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All the Redemption I Can Offer (Is Beneath this Dirty Hood)

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chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected, and stepping out over the line

It only happened once, before everything fell apart, and when Brian thinks back to that day he still feels a little guilty. Dom had known that Brian was going to take Mia out; that was why he’d brought him to the garage to show him his dad’s car in the first place. Brian saw the gesture for what it was: a way of welcoming him into the family, by sharing that most precious and tangible of tragedies. If Brian had been questioning his loyalties before that moment, the feeling only intensified in the face of Dom’s naked honesty.

Then Dom turned to Brian, stalking right up to him and slipping through the bubble of personal space that Dom had never seemed to understand. His breath was hot on Brian’s neck as he spoke. “You’re all right, Spilner. You know that?” And before Brian’s heart had the chance to clench with guilt, Dom was kissing him.

Brian’s brain petered out then, in a way very unbecoming of a cop, and he gave into the kiss, to the firmness of Dom’s hands on his shoulders, to the rasp of stubble against his chin. His hands reached up to grab the smooth surface of Dom’s head and press his mouth even closer, and before Brian knew it he was backed up against nine hundred horses of Detroit muscle, wondering how obvious his carefully-guarded lust must have been for the moment to come to this.

“Mia…” Brian managed to gasp when Dom pulled back. But Dom just laughed.

“You gone out with her yet?” Brian shook his head. “Then she’s got no claim on you right now.”

Brian’s dick couldn’t argue with that logic, and before he knew it they were nearly as naked as Dom’s honesty, groping and grinding and soiling the sanctity of the cursed car

Afterward, Brian tried to forget about what had happened. Dating Mia was one thing; she was only the sister of a criminal, an innocent bystander. But Dom was the man he’d been sent to investigate, and even Brian’s conflicted mind couldn’t justify fucking around with the man the FBI was so convinced was running a major hijacking ring.

So he went out with Mia, and Dom went about his business, and they never talked about what had happened in the garage. And then everything blew wide open, and before Brian knew it he was watching Dom’s taillights fading in the distance, the weight of his betrayal heavy between them.
Brian licked his lips and tried to remember how Dom tasted, searched his memory for the particular combination of sweat and motor oil that had filled his nose. The fragments his mind returned were nebulous at best, scraps and shards of a day that had been more than Brian was prepared to handle. Shaking his head, Brian turned around, scribbled a note for Mia, and shook the dust of Los Angeles off of his tires.

shut down strangers and hot rod angels

It was five years later when Brian saw Dom again, and he couldn’t decide if he’d been wanting this to happen or not. He’d been avoiding the Torettos for years, avoiding his own shame and guilt, throwing his energy into his new job at the FBI. He had hoped Dom would stay out of the country in relative safety, and he’d resigned himself to that scenario as the best possible option. But Letty came to him, knowing probably more than she let on about all the reasons Brian would be guaranteed to help her, and the chance for wiping Dom’s record was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He didn’t expect it to go to shit; he didn’t expect Letty to die for her honesty. But she did, and then Dom was back, and Brian knew nothing he could say or do would regain his trust.

Until dinner that night, with Dom and Mia. Until the fight. Until Dom was pummeling him into the floor and Brian finally told him everything, everything he’d been hiding for the sake of the investigation and the tiny sliver of remaining hope that Dom would stay by his side. In the aftermath, he didn’t believe his words had made any difference at all, didn’t entirely blame Dom if they hadn’t. He fell into fitful sleep on Mia’s couch, wondering what the next day would bring.

But late that night, bruises on his face just beginning to rise where Dom had grabbed him, Brian awoke with the feeling that someone was watching him. He sat up on the Torettos' couch and had already slid his hand between the cushions to grab for his gun before he realized it was Dom, sitting in an easy chair and staring impenetrably in Brian's direction.

"Jesus Christ!" Brian hissed, because it was all he could think to say. "You planning to kill me in my sleep?"

"You did right by Letty," Dom said. He was calm -- that almost scary calm that always came over him right before he was about to do something especially stupid. Though for Dom, half-apologies might have been close enough to stupid to count.

Brian exhaled, letting some of the adrenaline dissipate but keeping his guard up. "Yeah. I tried."

Dom nodded, stood, cracked his knuckles, and stared off at a point somewhere above Brian's head.

"I'm gonna kill Braga."

"Yeah," Brian said, for the second time. Of course Dom was going to kill Letty’s murderer. Brian had no idea where Dom was going with this. "I kinda figured that one out."

"Then why ain’t you trying to stop me? You're still a cop, aren't you?"

It was a good question, and Brian wasn’t sure he had an answer that would satisfy Dom. He knew he didn’t have one that would satisfy his superiors at the Bureau.

"I trust you," he said, finally. "I know you'll do what you know is right." His hands twisted nervously in the thin blanket in his lap and he wondered how much he'd just admitted

Dom snorted, bemused, and stepped closer to the couch, but when he spoke his voice sounded far away, as if he wasn’t even in the same room. "Damn. You got the eyes, all right."

Brian didn’t know what Dom meant by that, but he did understand what he meant when he leaned in to run the rough pad of a thumb over the bruises he’d left on Brian's cheeks.

"Damn, O'Conner," he muttered, still stroking Brian's cheek. "We gotta toughen up this pretty face of yours." Those words, and the hungry kiss that followed them, were as close to forgiveness as Brian was likely to get.

"Dom…" Brian started, as Dom climbed onto the ratty couch and straddled Brian's legs, pinning him under his thin blanket.

"Shhh,” Dom said, and let one finger slide down Brian’s bare chest.

Brian shuddered at the touch and let the goosebumps consume him. This was the second chance he’d never expected to get, and he wasn’t about to waste it.

last chance power drive

Brian had spent most of his life trying to deny what he wanted: fast cars and the guys who drove them. But here, in South America, his career thrown away for a life on the run with a fugitive, he's finally letting himself give in.

He owes Dom. Owes him more than he ever would have expected, five years ago when he was still a fresh-faced curly-haired kid looking to take down some of the FBI’s most wanted criminals. A criminal Dom may be, but Brian knows now that he isn’t much better himself, and if it weren’t for Dom Brian would be worm food right now. Dom’s saved his life and given him his trust, and Brian’s not sure how he can ever repay that. Even breaking him out of prison, even throwing away every shot at normalcy for him, doesn’t seem like enough. Maybe all he can give is devotion.

They still race. One-on-one, on dirt-packed Colombian streets, kicking up dust clouds with their tires. There are no girls with bare midriffs and oiled skin, no judges with flags to declare the winner, but Dom and Brian don't care. They've got their own competition, and their own prize -- the satisfaction of throwing the loser over the hood of his car, twisting his arms behind his back, and fucking him senseless. Moments like that, when Brian's chest is burning from residual engine heat and the taste of dirt and metal is on his tongue, he doesn't even mind that Dom wins almost every time.

Brian isn't sleeping with Mia anymore. He sort of wishes he was, because there's something about the goddamn Toretto family that revs his engine like nothing else, but Mia called it off when she saw her brother and her boyfriend asleep against each other in front of the TV, Dom's arm curled reflexively around Brian's bicep. "Dom and me were never good at sharing, even when we were kids," she said, and that was that. Brian moved into Dom's bedroom the next night.

Dom has never apologized for who and what he is, and his appreciation for a fine body regardless of the make is no different. Still, there are things you don't do openly, in the world Dom inhabits, especially when any of the sorry sons of bitches you're dealing with could turn you over to the feds without blinking an eye. Their partnership remains a secret to those who haven’t figured it out on their own, and Brian figures it isn’t anybody else’s business, anyway.

That’s Brian’s life now – cautious and paranoid, the life of an exile. But when he looks at Dom, zooming down the road beside him, that familiar smirk on his face full of promise, Brian knows he’s where he needs to be. He’s got love; he’s got family. He’s traded in his wings on some wheels, found redemption in the unlikeliest of places, and it’s the smartest decision he’s ever made.