In the last ten months Brian had been given a promotion in a job that he worked hard at and thought he lived for, was chosen for an undercover assignment right up his alley, met the team that felt less like suspects and more like family every second he was with them, got fired from the job that turned out not to fit so well after all, decided to throw his whole life in LA away to live a life on the run from the FBI and bounty hunters and, oh yeah, completely fall for the guy who had set the whole thing in motion by deciding that hijacking trucks carrying electronics was a great way to make some extra money.
A year ago, if someone had told Brian that he’d be standing in a bar, surrounded by all but one of that team that he’d been commissioned to take down (while keenly feeling the loss of that one other member), joking with them and ready and willing to lay his life down for them, then he’d of gotten that person some serious psychiatric help. He probably would have been right behind them on the way to the therapist’s office too, because even then he would have felt a little twist in his stomach at the thought of having a family like that.
Still, here he was. Mia was like a sister to him (which Leon teased them endlessly for, since they’d had that kind of unfortunate hook-up). Leon was a good friend. Vince was mellowing out now that he gotten a clear road to Mia and, maybe more importantly, been proven right about Brian being a cop. Letty didn’t hate his guts and seemed to like taking his side in any little disagreement he had with Dom, just to piss her ex off but thankfully in a friendly kind of way.
Dom though, Dom was the best part of the whole thing. The other man was infuriating and stubborn but he was also kind, handsome, loyal and a whole bunch of other things that Brian had been slowly discovering in over the course of their relationship. Ten minutes alone with Dom made every unpleasant part of their life on the run worth it.
He’d thought they would spend the rest of their lives constantly on the move about to be caught but they’d actually only had to move twice and the last time had been more precaution than concrete need. Just because he had been ready to accept that kind of chaos didn’t mean he wasn’t grateful for the way it had turned out.
Brian was interrupted from his giddy-stupid thoughts by Letty, who was wearing a bikini top and jeans and catching the eye of every dude in the place in the process.
“Let’s get our numbers down, boys. How many drinks is Vince going to try to buy Mia?” Letty said, leaning between the two of them at their barstools.
Brian saw Leon’s eyes dip down before quickly shooting up to her face. Good for him, Brian thought with a shit-eating grin that Leon caught and glared at him for. “That all depends,” He drawled. “Are we talking about buying her a drink and just getting it sent over or actually going up there to do it?”
“Grand total.” Letty answered. She pushed a hand against Brian’s chest, which was really wasted on him, to make him lean back so she could spy on Dom and Vince over at the pool tables.
Leon cleared his throat, “I say six but he’s only going to go up to her at the end.”
“Good guess.” Brian said, “He’s changed up his game tonight. Usually he starts off with asking her to sit down with him away from us.”
“I grabbed her pretty quick,” Letty admitted, pulling her hand away from Brian and letting him sit back up. “Poor bastard didn’t get much of a chance.”
“Mia happy about that?” Brian asked, remembering the weird way that Mia had looked at some girl Vince was chatting up (and probably not charming) the last time they’d gone out like this.
Letty shrugged, “Vince is never gonna be her guy,” She answered, or really, didn’t answer. “We’ve got some lookers over at the table now,” She said, grabbing the drinks that the bartender handed her. “So I expect him to notice any second.”
“You really think he hasn’t yet?” Leon asked, because he’d definitely already noticed.
Letty flashed a grin at Leon that Brian didn’t care to think about too much. Whatever her deal was, Leon could have fun with it. Leave him as far from it as possible.
She sauntered away and that was really the only word that Brian could use. He’d hardly ever seen a woman that could work her hips while she walked like Letty but only when she damn well felt like it.
Leon groaned, turning away from the sight before she was even halfway across the bar. “I’m fucked, man.”
“Go look for a girl and make it happen then,” Brian advised, “Get her out of your head.”
“Tried that,” Leon answered, “Not really working.”
Brian could commiserate with that. Look at who he’d ended up with, Gravity Himself. He’d make a joke about it, because Leon looked pretty down in the dumps, but a new guy walked up to them and slid between Brian’s stool and the free one next to him to lean against the bar.
“Hey,” The guy said, with kind of a leer.
Well, wasn’t that a great opener?
He was dressed in dark jeans and a button-down that looked stupid in the run down locals-only bar they were in. An obvious tourist. He practically screamed ‘bachelor party’ but Brian wasn’t really willing make conversation to find out. Otherwise he looked pretty average. Dark hair, five o’clock shadow that looked too deliberately perfect and teeth so white Brian was sure he’d gotten them bleached just for the trip.
“Hey man,” He answered, giving the guy a single nod to acknowledge him. He turned back to Leon, as though he didn’t care either way that this dude was about half an inch from pressing up against his side. Brian did care, partly because the guy wasn’t his type even if he weren’t taken and partly because Dom didn’t tend to take too kindly to anyone else paying Brian any real attention. When it was girls Brian thought Dom’s possessive reactions were kind of funny but when it was guys it just kind of pissed them both off for a lot of reasons, so it was way better for Dom not to see anything at all.
“I think Dom is having way too much fucking fun with this whole thing too,” Leon said, continuing on in his little cloud of misery like they’d never gotten interrupted. Fine by Brian.
He grinned, because that was honestly true. They’d had conversations about it for sure. “I think he just likes seeing someone else… ah… trapped in Letty’s sights.”
“Yeah, I’m fucking trapped. That sounds about right.” Leon agreed in a surprisingly upbeat voice, glancing behind him at Mia and Letty laughing and turning away again. “This sucks.”
“You love it.” Brian returned easily enough. It was true, after all.
“You don’t look like you’re from around here.”
Bachelor Boy… Brian rolled his eyes. That was a good observation in fucking Mexico. No, the blonde haired, blue eyed guy wasn’t native. Big fucking shock. He turned around, “Born and raised, man. Seven generations.”
Leon snorted but the guy looked kind of sour about that for a second. After a beat, he laughed though, “Guess I deserved that. Pretty and funny.”
For a second Brian had thought he’d said ‘pretty funny’, which would have been a lot better. Instead he was giving Brian some sort of compliment, calling him pretty. He wasn’t the first guy to do it, so Brian was kind of used to it. Still, “Not interested, man.” He said shortly.
Leon started the conversation back up right after, on purpose. He was good for that kind of backup. “What do you think about that new car though, dude? It’s a total wreck, right?”
Considering his track record with making wrecks into ten-second cars and the fact that he’d brought the car himself, he figured Leon wasn’t thinking too quickly after all the beer. “It’s gonna be beautiful, Leon. Just have some faith.”
“So if he’s Leon and I’m David, what’s your name?”
He looked like a David, and Brian didn’t mean that as a compliment. “Brian,” He answered, then turned back around to Leon. He didn’t get to say anything, though, because Bachelor Dave wasn’t done talking. The man turned back to what Brian assumed was his table of friends and grinned at them before turning his obnoxious attention back on Brian.
“What do you want to drink, Brian?”
Not Can I buy you a drink?, just a pushy What do you want. Great. That meant this guy wasn’t going to be easy to get rid of. Well, it would be easy to get rid of him, all he had to do was go up to Dom and touch him even a little suggestively. That was enough to scare any sane guy off but Dom would know something was up and he didn’t want to deal with the questions.
“I’m all set.” Brian answered, tilting his bottle of Corona to the side.
“It looks pretty empty to me.” David commented, then started loudly trying to get the bartender’s attention. He did but the guy took his sweet time coming over. “I need one Corona for my new friend here.” He almost shouted, probably to make up for what he considered a language barrier. As if ‘corona’ needed a whole lot of translation. He even held up a single finger to make it obvious he wasn’t buying Leon one.
“No thanks.” Brian said.
The bartender put the Corona in front of him though, probably because he didn’t want to deal with David getting his attention again whenever he wore Brian down. David put his hand over the top of the bottle and slid it closer to Brian, like he was afraid Brian would shove it off the end of the bar. That wasn’t a bad idea, actually.
“So we’ve already established that you’re Brian and you’re from out of town, so what brings you to Mexico?” David asked. He took a long drink out of whatever he was having and stared at Brian expectantly.
“I’m on the run from the FBI.” Brian deadpanned. Leon nearly shot beer out of his nose and Brian flashed him a grin.
David nudged his beer again and Brian turned back to him just in time to see him looking pretty annoyed. “Come on, don’t you want to talk? I bought you a beer.”
“I didn’t ask you to, in fact, I’m pretty sure I told you not to.” Brian answered evenly. Inside he was getting pretty pissed but if he showed that to his new little stalker he was pretty sure he’d get it turned back around on him. Guys like him were all the same, they wanted what they wanted and they’d just keep pushing until they got it. Arguing wasn’t going to make it better and this guy wasn’t catching any hints whatsoever. Or, he was and he didn’t care. Brian had long since learned that walking away was better. David the Dick couldn’t hit on him if he wasn’t even in the room.
So he got up, grabbed the Corona the guy had bought him so he wouldn’t leave things on a bad note that would insult the guy’s pride and took a long swig. “Thanks, man. Have a good night.” He said, tipping the bottle in David’s direction. Even beer bought by this guy tasted dirty.
He nodded once to Leon, who got the idea. He stood up too and they walked away from the bar before David could follow. Brian turned them off to the back, away from the pool tables and Dom and definitely away from David’s table of assholes.
“He was a dick,” Leon said helpfully.
“Yeah,” Brian answered, wanting to let it go. He took another sip of the Corona, letting help bleed the tension out of him.
A table of women caught his eye and they smiled at him and Leon. Brian nudged his arm and Leon looked up. The dude needed a break from his Letty induced depression. And hey, maybe making her jealous would help move their shit along a little. “Go make some new friends,” He said, raising his bottle to the ladies eyeing them up. One of them was looking at him with more than just a little interest in her eyes but he ignored her. Leon saw where he was looking, grinned and shoved Brian just a little before walking away.
Brian shook his head and took another sip from his bottle. At least one of them should have a little fun.
By the time Leon looked up from pretty little Maria’s lips, Brian was long gone. He scanned the room, looking for the usual flash of gold that gave Brian away pretty quick but he didn’t see it right away. It didn’t really matter who he told that he was heading out with her but Brian had scoped the table for him, so it only seemed right to let Brian know things were working out really nicely. He sure as shit didn’t want to have to tell Mia and Letty where he was going. Honestly, he didn’t like having to say anything to anyone but he knew it would be stupid to walk out without doing it, so Brian it was.
Except Brian wasn’t really anywhere in the bar. So he waited, leaning back into Maria’s space for a few more minutes. It was a good ten minutes before they came up for air again but another scan of the bar didn’t turn up Brian.
He gave the room a better second look. Vince and Dom were still over by the pool tables, challenging guys that Leon wouldn’t have wanted to mix with. Letty and Mia had split up and Letty was at the bar looking hotter than she had a right to, he thought a little sourly. She’d smack him, because he didn’t get to pick how she looked, but still… did she have to look that beautiful just standing at a bar? Mia was over with a table of younger kids, laughing at something some girl said. He kept looking around, planning on trying to look through the dirty windows to see if Brian was sitting outside or something but the friends of that guy from the bar caught his eye.
The guy who’d been hitting on Brian – and failing miserably, he remembered happily – wasn’t there anymore. In fact, Leon hadn’t noticed him in the rest of the bar either. He glanced around again… Nope, nowhere. Maybe striking out with Brian had knocked his ass down a few pegs. He seemed like he could have used it. Hopefully he was nursing his wounded pride at some hotel somewhere far from them.
But his friends… they didn’t look like they were making fun of him. They were laughing, looking like they were getting away with something. Something twisted in his gut.
Again, he looked around for Brian, but he wasn’t anywhere.
Back at that table the guys were leaning in and whispering like they didn’t want to be overheard even in a loud bar.
Leon stood before he even realized that he was planning on it.
“You ready to go?” Maria asked, dragging her hand down his thigh.
He swallowed hard, “In a bit, honey. I gotta find my friend.”
“I think your friend will understand if you leave early.” She said seductively.
He smiled down at her but he could see she’d noticed he wasn’t nearly as into her as he had been a minute ago. “Give me a few minutes, okay?”
She looked a little annoyed but she nodded. She turned back to her friends deliberately and Leon knew that if he came back again, she’d ignore him. Well, it had been fun while it lasted…
He left the table and did a circuit of the bar on foot. He even ducked his head in the men’s room but there wasn’t anyone in there. Some bugs, maybe, but no Brian.
He stuck his head out the front and when he didn’t see Brian or that guy… David? Daniel? Whoever… he went back in. He was going to check out back but the guys at the table were laughing again. One of them was running his hand over their bottles, like was practicing something. Leon remembered how insistent that guy was that Brian drink what he’d bought him. He kept moving the bottle closer and closer to Brian…
That was it, he was getting Dom.
The whole way across the bar, he tried to tell himself he was overreacting. He was more than a little drunk and Brian could hold his own pretty well. There probably wasn’t anything to be so worked up over.
But if something was wrong… if what he thought was true was actually happening…
“Hey Dom,” Leon called, interrupting the game of pool between Dom and some guy who looked like he could bench press Vince. “You seen Brian?”
“Nah, wasn’t he by the bar?” Dom answered absently, leaning down to line up a shot. He pulled the cue back and expertly sent two balls into different pockets. He was winning, Leon could see. If there was nothing wrong with Brian, Dom would be out probably a pretty good chuck of change for no reason. He knew Dom, though, he’d want to know if there was even a chance that Brian was in trouble.
Leon caught Vince’s eye and winced. “There was this dude before, hitting on Brian and being a dick when Bri turned him down. Bought him a drink, even.” Leon started. Dom, still leaning down table, tilted his head to look up at him and really start listening. “I took off for like thirty minutes max, now I don’t know where either of them are and the guy’s friends are cackling over at their table.” The implication was all over his face, he was sure.
Dom dropped the cue and leaned over to the big dude he was playing against. They shook hands and only because he was expecting it could Leon see Dom slip him money.
“Get the girls, start looking.” Dom said to him, leaving the table and the potential score behind without a backwards glance. “Show Vince their table. V, don’t let them leave but don’t let them notice you either.”
Both of them nodded, ready to do whatever was necessary.
Dom didn’t bother waiting for Leon to tell Letty and Mia and work out a plan with them. He went straight to the bathrooms, starting with the men’s and pounding open every stall. He’d scared the hell out of a dude taking an innocent dump but he couldn’t have cared less. He even poked his head in the women’s bathroom, to the disgust of a group of girls in there touching up their makeup. He asked in Spanish if a blonde man had come in and they looked at him like he was nuts. They said no though, that they hadn’t seen any guy come in at all, let alone one who looked like Brian.
He left with an absent apology on his lips but he didn’t check to see if they’d heard it or accepted it. He didn’t really care.
He wasn’t sure about the layout of the bar, so he just banged open the doors that he found. One led to a mostly empty storage closet, another to the small kitchen that churned out whatever shitty food they sold. No Brian. He ducked out into the side alley and made a quick circuit of the building. A lot of drunk men and one hooker but that was it.
By the time he’d made it back inside, he was sure that something was wrong. Brian wouldn’t have just taken off. At the very least, he would have told one of them that he was heading home. Dom could have gone back to their place, a good half an hour out, and checked there but something in his gut said that he’d regret it. Brian hadn’t gone home, hadn’t left of his own volition at all.
He saw the guys that Leon had mentioned immediately; didn’t even need Leon to point their table out. They looked like guys who thought they were inherently better than everyone, even more so because they were American men in Mexico. They got their way, they weren’t used to hearing ‘no’… but Brian had turned one of them down. What would that guy do if he had really wanted Brian?
Vince shifted against the wall, half-hidden behind a group of older men. He caught Dom’s eye and raised an eyebrow. Dom nodded and they both went over to the table.
Vince pulled a free chair around and straddled it. Dom wasn’t sure if he’d done it on purpose, but he’d put himself next to the smallest guy at the table so V looked even more menacing than he was usually going for.
“Private party, dude,” One of them said. He was aiming for dismissive but Dom could see his hand tense around the neck of his beer bottle like he was going to use it to threaten Vince with if he so much as twitched his way.
Vince gave them a big grin, “Your party is lookin’ a member short, boys.”
They traded glances. The leader, apparently, stood up. He only got halfway out of his seat before Dom was there, standing behind Vince. The guy stopped, half squatting over his chair like an idiot.
“Sit down,” Dom said.
The guy sat.
“Your friend, where is he?” Dom said. Vince might have wanted to have a little fun with them but he didn’t. He needed to find Brian. The rest could go fuck itself.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, man.” One of the others said.
“I’m going to level with you,” Dom said, “I want your friend. If I get what I want to know out of you, you get to go. If I have to crack your head open to get what I want to know out of you, that’s fine too. Your choice.”
“Um… David’s around.” One guy said, darting a glance at the others that screamed coward. “I think you want David.”
“Be more specific.” Dom said.
The guy flashed him a shaky, transparent smile. “He’s, you know, busy. I’m sure he’s not the guy you’re looking for. He’s um, a little wrapped up…” He stammered, though he was obviously going for some kind of casual camaraderie with Dom.
Dom wouldn’t ever buy it, “Wrapped up where?” The guys hesitated again and Dom was done. He reached over and gripped the nearest guy’s shoulder so hard he could feel bones creak. “I asked you a question.”
“In the back room. The poker room. You have to go through a closet, we played there last night. He’s with some hooker man, it’s not a big deal.” The guy whose shoulder was getting bruised said in one rush.
The hooker comment almost sent Dom into a blind rage. He grit his teeth, if these assholes were still around when Dom got done with their friend…
There wasn’t time.
“Which closet?” He ground out.
One of the others shakily pointed back towards the closet Dom had already checked. He tore off and Vince stayed where he was. Out of the corner of his eye he caught Mia and Letty coming back in from outside. They must have been making a lap like he had. They stopped over by Vince.
Dom slammed the door to the closet open and made sure to make as much noise as possible. A few seconds of startled panicking were a few seconds were this asshole kept his hands off of Brian. The door slammed hard against one wall, so Dom figured that wasn’t the false one. He drove his shoulder into the one in front of him and even though it gave a little under his force, it didn’t give enough to be a door. Immediately, he drove into the other wall and smashed through.
He stumbled forward with his own momentum. The wall was so flimsy his shoulder barely felt the impact.
“What the fuck?”
The voice was angry. Dom was angrier.
Then he heard it, a slurred, muffled “Get away.”
His voice sounded off, out of it in a way that Dom had never heard even after all this time. Brian wasn’t drunk, he was so far beyond it Dom wouldn’t be surprised if he couldn’t string more than two words together at a clip.
Dom found them in the dim room instantly. They were behind a table. Two steps forward and Dom flipped it over, revealing a non-descript brown haired man hovering over Dom’s lover.
Brian’s shirt was ripped and had been shoved up so all it was really left to cover was his shoulders. His jeans were undone and shoved down but Brian had his long legs splayed all over the place so they hadn’t gone too far down. His boxers were shoved down too, revealing a lot more than they should have.
The other man didn’t have a shot of saying something to defend himself before Dom had him up and against a wall. He opened his mouth and the only thing Dom could hear was what his friends had said: some hooker.
He pulled back a fist and laid into him with such force he could feel a tooth give.
“What the fuck, what the fuck man?” He screamed.
Dom’s answer was another fist.
The guy didn’t ask any more questions.
In between his own heartbeat pounding in his ears, he only heard some hooker repeating over and over again.
Then there was screaming.
“Dom, stop! Stop!”
They were on the floor. Dom straddling the guy’s chest and his mangled face was slack with unconsciousness.
“Brian is freaking out, Dom. Stop it!”
Dom’s fist stayed where it was, poised to deliver what could have been the skull breaking blow.
He felt soft hands grab his wrist, “Dominic, we have to go. Police are going to get called. You can’t get arrested. Brian is freaking out and Letty can’t get him to stop trying to get up. He’s going to hurt himself.”
He breathed hard through a clenched jaw. He didn’t lower his fist. This guy deserved it, he would have raped Brian or would have done it to someone else. He was scum.
Brian’s slurred voice caught his attention instantly. There were shuffling noises, then Letty, “No, no, Brian. Sit. Just sit.” Her voice was soothing in a way that only made the out of control fear amplify. He turned to look at them and saw Letty glaring at him, “Snap out of it, idiot.” She hissed.
In a second Dom was up. Mia let go of him and darted out the door. The poker room was decimated and the guy laying on the floor wasn’t making a sound.
Dom’s vision narrowed in on Brian, whose feet slid across the floor listlessly. His legs were still splayed and his pants were still pulled down but his shirt had been tugged back in place.
“Dom. Gotta… what?” Brian said, his head shooting up then falling back down so hard he grunted.
“Stop, Brian.” Dom said, kneeling down next to him. He got his hands under Brian’s back and heaved him forward so he was sitting up.
Even sitting he was leaning to the side. His movements were strange, like he was delayed and overcompensating. He reached out and tried to catch Dom’s arm but missed and hit him on the way back instead. “Gotta… Dom.”
Brian didn’t really seem to be asking for him but Dom leaned in anyway, “I’m here.” He said gently and let one of his hands reach over to grip the back of Brian’s neck. With that one keeping him centered, he used his other to cup Brian’s cheek and try to steer his head so he would look at him. His blue eyes rolled all around, pupils blown. “Brian, look at me.”
“Right now, you gotta get him to let you pull his pants up and get him the fuck out of here.” Letty said to him in a tense voice. She didn’t need to bother. Just like the way he moved, it was clear that Brian was still stuck ten minutes ago and not at all clear on what was happening in the now.
Letty stood up and moved to the door. The room was small but it was obvious that she was trying to give them some privacy before the others came back in.
Dom saw the blood on his hands and winced. That was probably going to freak Brian out when he caught sight of it but there wasn’t much to be done about it yet. He’d have to get it off his hands before he went back out there though, or he’d be caught out.
He leaned back into Brian’s space, getting in close to try to catch Brian’s eye. “Brian, we gotta go. I’m going to help you, okay?”
“Get away.” Brian answered, swiping a hand up to shove Dom back. It didn’t work but at least this time he actually hit Dom’s body on the first try.
Instead of doing as he said, Dom tried to get in closer so he could brace Brian against him and lift him enough to pull his pants back up. He barely got two inches closer before Brian shoved him again and tried to rear back so hard he would have cracked his head against the wall again if Dom’s hand wasn’t still on the back of his neck.
“Stay... back go… Dom!” Brian mumbled.
Each word was like a punch to the gut.
“Easy Brian, I’m here.” Dom tried to reassure him. He caught Brian’s flailing hand and tried to grip it tight.
Brian’s legs moved restlessly, making him even more unsteady. Maybe up was the wrong direction to go. He was less likely to bang himself lying down and it gave Dom more hands to work with. Just the thought made him feel like scum though. Brian had been pinned down against his will enough in one night…
He’d try again.
“Shh… shh, look at me, Brian.” Dom whispered, using both hands to direct Brian’s face.
Their eyes met but there wasn’t any comprehension in Brian. “Go… go!” He said. “Get off… what?”
Dom inched closer, going slower than he had last time. “Pants on? Brian, pants on?” He asked, boiling it down to as little of a sentence as he could.
Brian grabbed his shirt and pulled it so hard Dom was suddenly against him. He didn’t get the sense that Brian was reacting to the words he had said but it was still fine by him because it got him where he needed to be. He let Brian’s face go and wrapped an arm around his waist. With his other hand he grabbed Brian’s pants and lifted him up just enough to get them under his ass again at least. Low riding was a hell of a lot better than the alternative.
The sudden movement startled the hell out of Brian if the way he jerked in Dom’s arms was anything to judge by.
“No!” Brian shouted, louder than he’d managed yet. He shoved against Dom with the same hand tangled in his shirt that he’d used to pull him in. His legs scrambled even more violently, like he was trying to buck Dom off.
“Letty!” Dom called.
She was by his side instantly. Without a word, she straddled his legs, doing her best to keep him still.
Dom swore and reached down, feeling like dirt as he righted Brian’s boxers and tried to button his jeans without bothering with the zipper. “Just another minute, Brian. Come on, babe, let me help.”
“Stop… stop… Dom’ll… stop!” Brian panted. His head flopped back and his back arched.
“Calm down, Brian. I’m helping you. I’m Dom and I’m helping you.” Dom tried to reason. His fingers fumbled with the button, trying to keep Brian still enough to do it with one hand.
There was shuffling at the door, barely loud enough to be heard over Brian fighting them.
“Dom, we have to get out of here.” Mia said. “Vince can’t keep those guys quiet much longer. They’re trying to get away or make a scene.”
“Fuck the button, Dom. He’s not walking anyway.” Letty grit out as she strained to keep Brian’s legs in place
“And he’s sure as shit not gonna let me carry him, Letty.” Dom answered.
Mia knelt beside them, “Brian? Brian, it’s Mia, can you understand me?”
“What?” Brian said.
For a brief moment, Dom could see hope on Mia’s face. That Brian was actually answering her… and he’d be a liar if he said that he wasn’t hoping it too. Then Brian repeated the word a second and third time and that hope was gone.
There was nothing to try to say to him right then. He wasn’t hearing them, reasoning wasn’t going to work. With Letty pinning Brian’s legs and Dom’s arms already around him, they were in as good as position as he was going to get to carry him out of there. They just had to hope that Brian didn’t fight them hard enough to make them memorable.
He nodded to Letty and she moved back as quick as she could to give Dom enough room to slide an arm under Brian’s knees.
The second his arm was in place, he stood up as fast as possible. There was no time left for going slow and gentling Brian into doing what they needed. Once they were up, he heard Brian gasp and saw his eyes rolling up. “Brian?”
“If he passes out, he won’t fight you.” Letty pointed out.
Dom knew she meant well but the thought made him sick. “Brian, look at me.”
“Dom, walk and talk.” Mia said. She put her on his shoulder and nudged him forward. Next to him, Letty stayed close to Brian’s legs, ready to grab them again. “Leon has one of the cars waiting.”
They started moving but Mia stopped, “Wait, your hands! Let me walk in front of you.”
The blood was going to be pretty unforgettable if someone was looking for it. Those guys out front were definitely going to be looking. Would they report him to the police if it meant saying what their friend had attempted? “Can Leon meet us in the back?”
“That alley didn’t look drivable.” Mia answered.
“No…” Brian mumbled. There was something else but his voice was faint enough that Dom couldn’t make it out.
“We’ve got about another minute before he starts thrashing again. Mia at the front, I’ll stand by his legs and we move fast out the front to the car. That’s all there is to do.” Letty said.
For once, Dom gladly handed the reins over to someone else. His focus was on Brian, where it needed to be most, but that didn’t mean other things like trying not to get arrested weren’t important too.
The four of them moved quickly, Dom paid barely any attention to the people in the bar. Better not make eye contact with anyone, it would only make them more memorable. If they managed to keep the panic and anger off their faces, Dom’s face most of all, they could pass Brian off as drunk as hell.
He heard Letty call for Vince as they passed. Mia shoved the door open, careful not to move too far from Dom’s hands.
“Dom?” Brian called. He didn’t sound any different than before. He was probably just repeating the last few things that he’d been thinking before the drug had settled in. It made him sick, that Brian had been calling for him and he’d been not fifty feet away playing pool like nothing was wrong. If Leon hadn’t come for him…
Even though Brian wasn’t understanding him, Dom answered. He’d keep answering all night if he had to. “I’m here.”
“Go.” Brian answered. He wasn’t answering Dom.
Vince fell into step behind them as they almost ran to the car Leon had idling. “What’s wrong with him?”
“He’s higher than a kite.” Letty summed up.
Brian’s arm swung out and smacked against Mia’s back. Luckily, Mia seemed like she’d kind of braced for the possibility because she barely moved. Brian wasn’t coordinated but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t putting as much force as he could muster up the presence of mind for.
Letty abandoned her post at Brian’s legs and darted ahead to open the door for them. Mia moved away at the last possible second, letting Dom wedge the two of them into the car. Mia sat in the front seat and two thumps on the hood of the car meant that Vince and Letty would follow behind them in one of the other cars.
Leon slammed the gas.
It was the pounding in his head that woke Brian up.
The nausea was a close second. Each throb of his skull seemed linked to a wave in his stomach and both of them threatened to send him over the edge each time.
His mouth felt cottony and dry. He would have killed for a cold ginger ale but the mere thought of getting up and retrieving one nearly made him hurl so he laid there on a soft surface and tried to breathe through it.
What the fuck had happened?
Focusing hurt but Brian felt the panic build. He wracked his memory. What day was it? What was the last thing he remembered? They had painted Dom’s new pet project… that morning? Yesterday?
He couldn’t remember lunch or dinner or…
Strong hands moved him and his stomach sent nothing up.
The pain in his head flared and he was back down before he could finish figuring anything out.
The next time Brian woke up, it was still because of the pounding in his head. It didn’t have an epicenter, it was just one uniform throb that sort of made him want to hurl but in the sort of way where puking and purging sounded like a good idea but not a real likely scenario.
He could hear his own heart beating loudly in his ears, the sound covering up a muffled voice in the darkness with him.
“We’re at home in the house by the beach in Mexico and we’re safe. Everyone is all right. No one is going to touch you if you don’t want them to.”
Dom’s voice, Brian’s brain was slow to parse out.
“If Vince hasn’t figured out what’s wrong with that Nissan by the time you’re back in the shop, I’ll fire him. I won’t hurt him though. Nobody’s gonna hurt nobody.”
His voice sounded rougher than usual, like his throat was sore.
“Dom?” Brian called.
“I’m here with you. I’m Dom and you’re Brian. We’re at home in Mexico, we’re safe.”
“Dom?” Brian asked again.
There was a pause in Dom’s litany.
“Everything is okay. No one is touching you. You’re okay.”
That wasn’t an answer. Brian cracked open his eyes just the tiniest bit. Not too bright. Just focusing on Dom’s knee in front of him made the pain build back up. He groaned.
“I’m Dom and no one is going to touch you. It’s okay. We’re at home. We’re in Mexico. Everyone is safe. Mia is making dinner, I can hear her. She’ll save some for you. It’s okay.”
He shut his eyes again, “Hurts.” He mumbled.
Dom stopped talking, “Brian?” He said slowly, like he didn’t really expect an answer but really, really wanted one.
Brian grunted back, which was about as much as he could handle.
“If you’re hearing me, tell me what color our house is.” Dom asked urgently.
Brian cracked a single eye back open. He wasn’t sure Dom had looked at him quite like that ever before. “White.” He said slowly as he opened both of his eyes, more than a little confused. Had he gotten hit in the head or something?
Dom let out a gust of air that sounded a lot like relief. He leaned down and pressed his lips against Brian’s hair. “Jesus, Brian.”
“What’s wrong?” Brian asked. Sure his head hurt and talking only made it worse but there was obviously something really wrong going on and damn if that didn’t trump his admittedly vicious headache.
Dom shook his head. He laid a shaking hand down on Brian’s shoulder but so lightly he could barely feel it.
“Dom, what?” Brian repeated.
“Everything is okay.” Dom said instead of answering the question.
He probably thought that he was reassuring Brian but that was really not the case. “I know, you’ve said it like twenty times.”
Dom laughed quietly, “I’ve said it a whole lot more than twenty times, Brian.”
“I think my head is gonna explode, so could you quit being cryptic?” Brian asked. The effort of stringing together sentences ramped up the throbbing in his skull. At this point, he was pretty damn sure someone had taken a baseball bat to his head.
Dom sighed again, “You got drugged.” He looked beyond tired.
Brian’s aching eyes narrowed, “What?”
Dom scrutinized him, “Do you remember talking to some guy at the bar last night?” He asked.
He didn’t even remember going to a bar in the last few days. Even if he wanted to wrack his brain to remember, and he honestly did want to, he was pretty sure the effort would make him hurl. Later, maybe. “No.”
Dom nodded like he wasn’t surprised, “Well, you did. You were talking to Leon and some asshole kept hitting on you.”
Brian froze, breath shuttering in his chest. What was Dom talking about? What happened?
“Brian, hey, hey,” Dom said. He laid down and stretched himself out so he was lying beside Brian. Now that they were on the same level, his dark eyes caught Brian’s panicked ones, “Nothing happened. Leon found me and I found you.”
One repeated part of Dom’s reassuring chant echoed back to Brian and made something in him tense up, “You...” Brian stuttered, “You said before, you said nobody is going to touch you.” Did that mean that somebody had touched him?
“Listen to me,” Dom reached out and held the back of Brian’s head, his fingers tangling up in his hair gently enough to not pull and make the throbbing worse, “I’m not gonna lie, that’s where it was going. I found you…” He clenched his jaw but before Brian could panic worse he seemed to force himself to keep going, “I found you in some back poker room with him. He had your shirt pushed up and he was trying to get your pants down. You were doing everything you could to fight him off and you’ve kind of been stuck there ever since. I can’t say he didn’t touch you. I’m sure he copped a feel but it didn’t go any further.”
Brian realized he was holding his breath and let it out in one shuddering gasp.
“That’s why I was saying no one was going to touch you. You’ve been half in, half out for hours and every time you were awake you were still stuck in that moment.” Dom explained.
He bit his lip and shut his eyes, “What happened next?”
“Next?” Dom repeated, “I beat his face in, Letty and Mia made me stop, I got you as put together as I could and we all walked out of there before anyone figured anything out.” He said it easily, like those things were easy but Brian could clearly see that they hadn’t been.
He let his lip go to ask the important question, “Cops?”
Dom’s thumb rubbed against his bitten lip before he could pull it back between his teeth, “No one’s come around here. We got out fast. Besides, I had to talk to his friends to find you and I think I made the right kind of impression.”
He blinked his eyes back open. Dom looked as exhausted and wrecked as he felt.
“When?” He asked. How much time had he lost? How much time had passed and no cops showed up? He knew the second question was more important, their safety meant a hell of a lot more than Brian’s missing day or whatever, but knowing that he had been awake and talking and touched and he had no memory of it freaked him out.
Dom reached above their heads and glanced up at what Brian assumed was a phone. “About ten hours ago.”
Ten hours that Brian didn’t remember. There was more than that missing, though. They only really went out drinking at a bar at night; there was too much work to be done during the day. The last thing that he even hazily remembered was from before they left the garage. That meant that a whole lot more than ten hours was gone.
“Hey, hey, don’t freak out.” Dom said gently. He pulled his hand from Brian’s hair and Brian couldn’t help but notice he put it down on the floor. No point of contact between them.
He tilted himself on his side so he fell forward onto Dom, “Don’t go.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” Dom said. He laid a big arm over Brian’s back and pressed himself closer. “You tell me what you need and you’ve got it, baby.
Brian didn’t answer verbally. Instead, he threw his own arm around Dom to keep him in place and just lay there silently. He tried to even out his breathing away from the shaky pace he was keeping.
Nothing had really happened. There was nothing to be so freaked out over. Except he couldn’t really shake it. “Talk,” He mumbled.
Dom started stroking his hand up and down Brian’s back, “About what?”
“I’m gonna be on you like glue for the next year’s worth of bar trips, just so you know.” Dom’s voice rumbled under Brian’s ear. Later, what Dom was promising would probably grate on him. Now, though, Brian couldn’t help but feel comforted by it.
When Brian didn’t answer, Dom kept talking like he wasn’t waiting for a response. He’d spent apparently a shit ton of time doing it, after all, “I need to text Mia and tell her you’re with us again. You want her to bring anything? Water?”
“Yeah,” Brian whispered against Dom’s shirt, “Quietly, though? I don’t want to…” Talk to her, was what he wanted to say. He didn’t want to talk to her and he didn’t want her in their room. He felt bad saying it because Mia was one of his best friends in the world but he couldn’t help it.
Dom heard what Brian hadn’t said and he didn’t seem like he thought it was as awful as Brian thought it was, “You got it,” He said. One of the arms wrapped around him let him go to text Mia.
Drinking sounded not great but Brian figured at least a third of his headache was dehydration. Getting water down a guy fighting every touch was probably not something Dom had managed which meant he hadn’t drunk anything in over half a day. Assuming he didn’t puke, the water would do him some good. Anything to make his head stop pounding.
Once the text was sent, Dom’s hand went back to Brian’s shoulders. “How do you feel?”
“You mean like do I think I’m going to keel over?” Brian asked, “My head is throbbing and my stomach is kind of off but otherwise I’m okay.”
The door opened and Brian heard a water bottle roll on the bed towards them. True to Dom’s word, Mia didn’t come in. She didn’t even say anything before she closed the door.
Dom grabbed the bottle and Brian heard him crack it open. The implication being he should stop huddling against him and actually drink what he had requested. He still didn’t move though.
“I don’t just mean that but if you aren’t ready to talk about it, that’s okay.” Dom said quietly.
He kind of figured that was what Dom was asking, “Nothing happened. I shouldn’t…” Brian shook his head and immediately regretted it.
“Hey, hey, you’re okay,” Dom whispered. He pressed his palm to the back of Brian’s head and held it in place, “Breathe through it and then let’s try some water, okay?”
Brian sucked in a shaky breath. He’d had concussions that hurt less.
Dom slowly pulled away from him and sat up. “You want to try to sit up or you want to sip some of this laying down?”
Neither option appealed. One meant moving and the other meant that Dom was going to have to help him drink. After everything, he knew which was worse so he levered his arms under his back and started pushing himself up. Dom put an arm under his shoulders to help and Brian figured that was enough of a compromise for his pride. Once he was vaguely upright, Dom passed him the water and Brian tipped it back greedily.
“Slow,” Dom cautioned.
Drinking until he puked was a risk he wasn’t willing to take, so Brian eased off. A few mouthfuls to start, then he’d have some more.
Putting down the water meant that he didn’t have any way to avoid Dom’s question, though, and that didn’t sound great either.
Dom must have read it on his face because he furrowed his brow and opened his mouth. Brian braced himself for something along the lines of you should have told me right away when things started going south – which was maybe true but it grated on him even if he didn’t remember what went down or you’re safe, nothing really happened – which was true but didn’t sum up how Brian felt.
So what Dom actually said kind of took him by surprise.
“I was playing pool, scoring us some quick cash. I was in shouting distance to that room.” Dom said slowly. There was some undercurrent in his voice that Brian could only tie back to when Dom had told him about what had happened to his father. That conversation in Dom’s garage in Los Angeles felt like a lifetime ago. He couldn’t label every layer of it but some of it was Dom being incredibly angry – at himself. “Again, my family was hurt while I was paying more attention to money.”
“Not your fault,” Brian felt compelled to say. Dom took everything on his shoulders and if Brian knew anything about himself it was that he’d gotten into that situation all on his own. Even now, he was making this confession just so Brian wasn’t the only one vulnerable and uncomfortable about it. “I’m not even hurt.”
Dom looked at him like he was crazy, like he could see all the way into Brian’s soul and wanted to call him out but knew better.
“I’m okay, Dom.” Brian tried again, “My head just hurts.” It was true. He was fine. Nothing had really happened. He’d been groped a few times in juvie. Never went any further, which was the important part. This was more of the same with the added element of no memory.
Funny how that was the worst part.
Dom looked at him steadily, “You know it wouldn’t have changed how I feel about you, right? If something had happened?”
The way he had phrased that had to be deliberate. Dom tended to weigh his words carefully. He wasn’t saying that it wouldn’t have changed their relationship or that it wouldn’t have changed Brian, just that Dom would still want to be with him.
It helped a little bit, in a weird way.
“Same,” Brian offered back. He held Dom’s eyes and tried to make sure Dom knew that what he meant was that he wouldn’t have blamed Dom if he hadn’t gotten to him in time.
He knew Dom got the message because he held Brian’s gaze for another beat before turning away and saying gruffly, “Drink some more.”
Mother-henning was Dom’s fall back, pretty much.
Brian did as he was told, even if obedience wasn’t his fall back. He was learning, slowly, when rebellion wasn’t worth it. Relying on Dom was a slow process and doing the opposite as he was told on purpose was hard to give up.
He wondered why he didn’t go over to Dom when things had started going wrong. He wasn’t surprised by it, honestly, but he did want to know what the thought process was. Had it happened too fast? Had the guy seemed non-threatening and Brian had gotten too confused too quickly? Or had he known he was in trouble and he had chosen not to go to Dom? He was probably never going to get those memories back but damn did he want to know.
He waited for Dom to say something about it. To ask why, to tell Brian that he should always tell him if something was wrong. The air between them was tense with the questions and the accusations and the distrust.
Dom reached out and tenderly ran his thumb over Brian’s cheek. Brian looked up at him, surprised by both the touch and the realization that he had looked away. When he met Dom’s eyes, he didn’t see any of the accusations he was afraid of. Just relief. Just love.
Maybe they were more okay than he’d thought.
He turned his head and pressed a kiss to Dom’s palm. Without another word, he laid back down and stretched out on his side. Dom stared down at him for a long few seconds before he laid back beside him again.
Once again, they had gotten ridiculously lucky at the last minute.
One day, he might get to the point that relying on the people who cared about him would be his first instinct but even if that never came he was still damned blessed to have them.
He pressed his forehead against Dom’s shoulder and curled a hand up in his shirt. With his head throbbing and his thoughts still kind of racing, Dom’s solid strength – physical and otherwise – was almost as important as air.
He wanted to say thank you but he knew Dom wouldn’t like it. No thanks needed between family, or something like that. He nudged his head harder against Dom and felt an arm go around his shoulders. It sort of felt like a you’re welcome with a heaping helping of I love you. Dom’s words from before echoed back in his mind.
“I’m here with you. I’m Dom and you’re Brian. We’re at home in Mexico, we’re safe.”
Brian sighed, closed his eyes and finally relaxed completely.
They were okay.