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Not to the Swift

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The latest haul’s worth a mil, easy, and by the time they get it stashed away, switch out the Hondas for their own cars, and head home, they’re all flying. Adrenaline, camaraderie, the knowledge that they’ve done what no one else could do. It’s a rush like no other; no quarter mile, as much as Dom loves the thrill of pure speed, could live up to the insanity of circling a semi, ducking under and around it, holding a car steady enough, at speeds most people never travel, that a man can climb out onto it like a surfer catching a wave.

Vince, who’s never been a racer, never understood cars the way the rest of them do, but loves speed and danger all the same, gets his buzz from the sheer physical risk of it. One slip when he’s detaching the wire and he’d be under the wheels, but he does it earlier and more flamboyantly every time. When they get home he’s still pumped, affectionate and handsy, stroking Dom’s head, leaning on his shoulder. Dom shrugs him off, accustomed to it after all these years, and he bounces over to Mia where she’s emerging from the kitchen. She ducks his arm and thrusts a platter of midnight lasagne, the best kind, into his hands, sends him out to the table with a stern look.

Dom leans in to hug her, always happy when she waits up for them, and whispers, “Sorry,” in her ear.

Unimpressed, she hisses back, “You promised you’d talk to him!”

“I will,” he says. “I will, I promise.”

It’s not so very easy though, is the thing, to sit your best friend, the guy you’ve hung with since third grade, down and tell him he’s never gonna get what he wants. Not when what he wants is what Dom himself wants, a home and a family, and not when Dom could very easily give it to him.

And when he sits down at the head of the table, Mia at his right hand, Letty at his left, and Vince heads down to the foot like he always does, and Leon and Jesse pile into the remaining seats – Dom and Mia’s seats from when they were kids, and isn’t that just a goddamn riot? – he thinks, he could give it to him. It wouldn’t be so bad. If Mia wanted it, wanted Vince, they could make it work, the four of them.

It wouldn’t be perfect – Letty and Vince spar too much for that; they’ve both known him too long, shared too many of his secrets, each angling for pole position – but it’d be okay. They could rebuild the family that all of them, in their own way, are missing. Vince is irresponsible but he has a good heart. He’s loyal, and he’d treat Mia like a queen, never raise a hand or even his voice to her, and if he’s kind of like a kid who never grew up, it doesn’t matter. Dom’ll take care of any children they have – he had one perfect father, and that was enough.

The house and the market are already freehold, his Evening father’s life insurance saw to that; another couple of jobs and they’ll have enough to pay off the garage. Mia’s going to be a doctor, the very best of all of them, and between that and the businesses they’ll have more than enough to live on, raise a family on. They’re Morning moiety, the natural heads of the family. He’ll even give up racing when the time comes. He doesn’t ever want to do to a kid what his dad did to him.

But in the meantime… In the meantime he has a girl he loves, a sister he adores, and a best friend who doesn’t quite understand that Lompoc changed him, that he’s not the kid he was before he went in, before he took a wrench to someone’s head, before he watched his father burn. And Mia doesn’t want Vince. Doesn’t love him. At least not like that. And she deserves that, to have someone she really loves, she deserves everything, and Dom’s going to give it to her, and once he starts thinking like that… Once he starts down that path, he starts thinking that maybe he deserves that too. His dad loved his father just as much as they each loved his mothers, and he wants that too, to love his husband as much as he loves Letty.

It’s a cheap, punk ass cop out, to let Vince keep hoping, to let him think that if he can talk Mia round then Dom and Letty will go along with it – it’s not a lie, exactly, he will go along with anything she wants, he’s just glad he knows she won’t come around – and he kind of hates himself for it, but Jesus Christ, every other goddamn thing he does is for the family, surely he’s allowed to be selfish in this one thing. The problem is, he doesn’t want to talk about it. Doesn’t want to admit that even after everything, after burying two parents and losing touch with the others, after beating a man almost to death and paying for it, he still believes in fairy tales. He’s still holding out for a happy ending. So when Vince looks at him with sad eyes he blames Mia. It’s the cruellest and most cowardly thing he’s ever done.

So that’s their life. Every one of them waiting and hoping for something that will probably never happen, but in the meantime living to the fullest because if a quarter mile is all you get, you better give it your damnedest.

It all collapses like the house of cards it is when a too pretty kid with a taste for tuna sandwiches and a smile that could light up a highway at night starts hanging round the lunch counter at the market. Dom doesn’t notice him right away, he mostly leaves Mia to run things there her own way, but Letty mentions him one night when they’re lying sweaty and sated in bed. Mentions the fact he’s been in there every day for a week, and has a regular order.

“You think Mia likes him?” he asks, surprised. His sister typically hates the guys that hit on her at the market. And she’s a talented girl, but sandwiches are not her forte, and the tuna is the cheapest and the worst.

“I don’t know,” Letty smiles. “But he’s sure easy on the eyes.”

“Yeah?” Mia’s young, has her head a little in the clouds still, for someone so serious, so dedicated to her studies. But Letty… If this guy turned Letty’s head there must be something there.

Letty laughs, sitting up and throwing back the sheet that was all they could handle on this sweltering midsummer’s night. “For a white boy anyway. He’s too skinny for me. I like a bit of meat on my bones.”

He slaps her hand where it’s creeping across his stomach. “Hey!” he laughs, and she retaliates by pinching the little bit of softness right where his waist meets his hip. His abs aren’t quite what they were when he walked out of Lompoc, but he’s not twenty anymore, and he isn’t spending half of every day in the weight room either. The muscles he has now are the product of honest – mostly honest – labour.

“Got no hips, either,” she goes on, taking a firm hold of his and swinging her leg over to straddle him.

“Oh, yeah?” he asks, as he wraps his hands around her own generous hips, pulls her down hard against him. He’d thought they were done for the night, but maybe not.

She seems to agree, rocking her pelvis into him. “Then again,” she says, smirking as he hardens against her, “Mia ain’t got much in the trunk either, but that works out okay.”

“Stop talking about my sister,” he says, pulling her down to stop her mouth with his own. “I’ll check him out tomorrow.”

Whatever he’d been expecting, it isn’t what pulls up outside the market in an ugly red pickup truck and strolls in like he owns the place. He is skinny, but he’s tall too, as tall as Dom maybe, and while it’s anyone’s guess what he’s hiding under that shapeless, over-sized t-shirt, his shoulders are broad and his forearms well muscled, and shit, when Dom said he’d check him out he didn’t mean check him out.

The kid parks his ass on the centre stool and orders his goddamn sandwich, and yeah, he’s definitely flirting. From the way Mia’s leaning over the counter instead of boxed in behind it, and wearing one of her briefest tanks, she’s flirting right back. Dom keeps his interest resolutely low-key, but when he goes to fetch a soda from the refrigerator he catches his reflection in the glass, and even washed out like that, dude is pretty. He turns around for just a moment and gets the full effect, both barrels, when their eyes lock. The guy stares at him for just a second too long, sun-bleached blond hair, perfect teeth in a generous, open mouthed smile, and those eyes that are the frostiest shade of blue Dom’s ever seen. Jesus. He takes his soda and retreats to the safety of the office. The monthly accounts have never looked so fascinating.

After what feels like forever, but is probably only minutes, there’s the hum of highly tuned engines from outside, and the screech of tyres as the team pulls in one by one. Vince is already bristling by the time he walks in, Letty trying half-heartedly to play peacemaker, Leon and Jesse gossiping and bitching like a couple of old grandmothers from the neighbourhood. It’s clear Vince has taken an intense dislike to the newcomer, but that’s fairly standard. He’s like a junkyard dog when it comes to Mia – she might not give him the time of day, but he’ll be damned before he lets anyone else get near her either.

The shit hits the fan for real when Leon makes a crack about Blondie trying the beef when he’s done with the tuna. He probably doesn’t mean anything by it – probably – but it hits Vince like a shiv to the heart. Dom doesn’t need to turn around to see it, can hear it all in the rapid, pained intake of breath and the sudden silence. Leon tries to walk it back but it’s too late, and there’s a crash as Vince’s stool goes flying, then he’s out the door after the kid who’s calling a cheerful goodbye to Mia, no idea of the storm that’s about to come crashing down on his head.

Times like these it’s best to leave Vince to it, let him burn out his temper rather than nurse a grudge, and from the sound of things the kid’s giving as good as he’s getting. They’re both grunting and panting, blows glancing off each other, none of the heavy, wet sound of repeated hits to a prone body, something he knows too well and never wants to hear again. Then Mia’s slamming into the office, shouting for him to do something. He’s tempted to ignore her, but when she yells, “I’m sick of this shit!” he knows she doesn’t just mean the fight taking place right now. Letty frowns at him too, as though this is somehow his fault.

Neither of them are injured when he gets outside, both of them too riled up to do any real damage. The kid’s trying to get Vince in some kind of jujitsu hold, and Dom grabs him round the waist, hauls him off and tosses him up onto the hood of his truck. He’s no lightweight, that’s for sure; up close it’s easy to see he’s wiry rather than skinny. Vince comes in for another go, and that Dom will not stand for, shouting at him to step back before he embarrasses him. It cuts Vince to the quick like he knows it will, and for a second it looks like he’s going to defy him in front of the kid and everyone, but Leon, not as stupid as anyone takes him for, steps in and drags him off.

Jesse picks up the kid’s wallet, and Dom looks at his driver’s licence. Christ, he’s only twenty-four years old, closer to Mia’s age than to any of them.

Brian Earl Spilner. The name doesn’t suit him, way too red-neck. He looks every inch a California surfer boy. The licence says Arizona though. Looks can be deceiving.

“Sounds like a serial killer name,” he says, to cover the fact he’s been squinting at the photo too long. “That what you are?”

“Nah, man-”

“Don’t come around here again,” Dom says firmly, cutting him off. It’s more trouble than it’s worth. Vince is still straining at the bit in his peripheral vision, and the last thing he needs is him losing it completely when they have another job scheduled. Hell, he needs to get his own head back in the game. There’s a race tonight, and Brian Earl Spilner is no part of that.

Vince is still in a foul mood when they pull up at the meet that night, sitting on the hood of his car and scowling at anyone who dares to look his way. Letty’s bad tempered too, moving in to stake her claim when Dom makes the mistake of stopping to say hello to a couple of the girls waiting on the sidelines, both already a little flushed with alcohol or anticipation or both, both Evening moiety – friends out for a good time together rather than looking to build anything. He wouldn’t touch Gimel or Monica with a forty foot pole, but he did step out on Letty once, just once in the decade they’ve been together, and she’s never let him forget it. Sometimes her possessiveness gets him hot, makes him feel wanted; sometimes, like tonight, it just makes him feel tired.

It’s almost a relief when Brian Earl Spilner comes bounding up like an over eager puppy and starts talking about slips. For a moment Dom thinks he’s just a kid from the sticks who’s seen too many movies about racing for pinks, but then he starts talking about respect, and Christ, it’s too much. He’s only four years younger than Dom, but just then Dom feels every minute of them – every quarter mile and every fist fight and every time he needed someone to slap him down, and the one time there was no one there to do it.

Better him than someone like Johnny Tran.

The kid’s driving a poison green Eclipse with blue flame decals and some decent mods, nothing like the RX-7, but a good car for a young guy starting out in the game. It’s bold, and flashy, and just a little too in your face, just like him, but he’s clearly sunk both time and money into it, and from the way he stands next to it fidgeting proudly it’s clear he loves it. The part of Dom that’s a big brother wants to warn him off, tell him not to risk it, but the other part, the part that isn’t feeling brotherly at all, reacts sharply when he demands, “So am I worthy?” and when he answers, “We don’t know yet, but you’re in,” he doesn’t even know himself what he really means.

The race is ten seconds of adrenaline and not one of any sort of real challenge; Edwin has nothing but sex on his mind, trying to impress his girlfriend and her girlfriend, and Danny Yamato spends too much time on simulations and not enough behind the wheel – his driving’s technically sound but has no soul. Spilner, though, does surprisingly well, for all that he’s raw, and inexperienced, and has no common sense. He comes up from nowhere, blowing the other two out of the water, but misjudges and hits the NOS too soon, out of juice before the finish line and spinning out as Dom sails past him, result never in doubt.

He’s grinning like an idiot when Dom gets out of the car though, despite the fact he’s just thrown away what was probably eighty thousand dollars in parts, and six months of damn hard labour, for a fleeting chance at winning the respect of a virtual stranger.

“Dude, I almost had you!” he laughs, running a hand through his hair and breathing heavily, and he’s blatantly flirting. Either that or he’s delusional. Maybe both.

Dom flirts a little back because his blood is up. When he and Letty get home they’ll be celebrating. He wasn’t kidding when he called her his trophy. The prize money from a race is always nice, and the Eclipse will be fun to tear apart, but she’s by far the greatest prize he ever won, seventeen and almost as over confident as Spilner tonight, and wiping out twice as badly, and he thanks God every single day that she stood by him, through his testosterone fuelled teens, and through the harder times that followed.

Still, when he throws his arms wide and starts the winning is winning speech, he puts a little extra theatre in it. Letty winks at him, and Mia laughs, and the whole crowd rolls with him, in the palm of his hand, oohing at all the right places, never once letting on they’ve heard it all before. Spilner listens to his long, detailed list of mistakes attentively, hanging on every word, still smiling all the while. It is a beautiful smile.

Then the cops roll in, sirens blaring and lights flashing, and they beat a hasty retreat, everyone piling into their own cars and peeling off in all directions. Dom spares a glance to make sure Mia and Letty get away clean, then floors it. The RX-7 is too recognisable though, and there are too many squad cars out, so he ditches it in an all night parking building and heads down Union Street on foot. Just his luck, a punk cop who’s pulled him over before for a busted taillight of all things drives past and orders him to stop. He doesn’t. He’ll never stop. Not ever.

It’s kinda stupid because they know where he lives, and while he’s more than willing to brazen it out if they come to the door, and he knows the others will swear till the world ends he was home the whole time – You’ve got the wrong guy, Officer – there’s no way he’s going to beat them back if they head straight there. Then Spilner pulls up alongside him out of nowhere, and yells for him to get in.

He piles in and Spilner’s pulling out before the door’s even shut, and they lose the squad car before they’ve travelled a block. The kid drives like a maniac, and it’s immediately obvious he’s a better evasive driver than he is a racer, cutting through oncoming traffic with barely a breath between cars, squeezing down alleys, fishtailing around another couple of squad cars that have materialised from nowhere, and flooring it before they get back on the right side of the road.

When they clear the warehouses and there’s no sign of any more cops, Dom relaxes enough to tease him about it. “What are you, a wheelman?”

Spilner denies it, but he looks nervous for the first time all night, and more so when Dom presses him, asking if he’s ever done time. He lies about that too, and he’s a good liar; Dom might have believed him if he hadn’t already had Jesse run his ID. Like he was going to let some punk kid sniff around his girls without checking him out first.

He doesn’t really flinch, just shrugs in acknowledgement and turns the question back on Dom. Dom opens his mouth to give him some bullshit answer, return lie for lie, and instead finds himself saying, “Two years in Lompoc,” and once he’s said that it’s like some crucial dam in him is broken somehow and the rest just follows, “I’ll die before I go back.

A pissing contest with Johnny Tran and his team of nutjobs is just what Dom needs to end the night, so of course that’s exactly what happens. There’s a moment where it looks like he might be able to talk Johnny round, but there’s something in the way he stiffens up when Dom calls Spilner his new mechanic that makes it clear they’ll never get past the thing with Helena, and then Lance fucking Nguyen piles on, and that’s all she wrote. The Eclipse goes up in green, NOS fuelled, flames, the Trans roar off on their souped up bikes, and Dom’s facing a twenty mile hike with only the buster for company.

“What the hell was that all about?” Spilner demands, and the crack in the dam opens further, the pressure of years of silence built up behind it forcing its way out.

“Business deal that went sour,” Dom says shortly, wishing for the millionth time he’d never let Johnny talk him into it. “Plus I made the mistake of sleeping with his sister.” It’s supposed to be dismissive, to close the subject, but the buster ain’t buying.

“Huh,” he says, all blue eyed innocence, but the cock of his head gives it the lie. “I thought you’d been with Letty longer than that.”

“Eleven years now,” Dom agrees, and perhaps a stranger is the only person he could confess this to. He knows Mia knows, there’s no way Letty wouldn’t have told her, but they’re all too proud to ever have discussed it, or to let anyone else find out, and Johnny is an ally in that, at least. He’d never let anyone talk smack about Helena.

“It was a stupid mistake,” he says, and it’s good to be able to say it for the first time. “I’d been out of Lompoc six months, and Letty and I were fighting all the time; she and Mia went to Baja for a month and told me not to bother showing up till I’d gotten my head out of my ass. So instead of doing that I told myself I didn’t need either of them, went out racing every night, and then to every party going, after. I spent a lot of time tooling round with Johnny; he wanted to set up a garage and his dad gave him a blank cheque to do it, nothing but the best.”

He’d kinda liked Johnny, too, back then. He was attractive, and charming when he wanted to be, and it’d felt good to get away from Vince and all his bullshit for a while. Underneath it all there’d been a simmering resentment at the way Johnny got given everything on a plate though, not to mention a certain discomfort with the way he wore his Evening status so lightly, the clear head of his social as well as business circles.

Spilner says nothing, just keeps walking doggedly at his side.

“Helena was a nice girl, kind of old fashioned, nothing like Letty. And she was obviously into me, and I was feeling goddamn low, and drinking way too much, and I went for it. I didn’t realise till it was too late that she was serious. Or that Johnny was into me too.”

In hindsight it was maybe a little naïve – the Trans were a close knit and conservative family, immigrants made good just like his own, and Catholic to boot – but he really hadn’t seen it coming. Johnny was way more subtle about his feelings than Vince. Dom had been on dates with a couple of other girls as a kid, before he met Letty, but never with a guy, and Night relationships are so different from Evening, he doesn’t get the rules. He remembers the way his fathers were with each other, relaxed, confident, affectionate, but they were both gone before he got the chance to ask them for advice, before he ever knew he needed it.

He wants to bite it back as soon as he’s said it, but Spilner says nothing, just bumps him companionably with his shoulder and keeps walking, and eventually they get back to town and hail a cab.

All Dom wants, by the time they get back to 1327, is to crawl into bed and pass out, but there’s candy coloured cars parked up and down the block, and as the taxi pulls up he can hear music blaring into the street. The house is full of drunken assholes, half of whom he doesn’t even recognise, and Vince is holding court from his seat in the corner like he’s lord of the fucking manor. It’s not his goddamn house, and it never will be, but more than that, did he even notice Dom didn’t make it out? He certainly doesn’t look worried, beer in hand and a raft of empties at his feet. Leon’s almost as bad, Gimel in his lap and the reek of weed pouring off them both as they make out sloppily, but at least he doesn’t claim to love Dom.

Even Letty’s sprawled out on the floor in front of the x-box, and when she asks if he’s all right he wants to scream at her that no, he isn’t fucking all right. He knows she knows he can take care of himself, hell, he takes care of all of them, but just once it’d be nice if someone wanted to take care of him, whether he needs it or not. He just about keeps it together until Vince demands to know why he brought the buster here, and that’s the very last straw.

Spilner – no, Brian – has been standing in the doorway the entire time, unsure of his welcome despite Dom’s invitation, and when Dom hands him the beer he’d snatched off Vince and says that the buster brought him home he knows exactly what he’s doing. Brian’s piercing blue stare locks with his for a second, then he turns to Vince in perfect synchrony with Dom himself, and when he takes his first sip, Vince gets the message loud and clear. Leon leaps to his feet and tries to break up the fight that’s clearly brewing, but Gimel’s still hanging off him and Letty’s temper flares again too, and Christ, this whole day has just been a shit show.

Something in his face must clue Letty in to just how much he isn’t all right because she drops it and instead suggests he take her upstairs and give her a massage. As codes go it’s not subtle, and the last thing he wants is to leave Brian down here with Vince, but then he sees Mia coming out of the kitchen, one hell of a determined look on her face, and he wraps his arm around Letty’s neck and hits the stairs. He turns back, and sure enough Brian’s sorrowfully watching him go, hasn’t even seen Mia yet. Dom laughs, and leans over the balustrade. “You know you still owe me a ten second car, right?” he asks, and he’s only half joking.

Brian gapes at him, and Dom’s willing to bet he doesn’t know whether to be horrified or turned on, but as Letty murmurs “Ouch” in his ear he knows for sure which way she is leaning, and as her hand slips off his waist and into his back pocket he thinks that things are finally looking up.

When Brian turns up at the garage three days later with the burnt out hulk of a ’94 Supra it feels like they’re playing a game neither of them are quite sure of the rules to, but they both want to win. The rusted hood pops to reveal a 2JZ engine, and it’s a point to Brian, but the set swings back in Dom’s favour when he pokes him in the chest with the crowbar he’s holding and vows to make some money off his ass. As he stalks out into the yard, laughing, he hears Brian’s shocked intake of breath, and then Mia whispers audibly, “He owns you now,” and Brian starts coughing, and that’s match right there.

Dom retreats to the sanctuary of his office, and watches as Brian settles into the routine of the garage. He’s polite and friendly to Leon, and defers to Letty when she looks up from under the hood of her own Nissan to offer advice. He’s good with Jesse too, when they start looking at his design plans for the Supra. A lot of the guys who come in to the shop aren’t, dismissing him out of hand, or talking to Dom about him like he isn’t even there, or worse, like he’s some kind of tool to be used rather than part of the family. Brian listens to him just as intently as he does to Dom or Mia or anyone else, and when Jess gets stuck on a word Brian waits for him to find it, or supplies it really gently when it’s clear he’s not going to get there. It makes Dom think maybe he can trust him with his whole family, so when they’re done for the day he invites him to the house for barbecue at the weekend.

Brian has no way of knowing how important Sunday barbecue is, or any of the traditions behind it, but he shows up on time, with a dozen Coronas for Dom and a bunch of flowers for Letty as well as for Mia, which makes Letty smile, and elbow Dom in the ribs, and say the new kid is showing him up. They all kind of stand around grinning goofily at each other, then Dom goes back to the grill, and Brian follows Mia inside to help her make the salads, and Letty laughs at them all and jumps in her car and heads down to the market to grab a couple of vases worthy of the name rather than just stick the flowers in a pickle jar, still cracking jokes all the while about how romance has entered the Toretto house for the first time in a decade.

It kind of gives Dom pause, because he knows he could probably find his Ma’s good crystal if he wanted to, but it’s been packed up since she died and the thought of one of these meatheads breaking it while horsing around is just too much. If things work out the way he’s starting to hope they will there’s a lot that’s going to have to change around here. The fact that Letty seems almost as charmed by Brian as he and Mia are is a good sign. Moiety siblings who don’t get on are usually the first sign of a crumbling marriage, but even if that wasn’t true, he’d never look twice at someone who Letty didn’t want to share her life with.

She’s walking back up the drive, vases in one arm, extra ice in the other, when Vince and Leon pull in behind her, late as usual. Vince takes one look at Brian, who’s come back out of the kitchen to bring Dom a fresh beer, and shoves the grocery bags he’s carrying into Leon’s chest, slams into his car, and tears back out of the drive, rubber burning and tyres screeching. Dom sighs and lets him go.

They head to the table to eat, and Brian dumps the big bowl of rice and beans he’s carrying for Mia and slides into the seat at the foot unprompted. Mia and Letty smile softly at each other, bumping hips and touching hands as they pass round the plates and cutlery, and Leon and Jesse goggle from their usual places in the peanut gallery, glancing down at Brian, up at Dom, then back to each other as they silently dare one another to be the first to say something. Dom ignores them both and sits in his own seat giving the chicken more attention than it probably deserves, but his hauteur fades when Brian looks straight up the table at him and winks.

The moment breaks when Vince stalks back into the yard. Leon heckles him the way he always does, and Letty’s sharper than usual as she joins in, but Vince takes it in good spirit for once so Dom shrugs and tells him to sit down. Vince rubs Dom’s shoulders in apology and kisses him on the head, and Dom closes his eyes, dreading the talk they’re going to have to have, and soon. When he opens them again Brian is still watching him, a look of wistful sympathy on his face.

Mia looks a little sick as Vince greets her enthusiastically, pulling up an extra chair to sit beside her, and then the second he sits down he and Brian are back to glowering at each other. Dom pretends not to see any of it, but Letty keeps a careful eye on them all, angling herself to shield Mia from the worst of it. Dom’s always known he can trust her to take care of their girl. She had her heart set on Mia before Dom himself ever caught her eye, and if it came to it she’d protect Mia over him, which is exactly the way he wants it. The Day marriage is the bedrock of the home, the emotional heart, and for all that he’s the head of the family, he knows that without them he’d have spun out into a wall long ago, a crash more spectacular than the one that broke up their original home.

That night Brian stays in the kitchen with Mia while the rest of them watch a movie, and for a while it’s nice, like old times, but then Vince gets up to get more popcorn and Dom can hear him being an asshole from all the way down the hall. Letty tenses up in his arms, but before either of them can make a move Mia shuts the whole thing down with an icy coldness that takes Dom’s breath away, his baby sister really not a baby any more. Vince storms out of the house yet again, door slamming behind him, and Brian and Mia have their first official date scheduled for 10pm next Friday.

They spend the next few afternoons working on the Supra. Vince is conspicuous by his absence, but Brian slots into the garage like he’s always been there. Letty’s got Mia’s Acura in, working on her oversteer problem, and Jesse’s in mad scientist heaven, cursing out Harry’s inventory and overnight ordering the missing parts from Japan. Mia brings them all cold drinks and sandwiches – proper ones like an adult would eat, and tuna on white with no crusts for Brian – and sometimes she brings her books out to the picnic table in the yard, though it’s pretty clear from all the mooning and the number of times Brian hits his fingers with a wrench there’s not a lot of study going on. It’s very close to perfect.

By Thursday they’ve got the body of the car put together, and Dom climbs into the engine well and holds the front grille in position while Brian screws it on from outside. He deliberately waits till he’s trapped in the confined space, hands busy, to broach the subject. It’s awkward as hell, because he really does like Brian, really does, but he’s Mia’s brother and guardian above and before he’s her moiety sibling, and her welfare and happiness come first. He ran over what he wants to say a dozen different times last night, but when he takes a deep breath and opens his mouth what comes out is, “You break her heart, I’ll break your neck.” Brian doesn’t flinch. He looks him right in the eye, and says, softly and solemnly, “That’s not going to happen.” And so help him, Dom believes him. That’s when he decides to show him the garage at home.

Brian’s suitably impressed by the Charger, Dom couldn’t have taken him seriously if he hadn’t been, but he’s more interested in the other memorabilia, plaques and trophies and faded rosettes, and old, dusty photographs that are too painful to look at but too precious to ever take down. He leans up over the workbench to look more closely at the framed picture of Dad in his race uniform, then sits down on a crate and gives his full attention as Dom starts telling him about what happened to him. To them. To Kenny Linder. He doesn’t make a sound the whole time Dom’s talking, not of horror, or disgust, or, perhaps worst of all, sympathy.

It’s times like this Dom really understands, viscerally, why it takes four to make a marriage. He’s carried the weight of being head of the family alone for so long, and it would be so wonderful to be able to share that burden. But he has to be sure that Brian – that anyone who wants to step into that role – knows what he’s promising. His Morning Father was a good man, a kind man; he’d been great when they were kids, always the one to wipe away the tears and patch the skinned knees, to hoist a tiny Dom onto his shoulders so he could see when they went to the track to watch Dad race, but he’d gone to pieces when Dad died, and when Dom needed him most...

They’d survived Ma’s losing battle with cancer, and stayed together, stayed a family, because Dad took care of all of them. It wasn’t his place, the Evening man, but he’d done it anyway, taking charge and keeping things going, doing what had to be done. Dom’s Morning Father and Evening Mother, by contrast, divorced while he was in prison; they couldn’t even keep themselves together, let alone a whole family.

They were both gone, to separate cities, by the time he got out, and he can just about forgive them for that, but he’ll never forgive them for abandoning Mia. Letty, on the other hand, didn’t just wait for him, a stupid nineteen year old who’d fucked up all their lives in a moment of red tinged rage; she packed up her own hopes and dreams and ambitions and moved in with Mia without him ever having to ask.

He’s not expecting Brian to be livid on his behalf, but he is, soft voice quietly vicious as he expresses his incredulity that Dom’s Evening parents wouldn’t focus on their son in crisis rather than their own selfish problems.

“It’s not their fault,” Dom says half heartedly. He tries not to be angry any more about things he can’t change; he found out the hard way where his temper can lead. “They couldn’t have kids of their own. Things had been strained between them for years.”

You were their kids,” Brian insists, and his pale skin’s flushing red with anger, and maybe something else. “You were his son. They should have taken care of you.” A strange look crosses his face. “But what would I know? My parents never got married at all. My Mom worked two jobs just trying to keep a roof over our heads, and I was too much of a little shit to appreciate or understand it, running wild and bitching about all the things I didn’t have instead of being thankful for what I did.”

Dom feels his heart break in turn at the thought of a little kid with one parent and no siblings, of an Evening woman alone in the world with her beautiful boy and whatever work she could get in defiance of her moiety, and nothing but condemnation from the community for straying so far from accepted norms. He can barely imagine what it must have been like, so very different from his own idyllic childhood.

“I always thought…” Brian breaks off and takes a ragged breath, looking resolutely at the floor. “I thought I’d be on my own forever. I couldn’t imagine meeting one person I wanted to spend my life with, let alone three. But I always knew, if I did, that I’d want to do it properly. All or nothing.”

“All or nothing,” Dom agrees. “I have a family. I want a partner. Someone who can share the responsibility. Someone who’ll stand by me no matter what.”

“No matter what,” Brian echoes, getting up and walking towards Dom. His eyes are glassy but his step is sure. Dom meets him halfway, and they both lean in at same time. Perfect teamwork. For a split second it’s weird. Really weird. He’s so used to bending down to Letty, or pulling her up into his arms, but Brian is taller than him, and for all that he’s less heavy set than Dom, he’s got some muscle of his own.

His hands as they settle in the small of Dom’s back are strong, and his fingers press in hard, ten solid points of pressure, as he pulls Dom in against his own body. The kiss is different too, with the rasp of stubble against stubble, but he smells good, a masculine mix of clean sweat and faded cologne, and as Dom mouths his neck and breathes him in it feels like everything’s exactly as it’s meant to be.

When they break apart, breathless, Dom smiles and says, “No one’s home. Do you want to go upstairs?”

“Yeah,” Brian laughs, self possession fully recovered. “I really do.”

They stumble up the stairs but stop on the landing, Brian pressing him up against the wall and biting at his neck. Dom moved into his Morning parents’ bedroom when he got out of Lompoc, but-

“I don’t… We should go in my old room, right?” he asks, and he can feel himself blushing for what must be the first time in forever. “Not Letty’s?”

“Yeah, not Letty’s,” Brian breaks off sucking at what feels like a rapidly blooming bruise to agree. “Mia’s is the Day room?”

“Yeah,” Dom says, throat thick. “We never needed one for Night before.”

Never?” Brian asks, pulling back, clearly surprised.

“Never,” Dom mumbles, feeling his face heat again. “Is that a problem?”

“No,” Brian says firmly. “Not a problem at all. So which is yours?”

Dom takes his hand and leads him down the hall to his old room. He hasn’t been in here for years, but Mia keeps it clean anyway, and she’s strict about not letting any of the others up here; it’s the couch or the floor for anyone too drunk to make it home, and all Vince’s bluster about grade school sleep overs has never done him any good. They’re going to have to clear all the junk out of one of the spare rooms, give Brian his own. It’s a good problem to have. They can find Ma’s crystal while they’re at it.

Brian takes a moment to glance around the room, at the poster of the TransAm Firebird on the wall above the desk, the boyish sports trophies and models and assorted crap on the bookshelves, then tackles him onto the bed. They hit it with a crash, banging the oak headboard into the wall, and they both laugh at the sheer cliché of it, and yeah, this is what Dom hoped for. Slightly awkward as they get tangled in his old blue and white striped comforter, sliding half off the bed, the two of them far too big for his teenage double, but cheerful, and happy, and equally into it. They wrap around each other, hands roaming everywhere, kissing wildly, mouths dragging wetly over faces, necks, shoulders.

They pull at each other’s clothes clumsily, before drawing back by mutual, unspoken, agreement, and dealing with their own instead. Dom’s never been shy about his body, and this is no different at first, as he pulls his tank over his head and fumbles with the button to his jeans. Brian breathes in sharply, eyes widening, and Dom can’t resist flexing a little for him, then collapses back against the pillows, laughing again.

Brian sits back on his heels and looks at him seriously. “You’re beautiful,” he says, not joking at all.

Dom feels himself flushing all over again, unaccustomed to being the one receiving compliments rather than giving them, and avoids his eyes, focusing all his attention instead on unzipping his pants and carefully pushing them down. When he looks up again Brian is unashamedly naked, just kneeling there at the foot of the bed watching him, his cock flushed pink and standing in a hard curve against his flat stomach. There’s a lot more muscle under those shapeless t-shirts and baggy jeans than he lets on, and while Dom’s busy gaping at him Brian darts forward and grabs Dom's legs, pulling him down the bed towards him with surprising strength, and confidence that’s no surprise at all.

He leans in to nose at the crease of Dom's thigh and groin, then with no hesitation he takes a deep breath and opens his mouth to swallow Dom whole. Dom has a heartbeat to feel nervous – it’s obvious Brian has a lot more experience than him – but then there’s nothing but the heat and wetness of his mouth, the tightness of his throat. He goes down with aggressive speed, and sucks hard, a few moments of near perfection, then he pulls off suddenly, making Dom groan in an entirely undignified manner, and has the cheek to smirk at him. Then he hooks a hand under the small of his back, and flips him over onto his stomach.

It’s the ease of the move that gets Dom, more than the surprise, and for half a second that lasts an eternity he’s ready to panic, but when Brian clambers up the bed and settles his weight over him he doesn’t do anything more than lay there for a minute or two, arms wrapping around Dom and holding him till his heart stops racing and he can start thinking again. Brian’s strength is a turn-on, truthfully, and having it used on him so casually makes Dom want him more than he already did. The fact he’s taller than Dom has never been more obvious, but his arms are leaner than his; Dom’s confident he could throw him off if he had to, but as he leans over his shoulder to kiss him, legs wrapping around his to encircle him fully, Dom feels protected rather than smothered.

“It’s okay,” Brian whispers in his ear. “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You really haven’t done this before, have you?”

He shakes his head, face burning.

Brian pulls Dom gently onto his back, and kneels astride him, leaning forward to kiss him gently, and he won’t take no for an answer when Dom won’t look at him, grasping his face in both hands and holding firm. “Dom,” he says, with the weight of a promise. “We can do whatever you want. You can do me instead. Come on.”

Dom digs his heels into the bed when Brian tries to roll them over, and holds onto Brian’s narrow hips hard, keeping him where he is. He’s the Morning man, that makes him head of the house, but the Evening man takes the lead in the Night marriage, and it’s bad enough that Dom already has an entire household set up, that Brian has no family at all of his own, is moving entirely into his; he doesn’t want to take this away from him as well.

“I want this,” he says firmly. “I want you.”

“Are you sure?” Brian asks, trailing gentle, calming circles on Dom’s stomach. He’s got that strange, faraway look on his face again. “I don’t want to hurt you, Dom.”

“You won’t,” Dom says, putting as much certainty into it as he can.

Brian just looks at him for a long moment. “I want this to work,” he says at last. “We don’t know each other very well yet, but I believe in you. And I… There’s other stuff I need to tell you about myself.”

Dom nods in agreement. He hasn’t told Brian everything either, and he might be making a mistake taking this step before he does, but he might not have to if the next job goes well and they can pay the last of what he owes Mr Tran and get back to their normal lives.

“I believe in you too,” he says instead. “There’s time.”

Brian smiles and nods firmly, leans in to kiss Dom again, hard. “Okay, then,” he agrees. “What are the chances you’ve got something slick in here?”

Dom laughs, heavy mood dispersing like clouds before the wind, and gestures wildly at the nightstand. “I was a teenager,” he says, “I’d say the odds are pretty good.”

Brian leans over him, yanking the drawer open and rummaging around. His dick drags across Dom's stomach, heavy and hot and wanting, leaving a sticky smear in its path that Dom can feel. He emerges triumphant with an old tube of hand lotion, a boy’s best friend, and they both laugh again, and just like that they’re back where they were – happy, excited, aroused.

Brian kisses him the whole time he’s getting him ready, fingers gentle but sure, and while it feels a little strange at first it soon passes, supplanted by a rising heat and anticipation. It burns when he replaces his fingers with the head of his cock, but he stops moving when he sees Dom wince, and spends the next few moments stroking his face with his free hand and whispering about how good Dom feels, and how much he wants to make him happy. When Dom finally relaxes enough to let him in he pushes in smoothly, not stopping till they’re pressed together the whole length of their bodies, but again he just lies there, holding him loosely, till Dom gets sick of waiting and tells him to move.

The gloves are off then, and there’s no more hesitation. Brian grins, and knees Dom’s thighs further apart, making room for himself, and takes a firm grasp of Dom’s biceps in both hands, pressing him down hard into the bed as he starts to thrust, and maybe Dom couldn’t throw him off, and that just makes it better in a way he’d never even imagined. It lasts forever and no time at all, strange, and new, and wildly exhilarating, like the greatest ever ten second quarter mile. Brian’s huge, and hot, and so hard inside him, and strong enough to protect him, but also gentle enough to take care of him, and they’re going to be a real family, Dom and Brian and Letty and Mia, and he comes all over himself without so much as a hand to his cock. Brian keeps moving, managing another dozen strokes, shorter now, rhythm faltering, and then he’s coming too, crying out into Dom’s mouth as he kisses him one last time.

Dom makes a quick spaghetti for dinner, and they eat at the kitchen table while the sheets and comforter tumble in the washing machine. The extra laundry on the line in the yard when the girls get home is going to be a sign as sure as hanging the wedding linen over the balcony, but he can’t bring himself to care. Brian’s lit up with satisfaction, loose limbed in his chair and finding every excuse to touch Dom, until he finally gives up and stops pretending, just snags Dom’s fingers with his own and eats one handed.

Dom doesn’t want to let him go when they’re done, but he’s barely shown his face at Harry’s all week, and he’s down to open tomorrow, so he needs an early night. They kiss goodbye on the front porch, and Brian drives the RX-7 home, because he left the truck at the garage and no way is Dom letting him walk. It’s nice, knowing he’ll be back tomorrow to return it.

Their contact at the docks calls shortly after, with news of a major shipment coming into town tomorrow night, and ordinarily Dom would be pissed at getting so little notice, but tonight he’s in too good a mood to bother, just says thank you and hangs up. He calls Vince to give him a heads up, and for once he’s in a good mood too, probably because he’s a had a chance to lick his wounds in private, so they shoot the shit for a few minutes, everyday guy stuff, and Vince agrees to call Leon and Jesse, set things in motion for tomorrow. It’s a good end to a great day, and gives Dom hope he might be able to salvage their friendship after all.

The Friday work day drags, nothing but boring bread and butter work for casual customers, and ten minutes making out in the office like a horny teenager when Brian comes by on his lunchbreak to switch cars. Dom shamelessly abuses his authority to close up early and head home, prompting a knowing laugh from Letty, who’s already made a dozen defloration jokes and shows no sign of running out soon, and matched looks of confusion – thank God – from Leon and Jesse.

He spends a couple of hours out in the garage working on the Charger, comes back inside, showers and changes his clothes, then paces the living room and is generally so annoying that Letty, who’s trying to watch tv, shoves him down onto the couch, unzips his pants, and rides him till they’re both sweat soaked and in need of another shower.

Mia gets home from school eventually, and immediately goes into a nervous fit about what to wear on her date. Letty goes upstairs with her to offer fashion advice and calm her down, and Dom grabs a beer from the fridge and settles in to wait. Normally the others would be here by now, and they’d all sit around the table, eating pizza and psyching themselves up for the job, but Vince knows Mia’s out with Brian tonight, she made the date in front of him, and he’s obviously decided discretion is the better part of valour.

Mia comes back down looking beautiful – she’d be gorgeous in a potato sack, and Dom’s not the slightest bit biased – and Dom tells her so. She blushes and thanks him, and he repays her silence on the subject of him doing his own laundry for the first time in months by kissing her on the cheek and telling her to have fun. She’s picking Brian up instead of the other way round, which Dom thinks is hilarious and Letty thinks is a promising sign of someone who knows his place in the family hierarchy, and as she races out the door she says seriously, “Be careful,” and then more cheerfully, “Don’t wait up.”

Dom snorts at that, because ordinarily he and Letty do wait up for Mia to get home from her dates, but then, her dates are usually with preppy guys from her classes who can’t meet his eyes when he opens the door for them, and they deserve to be terrorised if they can’t obey a simple instruction to get her home by midnight.

He and Letty head out to the rendezvous point an hour later, and the guys are all there, tarps already off the Hondas, ready to go to work. The job goes like clockwork, the score easily enough to pay off the last of the debt to the Trans; one more like this and they’ll be done for real. Dom’ll miss the adrenaline rush, but he’s got other things to look forward to now. They stop for a celebratory drink at an all-night dive bar on the way back into the city, and it’s barely awkward at all when he and Letty make their excuses after a single round, the guys settling in for the long haul.

The house is dark when they get home, and Mia’s door is wide open, her bed empty. Dom gets into his own bed next to Letty, but finds himself unable to sleep after all. He stares at the ceiling till he hears the front door open, but Mia’s singing quietly to herself as she creeps up the stairs, so he rolls over, wraps an arm around Letty’s waist, and finally goes to sleep.

The weekend of Race Wars starts out perfect – the Supra finished and set to win big, everyone pumped for the competition, and one last job lined up for the Saturday night, impeccable timing so Mia can keep Brian occupied while they get it done, and then they’ll be out – and ends in catastrophe.

Jesse races Johnny Tran for slips and loses, then reneges on the bet, the one unforgiveable sin. Dom’ll never understand why he didn’t just come to him; he could have covered it, even if it meant going cap in hand to Johnny, and he would have, no questions asked. Instead Johnny accuses Dom of ratting him out to the cops, who apparently raided his family home and humiliated him in front of all four of his parents, something Dom hadn’t even heard about, he’s been so busy with his own concerns.

As with everything between them these days, the anger comes with a side of hurt, and it soon devolves into an all out brawl. Security tries to break it up, Vince shouts at them not to touch Dom, and then psycho Lance Nguyen wades in as the cherry on the shit sundae. Letty takes him out with one punch, a perfect right hook, and he’s never been prouder of her. It’s the last good thing that happens for a long time.

He still wants to go out that night; it’s a massive shipment, practically the motherlode, and will set them up for good. They’ll be able to do whatever they want from here, and the future’s so close he can practically taste it. Mia surprises him by asking them not to go, and when he overrules her it turns into a screaming fight, the kind they haven’t had since they were little kids. She calls him selfish, and that just makes him angrier and more determined, climbing into the passenger side of Vince’s car and slamming the door in her face.

By the time they make it to where the Hondas are parked Letty’s having second thoughts too, and then Leon starts, and he’s had it with all of them.

“We’re doing this!” he shouts. “Now get in the goddamn cars.”

They do, and it’s a disaster, and it’s all his fault.

He sees the shotgun just before Vince jumps, but it’s too late to stop him, and after that it’s just a blur of wrecked cars, blood, and shotgun blasts. Letty’s car goes off the road and flips onto its roof, Vince is hanging from the side of a moving truck, tangled in his jump wire and bleeding out, and the truck driver is still taking shots at Dom, making it impossible for him to get close enough to help.

Then out of nowhere the Supra streaks into view; Mia takes the wheel, and Brian – crazy, beautiful, fearless Brian – clambers out onto the roof and jumps for the side of the truck. He manages to get Vince untangled and into the car, and then they’re pulling over to the side of the road, assessing Vince’s injuries and trying to get the bleeding stopped. The five minutes it takes for Leon to come pick Dom up and get them back there are some of the longest of his life, hoping and praying for the best, and thanking everything that’s holy that Mia ignored his stupidity and confided in Brian, and that Brian cared enough about all of them to come out and save them from themselves, even though they lied to him.

When Leon pulls the car over alongside, Dom leans into the back to check on Letty. She’s battered and bleeding and starting to cry, and when he tells her he loves her and it’ll all be okay she turns away and looks out the window at the long trail of carnage behind them, the first time ever in their lives together she hasn’t said it back. He leaves her with Leon and goes to help with Vince.

Brian’s trying to use Vince’s belt as a tourniquet on his sliced up arm, and apply pressure to the shotgun wound in his flank with his knee at the same time. Dom takes over, using the bottom of his t-shirt and all his strength to stanch the blood flow, but it’s a losing battle; Vince is getting whiter and whiter as more of his blood spills out into the parched desert ground. Mia’s holding his other hand and trying to comfort him, and then Brian pulls out his cell phone and calls for a Life Flight evacuation, identifies himself as Officer Brian O’Conner, off duty LAPD.

He looks Dom right in the face as he does it, never once breaks eye contact as he gives the operator Vince’s vitals and their whereabouts. He’s begging Dom silently to understand, but Dom doesn’t; he thinks he must have misheard somehow, and then he turns to Mia and realises she’s not surprised at all, sad but not angry, and he goes from wanting to throw up to wanting to hit something. He knows though, knows for sure, that if he lays a single hand on Brian he’ll never stop, so he leans back in to focus on Vince. Brian doesn’t matter. He’s nothing. Vince is Dom’s friend. Vince was always Dom’s friend. Vince is family.

Brian helps the paramedics load Vince onto a stretcher and into the helicopter when it lands. Dom struggles to his feet and walks away without looking back. He’s almost at the car when he realises Mia isn’t following him. He turns and shouts for her to come, now. There’s an awful, endless, moment where he thinks she might stay, but then she starts walking slowly towards him. She’d never leave Letty, even if she’s angry enough to leave him. She climbs into the back of the car and carefully pulls Letty into her arms. Dom gets into the front, and pretends he can’t hear them both sobbing, all the way back to LA.

Leon drops Dom and Mia at the house, then takes off, promising to get Letty checked out at a clinic before they leave town. If they get out fast enough they should make it across the border before the CHP know to look for them. There’s a certain cantina they’re all supposed to head to if they ever get separated, but Dom knows he’s not likely to see them again. He’s got to find Jesse before he can even think about leaving.

Brian pulls into the driveway while he’s backing the Charger out of the garage, and for a long moment they stand there like idiots, pointing guns at each other, each shouting for the other to drop it and get out of the way. The standoff breaks when Brian yells at him that it’s time to stop running, and Dom throws down the shotgun in disgust and yells back that he’s not running.

“I never wanted to go anywhere,” he shouts, and Brian flinches. “I had a life here, a life I wanted to share with you.”

“I haven’t called the police,” Brian says, and it’s insane but he actually sounds like he means it.

“You are the police,” Dom says. “You’re a cop. Was anything you ever said to me true?”

“It was all true,” Brian says, lowering his own gun. “Everything I ever said I felt about you was real. I swear to God. You have to believe me.”

“Then help me find Jesse,” Dom says, carefully not thinking about anything else. “You know we’re all the family he has.”

Brian nods frantically. “I will. I’ll call in the plates. PD will pick him up before Johnny even gets near him.”

For a moment he actually thinks things are going to be okay, or as okay as they can be, and then there’s the sound of a car engine followed by the higher pitch of motorcycles, and then Jesse’s running across the lawn towards him. Lance and Johnny open fire before Dom can say or do anything, and it’s déjà vu all over again as he finds himself leaning over another critically injured friend.

Brian jumps into the Supra without hesitation and gives chase, and Dom follows in the Charger. Cop or not, Brian has a handgun and Johnny and Lance both have semi automatics, and it’s just not in Dom to let a friend, even one who betrayed him, face danger alone. It’s just as well that he does, because as he tops the rise at the end of the block he’s just in time to run Lance off the road before he shoots Brian in the head, and then Brian shoots Johnny, and it’s all over.

Dom keeps driving, no idea what to do next. One of his closest friends is lying dead on his front lawn, another is in hospital and facing twelve to twenty if he even makes it out of surgery. The woman he loves is on her way to Mexico without him, and the man he thought he loved has been undercover for months, the whole relationship a lie to gain his trust. His sister’s safe at home, and she’s undoubtedly better off without him. He stops at a red light, as though traffic laws still have meaning in a world so messed up, and as Brian pulls up alongside him he recognises where they are.

“I used to drag here back in high school,” he says calmly. “That railroad crossing up there is exactly a quarter mile away from here. On green, I’m going for it.”

The light changes and he hits the gas, and Brian does too, eyes locked on him and not on the road in front of him. Dom’s always said a quarter mile is ten seconds of freedom, but he’s never meant it quite so literally before. There’s a train coming; he can hear the clanging of the signal and the rumble of the track. If he can get through the crossing ahead of it and Brian can’t it’ll buy enough time he could probably get away. If he can’t, and it hits him, well, that’s a kind of freedom too. He meant it when he said he’d rather die than go back to Lompoc. The girls would beg him not to if they were here, but it’ll be best for them too; better to grieve and move on than be shackled forever to a cage.

Brian paces him perfectly, his short course racing has improved so much in the time they’ve known each other, and they hit the barrier together, just seconds before the train thunders past. There’s a moment of utter exhilaration as their eyes meet – the thrill of the race and the joy of how well matched they are – and then a look of utter horror crosses Brian’s face, even as Dom hears the frantic pounding of a horn.

The truck hits him broadside, full speed, and it launches the Charger into the air, catapulting it right over the Supra. It flips in mid air, then lands hard, skidding across the intersection and rolling a couple more times. The roll cage holds, the only thing stopping him from being crushed, but he hadn’t stopped to buckle up when he got in, and he gets thrown around inside the steel frame like a ball.

By the time the car comes to a rest he’s felt multiple ribs snap, and the shoulder that hit the door is dislocated. He can’t get the door open, frame impossibly warped, and he uses his good arm to try to drag himself out the shattered window. He almost falls out head first, unable to hold his own weight, and horribly woozy, he must have hit his head too, probably more than once, and then Brian’s hauling him out and holding him up, hands as gentle as they can be when there’s not an inch of his body that doesn’t hurt. Dom leans back into him for a moment, just one more moment, lets him take his weight, then pulls away and leans against the car instead.

“That wasn’t what I had in mind,” he manages to say, but the way Brian’s looking at him, horrified and heartbroken, it’s obvious he doesn’t believe him. He’s known since the day they met what Dom would do if trapped, and they can both hear the sirens, more of them with every passing minute, and getting louder as they get closer.

Brian’s hand moves, and it takes a few seconds for Dom to realise he’s holding out the keys to the Supra.

“Do you know what you’re doing?” he asks, has to ask, even as he’s reaching for them.

Brian smiles shakily, and his eyes are wet. “I owe you a ten second car,” is all he says.

Dom nods and staggers away. He manages to fold himself into the Supra, just barely, and put it in gear, and hit the gas. He can see Brian still standing there in the rear view mirror all the way down the road, and then he turns the corner and Brian disappears.