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He Knew Men

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"Detective O’Conner, how do we know you’re not looking for some personal justice. He got the drop on you, made you look bad. You use us to find him and take him out of this world."

"He didn’t get the drop on me."

"He got your keys, used your car to make his getaway."

"I, uh. Dom didn’t get the drop on me. I gave him the keys."

"Huh. Okay. Thanks for coming in Detective O’Conner. Either my associate, Mr. Didion, or I will be in touch."

Brian shook hands with Harlan Judd who smiled at him sincerely. He turned toward the office door and was met with Chris Didion’s closed expression. He’d slipped into the office as soon as Brian O’Connor had begun to detail what he needed, but he hadn’t said a word. The Detective extended his hand.

"Mr. Didion."

"Detective." The handshake lasted the very minimum amount of time necessary to be considered more than a mere brush of hands together. Once the door clicked closed behind the Detective, Chris dropped into the chair opposite Harlan’s desk.

"What d’ya think?"

Didion’s face screwed up in momentary disgust. "About the dirty cop? The same thing I would think about any dirty cop."

"And you claim to know men? Dirty cop? Come on Chris. He made the classic rookie UC mistake. It’s so obvious he fell for the mark. Why else would he want to find him?"

"Because Toretto agreed to cut him in on the hijacking spoils then left him hanging."

"So your objection to taking the case is that he’s crooked."

"This is a no brainer Harlan. Yes, our financial situation is less than good, but we don’t have to take every case."

"That’s not what you said the other day."

"Okay, maybe every other case. Dirty money. That’s heat we don’t want or need. I shouldn’t have to tell you that."

"Okay, Okay. That’s actually not what I was asking your opinion about anyway." Harlan’s eyes drifted to the door, then to Chris, then back to the door. Waiting.

"What?"

"He was pretty cute don’t you think?"

"Oh no. No, Harlan"

"Come on man. You and the lawyer are done right? When’s the last time you went out with anyone. When’s the last time you got -"

"You should probably stop talking now."

"I mean there was that FBI agent, but frankly I thought he was a little short for you. You and the cop would look cute together."

"So you want us to take this case so that I can date the client."

A huge grin split Harlan’s face.

"Well, he’s obviously got a type." He held up a picture of Dominic Toretto, bald and buff in a sleeveless shirt.

"And like you said we can’t afford to turn cases away. The Detective can pay the retainer and this is easy money. Public enemy number one here is probably either dead or doing time in a Mexican jail for what would have been his third strike stateside. We track him down, give a certain blue eyed looker the news and cash the check. Once we do the job, he won’t be a client anymore. He’ll need someone to pick up the pieces."

"It scares me the way your mind works."

"Look your main objection is the money right? So look into. If O’Conner’s money is clean we take the case."

"He’s dirty."

"He isn’t. And even if he is it’s a win, win for our side. If it turns out they were partners in crime, we solve a case the Feds let go. Find out what happened to the swag. Who wouldn’t want to hire the company that’s better than the Feds? Or we give our client the actual help he needs. Hook him up with a decent law abiding guy."

"Have you been drinking?"

"I have a lunch appointment, you can reach me on the cell if you need to." Smirking at his irritated partner, Harlan sidled out of his office.

Using his FBI connections, Chris Didion was able to get a look at the file the agent in charge of the Toretto case, a Special Agent Bilkins, had compiled. Since September 11th, a lot of the Bureau’s resources had been diverted to anti-terrorism operations and cases like Toretto’s had been knocked to the back, back burner. There was a suggestion in the file that O’Conner had gone ‘native’, but nothing concrete to substantiate it. He’d been found unconscious at the scene of Toretto’s escape. There was a recommendation that O’Conner be put under surveillance, but he couldn’t find an indication that the recommendation was carried out. Instead, O’Conner had been promoted.

Chris combed through Brian O’Conner’s financials and found nothing suspicious. Over the last few years, he’d contributed the maximum allowable to his 401k, kept a savings account with the police credit union. The current balance was ninety six hundred dollars and forty-four cents, minus the exact amount of the Judd Risk Management retainer. There had been no major purchases. It appeared that all O’Conner did was work, very occasionally go out for a beer with fellow detectives and come home. On paper, he was a homebody and the very picture of integrity and financial responsibility. Chris didn’t buy it and figured it was time to go to the source.

 

Brian smiled to himself as he pulled into his driveway. He knew that Judd Risk Management would check him out. He figured the fact that he’d made Chris Didion, who was parked on his street, not far from his house, meant that they were finished. They were too good to be caught so blatantly.

He didn’t vary from his routine. Opened the garage door with the remote, pulled the car in and entered his house through the door into the kitchen. He had enough time to get completely changed into sweats before the doorbell rang.

Brian opened the door and suddenly there were butterflies in his stomach. If they were going to kick the case back they would have done it over the phone. Chris Didion on his doorstep meant they were taking the case, maybe already had a lead.

"Mr. Didion, come in. Have a seat."

"Thank you Detective."

"Brian, call me Brian."

"Alright Brian." The big man folded himself down onto Brian’s couch as Brian took the adjacent armchair. He held Chris’ steady gaze as the other man appraised him silently, openly.

Just as the silence threatened to become obviously awkward, "I want you to tell me the truth. The entire truth about what went down between you and Dominic Toretto. Explain to me in small words if you have to why you let him go."

"I -, would you like a beer? Surveillance is thirsty work." Brian half rose from his chair.

"No, I’m good." For a second Brian thought about getting a beer for himself anyway. Four years he’d waited and finally...But he wanted to get this right. He didn’t want to screw up his best chance of finding Dom. He reached into a box on the coffee table and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.

"You mind if I smoke?"

Didion shrugged. His expression neutral. "You’re the client."

Brian smiled, "Okay, that means you do mind. I don’t really smoke, not anymore. Quit before I went under. Dom doesn’t smoke, no one on the team smoked." He reached to put the pack and lighter back in the box.

"It’s amazing," he continued quietly, "how the littlest things can change your life. A moment, a minute and everything is different. If the car hadn’t blown up, we would have still had that between us, you know. Talking about the racing, about getting away from the police that night, but that part of it was fake for me ‘cause you know it was all set-up, background. There was no way we weren’t going to get away, but he didn’t know that. And I would have had him home in minutes. And we still would have bonded because I helped him get away. I would have been in. But Johnny Tran popping up like that, he was a crazy son of a bitch and we both thought we might die or get maimed or something. And it was real for both of us, a real life threatening situation. And we lived. And on that walk out of the bowels of downtown, looking for a cab, we bonded over something real. I mean I bonded with him. I’d already been watching him for a while, but what went down with Tran bonded me to him. That was even stronger than the cars and the racing. And I was really in. I -"

Suddenly a laugh bubbled out of Brian. It lasted just long enough for Chris to think that the Detective might be losing it.

"I’m sorry. I’ve never said this out loud before. Long story short, I gave Dom my keys because I needed him to be free. I’m not exactly out and proud, but I love him."

"Detective... Brian it’s been four years."

"You know what they say about absence."

"You have to know, his stint in prison notwithstanding, there’s nothing in his jacket to suggest -"

"I know that, I know that. I don’t want you to find him so that I can make some big declaration. The statute is up in a few days. I need to know if he’s alright, if he needs anything. I had some heat attached. The Feds had me under surveillance for about a year after everything went down. I couldn’t take that risk with his life. I’m pretty sure I’m mostly off the radar now, but -"

"You’re not ready to take that chance."

"Not with his life, no. In case something is still in the wind."

"Here’s my card. You know the drill. If you think of anything else relevant call me. I’ll be in touch."

"Thank you, thank you." A huge relieved grin spreads across Brian’s face. "Thank you."

As Chris began to stand...

"Was it easy for you? Coming out? Being out?"

"I was never really in."

"Oh."

"In or out you haven’t exactly picked the least complicated road."

"No, but I don’t know what else to do."

Didion stood and watched as Brian reached into the box for his cigarettes.

"I’ll be in touch." Brian nodded absently as Didion showed himself to the door.

**********************

It took Chris Didion roughly a week to track down the felon. He had been working just south of the border as a mechanic for a month, whereabouts unknown before that. Sources placed the fugitive as a regular at a working man’s bar near the garage.

In the hour Chris had been in the bar he’d already mapped all of the exits and quantified the amount of firepower in the room. The bartender had a shotgun behind the bar and only a couple of the other patrons were strapped. Didion felt sufficiently equipped with a Glock under his left arm, a .45 at his back and his superior FBI training.

Toretto shuffled into the bar, got his drink and took up residence at the other end of the room with his back to the wall. Though Chris recognized him as soon as he walked through the door, he wondered if anyone else would. He wondered if Brian O’Conner would.

The felon had lost some weight and while still imposing at first glance, continued scrutiny suggested it was an effect achieved with smoke and mirrors. Didion couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was something missing. The bald head of his surveillance photos was covered with a short growth of dark hair and a less than neatly trimmed goatee covered his face.

Chris slipped easily from his own booth, glided to Toretto’s and slid in. The other man stiffened and clutched his beer bottle.

"I’m here on behalf of a mutual acquaintance."

Toretto took a long pull from his beer and stared at the man across from him balefully. He’d thought that he might be making a mistake coming so close to the border before the statute was actually up, but he found that he couldn’t resist the urge. He’d needed to get closer.

"I don’t have any acquaintances."

"Six feet tall, blond, blue eyed." Didion watched impassively as Dominic Toretto fought and lost the battle to maintain a poker face. The dark brown eyes dropped to the scratched table top, then he picked up his beer and took a quick sip.

"You think I’m that easy," he growled low. "You want me to come with you willingly. You want me to walk out of this bar? You’re gonna have to take me out of this bar."

Chris leaned forward slightly and let his jacket fall open just enough. Dom’s eyes flicked briefly to the shoulder holster.

"Believe me Mr. Toretto, if I wanted to take you out of this bar, you would have been cuffed and face down on the hood of my car before you even stepped into this dump," Didion replied conversationally.

"What does golden boy want?"

"What would you like him to want?"

A dark, murderous look crossed the felon’s face, but his hand shook when he lifted the beer to his mouth again.

 

Chris knew men and he had a sudden suspicion about Dominic Toretto, but in the moment he couldn’t say which way things were going to fall.

There was still a slight tremor in the large hand as it placed the beer carefully on the table. His gaze shifted to the wall, to the bartender, to the door before finally settling again on the man in front of him.

"Is he...is he okay?"

"The Detective would like to see you." Didion watched as brown eyes widened slightly. He’d chosen to refer to Brian by his title on purpose. He’d been looking for the quick flash of anger, the spark of rage the man’s rap sheet showed him capable of. Brian O’Conner had made his bones on Dominic Toretto’s back. But there was no anger, no rage only surprise and what looked like relief.

"I -"

Didion slid his card across the table. "Think about it. Call me."

*****************************************

Only the amber lights of the surrounding warehouses illuminated the proceedings.

Chris watched as Brian sauntered toward the man who sat casually on the hood of a black Honda like it could have been any night, anywhere. Like he hadn’t sounded ragged and maybe just a little drunk when he’d called Didion’s cell less than an hour after their encounter in the bar. The investigator’s objection to Brian’s willingness to head south for the meeting had been passionate, but gone unheeded.

He watched Toretto watching O’Conner. The felon’s eyes hadn’t wavered since the lanky blond stepped out of Chris’ car.

As his client got closer to Toretto, the felon’s posture straightened. Transformed. When he was within arms distance, Toretto took a step away from the car and pulled O’Conner into a tight embrace.

Didion kept watching. Brian was still his client. Until he was formally released from the assignment, it was his responsibility to watch the other man’s back both literally and figuratively. He was willing to concede, as unlikely as it seemed, that Toretto had feelings for his client. In the flesh it was more than palpable, but Toretto was also living a markedly downscale life and the Detective was no small part of that. Didion adjusted his stance slightly so that it would be easier to reach the .45 at his back.

Watching as each man’s hands moved from bicep, to shoulder, to cheek as if confirming the truth of the others existence. The non-professional in Chris Didion admitted to himself that Brian O’Conner and his felon were very striking together. The directional microphone concealed in the grill of his car allowed him to pick up the men’s muted tones in his tiny earpiece.

"You painted my car black."

"Turns out cosmic orange is not the best color for a getaway car."

"What’s this?" Chris watched as Brian tugged gently on the goatee.

"My disguise."

"I don’t like it."

"I’ll shave."

"All of it."

Dom ran his hand over his head.

"Yeah."

Chris knew men and what he heard in that simple affirmative was a promise, what he knew was that if Dominic Toretto had any ulterior motive it mostly involved getting the good detective some version of horizontal as quickly as possible.

And it struck him that he was happy for his client. Happy that there weren’t going to be any pieces to pick up. It startled him a little to realize that he might not have minded so much if there had been.

O’Conner stroked a finger across Toretto’s cheek and stepped back. When he turned toward Chris his brilliant smile lit the night.

And Didion saw exactly what it was that had been missing from Dominic Toretto. With less than concealed amusement, he watched it walk toward him. At the car, Brian leaned into the passenger side and retrieved his duffle bag. Bag clutched firmly in hand, he rounded the front of the car to the driver’s side and pulled Chris into a close one armed hug.

"You saved my life man." The embrace tightened. "You saved both our lives."

In the earpiece, Didion heard the faintest of growls. "I don’t think you want to keep your boy waiting."

 

Even after the glow from their taillights had long since faded, Didion kept watching the space. It wasn’t like there weren’t already pieces in his own life he should be trying to pick up and super glue together. His thoughts drifted to his own light haired, light eyed looker. If the cop and his felon could get it together, why should a fully medically treatable mental illness separate two people who were good together.

As he folded himself back into his car, the investigator flipped open his cell.

"Hey, it’s me. I’ll be back in the city in about three hours, you wanna meet me for breakfast. Or yeah, I can come over. That would be nice."

As he ended the call and slipped the phone back into his pocket, he wondered if there was any way in hell he could keep Harlan from gloating.

 

End

Chapter Text

They’d gone back to his place after he drove around the area a couple of times to make sure there was no tail. He trusted Brian. As soon as he touched him he knew, but Didion was another story. He didn’t know how ex, the ex FBI agent was and how inclined he might be to do a little favor for his former brothers in arms. Drop a dime on a felon and nail a dirty cop. At that thought he’d spared a quick guilty glance at Brian. In the four years he hadn’t thought of Brian like that. Hadn’t put it in those stark terms. Brian O’Conner was a dirty cop. For him.

The silence prevailed as Dom pulled into his driveway. Getting out of the car, he grabbed Brian’s bag and the other man followed him quietly into the modest house. His keys landed on the coffee table, and he placed Brian’s bag almost reverently beside the couch. With Brian looking on, he moved into the kitchenette just off the living room and returned with one beer that he handed to Brian. With barely a pause in his stride, he disappeared again into the back of the house.

Brian uncapped his beer and took a long sip. After all this time, he was with Dom, in his home. and he could feel the reality of that trying to overwhelm him.
The buzz of a razor caught his attention and Brian followed the sound. Brown eyes met blue in the bathroom mirror. Dom smiled at Brian who sipped his beer and watched intently as the other man transformed. When head and face were clean, Dom turned to look directly at his guest.

"Hey, Brian."

Taking one step which closed the small distance between them, Brian reached up and brushed his knuckles against the newly smooth skin of the man he’d waited for. Dom’s hand covered the one stroking his face and twined his fingers with Brian’s. The first touch of Dom’s lips on his was tentative, permission seeking. And permission was eagerly granted as the empty beer bottle slipped from Brian’s fingers. And their entwined hands pressed against the small of Brian’s back. Four years of longing and uncertainty wiped away in the deepening and the heat between them. When there was no choice but to come up for breath, they pressed their foreheads together and held on.

"You like it," Dom murmured.

"Yeah, I like it." Brian replied huskily.

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Dom sat on the front porch of their house and watched Brian’s Mustang come through the security gate and barrel up the dirt incline to the house.
"Hey, lead foot." The five o’clock shadowed, blue-eyed blond flashed Dom a smile as he bound up the porch steps.
"Hey."
Without breaking stride, the blond headed into the house. Dom watched the screen door as it slammed closed and flashed a grin of his own at the space just recently vacated by his partner.
In the first year of learning how to be together, Dom and Brian learned their reunions after more than a day's separation were passionately all consuming. Any work that was undone didn’t get done, calls to be returned weren’t. At separations end it was all about each other.
That first night after the warehouse meeting, after Dom had taken care of putting his appearance right, they’d touched, held, loved each other and lived inside each other's skin for three straight days. They managed to keep themselves fed, but mostly they couldn’t keep their hands, mouths or eyes off each other.
Later, when things were more settled, they laughed about those three days. A fluke caused by four years of longing and fear.
The first time they were separated for a week, one thing was learned, another thing remembered.

ŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠ

Once the two men agreed that they would stay together, stay in Mexico, Brian returned to Los Angeles to tie up his loose ends. He moved his money, resigned from the police department and put his house up for sale. The last thing he did before leaving town was come clean with his mentor, Tanner. The entire process had taken a week.

After the meeting with Tanner, O’Conner called Dom to tell him he was headed to LAX. He hadn’t bothered to hide either the strain or the fatigue in his voice.
As Dom cruised the airport arrivals area , he’d tried to keep his mounting frustration at bay. From the moment Brian said his name on the phone, he’d wanted to get to the other man. He understood Brian’s need to see his former commanding officer, but he’d also been afraid that the other man might harbor some resentment. He’d been afraid when he first heard the strained way Brian said his name that the other man had been arrested.

He’d dropped off Brian in worn form fitting jeans and t-shirt, a baseball cap fit snugly on his head. He’d dropped off a relaxed beach bum and picked up an exhausted GQ model. It made sense that Brian would have shaved, gotten cleaned up for the meetings that he had, but Dom hadn’t quite expected the man he picked up. The well-tailored suit, the tightly knotted tie. He had never seen Brian like that. And he felt desire he hadn’t felt since right before Lompoc.
Though Echo Park and downtown Los Angeles were geographically close, for Dom parts of it were another world.

The first meeting with his court appointed attorney was nerve-wracking. He expected impatience and indifference, the stereotype. But, he found himself mesmerized as the man laid out his defense strategy. He passionately declared that although they would dress him in a way that showed respect for the court, he wouldn’t be putting him in a monkey suit. Jurors saw through that shit. And then Dom couldn’t help but focus on his pd’s ‘monkey suit’. And his stomach had done a little flip. He attributed it to nerves and did his best to concentrate. The public defender explained to Dom the importance of making the jury see him as a heartbroken, grieving son and not a hulking bruiser.

That night, after lights out his mind returned to the meeting, but the lawyer’s pronouncements and strategies faded away as Dom simply saw a man and his well contoured suit. And as the image persisted, his hand drifted below his waistband.

 

They met two more times. The night of their third meeting it clicked for Dom that on the nights following those meetings, he’d jerked himself to sleep with the image of the attorney in his head, like he couldn’t help it. Other nights snapshots of Letty worked, but the intensity was different. After a moment of panic, he figured it was some kind of fucked up expression of gratitude. That was until they took him to the criminal courts building. He was inundated with other men who had the same GQ styling, his stomach flipped and flopped and he gave his nerves the credit. He was on trial, he was probably going to do some time. Who wouldn’t be nervous?

 

He kept as still as he could, ignoring the somersaults in his stomach when the arresting officer, now suited up for court, rose to testify. That night, in his cell, he’d gotten off to the combined images of his public defender, the cop that arrested him and random suited others. Others, for which he had no reason to demonstrate any expressions of gratitude, fucked up or otherwise. He was almost grateful when the day of his sentencing finally rolled around.
Watching Brian’s approach through the windshield, he felt that spike of all of those things he’d felt in the presence of those other men. The intense want, but this time there was no mistake about what it was. And this time it was his for the taking.

Brian tossed his bag in the bed of the truck and slid in tiredly next to Dom. He slipped his hand into Dom’s, rested his head on the headrest.

"You okay?"

"I’m not sure." Brian had answered after a beat.

He had just nodded and pulled away from the curb. It was a forty five minute drive back to the house. Dom didn’t think that he was going to make it. While Brian dozed beside him, Dom almost rear-ended a couple of other drivers because he couldn’t help but look. When Dom opened his door, Brian woke with a start.

"We home?" He asked blearily.

"Not yet," Dom answered huskily. He let Dom tug him out of the truck and when he saw where they were he smiled.

"We taking another look?"

"Something like that." Dom had said as he grabbed Brian’s hand and walked toward the garage building that was at the top of their list of choices. The realtor had given him the key because he’d wanted to do another walk through without the chattering sales pitch in his ear.

As soon as he got the door locked behind them, he was on his partner. He’d wrapped the silk tie that complemented the blondls eyes around his fist, with his other hand he unzipped his own pants. He pulled Brian to him and despite the lingering vestiges of sleep, Brian came to him eagerly. Dom pressed himself tightly against Brian’s suited body as he took his mouth in a hard kiss. His unfettered erection left a trail of pre-ejaculate on the suit pants.

Pulling out of the kiss suddenly, Dom unfurled the tie from his fist, quickly unknotted it, and turned Brian around. He bound Brian’s hands together. Turning Brian again so that they were face to face, he wasn’t sure what he would see in the other man’s eyes. What he saw was desire swirling with the other thing that had so far only been expressed through actions. Brian hadn’t given up his home, his career and his reputation just because he wanted to get laid.

Stepping back, he allowed just enough space so that he could slip his hand between them. Stroking himself with one hand, he let his other run over the fine fabric of the suit jacket before slipping it underneath to fondle the crisp white shirt. The feel of the fabric over the hard plains underneath made Dom’s hand move faster over his erection. Leaning forward he pressed his mouth to a cloth covered nipple and bit gently.

"Baby," Brian gasped.

"Ssh," Dom whispered as he shuddered and came all over the suit. Without hesitation, Dom unbuckled and unzipped Brian just enough to take him out, then lowered himself to his knees. The heft and weight of his partner felt good on his tongue as Dom took him in until his gag reflex tried to trigger. With hands folded into the material of Brian’s pants, he worked the hardness, until

"Dom," Brian moaned and let go.

Dom caught him as his knees started to buckle and eased him to the floor. When his hands were free, Brian reached for Dom and pulled him into a deep kiss. The big man continued to stroke his hands up and down the suit. "We couldn’t even make it to the house this time."

"Mmm, gonna have to buy you another suit. I think I ruined this one."

"I think my suit wearing days are over," came the satisfied reply.

"You need another suit."

"Is there something you want to tell me Mr. Toretto?"

"Maybe, Mr. O’Conner."

They’d sat on the garage floor for a little while. Brian asleep in his arms. Dom had accepted that he and the ex-cop were going to be together. But it had never occurred to him until he saw Brian at the airport, until with his hands tied behind his back by a felon, Brian had still been able to look at him with the same trust he had that first night. Fully willing to fulfill a fantasy he knew nothing about. It had never occurred to Dom that the person he loved could also be his fantasy. He hadn’t realized that Brian O’Conner would be everything.

ŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠ

Blinking out of the memory, but still suffused with the truth of it, Dom looked at his watch. Brian had been in the house for about twenty minutes, Dom figured that was enough time. He found Brian in the dining room staring at the candlelit table. His hair was still shower damp and curling at the nape of his neck. He wore a bright white linen shirt made whiter against the tan of his skin. His jeans were Dom’s favorites, snug and worn in the right places. And Dom knew without looking that he was barefoot.

They stood across from each other, behind the chairs of their custom made dining set. They’d learned early in the relationship how important it was to have chairs and tables that could bear their combined weight. In the flicker of the light, he saw his own feelings mirrored in Brian’s eyes. The joy at another safe homecoming, the temporarily banked heat and the promise for later, the love.

"I didn’t forget."

"I know."

"I wanted to get here last night. I almost shot the client."

Dom’s rich dark laugh floated across the table eliciting an infectious grin from the blond.

"I don’t think your employers would have liked that."

There was a slight shift to solemnity in Brian’s face.

"My employers know what comes first with me."

"Do they?"

"Yeah, it’s in my contract."

"Yeah?" Teasing.

"Yeah. It smells really good, Dom."

Dom picked up the bottle of wine and poured for both of them.

"Have a seat. Dinner is served."

"Yes, sir."

There was nothing particularly deep or meaningful about the initial dinner conversation, its value came from the same thing it always did. They were together, they were safe.

"God, Dom. Maybe you should have opened a restaurant instead of a garage." He grinned at Brian’s almost dishwasher clean plate.

"I think," he said as he watched Brian savor his wine, "that you’re probably a little biased."

"You think."

"Yeah, I do."

Playing for time, Dom picked up his own glass. He’d been waiting for this moment since Brian came home. And now that it was here, his stomach was starting to jitter.

"I had no idea," he said as he placed his glass carefully on the table, his eyes focused on his own hand, "when you came into the store the first time, no idea. And sometimes it’s so -." He looked up and made a kind of sweeping motion with his hand.

"I know," Brian answered softly and he leaned a little forward.

"And sometimes, Bri..."

"What’s on your mind big man? Order something online you want to try out tonight? You buy me a new suit?" He finished huskily.
Dom couldn’t help but laugh. His fingers stretched across the table so that they just barely touched Brian’s.

"I think that we should get the last piece of paper."

Dom had been prepared for Brian to laugh his ass off. He had been prepared for him to laugh so hard that he fell on the floor. He hadn’t been prepared for Brian’s face to go sheet white. He hadn’t been prepared for all the heat and playfulness that animated the other man’s features to just vanish.
He also wasn’t prepared for Brian to stand up and suddenly leave the room. The creaky swing and slam of the screen door reached him in the dining room.

"Shit," Dom exhaled under his breath.

He lowered his head for a moment. They didn’t fight in the house. It wasn’t something that they had ever talked about. But at the beginning of their very first fight, Brian had headed for the porch and Dom went after him. And that’s the way it went. Their next fight they’d ended up yelling at each other in the backyard. From then on their fights always seemed to happen on either the front porch or in the backyard.

The inside of the house remained kind of hallowed ground. His father had told him that although it was a cliche, he and his mother had lived by the adage never go to bed angry. In his relationship with Letty, he’d been able to do that . They never went to bed mad at each other. It had meant him giving in many times. when he hadn’t wanted to, but he’d done it.

With Brian. With Brian, things were a complete 180. The best they seemed able to manage, especially in that first year, was to always go to bed together. That was their other constant. Certainly they had fewer fights now than they had at the beginning, but they always went to bed together. Sometimes that meant that each of them rode their side of the bed so hard they were in danger of falling off, but no one ever slept on the couch or outside of the house because of a fight. Sometimes that meant great makeup sex in the morning, sometimes it meant they just got up and picked up where they left off.
Dom thought it was a perfect example of just how deep it went with them. Angry, sometimes furious, but still able to sleep beside one another. He reached across the table to snuff out the candles. He hadn’t expected to spend any part of the evening on the porch, and he hoped that he wouldn’t be spending any of it riding his side of the bed.

ŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠ

Dom handed Brian’s unfinished drink to him. There was a slight hesitation from the other man before he reached for the glass.

"Is there any reason why we’re spending our anniversary on the porch of doom." Not a laugh or even a smile. His partner’s shoulders tensed instead.

"Toretto -"

Dom downed the rest of his wine fast. Toretto. It was going to be bad then.

Although they hadn’t talked about it, his proposal hadn’t been random. Wasn’t without thought. They had most of the paperwork. The power of attorneys, the business partnership agreements, the living wills, the co-signed mortgages. It was in black and white for anyone to see, but Dom had been raised to be married.
He didn’t dream about weddings, what he would wear or the friggin’ cake. But he was the product of a happy marriage, a good marriage and he’d always assumed that eventually he and Letty -

This was just the next step. Except he was standing on the porch with Brian last naming him, on their anniversary.

"A couple years ago, after the Chavez job down in Costa Rica, I came home and you weren’t here. I didn’t have a chance to call before my flight. I called your cell and it went to voicemail a couple of times. I didn’t know where you were. I was home twenty minutes before I checked the closets and drawers to make sure that your clothes were still here."

Dom’s hand tightened on the stem of his empty glass.

"After... I started calling first to make sure you were here, that you were going to be home. This year when I finished the Taylor Industries job, you were picking up that car in Ixtapa. I knew you were going to be late. You said twenty minutes. After an hour, I started checking the closets and drawers."

Dom set his glass down very deliberately on the porch rail so that it wouldn’t shatter in his hand.

"I would think," Dom said very carefully, quietly, "ten years of having you in my heart would get me a little more faith than that."

"You leave the scene of a murder suicide where you were hip deep in blood," Brian continued as though he hadn’t heard his partner, "and you interview the relatives and friends who keep telling you how much the couple loved each other, what a great wife she was, what a great husband he was. How unbelievable the whole thing is. I use to think that maybe it was just people not wanting to speak ill of the dead, shock or guilt maybe.

But I realized people would say the same about me. El rubio so nice, so thoughtful. We can’t believe it. And I didn’t know. I didn’t know that I was that guy. You know. I really didn’t know. And maybe not having the paper -"

Dom watched Brian’s hand shake as he downed the rest of his glass. And he kept watching because he didn’t know what to say. He knew that maybe he should tell his boyfriend that he wasn’t that guy.

Instead, their first major fight flashed in his mind. It had taken about a year for them to get settled, find the house, find the garage etc. And Dom had thought they were good to go. So much so that one night when Brian said I’ve been talking to Chris - not one single alarm bell went off. Dom knew that Brian and the private investigator were still in touch. He paid the household bills and that included his and Brian’s cell bills. He knew what numbers Brian called. It hadn’t seemed like a big deal. Until that night.

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"I’ve been talking to Chris."

"Mm, hmm." Dom said as he surfed the internet for an engine. He was going to restore the Charger.

"Yeah, he’s putting me in touch with some guys down here who work in asset retrieval."

Maybe because his attention was split, it still didn’t trigger for Dom.

"I’m meeting with a couple of them tomorrow afternoon."

Dom clicked on a link that looked like a good lead, then asset retrieval clicked in his head. Bookmarking the page, he turned his full attention on Brian.

"What kind of assets?"

And the man that he loved explained in great detail how the assets in question were kidnapped executives, but that he intended to specialize in collateral retrieval. He explained them as innocents kidnapped by accident because their families were thought to have money, employees mistaken as members of the wealthy families they worked for, family members of assets.

"Families should never be in play Dom."

Dom got that, but that was all he got. Because when they were looking at property for the garage and signing loan papers. Dom had been given no reason to think that they wouldn’t be doing all of it side by side.

As he looked at the eager expression on Brian’s face, it dawned on him that maybe it should have occurred to him.

"Dammit Brian. We’re out. We’re done. We managed not to get put in jail or killed in the last four years so let’s walk away. We’re supposed to be walking away.

You are not doing this."

Startled blue eyes held Dom’s for a moment before Brian said evenly,

"I’m an ex-cop Dom, who drives like a wheelman. And since we’re not going to be knocking over liquor stores or banks...I want to do something that uses what I can do. all of what I can do."

Before Dom could answer, Brian grabbed his beer and went to the porch. Dom stayed in the house for fifteen minutes to see if he was going to get less upset. When that didn’t happen, he considered driving straight to LA and kicking Chris Didion’s ass.

The fight stretched over two full days and nights. Brian had not only kept his meeting, he’d also lined up a first assignment. On the morning of the third day, Dom sat on his side of the bed with his head cradled in his hands. He’d begun to fear that they might not make it. And so he did something that he wasn’t use to doing. He offered a compromise.

"Let me come with you." Awake on his side of the bed, Brian reached out with his hand and slipped it under Dom’s t-shirt. He traced small circles on the warm skin of his back. Dom shivered. It was the first time the other man had touched him in two days.

"No."

"Brian, you scouted garages with me, you talked to the real estate agents, the banks. The web designer. I am just asking you to let me see this. Help me find a way to be okay with this."

"It’s too dangerous baby. I can’t -"

"But you want me to let you go. You want me to let strangers watch your back?"

They sat like that for a long time, Dom with his head in his hands, Brian caressing him. Until -

"Okay." Brian said quietly.

It was to have been an exchange of information meet. Dom’s cover was as freelance muscle, complete with his own sawed off shotgun. The meet went bad in every way something like that could. If Brian hadn’t been so livid afterwards, Dom would have thought the whole thing was a setup designed by the blond to prove just how well he could watch his own back.

Brian had read the room quickly, expertly. When the bullets started flying, before Dom was even sure what was going on, Brian covered him and took two men out coldly, clinically. That should have given Dom more fuel for his arguments against Brian taking on that kind of work, but there was no arguing with Brian’s skill, or the beauty of him in his element. He hadn’t realized how deadly Brian actually was, especially when he was pissed off. He’d known Brian could kill, had killed. But seeing it....

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Dom stared at Brian. He still hadn’t found the words yet. Or he had, but his common sense was trying to make a last stand, postponing the inevitable. Their household was pretty well armed. In addition to the shotgun, there were the various handguns Brian used for work. They were all locked up of course, but that offered no protection against someone who had the key.

Toretto took a step to close the distance between himself and the man he loved. Brian’s shoulders tensed, but that didn’t prevent Dom from reaching out to brush his knuckles against the tanned skin of Brian’s cheek.

Blue eyes fluttered closed as Brian relaxed into the touch. Common sense gave up the fight. And Dom set the words free, asking the only thing he could.

"Is that a yes O’Conner?"

Eyes snapped open and suddenly Dom’s knuckles were touching air.

"You still want me to say yes?"

There was a naked desperate surprise in the question.

"Do you want to say yes?"

"Bastard. You son of a bitch." Dom stepped closer.

 

"My parents were married, and I’m the son of a bitch who’s gonna make an honest man of you."

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Once, while Dom was on a buying trip, they’d stayed at a semi-rundown hotel. Their room had a kind of shabby chic to it and came equipped with a large claw foot bathtub. On a lark and perhaps with a little alcohol influenced inspiration, they’d decided to see if they could fit in the tub at the same time. There was a little bit of a mishap with overfilling the tub and a huge amount of water sloshing on the worn floor, but overall as Brian cradled Dom between his legs and held him tightly, they both reached to the same conclusion. As soon as they got home, they began looking into how to remodel their bathroom to add a freestanding tub.

In the course of the six months it took them to finish the remodel, there were more than a few fights in the backyard and more than a few rounds of impromptu sex on the bathroom floor.

Dom trailed a washcloth gently up and down Brian’s torso, while his other hand stroked Brian’s hip. The blond was dozy in his arms. His head lolled on Dom’s shoulder.

They’d had the post fight make-up sex, begun on the porch and ended in one of their custom made dining room chairs. There was the Happy Anniversary sex followed quickly by the we’re getting married sex.

They’d barely been able to crawl into the tub.

"Brian Toretto," he murmured against Brian’s damp hair. The blond roused in Dom’s arms.

"You want me to change my name?"

"Well, I am putting my life on the line." Though his tone was light, he felt a slight tightening of the muscles beneath his hands.
Dom continued his caress.

"Would you?"
There was no hesitation.

"Yeah, yeah I would...I will. Happy Anniversary, baby."

"Happy Anniversary."

 

End