. "I can teach you to surf."
When Dom didn't say anything he turned around. "What?" he asked.
"Tell me what you want?" Dom stayed seated on the bed and Brian walked over to him and gently ran his hand down the side of Dom's head, stopping so his thumb could graze across the other man's cheek.
"I want you, guardian."
Dom took his hand. "That you have keeper, but what do you want, Brian?"
"I don't know anymore," he answered honestly and just by saying that he felt a weight lift. When this operation was over he was going to have to seriously re-evaluate his life. "Right now I really want to surf. Come with me?"
Dom nodded. "But I'm staying on the beach."
Brian shrugged. "Maybe tomorrow," he said, quickly changing his clothes and grabbing a black bag that was on the floor next to the surfboards. He looked at both boards for a second before grabbing the one with the blue print design at the bottom. "Come on."
When they got downstairs there was an ice chest with a blanket and towel resting on top of it sitting on the counter. Attached to the handle was another post-it note. Eat. Surf. Have fun.
"I know what to get your cousin for her birthday," Dom said, taking the items off the counter.
Brian chuckled and led them out the side door and down a narrow sidewalk to the beach.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom followed Brian with his enhanced sight--a skill he was still learning to use but Brian had helped him with as they had walked towards the beach--he could clearly see Brian as the younger man paddled out again. He didn't know much about surfing, but Brian seemed good. Very good if he compared it with the other people out in the waves. He could tell Brian was relaxing even more; as if the ocean was helping to clear his mind. And the more Brian relaxed, the more the real Brian surfaced and Dom's senses liked the real Brian better.
The real Brian was older, more observant, and Dom didn't believe that was a skill the cops had taught him. He also believed that Brian could keep up with him. Give as good as he got. Though, he was still reckless but in a more controlled sense. And Dom could appreciate that.
When Dom dreamed up the whole truckjacking thing he had needed the money to make sure Mia's college was paid for, that the mortgage on the house was paid off, and really just for the thrill of trying it. He'd filtered his share of the money through several channels and had paperwork to prove that when it all came back they were legal transactions. But he really hadn't thought about the cops or feds with the exception of "don't get caught".
The house was almost paid off now and there was an account that showed regular deposits that would pay for most of Mia's college fees--from her undergrad work she was finishing now to most of her Medical School bills. The store and DT's were both in the black and he had nothing to worry about on that side. He hadn't been lying when he told Brian that it was all closed down. By Monday the cars would be different colors, one with a spoiler, one with stickers, and all three gone. There would be nothing linking them back to Dom.
Dom paused. There was nothing, but there were people. But only if Letty and Vince went off on their own. He wasn't worried about Leon or Jesse. Vince would act without thinking and go and do something stupid. Letty could be spiteful, but Dom thought, no hoped, she wouldn't do anything to cause trouble for the others if she decided to cause trouble for him. He was hoping whatever his sister had planned for the weekend would help Letty, like Mia had said it would.
Leon and Jesse were staying on at DT's and Dom felt comfortable leaving the shop in Leon's hands for days at a time. It meant that he could work at the store more until he could find a full-time manager. He was really hoping that Mrs. Perez would take the job if he could hire two or three high school or college kids to work part-time. It would mean Mia could focus more on her schoolwork.
Dom tracked Brian as he rode another wave in to shore and then chatted with a couple of other surfers as they paddled out again. Brian paused in his chatting and turned to look at him. Dom shook his head and Brian went back to talking to the other surfers. That was something Dom was going to have to get used to. He might be able to find Brian with all his senses, but it also looked like Brian knew when Dom was looking at him. And, Dom didn't think it was just Brian's cop instincts. He was betting there was something about keepers that his own had not yet shared. Or didn't know to share, and Dom wondered how much Nora remembered and could fill in the blanks, but all that could wait until Brian's undercover gig was done.
What he needed to do right now was come up with a plan that would net Brian some big name criminal, preferably the Trans, and several smaller fish. Enough that it looked like the underground racing community was cleaning house and it would get the heat off them and Brian; as well as getting the task force to wrap up their investigation and move on to something else. Then he needed a way to leak that Brian was a cop but that Dom had known that fact since the beginning. A narcotics operation would be the route to take with that. Drugs and fast cars did not mix if you wanted to live and Hector and Edwin would agree. That spin might just work. Especially, after Webster got busted for being a drug manufacturer and Rizz for operating a chop shop specializing in high end stolen cars.
Dom heard Brian's cursed "son of a bitch" just as Brian took a fall off his board. The waves washed over the other man and Dom felt his body tighten until both Brian and his board popped back to the surface.
"I'm fine, Dom," he heard Brian say as he watched his partner climb back on his board, moving to straddle it before straightening into a sitting position. "Breathe and relax, man. The beach should be a tension free zone."
He heard Brian chuckle before giving a wave back toward the beach and paddling back out for one more ride.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian knew he was smiling when he jogged up the beach to where Dom was sitting, but he couldn't help it. This was the most normal he had felt in nearly eight months. Right now he was himself. He was Brian Dylan O'Conner. Not Brian Turner, Brian Tate...Jenkins, Spilner, and anyone else he'd been over the last five years.
He was Brian O'Conner. Almost twenty-eight. California native, college graduate, and keeper to a guardian. That last little bit had him smiling even wider. It was new, but he didn't think he'd ever not smile at that revelation.
Brian stood his surfboard up in the sand and caught the towel Dom tossed at him before dropping down on the blanket next to the older man.
"Have fun?" Dom asked him.
He was very much having fun. He felt relaxed. He felt almost normal. Right now he wasn't hiding himself under some made up personality. He was real. And even though Brian knew when he left his cousin's house he had to be Spilner again, he also knew it would only be surface this time. That just as he would help Dom with his senses and being a guardian, Dom would keep him from losing himself in his cover.
"Very much." Brian ran the towel over his hair and grinned.
He trusted Dom when he said he had closed down whatever it was his crew had been into. He was going to trust that Dom would come to him should there ever be a need to cross the line again. The only thing Brian was worried about was how he was going to get out of all this intact and alive.
Brian slipped on the sunglasses Dom handed him and leaned back on his elbows. Dom dangled a bottle of water in front of his face and grinned. "What else is packed in the cooler?"
"Sandwiches, chips, cookies."
Brian sat up. "Peanut butter oatmeal butterscotch chip cookies?" And he knew he sounded like a little kid, but his cousin had their grandmother's recipes and she knew how to cook and he really had missed homemade cookies.
Dom chuckled and handed him a small ziplock snack bag. Inside the bag was a single chocolate chip cookie and two of his grandmother's special cookies. He broke one of the cookies in half and gave Dom part. "Try it," he said before finishing off his half in two bites while trying to savor the taste.
"Your cousin bakes?"
Brian dug around in the cooler. Now that he'd had the cookie he realized just how hungry he was and unwrapped one of the sandwiches. Splitting it with Dom as well.
"She's a wizard in the kitchen. Grans used to let us help in the kitchen. I mostly ate the batter off the spoon or out of the bowl. When Grans died, Nor made sure to grab the old metal bread box she had kept the recipes in. She used to send cookies and things to Zach while he was on deployment. I got to eat all the misshaped or slightly crispy ones. It was great."
Brian took another bite of the sandwich and smiled.
"I know this isn't your scene, but thanks for coming with me."
Dom looked at him as if he'd said something idiotic. "I've learned more about the real Brian in the last several hours than I have in the last few days."
Brian looked down at the blanket. "I'm sorry about that," he said, some of the cheer leaving his voice. "I have...I'm not trying to hide anything Dom. I haven't...Working long undercover ops means you leave your real life behind--little to no interaction with family and friends. No personal life. None with co-workers, and when I'm in the office I'm not even from this district. Not that I have anything in common with those people outside of being a cop."
He paused. "Normally I find a payphone and call Nora every couple of weeks. Payphones are becoming a thing of the past and, well I've resorted to a burner phone just so..."
Dom was grinning at him.
Dom chuckled. "There's a little criminal in you still trying to get out."
Brian thought about it for a second and then smiled. "Yeah, maybe."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
The sound of a child crying quickly caught Dom's attention and had him switching his focus from Brian to a little girl with floaties standing with a little boy tightly holding onto a sand bucket. Both children were looking around and were in the early stages of panic as their cries had not caught anyone else's attention.
"Bri," Dom said, standing up and gesturing to the two children.
He started to move forward but Brian caught his arm and pulled him back.
"No, Dom. Stay here," Brian said, reaching down for the black drawstring bag he'd brought with them and pulling two things out--one being his cellphone and the other an item Dom couldn't make out but was on a metal chain.
Dom was torn between following Brian as he jogged off towards the children and staying put as Brian had requested. He saw Brian slow and bring the item on the chain over his head. That's when it dawned on Dom that it was probably Brian's badge. Which actually made sense. Two grown men approaching the children might scare them or draw the wrong type of attention to both Dom and Brian, but Brian alone with his badge wouldn't raise that many eyebrows.
He heard Brian talking and realized he was speaking to him. All Brian said was, "I'm sorry," before the blond continued the last few steps and knelt down in front of the kids at an angle where Dom could clearly see both children and Brian. Dom twisted his lips in a frown at Brian's apology, but forgot about it as he watched and listened to his keeper with the kids.
"Hi," Brian said as he squatted down in front of the two children. "My name's Brian. I'm a police officer," he added, lifting his badge so the children could see it. "I bet you're not supposed to talk to strangers, but you can nod and shake your head, right?"
The little girl wiped her hand across her eyes and nodded her head.
Brian gave the little girl a big grin and she tentatively smiled back.
To Dom's ears, Brian's voice was soft and calming and it seemed to be having the same effect on the little boy and girl as they had both seemed to stop crying and were paying close attention to Brian.
"Awesome," Brian said. "Are you lost?"
The little boy nodded.
"Are you here with your family?"
Both children nodded.
"Your mom and dad?"
Again both children nodded.
"Do you know your mom's name?"
The little girl said "mom" and Brian smiled. The little boy though just above a whisper said, "Carol."
"Excellent," Brian said, giving the little boy a thumb's up.
"Do you know your phone number?"
The little boy nodded.
Brian flipped open his cell phone and dialed. "This is Officer Brian O'Conner. Badge number 34762," he said. "I'm between lifeguard towers..."
Dom grimaced and missed the next part of what Brian was saying as someone between him and Brian turned up their radio. It took Dom a few seconds of teeth grinding concentration to get through the music and back to Brian's voice.
"...Nah, I'll walk them up to the tower and wait with them."
Brian closed his phone and looked at both children. "You see that funny looking little blue building with the ramp," he said pointing to the closest lifeguard tower.
Both children nodded.
"That's where the lifeguards live during the day and they're very good at finding missing parents. So how about we go up over there and see if they've found your mom or dad and if they haven't we can use their phone to call them?"
The little boy looked from the tower to Brian and back again before nodding his head.
"Great," Brian said. "Why don't you guys hold hands and I'll follow you to the tower?"
The little boy grabbed his sister's hand and started walking towards the tower. Both children paused to make sure Brian was following them before continuing.
Dom had already gathered up their things when Brian turned and gave him a quick smile. He plucked Brian's board from the sand and began weaving his own way towards the tower.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian sighed. This was not how he had planned on spending his afternoon. He had not wanted to rub the badge in Dom's face. Dom might know he was a cop, but knowing and seeing were two different things.
He spared another glance back and saw Dom carrying his surfboard and that made him grin just a little. The children stopped at the bottom of the ramp and Brian identified himself to the female lifeguard who came down from the tower.
"Base called us," she said to Brian before squatting down to look at the kids. "We've found your parents and someone is bringing them down here, but while we wait for them, we have coloring books and crayons just up there," she said to them. "Want to color something for your parents?"
Both children sniffled but nodded their heads before following.
Brian felt Dom come up behind him but didn't turn around.
"You're good with them," Dom said, quietly. "You calmed them down before they could really even begin to panic."
Brian gave a little shrug of his shoulder but nodded as he leaned back against the ramp railing. "You can go back to the house?" he offered.
"Nah. I'll wait."
Brian turned to look at Dom and was surprised by the small smile Dom gave him. "I knew you were a cop, Brian. So, whatever is zooming around in that blond head of yours, stop."
He didn't get a chance to say anything as one of the yellow lifeguard vehicles pulled up near the tower and four people climbed out--the driver, a teenager, and a man and woman. The yells of "mommy" and "dad" as the two children raced towards them confirmed who they were.
Dom chuckled. "Bet the older boy is grounded," Dom said dragging out the last word a little.
Brian snorted. "No doubt."
He pushed away from the railing and approached the driver who was holding a clipboard. Brian shook the man's hand before taking the clipboard and pen and quickly filling in all the necessary information and signing the bottom.
The children let their parents go as the lifeguard handed over their shell bucket and coloring books and began talking about the things in the bucket and the pictures they had been coloring. The little boy paused and ran over to Brian.
"Thank you for finding our parents, Officer Brian," the little boy said, hugging Brian before racing back towards his mother.
Brian waved at the children as the vehicle drove away and then nodded at the lifeguard as he turned back towards Dom. "Let's go back home. Not sure I want to tempt fate by staying out here."
"Trouble does have a way of finding you."
He gave Dom a glare but then shrugged it off as the statement was more true than he wanted to admit. He plucked his surfboard out of the sand and began walking towards the road. Dom fell in step with him, but Brian barely noticed as those zooming thoughts returned.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom sniffed the air and looked over at Brian. His keeper was thinking again but something was off, he pushed Brian into the fence that divided the little alley from the houses on other side and leaned in so that his body was pressed fully against the other man's. He kissed along Brian's neck, sucking at the spot just above the juncture of neck and shoulder before biting.
"You are mine keeper, no matter who you are or pretend to be."
Dom felt Brian shift slightly, letting the surfboard drop gently to the ground before settling between Dom's legs. Their bodies aligned perfectly and he returned the kiss.
"I worry," Brian admitted.
Dom snorted. "No shit. Stop. I have a plan."
A car horn blew and Brian blushed slightly before pushing on Dom's chest. "We should go on," Brian said. "I'd hate to have to arrest us."
"Later," he said and his voice was full of laughter as he stepped back and let Brian lead the way.
Dinner was great. Dom got to see more of the Brian that had been out on the beach. Confident in who he was. In love with life. He knew that Nora and Zach would support Brian whatever decision was made and that had Dom relaxing. That and the food, which had been excellent.
Zach and Nora were going to be returning to the boat to continue working on what had not been a leak but an issue with the fire suppression unit which had flooded a couple of the labs. The water and foam was being pumped out.
Dom learned one important thing from watching Nora as Zach told her about the damage...he was afraid of what would happen when Mia and Nora met. He could already see them bonding and then turning that on all three men.
He'd left Brian exhausted and sound asleep up in his bed and made his way through the house. He stepped into the garage made a couple of calls on his cellphone before popping the hood on Nora's jeep. Fixing cars had always been what Dom did to think things through and he had a couple more things to work out before morning.
By three in the morning Dom was yawning and the Jeep was fixed. He washed up in the mud room before climbing the stairs, shedding his clothes and crawling back into bed with Brian.
Four hours later he woke to the smell of coffee and fresh cinnamon rolls and Brian kissing his way down his chest. He ran his fingers through Brian's hair and then moaned as Brian took his cock into his mouth and began sucking. In Dom's opinion, the day was starting out very well.
He arched his hips and another moan escaped in a breathy sigh and soon he was coming. Brian's tongue licked twice more causing Dom's body to shudder and then Brian was crawling back up the bed.
"Morning," Brian said, smiling. Blue eyes bright and showing a hint of mischief. "Shower?" he asked.
Dom pulled Brian down and kissed him before rolling them over so that Brian was pushed into the bed. "In a minute," he replied, then began kissing and sucking his way down Brian's body.
He let Brian shower first. Their original plan had been for them to stay the whole weekend, but Dom needed them to go back this afternoon. The first part of his plan needed to be handled before the rest of his team returned.
Brian came out of the shower and stared at him. "We're going back today, aren't we?"
Dom stood and walked towards the bathroom door and Brian. "We are," he said, leaning in to kiss Brian. "We need to set up a few things before the others get back. I'm sorry," he added, his hand cradling Brian's face, "that this will cut into your time with your family. But I think it will get us both out of this alive. You just need to fill in some of the gaps in my plan."
Brian nodded and told Dom to shower.
When he came out of the bathroom Brian was dressed and had just finished putting fresh sheets on the bed. Brian looked up at him before straightening the comforter into place.
"We'll come back," Dom stated.
"Of that I have no doubt," Brian answered with a grin. "Get dressed. I'm hungry and even I can smell cinnamon and bacon."
Dom laughed as both their stomachs seemed to agree.
After breakfast they apologized for having to leave early but promised to return. Nora gave them both a hug. Brian gave Zach a hug and Zach held out his hand to Dom. "Good luck."
Dom smiled. "Thanks."
On the kitchen counter Dom left Nora a green post-it. Thank you and I'll bring him back. -Dom. PS. I fixed your jeep.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian climbed into the passenger side and let Dom drive them out of Nora's neighborhood. "So?" he asked. "What have you got going on in that head of yours?"
Dom glanced his way before turning left onto the major road. "I could ask you the same thing," was the response.
He had to nod, Dom was right, Brian had thought through several things while surfing. "We use your hearing and vision to get the scoop on as many people in the next two weeks and then bring them all down just after Race Wars."
And that's when Brian realized that Dom had gotten on the interstate and was heading in the opposite direction.
The other man didn't answer, just reached down and tossed him a pad of post-it notes and a marker. "You're gonna need those."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
It was nearly midnight before he and Dom pulled in behind his apartment building. Brian was exhausted and he knew Dom was even more so, as the guardian had been using his senses almost non-stop for the entire day.
A very productive but tiring day. Brian had information on two new stolen car and chop shop rings, another transporting guns, and at least three who were transporting drugs--one of which might have more information on the up and coming drug cartel run by Braga.
Brian parsed the information and numbered each post-it. He'd report to Tanner in the morning with his suspicions on one of the drug rings--that way avoiding the FBI jackass for as long as he could--and then again on Monday to report one of the chop shops.
They still needed to find something new on the Trans, but they had another two weeks before Race Wars and Brian still had hope. Dom had even told him there was no way Johnny or Lance would stay straight for that long.
"There's not going to be food," Brian said wearily, as he unlocked his apartment door and walked through the dark apartment.
Dom locked the door and then moved around Brian into the kitchen. "I wouldn't bet on that," Dom answered with a grin. "Looks like we have fruit, sandwich meat, eggs, bread, and cheese. Oh, and two plates of leftovers that say 'microwave me' on them."
Brian stepped into the kitchen and peered over Dom's shoulder. Sure enough, there was food in his fridge again. Enough to last them until tomorrow afternoon. "Huh."
"Nora is never meeting Mia."
Dom had made the statement with such conviction that Brian started laughing. "Right," he said, smiling up at Dom. "Whatever you say. For now why don't we microwave one of the plates and split it before we crawl into bed."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Over the next week Dom made his entire crew finish the final modifications on their cars. They used an abandoned lot and warehouse to practice ensuring those mods didn't do more harm than good. To the others it appeared that Dom was being more exacting on Brian and his car.
But Dom was using the time to help Brian gather more information. He didn't look at it as ratting out anyone, but that drugs, guns, stealing cars for parts, and prostitution simply brought more heat down on the rest of them; it was more like cleaning house. They had started with Edwin and Hector's operations. Both had checked out as clean and that hadn't surprised Dom or Brian. Both those crews were all about the cars, the racing, and the adrenaline. And both used their garages to keep the neighborhood kids off the street and out of the local gangs.
Today's check had been on Wiley's place. It had been clean, as Brian had thought it would be, but it looked like two of Wiley's drivers were running things from Mexico. It was unclear if it was drugs, guns, or something else altogether.
"If you had to pick one to blow your cover with," Dom started to ask as they drove the Supra back to the garage.
Brian glanced his way before turning back to the traffic and maneuvering in and around the cars on the busy expressway. "I think Edwin already knows," Brian answered.
"Are you going to explain that?"
Brian's heart rate speed up but Dom waited to see if Brian would answer.
"There were a couple of anonymous tips that came in about the drugs and guns. Mostly in and around Edwin's area. Shortly after I joined your crew I confirmed one of the drug and prostitution houses."
"And you think he's turning a blind eye to the fact that you’re a cop as long as you clean out the riff-raff from his neighborhood?"
"If I didn't know better," Dom said, "I'd think you were insane to stay under if you'd known your cover was already busted."
"FBI wouldn't have let me out unless I had proof."
Twenty minutes later they were pulling back into DT's.
"Well?" Jesse asked before either of them was able to get out of the car. He was a little tense and almost vibrating with nervous energy.
Dom closed his eyes. Maybe making Jesse give up the cigarettes for coffee had been a bad idea.
Brian started laughing as if he knew what Dom was thinking and Dom glared at his partner.
"Everything's great, man," Brian answered. "But I think Letty's going to smoke us all."
"Damn straight," Letty replied.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian grinned at Letty. They'd chatted last Monday. Or more to the point, Letty spoke and he'd stayed quiet. Apparently the girl's weekend had indeed relaxed Letty somewhat--not that you'd ever notice once she climbed behind the wheel of a car.
Letty had threatened to castrate him if he hurt Dom. Brian wasn't positive she had been joking and had just nodded. She had then patted him on the chest and said "good boy" and walked away. It had all been a little surreal.
Now Brian thought that conversation might work to their benefit. He followed Dom into his office.
"I think we should tell Letty and Mia."
"Tell them what?" Dom asked, while Brian leaned just inside the office door.
"I take back that whole you're not being insane thing," Dom said, leaning back in the chair.
Brian grinned and stepped into the office and closed the door. "Would you want a completely sane keeper, guardian?"
"I didn't think so," Brian said a little smugly as he dropped into the chair opposite the desk.
Brian didn't hesitate with his answer. "As soon as we close."
"She's going to blow a gasket."
Brian looked out the window. "Which one?"
Dom rubbed his hands across his head and turned to look out the window. "Both. Pick up Mia and take her back to your place. I'll bring Letty."
And so they explained everything over take-out Chinese food while they sat at his never been used dining room table.
Brian wasn't sure what he was expecting but he had been sure Letty would be the one to hit him and yell, instead Mia had slapped him across the face and Letty had just smirked.
"Vince was right," Mia all but growled out and it was a very clear reminder that she was Dom's sister.
He grimaced. "Yes, but for all the wrong reasons. He thought I was moving in on his relationship with you. That I was taking his place in Dom's life. He would do almost anything to make sure neither of those happen. Unlike Dom, Vince cannot control his anger and at some point he's going to get himself or someone else killed."
"You can't save everyone," Letty said quietly.
Brian shook his head. "I'm sure the hell going to try."
Mia sat back down at the table. "I'm sure sometime in the future I'm going to have to kill you both. Until then, what do you need us to do?"
"Act normal," Brian said. "Don't do anything that will cause the cops to turn their eyes back toward you or Dom. Don't mention anything about what you may or may not have been involved with before I was around. If I don't know about it, I can't be called on it. Consider this a chance to have a clean slate. If you see or hear anything that might help, let me know."
Brian looked at both women and whatever they saw in his eyes had them both nodding. "And, if you do anything to use Dom's senses against him I'll kill you both."
"Brian." And that was Dom's pissed voice, but Brian kept looking at both Letty and Mia.
Mia and Letty were both looking at Brian as if they'd never really seen him before and Mia waved off Dom as Letty said, "Shut up, Dom."
Brian hid his grin at seeing Dom apparently at a loss for words.
Letty moved to lean on the table. "And when this is all over and someone asks if we knew you were a cop."
He shrugged. "That's up to you on how you answer that."
Letty nodded. "Dom," Letty said, holding out her hand. "Give me your keys. I'll drive Mia home and Brian can bring you back to the garage in the morning."
"Letty." Dom started.
Letty stood up and then leaned down and kissed Dom on the head. "I've known for a while that we were never meant to be. I wanted to hold on to this dream I had in my head, but it had started to fade long before Brian appeared. Now give me your keys."
Mia laughed. "Just give us the keys," she said. "I expect to see you both for breakfast," she added after giving them both a hug. Dom first and then Brian where she whispered into Brian's ear. "Our mom was like him."
Brian pulled back and nodded. As the front door closed, he and Dom were still sitting at the dining table.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
"Later," Dom said. They would deal with the fact that his mother may or may not have had above average senses later. Much later. As in, hopefully Brian would forget.
Dom rolled his shoulders to release the tension he was feeling. "Tomorrow I'll go talk to Edwin."
"We'll go talk to Edwin."
Dom looked into Brian's very blue eyes and nodded. "We'll go talk to Edwin." He stood from the table. "I have other plans we can work on tonight."
"Do they include us being naked?" Brian asked cheekily.
Dom watched Brian start towards the bedroom. A little mesmerized by how smoothly the other man moved. Focus caught on the lean muscles and natural grace.
"Why are you still standing there?"
Dom moved and soon had Brian pinned to the wall next to the bedroom door. There was no more talking in full sentences. The only sounds were of mumbled words and moans of pleasure.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
The meeting with Edwin was rather painless and for that Brian was thankful. Dom had arranged for them to talk with Edwin in private at a roadside food stand out near the PCH.
"We need to talk to you." Dom started sitting down at the picnic table across from Edwin.
Brian was glad he was wearing shades because then neither man saw him roll his eyes at Dom.
"About your boy here being a cop?" Edwin didn't wait for an answer. "Wasn't sure at first. Wasn't really sure until you asked for this meeting." Edwin looked over at Brian. "Thanks though for getting the meth house shutdown; if it had blown, the fire probably would have taken out half the neighborhood."
"Hold that thought," Brian answered and jogged back to the car. He was glad he'd tossed the black security-lock pouch into the car with him this morning. When he returned he had a brown letter-size envelope in his hand.
"You made the anonymous tips to the hotline?" Brian asked, sitting back down on the bench next to Dom and opposite Edwin. He pushed his glasses to the top of his head and opened the clasp on the envelope.
Edwin didn't answer right away and Brian grinned. "Not as anonymous as you might think. But I have something for you to sign and it might just help keep that hidden."
"So you are a cop?"
This time Dom answered for Brian. "Yeah, he is."
Edwin leaned back a little. "And you haven't busted us for the racing."
Brian took that as more of a spoken thought rather than an actual question and simply came back with, "Small fish. I'm looking for sharks. Plus the little raid on your garage gave us nothing that even linked you to anything illegal. Inconvenient for you, yes; but in the long run it worked in your favor."
He pulled out a stapled stack of pages, most of which had already been typed in. The title on the document read "Confidential Informant."
Edwin took the document and read through it for himself. "How long have you had this ready?"
Brian laid a pen on the table next to Edwin's hand before answering. "Almost since the beginning."
"High hopes, white boy."
Brian grinned. "Covering my ass. Figured you'd want to do the same. And, you need to back date it by two months."
Edwin shrugged and signed. "You gonna ask me any questions?"
"Not really." Brian started and then stopped. "Wait, have you ever heard of anyone named Braga?"
Edwin shook his head no. "But, there is this guy Carter. No wait, that's his first name. Last name is like Vernon or something. He's been running crap across the 10. Operates out of the Keys I think. He's trying to make his move West. His shit needs to stay out of Cali."
"Don't mention it." Edwin stood to leave. "But thanks for keeping that shit away from my nieces."
Brian had almost forgot Dom was there until he spoke. It was one word and really sounded more like a warning. "Edwin."
"I'm not a fool, Dom."
"And my crew has nothing against yours during Race Wars besides wanting to win."
Brian watched as Dom nodded and then stretched his hand out to shake Edwin's. "Ditto."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom should have guessed that Brian had plans of his own just waiting to be put into motion should something like this happen. It also didn't surprise him that those plans were mostly to protect others. It spoke to Brian's character.
"What about one of those for Leon?" Dom asked.
He saw Brian tilt his head and knew that Brian was thinking through what he was being asked. Leon had stepped up at the garage and around the house; plus keeping an eye on Jesse not only on the cigarette detox but through the kid's everyday jitters.
"Because he's the only one in your crew without a criminal record? Besides some speeding tickets that is. And because he'll keep Jesse in sight and out of the way."
Dom hadn't really thought about it before but he should have realized that Brian had probably seen files on anyone he was bound to meet--especially those in Dom's crew. "Yeah."
"And not Letty?"
Dom knew that tone. It meant Brian was holding something back. "Just tell me," he all but growled out under his breath.
Brian sighed and sounded a little sad when he finally answered. "I have them prepped for everyone but you and Vince."
Dom shrugged. It made sense. Dom had been the lead suspect and any surveillance would have shown Vince more eager to start and finish a fight than to help a cop out.
"When are we going to tell Leon?" Brian asked and then put his head down in his arms and muttered, "And this now officially means I've failed in my ability to stay objective. I'm in so deep now."
Dom wrapped his fingers around Brian's wrist. "Nothing will happen to any of us." He tilted his head and grinned. "Leon's on his way up."
Brian looked up and gave his own grin. "You like being able to do that now, don't you?"
"Yes; and it makes it easier to find my keeper when he gets himself lost." Dom chuckled when Brian rolled his eyes.
"Whatever." Brian responded and then stood up and headed back to the car to get the form for Leon.
Dom watched Leon pull in and then walked up with Brian.
"You might want to grab a beer before you sit down, Leon."
Brian retook his seat next to Dom. "How much are we telling him?"
Dom gently rubbed Brian's back before squeezing the other man's shoulder. "All of it."
Brian gave soft sigh and relaxed into the touch. "When we're done here I need to meet with Tanner while the FBI are elsewhere. You have to stay out of sight for that one."
Dom shrugged. He'd be somewhere that he could hear, if not see, Brian.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Leon had not seemed surprised at all. About any of it. He'd signed the paper and agreed to keep Jesse close. Congratulated them on surviving telling Mia and Letty. And said he'd keep his ears open as people tended to talk around him without really thinking about it.
The meeting with Tanner was not nearly as easy. Brian had talked his Sergeant into meeting that afternoon at another roadside diner north of the one where he'd met Edwin and Leon. This one had no outside dining and was rather small, which meant that Dom was going to have to stay hidden outside since he had insisted on coming.
"You should have handed these in months ago." Tanner thumbed through the documents.
"I know," Brian admitted. "Was trying to keep them as my CIs and not something else the Feds were going to take and most likely ruin. The shit with the Trans bust convinced me to hold onto them for as long as possible and then make sure you filed them without Bilkins being aware."
Tanner looked at him and Brian placed his hands flat on the table from where he had been rocking his empty coffee cup. The waitress took that as her cue and walked by and refilled both men's cups.
"How are you doing, Brian?"
Brian sighed. "I need this to be my last undercover op, Sarge."
"The Feds have screwed up a couple of times with this." Tanner took another sip of his coffee and leaned back in the booth. "They missed one of the shipments in San Francisco last week."
Brian bit his lip and dumped another packet of sugar into his coffee. He hadn't known about that. "Great."
Tanner nodded. "But you've also gotten too close."
"Probably," he admitted. "But I'm also tired. I was tired of UC ops before coming into this one. I need a break. I need Bilkins not to be holding my detective badge in his hand and over my head like a carrot. Especially if he's been screwing up things for us and the other teams."
He looked out the window and towards the orange painted Supra. Jesse was not picking the color of his next car; that orange was bright. "I earned that badge. It's not a carrot to be dangled by the Feds," he repeated.
Tanner gave a soft laugh. "No son, it's not. And don't worry about that. After our last little confrontation with Bilkins I got the paperwork started on that. You just need to finish this case."
Brian bit his bottom lip again. That was great news if Tanner could actually pull it off. Now to give Tanner the plan for the rest of the week. He told his Sergeant everything Edwin had mentioned about the guy from Miami and the I-10. That seemed to be news to Tanner who said he'd pass the info on to one of his DEA contacts. He added the information on two supposed drug houses and another chop shop.
"But, I need you to hold off on the busts until right after Race Wars."
"We need them all in action. Right now most are prepping for the race this weekend. We need them to actually be moving items," Brian explained. "You should be able to bring in a couple of the other UCs to make small buys--setting them up for larger ones right after the races. We'll get the labs, the dealers, and hopefully the cookers as well."
"And the Trans?"
"Still working on them. They've been more hushed since the failed raid. It would be easier for me to waltz in and tell Toretto I'm a cop than it would be to get anything from Johnny's people. I'm hoping that won races, drunk lips and pockets with money will slip someone up or get them talking. I do know that they're still in business."
"And you've not seen Toretto or his people planning anything big?"
"No." And Brian had to wonder why Tanner was asking that. "Why"
"There was another truckjacking last night. Dark colored cars, but there was a motorcycle this time as well. The driver thought the guy on the bike might have had a semi-auto."
"I've seen no guns around any of Toretto's places. Plus, no one in Dom's crew rides," Brian said, offhandedly. "And, I had dinner with Dom, Letty, and Mia last night."
"Would the others move without Toretto?"
Brian took a quick sip from his coffee and used the mug's position in front of his face to whisper a soft apology to Dom before he made his next comment. "Jesse and Leon, no. Vince, maybe. He'd do it to prove to Dom that it could be done...that it would be beneficial."
"And you've not seen anything?" Tanner asked again.
He leaned back in his booth before answering. "No. Everyone's been pretty focused on Race Wars. Jesse and Dom have been running all the cars, and us drivers, through their paces."
"You can't be with them all the time."
Brian shrugged. "Leon has been staying with Jesse in the trailer behind Dom's house. I've been in the guest room." That was partially true-ish. "I'd hear them leave."
"So it seems Toretto is in the clear for the heist. At least the last one."
Brian would take that as a sign that maybe Tanner was beginning to believe Toretto had nothing to do with criminal activity--a statement which was true now. He was almost positive that if they could make several large busts that Tanner and the LAPD would call this gig a success and wish the FBI a happy day while pushing them out the door.
Tanner looked down at his watch. "I've got to get back. Keep me posted Brian."
"I will," Brian smiled at his boss. "And good luck with Bilkins."
Tanner grunted, leaving ten dollars on the table top before leaving the booth and the diner.
Brian watched as Tanner drove out of the parking lot. Two minutes later Dom slid into the booth across from him.
"First," Dom started. "That man actually likes you. Treats you almost like a son. That's what has you worried. You're afraid of disappointing him. And second, you need to eat something because three cups of sugar-flavored coffee is not food."
Brian saw Dom wave the waitress over and heard him order two burger combos and two glasses of water. He guessed his run on coffee was up for the moment. Which was actually fine, he was feeling a little jittery. And, Dom had been right, he sort of saw Tanner as a father figure. Tanner had been the one to pick him for the first undercover op and then had taken him under his wing to train. He had been a good boss and had even been the one to encourage Brian take the Detective's Exam.
"Eat," Dom ordered when the waitress brought their plates. "And stop worrying. If it was Vince, I'll find out tonight. And no, I'm not going to kill him. Be pissed off as all hell, but you won't need to worry about arresting me."
Brian gave a small grin and a soft prayer that Dom was right. But four hours later--when Vince was still a no show--Brian was praying louder.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Vince finally made an appearance the next day around lunch. Everyone in the garage knew Dom was pissed even though he'd kept a tight rein on his temper. He glanced out the window to where Leon, Brian, and Jesse were buried under the hood of Leon's car. Brian glanced up and looked between Dom and Vince. It reminded Dom that he needed to talk to Brian about that whole knowing when he's being watched thing.
"Remember guardian," he heard Brian whisper ever so softly. "No killing him and turn on the device I gave you, just in case."
Dom snorted, but flipped the switch on the small device that would render any remaining listening devices in the garage obsolete. He rolled his shoulders to try and relieve some of the tension and then bellowed, "Vince! In here now!"
Letty rolled out from under her car and popped to her feet before going to lean against Leon's car. "Five bucks says this is not going to end well."
"No bet," Leon and Brian answered in unison.
Dom glared at all of them before slamming the door.
"Want to tell me what you've been up to?"
Vince scowled and huffed. "I don't know what you're talking about, man."
"The heist the other day," Dom said, rather surprised at how calm he actually sounded and felt. He looked briefly out into the garage and saw Brian looking back at him.
Brian gave him a small smile and whispered, "Just remember to breathe, Dom."
"What heist?" And Vince sounded like a petulant child to Dom.
"Did you honestly think I wouldn't hear about it, Vince? Who else knew enough to recreate them? I told you to get rid of the car. That we were done."
Vince crossed his arms and glared at Dom. "Nothing happened. It went off without a hitch. I told you we could keep doing them."
"Did that have to do with the guns?" Dom heard Vince's heart rate increase. "Or the Trans? The Trans?" Dom said again as if that alone was what needed to be repeated.
Vince shrugged. "They had the means."
Dom sighed. "Why?"
"Why not. The trucks are running. They're insured. We get the money. It's fine, Dom. No cops saw us. I toldya we could continue," Vince repeated. "Johnny even said he'd cut you back in if you wanted to play."
Dom tried to remember to breathe but he wasn't sure it was working. "No," he said through clenched teeth.
Vince slammed his hands down on the desk. "Why the hell not, Dom? Because of the buster out there? Has he made you go soft? Aren't you missing the thrill of it all?"
Dom didn't need to look up to know that Brian was looking at him again or whispering to tell him it would be okay or, for that matter, that the others were now also looking into the office and watching the show.
"No," Dom repeated. "We were lucky, Vince. And sometimes it is best to get out while you're ahead of the game. I wasn't going to risk any of their lives, not even yours for something we didn't need to do anymore. We were getting reckless at the end; letting the thrill control us. Especially you."
"Fuck you, Dom!"
Vince slammed open the door and barreled out of the office. He was headed to the door when he switched directions and went after Brian instead. Dom was up and out of his chair and the office but apparently Brian wasn't hiding anymore and Dom watched as Vince found himself pinned to the floor with a knee in the back like a landed fish.
"You need to calm down, Vince," Brian's voice was soft while Vince's breathing was ragged. "Whatever beef you have with me we can settle at the races not inside Dom's garage."
Vince sprung to his feet as soon as Brian released him and would have charged for Brian again had Leon not spoken up.
"Not here, man."
"You've all wimped out," Vince growled and stormed from the garage.
Leon turned to look at Dom. "He'll cool down."
"Eventually," Jesse added.
Letty rolled her eyes and then looked Brian up and down. "What other skills are you hiding, Blondie?"
Brian laughed and shook his head. "I'm staying away from that question."
Leon slapped Brian on the back. "Good answer."
Dom watched the byplay. He was pissed at Vince for not following instructions, for not trusting him. And worse yet, for making him worry about his sorry ass's safety.
He glanced around the garage and made a decision. "Pack up everything. Get the cars and trailers ready. We're heading out a day early." Dom turned to Letty, he didn't want to say what he was thinking--that he didn't want anyone traveling alone. "Would you mind waiting for Mia to get out of class and bring her out with you?"
Letty didn't even bat an eye. "No problem, Dom."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Getting to Race Wars earlier actually worked in Brian's favor. The dealers were easier to spot and by that afternoon he had already called in a list of seven names and descriptions. By that evening he'd spotted two people in the crowd he knew worked undercover for narcotics. Dom handed him a post-it and he was able to call in a guy dealing weapons as well.
The surprise was when Leon told him of a guy who was recruiting drivers to run shipments across the I-10 between Texas and California. "Did he try recruiting you?" he asked, not wanting this information to be traced back to Leon.
"Nah," Leon answered with a grin. "Dude didn't really even notice me standing there."
Brian raised an eyebrow. "Uh, umm," he started and wasn't even sure what to say. Leon wasn't exactly small or invisible.
Leon laughed. "I'm not Vince or Dom or even Letty for that matter. Those are the ones they generally notice. Jesse and I are mostly looked right over."
Brian nodded. "Let's consider that a good thing for now."
"Absolutely," Leon said, grabbing a beer before settling down in one of the lawn chairs in front of Jesse's trailer.
Brian shook his head and stepped into the other trailer to call Tanner again.
A minute later Brian felt strong arms wrapping around his waist and Dom's quietly whispered into his ear, "Your boss sounded a little giddy there, Bri."
"If this works," Brian leaned back into Dom's chest, "then Bilkins is out of our district, and hopefully out of the state."
Dom turned him around and kissed him. He felt Don's hands slide down his back and grab his butt, pulling him in closer before carefully guiding him to walk backwards to the small bedroom at the back of the trailer.
He broke the kiss. "Dom," and Brian was panting slightly trying to catch his breath because Dom knew how to kiss. "What are you doing?"
"What do think?"
"What about Mia and Letty?"
"They're not here yet and I'm making the best use of our time."
Brian thought about arguing, but Dom's roaming hands quickly quieted those thoughts.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
The first race of the morning for Dom's crew was Leon against a driver from Hector's crew. The race was tight, too tight to call a winner and both Dom and Hector agreed to call it a draw. Dom thought it was the best way to start the races off.
Dom had been up next and his opponent hadn't stood a chance and Dom wasn't likely to get another challenger until later in the day after more people had arrived.
"Vince is here," Letty said.
Dom flinched as a couple of cars started to rev their engines together.
"Are you okay?" Letty asked, her voice laced with what Dom thought of as worry.
"I'm fine," Dom turned to look at Letty before turning his gaze to the right where he could see Vince climbing into this car. "He's been here since about eight. He's lost and won one."
"He'll come around."
"Only if he doesn't get dead first."
Letty shrugged and walked in the general direction of her car. She was up in the next round of races. He scanned the crowd one more time and headed for a spot where he could watch both the start and finish.
He didn't make it a hundred feet before Brian broke through the crowd to walk with him.
"Letty said you were having issues."
"Are we talking about the same girl? Kind of short, bossy, and can probably kick both of our asses?"
Dom lifted an eyebrow and had to fight not to grin at such an apt description of Letty. "I was following Vince and a couple of cars revved up. I wasn't expecting them, that's all."
Brian gripped his forearm and Dom turned to look Brian in the eyes. Whatever Brian saw had him releasing Dom's forearm and nodding.
Dom leaned in. "I am fine, keeper. But neither of us will be if we miss Letty's race."
"Lead on then."
"The dumb ass in the car just agreed to a two-large bet against the outcome," Dom grinned.
They watched Letty's fuchsia-colored car race against a light gray one with nothing special under the hood.
"She's starting off well," Brian said grinning, as he watched Letty's car pull way ahead.
Mia walked over to join them and handed each of them a beer though Dom noticed that Brian didn't actually drink his, just held on to the bottle.
"Jesse should be up in a few," Mia said, exchanging her bottle of water for Brian's beer. "Leon stopped him from going up against Johnny and racing for pinks."
Dom glanced in the direction of the race line-up and noticed that Jesse's white Jetta was in line to face off against a green Mazda RX. Several cars back from that was Johnny.
"Leon gets a raise for keeping Jesse away from Johnny. Johnny's got some extra mods in that car. I can hear it in how the engine's not purring."
Brian bounced on his toes. "Normally I would say that you were cheating," Brian said with a wide grin, "but not today."
Jesse just beat his opponent, and was now fifteen hundred dollars richer and still had the pink slip to his dad's car.
"Guess that makes it my turn."
Dom glanced over at Brian. "Drive like O'Conner, not Spilner."
Brian snorted. "Will do."
"You still owe me a ten-second car, Brian," he called out and heard Brian's laughter in return.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian maneuvered the Supra into position and smiled over at his opponent and then focused on the signal guy. He realized he hadn't really been Brian Earl Spilner since before they'd told Mia and Letty who he really was. He'd washed Spilner away in the ocean that day.
After his friendly smile he paid no attention to the man behind the wheel of the Nissan or the car itself. The signal guy pointed and dropped his arms and Brian drove. Shifting through gears and applying the gas. Half way to the finish he looked through his side mirror to see where the other car was. At two car-lengths back the NOS was still an option but as he pushed forward again and was still pulling ahead at the three-quarters mark he didn't bother. He rolled over the finish line about ten seconds before the other car.
It was a nice way to win a thousand dollars without showing what was really under the hood. He drove the car back to their campsite. "Keeping the car?" He grinned as he climbed out of the car.
"Yes, and the driver too."
"Nice run," Leon said, adding a salute with his beer bottle.
The rest of the afternoon was much the same. Letty won her next three races and called Race Wars a success stopping while she was ahead. Jesse raced once more and won, but it was so close that he decided, on his own, that he didn't want to risk his car or his winnings. Leon lost his second race by a few seconds but won his next two.
Neither Brian nor Dom had raced again. Brian was busy tracking down a few more leads and Dom was trying to keep an eye on Vince but wasn't having as much success now that the crowds had nearly tripled.
Late evening brought an end to the racing for the day and the start of the partying. It also brought a phone call that Brian wished he'd never gotten. The truck drivers were arming themselves now. It wasn't going to be fun and games anymore, especially with both sides willing to use deadly force.
That's about when the night started going downhill.
Johnny Tran and his cousin Lance tried to start a fight with Dom about the raid on the Tran family home. Vince had been in the crowd but hadn't supported either side and it took both Leon and Brian to hold Dom back. Especially after Lance made a threat toward Mia.
An hour later Jesse came running into their site. He was pointing behind and rambling. "Dom, Dom!" Jesse tried to speak between taking large breaths for air. "Letty...gun...away."
Brian was actually able to translate that into something sensible while keeping Dom from charging out after who knew what or where.
"Who took Letty?" Brian asked, grabbing Jesse's face to make Jesse focus on him while dropping his voice into a calming tone.
"One of Johnny's guys."
Brian took a quick step away from Jesse and yanked hard on Dom's arm keeping him from barging out of the camp.
"She's my responsibility," Dom seethed between clenched teeth.
"And you're mine," Brian warned, squeezing Dom's arm a little tighter. "Let's get all the info before we go charging out there or we could end up going in the wrong direction."
Brian waited for Dom to nod before he released his guardian's arm. The man could be stubborn. Mia and Leon were now standing close enough to hear but not get in Brian or Dom's way. Brian turned back to Jesse and even he could feel the nervous energy bouncing off the younger man.
Brian once again captured Jesse's attention. "Start at the beginning, Jesse," he said calmly. "And it's okay to go slow."
"Vince...Letty...arguing and they didn't see me but I was there and then she shoved him in the chest and more arguing and then he..." It all came tumbling out so quickly.
"Jesse breathe. Vince and Letty were arguing and..." Brian prompted and ignored the fact they now had a crowd of people around their camp--a crowd that included both Hector and Edwin.
"Then one of Johnny's guys appeared and he...they..."
Brian gently grabbed Jesse's head before the man could start rambling again.
Jesse took a deep breath. "He waved a gun between Vince and Letty and Vince started yelling, but Johnny's guy put the gun to Letty's head and dragged her away and Vince followed and I came here."
"Did you hear anything?" Dom asked quietly.
"He wanted Letty to drive a car to heist a truck but she wouldn't do it."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom growled, but let Brian continue to get as much information from Jesse as he could. Brian was using that ability of his to calm people down with his voice. Dom was almost positive it was a keeper thing, but whatever it was, it was working for Jesse.
"Leon," he looked over at the other man, "pack us up. Get Mia and Jesse home and keep them inside. See if..."
"I got your back, Dom," Edwin volunteered. "We'll help your boy get your cars and things home. Go get your missing crew."
"Thanks." Dom nodded before turning to Brian. "Let's go."
Dom's car for the races was currently blocked in and he didn't want to take the time to get everything and everyone moved from around it but Brian's Supra was in the clear and Brian was already climbing into the driver's seat.
"I'll drive," Dom all but ordered.
"No. You're going to use your senses and I'm going to drive."
Dom almost argued but Brian was right.
Brian gunned the engine and shot off on a path that would get them out of the closed military base that was home to Race Wars.
"Where do you think they would go? If you had planned it, where would you have hit?"
Dom had already pulled the map out of Brian's glove compartment, ignoring the gun and badge that would have been concealed to anyone but a guardian.
"I don't know," Dom answered, honestly. They hadn't really planned this far into the future before he'd put a stop to the heists altogether.
"Damn," Brian said and Dom could see him maneuvering in his seat to pull his cell phone out of his front pocket of his jeans.
Dom continued to look at the map as Brian started talking into his phone.
"This is Officer Brian O'Conner. Badge number 34762. I need a cell phone trace. Cell number is..."
Brian mouthed "Letty's number" at him and Dom rambled off the number.
"They'll call back," Brian said. "Give it a couple of minutes. But Dom, there's one other thing..."
And with the pause, Dom didn't think he was going to like what Brian was going to say next.
"The truckers, they're probably armed. The last two heists put them over the limit and they've gotten fed up."
Dom closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Brian had been right; the heists had been getting out of control.
Brian's cell phone chose that moment to ring and he caught the phone as Brian tossed it to him. Dom flipped it open and pressed the button for the speaker function.
"Officer O'Connor, the trace puts the phone around mile marker 114 headed northbound on the 86. It just passed through Coachella. We'll keep the trace open for you, Officer."
Dom clicked the phone shut as soon as Brian thanked the operator and shoved the phone back into Brian's front pants pocket before grabbing up the map again. He could feel the car already accelerating even as he told Brian, "We're about forty miles behind them."
Brian pressed down on the gas pedal even harder and the car pushed forward a little faster. Even with the speed they were going Dom knew it would take them at least twenty minutes to catch up and that was if traffic stayed clear.
"We'll get there."
Dom could only nod as the Supra sped northbound on the 86. Then about fifteen minutes later, just on the outside range of his vision he spotted a black civic and the back of an eighteen-wheeler.
"There," he pointed and felt Brian gun the engine again.
He could just see Vince trying to hold onto the front of the truck. The sound of a shotgun firing reached him about the same time as one of the two motorcycles practically exploded. The other motorcyclist pulled a semi-automatic and fired at the side of the truck before veering off and making his escape. Dom could easily identify the rider as Lance when the motorcycle zoomed by the Supra.
Another black car sped up to keep pace with the left side of the truck before pulling a maneuver that had the car passing underneath the belly of the truck. Both he and Brian said, "Letty!" at the same time.
Dom could see that there was another person in the car with Letty but he couldn't quite tell if the second person was waving a gun at her or not. If he was, she was ignoring it as she pulled the car almost even with Vince who had somehow worked his way to the passenger side door of the truck. She almost had him when the shotgun fired twice more. The shots hit the car in the front quarter panel and driver's side tire causing the car to flip and then roll down the embankment.
"If I stop," Brian said, "we'll lose Vince."
"Go," was all Dom could order. "Her heart is still beating. She's still alive."
The black civic made a screeching U-turn and speed past them going south. "Johnny's making a run for it," Brian said as he brought the Supra alongside the truck. "Let's hope he dumps the car somewhere we can find it and he's dumb enough to have left prints."
Brian pulled past the truck a little and then pulled back into place so he was even with Vince. Dom noticed what Brian had. "Vince is tied to the truck with wire," he said aloud.
"Help! Dom!" Vince yelled. "Get me off this truck! My arm!"
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
"You're going to need to drive." Brian was already taking off his seatbelt. "He's not going to be able to get off the truck alone."
"No, I'll go."
"Who's the better driver, Dom?" Brian didn't wait for an answer, before rolling down the window and then reaching up to release the sunroof lock. At the speed they were going the sunroof did what Brian had hoped and popped up and off the car on the wind. He started moving over to let Dom slide into the driver's seat underneath him.
Brian climbed out the window to straddle the door for a second before twisting up and around to almost squat on the top of the door as Dom brought the car along side the passenger side of the truck's cab again. He took a deep breath and shoved himself up and out of the car and onto the steps of the truck's passenger door. He felt the soles of his shoes skip across the speeding ground below before he pulled them up to squat on the lowest step.
"Vince!" he called, and when the younger man didn't stop struggling, he grabbed hold of the man's face. "Stop struggling," he repeated. "Calm down and we'll get you off of here."
He took a quick second to glance into the cab of the truck. The driver was reloading the shotgun. Thirty seconds, give or take. Brian grabbed hold of the side mirror of the truck with his left hand while using his right to unwrap the wire from around Vince's right arm.
Then it was just a matter of Dom getting into position again and Vince being able to stand. The second was harder than the first and for the most part Brian just shoved Vince with enough force to get him to fall into the passenger side of the Supra.
Brian gave another look into the cab and had to duck as the driver leveled the shotgun and fired--blowing out the passenger side window. He was going to have to risk it, he couldn't afford to be standing there when the driver fired again. With that thought, Brian jumped towards the back of the Supra. Hitting the trunk hard, but his feet came to rest on the spoiler and he was able to grip the edge of the sunroof with his hands.
Dom slowed the car down and skidded slightly over the shoulder before bringing it to a complete stop in the tall grass. Brian rolled himself off the back of the car before opening the passenger side door and pulling Vince out to lie on the ground. "Go check on Letty," Brian yelled. "Bring her back here if you can."
Brian barely registered the car pulling away, as he removed Vince's belt and used it as a tourniquet to slow the bleeding on the arm. He checked over the rest of Vince for other injuries then returned to applying additional pressure to the wounds on the arm.
Next thing he knew Dom was back adding his hands to the wound.
"We have to get him to an ambulance or he's going to bleed out." Brian pulled out his phone again and dialed 9-1-1. "Yeah, this is Officer Brian O'Conner. Off duty LAPD. Badge number 34762. I need a life flight roll out right away. Location is Highway 86, somewhere between marker 147 and 148. Orange sports car as visual marker. I've got two trauma victims. First is male, about twenty-four years of age, six-foot maybe two hundred pounds with deep lacerations to his right arm causing arterial bleeding and a shotgun wound to his left flank. He appears to be going into shock."
Brian paused as Dom fully took over holding Vince still. He turned to Letty. "Second is a female, twenty-four years of age, five-five. She has a dislocated shoulder, bruising, and breathing seems to be labored. She was in a car that flipped and rolled several times. Possible broken ribs and or punctured lung."
Brian answered a couple more questions before turning back to Dom. "ETA is fifteen minutes," he said. Now all they had to do was wait for the life flight helicopter.
"There's a body in the car I pulled Letty from," Dom commented.
"Shit," Brian said and dialed Tanner's number while still keep pressure on Vince's wounds. When Tanner answered he started explaining the last eight hours.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Dom paced the waiting room like a caged tiger, extending his hearing until he could track his people. He zeroed in on Brian and Tanner for a moment, before moving back to Letty two rooms away, and her arguments with the doctor. He shifted his focus then to the OR several floors above him where Vince was being operated on.
When Brian wrapped his hand around Dom's bicep, Dom refocused on the room he was in.
"How are they?" Brian asked quietly.
Brian snorted. "That's not news."
"There was no concussion. Ribs are bruised and she's going to be sore, but nothing's broken. Lungs are fine. Her shoulder has been snapped back into place. The other abrasions and cuts have been cleaned and stitched and they've just given her a shot for the pain. They want to keep her here overnight to monitor just in case."
"The hospital is going to put her and Vince in a room together and Tanner is going to put a guard on the door," Brian added.
Dom nodded. He'd heard as much. "The two dead guys were linked to Johnny. They're running prints to see who was sitting where in the car," Dom stated what he'd overheard.
Brian rocked on his feet and grinned. "Yes. So, tell me about Vince..."
Dom noticed that Brian hadn't removed his hand and that Tanner was watching them. He was about to tell Brian this when the other man spoke.
"I know. I'm not worried about Tanner. Vince?"
Dom shrugged. "They've tied off the artery and stopped the bleeding. They're working on removing the buckshot and stitching up the other lacerations. They've given him blood."
"Dom!" Mia rushed into the waiting room with Leon and Jesse behind her. "How are they? Where are they? Are you okay? Are you bleeding?" She finished, and that was when Dom and Brian realized they both had Vince's and Letty's blood on their clothing.
Tanner cleared his throat. "I called her. I believe they've brought you a change of clothes and the hospital is going to let you use the showers in the doctors' locker room. Brian we're not finished. Cafeteria, twenty minutes."
Dom and Brian quickly showered and changed clothes. Mia was waiting for them when they stepped out of the locker room. "Letty's out and Vince is in Recovery."
"Go Brian, I'll come down in a few minutes."
Dom's gaze followed Brian as he started off down the corridor before turning back to look at Mia. "Let's go visit Letty."
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
Brian spent thirty minutes drinking hospital coffee and filling in paperwork that Tanner had somehow produced.
"Son, if you get it over with now you won't need to come in later."
"I know," Brian recognized, signing his name to the last document. He quickly put the pile back together and returned it to his sergeant. "Have the other busts been setup?"
"We got multiple people with each of the groups you identified. We're going to move on them all at once sometime in the next couple of weeks."
"Anything back from inside the car? What about the Civic?"
Tanner leaned back and ran the fingers of one hand through his hair. "The partial burned husk of a Civic was found just outside of Coachella. It's being processed. There was a gun found in the other car. We've matched prints to the passenger."
Brian sat up straighter. "That puts Letty in the clear. Forced at gun point and all."
Tanner seemed to ignore the comment which Brian was grateful for. "With the evidence of the Trans at this attempted heist Bilkins got called in by his bosses for the screw-up on the first raid."
Brian wanted to laugh and cheer, but he kept it reined in, however he was betting Tanner was just as elated about that as he was. "What else?"
"Nothing. Get some rest. Wednesday morning report to my office, Detective."
Brian blinked. "Yes, sir," he acknowledged and this time he wanted to jump up and down and shout, but again stayed seated and only grinned. Tanner had managed to pull it off.
"Go away, O'Conner," Tanner told him with a small smile just gracing his face even as his boss reminded him about Wednesday morning.
Brian all but bolted from the cafeteria, only making it out the door and around the corner before being grabbed and gently pushed into the wall.
"Dom." Brian grinned at the other man. "Did you hear?"
"Yes, we all seem to be in the clear, Johnny and Lance haven't been seen, and you're getting your detective's badge."
"Are you okay with that?" Brian asked, slightly worried about the latter.
Dom leaned in and kissed him and Brian almost melted at the feelings coming through. "I want to check on Letty and Vince, then can we get out of here for a while?" Brian asked.
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
A week later Brian had his detective's badge. The Supra was still in the police evidence yard but it would be returned to Dom, as Dom's name was on the pink slip--he was getting the ten-second car Brian owed him. Letty was in the guest room recovering from the last of her injuries, as he wanted his family close for the time being. Vince was still in the hospital and Dom expected Vince would have to testify against the Trans to stay out of jail, but they would deal with that when it came around.
As for Brian, he spent more than half the nights of the week at the Toretto household and Dom had helped him pack up his apartment and move everything back into his cousin's place. Brian had told him the apartment reminded him of a place he stayed and not actually lived in no matter what it seemed to have looked like.
Brian had also surprised him the first time he arrived in the old gray and black Mustang convertible. It had apparently belonged to his grandmother and had been in storage for the better part of a year. The sand Dom found in the backseat was evidence that Brian used the car when he went north to surf.
The Mustang was currently parked in the driveway beside Dom's Charger. Dom was trying to talk Brian into letting him retrofit a few mods for the Mustang when Jesse and Leon pulled up and parked Jesse's Jetta at the curb.
The sound of a single motorbike revving had Dom turning his head before anyone else could even hear the noise. The second thing he heard was what sounded like a pull back on a trigger being primed. The same sound he'd heard right before Johnny and Lance had destroyed Brian's original car.
He noticed when Brian first heard the bike but was already in motion towards where Jesse and Leon still stood near the Jetta. Dom bowled into Leon just as Brian knocked Jesse to the ground and gunfire erupted around them. The bullets impacting into the side of the Jetta and the ground just next to where they were laying.
Dom was pissed and he could tell Brian was too. He rolled off Leon and checked to see that no one was hit or injured. Brian was already calling it in even as he was standing, but cop instincts had Brian yelling, "Down!" before anyone else had gotten up, as Johnny's black Honda S2000 sped by in the opposite direction--window lowered so Johnny could also fire at them.
Brian was still talking into his phone reporting the second vehicle even as he climbed to his feet and followed Dom to the Charger.
"Get inside and stay there!" Dom ordered Leon and Jesse. "Keep the girls in the house."
Dom barely waited for Brian to get into the passenger seat before bringing the Charger to life and roaring out the driveway.
"Find the car," Brian told him." You said it sounded wrong at the races. Listen for that."
Dom did as he was instructed and made a quick left then right. They ran into Lance first who immediately started shooting at them. Bullets pinged off the side of the Charger, as Lance's aim from the half-turned position was poor.
"Keep the car steady, Dom."
Brian was already leaning out the window before Dom could say anything. He kept his eyes on Lance even as he heard Brian fire his gun. Three shots later Lance's bike was skidding across the pavement.
"He's down and not getting back up," Dom said as Brian slid back into the car.
"Awesome, my first week as a detective and I'm going to have a shitload of paperwork."
Dom's laugh was forced but still genuine even as he turned the Charger to once again follow the sound of Johnny's car. He spotted the Honda going through a light and began to follow, Brian leaned out of the window again and fired twice more, hitting a taillight and then the trunk of Johnny's car.
Johnny plowed around the down arms of the railroad crossing, just missing being hit by the oncoming train. Dom, for his part had slammed on the breaks having heard the train coming. When the train passed, they could see the wreck that was now Johnny and his car. It appeared an eighteen wheeler had clipped the car causing the convertible to flip and roll.
"That could have been us," Brian said and Dom felt the shiver of fear as Brian spoke. "If you'd kept going."
Dom leaned over and grabbed Brian by the back of the neck. "I have what I've been looking for, keeper. I'm not destroying it."
He gave Brian a deep kiss.
Brian grinned into the kiss and then pulled back. "I do, however, find it ironic that Johnny was hit by an eighteen wheeler." Brian then sighed and pulled out his cellphone. "I have to call this in."
Dom pulled the Charger off to the side of the road several yards from the wreck Johnny and the eighteen wheeler had made. He leaned against the body of the Charger as he watched Brian pace and report the last few minutes to Tanner. Lance's body and motorcycle had already been taped off and was being investigated. Tanner was on his way to this scene and another crime scene unit was headed to the house.
He sighed. It was over. It looked like with both Johnny and Lance out of the picture now Vince wouldn't have to testify and the DA hadn't exactly had charges to lay against Vince before as there was no actual evidence that Vince had been a willing participant in the unsuccessful heist. Vince was still pissed at the world, but Dom figured he'd either come around or hold a grudge and leave LA. Dom would hate to lose Vince but he realized that while the rest of his crew had grown up over the last few months, Vince was still stuck rebelling and Dom wondered if Vince even knew what he was rebelling against. He hoped Letty and Leon would be able to get Vince to come home, but only time would tell.
Brian walked back over to him. "I'm going to be on a week long paid vacation," Brian said and he sounded a little frustrated and down. "Officer involved shooting times two with a wreck and the fact that I may or may not have been the target of the initial drive-by. And I've only been on the job for a week."
Dom could understand Brian's frustration but also thought a little time off after what had just happened would be for the best. "Johnny just wanted blood," Dom said, trying to make Brian see that none of this was his fault. "I don't think it would have mattered whose."
Brian nodded. "I know." Then Brian tilted his head in thought and gave him a mischievous smile. "I just had this thought. I think we should introduce the families before Mia or Nora find each other themselves. So we avoid the whole sleeping in the garage thing."
"You just want to surf," Dom guessed, but returned Brian's smile.
"Well, I want you too." Brian turned to him, as Tanner pulled up in an unmarked sedan. "But surfing on a paid vacation seems too good to pass up."
He shook his head. "Go get this settled so we can go home and make plans."
Dom relaxed. His life was back on track, even if it was a new one.
~ * ~ end ~ * ~