Chapter 1: A Meeting
"I'm telling you Chris it is not him." Ezra sounded adamant, and usually Chris would defer to his instinctual knowledge of human nature in general, and perpetrators in particular, but this time he just was not sure Ezra was correct. "Look Ezra, you have never even met the guy. How can you possibly tell whether or not he is involved?" Ezra's voice took on a hard edge. "So you are refusing to trust my judgment?" Chris was suddenly angry, both at himself for not being able to trust Ezra and perversely, at Ezra for not having anything more than intuition with which to convince him. "In this case Ezra, yes I am." "Fine! I will work with Vin and we will setup a preliminary meet for next week. If that meets with your approval." Chris nodded, not trusting himself to speak in response to that insubordinate tone. Chris wondered just what the hell it was about this Toretto that seemed to get to undercover agents.
"Christ Ezra couldn't you have picked a disguise that didn't have half the population of Denver stalking you!" Vin was annoyed and amused at once as he chased away yet another set of men wanting to meet his 'brother'. Ezra just grinned at him. Vin had never seen Ezra dressed like this before, and judging from the reactions it was just as well. The agent was wearing the shortest shorts Vin had ever seen in bright red and a black mesh top which was more holes than fabric. Even the way he held himself just screamed for attention. Vin hoped that Toretto arrived soon because he was getting really tired of having to stare people down. Like the answer to his prayers he heard an engine roar and saw two extremely high performance sports cars come racing up. Ezra had quite deliberately loitered in the spot where everyone present agreed that Dominic Toretto always parked. The first car drew up and screeched to a halt perhaps 20 centimeters in front of where Ezra was standing. Vin watched Toretto get out and wondered what they had gotten into. The photos did not do this guy justice. He was huge.
Ezra smiled as Toretto's car drew up. Toretto got out and stalked over to him. "You're in my space." Ezra looked up his eyes meeting Dom's and without warning he was suddenly, utterly, lost. He had planned to play the scared kid, in over his head, someone who needed help. He was very sure it would work too but, this man was someone to whom he could give only the truth. It certainly did not help that he wanted him, desired him more than anyone or anything he had ever seen before. "I have to talk to you" he said it without thinking and Chris was going to kill him but ... "I'm with the ATF".
Vin nearly passed out from shock as in a second Ezra threw away days of preparation. Fortunately, and Vin hoped that it was a conscious move on Ezra's part, no one else was close enough to hear what Ezra had said. Toretto paused at Ezra's words, then suddenly he was moving, a hand clamped round Ezra's wrist and he was shoved unceremoniously into the car. "Hey" Vin jumped forward and found his way barred by a tall blond. Toretto jumped in the car and took off. Vin nearly drew on the car but he knew he might hit Ezra, he took a closer look at the blond and recognized Brian O'Conner from the file photos. "We should follow, come" Brian demanded. Vin didn't see that he had a choice, he'd never catch up otherwise, and if he stayed he would have to explain to Chris what happened. Chris would never call him if he was in a car with O'Conner. Deciding whether or not to avoid that discussion was not exactly difficult. "Let's go!".
In the car with Dom Ezra for once was quiet. They drove in companionable silence for a while and then Dom pulled over to the side and stopped. "Well? What is an ATF agent doing looking for me dressed like a delectable little boy toy?" To Ezra's horror he could feel himself blush "I needed an excuse to hang around and obviously I'm not a known racer, I would never get near you. So..." he indicated the outfit. "Delectable?". Dom laughed and Ezra squirmed. He was getting aroused just from that laugh. "I know you are not gay so I had to be blatant enough that it was clear I was a toy and no one would question you deciding time to um ..." "Inspect the merchandise" Dominic interrupted. "Yes" Ezra was blushing again "I did not expect to 'come clean' but I knew before I even met you that you would not be involved in an operation of the type were are currently investigating. When I finally met you, it suddenly seemed obvious that the answer was to solicit your assistance." Dom looked intrigued "You took quite a risk back there blowing your cover to me and then letting me put you in the car. What made you think you would be safe? I could hurt you right now and there would not be a thing you could do to stop me." Ezra was amused "I do believe Mr. Larabee might have an objection to such an eventuality. So it might not be the most prudent course of action." Dom looked curious "Mr. Larabee would be?" "The tall gentleman standing outside your window and pointing a gun at your head."
Dom turned his head and saw a tall blond pointing a gun unwaveringly at him. "I would suggest you get out of the car slowly and keep your hands off to the side and visible until I can sort this out. Mr. Larabee does not find threats to any of his men amusing in the least." As Dom got out of the car and watched Ezra wriggle out beside him he was amused that the smaller man never stopped talking. "I am sorry about this. My associates tend not to be the most diplomatic of individuals. You touched off a few protective nerves there. Though I suppose you were not to know there was anyone else around."
Chris could not believe it, Ezra, their ever cautious Ezra, had actually blown his own cover and was now standing right next to a perpetrator who had threatened him. He interrupted the incessant flow of words. "Shut up Ezra and get the hell away from that guy. When I get you back to the office I'm going to make you pay for this you risk taking, little ..." Dom moved so fast Chris could only just follow it. With a sweep of his arm Ezra was behind him, Dom was pointing a gun at Chris and there was blatant threat on Dom's face. "You even try and touch him I'll break your arm, maybe both of them." Chris didn't know whether to laugh or yell. He went with something at least slightly conciliatory since he did appreciate anyone who was protective of one of his own. "You know, that's a good way to get shot. I wouldn't pull a gun on a man pointing one at me. Not a good way to stay healthy." Then he got the second shock of the day Ezra ducked under the arm holding him back and positioned himself so he was standing in between Chris and Toretto, whispering quietly to the man. "Ezra Move!" it was a direct order and still Ezra ignored it completely. Fortunately Toretto seemed to view Ezra being in the way of his gunsight with about as much pleasure as Chris did and pointed his piece down immediately so Chris' agent was no longer in the line of fire.
Dom relaxed a bit, the pretty little agent seemed adamant that his boss was not going to shoot him out of hand. He figured a little joke at the guy's expense would not go amiss. "Ezra huh, nice name. I bet they call you Ez but I think a better name for you would be 'Ra', like the sun god. I think I will call you Sunny." Dom was pleased by the reaction, as a way of diffusing the tension it worked like a charm. Ezra looked as indignant as anyone Dom had ever seen. The dangerous looking man who had been pointing a gun at him a few seconds ago nearly fell over he was laughing so hard. "You cannot call me Sunny! I absolutely draw the line at accepting such an undignified moniker. I have been trying to prevent my compatriots from calling me Ez forever and that is worse!" Ezra was glad that Dom and Chris no longer seemed a heartbeat away from shooting each other, but really neither Ra nor Sunny were acceptable names. A broad grin spread across Dom's face. â€œWell Ra, I normally don't take up with boys as you likely know, but for a precious little thing named Sunny, maybe I would make an exception.â€ Dom could hear the dangerous ATF agent choking in the background, maybe he should stop tweaking the guy's tail before he was charged with killing an ATF agent with laughter. "Gonna introduce me?" Ezra sighed, "Dominic, sorry I mean Mr. Toretto this is my boss Chris Larabee. Mr. Larabee this fine gentleman is Dominic Toretto. I was going to explain our problem to him when you jumped the gun, so to speak."
Ezra turned to Dom, "Mr. Toretto. We have run into a serious problem. There appear to be a small group of racers who have turned to gun running to supplement their income. They are .." Dom interrupted yet again. Ezra hoped this was not going to turn into a pattern. "Call me Dom. So why would you be talking to me about something like that, unless you think .." This time Ezra interrupted hastily "No Dominic I do NOT think you had anything to do with such nefarious actions. Though not everyone was in agreement with me I felt it absolutely did not fit your previous, criminal profile, since all your previous action have been spectacularly devoid of violence. Since Mr. Larabee insisted I could not make such a determination without meeting you, I contrived this method of catching your attention so I could make your acquaintance. I intended to then later use you as cover for subsequent investigations. As I said I did not initially intend to tell the truth but as I indicated previous when I met you I realized I had to solicit your assistance rather than engage in any type of deception. I found that .." Suddenly Ezra was at a loss he had no idea really how to explain. It was the same way he had known that he could trust Chris when he first met him. It was a strong emotional reaction not one readily explained. Dom smiled "Couldn't lie to me huh." Well, Ezra supposed in some ways it was that simple. "No. I ... you had been burned before and if I had lied - you would never have trusted me again. You might still have worked with me but .." he blushed again, a fiery red. "I wanted" his voice lowered to almost a whisper. "I wanted there to be a chance."
Dom found himself intrigued. He was not gay but in prison he had come to the realization that he could be bisexual. Normally men did not attract him but this one did. In his circles a man could not have a gay relationship with an equal partner but a pretty toy was understood. He reached out gently and tilted Ezra's head up so their eyes met. "You must know about Brian so you know I have had my trust shaken before and you were right I would not have been able to forgive again. However you told the truth. I don't see that we have a problem." Ezra's smile was radiant. "I would be honored to offer you my contract." Dom was stunned "Wait, this isn't just an act? You actually registered? You're not just propositioning me?" Chris stepped forward his renewed anger obvious "Are you telling me you blew your cover and risked this case because you wanted to get in his pants!" Chris reached to grab Ezra's arm, and found his hand blocked. Dom had stopped him from touching Ezra. "What! Is he your property now!" Dom's response was not actually helpful in diffusing the situation, "As a matter of fact yes. Or at least, he will be.". Before things could deteriorate further a car and a van pulled up. Vin and Brian tumbled out of one and Josiah, Nathan, Buck and JD came out of the other.
Chris explained as the others came up. Ezra simply stood by Dom eyes down and said nothing in his own defense. To Chris' surprise it was Nathan who first spoke up in defense of Ezra. "Chris you know I am not always Ezra's strongest defender but we all know he is the best at reading people. You should have taken him at his word in the first place. You know he would never do anything that would endanger any of us, or jeopardize our case. If he decided to trust Toretto then that means doing so would not hurt. So if he sees something that he cannot pass up, well sometimes it does happen just that fast. It was that way for me and Rain. He doesn't trust easily or often so let him have his chance." Nathan smiled as Ezra finally looked up and met his eyes, surprise and gratitude visible on his face. Then he looked over at Dom and his expression was stern. "If you hurt him we will all hunt you down and make you sorry you were ever born." There was a strong chorus of agreement from all the team members. They were willing to let Ezra explore this but wanted it clear he was not without backup.
Brian was indignant. Dom would never hurt someone he was involved with, he would die first, and it was pretty clear from the way he was allowing the smaller ATF agent to stand in his space that he was planning to get involved. "Dom, you don't need this. It's not as if you can't get someone better someone who doesn't come with all these complications." He glared at the other agents as he said it, only meaning to indicate his resentment at the assumptions the other agents were making. He did not notice Ezra's reaction to his words. Ezra flinched and paled, he knew from his research about Dom's strong ties to family. His protectiveness towards Ezra just now when he felt him being threatened by Chris just confirmed it. There was no way that he would want Ezra over Brian's objections and even if he did, Ezra could not do that to him. After growing up with Maude he always marveled at strong families. He could not be the cause of breaking one up. "I apologize Mr Toretto. I never intended to be a source of friction for you. Do not worry I am perfectly accustomed to stepping aside for a more worthy cause and will not purse any further amorous intentions towards yourself. I do hope we can continue to work together in a professional capacity, but if you prefer me to remove myself from your vicinity I am sure Vin will prove a perfectly adequate contact."
Dom could not believe it, the fiery little agent who had been willing to step in front of a gun for him was suddenly withdrawing from him. He knew the man could not have lost interest when only seconds ago he was facing down his boss for Dom. The only explanation was that someone somewhere along the line had taught him that he was unimportant, something to be set aside the second any issue came up. His eyes locked with Chris and saw a deep sadness and anger. Clearly the man was not the source of the problem but knew the cause. "Who?". The answer came from all six agents in a tone of deep disgust. "Maude." The large grey haired agent provided more of an explanation. "His mother, a beautiful woman but sadly she would always abandon Ezra any time something 'better' or 'easier' came up and so he learned he was unworthy of any consideration, especially if he caused, as she put it, complications." Ezra looked annoyed at this characterization but did not dispute it. Dom sighed "Brian simply felt he was protecting me from your friend's insults Sunny. He knows I would never hurt someone I was committed to protect. He doesn't actually have any objection to me taking your contract. He knows me well enough to see I want you and that is good enough for him." Ezra scowled at the 'Sunny' but relaxed back against Dom. Chris went off into gales of laughter again while Ezra's friends mouthed 'Sunny?' in puzzlement.
Dom was enjoying himself. Holding Ezra's hand he pulled him to stand in front of Brian. "Brian this is Ezra, new nickname, 'Ra' I call him 'Sunny'. He's going to belong to me. Sunny this is Brian my brother in law.â€ Brian stuck out his hand and shook Ezra's "Sunny from the sun god huh? Would you mind if I called you Ray? Same principle as Sunny but a bit more masculine?" for that comment he got a dazzling smile from Ezra which certainly explained why Dom was calling him a sun god. He though the man deserved a bit more explanation, though he could see why Dom like teasing him, that scowl was amusing. "You're serious about the contract right? So it's best if the name you are using among the racers is not your real one. That way no one will connect the name of a racer toy to the name of an federal agent." Ezra blushed and then turned to Dom. "Sir, I apologize. I though you were only trying to annoy me. I did not realize that you were considering my welfare. I will resolve to do better in the future." Brian was watching and saw the predatory look that came over Dom's face when Ezra addressed him as 'Sir'. He smiled to himself it should be amusing to watch these men once they realized that they had signed Dom up for a permanent role on their team.
Chris was pleased that Dom had thought ahead to protecting Ezra. This was moving faster than he liked but at least the guy was clearly sensible. "Thank you," Chris said, "Ezra needs more people looking out for him. His friends appreciate it, and the nickname as well. Now shall we go somewhere more private to discuss our business?" Dom did not have any objections but did want the answer to one thing which had him stumped. "How did you know to be waiting here for me?" There was an amused silence and then a chorus of "Ezra". Dom turned to Ezra for an explanation. Ezra grinned. "Given my analysis of your personality there were only 2 routes you would use if you left the race, as there were only 2 which allowed fast travel without endangering possible pedestrians. If you traversed one of those routes each only had one place you would stop to talk or meet someone. I knew you would wish to talk to Brian before heading home so I had Chris stationed at one and the van at the other. Actually this was my second choice of route but I was initially not calculating on you knowing my true identity." Ezra blushed at that. Dom resolved to find more things to cause that blush, it was irresistible." "Makes sense" he allowed "let's go back to my place and discuss your little gun problem."
Chapter 2: Contract negotiations
"So Mr Toretto, now that we are settled. Perhaps we should discuss how to proceed from here." Chris was determined to be friendly and polite. "First off," Dom responded "call me Dom please, where you get this Mr. Torreto stuff from ... Let me guess Sunny." Chris snickered that nickname would never get old. "Ezra insists that it is presumptuous to use first names without permission, and disrespectful to use just last names. Given we kind of started off on the wrong foot I figured better safe."
Dom scowled at this reminder of Chris' threats against Ezra. "Just so we're clear you know you can't hit him right? He does something you don't like, you let me know and I'll punish him if I think he deserves it, but no one gets to do that but me. I'll give you guys the right to touch him since you seem good friends, though only for non sexual purposes obviously, but you don't get to hurt him, physically or otherwise. And no, I have not decided if I'm gonna punish him for breaking cover with me so don't bother ask." Chris looked confused "Punish Ezra? What are you talking about?" Ezra turned absolutely scarlet. "umm" Dom looked at his obvious confusion and turned to Ezra. "It was a real,legitimate contract right? Formally filed?" Ezra was having a hard time getting the words out, and he really, really did not want to look any of his teammates in the face right now. "Yes. I felt it having legitimate papers would faciliate a more iron clad cover. At the time I did not actually intend to offer it to anybody. There are special clauses ensuring no sharing and a right on my part to terminate. I felt that would prevent anyone from becoming interested enought to approach me." Dom raised his eyebrows at that news.
Suddenly Buck's face changed from confused to angry, "You're talking about a gang contract for a toy! Like the ones bikers use! Ezra are you crazy! What would make you give anyone that kind of power over you?" Ezra sighed "If anything happens I do not want I can terminate." "Yeah but suppose the council does not recognize your cause as legitimate" Buck shot back, "It's with or without cause." Ezra responded somewhat reluctantly. Brian smiled at that. "Well Dom looks like no one will challenge for that contract, ever." Buck relaxed but all the others looked even more confused. "Ok" Chris began "so racers and apparently bikers have some kind of contractual relationship setup. Which means what exactly? You also completely ignored my question about punishing Ezra."
Dom smiled a very predatory look on his face. "It means in theory I get to control Sunny's life, and more importantly his body, everything from what he can wear to who he can talk to. He can't own anything, it all transfers to me. In return I, my family, and anyone else responsible to me have to provide him with complete physical and emotional safety. As for punishment, - come here Sunny" Ezra turned bright red again, but he walked over to Dom without hesitation. Dom turned him over his knee yanked down his shorts and used his hand to give him two hard whacks on his buttocks. Then he pulled the shorts back up again and set him back on his feet. There was a confused babble from Ezra's teammates and Nathan was clearly livid but Dom waited till it all died down. Then he addressed Nathan, "You can go ahead and check him out and make sure there is no damage if you think you need to. I'm willing to promise you either not to punish him without your supervision or to always let you check him out afterwards if you wish. It is a breach of contract anyway to do anything which causes any kind of permanent injury so it's to my advantage to have you make sure he is ok." Nathan's glare softened "We'll start with supervision. Then if that goes fine we'll see. Come on Ezra, let's go check you out." "Nathan I'm fine!" Ezra looked like he was going to resist but a quiet look from Dom stopped the complaint and after that he followed Nathan wordlessly. Nathan could be heard commenting that there might be real benefits to this arrangement as they went off. After Ezra left Chris looked hard at Dom and then said. "I will not insult either you or Ezra with threats. I'm pretty sure our position is obvious. Though I must admit, it will be good to be able to have an effective curb on reckless behavior." Dom smirked in response no more needed to be said.
When Ezra came back he was flushed with embarrassment but very determined. "Since you have started taking liberties with my person perhaps now would be a good time to register the contract acceptance." Dom laughed "Bold little thing aren't you? Come on, we can get it done in a couple of minutes." Then he took Ezra into his office without a backwards glance. Ezra reflected that Buck would probably be surprised that registration was by website now. Public key cryptography for registering gang 'toys', technology really was taking over the world. As Dom logged in Ezra realized there was one last issue to clear up. "Dom, the thing is, there is something you should know before we register." Dom looked quizzical. In answer Ezra opened another window on the screen and logged onto his investment account. When Dom saw it he whistled. "Jesus, are you looking to give me a token as a gift or something. I'd appreciate it but you don't have to do anything of the kind. I thought you would have transferred something like that to a trusted escrow holder already, but we can just do it now before we register." Ezra's response startled him. "I already have transferred the vast majority. This is the remainder. The contract has a conditional clause the rest of it will be paid if I have not terminated the contract after a year." Dom figured they could deal with the rest of the money later, and it was less of an issue since there was a third party involved though such interfaces were always tricky. "I am willing to accept a token Sunny perhaps a few thousand but the full amount, that is a little much for me." Ezra looked adamant "No, I want it all to go to you. I am looking for a real contract." Dom pushed back from the computer. "Sunny, the contracts were never designed with this kind of money in mind. If you leave this in your name, once we complete the waiting period there is no enforceable way to get any of it back, even if you terminated the contract. You can't possibly expect me to accept that kind of money. I've never been attracted to anyone as much as you and I find I like you a lot but - we haven't even known each other a full day!" Ezra looked determined "I want to give it to you Dom. I have to be able to read people fast, my life depends on it, and I've researched your life more than you can imagine. I WANT this, I want something substantial between us. I enlisted Vin as my escrow holder in case I did want a real contract. Please, don't reject this." Dom could hear the subtext, 'don't reject me' "God Sunny you are talking about enough money to buy a house a good one. I will agree on one condition, if you terminate the contract I will return the money." "No. That leaves nothing at risk. I will accept a caveat, if I terminate without cause you have to keep the money. If I terminate with cause I will accept you returning it." Dom could see that Ezra was not willing to accept an alternative and he wanted a contract with him more than almost anything else he had ever desired. He still intended to contest the transfer of more money than this but given this discussion, well it would be better to table that until it was relevant.
Chapter 3: Plans are made
"So Dom, now that you know the behavior of the perps any idea of who we should be looking at?" Chris had finished describing the crimes and was interested in feedback. Brian and Dom exchanged glances and then Dom responded "Turturo". "well" Ezra drawled "that certainly explains our mistaken info. Someone misheard. Someone that big would be an easy organization to break into but the catch is, it would take time. However we can't allow anyone to have those redirected rocket launchers so we need something more expeditious." Ezra glanced at Dom then surreptitiously stepped closer to Chris. Dom tilted his head in question and Ezra realized he would just have to present the information and let the chips fall. "What we really need is a quick way into the compound and an excuse to be looking for information." Ezra glanced at Dom again and moved until he was practically touching Chris. "So what exactly is this plan that you are so certain I will not like?" Dom responded to the trepidation in Ezra's eyes. Ezra looked up at him and then down at the floor. "As I am not known in Turturo's circles I cannot get in as a buyer of guns or drugs. That leaves only his sideline." Dom interrupted then and his voice was angry "You expect him to hold you because?" Ezra could not meet his eyes. "Brian's initial negative reaction gave me the idea. If Mia was to disapprove of our contract, and wanted me held out of the way during the trial period, long enough for the trial to expire and enable a charge of breach due to nonperformance to stick ..." Dom's whole body was tense "Yeah, except that requires Mia to interact with that criminal. Which is not something anyone is going to ask my baby sister to do, not even you Ezra Standish" At the sound of his full name on Dom's lips Ezra flinched as though he had been slapped and his face went completely still and unreadable.
Before, when he saw Dom as a threat, Chris had been willing to shoot him but now seeing Ezra's face he thought it was a good thing that his gun was not out because he was afraid he would have shot Dom without a single thought. Dom growled seeing the expression on Chris' face and with a short comment indicating he needed to clear his head stalked out. JD whispered to Buck "What's going on? Why is Ezra so upset." Buck explained "Owners always have pet names for toys, for an owner to use a toy's full, real name is an indication of severe displeasure." JD looked nervously at Ezra and then at Nathan. Brian shifted and started talking, hoping to reduce the tension. "Well I for one am not going to make decisions for Mia without her input. She's probably not 5 minutes away. Let me get her over here and she can speak for herself." JD walked over to Ezra wanting to help if he could. He attempted to make small talk for a couple of minutes but when Ezra did not respond he decided to ask directly, "Ez are you afraid that, well that he will injure you?" Ezra looked at him and his face still was frozen in that peculiar blankness it had when he was hiding severe hurt. "No Dom would not engage in that kind of violence. Not even when enraged. He has learned that lesson but .. we are still in the trial period he could choose to terminate the contract." Brian walking back into the meeting figured it was time to intervene before Ezra got the wrong idea "No Ray, he would not do that. Want to see why?" Ezra's face finally showed an expression though Brian was not sure the open despair was much of an improvement. He did notice that the other agents relaxed slightly at seeing any expression on Ezra's face. Brian moved slowly, he knew Dom would be watching and if he actually accomplished what he was going to try Dom might well break his arm. He wanted to give Dom plenty of time to intercept him. Ezra's eyes widened as he saw Brian's hand reaching to cup his crotch, he backed fast but he did not have much maneuvering room and hit the wall in seconds. His hands came out to intercept but he was handicapped by the fact that he did not want to seriously hurt Brian and a lot of his instinctive reactions were lethal. Brian quickly grabbed both wrists with one hand as his other continued its progress towards Ezra. Then suddenly Dom was there and Brian was flying through the air hard to hit the wall. Ezra's eyes lifted to Dom and his lips were immediately plundered in a possessive kiss. That was how Mia found them when she walked in responding to Brian's phone call.
Mia could not believe it, her brother was kissing a man! Moreover one who was quite clearly a toy. He wasn't gay, and even if he had been he had no time for the sort of helpless fluffheads who bartered their bodies for a little protection. "What the hell is going on here! Get off my brother, What did you do drug him?" Dom let Ezra go and turned to his sister "Mia this is Sunny, Brian is calling him Ray, so you can call him that too." Ezra smiled but Dom could see the sadness hidden behind it. "I guess Mia won't have a hard time selling the idea she disapproves." Mia looked at Ezra and then obviously dismissing him as unimportant turned to Dom, "Can we talk somewhere privately?" Dom looked at her and she was surprised to see disappointment on his face, "I appreciate the support Mia, but I would have thought you gave me more credit than to assume I had no sense or taste. Sunny is a lot more than you are giving him credit for, he's not a pretty little fluff toy he's a federal agent." If anything Mia became more angry "So what? He's blackmailing you into working with them again. I thought we were done with that! You've got a pardon! What are they holding over you this time? Well I suppose the good part about him being an agent is that the toy stuff is just an act and he's not really going to be yours. Whatever it is they think they have over you do not give in. We can fight this especially if they are going to try and force you into this type of physical contact." At this point Ezra interjected. "Mrs O'Conner we are here because unfortunately some of my colleagues incorrectly assumed that Don was involved in gun running. I have been able to finally convince them that their assumptions were incorrect but your brother agrees with us that what we are trying to stop is detrimental to the whole racing community and therefore has kindly agreed to assist us."
It did not escape Dom's notice that Ezra did not correct Mia's comment that he was not Dom's. He did not aim to let such a misunderstanding continue. "These guys are dragging all racers into dangerous territory. If we get a reputation for violent criminal activity the cops will start cracking down on everyone for every minor violation. Besides, what they are doing is going to get people killed. I'm not standing by for that. You made one assumption that is incorrect though. This is not an act. Sunny is my real, registered toy and that is not going to change. He's something special that I want in my life. He's beautiful and fun and brave and smart. Well generally smart, his current plan for the case is unacceptable since it involves using you." Dom looked over at Ezra and saw complete surprise on his face as though he was not expecting it when someone stood up for him. He glanced at Chris and saw approval for his action and sadness on Ezra's behalf. He would have to have some words with Ezra's boss later.
"So let me get this straight. You're trying to tell me I can't go talk to someone in public!" Mia's voice was getting angrier with each word. Dom winced, this was not going well. "Turturo is ..", "He's a criminal yes but the old fashioned Mafia type with a sense of honor, and a desire to be seen as a gentlemen. He would never do anything to even endanger a woman far less hurt one and you know it!" Ok Dom knew when he was beaten, perhaps he should have a word with Brian about when it was appropriate to call Mia. "Don't you dare give my husband a hard time about involving me in this either." Dom winced again apparently Mia knew him too well, he was going to make Sunny pay for proposing such an idea in the first place. He glared at his toy and at least got the satisfaction of seeing him drop his eyes and shift uncomfortably. Unfortunately for Dom Mia saw Ezra shift and looked at him in time to see the glare on his face. "Ray come here!" Ezra obeyed her with a speed Dom would have found amusing in other circumstances. "If Dom even thinks about giving you any kind of grief for proposing this plan you are to come to me and tell me. Do you understand!" Sunny looked at her and then sighed "Mrs O'Conner surely you understand that if Dom countermands such an order I can do nothing of the kind." Mia looked at him then over to Dom. Her eyes indicating the disparity in size between the two men. "You want Dom punishing you?" Ezra smiled an honest smile which had Mia reassessing some of her assumptions about how much Dom might want him. He was attractive certainly but smiling ... she dismissed the thought as currently unimportant. "Of course not, it is not something I anticipate with any pleasure but you of all people certainly realize he will not injure me. I did expect some displeasure though perhaps not as much as he ultimately indicated. However I believe it will relieve his feelings and as such I am willing to endure whatever he feels necessary." Mia looked at him and her eyes softened for the first time, "And if I feel he does not have the right to be angry in the first place. That his anger indicates an inappropriate level of meddling in my right to make decisions for myself and a lack of respect for my intelligence and instincts." She saw Ezra look extremely uncomfortable. "While that might affect my attitude towards his desire to express his protectiveness towards you, I simply do not have the right to question any punishment he may wish to impose." Mia smiled at Ezra. "You may not have a right, but I do. Dom come here. You get to give Ezra one smack as your punishment for involving me in this." Dom scowled but complied, though he made the smack as hard as he could. "Now swear to me on Daddy's grave there will be no further punishment of any kind for getting me involved." Dom sighed and visibly released his anger. Mia knew Dom had learned there was no point holding on to it if he couldn't do anything with it. "I swear".
"So " Chris finally interjected a comment into the proceedings. "Mia is going to hire this Turturo to kidnap Ezra in an attempt to invalidate the contract. Then Ezra is going to ferret out information on his suppliers and buyers. Then the FBI comes storming in to save the kidnap victim who gives them all this information in gratitude." His voice took on an ironic tone "What could possibly go wrong."
Chapter 4: A Kidnapping
Ezra was getting really tired of just waiting for something to happen. That just was not how he operated. He set up the buys so normally he always knew when things were going to happen. However Turturo refused to give an exact day or time. He simply encouraged Mia to, as he put it, "Get the little toy angry enough to walk out on a regular basis. That way there's a reason when he doesn't come back, and a strain on the relationship which can only help your cause." Ezra had to admit Mia certainly did know how to get to him, and it did not help that Dom was actually punishing him every time he disobeyed him and stormed off. Granted it was his idea to ensure that if Turturo was keeping tabs on them there would be nothing that did not appear real. In fact Dom had initially needed to be talked into it, but the spankings still were both painful and humiliating. At least Mia did not watch him being punished, though Nathan had at first, which had not been fun. Dom seemed to believe her contention that if she saw him being punished she couldn't play her part. Ezra was starting to be skeptical however. Her latest round of statements certainly indicated to him that she would enjoy seeing him hurt.
Initially he had taken great satisfaction in giving as good as he got. He had expected the eventual charge of whore of course, it had initially given him great satisfaction to say that if anything it was the other way around, and then prove it. Dom though had not been pleased, the anger Dom displayed over his showing Mia the money Dom got from his contract he had expected. Dom had told him not to show her after all and he was not the kind of guy who shrugged over disobedience. The hurt though, that was unexpected. He never thought of Dom as sensitive but the quiet question over whether Ezra thought of him that way, thought he was really sleeping with him for money. Ezra never wanted to see that look in his eyes, hear that question in his voice ever again. That had not been worth it at all. It really had not helped that Dom had even questioned Mia as to whether she thought less of him for taking the money. He winced a little at the memory. Then to put icing on the cake Mia had wanted to use some of the money to help for a downpayment on a house for her and Brian and their son. Dom refused even though Ezra had no objections. Dom was still working at getting comfortable with the idea of the money after that debacle of an argument and furthermore thought that if Mia was getting a house courtesy of Ezra she would be so grateful she would be completely unbelievable as someone who was mad at him. It really, really did not help that she thought Ezra was behind the refusal. Ezra was sure that was behind her comments on his "selfish, useless, worthless nature" those stung, but what had really sent him running out the door was her current theme that he was "a burden on more worthy people." Maude had called him a burden often enough that some part of him always believed it. In his anger he had decided to retaliate by taking Brian's car for his now daily drive to the nearby park to cool off. Normally he took Dom's sedan which was the one they agreed he should drive. Brian and Dom both felt the easiest way for any racer team to grab him would be to force him off the road and Brian was not inclined to have his beautiful new car damaged. Ah well, maybe when he got to the park and cooled off he would call Dom to drive the car back.
As Ezra was pulling into the park he felt a sudden bang from behind and saw an SUV had turned in just behind him and absolutely caved in the back of Brian's sports car, badly enough that he would need a tow too. Oh Christ, Dom would probably turn him over his knee the second he got to the park, he wouldn't even care that it would be right in front of everyone. He hopped out of the car in an absolute rage and walked over to the driver yelling, only to be faced by a gun. Oh well, he had hated waiting. "Look I know the expensive nature of the car leads you to the conclusion that I am a lucrative target. However I would be remiss if I did not inform you that it is not in fact my property. I promise you that any damage to my person will be repaid a hundredfold by my, um ... boyfriend. He is likely to murder anyone who touches me, and I am not speaking figuratively either." Ezra tried to interject the right amounts of fear and uncertainty into his voice, but he also was backing slowly away from the SUV. Dom had warned that Turturo knew him, and would never buy a cowed piece of fluff as a toy Dom would pursue for a contract. "We won't hurt you." he heard from behind. Well time for his big escape attempt "Good!" with that he dropped low, kicked the man behind him in the balls, and started sprinting. He had almost made it out of the parking lot when he was tackled. He fought the two guys holding him, using as many dirty tricks as he could, but made sure not to use his full strength, or show more skill than he might have picked up from a regular self defense class. Even so they had to bring in a third guy to contain him. Eventually his hands were cuffed behind his back and he was being forced towards the SUV. Once he was in the car it sped away.
To Ezra's surprise he did not end up at Turturo's compound but at the nearby cineplex. What was going on? His captors pulled his head up from where they had been holding it down on the seat of the car and to his horror pointed their guns at a group of young teenagers. "Now Ray either you are going to make a call to Dom and say exactly what we tell you, or we're going to start shooting into that bunch of teens. Are you going to cooperate?" Ezra nodded his head he has not expected such ruthlessness. They handed him his phone, someone must have taken it from Brian's car, and a sheet of paper. He read it and gasped, "I can't say this. I won't" in response the safeties clicked off forcing him to back down. He dialed, but Dom did not pickup, he would be at work, he hated leaving this as a message but he read from the paper when the machine picked up. "Dom, I just can't do this anymore. You are not the man I thought you were. I thought you were strong but you're just a big, cheap, dumb, ex-con and I regret ever meeting you. Don't try and find me, not that you'd be smart enough to. I never want to see you again. Bye" The phone was snatched back the second he was finished. Well, it was done.
"Would you mind telling me what prompted this kidnapping? You cannot be holding me in expectation of monetary compensation. I do not have money any longer it all went to the guy who you just now ensured would now not pay you a dime for my return." Ezra poured all his anger and discomfort with everything that was going on into his words. He fully expected to be roughed up for it, if not beaten, but it was so good to finally release the building anger. He knew what they were doing, and it was not a bad plan given the situation which had been setup, but he had hated saying those things to Dom. To his surprise the men merely looked amused. "Don't worry baby" the taller man he had heard addressed as Mike said, "there are plenty of things someone could want from you besides money". Ezra felt a cold shiver run up his spine. This he had not anticipated, going by Dom and Brian's descriptions of Turturo. The man who was clearly the leader glared at Mike. "Mike you touch him and Mr Turturo will have you skinned, got it." He turned to Ezra "I am Alfredo. You are going to be visiting with us a while. Forgive us the trick at the cineplex but Mr Turturo felt you would not have been around the racing scene long enough to know his reputation. We wanted to make sure you left the message and we have no intention of hurting you so it seemed expedient. We would never have hurt those kids so you do not need to be afraid of us. Mr Turturo will tell you how things are going to be when we arrive at the house."
Ezra examined Mr Turturo's house with interest. It was huge, he would guess as many as 12 bedrooms, and clearly built to be defensible. He pitied the poor FBI agents assigned the task of figuring out how to storm this house, without either getting a large number of agents killed, or allowing the owner to escape. He was most impressed with the garage he could see as they pulled in. There must be 20 or 30 cars here and many of the type that would have had Dom or Brian salivating. Now that they had him safely in custody there did not seem to be any hurry. He slid out of the car, noticing that Alfredo was savvy enough to minimize contact and hold him by the arm, but either underestimated him, or did not know enough to hold by the elbow. He felt a hand glide surreptitiously over his buttocks, but did not bother acknowledge it. He did not know whether Mike would think he was too scared to complain, but he did not want to give him the satisfaction. The truth was he intended to do his absolute best to charm Turturo. He wanted the run of the house, and a captor willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. That cause was not served by starting off their relationship complaining. Once he was inside Alfredo released his arm and guided him towards the middle of the house, where he stopped before what looked like a regular bedroom door. Ezra balked a bit at that so Alfredo ended up dragging him in the room, but he stopped resisting once he saw it was actually an office. Turturo looked up at him from behind the desk, and he found himself pinned in place by a very intimidating pair of eyes. This man was not young enough for him to see him as a partner, but he felt like Dom, at least in terms of inspiring a desire to tell the truth and obey. Apparently there was something about the men on the racing circuit at least in how they affected him, though he doubted the effect was on him alone. He hoped the team would not have to deal with any more racers for a while, though in fact that was why they were doing this case. These men were not like the ones he usually dealt with, something he was beginning to think was a blessing. He could not think of telling the whole truth here, but he was not surprised this man was incredibly successful. He immediately threw away the whole playbook he and Josiah had worked out on how to charm this man. He would have to go with his instincts and hope.
"So young man you are going to be our guest for a while. I do not intend this to be anymore uncomfortable or frightening to you than you make necessary and I promise regardless you will not be assaulted, or injured by me or any of mine. You have my word." Ezra's eyes widened at such a promise and he realized he would have to change his mind about that little complaint. He had wanted a pleasant conversation but with such a promise as that, from this man ... "Mr. Turturo I appreciate the thought, but I am afraid you are currently unable to guarantee such a promise." He saw Alfredo scowl and start to speak and cut him off. "No Alfredo, I am not referring to my capture. You certainly took all precautions not to injure me despite my attempts to escape and I am not more than lightly bruised. I am referring to an incident as I was leaving your automobile. Someone ran his hands over my posterior." Alfredo looked angry and then Ezra looked up at Turturo and Alfredo's anger seemed mild in comparison. Turturo was absolutely livid, Ezra did not think he had ever seen anyone so angry except, "You look like Vin did when that first guy grabbed my rear." Ezra could not believe he had said that, but it was the first thing he thought and it was so overwhelmingly true it just popped out. After that Vin had only had to shoo the other guys away from him when they were waiting for Dom because he had made an example of that first guy. Ezra had ended up feeling more sorry for him than anything else. He really would have to watch himself around this man. Mr Turturo glanced at Alfredo who responded with "his brother". "You may consider me your protector while you are here and as such you can expect me to act as though you were a member of my family". Turturo turned to the other two men who had brought him in, Mike and the one whose name Ezra still did not know. "As for my men. Which one of you touched him?" The two men exchanged glances but no information was forthcoming. "You can tell me, or you both can have one of your hands cut off. Which one?" "No!" Ezra gasped, he did not like these men, criminals and kidnappers but he could not countenance this kind of punishment. Turturo glanced at him, "Not something your Vin would do?" Ezra had to pause at that. "Not just for a touch." he finally admitted, for other things, he could imagine Vin doing almost anything for some other things. Turturo looked almost apologetic. "I gave my word you would be safe to a third party and just now to you. On top of which I would not like to go up against Mr Toretto and Mr O'Conner if you should be harmed. This touches my honor." Ezra knew enough about Mafia criminal culture that that would be the last word. "So who." Mike spoke up. "It was me." Turturo turned to Alfredo "Please escort our guest to his room."
Ezra allowed himself to be led away thinking carefully about what he would, and would not, say. He felt it would be perhaps safest to omit information rather than lie, and felt a sigh of relief that they had been similarly careful with Mia. Nothing she said was a lie, including unfortunately for him, the essential fact presented to Turturo that she was "less than in love with the idea of her brother being involved with any man, particularly this one".
Chapter 5: Carefully not Escaping
Ezra rolled over sleepily where was Dom? He had become used to sleeping curled up in his warm arms faster than he would have thought possible. He called out without opening his eyes "Dominic?" but there was no answering chuckle. He snapped awake and it all came flooding back. He sighed and relaxed back into the bed. For all his life he had been able to snap instantly awake and now just a couple of weeks with Dom and he was lying around drowsy in bed. He would have to go back to his normal behavior while this case was going on. He got up and found one of the many sweatsuits they had supplied him with. He had asked Alfredo for some T-shirts and jeans but it was felt after the incident with Mike that the less attractive he looked the better. He would have asked for some polos and khakis but that would dress him too much like the guards in the house, and he wanted any FBI agents coming in to immediately note him as different. Using the FBI was his least favorite part of the plan, but it was the only thing that made sense given Brian's connections. Certainly they wanted to keep his connections out of it. Brian promised decent guys and Ezra trusted him because Dom trusted him absolutely. Ah well, time to make it really clear that he was determined to find out who was behind his kidnapping.
"So, is someone paying you for all this? Or are you doing it freelance? It has to be either you or someone else in the racing community because they are the only ones calling me Ray." Ezra had used his real name on the contract since otherwise it would be fraud and nobody played around with that but everyone around Dom had copied Brian in calling him Ray. "If you were planning on holding me for ransom, this can be over really quickly. If you had not deliberately alienated Dominic you could have received a nice sum from him. Though I can understand some amount of trepidation when negotiating with Dominic Toretto so perhaps this was the wiser choice. My brother Vin would pay a significant sum to get me back. Probably even a few hundred thousand dollars." Alfredo looked really taken aback at that, and one of the younger guards glanced at Mr Turturo who simply shook his head. Unsurprisingly he was a man who stayed bought. Ezra allowed himself to look speculative "Who on earth would want me taken and not hurt unless they are using me for leverage against Dominic? However if that is the correct analysis of the situation then why not hold me themselves?" Ezra wanted it clear he had multiple reasons to worry about who was doing this. "The timing on this is also a bit suspicious. Perhaps someone read my contract very closely, if a finalized contract runs for a year my owner gets a very significant payment, but that money is not available in the case of a challenge. The only opportunity to aquire those funds is to ensure that this contract terminates in the trial period window. While normally simply leaving your owner before the trial period is up will automatically terminate a contract, it is not clear that the auto-termination clause applies to a kidnapping situation, and believe me I have every intention of arguing that one to the council." Mr Turturo looked curious. "Just what kind of money are we talking about that you think someone would risk a very pissed off Dominic Toretto. His temper is somewhat legendary in the racing community." Ezra looked at him seriously "Oh it would not just be the wrath of my owner. If the contract terminates in the trial period then it cannot be renewed, ever, the contract has no reinstatement period. That means that this cannot be considered a simple challenge, the kidnapping can be ruled as 'contact interference', regardless of the fact that I was not hurt." That pronouncement caused Alfredo to shift uneasily "Boss, you said this was a case where we were not planing to harm the toy, and we had a legitimate client, it would not be reasonable for even his owner to go after us. You never said 'contract interference' was a possibility." Ezra smiled, dissent in the ranks was always good for him. He had counted on a lot of status protection in this case. He wondered what the legal profession would think of the term 'contract interference' being appropriated as a general euphemism for killing a toy. Though he supposed that , since it could apply in this case, it was not a one for one substitution. He watched Alfredo's face become even more concerned as he continued, "If the council rules contract interference they will go after everyone including us. You know that we have enemies with a seat on the council. They might ..." Turturo interrupted "No Alfredo, I have enough council members indebted to me that I can guarantee a vote the way I request. I will guarantee that if our guest here demands a hearing the council will side with him and vote the contract is not terminated. Now no more discussion, you have provided Ray with too much information already. Though Ray, before we close the topic, you did not answer my question. How much money are we talking about?" Ezra smiled, and told the truth "Three million dollars."
It was beautiful in Turturo's greenhouse. In the day and a half he had been here Ezra had been allowed to wander where he wished in the house. He would have preferred the gardens, but he accepted the greenhouse. He did not have a guard as such but there was always someone around patrolling through the house. Ezra turned the corner and nearly banged into Mike. "Oh sorry. I didn't see you." He gave a quick glance down and noted with an internal sigh of relief that both of Mike's hands were still there. Mike scowled at him. "So you little bitch, caused trouble for anyone else yet?" Ezra's temper ignited, "No. Only you were foolish enough to trespass on Mr Turturo's honor. Everyone else here has the brains to keep their hands to themselves." He went to push past the guard and found himself walking into a hard punch which laid him out on the floor. He knew he should stay down, provoking the man would not get him anywhere. He entertained a brief fantasy of beating the guy but he was a professional and he was on the job and he just lay there and waited for Mike to leave. Unfortunately something of his desire to attack must have showed. Mike's glare hardened and with a quick look around he pulled his belt and lifted it to hit Ezra. It did not escape Ezra's notice that the buckle was hanging free, that would do damage. He rolled and managed to miss the first swing but the aisles were narrow and now he had nowhere else to go. Ezra yelped in pain as the belt came down on his back, once, twice, and then there were sounds of a scuffle. Ezra took the opportunity to crawl away and then turned to look. Mike was fighting with Alfredo, and loosing badly. Alfredo had wrapped the belt around his neck and was strangling him with it. Ezra stood up shakily. "Alfredo, I'm ok" The man ignored him completely. Ezra moved towards the two men, he could not just stand and watch this but with a sharp crack Alfredo broke the other man's neck. Alfredo looked at him embarrassment in every line of his body. "I apologize, this man was a mad dog we should have put him down some time ago. My boss has the misfortune to be related to him. The matter has now been handled. Come, I will take you to the nurse and then back to your room." Ezra decided to be philosophical about it. He was not much hurt and now Turturo owed him something, not a bad thing if everything should go south.
Ezra felt he had waited long enough, it had been five days since the kidnapping and now it was time to begin an 'escape' attempt, after of course finding out who was behind his kidnapping in the first place. He almost smiled at the thought, it had become a game of sorts between him and Mr Turturo. Though despite his amusement with the game and the innate appeal of the man he had carefully refused to call him John, he was not going to give him any reason to think Ezra had any loyalty to him whatsoever. If he ever god forbid found out Ezra's status as a Fed at least he would not feel betrayed. Every day he would try and trick Turturo into revealing who was paying for this, and Turturo would, just as delicately, side step. He was clearly getting nowhere, so naturally more aggressive methods would be called for. It certainly helped that his room was located just three doors down from the office in the center of the house. He would time it so he had only 10 minutes in the office and would be caught by the shift change. He was fairly certain that a civilian would not have caught on to the complex system and would think they had another hour before the new guard would come. He waited until it was 2am, when all the guards would be most sleepy and then ensured the toilet was thoroughly clogged. This far into the house there was only one guard on duty. It was simple to knock the guard out when he came to help with the plumbing and then sneak quietly into the office. Once in he was careful he made sure to leave traces of examining most of the files on the computer, though he had the information he really needed on buyers and suppliers within 5 minutes. Then he took his time, he had cracked Turturo's code so he made sure the file with Mia's name was not opened until he could hear the guards in the corridor, then he left it open scanning it carefully. He had probably planned everything in it but still it hurt to see the words in black and white. Turturo was efficient. There were transcripts of all of Mia's meetings with Turturo. The words truth as far as Mia was concerned, if not all of it. "I do not like him", "He is not good enough for Dom" since Dom was not there, since he did not have to pretend, he let the tears flow. When he finally realized too much time had passed he looked up and met sympathy in Turturo's eyes. "I am sorry Ray, there was more than one reason I did not want you to know." Ezra was willing to accept the sympathy if not acknowledge it. "So what happens now?" He allowed his true fear to color his voice. This was the most dangerous moment, though he had carefully not told the others that. If Turturo was going to hurt him ever, it would be now.
Johnny Turturo was, for the first time ever, having a hard time refraining from hurting someone he though of as under hisprotection. The young man sitting by his desk with fear in his voice and tears in his eyes probably knew too much just from browsing for the file he had obviously found. The contract with Mrs O'Conner called for his safe release in another week. However his other business associates would demand that he be 'convinced' not to report on anything that he had seen. None of them were so foolish as to attempt to kill a toy, but short of that some of them would be willing to cause him numerous injuries to convince him to keep his mouth shut. There were also things that could be done which would not cause permanent injury but would certainly leave him afraid to talk. Turturo contemplated some of those briefly. The problem was he liked the young man, thought of him rather like a favorite nephew, but none of that was reciprocated. The kid was charming, witty and compassionate but completely cold to him. He was always Mr Turturo, with no sign of any kind of friendship that he could trust to look out for his best interest. Then, his decision was made for him, there was resignation as well as fear in the kid's voice "I did warn you that you might not be able to guarantee your promise". It was the resignation that did it, he was in a sense already forsworn. He would not allow anyone to say he discarded his word for expediency. He had made no promises to his associates, they had a business arrangement. He would keep his honor. He would not break his word again. "I say again, neither I nor mine will injure or hurt you. I stand by my word." The eyes that met him were surprised and grateful. For the first time his young guest used his name, "Thank you John". Turturo held out a hand to escort his guest back to his room. "There will not be another escape."
Chapter 6: The Waiting Game
Dom thought he was going to go mad. In fact the only thing actually keeping him sane, was the fact that he had six men going just as crazy along with him. It was too risky for Ezra to try and signal them so they had agreed to wait until a week before the contract waiting period was up. If they waited until the waiting period was up Ezra would be released, which was not in the plan for a number of reasons, but too short a time would not be plausible. Since it took Mia 4 or 5 days to arrange the kidnapping with Turturo and another 4 days passed before Ezra was actually grabbed that meant that Dom had to wait the better part of two weeks. Dom never would have credited that he could want someone, trust someone, hell love someone so fast, but he had. Even with the staged, well semi staged, arguments with Mia it was still wonderful having Ezra around. He missed him terribly. It helped hanging out with Ezra's friends. He had never really warmed up to Brian's buddies in the FBI but these guys had accepted him as one of their own. They did not hang around the racers much, just Vin and occasionally Buck would swing by but these days usually the whole team were always at his house, talking about Ezra.
That thought made him smile. Ezra would not be thrilled with how many stories they were telling about him, but it certainly helped to explain his quirks. He thought they were trying to ensure that he knew how special Ezra was, and how much he would need to work on his confidence and self worth. The fighting that was going on with Mia was really not helping with that. Though it was unavoidable given their scenario. When this was all over they would have to have a long talk. Fortunately Brian was working on her quietly. He was as Catholic as she but more pragmatic about church positions which as he put it "Were more tradition than anything else." Brian had been a godsend in many ways. He had found FBI guys they could trust with all of the truth and helped spin the sanitized story for the rest, who would simply believe Ezra was undercover. He had talked to the police captain about backup, a surprisingly easy task. To Dom's surprise the police were well aware of toys and once they had found out that one was in danger there had been no problems with helping ensure the kidnappers did not get away. In fact their biggest problem had been preventing them from going in immediately. Dom had received quite a lecture from the police captain about his duties as a "protector" (the police were very uncomfortable with the word owner and mostly refused to use it).
The only time Dom had felt any concern was when one of Brian's friends had proposed simply waiting until Ezra was released and then coming in based on a warrant from Ezra's testimony. Dom had been unable to make him understand that the contract terminating, permanently terminating given the non-renewal clause, was simply not an option. The agents perspective was that it made no sense to risk his men in what could turn out to be a gun battle just to, as he put it, "Ensure that Toretto gets to keep his plaything." When Brian insisted that there was simply no way to amend a contract during the waiting period, or file a new one when this expired he had proposed forming a relationship with Ezra "without all the offensive paperwork". Brian had tried explaining that in the world of illegal racers toys were acceptable but, rational or not, a homosexual relationship between equals were not, but his friend was not impressed. Dom was not at this point ready to give up everything he loved most in his life to pursue a relationship with Ezra. Fortunately Brian had brought in Chris Larabee who had gone completely ballistic at the idea of having Ezra's identity exposed. The fact that the only person who would have been able to provide the kidnapping charge would be Ezra, and that his real name was on the contract paperwork would expose him as an undercover agent. Brian's friend had backed down, especially since Larabee was perfectly willing to go in with just his men and then hand over the case to the FBI as a kidnapping recovery. Apparently there was more than enough history of his team "doing the FBI's job for them". When this was over Dom was going to go with Ezra to the council and get the contract amended so that a termination was renewable. He was never going through this again. Now it was just a waiting game.
Chapter 7: Endgame
It was finally time to go get Ezra and Dom was ecstatic at the thought. The only fly in the ointment was Mia still being very negative over the whole idea. As he and Brian were pulling on the body armor Chris insisted on, Mia asked for the third time that day whether they could just leave it to the professionals. "Dom you have to realize to him it's just another job. He's using you to get this case closed. Think about it, he's so committed to his cover he let you spank him just in case anyone was casing the house. He's just uncover as someone who wants to be your toy, it's another role to him. I'm telling you he's going to come back and explain that he's sorry he had to deceive you." Brian sighed, by this time he was as tired of Mia's refrain as Dom was. "Mia the contract is real! Why do you think there are hundreds of thousands sitting in Dom's bank account?" Mia's comeback was immediate "You're assuming he does not intend to take it back, that it's Dom's. Why do you think he would not let us use any of it? He is intending to terminate the contract before the waiting period is up and ask for it back!" Brian and Dom exchanged glances. Finally Dom told her the truth, "Mia, he never prevented you having the money that was all me" Mia looked at him in horror, "How could you lie to me?" Dom's voice was apologetic, "I was feeling very wary after that byplay between you two about me wanting him for the money. On top of that I did not feel that your acting abilities would extend to displaying the proper loathing for Sunny if you knew he had just bought you a house." Mia looked both angry and sad "I understand your concern but, you should not have lied to me. I have been so angry with him that I do not know if I can accept him. I look at him now and I think of him as selfish and untrustworthy!" Dom had rarely seen Mia this angry. "I'm not blind I've seen how much I've hurt him and I've been happy to do it. Some of things I said to him, Dom I've called him every name in the book at one time or another. Did you really think all that anger and hurt was just acting? You know how good I am at reading people I used that to hurt him." Mia sounded resigned for the first time that day. "I am still frightened for you both but this family now owes him. So you go and bring him back safely. I will have to figure out how to apologize."
Chris was relieved, they were almost there, the guards had been captured without any agents being wounded, though not without shooting, and now the task was to find Turturo and Ezra. "There are a million rooms in this place, how do we find Ezra fast? I don't want Turturo to get the bright idea of holding Ezra hostage to try and escape." To his surprise Dom's response was to become as angry as Chris had ever seen him. "You think I would have allowed Ezra to do this if Turturo was the kind of guy who would hold a toy hostage! Kind of hard to hold someone hostage if everyone knows you can't hurt them. If you think ..." Chris interrupted before this got out of hand "Whoa, time out Dom. Ezra works regularly with guys who would take even a federal agent hostage. I don't know if Turturo is that type but Ezra being valuable to you and in his mind pretty helpless make him a more valuable hostage right? He knows about Brian's contacts he has to know all these Feds are here looking for Ezra." To Chris' surprise the police officer assigned to them was the one who responded. "Are you kidding me? That statement tells me that you have no idea what toys are. Do you have any idea of the kind of power that's backing up a toy? Jesus, you guys need to either update your education or we need to make sure we never work with you on cases like this. If we thought Turturo was crazy enough to harm a toy we would have stormed this place the second we found out about it. There is no way we would allow a toy to be killed in our jurisdiction. Hell we'd be liable for his death if we didn't get him out immediately." At Chris' look of mystification he clarified. "The owner is supposed to protect the toy from assault or injury but death - well killing a toy brings the whole council down on not just you but your whole family, hell on everyone you give a damn about. If you're lucky the council will just kill them. If not everyone involved will wish they had been killed outright. As for the police well, we actually have the obligation to prevent deadly harm against any toy in our jurisdiction as well as general responsibility for any toys not currently under contract. If you guys don't know that, well maybe it's because you are not responsible for a district but I can't believe you guys don't know at least basic protocol." He switched on his radio suddenly "All officers take note, the federal agents you are accompanying do not know basic protocol. Do not let them approach the subject at any cost. Any force necessary is authorized." At Chris' look of disbelief he shrugged, "There is no way this department is going to get a notification of dereliction of duty from the goddamn council. We'd be attracting every lowlife in the country to take revenge on any officer in uniform. That is not happening on my watch. You guys need to go find out some basics ASAP." Chris' response was cut short as Dom opened the next door. Turturo and Ezra were in the room.
The officer immediately drew his gun and walked forward pointing it at Turturo. As far as Chris could see he was ignoring Ezra entirely, but when Chris walked towards his agent the gun swung immediately towards him. Chris could not imagine drawing his gun on a cop but Dom's response immediately diffused the situation. "Stand down officer, he has my permission as a member of my family." The gun immediately swung to Turturo again, who had very carefully not moved since the moment they walked into the room. The officer activated his walkie-talkie, "Package is secure". Turturo sighed, now he got to see if Dom was going to kill him, admittedly it was a bad precedent since he would pretty much have to kill his sister also, but such things had happened. To his surprise Ezra interjected "I'm OK Dominic. Turturo has been the perfect gentlemen." Dom glared at him and to Chris' surprise Ezra immediately fell silent. Dom stepped forward and started stripping off Ezra's sweats. Turturo and the officer immediately turned away, carefully not looking in Ezra's direction. Chris was really going to have to learn some more information about toys, clearly some important information had been left out.
Dom seemed amused at Chris' expression and explained. "Maybe you want to take his word that he's not hurt, but I am going to ensure that for myself." He glanced over Ezra's body and stopped at his back, his fingers ghosting lightly over a couple of healing cuts and bruises. "You're OK huh?" Ezra's voice sounded annoyed "It's nothing" Dom pulled off his own shirt and gave it to Ezra who showed no surprise but simply pulled on Dom's shirt without comment. Chris would never believe it of his fashion plate of an agent if he had not seen it with his own eyes. Once Ezra was wearing Dom's shirt, which was long enough on him that it came to mid thigh, Dom growled "Turturo" and turned towards him, but Ezra moved in front of him. "He didn't touch me Dominic. There was a gentleman on his staff who developed an issue with my demeanor. Turturo's lieutenant killed him after the guard took his belt to me. Turturo did not even know until it was all over." "This wasn't from some badly thought out attempt to make you leave that message?" Ezra looked relieved, finally Dom was listening and not reacting. "No, no-one touched me then." Dom practically growled at that. "How exactly did they accomplish making you leave that phone message without putting a bruise on you?" Ezra flushed "I ah ... I should have realized they were bluffing but .. I thought they might hurt some kids." "Turturo? Hurt kids?" Dom's disbelief was so clear that Turturo responded, "Thank you Mr. Toretto."
Dom could not believe Turturo's nerve. "You dare speak to me?" Turturo simply looked at him his eyes mild. "The fact that you are here indicates you found out who my client is and called in some favors from your brother in law to stage a raid. You cannot hold me more responsible than my client and last I heard holding them responsible would not be an option for you." Dom seemed to deflate at his comment. "If I had not gotten Sunny back before the waiting period expired ..." Turturo waived this away. "Nevertheless you did re-acquire his services in time. I highly doubt that you are going to charge me with kidnapping and you cannot hold me more responsible than my client, so if you would tell this fine officer that I am no longer in possession of anything contraband..." Chris interrupted at that "Ezra are you telling me that this guy is trying to walk away from kidnapping charges?" Turturo smiled but then his smile dimmed as Brian entered with an FBI agent and another police officer. Dom smiled maliciously "Brian do you think there might be anything to find in Turturo's office that might need to be explored to ensure the safety of this strike team? Perhaps there is some kind of automated software on his computer that detonates a bomb?" Turturo sighed. "That is hardly very sporting Mr Toretto." Dom scowled "You know what. I don't care, you took Sunny. You let him get hurt by one of your men. If I can't make you pay for it directly then you'll god damn pay for it indirectly." As Brian and one of his FBI agent friends joined them in Turturo's office Dom swept Ezra up into his arms. "Come on let's go home and get reacquainted."
Chapter 8: Aftermath
Ezra yawned and stretched, life was almost as perfect as he could imagine. Then he frowned as he felt Dom pull him closer and ruffle his hair. "You know, I am not your pet" Dom grinned at him, "We could change that you know, get you a leash and make you wear your collar" Ezra flushed and Nathan and J.D. Both threw empty beer cans at Dom yelling "too much information!" Dom grinned he was definitely enjoying hanging out with these particular Federal agents, not something he would have predicted anytime before he met Ezra. By all accounts Ezra was happy too. At one point or another each of Ezra's 'brothers' had approached him to thank him for the changes his relationship had made in Ezra. They loved that he would openly display his affection for them and smile readily now.
Chris had initially been wary over whether his relationship with Ezra would interfere with his job. Dom had assured him that he had no intention of preventing Ezra from continuing as he always had. He explained to Chris "The only difference will be if you ever should run into a situation where someone grabs Ezra, tell them he's a toy on loan and have them take a look at the band on his ankle. Nine times out of ten they will release him like a hot potato." "And the tenth time?" Dom's eyes grew dark, "In that case they are insane so you have Vin shoot them in the head," The only other change was Dom had insisted all the teams that worked with team 7 had training in basic toy protocol. Initially Chris had been concerned that it might be a pointer to Ezra if only the teams working with his had such training, but he found that every agent, in every federal agency in Denver, was being forced to take the training. The Denver police chief had adamantly refused any and all police cooperation with any agents who had not had the training. In fact he had been appalled to learn it was not standard. Furthermore the heads of every police jurisdiction in the country had quietly met with the FBI and insisted a seminar be added at Quantico. After the training was completed Chris had quietly informed the leaders of teams 8 and 5, which were the ones who interacted with team 7 on a regular basis, of Ezra's status and that had been that.
Dom snagged some ribs off the barbecue. He figured maybe the next time he made barbecue he would invite some of Brian's friends too. Perhaps he had not been entirely welcoming the last time. He had been angry and resentful at the way they had treated Brian. Well speak of the devil, Brian came sauntering in with more beer bring along Mia and her famous potato salad. Dom was glad to see them, though for a while he had to admit that the sight of Mia had not made him so unreservedly happy. Dom had thought that the arguments between Mia and Ezra would stop once they no longer had to perform for an audience, but that turned out not to be the case. As it turned out that they disagreed on a variety of topics, everything from politics to the best way to ice a chocolate cake. After one memorable argument on just that topic Dom had taken Ezra aside and flatly forbidden him to argue with her for any reason. Ezra had been initially amused and then angry when Dom made it clear he was serious. However Dom had held his ground and Ezra was forced to either acquiesce to his wishes or essentially treat the contract as a meaningless piece of paper rather than a agreement which he had given his word to follow. The next time Mia came over he had initially remembered Dom's strictures but eventually during a somewhat animated discussion of whether children should be given more structured or unstructured playtime he had forgotten. Once Mia had left Dom had used his belt to make sure his point was reinforced. Though he had been careful to have Nathan supervise, it had been painful for Ezra as well as of course embarrassing. Dom had a suspicion that Ezra had assumed that the initial 'punishment' had been purely for show and than Dom did not intend to implement that particular facet of the contract. However he felt the lesson had been effective and the next time Mia came over Ezra was nothing but polite and agreeable.
Of course Mia had been suspicious and asked Ezra directly if Dom had punished him for arguing with her. Dom had suspected something of the sort might occur, and had instructed Ezra to lie as a precaution, despite much pleading from Ezra. This meant his response was that he had "simply realized the fruitlessness of disagreement with family members on trivial matters." Unfortunately for both Ezra and Dom when Brian was picking Mia up their son Patrick came running to Ezra for a hug, knocking him back into his seat with a thump, and causing a very obvious wince. Mia had been furious, both at Dom for punishing Ezra and at Ezra for, as she thought, deliberately lying about it. She coldly told Ezra that if he was willing to lie to her then she could not trust him to babysit Patrick, which was something Ezra had started to do and adored. Dom had watched uneasily as Ezra had paled and begged her to give him another chance, promising to never lie to her again. Mia's counter was sharp "What assurance do I have. You are obviously an accomplished liar since it is after all what you do for a living." Ezra was willing to agree to anything and, to Dom's horror, offered to have Dom punish him for lying to her, his initial offer was to have Dom give him 20 strokes with his belt. Saying "Since I know from experience that will ensure that it is something I would never be inclined to risk again or indeed to forget under any circumstances." At that Dom intervened and confessed, but to his dismay Mia still insisted on the punishment. In her words, "I know it will horrify you more than anything to have to hurt Ezra because of your mistakes, and you will never make the mistake of forcing him to lie to me again. This way he will never consider it on his own behalf and you will not either." Dom hated every minute of that punishment, especially since Ezra couldn't prevent himself from crying out past the 15th stroke. Nathan was at hand for that punishment as well, and confirmed that Dom had done no permanent damage, though those were the last words he was willing to speak to Dom for weeks afterwards, until Ezra basically begged him to forgive Dom.
After that the arguments occurred less often and with less acrimony and now Mia and Ezra got on reasonably well. Dom watched as Mia came over, sat down next to Ezra on the grass and smiled at Dom, then she looked at Ezra "So, how do you feel about weddings?"