Dom wasn't surprised the first time Letty didn't answer his call. Mia had been ignoring him since he left California, though, and he needed to talk to one or the other. Leon said that Mia and Letty were planning the wedding assuming Dom would be there, which was news to him, so he kept trying Letty's phone at random times. She kept letting his calls go to voice mail even though she knew he hated talking to a machine, and he had finally begun leaving messages, mostly telling her to answer the phone. He tried her again while he was watching the others discuss where to eat dinner, a little bored because he didn't care where they ate, and he frowned when he realized she had changed her voicemail prompt.
"I'm busy, leave a message unless you're Dom, then you can just fuck off."
Dom got up out of his chair, making the conversation at the table fall silent for a moment. Tej, Rome, Leon, Suki, and Brian all looked surprised he was just leaving in the middle of them trying to decide where to have dinner, and Dom gave them all a crooked smile. "Sorry, I gotta handle something." He stepped closer to Brian's chair, leaning down to kiss him lovingly before he murmured, "I'll be back, baby."
Brian smiled softly up at him, blue eyes warm. "I'll be here."
"You better," Dom murmured with a smile, kissing Brian again before he turned away to head for the back door. He walked out behind the garage before he looked at his phone again, wanting a little privacy, but once he was alone he stopped and sent Letty a text.
'stop being a brat and answer the fucking phone leticia.'
Dom's phone rang a moment later, a familiar triple ring, and he smirked as he answered it. "Don't call me Leticia, you asshole," Letty said instantly, sounding surprised and annoyed.
"Hello!" Dom said cheerfully, moving to sprawl comfortably in one of the Adirondack chairs by the water. It was nice not being the only one who was predictable sometimes. Even when she was pissed and giving him the silent treatment, Letty had never been able to let that particular tactic go by. "Nice to hear from you too. I'm doing great, thanks for asking."
Letty made a noise that had always reminded him of an angry cat, then said pointedly, "I don't want to talk to you."
Dom snorted. "No, really? I got that impression about the fifth time you ignored me. Newsflash, sweetheart: I'm not real thrilled to talk to you either."
"What do you want, Dominic?" Letty asked, and he could hear her scowling. "Make it fast, I got shit to do."
Dom's lips twitched with amusement. "I'd rather bother Mia but evidently she changed her number or something because I can't even get to voicemail, so you got elected. You can let her know I called her a brat too, by the way."
"She didn't change her number, she just blocked you," Letty said pointedly. "I'm thinking it might have been a smart idea."
Dom blinked, his smile fading. "Seriously?"
"Yeah, seriously! What did you expect when Leon sent us all that picture last week?" Letty asked, angry.
"And what picture would that be?" Dom asked, wondering if he really wanted to know.
Leon could be sneaky with that phone of his, and he never asked before he shared with their family. Dom and Brian hadn't been having sex in public, but Leon had caught them together a dozen times he knew about in the last two weeks, including the time he and Rome walked in on them in Brian's bay in the garage. Brian had been up on the hood of the Mustang then, his long legs wrapped around Dom's waist while they kissed, both of them shirtless and hard with their jeans open. Leon had teased them about being horny teenagers for two days, and now Rome banged on the door before he went in Brian's bay of the garage if he knew they were in there.
Letty was silent for a few moments and then Dom's phone pinged with a text. He pulled the phone away from his face, putting it on speaker so he'd hear if she said anything, and then he opened the message. It was a fairly close photo of the Mustang parked at the pier in Islamorada just before sunset, Brian sitting on the hood with his feet on the bumper and Dom standing between his thighs, their hands resting on each other's hips. They were very close, both looking happy and amused, and it was obvious that nothing else existed for them at that moment but each other.
Dom smiled at the photo as he remembered that day. They had been to Islamorada in the Mustang together several times a week since he got to Miami, often with Leon behind them in the Skyline and Suki and Tej following in her car or Rome in the Spyder with whatever girl he was with that day, but that particular day had been just Dom, Brian, and Leon. Brian and Dom had been in the Mustang that Dom had fallen nearly as much in love with as he was with Brian, and Leon had driven the Supra that Jimmy had played with again the night before, testing out the changes to see what he thought of them.
When Leon took the photo, Dom was pretty sure he and Brian had been talking about the way Suki's friend Kali had Rome spinning his wheels all that day. Kali had Rome's number and was very cheerful about leading him around by the balls, proud he was panting after her even though he could get a dozen other girls if he wanted to. She had been using a bikini top not much bigger than two postage stamps on strings like a weapon that particular day, and Rome had been practically drooling. The guy had made a fool of himself over her, which never failed to make Brian grin all wide and happy unless he was just laughing about it, and Dom had been grinning at how amused Brian was.
"Nothing to say, Dom?" Letty said acidly.
Dom tapped the screen, taking a moment to save the photo as his lock screen while he said, "It's a great picture of Brian. I didn't know Leon took it, but I'm glad you sent it to me. Thanks." He turned off speaker, putting the phone back to his ear as he added, "Leon's a big boy, though. He doesn't need me lookin' over his shoulder when he's playing with his phone."
Letty didn't reply immediately, and she sounded a lot less angry when she finally said, "I thought maybe you told him to send it to me."
Dom sighed and asked patiently, "Why would I do that, Letty? You're the one who liked to do that kind of thing, not me. I got better things to do than piss you off."
"Why did you call right after that then?" Letty asked.
"'Cause we were on the way home and got to talking, and I wanted to know if we need to go back to Cali for Mia's wedding," Dom replied calmly. "It's coming up soon, I know, and Leon says she's got it all planned out like I'll be there, even though nobody bothered to invite me. Last thing she said to me was she didn't want to see me again."
"Mia was just mad, Dom, you know how she is. She wants you here, but not him," Letty said immediately. "Vince says if Brian shows up, he's not gonna be responsible for what happens."
Dom tipped his head back, looking up at the darkening sky. "Tell them both they need to be sure. I'm not coming without him."
"Seriously?" Letty said, surprised and annoyed. "You're supposed to walk her down the aisle, Dom!"
"And my family is supposed to like seeing me happy, too," Dom said pointedly.
"Not with him, Dom!" Letty sounded angry again. "He ruined our lives."
"No, I did," Dom said firmly. "I was the one that planned the jobs and decided to make that last run even though everyone could feel it was going wrong. We should have been out hunting Jesse, not hitting that damned truck, and I will never stop regretting it. None of it was on Brian, all he did was get himself shot at saving Vince's life and then take the fall for us to keep us out of jail."
"He's why we had to run, why Vince did time! You used to call V your brother, Dom," Letty said angrily. "How can you be all over a fucking cop?"
"Vince is still my brother, but Brian's not a cop," Dom growled. "He never was with us, that's why he chose to go to Chino."
"What do you mean, chose?" Letty asked, sounding surprised but still angry.
"He knew where we were, Letty," Dom replied, his tone hard as he started to get angry too. He was a little surprised Leon hadn't told her already, but he knew Letty had been ignoring Leon too. Leon texted her a lot, but Dom hadn't heard Leon's phone beeping with any replies recently. "Brian was offered a deal if he'd turn us in but he went to Chino for us instead, got hurt every day for a goddamned year, knowing we were in Teopantlan."
"You told him?!" Letty exclaimed.
Dom scowled. "No, Mia did. He called to make sure she and Vince were okay and she gave him Hell about V going straight from the hospital to jail, like he wouldn't have been in a casket without Brian charging in to save his ungrateful ass. She was yelling at him about not being able to see her family 'cause we were at your place in Mexico."
Letty was quiet a few moments. "He really knew?"
Dom rolled his eyes. "Yes, Letty, he knew. He even remembered when you inherited it from your uncle. He was helping you with your car and heard you tell Leon about Teopantlan and complain about how it wasn't even near the water, nothing within miles of the place but dirt and cactus."
"Jesus," Letty said quietly. "I remember that. I asked him to get that damn flywheel bolt I could never quite reach. I just wanted him to use those long arms of his to loosen it for me so I could change the belt, but he handed me a beer and told me to sit while he did the belt and all for me."
"Sounds about right," Dom said, his own anger fading. "His dad's a cop, Letty. He was trying to make the old man proud of him when he went into the Academy, but Brian is just like us. He really did two years in juvie for boosting cars right after he turned fifteen, then got into working on cars and stock racing out in the desert. He had just started running with Nos when he wrecked his car and his dad talked him into the Academy." He paused slightly and then added, "And if Bilkins hadn't dragged him into the damned case against us when he saw Brian at the market, he probably would have ended up family anyway."
"He says he wasn't undercover the whole time, either?" Letty sounded surprised and a little skeptical.
"No, he wasn't, not at first," Dom answered. "He was still a rookie working patrol, graveyard shift, and used to go watch the street races before work, made his dad crazy. Bri was on his way home one day and saw me driving from the garage to the market, and he followed my Mazda."
Letty didn't respond immediately, and Dom waited patiently for her to think about it until she asked softly, "Did you notice him then too, Dom?"
Dom hesitated for a few moments before he sighed. "Yeah, I remember the first time he came in. I caught him watching me a few times and I noticed his car when he left, back before he got Bilkins to pay for the body mods and some other stuff so Bri might have a chance racing us. The Eclipse was that fugly olive green factory color then, looked like Army surplus or something, but it already sounded good."
"You know that just makes what he did with Mia worse, right?" Letty said, sounding unhappy. "If he wanted you and was just using her to be close to you."
"He got with Mia for the job and he still regrets letting them push him into it," Dom said quietly. "Brian was there for weeks and never hit on her, never even tried to until Bilkins ordered him to get closer. She flirted with him from the start though. I even told her to stop after the first time Vince went for him, but she ignored me." He snorted softly. "And she may have convinced Brian that she loved him, but we both know she was lying. He was just a fling to her."
"You're right that she never planned to stay with the kid," Letty admitted. "I remember her telling me he was too sweet and pretty for her."
"Which is why I let her date him," Dom agreed. "I thought we had time, and I knew he wouldn't hurt her. Brian doesn't have it in him to take advantage of a woman."
"He did though," Letty pointed out. "It hurt when she found out it was all a lie."
"Can you honestly tell me you think he hurt her on purpose?" Dom asked. "That she wasn't using him the whole time, trying everything she could think of to make Vince jealous?"
Letty was quiet for a minute before she finally admitted, "No, you're right, she was. She even told me she had to take over to get them past kissing. She wanted to get him going enough to mark her neck where Vince would see, but Bri was just being all sweet and shit. That's why she decided to stay the night with him, she knew V would be sitting up fuming all night waiting for her to come home."
Dom smiled. He had been sure that sleeping with Mia wasn't all Brian's fault, no matter how guilty Brian felt over it, but hearing Letty admit it was still nice. "Exactly. Brian's a lot of things, but he doesn't have it in him to do the shit Bilkins told him to do, Letty. Not really. He tried harder than he should have to be what his dad and Bilkins expected of him instead of being Brian, that's why he was so messed up at the end. He confessed to things we did that he wasn't even part of, trying to pull the heat off, and then he did a year in Hell for us. We're family to him."
"Leon keeps saying that too," Letty said quietly. "That Brian loved us. It's been pissing me off, especially since he sent that picture. It's like all Leon talks about now is Brian. He texts me all the time and keeps saying Brian misses me."
"It's true, he does," Dom agreed. "Brian said just a little while ago that it feels wrong to have me and Leon finally with him in a garage again without having you here." He let that sink in a moment and then asked, ”Did Leon tell you about the house?"
"What about it?" Letty asked.
"Brian went by after Chino," Dom replied, "saw Mia was selling it and felt like it was all his fault. He was so upset about it, an old racing buddy of his ended up buying it for him."
"Brian has buddies who can buy him a house?" Letty asked, sounding shocked.
Dom laughed. "Tej could probably buy a jet if he wanted to. Guy was big on the pro circuit, dominated for a few years before he had to quit and he invested damn near everything he made in real estate. He's got rental properties all over the country bringing in the cash every month, besides all the money he makes off his garage and the races he sets up three nights a week. Dude's loaded. He had his top wrench put parts worth over six grand in a little Hyundai the other day for this kid called Rabbit that hangs around the garage. Told him to just put one of the garage stickers on his car and forget about it."
"Wait, hold the phone! The Tej that Leon keeps talking about, that's Tej Parker?" Letty asked. "The guy who was my age when he went into the wall and ended up in a wheelchair halfway through his last season, and still was the top driver that year?"
"Yeah, that's him," Dom agreed, amused. Letty always had been into the pro circuit, dreaming about making it there herself one day. "He's not in the wheelchair anymore but he had to give up racing, he messed up his right leg so bad. He's top dog in Miami though, has his fingers in everything and a big high-performance garage right on the edge of a canal. Leon's got a bunk upstairs, and Brian and I have his houseboat right behind the place. Bri's got a private bay in the garage for his tools and his Mustang and Skyline, and we've been parking the Supra in the wash bay next to it after everything shuts down for the night. It's pretty sweet."
"Wow," Letty said quietly. She was silent a few moments. "Bri really got the house back for you?"
"Ask Mia," Dom said. "I kind of doubt she's forgotten selling it to a lawyer from 'Parker Properties Unlimited' who handed her a cashier's check for the full amount, plus closing costs. Tej signed it over to Brian afterwards, but he's still got his uncle taking care of the place, renting it out to get back some of his investment until we decide what to do with it."
"What do you mean, decide what to do with it?" Letty asked, surprised. "You're coming home, right Dom? You love that house."
"No, I'm not," Dom replied quietly. "Brian's not the only one who wants to start over, and all of his family is here now besides you, Mia, and Vince. It's not like you three want us around anyway. Mia blocked my number, Vince never even gave me his new one, and you can barely stand to talk to me."
"Dom..." Letty fell silent for a minute or so before she asked, "So what, this is goodbye?"
"That's up to you, and to Mia and Vince," Dom said. "Brian and I still think of you all as family. You're the ones who don't want us around."
"We don't want him here," Letty said softly, "but we miss you. It's only been a few weeks, but I feel like I haven't seen you in forever."
Dom was quiet and calm as he said, "I'll do a lot for my family, Letty, you know that, but I spent three years trying to live without him and nothing was as good. He's been missing me just as bad as I missed him, only he went through Hell for me in Chino while I was lying on a hammock in Mexico. When I saw him show up for that race the other night it was like my whole world brightened up, like I started to feel alive again. I won't give him up, not now. Bri and I, we're the tattoo his name on my heart, 'til death do you part' kind of permanent."
Letty was silent for over a minute, and Dom was pretty sure she was thinking about the tattoo thing. He had told her more than once he wouldn't get a tattoo of anyone's name, much less the one she wanted him to get on his chest of her name in a burning heart. She had wanted to brand him as her property, but he knew it wasn't because she wanted to spend her life with him. She liked sleeping around too much. "You never wanted to marry me," she finally said softly, sounding a little hurt.
"No, I did," Dom corrected. "Ask Mia. Even bought you a ring, but then before I could ask I learned the hard way that I wasn't enough for you."
"I loved you so much, though," Letty murmured. "You were all I wanted for years, Dom."
"I know," Dom agreed quietly. "I loved you too. I never even looked at anyone else and thought we were forever right up until I walked into the back room of the garage and you were riding Frankie Lopez on my desk."
Letty let out a sad little sound that wasn't quite a laugh. "Frankie! God. I haven't even thought about him in years. You scared him so bad, he never got near me again."
Dom wasn't surprised. It was after Lompoc, when he and Letty had only been back together for a few months. He hadn't tried to stop Letty from straying after that, had wanted her to stay because she loved him, but he hadn't had much trouble convincing Frankie that coming into Dom's garage and fucking his girl was a bad plan. If it was happening, Dom at least didn't want to have to see it again. "That was the first time I caught you cheating. I sold the ring the next day."
Letty was quiet a few moments and then admitted, "It wasn't the first time. I had a thing with Hector's cousin Rafael while you were in jail and we hooked up once right after you came home, and there was a couple times with that guy Mike that worked in the garage for a while. He quit because Leon caught us and told him to either get gone or get dead." She paused and then added softly, "Leon used to give me Hell all the time for cheating on you. Kept telling me to stop fucking around and grow up or I'd lose you."
Dom wasn't surprised that Leon had caught her before he did. Leon didn't miss much, but he usually kept his mouth shut about a lot of what he knew. He hated to be the bearer of bad news. "Do you know the first time I cheated?"
"No," Letty replied very quietly. "I talked shit about you and other women, but I never caught you."
"No, you definitely knew," Dom corrected her. "You called me a faggot and a worthless bastard and then it went downhill from there."
"You and Brian got together back then?" Letty asked, surprised.
"No, but I wanted to," Dom said. "I would have if I got the chance, same thing." He paused and then asked, "You know how I was always telling him he needed a keeper?"
"Yeah," Letty answered. "He'd always say it was lucky he had you. Once I figured out you really wanted him, it always pissed me off."
"He meant it, Letty," Dom said quietly. "I didn't know it then, but I never argued because I really wanted to keep him. By the time he and Mia were dating, I was in over my head and I didn't even care as long as he was close by and I could make him smile. Leon knew before I did, and he says Mia did too. She even knew how Brian felt, told him in front of Leon one day that I owned him. That's how he really feels, too. He told his family here that I own him a long time ago, the exact same words, and he never stopped feeling that way. They all knew who I was and that he'd do anything for me if I ever showed up and asked him to. They watched me like a hawk at first, sure I'd get him into trouble again until they realized how much it hurt me knowing what he went through because of me."
Letty was silent for a few moments before she spoke again, quiet and subdued. "Mia never told me he loved you, but when I told her you loved him she had already known it for months. Then when everything went to Hell we were both so pissed at him and you just kept worrying about him, all tore up over leaving him behind, and I just... I could have told you when he got busted, Mia told me, but I didn't. I knew you'd go make some kind of deal to turn yourself in and get him out of it, and I wanted him to suffer for what he did to us."
"I figured that out about the time she finally told me," Dom said calmly, even though back then he had nearly lost it. He hadn't been able to look at Letty for days without wanting to say hurtful things she'd never be able to forget. Leon had worked hard to keep her away from Dom then, giving him time to let his anger and pain settle into something he could control. "I guess you don't remember how pissed I was at you."
"I figured that was probably because of the shit I kept saying about some dude making him his bitch," Letty said, and he was surprised to realize she sounded like she regretted it. "I was so damn jealous of him, it was stupid. I didn't even want you for myself then, but it still made me so fucking mad that you loved him more than me."
"I know," Dom agreed. "That shit hurt, Letty. You knew what happened in Lompoc, that I knew exactly what it was like to get used like that, and you still threw it in my face."
A hand landed on Dom's shoulder and he turned his head in surprise to see Brian looking concerned and holding out a Corona with his other hand. "Brought you a beer."
"Thanks, babe," Dom murmured with a soft smile, accepting the beer. "Did they decide where we're going for dinner yet?"
"Rome's feeling nostalgic," Brian replied, smiling. "He talked Tej and Suki into Mexican, it was all we ever really went out for as kids. Kali didn't care where we go, but Leon's threatening to slash Rome's tires if they don't have steaks."
Dom chuckled softly. "Sounds like him."
"I should let you go," Letty said suddenly.
Dom's smile faded and he looked down at his beer as he said, "Alright, but talk to them and find out if they want us there, Letty. I meant what I said."
"I will," Letty agreed, pausing slightly before she added more softly, "I am glad you're happy again, Dom, really. I know you haven't been in a long time, mostly because of me and my shit. I'm sorry."
"I forgave you a long time ago, sweetheart," Dom murmured gently. "I wasn't what you really want, and it turned out you weren't what I need, either."
"Yeah," Letty agreed quietly.
Dom could tell she was just saying what she thought he wanted to hear, but he let it pass. "Take care of yourself and stay out of trouble, okay?"
"You know me," Letty said, trying to sound teasing.
"Yeah, I do, that's why I know I need to remind you," Dom replied, smiling slightly.
"I'll try," Letty agreed, serious again. "Am I allowed to say I love you still?"
"Only if it's true," Dom said.
"I do," Letty said, soft and sincere. "Not in love, but you're still family to me, Dom. Always."
"Love you too, girl," Dom murmured, smiling. "We both do. You'll always have a place with us, if you want it."
"Definitely," Brian said. Dom looked up at him and Brian was smiling as he added, "Tell her I miss her."
"I heard him," Letty said, surprised. "Does he really miss me?"
Dom snorted softly, looking back out at the water. "What part of family don't you understand? Of course Brian misses you. He misses all of you."
"Except Vince," Brian said quickly, making Dom look up again, amused. Brian grinned at him, adding, "I kinda like not getting beat up all the time just because Mia likes making him jealous."
Letty laughed. "She did get his ass kicked a lot." Dom chuckled and then took a drink of his beer as she added, "I'll talk to Mia, Dom. That's the best I can promise. The wedding's in two weeks."
"Just let me know, or tell Leon," Dom said easily. "I want to be there, all three of us do, but only if they're gonna treat Brian right. Leon may go without us, I dunno, but I won't go all the way back to Cali without Bri, and I won't let him go just to get hurt because of me."
"I hear you," Letty agreed. "Take care of each other."
Dom looked up at Brian, smiling. "We will. You and Mia do the same, okay?"
"Promise," Letty agreed, and then she hung up.
Dom thumbed the power button on his phone and stood, still smiling at Brian. "When do they want to eat?"
"Whenever you're ready to go," Brian replied, smiling back. "How'd it go?"
"Better than I expected," Dom admitted. "She's been blowing me off because Leon sent her a picture of us together."
Brian laughed. "Seriously?"
"Yep," Dom said, amused. He touched the home button on his phone and then turned it to let Brian see the lock screen with the photo of them on the pier.
"I didn't even know he took that," Brian said quietly, smiling. "He's sneaky."
"He's good at it," Dom agreed, smiling a little wider as he looked at the photo again. They were both happy and amused in the photo, but it was Brian that caught Dom's attention. Leon had managed to take the photo in that few minutes Dom remembered when Brian's hair and skin were catching the late sun just right so that he was almost glowing golden on the sparkling silver hood of the Mustang they both loved, his eyes even more vividly blue than the water in the background. Dom hadn't been able to drag his gaze away from Brian at the time, and even now he just wanted to stare. "Got a great eye, too. He caught you perfect, all beautiful and happy."
Brian stepped a little closer as he said with a smile, "I'm always happy now."
Dom looked at Brian again, pocketing his phone and then reaching for Brian's waist to tug him closer as he murmured, "I must be doing something right, then."
"Everything," Brian agreed, swaying closer as Dom kissed him lovingly.
Dom pulled away after a few moments, and then Brian teased, "Except for drinking crappy beer."
Dom laughed. "Babe, you've never had crappy beer if you think Corona is bad."
"Don't want to if it gets worse," Brian agreed, grinning. He pulled way, grabbing Dom's hand to tug him along with him. "Come on, I'm starving."
Dom just chuckled and followed, letting Brian tow him along as he took a long drink of his Corona. Brian might not enjoy it like he did, but he definitely wasn't going to let it go to waste.
Letty sat quietly in the kitchen thinking about what Dom had said for a little while and looking at the photo of him and Brian on that classic Mustang while she finished her beer. When Dom left she had expected him to be back in a week with his heart broken, not to be so happily in love with Brian that he didn't even want to come back. She hadn't seen Dom look that happy in years, not since before Lompoc, not really. That was why it had hurt when Leon sent it to her.
Remembering how things changed after Lompoc made Letty remember Dom finally admitting what really happened to him in there. Dom had always denied it before when she tried to make him talk to her, but she had seen him have too many nightmares, heard him talking in his sleep too many times, to doubt what had happened to him. She remembered again some of the cruel things she had said about Brian being some guy's bitch and closed her eyes a moment, amazed Dom could even stand to look at her. Knowing Brian was in Chino would be bad enough for anyone who loved him, but she was sure it had been even worse for Dom, who knew exactly how it felt to be the one being hurt.
She had known that Dom loved Brian before everything came crashing down, knew how worried Dom was about him even before he knew about Chino, but she had been so angry that she had wanted to hurt Dom and Brian both, just like Mia did. She had been jealous and so furious about them losing their happy, comfortable life that she needed someone to hate for it, and she had blamed it all on Brian even though deep down she knew Dom was right. Brian didn't do any of the heists, didn't turn them in or even arrest any of them. All he did was try to save them from themselves and then go to jail, trying to protect them. He had just been an easy target because she was so jealous that Dom loved Brian so much more than he loved her.
Letty tapped her phone to bring the screen back up, unlocking it and then staring at the photo of Dom and Brian again. She remembered when Dom had been in love with her, remembered being his world back before Lompoc, seeing him smile at her like that. Dom had his heart in his eyes as he looked at Brian, she could almost feel how much he loved the kid, and she hated it almost as much as she suddenly hated herself for ever using it against Dom. She wasn't in love with him anymore, not even close, but she did love him, he was the most important person in her life, and she finally felt like she had hurt him enough.
The phone screen timed out again after a couple of minutes and she stared at nothing for a moment before she stood, leaving her phone on the table to go get another beer. She opened it and then headed out into the back yard, where she had left Mia and Vince talking to Hector and his wife Rose. She didn't think there was anything she could say to change Vince's opinion of Brian, but she thought she could get Mia to listen, and if she did then Mia could help with Vince.
Letty was pretty sure part of why Mia had hated Brian so much was that she still missed him, despite everything. Mia had never been in love with Brian, not like she was with Vince, but she did love him. Brian had always understood Mia, accepted her freely and easily and encouraged her dreams even when the rest of the team thought she was trying too hard to be 'normal', and Mia had loved him for it. Brian had been her best friend besides Letty right at the end, and Letty knew that Mia had trusted Brian enough to help him stop the team even after she knew he was a cop.
Hector and Rose were gone already when Letty got outside, but it didn't really surprise her. Hector and Mia got into it over the market during Sunday dinner, and Letty figured that Hector wouldn't be getting another invite unless something changed drastically soon. Hector had said something about upgrading his car for Race Wars, and Mia was instantly furious. Hector was over three months behind on the rent for the market he had turned into a small restaurant for Rose and her mom, and Mia was going to evict them if Hector didn't pay the back rent before the next payment was due in two weeks. She had given him chance after chance because he was a friend, she had known him all her life, but spending money he owed to her on street racing was the last straw. Mia was death on street racing these days, she hated it passionately because she felt like it had stolen her family.
Mia and Vince had moved from the picnic table to the swing on the back porch, and they both looked at her when she walked outside. "What'd Dom want?" Vince asked immediately.
Letty dropped into one of the chairs facing the swing, pulling her foot up into the seat with her knee against her chest. "Wanted to ask about the wedding, find out if you two really want him here."
"Of course," Mia said quickly, surprised. "He's supposed to give me away, you know that."
"He's still our brother, even if he is a fag now." Mia elbowed Vince, giving him a dirty look, but Vince just snorted and said, "He shacked up with the cop, darlin', being with him right out in public. That's totally fag behavior."
"I don't like that word," Mia said firmly, pretending not to see the way Vince rolled his eyes as she looked back at Letty expectantly.
"He's not coming without Brian," Letty said quietly, "and he doesn't think you two can be good to the kid."
"Fuck that," Vince said with a scowl. "I'm not kissing that little punk's ass for anyone."
Mia was frowning too, upset enough she didn't say anything about Vince's language. "He wants me to be nice to the guy who put Vince in jail?"
"No, he wants you to be nice to the guy who saved Vince's life, pulling him off that truck and getting a helicopter out there so he wouldn't bleed to death," Letty countered, surprised to realize that their attitudes annoyed her. She had said the same kinds of things herself about Brian, but she didn't want to anymore, not knowing that Dom would be the one hurt if she was cruel to Brian. Dom was more important to her than even Mia, who had been her best friend since she was five, and she had finally realized she didn't want to hurt him anymore. "He's not asking for miracles, but he won't come unless you two agree to be good to Brian."
"What about you?" Mia asked sharply. "You hate him too."
Letty hesitated, then said quietly, "No, not anymore. Dom had a lot to say, and most of it made sense. I believe him when he says Brian was dragged into the case and never wanted to hurt any of us. You knew him too, Mia. He's not like that."
"You can defend him after he used Mia like that?" Vince asked, angry. "He broke her heart!"
"No, he didn't, Vince," Letty said, rolling her eyes. "Mia was using him right from the start. She told me so, even complained because she had to push him for sex. He never touched her until she told him to."
Vince looked at Mia in surprise, still frowning, and Mia gave Letty a dirty look before she looked at Vince. He stared into her eyes, and she felt guilty and sad for the pain in his eyes as she admitted, "I knew it would make you as jealous as I was. I just wanted you to stop sleeping with all those other girls and taking it for granted I was your private property."
Vince just stared at her for a long moment and then looked away, lifting his beer to take a drink. He had wanted to kill Brian the day after Mia spent the night with him, would have if Dom and Leon hadn't pulled him off. Vince had gone for Brian again as soon as Dom left the room, and then Dom had thrown him out of the house and told him not to come back until he could get his head on straight. Vince had attacked Brian three more times in the next week before Dom kicked his ass and then told him he needed to either man up and talk to Mia or find some other girl because Dom wasn't putting up with his bullshit any more.
Vince had backed off a little and stopped attacking Brian, but it hadn't kept him from hating Brian for every smile he saw Mia direct at him, every time she kissed Brian in front of him. Hearing she had been doing it on purpose didn't really change much. Brian was still the punk who slept with the one girl Vince had ever actually loved. He hadn't known until much later that Mia only had sex with him the one night, but even once was too much as far as Vince was concerned. Mia had dated other guys in high school, mostly to torment him, he knew, but Brian was the only one she had ever slept with besides him.
Mia looked at Vince a moment longer, biting her lower lip and wishing she knew what to say to him, but she didn't and she finally turned her attention back to Letty. "Even if the thing with Brian was mostly me, he's still the reason why you all had to run so long."
"According to Dom, he's the reason we could run," Letty corrected, wondering what Vince was thinking. She had been surprised by the hurt in his eyes when Mia admitted using Brian to make him jealous, but she was even more surprised he didn't get pissed and start yelling. She knew that he used to go to anger management classes, but she hadn't thought it actually worked. "Leon and Han both told me Brian spent the last three years trying to get us all a deal from Bilkins, did get the heat pulled off of us a year ago, and Dom says he knew where we went the whole time, Mia. You told Brian when he called to make sure Vince was okay. Dom said you yelled at Bri about Vince getting arrested and you missing your family because we were at my place in Mexico."
Vince looked quickly at Mia, surprised and annoyed. "Seriously?!"
Mia's eyes widened as she protested quickly, "I didn't say the name of the town! I was mad, not stupid!"
Letty snorted softly. Mia was definitely stupid about a lot of things, especially Brian and Vince, but pointing that out wouldn't help any so Letty let it pass. "Brian was in the garage working on my car for me the day I told Leon about the place. He already knew the name of the town." Mia and Vince stared at her while Letty paused and took a sip of her beer, and she felt like she had to try as she added, "Dom says Brian could have kept from going to Chino if he flipped on us, but he wouldn't do it. They offered him a deal, he could have turned us in and got his life back, but he did a year in Chino for us instead, getting hurt every day according to Dom."
Vince snorted and said, "He probably liked it. I always knew he was somebody's bitch."
Mia looked away. "No, he wouldn't have."
Vince looked at her, surprised. "How do you know?"
Mia didn't look at him, staring off across the yard and upset as she remembered the night she spent with Brian. "Because I saw the scars he got back in juvie. He went in just after he turned fifteen according to what Jesse told me." She swallowed hard, then added more softly, "He didn't want to talk about it, but said enough that I know he was a pretty kid who got hurt."
"Worse than Dom?" Letty asked quietly, not really very surprised. She had done a few months in juvie herself and her smart mouth had gotten her beat up several times, even in the infirmary once, but she had heard the rumors about how much worse it was in the boys' part of the facility. She had no doubt a kid as pretty as Brian had to be at fifteen was a target, and she was sure he didn't win many fights. Brian had never hesitated to fight back when Vince jumped him, and he had gotten some good hits in, but the kid had never won. Dom or Leon had always had to pull Vince off of him and put a stop to it.
Mia looked at Letty. "I haven't seen Dom naked, but unless his shorts are hiding a lot, yes. Much worse."
Vince looked down at the beer he was holding, frowning, then looked at Mia again. "What do you mean, about Dom?"
Mia stared at Vince, surprised, then looked at Letty. "He never told anyone," Letty said softly. "He even denied it with me until tonight."
"Told anyone what?" Vince said, frowning at Letty.
"Dom had it pretty rough in Lompoc, V," Letty said, trying to sound calmer than she felt when she thought about it. Dom might hate her if he found out she told Vince, but she hoped Vince might care enough to at least think a little bit before he talked shit about Brian again. She knew that there wasn't much Vince really cared about besides Mia, but he had always loved Dom like the big brother Vince never had. "You know he wasn't so muscled up and tough when he went in, he was still just a scared kid. What he did to that dude that killed his dad was mostly adrenaline and pain."
"Lots of guys bulk up in prison," Vince scoffed. "There's nothing else to do except read or--" He broke off, staring at Letty, then shook his head. "No, not Dom. He's strong, he wouldn't let them."
"Which is why he has scars from it, V," Letty pointed out quietly. "He didn't let them. He got beat down hard and then they took what they wanted. He used to have nightmares about it right after he got out, talked in his sleep. I heard enough to be sure what went down, but he always denied it until on the phone a little while ago." She looked away, not wanting to see the shock and pain in Vince's eyes. "He said he knew what it was like to get used and that it hurt when I threw Brian being someone's bitch in his face."
"He always did talk in his sleep when he had really bad dreams," Mia murmured sadly. "Even in the next room I could hear him sometimes."
Vince stared at Letty a moment longer and then looked away as he thought about things he had seen in prison, even done. Dom was nineteen when he went into Lompoc, but he was still just a kid then and Vince knew how scared he had been. That Brian ended up someone's bitch -- likely everyone's, especially if word got out he was a cop -- while he was in Chino didn't bother Vince at all, but thinking about the same thing happening to Dom was painful. Vince hated that Dom loved Brian so much, but he didn't hate Dom. It wouldn't have hurt so much to know Dom chose Brian over him if he could hate Dom for it. Dom was his brother, even after everything, and knowing Dom got hurt like that was almost as painful for Vince as it would have been if it had been Mia.
"It's killing Dom that we're making him choose," Letty said suddenly after a few minutes of silence, making Mia and Vince both look at her. "He still loves us, Dom never gives up on family, you know that, but he loves Brian too." She looked away as she let out a soft little sad laugh, remembering what Dom told her. "He said seeing Brian again was like all the life came back to his world, made everything bright again." She looked at Mia, meeting her gaze. "He had been unhappy for years when he met Brian, Mia, and the kid made him smile again right from the start. You know that, you saw it way before I did. Dom told me they've got the tattoo Brian's name on his heart kind of love."
Mia looked down. Dom used to believe in love, to believe people could stay together for life, but after Letty broke his heart he had stopped. He had always said afterwards that he'd never put anyone's name on himself because forever just wasn't going to happen for him. Hearing that Brian had made him believe love could last forever again told her how sure he was that Brian felt the same way he did, that Brian wouldn't make him regret trusting him with his heart the way Letty had done.
Letty watched Mia, waiting for her to speak, but she didn't and after a while Letty said softly, "Dom's not asking you to love the guy, Mia, he just doesn't want Brian hurt again because of him. Brian would let you, probably even feels like he deserves it knowing him, but it would hurt Dom more than it hurt Brian."
Mia nodded, still not looking at Letty. "I can try to forgive him, for Dom. I can't promise to feel like he's family ever again, or even be friends, but I can be nice."
Letty smiled. "That's all we're asking for, Mia." She looked at Vince, who was unhappy and a little annoyed still, and she tried again. "I know you saw how Dom changed after Lompoc, V, how he was never really happy after, but you saw that picture Leon took, too. I haven't seen Dom smile like that since before his dad died. Have you?"
Vince stared at Letty a long moment and then admitted, "Not even close."
"Exactly," Letty said softly. "You'll always be his brother, but it hurts him when you hurt people he loves, you know that. He's been through so much Hell since his dad died, and now he's finally happy and in love again like he was before that. Can't you just be glad for him?"
Vince looked away for a few minutes before he finally looked at Letty again, meeting her gaze. "I won't touch the kid, and I'll try not to say anything as long as he stays out of my face. That's the best I can promise."
Mia slid her arms around Vince's waist, leaning against his side as she murmured, "That's good enough, sweetheart." She kissed Vince's cheek and then looked at Letty again. "I still want Dom to give me away."
"I'll go call and tell him," Letty said, smiling as she stood up to go back inside.
The Mexican restaurant Suki had picked out hadn't had a table for seven or even two smaller ones open close together, so Rome, Kali, Tej, and Suki were seated inside while Dom, Brian, and Leon ended up out on the patio, overlooking the ocean. Jimmy didn't want Mexican and had decided to just get a pizza delivered to the garage so he could eat while he worked.
The restaurant was busy and service was slow, but the waiter had offered them free refills on their drinks while they waited so it wasn't all bad. Leon was starting his second beer and Brian was halfway through a bottle of hard lemonade when Dom's phone started ringing, the same a simple three-beat pattern Brian used for people not in his contact list. Dom had just left to go find the bathroom so Brian reached for his phone to answer, not even bothering to read who was calling first. "Hello?"
Leon face-palmed, wry and kind of worried. He recognized Letty's ringtone even if Brian didn't, and he figured she'd either hang up on him or Leon would have to take the phone. Leon had spent the last week trying to talk to her about Brian, but Letty had just gotten mad and ignored him most of the time. She was still jealous that Dom finally had someone he loved like he had loved her before she broke his heart by cheating on him. Dom had been having a rough enough time back then dealing with the aftermath of Lompoc, and finding out that the girl he loved like he loved breathing didn't really love him the same way had been hard on him. Leon had been sure he'd never see Dom truly happy again until he saw him with Brian, and then Dom had left the kid behind like an idiot and Leon had started wondering if Dom would even survive. Now that they were finally together again, Leon was determined to keep them that way.
Brian noticed Leon's reaction and wondered who he thought it was. Whoever was on the phone was silent long enough that he was just starting to think they hung up when Letty's familiar voice finally said a little hesitantly, "Hey Brian. Can I... talk to Dom?"
"He just left the table a minute, he won't be long," Brian said, surprised and concerned because he knew Letty had just talked to Dom a little while ago. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, it's fine," Letty said quickly, sounding a little more normal. "Uhm... How have you been?"
Brian blinked, still surprised and a little mystified. "I'm good. How are you, though? I know you're having a rough time with all this."
Letty was quiet a moment and then said softly, "It's okay now, Brian. Dom and I talked. We're good."
"I'm glad," Brian said, relieved and smiling down at the table. "Thanks."
Leon's eyebrows rose and he wished Dom's phone was louder, or the restaurant was quieter. He wanted to know what Letty was saying to make Brian look so grateful.
"For what?" Letty asked, surprised.
"For trying to put up with me for him," Brian replied. "I know it's the last thing you want to do. I'll stay out of the way when you want to see him, I don't mind for you."
Leon smiled wryly, wishing not for the first time that Brian put himself first a little more often. It didn't surprise him that Brian was so willing to give Letty time on her own with Dom, he did know Brian after all, but he was pretty sure that sharing Dom with her wasn't what Brian wanted. He was just willing to do anything he had to do to keep Dom from losing the people he loved.
"No, it's not like that, Bri," Letty said, sounding a little surprised still. "When I see Dom, I want to see you too."
"You don't have to say that, really," Brian said, surprised. "It's okay. I know you have plenty of reasons to hate me."
"Evidently I do need to tell you, since you're surprised," Letty pointed out. "I was mad, Brian, but I didn't know everything, and some of what I thought I knew turned out to be wrong. Dom was right, I knew you well enough to know you didn't want any of it to go down like it did."
"I wanted it to be the Trans," Brian admitted honestly, reaching out to try to smooth out the folded corner of a napkin on the table in front of him. "Dad kept telling me it was the team but I didn't really believe it, and Dom had promised he'd tell me everything after Race Wars so I thought I had time right up until I saw him fighting with Mia. I tried to get to him before he went for the truck, but things went to shit so fast I was just trying to keep everyone alive." He closed his eyes, murmuring, "I got Tran for what he did to Jesse, but I still wish I dragged Jesse out of that damn car before the race. I wanted to."
Leon looked down, remembering that day in the desert. He felt like it was his fault Jesse died, no matter what anyone else told him. He had been the one to take Jesse's car to the line for him and had encouraged the kid even though he was pretty sure Tran would win. He should have gone after Jesse the moment he saw he was going to run. Brian would have told Dom what happened, and Leon could have run Jesse down easy in his Skyline to get him out of the Jetta before Tran started hunting it. Leon's Skyline hadn't been as fast as Brian's, but it had been faster than the Jetta.
"You should have gotten in the Supra with Dom, after he wrecked the Charger," Letty said quietly.
"Yeah, probably," Brian agreed. "I was just trying to clean up the mess I made of everything by then. I thought if I distracted them he'd have more time to run, get over the border on his way to Teopantlan. It worked, they were so pissed that a cop had turned that it took them over an hour to even send out the A.P.B. on the Supra, and even then it was pretty vague. By then they had me on tape confessing to pretty much everything I could think of, and they were more worried about pinning as much as they could on me to make an example of me."
"Damn, Brian," Letty murmured with a soft sigh. "You really did chose Chino over hurting him, didn't you?"
"It wasn't even a choice," Brian said quietly. "There's no way I'd let Dom go back to Lompoc. Even now that I know how bad it was in Chino, I'd do it again." Leon snorted, giving Brian a dirty look, and Brian gave Leon a sheepish little smile. "Just don't tell him. He says I'm not allowed."
"I should," Leon said with a frown, even though he knew he wouldn't. He'd just have to watch Brian's back, make sure the kid never got backed into a corner like that again. Leon knew Tej would help as much as he could, which was a lot, and had Tej on speed dial now, at Tej's insistence. If there was a problem Leon had orders to call Tej immediately for backup, and Leon didn't doubt Tej would do anything he had to do to protect Brian. Tej might not sleep with Brian anymore but a blind man could see Tej loved Brian at least as much as he loved his wife. Leon figured that the only reason it didn't bother Suki was because she loved Brian too, if not quite the same way. Leon had heard her telling Dom that Brian and Tej had eight years of history behind them, and Tej had loved Brian right from the start.
"Please don't, Leon," Brian said quickly, giving Leon a pleading look. "He worries too much already."
"Then don't do anything stupid," Leon said firmly. "Losing you would kill him, Bri."
"I feel the same way about him, Leon," Brian said quietly. "I'd die for him."
Leon sighed, sure that Brian really would, just like he knew Dom felt the same way. He just prayed that neither of them ever had to prove it. He was sure if one of them got himself killed, the other one would be dead soon afterwards.
"Next time I see you, kid, you owe me a serious hug," Letty said suddenly.
Brian let out a startled little laugh, looking away from Leon and down at the table again. "Sure, if you want."
"Probably more than one," Letty added. "I'm talking hugs like you give Leon when he's tequila drunk and being all clingy."
The only time Brian ever saw Leon drunk on tequila, Dom had been laughing and calling him 'spider monkey' because Leon was latching on to anyone who got near him, smiling all goofy and telling them he loved them. He had hung all over Brian at one point, hugging the stuffing out of him until Brian had held Leon long enough to satisfy whatever made him hug Brian to start with. Leon had finally kissed his cheek and moved to drop into Dom's lap like it was the most normal thing ever to cuddle with him, and within a few minutes he had passed out there in Dom's arms. Leon hadn't remembered any of it the next day, but Brian was sure he'd never forget.
"I can do that," Brian agreed, amused by the memory even though he still felt a little lost. "Whenever you want."
Dom's hand landed on Brian's shoulder then, and Brian looked up to see Dom moving to sit next to him, surprised and curious. "Who's on the phone, baby?"
Brian smiled at Dom. "It's Letty." Dom's eyes widened and Brian added to Letty, "Dom's back."
"You stay safe, Bri," Letty said quickly. "Leon's right, losing you would kill him."
"I will, I promise," Brian agreed, surprised. "Take care of yourself too, Letty."
"I always do," Letty replied. "See you soon."
"I hope so," Brian said, smiling again at the thought. "Here he is." He passed the phone to Dom, smiling warmly as he murmured to him, "She needed to talk to you again."
Dom put the phone to his ear, still looking at Brian in surprise. "Yeah?"
"Dom, hug him for me," Letty said immediately. "Hard."
Dom let out a surprised little laugh, kind of amazed by the about face but too glad to ask questions. "Okay, just a second." He didn't wait for her to answer, reaching for Brian to pull him into a hug.
Brian returned the hug, pleased but confused too as he asked, "What brought that on?"
Dom pulled away, amused. "That was from Letty."
Leon grinned, wondering what Dom had said to Letty when they talked earlier. Whatever it was, it must have been exactly the right thing. What Brian said had helped, he was sure, but Dom must have finally gotten her to really think about Brian, not about a cop that happened to be there when they brought their own world crashing down around them. It had never been Brian responsible, Leon could see that from the start, but Letty had wanted someone to blame and her jealousy of Brian had made him an easy target.
Dom put the phone back to his ear, looking across the table at Leon, who was grinning wide and happy. "Okay, I did."
"Good," Letty said, sounding a little amused too. "It's crazy how bad I want to hug him right now. How does he do that?"
Dom laughed. "Brian's buddy Rome says everyone who knows Brian loves him, it's a law of nature, like gravity."
Brian snorted, rolling his eyes while Leon laughed.
Dom grinned at Leon and then he looked down, settling back more comfortably into his chair, "You don't call just to talk anymore, Letty, so what'd you need?"
"I talked to Mia and Vince," Letty replied, and Dom was surprised to realize she sounded pleased. "Mia still wants you to give her away. She's willing to give Brian another chance. V says he won't touch him, and he'll try to be nice as long as Brian doesn't get in his face."
"Wow," Dom murmured, surprised. "What did you say?"
"A lot," Letty said with a little laugh. "Probably some stuff you didn't want me to, but it worked. Just be glad they listened to me and don't poke it too much, okay? They're going to try."
"Just..." Dom smiled wide and happy, too relieved to even care what she had told them. "I owe you big."
Leon grinned, sure from Dom's smile that Letty must have been successful making peace with Mia, at least, maybe even with Vince.
"Yeah, you do," Letty agreed. "Speaking of that, the wedding is two weeks from yesterday, but you know Race Wars is next weekend, right?"
"I figured it was soon," Dom agreed, a little confused. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"I want to run the Chevelle," Letty said quickly. "There's enough cash left in the glove box for a couple races even if I lose, but I'm hoping to make a good profit. I want to buy a car that isn't older than me."
Dom grinned. "Sure, run her all you want. Just not for pinks. Once you have something you like better, the Chevelle's coming to Miami. Leon and I can make decent money off of her here."
Leon grinned, pleased. He had been hoping the Chevelle would come to Miami, but he wasn't going to suggest it. Technically she was his car, his name was on the title, but Dom put most of the upgrades in so they treated her as community property. She was a lot faster than she looked, so it was easy to make money off of her with strangers. She wouldn't beat Brian's Mustang, Leon was sure of that after just seeing Dom play on the highway a few times with the pony he had fallen so hard for, but the Chevelle was still fast with a well-concealed Nos system that made people underestimate her.
"Good, that thing's hideous," Letty replied with a laugh.
The waiter arrived at the table then, looking harried as he said quickly, "Sorry fellas, the kitchen is slammed tonight." He quickly began to pass out their plates, starting with Leon. "Your steak and fries." He put a plate of tacos with a side of Spanish rice in front of Brian. "Your tacos el pastor." He passed Dom a plate of rice and pico de gallo with fajitas, which were his favorite of what was on the menu, by far. "And the steak fajitas." He looked around at them. "Anything else?"
Brian smiled, shaking his head, and Leon said, "Nah man, we're good."
"Enjoy," the waiter said quickly. "Don't hesitate to flag me down if you need anything." He hurried away without waiting for a reply.
"Food's here," Dom told Letty, smiling.
"Go eat," Letty said easily. "We can talk again soon. Love you."
"Love you too, girl," Dom replied, smiling.
"Give Leon and Bri my love."
Letty hung up and Dom thumbed the power on his phone, setting it down as he looked at Leon, who was already starting to cut up his steak. "Letty said to tell you she loves you."
Leon grinned at Dom. "I'll text her later, return the sentiments."
"Probably a good idea," Dom agreed, then he looked at Brian, amused. "And she said she loves you too. I don't know what you said to her, but it worked."
Brian laughed. "I don't know either."
"He was just being Bri," Leon said, grinning. "Rome's not far off with the whole force of nature thing."
Dom grinned at Leon. "Worked on me." He offered his hands to Brian and Leon, adding, "C'mon, Sunday dinner, even if it's just us. You reached for your food first, Leon."
Brian immediately took Dom's hand, amused as he reached across the table towards Leon.
Leon smiled wryly and put down his knife and fork, taking Dom's hand and Brian's before he said quietly, "Heavenly spirit, we thank you for the good fortune to spend our days doing what we love with our family, good food to nourish body and soul, races to run, fast cars, and faster women. Amen."
Brian laughed softly. "Amen."
"Amen." Dom grinned at Leon as the three of them let go, teasing, "Wishin' for a fast woman right now, Leon?"
Leon smirked. "I caught my quota for today, thanks anyway."
Brian snickered, looking at Dom as he said, "Rachel."
Dom laughed. "Wasn't she with Rome yesterday?"
"Yep," Brian agreed, amused. "She gets around."
"She can get around me anytime she wants," Leon said with a laugh. "Girl is sexy and seriously talented."
"Pretty much what Rome says, too," Brian said, trying not to laugh. "It's no coincidence she drives a little red Corvette."
Dom gave Brian an amused look and reached for the clay dish that held the tortillas for his fajitas while Leon grinned at Brian, teasing, "Kid, you have terrible taste in music."
"So do you, since you knew I was talking about that song," Brian countered, smirking at Leon.
Leon looked a little surprised, and Dom had to laugh. "And we score one for Brian."
"You have no room to talk, Dom," Leon said, laughing. "You listen to Pink even when he's not around!"
Dom grinned at Leon. "I like her. Girl's got spunk."
Brian looked at Dom, pleased. "What's your favorite?"
"I like all her stuff," Dom said, amused.
Leon snorted. "His favorite is either 'U+Ur Hand', 'Run', or 'Raise Your Glass' going by the Supra's 'most played' listing. They switch back and forth a lot, but they stay at the top no matter how much Linkin Park I play."
Brian smirked at Dom, blue eyes sparkling. "Jesse and I didn't load 'Run' or 'Raise Your Glass' in there."
"I know," Dom agreed, smiling wryly. "I actually bought both albums. You ruined me."
"At least you're wrong in all the right ways," Brian said, still smirking.
Brian walked out of his bay in the back of the garage with two bottles of the hard lemonade he liked, pleased that Dom had finally tried the one Brian had with dinner. Dom had liked it a lot more than he expected to, which made Brian's day. He drank a Corona with Dom sometimes and enjoyed kissing him no matter what, but he loved the hard lemonade. Tasting it on Dom's lips just made it even better, tart and sweet and completely irresistible.
"Race Wars, huh?" Tej said, smirking at Dom. "I'm in. How many cars are we taking besides the Skyline?"
Brian grinned at that, pleased that Tej wanted to go with them. Dom, Leon, and Brian had talked about it on the ride home and they all wanted to go and help Letty win enough to get the car she wanted. Brian couldn't do much racing there in Miami, everyone knew his cars too well, but at Race Wars he'd be able to get runs all day if he wanted to, and so would Dom and Leon. With all three of them running to help Letty, she'd have enough for a nice sporty little import to play with by the end of the first day, easy.
Dom laughed. "You're coming?"
"I love Race Wars," Tej replied, still smirking. "I was at the first one, and I just might happen to know where to find a car hauler that will get there in about four days from here."
Dom grinned. "Now you're talking."
Brian handed Dom one of the lemonades, still grinning as he sat down. "How many can we haul?"
"We can do either four spots enclosed or six spots on an open trailer if we want it to get there in time," Tej replied, "but we don't have to run either one full. Whatever we send, we won't be able to drive them all week. If we ship tomorrow, they'll get there Friday at the latest."
Brian looked at Dom. "Would you rather drive or fly?"
"Drive, always," Dom said, amused as he sipped his lemonade.
Curiosity had made Dom try the hard lemonade Brian loved so much after he finished his beer during dinner, and he'd discovered he liked it almost as much as Brian had enjoyed kissing the flavor out of his mouth, which made it a win all around as far as Dom was concerned. He never would have bought the stuff before, but he had to admit it was pretty good. It reminded him of long summer days when he was a kid, drinking lemonade while he helped his dad work on cars. His mom had made it by the pitcher for his dad every day while he worked, and after she was gone Mia had kept up the tradition right until he died. By the time Dom got out of Lompoc Mia had stopped making lemonade at all, but Dom had missed it sometimes.
"Good," Brian said with a pleased smile. "I hate to fly, but it's too far to drive it alone again. I nearly went stir crazy last time. Kept getting myself lost trying to find someone who'd race me, just to have something to do."
Dom chuckled softly. "Even with me and Leon, we were bored stiff. It'll be at least three days if we stop to sleep instead of driving straight through."
Brian nodded, smiling. "And I don't have to ask what you want to drive." Dom had loved the Mustang from the first moment he saw her, and Brian loved watching how happy he was driving her. Dom was happier now in general than Brian remembered him being, but he would still do anything to make Dom give him that wide happy smile that lit up his eyes and used to be so rare.
Dom smirked slightly. "I don't mind being predictable."
"That's good, 'cause you are," Leon said with a grin, walking over to stand by the table as he wiped his hands with a rag. He had been looking at a little Toyota pickup that was on the schedule for the next day, checking out the fuel injection system that wasn't working right to see what the problem was. So far he had found a leaky connection and a factory-standard fuel filter that looked like it hadn't ever been changed even though the truck was most of ten years old. "If there's room on the trailer, I'd like to send the Supra with the Skyline. That way I can fly out on Friday. We're sure to have plenty of work to do this week."
"There's room," Tej said quickly, smiling at Leon. "And I appreciate you working all week, we'll be pulling extra hours to keep up."
"I figured," Leon agreed, smiling. "Doesn't bother me, I'd be in the garage working for the fun of it anyway."
"We all do," Tej pointed out, amused. "So we're shipping the Supra and the Skyline, for sure." He looked at Rome, smirking slightly. "You wanna make some easy cash, bro?"
Rome laughed. "Always! The Spyder is damn near as fast as the Skyline now."
"Pretty close," Tej agreed. "It'd be interesting to put them up against each other."
"Easy enough to do," Dom said, amused. "Race Wars isn't street racing, though. It's straight sprints. I think the Spyder would take it at a quarter mile."
Brian nodded. "Easy. The Skyline's faster at a mile still, but the short distance will work against her." He grinned, adding, "The Mustang will actually do better at a quarter mile. When I rebuilt her, I was working towards her being a ten second car, not longer street races like the Skyline is geared for. I was used to racing in L.A. and it's almost always a sprint there."
"Definitely," Dom agreed with a slight smirk. "Your baby's gonna do well at Race Wars."
"Alright, so three on the truck," Tej said, smiling. "I'll make some calls, get them heading out in the morning." He laughed, adding, "And get a couple of decent rentals for us to drive this week."
"What about Suki?" Brian asked. "She likes to run and her Honda's fast enough to take some wins."
"Yeah, but she'd hate not having her favorite toy all week," Tej pointed out, amused. "I'll ask her, but I'm sure she'll say no to shipping it. She might even decide to grab a couple of her girls and follow you two, she loves road trips."
"If she does, we'll keep an eye on them," Dom said, smiling. "Just make sure she knows we got a deadline on the way there, and that Bri and I will be staying until Mia's wedding."
"She knows about the wedding, we started scheduling for you two to drive out as soon as Leon told me when it is," Tej said with a soft laugh. "I figured y'all would head out next Monday though, not tomorrow."
"Will it cause problems?" Brian asked, surprised and concerned.
"Nah, we got you, baby," Tej said quickly, smiling at Brian. "I haven't really scheduled a lot for this week that was specifically for you or Dom, and nothing after that 'cause I wasn't sure when you'd get back. If folks don't want to let one of us get whatever they need done, then they can just wait. Jimmy, Leon, Rome, and I can handle anything that comes in, and there's still Rico and Mitch to get the routine crap."
Rome smirked at Brian, adding, "Yeah, brah, and then when you're back, whenever I want to take off you two get to cover for me."
Brian grinned. "Deal. You don't do much anyway."
"Hey!" Rome said, surprised.
"He's kinda got a point," Tej said, smirking at Rome. "Most days Bri does three cars for every one you work on."
"It's not my fault everyone wants Bullitt to work on their damn car," Rome said, laughing.
"Don't worry, bro," Brian said, smirking. "When you climb to the top of the heap, they'll be after you to help them get there too."
"If he makes it there," Dom pointed out dryly, giving Brian an amused little smile. "With you and me around, he might have to be happy with third place."
"Oh, I'm gonna make it there," Rome said quickly, surprised.
Dom smirked at Rome. "You haven't even seen me drive yet, Rome. Not really."
"Put up or shut up, white boy," Rome said firmly, smirking.
"I'm half Cuban," Dom pointed out, amused.
"White enough," Rome said, still smirking. "Still."
Brian laughed. "Rome, what car do you think he'd be driving?"
"Pfft, I ain't afraid of that pony," Rome scoffed. "The Spyder can take her easy."
Dom laughed. "Quarter mile, anytime, anywhere."
"You're on," Rome said quickly, pleased.
Brian gave Rome a wide, amused grin. "Just don't race him for pinks."
"You afraid I'll steal your baby?" Rome asked with a laugh, surprised. "You really think I'd do that to you?"
"No, I'm afraid you'd cry when he won your baby," Brian replied, trying not to laugh at the way Rome scowled. "You've seen me drive, Rome."
"Yeah, what's that got to do with anything?" Rome asked, still scowling slightly. "Talkin' about racing him, not you. I know you're a freak behind the wheel. I taught you."
Brian smirked. "I've never beaten Dom. The only time I ever got close was in the Supra against his dad's Charger, and the way the Charger was smoking when we passed the line, that was because it blew something major."
"Pretty sure it threw a rod," Dom agreed, amused. "You would have passed me in another ten feet, though."
"We weren't racing another ten feet," Brian pointed out, grinning at Dom. "Like someone told me once, whether it's an inch or a mile, a win is a win."
Dom's lips twitched as he fought down a laugh, and Rome looked at Dom with a little more respect. "You really that good?"
Dom smiled blandly at Rome, dark eyes sparkling. "Race me and find out."
"If y'all wanna just measure your dicks and get it over with, I can go get a ruler," Tej said dryly, making Leon and Brian both laugh.
"Hell no," Rome said with a snort, amused. "I don't wanna know anything about his dick, damn. I just wanna kick his ass racing."
Dom smirked at Rome. "Kinda think I win either way."
Rome's eyebrows rose and he looked at Brian, laughing. "Seriously?"
"I'm not in this," Brian said quickly, grinning wide with his blue eyes sparkling bright with amusement.
Rome looked at Dom, eyes narrowing a bit, and Dom laughed. "I meant I win because I've got Bri."
"Well, yeah, that's obvious," Rome said quickly. "Now you went and made me curious, though. You got Bri beat?"
"I haven't noticed," Dom replied, amused.
Rome snorted. "Nah, come on, man. Everyone notices."
"Not me," Dom said easily, "'cause I don't care. As long as Bri's happy with what I got, I'm good."
"And I'm very happy," Brian said, grinning at Dom. He had noticed, but he wasn't about to go there. Rome didn't need to know Dom had them both beat, just like neither of them needed to know Tej would win if they did whip out that ruler and start measuring.
Dom winked at Brian and then looked at Rome again, smirking. "Like I said, I win."
Rome laughed. "I'm still gonna kick your ass racing."
"Put your money where your mouth is, Joker," Dom said easily, still smirking. "I don't run for less than two grand."
"You're on," Rome agreed. "We doin' this tonight or wait and run at Race Wars?"
"At Race Wars," Tej said quickly, grinning. "I wanna make book on this one."
Dom laughed. "Race Wars works."
Dom and Brian headed out early Tuesday morning, just after daybreak. The truck with the cars had left around noon the day before and was already well on the way, but it wouldn't be able to drive nearly as fast as they could. Tej had talked Julio and his brother Oscar, who was a diesel mechanic, into driving for him and they were planning to switch off so they didn't have to stop to sleep, but they'd still be driving for the next few days. The big enclosed car hauler was just plain slow.
Brian was driving the Mustang first as they headed west out of Miami on 41, crossing over to the Gulf to follow the coastline north even though most people would have gone up the eastern coast on US 1 or I-95. The Gulf coast of Florida wasn't heavily populated like the east coast was once they passed through Sarasota, and they enjoyed the drive a lot more than they would have if they went up I-95 to Jacksonville. The scenery was beautiful along the way, long stretches of beach or dunes broken up by pasture land, marshes, and forests, and there was so little traffic that they nearly had the road to themselves much of the time, especially after they left the coast near Crystal River to pick up 98 and take it all the way to Pensacola.
They had no trouble finding things to talk about, and what silences there were turned out to be the good kind where there was just nothing that needed to be said. The Mustang didn't have an on-board computer system to store music in, just a CD player in the dash, but Leon had filled an iPod with the music out of the Supra and the Skyline for them and hooked it up to the auxiliary port so they didn't run out of things to listen to. Some of Brian's music had Dom laughing, like the happy hardcore compilations, and some of the thrash metal Dom liked was just noise to Brian, but they agreed on enough that it was easy to find something to listen to. Brian put all the artists they both liked into a playlist and hit random, and after that it wasn't unusual for them to listen to something like 'Bleed It Out' by Linkin Park followed by Pink's 'Cuz I Can', Audioslave's 'Like A Stone', and then Tupac's 'Thugz Mansion'.
Dom and Brian enjoyed the time to just be together and relax while they drove that first day, but by the time they reached Biloxi they were tired of being cooped up in the car and ready to stop for the night. They ended up at a hotel a few blocks away from the beach because it had an enclosed parking area where it would be safe to leave the Mustang, and then they walked to dinner at a seafood shack right on the water before they went for a walk along the beach just to be moving. It was after midnight by the time they got back to the hotel, and closer to three by the time they finally slept, but they didn't care. They had already decided to enjoy the trip, and if they took a little too long in some places they could just push harder somewhere else to make up for it.
The second day of the trip was a lot more boring, heading out on I-10 through Louisiana, and by the time they hit Houston, they had already decided to put on some more speed just to get the trip over with faster. They stopped that afternoon in Van Horn, a little town in the middle of nowhere in west Texas that they found just when they were both hungry and fed up with sitting still. There was nothing to do in the town, which was little more than a crossroad with a gas station and a feed store across the highway from a diner that had a six room motel out back, but they didn't mind all that much.
By the time they finished their dinner, Dom and Brian had already decided how they were going to work off all the extra energy they had from too long in the car. The motel room was air conditioned and clean, and they barely made it inside the door before Dom was pulling Brian's t-shirt up and off. Brian landed on the bed on his back a few moments later, grinning and unfastening his belt as he watched Dom strip off his own shirt.
Dom reached for Brian's jeans about the time Brian got them unbuttoned, murmuring with a smirk, "You're still wearing too many clothes."
"So are you," Brian agreed, still grinning as he lifted his hips for Dom to drag his pants off and then reached for Dom's belt.
A few moments later they were both naked and Dom was climbing onto the bed as they kissed. Brian smirked against Dom's lips, laying back and spreading his legs wide as he pulled Dom down on top of him with a happy purring noise. Dom nipped Brian's lower lip gently and then murmured teasingly, "So eager for me, baby."
"Damn right," Brian agreed with a grin as Dom settled between his thighs, bracing his feet on the bed to grind up against Dom's erection. "Just one problem. Lube was in my pocket."
Dom smirked, kissing Brian again before he murmured, "Way head of you." He moved one hand to show Brian the small bottle he had made sure he grabbed before he got rid of Brian's jeans. The last thing he wanted to do once he had Brian under him on a bed was leave him there, which often meant getting off other ways because they were both too impatient to wait for him to go find the lube. It was always good, but Dom wanted to watch Brian fall apart on his fingers and then fuck him slow and easy, he'd been thinking about it for hours.
"God, I love you." Brian reached for the back of Dom's head to tug him down into a hungry kiss, Dom's low chuckle fading into a pleased growl as Brian's hips moved against him again.
They continued kissing for a while, hands roaming while their hips rocked together just enough to make them both want more without actually getting off on it. They both had much better plans for how they wanted to do that, and rubbing off against each other just wasn't going to cut it, not this time. Brian's legs were tight around Dom's waist when he finally let out a soft little impatient noise and pulled away to look up at Dom, breathless and amused, "Jesus, Dom. Just fuck me already."
Dom chuckled and took a moment to just look at Brian, smirking slightly at how well-kissed and aroused Brian obviously was, blue eyes hungry and intense. "You do have such good ideas." His smirk widened, and he added, "But you'll have to let go, baby. You got your legs so tight around me, I couldn't get a hand between us if I tried."
Brian laughed softly, blushing and moving to put his feet back on the bed as he murmured, "I like keeping you close."
"And I love it when you do," Dom agreed, leaning down to kiss Brian again before he glanced away long enough to find the lube he had dropped by the pillows. He settled back onto his knees as he flipped the cap open, drizzling some on his fingertips, then closed it again and braced his other hand on the bed as he smirked at Brian and leaned down to kiss him again.
Brian put his elbows on the bed to prop himself up a little to reach Dom easier, kissing back hungrily for a few moments before he felt Dom's thumb brush against his balls and then slick fingertips rubbed against his ass. He lifted his hips with a happy little groan as Dom's finger started to push inside, legs spreading a little wider as he sucked on Dom's tongue, and Dom let out a low pleased noise of his own as he felt Brian's body yield so easily. He started to move his finger, twisting and flexing it to loosen Brian up a little, and then he added a second finger and chuckled soft and low at the way Brian purred.
Brian's hips were rocking slightly with every flex of Dom's fingers by the time Dom got them deep enough to stroke his prostate, making Brian's hips jerk each time Dom rubbed against it. Dom kept teasing him until Brian was making soft little hungry noises, kissing Dom like he might eat him alive with his hips constantly moving, and then Dom finally started to pull his fingers free. Dom smiled at the soft unhappy whine Brian let out, murmuring against Brian's lips, "Shh, I got you, baby."
Brian kissed Dom again instead of trying to talk, and then he felt Dom pressing three fingers into him and he groaned into Dom's mouth at the difference. Brian bit Dom's full lower lip gently, sucking at it, then licked into his mouth again and kissed him hungrily while Dom's fingers spread to open Brian up more. Dom growled softly into the kiss, loving how eager and hungry for him Brian was and unable to stop thinking about how the slick velvety heat clenching around his fingers would feel on his cock. Brian was making quiet little noises and couldn't stop moving, his hips rocking with every flex of Dom's fingers until Dom pulled them out of him again.
Brian ended the kiss to look up at Dom, flushed and breathing hard as he shifted to lay back on the bed again, watching as Dom slicked up his cock and then reaching for Dom to pull him closer. Dom nudged the tip of his cock gently against Brian's ass and then was pressing into him slow and easy, watching intently as Brian's eyes closed and he arched under him with a low groan, gasping, "Oh fuck yeah."
Dom pulled back to thrust slowly into Brian again, loving the intense pleasure and need so plain on Brian's face and in his expressive blue eyes when Brian opened them to look up at him. Brian moved to wrap his legs around Dom again, using the leverage to force Dom's next thrust in a little deeper as he murmured, "C'mon. I won't break."
Dom smiled and leaned down to kiss Brian again, hips rocking to pull back and then thrust into Brian harder, earning a low groan, and Brian moved to meet the next thrust with a snap of his own hips that made Dom growl. They settled into a steady rhythm, kissing and touching as their bodies rocked together, every move pushing them both a little closer to the edge until Brian finally came with a low cry, hips jerking as his body clenched convulsively around Dom's cock. Dom groaned and thrust hard only a few more times before he was following Brian over the edge.
Dom rolled them to their sides, Brian's legs still wrapped around his waist as they both relaxed, foreheads touching as they just breathed. Brian kissed him after a few minutes, soft and sweet, then murmured, "Love you so damn much."
Dom kissed Brian, smiling against his lips, and then murmured, "No more than I love you." He kissed Brian again before he could say anything to deny it, sure he was going to. "Don't argue, baby. It's just not possible."
Brian smiled, blue eyes sparkling and warm as he kissed Dom again instead of arguing.
Mia waved to Vince, watching him pull out of the yard on his Harley before she went back inside. She had bought the bike for him while he was in Lompoc mostly to keep him from going back to street racing when he got out, but she knew Vince didn't really mind. He had always wanted a motorcycle, he was just too caught up in racing with the team to have time for it. Now that it was just him and Mia most of the time he felt more free to do his own thing, and it didn't hurt that she loved riding it with him. She still had her sporty little Acura, but most of the joy had gone out of driving it.
Mia walked through the house without stopping, headed for the back porch to join Letty and relax for a little while before she had to get ready for work. She had the night shift at the hospital the next week, working seven to seven to make up a little bit for the time off she was taking for the wedding and their honeymoon. Vince would be working right up until the night before the wedding, but then he had managed to talk his boss into a week off. He was talking about them taking a long drive up the coast on his Harley, just the two of them, and she couldn't wait.
Mia smiled at the way Letty was sprawled on the swing laughing at her cell phone, and she moved to sit in one of the chairs as she asked, "What's so funny?"
"Leon," Letty said, grinning at Mia. "He's bored, he finished the cars he had lined up for the day and he's complaining that the other guys won't share." Her phone vibrated again and then she snickered, adding, "He says Rome's just being an ass, usually he's glad to pass off everything but the gravy work."
"Rome is the one Brian grew up with, right?" Mia asked, curious even though she doubted she would ever meet him. Letty had been talking about going to Miami after the wedding to find out why Dom and Leon liked it so much, but Mia and Vince had no interest in going and were looking forward to having the house to themselves again. Mia was going to miss Letty, but she had gotten used to her quiet little life there in San Diego and wanted it back. Letty was anything but quiet and Vince acted different around her sometimes, trying to impress her just like he had always done. Vince didn't act that way when he was alone with Mia, not anymore, and she much preferred her Vince.
"Yeah, the one he went to juvie with, after his mom died," Letty agreed, tapping out a message to Leon quickly before she looked up and gave Mia a wicked little grin. "Big black dude all muscled up like Dom with a grin that's a real panty-dropper. Dude is hot."
Mia laughed. "You've had Leon taking pictures for you?"
"I didn't ask!" Letty said quickly just as her phone vibrated in her hand again. "He's just always sending me stuff. I swear, he lives with that damn phone in his hand." She looked down at her phone, then snickered. "See?" Letty turned the phone towards Mia and held it out, showing her the photo of a bald black guy who really was built a lot like Dom, flat on his back on a mechanic's dolly in a skin-tight white tank top and smirking while he flipped off the camera.
"I guess he's okay," Mia admitted, "if you like the type."
"I do," Letty said, smirking as she pulled the phone back and tapped out another message to Leon. "I like guys with some beef, and Leon says Rome is so funny they call him Joker on the street. He's always pulling pranks and shit."
"Sounds like someone you'd enjoy," Mia agreed, smiling.
"He'll give me somebody to do in Miami," Letty agreed, still smirking.
Mia laughed. "You don't even know him!"
"Eh, knowing him is over rated," Letty said easily. "I want laid, not married."
"How did you and Dom ever put up with each other so long?" Mia asked, amused. "He's the king of monogamy."
Letty's amusement faded a little. "He is, yeah. Not so much me." She let out a little huff of a laugh, looking at Mia. "The other night he asked if I knew when he cheated on me."
Mia's eyes widened. "When was that? I don't remember him ever even looking at anyone serious."
"Yeah, you do," Letty said, smiling wryly. "Brian. He said he wanted to and that it's the same thing to him."
Mia stared at Letty for a few moments, thinking about when Dom caught Letty cheating, and she didn't stop to think before she asked, "Did you know he bought you a ring right after Lompoc?"
Letty flinched, looking down at her phone and pretending to be interested in Leon's bored rambling. "Not then, but he told me that the other night, too. Said he sold it after he caught me with Frankie Lopez."
"Leon told me about it when Dom was so late coming home that night," Mia said, and Letty looked up at her again. "You told me he left because he was so pissed he was afraid he'd end up in jail again, but Leon said Dom just didn't want you to see how bad you hurt him. Dom was crying when he pulled out in that old GTO he drove back then, and his eyes were still red when he got home around three that night."
"Sounds about right," Letty said quietly, sad. "I know I hurt him pretty bad. He tried to act like it didn't matter, but I could feel the difference after that. Nothing was the same anymore."
"I never understood why you did that to him," Mia said softly, "especially then when he was already having such a rough time. I know you loved him."
"I did, but not enough," Letty admitted, looking at Mia again. "After he got out of Lompoc he just wasn't the same guy I fell for anymore."
"Was it knowing what happened to him?" Mia asked, frowning slightly.
Letty shook her head. "Not the way you mean, no. That wasn't his fault, not any of it, but he still changed while he was in there. Nothing I did was enough to make him happy anymore, not even sex, and after a while I thought it was because he stopped loving me." She looked away. "Other guys still treated me like I was amazing, like he used to before."
"You were still his world," Mia said quietly, "right up until you broke his heart."
"I know that now." Letty sighed. "Did you know he never even told me to stop sleeping around? He just pretended it didn't happen, like it didn't matter to him at all." She swallowed hard, then admitted, "That was why I started checking guys out in front of him, I just wanted him to care, but he never did. He'd give me this look and then he'd find some reason to leave, like he was letting me do it. That hurt more than anything else."
"I asked him once why he let you cheat on him," Mia said softly, making Letty look at her, surprised. "He said it wouldn't mean anything if he told you to stop. It had to be because you decided he was enough for you."
Letty stared at Mia another moment, her eyes shining, then looked away as she wiped at them. "I've never loved anyone like I love him, but it didn't keep me from wanting other guys. I'm not sure I'll ever find anyone who does."
Mia didn't reply, completely at a loss for what to say. She had thought the same thing about Letty too many times to count.
Dom took over driving again after they stopped in Tucson for lunch. He drove them out of town and then took a side road out into the desert, driving until they ran out of road and then smirking at Brian. They ended up spending over an hour in the Mustang's back seat, laughing and hot and perfect, and Brian was dozing when Dom finally headed back to the highway. He headed for interstate 8 once they finally got moving again, driving fast through the desert towards Yuma. They had switched off who was driving often along the way until then, mostly because they were both getting bored with the long relatively slow drive, but even that didn't help anymore by Tucson and once they were on 8 heading west Brian told Dom to just get it over with. Dom pushed the Mustang harder through the desert, topping a hundred on the long stretches with little traffic, and it was just before sunset when they passed through La Mesa on the way into San Diego.
Dom reached for his cell, which was wedged into the console at the base of the gearshift so it would stop falling in the floor, and then passed it to Brian with a smile. "Text Leon, baby. Make sure Letty hasn't gone anywhere."
"Sure," Brian agreed, accepting the phone. He looked down at it to unlock it, glad Dom used something easy like the number of the house in Echo Park, then opened up the messaging program. 'Hey bro. Letty still @ Mia's?'
Dom's phone pinged after only a few moments as Leon replied. 'yeah b. just talk 2 her. shes bored stiff.'
"She's still there," Brian said, looking at Dom with a smile. "Leon says she's bored."
"She won't be for long," Dom said, smiling wider. Letty didn't know they were coming and he was looking forward to seeing her. He had missed her more than he expected to, even though it had only been a few weeks. It was the longest they had gone without seeing each other since he was in Lompoc. "What about Mia and Vince?"
Brian looked back at the phone. 'Mia & V gone yet?' He knew they both had work that night, Leon had told him that when they were talking earlier after Leon finished his cars for the day.
'long gone.' Leon replied, then sent another. 'lettys wantin me 2 intro her 2 rome. lol'
Brian laughed and looked at Dom with a wide grin, eyes sparkling. "They're gone already, and Leon must have sent Letty more pictures. She wants to meet Rome."
Dom laughed. "At least she won't break his heart. He's even more of a player than she is."
"He always has been," Brian agreed, amused as he looked back at the phone. 'Dom says @ least she won't break his heart.'
Leon replied immediately. 'ikr. he says she looks sweet. lmao'
Brian snickered. "Leon's been showing Rome pictures too. Rome thinks Letty looks sweet."
"When she wants to be," Dom said, laughing. "Mostly she's about half cougar. She's gonna eat him alive."
"He deserves it," Brian said, grinning wide. 'Dom says she's gonna eat him alive. lol'
'probly but itll do him good.' Leon said, making Brian snicker, and then the phone pinged again. '2day he had rach 4 lunch now kali 4 dinner.'
Brian laughed, looking at Dom again. "Leon says Rome had lunch with Rachel, and now he's with Kali." He looked down, typing, 'Surprised he didn't take both.'
Dom chuckled. "Sounds like him. Half the time he talks them both into going out with him."
"Yeah, I don't get that, but he has fun," Brian said, amused that Dom was thinking the same thing he was.
The phone pinged again. 'i stole rach 2nite. B) ttyl.'
'Enjoy.' Brian grinned, looking over at Dom again. "Leon stole Rachel for tonight and he's heading out."
Dom shook his head, smiling. "I don't know how they can do that, passing that girl back and forth."
"Me either," Brian agreed. "Rome's always been like that though. Back before juvie he was always telling me some girl I went out with was a skank and I should dump her, then he'd get with her instead." He laughed. "And it was always him that got in their pants then."
Dom glanced at Brian and then looked back at the road to be sure he wouldn't miss the College Avenue exit, amused as he said dryly, "Maybe he just wanted to keep you to himself."
"Nah, he never even looked at me before juvie," Brian disagreed, his grin fading as he remembered. "Even when he did, it was all me pushing him into it. I was crazy about him, but he had a kid down the hall he had a thing with and didn't even want to touch me."
Dom looked at Brian, surprised. "I thought you two were together in there."
"We were," Brian agreed, giving Dom a wry little smile. "After I pushed him into it we were together almost two years, but then we got out and I didn't really see him again until I needed backup on the thing I did for Bilkins in Miami a couple years ago. Bilkins wouldn't even consider you and I knew Rome needed his record cleared, so I dragged him into it even though he kicked my ass for just talking to him. He finally told me later that he ran so hard after juvie because he got it in his head that he took advantage of me."
"Was he good to you?" Dom asked softly as he turned onto College Avenue, then he looked at Brian again. "In juvie I mean? I know he is now." Dom had no doubt that Rome and Tej both loved Brian, though he still didn't understand how they had managed to step back enough to let Brian be with him without hating him for it, especially Tej. He was pretty sure that if anyone ever did hurt Brian again, Tej would be using that wood chipper. Rome loved Brian too, Dom didn't doubt that at all, but Tej took it to a whole new level and never seemed to stop thinking about keeping Brian safe and happy.
"Always," Brian replied immediately. "He treated me so good that I got out thinking we were in love, but he got out hating himself for taking advantage of his baby brother. He couldn't stand to even look at me, but I didn't know why and I was sure I did something wrong for years. After I dragged him into the Verone thing he finally told me that he thought what he did to me was unforgivable, like it wasn't all my idea."
Dom was quiet a few moments, turning onto a side street that led to the quiet community that Mia's little house was in, then looked at Brian again. "It must have been rough on him, but I'm glad he took such good care of you."
"Me too," Brian agreed softly. "I just wish I took better care of him back then too, y'know? That I made him talk to me about why he kept saying no. I should have told him I'd loved him for years by then, made sure he really understood that being in juvie wasn't why I wanted him. That's just when he started doing guys and I realized I had a chance."
"He had to know you loved him," Dom pointed out as he turned onto the street where Mia lived. It was a quiet part of town, older houses with larger yards than they had back in Echo Park, and Dom was careful to watch for kids or dogs as they coasted towards Mia's house, about halfway down the block. "Everything that goes through your head is in your eyes if someone bothers to really look."
"He knew I loved him, yeah, but Rome, he says I didn't understand the line between love and in love then," Brian said quietly. "Maybe he was right. I don't know. I thought I was in love with him, but I got over it pretty easy compared to when I thought I lost you. I didn't ever stop loving him, but I wasn't devastated for long."
Dom pulled into Mia's driveway and parked, turning off the Mustang as he looked over at Brian again. "Getting over me was hard?"
Brian let out a soft huff of a laugh. "Try impossible." He smiled wryly. "A year later I still dreamed about you pretty much every night. The dreams weren't good, Chino messed me up too bad, but I was so fixated it was still you in my nightmares a lot of the time even after I got to Miami."
Neither of them noticed Letty coming out of the house in cut off shorts and a tank top, surprised and grinning as she ran barefoot across the lawn towards the Mustang. She slowed when she got close, her grin fading as she saw how serious they looked, and she stopped when she got close enough to hear them talking.
Dom frowned, surprised and upset. Tej had told him about the nights Brian used to wake up terrified, or worse, crying and silent and just curling into himself until Tej could get him out of his head. The nightmares had gotten a lot better by the time Rome started sleeping with Brian, and Brian had said he hadn't had one at all in months now, but the haunted look in Tej's eyes when he talked about them had made Dom sure they must have been truly awful. Hearing that it was him hurting Brian in his dreams all that time hurt worse than being stabbed. "Those nightmares Tej was telling me about were about me?"
Brian reached for Dom's hand, lacing their fingers together. "They had nothing to do with you, not the real you. It was all Chino. I never thought for a minute while I was awake that you'd hurt me like that, it was just when I slept that nothing was good. My nightmares were usually faces I trusted mixed with bad memories from Chino or juvie. I had them about Rome, too, and random street racers, and even Jimmy once." Just about the only one Brian didn't have nightmares about was Tej, but he didn't think it would help for Dom to know that even in nightmares Brian couldn't imagine Tej hurting him. "The dreams with you started off good mostly, but then things would go wrong or Vince would suddenly be there wanting to hurt me for what I did to Mia. It didn't help that I kinda felt like I deserved it for a long time."
"Baby, you know she was using you, right?" Dom asked gently, sad and concerned. "You have nothing to feel guilty about. She even told Letty that she was the one who pushed you for more. When V didn't like your looks she latched onto you as the perfect person to use against him to make him jealous, even though she had already figured out I was falling for you."
"Now I know, yeah," Brian agreed. "Leon told me. I've mentioned how messed up I was back then and I know Tej has told you some of it. He thinks he's sneaky but I've seen him talking to you while we're working. I was sure everything that happened was my fault for a long time. Right after Chino, the thing I regretted most about all of it was you losing the house, but not telling Bilkins to go to Hell when he told me to get closer to Mia was right up there in second place. I probably hated myself for sleeping with her more than Vince did, but Bilkins was threatening to go in guns blazing if I didn't get more information fast. I knew you'd rather die than go back to Lompoc, and all I could think about was him shooting you, trying to take you in. That's why I was upset that day we went up the coast, why I pushed you so hard to tell me what was going on. I still didn't believe it was you actually making the heists then, but I was sure you had to know who it was."
"You really don't regret going to Chino?" Dom asked quietly. "I've seen the scars, baby. You got hurt bad."
"I did, but I'd do it again," Brian said instantly, meeting Dom's gaze. "Especially now that I know what happened to you in Lompoc."
"You're not allowed to get yourself hurt for me, remember?" Dom said, frowning. "Never again."
"Yeah, right back at you," Brian replied. "I won't let you get hurt for me either."
"So I'll just have to keep you both out of trouble," Letty said suddenly, making them look towards her voice in surprise to see her standing near Brian's open window. She was sure that they hadn't said any of that for her benefit, they obviously didn't even know she was there, and that made it mean even more than when Dom told her some of the same stuff. It made her feel guilty and sad for all the pain she had caused Dom by hating Brian even though Dom and Leon had been right about him all along. "I bet me and Leon can do it."
"You'll have help," Brian said, smiling at Letty even though he was surprised and wondering how long she had been there listening. "Tej and Rome are determined to never let me see the inside of even a patrol car again. They would fight to the death to keep me free and I know they'd do the same for Dom."
"Good to know." Letty reached for the Mustang's passenger door, opening it. "Now get out of the damn car."
Brian laughed slightly in surprise and did as he was told, hearing Dom's door open too as he started to ask, "Why-" He didn't have time to finish the question before Letty launched herself at him, hugging him tightly. Brian closed his eyes, leaning down to hold her close even though he was more than a little surprised by the way she held on so tight, and after a minute or so he murmured, "I missed you, Spitfire."
Letty let out a strangled little sound that wasn't quite a laugh at the nickname Leon had given her when she was still just a mouthy kid, thirteen years old and sure she was such a badass. A few tears escaped despite her trying to stifle them as she whispered, "I missed you too." She pulled back a little, still holding on but looking up to meet Brian's gaze. "Even when I hated you, I hated that I missed you, too. Well, that and the way Dom was losing his mind. I was so mad at him about going on that last job and devastated about losing Jesse, and then when Dom finally got to Teopantlan he had that broken shoulder and couldn't think about anything but you. I was so fuckin' jealous, I made his life Hell."
"Thank you for taking care of him anyway," Brian said softly, carefully wiping a tear off her cheek. "I was worried about him too, but I was sure you and Leon would watch out for him. Dom told me he wouldn't have made it without you two."
Dom wrapped his arms around them both then to hold them close as he said gruffly, "It's true, too."
Letty held on to Brian, turning her head to hide her face against Dom's chest as she said firmly, "You two better be ready for me to stick close. You need me."
"As threats go, that was pretty weak," Brian teased with a smile, ducking to kiss Letty's hair. "We want you close. You're family."
"You're stuck with us," Dom added, rubbing her back gently. "There will always be room for you in our life, Letty. No matter what."
"Always," Brian agreed, giving Letty a squeeze.
Letty tightened her grip on Brian and just let them hold her, feeling truly loved for the first time since long before Han found them in Mexico to tell them they could go home.
Letty eventually went back into the house to change and grab the old army pack she had used for her go bag since they went on the run. It had become a habit to always have a few changes of clothes and her wallet and a few important things in it all the time, and she had already made sure the stuff she wanted for Race Wars was in there. She had a bigger duffle she kept most of her clothes in, but the small bag had enough for a few days, which was all she wanted to take at the moment. She had planned to drive out to the desert the next morning anyway, even had a parachute and rope in the Chevelle's trunk already, along with a sleeping bag and an empty cooler.
When she was ready to go she hurried back to the kitchen to grab her phone, the keys to the Chevelle, and the extra set of house keys. She almost left then, but she thought better of it and took a minute to leave a note on the table for Vince to tell him Dom and Brian had driven in for Race Wars and not to wait up because she would be with them. She hoped that they would let her stay with them in their hotel room that night before they drove out to the Race Wars site, but if not she'd be perfectly comfortable in the Chevelle's back seat. Going back to Mia and Vince's place just didn't appeal, especially since Vince would be the only one there until morning and he was sure to be in a bad mood after he found out Dom and Brian showed up a week earlier than expected. That was why she wasn't going to text him, she didn't want him getting angry at work.
When Letty went back outside she found Dom and Brian in the garage next to the Chevelle, looking at the tools Mia had kept. Dom looked over at her as she approached and asked, "Where are Vince's tools? I didn't notice before that they aren't here."
"Vince's tools and his car and everything got seized with that house his aunt left him during his trial," Letty admitted as she walked over to put her bag on the hood of the car. "All he had left when he got out of Lompoc was the clothes and stuff he used to keep at your place."
Dom's smile disappeared. "You never told me that."
"I didn't know until after you headed east," Letty said, hopping up to sit on the hood of the Chevelle by her bag. "That's what happened to your Mazda, too, and the Airstream Leon and Jesse lived in. They were the only things registered in your name when they seized everything." She hesitated and then admitted, "I think Mia kept your pro tools mostly for V, though, not you. She hasn't said so, but yours was the best set in the garage and he uses them now."
"Why didn't you tell me before?" Dom asked, frowning.
"I told Leon to, but he said you didn't need more to feel guilty about. Besides, V's not pissed about it anymore." Letty smiled suddenly. "They made him take anger management classes in Lompoc. Got him reciting that Serenity Prayer thing."
Dom blinked and then laughed. "You gotta be shittin' me."
Letty shook her head, grinning. "Nope. He went every other day in prison, and it was part of his parole agreement that he had to keep it up after. Until Bilkins got our records cleared, Vince had anger management three days a week at Mia's church. She says it made a big difference. He's still growly sometimes, but he doesn't beat people up anymore."
Brian laughed softly and looked at Dom. "Maybe he will make it a week without trying to kill me."
Dom looked at Brian, amused. "You're still not gonna be around him without someone to watch your back. I know him too well."
"I was gonna suggest the same thing," Letty agreed, making them both look at her again. "V will try, he promised, but it's always better not to push him. Sometimes he just can't control himself and he's got a lot of hate stored up. He didn't know until Sunday that you didn't really break Mia's heart."
Brian smiled wryly. "I'm not surprised. When I called her to find out how Vince was, she made me think I did, too. I felt like shit about it for a long time."
Letty snorted. "She wanted you to. The only one she was madder at than you then was Dom." She paused and then added, "Mia's really good at manipulating guys who care about her."
"I noticed," Brian agreed, still smiling wryly. "She never had trouble getting me to do what she wanted."
"That's 'cause you felt guilty about dating her at all," Dom pointed out, moving closer to Brian and reaching for his hand without thinking about it. "I could tell from the start you were in over your head with her. She looks all sweet and innocent, baby, but she's really even more of a cougar than Letty is."
Letty watched them closely, a little surprised Dom was doing something like holding hands without Brian being the one to start it. He used to pull her into his lap sometimes or put an arm around her, but she couldn't remember him ever just wanting to hold her hand. "Cougars like younger guys, Dom." Brian was a couple of years older than Mia or Letty, though he didn't act like it.
"I meant cougar as in big killer cat," Dom said, amused. "Not the bored housewives chasing young tail. You both like to use your claws when you're pissed."
"Other times, too," Letty said, smirking.
Brian laughed slightly. "Yeah, that I didn't enjoy learning at all." Letty looked at him, surprised, and he explained, "Mia's evil with her nails."
Dom looked at Brian, surprised. "That's who gave you the claw tracks right above your ass?"
Letty giggled. "Oh god."
Brian blushed, embarrassed. "Prob'ly. That's where she got me the worst. It didn't work like she wanted it to, though." He let out a strangled little laugh. "Well, unless she was trying to convince me sleeping with her should justify hazard pay."
Letty grinned. "Is that why you wouldn't sleep with her again? She told me you were awesome once she got you naked, but then you didn't want to do it again. Drove her nuts."
"That was part of it," Brian said, blushing darker and almost laughing again. "I have a rule. Nobody who draws blood on purpose gets a second chance if I can avoid it."
Dom was trying very hard not to laugh but his brown eyes were sparkling with laughter as he teased, "Don't worry, baby. I promise I'll keep my nails nice and blunt."
"Yeah, you will," Brian agreed, still blushing even though he was grinning too. "Or you'll be forgetting one of your favorite ways to make me lose my mind."
Dom smirked at Brian, his eyes still sparkling and amused despite the sudden heat in them. He loved how eager and responsive Brian always was for his touch, but especially how he moved on Dom's fingers making those soft little noises that Dom was sure he'd never get tired of hearing. "You haven't had any complaints so far."
"Definitely not," Brian agreed with a smirk of his own. "I enjoy it even more than you do."
Letty watched them stare into each other's eyes for a few moments, her own grin fading away at the heat that was suddenly so obvious between them. Dom hadn't given her that sexy little smirk in years, not even when they were actually having sex, and she had almost forgotten what it looked like to see so much desire in his eyes. Seeing him look at Brian that way made her glad that Dom finally really loved someone again, but it also made her a little jealous.
Letty changed the subject suddenly, asking, "Why were you asking about the tools, Dom?"
Dom dragged his attention away from Brian, reining in his libido even as he gave Brian's hand a squeeze. They'd definitely continue that conversation later when they were alone, preferably with a nice long demonstration. He hadn't tried to make Brian come from just his fingers yet, but he liked the idea for later. "Mia said something last time I was here about getting my crap out of her garage, but if V lost his tools, he'll need my set."
"I think she meant the Chevelle," Letty said with a slight laugh. Brian shifted next to Dom, moving a little closer even as he turned his attention fully on Letty, and she was surprised how quickly they could stifle the heat she had seen in their eyes only a few moments ago. If they weren't holding hands, she might have thought Brian was just standing with Dom like he had so many times before they knew he was a cop. "She doesn't want V around fast cars anymore. She thinks it's too tempting for him to go back to racing."
"We'll get the Chevelle out of here tonight then, take her to the hotel," Dom said, amused. "He doesn't want her anyway, though. He never liked American muscle. He's like you and Leon, all about the imports, especially Nissans."
"He was, but I think he's just about decided all cars are overrated," Letty said, smiling. "He loves that Harley that Mia got for him. When she's working, he's always out in the garage polishing some imaginary dirt off of it."
"He'll need tools to work on it then," Dom pointed out, smiling wider and glad Vince was happy. He looked towards the two tool chests against the wall nearby and then at Brian. "Question is, do I give him Dad's set, or mine?"
Brian looked at the two chests too, one about waist high and obviously old with a lot of wear, the other narrower but shoulder high and still looking fairly new in comparison. "There's four full sets of Snap-On tools in the main garage at home, besides Jimmy's personal tools, so I think it mostly comes down to which ones mean something to you." He looked at Dom. "My set is more like your dad's tools, I got them from the guy I worked for after juvie when he replaced his shop tools. They're the tools Tej and I used back when we were just a couple of kids who lived and breathed fast cars. He taught me a lot using those tools, and they have a lot of good memories for us both."
"Dad's set are the ones that mean something," Dom murmured, meeting Brian's gaze. "Lot of memories there, like you were talking about. Those are the tools I used with him, the ones I learned with. The other set is just tools."
Brian smiled softly. "So when the truck gets here, we make sure your dad's set gets put on it. If Vince doesn't want the others, he can sell them."
"Truck?" Letty repeated, surprised Dom had let Brian help him decide which tools to keep. Dom had never really done that with her, not unless the decision affected her personally. Dom had always known what he wanted from life and she was just along for the ride, and it bothered her a little bit to see him asking for and respecting Brian's opinion.
Dom and Brian both looked at her as Dom said, "We'll have company tomorrow, gonna meet the car hauler at the airport first thing to unload and park the cars there until the others to get in. Tej hasn't said when yet." He looked at Brian. "Is he even flying them commercial?"
"Definitely," Brian said with a soft laugh. "He likes first class, says it's like going to a fancy movie theater."
Dom chuckled. "I hope he enjoys it. Me, I'd rather keep my wheels on the ground."
"Amen," Brian agreed, amused.
Letty stared at them. "You've got Tej Parker bringing in a team for Race Wars?"
Dom grinned at her, dark eyes sparkling. "We're bringing the team for Race Wars. Bri, me, you, Leon, and Rome to drive, maybe Tej too if he feels up to a few runs. We shipped the Skyline, the Supra, and Rome's Spyder, and we've got the Mustang and the Chevelle already here. We're going to clean up on match races until people stop trying us 'cause we win too much."
Brian looked at Dom, grinning. "For sure. There won't be much there that can beat the Mustang or the Spyder, and I think Leon's gonna do great in the Skyline, too." They had discussed it on the trip, and when Leon got there Brian planned to offer him the Skyline to use whenever he wanted to. Brian had already asked Tej if he minded him giving Leon his set of keys, and Tej had agreed instantly. Tej liked Leon a lot, he was always glad to help out in the garage and quick to back Brian up even when he didn't need it, which were two of Tej's main priorities.
"Definitely," Dom agreed, smiling at Brian. It still amazed Dom a little that Brian was so willing to pass his Skyline over to Leon, but he couldn't doubt Brian wanted it that way. Leon liked the Supra, but the Skyline reminded him of his own that he had to ditch on the way to Mexico and he loved her. Brian liked to drive the Skyline, but he liked to be with Dom even more and the Skyline was set up for only one person. He looked back at Letty, asking, "How would you like to drive the Supra, instead of the Chevelle?"
Letty laughed, surprised. "Sure! That'd be great!" She looked from Dom to Brian and back. "I thought you were giving her back to Brian, though?"
"If Dom doesn't want her, the team can share her," Brian said, smiling. Dom had tried to give the Supra back, but Brian didn't need another car. Dom, Letty, and Leon all didn't have cars of their own at the moment, so Brian had suggested making the Supra community property like the Chevelle was. "I'll either be running the Mustang or watching Dom run her this weekend, so we won't need the Supra, and Leon will be in the Skyline."
Dom looked at Brian, smirking slightly as he teased, "You should ride along when I run. I know how you like watching me drive her fast."
"I plan to at least once," Brian said with a wicked little grin. "Tej can grab your winnings for that run, he won't mind."
"I'm sure we can find somewhere nice and private to park after," Dom murmured, still smirking.
"Private enough," Brian agreed, blue eyes sparkling.
Letty watched them look at each other a moment, surprised the heat was back in their eyes just that quickly, and then spoke before she even thought about it. "I don't know whether to tell you two to get a room, or just ask if I can join you."
Brian looked at her quickly, eyes widening as Dom laughed and said firmly, "I'm not sharing. Brian is mine."
"I wasn't much interested in doing him anyway," Letty said with a soft little laugh. "I wouldn't mind watching you do him, but he's not my type, Dom. No offense, Bri."
"None taken," Brian said quickly, amused despite how surprised he was. "I prefer Dom too."
"I guess that makes the question whether or not you want to share," Letty said, looking at Brian.
"I want Dom to be happy," Brian said instantly. "Whatever that takes, I can deal with."
"You don't have to deal with it," Dom said firmly, making Brian look at him quickly. "I'm not wired like that any more than you are, babe. Rome may have been happy to cat around and leave you home waiting on him, but I'm not built that way. You're all I need or even want."
"Mia calls him the king of monogamy," Letty agreed sheepishly, making them both look at her again. "I can't promise not to want you two, not when you're being sexy together, but I shouldn't have asked, I just wasn't thinking." She paused and then admitted, "Mostly it was that hug earlier, I think. I haven't felt that way in a long time, and now the way you two look at each other is giving me ideas."
"How did it make you feel?" Dom asked, surprised.
Letty smiled, wry and a little embarrassed. "Loved."
"You are," Brian said quickly. "Just, there is a difference between love and sex."
"I know," Letty agreed. "It's just gonna take some getting used to, wanting Dom and not being allowed to have him. Even after we broke up, he still always put up with me climbing into bed with him." She looked at Dom, suddenly a little sad as she added more quietly, "Even when I was treating him like shit."
"I take care of people I love," Dom said simply, "but like I told you already, Bri is it for me. You will always be family and we'll be glad to hold you when you need it, but there's a line I won't cross ever again."
"We won't cross," Brian corrected softly, giving Dom's hand a squeeze and smiling at him. "Not even with Tej or Rome."
Dom smiled at Brian. "It's a wonder they don't hate me, taking you away from them."
Brian laughed slightly, surprised. "Tej hasn't even considered climbing in my bed in a couple years. Suki declared him her private property once she got her ring, babe, and he enjoys every minute of it." He laughed again. "And I think Rome was sleeping with me mostly because I wasn't interested in anyone else and he promised Tej not to leave me lonely. He had gone back to girls long before you showed up and made him realize he's not allowed to sleep with me anymore." He grinned. "He hates being told he can't have something even if he doesn't want it, but he already figured out that not much changed. He just sleeps with whatever girl he picks up instead of coming home to shower and crash with me."
"You and those two black dudes were a thing?" Letty asked, curious. Leon had sent her photos of all Brian's close friends that week since she started talking to him again, and he had been having fun telling her about them all. Tej wasn't at all her speed, but Rome was hot and reminded her a lot of Dom, which made her wonder suddenly if he had reminded Brian of Dom, too.
Brian looked at Letty, a little surprised Leon or Dom hadn't already told her. "Yeah, at different times. Rome and I grew up together and got together in juvie as kids, after I went through some shit and my dad got me transferred to share a cell with him. Spent a couple years with him while we were in there, then he ended it after. Dad got a transfer to Glendale right after that, and I met Tej there. We've been best friends ever since."
Dom chuckled softly, looking at Brian as he teased, "Where best friend means 'dude I'm neck deep in love with'."
Brian laughed. "Everyone thinks that, but I swear, it's not that way. Tej and I just enjoy each other and the sex was fun."
Letty snickered. "It always is if you do it right."
Brian gave Letty an amused look. "Maybe, but I wouldn't know. Sex with strangers isn't my thing. Tej and I were great together, but we were still just friends. I'm gonna love him 'til the day I die, but that doesn't mean we were ever in love."
"I'm sure you're not, babe," Dom agreed. Brian looked at him in surprise and Dom smiled wryly. "The way Tej looks at you? I never see him look at Suki like that and she's his wife."
"Tej and I have been through a lot," Brian said, amused. "Lots of history there, eight years now. We were inseparable for years after juvie, and he saved my life when I was so screwed up after Chino, but he is very much in love with Suki, I promise. He just hides it better."
"Why would he need to hide loving his wife?" Letty asked, surprised.
Dom gave Letty an amused look, then looked back at Brian. "Especially when he doesn't bother hiding how he feels about you." He laughed slightly, adding, "More like he shouts it with that megaphone of his, staking out his territory."
Brian laughed. "Suki is all about her rep with her girls, they think she's a total badass. She's got them convinced she keeps Tej on a very short leash and he's happy to play along because he knows she'll make it up to him later. She makes him crazy, he still can't get enough of her even after two years. He just keeps it cool in public because her girls respect her more, leading a guy like Tej around by the balls. He's got a lot of influence in Miami and everyone knows she's the only girl he'll even look at. Back when I first got to Miami she was still holding out for a ring, and she had him so hot for her that he used to talk about her all the time in bed with me. She got me laid a lot, but I wasn't complaining."
Dom laughed. "I thought Tej was a smart guy, but I guess not."
"What makes you say that?" Brian asked, surprised.
Dom smirked. "He wasted time thinking about someone else when he had you in bed."
Brian laughed again, blushing. "Because he's in love with her, not me. I'm just the best friend he fucked around with on the side." He grinned. "Like rabbits, but it was just easy and fun." He paused and then admitted a little more seriously, "There was more to it with Rome when we were kids, but it didn't last. I thought maybe we could get it back for a while, but it didn't take me long to figure out he needed to go back to girls. He still slept with me most nights, but we hardly ever had sex." He smiled wryly. "By the time you showed up at that race, everyone was kind of worried I'd end up alone, really. They kept trying to get me to try dating someone new, but nobody they introduced me to measured up to you."
"Which is why the first time Tej and Rome saw me, they looked at me like they wanted to rip my heart out," Dom said, smiling wryly.
Brian grinned. "Rome wanted to kick your ass, but Tej was just worried. Told me to call him immediately when I heard the sirens."
Dom chuckled. "After he kissed you to make sure I thought you were taken."
Brian laughed. "Dom, no. He told me about the sirens when he walked up to me, and then he wanted one last kiss before I was yours. He said after I'd better be honest with you and tell you everything or he would do it for me."
"Really?" Dom asked, surprised. Tej had talked with him about Brian several times, but he hadn't realized Tej was trying to make sure he really knew everything. It did explain some about the things Tej had chosen to talk about, though, intensely personal subjects that Dom had been a little uncomfortable with a few times. He had listened, though, and even asked questions, and it hadn't taken him long to realize Tej was deeply in love with Brian. The only one who seemed not to know it was Brian.
Brian nodded, smiling. "Tej knows there was no chance you could come all the way to Miami looking for me without me following you through Hell afterwards just to stay with you. He really was planning to protect you from the Feds until we made you a deal. He wasn't joking."
Dom looked seriously at Brian for a long moment. "What do you see in me that's worth that kind of loyalty, Brian?"
Brian smiled wryly. "Why don't you ask me a hard question?"
"What's the answer then?" Dom asked, amused.
"That was sarcasm! There's so much. God." Brian let out a soft little laugh, staring into Dom's dark eyes. "You think all the bad shit people have told you about yourself is true, Dom, but it's not. None of it. You're a good man all the way to the bone, the kind of man that makes complete strangers like you and trust you just like I did. You're sweet and funny and so strong you could break me in half, but you still touch me like I'm the most precious thing in your world, like I might shatter if you aren't careful. You would die for me and never think twice, but you'd kill too, if you had to."
"So would you," Dom said softly. "You did."
"Yeah, but so did you," Brian pointed out just as quietly. "I was chasing down a murderer and returned fire when he tried to kill me, but you charged in out of nowhere and killed to save my life."
"I knew they'd try to get around you," Dom said. "It was how they worked, and I wasn't going to let them hurt you."
"And you didn't," Brian agreed. "You were sure I was a cop that was going to turn on you any minute, but you still saved my life instead of running to save your own."
"I knew you wouldn't turn on me, Bri," Dom said quietly. "Why do you think I let you point a gun at me? I was holding a loaded shotgun, cocked and ready."
"Do you know why I pointed the gun at you?" Brian asked. "It wasn't because I was ever scared you would hurt me, or even because I didn't want you to run. I was scared shitless for you, sure that if I let you past me with that shotgun some cop would shoot you like you wanted them to."
"You weren't supposed to figure that out," Dom murmured almost too quiet for Letty to hear, and she stared at Dom, shocked.
"Yeah, kinda like I wasn't supposed to know you were taking your dad's car for your last ride," Brian agreed softly. "Like I probably wasn't supposed to go with you in front of that train, more interested in staying next to you than in staying alive, and I wasn't supposed to give you my car to make sure you got away."
"It was stupid to give me your car," Dom pointed out. "You went through Hell for me in Chino."
"If I would risk my life for a guy who hates my guts, jumping onto a semi at eighty miles an hour to be shot at saving his ungrateful ass, what do you think I'd do for the guy I'm in love with?" Brian asked quietly, smiling. "Giving you the Supra was nothing, it was always yours. Even if it wasn't though, you owned me." He laughed softly. "Dad even knew that, told me he wasn't surprised at all that I gave you my keys, not after I gave you my heart. He was just surprised I didn't leave with you."
"How long had you loved me then?" Dom asked softly.
Brian smiled, his blue eyes full of love and amusement. "I realized it that day you went to get a Red Bull and then stood at the door to the office and told me Mia was lying about the tuna being the daily special just to torment me. I remember seeing that crooked little smile you were giving me and thinking that I wanted to spend the rest of my life making you smile."
Dom laughed softly, surprised. "That was like the fifth time you came in, baby. We hadn't even talked yet. How could you know that?"
"I didn't need to talk," Brian said, smiling wider. "I saw everything I needed to know in your eyes and that smile you always tried to hide whenever I said I liked the tuna. You never realized I ordered it because Mia always made the tuna salad while I was there, which gave me more time to watch you and wish I had the guts to make a move. After a couple weeks, I'm pretty sure you just thought I was nuts."
Dom smiled wryly. "I did. Mia's tuna salad is nasty, baby. You really do need a keeper."
"Lucky I have you," Brian replied with a sweet little smile, just like he always did.
Dom stepped closer to Brian as he murmured, "Lucky for me, yeah." He lifted his free hand to Brian's jaw and leaned in to kiss him then, taking his time and enjoying the soft pleased noise Brian made a few moments later as he let go of Dom's hand finally to hold on to Dom's hips instead, swaying closer. Dom lifted his other hand to the side of Brian's face, holding him gently still while Dom kissed him like they had a lifetime to enjoy it.
Letty watched them kissing for a few minutes, surprised to realize she wasn't so jealous anymore. She wanted Dom still, but even more she wanted to watch him with Brian. He acted different with Brian than he had with her, maybe because Brian had been hurt because of Dom, she wasn't sure, but the more she watched them the more it fascinated her. Every move made it plain to her how much Dom loved him, how he treasured him, and she didn't doubt anymore that Brian loved Dom just as much.
Dom slowly backed Brian up against his dad's old tool chest after a little while, earning a soft happy sound from Brian as he leaned back and moved his feet apart to let Dom move closer, and Dom growled softly as he pressed close between Brian's thighs. Brian's hands began to roam then, sliding up Dom's back, and Dom moved one hand down to Brian's thigh, lifting. Brian made a low noise, shifting more onto the tool chest, and then he was lifting his feet to wrap his legs around Dom's waist. Dom's hips nudged forward with a little purring growl and Brian let out a low pleased hum as he tightened his legs around Dom, keeping him pressed close.
Letty realized they had forgotten she was there. She thought about just letting them keep going, she really wanted to watch them, but if she did she knew Dom would be unhappy with her, and maybe Brian too, and she didn't want that. She shifted on the Chevelle's hood as she said teasingly, "Not that I don't like where this is going, guys, but I thought I don't get to watch?"
Dom pulled away from Brian finally with a little laugh, looking into Brian's hungry blue eyes as he murmured, "I liked where that was going too."
Brian smiled and moved his feet back to the floor, sheepish and blushing even though the desire in his eyes didn't fade at all. "Me too."
"You were talking about screwing around in the car at Race Wars," Letty pointed out, smirking at them when Dom and Brian looked at her in surprise. "Anyone could see you two together there. Would it really be so bad for me to watch?"
Dom snorted, amused. "The difference is that anyone who saw us there wouldn't stick around."
Brian laughed. "And if they did, you wouldn't feel bad punching them."
Dom grinned at Brian. "Might even enjoy it."
Letty laughed. "If you don't want me watching, then stop being so sexy in front of me."
Dom smirked at Letty. "Brian can't stop being sexy."
"Nah, you got that backwards," Brian said quickly, blushing a bit. "You're the one she's talking about. I'm not her type, remember?"
Letty laughed. "When you two are making out right in front of me, you're both sexy."
They both stared at her for a moment and then Dom laughed and looked at Brian. "I think it's time for us to get out of here, find somewhere to eat dinner."
"Prob'ly a good plan," Brian admitted, still blushing. "You know I can't resist you even a little bit."
"I do," Dom agreed, kissing Brian quickly before he looked at Letty. "You driving the Chevelle or ridin' with us?"
"Figured I was driving the Chevelle," Letty replied, sliding off the hood and then grabbing her bag. "You said you wanted to move it to the hotel."
"Once we get there, you can park her and ride with us," Brian said, smiling. They had already decided to stay at the same place where Dom stayed last time he was in San Diego, near the hospital just a few miles away from Mia's. It wasn't cheap, but there was a parking garage where the cars would be fairly safe, which was more important.
"Sounds like a plan," Dom agreed, one hand on Brian's back as he urged him towards the Mustang. "Then I wanna find a good Italian place, I'm starving."
"Italian sounds good," Brian agreed with a grin, heading for the car. "I'm driving."
Dom laughed. "You don't know where the hotel is."
"I'm sure you can tell me," Brian said, holding out his hand. "You drove our baby all afternoon. My turn."
Dom just laughed again and gave him the keys.
Letty moved around to get into the Chevelle, quashing down a little spike of jealousy. Dom never let her drive that easy, not even when they were in her car. That thought made her wonder if he respected Brian's driving more or if it was just because Dom loved him too much to want to make Brian even a little unhappy.
She kind of thought it was the latter.
Dom got Letty a room of her own at the hotel, which wasn't exactly what she wanted, but by the time they went to their rooms for the night she was glad. Watching Dom and Brian together through dinner and then afterwards when the three of them went for a walk had left her very sure that Dom had never loved her like he loved Brian. On the one hand it made her glad to see Dom so happy and in love, but on the other, she had decided she didn't want to see them make love after all. She was pretty sure it would be the sexiest thing she had ever seen to watch Dom with Brian, but she also thought it might hurt to watch.
Letty drove the Chevelle the next morning, following the Mustang into the airport parking lot about half an hour after daybreak. Julio and his brother Oscar were already there waiting with the truck and trailer, both in Parker Racing uniform shirts that made Brian laugh, and Letty had been awed when she climbed inside the trailer and got a look around. The semi had been borrowed from someone who owed Tej a favor, but the trailer had seen thousands of miles hauling Tej's cars before he finally settled in Miami and parked it. It had been the trailer Tej used on the circuit, parked in the back of his storage facility for the last several years except when he or one of his friends needed it.
Tej had already stocked the trailer with drinks, two storage compartments packed full of cases of four kinds of sodas, Red Bull, Corona, an Island Ale Letty never heard of, hard ciders, hard lemonade, and even canned margaritas. The trailer was fully stocked with tools and common replacement parts too, and there were living quarters up in the front end, all of it with air conditioning. There were five fold-down bunks in the trailer along with a tiny bathroom, and outside there was a gas grill that pulled out of the cargo area under the car deck, so they would have all the comforts of home.
The plan for the weekend was for whoever drove the Chevelle to stop on the way out to Race Wars and fill a couple of big coolers with dry ice and food, and then they would be all set. Dom and Brian planned to sleep in the back seat of the Mustang, which they had already tried out a few times, and Tej had already claimed a bunk in the trailer for himself and his wife, but the others weren't decided yet on where they would end up. Going by past Race Wars, Leon and likely Rome would wander off to get laid, and Dom wouldn't be surprised if Letty did the same. Julio and Oscar planned to continue sleeping up in the semi's sleeper, so Tej and Suki might end up with the trailer to themselves.
Unloading the cars from the trailer went without a hitch and they parked them in short-term parking near one of the airport security shacks with the Chevelle. Dom gave the guard on duty a hundred dollars to keep an eye on the cars, promising another hundred when they got back, and then Dom, Brian, and Letty climbed into the Mustang to lead the truck to Mia's place so they could load up the tools Dom inherited from his dad.
Mia and Vince were both home and walked out towards the street when the truck parked in front of their house. They had been expecting Dom, Brian, and Letty to come by for breakfast before they met the others at the airport and headed for Race Wars, but Letty hadn't mentioned Dom was bringing a red semi with a sleek black trailer that said 'Parker Racing' on the side in vivid red that looked almost like neon. The truck looked huge on their quiet little street, and several neighbors were looking out their windows at it.
Brian parked the Mustang in the driveway near the street, and when he got out he popped the driver's seat forward for Letty to follow him, not looking towards Mia or Vince. Vince was looking confused and Mia's eyes were wide as she stared at the truck, and he had no idea what they were thinking.
Letty gave Brian a little smile as she got out of the car, murmuring, "Cheer up, Bri. It's only an hour." She patted his chest and then walked by him towards the front of the car to join Dom, who had stopped there to wait for them.
Brian grabbed the rope he had taken from the truck and tucked under the seat earlier and then closed the car door and followed Letty, still feeling wary but trying harder to hide it as he watched Mia and Vince walk towards Dom. They didn't even glance at him, but he didn't mind. He'd gladly take being ignored over the kind of hate he had expected despite Mia and Vince's promises to try to be nice.
Dom waited until Mia and Vince got close before he said easily, "Morning."
Mia smiled at Dom and surprised him by moving to hug him, but he returned the hug gladly, kissing the top of her head before she pulled away and stepped back. "We missed you."
"I missed you too," Dom agreed, trying to hide his surprise.
Vince reached for Dom's hand then, pulling him in for a one-armed hug. "Good to see you, brother."
"Yeah, same to you," Dom agreed, smiling a little wider as he returned the hug.
Julio and his brother Oscar walked up to stand by Brian behind Dom and Letty then, watching curiously but not saying anything. Julio hadn't talked to Brian about it, but Tej had pulled him aside before he left to tell him to make sure the kid seemed like he was doing okay. Julio had no idea why Tej was worried, though. It was obvious to him that Brian's new guy loved the kid, and Brian was practically glowing at the airport, he was so happy. He was a lot more subdued now, but Julio had overheard enough to know that Dom's family didn't like him, which he figured explained it.
"What's with the racing truck?" Vince asked, looking at Julio and Oscar in their crisp black Parker Racing uniform shirts and then back at Dom.
"We're here because the boss said to be," Julio said immediately, making Vince look at him again. Julio nodded towards Brian, adding, "We go where he says."
Brian laughed, looking at Julio. "Since when am I the boss?"
"Since Tej said you're in charge," Julio replied easily, grinning at Brian.
"The boss' boss, kinda," Oscar added, amused. "He'd do anything for you, kid, so we better do it for him or we might not get paid."
"Exactly," Julio agreed, nodding to his older brother and then looking at Dom. "You said something about us loading up a tool chest?"
Brian smiled wryly, amused and thinking that one of these days he'd really have to talk to Tej about being so protective of him. He had needed it sometimes, he knew that, but he didn't need Tej to worry so much anymore. Dom was always with Brian, and Dom wasn't about to let anything happen to him.
"Yeah, it's in the garage," Dom agreed, amused. He looked at Mia, adding, "You said you wanted me to get my 'crap' off your property, if I remember right."
Mia felt a little sheepish as she remembered how she yelled at Dom when he told them he was going to Miami, how she had thrown him out in the middle of Sunday dinner like he wasn't even family. He had come back the next morning after Leon got her to invite him for breakfast, but Dom had been quiet through the meal and then went outside with that car Brian gave him right up until he left. She had been so mad that he was leaving them for Brian that she blocked his number on her phone after he left, but after talking to Letty and to Leon so much over the last week she was regretting how she had acted. "I was mad then, Dom. You didn't have to bring a truck."
"The truck was here to bring in our cars for Race Wars," Dom said dryly. "They're just getting my tools on the way out there, since they were in San Diego anyway to drop the cars at the airport."
"Cars?" Vince asked, surprised.
"For our team," Dom replied, meeting Vince's gaze. "Me, Brian, Leon, Letty, and Brian's friends Tej, Suki, and Roman. We're meeting Tej and his wife Suki, Roman, and Leon at the airport around eleven, but the truck's gonna head on out to the desert to stake us out a good spot once my tools are loaded." He paused slightly, then added, "I'm taking Dad's tools, but you can keep the other set or sell them, whatever. I don't need them, and Letty tells me I owe you a set anyway."
Vince looked at Letty, surprised. "How you figure that?"
"I didn't say that," Letty said with a laugh. "I just told him you lost yours."
"And that was my fault," Dom agreed, "so I owe you a set of tools." He smiled suddenly, glancing at Brian and then back at Vince. "And a ten second car, really, since you lost the Maxima."
"He doesn't need a fast car," Mia said quickly. "Vince gave up racing."
"I did," Vince agreed, looking over at Brian for an instant and then back at Dom, frowning slightly. "None of that was on you though, Dom. You didn't get me arrested."
"Yeah, I did. I'm the one who put you on that truck," Dom pointed out, meeting Vince's gaze. "You still would have been at Race Wars with that little blond hood ornament you picked up if I didn't decide to go for that truck and damn near got you killed."
Vince's frown deepened almost to a scowl. "Going on that run was on me, I could have told you no."
Dom snorted. "How many times did you ever tell me no when I wanted your help with something, V?" Vince looked a little wry at that and Dom nodded. "Exactly. I put us all in harm's way that morning. I'm just glad Brian showed up to pull our asses out of the fire, or I would have lost two brothers that day. I'll owe him for the rest of my life for jumping on that semi and risking his neck to save you when I couldn't."
Vince stared into Dom's eyes, not saying anything. About the only thing he remembered clearly about being on the truck was Brian holding him and shielding him with his body when the trucker shot at them, fighting to get Vince loose the whole time. He had seen a slug move Brian's hair at one point, but Brian hadn't even flinched, just yelling at him to hold on. Brian practically threw him into the Supra right after, and then Vince didn't remember anything until he woke up the next day in the hospital, cuffed to the bed with Mia holding his good hand.
"I never would have found you without Mia," Brian said quietly, making them all look at him, but he was looking at Dom. "I was freaking out, trying to outguess you to find you before you got to that truck. I never could have traced that burner you had in your pocket if she didn't help me." He looked at Mia for a moment then, meeting her gaze, then looked at Vince as he added, "I just wanted to stop it all, Vince, not get anyone arrested. If I could have kept you alive without calling for a life flight, kept you out of the system, I would have, but you were bleeding out and I figured alive and in jail was better than dead. It would have killed Mia if she lost you."
Vince stared at Brian. "You knew she loved me?"
Brian let out a soft little surprised huff of a laugh. "Yeah, I knew. I mean, I believed her when she said she cared about me too, I won't lie, and I felt like shit over that for a long time, but I always figured you would end up with her, Vince."
"Then why'd you sleep with my girl?" Vince asked, frowning.
"'Cause the guy in charge was going to go after Dom if I didn't get more information fast," Brian replied. "Even then I thought we were just going out to dinner that night. That's all I planned, just like I told Dom before we left." He looked at Mia. "I wasn't expecting it to lead to more, but I went with it. Hated myself for it for a long time, though."
"Because you took advantage of me, or because you felt like you cheated on Dom?" Mia asked, meeting Brian's gaze with an unreadable expression.
Brian remembered when his dad asked him almost the same question. His answer hadn't changed much, even after two years. "I didn't think I had a prayer with Dom then, Mia. I got backed into a corner and I had to choose either hurting you or letting Bilkins try to bring Dom in, knowing Dom would die before he let them take him." He gave Mia a sad little smile. "You were one of my best friends and making you hate me hurt like Hell. I'm sorry for all the shit that went down, I really am, but I'm not sorry that I kept Dom and Vince alive. I would have kept Jesse alive too if I could. I wasn't expecting Tran to do a drive-by, I thought I could talk Dom into heading out with me to look for him once he got rid of the shotgun." He looked at Dom, who was watching him with a sad, serious expression. "If I had let him out of the yard with it, some cop would have killed him."
"That was pretty much the plan," Dom admitted, not noticing the way that it made Mia and Vince stare at him. "I wasn't going back to Lompoc."
"I know," Brian agreed. "And you're still not going to, even if I have to do it all over again."
"I won't let you do it all over again," Dom said more firmly. "Get it through your thick skull, baby. You're not allowed to get hurt for me any more."
Brian snorted. "I won't watch you get hurt either. If I gotta piss you off to keep you in one piece, then I'll deal with you being mad after. I can take whatever punishment you wanna dish out, and I won't even mind as long as you're safe."
"Oh shut up, both of you," Letty said, rolling her eyes. Dom and Brian both looked at her, and she added pointedly, "Neither of you is allowed to go to jail. I got your backs, and Leon's got Tej on speed dial."
Julio laughed, making them all look at him as he said, "I do, too. If I think there's going to be trouble, I'm supposed to call. Tej said he knows people out here, he can get us backup if we need it."
Letty grinned at Julio. "Doesn't surprise me after what Leon told me last night." She looked at Dom and Brian again, adding, "Leon said I'd better call if there's any trouble 'cause Tej would start a war to get you two out of jail."
Brian laughed, surprised and suddenly amused as he looked at Dom. "He might. He knows a lot of people."
"I don't doubt it," Dom agreed, amused and wry. "He is pretty protective of you."
"You too, now," Brian pointed out, grinning. "He knows if he doesn't keep you safe, I'll just do something stupid again."
Dom laughed. "You are so damn stubborn, baby."
"Like you're not," Brian responded instantly, still grinning. "You don't get to tell me not to fight for you when I know you'd die for me, too."
Dom looked at him a moment longer, then laughed again and looked at Mia and Vince as he changed the subject, mostly because Brian was right. "We should get Dad's tools loaded so Julio and Oscar can get on the road. Do you mind?"
"You ought to take the pro set," Vince said, frowning a little but mostly looking surprised.
"I don't need them," Dom said easily, smiling at Vince. "The garage at home is stocked with Snap-On tools, I'll just use them when I'm working."
"Then why take the old set?" Vince asked, confused.
"Because they were Dad's tools, V," Dom said patiently. "Lot of memories in that old chest. It'll go in Brian's bay in the garage at home with the tools he's had since he was learning the difference between a crescent wrench and a pair of pliers."
Brian laughed. "Our bay, and I knew a little more than that when Tej started teaching me about working on cars instead of just stealing them."
Dom grinned at Brian, teasing, "Not to hear him tell it, baby."
"He's biased," Brian said quickly, amused. "And he likes making out like he taught me everything I know."
Dom smirked. "Rome taught you a few things, I'm sure."
"Yeah, like how to drive it like I stole it," Brian agreed, grinning. "'Cause we did. He's why you thought I drove like a wheelman that night you won the Eclipse. Rome was always daring me to do stupid shit in a car, and I'd go for it 'cause I was fourteen and he was so sure I could. We had been boosting cars and running them out of gas for months before that night the cops got spike strips in the right place and we got caught."
"That wasn't what I was talking about, but I'll let it go," Dom pointed out, still smirking.
Brian laughed, blushing as he realized what Dom meant. "You better."
Dom winked at him, then looked back at Vince and Mia, pretending not to notice how surprised Mia looked or Vince's frown. "Anyway, before we get sidetracked again, can we get the tools?"
"Sure, go ahead," Mia agreed, still looking kind of surprised.
"Thanks," Dom said, starting towards the garage. Brian moved to follow him, walking at Dom's shoulder, and Julio and Oscar followed them.
Letty watched them go a moment and then looked at Mia and Vince. "So what's the plan for breakfast?"
"I was thinking pancakes," Mia replied. She looked towards Dom again, watching as Dom rolled the tool chest out from the wall, talking to Brian quiet enough she couldn't hear them while Julio and Oscar just stood a few feet away and watched. She looked back at Letty, asking softly, "Have they been like that all the time?"
Letty looked towards Dom and Brian to see they were staring at each other again, both smiling as they talked while Brian started unwinding the hank of rope he was holding. Dom and Brian were looking at each other like the rest of the world ceased to exist, and even a complete stranger would have had no doubt how they felt about each other. She looked back at Mia, smiling a bit wryly as she murmured, "Yeah, actually, they are. Dom loves him more than he ever loved me."
Mia's eyes widened, surprised, and Vince muttered, "Ain't no way, girl. You were his world."
Letty looked at Vince, meeting his gaze. "I've seen how he looks at Brian, V, how he treats him. Dom loved me - Hell, he still does - but not like that. I'm the only girl he ever loved, but all I had to do was watch them together a little while to be sure they've got something deeper. Right now, I'd do anything to keep them together because I love Dom." She looked back at Mia and changed the subject. "You want help making breakfast? We gotta get out of here by ten-fifteen if we're going to meet the plane."
"Sure, I guess," Mia agreed, looking back towards the garage. Brian was on his knee by the tool chest, wrapping the rope underneath it and then up over the top while Dom watched, looking amused and a little wry. Brian glanced up at Dom and they just looked at each other a moment, not saying a word, then Dom smirked wickedly and murmured something that made Brian blush and laugh. She looked back at Vince, asking softly, "Are you going to stay out here, honey, or...?"
Vince glanced at Mia and then back towards Dom and Brian, watching as Brian grinned up at Dom and said something that made Dom laugh. Dom really did look happier than Vince had seen him in years, kind of all lit up inside, and Vince liked seeing it even though he still didn't like seeing it directed at Brian. He wanted to see Dom happy, but seeing him looking at Brian like that, seeing how intensely focused Dom was on him, was still hard. He finally looked back at Mia, murmuring, "I could use some coffee."
Mia smiled, reaching for his arm. "Come on then, I'll make you a fresh pot."
"Sounds good," Vince agreed, and they started towards the house together.
Letty followed them, a little surprised but pleased that Vince decided to walk away instead of digging at whatever was bothering him. She could see something was, and she was sure it was likely to do with Brian, but she was proud of Vince for trying to do like he promised and let it slide. She knew that wasn't easy for him.
The three of them had just reached the kitchen when Mia asked suddenly, "Who's Parker?"
Letty moved to the counter, surprised. "Tej Parker. He's Brian's best friend. You might remember the name, he was on the circuit a while. Dude's from Glendale. Leon told me he's the one who got Brian into desert stock racing when he got out of juvie."
Mia folded her arms, leaning back against the counter with a slight frown. "Brian's best friend is named Parker? As in 'Parker Properties'?"
Letty's eyes widened a little. "Yeah. He's that Parker." She had hoped Mia wouldn't make the connection. She was pretty sure it was just going to piss her off.
"So the house belongs to Brian's best friend now?" Mia asked, her frown fading into a blank look.
"Uhm... Not exactly," Letty admitted. "Dom mentioned it to me, and then a few days ago I asked Leon and he got the full story from Tej. Brian went straight to Echo Park the day they let him out of Chino, and Tej says seeing the house for sale hurt Brian more than Chino did, which is going some because Brian was messed up pretty bad for over a year after Chino. Brian was a wreck when he told Tej about the house though, told Tej that it was all his fault Dom and the team lost our home. Tej bought it so Brian would stop hating himself, and gave it to Brian to do whatever he thought was right with it."
"Seriously?" Vince blurted. "The kid has friends who can just buy him a house?"
"Tej did good on the circuit," Letty said with a wry little smile. "Dom told me he put most of his winnings into real estate, rental properties that keep the cash coming in, and he's got a big fancy garage that Dom and Leon call street racer Heaven on top of that. Dom says the guy could probably buy a jet if he wanted to. He's loaded."
"Brian saved the house for Dom," Mia said softly, making Letty and Vince both look at her. She had tears in her eyes, but she was smiling slightly. "He really did that?"
Letty stared at Mia, surprised. "Yeah, Mia. He did."
Mia looked at Vince, who reached for her to pull her into his arms as he murmured, "You can stop hating yourself for selling it now, darlin'."
Mia let out a soft strangled little sob and hid her face against Vince's shirt as she started to cry.
Letty was the only one in the kitchen when Dom led Brian into the room, and he stopped in surprise as he realized she was making pancakes. Brian stopped right behind him, one hand on Dom's back as Dom asked quietly, "Where did Mia and V go?"
Letty glanced over her shoulder at Dom and Brian, then looked back at the griddle to pour another pancake on it. "They went to their room, they'll be back. Did you get the tools loaded okay?"
"Yeah," Dom replied, "it was easy once the chest was tied shut. Julio and Oscar are already gone." He started forward again, walking over to the island that doubled as a kitchen table to take a seat on one of the stools as he murmured, "Is everything okay?"
Brian followed Dom to the island to sit down next to him, a little surprised Mia would leave them to their own devices in her house but not about to ask why. He didn't feel like he had a right to stick his nose into it, even though it didn't make sense to him.
Letty nodded, setting the mixing bowl of batter aside and then turning to look at Dom, spatula in hand. "Mia just needed a minute, and V went with her," she said softly, smiling. "It's all good, don't worry."
"If you say so," Dom agreed, nodding.
"I do," Letty said, glancing at the griddle to check the pancakes and then looking at Dom again. "You want some coffee, Dom? There's a fresh pot."
"Sure, I guess," Dom said, bemused.
Letty set the spatula on the plate that was waiting for the pancakes and then moved to the coffee pot, reaching into the cabinet over it as she said, "I'd offer you something, Bri, but the only soda in the house is Diet Coke and I know you don't like it or those Snapple things V and Mia drink."
Brian smiled, pleased Letty remembered that he didn't usually drink coffee. "Yeah, no thanks."
Letty walked over to give Dom his coffee, smiling at Brian. "You sure you don't want some water or something?"
"Nah," Brian said, smiling a little wider. "I'm good."
"Okay," Letty said with a slight laugh, moving back to the stove to flip the pancakes.
Mia walked into the kitchen then and Brian looked at her, surprised to see she was moving quickly towards him. He barely had time to realize she had been crying before she was hugging him. He turned towards her to return the hug a little hesitantly, confused and concerned as he murmured, "Mia, what's wrong?"
Dom stared at them, frowning slightly and a little worried by the glimpse he got of Mia's face.
"Thank you," Mia murmured, tightening her arms around Brian.
"What for?" Brian asked, still confused as he held her carefully, more than a little worried that Vince was going to walk in and go ballistic. "I didn't do anything."
Mia pulled away, stepping back and smiling at Brian even though her eyes bright with tears. "For saving Vince, and Dom, and keeping Leon and Letty out of jail, and saving the house. For trying so hard to help, even though I told you we all hated you. It was never true. I was just angry and scared and I took it all out on you and Dom."
"How any of you felt about me didn't change how I felt," Brian pointed out softly, still kind of confused. "I just wish I could have done more."
Dom looked at Letty, smiling slightly, and Letty winked at him before she turned back to the stove. "V gonna eat? The first four pancakes are just about ready."
Mia nodded, wiping at her eyes as she moved towards the coffee pot. "Yeah, he is. He had to change shirts, I got him all wet."
"You okay, kiddo?" Dom asked gently.
Letty removed the pancakes from the griddle, stacking them on a plate and then reaching for the stick of butter to melt some onto the griddle again for the next batch, listening to Dom and Mia. She was pretty sure that telling Mia about the house had fixed something that had been broken since the day Vince went to prison, even though she had expected Mia would be angry. That was why she hadn't told Mia yet. Mia had never said anything to her about feeling guilty for selling the house, but it had obviously been something that bothered her a lot.
Mia looked at Dom, nodding quickly. "Yeah." She smiled, adding, "Better." She turned towards the coffee pot, getting down a mug to fill it as she said quietly, "I've been hating myself for a while because I was such a vindictive bitch when I was so scared Vince would die in prison. He gave me hell about it when I finally told him what I did, and he was right to." She turned to lean back against the counter, holding the cup of coffee as she looked at Dom. "I'm sorry I sold the house. I never should have done that to you, no matter how angry I was, but by the time I realized that it was too late."
"I learned something the last few years, Mia," Dom said quietly. "It's just a house. The important thing is that I didn't lose my family."
Vince stopped in the kitchen doorway to watch and listen, surprised.
"You didn't lose the house, either," Mia pointed out softly. "Letty says Brian owns it, and that Fed friend of his cleared you, so you can finally go home."
Dom smiled wryly. "My home is with Brian, and his home is in Miami now."
Mia frowned. "You mean he got the house back for you and you don't even want it?"
"The house means the world to me, and to Brian," Dom corrected, "and we'll always be grateful to Tej for saving it for us, but Bri and I won't be living there." He looked at Brian, smiling as he held out his hand and added quietly, "We have family in Miami."
Brian smiled at Dom, reaching to take his hand and lace their fingers together. "The house will always be waiting if you change your mind."
"I won't," Dom said immediately, quiet but firm, then he smiled a little wider. "Besides, I promised Rome not to take you away, remember?"
Brian laughed softly. "Rome already decided he'd follow you anywhere he has to. He doesn't want to come back to Cali, but he promised me never to ride solo ever again." He smiled crookedly. "We both go where you do."
"Tej and Suki won't move, or Jimmy," Dom pointed out, "and I kind of doubt your dad wants to either."
"Dad loves it in Florida," Brian admitted, "but he'd move again for me." He paused and then added more softly, "I'd miss the others, though, and my boat and the garage."
"No, you won't," Dom said with a soft smile. "I love that you'd give up everything again for me, baby, but you've done that enough. This time it's my turn. Me and Leon both like it in Miami, and I bet Letty will too. Mia and V can visit, or we can come visit them." He looked at Mia. "Right?"
"Of course," Mia agreed, even though she looked surprised. "I just... when Letty said Brian owns the house, I thought you'd want to go home."
"I am," Dom said gently, smiling at Mia. He lifted his and Brian's clasped hands to show them to her. "As long as I'm with Brian, I'm home."
"When you gettin' married, brother?" Vince asked, walking into the kitchen finally.
Dom lowered his and Brian's hands to rest on Brian's knee as he looked at Vince, surprised. "You're the one getting married, V."
Mia moved to hand Vince the cup of coffee she was holding as Vince looked at Dom and said, "You been talking about him like I feel about Mia." He accepted the coffee from Mia with a smile. "Thanks, darlin'."
Mia smiled and leaned up to kiss Vince's cheek, then moved towards the counter. "Butter and syrup or fruit?"
"Butter and syrup," Vince replied, then sipped his coffee and looked back at Dom. "So when's the wedding?"
Dom snorted, amused. "Last I checked, neither of us is a woman." He smirked, adding, "And I would have noticed, I promise."
Brian laughed, looking at Dom. "Definitely."
Dom winked at Brian and then looked back at Vince, still amused. "Besides, we're mechanics and rings would just get in the way. I'm liking Letty's tattoo idea better."
"I could be persuaded," Brian agreed, amused. "Just one thing. There's no way in Hell I'm dropping my pants in a tattoo parlor."
Dom laughed and looked at Brian again. "Yeah, no. Not happening, baby. Nobody gets to see that but me."
"Just so we agree on that," Brian said, grinning at Dom.
Vince snorted, moving to sit at the table as he looked at Brian. "So you're just gonna let him brand you?"
"He owns me," Brian replied, amused. "I'm not ashamed of it."
Vince's eyebrows went up and he looked at Dom. "Own, huh?"
Dom laughed. "Don't look at me, Mia's the one who put that idea in his head."
Vince turned to look at Mia, who laughed softly and said, "Look at the way he looks at Dom and tell me Dom doesn't own him."
Vince looked back at Brian, who was looking over at Dom again, amused. Dom met Brian's gaze, his brown eyes going gentle and warm as he smiled softly, and Brian murmured, "Aww, come on, you know I can't resist that look."
"Yep," Dom agreed, leaning towards Brian. Brian laughed quietly and leaned to meet Dom, who kissed him slow and easy, then pulled away to smile at Brian and murmur, "You are mine."
"Have been a long time now," Brian said quietly, the expression in his blue eyes warm and soft.
"See?" Mia said, putting a plate of pancakes in front of Vince. "There it is, honey. Dom owns him, and Bri likes it that way. He always has."
"Love it," Brian corrected, still looking into Dom's eyes.
Dom smiled a little wider. "Luckiest day of my life was the day you followed me to lunch."
"I'll never stop being glad I did," Brian agreed, leaning towards Dom and smiling as Dom kissed him again.
Vince watched them for a moment and then looked down at his plate to start cutting up his pancakes as he said, "Never thought I'd see it, Dominic."
Dom kissed Brian for a moment longer and then pulled away, looking at Vince. "See what?"
"You gettin' over Lompoc," Vince replied quietly, looking at Dom. He smiled wryly. "I still wish it was someone else, but I'm glad you're happy."
Dom smiled, relieved. "Thanks, brother." He looked back at Brian, his brown eyes going gentle and warm again as he added, "I don't think I've ever been happier."
"I know I haven't," Brian agreed softly, smiling at Dom.
Vince watched them a moment and then snorted softly, drawing their attention back to him as he said, "You may own him, Dom, but the way you look at him, it goes both ways."
Dom smiled wider. "Yeah, it does. I feel about him like you feel about Mia, brother."
Vince looked at Dom a long moment and then turned his attention to Brian, meeting his gaze. "Welcome to the family, kid."
"Thank you, Vince," Brian said softly, surprised and grateful.
Vince just nodded and looked back down at his plate to start eating.
Letty moved to the table with two plates of pancakes, putting them in front of Dom and Brian as she asked, "Syrup or fruit?"
"Fruit," Dom said immediately, smiling at Letty.
Brian nodded. "Yes, please."
Mia moved to the refrigerator to get out the bowl of fruit she had cut up before the truck pulled up earlier, smiling. "Strawberries and raspberries okay, Brian? I know that Dom likes them."
"That's great," Brian said quickly.
Mia got a spoon and brought the fruit to the table, putting it by Dom's plate and then moving to get herself a cup of coffee. By the time Letty was plating the last round of pancakes for herself and Mia, Dom had gotten Vince talking about his Harley, and Mia was just watching them talk and smiling.
Everything was finally going to be okay again.
Picking up the team at the airport went off without a hitch, though their flight was most of an hour late because of a problem with another jet on the runway in Miami that backed everything up. Deciding who would drive what took a little discussion and had Brian and Dom, who were taking the Mustang and didn't care who drove what, laughing at the others.
Eventually everyone agreed though, and then they were heading out with the Mustang in the lead, supposedly because Dom was the only one who actually knew the way well enough to get them there without a map. The real reason Dom led the way was that he and Brian wanted to set the pace so the others wouldn't be tempted to drive like they could back in Miami, where the cops knew the Mustang, the Skyline, and the Spyder and considered them harmless. The California Highway Patrol had no idea who they were, but they did know Race Wars was that weekend and they would be on the lookout for tricked out cars.
Tej and Suki were behind the Mustang in the Spyder, which Rome had gladly passed over the keys to. Suki had almost stayed home, she was missing a baby shower for one of her friends, but she was glad she had come and planning to borrow a car for a race or two that weekend. Tej was sprawled in the Spyder's passenger seat with his cell phone, texting with Julio about where to park the truck and checking in with Jimmy about what was going on back at the garage. Jimmy had liked the idea of Race Wars, but he hated to fly and there was no way that the garage could spare him long enough to drive there and back, so he was holding down the fort at home.
Rome was right behind the Spyder in the Chevelle, tickled to drive one that was modified to be so fast. His first car was a Chevelle his grandmother gave him after he got out of juvie, and he had loved it. He was planning to borrow Dom's Chevelle for a few races by the time they were passing through Temecula, grinning wide and happy and wondering if Dom would sell it. He loved his Spyder, but the Chevelle made him feel like a kid again, tooling down the Cali highway with his cell phone hooked up to the stereo and playing the 'Dr Feelgood' album by Motley Crue. It had been one of Brian's favorites back before juvie and Rome had always taken it along to pop into the stereo when they were tearing down the highway in stolen cars and trying not to think about Brian's mom dying slowly in a hospital.
Letty was behind the Chevelle in the Supra, the sunroof stowed away in the trunk and the stereo blasting out her favorite Five Finger Death Punch album so loud that the car was practically vibrating with it. Letty had been driving the Chevelle for weeks and was thrilled to have the Supra instead, grinning wide and happy as she drove. The Supra was driving better than she ever had after Brian and his buddy Jimmy worked on her a little bit tweaking things here and there, and Letty was impressed with the changes. She had already decided to quietly take over the car, since Brian said she was team property, and when she got to Miami she planned to learn anything Jimmy would teach her.
Leon brought up the rear in the Skyline, grinning happily and listening to Linkin Park just loud enough that he couldn't hear Letty's music. He still couldn't quite believe Brian had given him his set of keys for the Skyline, but he was thrilled about it. She was several years newer than his old Skyline had been and had been modified enough to almost look like a different car, but she felt like home. He had gotten used to driving on the 'wrong' side with his old Skyline, and finally being 'wrong' again felt so right that he wasn't sure he wanted to ever drive anything else. He would have to drive something else sometimes because Brian's Skyline had been modified for racing with only one person in the car, which would make dating difficult, but he'd borrow one of the other cars for that like he had been doing.
The drive up to the old airfield where Race Wars was held every year took them a couple of hours, plus another hour they spent in Moreno Valley filling up three big coolers with dry ice and food for the grill and then stopping for pizzas. It was mid afternoon when they reached the airfield and got in line to get their numbers, but the line was moving slow and it took them a while to get in because there were only two guys working the gate.
People had already been curious about the Parker Racing truck parked off by itself across the runway from where most people who were already there had gathered, but seeing a very showy silver and blue classic Mustang, a purple and silver Spyder, a slick red Supra, a red and black Chevelle, and a silver and blue Skyline all line up neatly nose-in next to the trailer set people talking. People started to walk over a few at a time to check out the cars and find out who they were, and then news spread fast that Dominic Toretto was there with two of his team, along with that kid Bullitt from Reseda, Tej Parker with his wife, and a guy nobody had ever heard of.
Rome was not thrilled with just being 'some other guy' and set out to introduce himself in his favorite way: kicking some ass racing. He managed to get four match races against mediocre drivers in his Spyder before people realized he was just barely winning on purpose. He got two more races after that with fresh arrivals who both thought they were a lot better than the others he had beaten, both easy wins, and then a very pretty girl that called herself Valkyrie challenged him to race her little Miata. Rome had to actually work at it to win that one, pushing the Spyder a little, and then suddenly nobody wanted to play with him anymore.
It was just after sunset when Rome parked the Spyder back at the trailer, smirking and smug about the fourteen thousand he'd won in less than two hours. He tucked the last two rolls of bills he'd won into his pockets, intending to put it all in the trailer later, and then got out and sauntered towards where the others were gathered under a parachute in camp chairs that had been in storage under the trailer, all carrying the Parker Racing logo. Dom was sprawled in one of the chairs with Brian next to him in another one, both of them holding hard lemonades while they discussed whether or not to run the Mustang before more of the major players arrived. Tej was in another chair with Suki in his lap, both of them watching Dom and Brian talk and listening interestedly in between making comments or asking questions.
Letty had her own chair away from the others near the trailer doorway and was sitting in it with one foot pulled up, her knee against her chest while she watched Rome approach. Rome detoured towards her instead of continuing towards the others, grinning as he dropped into the empty chair next to Letty. "Hey girl."
"Hey yourself," Letty replied with a smile. "You did pretty good out there, especially for the day before Race Wars really starts."
"I did alright," Rome agreed, looking towards the track where two cars were about to race and then back towards her as soon as he realized he had already beaten them both. He smiled at Letty, asking, "When you gonna run the Supra? You could be out there cleaning up."
"Eh, I'll run tomorrow in the tournament," Letty said easily, lifting her beer to take a slow drink and smirking at the way Rome watched her mouth. She lowered the beer and Rome lifted his gaze to her eyes again, and she just looked at him a few moments before she said suddenly, "I haven't gotten laid in weeks. You interested?"
Rome blinked, surprised, then grinned at her. "The Pope Catholic?"
Letty laughed. "Last I checked." She smirked and stood up to walk past him, reaching out to trail her fingertips across his chest on her way by. "Come on then, the trailer's empty."
Rome jumped up to follow her quickly towards the open door to the trailer's living quarters, his gaze on her very short skirt as he smirked and said, "You just go right for what you want, huh?"
Letty stepped up into the doorway and looked over her shoulder at him. "If I get what I want, I promise you'll enjoy it, too."
"Oh, I got no doubt about that," Rome agreed, smirking as he followed her into the trailer and pulled the door shut behind him.
Dom and Brian had noticed Rome join Letty and then went back to talking, and they were surprised when they heard the trailer door close. They looked over at the two empty chairs and then looked at each other and started laughing.
Suki giggled. "She works fast."
"I think that was a record, even for her," Dom said with a wide grin, amused. "I knew she'd like Rome, but damn."
Brian grinned at Suki. "I wasn't paying attention, which one of them was it that led the way in?"
"She did," Suki replied, smirking. "She surprised Rome with something she said, and then he followed her like a puppy into the trailer."
"Dude might as well have been on a leash," Tej added, chuckling.
"Letty's like a force of nature when she's on the prowl," Dom said, amused. "She's gonna eat him alive."
"And he'll love every minute of it," Brian added, grinning.
Dom grinned back at Brian. "The only question is how long it will last. You think Rome can keep her attention?"
"If he wants to," Brian replied with a little laugh. "There's a reason he usually has at least two girls following him around. He's very good at his favorite hobby."
Dom's eyebrows went up and he let out a little laugh. "Oh really?"
"Yep," Brian agreed, grinning. "I've never heard one of his girls complain."
"What about you?" Dom asked, amused.
"I didn't complain either," Brian admitted, "but I'm not really his type. He just made an exception for me."
"Rome still insists he's straight," Tej added, chuckling. "Says he just can't tell Brian no, and it's pretty much true."
"At least I don't take advantage of it," Brian said with a little laugh. "He and I were good for a while, but I could tell he'd rather be with his girls."
Dom laughed. "So he's an idiot, in other words."
"Exactly," Tej agreed, giving Dom an amused look. "Too damn dumb to know he coulda had a lifetime of Brian all sweet and sexy and always eager for it."
Brian blushed and laughed. "Jesus, Tej."
Tej smirked at Brian. "Don't even try to deny it, baby boy, you know it's true."
Suki giggled and leaned to pat Brian's arm. "Don't be embarrassed, baby. Rome may not have known what he had, but at least Dom does."
"Definitely," Dom agreed, smirking at Brian. "I could list the ways you're sexier than any woman to me, but it'd take a while. It's a long list."
Brian let out a strangled laugh, still blushing. "Yeah, no. Don't do that."
Dom smirked more wickedly. "Why not? You should know."
"Because I'd end up tackling you right here, and we don't need to be the floor show," Brian admitted with little grin. "Tej and Suki would enjoy it too much."
Suki giggled as Tej smirked at Dom and said, "He's got a point, we would."
Dom grinned at Tej and Suki. "You're both a lot smarter than Rome is."
"Especially about Brian," Suki added, smirking impishly. "He's beautiful."
"He really is," Tej agreed, amused. "Every inch of him, inside and out."
Brian hid his flaming face in his hand, laughing. Tej had been cheerfully direct about wanting Brian for years, but he hadn't realized that Suki wanted him too. "Why don't I just go for a drive, let y'all talk about me while I'm not here?"
"If you're going for a drive, so am I," Dom said quickly, amused. "Why would I want to talk about how sexy you are when I could be enjoying it?"
Brian laughed and looked at Tej and Suki, standing up. "We'll see you later."
Tej smirked. "Enjoy, baby boy. Just remember to park away from the lights or you'll draw a crowd."
"Far, far away from the lights," Brian agreed with a little laugh as he started to walk quickly towards the Mustang. His face still felt like it was on fire.
Dom jumped up to follow Brian, smirking. "I love my life."
Tej laughed and watched them go, waiting until the Mustang was speeding off across the airfield before he looked back at Suki. "They left us all alone, baby girl."
"That Chevelle looks like it has a big comfy back seat," Suki said with a little smile.
"I do love how you think," Tej replied, smirking as he kissed her and then patted her ass. "Let's go find out."
Suki giggled and jumped up to walk quickly towards the Chevelle, and Tej was right behind her.
Letty was curled up in Rome's lap, idly tracing one of the tattoos on his arm as she watched everyone else, trying not to be too obvious about it.
Leon had been trying to tell her about the family Brian had built around himself for weeks, how they welcomed him and Dom in like they belonged there, but she hadn't really believed it until they did the same thing with her. She figured Rome didn't count, most any guy would be affectionate after he got laid, but she was enjoying the way he treated her anyway. He had made her his priority while they were in bed, funny and sweet and treating her like she was something special, and she had already decided to keep him for a while. He was sexy and fun and had impressed her with his stamina and how talented he was, and she was looking forward the next round.
When they left the trailer they had found everyone gone and were just starting to wonder if they would be back when Tej and Suki climbed out of the Chevelle's back seat and joined them. Rome had teased them about acting like teenagers in Dom's back seat, making Suki giggle and blush while Tej just smiled and said he'd never get enough of her. It had surprised Letty when Tej called her 'little sister' while they were talking, and how warm and friendly he and his wife were while they talked to her. They obviously knew a lot about her, but when she said something about Leon telling them a lot, Tej had told her Brian had been talking with him and Suki about his family, missing them, ever since he got to Miami.
Leon showed up a little while after that with a pretty, curvy redhead under his arm that he introduced as Freebird. Letty teased him about working fast, calling him Casanova, and he gave back as good as he got, calling her Spitfire and teasing her about being in Rome's lap. Freebird had pulled a chair over by Leon's instead of sitting in his lap, and she seemed perfectly happy to just watch and listen, giggling often but not saying much. When Leon went to the big cooler under the trailer to grab a round of drinks, Tej and Suki shared a canned strawberry margarita while Leon, Rome, and Letty all had Coronas, and Freebird had a hard lemonade.
They were all relaxed and talking idly about maybe starting to make dinner soon when Letty heard a big engine approaching and looked towards the sound to see Brian's silver Mustang heading towards them with the headlights off. The moon reflected off the silver paint, making the car almost glow as she rumbled towards them, and it wasn't until the Mustang parked next to the Spyder and the doors opened that she realized Dom had been driving. He looked relaxed and happy when he got out, laughing quietly at something Brian had said, and Letty sipped her beer as she watched with a smile.
Dom moved to the front of the car, waiting there for Brian to join him and then reaching for Brian's hand to tangle their fingers together as they walked towards where the others were sitting. Dom asked if everyone was ready for him to fire up the grill, and ten minutes later Dom and Brian were talking quietly as they put burger patties and sausages on the grill. They acted almost like they had forgotten everyone else, never looking away from each other, and Letty wondered idly if they would always be that way. She kind of thought they would.
Suki had decided to help 'cook' and put out buns and sandwich fixings on a table near the grill, then went to the big cooler and Letty's eyebrows rose as she watched Suki take Brian and Dom a couple of lemonades.
Letty looked at Rome. "Since when does Dom drink fruity girl drinks? There's like five cases of Corona."
Rome chuckled, dark eyes amused as he replied softly, "Since Brian loves the damn things."
Letty looked back towards Dom and Brian, surprised. Dom was taking a long drink of the lemonade, and Brian waited for him to lower the bottle before he murmured something with a little smirk that made Dom laugh, stepping closer to kiss Brian slow and lingering. Letty laughed softly when they didn't come up for air after a minute, instead moving closer to deepen the kiss, and she wondered if they even remembered the grill next to them.
Suki saw them kissing then. "Brian, drink your own! You'll make him burn the food."
Dom kissed Brian a few moments longer, then pulled away to grin at Suki. "I didn't forget the grill."
Brian laughed and finally raised his own lemonade, grinning at Suki too even though he was blushing a bit. "You're the one who gave him lemonade."
Suki giggled. "Next time I'll remember to give him Corona while he's cooking!"
Brian looked back at Dom, blue eyes sparkling above a wide happy grin. "Prob'ly a good plan."
Dom winked at him and took another slow swallow of his lemonade, making Brian laugh.
"Brian has never liked Corona," Rome murmured softly to Letty then, nuzzling her ear and sounding amused. "He drinks it with Dom sometimes, but mostly Dom's started drinkin' the hard lemonades. Brian can't hardly keep from kissing him when he does, it's pitiful."
Letty turned towards Rome, amused. "You gotta be shittin' me."
Rome let out a soft little snort of a laugh. "No lie, beautiful." He smirked. "They aren't so bad, and Bri loves them. Tej got him hooked on them a couple years back."
"You drank them for him too, huh?" Letty asked with a little laugh, surprised.
"He don't hardly buy anything else except for a citrus ale he gets down in the Keys," Rome said quietly, chuckling. "I'll drink anything that's cold if someone else is buying, I ain't picky."
"What do you buy?" Letty asked, curious.
Rome smirked. "Rubbers."
Letty laughed. "I meant to drink."
"Whatever isn't gonna cost me an arm and a leg," Rome replied with an easy grin. "I was serious about the rubbers, though. I buy them a lot more than I buy my own beer."
"I bet you do," Letty agreed with a little smirk. "Nice to know I won't have to buy my own for a while."
"Oh yeah?" Rome asked, smirking again. "You got plans for me?"
Letty lifted her hand to trace his lower lip with her fingertip, still smirking. "And if I do?"
Rome nipped at her finger and then gave her a wicked little grin. "I'll enjoy every minute of it. You a sexy little thing, and I like a lady who isn't afraid to go after what she wants."
"Something you should know about me," Letty murmured as she leaned closer.
"And what's that, beautiful?" Rome asked softly, one hand slowly stroking over the tight leather of her skirt as he looked at her lips.
Letty kissed him slow and dirty, licking and sucking at his tongue, then smirked at him. "I'm no lady."
Rome let out a low playful growl, giving her that wicked little grin again. "Hallelujah."
Letty laughed and kissed Rome again, forgetting about watching the others for the moment to just enjoy his talented mouth and hands. He knew just how to touch her to make her hot for him, and he kissed like no one else she had ever been with, not even Dom.
Brian nudged Dom with his elbow, making Dom look up from the grill, then nodded towards Letty and Rome, grinning. Dom looked over at them and smirked, looking back at the grill as he murmured, "Good, maybe they'll stay out of trouble for a while."
Brian snickered softly. "He likes her, I can tell."
Dom glanced towards Rome and Letty again, watching as Rome's hands wandered slowly while Letty kissed him like she might devour him. Seeing her with another man had stopped hurting a long time ago, but he still didn't want to watch. He looked back at Brian after only a moment, murmuring, "She's easy to like, especially when she's all over a guy. No telling if she'll still be interested tomorrow, though."
"I think she might surprise you," Brian replied quietly, smiling. "Rome hardly ever has to chase a girl."
"Letty doesn't do the pursuing either," Dom said with a soft chuckle. "Both of them are the love 'em and leave 'em kind."
"Nah, Rome's never met a girl he loved," Brian said with a little laugh. "He doesn't even want to, says it would ruin his fun."
"He is the one who likes to say sex is nothing but love misspelled," Dom pointed out, smiling as he looked back at the grill to start turning the sausages again.
"No, it's the other way around for him, babe," Brian said quietly, amused. "That why he and I didn't last." He touched Dom's back, adding, "I'll get a plate, the burgers look done." He moved towards the table where Suki was slicing tomatoes and Dom glanced up to watch him go.
The next two days passed quickly, a blur of racing, good food, and time spent just enjoying the chance to be together as a team. They all raced at least a few times, even Tej, who won several races in the Chevelle, and by Sunday afternoon the Mustang and the Spyder were tied for top spot in the rankings with the Skyline only three wins behind them, and the Supra tied with three other cars for fourth. The Chevelle wasn't in the rankings at all, they hadn't entered her in the tournament, but Tej, Suki, and Rome had won quite a few match races with her and they were all pretty stoked about it. Brian had even gotten to race, though he had surprised the others by just racing whatever car was by the trailer when he wanted to run. He had driven all the cars at least once in match races, and managed to win every time.
The races to determine fourth place overall brought Letty's wins up to tie with Leon, and they ended up in a race against each other for third. Leon knew both cars well, had driven them often over the last few weeks, and he knew before they even started what the outcome would be. He pushed the Skyline hard anyway, putting all his skill into trying to beat Letty and the Supra, but Letty was ahead of him by half a car length when they crossed the line. The Supra had been built for sprints, Leon and Letty had both helped make sure of that, and even the tweaking Jimmy and Brian had done to get the Skyline ready for shorter races couldn't quite beat the Supra's quicker gear ratios.
After they pulled off to the side to get out of the way for the last race, Letty parked the Supra next to the Skyline and then jumped out, beaming at Leon. "I owned you, brother."
Leon laughed. "Race me a mile and we'll see who owns who."
Letty grinned, wide and pleased. "Nah, man. I'm gonna enjoy this one, I hardly ever beat you."
"There's a reason for that, Spitfire," Leon pointed out, smirking. "I'm a better driver."
"I'm still faster," Letty said quickly, smug.
"Today," Leon agreed, laughing again at how happy she was.
There was a loud siren then and they looked towards the track, moving quickly to get a better view as the girl who called herself Valkyrie, who it had turned out was announcing the races, called loudly over the P.A. system, "And now, the final race of the tournament! In that gorgeous purple Spyder, we have the Joker from Barstow, Roman Pearce, who is unbeaten so far this weekend!" Rome stood in the Spyder, grinning and waving as the crowd cheered. "And in that sexy silver sixty-nine Mustang, from Los Angeles we have the only two-time winner of Race Wars, also unbeaten this weekend, Dominic Toretto!"
Dom lifted one hand out of the Mustang's open window, and the crowd cheered again as he looked at Brian and murmured, "About to be three."
Brian laughed softly. "I know."
Rome settled back into the driver's seat, buckling in as he looked towards Dom and called, "You're going down, homeboy!"
Dom looked at Rome, smiling. "Five grand says I win."
"You're on!" Rome agreed instantly, smirking. "Easy money!"
Brian laughed and leaned towards Dom. "Smoke him. It'll be good for him."
Dom kissed Brian soundly and then smirked at him. "Anything for you, baby."
Brian grinned and got out of the car, moving over to the side of the track where Tej was waiting. He leaned in close to Tej, smirking as he murmured, "You made my bets, right?"
"Damn straight, baby boy," Tej agreed, smirking. "And some of my own. Dom's been riding the line tight enough I got us good odds, too."
"Good deal," Brian said, still smirking. "Rome won't feel so bad when he finds out I bet some of his money too."
The guy holding the starting flag yelled, "Ready!" Dom and Rome both nodded to him when he glanced at them, revving up their cars, and then he waved the flag overhead in a circle and brought it down fast.
The Mustang leapt off the line like a startled horse, the front wheels leaving the ground, but the Spyder stuck right with her and they streaked off up the track side by side until Rome hit the Nos. He started to edge ahead then and Rome shot wide smug grin over at Dom, who smirked at Rome and hit both shots of Nos in the Mustang, not even looking at the track as the Mustang leapt forward again to pull ahead of the Spyder just twenty feet before the line.
Brian laughed, looking at Tej as he leaned close so Tej could hear him over the screaming crowd. "I tried to tell him!"
"Rome's gonna have to admit Dom's the better driver," Tej agreed with a laugh. "That was all timing and balls, holding off on the Nos."
"It usually is if you race against Dom," Brian pointed out, grinning wide.
Tej smirked at Brian. "That just leaves the question of whether you can beat him, baby boy."
Brian snickered. "I never have!" He looked back towards the track, where the Mustang and the Spyder were heading back towards the crowd waiting and cheering for them. He looked back at Tej, leaning close again to add, "Maybe you could, I never beat you either." He grinned at Tej and then started quickly towards where Dom had just parked the Mustang.
"And there you have it!" Valkyrie called. "Our first ever three-time winner of Race Wars, Dominic Toretto!"
The crowd went crazy, screaming and cheering as Dom got out of the Mustang, and he lifted his hands to the crowd. People rushed in to congratulate him then and he started talking to them, smiling and responding automatically, but he wasn't really paying attention as he watched the crowd. Brian moved into sight a moment later and Dom grinned, moving to meet him and pulling Brian into his arms to kiss him while people in the crowd close enough to see them started to hoot and holler.
Rome was counting five grand off of his bankroll as he walked around the Spyder and the Mustang, smiling wryly at how few people were even looking his way. He hadn't believed Brian when he told him that Dom was going to win, but he should have. Brian had been watching him drive since the first time he got behind the wheel of his grandmother's old Chevelle when he was fifteen and had a brand new learner's permit, and he knew Rome's limits better than Rome did most of the time.
Rome reached Dom and Brian just before they finally came up for air, and the crowd quieted to listen as he held out a stack of bills to Dom, smiling. "Five large, man. It's all yours."
Dom was still holding Brian and made no move to let him go to accept the money, smiling at Rome. "Keep it, brother." He looked at Brian, dark eyes sparkling. "I just want the respect."
Brian smirked and said, "You laughed at me when I said that."
"Maybe I've learned something since then," Dom murmured, and then he was kissing Brian again.
Rome snorted, amused, and reached out to tuck the cash into Dom's back pocket, making Dom pull away from Brian to look at him in surprise. "You got my respect, brah, but I pay my bets, too."
Dom laughed. "If you insist."
"Hey everyone, listen up!" Valkyrie called suddenly, making everyone turn towards the low platform where she was sitting with her microphone that had been hooked into the airfield P.A. system. There was a man in a flight suit next to her, looking impatient and a little annoyed. "This dude from the airport authority says we have to clear the runways, there's a cargo plane coming! We got two hours to pack it up and get gone, people, so let's move! Remember to put everything back how we found it, or next time we'll be racing in a fucking Wal-Mart parking lot!" People laughed at that and the crowd started to disperse as the Valkyrie called, "See you all next year!"
The crowd yelled again at that, cheering, and then trailed off into a murmur of voices as people started heading for their cars and campsites to pack up.
"Not all of us," Dom said, looking at Brian. "I think I just retired from Race Wars."
Brian grinned. "Maybe next year I'll have a shot, then."
Dom laughed and patted Brian's ass lightly. "C'mon, let's go get packed up." He pulled away to move back towards the Mustang and Brian followed, still grinning.
Rome headed for the Spyder, amused and wondering if a year was long enough for him to find a car and get it going faster than the Mustang would be by then. He kind of doubted it, but it would be fun to try. Maybe he could even talk Dom and Leon out of the Chevelle. It wasn't like they wanted to drive her, they both had cars they liked better, and Rome was sure she could be something special with a little more work.
The team decided to go out to dinner after they left Race Wars, but nobody really wanted to bother arguing over where to eat so Suki declared it a TGI Friday's night. There was a wide variety available so everyone could have something they liked, and it wasn't likely to be especially busy on a Sunday evening.
Brian was driving the Mustang when they headed out of the airfield with Dom next to him and Tej and Suki in the back with Leon, followed by Letty driving the Supra with Rome, and Julio and Oscar behind them with the truck hauling the Chevelle, the Skyline, and the Spyder. By the time they reached the restaurant, Tej had already called ahead to reserve the conference room and ask where they could park the truck close by, and they were soon gathered around a long table in a quiet side room at the restaurant.
Tej ended up at the head of the table mostly because he volunteered to pay for dinner. Brian took a seat next to him on one side with Dom by him and then Leon and Julio, Suki across from Brian with Rome and then Letty, and Oscar took the seat at the far end of the table. The waiter served their drinks quickly and most of them stuck to sodas because they had a couple of hours of driving to do afterwards, though Suki ordered sangria and Leon ordered a margarita. When the food arrived Rome was the first to grab a bite, which surprised nobody, popping a piece of shrimp into his mouth.
Brian laughed and said cheerfully, "You're it, bro."
Rome looked at Brian, surprised. "Do what now?"
"You have to say grace," Letty said, amused. Rome looked at her, surprised still, and she added, "It's family tradition. Whoever reaches for the food first at Sunday dinner says grace."
Rome laughed and looked back at Brian. "Seriously?"
Dom smiled at Rome, amused as he said, "As a heart attack."
Brian nodded, grinning as he reached for Dom and Tej's hands. "Especially for nights like this. We got a lot to be thankful for when we can all be together."
"We sure do," Dom agreed quietly, giving Brian's hand a squeeze and smiling at him before he glanced at Leon to take his hand.
"Start praying already, brother," Leon said then, grinning at Rome as he offered Julio his hand. "I'm hungry."
Rome laughed and took Suki and Letty's hands, waiting for the rest of them to link hands before he said, "I ain't done this since I was sixteen, but here goes." He took a deep breath, thinking for a moment, and then said, "Father, thank you for this good food we are about to eat and all the blessings you have given us this week and every week. Thank you for allowing us to spend our lives with the people we love, living free and enjoying every day together doing what we love to do. Amen."
"Amen," the others echoed, everyone smiling.
"Did good," Dom said, smiling across the table at Rome.
"Yeah, definitely," Letty agreed, leaning to kiss Rome's cheek lightly, then she grinned. "Now let's eat."
There were a few laughs and general agreement, and the team settled down to eating dinner, talking and relaxing together. It had been a fantastic weekend and they were all looking forward to doing something similar again. They were all still flying high after a long weekend of racing, proud of themselves and each other and smug that their team swept the top four at Race Wars and made so much money doing what they loved.
During dinner they discussed plans for the trip back to Miami. Julio wasn't tired at all and he and Oscar had decided to go ahead and head out on I-10 when they reached it instead of spending the night in San Diego and leaving the next day. Oscar needed to get back, the Kenworth dealership he worked for already had two trucks waiting on him, so he and Julio were going to push hard on the way home. They figured they could make the drive in three days if they didn't stop except for gas, switching off in the sleeper so that one of them was always well-rested and fit to drive.
Dom and Brian were staying in San Diego for the week, as was Letty, but Tej, Suki, Rome, and Leon were flying out to Miami just after ten the next morning. Mia had invited them all for breakfast before they left, wanting to at least meet the team Letty had been telling her so much about, and they were all glad to agree. Mia's cooking was a little hit and miss at the best of times, though, and she'd be getting off work about the time they got to the house, so Dom had volunteered to cook and she gladly accepted.
After dinner they all headed out, the cars continuing south to San Diego while the truck turned east.
It started raining cats and dogs about an hour before Mia got off work, and her umbrella was in the car.
She made a run for it and then took a few moments after she was in the car to breathe, soaked despite running as fast as she could. She pulled her dripping hair back into a messy ponytail, wishing she had a towel in the car, and then remembered the napkins in the console and used them to dry off her face and hands at least. She was shivering by then and started up the car, turning the heat on for the first time she could remember and then making a face at a sudden horrible smell of something being overheated. She quickly turned the heat back off, worried it could start a fire, and sighed as she just started towards home, still shivering and glad that the drive was a short one and then she would be able to take a hot shower and put on some dry clothes.
Mia was almost to the driveway when she realized Dom's silver Mustang and Brian's Supra were parked out on the street. She pulled into the garage next to Vince's Harley, grateful for the consideration and sure it must have been Vince who made them park on the street. It was just the kind of thing he'd do, looking out for her and not really caring if it annoyed other people. The kitchen was empty when she walked in, which surprised her a little bit since Dom had told her he was making breakfast.
Vince laughed then and Mia moved towards the sound, walking to the living room doorway and then stopping there in surprise. Vince was sprawled in his recliner with a cup of coffee looking relaxed and very amused, which made her smile, but then she noticed the others and her eyes widened a little.
The guy that Mia recognized as Tej Parker from the photo Letty showed her of him was sitting on one end of the couch with a sleepy Asian girl in tiny leather shorts and a halter top in his lap that Mia thought must be his wife Suki. Tej looked wide awake and was smiling softly as he idly stroked Suki's bare thigh and looked towards the second recliner, his dark eyes warm and gentle. Mia followed his gaze to see Dom sitting in the recliner with Brian, who had obviously been out in the rain, sprawled in the floor at his feet and leaning against Dom's knee. Dom was idly running his fingers through Brian's hair, smiling softly down at him while Brian gazed up at Dom with a sweet little smile, his blue eyes vivid and sparkling, and Mia wondered what Dom had said or done to put that look in Brian's eyes.
Mia finally looked away from Dom and Brian after a few moments, looking towards where Leon was sitting on the other end of the couch by Tej and Suki looking mostly asleep but amused, a cup of coffee in hand as he watched the two on the loveseat nearby. Letty was there in her favorite black leather pants and a black lace top that was mostly holes and didn't do much to hide the dark purple bra she was wearing, sitting astride the lap of Brian's friend Rome and kissing him like she planned to eat him alive. Rome's hands were on Letty's ass, stroking and squeezing gently, and Mia let out a little laugh as she wondered again how Dom had put up with Letty so long. Mia loved her, Letty was her sister, the best friend she'd ever had, but Mia still thought she was a total slut, even though she'd never say that out loud.
"Hey, darlin'," Vince said then, smiling wider as he set his coffee aside and stood to walk towards her. "How was work?"
Mia smiled at Vince. "It was fine, honey. Did you sleep well?"
"Like a rock." Vince pulled Mia into his arms when he reached her, kissing her slow and easy, then smiled crookedly at her. "Brian moved the cars so you wouldn't have to get soaked, but looks like you did anyway."
"I parked out in the lot last night," Mia said with a little laugh as Vince let her go. She looked towards Brian and Dom, folding her arms and trying not to shiver in the cool house as she met Brian's gaze. "Thank you for trying, though."
"Not a problem," Brian said quickly, returning the smile.
Dom patted Brian's shoulder gently as he murmured, "C'mon, baby. Time to make breakfast." Brian nodded and climbed to his feet, moving out of the way for Dom to stand too as Dom said, "You should go shower, Mia, get warmed up. That rain is cold."
Brian laughed softly and agreed, "It really is."
Letty finally pulled away from Rome then and looked over her shoulder at Brian, laughing. "You're the one who decided to move the cars, Bri."
"I was already soaked after I moved the Mustang so you and Rome could get out in the garage," Brian pointed out, amused. "It wasn't like I could get any wetter."
"Not without stripping down," Dom agreed, amused as he put one hand low on Brian's back and got him started moving towards the kitchen.
"Which isn't happening in Mia's front yard," Brian said quickly.
"I notice you didn't say it won't happen at all," Letty pointed out as she shifted on Rome's lap to sit sideways, smirking at Brian.
Rome snickered, giving Brian a knowing look. "That's 'cause there ain't nobody can make homeboy lie to his family anymore."
Brian laughed, blushing as Dom smirked at Brian and added, "And someone likes to go skinny dipping in the middle of the night."
Brian grinned at Dom despite how red he was blushing as he said quickly, "Like it didn't take you about three seconds to strip and join me."
Dom just smirked a little more wickedly and winked at Brian as they had to stop because Mia and Vince were still blocking the kitchen door.
Vince snorted. "Just keep it in your pants here. I don't need to see that."
Dom looked at Vince, still smirking. "Why don't you stop worrying about what I do and go get your girl out of those wet clothes and into a hot shower? She's shivering."
Vince looked at Mia, grinning suddenly. "Can I?"
Letty snickered and muttered, "So whipped."
Mia smiled and reached for Vince's hand to lead him towards their bedroom as Vince smirked and said, "You never heard the saying 'happy wife, happy life', Letty?"
Letty called after them, "Yeah, that's what pussy-whipped guys say!"
Rome snickered and murmured, "You tell him, baby."
Tej laughed. "Speaking as someone with a happy wife -"
"Very happy," Suki corrected softly, giving Tej a little smirk.
Tej winked at her. "Very happy wife, I gotta say that if that means I'm pussy-whipped, then I will own that shit. She can whip me any time she wants. I'll even beg for more, I ain't proud."
Dom laughed, surprised, but he noticed Brian wasn't surprised at all, just giving Tej an amused little grin.
Suki giggled and kissed Tej soundly, then laid her head back on his shoulder, smirking at Letty. "There's no down side to your man wanting to make you happy, Letty."
"Not for you," Letty said, laughing a little. "Kinda think it's not so fun for the guy sometimes, though."
Suki laughed. "Why do you care? You're not a man."
"'Cause most of my favorite people are men," Letty replied, amused. "I don't like seeing anyone take advantage of them."
Dom turned towards the kitchen, walking into it as he said dryly, "That's new."
Letty flinched slightly, her smile disappearing. "Damn, Dominic. How many times I gotta apologize?"
Dom walked back out of the kitchen to look at Letty, surprised. "I love you, girl, but you always take what you want from guys and then kick them to the curb when you get bored. How's that not taking advantage?"
Rome's eyes narrowed as he stared hard at Dom, but Letty didn't notice as she said, "Maybe I'm learning, Dom. Maybe I don't want to be that person anymore."
Dom looked into Letty's eyes for a moment and then said, "I hope so. You're never gonna be happy until you let yourself really love someone again." He gave her a wry little smile and turned away to go into the kitchen again, adding, "Speaking from experience on that one, sweetheart."
Brian looked into the kitchen after Dom a moment, watching him move to the fridge, and then he looked back towards Letty. He wanted to follow Dom, he always did, but he felt like he should try talking to Letty, too.
Rome murmured something to her too quiet for the others to hear, looking a little annoyed, and then Letty shook her head and said, "No, he doesn't hurt people he loves, not on purpose." She looked at Brian, adding quietly, "I am trying to change, though."
Brian smiled and walked over to Letty before he said quietly, "I know you are, I can tell. Just don't do it for Dom, okay?"
Letty frowned, surprised and confused. "Why shouldn't I? He's the one I hurt the most."
"No, he's not," Brian said. He bent to kiss her forehead and then murmured gently, "You are. That's why you need to do it for you." He turned away to walk into the kitchen as he added, "I want to see you really in love, Letty. Dom says it was amazing."
Letty swallowed hard, looking down and a little surprised to realize she was holding one of Rome's hands in both of hers and hadn't even noticed it.
"He's right, it was," Leon murmured, making Letty look over at him. "That's all we want for you, girl. All we want from you. You been talking about how glad you are to see Dom finally happy again, but we're gonna all be the same way when it's you, especially Dom."
"I don't know how he can even stand me, I hurt him so much," Letty whispered, soft and sad. "I didn't ever love him enough."
Leon scooted forward on the couch and leaned to reach for one of her hands, concerned. "Sweetheart, no. You did, when I met you two you loved him like you loved breathing. It's not your fault you had to learn to live without him, any more than it's his fault Lompoc changed him while you two were apart. Sometimes the world does that to us, we just gotta learn from it and try to go on."
Letty held on to Leon's hand for a moment, squeezing hard as she tried to blink back the stinging in her eyes and said softly, "Kick me or something when I forget to be real. I know you can tell."
"You bet your sweet ass I will, baby," Leon agreed. "I'm not gonna let you get away with shit anymore, I promise."
Letty smiled, her eyes shining wetly as she tried to joke. "That shouldn't sound like such a good thing."
Leon grinned. "You know I'll kick your ass with nothing but love, Spitfire."
Letty laughed softly, letting go of Leon's hand to wipe away a tear that didn't quite fall. "I'm gonna hold you to that."
"Maybe it's not her that needs some ass kicking," Rome said suddenly, making Letty and Leon both look at him in surprise. He gave Leon a hard look, avoiding Letty's gaze as he added, "I ain't seen nothin' she's doing wrong."
Leon chuckled softly. "I'm gonna shoot straight with you right now, Rome, and I want you to hear me, okay?"
Rome's eyes narrowed. "I'm listening."
Leon met Rome's gaze, calm but firm as he said, "I got much love for you, brother, I can see why Bri loves you so much, but it's past time someone gave you a little tough love. You're right there in that same boat Letty's been rowing the last five years, only you been stuck in it even longer, fighting the current the whole damn time. You fell hard as a kid and it spooked you so much you talked yourself out of love and convinced yourself you'd rather have anyone instead of only one just like she did, and you're just as scared as she is to ever go there again. You both got this dumbass idea in your head that someone like you doesn't get to have forever, so you stopped trying." He smiled suddenly. "Which seems to make you pretty good together so far. I've been seeing a whole lot less bullshit and more real from both of you the last couple days."
Rome stared at Leon, wondering if Brian told him everything or if Leon really was just that good at measuring him up. "You don't even know me, man."
Leon laughed. "Of course I do." He stood up, grabbing his coffee cup and then starting towards the kitchen as he added, "I'm in that same damn leaky rowboat, brother. Difference is, I am always on the lookout for my forever."
Tej patted Suki's hip and murmured, "C'mon, he's got the right idea, baby girl. I could stand some coffee."
"Me too," Suki agreed, getting up and then taking Tej's hand to pull him to his feet and then tow him into the kitchen, leaving Rome and Letty alone.
Rome watched them go, frowning slightly.
Letty lifted Rome's hand then, holding it tightly in one hand and making him look at her again. She didn't look up at him, instead watching as she ran the fingertips of her other hand slowly over his scarred knuckles, keeping her touch light as she murmured with a tiny wry little smile, "Something you should know about Leon. He's hardly ever wrong."
Rome snorted. "Hardly ever ain't the same as never."
Letty looked up at Rome's dark unhappy eyes then and said softly, "I kinda think he was right about all of that. And we have been pretty good together."
Rome gazed into her eyes for a few moments and then looked down at their hands, thinking about the last few days. He hadn't thought about Rachel or Kali since he got off the plane on Friday, not really. Letty had captivated him from the start, even at the airport before they split up for the drive to Race Wars, in a way that his usual girls never did. That was why he had been dating Kali and Rachel, why he still chased bikinis any time he felt like it. Neither Kali or Rachel could really hold his attention for long, and they put up with his tendency to keep them at arm's length for the same reason they pretended not to notice him getting with other girls. They weren't interested in forever with him, they just wanted to get laid and he was good at pleasing them.
Nobody had ever been interested in forever with Rome except for Brian, and Leon was right. He had fucked that up, talked himself out of going for it twice with Brian. He had tried to tell himself that it was because he didn't want to hurt Brian but deep down he knew that wasn't the truth, especially the second time. The worst part of the second time they were together had been when Brian started to step back and tell him to go back to women, even though he knew Brian loved him and didn't really want to share him. Brian had always known Rome better than Rome knew himself, and when Brian realized that he could either step back or let Rome panic and run again, Brian had gently but firmly started to put some distance back between them.
Rome had been surprised and a little hurt at first by how quickly Brian's focus had shifted to Dom when he showed up, but even the next day he had already realized he was relieved, too. Sex with Brian had turned into making love somehow after Rome started to date girls again, turned into something intense and deep that shook him right to the soul sometimes, and having that truly end had let him finally take that step back he had so desperately needed. He still loved Brian more than he had ever loved anyone else in his life, but that terrifying intensity had calmed to something deep and strong that Rome could rely on without constantly feeling like he was in over his head and drowning fast.
Rome lifted his gaze to Letty's eyes again finally then as he admitted softly, "I'm no good at together, beautiful. Shit gets real and I freak out."
Letty smiled wryly. "Makes two of us, but I'm shit at being faithful, too. I like getting laid too much."
"Same," Rome agreed quietly. "I usually have a girl or two on the side."
Letty hesitated for a few moments, just looking into Rome's dark eyes, and then murmured, "I like what we've had this weekend, Rome. A lot."
"Me too, beautiful," Rome agreed quietly. "It's been real good."
"Maybe if we're honest with each other, we can keep it that way," Letty said quietly. "I won't complain about your girls as long as you don't get with them right in front of me, if you don't get mad about my guys."
"I'm willin' to give it a try if you are," Rome said, smiling slightly. "And not just 'cause you're the sexiest thing I've been with in a long time." His smile widened as he added truthfully, "Maybe ever. You are smokin', baby."
"You're no slouch yourself," Letty said with a little smirk. "You kiss like you studied it, and the way you touch me gets me so hot I can hardly keep myself from ripping your clothes off."
Rome smirked. "Oh yeah. Right there with you, baby girl."
"I've got a room just down the hall," Letty pointed out. "Nice comfortable bed, door that locks." She licked her lips and added more quietly, "Condoms."
"Sounds real interesting," Rome murmured as he leaned towards her a little, his gaze falling to her lips. "Maybe you oughta show it to me."
Letty closed the distance between them to kiss him, biting gently at his lower lip, and then murmured, "I'm not hungry. Are you?"
"Not for food," Rome agreed, kissing her again and then scooping her up in his arms and standing up. He started walking quickly towards the hall. "Point the way, beautiful."
Letty lifted her arms to drape them around his neck, kissing under his jaw before she murmured, "Second left." She licked up his throat to his ear. "We got a couple hours before we have to leave."
"I can work with that," Rome said quietly, then stopped walking and added, "Get the door, baby."
Letty opened the door and then Rome carried her into the room, kicking it shut behind them.
Preparing for the wedding kept Letty and Mia busy the next few days, and Mia dragged Vince along for most of it, but Dom and Brian were glad not to be involved. Dom and Brian had spent most of the previous week in the car, and they'd be stuck in the car again for much of the next week, so while they were in San Diego they tried to find something to do besides driving.
They spent Monday afternoon on the beach, surfing on rented boards and just going for a long walk together, but they were both feeling a lack. They tried going to a movie the next day, which was okay, but they were still sitting still for too long and they ended up leaving before the end because neither of them cared what happened next. Having nothing they needed to do wasn't something either of them was used to, especially Brian, who had spent the last two years working in the garage every day, usually all day.
The boredom that settled in by Wednesday was driving them crazy, and they ended up in their hotel room most of the day, getting lost in each other and even napping just to make the day go by faster. That idea backfired on them, though. Sleeping half the day left them wide awake and wired by the time they decided to go meet Letty and Mia for dinner at a little Greek restaurant Mia liked.
Letty arrived first by a good twenty minutes, and she was sitting on the hood of the Supra in baggy cargo shorts and a tight white tank top when Brian turned into the restaurant's parking lot. She was completely absorbed in her phone, ignoring the world, and didn't notice Brian backing into the spot next to her car or even the sound of Dom and Brian getting out of the Mustang and closing their doors. She was staring at her phone with a little smile, typing quickly as she replied to a text and completely oblivious to Dom and Brian approaching until Dom reached out and poked her shoulder lightly.
Letty jumped like she'd been shot, nearly falling off the hood, and Dom and Brian both laughed. "Dammit, Dominic!" Letty exclaimed, trying to sound angry even though she was having to fight down a laugh herself. "Don't do that!"
Dom smirked at her, brown eyes sparkling. "What's he saying that's got you so interested?" He had no doubt who she was texting with, she'd had her phone in hand every time he saw her the last two days, talking to Rome. Tej had even texted them talking about sending Rome back to her because he was useless anyway, spending all his time texting with Letty instead of working. "We didn't even try to be quiet, you were way off in la la land."
Letty actually blushed as she looked back down at her phone to finish the text to Rome, which made Dom's eyebrows go up. "Rome was talking about how much he misses me."
Brian snickered, looking at Dom with a little smirk. "He likes sexting when he's bored."
Letty laughed and blushed a little redder. "We are not! He was just telling me he's done for the day and wishing I was there." Her phone pinged and then she read it and smiled again, adding, "He wants me to call later, he's about to leave for the Keys to go get dinner. Suki and Leon decided on Islamorada." She tapped a quick reply and then sent it and looked up from her phone, sliding off the hood of the Supra. "Mia is running late with the final dress fitting, she said for us to go ahead and get a table and order for her."
"Why didn't you go in already?" Dom asked as the three of them started towards the restaurant's front door with Letty between him and Brian.
"'Cause I hate going alone into a place like this," Letty admitted, smiling wryly. "It's mostly families and couples on dates, and I feel pathetic being the one person in the place sitting by myself."
Brian reached out and put his arm around Letty's shoulders, making her look at him in surprise as he grinned at her. "Now you can go in with two guys."
Dom chuckled softly and moved to open the door for them and then followed them through the door and moved to stand right behind them, not even thinking about it as he reached out to put his hands on their waists. The restaurant was fairly busy with most of the tables full, but he saw a booth in the back open. "There's a booth back there," he murmured, giving them both a gentle push towards it.
Letty and Brian both let Dom guide them towards the booth as Letty looked up at Brian and teased, "Nah, it's gotta be Dom we're here with, Bri. He's hot enough for two."
Brian laughed softly. "Definitely."
Dom smirked slightly behind them, amused as he murmured, "Then I get to sit in the middle."
A waiter moved towards them as they reached the booth, waiting for them to sit down. Brian scooted around into the back of the booth, and Dom sat down and then slid over next to him. Letty sat down by Dom and then kicked off her boots and curled up against Dom's side with her feet up in the seat, and Dom gave her an amused little smile as he draped his arm around her shoulders.
"Welcome to Galano's," the waiter said then. "My name is Dimitri, I'll be your server tonight." He handed them each a menu, smiling as he said, "I'll give you a few minutes and then be back to take your orders."
"Thanks," Letty said, smiling and opening her menu to look at it, not even looking up at Dimitri.
Dom nodded to the waiter, smiling, and Dimitri returned the nod before someone rang a bell in the kitchen and he turned away to hurry off towards the kitchen door.
"So Greek food, huh?" Brian murmured, amused as he looked at the menu, which didn't actually explain any of the dishes, just listed them by the traditional Greek names. "I guess it makes sense then that I'm looking at this and thinking it's all Greek to me."
Dom chuckled softly, scanning the menu and then looking at Brian. "What are you in the mood for, baby? They've got a little of everything."
Brian put his menu down, amused. "Food. I'm starving, we never did go get lunch."
"The souvlaki here is awesome," Letty said, smiling at Brian. "It's kind of like fajitas, only with more lemon and garlic. They do skewers of grilled lamb, pork, or chicken with onions and red peppers on pita bread with tzatziki sauce on the side."
"Tzatziki?" Brian repeated, bemused.
"Greek yogurt blended with garlic, lemon, and cucumbers," Dom said, smiling at Brian. "It sounds weird, but it tastes good."
"Why don't you just order for both of us?" Brian asked, looking at Dom with a little smile. "It sounds like you know the food, and I trust you."
Dom smiled wider. "I can do that, baby."
Letty grinned at Brian and teased, "You're going to have him not even bothering to ask what you want if you do that too often."
Brian laughed. "That's fine with me, I'm not picky. Anything is better than me having to cook. I can burn water."
Dom chuckled softly. "I'll do the cooking at home."
"That was the plan," Brain agreed, smiling wide and happy. "I love your cooking. I'll even get groceries every day if you want, I don't mind."
Letty laughed, sure that Brian remembered Dom's dislike of cooking with anything but fresh ingredients was second only to his hatred of shopping. He never went in a store if he could avoid it unless it was a parts store, and even then he'd rather send someone else. "I'll go with you, Bri, you'll need help."
"Why would I need help?" Brian asked, surprised.
"Guys are terrible at shopping," Letty said, smirking. "He'd send you for spaghetti and you'd come home with, like, ramen noodles or something."
Dom looked at Letty, amused. "I sent him for groceries probably a dozen times in Echo Park, Letty. He's better at finding what I ask for than the rest of you are." Letty's eyebrows went up in surprise as Dom added dryly, "And he knows ramen isn't really food."
Brian snickered. "Ramen is only starvation food, and we're not hurting for cash. Even without what Dom has or what we won at Race Wars, we'd be fine. I make good money as a mechanic, and I don't spend a whole lot these days with my cars both finished. My bank account is getting to the point Tej keeps telling me I need to invest it in something, but I've been thinking about getting another project car instead."
"Sounds like fun," Letty said, grinning at Brian. "If I help, can I keep driving the Supra?"
Brian grinned at her. "Ask Dom."
Dom smiled wryly at Brian. "It's your car, baby."
"I don't need another car," Brian pointed out, amused. "And besides, I owed you a ten second car. Your name is on the title and everything. I know that for a fact, 'cause Dad gave me shit about it for months before he did the paperwork for me, salvaging it and getting it registered to you. He put the title with the one on his Jeep so he wouldn't lose it and I never have gotten it from him. It's still in his glove box."
"I wondered why it wasn't in the Supra," Dom said, still smiling.
"He didn't get it back until after I was in Chino," Brian said, his grin fading away as he remembered the day Rick told him he finally got the title in that weirdly vivid way morphine caused for him sometimes, and he looked down at the table, not really seeing it as he thought about it. He had been in Chino only a week and was already in the infirmary with three fairly deep slashes from a shiv and two broken ribs, among other injuries. That had been the first time they gave him morphine, along with several shots of local anesthetic and about forty stitches. He'd had too much, or the morphine reacted with the locals or something, and he had been seeing things all that day.
Dom reached for Brian's hand, covering it with his own and giving it a squeeze as he murmured, "Don't go there, baby."
Brian looked at Dom again, managing to give him a crooked little smile. "Sorry. I try not to, and then sometimes it's just there, y'know?"
Dom nodded. "Yeah, I know exactly what that's like. These days I get rid of them by thinking about the best thing in my life." Brian looked a little curious and Dom smiled. "You."
Letty looked down at her menu, trying to hide how it made her feel to know Dom still thought about Lompoc, even after so long. She hadn't had any idea that the memories still bothered him.
Brian smiled at Dom, his blue eyes gentle and warm as he murmured, "Love you, too."
"I know," Dom agreed, smiling wider as he leaned towards Brian, who leaned to meet him for a slow loving kiss.
Letty looked up again to watch them kiss, a little surprised since most guys avoided saying 'I love you' in public if they could, but after only a moment she decided she shouldn't be. Brian always had his heart in his eyes, there for anyone to see if they looked at him, and he was almost scary honest with family now. It had surprised her a little at first how willing he was to answer questions, but he never hesitated even if the answers made him look bad. Rome had told her that lying to the team had been one of the worst parts of being undercover for Brian and that he had vowed never to lie to family again, not for anyone.
The waiter, Dimitri, walked up to the table again then, hesitating and looking a little surprised as he watched Dom and Brian kiss. "Uhm... Should I come back?"
Dom pulled away from Brian with a soft little laugh, looking at the waiter. "No, we're ready to order."
Brian was blushing a little, but he was smiling and thinking about Dom instead of remembering Chino, which he knew had been Dom's intention. Dom could kiss him and steal every thought from his head except how much he loved Dom and needed him.
Letty was still sitting curled up against Dom's side and she smirked up at the waiter as she said, "Our fourth isn't here yet, she'd like the spanakopita and the pork souvlaki with extra tzatziki on the side."
"And to drink?" Dimitri asked, smiling a little sheepishly even as he wondered if she meant that like it sounded.
"Do you have Snapple?" Letty asked, and when the waiter shook his head she said, "Diet Coke for her then, and I'll have an order of the chicken souvlaki with cooked onions and peppers, the pastitsio, and a Corona."
"Got it," Dimitri said quickly, smiling as he looked at Dom. "And for you, sir?"
"Two orders of the pork souvlaki, an order of tiropita, and an order of pastitsio," Dom said easily, smiling. "Do you have lemonade?"
"Yes, we have Minute Maid," Dimitri replied, a little surprised. The guy didn't really look like the lemonade type. He had expected him to order a beer like his girlfriend.
Dom looked at Brian, who smiled, pleased. "It's not Mike's, but it'll do."
Dom looked back at Dimitri, amused. "He'll have the lemonade with some extra lemon wedges, and I'll have a Corona."
"Do you want lime for the beer?" Dimitri asked, adding the drinks to the order, feeling pleased with himself that he guessed right on the beer thing.
"No thanks," Dom replied. "I'll use some of the lemon."
"You know, I hadn't thought of that," Brian said, pleased and curious. "Corona might not taste too bad if you put enough lemon in it."
Dom smirked at Brian. "Way ahead of you, baby."
"As usual," Brian said, amused.
Dom winked at him, then looked towards the waiter, who was still standing there waiting for something.
Dimitri looked at Brian expectantly for a moment before Brian realized it and laughed. "Dom ordered for me."
"Oh," Dimitri said, then let out a little huff of a laugh. He wondered if Dom was the bald guy's name or his title to the blond. Either one would fit with how they acted. "Okay then, I'll go give your order to the kitchen and get your drinks." He turned away to hurry off towards the kitchen door.
"I should have thought of adding lemon to Corona before now," Brain said, still amused. "It actually sounds good."
"We're gonna find out," Dom said, smiling. "It's easier to find places that serve beer and lemon than it is to find that lemonade you love."
"It's good stuff," Brian said quickly, smiling. "It reminds me of when I was a kid. Grandma Lily never believed in sodas, she gave us lemonade instead."
Dom smiled, not really surprised that Brian had a reason like that for his lemonade habit. "Momma used to make lemonade for Dad every day while he was working, and after she died, Mia kept it up right until we lost him." His smile turned wry and a little sad. "She hasn't made it since then. I used to miss it sometimes." He gave Brian's hand a gentle squeeze, his smile widening again as he added, "But not anymore. Somebody's always offering me lemonade."
Brain grinned impishly at Dom. "You said you like it, and I like lemonade-flavored kisses, so it's a win-win."
Dom smirked at Brian. "I know. Why do you think I tried the stuff?"
Letty snickered at them. "I thought I was seeing things when I saw you with a fruity girl drink, Dom."
Dom chuckled, looking at Letty. "You used to love the lemonade when we were kids, too. You'd probably like the hard stuff Brian drinks like water. It's not enough alcohol to bother you, about the same as a beer."
"They make a harder one that's about twice as strong," Brian said then, making them both look at him. He smiled, amused as he added, "I don't drink it to get a buzz though, so I never buy the stuff."
Mia hurried up to the table then, looking sheepish as she said, "Sorry I'm late. Amelia was having trouble with the waistline, she had to raise it a little."
Letty looked at Mia in surprise, watching her sit in the empty side of the booth. "Why did you want to change it? It fit you perfect."
"That was three weeks ago," Mia said with a wry little smile. "I hadn't noticed I've gained any weight, but evidently I did. The dress was kind of tight today and she had a hissy fit because it made it hang wrong."
Letty let out a soft laugh, still surprised. "But you hardly ever eat."
"I have been, though," Mia admitted, still smiling wryly. "I think it's nerves or something. I keep craving sweets and eating dessert from the cafeteria on my breaks. I bet it's the banana pudding that did it, it's so good it has to be bad for me."
Dom smiled wryly. "Sugar's not real food anyway."
"Which is probably why it tastes so good," Mia pointed out with a sudden grin.
Dom laughed. "Probably."
Dimitri walked quickly up to the table then with a tray of drinks, smiling as he passed them out and said, "Andre says it will be a few more minutes for your meals. He is grilling your souvlakis fresh as we speak. Let me know if you need anything else."
"We will," Dom replied with a smile. "Thanks."
Dimitri nodded and then hurried off towards another table.
"So what were you talking about?" Mia asked, changing the subject with a smile.
"Lemonade flavored kisses," Letty replied with a smirk, looking at Dom and Brian.
Brian laughed, blushing slightly. "It's not just me, Dom likes them too."
Dom smirked and reached for the plate of lemon wedges to get one, starting to squeeze it carefully into the top of his beer bottle as he said easily, "I always like how you taste, baby."
Mia giggled, looking at Letty. "I'm almost afraid to ask what else you talked about."
"Not much," Letty said, amused and still smirking. "Dom's going to do all the cooking for them, Brian is better at shopping than we are, and they both like the lemonade because it reminds them of family."
Mia laughed at that as Dom added, "And Letty misses her boyfriend."
Letty elbowed Dom. "He misses me, thank you very much."
Dom smirked at her, poking the lemon wedge into the neck of his beer bottle. "I notice you don't deny he's your boyfriend."
"He's a guy I plan to shack up with," Letty said, amused. "Boyfriend's close enough."
"You're moving in with him?" Mia asked, staring at Letty in surprise.
Letty laughed, trying to act like it was nothing even though she was blushing. "Why not? He just got a house boat and offered, and I gotta sleep somewhere. Might as well get laid, too. He's amazing."
Dom laughed, looking at Brian as he reached for another lemon wedge. "I'm starting to wonder what it is I was doing wrong."
Brian laughed. "Nothing with me, I have no complaints." He smirked at Dom, eyes sparkling with amusement. "But like I told you, I'm not really Rome's type, so he was different with me than he is with his girls. I've heard them talking about him since we were kids. He's spent a lot of time perfecting his favorite hobby, and he knows just how to drive a girl crazy."
"He so does," Letty agreed, smirking. She looked at Dom, adding, "You were awesome, Dom, but Rome really has perfected it."
Dom snorted, amused. "Y'know what? I just don't even wanna know. If Brian's happy with what I'm doing, then I'm okay."
"I'm very happy," Brian said quickly, and he was grinning when Dom looked at him. "Much happier than I was with Rome, babe, I promise. He can't teach you a thing as far as I can tell."
Dom smirked. "We're good, then."
"You've been a whole lot better than good," Brian corrected, smirking back at Dom. "Rome was just good."
Letty snickered. "Not from what I can tell."
Brian laughed. "You're a woman. He really is straight, deep down. I was the exception, and that was mostly because he loves me so much, not because he wanted a guy. It's different."
"Very," Dom agreed, amused. "I still think he was an idiot about you though, baby. He didn't know what he had."
"He knew," Brian corrected, smiling wryly. "It just scared him half to death." He looked at Letty, adding, "He probably won't admit that, though."
Letty smiled crookedly. "We've talked about what we did wrong, Bri. I know he freaks out when shit gets real."
Brian's eyebrows rose but he looked pleased. "Really?"
Letty nodded. "He said he loves you too much and when things got deep he couldn't take it."
Brian smiled softly. "I'm glad he's admitted it to himself finally. Maybe next time he'll be able to get past it."
"He still loves Brian?" Mia asked, curious.
Letty looked at Mia, nodding. "More than anything."
"How can he stand to watch him with Dom, then?" Mia asked, confused. "I saw how he looked at them, he was happy for them when they were being all sweet and cuddly after breakfast the other day."
"The same way I can," Letty pointed out with a wry little smile. "I still love Dom but I'd do anything I had to do to keep him and Brian together, because I love him so much."
Dimitri hurried over with their food then, smiling at them as he said, "Sorry for the wait!" He passed out the plates quickly and then looked around at them, asking, "Can I get you anything else?"
"No, we're good," Letty said quickly, smiling. "Thanks."
"Anytime," Dimitri said easily. "Just flag me down if you need anything." He walked quickly away, looking around to check on the other tables as he went.
Dom split the tiropitas between his plate and Brian's without asking if Brian wanted any, sure from seeing how much Brian enjoyed cheese wontons and mozzarella sticks that he would enjoy cheese wrapped in pastry, too. He put the plate of pastitsio between them where Brian could try it too if he wanted pasta. It was essentially a lasagna, only instead of large flat noodles it was made with layers of rigatoni, a thick meat sauce, and cheese.
Brian smiled, watching Dom with amusement, and when Dom finally looked at him he murmured softly, "Thanks."
Dom just smiled and kissed him lightly, then looked down to start taking his souvlakis off the skewer, and Brian followed his example.
Mia looked at Letty for a moment and then shook her head as she looked down to put together a pita sandwich with her souvlaki and the tzatziki. "I just don't get how you can stand it, Letty. Seeing Vince with anyone else always made me want to kill someone." She smiled wryly. "Mostly him."
"I'm not surprised," Letty replied, amused as she used her fork to take her chicken souvlaki off the skewers. "I wouldn't have either a month ago, but then I really watched Dom with Brian and everything changed." She paused and then added, "I think that's part of why Rome and I get each other so well. Not many people could understand how I feel about Dom, but Rome does. He gets that I'm going to be close to Dom 'til the day I die if I can be, just like I understand he'll follow Brian the same way, but that doesn't keep either of us from wanting other people."
"So what, you're going to cheat on him too?" Mia asked, surprised. "He's really going to put up with that?"
Letty snorted. "It's not cheating if we agree on it. I'm not going to fuss about his girls, and he's not going to be mad at me if I pick up a guy once in a while." She laughed slightly, adding, "He even said he'd ask this girl Rachel he has a thing with for suggestions for me. Evidently she's slept with pretty much every guy he knows except Dom, Brian, Tej, and that dude named Jimmy. He and Leon both sleep with her and she has at least two other guys Rome knows of."
"For Rome, as long as he's getting laid regular and nobody's getting hurt by it, he's happy," Brian pointed out as he looked up from cutting up the last of his souvlaki meat, amused that Rome had offered to help Letty hook up. "Sex is his favorite hobby, not how he shows someone he loves them. That's part of why he and I didn't work out. When I'm with someone I don't even notice other people, and I don't like to share."
Letty looked at Brian, surprised because she remembered Brian offering to share Dom with her, if it made Dom happy. "Why did you tell him to go back to dating women, then?"
Brian smiled wryly. "I knew that being with me was getting to be too much for him, and last time that ended up with him freaking out and then avoiding me for six years. I decided I could give up sex a lot easier than I could live without him in my life again, so I gave him the space he needed."
"That's pretty much what he told me when I asked how he could step aside for me," Dom said quietly then, smiling at Brian. "Said giving up sex with you was easy if it made you happy, but giving you up would be impossible."
"I'm not surprised," Brian said, still smiling wryly. "The least important part of our relationship was always the sex for him. I doubt he even misses it."
"Do you?" Dom asked, curious.
"I did, but not anymore," Brian replied, smiling softly at Dom. "Not since I looked up at a race and saw forever waiting for me, looking like someone just kicked his dog."
Dom laughed. "The last thing I expected when I found you was to see you kiss some guy like a minute later."
"And then I kissed another guy," Brian added, amused. "And both of them were looking at you like they wanted to murder you."
"Yeah, they sure knew who I was," Dom agreed with a soft chuckle. "I was starting to worry I was a bad memory."
"You were unhappy, too," Brian pointed out, smiling at Dom. "I thought you just didn't approve of guys kissing at all for a little while, but then you told me why you were really there and I realized it was because they kissed me."
"Who was the other guy?" Mia asked, surprised and curious.
Brian looked at Letty, surprised. "You didn't tell her?"
"It didn't come up," Letty said with a bit of a shrug, reaching for her beer to take a drink.
Brian looked back at Mia, bemused. "Rome and I got together back in juvie, you knew that much, right?" Mia nodded, still looking curious. "Well, after we got out he freaked and didn't want anything to do with me, and I was so wrecked that Dad took a transfer to Glendale to get me a fresh start. He got me a job at a garage where Tej happened to hang out a lot, and we hit it off right from the start. Tej got me into racing and taught me a lot of what I know about cars, and we were pretty much living together a couple years. Then he went on the circuit and I didn't see him again until after Chino, when he asked me to come to Miami to drive for him. I'd probably be dead if not for Tej."
"You mentioned that the other day," Dom said quietly. "About him saving your life."
Brian nodded, serious as he murmured, "Yeah, Chino left me pretty messed up, and after being alone with the nightmares a couple months I was getting to the point that I thought some about just driving into a wall to get it all over with. I didn't feel like I had a lot to live for then. There was Dad, but I kind of felt like he'd be better off without me to worry over." He smiled slightly. "But then Tej called, and he got me out of Cali and took care of me, helped me get my head on straight and remember that I'm never really gonna be alone as long as he's breathing."
"But he's married," Mia said, surprised and frowning a little.
"He wasn't then," Brian said, looking at Mia. "He and Suki hadn't really even kissed much yet when I got to Miami. Tej and I got together that night mostly because we had missed each other so much, and we stayed together every minute for a few days catching up, but then he gave me his houseboat behind the garage and got his own place. That probably would have been it if he wasn't in the garage one night and heard me having a nightmare. They were... really bad back then, and he wouldn't leave me alone with them after that. He stayed with me pretty much every night until I got back with Rome." He let out a soft little huff of a laugh, adding, "And after Rome went back to girls, Suki was the one who told me to join her and Tej if the nightmares came back. She knows I'm no threat to her. Tej is the best friend I ever had, but it's Dom that owns me."
"But, people don't sleep with their friends, Brian," Mia said, still frowning a bit and feeling kind of confused.
Brian laughed. "Rome told me the same thing once. Like I told him, I only slept with friends. I've never hooked up with a stranger in my life, never even wanted to except for once."
"What was different that time?" Mia asked, curious even though she still couldn't really imagine sleeping with her friends.
"That time it was this really amazing guy in a red Mazda that I saw at a race one night and he drew me in like, well, gravity," Brian replied, amused as he remembered her saying the same thing once. "I followed his car to this little market in the middle of nowhere a couple days later and ate these really bad tuna sandwiches for lunch for a week or so while I tried to figure out how to really meet him, and then I got hauled in by the FBI and they turned my life inside out."
Mia laughed, surprised. "Seriously? You're going to say the only stranger you ever wanted to hook up with was Dom?"
"Yeah, because it's true," Brian pointed out, still amused. "I don't know what kind of impression you've got about me, Mia, but outside of prison or juvie, I've been with seven people. Ever."
Mia's eyes widened and she stared at him, not saying anything.
"Who were the other three?" Dom asked, amused and curious.
"Girls I went out with in high school," Brian replied immediately. "It was right after juvie. Rome wouldn't talk to me, and I wasn't dealing too well with going from spending twenty-four hours a day with him to not seeing him at all, so I tried dating girls just to have some company. First was this one girl named Tanya I had dated before juvie, only I didn't know that she had turned into the fastest thing in town since then. She went out with me and I kinda freaked out because she was all over me and I didn't expect it, so she told everyone I was still a blushing virgin. Rome got with her right after that and she came to my house the next day, telling me how awesome he was and that I needed to ask him for lessons, and yeah." He grinned, even though he was blushing. "I knew some of his tricks. Enough to make her stop talking trash, anyway."
Dom laughed and teased, "Baby, that's just adorable."
Brian reached out to shove at Dom's shoulder, laughing. "Oh shut up! I was seventeen and went from getting laid all the time to not at all, and then she came to my house and started talking all this shit about him in bed, like I didn't know what he's like. She pissed me off."
Dom smirked at Brian. "I love you."
"I love you too," Brian agreed, laughing a little bit.
"That is pretty adorable," Letty said then, smirking at Brian. "Kinda hard to believe you've only been with a few people though."
Brian smiled wryly. "After juvie, it was hard to trust people that much. I mean, I knew Tanya since kindergarten and dated her some when we were fourteen, and I still freaked out that time when she stormed me, diving for tonsils and feeling me up." He let out a little laugh. "And sex with her was mostly me wanting to make her eat her words. We didn't even date, and I never really talked to her again after that. The other two girls were friends I grew up with, one asked me to a Sadie Hawkins dance, and the other one asked me to junior prom two weeks later. They expected me to want to get laid like any other guy, and I was trying so hard to fit in that I went with it."
Mia looked at Brian, amused and a little wry. "Brian, you're gay aren't you?"
"Pretty much," Brian admitted, giving her a sheepish little smile. "It wasn't just that, though. Like I said, it was hard for me to trust people after juvie. I wasn't as messed up then as I was after Chino, but I definitely had issues with letting people get too close. I mostly dated girls to try to fit in, but then Rome told me he never wanted to see me again a few nights after prom, and I stopped going anywhere at all. Dad put in for a transfer, and about a month later we moved to Glendale. I met Tej right after that, but he and I were best friends for like a year before we even kissed. I was practically living with him most of that year, but I slept on his couch, not with him."
"Suki says he loved you right from the start, though," Dom said quietly, making Brian look at him in surprise. Dom smiled crookedly and asked, "Did you tell him about juvie, and Rome?"
"Yeah, I did," Brian replied, still kind of surprised. "He mentioned being in juvie a few days after we met, and we got to talking about it. He did three months when he was seventeen for assault."
Letty laughed. "Tej did time for assault? He's like, the most laid back guy ever."
Brian smiled wryly. "There's not much Tej thinks is worth fighting for but when he does, he doesn't play. His cousin Christy was dating a guy that knocked her around and she finally got hurt bad enough to go to Tej for help. He sent her to the police station with his girlfriend and then went out looking for the guy and found him pretty easy. Tej beat the guy down so hard he broke a couple knuckles and the guy ended up in the hospital, but the judge went easy on him. Christy testified and had the photos from the police report she submitted about ten minutes before Tej found the guy, and Tej was so little then that the prosecutor couldn't convince anyone that Tej had an unfair advantage." He laughed softly. "The guy was six foot and Tej was about ninety pounds soaking wet then because he always spent all his money on his car, not on food, but Tej beat him half to death anyway."
"I was sure Tej would be hell on wheels when someone he loves gets hurt," Dom said. "I'd hate to see what he'd do if anyone touched you in front of him."
"Yeah, that only ever happened once, but he was seriously pissed," Brian admitted. "I beat one of Tej's buddies in a race and his girl started flirting with me afterwards, so the guy went for me. Tej was collecting the bets he made on me and didn't see until the guy had hit me a few times. I wasn't really hurt, but the guy had knocked me on my ass and cut my cheek with his class ring, and it was bleeding enough it looked bad when Tej saw me."
"And what'd Tej do?" Dom asked, curious.
Brian smiled wryly. "Tej charged in and was doing his best to kill Riley until I pulled him off the guy." He laughed softly. "Literally. I had to pick him up and drag him off, and he was so pissed I had to hold him still for a long time before he finally agreed to let it go and leave with me. He never forgave the guy either, even though they had been friends since junior high."
Dom chuckled. "Yep, that's about what I figured after the thing with the wood chipper."
"Wood chipper?" Mia asked with a little laugh.
Dom looked at Mia, smirking slightly. "The night I met Tej and Rome, Tej said if I hurt Brian he'd put me through a wood chipper and feed me to the crabs."
"Oh my god," Mia murmured, wide-eyed.
"Holy shit!" Letty said, wide-eyed and laughing. "Really?"
"Really," Dom repeated, amused. "I have no doubt he'd do it, either. The only one who loves Brian as much as Tej does is me."
"Yeah, Tej scares even Dad sometimes," Brian admitted with a soft little laugh. "Back when I was so messed up after Chino, Tej was even more protective than he is now, if you can imagine. He would hardly let me out of his sight and Dad decided he was being controlling, like Tej was making me stay in the garage so Tej could watch me work on cars or some such shit." He snorted, remembering how Rick kept trying to get him to move out of the houseboat after Rick had followed Brian to Miami. "Dad just couldn't understand it was never about Tej forcing me do anything, it was all Tej taking over and making sure I knew I didn't have to worry about anything so I could just relax and fix whatever car he put in front of me. I needed that then almost as much as I needed him reminding I had a lot to live for."
"I'm glad he took such good care of you," Dom said with a soft smile. "I owe him for so much."
"He doesn't feel like you owe him anything," Brian pointed out, smiling. "Tej would be quick to point out that he took care of me for him, not anyone else."
"If the guy is neck deep in love with you, why did he marry Suki?" Mia asked, picking at her souvlaki and thinking about the way she had seen Tej watching Brian that morning before the team flew back to Miami. She hadn't really registered it then, but thinking back she realized she had seen Tej watching him a lot that morning, and always with that same warm, loving look in his eyes.
Brian laughed slightly. "He's not."
"Tej loves Brian enough to put what Brian wants above everything," Dom said, giving Mia an amused smile. "As long as he gets to see Brian happy, it's all good as far as Tej is concerned."
"Which is why he likes you so much," Brian added, smiling at Dom. "He really is in love with Suki, though."
"I believe it," Dom agreed, amused. "That doesn't mean he loves you less, though. Suki told me he loved you more than racing right from the start, and that after eight years it's just gotten stronger."
Brian laughed, surprised. "There's nothing Tej loved more than racing. Just, not even close. Racing was his life."
Dom chuckled softly. "You've got a bit of a blind spot where Tej is concerned, baby."
"I don't think so, really," Brian said, still surprised. "If he loved me like that, it wouldn't have taken him most of a year to kiss me the first time."
"I kinda think he was waiting on you," Dom said gently, smiling at Brian. "If you told him about juvie and Rome, then he knew you were trying to get over a guy you had loved for years. I don't know Tej like you do, but I think I know him well enough to be sure he wouldn't want to catch you on the rebound and have you regret it later." His lips twitched and then he added, "Plus there's the whole thing where your Dad is a cop, and you were jailbait."
Brian stared at Dom, his eyes widening just a little, and then he laughed. "I... never really connected that he kissed me the first time after I turned eighteen."
Dom's smile widened. "And he's what, three years older?" Brian nodded, bemused, and Dom's dark eyes sparkled with amusement as he went on. "So he was old enough to do time for it, knew you were still getting over your first love, and he got you into racing after you did time for stealing cars." He chuckled softly. "I bet your dad hated him."
"Sometimes, yeah," Brian admitted sheepishly. "Dad gave me so much Hell for racing with Tej, that's why I started sleeping at his place so much. On nights we played with the car until late, Dad would never believe we weren't racing, and when I got in he'd be pissed and want to yell at me just when I was tired and wanted to sleep." He laughed. "The worst time was the night Tej gave me his car, a couple weeks before I graduated. Dad came unglued when I asked him how to do a title transfer. I thought he was going to have an aneurysm or something, he turned so red. His blood pressure was through the roof and I kept saying exactly the wrong things until he finally told me to just get out and let him cool off. I slept at Tej's for two days before he called and told me to come home, he'd do the transfer for me." He laughed again and then added, "And then he had a fit again when I told him Tej already got it done."
Dom smirked. "And how long was that before Tej finally kissed you?"
"A few weeks," Brian replied, smiling wryly. "Tej gave me the Trans-Am because I had driven it for him in a claimer and won a little Miata he'd been admiring for over a year. The guy who drove it wouldn't race Tej for slips, but the guy didn't know me. He thought he was going to win, but it wasn't really even close." He paused to take a sip of his lemonade, then went on. "Tej and I worked on the Miata and then he started racing her, and about a week after that a guy he had never managed to beat in the Trans-Am offered him five grand to race. Tej had that much, barely, and we had been running the Trans-Am against the Miata and knew she was faster, so he went for it. He won by less than a foot, and he was so stoked afterwards that he tackled me and kissed me."
Dom chuckled softly as Letty grinned at Brian and asked, "And how long was that before you two ended up in bed together?"
Brian laughed softly, blushing. "About half an hour." Letty laughed, surprised. "One of his buddies told us to just get it over with already, and we were so high on adrenaline that it seemed like a great idea."
"Sounds about right," Dom said, still amused. "If he hadn't gone out on the circuit and left you alone, baby, you never would have looked twice at me."
"He did, though," Brian said. "Which kind of proves he wasn't in love with me like you think. If he was, he never would have left me behind."
"Maybe he thought you'd go with him," Mia pointed out, smiling. "I bet he asked you to."
"Well, yeah, he did ask," Brian admitted, "but I never wanted that life. He always did, and when he got the chance there was no way he was letting it pass him by. I crashed the Trans-Am a few months later after the front end broke loose in a race, and then Dad talked me into going into the Academy, and Tej and I kind of stopped talking because I was trying to give up racing. I always knew he'd have my back if I needed him though, all I'd have to do is ask, and he knew I'd do the same for him. I just wanted to make Dad proud of me for a change, instead of always disappointing him."
"And you did, until you met me," Dom said quietly.
"Not exactly," Brian said with a wry little smile. "I would have crashed and burned even if I never saw you run. I was less than a year out of the Academy when I started going to races again and building myself a fast car, even though I knew a cop couldn't get away with being a street racer. Dad was giving me hell about it long before I saw you race and started watching for your car." He let out a huff of a laugh. "And to hear Dad tell it, it's his fault I went to Chino. He told me once he knew I loved you right from the start and never should have let Bilkins drag me into the investigation." He smiled crookedly at Dom, adding, "Though Rome told me he felt like it was his fault, too, that he never should have stopped watching my back because he would have kept me from ever trying to be a cop. And I bet Tej blames himself too, thinking he shouldn't have gone on the circuit or something. The one thing you all agree on is I need a keeper."
"You really do, baby," Dom agreed with a soft chuckle.
"If you could go back and do it all again, what would you change?" Mia asked suddenly, making them look at her in surprise.
Brian looked at Mia for a long moment, thinking, and then said slowly, "I'm not sure I'd change any of it, besides not letting Jesse climb into the Jetta for that race. If I gave up the bad stuff that happened to me I'd lose all the good that came out of it too, and I love my life right now. I've got good friends and a family I can count on, a car I love to drive and a home where I feel safe, and I have Dom. Sure I went through Hell getting here, but it was worth it."
Mia stared at him a moment, wide-eyed, and then murmured wonderingly, "You really feel that way."
"Of course I do," Brian agreed, surprised. "I don't lie to family. I learned my lesson."
"You wouldn't even change things to avoid Chino?" Mia asked softly, still staring at Brian like she wasn't sure she believed he was real.
"Mia, I could have avoided Chino," Brian pointed out quietly. "They offered me a deal so many times I memorized it. If I had turned on the team I would be a detective now, sure, but I would have been completely alone except for Dad and I would have hated my life." He smiled. "So maybe I'm just an ex-con grease monkey that spends my days twisting a wrench and barking my knuckles, but I'm a happy grease monkey with a family I'd die for and the good fortune to share it all with the man I love, working and playing next to him."
"Yeah, I'm right there with you, baby," Dom said quietly, smiling as he reached for Brian's hand.
"I know," Brian agreed, lacing their fingers together with a wide happy smile. "You love it just like I do."
Dom nodded, smiling a little wider. "I can't think of much I'd rather do."
Mia's phone began to beep suddenly and she reached for her pocket, pulling out her cell phone to tap the screen and then looking up again. "I should go. I have to be at work soon." She hesitated slightly, looking at Brian, then said quietly, "Thank you."
"For what?" Brian asked, confused. "I didn't do anything."
Mia laughed softly. "I'm not even sure, just... I feel like I should thank you."
Brian smiled, amused and a little wry. "Okay. You're welcome. If you figure out what for, let me know."
"I will," Mia agreed with another quiet little laugh. She slid out of the booth, smiling as she said, "I'll see you all at breakfast, I hope?"
"Of course," Dom agreed, smiling warmly. "Have fun at work."
Mia smiled wider. "I'll try. You three have fun tonight."
Letty laughed. "I'm going to the stadium to watch the races. I dunno what Dom and Brian are planning."
Dom looked at Brian, who laughed. "You know me."
Dom smirked. "In all sorts of ways." Brian laughed, blushing, and Dom looked at Letty and Mia, still smirking. "Watching some racing sounds pretty good. We may even run a few."
Mia laughed. "Well, if you see Hector, tell him the lawyer is doing the eviction paperwork. I'm tired of his crap."
Dom's eyebrows rose. "Seriously?"
"He hasn't paid rent in two months, and he was behind a month the last time he paid it," Mia replied. "Then he put new parts on his car for Race Wars instead of paying the rent this month. That makes him four payments in the hole, after next week."
"He wasn't at Race Wars," Dom said, still a little surprised. "I was on the lookout for him, Letty said he'd been giving you trouble."
"I asked around too," Letty agreed, nodding. "He didn't show up."
Mia let out an annoyed little huff. "So he wasted his money on his car and then didn't even win anything. Typical." She waved her hand. "Whatever. Just, if you see him, you can warn him. If he doesn't show up with the three months he's behind by the end of next week, he's being evicted. I know his wife is making money on that diner she turned the market into. She used to complain to me how it's always so busy until he got behind, then she suddenly stopped talking to me."
"Sounds like we need to go for a drive tomorrow," Brian said quietly, looking at Dom.
"Definitely," Dom agreed, glancing at Brian and then back up at Mia. "Don't worry, we'll find out what's going on with them. If he gives me any shit, I'll tell his abuelita what he's been up to and he knows it. Miss Josefina will beat him with her cane for taking advantage of family."
Mia laughed. "Good! Sic her on him. Thank you." She leaned past Letty to kiss Dom's cheek, then headed for the door. "Night!"
"G'night," Dom replied, amused.
"Night," Brian echoed, watching her go.
Dom looked at Letty after Mia was gone. "Spill, Spitfire. What's going on with Hector?"
"He's taking advantage of Mia," Letty replied immediately. "He doesn't think she'll really evict Rose, so he quit paying rent. I drove up there last week to see Aunt Gracie, and the restaurant was packed when I went by around noon and then still mostly full when I went back out at nine that night. There's no way they're not making money."
Dom sighed. "Hector always did think he should get something for nothing."
"That's what he's doing now," Letty said, nodding. "I was going to suggest you talk to him at the wedding, but Mia uninvited them. She's been pretty mad about it."
"She has a right to be, he's taking advantage of her," Brian said quickly, frowning. "Hector was always kind of an ass, but I didn't think he'd do that to someone he called family."
"Neither did she, I'm sure," Dom agreed, looking at Brian. "It's a couple hours drive up there."
"It's not like we had anything else to do tomorrow," Brian said wryly, amused. "Unless you want to spend the day in bed again." He grinned. "Which I always enjoy, by the way, but you knew that."
Letty laughed. "That's what you two did all day?"
Dom smirked at her. "We tried the beach Monday, and the movies yesterday were even worse. At least in bed we're never bored."
"Not even a little bit," Brian agreed with a soft laugh.
Letty snickered. "I would hope not." She looked at their mostly empty plates, changing the subject as she looked at them again. "Are we done with dinner?" Her own plate was empty, she had finished off her food a long time ago while the others talked.
"I'm done," Brian replied, smiling. "It was all awesome, but that was a lot of food." He had enjoyed all of his souvlaki and his half of the pastitsio, but the cheese things had been a little too rich and he didn't finish them.
"Yeah, we're done," Dom agreed, amused.
"Good, then you can pay and we can get out of here," Letty said with a laugh, leaning to look under the table for her boots.
Dom laughed and shifted to reach for his wallet. "Works for me."
Brian looked across the restaurant towards where Dimitri was by the kitchen, waiting until he glanced around to raise his hand. Dimitri nodded and held up one finger, and Brian returned the nod with a smile. "Dimitri's on the way."
"Hopefully he'll bring the check," Dom murmured, smiling.
"I'd hope so, it's kind of obvious we're done," Letty said with a laugh, tugging on one of her boots. "It's a little early for the races yet, though."
"Yeah, we have an hour or two to kill," Dom agreed. "Any suggestions for how?"
Letty laughed, tugging the laces on her boot tight and then tying it. "I was gonna drive on over, then find a good parking spot and text Rome. He told me to let him know when we got done. He wants to call."
Brian smiled, pleased. "I'm glad you two hit it off."
"Me too," Letty agreed, smiling softly as she bent for her other boot. "I really like him."
Dom waited until she wasn't looking and winked at Brian, who grinned. "We'll find you later," Dom said, smirking at Brian. "I think I left something at the hotel."
"Yeah, I bet," Letty murmured with a laugh as she pulled her boot on, looking at Dom. "The condoms, or the lube?"
Dom laughed, looking at Letty as he replied quietly, "Actually, I meant the bed. Lube's in his pocket."
"Never leave home without it," Brian agreed, smirking even though he was blushing a little.
Letty laughed, tugging her shoe laces. "And the condoms?" She smirked at Dom. "If you're out, I have some in my bag in the car."
"Don't need 'em," Dom said easily, amused. "Thanks anyway." Letty's eyebrows went up and she stared at Dom in surprise, making him laugh. "I'm not gonna get Bri pregnant, sweetheart. I promise."
Letty giggled and murmured, "That's not why gay guys use them, Dom."
Dom snorted softly. "I'm clean, and I'm sure Brian is too."
"Definitely," Brian said quietly, amused but blushing very red. "Rome and I both tested clean a couple months ago and I haven't been with anyone since except Dom." He laughed softly, adding, "And Rome and I were always careful anyway, 'cause I know exactly where he's been the last year. Everywhere."
Dom glanced at Brian, smirking slightly. "I wondered why you had such a big box by the bed."
"Rome left them there," Brian said quietly. "He always buys the biggest box he can find."
"Optimistic, huh?" Dom asked teasingly.
"Sure he'll need them," Letty said, making Dom look at her with a laugh. She was smirking as she added, "They go quick when you go through five a night."
Dom laughed again, eyebrows up a little. "Yeah, I bet." He looked at Brian, asking, "What's he on?"
Brian grinned, wide and pleased. "He really likes Letty. Most girls get three times if they're lucky, then he's either asleep or out of there."
"Seriously?" Letty asked with a little laugh, blushing.
"Completely," Brian replied, grinning at her. "And he was never into me like that either."
"Oh," Letty said softly, then giggled. She was blushing, but she couldn't keep from grinning, too.
Dom smirked at Letty and murmured, "Sounds like he's just as hot for you as you are for him, Spitfire."
"Yeah, maybe," Letty agreed, pleased. "Nice to know."
Dimitri hurried up then with the bill. "I'm sorry it took so long, We're slammed tonight."
"No problem," Dom said easily, smiling as he accepted the check. He glanced at it and then pulled several bills from his wallet and passed them and the check back to Dimitri, adding, "Keep the change, you did great, man. I don't know how you keep up with this place by yourself, and the food was awesome."
Dimitri glanced at the money and then back at Dom, his eyes widening. "You're giving me a forty dollar tip?"
Dom grinned. "I hope so, I intended to."
"Wow," Dimitri said, surprised and pleased. The bell in the kitchen rang and he looked towards it, then back at Dom. "Thank you very much. Have a great evening."
"You too," Dom replied, and then Dimitri hurried off towards the kitchen again.
Letty laughed and slid out of the booth and stood, looking at Dom and Brian with a smile. "I'll see you two later."
"I'll call when we head that way," Dom agreed, smiling at Letty as he scooted to the outside of the booth. "Have fun with Rome."
Letty smirked. "I plan to."
Dom laughed and teased, "Make sure you park somewhere private, then."
"Definitely," Letty agreed with a laugh, leaning to kiss his cheek. "See you." She turned away and headed for the door.
Dom stood and then stepped aside to wait for Brian, smiling and waiting for Brian to stand before he stepped closer and murmured, "He really is an idiot."
Brian smiled. "I'm glad you think so."
Dom kissed Brian, soft and sweet, then reached for his hand to tangle their fingers together and started towards the door as he said quietly, "Letty'd feel bad if she knew how much fun we've been having, baby."
Brian laughed, moving closer to Dom to murmur near his ear, "So would Tej."
Dom smirked at Brian and led the way outside, waiting until they were in the quieter parking lot before he murmured, "Not Rome?"
Brian snorted, amused. "Rome and I never had near as much sex as we do, not since juvie anyway, and even then it was mostly because we were both going stir crazy, locked up all the time." He laughed slightly, then added, "The last couple years, twice was a really good night."
Dom chuckled. "He must be straight. Tej was right, you're damn near irresistible."
"Tej was always a lot more into me than Rome is, though," Brian pointed out, blushing but pleased. "He was never straight, he just hid it better than I do."
Dom glanced at Brian as they reached the Mustang, smiling. "I got nothing to hide."
Brian tugged Dom's hand to stop him at the front of the car, smirking as he stepped in close and murmured, "Same here." He kissed Dom then, quick and hungry, then murmured, "I love that you're not ashamed of me."
"Baby, I am proud that you want to be with me," Dom said softly, smiling as he stared into Brian's eyes. "If I didn't know it'd get us arrested, I'd prove it right here."
Brian smiled, his blue eyes sparkling and hungry. "Yeah, the hotel's a better plan."
"We can be there in about ten minutes, if I drive the speed limit," Dom said, smirking slightly as he kissed Brian again.
Brian laughed when Dom pulled away, giving him a wide grin as he said cheerfully, "Who said you get to drive our baby? I've still got the keys." He pulled away and headed for the driver's door.
Dom laughed and moved to the passenger side without arguing. Watching Brian drive would be more fun than having to watch for traffic anyway.
After eating meals with Mia and Vince several times, Brian didn't feel quite so intimidated in their house. He was still a little wary of annoying Vince and didn't get close to Mia if he could avoid it, but otherwise he felt fairly safe there and had relaxed.
That morning Letty had made chorizo and egg breakfast tacos, and they were all finished and sitting around the kitchen island when Brian noticed during a lull in the conversation that Vince and Dom were both out of coffee. They had been talking for a while about the honeymoon that Vince and Mia had planned, a long drive up the coast on Vince's Harley to a little bed and breakfast right by the ocean Vince had found online, and Brian didn't think twice as he stood and went to get the pot. Mia and Letty usually made a point of serving Vince first so he did the same, not really even noticing the way Vince watched as Brian reached past Vince's shoulder to fill his coffee.
Brian moved around the island to fill Dom's next, and Dom held out his mug with a soft smile as he murmured, "Thanks, baby."
Brian rested his free hand on Dom's back, smiling as he filled his coffee and replied quietly, "Anytime." He moved to put the pot away and then walked back to the island, looking at Mia as he asked with a crooked little smile, "Are you gonna argue like you used to if I offer to do the dishes?"
Mia laughed. "No, I'll let you."
Brian smiled wider. "Good." He started gathering the empty plates and stacking them in front of himself.
Vince watched for a few moments, sipping at his coffee, and then asked, "Did you work as a waiter or something?"
Brian looked at Vince, surprised. "No, I'm a mechanic. Always been twisting a wrench, since high school. Why?"
"'Cause you're good at it," Vince answered, amused.
Brian laughed, moving the plates to the sink. "I've been doing dishes and helping in the kitchen since I was six, just never got paid." He moved to the stove for the empty pan, putting it in the sink too. "Mom had a rule, if she cooked, someone else had to clean, and Dad was always working." He turned and leaned against the counter a moment, smiling at Vince. "Rome and I were elected pretty much all the time."
"He spent that much time with you even back then?" Letty asked, a little surprised.
Brian nodded, his smile fading. "Rome's mom was... well, she wasn't a mom. She never should have had a kid, but she was young and dumb and ended up with a baby at seventeen. She wouldn't have anything to do with her parents and survived by getting with any guy who would feed them, pretty much. Rome was already in trouble a lot by the time he started school, and that's when I met him." Brian smiled again, warm and fond as he remembered meeting Rome. "He was over a year older than the rest of us and I thought he was awesome. He knew so much more about life than he should have, always had the answers, and I followed him around like a puppy."
Dom chuckled. "Sounds about right."
"What happened to his mom?" Letty asked quietly, curious. "I know he lived with his grandmother by high school."
"Way before high school," Brian corrected. "Rome was coming over to our house a lot right from the start and he said enough about his home life that Mom started letting him sleep over on the weekends. Mom called to ask if Rome could stay over for the Christmas holidays because that was what Rome wanted for Christmas that year, and his mother told Mom she didn't want Rome and to keep him for all she cared. Mom and Dad got bunkbeds for my room and told Rome he was always welcome, and treated him just like they treated me after that. Rome went home sometimes when Mom said he should visit, but he never stayed long before he'd take off back to our house, and he was always so upset after that Mom didn't make him go often. The last time was in the summer after fourth grade. Rome rode his bike to visit his mother and was back at our house for dinner just like he said he would be, and Mom asked how his mother was after we all sat down to eat. Rome told us he didn't know, the house was empty and the neighbor hadn't seen her in weeks, and then asked her to pass the ketchup. It kind of freaked my parents out that he didn't care what had happened to her, but his mother had hurt him so much he stopped thinking of her as family a long time before that. He only visited her to make my mom happy."
"Damn," Dom murmured softly. "Having a mother like that had to be rough on him."
"Yeah, he went through a lot because of her," Brian agreed quietly. "He felt like my mother was his mom, though. Losing her was Hell on us both."
"How did his grandmother come into it then?" Letty asked, sad but curious too.
"Dad found her," Brian replied. "He had to be really careful asking questions, though, so it took him a while. My mom had been a foster kid and didn't want Rome ending up in the system, so Dad couldn't report it and use his police connections, he had to hunt her down the hard way and all he knew about her was her name. When he finally found her she was in New Mexico teaching at a college, but after she finished out that semester she moved back to Barstow for Rome, got a house down the road from ours so he could live with her and still be near the only family he really felt he had." He smiled sadly. "Grandma Lily was determined for him to learn to like living with her, but Rome was just as determined to stay with us. He would wait for her to fall asleep and then sneak out to run down the street and climb the tree outside my window so he could sleep in his bunk in my room."
Brian paused slightly, remembering all the nights Rome climbed in the window and then up to the top bunk so they could both sleep. "At first she didn't even punish him for it and was just trying to talk him out of it, but then one night he slipped and broke his arm. He didn't even tell anyone, just climbed up again and got into his bunk and tried to sleep anyway. Mom freaked when she came to wake me for breakfast and saw his arm all swollen and obviously broken, and then Mom called his grandma to tell her that Rome needed to go to the hospital. Grandma Lily lost it completely when she got there, screaming at him about being stupid and how he could have broken his neck instead, and Rome started screaming back at her about not wanting to leave his family for her, and it went downhill from there. Dad cut down the tree that day and Grandma Lily got keyed locks put on all her windows so she could be sure Rome couldn't sneak out." He let out a soft little sad laugh. "Rome started calling his Grandma's house 'jail' after that and refused to call her Grandma, always calling her 'Miz Pearce' because he could see it really bothered her and he wanted her to be as unhappy as he was."
"I thought you two loved Grandma Lily," Dom said quietly, surprised.
"We did, just not then," Brian said quickly. "Right after Rome broke his arm that first time, the only time we were happy was at school 'cause the teacher would let us sit together as long as we did our work and didn't talk too much. Grandma Lily kept trying to keep us apart all through that school year, keeping Rome with her all the time when he wasn't at school because she thought he'd learn to like her, but all she did was piss him off and make him more determined that she was the enemy. I was missing Rome so much after school got out that I got pretty depressed and spent a lot of time just lying in bed, and it worried Mom so she went to Grandma Lily and they had a long talk. They finally let us be together again most of the time after that, but we had to sleep in our own houses. That's when Mom told me to start calling Rome's grandmother Grandma Lily, they hoped that if I did it, then maybe eventually Rome would too instead of calling her 'Miz Pearce'. It took a while, but once she stopped making us both miserable he finally did."
"And that's why you felt so safe with Rome in juvie," Dom said softly. "You were used to sleeping with him close."
"Yeah, we hadn't shared a room in years then, but even when anyone else touching me was freaking me out, I knew I was safe with him," Brian agreed, quiet and sad. "Rome has only hurt me once in my life, physically at least, and that was six years after juvie." He let out a soft little sad laugh. "And even then, I pushed him into it, knowing he'd start swinging if I didn't back off. I thought if he kicked my ass it might make him feel better, but it didn't take me long to realize he'd put me in the hospital if I wasn't careful, so I had to get him down and just hold on until he stopped wanting to kill me."
Dom's eyebrows rose. "I'm surprised you could pin him down."
Brian laughed slightly, wry and amused. "I didn't, I just tripped him and then got my legs around his waist and my arm around his neck and wouldn't let go until he stopped punching me. I got hurt enough Tej was pissed when he saw me, especially since I have a couple ribs that never healed right after Chino and Rome bruised them up good, but I had convinced him to promise he'd let me handle Rome before he took off my shirt. He still wasn't happy with Rome, but I didn't have to try and break up world war three so I considered it a win."
Dom chuckled softly as Letty asked, "When did Rome break his arm again?"
"That happened when we took down that drug dealer Verone for Bilkins," Brian replied, smiling crookedly at Letty. "That time was because of me, too. There was this deep cover agent on the case with us that had a thing for me and broke her cover trying to protect me. Verone passed me off to one of his men to get rid of and then got her on his boat, and by the time I was loose he was getting away, but I knew she'd die hard if we didn't get her back. Verone's boat was screaming off down a canal, and Rome and I were in this Yenko Camaro I had gotten for the job, and I... kinda hit the Nos and drove us off a loading pier at a hundred and ten to crash into Verone's boat. Rome's arm got broken on impact in the same place it did when he was a kid. They had to put in some hardware to hold it together, it took forever to heal up completely."
"You took out a speedboat with a car?" Vince asked, staring at Brian.
"Well no," Brian said quickly, "it was a souped-up yacht, a forty footer, and we didn't stop it with the car, I just got us on the boat too." He laughed. "In the car. Rome called it Dukes of Hazzard shit, said he was gonna kill me if I ever do that kind of thing again, but it worked." He grinned. "We got Verone and the agent was safe, and we got the dirty money that they had to catch Verone with to put him away. We even caught one of Verone's top goons, Rome beat him half to death for trying to kill me just before we headed after the boat. The guy turned on Verone for witness protection, and he knew enough to help them pin three murders on Verone, including a D.E.A. agent that went missing. Verone got sentenced just over a year ago, he's at Raiford now on death row."
"About the time Bilkins pulled the heat off us, then," Dom said, smiling slightly.
Brian looked at Dom, smiling. "Yeah, pretty much. I guess Bilkins was glad Enrique liked me enough to listen to me."
Dom laughed. "Enrique was the one who testified, I gather?"
"Yeah," Brian agreed, amused. "Rome and I got separated on the way out to meet Verone, and I ended up on my own with them. Verone told Enrique to haul me off out of the way and kill me, and Enrique was telling me that he didn't want to when Rome showed up to save my ass. Rome beat him down hard, broke some bones in his face and some ribs, but later on Enrique told me he understood. That was about five months after Chino and I was still with Tej, but I had made Verone and his goons all think I was with Tej and Rome because that undercover agent was all over me and Verone was jealous as Hell so I played up the gay thing even though it was pissing Rome off." He grinned. "Anyway, after we took out Verone and got back on dry land, Rome needed to see the paramedics for his arm, and while he was busy I apologized to Enrique for how bad Rome messed him up. He told me not to worry about it, that he'd have been the same way if he saw someone try to hurt his lady, even said he was glad I had someone watching my back. Bilkins saw me and Enrique talking and brought me in for his interrogation later, and I got Enrique to turn on Verone. I was hoping Bilkins would clear you if it worked, but he just got Customs to let Rome keep the Spyder they gave him for the mission."
"He did pull the heat on us later, though," Dom pointed out.
"Yeah, and if it was a year after that, then he likely did it about the time I testified," Brian agreed, smiling. "He had told me he couldn't do anything probably a hundred times by then, but I still tried every time he talked to me. I wanted you to be able to go home."
"How did you think Dom would find out you owned the house?" Mia asked, curious. "None of us knew you were in Miami."
Brian laughed softly. "I doubted you would ever forget selling it to Parker Properties Unlimited, Mia, which is run by Tej's uncle. He's a lawyer, and he knew if Dom ever came to him asking about the house he was supposed to give Dom the number for Tej's garage in Miami." He looked at Dom, amused. "I thought he'd just call, that I'd have to be the one to come to Cali if I wanted to see him, but the plan from the day Tej gave it to me was for Dom to get the house back."
"Were you going to sell it to him, or just give it back?" Vince asked, surprised.
Brian met Vince's gaze. "It's his home, Vince. Hell, I would have paid the closing costs to transfer it back to him. I can afford it, I've been making good money as a mechanic for over two years now besides what I make off racing, and I don't spend much."
"It was my home," Dom corrected, making Brian look at him again. Dom smiled at Brian, adding, "But I like our boat." His lips twitched with amusement as he added, "Though I'm putting a real kitchen into it. A microwave, an electric skillet, and a dorm fridge just isn't gonna cut it."
Brian grinned. "We don't use the second bedroom at all, it's big enough for a kitchen and somewhere to sit. We'll just need to add another door so people don't have to come in through the bedroom to come to Sunday dinner."
"That works," Dom agreed, smirking. "Forty grand ought to cover it pretty easy."
Brian laughed. "Yeah, I would hope so."
"Where are you going to get forty thousand dollars?" Mia asked, surprised.
"I won Race Wars, remember?" Dom half-asked, amused. "Twenty races, two grand a race." He smirked. "Plus about twelve grand I won betting on the team."
"And I won a dozen match races too," Brian added, "plus I made over ten grand betting on our team, not counting the bets I made with Rome's cash. If Dom wants a kitchen worth forty grand, he's going to have it."
Dom looked at Brian, smiling as he said dryly, "I can pay my own way."
Brian grinned at him. "Watch it, or I'll decide I get to pay for it all just 'cause it's technically my boat. I got nearly twenty grand in the bank, besides what I made at Race Wars. I can afford it."
Dom looked at Brian a moment and then laughed. "How about I pay for it, and then it's our boat?"
"That boat's not worth forty grand," Brian said easily, amused. "Tej paid twelve for it and didn't do a whole lot to upgrade it, just redid the bathroom."
"Tej bought you the boat too?" Letty asked, surprised and amused.
Brian smiled wryly at Letty. "Tej bought the boat for him, he lived in it for months before I got to Miami. I was having a lot of trouble sleeping then and the only way I could really forget anything was either in bed with him or in the garage, working on cars. The boat is right out back, just ten feet from the bay where I keep my car, and I was sleeping so much better there that Tej insisted I stay there where I could get what he called 'wrench therapy' anytime I needed it. He kept his stuff in the bedroom on the boat, so I turned the living room area into my bedroom and didn't think twice about it until after he got married. I knew he wouldn't need it anymore then and wanted to buy it, and he finally admitted he put the boat in my name like a month after I got to Miami."
Dom chuckled and stood, walking towards Brian and the sink with his empty coffee mug as he said, "Tej just likes buying things for you, I think."
Brian grinned. "Tej has a policy about family and money. Anything he spends on us is a good investment to him, even if it costs him thousands, as long as it makes us happier or keeps us safe." He laughed slightly, adding, "And I've seen his books, babe. The patterns he says he sees in the flow of money in Miami make no sense to me, but he totally understands them. His bank account stays six figures most of the time, and he's invested most of his money."
"Holy shit," Letty said, wide-eyed.
Brian laughed. "Exactly." He grinned at Dom again, adding, "Which is why I never argue when he wants to spend money on us. He's got it and it makes him happy."
Dom smiled wryly, leaning to set his mug in the sink. "I told Letty he could probably buy a jet if he wanted to, but I didn't realize how big of a jet he could buy."
"He'd never buy a jet," Brian said quickly, trying not to laugh. "He says they're an overpriced pain in the ass when he can fly commercial first class and not worry about anything but whether he wants the steak or the lobster."
Dom laughed. "Sounds like him." He reached to turn the hot water on then.
Brian looked at Dom, amused. "I'm doing the dishes."
"No you're not, you're standing here talking," Dom said, smirking slightly. "We've got a long drive today, remember?"
"Yes, I remember," Brian replied, turning towards the sink with a soft laugh and reaching for the the soap to pour a little on the sponge that was sitting in a bowl behind the sink. "You can dry if you want."
"Whatever gets us done faster," Dom agreed easily, reaching for a towel.
Letty and Mia started discussing what they had to get done for the wedding that day, talking quietly, but Vince tuned them out as he sipped his coffee and watched Dom and Brian. He still wasn't glad Dom was so crazy about Brian, but he wasn't really angry anymore, either. It was obvious Brian worshiped Dom and would do anything for him, and Vince had no doubt the kid was good for Dom. He hadn't seen Dom laughing and smiling as much as he had in the last week since they were in high school, and he was sure Brian was responsible for most of it.
Vince didn't understand what Dom saw in the kid, but he couldn't doubt that Brian really had brightened up Dom's world and made him feel alive again, just like Letty said.
It was well after one when the Mustang coasted into Echo Park. Dom was driving, and he looked over at Brian as they drew closer to the old market, smiling. "I feel like Mexican for lunch, how about you?"
"Sounds good," Brian agreed, amused. "Ought to be able to get a table now."
Dom snorted softly. "We better be able to get a table."
Brian laughed and didn't comment as Dom pulled into a parking spot right in front of the wide open door. There were quite a few cars parked nearby, but they could see into the restaurant from the car and there were three tables empty. The counter was full, someone on every stool, and Brian figured that accounted for a lot of the cars.
Dom got out, pocketing the keys and moving to the front of the Mustang as he scanned the restaurant for familiar faces, finding several. Hector's cousin Rafael was busing tables, and his baby sister Josephine was in a bright red skirt and yellow peasant blouse serving food while Rose worked behind the counter, cooking. He knew a few of the people at tables too, or had seen them before, anyway. They were locals who used to come into the market often.
Brian joined him then and Dom smiled at him, resting one hand at the small of Brian's back as he guided him into the restaurant and towards the empty booth in the back. "At least we know the food will be good. I hope you don't mind Mexican."
Brian laughed. "I love Mexican."
Dom chuckled and they reached the booth just as Josephine hurried up, a little wide-eyed but beaming. "Tio Dom!" She practically tackled him and Dom laughed, hugging her tight.
Brian took a seat in the booth, smiling as he watched Dom with Hector's little sister. He recognized her, even if he didn't really know her.
"Hey Joey girl," Dom murmured, ducking to kiss the top of her head before he released her. "How's school?"
"I just graduated," Josephine replied immediately, smug. "Only one of my sibs to make it out of high school with no kids and a diploma!"
Dom grinned and took a seat in the booth across from Brian. "Good girl, I'm proud of you!" He tilted his head, teasing, "But if you got the diploma, why are you waiting tables?"
"Carlita didn't show up for her shift," Josephine replied, amused. "Rose begged me to come in, she can't do all the cooking and wait tables too, and Rafe was late, as usual. She was here all alone and I don't start college until the fall."
"Where's her mom?" Dom asked, surprised. "I heard they were running the place together."
Josephine looked towards the counter, making sure Rose wasn't watching, then stepped closer to Dom to murmur, "They were, but they got in a big fight. Hector did something, I'm not sure what, but Rose's whole family hates him now and they stopped helping her."
Dom sighed. "I bet I know what it is. Hector's made a mess of things, ninita."
"I'm not surprised," Josephine said, looking a little sad. "He's heading down the wrong road, Tio. He's in with a very bad crowd."
Rafael walked up suddenly, carrying three plates as he scowled at Josephine and said, "Stop telling this maricon Hector's business and get busy, Josephine. There's food getting cold."
Dom's eyes narrowed but he didn't respond to the insult otherwise, and Brian reached for the menu card standing at the back at the table as he frowned slightly.
Josephine rolled her eyes. "You worry about your tables, pendejo, and I will take care of mine! I will speak with Tio Dom if I wish!"
Rafael gave her a dirty look and moved away to go deliver the plates as he muttered, "Puta estupida."
"Watch it, Rafe," Dom said firmly, making Rafael scowl as he walked away. Dom looked at Josephine, asking quietly, "Does he give you trouble, ninita?"
Josephine snorted. "He's all talk. He knows if he messes with me, my Javier will kill him." She pulled a small order pad out of the pocket of her skirt, adding, "I do need to get back to work, though. What would you like for lunch, Tio?"
Dom looked towards Brian, who offered him the menu card as Brian smiled at Josephine and said, "I'll have the mushroom and onion fajitas and a Mountain Dew."
Josephine wrote it down quickly, then smiled at Brian as she said, "I remember seeing you with Tio before, but I don't think we ever met. I'm Josephine Velasquez, Hector's youngest sister, but my Tio and his friends call me Joey."
"Nice to meet you, Joey," Brian responded, smiling warmly. "I'm Brian O'Connor. Mostly friends and family call me Bri, but some people call me Bullitt, too."
"A racer, then," Josephine said with a soft laugh, looking at Dom. "I should have known."
Dom reached to put the menu card back at the back of the table, smiling at Josephine. "You really should, ninita. And I'll have the fajitas too, with peppers and onions, an order of chips and Rose's guacamole, and a Corona." He glanced at Brian, amused. "With a few wedges of lemon if you have them."
Brian grinned, blue eyes sparkling. "I'll get you drinking something else yet."
Dom laughed. "I'd say it was impossible, baby, but I know better than to challenge you like that."
Brian just grinned even wider, happy and amused, and Josephine laughed softly, making Dom look at her as she said, "Baby?"
Dom smiled crookedly. "Brian's my..." He looked at Brian. "You know, I'm not even sure what to call you yet."
"Yours," Brian said easily, amused. "Other than that, whatever you want is fine with me."
Dom chuckled, looking up at Josephine. "That's easy enough. He's mine."
Josephine laughed again, a little wide-eyed. "What about Letty?"
"Letty went her own way a few years ago," Dom replied, smiling at Josephine. "Right now she's got a guy she's really into, but mostly she's been playing the field."
"And you... switched teams?" Josephine asked softly, still a little surprised. She had known Letty played the field. Everyone knew Letty cheated on Dom for years, but she hadn't known they finally broke up and she definitely had no idea Dom swung both ways.
Dom laughed. "Well, sort of. Bri and I are forever, but it's not like any other guy could get me to look twice."
Brian smiled, wide and pleased. "Right back at you, babe."
Dom glanced at him and winked, then Rose suddenly called, "Josephine! Order up, now!"
Josephine gave them a sheepish smile. "I'll be back." She hurried off, writing down Dom's order as she went.
Dom looked towards the kitchen and caught Rose looking at him worriedly, then she turned back to the griddle to cook. He looked around and caught Rafael watching him while he talked on his phone near the counter, eyes narrowed and hard. Dom turned his attention back to Brian, murmuring quietly, "I got a feeling Rafe is gonna bring some trouble, baby."
"Yeah, I see him," Brian agreed. "I got your back." He paused, then added more softly, "And if we need it, the Mustang is packing under the driver's seat and in the trunk."
"No guns," Dom murmured. "I'll call the cops first. Hector's been running a chop shop across town for ten years now. I can give them enough to put him away and he knows it."
"More reason he might go for guns," Brian pointed out, frowning.
"Not in public," Dom disagreed with a slight smile. "Too many witnesses here. He'll just be waiting when we leave, most likely."
"Not exactly a good thing," Brian said, his frown fading away, "but there's no way in Hell he can catch us."
"Especially with you driving," Dom agreed, smiling. "I may be better at a straight quarter mile, but on the streets you can't be matched."
Brian grinned suddenly, pleased. "You really think that?"
Dom laughed. "No, baby, I've been in the car with you, I know you're fearless. Nobody else whips through traffic fast enough to make me grab the sissy bar, and you drive like a bat out of Hell even through turns that I would be pumping the brakes on."
Brian laughed, blue eyes sparkling and happy. "Thank you. Means a lot to me."
Dom was about to say something when his phone started to ring, the single-note generic ring he had set for people not in his contacts. He reached for his phone, surprised, and a glance at the screen showed it as an unknown number. He tapped the accept button, putting the phone to his ear as he said, "Hello?"
"Hand the phone to O'Connor," a familiar voice said abruptly.
Dom was sure he knew the guy talking, but he couldn't quite place him. "Who is this?"
"Bilkins." Dom's eyes widened a little. "Now give him the damned phone, Toretto," Bilkins said, exasperated and annoyed.
Dom offered Brian the phone. "It's for you, baby, but whatever he wants, tell him no."
Brian laughed slightly and accepted the phone, putting it to his ear. "Hello?"
"O'Connor, what the Hell are you doing walking into the middle of my investigation, again?" Bilkins asked quickly, exasperated.
Brian's eyes went wide. "Uh, stopping for lunch?"
Dom's lips twitched, sure Bilkins must have asked what Brian was doing there. If Hector was in with a bad crowd like Josephine said, then it wasn't really much of a surprise Bilkins was watching. This was his territory.
"I know that much," Bilkins said, sounding a little annoyed. "Why are you at Velasquez' restaurant, though?"
"Because we're hungry," Brian replied, a little bemused. "The food's great here from what I was told."
Dom smiled. "Rose is an excellent cook."
Bilkins snorted. "O'Connor, eat and then grab your boyfriend and get out of here. The last thing you need is to get into the middle of this. Velasquez is mixed up with a Mexican cartel, supplying them with cars and drivers."
"Shit," Brian murmured, looking at Dom.
"Yes, deep shit," Bilkins replied firmly. "You will not stick your nose in, do you hear me? I don't even want to know what your bodyguard would do, kid. Parker is scary."
Brian laughed slightly. "Yeah, I hear you. Talk to Dom a minute, he needs to know the details, okay?"
"Yeah, alright," Bilkins agreed, sounding grumpy. "Is he treating you right, kid?"
Brian smiled at Dom, amused. "He's the best thing that ever happened to me."
Dom smiled back, pleased as he murmured, "Right back at you."
Brian smiled wider, listening as Bilkins snorted and said, "Not hardly, but okay. If you're happy then I guess I don't need to send in a uniform to look under the hood of that Mustang he's driving. I know there are illegal mods under there."
"Don't even think about it," Brian said with a laugh. "The Mustang's registered to me and nobody gets under her hood but family."
Dom's lips twitched and he wondered how Bilkins could have forgotten the Mustang belonged to Brian.
Bilkins snorted. "Stay out of trouble, kid."
"Yes sir," Brian replied, almost laughing again. "Here's Dom." He offered Dom the phone, amused. "He needs to talk to you."
Dom accepted the phone, amused as he put it back to his ear. "Yeah?"
"Don't use my name, and try to act normal," Bilkins said firmly. "Velasquez is neck deep in the car and driver side of the Beltran-Leyva cartel. Do I need to explain who they are?"
"I know them," Dom said, barely managing to keep his smile in place. "I didn't know they were friends, though."
"They're a lot more than friends," Bilkins said, sounding a little annoyed. "They're moving a lot of product right now, and Velasquez stepped in to supply cars to them after we took out the people supplying Braga. He's got his buddies stealing street racing cars and then he strips them down to look stock and sends them to Carlos Leyva's top runner to share with his crew. We're trying to pin Velasquez on the thefts to get him to turn on the higher ups, and we are almost there."
"Yeah, we're not in it," Dom said firmly. "We've got business here in town, then we're heading out."
"Good!" Bilkins said quickly. "I want O'Connor far from this mess, with his luck the kid would stumble right into the middle of it. I want you to get him out of here."
"We need to take care of something for Mia, then we'll be on the way," Dom said.
"Don't talk any business with Velasquez," Bilkins said firmly. "I know he's behind on the rent he owes her, we've heard Velasquez' wife talk about it there. Forget about it. Any money he gave you would be dirty anyway. He's losing his ass on his garage and the cartel took his car so he's not racing."
"Gotcha," Dom said quietly. "Yeah, we'll be on the way after lunch, alright?"
"That works," Bilkins agreed. "Don't stop until you get Brian back to San Diego, you hear me?"
"Yeah," Dom replied, smiling wryly. "We'll be there for dinner."
Bilkins was silent a moment and then exclaimed, "Dammit, I knew it! Velasquez just parked his mom's Camry down the street. Be very careful, Toretto. I can't break this case to save you two. You have to get out of there on your own."
"We'll be fine," Dom said calmly. "Talk to you later, okay?"
Bilkins didn't reply, just hung up the phone.
Dom tucked the phone back into his pocket, glancing around the restaurant. Rafael was clearing a table near the door, and Josephine was carrying a tray of food to a table where a woman was sitting with her three kids. Almost all of the tables were occupied, people talking and eating, and Dom relaxed a little. No matter what Hector had in mind showing up there, he wasn't going to make too much trouble in front of so many witnesses.
Brian murmured, "Shouldn't Josephine have brought our drinks by now?"
"Yeah, she should." Dom looked towards Josephine again. She turned away from serving the table and caught him watching her, then held up one finger as she hurried towards the kitchen again. Dom looked back towards Brian, smiling even though he didn't feel like it as he said very softly, "We're heading home when we get out of here."
"That's good, it sounded pretty important," Brian agreed, looking a little worried despite his smile.
"Definitely," Dom agreed firmly, then smirked slightly and changed the subject, wanting to get the worry out of Brian's expressive blue eyes. "There's a spot south of town I want to show you. Nice view, quiet, nobody around for miles."
Brian smiled wider, his eyes starting to sparkle. "I would really enjoy some scenery, now that you mention it. I bet the view will be gorgeous in the back seat."
"Beautiful, definitely," Dom agreed, still smirking. "Planning to take my time and enjoy it."
"Sounds nice," Brian murmured, smirking. "I'm sure I'll enjoy every minute of it."
"Guaranteed," Dom promised, dark eyes sparkling.
Josephine hurried up with a full tray of food. "Sorry, Tio, we're a little backed up and it took Rose a bit to get to your food." She put Dom's Corona and a plate of pepper and onion fajitas in front of him along with a small bowl of lemon wedges, then put the chips and guacamole in the middle of the table before she put Brian's plate of mushroom and onion fajitas in front of him with his Mountain Dew. "Anything else?"
Dom was about to answer when Hector walked up behind her. "They're fine, Josie," Hector said firmly. "Go work your other tables."
Josephine gave Hector a dirty look, then looked back at Dom expectantly.
Dom smiled at her. "We're fine, ninita. I'll let you know if we need anything, okay?"
"Okay, Tio," Josephine replied with a smile, leaning to kiss Dom's cheek and then giving Hector another dirty look before she walked away to check her other tables.
Dom stood and moved his plate and beer across to Brian's side of the table, waiting a moment for Brian to slide over and make room, then sat down by him. "Have a seat, Hector."
"Why are you here, Dominic?" Hector asked, sitting down where Dom had been.
"I always liked Rose's cooking," Dom said dryly. He reached for the bowl of lemons, pulling them over to his side of the table and then picking one up to squeeze into his beer, looking at Hector as he added calmly, "What, you don't want me around?
"If you're here about the rent, I can't pay it right now," Hector said, scowling.
"Mia already gave the paperwork to her lawyer," Dom said, still calm. He dropped the squeezed-out lemon wedge on the edge of his plate and reached for another. "I'm not in it. She owns the place, not me."
"Everyone knows you just put it in her name so the cops couldn't take it if you went down," Hector said, still scowling. "Speaking of cops, why are you even here? If you bring them down on me, Dominic..." He trailed off, eyes narrowed and angry.
Dom laughed. "I'm a free man, Hector. The Feds cleared me."
Hector's eyes widened and he stared at Dom. "Why? Everyone knows you were guilty." He glanced at Brian, adding, "Even if you did get someone else to take the fall."
Brian snorted softly, chewing a bite of fajita. He was pretty sure it was pork, but he didn't truly care. Dom had been right about Rose's cooking, it was delicious, and going by the prices on the menu and how busy the place was at two on a weekday, she had to be making good money.
"Let's just say my team knows things that could help them out and leave it at that," Dom said, smirking slightly as he reached for a third lemon wedge. He'd found two didn't put much lemon flavor into a beer, but three was good.
"You flipped on someone?" Hector asked, frowning.
Dom snorted. "I'm not a narc, and neither is anyone in my team."
Hector shifted in his seat, elbows on the table as he leaned forward. "Then how'd you get the Feds to clear you?"
"Three of my team did some driving," Dom replied dismissively, picking up his beer and swirling it, then taking a slow drink. Yep, that was perfect. "They wanted the big fish, not the drivers."
"Huh," Hector muttered, looking thoughtful as he watched Dom start to fill a tortilla with fajita meat, peppers, and onions. "They make many deals like that?"
"I've heard they do, for a big enough fish," Dom admitted, giving Hector a level look. "The little guys, they get in over their heads because they're stupid and greedy."
Hector scowled. "What are you trying to say about me, Dom?"
Dom's eyebrows rose. "I didn't know we were talking about you, Hector. What are you into?"
Hector's eyes widened slightly and then he looked down at the table. "Nothing!" He looked away, "Not anything new anyway. You know about the second garage."
Dom sighed, giving Hector a pitying look. "You're still running that chop shop?"
Hector looked at him quickly. "I'm still running another garage specializing in used parts, yes."
Dom snorted, smirking slightly. "Used parts." He looked at Brian. "That's cute."
Brian snickered. "Adorable."
Dom laughed, nodding.
Hector scowled. "Why are you even with this guy, Dom? Puto nearly got you put away. He's trash, everyone knows it."
Dom stared at Hector, eyes narrowed. "Watch your mouth, cabron. Don't make me remind you of the lesson I had to teach you after we got out of Lompoc."
Brian glanced at Dom, eyebrows going up, then looked back at Hector to see his reaction as he took another bite of fajita.
"What the hell, Dom?" Hector said quietly, angry but obviously not wanting them to be overheard. "He turned on you."
"Never," Dom said instantly, quiet but firm. "He did a year in Chino to protect me. Brian's not the kind of person who takes advantage of family."
Hector scowled again. "It's been a bad year."
Dom looked around the restaurant, which was still mostly full, then back at Hector, giving him a level look. "The food is great and business is good."
"Here," Hector agreed, still scowling, "but I was trying to keep my house and the garage. I'm behind on the notes on both of them, too."
"So you took advantage of Mia," Dom said, quiet and calm. "And you wasted rent money on your car."
"I needed Race Wars," Hector said quickly, angry. "It was my only shot."
"Which is why you didn't even show up," Dom pointed out with a snort. "I know, I was there."
"I didn't show because someone stole my fucking car," Hector said quietly, still angry. "I was all set to go take it a second time and I needed that money, and the fuckers roared into my shop the day before Race Wars and shot up the place, then took both of my fast cars."
"Seriously?" Dom asked, surprised.
"You wanna see bullet holes?" Hector asked, scowling. "How about this one?" He pulled up the side of his shirt to show them a bandage with a slight red stain in the middle low on one side. "They nearly killed me, nicked an artery and I almost bled out before I made it to the ER. Damn thing keeps bleeding, too. Doc is talking surgery, something else I can't afford." He let his shirt fall again, adding softly, "And now I'm in deep and going down, and there's not a goddamn thing I can do about it. I can't even sell the damn car to try and keep the house. My wife and kids are gonna end up on the street."
Dom looked at Hector a moment and then said softly, "I'm gonna give you a chance here, because we used to be family. Tell me the truth, Hector. What are you into that's got people shooting at you?"
Hector looked at Dom a long moment and then glanced around before he shook his head. "No, I can't talk about it here."
Don tilted his head to the side, shrugging slightly. "Alright then. I tried." He picked up his fajita to take a big bite.
Hector just watched Dom and Brian eat for a few minutes, quiet and thinking, then suddenly said softly, "We can go talk when you leave."
Dom looked at Hector as he popped a chip with guacamole on it into his mouth, chewing and swallowing before he said quietly, "I'm not going anywhere with you, Hector, and I damn sure ain't letting Brian go. If you're into shit that's getting you shot at, I won't risk him near you unless it's a very public place."
Hector stared at Dom a long moment and then asked softly, "Why is he so important to you, Dominic?"
"He's my heart," Dom replied just as quietly. He didn't really think before he said it, but as soon as he did he decided he liked it. Brian was his heart, the reason he felt like he was alive instead of just barely surviving like he did for so long. "Has been for years, and I will not risk him. He's been through too much for me already."
Hector stared at Dom. "What about Letty?"
"Letty went her own way a long time ago," Dom replied. "Right after Lompoc, really."
"So you knew, huh?" Hector said quietly.
"Everyone knew," Dom corrected. "She didn't try very hard to hide it."
"Wasn't very picky either," Hector agreed, glancing towards Rafael.
"I am," Dom said quietly.
Hector looked at Dom again, then glanced at Brian and back at Dom. "So leave him here, Rose can protect your perra while we go talk."
Dom's fist flashed out almost too quick to follow, punching Hector in the jaw and snapping his head sideways. He went back to eating like nothing had happened as he said calmly, "I told you to watch your mouth, Hector."
Hector stared at Dom, rubbing his jaw for a moment, then murmured, "Sorry, Brian."
"De nada," Brian murmured, reaching for a chip to scoop up some guacamole and try it.
Dom said quietly, "You got two choices for how we talk, Hector. You do it here, or by our car out front, and you better make up your mind fast, 'cause Bri and me, we're heading out when we finish lunch. We got a long drive ahead."
"Where have you been the last three years anyway?" Hector asked, curious.
"South," Dom replied. "Made a few trips to Rio, but Mexico was home."
"Where in Mexico?" Hector asked, looking suddenly intent.
"Piece of dirt in the middle of Puebla, mostly. We spent some time on a beach in Sonora too, though." Dom reached for his beer to take a sip, smiling slightly at the lemon taste and thinking Brian really was going to ruin him. He never added anything to his Coronas for years, but after Brian made him curious enough to try it, he had realized he loved it. It didn't hurt at all that Brian liked it too.
Hector's face fell and he muttered, "Nowhere, then. I was hoping maybe you knew some people."
"I know all kinds of things," Dom said dryly as he made another fajita with the last of the meat and vegetables on his plate. "What kind of people?"
"Outside, when you're done," Hector said quietly. "We'll talk in the car."
Dom shook his head. "Behind it. It's too damn hot to sit in the car."
Hector looked disdainful. "That thing is so old it doesn't even have air?"
"That thing won Race Wars this year," Brian said a little pointedly, "and is the fastest car you'll see at a quarter mile."
Dom glanced at Brian, smirking slightly, then looked at Hector, who looked surprised. "She is. Brian's done wonders with her. Without his baby, I wouldn't be a three-time winner now."
"You won Race Wars in a sixties Mustang?" Hector asked, obviously shocked.
"I did," Dom answered, still smirking slightly. "It was a good weekend. Our team swept the top four."
Hector stared at him and then looked away towards the Mustang, shining in the sun outside the wide open doorway, then back at Dom. "The--" He broke off, then started again. "Brian can make a classic Mustang run fast enough to beat everything in California?"
"There were drivers from Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Miami there, too," Brian pointed out, amused.
Dom glanced at Brian, smirking. "I saw a guy I know from Texas, too." He looked back at Hector. "And yes, Brian can tune a car to fly. He's better than I am. He spent the last two years learning from Jimmy Izzard." He hadn't immediately connected little Jimmy, who looked so young, with Jimmy Izzard the track legend, but when he finally did Jimmy had admitted that was him. He looked like he was about the same age as the rest of the family, but he was really well past forty.
Hector's eyes went wide again. "Parker Racing's Izzard?" Dom nodded, still smirking, and Hector looked at Brian, still wide-eyed. "They used to call him Jimmy Wizard on the track. He's a magician."
"Jimmy says Brian's his equal with anything but on-board computer systems," Dom said easily, and Hector let out a little squeak. "And when they were tuning for sprints, I saw Jimmy ask Brian for advice."
Brian laughed, looking at Dom. "Only a couple times."
"Baby, you have no idea how much it says that Jimmy will let you work next to him," Dom said, amused and fond. "Him asking you for help with anything is a big deal. He's a legend."
"A fairy tale that they bring up circuit mechanics on," Hector added. "I got out on the circuit for a while, and I heard them talk about him all the time wishing he was still working the tracks."
Dom looked at Hector, surprised. "You really made it to the circuit?"
Hector snorted. "Yeah, for all the good it did me. That's how I got so far in the hole. Racing is expensive if you're not winning."
"Yeah, Tej says if you can't make top five it's not worth running," Brian agreed, nodding. "Entry fees, fuel, and tires will kill you if you're not in the money."
Hector stared at Brian again. "You know Tej Parker, too?"
Brian laughed and couldn't resist, smirking as he said, "Very well."
Dom laughed. "Oh yeah."
Brian glanced at Dom and winked, then looked back at Hector. "Tej gave me my first car back when we were young and crazy and racing stock out in the desert. I lived with him a couple years before he went on the circuit, and after I got out of Chino he asked me to go drive for him."
"Tej says Brian's the best in the world in street races over a mile," Dom added, amused.
"I am not," Brian said quickly, laughing. "I've never beat you or him."
"We've never raced over a quarter mile, baby," Dom pointed out, smiling wider. "And that time in the Supra you would have passed me easy way before a mile."
"Your engine threw a rod," Brian pointed out, grinning. "A jackrabbit likely could have beat it at a mile."
Dom laughed. "I'd offer to race and let you prove it, but the Mustang's the fastest thing I ever drove."
"You haven't driven the Skyline," Brian said, smirking. "In a five mile street race like we run in Miami, she's unbeatable."
"You've been in Miami?" Hector asked, surprised.
Brian looked at Hector. "I needed a change after Chino."
"So that means Parker is in Miami," Hector said quickly, "and the Wizard."
Brian laughed. "Dude, all you gotta do to find Tej is hit Google. He doesn't hide."
"More like shouts where he is with that bullhorn of his," Dom pointed out, chuckling as he finished off his fajita.
"Yeah, definitely," Brian said, amused. "And Jimmy says he's with Tej for life, so finding Tej will always find Jimmy. Tej is the best boss in the world, letting him do anything he wants and paying him to do it." He grinned. "I know, because he's my boss, too."
Dom chuckled again. "Gonna be nice, being paid to work next to you and play with fast cars all day."
"It's gonna be awesome," Brian agreed, grinning wide and happy.
"What's somebody gotta do to get the Wizard to teach them his tricks?" Hector asked, looking from Dom to Brian and back again.
"Be family," Brian replied, amused.
"He considers you family?" Hector asked, surprised.
Brian laughed. "You could say that. The last time Jimmy got drunk, he curled up in my lap and told Tej that if I didn't find someone soon he was going to switch teams for me because I'm his favorite." He looked at Dom, adding, "That was about two weeks before you got there."
Dom grinned at Brian, dark eyes sparkling. "He was really drunk, huh?"
"He drank Rome under the table, which takes a lot," Brian replied, grinning. "It was hilarious, and Suki videoed it all. They started with Jack, then went to rum, and then decided only tequila would work. Rome passed out after the third shot of tequila, so Jimmy drank one more and then did this crazy rap telling Rome to kiss his ass. Suki still has the video, I'm sure. She was giggling over the funnier parts with Kali for days."
Dom grinned. "That one I have to see. Jimmy's always so calm, I gotta see him let loose."
"He's a pretty good rapper when he's had a few," Brian said, grinning back. "He and Rome had fun rhyming at each other through the bottle of rum. They had us laughing so hard Suki had to run for the bathroom, I had to take over filming a few minutes."
Dom snickered. "I will definitely be asking about her video collection."
"Make sure you tell her funny videos," Brian said quickly, laughing. "She likes to make videos, and Tej is shameless."
"Oh really?" Dom asked, smirking. "And do any of those involve you?"
"A couple I know of," Brian admitted, blushing. "One with Tej, just before he asked her to marry him, and at least one with you." He had actually known that she set up the camera for the time with Tej. He figured he had owed it to her after everything, and she had promised not to show it to anyone but Tej unless he okayed it.
"When did she catch us?" Dom asked, surprised.
"At Race Wars," Brian admitted, amused. "Only she didn't catch us, she just left her phone on the back window when she and Tej went to the Chevelle Friday night. I noticed when she leaned out the Chevelle's window to grab it." He paused slightly, blushing as he added, "That was after the second time."
Dom laughed. "She's sneaky. I like that in a woman."
"You'll love Suki, then," Brian said, amused. "She's good at sneaky when she wants to be."
Hector had been watching them talk and said suddenly, "Dominic, you really are in love with him, aren't you?"
Dom looked at Hector, surprised. "Yeah, I said that."
"You used to say you were in love with Letty, too," Hector pointed out, "but you weren't. Not like you are with Spilner."
"O'Connor," Brian corrected. Hector looked confused and Brian added, "My name is Brian O'Connor."
Hector rolled his eyes. "O'Connor then. Whatever." He looked back at Dom. "I never saw you so happy, man."
"Brian definitely makes me happy," Dom agreed, smiling. He looked at Brian, adding, "All he's gotta do is breathe and my world is a better place."
Brian smiled softly at Dom, his blue eyes going gentle and warm. "I love you too."
"I know," Dom agreed with a soft smile, leaning to kiss Brian lovingly. He pulled away after a few moments, glancing at their empty plates and the nearly empty chips and guacamole and then back at Brian. "Are you done?"
"I've been done," Brian replied, amused.
Dom chuckled. "Time to go, then." He pretended not to see how surprised Hector looked as he turned his head towards Josephine, watching her refill drinks for a table and waiting for her to be done before he said, "Joey. The check?"
Josephine looked at him, smiling and nodding. "Just a sec, Tio." She walked off towards the counter with the pitcher of tea.
"Why does she call you uncle, anyway?" Hector asked suddenly.
Dom laughed. "Ask her, I have no idea. She started that right after I met her." He paused slightly and then asked, "How deep are you in debt on the house?"
"I'm behind around seven grand," Hector said quietly, "but I owe about twenty more on the loan."
"When are they going to foreclose?" Dom asked, meeting Hector's gaze.
"Two weeks," Hector admitted. "I thought I made a deal that would get what I needed, and then I got stiffed. When I complained, they shot up my place and took my cars."
Dom sighed. "You should have just sold the damn car instead of making deals."
Hector snorted. "You would never sell your fastest car."
"I would never get myself into the position you're in," Dom pointed out. "I don't gamble with my family's home."
"No, you just let Mia sell it," Hector said a little sharply.
"I begged Mia not to sell," Dom said quietly. "How far behind are you here?"
"Next week it'll be four payments, ten thousand," Hector replied, surprised. "You didn't even know?"
"I came here for lunch and to find out what you were thinking, not to play bill collector," Dom said firmly. "I just wanted to know why you took advantage of my baby sister."
Hector sighed. "I thought I could pay her after Race Wars. I was going to pay her, and pay off the house, and then look for a job."
Dom's eyebrows rose. "You were going to give up the garage?"
"It's a money pit," Hector said with a shrug. "The racing scene here isn't the same anymore. People only go to the winning garages, and I don't win enough. I haven't made enough to pay the note in six months, and with everything else and the debts I racked up when I tried the circuit, it's just been a matter of time before it goes under."
Josephine walked over then, smiling wryly at Dom as she said, "Rose told me to let you know it's on the house, Tio."
"No, it's not," Dom said, surprised. He reached for his wallet, pulling it out of his back pocket as he added, "Go get the check, ninita."
"She just tore it up," Josephine admitted. "I went to get it out of the finished orders stack and when she saw me she took it and shredded it."
"Then tell me how much it was for," Dom said patiently.
Josephine hesitated, trying to tally the order in her head, and Brian said, "Should have been almost thirty going by the prices on the menu."
"Thanks baby," Dom said, giving Brian a quick smile as Brian put the menu back down.
"Anytime," Brian said, smiling back.
Dom opened his wallet and rifled through the bills, then laughed. "Okay then." He pulled out a hundred, offering it to Josephine. "Thirty in the cash register, and you and Rose split the rest as tips."
Josephine stared at him. "Tio, no. I can get you change. That's too much!"
"Don't make me turn you over my knee, mocosa," Dom said firmly. "Half to you, half to Rose."
Josephine hesitated a moment more and then nodded. "Yes sir." She stepped closer to hug him, kissing his cheek. "Thank you, Tio."
Dom smiled. "Have fun with it. Go to a movie with Javier or something."
"I will," Josephine agreed, smiling.
"Josephine, order up!" Rose called.
"I gotta go," Josephine said. She leaned to hug Dom again as she murmured, "Love you, Tio. I'm glad you found your heart again."
Dom returned the hug. "Thanks, ninita. I love you too."
"Bye," Josephine said, then hurried off to the counter.
Dom slid out of the booth and stood, moving over to give Brian room to stand too as he looked at Hector. "If you want to talk, this is your chance. Once we get in the car, we're gone."
Hector stood, nodding. "I want to talk. Maybe you have ideas for what I can do."
Brian put his hand one Dom's hip, leaning close to murmur, "Go ahead, I'll be out there in a minute. I need to talk to Rose."
"Sure baby," Dom agreed, smiling at Brian. He was pretty sure he knew what Brian was going to do. Rose was family to Dom, her kids called him Tio just like Josephine did, and Brian wouldn't want her losing her home any more than Dom did. He looked at Hector and then started for the door as he said, "Come on, Hector. Let's get it over with."
"I'm coming," Hector agreed, giving Brian a little bit of a frown before he followed Dom.
Brian walked quickly to the counter, moving to the walk through at the back and watching Rose putting meat and vegetables in various piles on the griddle a moment before she paused, watching the food cook. "Rose?" he said then, making her look towards him in surprise. She looked worried and upset, her dark eyes sad, and Brian asked gently, "Can we talk a minute?"
"I'll watch the food," Josephine said quickly, moving past Brian into the kitchen.
Rose hesitated and then nodded. "Alright, just for a moment."
Brian smiled. "Thank you."
Rose walked over to him and then led him into the tiny office that had been turned into a pantry, turning to face him and fold her arms. "I'm... not even sure who you are. I mean, I know you're with Dominic, I saw him kissing you, but not your name."
"I'm Brian." Brian closed the door behind him and then said, "Dom and I came here today to find out what happened, why you stopped paying the rent. Hector told Dom he took the money you made and spent it, and now they're about to foreclose on your house?"
Rose's eyes started to shine a little more and she nodded. "We need to pay seven thousand within two weeks, and still owe twenty more."
"I want to help," Brian said quietly. "Dom and I just won a lot at Race Wars, and we won't miss ten thousand. That should get you current and let you be a payment ahead, right?"
"That would be two payments, plus the seven," Rose said, eyes wide. "But why? Why would you help us?"
"Because I don't want anyone to lose their home," Brian replied, "but especially not someone Dom considers as family. I just have one condition."
"Okay," Rose agreed instantly. "Anything."
"You keep the money," Brian said firmly. "Don't let Hector touch it."
"I promise," Rose agreed immediately, frowning just a bit. "I wouldn't let him have it anyway, he's ruined us, and he's made Mia so terribly angry with us. She won't even speak with me, and we used to be close."
"I'll try to talk to Mia, too," Brian offered, "but I can't make any promises. She's been talking eviction because Hector keeps lying to her and she's pretty upset about it. She thought you were family and that she could trust you."
"I know," Rose agreed, wiping away a tear before it could fall. "I could barely make myself speak to her last time I saw her, I'm so ashamed of what Hector has done. I make enough to pay the rent here and our other bills, but not quite enough for the rent, the bills, and the house, and Hector has been taking what I make anyway to work on his car, and then it was stolen and all the money is gone, poof."
Brian sighed. "Rose, you need to stop doing that. If I talk to Mia and convince her to give you another chance, and then he keeps you from paying again, Mia will not keep giving you chances."
"I told Hector already that if he takes my money again, I'm leaving and taking the kids," Rose replied, wiping at her eyes again. "I can't keep living like this. I told him he has to get a real job with a paycheck I can count on."
"I'll do all I can with Mia, okay?" Brian said softly. "Just, promise me you won't let him take the money from you anymore, okay?"
"I promise," Rose agreed, crying as she stepped forward to hug Brian tightly. "Thank you. I don't know how I can ever repay you."
Brian held her gently, rubbing her back. "I don't expect you to. Consider it a gift from me and Dom."
Rose just cried harder, clinging to Brian and silently thanking God that Dominic and Brian had come to help her.
Dom led the way out to the Mustang, moving to lean against the trunk and then looking at Hector as he folded his arms across his chest. "Alright, start talking. Who's shooting at you, and why?"
"Do you know who Braga is?" Hector asked. Dom nodded and Hector went on. "Well, I used to do some work for a guy who supplied cars to Braga. He was buying cars and parts every week, cash, but then he just up and disappeared. That's when I started getting behind again. I didn't know anyone else with Braga to contact to try to make a deal with someone else, and then the Feds took Braga down and suddenly four new heavy-hitters were in L.A. running drugs and money and guns and who knows what else. One of them from a Mexican cartel came to me, guy named Diego. He wanted me to steal four street racing cars and make them look stock on the outside without changing the inner mods. I did the job, spent over three grand on it, and he was supposed to give me forty grand on delivery, only Diego showed up with these goons with machine guns, and they took the cars and he said they'd pay me next time."
Dom snorted softly. "Only next time there was no cash either, was there?"
"Nothing," Hector agreed quietly. "They beat me up and put my best mechanic in the hospital, and said they'd be back next week for four more cars. Then the guy Diego showed up the day before Race Wars wanting fast cars, said it was an emergency, and I didn't have any yet so he shot up me and my place as a warning he said and then took my cars and disappeared. I'm still supposed to deliver four more cars next week, or he's gonna kill me."
Dom just looked at Hector a moment, thinking, and then his phone rang. Dom reached for it, not especially surprised to see it was the unknown number again. He answered, putting it to his ear as he thumbed the volume down button and said, "Hello?"
"I thought I told you to eat and get out of there," Bilkins said, sounding exasperated.
"Yeah, we're on the way," Dom replied, amused. "I'm just talking to a friend, finding out what's up with him."
"So I hear," Bilkins agreed. "Get him to tell you where his chop shop is, that would help. Or better yet, who it is that keeps taking his cars."
"I think it might be better if you talk to him," Dom said easily, smiling. "You know more than I do about it."
"Are you telling me to haul him in?" Bilkins asked, surprised. "He'll do some time. I can convict him on half a dozen things right now."
"Or you can make sure his boss does it," Dom said, "and he would owe you one."
Bilkins snorted, annoyed as he muttered, "I don't want to give him a break, the guy's ruined his family. He deserves prison."
"Maybe, but they'd pay harder," Dom pointed out.
Bilkins sighed. "Get the chop shop, then I'll do what I can."
"I already got it," Dom said easily. "I know right where it is. Been there before."
Bilkins was quiet a long moment and then said gruffly, "You are such a pain in my ass, Toretto."
Dom laughed. "Right back at you."
"Don't let him shoot anyone when I show up," Bilkins said firmly.
"You got it," Dom agreed easily. "See you soon."
Bilkins hung up and Dom put away his phone.
"Who was that?" Hector asked, looking curious.
"Guy I met a while back," Dom said, smiling. "Used to work with Brian, he's always checking up on him."
"So why doesn't he call Brian?" Hector asked.
"Because Brian forgets all about carrying his phone half the time, and I always have mine," Dom said, amused. "Right now I'm pretty sure his phone's by our bed in San Diego." He stepped towards Hector, adding, "Now gimme your gun, brother."
Hector frowned. "What? No. Why?"
"Because I asked for it, and because my heart is in there giving your wife the money to keep her house," Dom said firmly. "Just shut up and listen to me for once in your life. I'm trying to help you."
Hector stared at him for a long moment and then reached behind his back, pulling a little .38 out of his waistband and then offering it to Dom. "Who was on the phone, Dominic?"
"Guy named Bilkins," Dom replied, tucking the gun into his own waistband. "I'm gonna do you a big favor now, Hector, and you're gonna take it, and you're gonna do everything Bilkins says or I'm gonna have to fly back out here and teach you who's the boss again like you made me do after Lompoc. You get me?"
"Yeah, I get you," Hector said softly. "What did you do, Dom?"
"I stopped for lunch," Dom replied, smiling wryly. "The rest is all me and Bri winging it and trying to keep our family safe. You're a fucking dumbass that made that difficult, but lucky for you, we know people who deal with difficult."
A black Suburban rolled up to stop by them and then the passenger door opened and a heavy-set black guy climbed out. "We good, Toretto?"
Dom hadn't actually met Bilkins before, but he recognized his voice. "We're good, Agent Bilkins," Dom agreed quietly, staring into Hector's eyes. "He's going to cooperate. He will do everything he can to make this right."
Hector swallowed hard and then looked at Bilkins, meeting his gaze. "If I testify, can I get a deal? I don't want to go back to Lompoc."
"If you help us get the ones coming to you for cars, we can get you a deal," Bilkins replied. "No jail time."
Hector closed his eyes and took a shaky breath, then said softly, "I'll do whatever you want."
"Get in the truck," Bilkins said quietly. "We have a lot of talking to do."
Hector nodded, looking at Dom. "Thank you."
"Don't fuck this up, brother," Dom replied firmly.
"I won't," Hector agreed, then walked to the rear passenger door of the truck and got in.
Dom looked at Bilkins. "If you need me to adjust his attitude, call."
"I will," Bilkins replied, amused. "You and Brian are done with this. Get out of here."
"Well, not completely," Dom disagreed. "Done with what affects you, though. We've still got to try and talk Mia into giving Rose another chance." He laughed. "Probably gonna cost me ten grand."
Bilkins stared at Dom a moment and then laughed. "You and O'Connor are two peas in a pod." He turned away. "See you around, Toretto."
"You're gonna have to forgive me for hoping we don't," Dom said dryly.
Bilkins just laughed again and climbed into the truck, and then a moment later it was pulling away.
Dom walked to the front of the Mustang and leaned against it to wait for Brian, amused and a little impatient as he started to think about the long drive back to Mia's home.
They were still taking the scenic route.
Dom and Brian finally got back to Mia's around eight that night, going in through the kitchen door and then walking to the living room doorway before Dom stopped with Brian right behind him looking over his shoulder, both of them amused.
Mia and Letty were watching television, the volume turned up loud enough they didn't hear the Mustang pull into the driveway. Dom vaguely recognized the movie they were watching as one of the 'Underworld' movies, which happened to be right at the beginning of a sex scene, and Mia and Letty were both so into it that they hadn't noticed Dom and Brian's arrival. Mia was curled up in her recliner in jeans and one of Vince's old work shirts from the garage with a nearly empty bottle of Snapple, watching the movie with a little smile. Letty was in a tight white tank top she had cut off a few inches below her chest and a tiny pair of cut off jean shorts, sprawled on the couch smirking and sipping at her beer without ever taking her gaze off the screen.
Dom snorted, amused. "Vampire sex? Really?"
Mia laughed, blushing as Letty said cheekily, "The guy's half werewolf, so technically it's vampire/werewolf sex."
Dom snickered. "You two enjoy that. I'm gonna make some dinner. We're starving."
"Dinner would be great, thank you," Mia said quickly, still blushing. "You should be able to find something in there."
"I'm sure I can," Dom said dryly, turning back towards the kitchen and catching Brian's eye as he muttered, "Vampires and werewolves."
Brian grinned. "Could be worse. They could be watching that 'Twilight' shit."
"Hey!" Mia said with a laugh, "I liked 'Twilight', it was good!"
Brian snickered and moved towards the island that doubled as the kitchen table, and Dom walked towards the fridge as he said, "You have horrible taste in movies, little sister."
"Says the man who actually paid real money for Pink's 'Funhouse Live' DVD," Letty called after them, laughing.
Dom laughed and opened the fridge as he said, "The music's good and the girl is hot!"
"Hot enough even I noticed," Brian agreed with a soft laugh.
Dom grinned at Brian and then looked back into the fridge, digging around a little before he looked at Brian. "How does pasta sound?"
"Heavenly," Brian responded instantly, grinning.
Dom started taking things out of the fridge, pleased. "Then that's what we're having." He got the sausage, mushrooms, scallions, and a red pepper, then dug in the vegetable drawer a moment before he called, "Seriously, Mia? No tomatoes?"
"They're in the pantry!" Mia called back, laughing. "There's like four kinds."
Dom made a face. "Grandma Sofia is cussing you from the grave right now."
Mia moved to the kitchen door, laughing. "She bought the canned kind sometimes too."
"Only the ones from Italy," Dom pointed out, moving to put the food he was holding on the counter by the stove.
"What do you think I buy?" Mia asked, amused. "Grandma would haunt me if I got generic."
Dom snickered. "I believe she would." He moved towards the pantry, opening it to rummage around a moment and then choosing two cans of fire roasted tomatoes and a box of rigatoni. He closed it and moved back to the counter, putting them with everything else as he said, "Sausage and mushroom rigatoni sound good, baby?"
"Sounds awesome," Brian agreed instantly, grinning wide and happy.
Mia laughed and moved to the fridge to get another Snapple. "You're way too easy to please, Bri."
"There's worse things I could be," Brian replied easily, still grinning.
Mia just laughed and walked back into the living room to go finish the movie.
Brian was just as glad she was gone so he could watch Dom without distractions, smiling as he enjoyed how relaxed and happy Dom was as he cooked. Every move was confident and easy with no wasted effort as he scrambled the sausage and then let it cook while he chopped the mushrooms, scallion, and pepper, adding them in and then stirring the skillet. He spent a few moments breaking the sausage up more while the vegetables browned, smiling slightly as he worked, and Brian found himself thinking about how lucky he was that he'd get to watch Dom cook for the rest of his life.
Dom glanced at Brian then, and he smiled at the way Brian was watching him with a sweet smile, blue eyes warm and loving. "What's got you smiling like that, baby?" he asked softly. "Enjoying the view that much?"
"Loving it," Brian murmured, smiling a little wider. "I was just thinking I get to watch you for the rest of my life."
Dom looked at Brian for a moment, smiling, then looked away as he moved to open the cans of tomatoes. "I like the sound of that, as long as I get to watch you, too."
"Anytime you want," Brian agreed softly, smiling.
Dom was quiet as he added the tomatoes to the skillet, stirring them around to mix everything well and then turning it down to low to simmer. He got down the big pot then and put it on the stove, pulling the pot filler over it and turning the water on, then turning on the burner on high. He waited for the pot to get about two thirds full and turned the water off, then moved towards Brian, smiling as he murmured, "We've got a few minutes to kill."
Brian smiled wider, blue eyes sparkling. "Bet we can think of a way to do that."
"Oh, I think we can," Dom agreed, reaching to cup Brian's face between his hands as he leaned down to kiss him slowly, every move gentle and loving. Brian let out a soft little pleased sound and responded warmly, and when Dom deepened the kiss after a few moments he let out a low purring growl at the way Brian opened up for him, willing and eager as Brian's hands slid up his back, urging him closer. Dom moved his hands to Brian's thighs, lifting him up to set him on the edge of the island, and Brian hummed happily as he wrapped his legs around Dom's hips, pulling him in close while they continued kissing slow and deep.
Letty walked into the kitchen a little while later and laughed. "Seriously, Dom? You gotta do that on the table?"
Dom and Brian pulled apart and Brian took his legs from around Dom's hips, Dom laughing softly as he stared into Brian's hungry blue eyes. "It's not like we're having sex." He smirked slightly, watching Brian blush at that despite the little grin on his face. "Though the idea did occur to me."
"If you two can't keep it in your pants, go borrow Letty's room!" Mia called quickly. "Nobody gets laid in my kitchen but me!"
"Jesus, Mia!" Letty exclaimed, making a face. "Tell me you didn't do it on the table!"
"I've cleaned since then," Mia said with a little laugh, walking into the kitchen. She was blushing but she ignored it as she added, "You have no room to talk, though. I walked in on you and Dom all the time in the kitchen."
Letty laughed. "He's hot when he's cooking, all confident and sexy and shit."
"He really is," Brian agreed, smiling at Dom still despite his blush.
"The water is boiling," Mia said a little pointedly, amused. "Dinner first, then you can get laid. Just not in my kitchen."
Dom kissed Brian, soft and sweet, then pulled away finally to move back to the stove. "Sounds like the perfect dessert to me."
Brian laughed softly, sliding down off the island and sitting back down on his chair as he gave Mia a sheepish little smile. "Sorry."
"It's not your fault, he knows you can't tell him no," Mia said with a soft little laugh.
"I can tell him no," Brian said, surprised. He grinned suddenly. "I just don't ever want to."
Dom laughed, pouring the pasta into the water and stirring it around a little, then he set the oven timer and turned to lean back against the counter by the stove, smirking. "Right back at you, baby."
The back door opened suddenly, making them all look towards it as Rome stepped inside, looking at Letty as he asked teasingly, "There room for one more in here?"
"Holy shit!" Letty exclaimed, grinning wide and happy as she ran towards him. Rome dropped his bag by his feet just before she tackled him, leaping up to wrap her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck as she kissed him. Rome put one hand under Letty's ass to support her, holding her close with the other arm around her as he returned the kiss with a pleased purr.
Brian looked over at Dom, grinning. "Looks like he found a flight."
Dom laughed. "Looks that way."
Letty pulled away from Rome to turn her head towards Dom. "You knew he was coming and didn't tell me?!"
"He wanted to surprise you," Dom said, amused. "Tej says he's been driving them nuts." When Tej texted them that afternoon just after they left Rose's place to say Rome was at the airport, it had made their whole day better. Rome had been driving the others crazy talking about Letty all week, and Tej finally shoved him into a taxi and told him to go back to Cali. Rome was nearly useless while he spent all his time texting her anyway, according to Tej, so they weren't losing much by sending him off.
"I was missing my girl," Rome agreed softly.
Letty looked back at Rome. "What about Rachel and Kali?"
"Don't care," Rome said easily. "Leon and Jimmy can have them. My girl was in California." She stared into Rome's eyes for a moment and then kissed him again, drawing a soft low noise from Rome after a few moments.
Dom looked over at Brian, smirking, and Brian grinned at him, wide and happy. He had been surprised when Tej told them Rome wasn't catting around like he usually did, but he was glad. He thought Rome and Letty were good for each other, and he was glad Rome seemed to really like her. Letty had told Rome she didn't mind him getting with other girls, and even with her thousands of miles away, Rome had been on his phone talking to her instead of hooking up. That said a lot to Brian about how Rome was feeling, and all of it good.
Dom turned back to the stove, still smirking as he stirred the pasta sauce, and then he moved to get down a colander and put it in the sink as he said, "Are you two eating?"
Letty pulled away from Rome after a moment, breathless and staring into Rome's eyes as she murmured, "I don't care if mine is cold."
Rome licked his lips and then nodded and started carrying Letty towards the hall. "Yeah, later. Just save me plenty, that smells awesome and I'm starving. I ain't had a bite since breakfast."
Dom laughed. "Alright. Have fun."
"Oh we will," Rome said quickly, smirking at Letty. "Lots of fun."
Letty giggled and kissed him again, which is why they ran into the wall at the end of the hall a few moments later. They pulled apart slightly, both laughing, and then they were in Letty's bedroom and Rome was kicking the door shut behind them.
"I didn't expect that," Mia said with a soft little laugh.
"He's been missing her bad," Brian said, smiling at Mia. "You know how they've been texting all week?" Mia nodded, and Brian smiled wider. "Rome hates texting, says the little keyboard makes him feel like he's got sausages for fingers." Mia laughed. "He usually won't hardly even answer a text, but I bet he sent Letty a couple hundred this week."
"At least," Dom added, chuckling as he leaned against the counter. "Not to mention all the time they spent talking."
Brian smiled wide and happy at Dom. "Leon said they've been on the phone and texting so much, Rome had to upgrade his plan."
Dom laughed. "I don't doubt it."
"And it doesn't bother either of you?" Mia asked, bemused.
Brian looked at Mia, surprised. "Why would it bother us? We want them to be happy, Mia."
"Definitely," Dom agreed, amused. "And happy together is even better."
Brian looked at Dom, nodding. "I think they'll understand each other."
"I agree." Dom smiled, pleased and wide. "And if they're together, it'll be easier to keep them both out of trouble."
Brian laughed. "So much easier."
Mia laughed, drawing their attention to her as she shook her head. "I could never be happy to see Vince with someone else."
"What about Brian?" Dom asked, amused. Mia looked at him, surprised, and Dom asked, "Does it bother you seeing him happy with me?"
"No, not any more," Mia said quickly, still surprised. "I'm glad you two are together." She laughed slightly. "Though if you told me I would be a few weeks ago, I would have called you a liar. Letty's right, though. After watching you together a while, I can't help but be glad you found what you needed, Dom."
Dom smiled at Mia. "You loved him, though, and he was your boyfriend for a while."
Mia shook her head, smiling. "No, Brian was never mine, not in any way that mattered. I just borrowed him." She looked at Brian, adding, "He always loved you more, Dom, even if he tried denying it."
Brian smiled. "I loved him different, Mia. I never lied when I told you I love you, I just wasn't in love with you."
The timer went off and Dom turned to go drain the pasta, listening to Brian and Mia. He was sure that they had needed to have this conversation for a long time, and he was glad that things had worked out to give them a little privacy for it. It wasn't something Brian would ever feel safe discussing if Vince was even in the house, much less listening. Vince still scared Brian, even though Vince had finally calmed down and seemed to accept him. Brian was good at hiding it, but Dom had noticed the way he never got near Mia when Vince was in the house, didn't really even look at her unless she was talking to him.
Mia stared at Brian a long moment. "You still love me?"
"Of course I do," Brian replied, surprised. "You're one of the best friends I ever had, Mia."
"Even after everything I said, everything I did?" Mia asked softly. "I hated you for a long time."
"Mia, I told you, none of that changed how I felt." Brian smiled little wryly. "Dad used to complain sometimes that it's just not in me to stop loving someone, even when everyone else thought I should."
"Who did he think you should stop loving?" Mia asked, remembering when she heard Dom say pretty much the same words. They had been talking about Letty and her cheating, and Mia hadn't been able to understand how Dom could tolerate it.
"Dom," Brian replied quietly. "Dad, he was sure Dom forgot all about me the moment he left in the Supra, and he just couldn't understand why that didn't affect how I felt about him. Even after Chino it was still Dom I thought about constantly. That's part of why I was so quick to go to Miami for Tej. I was completely alone in California except for Dad, who didn't understand, and everywhere I looked out here, all I saw was Dom. I had... awful nightmares then, and I was so fixated on him that Dad heard me calling out Dom's name a lot, and he could tell I was hurting. Dad wanted me to forget how I felt, but that's just not something that was ever gonna be possible. Dom really does own me. It's not just something I say to make him smile. Everything I have, everything I am, is his, and will be until the day I die."
"Right back at you, baby," Dom said quietly, looking over as he stirred the pasta and sauce together in the big pot. Brian looked at him, smiling softly, and Dom smiled back as he added, "I've been thinking about it since Joey wanted to know what you are to me. You're my heart."
Brian smiled wider. "I like that."
"Just the truth, baby," Dom said easily. "You're what makes me feel like I'm alive again after just going through the motions for a long time." His smile widened. "I'm not happy just a quarter mile at a time anymore. As long as I've got you with me, it's like the race never ends."
Brian's blue eyes shone, sparkling and warm as he murmured, "I know that feeling."
"I know you do," Dom agreed, smiling soft and warm. "And I was serious about the tattoos. You need to think about what we're getting."
Brian laughed softly. "The only thing that has come to mind so far this Irish rock song I like called 'A Rose Tattoo'. Always makes me think of you. It's about the tattoos and scars a guy has and all the memories they have in them, and how the most important one is the name written in a rose tattoo." He paused and then added, "The ending goes, 'In a rose tattoo, in a rose tattoo, with pride I'll wear it to the grave for you. In a rose tattoo, in a rose tattoo, I've got your name written here, in a rose tattoo. In a rose tattoo, in a rose tattoo, signed and sealed in blood, I would die for you.' "
"I like that," Dom said, looking at Brian in surprise. "You gotta play that for me sometime."
"Sure, it's in the car," Brian agreed, smiling. "You had never heard of the band, so I didn't put it in the playlist with all the stuff we both like. They're called the Dropkick Murphys. I probably never would have heard of them if not for Suki, she loves them."
"You should have added them, baby," Dom said, smiling. "You've got good taste."
Brian laughed. "That's not what you were saying when that folder of happy hardcore started playing."
Mia blinked and then giggled. "Brian, really? You listen to rave music?"
"It's fun," Brian said quickly, laughing.
Mia looked at Brian a moment and then giggled again. "The scary part is I can just see you bouncing all around with that big goofy grin of yours, pogoing to that stuff."
"I plead the fifth," Brian said quickly, blushing slightly as he grinned. "Anything Tej and I might have done when we were kids is completely off the record."
Dom laughed, walking around the island to put a bowl of rigatoni in front of each of them and then putting his hand on Brian's shoulder. He kissed Brian soundly and then moved to go get his own bowl as he said with a wide smile, "Don't ever change, baby."
"I doubt I could," Brian admitted, laughing softly.
Dom put his bowl on the table at the chair next to Brian's, still smiling wide and happy. "Good. I love you just the way you are."
"You should play that Bruno Mars song for him too, Bri," Mia said, amused. "He'd love it."
"What song?" Brian asked, curious. "The only thing I have by Bruno Mars is a song called 'Grenade' that Rome sent me." Mia looked at him, surprised, and Brian explained, "It was when we had just started talking again after six years of him refusing to even look at me. He was feeling guilty, said it should be my theme song. It was kind of an apology."
"That's not healthy, Brian," Mia said, bemused.
Brian laughed. "I never claimed my mental health has always been good."
Dom snorted softly, amused. "What was the other song your were talking about, Mia?"
"It's called 'Just The Way You Are'," Mia replied. She stood, crossing to the counter by the back door where her phone was laying with her keys, then brought it back to the table. She tapped the screen a few times, then pushed the phone towards Dom as the song began to play. "Vince sent it to me, I love it."
Dom listened to the guy singing, his smile slowly widening as he looked at Brian. He loved the chorus in particular. 'When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change, 'cause you're amazing, just the way you are. And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while, 'cause, girl, you're amazing, just the way you are.'
Brian was blushing before the song was over, looking into Dom's eyes and finally letting out a soft little laugh as he murmured, "She just had to play that for you."
Dom was smiling wide and happy. "Sounds like you to me." He looked at Mia's phone, tapping the play button to hear it a second time. "Mia, you're sending that to me."
Mia giggled. "Okay." She patted Brian's hand. "Own it, Bri. He loves you."
"I know he does," Brian agreed as he smiled at Dom, his blue eyes sparkling and warm.
Dom leaned to kiss Brian lovingly, then smiled at him and murmured, "Every single word, baby."
"I love you too," Brian replied, still blushing but looking happy.
"Lucky me." Dom smiled and kissed Brian again, then looked down to start eating.
Brian started to eat too, making a soft little happy noise as he finally tasted the rigatoni. He chewed and swallowed, savoring every moment, then stared at Dom and said, "This is even better than last time. How do you do that?"
Dom smirked slightly, dark eyes sparkling as he said, "It's the love, baby."
Brian laughed softly. "Well, the love is even more delicious than I remember, which is going some. It was already one of the best things I've ever eaten."
Dom's eyebrows rose and he laughed slightly. "You really like it that much?"
"That dinner in the kitchen with you and Leon and Jesse kept me going through some bad times," Brian replied, smiling a bit wryly. "Most delicious thing I ever had." His smile turned a little sad as he added, "Jesse agreed with me, he loved it, too."
"He always did when Dom made sausage and mushroom rigatoni," Mia agreed, softly. "It was his favorite."
Brian smiled sadly. "He and I always did have a lot in common. I think that's why we were so close."
"He had such a crush on you," Mia said quietly, looking at Brian. "It was one of the things I loved about you, that you were so sweet to him about it."
Brian's smile turned crooked. "I liked Jesse. I didn't mind him staying close if it made him happy."
Mia was smiling sadly, her eyes too bright as she tried to joke, "The way he used to watch you sleep really was kind of creepy though."
Brian laughed softly. "I didn't mind if it helped him relax a little while. Sometimes I'd wake up with him curled up close by asleep, and it always made me feel good that being with me gave him a little peace."
"He was happier after you joined us than I think I ever saw him," Dom said quietly, smiling sadly at Brian. "He loved you, and you were so good to him. Every kind word you ever had for him made him soar."
"I hope so," Brian said softly, smiling even though his eyes were sad and a little too bright.
Mia wiped her eyes and then said firmly, "Subject change, before we're all crying. How did it go today with Hector and Rose?"
Dom smiled wryly. "Well, let's see. Hector didn't go to Race Wars because he made a shady deal, and the guys he was dealing with decided they liked his cars and took them."
"Don't forget the part about them shooting him," Brian added with a little ghost of a laugh.
"Yeah, that too," Dom agreed, smiling wryly at Brian and then looking at Mia, who was wide-eyed. "They put his best mechanic in the hospital too. Hector didn't say if he got beat up or shot. Oh, and Hector was losing not just the restaurant, but also the garage and the house because he borrowed too much while he was trying to play like he's rich and stay out on the circuit even though he did nothing but lose."
"You're kidding," Mia said, wide-eyed. "He's lost Rose's house too?!"
"Would have," Brian agreed, smiling just a little wryly. "It's fine now, though."
"Brian, tell me you didn't give Hector money," Mia said quickly, exasperated.
"I wouldn't give Hector a bucket of piss if he was on fire," Brian said dryly, making Dom and Mia both laugh. "I gave Rose the money to save her house." He smiled crookedly at Mia, adding, "And I was planning to give you the money she owes you, too."
"Brian!" Mia exclaimed, then she laughed. "You don't have to take care of everyone! I know you barely even know who Rose is."
"I know all I need to know," Brian said with a soft smile. "Dom says she's family, so I'm gonna help her. I was hoping I could even convince you to go easy on her for the payment for a while, or let me cover what she can't do. She's not making quite enough at the restaurant to pay her bills, the house loan, and you."
"It's Hector's job to take care of her and their kids, Brian," Mia pointed out, surprised and a little exasperated. "Not ours!"
"Last I saw Hector, he was in the back of Bilkins' truck," Dom said quietly. Mia looked at him quickly, eyes widening. "Bilkins said he'd make him a deal, keep him out of prison if Hector helps him get the guys who Hector's been dealing with, but knowing Hector like I do I kinda think he's gonna screw it up. If he does, he's going back to Lompoc."
"I meant to ask you about that," Brian said, looking curiously at Dom. "You knew Hector in Lompoc?"
"Yeah, he went in about six months after I did," Dom agreed. "I was still having a rough time, fighting pretty much constantly, and you know what losing was like. When Hector went in he got in with one of the Mexican gangs immediately, and he happened to see these three big guys go after me a while after that. They beat me down, and Hector, he grabbed a few of his buddies and kicked some ass to get them off of me. I owed him after that, and he always made sure I remembered it."
"Was that the only time he helped?" Brian asked softly.
Dom shook his head. "No, he got his buddies to accept me. Told them we went to school together, which was true, and that we were close, which wasn't. They started watching out for me, and he and I got to be brothers. Without Hector taking an interest in me, I probably would have died in there."
"I knew you two were close in there, but you never told me the whole story," Mia said softly. "I never could understand why you did so much for him after, let him get away with so much."
Dom gave Mia a wry little smile. "Not the kind of thing a guy really wants to tell someone, especially his baby sister."
"But you'd tell Brian," Mia said quietly.
"Brian has been there," Dom said gently, "and he knows what it's like, though I wish to God he didn't. I don't want you to know what it's like, sweetheart. I'd rather you knew nothing about it, but I know Letty already let that out of the bag."
"I knew even before she told us," Mia admitted. "You... used to talk in your sleep, when the nightmares were bad. I could hear you in my room sometimes."
"Wait... Us?" Dom repeated, frowning slightly.
Mia's eyes widened, but she nodded. "V knows." She swallowed hard, then added, "He... he was really upset about it. I think that's why he's been so good to Brian. He finally knows why you were so messed up after Lompoc."
Dom sighed. "I wish she had figured out a better way to get through to him. That was rough on him."
Mia looked at Dom a long moment and then asked softly, "Why? He wouldn't tell me."
Dom shook his head. "No, uh-uh, not happening. I am not telling any of V's secrets. If he wants you to know, he'll tell you, and if he doesn't, you leave him be, you hear me?"
Mia frowned. "I'm marrying him in two days, Dom."
"You still don't need to know everything about him," Dom said firmly. "I won't tell him the stuff you told Letty about Brian in bed if you don't break V just because you can. I dunno about you, but I'm pretty sure V doesn't want to hear about Brian being so much better at making you happy."
"I never said that!" Mia said, her eyes going wide, but she blushed very red too. "And besides, Vince is a lot better at that now!"
Dom smirked at her. "Uh-huh. You didn't claw Bri up, either."
"You told him that?" Mia exclaimed, looking at Brian.
Brian was blushing as he let out a little snort of a laugh. "He saw the scars." He paused and then added, "And you can thank Rome for me knowing how to make you enjoy it. That was all him. He liked to talk about girls back in juvie."
Mia stared at Brian a moment and then giggled. "Okay, as soon as you thank Vince for your scars. 'Cause he loves that, so I thought you would too."
Brian made a face. "I like living. I am never, ever mentioning that within a mile of him, and you better not either, Mia, or so help me God I will start telling some secrets too, like how surprised you were when I foun--"
Mia covered Brian's mouth with her hand, giggling. "Okay, no. Just, shut up. I'll be good."
Brian pulled her hand down, grinning. "You better."
Mia crossed her heart, giggling slightly. "Promise."
Dom smiled, watching them as he said, "I'm glad you two fixed things. You've always been good together."
Mia looked at Brian, smiling. "Me too. I missed him." Brian looked at her, surprised, and she added, "You were my best friend besides Letty."
"You were my best friend then too," Brian admitted, smiling.
"I'm glad Dom went after you," Mia said. "I was so mad at him then, but he was right. Life just wasn't the same without you, Brian."
"Now that you decided that, you can unblock me," Dom said dryly, amused.
Mia blinked and then laughed. "I'm not even sure if I can. I may have to change numbers again."
"Give me the phone," Dom said, chuckling. Mia passed her phone over and Dom went through to her settings and the blocked list and unblocked his number, then snorted and looked at her. "You blocked Rose, too?"
"When?" Mia said, surprised.
Dom smiled wryly. "She's on your block list, Mia. That's all I know."
"Take her off of there, please," Mia said quickly, surprised and upset. "No wonder she stopped talking to me."
"She had to," Dom said dryly.
"I don't remember doing that, though," Mia said quickly, sheepish. "I must have hit the wrong button or something."
Dom fixed it and then closed out the settings and passed Mia's phone back over. "Well, now it's fixed."
"Speaking of Rose, will you let me help her?" Brian asked, smiling at Mia. "I've got the cash to pay off the back rent in the car."
"I don't want your money, Brian," Mia replied. "I'll help Rose for now. I always liked her, it's Hector that always rubbed me wrong." She looked at Dom, adding, "But knowing what I do now, I'll work with him for a little longer."
"Rose said she's making him get a real job or she's kicking him out," Brian said helpfully. "He should have a paycheck coming in soon."
"After he helps Bilkins," Dom agreed, nodding. "As long as he doesn't screw it up."
"If he does, I'll just have to get with Rose and figure out what to do next," Mia said, smiling wryly. "I don't want her and the kids on the street either."
"Thank you," Brian said softly, smiling at Mia. "She's been really upset about what Hector did. She told me she was so ashamed of him that she could hardly stand to meet your eyes last time she saw you."
"I could tell she was upset," Mia agreed. "I just didn't realize it was that, I thought she was upset because Hector and I fought over his car."
"No, Rose hated the car," Dom said with a crooked smile. "She was always after Hector to sell it and grow up."
"Hopefully having to deal with Bilkins will make him straighten out," Brian murmured. "Rose isn't putting up with much more. She said she can't keep living like that, scared all the time he'll ruin them even worse than the last time."
"He is horrible with money," Mia agreed.
"Rose isn't letting him handle the money anymore." Brian smiled slightly. "She told me she's not even going to let him keep his check, once he's got a job. She told him either she handles the money or he can pack up and leave."
"Good for her!" Mia said with a pleased smile. "It's about time she grew a spine with him."
"She has, I think," Brian said, smiling back. "I think she can do alright, once she makes him get that job."
"I'll talk with her and we'll work it out," Mia promised, still smiling.
"Thank you," Brian murmured, relieved. "She was so scared today, and upset about what Hector did to you. It'll be a big weight off of her if you start talking to her again. She misses you, she told me you used to be close."
"I'll call her tomorrow," Mia said, nodding. "She was one of my best friends in school. She, Letty, and I were always close. It'll be good to talk to her again. I've missed her, too.
Brian smiled, pleased. "Now you don't have to anymore."
"Not anymore," Mia agreed, smiling at Brian.
It had taken Mia and Letty weeks to prepare everything for the wedding the way that Mia wanted it, but only took a little over three hours for it all to be over.
Mia was proud that she had gotten Vince, Dom, Brian, Leon, and even Rome all into matching dark grey suits, real suits with vests and dark red ties and those little cuff links, each with a red rosebud in the lapel that perfectly matched the ties and the roses in her bouquet. Her dress was white, of course, strapless with a sweetheart neckline, a high waist, and a ruffled multi-layered chiffon skirt that fell in soft waves to just above the ankle, and Mia loved how it fit and the way it flowed around her as she moved, the hemline just high enough to show off the strappy stiletto heels she had chosen just because Vince liked her in heels. Mia had four bridesmaids, friends from work who were all in matching simple white dresses and much lower heels, but Letty, who was the maid of honor, had refused to even consider a white dress. Letty's dress was a dark red that matched the roses and the ties the men wore, and looked very similar to Mia's dress other than the color and the fact Letty's hem fell just below her knees, showing off slim legs and the black stiletto-heeled ankle boots Letty had bought just for the wedding.
Many of the people Mia and Vince knew in San Diego had shown up for the wedding, nearly a hundred in total, and Mia had been floored by the way the small gift table that had been set up by the church had been buried in gifts. The wedding itself went quickly and easily with everyone finding the right places and playing their parts, and the reception afterwards had been carefully planned to make sure there would be enough wedding cake and champagne punch to go around for everyone. Most people who came to the reception didn't stay long, but a few stayed for the whole time Mia had reserved the hall for, lingering the two hours to enjoy the punch and the dancing.
Leon had filled a thumb drive with music for her, gathering up the songs she asked for and then adding more he thought would fit in well, and it turned out to be the perfect mix. Vince surprised Mia by being an excellent dancer, admitting only afterwards that he had been learning from one of the bartenders at the club where he worked as a bouncer. Leon had taken the red-eye flight to get there for the wedding, arriving only two hours before it began, but he didn't waste any time at the reception and soon had picked up one of the bridesmaids and was dancing with her, twirling her around the floor and making her laugh. Rome and Letty had made a striking pair on the dance floor, too, having fun together even though neither of them actually knew any of the more traditional dances. The biggest surprise on the dance floor, though, at least to Mia, had been that Dom and Brian had actually danced together to half a dozen songs, graceful and easy as if they had done it a hundred times before.
By the time the reception was over and they were all walking out to the cars, Mia was exhausted but gloriously happy, beaming and clinging to Vince's arm while he just walked along with her looking smug and happy. The family was going out to dinner together and then would part ways, Mia and Vince returning to their home and the others going to the hotel to stay the night before they began the trip home to Miami in the morning. Leon's flight left at seven and then the others would be heading east, Dom and Brian in their Mustang while Rome and Letty followed in the Supra.
"So how does it feel to be Mrs. Rossetti?" Letty asked just before they reached the cars, smirking at Mia as she walked along holding hands with Rome.
Mia was beaming as she looked up at Vince. "I've waited ten years for someone to call me that."
"You're stuck with it now, darlin'," Vince murmured, smirking as he kissed her lightly.
Dom was smiling as he watched from the back of the group, his fingers tangled with Brian's.
It had been a long week and a longer month, but Dom thought it was all worth it. Mia and Vince were finally married like they should have been years ago, both happy and settled and ready to begin a life together. Letty had finally found a guy Dom thought she actually might stay with for a while, one who seemed to care about her and who got a kick out of how wild she was. Leon was enjoying life and coasting happily along with the team, spending his days twisting a wrench next to one of the best in the business and learning everything Jimmy and Brian would teach him.
Dom looked at Brian then, and Brian almost immediately looked at him, smiling wide and happy with his blue eyes sparkling and bright. Brian, he had made Dom's whole world a better place just by existing. Dom couldn't imagine life without Brian at his side anymore, and he knew Brian felt the same way. They were going to ride together until the wheels fell off.
Dom leaned to kiss Brian softly, then smiled at him wide and happy as he murmured, "When we get home, we gotta find a tattoo parlor."
Brian's smile widened a fraction and he murmured, "Tej is already looking. I told him to find us the best."
"Good deal." Dom leaned closer to Brian, smiling as he sang very softly, "In a rose tattoo, in a rose tattoo, with pride I'll wear it to the grave for you."
"God, I love you," Brian murmured, still smiling wide and happy as he pulled Dom to a stop and kissed him.