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Freedom

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~DOMINIC~

The team was gone, the team that Brian Spilner aka Brian O’Connor the cop had destroyed with his attempt to gain detective status before his time, but it had been five years and Dom’s undeniable gravity had drawn in new members as well as old ones, they were once again a family. Dom was the head of the family, as always, with Mia’s new flame Ricardo Mitchell warming her bed and bringing in money and connections from his job at Gregory’s Salvage Yard. Vince was back, finished his time and earned a few more tats his attitude worse than ever but his faith in Dom and family unshakable. Leon and Letty had returned for a while, but Letty had wanted out of the criminal circuit before her name got tracked through the dirt. She’d wanted children and safety. Dom couldn’t give her those, so she headed out to New Mexico to find a man who could. Dom sincerely hoped she had found what she was looking for, Letty was a good woman and she’d make some lucky bastard an excellent wife and partner. Leon had stuck around for about a year, but without Jesse it just hadn’t been right for him. Dom heard rumours that he was teaching auto-shop to non-violent ex-cons in Alabama hoping to give them a new lease on life, and good for him if he thought he was doing something good in the world. Dom was under no illusions that the life he was living would send him anywhere but Hell. It was something he had learned to live with years ago when nightmares of that man’s bloodied beaten body haunted him every night in lock-up. Another new edition was Kate, she was a firecracker but not like Letty had been, she was passionate but not moody, a source of amusement and laughter as she flirted her way into Vince’s bed and confused the hell out of him. Poor man thought he liked the chase, turns out his prey had snagged him long before he realised what was going on. Sometimes Dom felt lonely surrounded by happy couples, not the kind of lonely that was cured by smiling at the kind of girl his momma warned him about, but he knew they were family and that was what was important deep down. Most of the time it was the guys drinking beer out on the veranda talking cars while Mia and Kate laughed at them from inside the house, making goo-goo eyes at baby clothes now that Mia was expecting.

Life was good. But still, there was a nagging feeling at the base of Dom’s skull that told him something was missing, and it was all O’Connor’s fault.

~BRIAN~

The air seemed fresher than he remembered, purer after the recycled air he’d been breathing for the past five years locked up in a maximum security prison. Twenty hours a day spent in a small cell surrounded by metal bars and gray walls. It had been too dangerous for him to hold a prison job, so whereas some inmates earned brownie points by working in the factory or the kitchen for a few hours a day Brian had been stuck in his cell, luckily alone because Valdez ran the kitchen. Brian breathed in deep, it was suffocating and he almost wished for the stale air from prison because at least that was familiar. Everything about being out was frightening and overwhelming. He had wished every day for parole, and bore the scars from the suicide attempt he had made last year when his parole had been denied. Valdez had saved him, so to speak. Not worth training a new cocksucker, he’d explained when Brian had eventually been sent back from the infirmary. Of course, now he had freedom it wasn’t quite what he had imagined.

He was secretly proud that he lasted three weeks before calling the number that Valdez had slipped into his hand just before he left. Secretly, because he knew that really he should be ashamed that he could no longer function in normal every day society. It was only five years, but those five years had changed him completely. Valdez’s contact was another Mexican living in LA, he had contacts in the drugs and gun-running businesses but wasn’t a major player which kept him off the Feds most-wanted list, mostly he was interested in street racing which was why Valdez had been certain he’d be interesting in a trade with Brian. Usually the agreements were short term things, Valdez was a lifer since he caught his sister in bed with a black man and beat them both unconscious before setting fire to the house and leaving them to burn, so while Valdez was inside unable to sleep with women he found substitutes in men, usually young non-violent offenders who would benefit from his ‘protection’, and trained them up to be dependent on him and talented in the gay sex department. Of course non-violent young offenders didn’t typically get long sentences, so they’d leave prison and Valdez would offer them the same deal outside as in, a number for a friend of his who could hook them up with a place to stay and maybe even a job (not a legal one of course) in exchange for a blow job or more. Never before had the arrangement exceeded a week, but Gabriel Delgado had taken a shine to Brian and decided to keep him close. It bothered Brian that he hadn’t tried to fight Delgado very hard, the old him wouldn’t have cared that he had been seriously outnumbered with little chance of surviving a fight let alone escaping. But that was what five years with Valdez had done for him, tamed him, Gabriel called it. Turned out, was the prison slang. He’d never slept with a man before getting sent to prison, but Valdez had shown him the basics and praised him for being a natural so often that some days Brian truly forgot that this hadn’t been the life he chosen, that before hard cocks and strong arms holding him down there had been soft curves and warmth between a woman’s thighs. But even on days that he remembered in epic detail, it was always accompanied by the remembrance that he had wanted Dominic Toretto even while he had been bedding his sister. Maybe Gabriel’s bed was where he belonged, it had just taken prison and three guys holding him down the first time to show him the long denied truth.

Maybe.

~ DOMINIC ~

The street race had been announced an hour before, which hadn’t given Dom a lot of time to get there but he needed the cash. Despite the late announcement there were still over a hundred spectators and at least ten racers lined up hoping to see or get a piece of action. Of those ten Dom recognised seven, two were new and one was from out of town. He knew that newbies were no threat to him, he’d been racing the streets of Mexico City for three months now, but the unknown car worried him. Not enough for him to consider withdrawing from the race, he wasn’t a pussy after all.

“Hey, Miguel, what’s with the new cars? Drivers check out?” Dom asked as he drove up to the start line got out of the car and leaned against the body.

“Relax, hermano, this is Mexico not LA. Everyone here checks out. Are you racing for cash or pink slips?” Miguel asked. Miguel was a short man, about five four on a good day, and he couldn’t race for shit even before he’d had his eye poked out by an angry drug dealer back when he had been a mule. Nowadays he earned his pay-check organising street races, taking ten percent of the winners profits unless it was a car then he asked for ten grand up front.

“Whatever is on offer. I’ve got enough cash with me to cover any possible losses,” Dom said, what he didn’t add was that what he had on him was needed desperately for the baby. Mia had no idea he was here and if she knew she would kick his ass for risking their savings on a race, pregnancy or no.

“You won’t need it, amigo!” Miguel chortled as Dom joined the mass of people surging around the drivers as they argued over money verses pink slips and bragged needlessly. As far as Dom was concerned a brag was meaningless, it wasn’t what you said it was how you drove your car that mattered. The two newbies were local, one was a scrawny looking kid with a t-shirt three sizes too big and a pink slip in his hand that was almost definitely the only thing he owned, and the other was a distant relation to the same family that run the drug cartel that had cut out Miguel’s eye. Dom wondered how he could stand to let the man live let alone allow him in the race, but he guess not everyone had the same thirst for vengeance he did. Not everybody felt that surge of irrepressible violence when faced with someone who’d caused him or his family harm.

The foreigner was also Hispanic, most likely Mexican although he spoke fluent American and his accent wasn’t very strong. It was possible the man had lived in America for some time, possibly even in California, before coming back across the border to either evade the law or because he had ties here. He was slick looking, a moneyed individual wearing clothes that cost more than Dom’s entire wardrobe and his sister’s, his dark hair was gelled back from a handsomely chiselled face that was marred by a livid scar running from his left cheekbone down to the centre of his neck. Someone had almost killed him. Dom hoped he wouldn’t have to wish they had finished the job. Done with watching he waded up to the man and help out his palm. “Dominic Toretto. You racing?”

The man turned to him in surprise, his eyes flashing with recognition which irked Dom since he still had no idea who the stranger was. Slowly, with an awful lot of consideration in the gesture, he reached his hand out and clasped Dom’s shaking it firmly but not cruelly. “Gabriel Delgado. I’ve heard of you, you are good. Why should I risk my car against a sure thing?” He asked.

Dom raised an eye brow at that. “Sure thing? Huh, I like those odds. But in answer to your question you should risk your car on me because otherwise you’re a pussy, and no one is a sure thing, not really,” Dom added. It was true, he was good admittedly but he didn’t win every race, there were always factors to consider and just because he hadn’t met someone who could take him down all the time didn’t mean he wouldn’t run into one sooner or later.

“A pussy? Well I can’t have my reputation going down the drain so soon. I’ve only been in town for a week. Okay, I’ll race you, or more accurately my boy will race you in my car. Is ten minutes enough for you to clear it with Miguel?” He asked.

“Sure,” Dom nodded and went to find Miguel.

“You want to race Delgado? Seriously? His boy is good, Dom, he hasn’t lost yet,” Miguel shared with him when he told him of his plans.

“Thought he was new in town, he already got himself a rep?” Dom asked.

“He’s been on the racing scene a few years now, although he never races he sponsors poor racers who need a good car, he takes 70% of the profits and they use their share to save up until they don’t need him anymore,” Miguel explained.

“What’s with the whole ‘my boy’ thing?” Dom was more curious about this stranger than he had been in a while, but it was good to check things over.

“Well, what I heard is that he likes to fuck men, and that is part of the deal as well, but don’t quote me I need this eye, I don’t need no more angry Mexicans on my back.”

“Sure thing,” Dom said and went off to prep his car for the race. That was until he saw Delgado’s car draw up, and realised who was in the front seat. “Fuck no!” Dom yelled, cutting the engine and storming out of his car over to Delgado who looked amused. Dom paid no attention to Brian as he slowly ambled over, surprisingly quiet for a man who was about to have his cover blown. “I’m not racing no cop!” He said, loud enough for only Miguel, Brian and Delgado to hear him.

Miguel looked shocked and sent worried glances from Brian to Delgado and back to Dom again. Delgado merely looked amused. “I can assure you that O’Connor is no longer with the police or any law enforcement agency.”

He sounded so sure that Dom almost believed him, but he remembered a time when he had believed Brian over his own best friend. Brian was nothing but a consummate liar. “You know this for a fact?” Dom challenged him.

“I do. I met Brian after he spent some time in prison, a good friend of mine gave him my number if he should ever need any assistance on the outside. Not everyone adjusts well to normal life after being inside,” Delgado revealed. Incredulous he looked back at Brian who hovered almost nervously on the edge of the small group. His skin was several shades paler than it had been when he’d last seen him and it was possible that a few years in lock up would do that to him, his hair was still dyed blond but it was a different shade and had grown longer, he was skinner and tenser. Dom couldn’t tell if it was just a well planned act or truth.

“I’m still not sure I believe you, and until I do I’m not racing,” Dom claimed.

Delgado nodded. “Brian, show Senor Toretto your tattoo.” It was clear this was a command, not a negotiation. Dom looked at Brian who seemed to have turned three shades paler in the last few minutes. His eyes seemed to be begging for a reprieve but reluctantly he lifted his tee, turned around and let Dom see the brand on his skin. It had been burnt into his skin, probably using a lighter and a biro, and was clearly a prison tattoo. The word it spelt out was ‘prag’, which Dom knew from his time in lock up was prison slang for ‘prison fag’, usually referring to someone who was unwilling or who traded their body for protection. Brian had been straight, as far as Dom had known, and he had been a cop so he was betting that it had been mostly un-consensual.

“Alright. I believe you,” Dom allowed.

“Good, then you won’t mind racing then will you? Unless it is you who wishes to be called the pussy?” Delgado asked.

Dom had to laugh at that. “I’ll race,” he said.

“Perfect. Brian you may cover up now and return to the car. Miguel will start the race in just a moment,” Delgado said, doling out orders like he was used to them being followed. Dom noted how Brian had kept his shirt off until he had been given permission to replace it, which he did so eagerly before running back to his car. Dom shook his head and followed, getting in his own car.

“Ready?” Miguel shouted once their engines were both on. “Steady, go!” And they were off.

~ BRIAN ~

That Dom won was no surprise for Brian, but it did irritate him. It would mean that he would have to get in Gabriel’s good graces quickly or risk not being fed for a few days, followed by months of work on a new car to get it ready for racing. Gabriel refused to indulge Brian if it wasn’t profitable for him. And losing this car would be more than Brian was worth, he knew well.

“Congratulations, Senor Toretto, you are quiet the racer,” Gabriel said, an edge to his tone.

Dom shook hands with Gabriel in acknowledgement of the statement. “Thank you.”

“The pink slip for the car is with Miguel. Here are the keys,” he took them from Brian and handed them to Dom, who just looked at them.

“I don’t want the car,” Dom said, surprising both Brian and Gabriel.

“What do you want then?” Gabriel asked, clearly curious.

“Him,” Dom said, pointing at Brian.

Brian felt his blood freeze and his heart miss several beets. He guessed this was the end of the line, the time when Dom finally got to take his revenge on Brian for screwing up his family.

Gabriel chuckled. “He is worth a lot less to me than the car, although I will miss his mouth.” He admitted and turned to Brian, taking his chin in his hand and forcing Brian to meet Gabriel's eyes, an occurrence that rarely ever took place. “You belong to Toretto, now, Brian. Do not shame me or Valdez, understand?”

Brian nodded. He knew what was expected of him, although it was obvious that Gabriel did not know the past between Brian and Dom. If he did then he would not need to warn Brian because he would understand that Brian will soon be dead.

“Go now, mi bello, you are free of me,” Gabriel told him, his voice full of regret at their premature parting.

Brian was free. Free to die at Dom's hands, with no one to mourn him or even report his death. Not that anyone would find his corpse. While Brian was sure that Dom didn't take pleasure in killing and hadn't ever done so in the past, he was equally sure that Dom knew how to make sure Brian's body was never found.

With all these morbid thoughts dancing around in Brian's head, he followed Dom.

“Get in,” Dom said gruffly when they stopped next to the car Dom had just raced in. Brian opened the passenger door and climbed in, admiring the car even as he did so. Dom took a moment before he joined Brian, and all Brian could assume was that Dom was having buyers remorse, after all Gabriel's car was nothing to turn ones nose up at, kitted out with all the latest technology. Still, Brian guessed that Dom valued revenge over another ten second car. He didn't blame the man.

They drove away from the races in silence. Brian knew better than to speak without permission and besides he was pretty sure he didn't have anything to say that Dom wanted to hear. What could he tell the man? That he was sorry, that he had served his time and he'd been punished for his crimes? Nothing would satisfy Dom, he was sure of it, nothing but the feel of his wind pipe collapsing under the pressure of Dom's hands squeezing his throat.

An hour later they were in the middle of nowhere and Dom pulled over. This was exactly the type of location in which Brian had figured that Dom would end him. No witnesses, no trace. Nothing to tie Dom to the location, and no reason for them to connect a desecrated corpse to Brian O'Connor, should his body ever be discovered.

“I don't forgive you,” was the first thing that Dom said.

The sound of his voice startled Brian, but he stayed still, unmoving waiting for the order, or the blow, to come and finish him.

“Doesn't mean I wanted you to see lock up. It can't have been easy, pretty boy like you surrounded by a thousand horny criminals. And a cop, too. Like I said, I don't forgive you, but I don't think there is anything left to do to you that would be so bad that it could make up for how you betrayed me,” Dom added, still not looking at Brian, almost like he couldn't bare to.

Brian was confused. Dom wasn't going to kill him or beat the shit out of him? What was he going to do then?

“I'm going to let you go.”

Brian was shocked enough to turn and face Dom.

“I mean it, Brian. Get the fuck out of my car. I don't want to see you again. Like Delgado said, you're free,” Dom said.

Brian hurried to obey, practically falling out of the car in his haste. Dom leaned over and pulled the door shut, and the next thing Brian knew Dom was driving away, the car kicking up dust that stung his eyes. That was why he was crying, Brian assured himself. No other reason. After all, he was free now.

Of course there was nothing more frightening to him than the concept of total and utter freedom. What the hell was he going to do now?