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From Just One Spark

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Fuck.

Han’s hearing is gone, gunshot too close, no protection, but he knows he’s shouting, screaming, wordless noise shredding his throat. His vision narrows to her face, her mouth moving, his name on her lips, her eyes so wide. There’s love in them, and fear, and, god he can’t bear it, peace. She’s a sacrifice, furious and free. This isn’t what he wanted.

Gisele falls and falls and falls.

For a terrible moment, she is gone forever, and Han closes his eyes.

***

“Holy shit,” Letty says. She’s got one hand on Dom’s back and she’s hunched forward a little, her other arm curled protective across her stomach.

Han blinks at her. There’s enough blood smeared across his face and starting to dry that he actually notices how it tugs at his skin when he frowns. No, that’s not it. The little things are all he can manage. The way his ears ring. The bruising along his ribs. How cold the night air is, and how warm Brian is in contrast.

Oh. Brian’s hugging him. Shouldn’t Brian be holding Mia? Clinging to her, tight hands, never letting go.

“Dom!” Mia’s voice is loud, but there’s no panic in it. “I need something to brace her neck.”

That’s why Brian’s holding him and not Mia. She’s doing something else. Something important, probably. That’s her doctor voice. It’s shitty that she never got to finish her training. She would have been a great doctor, Han thinks. He’s not sure if he ever told her that. Maybe, when his throat’s not so hard, when he gets his words back, he’ll make sure she knows how he feels.

Brian’s arm goes tight around him, until it feels like he’s holding Han up. It’s not until that thought that Han realizes Brian is holding him up, and Han’s knees are giving way.

Because Mia’s bent over Gisele, and she’s not praying, she’s not crying, she’s got her doctor voice on and that cool calm that settles over her when she steps in and fixes them, bloody noses, open wounds, broken hearts.

Gisele is alive, and Han stumbles forward, braced by Brian, until he can see her face.

***

Gisele looks more dead than alive, and unbearably small in her hospital bed. The sheets are crisp and clean, freshly changed. She bled through on the first set, but her wounds are patched up now. The nurses fuss over her, checking her vitals, and the main doctor shakes her head every time she comes in, frowns down at the chart, and watches Han with sad, knowing eyes.

She doesn’t believe.

Han does.

Gisele is alive, and he will not leave her until she wakes up. He won’t leave her then, either. This is where he wants to be, where he belongs, and if their adventures are hospital beds and sterile rooms from now on, then that’s all the adventure he needs.

***

Hobbes sticks around nearly a week. Mostly he and Dom and Mia are off getting things settled. Mia’s the one who talks to the doctors the most, but she also huddles up with Hobbes and Dom. They’re making plans to go home.

He’s happy for them, but as long as Gisele is trapped in that bed, eyes closed, voice gone, body still, well … this is as much a home as he needs.

Han brushes his fingers against the back of her hand and listens to her breathe.

***

When Hobbes takes off, he leaves Han with a mighty clap on the shoulder, heavy enough it rattles his bones, flowers and wishes for good health for Gisele, and his record wiped clean.

All their records.

They’re no longer wanted. They’re no longer criminals, at least until one of them gets behind a wheel and can’t take driving clean. They can go anywhere in the world, not just countries that don’t extradite to the US.

They can go home.

Han holds Gisele’s hand, and braces himself. They’ll leave soon. They have to. The Torettos migrating home, everyone else spinning away. Dom is their gravity.

There’s a long, terrible moment when Brian leans into Mia, shoulders slumped, face hidden against her neck. Dom wraps his arms around Letty. Han thinks: they’re leaving.

Dom raises his head, meets Han’s eyes square.

They stay.

***

There’s some debate about whether they should try to transfer Gisele to a hospital in L.A., but Mia’s talked to the specialists here, and she trusts them. And, free and legal or not, they’re reluctant to go back wounded, some place they can be hunted and trapped. No one’s felt safe in L.A. for a long, long time.

Instead, they rent a house near the hospital. Han doesn’t even see it for the first two weeks. Mia sweet talks the nurses into letting them bring in a futon, and he sleeps on that, cleans up in the bathroom. Brian brings him clean clothes and collects his dirty ones, takes them home. Tej and Roman bring him food and magazines, sprawl in the uncomfortable chairs to talk to him.

Mia gets along well with the nurses and support staff. Brian charms them with his grin. Dom talks about family, and the entire hospital falls under his spell.

Most evenings, they all gather, crowd together, half of them sitting on the floor. (Mia and Brian trade off who stays home with Jack. They bring him in during the day sometimes, but at night, he sleeps pretty well, and they don’t want to ruin that.) They share stories, some he’s heard about a hundred times before, some new. Letty listens hard, eyes wide, leaning back against Dom’s legs. He tangles his fingers in her hair. Sometimes, she asks questions, but mostly, she just listens and learns.

One night, before they leave, she kisses Han's cheek.

“You’re a good man,” she tells him, and her hand rests on Gisele’s arm. “She’ll come back. I did.”

Han’s eyes burn, his throat goes tight, and all he can do is nod a little, jerky, but that’s enough. She gets it.

***

Mia starts suggesting he spend the night at the house, have a bath, sleep in a real bed. Han shakes his head, “no” on his lips before she’s even done speaking, but Mia frowns and digs in. She’s as stubborn as any Toretto.

He knows she’s right, but he squeezes Gisele’s hand. He doesn’t dare let go.

An hour in, Mia’s voice is loud, her gestures big. She’s fierce and protective, and any other time, Han would love her for it, but not when she wants him to leave. He promised he wouldn’t. He’ll stay with Gisele forever, right here, listening to her breathe, the machine ticking off every beat of her heart.

Dom listens to them argue, all the things Mia says, all the things Han doesn’t, because that’s what Dom does.

Finally, he stands, and puts his hand on Mia’s shoulder. She orbits into him, grabbing his arm, and he soothes her.

“Go home,” he tells Han in that low rumble. “I’ll stay with her. I’ll keep watch.”

For a long, long moment, Han just stares down at Gisele’s hand, her body, miraculously alive but so still, and then, with a sigh, he nods.

Mia takes him to the house. It’s not theirs, they won’t stay, but the moment she hurries him in through the front door, something in him gives way. It’s home enough, and he’s not too far, and he trusts Dom.

Han sinks down onto the couch, letting the softness embrace him, and closes his eyes.

***

After that first night, Han spends a little more time at the house. Nothing much, he doesn’t sleep there often, but he’ll go home to nap, clean up, cuddle Jack. Then he spends the night in the hospital, listening to Gisele’s breathing, the steady beep that is the voice of her heart.

Some nights he stretches out on the futon. Some nights he drags a chair right up to the side of the bed and holds her hand. He talks to her until his words are gone and his throat goes dry and scratchy. There’s so much of him she’s never heard before, so much of her he doesn’t know. They drop their histories in pieces, scattered seeds. It’s never mattered too much to him before. He didn’t grow up in a tight little group like the Toretto clan and their friends. The people in his life come and go, and they only know what he lets them see at the time.

He gives more to this family, to Gisele. More, but not everything. Not yet.

Han draws stories on the back of her hand when his words run out, pictures and symbols, metaphors and secrets. He has a story for every time he wishes she would wake up.

***

Han’s throat is scratchy, eyes blurry from staring at screens, the machines counting out each moment of Gisele’s life, the television and random shows that blur together until he’s not sure, but he thinks that doctor might also be a werewolf stripper who sells tires. It’s early afternoon, the blinds are open to catch the last of the sun, and he’s almost asleep, curled up uncomfortable in his chair, slumped forward so his head rests on the side of the bed. He’s waiting on Mia to relieve him in his watch, and then he’ll shower at the house, maybe crash for a bit, maybe stretch out and listen to Roman and Tej swap tall tales.

He’s almost asleep, eyes flitting shut, when Gisele’s hand twitches under his. It’s not much, more like a flutter of her fingers. He blinks a little; it’s not quite enough to pull him out of the haze of nearly asleep.

Then her hand turns, her fingers curl around his, and Han jerks up sharp. The lines of her mouth are soft, expression vague, but her eyes are bright and wide open, focused hard on him.

Her mouth moves, but there’s no sound. He doesn’t need noise to recognize his name on her lips.

He knows he should hit the call button for a nurse, grab his phone and let Dom know, but instead he drops his head onto their hands. She doesn’t stroke his hair, probably she can’t yet, but she’s awake. She’s alive.

Han presses her fingers against his cheek and closes his eyes.

***

“Did you sell your soul to keep us alive?” Gisele asks Mia. “Did not think I was coming back from that.”

Mia’s smile is shaky. Yeah, they got Gisele back, and Letty, but Vince is still dead. Vince and Jesse and the Toretto parents, way back when. Han never knew them, but he’s heard the stories. He can see them reflected in Mia and Dom. He used to see them reflected in Letty, but she’s been wiped clean.

They’ve all lost people they love. Getting back a few, it’s not enough, but he’ll take what he can get.

Mia wraps her arms around Gisele, careful of the IVs and monitors and the fact that, not all that long ago, Gisele fell out of a plane and, basically, died. “I love you,” Mia says, and he can hear the tears in her voice.

He can’t make out Gisele’s response, but Mia presses her face into Gisele’s shoulder and hides her eyes for a long time.

Han doesn’t get much time alone with Gisele, not with the family crowded around and the nurses popping in to run test after test. Not that he minds. He can look over any time he wants, catch her gaze, see her smile.

Finally, though, Mia herds the others out. She leaves them both with a kiss on the cheek, something whispered soft into Gisele’s ear, and, “be gentle,” she tells Han, hugging him tight. He laughs and leans into her, squeezing her hard.

When they’re alone (momentarily, at least, they both know they’ll be interrupted all night for meds and vitals), Gisele slumps back against the bed, inclined so she can sit up and see her visitors. She’s pale and tired, dark shadows under her eyes, but her smile is wide and bright and gorgeous as ever. She beckons him over, and he settles onto the bed next to her, trying not to bump her or dislodge any of the wires attached to her.

Once he’s settled, Gisele curls into him as best she can. He rests his head on her shoulder and breathes in. She smells like the hospital and not herself, but she’s warm, and she’s awake, and she’s alive.

Gisele cards her fingers through his hair, tugging just a little at the ends. He sighs and presses his face against her, nose to the skin at the base of her throat.

“I heard you,” she tells him, voice low under the noise of the machines. He starts to sit up, but she presses her palm against the back of his head, urging him to stay put, so he does. He doesn’t really have any other response, so he kisses her throat instead. “I heard the rest of them sometimes, too, but every night -- you. I heard you.”

His throat works, but for as much as he wants to tell her, all the words jam up, strangled.

“I heard you,” she says again. “Thank you.”

She strokes his hair back off his face, and Han closes his eyes.

***

It’s another few days before Gisele’s released, and they stay a couple weeks after that to make sure she’s strong enough to travel before they pack up everything, cars and all, and go home. The Toretto house is theirs again, and it shows the years they've been gone. There’re broken windows and dirt inside and warped wood. Letty and Dom take on the garage, cleaning it out, restocking and reorganizing. Brian’s in charge of the house repairs. Mostly, he does them with help from Roman and Han. (Tej puts himself in charge of beer and entertainment.)

Hobbes stops by about a month after they’ve been home. The place is almost fixed up. They don’t all live there, but Han and Gisele have a bedroom, for now. The weather’s not bad, cool enough they grill and eat outside. Hobbes looks weird out of his gear, intense as fuck even when he’s being casual, but he’s not so bad. Toasts Gisele and everything. They stay at the table for hours, talking shit, telling tales, until the sun sets and artificial L.A. light filters through the smog.

Everyone else piles into the living room to watch a movie after Gisele and Brian put Jack to bed and Hobbes heads out. Han goes in with them, but they’re all crammed together, and even though they’re his people, he can’t breathe. He heads straight through the house and out the back door.

Gisele finds him on the steps, hands him a fresh bottle of beer -- Corona, because Dom’s old habits die hard -- and settles in front of him, tucking herself in between his legs. He takes a quick swig of beer, then sets the bottle aside and buries his face in her hair. She smells like Letty’s shampoo and Mia’s body wash, like smoke from the charcoal grill, like oil and gasoline.

Like their family, but like herself, too.

She’s quiet a bit, and then, “I’ve counted maybe twenty-three stars. Love that light pollution.”

Han muffles his laugh against her shoulder.

“So,” she says, “when are we leaving?”

That takes Han by surprise, but it really shouldn’t. She’s good at reading people normally, and sometimes -- most times -- it feels like she’s got a direct line to his brain. He stumbles over a lot of possible answers. While she waits, Gisele reaches back, slips her hands into his, and tugs him closer, until his body wraps around hers.

“I like it here,” he says at last. The words are true, but they don’t sound all that real.

“Me too,” she agrees. “But there are things I miss.”

Freedom, he thinks, but doesn’t say. A road spooling open before them.

“Whole point of helping Hobbes,” was to get Letty back, but they both know that, “was so we could come home.”

Gisele tips her head back against his. “Their home.” She pauses. “Our home,” and it’s an admission, a sigh, “but we’re not trapped here.” She squeezes his hands hard. “That’s not what I mean, I know we’re not, it’s just--”

“We don’t have to run anymore,” Han says.

“Yes,” her words come soft, slow, “but that’s what we know.”

Han tightens his arms around her. “I used to want to stop,” he says. It’s not quite what he means, but he trusts her to figure it out. “Place to be safe, not have to watch my back all the time. But now…”

“But now,” she repeats, little bit of a laugh, and yeah, she gets it.

He used to watch those old westerns, white guys playing with their horses and their guns. His favorite part was when they made the run for it, desperate, sweat-streaked horses and probably a gunshot in their shoulder, painful but not enough to kill. They’d run south, for Mexico, for freedom, and, good guy or bad, Han would hold his breath.

They didn’t always make it, but they tried to be free.

Gisele twists around until she can smile up at him, face lit up by the warm, golden light from the kitchen window. “There’s always Tokyo,” she tells him, voice light as air.

God, but he loves her. Han grins and leans down for a kiss.

***

Mia kisses their cheeks as she says good-bye, hugs them hard. Brian does the same. The family’s all there, but Han and Gisele are the beginning. Some of the others will head out later. They’ll all come back. This is home, the Torettos their base, and even if they burn rubber out, every road leads back here eventually.

Dom puts one hand on Han’s shoulder, the other on Gisele. “If you need us,” he says, gravel in his throat, eyes bright, “you call.”

Han hugs him hard, then climbs into the car, Gisele behind the wheel. They’ll drive until they’re bored of the states, then they’ll hop a plane, see something new.

Gisele points the car east and drives off into the sunrise. It’s not quite Han’s Mexico, but, he thinks, resting his hand on hers on the gear shift, it’s better. Han rests his head against the back of the seat and closes his eyes.