It was a joke between him and Letty when Brian first got assigned to the campaign: they’d met the Secret Service team together and it had been all Dom could do not to look over at her as Han said, “Governor, this is Agent Brian O’Conner, he’ll be the head of your personal detail.”
“Well, now you really have to win,” Letty said that night, laughing deep and throaty after Dom fucked her twice even though they’d been through three cities that day. “Shit, Toretto. Do you think somebody knows?”
“If they know and this is their idea of what to do about it, I’m not complaining,” Dom said. He didn’t tell Letty she didn’t have anything to worry about, because she knew that just fine. “Jesus, he’s pretty.”
A couple of weeks later, Letty was making even more fun of him and getting laid like she’d never had it since they’d been twenty and stuck on base in Afghanistan, because Brian wasn’t just pretty, he was sharp and fast and completely fucking fearless. Dom had gotten used to people taking shit from him and yesing him all over the place the last six years in the governor’s mansion, and he’d never paid a lot of attention to Vince’s attempts to get him to follow security restrictions. When Brian said, “You can’t walk that line until I’ve secured it,” Dom said, “Yeah, forget that,” and Brian shrugged and said cheerfully, “I don’t secure it, you don’t go out.”
Dom said, “What are you planning to do about it?” Brian just looked at him. “What, you’re going to try to tie me up or something?”
That got Brian looking offended. “Try?”
“Okay, O’Conner, let’s see what you’ve got,” Dom said, because it had been fifteen years since the Marines, but he’d kept in shape.
It turned out Brian had plenty, along with a pair of handcuffs he slipped onto Dom’s wrist after they’d gone a couple of rounds to the total horror of the five staff members around. While Dom glared at him in outrage, Brian grinned and said, “I’ll just go clear that line, Governor. Back in fifteen!”
Dom had yelled after him, “You’re fucking fired!” while yanking uselessly at the handcuffs and the solid brass doorknob.
“No, I’m not!” Brian yelled back over his shoulder, and yeah, okay, he wasn’t.
The funny thing was, that really was when Dom started to win. He felt sharper, hotter. His speeches came out tighter, and he did better on the lines; people picked it up from him, maybe, that he was charged up. The polls started going up to match his gut, and they just kept going, until five weeks out from the convention he was stumping in Texas, and Brian tackled him away from the podium just as the gunshots went off over his head. People were screaming in the stands, and Brian rolled him off the whole stage onto a pile of hay bales that Dom had thought were just scenic bullshit. “Shooter at eleven o’clock,” Brian was already yelling into his earpiece, and Dom didn’t even get to say what the fuck before Brian had shoved him at six guys from his team and was running off.
Letty rushed into the hotel room and nearly knocked him over four hours later, as fast as the helicopter from Houston could get her there. Brian came back about half an hour after that, suit scuffed up and disheveled, looking pissed off, and she finally let go of Dom to grab him and kiss the hell out of him, which left Brian looking a little red and also pleased with himself instead, grinning at Dom a little like hey, check me out.
But he was still mad, too: the shooter had ended up dead, which meant he hadn’t gotten to ask questions. He wanted to stay and track down the guy’s whole background, but Letty wouldn’t let him. “I want you with Dom every fucking minute of the day from now on,” she said, and Brian said, “Yeah, okay,” agreeing with her. “I just don’t trust Stasiak to get it. He’s written the guy off in his own head, he thinks it was just a lone whacko.”
“You can come back and get it figured out after Dom’s in the goddamn White House with forty guys covering him,” Letty said, and they all stopped talking, because that was the first time they really got it, that they were going to win this thing, and it was also the first time it became clear that a lot of people were seriously going to be trying to kill Dom from now on.
He locked up the nomination with the next round of primaries, and after that President Shaw was dead in his sights—and vice versa. Dom had no illusions left after ten years in politics, but the first few weeks of mudslinging managed to destroy a few of them anyway. Shaw kept his own hands looking clean, but the PACs on his side went after everyone on Dom’s team. It wasn’t even big stuff: there wasn’t any big stuff to get. They went for anything, any small and vicious bullshit they could get their hands on, trying to throw them off their game, find something that would stick. They dug up Han’s parking tickets and got him arrested overnight in South Carolina; they tried to go after Mia’s malpractice cases, except she had about half the average of the usual obstetrician, and even the patients who’d sued her had just done it for the insurance money and wouldn’t talk to them. They rehashed the story from the campaign for governor, the one about the fistfight Dom had gotten into at nineteen with the driver who’d ended Dad’s career, the one that had gotten him kicked off the track himself and left him with nothing to do except get in trouble, and they even scraped up bits and pieces of the trouble he’d gotten into, found a couple of guys who talked about the street racing.
“What do you guys want me to do, admit every embarrassing thing I ever did?” Dom said, in the interview after that one. “That’s your job, dig it up yourselves. I’ve never made a secret of it, I got a little wild back in the day. But Letty and the Marines kicked me into shape.”
The bad guys dropped that one quick, because his polls actually went up a little in the red states and with the 18-55 guys demographic that they needed to keep on their side. Instead they went after Letty, got pictures of her kissing a girl at a college bar and tried to sell it she was bi and a cheater, living it up on the G.I. Bill while Dom had been on that fourth tour, called up out of the reserves.
Dom laughed that one off hard enough to make his stomach hurt, and that night he and Letty privately bought a bottle of champagne and split it in their hotel room, because it meant the other side didn’t know: they’d never have spiked the big gun like that if they’d had it. “Even if they get it now, they won’t be able to use it without looking like they’re just making the same shit up,” Letty said jubilantly, and then she added sternly, “Not that you get to fuck him anyway, Toretto, so don’t get any ideas and make me kick your ass.”
“Yeah, okay,” Dom said a little wistfully. He couldn’t help suggesting a little, “We could—”
“We can’t,” Letty said, more seriously, and yeah, he knew she was right. That was the deal he’d made with himself and her back when they’d started down this road; it was too late to regret it now. He couldn’t do that to Brian anyway: as unfair as anything would have been, ask him to get into something like that, even if Brian looked at him sometimes like it could’ve been on the table—like he could’ve been on the table, and yeah, wasn’t that a nice image. But Dom wasn’t a twenty year old who couldn’t keep a leash on it, either above or below the neck, so it was going to stay a nice image.
Nine weeks out from the election, Letty had to split off for two solid weeks of fundraising, which Dom had no time to do anymore. She didn’t like going; she gave Dom an hour-long lecture about not doing a damn thing unless Brian said it was safe, and told Brian to call her cell if Dom gave him any trouble about it. She didn’t get on the road until two hours behind schedule, right up to the minute Dom had to go on stage to give his speech.
He came off an hour later, wild cheering behind him, grinning victoriously, and Brian wasn’t there. There were eight of his guys around instead of the usual four, and as soon as Dom came down one of them was saying, “Governor, we need to secure your location, no press.”
“No press?” Gisele demanded. “Are you joking? He just delivered a major speech, I have twenty embedded reporters waiting!”
“No press,” the guy repeated, if a little nervously—Gisele had that effect on people—and Dom said, “Is that from Brian?” and when he got a nod he let them put him in a back room down in the basement, all the guys on the door outside.
“This is absurd!” Gisele was saying as she paced the room back and forth like a caged tiger. “What do they think the reporters are going to do to you? And they won’t even tell me when they’ll let you out!” Brian came in, then, and she wheeled on him. “I’m losing the entire news cycle thanks to—”
“Get out,” Brian said, harsher than Dom had ever heard him, stone cold. There was a dark smudge across his face, and he smelled like smoke, like burning gasoline, and Gisele stared at him and left—or she had to have left, because she wasn’t in the room anymore when Brian took the next step towards him, but Dom didn’t know for sure, because his heart was already pounding somewhere inside his skull, even before Brian said, “Dom—” the first time Brian had ever said his name, had ever called him anything but Governor Toretto, always so fucking correct, Jesus, no, and Dom said, “Tell me she’s in the hospital. Tell me,” and then Brian reached him and pulled him into his arms, and didn’t say anything at all.
Two cars had sideswiped the semi from the right, knocked it over right onto the motorcade in the left lane. Street racers who’d lost control, and they’d taken off as fast as they’d come to avoid getting arrested—maybe, except he could tell Brian didn’t believe it, and when Dom said, “Why Letty? Why the fuck would they go after Letty?” Brian hesitated, and finally he said, “Her motorcade was late leaving. Your speech was scheduled for an hour earlier until this morning,” and Dom put his hands over his face with an animal noise of horror: they’d wanted him.
He made Brian take him to the scene. The fire had been put out, but the cars and the semi were still smoking, thin wisps rising from the blackened hulks. The whole right side of the middle car was smashed flat under the semi’s trailer. He stayed inside Brian’s car, invisible behind the smoked glass: that had been Brian’s condition. The press was already there, swarming as close as the cops would let them, helicopters hovering overhead: they’d gotten there about the same time he’d finished his speech. No worries about the fucking news cycle, Dom thought, and he was laughing and crying into his hands at the same time when Brian peeled out and took him back to the hotel.
Dom spent the whole next day in bed. He had to: bed was the only place it felt real. In the last twenty years, he’d never gone to sleep without Letty’s voice in his ear, if not Letty next to him. He lay alone in the dark for twenty-four hours straight, with the blackout shades drawn, the phone silent on the end table, pillow cold next to him, and when the next morning came, he finally believed Letty was dead.
But not just dead. They’d killed her, trying to take him out. He didn’t know who they were, but he knew he was going to end them, every last one of them, so he got up and took a shower and put on the next day’s suit and stalked out of the bedroom door. Brian looked up from a chair next to the door, unshaven and with red eyes, the smudges still on his face. “Go get some rest,” Dom said. “We’ll be back on the road soon,” and Brian nodded and got up and went.
The whole staff was wrecked almost as bad as Dom was, maybe even worse. Most of them had never been on a battlefield, lost guys before. Letty had been the fire under all of them, him included; she’d hired half these guys at least. Dom called the senior people into his room, the ones he trusted like nobody else: Han and Gisele, Leo and Santos, Leon and Vince and Jesse: his people, his team—and he told them flat out, “I want you all to know, right now in this room, that Letty was murdered by people who don’t want me to be President. So we’re going to win this fucking election, and after we do that, we’re going to do every goddamn thing they’re afraid of me doing: we’re going to get them, and we’re going to pull the feeding trough out from under the guys who paid for them to do this, like we’ve promised all the way.”
Their faces hardened, and they nodded, with him, and Dom said, “That’s for the people in here, only. Outside this room, I need you all to believe that Letty—” He had to stop before he could say it, “—that Letty died in a car accident, the kind of thing that happens to thousands of Americans every year. We’re not going to give the time of day to anyone talking conspiracy theory, we’re not going to let this get turned into a celebrity death story. We’re going to honor her will and her fight, and we’re going to win this election for her, and carry out the policies she believed in.”
They all nodded: they were all with him, his people, Letty’s people, and he was so fucking proud of them. “We’re taking three days off from the campaign for the funeral, and then we’re back on the road. That’s it,” he said, and all of them went back to work, faces hardened with purpose, and he saw the whole staff catch it from them, knowing they were still in the race, knowing they were going for it.
Brian slept for five hours, and after that he didn’t leave Dom’s side for the rest of the campaign. He slept when Dom slept, on a cot on the floor of his bedroom; he had people watching Dom’s food get made and he had three guys on Dom for the half hour he took every day to shower and shave and get dressed, which he mostly managed to cut down to twenty minutes. “O’Conner, don’t you have a goddamn mother?” Dom demanded, after Brian refused to take so much as a day off, and Brian said flatly, “Nobody’s trying to kill my mother.”
Mostly the press weren’t complete assholes about it, which was all Dom could say for them. Every way the story could get spun, it got spun. Every way the Republicans could try to use it against him, they did: he was unbalanced by grief, or he wasn’t grieving enough; if he’d loved his wife he’d have quit the race, or he loved her too much and couldn’t be trusted to handle the reins now she was gone. The conspiracy theories were everywhere: the one time Dom lost it was the reporter who managed to get into the funeral and shoved a recorder in his face on the way out and said, “Governor, there’s a report today that your wife had just learned you were cheating on her and was planning to leave you when she had her—accident; what’s your comment,” and Dom’s comment was to put a fist through the guy’s face as far as he could.
Brian pulled him off and hustled him into a car, and thank God California’s anti-paparazzi laws came down on his side. The video cameras had gotten all of it, including the guy’s question, and grotesquely his poll numbers jumped afterwards, like that had settled it for everybody: they’d decided yeah, he really had loved Letty, and he wasn’t being disrespectful of her memory to stick in the race. Thanks for fucking nothing.
That one time Dom thought about quitting, the morning when Gisele brought him the numbers. He’d gotten into all this because of Letty in the first place: her complaining to him about the shitty way the VA had been treating one of her pals, a girl whose guy had walked out on her after she’d gotten her leg shot off over there, left her with a half-finished degree and a kid and a mortgage she couldn’t pay. Dom had spent a couple of weeks trying to wrangle things for her until he got so pissed off at the bureaucracy he went to Congresswoman Reyes’s office and yelled at her staff members until they started paying attention, and after he’d squared away Gia’s situation, Reyes’ chief of staff had looked at him and said, “Have you considered running for office?”
Letty had laughed her ass off when he told her the story that night, and when she’d finished laughing her ass off she’d said, “Okay, so what are you going to run for?” and three days later he was putting together a campaign for city council, and everything had just rolled right on from there. And all the way, Letty had been the one with the long game in her head. He liked to take things one fight at a time: win one election, solve one problem, bash one issue down and move on to the next. They’d only just started collecting signatures for the long-shot run at the governor’s chair when Letty started talking about the White House, and he’d thought she was kidding.
Then about three years into being governor, Han had shown up at a policy roundtable, made three suggestions that solved about seven different problems at the same time, and when Dom had asked him, joking, what job he wanted, Han had shrugged and said, “Head of the exploratory committee now, chief of staff later,” and Dom had realized holy shit, he was running for President, and he’d stormed off to yell at Letty about it.
“Not my fault you’re slow, Toretto,” she’d said, rolling her eyes—Dom could hear her voice clear as a bell, and fuck, he couldn’t cry, because he couldn’t start that again or he’d never stop.
“Governor?” Gisele said, uncertainly, and Dom said roughly, “Yeah, it’s good news,” and after she left, Dom closed his eyes and rested his head against his hands. Brian silently put his hand on Dom’s shoulder, warm and hard, and Dom managed to choke down the knot in his throat. He put a hand on Brian’s, thanks, and straightened up. Quitting wasn’t an option, anyway. Letty would’ve kicked his ass for it.
He didn’t really know what to do with himself during the transition. He’d won this fight, but he wasn’t allowed to start in on the next one yet. Yeah, putting together a staff, but Han was doing ninety percent of that, and Dom didn’t feel any need to interfere beyond signing off. He went where Han told him to go: did a lot of dinners, met a lot of D.C. people, missing Letty like a sore tooth the whole time, a pain he couldn’t help poking at over and over like he needed to make sure it still hurt. She’d made all the glad-handing bearable, even a good time: trading a glance over the head of some greasy asshole who thought he was putting something over on them, knowing they’d be laughing about it together afterwards, in bed at night.
The women were after him, too, like anything. Letty hadn’t been in the ground for three months yet, you would’ve thought they’d have some fucking respect for that, but no: it seemed like it was the opposite, they all figured it was open season. Hell, it even made sense if you looked at it like political strategy: if anyone grabbed him now, she got to be instant First Lady, all the access and all the power without the years of shitwork in the trenches and the crap odds against it. They stopped short of groping him, but it wasn’t a lot short. A couple of times they nearly crossed the line: he’d see Brian move fast, on the edge of his peripheral vision, and there would be a small gasp somewhere behind him, someone whose hand had gotten grabbed.
And Christ, the worst part of it was his dick was ready to wake up again, even if the rest of him wasn’t. So he got back at night turned on and pissed off at the same time, to lie down in an empty bed and miss Letty all over again.
It hurt so much, sometimes he even thought about it, if maybe it would’ve been better to have somebody in the bed with him, let off steam if nothing else. He was seated next to the Brazilian ambassador at a concert one night, Elena Neves, and during the intermission she said, “I wanted to tell you I’m sorry for your loss,” which was the way it started about half the time, so he tensed up, but then she added quietly, “but she would be proud of what you’ve done, I think. That you stayed in the fight.” She looked over at the stage, and her own face was tight and sad. She was wearing all black, and a wedding ring. “I let the president make me ambassador, after my husband was killed. He didn’t want me around, stirring up trouble, and I—I wanted peace for myself, too. I needed it. But now—I think maybe I made the wrong choice.”
“Doesn’t mean you can’t get back in the ring,” he said, low, and she smiled at him a little. The intermission ended, and he sat through the second half silently wrestling with the idea of asking her to come back with him to the big, too-empty house in Arlington, the one they’d rented him for the transition. He could imagine it, the way he couldn’t really imagine going to bed with any of the chasers. Somebody who’d been there, who understood what it was like to lose not just the person you loved, but your partner, your brother in arms, the person who had your back, unquestioned—
He didn’t ask. It just felt too cheap. She’d handed him something real: he respected that, valued it, a whole lot more than a quick fuck and fifteen minutes of distraction. He kissed her cheek instead, and told her if she needed a hand in the good fight, he’d have her back when he could.
Then he went back to the house and jerked off in the shower and sat down on the toilet lid after and ran his hands over his head: Christ, he wanted a quick fuck and fifteen minutes of distraction, why wasn’t he just getting them? He went out into the bedroom half annoyed with himself.
All the shades were already closed, blackout curtains pulled, and Brian was doing one-arm pushups on the floor, gun lying on the ground near his head in easy reach. Dom had gotten rid of the cot, pointedly, but there was a couch at the foot of the bed, and Brian still somehow ended up there by morning most days. Officially he had the bedroom next door, and he even took a couple hours off to get a haircut now and then when it grew past regulation-length, but he wasn’t all that much happier just because Dom had gotten elected and there were another twenty Secret Service agents on duty.
“O’Conner, you’re making me tired looking at you,” Dom said. “Get out of here and go to sleep, will you? Nobody’s going to shoot me tonight.”
“Yeah, and there you go jinxing it,” Brian said, standing up. He didn’t leave the room, though, hesitating, and when Dom looked at him, Brian said abruptly, “If you wanted us to get someone in here,” and then he stopped and looked away, his face tight. “There are secure ways to do it,” he said finally.
Christ, practically offering it to him on a plate, and Dom wanted to hug Brian and punch him at the same time, because nothing could’ve made it more clear that he didn’t want it. He turned away to toss his shirt over a chair and said roughly, “Forget it.”
“Dom,” Brian said. “You really think she’d want—” He stopped and blew out a breath.
“It’s not about that,” Dom said.
“Then what?” Brian said: so he’d noticed Dom wanting it, apparently. Dom could cover about as well as anybody after all this time in the game, but he didn’t try to cover with Brian. Brian was always there, anyway; it would’ve been like hiding from his own right arm.
And Brian was right, too: Letty wouldn’t have wanted; Letty would’ve told him to get himself laid and get his head back in the game. But the second Dom thought about it like something really happening: a stranger coming in here with him, smiling and ready to do anything he wanted—all he could think of was Letty yelling at him for not going down on her long enough, and his stomach turned. That was what he wanted, and it was gone.
“You get used to living with a world-class chef, you don’t want to go to McDonald’s anymore,” Dom said flatly. “It’s not food, it’s just—cardboard and filler. I can’t take that shit. There’s nothing there, O’Conner, you get it? There’s nothing goddamn there—”
His voice was rising, his fists clenched; he was half-blind with it all of a sudden: so fucking angry and so fucking sad, twisted up and helpless. And Brian was staring at him with his own jaw clenched tight, and then he was reaching up, jerking his own tie loose, never taking his eyes away. Dom sucked in a hard desperate breath and took a step to meet him as Brian crossed the room to him, and they were kissing.
It wasn’t the same thing: it wasn’t anything like the same thing, but it wasn’t anything like fucking McDonald’s, either. Dom jerked Brian’s shirt open, a couple of buttons popping loose, and Brian was backing him into the bed, both of them falling onto it, mattress squeaking with their weight. Brian’s body was hard and lean on top of him—fuck, Brian was taller than him.
Brian sat up on his knees and stripped his shirt off, pulled his undershirt off over his head. Dom was already down to pajama pants, naked underneath: he grabbed at Brian’s belt and got it open, and they heaved themselves up together, shoving Brian’s pants off him, getting all the way onto the bed. Dom couldn’t get enough of touching him, sliding his hands over the miles of smooth hard muscle. This was like—something he hadn’t had in twenty years but still remembered the taste, still wanted it, and fuck, Brian was sliding down his body and pulling Dom’s pajamas down, and Dom gripped Brian’s head with his hands and let his eyes shut.
He came fast: he didn’t try to hold back. He wanted it, wanted to let go. Brian came back up, wild-eyed and panting, and Dom pulled him in, kissed him hard, said, “Go find something.” Brian groaned against his mouth and then was gone, vanished into the bathroom to rummage. Dom put his hands against his eyes, his whole body unwinding, tight knot of physical pain loosening up. All the reasons this was stupid were still right there, and all the reasons this was unfair, and there were more of them now that Letty was gone. But Brian came back to the bed, got on him, kissed him, and Dom didn’t give a shit. He was so starved, and this was food; this was life. “Just tell me you’ve had at least one thought about this,” he said, gripping Brian by the shoulders, holding on to him for one moment: that was as much as he could make himself do right now.
Brian laughed, almost choking. “Jesus, Dom, I’ve had six months of fucking thoughts,” he said, and Dom pulled him down, pulled him in, and quit thinking about anything at all.
The funny thing was they couldn’t have set it up better if they’d tried. Nobody guessed. Brian already slept in his bedroom most of the time, and he’d trained the entire staff to text him for approval before they came through the door in the morning. He left a sheet and a pillow on the couch, and nobody figured out he was sleeping in Dom’s bed. Dom kept expecting Gisele to say something to him, but not even she figured it out, and it wasn’t like he was going to volunteer to her that he was fucking his Secret Service agent, even if probably he should have.
The common wisdom said you only got to be president for the first hundred days, but Dom didn’t believe in blowing everything he had coming out of the gate. He couldn’t get anything done at first anyway, the Republicans had Congress and wouldn’t give him shit, and maybe there was a guy who could have cut deals and made nice and gotten some half-assed version of his agenda through, but Dom wasn’t that guy. Instead he put out executive orders and threw around vetoes left and right, nominated left-wing judges and bullied the Democrats in Congress to put out one bill after another that weren’t going anywhere, and then he went on TV and stumped around the country yelling about it.
It was two years until the midterms, but he started campaigning anyway for any election he could find: statehouse reps and local judges, school boards about to tip the wrong way, every special election, penny-ante stuff no president had ever wasted his time on. He woke up one night after dreaming about Letty glaring at him and started a tour of every VA hospital in the country starting with the worst ones: he didn’t let them know he was coming, just showed up without warning and got heads rolling, so they all cleaned up their fucking acts.
When the other guys talked about him being unpresidential, wasting his time, he did a late-night show half to spite them and said he’d never leave DC if he could get any goddamn work done there, but until the American people gave him a Congress he could work with, he wasn’t going to just sit around the White House being decorative: he was going to throw his support behind the people who could get things done.
His polls went down for the first two months, and for a while the incumbents were begging him not to visit their districts, but Dom trusted his gut and kept going, and little by little the numbers started to turn around. He’d shaken a hell of a lot of hands, and talked so much his voice got even rougher than it already was, and people liked a politician who didn’t listen to polls, so what if that didn’t make sense. And when his numbers did start creeping back up, they pulled all the blue numbers up along with them.
A year out from the midterms, he called his staff together, got a list of all the long-shot candidates in every red district in the country, put them in order by how much he liked them instead of what their odds were, and started visiting. He got them all in their local papers, raised money for them, introduced them to the big shots and the rich people in their own districts who wanted to shake the President’s hand even if he was a Democrat, and gave them all a kick in the pants besides, made them believe they had a chance and they had to work at it for real, which was maybe the most important part of the thing.
Brian was with him the whole time, everywhere. Letty had needed to travel apart from him most of the time, especially once the serious campaigning started: she was a whole separate big gun in their arsenal. She had shitloads of her own work to do, projects and people wanting her time. Nobody expected Brian to do anything except be on him, forty hours a week plus overtime—and it was some overtime, even if you just counted the hours they actually paid him for and not the other ones where his bosses had just given up trying to send him home.
It helped just having him around, a rock in the ocean of faces, but that was nothing next to what it meant to have him every night, getting to let go with someone in every way. Brian had a wild streak a mile wide that he let out as soon as he took off his suit and tie, happy to try anything, do anything. Once they were in bed, he didn’t give a shit about Dom being the President; he’d fuck with Dom and fuck him at the same time. Dom loved getting a little rough with him, getting manhandled himself, no worries about the bruises with suit jackets to hide them; he loved falling into bed next to Brian wiped out and half-asleep already after an eighteen hour day, just a few groggy kisses before he sank under, knowing he’d be there in the morning.
And nobody even knew he had it, knew what Brian was giving him, and it started driving Dom crazy the better and better his numbers got, the closer the polls got to handing him everything he needed to really start moving shit along, until one night in bed he said harshly, staring at the ceiling and trying not to feel like he was betraying Letty, “We could come out.”
Brian was lying sprawled and beautiful over the sheets next to him, on his stomach, his whole body still shining with sweat and his eyes closed. He didn’t even open them, just snorted.
“I mean it,” Dom said sharply, and then Brian finally did crack one eye to peer at him and make sure Dom really did mean it, and then he sat up so fast looking so horrified Dom blinked and leaned back.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Brian said. “That’s not funny, Dom, I will dump your ass, I swear to God. What the fuck. You think they’re going to let me stay on your detail if I’m dating you? Shit, they’ll probably just fire me.”
That part hadn’t occurred to Dom. “You could—” he started, but Brian just stared at him pointedly and okay, Dom didn’t have an ending for that sentence that he could actually imagine working. There was no way around it: anybody he dated would be in for it anyway, and if he made Brian the First Gay Boyfriend, it would be a whole new level.
He fell silent, trying to figure out what the hell he even felt: pissed off, mainly, like he’d tried to give Brian something and it had turned out to be crap. And then suddenly Brian was cupping Dom’s face in his hands, pulling him in, kissing him, and maybe Dom had given him something after all.
“You’re fucking crazy, Dom,” he said, which was something coming from him, but his voice was soft saying it, between kisses.
Dom kept taking laps around the country, focusing on the real horse-race districts now. There were a lot more of those than anybody had expected there to be, two years ago. Days kept ticking away, the numbers kept ticking up, and the Republicans were finally starting to get scared, noticing him coming up from behind too late to do anything about it.
Two days before the elections, he came out of a meeting in the Oval Office before heading to a dinner, and Brian wasn’t outside waiting for him. “We have to go, sir,” one of his aides said.
“Not without Brian,” Dom said, and his secretary looked up and said, “Agent O’Conner stepped out to talk to another Secret Service agent. I think they went into the blue room,” and Dom threw his staff for a loop and walked down the hall to find him. Brian was coming out of the room as Dom reached it, and his face looked rigid. “What’s going on?” Dom said.
Brian hesitated, then he said, “I need to take two weeks’ vacation.”
Dom didn’t even dignify that with an answer, just grabbed Brian by the arm and hauled him right back into the room: there was another agent in there, eyes darting to Dom’s face anxiously, a shorter guy Dom recognized only vaguely: he wasn’t in the regular detail. Dom kicked the door shut. “Start talking,” he said.
But Brian jerked a hand out towards the other guy, keeping him quiet, and told Dom flatly, “Mr. President, I need a leave of absence to pursue an ongoing situation.”
Dom stared at him. What did that even mean, someone had caught them and Brian was planning a murder, or what? He couldn’t tell from Brian’s face. He looked at the other guy: he’d been with them in the early campaign, hadn’t he? Stasiak, that was the name, and he’d been looking into—the shooter. The first shooter.
“Please, sir,” Brian added, and Brian never said please, except in bed sometimes, with Dom pinning his wrists against the bed.
Dom glared at him furiously. “O’Conner, if you get yourself hurt, I swear to God I’m going to make sure you do get fired, you understand what I’m saying?”
Brian glared back a little indignantly, knowing exactly what Dom was threatening, but all he said was, “Yes, sir,” and Dom had to just let him go, disappearing for two weeks with this Agent Stasiak, without even knowing why.
He didn’t like it any, lying awake every night in an empty bed again, wondering what the hell Brian was doing that he wanted off the record so hard he wouldn’t even tell Dom about it, wondering in the early hours if somebody was going to come in and tell him that Brian was dead, and this time nobody would even understand why he was busted into little pieces. And Brian had even made him promise he basically wouldn’t set foot outside the White House.
The elections distracted him for a night: counting the seats coming in one after another as the polls closed across the country, until they ticked over that line and the House suddenly went blue again, everyone in the big conference room cheering wildly and almost hysterically, and then they got the sixtieth seat in the Senate in Arizona while he was on the phone with the new Speaker-elect, congratulating her.
He didn’t have to worry about leaving the White House the rest of the two weeks: everyone wanted to come to him anyway. There was still a lot of horse-trading to do, everyone wanted something a little different and in a different order, but nobody was pretending that this hadn’t been anything but Dom’s win, and there were a lot of people who owed him their seats. He tried to work himself hard enough to sleep at night, and mostly it worked.
The Republicans wanted a meeting too, with the party chairman: Shaw’s big brother, still one of the sharks even if his little brother had crapped out and lost reelection. Dom let them stew for a while before he gave them a time, exactly two weeks out: he wanted Brian to be there for this one, because he was going to like watching Shaw squirm, and he was going to be back by then, even if Dom hadn’t heard one damn peep out of him so far.
But Brian wasn’t back that morning, still no word at all from him, and Dom wasn’t in any goddamn mood to make nice with the asshole. “Well?” he said shortly, when Shaw got shown in: they hadn’t sent a big crew, just him and a couple of aides he left waiting outside the room.
“It’s a shame you couldn’t be bothered to see me sooner, Mr. President,” Shaw said, drawling it out like an insult. “I’m sure you’ll agree that you’d like to have seen this earlier.”
He handed Dom a thin envelope, barely one sheet inside it, but one sheet was enough: Dom pulled it out and for a moment the whole world stopped. In the photo it was Letty looking out at him, her face tight and hard the way she got when something had scared her and she hated it, but it was her two years older than he’d ever seen her, and she was holding the copy of the New York Times with the midterm results headline blazoned across the front.
Dom stared at it, his head splitting, because he had to kill Shaw, right now, with his bare hands, but he had to get Letty back from them, too. He had to do both of those things, and he couldn’t think his way through it. Shaw was smiling at him, smiling, like he didn’t understand that he was about to die, except he was maybe right because Dom couldn’t kill him until he had Letty back, but Shaw couldn’t be right because he’d done this to Letty, he’d—kept her, locked her up somewhere, let everyone who loved her believe she was dead, just so he could use her for this. He’d kept her, and Jesus what if they hadn’t won the midterms, if Dom hadn’t put their backs to the wall—what if Shaw had never had to use her, would he have—? Yeah. Yeah, he’d have kept Letty, years and years, and when Dom finally left office Shaw would just have put a bullet in her, and he never would’ve even known.
Dom almost couldn’t see. He couldn’t move, couldn’t say a word, locked up on the photo, and then suddenly Brian’s hand came down over his shoulder and gently took it out of his hands. Dom stared up at him, helplessly, blank. Brian had a scruff of beard and he was wearing a t-shirt and jeans stained with blood, and he had a cut welting up at the side of his mouth, and then he said, “She’s okay. She’s in the hospital,” and Shaw didn’t matter anymore at all.
“Get someone to take care of this piece of shit, and take me to her,” Dom said, and he got up and walked out the door.
“Do I look like I came back stupid or something?” Letty said, about a month later. They’d only just come back from Camp David three days ago. It hadn’t been a media circus, it had been a media melee, complete with blood in the White House press room, and anyway she’d needed some time. The papers kept asking about Stockholm Syndrome and bullshit like that: no way. Letty had spent all two years hating the bastards and spitting mad, but she still had to get used to being out.
“What?” Dom said warily. She’d just stalked into the Oval Office.
“Four different people on the senior staff have pulled me aside to tell me you didn’t even look at another woman the whole time,” Letty said. “Gisele fucking told me.”
Shit, busted. “Uh,” Dom said.
Brian sidled towards the door. “I’ll just—”
She whipped around and pointed at him. “Don’t even think about it,” she said. Brian froze, and she turned back on Dom. “So when was I going to hear about this? On Meet The Press?”
“Jesus, Letty,” Dom said. “I figured maybe you could use a few weeks!”
“It’s going to take more than a few weeks to come up with the contingency plan I know you assholes don’t have!” Letty said. “What a mess.”
“So, uh,” Brian said. He swallowed. “Am I fired?”
Letty glared at him. “Of course you’re not fired, except maybe for being a moron. So start talking: how deep is he in?”
“He wanted to come out with me,” Brian blurted, throwing him straight to the wolves. Dom glared at him.
“In your first term?” Letty rolled her eyes. “You know, Toretto, if you were going to get married again, you could’ve at least invited me to the wedding.”
Dom stood up and came around the desk and took her by the shoulders. Her chin came up, light of battle in her eyes. “I missed you,” he said, low.
She softened a little, and let him kiss her, then poked him in the chest. “Seriously, is there even a plan? Of any kind?”
“Uh,” Dom said.
“Great,” Letty said. “All right, first thing, we get Gisele in and tell her. After we make her promise not to quit. I can’t believe you left her hanging in the wind with this at her back. One asshole with a long range photo lens—”
“With a clear line of sight?” Brian said, injured.
“Then one poor intern with a cup of coffee who opened the door too soon!” Letty said.
“Yeah, okay,” Dom muttered. “Fine. Then what?”
“What do you mean, then what? Then I get that goddamn threesome the other way you’ve owed me for fifteen years now—” Brian brightened, and Dom didn’t know what was on his schedule for the rest of the day, but it was getting cleared, “—and I make sure you two assholes don’t drive this entire country off the road. Jesus fucking Christ,” Letty said.