Mia has never doubted that Brian loves her.
Even during the five years she hadn't heard from him, she'd been sure that the problem wasn't that he didn't really care, or that she didn't still want to kiss him at least as much as she wanted to punch him. It just hadn't been enough to get them past all the other forces pulling them apart.
It's kind of ironic that it had taken someone else loving him to turn 'not enough' into her 'happily ever after'.
She catches him, sometimes, looking at her when he thinks she's asleep with an expression of soft wonder, more vulnerable than he usually allows himself to be with her when they're both awake. He's happy, too; she knows he is. Especially on the days when their path temporarily joins up with Dom's-- and Brian comes back from their latest race with shining eyes and a wildness to his laugh, hard enough to pound nails even though he usually loses.
It's a good thing her hormones are on an upsurge, again. She holds him close in the aftermath of one such afternoon drive, listening to Dom's low rumbling laugh from down the hall, and buries a pensive sigh against her boyfriend's shoulder.
"What?" Brian murmurs sleepily against her hair, half-drunk with adrenaline let-down and afterglow.
"Oh, it's nothing," she says, deciding as always to leave well enough alone.
He doesn't seem inclined to take that answer today, though; the slow sweep of an absent hand stills against the curve of her spine, and he pulls back a little to look her in the eye. "No it's not," he says, and the instant protective concern in his expression is almost enough to undo her. "Mia? C'mon, tell me what's wrong." He glances down at her swollen belly-- and she quashes a brief, unworthy urge to let him think she's worried about something to do with the baby. She's not sure he's fully aware of what's going on, and she doesn't want to spoil their idyll if he reacts badly.
"It's-- nothing, Brian, really. I'm fine; we both are. Better than fine." She curves one hand over her stomach. "It's just-- I was thinking."
"Yeah? About what?" His hand moves again, resting over hers on the taut skin, and he relaxes a little-- but just a little. She can still feel the tension in his legs where they're tangled with hers, see it in the set of his shoulders and the muscle pulled tight at the corner of his jaw.
She considers. Maybe it'll sink in now better than it had when she'd elliptically approached the subject six years ago, back when he'd been pretending to be Brian Spilner and deep in denial over Dom's role in the truck heists. It really wasn't a surprise that he'd been blinding himself to other things back then, too. But now the running's over. There's no more need to hide.
"You and my brother," she says, smiling ruefully at him.
He frowns at that, eyes focusing intently as they zero in on hers. Mia thinks of this as his cop face, sometimes; the one he puts on when he's weighing pros and cons and possible fallout. "The racing, you mean? You know it's just for fun these days; we don't need to prove anything to each other anymore."
Mia laughs, low in her throat, at that. They're always proving something to each other, even if Brian isn't still trying to make up for introducing himself as a wolf in sheep's clothing, even if Dom's no longer the sole Alpha of their extended family putting the buster through his paces. It's just the way they are to each other, always finding flimsy excuses to be breathless and intense in each other's company.
Dom had been that way with Vince, once, when Mia was young; but around the time Letty had started putting on curves and bending over cars where Dom could see her, Vince had started to get a little uncomfortable with it. Dom's time away had only made things rockier between them. It hadn't just been Mia's attention Vince had been jealous of when Brian had started coming around-- not that he would ever admit it. Mia had seen the conflict in him, sometimes; the longing, and the uneasiness bound up with it.
It's love. She knows it's love. It's just never quite strayed into sexual expression that she can tell. She never asked questions of her brother about what happened in Lompoc; never really wanted to think of Dom in that kind of position. But she sees the muscles, the dominant male posturing that only got more intense after his years behind bars. When his hands linger anywhere other than head or shoulders outside a fight, it's always with women. He doesn't seem conflicted about it, though, or repressed; just-- compartmentalized.
She found a term for that kind of murky sexuality once: biromantic heterosexual. But she'd never expected that the man she finally fell for would turn out to be wired the same way. Or that he would succumb to the pull of Dom's presence without ever falling out of her orbit. Caught between them, like a satellite in one of the Lagrange points between Earth's gravity and the moon-- or like the sea, shifting back and forth as time altered their configuration.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. She's thought this through.
"No," she says calmly, curling up against Brian and resting her head against his chest. It'll be easier to get through this if she can't see his face. "I mean, I know you love him."
He swallows, the sound loud above her ear, but he wraps his arms more securely around her. "Yeah, of course I do," he says; "he's my bro now. Like Rome."
Mia smiles at that. She suspects that really is true, to an extent; like it had been with Dom and Vince back before Vince got self-conscious, and probably at about the same age. She's met Roman Pearce now, and he talks a good game, but she's pretty sure the best thing that ever happened to him since meeting Brian O'Connor in juvie was the day Brian introduced him to Tej Parker.
"No, not like Rome," she says, with another sigh. "Brian, don't bullshit me about this. You're in love with Dom, the 'til death do us part, dramatic gestures kind of love." She draws a heart on his chest with the tip of her index finger, and the muscle twitches under her touch.
He's hardly breathing, now; like he's thinking very hard about what to say, afraid he'll be facing two Torettos in a temper if he missteps and gets it wrong. "Mia... I love you. I would never cheat on you, and your brother's never... I mean, I don't even know if he... it isn't like that. I'm with you. I'm going to marry you if you'll ever let me. You're having my kid!"
"Shhh. I know," she soothes him, reaching out to stroke along his flank, as though trying to calm a large, skittish cat. It works, a little; he starts breathing easier again as she continues. "The thing is, he feels the same way, Brian. And you know that, too."
"Mia...." His voice sounds strained; she's really pushing him. She almost never hears that tone from him unless there are matters of life and death involved; it's usually Dom who provokes it. Another neon sign for anyone with eyes to notice.
"Hush." She shakes her head against the hard planes of his pectorals. "Calm down. What I'm trying to say is, it's okay."
"It's-- what?" He stammers, genuinely startled; snowman Brian with all his walls down. She doesn't get that from him very often, either. It's a good thing her ego doesn't need stroking as much as Dom's.
"You heard me," she says, firmly. She's not going to let him misunderstand this. "As long as you keep coming back to me. As long as neither of you screw this up and tear our family apart again."
"Are you saying I should just...." One of his arms unwinds from around her; she can feel flesh moving under her cheek, and figures he's probably waving a hand in the air in an attempt to sketch out what he can't make himself say. "That Dom and I should...."
Mia snorts. "I'm not suggesting anything. Not if you aren't already."
And not just because she can't even begin to picture either of them making that first vulnerable move. She doesn't claim to be a saint; if she knew they were fucking, she's not so sure she wouldn't bristle up like Letty had every time some racing groupie wearing next to nothing had caught Dom's attention. Letty had tolerated Dom's guy crushes for the most part-- except in the case of overlapping disasters like the Trans-- but that had been as far as her patience had stretched. And Mia had to admit, her brother did have a wandering eye.
At least he had before Letty's death, and Elena. Mia approves of Elena; she really gets the undercurrent of furious grief that's never really left Dom since their father died, never mind Jesse and Letty and Vince, and can be soft for him in ways that Brian never will. But at the same time, she's strong enough for Dom to respect-- and soaks up some of that excessive intensity, so he isn't just depending on Mia and Brian to thrive. She may not last long-term, but she's good for Dom right now.
And so is Brian. More than that: it may never have come to anything if Letty hadn't pulled Brian back into their lives, but somewhere around the umpteenth time they'd risked their lives and futures for each other, Dom's feelings had crossed some indefinable line... and Brian's had been clear from the start. This isn't some passing phase. She's going to have to deal with her brother and her lover wanting their own 'alone time' for the rest of their lives together. They may not ever fuck, but at their level racing is practically a sex act itself. She's a driver, too. She knows.
But it's not as if fast cars wouldn't be a fixture in their lives anyway. She can use the occasional time to herself; they all belong to each other, but she's not just their accessory, she has too strong a sense of self to limit herself to that. And when it makes Mia's brother laugh and brings her man back to her flushed and appreciative, complaining would be a really petty thing to do.
"I just want you to be honest with me about it, okay?" she asks, softly. No more lies. That's the one thing that could still break them, after everything. "As long as I have you both, that's all I need to be happy." She's spent enough time without Dom to last a lifetime already, and the miles still stretching ahead feel a lot freer with both her boys behind the wheel.
Brian takes a deep breath as her permission settles, and all that rigid tension in him starts to let go: she can practically hear the creaking of his spine as the tendons relax, and she makes herself more comfortable against his shifting posture.
"Mia, did I ever tell you that you're the best thing that's ever happened to me?" he muses aloud, rubbing his cheek against the top of her head.
She laughs again. There's been so much more laughter in her world since they left Rio; those five years in LA with only Letty off and on to represent their family, it had felt like the sun had gone out, leaving her in a pale grey approximation of reality. But it's back now, warmth filling her up as though she's always standing in the liquid gold sunshine outside their door, and only the memory of those they've lost has the power to cast a shadow anymore.
"I'll have to take half credit on that, I think," she tells him, looking up to meet his eyes. They're soft now, blue as the sky at noon and crinkled with smile lines as he grins down at her.
"Just one more thing," she adds, a spirit of mischief filling her now that the risky part of the conversation's done.
"Oh, what now? Got some other revelation ready to rock my world?" he chuckles warmly.
She swats at him to get him to shut up, and smirks. "No. Just-- I'm not sharing you with anyone else, no matter how much gravity they have, you hear me? I don't care what happens, or how thrilling it was last time, you're not letting that Agent Hobbs get close enough to put either of you in cuffs again."
He splutters at that, indignant, once more lost for words.
Dom's rumble carries to them again, followed by the higher notes of Elena's teasing.
Mia smiles and seals her mouth over Brian's.
No, she's not exactly living a standard life. But it's hers; and she wouldn't trade it in for that emptied house in Echo Park for all the world.