When Dom told him to head for Vince’s place in Rio and handed him a scrappy piece of paper with the address on it, he felt his heart begin to race. It had been nearly ten years since he’d seen Vince at the hospital when he’d thought he was going to get decked right then and there. Vince’d screamed at him so loud the nurses had called security and as Brian begged him to listen he’d popped some stiches trying to pull tubes out of himself so he could get across the room and beat the ever living shit out of him. He’d made it two steps before passing out on the floor. They’d asked him not to come back. And he hadn’t.
He’d kept tabs on his progress though; he wasn’t a cop for nothing. When he knew Vince was going to survive; he’d made a run for it heading cross country. He couldn’t give evidence against him he just couldn’t. He’d managed to stay off the radar for nearly five years before Bilkins caught up to him in Miami; by then Vince was living the high life somewhere in South America. When they blackmailed him into joining the Verone operation they never mentioned him giving evidence for the LA job and neither did he. It was like a mutual amnesia between him and the FBI.
He did everything they asked him to and more. No-one expected the dukes of hazard ending but he was a loose cannon, that was why he did so well racing. He’d lost everything when he left LA and he was living his life ten seconds at a time. With nothing to lose and his newly recovered best friend sat next to him they went above and beyond the call of duty. He shouldn’t have been surprised when the FBI came knocking and recruited him to their training programme at Quantico.
It was only then, pushed to exhaustion by the training regime that he stopped wondering about Vince so much. He started spending his free time studying rather than racing; it was definitely a healthier use of his time and eventually he found he could get through whole days, eventually weeks without thinking about him. Even though the death wish faded he was still the craziest recruit they had.
When he was working for the LA field office, finally having paid his dues, Letty turned up and shortly after Dom and everything went to shit again. He just couldn’t think straight around any member of the team. Now he was a fugitive again; and there was no coming back from it this time. But it was different now, this time he was with the person he’d done it for.
So now as he parked the car and looked up at the nasty looking shacks they hoped were Vince’s he felt his mouth going dry as he took Mia’s hand.
Vince welcomed them into his home and fed them. When they got inside they found Dom had arrived two days earlier. Dom took them one in each arm and pulled them tight against him. Brian felt a thread of awkwardness wind through him as he saw Vince watching Dom stroke him like a precious object recovered unexpectedly intact.
Vince was silent as he watched them chow down like starving wolves; Mia filling Dom in on the journey. When they’d finished Rosa took her off to put Nico to bed and they sat around drinking bottled beer and catching up. After a while Dom excused himself on some pretence that was so flimsy he may as well have said “You guys need to talk” as he stood up. He kissed Brian gently on the lips and wrapped a hand around Vince’s neck pressing a kiss into the top of his head as well.
The easy going banter that had existed only moments before, left with Dom. Brian picked nervously at the label on his beer bottle wondering how to start this long overdue conversation. Vince watched him from hooded eyes for a few seconds and then took a breath and started.
“Took me a long time to work out that you did your best to save us from ourselves” shaking his head ruefully he added “We were fools to think no-one would work out it was us.”
“Ultimately you got away with it V” Brian said flatly.
“Jesse didn’t” he said quietly
Brian didn’t have a response for that; he felt the guilt for Jesse’s death gnaw at his stomach.
Was Vince gonna throw every painful detail in his face? He raised troubled eyes to Vince’s and saw only understanding and shared grief at the loss of a brother. There was no accusation in his face.
“I shoulda let you explain in the hospital.” Vince said “I was just so fucking angry with you and scared too; couldn’t remember if I’d told you stuff that could get the others in more trouble. I didn’t realise you’d already thrown everything away on us.”
Brian tried to think of something to say to that summary of the situation.
“I should’ve trusted you; like I promised you I would” Brian could barely hear Vince as he said this last it was said so low; like it was a dark secret he’d kept for the ten years they’d been apart.
Brian swallowed hard suddenly finding that there was a lump in his throat. Ten years waiting to give Vince his side of the story and now he finally had the opportunity and Vince had already forgiven him.
“There’s too much water under the bridge since then V. Don’t think about it. You can’t change the past”
“You’re right; I can’t. But I wanted you to know I tried to find you back then, to make it right.” Vince took hold of his hand where it was sat on the table between them and Brian froze at their first physical contact since the airlift.
“By the time I worked out you’d torpedoed your career over us, you were long gone. I didn’t even know your real name till Dom told me; I think that was about a year later.” Vince sounded like he was remembering that conversation “No way I could find you by then. Dom wanted to try a private eye or something, but I wouldn’t let him. No point by then I thought”
Brian stared at the place where their hands were joined. His hand felt hot where Vince was holding it and he just wanted this connection to last forever. Finally he wrenched his eyes away from it and looked up.
“It took me a long time to get over you” he said in an almost whisper “But I am. Over you. And I’m with Dom now; you’re with Rosa. And you’re a father; fuck!” he swore gently battling to hold the tears that were building at bay “That’s the most important thing you’re ever gonna do V. Don’t waste any more time thinking about what could’ve been.”
Brian drew his hand away and stood up. He felt cold without Vince’s warmth leaching into him and he desperately wanted to put his hand back in Vince’s. Shaking himself he realised he had to get out of this room before he did something unforgiveable.
“We weren’t meant to be” he said through a thick throat as he backed out of the room and made for the bedroom he was sharing with Dom.
Vince watched him go and finished off his beer in one long swig. Regrets and ghosts from the past tapped at his shoulder. He shook them off and clamped down on the part of his heart that had always belonged to Brian. Then he flicked off the light and went to kiss his son before he lay down next to the woman he shared his life with now.
Tomorrow he’d have to put on a smile as Dom put his hands on what could have been his, if only he’d been a better man back then.
But right now, tonight, he was gonna pretend the soft body in his arms was harder, more muscled with a head of blonde hair and blue eyes that saw straight through to his soul. He was gonna fall asleep pretending he could smell engine oil and dried salt from swimming in the sea and then he was gonna dream that he could reach back across ten years and have his golden haired surfer boy smiling up at him again.