Jack Toretto taught his son almost everything, and the only thing that never took was math.
Mia would eat it up, planted at the table tallying numbers in her head. Dom would slump in his seat, sketching out shapes on both sides of his scratch paper — engine blocks, intake valves, the first transmission he'd ever touched.
"Whatever," he'd said once, adding wings to an owl-shaped carburetor. "Not like I'm ever gonna need this again."
"This you will need for the rest of your life," Dad had answered. Dom stopped scribbling just long enough to snort.
"Right. Two plus two equals four."
He'd glanced up, and what he'd seen in his father's face had made him put the pencil down.
"You get that one right, Dominic," his father had said, carefully casual, "and everything else is gravy." Then he'd sat back, slapped a hand on Dom's closed book, and shoved it across the table. "C'mon, trig time. Or do you think those parts just design themselves?"
It takes two trips to get the groceries in. He mentions the extra bags to Mia, a question without asking, and watches her shrug it off.
"We have more mouths at the table."
"One more," he says. Too much shoulder. "Don't forget you've got work to do."
"Haven't forgotten yet." She sings it out, sarcastic, half-hidden behind a curtain of hair. "It's a stats test, Dom, I've got it covered. Can we get this stuff unpacked, please?"
There's buttermilk at the bottom of one bag, which can only mean she's making Mom's special cornbread.
Brian Earl Spilner is going to be a problem.
Sundays at 1327 used to be a free for all. Folks would come in from five streets over, with blankets and chairs and coolers, until half the neighborhood was squatting on their back steps, spilling down their driveway, sprawled across their front lawn. They came for the food, but they stayed for his father, who never forgot a name, who knew their spouses and kids and cars, who kept all three in line.
Now, Sundays are for family. For a handful of stragglers around an old picnic table, sharing a meal in the one place they fit.
The buster comes early with a case of Corona, so he's not a total loss. Just a mystery. Pretty boy with a pretty ride, crashing the circuit from out of nowhere. Jesse had found enough — Arizona, early twenties, extended stay in juvie — but nothing, from his half-finished high school to his single Morning mother, to explain that tricked-out Eclipse.
Dom's never been an import man, but it's a damn shame about that car.
He hovers near the grill, hands in his pockets, while Dom gets the fire going.
"Thanks for the invite," he says.
"Figured you could use a good meal."
The kid's confused expression doesn't quite fit on his face. "What do you mean?"
Dom raises an eyebrow. "Eating that tuna every day? Must not have many options." He stops stoking the coals, raising the hot tongs in his hand. "Or is there some other reason you're in my store on the regular?"
Anybody with half a brain would choose their words very carefully, but Brian barrels on, full throttle.
"Honestly?" he asks, with a shrug that says fuck it. "I wanna drive."
Well he's not slinging at Harry's for the company. It's moments like this, with the set of his shoulders and the sparks in his eyes, with the air around him charged with challenge, that make Dom look too hard for too long.
"You wanna drive," Dom echoes. "And?"
This time, Brian doesn't even blink. "And you're Dominic Toretto."
There's a breeze from the window and a fan overhead, and neither one is doing a damn thing. Letty is a sweat-slick weight on his chest, thighs still splayed around his hips, their skin fused together in the heat.
He wraps his arms around her anyway, one hand stroking the length of her spine, until he can feel her breathing even out.
"Talk to her."
"Jesus." She shoves off his ribcage and flops to her back on the bed. "Thought I was a better distraction than that."
"I'm serious," he says. "I wanna know what the hell she was thinking."
"That she could get Vince off her back and get some ass while she's at it. Who cares? It's a whole new century. Nobody gives a shit who we fuck."
Dom smirks without humor, thinking of the glares, the whispers, the not-so-quiet conversation Mrs. Carter had with his father the first time she'd seen Letty with his children. They're siblings, Jack. It's just not done.
"Everybody cares. You just don't give a shit that they do."
"Same difference," she mutters.
It isn't, but the reasons why she won't get it are the same reasons why he loves her. Letty's always lived life her against the world, between the mother she never knew and the father she never wanted to, and only opened up enough to let two Torettos in.
"C'mon, Dom." She stretches out next to him, as comfortable in her skin as she is in a car. "Mia's a big girl. She knows what she's doing."
Mia is a lot of things — smart, sweet, made of fucking steel. Too trusting for her own damn good, with too many strikes against her already.
"Mia is Morning moiety," he says. "Which means Brian is off limits."
"You know what, you sound mighty traditional right now. Nobody's trying to marry this kid." She snorts. "Now if you wanted a piece? Then we'd have a problem."
They'd have more than one. He thinks back to Lompac, so removed from reality — this shit had never mattered on the inside, where half of Morning block fucked for dominance, in desperation, out of sheer damn boredom.
Dom had spent two years behind bars and come back to a world of change, but some things always stayed the same.
"It ain't about me." Letty raises an eyebrow, and he clenches his jaw. "Just. Talk to her."
"Oh, fuck that. You talk to her." She shakes her head and rolls over, pushing her pillow off the side of the bed. "I'm not about to do your dirty work, Dom. You're not the one who has to sleep with her ass tomorrow."
When he talks, it isn't to Mia.
The threatening big brother bit is new territory. He's only had to look the part, before — Mia's got an even better bullshit meter than Dom does, and she shuts shit down before it ever escalates to outside intervention. Vince — already family, with hopes so high — is the only exception; they let him down easy, he gets right back up again, and neither of them has the heart for a full knockout.
Dom had debated the best way to begin, then settled for short, quick, and to the point. He'd expected some stammering, some half-assed explanation. Hell, he'd been ready for the kid to play dumb. What he hadn't bet on was the rapid response, the shorter point, the sheer conviction. An even growl, both puppy and guard dog, meant to put Dom at ease and back him the hell down.
Maybe that's what makes Dom bring him here.
"Amazing," Brian says now. "That's amazing."
Locking up the garage always feels like putting the devil to bed. He used to dream — after Linder, after Lompac, after — of a black beast with chrome claws, biding its time in their own backyard. It would idle in the dark, eyes glowing like high beams, hooves spitting burnout smoke, nine hundred horses rumbling in its chest, until it mowed down the door, plowed a path to Mia's room, and engulfed the rest of his life in flames.
They fall back to the retaining wall, shoulder to shoulder, hips propped on the edge of the concrete. Brian leans back on his hands and cuts his eyes over, then drops his head.
"So why tell me that story, Dom?"
There's no easy way to answer that, because he doesn't have a fucking clue.
Instead, he crosses his arms.
"My Dad used to say that I collected broken things. Didn't matter what they looked like, where they came from, what condition they were in. I'd pack 'em up and haul 'em home."
Brian flashes that sunshine smile, nodding toward the garage. "When you can build that with a bunch of spare shit, why the hell wouldn't you?"
"Except he wasn't talking parts," Dom says. "Letty's mother died when she was a baby. Leon's left. Vince's beat him black and blue. And Jesse… Jesse's had him hopped up on heroin before he'd even been born." He squints into the sun. "Not parts. People. Family doesn't start with a perfect square, not for everybody."
"And you, what, just shared your square with everybody else?"
Dom snorts. "Mine was less perfect than most."
That look of confusion comes back. "The way you talked about him, your father — "
"My father couldn't have kids." Brian blinks, and the confusion becomes disbelief. Dom shifts on his feet, pointing to the south. "He grew up with my mother, a few blocks from here. Most folks who share a moiety just end up in the same marriage. There's not even a name for that connection. But they… they loved each other. They respected each other. Then she met a woman in nursing school, one of her instructors. Carla. My mother fell hard. She and Dad got along. They all made it work, for a while."
Brian swallows. Stalls. "What about, uh…"
"He was a sales rep for some drug company. Her clinic was on his rotation."
Dom remembers the man as a shadow, sketched in the shape of empty seats and broken promises. His mother had made the best of it, managed to have two kids between business trips, until one night he hadn't come back at all. Dad and Carla had been there, had tried, had failed. Dom may have taken the edge off — too messy, too moody, too much. But Mia had come along, tiny and quiet and perfect, and even her name was a blow: 'wished for child' as a variant of their mother's, but in Carla's native Italian, simply 'my.'
"And they never got married?" Brian asks.
She hadn't left until Mom got sick. He almost hated her more for that.
"They got married," Dom answers. "It was happily ever after 'til it wasn't. Then it just was a Morning man with two Morning kids in a world that doesn't like different, and that is a level of shit Mia does not need. Don't make me sorry I brought you home."
"So what are you trying to say, Dom? That I'm one of your broken things?"
Dom glances over to a face full of concern and shrouded in confrontation. But below all that, there's a sliver of hope, and the sight of it makes him ache.
He straightens, shoulder still warm from the contact.
"I don't know what you are, Brian. But I know what you're not. And when it comes to my sister, that's all I give a damn about."
When the rebuilt Supra is finally road ready, Dom waves off the keys and climbs into the passenger seat. Winning a car takes ten seconds flat, but this one is nowhere near that simple.
Brian drives like a bat out of hell, like a man on a mission. Like he's got something to prove. And absolutely nothing like the grinning idiot who'd granny-shifted his way through his first race. The chump at the light is the best evidence; Brian puts his eyes on the road and his foot on the gas, and doesn't stop 'til there's a Ferrari-shaped speck in the rearview.
On Dom's order.
The rush of it makes his blood hum, but it's the change in Brian — the set of his jaw, the tension through his torso, the single-minded fucking focus — that makes something churn in his chest.
He can't remember the last time he hung on for dear life.
The hum is still there when they pull in to park, idling in his veins like a lingering high. Somehow they've switched places; Brian is suddenly silent and stoic, but Dom can't stop smiling into his shrimp.
The conversation, when it comes, is blindsiding.
"I'm not stupid," Brian barks, and there's real bite behind it. Dom almost laughs; a lot of things have crossed his mind since Brian dropped into their orbit, but that has never been one of them.
"I know there's no way in hell you paid for all that shit under the hood of those cars by doing tune-ups and selling groceries."
He thinks of Vince's rage and Letty's reasoning, of Mia's recent happiness, and tries to reconcile them with all the ways Brian doesn't add up.
"Whatever it is you're in on, Dom, I want in on it, too."
For a second it sounds like he means something else entirely.
And for that split second, that tiny slice of time and space, Dom is dumb enough to let himself imagine.
There's a moment, just after the train has blown past their back bumpers, when Dom swears he's flying.
He forgets that Jesse is dead, that Vince is dying, that Letty and Leon are long gone. That he's left his sister behind with blood on her hands. The Charger comes down, bouncing on its brand new shocks, but Dom doesn't — he looks to his left and Brian is there, the only other thing on the road, behind the wheel of something that they'd built from scratch.
They might have been able to build something else, once upon a time. But fate has a fucked-up sense of humor.
Case in point: the tractor trailer that sends him airborne.
It happens fast — a flash of horror in bright blue eyes, the banshee scream of metal on metal, then the blur of movement as the ground swaps places with the sky. His shoulder slams into the cabin cage, and the Charger skids across the asphalt, rolls to its roof, rights itself on two rear tires and a snapped front axle.
There's a ringing in his ears that echoes his name, its tone the tenor of Brian's terrified voice.
Brian hauls him out of the driver's side window, hands at his waist, mindful of the mess of his left arm. Dom stands in the street, cradling his dislocated shoulder, firmly rooted in reality again. He can't bear to look at the car.
The ringing becomes the sound of sirens. And the man at his side is a cop.
He contemplates the best way to set his shoulder — has to be done, or the cuffs will be a bitch — and wonders how long he'll go down for this time. What kind of penance you pay for failing your whole fucking family.
The guilt in Brian's face is at war with the gun in his hand. Dom doesn't know which one is winning.
Then his hand comes up, holding the keys to the Supra.
Dom reaches for the lifeline, then stops.
"You know what you're doing?"
Brian's eyes bore into his, burning with conviction. And beneath that, an apology — for everything that's happened, for everything that hadn't.
"I owe you a ten-second car."
Dom swallows, nods, slips the keys into the palm of his hand. But Brian hangs on, shifts closer, steps into his space. Slips his mouth over Dom's on a breath.
He walks them into the wreckage and props them against the twisted chassis, fingers fisting in the front of Dom's shirt. Dom licks into the heat of his mouth, hangs on with his good arm and everything within reach of his bad, and barely feels the bright burst of pain from his shoulder, the bite of the keys cutting into his skin.
Brian barely pulls back, eyes spitting blue fire. Dom feels it then, knows the answer before he even asks the question.
Suddenly there's a gulf between them — Brian backing away, closing the floodgates. Putting the Morning mask back in place.
"'Cause I'm still not who you think I am."
Just when he's burying the past in the pull of Puerto Plata, his future comes back to haunt him.
Then he's on his back in the shallows at the end of a perfect day, a day he doesn't deserve, with Letty sprawled between him and the sky. He'd had to make himself touch her, the first time after so long. Now that he's sure she's real, he can't seem to stop.
She paints patterns on his chest in seawater, watches it run back down his sides to the sand.
The sun is going down. His time to pretend is over.
"You shouldn't have left her," he says.
"I shouldn't have left, period," she counters, and presses a kiss to his collarbone. "Mia's as fine as she's gonna get, Dom. You're the one who can't stay out of trouble."
It isn't fair, that they're here together, when he's the reason everything fell apart. But Letty is a force of fucking nature; all he can do is hang tight in the eye of the storm.
One hand slips into her hair, holds her here even though he knows it's selfish.
"And you came to keep me out, is that it?"
She smirks, scooting higher, until she can grin against his mouth.
"Bitch please, that ship has sailed." Her toes trail up his calves and her dark eyes are bright, lips skimming his with every word. "I just don't want you in trouble without me."
Even standing here staring at a closed casket over an open grave, Dom can't quite believe she's gone. His Letty, larger than life, without any life left in her.
He's hidden on the ridge, completely removed. Just close enough to see her face on a funeral portrait, the strain of mourning in his sister's stoic profile.
Between him and his girls something else feels familiar — the sun shining off a dark blond head. A flash of Brian Earl Spilner, someone sitting in the driver's seat beside him, smiling from the other end of his family table. Someone he'd trusted, with everything that meant anything.
This man stands at parade rest, one eye on the entrance and the other on Mia, and everything about him, bad suit to buzzed hair, screams Fed.
Dom falls back to the cabin, counting down to sunset.
He doesn't know Brian O'Conner at all.
Mia hands him a cold pack and two little white pills, then climbs into her car without a word. Dom watches until the brake lights round the bend, blows out a breath — he's left her alone with too much for too long, and now it's the only way she can deal.
Inside, Brian is perched on the edge of the cot, prodding his lip with the tip of his tongue. He looks up when he hears Dom come in, and the full force of that Night-blooded focus is so sharp it's a mystery how he ever kept it hidden.
Dom twists the cold pack between two hands and tosses it to the floor at his feet. Then he leans into the doorway, crosses his feet at the ankles, and beats back the lump in his throat.
Brian takes a deep breath and starts to talk. About the day Letty dropped Braga's driver on the FBI's doorstep and said she wanted to make a deal. About her all-or-nothing immunity — either Dom came home or she went away — and how she'd signed before the DA was done talking. About how willing she'd been to pay for their sins on her own if it meant that he might come home.
There's a reverence in the way he talks about her, a grief-tinged respect. Dom thinks of the long list of calls from one phone to another, of the first words Brian had said to him after five years, and wonders how closely they'd worked together. Just how close they'd been by the end.
'Letty was my friend, too.'
Brian's voice is going by the time he's done, but he clears his throat for the last of it. Gets to his feet, his face grim.
"I'm sorry," he says. "It's my fault, Dom, all of it. Jesus, I'm so sorry."
Dom has no idea how anyone could listen to that story and think they'd been the one calling the shots, much less step forward to shoulder the blame.
Hurricane Letty. Had to go out with a bang.
"It's Braga who should be sorry," Dom says. "Let's let him know why."
In the moment before they both bid Mia goodbye, his eyes find Brian's, and there are whispered words in his head.
Ride or die.
It's not only Letty's voice that he hears.
There's no telling what makes him move — the high of good news, the happy memory of his father, the haunted look in Brian's eyes when he talks about his own — but he's crossed the balcony and backed Brian into the wall before he even registers the motion.
His hips pin them both to the stucco while his hands find the back of Brian's neck, and then he's hauling him down, crushing their mouths together, sliding his tongue past the gasp of impact.
Brian groans and recovers, fumbling between their bodies to get a hand down Dom's pants, and closes long, hot fingers around him.
It's punched out on a breath, opening enough for Brian to wedge one leg between both of his and flip him a hundred eighty degrees.
He presses his knee to the wall and stands up straight, making Dom push up on his toes, white-knuckled in a way he's only been behind a wheel, and his hand never stops moving.
"Sorry, Dom. I've waited too long for this."
After seven years of shifting shapes and straight lines and single points, they finally get tired of waiting.
The first Sunday of their marriage, he lets Brian loose on the grill.
"This is a bad idea," Brian says, brandishing the sauce brush like a weapon. "There's a reason we let Torettos do the cooking."
Dom snakes an arm around his husband's waist, puts his lips on a specific spot behind his ear, and waits for the shivers to start.
"Fine. But if there's food poisoning, I'm blaming you."
Half an hour later, Jack is a wriggling bundle under one arm, and Hannah's sleeping soundly in her carrier.
'You're gonna have to give sometime, Dom,' his father had said once. 'A quarter mile is just one fourth of a whole.'
One day he'll tell them the story — not the pain of losing his parents, of watching one waste away and the other one burn — but all the things before and after. Of the years they were doomed to be triangles, in whatever permutation, two sides together adding up to the single side left. Of their mother as the fixed point of it all, and their father as the final piece of the puzzle.
Of the way love multiplies, exponentially.
Mia sets out the cornbread as Letty locks up the garage, and his family sits down to dinner.