Brian sat slumped against his rough sack with his back to the wall, half his body leaning against his rough sack and the other half leaning on his Unit mate and battle buddy. His name was Alex but he went by Cowboy because even after being away from his home for 10 years he still had his deep, soothing, southern draw to his words. Currently the only ones in there unit that were awake were Cowboy, Shift- Tyler who was their squad leader- and Echo their squad dog along Brian himself.
He had been drifting off occasionally, running on a two hour nap from a few days prior. Echo sat next to him with his head resting on Brian's duffle bag with his paw resting on Brian's leg as he watched the civilians and other soldiers around them.
Around him where Mace- Mason Taylor their medic- who was sleeping curled up on his side, using Shift's leg as a pillow and Pyro who laid on his back with his legs thrown over Brian's own and his hat covering his face, his name was Micheal but they called him Pyro because he had an odd obsession with fire, he was also there explosives expert, and then there was Grave Jordan-who held the record for killing the most people out of their unit- and Brass- her actual name was Kimberly and she was the gun nut of their group-was wedged between Mace and Grave, she had her back to Mace and was using Graves hip as a pillow while the other had his head resting on his own duffle bag.
"Get some sleep Blade, we still got a couple of hours before we head out"
"Nah Shift i'm fine" He of course had to give a jaw cracking yawn at that moment "Totally good"
He felt Cowboy chuckle more then he actually heard him, the broad shoulder he had been using as a backrest shifted just the slightest bit as the quiet laughter rumbled in his chest.
"Get some sleep Brian, we got your back, Besides we don't leave for another couple of hours or so" Cowboy said as he nudged Brian with his shoulder and gave him an expecting look, waiting for Brian to Comply,forever the silent protector of there group
Brian fell asleep rather quickly but it wasn't what most people would call restful, he had been stuck in that blurry space where he was awake but not really aware, the loud airport, busy with civilians trying to get somewhere or another and uneasy soldiers, over the years they had all gotten used to battlefields and bases, not crowded buildings where a man dropped a bin at the security check, putting half of the present soldiers on edge, reaching for weapons that aren't there and sending the other half into panics as they got caught up in panic attacks, they were used to battlefield chaos, not the civilian lifestyle. It was still all loud sounds and alert people, just not the right loud, not the right kind of alert.
It made him shudder to think about how screwed up it truly was
Echo was the one to wake him up with a yelp as the dog crawled into his lap and started licking at his face while everyone else watched in amusement as the gathered their gear.Brian chuckled as he pushed the dog off of his lap and rubbed and patted at the dogs head and back with a wide grin that few people have ever seen "down Echo, good boy, that's a good boy"
Looking up at the rest of his unit, they were all on there feet and were collecting there gear. How they managed to get up without him noticing was beyond him, since Echo was a part of their unit he would be riding on the pain with them, the plan would be filled with mostly other soldiers heading home. For some this was their last tour while others still had one or two but none of them would mind the k-9, everyone had at least a little experience with the trained dogs. Besides, Echo was Brian's dog. He may have been an Army trained and raised dog but the moment the two had started training with each other everyone knew that Echo was Brian's dog.
Getting up Brian held onto Echo's leash and shrugged on his rough sack and shouldered his duffle while holding his uniform hat as well as Cowboy's duffle bag while Cowboy and Pyro worked together to carry a large rough sack that was far to large to carry on one of their backs, it was supposed to go with the the two to their home Base in San Antonio. They were currently in Fort Bragg so they would be getting on a separate plane while the plane Kimberly would be getting on was going to her home base, Fort Campbell in Kentucky, while Brian himself, Mace, Grave, and Shift all went to Barstow California to their home base that went by the name Fort Irwin, and from there Brian would be getting a ride with Tyler to LA with his fiancee who would be picking them up at in Barstow. He had tried to decline but Amy had insisted on taking him home and Tyler backed her a hundred percent, Brian had tried to tell them that he didn't actually have a home but he did have some friends that he might have been able to stay with and they had hopped on that idea but he told them he didn't have there number but they insisted on taking him there so he couldn't really argue.
Saying there goodbyes and hugging they all went their separate ways, Cowboy gave Brian his number and told him to call so that they could keep in touch and meet up when they got shipped out there next tour which was a good 5 or 6 months away.
Leaving the spot they had set up camp along with getting in line to board the plane and setting away there stuff in the over head compartments had been a blur to him, he could feel the anxiety running through his vanes and his skin crawl, he was nervous, He hadn't seen the team in 6 -nearly 7 years- and hadn't seen Rome in 4, nearly 5. What if they didn't want him around, he had betrayed them all and was the reason they had to flee to Mexico, just because he had gotten them pardoned in Miami along with Rome didn't mean they would forgive him. Echo whined from his seat on the floor while looking at Brian, he could feel the emotions coming off of Brian in waves.
Echo was on there inside, taking up the ample foot space of the window seat while Brian sat in the middle with Shift' bulking size next to him in the isle seat, most people would feel panicked and caged in but Brian didn't mind, he trusted Tyler, the guy had saved his life more then a hand full of times after all. Tyler looked a lot like Brian with Blond hair and blue eyes and people often mistook the older man as Brian's older brother but neither of them minded. Despite Brian's above average height Tyler was a good head taller then him and had a similar build to Dom's and had this commanding presents to him, he always did his best to keep them all safe and to bring them home and in return his unit followed him without a doubt and always had his back just like he had theirs.
No one talked about the times Brian had slipped and called the older soldier Dom and Tyler took it in stride. It had helped Brian more then once after a bad night of nightmares while in the field and on base when Tyler would hear Brian screaming in his sleep from the room next door.
After a while Brian fell back into a restless sleep for most of the 3 hour flight, the remaining 50 minutes was spent with him and Shift chatting back and forth quietly as Echo playfully chewed on his fingers and batted at Brian's hands with his paws, licking Brian's hand when the blond handed him bits of turkey from his sandwich and licked up the bread crumbs when Brian was done, much to the amusement of Brian, Tyler and the nice couple in the isle next to them. All to soon they were gathering there stuff and leaving the plan, Brian's infamous cal, ice cool demeanor, fled him and he couldn't help but stick close to Shift as civilians cheered and rushed around, getting reunited with their loved ones. In all the chaos Brian was tempted to slip away and grab a taxi and call Tyler later to let him know that he was okay but he didn't because he's met and talked to Amy over Skype calls on more then one occasion and he knew for a fact the she would find a way to guilt him into going to diner and tell her where he's staying and who he hangs out with and he could never lie to her because Amy reminded him so much of Mia and he didn't want to lie anymore, it only ever made him feel worse about it
When they found her, looking around excitedly for her fiance, he watched as they hugged and kissed and laughed before letting her pull him into a fierce hug and look him over, place both hands on his cheeks and even let her mess with his hair a little, reminding him that he would have to cut it again soon.
It took some time for them to get to Amy's car but as soon as they were it was easy to get out of the airport parking lot Amy and Tyler were happy that they hadn't been met with much traffic and all to soon she was asking for an address as she drove to take him to as Barstow slowly disappeared behind them and numbly he was mumbling 1327 Echo Park.
He hesitated every once in a while when Amy asked him 'do i go left of right' because there was a time when he knew these streets like the back of his hand but his memory had long since blurred things that could be relearned in favor of memorizing things that would keep him alive while out in the field. In the end he had only given one bad direction so Amy didn't seem to notice his mistake but he did notice Tyler look at him through the review mirror occasionally with something aching to concern
Echo had seemed to sense his turmoil and rested his head and paw on Brian's fatigue clad leg, it had made him smile and rub the special spot just under the dogs chin making the dog purr as if he was a cat. No matter what he went through, he would make sure Echo was taken care of.
Brian did his best to steady himself when they pulled up to the curb and Brian couldn't help but notices the cars in the driveway and along the curb in front of the house, Vince's Maxima, Leon's yellow Skyline, Dom's Charger, he felt a pang rush through his chest when he saw Jesse's Jetta, he didn't know if Jesse was alive or not. With all the scrambling around when he had to leave LA he didn't have time to see if Jesse and Vince had made it, the favor he had called into Tanner had helped, He knew Vince was alive just before he went into Mexico but he didn't know about Jesse other then that it was bad, Shift was the first one out the car, followed by Brian and Echo and then Amy. Brian handed Echo's leash to Tyler, least someone in the house be allergic to dogs and straightened out his hat before going up the walk and squaring his shoulders, he could hear the tv inside and the living room and voices and he was starting to wonder if this was such a good idea after all
His breath hitched when he raised his hand to knock on the door, he could hear someone shout inside before there was the sound of feet pounding down the steps before the door opened revealing a skinny, brown haired, beanie wearing 24 year old Jesse. Brian felt a weight lift from his chest at the same time as a much more pressing weight pushed on him, he and Jesse stared at each other for a few beats before Jesse's voice rang out, loud and joyful as a body slammed into him, nearly knocking him over "BRIAN"
Brian released the breath he didn't even realize he was holding as he wrapped his arms around the shorter man's shoulders, Jesse wasn't an 18 year old kid anymore, as he laughed somewhat breathlessly, a wide, relieved smile on his face"Hey Jesse"
"Where...how, we looked for you everywhere man, what the hell Brian" Jesse rambled.
Brian chuckled quietly as he rested callused hands on both sides of Jesses neck and laughed as he looked him in the eyes "Jesse the last time i saw you....god you were 18, you look good man"
They hugged again and it was then that Brian noticed their audience,the whole crew stood in the doorway of, watching them with wide eyes. He was surprised that Rome was there and smiling like a loon along with Vince and a very tearful Mia.
Pulling away from Jesse Brian did his best to stay calm as he looked at everyone feeling incredibly nervous as he looked at each of them, Letty was smirking and Leon looked incredibly amused. Brian wasn't surprised when Rome pulled him into a hug, patting on is back as he grinned "where the hell have ya been brah, we've been lookin' for your white ass"
"Yeah i figured
"Brian....who are they"Mia asked as she inclined her head in the direction of Tyler, Amy and Echo
"Oh that's Tyler, his fiancee Amy and...my dog Echo, you guys can meet then...if no ones allergic to dogs that is" He asked nervously, he hoped they accepted him and Echo. If it wasn't for the k-9 Brian probably would be around anymore
"no one's allergic here, invite them in, it's dinner time and Mia made more then enough food" Dom's voice was just as deep and soothing as Brian remembered it to be but he couldn't help but notice the odd note mixed into it
None the less he turned till he was facing the steps and whistled, Tyler simultaneously dropped Echo's leash as the German shepherd took off, bounding up the walkway and steps till he was kneeling next to his handler, sniffing at the new humans from where he sat at Brian's feet, Tyler and Amy quickly joined them in the porch.
"Tyler, Amy, these are my friends, Jesse, Leon, Vince, Letty, and Dominic and his sister Mia Torreto" He said as he nervously pointed out each person before introducing his other friends "Guy this is my unit mate Tyler his fiancee Amy, and this guy here is Echo...my dog" He patted Echo's head
"Its nice to meet you, would you like to stay for Dinner" Mia smiled, warm and kind, god how he missed that smile
"We would love to but me and Amy still have to go see my parents, they don't know I'm back yet" Shift replied politely
"Well feel free to stop by anytime, we would love to hear about what Brian's been up to" She said as she looked at Brian "Where are your things we have to get you settled in"
"Oh i can get them, I'm sure you and Blaze have a lot to catch up on" Tyler walked back to the car while Amy pulled Brian into a hug and kept telling him to call them often and to eat right and a dozen other things as Tyler came back and handed Brian's duffle to Vince's offered hand and his rough sack to a waiting Dominic before he pulled Brian into a hug if his own and told him to take care of himself and to call if he needed anything before he pulled away and held Amy's hand as they walked away, Amy waved out the window as they pulled away, leaving Brian in the porch with the team.
The next thing he knew he was being pulled into the house by an enthusiastic Jesse, Echo following obediently at Brian's heels while the team watched in amusement, Brian, so lost in the confusion didn't notice Dom slip upstairs with his belongings. He was suddenly pulled out of his musings by a startling yell of laughter and couldn't help but smile himself when he saw Jesse on the floor with Echo pawing and batting at the young man playfully, licking and nipping at the young man like he would with their unit mates.
The place was exactly as Brian remembered, the coffee table was covered with car magazines and the old couch was still there making the place smell like metal and car oil and something distinctly home.
It made his head fuzzy just thinking about it.
"So this is where you disappeared to, the Army, you don't do anythin' half way do ya Brian" Leon said with a teasing grin
"I never have before, i figured why start now" Brian grinned back, he had missed them missed this. No matter how many times he had tried to deny it while he was away.
Always telling himself that he'd been taking care of himself before the team and that he could take care of himself and that he was going to be fine.
If only his definition of fine wasn't so messed up.
"Alright everyone come on, dinners ready"
The others only smirked as Mia looped Brian's arm in hers and lead him into the kitchen and pushed him into the same chair he had sat in when they all had dinner together, before Brian screwed up
Thing went back to the way they had been before. The only difference was that when the day was done Brian didn't leave again...
When Brian met Mia's new boyfriend everything went well and Brian liked the guy and he even told Mia so.
She had smiled so wide and hugged him so tight that it surprised Brian.
It surprised him even more when he found out that she truly cared about his opinion, she had told him that she cared about his opinion just as much as she cared about Dom's and that had struck deep, filling Brian with a strange warmth that he rarely felt anymore, because he knew what it felt like having Dom's approval, at a time he used to tell himself that he didn't want it or need it. He had known he had been lying to himself and the moment Dom had looked at Brian with his intense gaze on the side of the highway with a half dead Vince Brian knew he would never again get the approval again.
Or at least that's what he thought for the longest time
No one was surprised that Alex Sith was wary of Brian when he finally met the blonde, after hearing so much about the daring, selfless, blue eyed blonde for 3 years. To meet him was something completely different. Brian knew for a fact that Alex was even more wary of him because he was a soldier and Brian liked it that way. It meant that Alex would think long and hard about making a decision that could break Mia's heart.
Brian was the one that Leon went to when he wanted advice about what to do about his crush on Letty. Because he had liked her for the longest time but didn't want to make things awkward. Because Letty was Dom's Ex and it would have been weird if it was any other crew.
They weren't any other crew though.
Brian, with his no bullshit attitude told Leon exactly what he knew. That Dom wanted him yo be happy and that Letty had been circling him too.
The story of him and Dom had completely blindsided him
It had started with a bad nightmare. Brian has been living in the Toretto house for about a month and he had done a well enough job of not waking up the others, waking up himself in cold sweats with the blankets wrapped around scared legs, Echo whimpering at him quietly before curling around his handler.
The next time he had woken up he was screaming curled up on the floor with his back pinned to someone's chest, his wrists held in tightly in a hand with a steel grip.
He had gotten used to sleeping in groups, when he was deployed they slept back to back and when him and his unit were on base they all had there own rooms but they all stayed in whoever's room was the cleanest at the time so he wasn't used to sleeping in a room alone anymore.
Dom had insisted on helping so he started sleeping in Brian's room. Back to back just like what Brian did with his unit. Dom never left and Brian didn't want him to. Echo took the new guest in stride and was the one to wake the two up in the mornings, unafraid to hop on top of Dom to wake him, only to crawl over him and wedge himself between the two, waking up Brian with gentle nudges opposed to jumping on him.
If the team saw anything then they certainly didn't say so.
Things slowly progressed from there and Brian didn't mind when he woke up with his back pressed against a solid chest and an arm, warm and heavy, around his waist. When Brian had picked up the habit of going to the gun range, every time he left Dom would snag Brian by the wrist and tell him to stay safe.
That routine held for two months before Brian found some of his white boy craziness that Rome had branded him famous for and before Dom had gotten the chance to Brian smiled and kissed him on the cheek with a grin. "Don't worry I'll be safe"
Things had been progressing from there and it hadn't been long before they had gone on a date and then another and another and before they knew it Brian was moving his stuff into the master bedroom with Dom.
When Jesse had brought his boyfriend around for the first time it hadn't gone as well.
The moment Brian had seen the sheepish looking Jesse standing in the kitchen doorway of the back door rubbing a hand nervously over his beanie clad head he knew something was up.
"Hey Jesse is he here yet" Mia said as she set down some plates with a smile.
Brian had been known that Jesse had been dating a guy for about 7 months, 4 months before Brian came back but the team still hasn't met the lucky guy and no one wanted to push the young man. Jesse had nodded and walked down the steps, casting nervous looks at Brian and Dom, putting Brain's teeth on edge and a far to familiar man stepped out the back door. Dom had stood up looking enraged but surprisingly it was Brian with a hand on his lovers arm and gestured for none other then Johnny Tran to have a seat in the chair right across from Brian.
"Uh guys this is J-Johnny. Johnny this is my family" Jesse stuttered awkwardly as he looked between Brian and Dom nervously.
"Its nice to meet you Johnny" Brian said as he offered his hand to shake, his grip tight and firm...he wouldn't admit it but he was satisfied with the way Tran tensed as he shook his hand, trying to reciprocate Brian's strong grip.
"Let me introduce myself, I'm Master Sergeant Brian O'Conner of the United States Army, I'm trained in hand to hand combat, weapons and artillery, and I currently hold the best score on the sniper range on three different bases, I'm also a former cop"
Johnny looked started, like a man way out of his element but gave Brian a wide eyed nod to show that he understood while Vince, Letty, and Leon broke out in loud laughter. Mia, Jesse, and Alex watched in amusement, even a little fear on Alex's part, while Dom looked at him in something that could have been amusement or amazement.
"Come one everyone lets eat" Rome grinned from his seat.
Johnny came around more often after that and true to his unspoken word he never hurt Jesse and even kept himself and the rest of his crew out of trouble with Tanner and the rest of the LAPD for Jesse's sake. Even going to races with them and cheering Jesse on when he started racing again, as well as making sure no on messed with the young 24 year old.
Things had gone great, Brian was the best man at Amy and Tyler's wedding and after going to Dom, Alex asked for Brian's permission to marry Mia because he knew she cared just as much about Brian's opinion just as much as she cared for Dom's. It had shocked him but he was honored and when Mia had come back from their date,i beautiful ring on her finger, she pulled Dom and Brian into a hug, tears of joy streaming down her cheeks
It all slowly faded when it was finally time for Brian's 6 month tour came around. They helped him pack and make sure he had everything and they drove him to the airport. They had pulled him into tight long hugs while Johnny and Alex settled for handshakes and Dom had pulled him into a kiss. Deep and searing, promising so many things that pushed heavily on Brian's heart. They had met up with Tyler and Amy and she had hugged Brian too before they left
They had waved goodbye and the two soldiers had disappeared into the crowd. Later when the whole unit was gathered back together again on base, crammed into Brass' room, Brian looked at them, feeling somewhat lost, like something was missing "Is this how it feels everytime you leave someone behind"
Cowboy had patted him on the back with a sympathetic smile "don't worry, it doesn't feel so bad after a while"
Brian was nearly brought to tears when they were in the barracks and a package came for him, his name written on the box in Mia's neat scrawl.
Inside was car magazines and letters from everyone on the team, even a letter from Tanner and his wife. They sent pictures and little things like little jokes that Brian enjoyed on little slips of paper and family pictures. Letty and Leon smiling at the camera while they flipped the bird, Letty sitting in Leon's lap. Johnny and Jesse curled up face asleep on the couch with Dom looking down at the two from the other side of the couch. Rome, elbows deep in Brian's Skyline that they had found for him before he had been shipped out again, grease smeared all over him and a wide shit eating grin. One of Jesse and Echo looking straight at the camera, soaking wet from Vince spraying them with the garden hose. Another was of Mia and Letty pressing kisses on either sides Dom's cheeks, a note on the back in Letty's writing 'don't worry, I'll keep the skanks away' along with half a dozen other pictures that made him smile and brought tears to his eyes. A small tin at the bottom of the box, full for Mia's peanut butter cookies, and a bag of fun sized Hershey kisses made him grin as he shared some with his unit. Looking at each picture carefully before tucking them under his pillow before heading to sleep that night, Cowboys back pressed against his like always.
Those six months went by so agonizingly slow for Brian. Slow hadn't stopped his ribs from getting broken or Pyro nearly dying from a gunshot wound to the abdomen, nor did slow save their rookie they came to know as Yankee from stepping on an IED, costing him his leg and leaving him with only 47 percent of the function in his left arm. But slow had made it that much sweeter when he finally stepped off the plane, Shift close behind
For a fuzzy moment Brian looked around the airport and fear coursed through him. What if they changed there minds, what if they decided that he wasn't worth it. Six months was a long time after all. Panic started rising in his chest.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when Shift laid a hand on his shoulder and pointed to somewhere in the crowd with the largest grin that Brian had seen him wear over the last six months.
Brian nearly gasped when he saw them, his crew.
Brian couldn't help but grin himself and the two soldiers took off. Shift git to the first and pulled Amy into bear hug as they laughed while Brian pulled the first person he reached into a hug, who happened to be Vince who hugged him right back just as tightly. As soon as Vince let him go Mia and Letty pulled him into fierce hugs of their own
Jesse practically jumped on him in excitement but even after 6 years the 24 year-old was still skinny Brian had no problem taking the weight as he laughed and hugged Jesse back just as happily. Leon gave him a grin and let go of the leash he was holding, and before Brian knew it he was getting an armful of energetic German Shepherd and a very wet, slobber covered cheek and chin. Brian got a respectful nod from Alex and even a strong handshake and a pat on the arm.
Time stopped when Echo finally got down and left none other then Dominic Toretto.
Dom didn't waste a beat. Stepping up to Brian he put a hand on the blonde's neck and his other on Brian's cheek and pulled him into a searing kiss. Brian kissed back just as heated and they stayed like that for a while. no one interrupted them, it as just him and Dom and for a blissful moment Brian could imagine that this would be the rest of his life.
That moment was done when Echo jumped on them, his paw braced on Dom's arm that had wrapped themselves around Brian's waist and started licking at at Dom's face with what could be described as a wolfish grin causing Brian to grin while Dom wiped his face with an amused face as he gazed at Brian and the team, nothing but that same intence love and protectiveness that could only come from Dominic Torretto.
"Come on...lets go home"
Brian smiled at the thought.
He was already home