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Let’s Go, I’ll Drive

Chapter Text

The first time they kiss is the night before the heist. They’re joyful from the announcement of a new addition to the family and a little buzzed on the alcohol.

She likes the puzzle he presents, but decides that this loose-tongued version of him is just as interesting. His whispered breaths as he tells her of his plans for driving the autobahn, and of Tokyo, sends chills down her spine as he leans in closer with every word. She rears her head closer to whisper in his ear, “I’m going to get some air,” eyes lingering on his as she walks pass him.

He follows her outside with the stars above as their only audience, the voices of their friends inside, muted. Once he’s outside, she gently grabs his hand to lead them further from the building. They stop near a tree, and then he drums his fingers slowly along her exposed forearm.

“So what are your plans after this?” he asks.

“Maybe I’ll come along, teach you a few things,” she dares.

“Like what?” he counters playfully.

“Like…other ways to keep your mouth and hands busy,” she says seductively as she kisses him slowly and softly, moving his hands to her waist, then running her hands along his neck. It’s sweet and tender, and not what he expected after all the tension they’ve been harboring around each other.

Afterwards, she gives him a sly smirk as if to prove her point.

Game on. He'll play along.

He answers with an intense gaze, cupping her face with his hands as he kisses her hard and deep. When he finally pulls away from her, he sees the dazed look on her face, and he thinks this is the first time she seems out of her element.

Speechless. Breathless. Brilliant.

It might be the alcohol, but he’ll take this win.

“Took you long enough,” she stumbles, trying to regain the upper hand.

“Didn’t want a gun pointed at me now, did I?” he grins.

”Who says that’s not still a possibility?” she retorts firmly, her hands running along his back.

Silent stares illuminate the darkened Rio sky until she starts kissing his neck.

“Tell me about yourself,” she murmurs, “What did you say the other day, about life before we met, what did you do besides the obvious?”

“The past is what it is, I don’t look back,” he replies.

“How would I know if I’m running around with a dangerous person?” she teases.

“How do I know that you’re not the same?” he fires back.

“That’s a fair deal,” she says, echoing his words from earlier in the night.

“Fair deal,” he repeats, kissing her again.

Chapter Text

I. Sacred Grounds of His Fore-bearers (In Madrid)

He wanted to be a cowboy when he was a kid. A gun-slinging, foul-mouth, who lives by his own code. Calm. Cool. Searching for the next best thing. That’s who Han was, an outlaw. He ran as soon as he graduated high school.

“They’re fucking farmers or cops.”

He’d never be a cowboy in this century, his cousin told him. He’d race cars like horses, then. Join bandits to enact his code of fairness.

A man heading to the unknown, far off in the distance.

--

He casually tells Gisele of a desire to seek something, as if being near the sacred grounds of his fore-bearers would awaken it. “Cowboys originated in Spain, even if they were just ranchers. They spread, changed, evolved, I know it’s lame, but I’d never been further east than Florida, and-”

“You’d look good in cowboy hat, but it would hide your lovely hair,” she interjects, stroking his locks. She is gazing up at him so tenderly and sincerely that it overwhelms him, he doesn't need further verbal response to know that she understands.

--

They run and run. He just gets so lost in her. Lost in her eyes, her smile, and her spirit. Lost in anything and everything, spiraling into her orbit. He begins to think that he can have more. That he wants some kind of permanence. A life in Tokyo, perhaps, with a herd of cars, a cowgirl in high-heeled boots, something to protect, and it doesn't seem impossible. Something he never knew he wanted.

He can see beyond the horizon for the first time.

II. Dopey Smile and Piercing Eyes (In a beach-side somewhere)

She finds out the hard way that he’s not a fan of the heat.

He’s been watching a marathon of Western movies for the last day and a half, and she just feels antsy by it all. “Let’s go out,” she whines.

“It’s too hot outside,” he complains.

“How can you watch all this, the first few were good, but now they all look the same,” she argues.

“Let me tell you about cowboys,” he chimes in, “they have a code, even lawless-”

“Where’s the rugged, cool guy now? You think they didn't think it was hot? They are wearing leather!“ she interjects.

“I am not a cowboy, I don’t have to live that way, and air conditioning is an underrated gift to humanity,” he reasons. 

She mutters under her breath about a certain gift he won’t be getting tonight as she heads to their bedroom.

There are times when she needs to be around him all the time. It leaves her elated, anxious and terrified. Her first instinct is to fight the feelings, protect her heart, but the need keeps creeping up when he’s near. The last time it happened after they got off the plane from Rio. They checked into a hotel and didn't leave their room for a whole week. She blames the exhilarating danger of being millionaires on the run. It couldn't possibly be his dopey smile and piercing eyes.

Thirty minutes later she steps in front of the television, but before he has a chance to tell her to move, she unwraps her robe revealing her bikini, and says, “I’m going to the beach then, how do I look?”

“Let’s go, I’ll drive,” he says, eyeing her up and down in a daze.

III. Ruggedly Handsome in No Time (In L-O-V-E)

The stand-off has lasted nearly two days. She’s too stubborn to back down, and he apparently has a death wish, so he storms off silently and goes to the barber to get his hair cut because he knows she loves his locks. More fuel to the fire, so what?

--

She pulls her gun on him when she returns to the suite several hours later. His head was faced away from her, unidentifiable with his new short hair just above his ears. “Turn around, who are you?” she questions.

He turns slowly hearing the click of her safety. “It’s me, I know, I know, it’s shorter than I’d’ve liked, but apparently my foreign language fluency is not as good as yours,” he answers, shrugging.

She just smiles and lets out a laugh, puts down her weapon. “You might be too clean-cut for me,” she giggles, “Is this the man I ran away with, what do they call it, a square?” she continues.

Her eyes are softer now so he just rolls his eyes and sighs, turns on his charm, “Don’t worry, babe, my hair grows fast, I’ll be ruggedly handsome in no time.”

He has her in his arms now, nuzzling her neck.

“I've never been with such a clean-cut man, I’m up for the challenge!” she declares before running her fingers through his hair and kissing him deeply. “Oh, it is far too short, I can barely get a grip,” she teases, nodding her head from side to side.

“Who needs to keep their hands busy now?” he counters.

She offers a sly smirk and a kiss. “Mmmh, we can get you a cowboy hat, a rugged, manly one,” she says winking.  

“Oh, we’ll get you one, too, and maybe a golden lasso to go with your boots,” he utters dreamily, kissing her back soundly.

 

Chapter Text

I. Red Flames, Red Blood, Red Sirens, Red Thread

It’s a lazy Thursday afternoon as she’s rifling through his various IDs. Han Seoul-Oh, an old one that is clearly not even his picture. She stops short at one that reads “Han Lue.” She rummages her mind trying to find out why she knows that name. “

You’re Han Lue?” she questions. 

“Yes, sometimes,” he answers aloofly, not looking up from the magazine he is reading, not getting her point.

“Han Lue, from around L.A. with the red mustang? Dom gave me your number before Rio, he said you might be around in case I needed help. I called around but one of your friends said I had just missed you,” she explains.

“Small world,” he responds offhandedly, then goes back to his reading material. 

--

He hadn't given that incident much thought at the time but now that she is gone he ponders.

He’s reminded of a story he heard once about a red thread that tied people’s fates together. He tortures himself with thoughts of meeting her in another place, in another time. Not “if” but “when.” destined lovers, regardless of circumstances. He wonders if this is his destiny, doomed to love her so briefly. But even a hundred years would have felt brief. The fates needed a tragic story, but why did they choose them?

Deep down he knows that no one controls her. She saw the fates trying to snip the thread free and ripped if off herself. He would have done the same to save her. It’s not real. It’s just a story.

What he doesn't know is what a red string can mean to her. An old folklore that some in her culture believe. A thread tied around a wrist to ward off evil. The thread that could mean meeting the one a person would marry when it fell off naturally.

Was this the string cruelly entwined to his fateful one, so close to falling off by itself but also the very same one that would tear them apart?

--

He's not afraid of dying. In his last moments, the red flames engulf him, red blood rushes to his head, red sirens are blaring, but all he feels is the red thread tugging at his heart, pulling him back to her.

He needs it to be real, even if it’s just a story.

 

II. Kindred Spirits in a Crazy World

She believes in a higher power, something bigger than herself and this world.

She prays but not as much as she used to, she’s pragmatic. She can separate herself from it; overlook the blinding faith someone like Dom has so strongly.

He’s never been spiritual, maybe even scoffed at the overzealous in his youth, but now that he’s older, he sees the value of it.

He bows his head with the family at dinner. It means something to them and they mean something to him. It is respect and understanding, of kindred spirits who found each other in this crazy world.

Sometimes she prays in the mornings, mostly moments of silence with whispers throughout. She’s never more relaxed, and he thinks it’s enough to believe in her belief of it.

--

She doesn't like to think of the far off future, all it holds is murky waters.

She thinks she must have at some point, as a wide-eyed child, perhaps. She’s seen too much pain in the world, but she also knows there is hope and wonder. She just can’t afford to think about them.

--

She’s not afraid of death. In her final moments she doesn't regret a single thing. All she sees is what will remain. He will live.

He is the only thing that is real.

Chapter Text

I. Morning Drift Catchers

On the morning of the heist she’s double checking her guns when he joins her, offering her coffee, and a paper sack.

“It’s a croissant, I noticed you've had them quite a few times, and I figured it was a safe bet.”

“Thanks,” she responds, quickly glancing at him before going back to her task.

“Nervous?” he asks.

“I won’t be nervous if I’m prepared,” she answers.

They sit and eat in silence. They don’t talk about the events of the night before.

“I should check on the cars,” he says as he finishes his coffee.

“I’ll have to get you real croissants when we get to Paris,” she says as he is walking away.

“Paris, it is.” He nods as they share quick smiles.

 

II. Midday Mountain Drifters

“You ate all my chips,” he states passively.

“People actually get hungry, babe. We would be at lunch right now if someone could get one smooth turn,” she responds.

“I haven’t been able to do this under these conditions often,” he says.

“Well, you better catch up because Tokyo has mountains narrower than this and-” she starts.

“The beauty is in the danger,” he quips.

“You’re getting cocky, again. Don’t be a fool. Imagine the embarrassment when I have to tell my friends that my racer boyfriend broke his limbs driving off a cliff, especially if it’s for reaching for his chips,” she nods her head back and forth in annoyance.

“Well, ‘Miss Drift Queen of Precision,’ you need a little flash and flare along with the accuracy,” he argues, his voice dripping with smugness.

“Get out!” she demands.

He exits the vehicle thinking they are switching spots, but she slides into the driver’s seat, and is off before he’s in the passenger seat. For a second he thinks she’s ditched him.

She emerges from the hillside drifting smoothly, and then maneuvers until she’s teetering along the edge of the mountaintop. When she gets to the bottom she drifts stealthly, creating tight circles near him with the vehicle, fumes littering the air.

She pulls up slowly, rolling down the window, approaching him with a mischievous smile.

He’s impressed but tries to conceal it with a retort, “I never said you couldn't do it. But imagine the embarrassment if you had to tell your friends that you broke your limbs trying to impress your boyfriend.”

“Get in before I run you over,“ she pretends to tell him sternly.

"Do I get honorary ‘Drift King’ status as your partner in crime? I don’t need fake clingers around, anyway,” he remarks.

“No, no. ‘Duke,’ ‘Prince’ at best if you get better. Only because I like you. You are not riding my coattails,” she says.

“Yes, your highness,” he says jokingly, bowing to her before entering the car.

 

III. Drifting Sunlight  

It’s a quarter to seven, and she’s chopping vegetables for dinner when he creeps up behind her and starts nibbling on her earlobe. “Please stop that, I’m trying to concentrate,” she says.

“But I want a smoke so badly and I can’t find anything else to distract myself,” he explains.

“Are we out of chips again? I just bought some last week,” she says as she releases herself from his grip on the way to the pantry.

“It’s almost dinner and I don’t want you scowling at me again for not finishing a meal you cooked,” he argues, pulling at her and wrapping his arms around her torso to continue his previous action.

“And you think distracting me while I’m holding a knife is the smarter option?”  she replies.

Darling…you would've already had that thing at my throat if you meant it,” he drawls, sending kisses along her throat.

Her reflexes are so fast that he’s suddenly backed up against the refrigerator with said knife at his throat. “I only gave you the courtesy because I like you,” she taunts.

“Go set the table.”

“Yes, chef!” he teases with a salute.

 

IV. And the Nightmares Drift Away

Riddled with insomnia, he’s out on the terrace enjoying the late night air and sunflower seeds. He’s not fond of them, really, but keeps them around because they are her favorite.

Suddenly he hears screaming from the bedroom and rushes towards her, knocking down the balcony table on his way.

He turns on the lights, ready to attack when he finds her flailing, screaming, and crying in her sleep. He tries to wake her from the nightmare, but it takes five very long minutes until she does.

“Hey, it’s okay, it’s me, I've got you, I won’t let anyone hurt you, it's just a dream,” he says as he’s stroking her hair.

She’s clinging to him, sweat-soaked, and breathing heavily, trying to hold back her tears. He kisses her forehead, her cheeks, her hands, and anywhere else he can -to try and take her pain away.

He continues to whisper words of comfort as he rubs her back soothingly until her breathing settles.

--

She wakes up just as the sun is rising to find him staring at her with tired eyes and a worried look on his face. She brushes his hair aside to kiss his forehead, his cheeks, and then his hands. She lays her head on his shoulder and whispers, “Thank you,” like a prayer, holding on to him until she falls asleep again.

Chapter Text

 

I. Before Spain

 

The first time she says “I love you” is so normal, as if out of habit.  Almost an afterthought.

--

Almost a week has passed since she frightened him with her nightmare. He doesn't question her about it. She’ll talk when she is ready. He makes a remark about how he’s a night owl when she tells him to stop fussing over her and go to sleep.

 

She's kept herself busy at all times.

 

He’s been trying to treat her as he always has, but his heart is not agreeing with his brain.

 

But this morning everything is back to normal. The panic in his eyes is gone.

 --

“Are we headed out already? Give me a minute to get ready,” he says from the sofa when he sees her in her motorbike leathers.

 

“Change of plans, the parts I need are located farther than I had expected. You should stay, work on the car,” she explains, strapping on her boots.

 

“Dinner?” he asks.

 

“Late dinner, but don’t wait up,” she says as she kisses the top of his head, “I love you.”

--

She’s halfway to her bike when she realizes what she said. The words escaped her mouth without her brain’s consent. Apprehensive, she puts it aside and moves along like she does when something unexpected emerges.

--

He was half-awake, watching TV, mouth full of cereal and it didn't hit him until she shut the door. He wonders if he should run after her. Or did he imagine it? Uncertain, he lets it go until he has more information. 

--

The irony is this is the first time they've spent a significant amount of time apart since their trip began. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?

--

2:00 pm

 

The wait at the shop is longer than she anticipated. She wrings her hands, trying to think of anything else.

 

He’s trying to work on the car with his stomach in knots.

 

3:00 pm

 

She can read him most of the time, but not the things this deep in his heart.

 

He can read her most of the time, but not the things this deep in her heart.

 

4:00 pm

 

She’s just had a rough few days, she probably didn't mean it.

He tries to reason with himself.

 

It's too soon, it’s too soon, it’s too soon, everything was fine, and you've ruined it! 

She repeats over and over in her mind.

 

5:00 pm

 

She takes a long detour on her motorcycle like she does when no one is waiting for her. The air soothes her lungs, until it doesn't anymore.

 

6:00 pm

 

He has his first cigarette in a year. The first few relax him, until the others don’t anymore.

 

7:00 pm

 

He’s standing on the terrace, watching the sun set, fiddling with his lighter when she returns. He doesn't react when she slides the door open.

 

Outside, she sees the unopened bag of sunflower seeds on the table along with a pack of half-empty smokes, and she knows that he's been just as anxious as her. 

 

She slides next to him and starts drumming her fingers along the balcony before exhaling.

 

“What I said earlier, it just slipped out. It’s probably too soon and maybe I’m not ready to say it again, but I’m not taking it back. If that’s not what you are looking for, then you should leave now,” she finishes in a small but calm voice, looking ahead at the dotted city below them.

 

He stops to put the lighter in his pocket, before taking her hand.

 

“Maybe at some point it was just a fling. But now, I still want to be with you. I’m not leaving. I’m not with you out of convenience. I don’t want you to take it back, and maybe someday I’ll be worthy of your love and there will never be a time when you regret it.”

 

She turns to lock her relieved eyes with his calm ones, giving him a chaste kiss, and then burrowing into him with a hug as they watch the sunlight fade.

 

His words clear the doubt in her mind.

   

He’s pretty sure the knots in his stomach are fluttering butterflies now.

 

II. Before Hong Kong

 

“How’s it going?” she asks as she enters the garage.

 

“Almost done, can you hand me the sandpaper? On the top shelf.”

 

“How did you ever do this without me?” she says, handing him the item and entering the driver’s seat.


“I’m taller than you, it’s just your heels, babe,” he replies.

 

“If it were up to you, I’d be in my heels all the time. You love it.”

 

“I love you, your never-ending legs are a bonus.”

 

He’s taken aback by his own words, but then smiles and stops sanding the paint near the rear-view mirror. He leans down to the rolled-down car window to look straight into her eyes and repeat, “I love you.”

 

She bites her bottom lip in a smile and responds by grabbing the back of his head and kissing him softly and slowly. “I love you, too,” she sighs, touching her forehead with his, eyes closed. 

 

“Give me a moment and I can love you in the shower,” he says, leaning in to kiss her again.

 

“You ruined the moment. Does that line work?” she asks with shiny eyes, not bothered at all.

 

“Not on someone like you, someone like you…would have to be in love with me for that line to work,” he says, trying to sound cool, but his eyes are gleaming.

 

“Lucky you,” she sighs.

 

“Lucky me.”

 

She’s playing with the neckline of his white t-shirt now, lost in his everything. “I've already had a shower.”

 

“I know, 'coconut Gisele,' my favorite,” he says, leaning down to smell her hair. “I can get you good and dirty in no time,” he whispers.

 

“One more of those and I might have to take it back,” she cheeks, scrunching her nose.

 

“Okay, I’m sorry. My mouth has a mind of its own.”

 

“Get in and kiss me, then,” she motions to him, opening the car door.

 

III. Before London

 

When he gets a little too drunk he starts spilling his secrets.

He says all the things she sees in his eyes when he looks at her, so full of wonder. Regular Han doesn't need to say all those things, but it’s nice to be reminded. And yet, both sides are equally overwhelming.

-

Drunk, arrogant Han thinks he’s the sun. He's unfiltered, foolish, and flirty. The scorching heat might lead to him burning himself, but it is also the thing that can warm your heart. He might be the sun, but when he’s sober, he still looks at you like you’re the universe keeping him in orbit.

 

Drunk, hopeful Han waxes about the beauty of the world. Everything from fast cars to Star Wars. Endless possibilities. Infinite possibilities. But above all else he still looks at you like you’re the most beautiful being to walk this Earth.

 

Drunk, cynical Han thinks the world is a mess. Too many bad things happen to too many good people. He thinks he’s a mess, that he’s done unforgivable things. But the next day, he still looks at you like you can save him from all that.

 

--

2:00 AM

 

She’s helping him stay aloft as they walk to their residence. They just left a rooftop party thrown by one of the fellow underground racers. Millionaire racers are another breed. He gets caught in up all the craft brews, top shelf liquor, and hors d'oeuvres, trying to ignore the nicotine circulating around him.

 

“Admit it, you like me more when I’m drunk,” he slurs as they arrive home. He slumps down the wall as she searches for her keys to unlock the door.

 

“I like that you talk more when you’re drunk,” she responds, helping him from the floor.

 

“I've been told I like to talk more when I do other things. Is that why you love to fuck me so much?!” he smirks.

 

“There’s that charm,” she mutters, rolling her eyes, placing him down on the sofa.

 

“I had you, hook and line, the sinker took me a bit, but it made it more enticing,” he says, running his hand along her jawline.

 

“And who finished that task?”

 

You were the one itching to come along and drive me. I couldn't have shaken you loose if I tried.”

 

“You do know I’m not drunk and will remember all this tomorrow?” she remarks.

 

“Where do you think I get all this confidence? Drunk Gisele thinks I'M THE SUN!  She also calls me out on my shit, but I keep her on her toes. That’s who we are. You don’t want a man who will bend at your every will. You need to respect him. That’s what makes it fun, darling. Are you gonna kill me or kiss me?” he says as he tries to wink at her, but ends up blinking both eyes rapidly. 

 

“What if I’m playing you all this time? Always wanted to swindle a multimillionaire,” she cheeks.

 

“It’s just money. I need people like you around me. I respect a good, long con. And it’ll be fun chasing you down,” he says as she is taking off his shoes.

 

“I appreciate the head start. I’ll be long gone before you wake up.”

 

“You can at least stay with me until I fall asleep,” he pouts, “You are, if anything, fair and just.”

 

“One last cuddle," she feigns annoyance, as he envelopes her in his arms.

 

“I can tell you more about ‘drunk Gisele,’ GAZELLE! You’re a wild animal, babe, oh maybe later, my head hurts,” he winces, as he lies back down on the pillow.

 

3:00 AM

 

He hits his second wind and starts. “Let me tell you about 'drunk Gisele,' she thinks she’s the universe…”

 

“I wonder who feeds her ego that way,” she stares pointedly at him.

 

He ignores her and continues “…she’s so competitive, chip on her shoulder…smokes my cigarettes to get back at me…it’s so hot…”

 

4:00 AM

 

“...Gisele, Gisele, GISELE!” he calls to her as he’s throwing chips at her to wake her up.

 

“What?” she responds crossly from the sofa. He’s relocated to the armchair now with the dim moonlight reflecting on his face.

 

“At least I don’t kick you awake, LIKE SOME PEOPLE I KNOW! But I was saying, the world is horrible sometimes…WE SHOULD DO THE BATMAN AND ROBIN HOOD THING! Steal from the rich and give to the poor. You and me as a team, kid, unstoppable. You’re Wonder Woman and I’m that guy she loves…HAN SSSOLO!?” he slurs.

 

“Han Solo loves Princess Leia,” she tells him, groggy from sleep.

 

“I knew you liked those films,” he laughs in triumph.

 

“And I know a rich man I can steal from if he doesn't stop raising his voice EVERY FEW SENTENCES!” she threatens.

 

He staggers toward her, but crumbles on the carpet before he reaches her. “I’m sorry. I’ll try, my brain is full of alcohol,” he apologizes, reaching for her hand and kissing it.

 

“You ready for bed?” she asks.

 

“I can’t move right now,” he whines, “Just hold my hand.”

 

5:00 AM

 

“...why did they even bother with the prequels, nothing good comes from it. The originals were classics. HAN SOLO! Nobody cares about Darth Vader as a kid. What franchise thinks the later movies are better than the earlier ones?…Then they'll want sequels to the prequels. When does the madness end?”

 

“Hmm, sure...” she tiredly agrees.

 

6:00 AM

 

“…there’s a story about a red thread…”

 

“…I loved my first car, but then I have to think of all the bad things…”

 

“…gazelle, I heard it means quick and elegant and that is what you are. And you’re so sweet, and so kind, and, and so cool, and so scary…but so sad…and believes in me too much…”

 

His voice has slowed now, contemplative. She rubs his shoulder from her spot above the couch to soothe him.

 

7:00 AM

 

When a retching sound wakes her up, she follows the noise to the light from their bedroom bath and knocks.

 

“I think I’m ready to sleep now,” he grumbles, limping towards her. 

 

“Come on, space cowboy,” she says as she helps him into bed.

 

She’s nearing sleep now, barely hanging on to his words.

 

“When I saw you drive, when I saw you drift, my heart…just exploded.” He makes a gesture of his heart beating out of his chest, her hand clasped in his.

 

“Reset itself because you were the beginning, and nothing mattered before that…big bang. Restarted the universe, and you were it...we, we, we should just go to Tokyo now, we can drift the mountains and…”

 

But he’s asleep before he can finish his thoughts.

 

“…you are the sun, Han,” she says before she falls asleep.

--

2:00 PM

 

In the afternoon, he’s hung over, bundled on the sofa with the buzz of the TV on the background. “Can you make me eggs, please, and-“

 

“Bacon, aspirin and coffee,” she finishes, handing him a plate of food. “I told you not to drink so much.”

 

He mumbles something incoherent, mouth full. “Thank you, I love you,” he croaks out after he swallows.

 

“I know,” she responds, kissing the top of his head and then sitting down next to him on the sofa, stealing a piece of bacon from his plate.

 

“Coolest man in the galaxy, with the coolest lines, I told you!” he declares, looking decidedly un-cool, sputtering between words.

  

She doesn't respond, just nibbles her bacon, waiting for his next words, if they ever come. She doesn't need them to.

 

She’s lucky he loves her.

 

But it is not luck, it is love. It is always worthwhile. And he is more than worthwhile.

 

 

Chapter Text

I. Ten Million Can’t Buy Punctuality in Paris (May)

 

“Gisele!” Han calls out, spotting her at a busy outdoor café table.

 

“Ten million can’t buy punctuality, huh?” she says, putting down her water to greet him with a hug and kiss on the cheek.

 

“Sorry, I was at the Louvre,” he tells her, opening a new bag of chips from his rucksack.

 

“On a Friday?” she raises her eyebrow at him incredulously.

 

“I’m a cultured guy. You wait for the Mona Lisa as long as she wants you to."

 

"You’re here now to show me the cool, underground places. Lead the way,” he instructs her, offering the snack from his bag.

--

“Best croissant, yet!” he declares.

 

“You said that about the last place,” she chuckles.

 

“I was thinking about heading north, Brussels, you want to come along?” he asks as they are walking the crowded city square.

 

“Tempting, but I have a bachelorette party all weekend.”

 

“Meet me in Amsterdam, then? I’ll call you when I get there.”

 

“Alright,” she agrees.

--

“Morning,” he whispers, seeing her wake from her slumber, as he’s putting on his coat.

 

“You have to go already?” she asks, sitting up from the bed.

 

“Your shirt...” she says as she starts unbuttoning the pink garment she pilfered last night.

 

He moves toward her and halts her hands with his.

 

“Hey, don’t, you’re going to make me miss my flight. I need to get across town and pack my bags. Give it back to me the next time we meet,” he says, kissing her goodbye.

 

“Why didn’t you cancel your room and stay with me this week?” she asks, pulling at his neckline.

 

“I didn’t know if we were doing this…” he motions his hand back and forth between them. “If you even wanted me to,” he adds with a sigh.

 

“I ordered you breakfast, I thought it would be here by now, but if you’re not ready, I’ll cancel it.”

 

“It’s fine. I’m up,” she nods, letting go of his shirt. 

 

“I’ll see you around,” he says as he waves goodbye.

 

“Don’t hurt yourself,” she says, smirking. 

 

II. When You’re High, Everyone Is Your Friend in Amsterdam! (June)

 

She’s sipping her cocktail when the bartender sends a drink her way, adorned with a lime and an orange twist, from ‘the gentlemen in the private room.’

 

She smiles, knowing exactly who it is.

 

“He’d like to invite you over there, if you please,” the bartender finishes.

--

“Meet me in Amsterdam, what are you some college schoolboy?” she teases.

 

“I never had the resources before. Why not now? Can a schoolboy afford a private room?”

 

“You’d be surprised how many rich schoolboys, can,” she spits back as they meet in the middle of the room for a hug.

 

“Empty? Didn’t make any friends this whole week?” she questions, sitting down next to him.

 

“When you’re high, everyone is your friend. Go on, give me your read, I can tell you’re dying to,” he utters, slipping his arm around her shoulder.

 

“You can’t be friends with a girl,” she states.

 

“The idea never really presents itself. Casual acquaintances, girlfriends of friends, sure, but I never stuck around long enough for anything real. The only true friend I had...she’s gone now,” he finishes solemnly.

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“That’s life,” he shrugs. “People come and go. And if it’s not them it’s me. Itchy feet and all. The world might end tomorrow. We move along.”

--

She knows how he feels. Her wanderlust is less pervasive than his, though. She can stay rooted for years, but at some point she still packs up and leaves.

 

She fears the day it ends because the world is so expansive. And even if she treks the globe, the people and places are always shifting; new people offering new and different experiences.

--

They are exiting the club when a woman spots him.

 

“Han?! Finally made it across the water, honey, can I still meet you in Tokyo?!” the curly-haired woman purrs to him.

 

The drunk’s friend tries to drag her away, but she just goes on, “This is Han Seoul-Oh, Diana, the sex god! Call me, baby!”  

 

He just shrugs when she raises a curious eyebrow at him.

--

She starts kissing him once they’re in the car, crawls into his lap in the front seat. Her kisses alternate to his neck and he’s lost in the sensation of it all.

 

“Is that how you get girls, acting troubled and charming? Did you mix up your days? Am I supposed to be Wednesday?” she taunts.

 

“What do think? I’m not the only one, babe, don’t deny it,” he goads her.

 

“You’re the kind of guy that doesn’t even need lines, you just keep looking at a girl and they just fall. Let me tell you something, girls are easy. You could not handle a real woman,” she finishes with a bruising kiss.

 

As she straddles him, his hands slide up her exposed thighs. She slaps at one of his hands and shrieks, “Don’t you dare touch me tonight until I tell you!” she warns with that fierce look in her eyes.

 

“Lead the way,” he whispers huskily in her ear.

--

By morning, she’s gone. A note on the hotel pillow in her place:

 

No promises.

Don’t hurt yourself.

Got a place in Zurich, stop by some time to ski.

 

-Gisele, from the Rio heist, Dom’s friend, not his sister (Mia).

I hope you can tell me apart from all the other girls!

 

He can hear her playful deadpan delivery in that note and it makes him chuckle.

 

III. What Else Is There to Fight for in Zurich? (August)

 

“I like your friend, finally an American man who loves futbol!” her friend Philip tells her on the way to the living room.

 

“He’ll never let you out of his sights, now.”

 

“He’s cool,” Han responds. 

 

“Don’t come to me when he’s talked your ear off for five hours straight.”

 

“I've talked for longer than that,” he says, munching on sunflower seeds.

 

“I make one decent American friend, and he loves futbol like the rest of the world.”

 

“Sport is universal.”

 

“Try telling him your favorite team, see how your fortunes change,” she chortles.

 

“Nice place,” he remarks, looking at the skylight in her sleek kitchen.

 

“We’re Messi fans, lucked out. I’m a cultured guy, babe,” he smirks.

 

I’m a citizen of the world. You just fell in trying to impress some Argentinean girl,” she counters. He doesn't deny it.

 

“I’m impressed by that dress of yours,” he informs her, trying to lean in for a kiss before she stops him, “Tomas and I are back together.”  

 

He shifts awkwardly on the heels of his shoes and grabs a handful of chips to distract himself.

 

“Am I going to meet the famous Dr. Tomas tonight? Did you tell him about me?” he inquires in that casual way of his, but with the hint of smugness only she can detect.

 

“Don’t look at me like that. I got the message pretty clear before we left Rio and every other time after that. The only reason you are at this party is because you bailed the last two times I tried to invite you over.” 

 

“I don’t owe you anything,” she says sternly as she walks away to stock the rooftop with food.

--

The night has fallen, revealing the twinkling city lights that almost illuminate the Swiss mountains in the background from the view of her apartment. The party is in full swing, the rooftop littered with party-goers, spilling into the living room below.

--

He's mingling and taking in the secondhand smoke in his area of the rooftop, trying not to glance down her kitchen skylight a few feet away, when a petite blonde catches his eye from across the room, and he goes to work. 

 

“How do know Gisele?” the giggly woman asks Han, caressing his arm.

 

“We’re business partners.”

 

“Is that all?”

 

“That’s all.”

 

“What kind of things do you do?”

 

“The fun stuff, but it’s a secret,” he whispers the last part in her ear.

 

“Natalie! Get away from my fiancée!” a tall brunette man yells at him.

 

“Hey man, relax, it’s a misunderstanding. We’re just talking here,” Han replies.

 

“Don’t misunderstand my fist!” the man shouts, charging at him.

 

Han ducks the first punch, but the man wrestles him to the ground, knocking down a few chairs. He proceeds to punch Han’s face and gut.

 

Han manages to roll away and punch the man a few times until an even taller, and much stronger-looking, brown-haired man breaks up the fight.

 

“Marco, take David to cool off! Come with me,” he gestures to Han.

 

“Don’t mind him. He’s like our bratty little brother. I swear he gets engaged twice a year. We’re all a little happy someone got him a bit, to be honest. I’m Tomas,” he concludes.

 

“Han,” he grumbles, winching at the pain in his stomach.

 

They arrive at the kitchen where Gisele and her friends are chatting.

 

“What happened?” one of the ladies' asks, as Gisele stares at them, chewing on a piece of fruit.

 

“David and his girl trouble, what else. Gisele, get Han some ice, I need to check on David,” he instructs, kissing her briefly on the lips. 

 

“A few broken ribs are still not enough for you to stay away from engaged women? The next one might ruin your pretty face, is that when you’ll stop?” she nods in annoyance.

 

“No engagement ring, like the last time,” he responds wiggling his ring finger, as if to prove his point.

 

“Might be chemical. They just flock to me.”

 

“And what do you tell the others? Battle scars?” she inquires, handing him a bag to ice his bruised knuckles. 

 

“What else is there to fight for?” he quips nonchalantly.

 

“I think that’s romantic,” Julie chimes in, catching Han’s eye as he turns to address her.

 

“See, she gets it. What about you?” he asks the sandy-blonde next to Julie, smiling and eyeing her up and down.

 

“She’s taken. Learn to ask first!” Gisele scoffs, shoving an ice pack into his stomach.

 

“Men, can’t think straight when a skirt walks in,” she mutters in frustration, exiting the kitchen.

--

“Han, the car guy.” Tomas states, arm around Gisele when Han joins them in the living room.

 

“I don’t know how you two do that. You need to show me that tandem drifting she keeps telling me about.”

 

“Maybe another time. I came to say goodbye. Can’t top a party after a fight,” he cracks.

 

“Thanks for earlier, nice meeting you,” he says, shaking Tomas’ hand.

 

“I’ll walk you out,” Gisele offers.

 

They stroll silently to his car until he speaks.

 

“Car guy, huh? Hope you and the ‘Army Doc’ have a happy life. And if you still want to knock some sense into me, tell me when you get serious and I’ll kiss him or something so you can kick my ass,” he says with an edgy tone.

 

“No one forced you to stay. Learn to live with the choices you make, Han,” she says firmly.  

 

"Take care of yourself, Gisele,” he mutters passively, taking off before she responds.

 

Fuck him! she thinks. They knew what this was. She doesn't wait for anyone, let alone a man who thinks the world exists for his convenience. She’s got Tomas now and she’s not going to apologize for it. Han's not worth it if he can’t get over it.

 

IV. Promises in the Canary Islands (September)

 

He arrives at the O’Conner/Toretto Baby Shower-BBQ later than the rest of the gang.

 

He spots her laughing with Mia, Elena and Tej at the picnic table, glistening from the sunlight, so carefree. Her smile is as wide as he’s ever seen it. Roman and a slew of ladies are playing beach volleyball, while Dom and Brian manage the grill.

 

He stands and stares, prolonging the inevitable, of her boyfriend entering the frame, calling his feelings into question. He only stayed long enough the last time to try to prove to himself that she was just another girl. That he hadn't blown his chance.

 

Maybe if he feeds himself the poison little by little, he’ll become immune…eventually.

 

Of course, she’s the one who catches his eye, beaming at him until he’s forced to join the group.

 

Tomas never appears.

--

It’s not until the daylight is fading that they finally get a moment alone. The table has cleared and all there is between them is the soft breeze of the Spanish air.

 

“Where are you off to now?” she asks across from him.

 

“I don’t know, Italy? Pizza. Rome’s plane is headed for Macau, invited us all,” he shrugs.

 

“Tempting. I have to catch a flight in the morning to Prague. Friend’s wedding.”

 

“You should have-“

 

“I just want to enjoy today for today. This is about the baby, Mia and Brian. No promises.”

 

“No promises,” he nods.

 

“Wedding season, huh?”

 

“We know how you feel about marriage. You hit on the bride after all.”

 

“The guy I fought’s-”

 

“No, my friend Petra, when you tried to initiate some three-way in my kitchen,” she explains sarcastically.

 

“Well, with a skylight like that…” he muses with a grin, wagging his eyebrow.

 

She just nods her head in exasperation.

 

“It’s not something I disparage. We all have our beliefs and we should respect others’. And divorce exists for a reason. We make mistakes, and we can move on from them,” he clarifies as he's tapping his beer bottle on the table. 

 

“How romantic of you,” she sighs, brushing her windswept hair from her eyes.

 

“Half of it is timing. Most people are too young, and then you’re too old, and you’re just...settling,” he elaborates.

 

“Maybe you just need to find the right person. Timing is just another excuse,” she replies.

 

“I guess I’m wandering the Earth looking for her, then. How’s that for romantic?” 

 

“Whatever you believe, Han,” she says sincerely.

 

“Let’s join the others.”

 

“Lead the way…” he answers, standing up.

--

They all sit by the fireside chatting and occasionally groaning at Roman’s corny jokes as the waves break in the background.

--

He thinks about the last time he felt this calm at a beach.

 

He thinks of Letty for the first time in a very long time.

 

People come and go, but some will stay with him in his memories if he’s lucky.

 

They were a pair of night owls, sneaking cigarettes, talking about the shittyness of the world. 

 

He thinks back to what must have been their second job in some South American country.

--

He watches the sun rise, feet buried in the cool sand when he hears footsteps tread his way until the walker sits down next to him.

 

“You got balls, Bubba, hustling me like that knowing exactly who I was,” she says, stealing the cigarette from his fingertips to take a long drag.

 

“But if you ever tell anyone, I’ll kill you,” she threatens, grabbing his arm and putting out the cigarette on his wrist as he tries not to wince.

 

“There’s a poker game tomorrow, partner, see you there. We’re blood brothers now, Han,” she informs him, walking away.

--

Maybe he’s feeling sentimental, but he thinks he owes it to himself, and to Gisele, to be friends.

 

She’s not here to save him or hurt him. It’s not a game.

 

She’s with Tomas because she loves him. That’s it.

--

He sits alone by the fading fire mining his brain for the right combination of words. She’s so sure of herself that it leaves him tongue-tied.

 

A part of him thinks it will be easier if the tide would just sweep him away at that moment.

 

And then calmness rushes through him and he tells himself to stop being stupid.

 

A simple apology is all he needs. Not one of his polished pick-up lines, or witty quips. 

She gets him and he wants it to be like today the next time he sees her.

 

They are friends. They are family.

--

The next morning he waits for the others to say their goodbyes before he offers to walk her to her rental car.

 

He doesn't address her until she’s buckled in and ready to take off.

 

He finally leans down to lock his eyes with hers, his right hand resting on the roof of the car.

 

“I don’t have a good track record with exes. And we were friends first and then…whatever we were after that. You were right, you don’t owe me anything. I hope the best for you and Tomas. Whatever makes you happy will make me happy. You get me and it’s hard to find people like that…I want to be friends, if you’ll still have me,” he finishes with a pleading look.

 

She stares down, and then quickly glances at him again before she reaches for something pink in a bag, handing it to him.  

 

“You didn't burn it?”

 

“I didn't want you hanging it over my head until the end of time if I destroyed your precious pink shirt,” she tries to joke, still taken aback by his heartfelt apology.

 

“Take care of yourself, Han,” she says, briefly resting her hand on his right one that migrated near her rear-view mirror.

 

“We are and always will be friends,” she says honestly.


“Don’t hurt yourself,” he tells her with a shy smile as she reverses.

 

And with that she feels a calm wash over her.

 

He’s just like her and she never should have doubted it. They may be calculated and practiced in their own ways, but when it comes down to it, it’s purely instinctual. No pushing or pulling is required, just a simple apology at the right time.

 

They are friends. They are family.

 

V. Don’t Look Back in Munich (October)

 

He’s in Munich for Oktoberfest when he gets the news from his new drinking buddy.

 

“Tomas and Gisele are getting married!” Philip screams through the crowded outdoor party, heading his way.

 

He shoves the phone in Han’s face and he has no choice but to speak.

 

“Hi.”

 

“Hi, lost your phone again?”

 

“On day four. Why bother right now when I’ll probably lose it again. I get by. Congratulations on the engagement.”

 

“Thanks…sounds like you’re having a blast,” she finally says after a pause.

 

“Yeah, I should get going, need to keep Phil out of trouble. I’m really happy for you two, Gisele. Take care of yourself.”

 

“I will. Take care of Phil for me, too. Bye.”

 

“Don’t look back,” he mutters to himself after she hangs up, fiddling with the lighter in his pocket, a bag of chips in his other hand.

 

VI. The Chivalry Thing in Zurich (January)

 

“Aren't you supposed to be at a beach-side, somewhere?” she greets him when he shows up at her door on a cold winter afternoon.

 

“Got tired of the sands, snow was calling to me,” he answers.

 

“Come in,” she tells him after they share a hug.

 

“That’s okay. Philip and I are having drinks and I wanted to stop by to see if you wanted to come along.”

 

“Let’s go. I’ll drive,” she utters, grabbing her coat and keys.

--

Philip waves to them from a booth at the crowded pub.

 

“Han, my brother! Gisele! And you said I’d likely never see him again. Come drink, my itchy footy friends!”

--

“You should have come to see me earlier. I’m headed off soon.”

 

He rubs his hands nervously back and forth before responding. “You didn't show up on Thanksgiving, I figured you wanted space,” he sighs.

 

“I saw baby Jack at Christmas, you weren't there,” she replies.

 

“I saw him a little after that.”

 

They sit and sip their beers in silence until they are interrupted by a jovial Philip.

 

“Han! Buddy! Darts!”

 

The dark-haired man hands him the sharp objects and he’s relieved for the distraction.

--

“We were engaged, a long time ago. He asked me again, a little before the baby shower.”

 

“You were saying goodbye.”

 

“Not to our friendship,” she answers back quietly.

 

“I hadn't said ‘yes’ yet so that chemical thing would not have worked,” she tries to joke, a little tipsy.

 

“I wouldn't have-“

 

“I know,” she immediately agrees.

 

“I got lucky. He would have definitely messed up my pretty face, for sure,” he says aloofly.

 

“Not if I got to it first,” she musters, offering him a shy smile.  

--

Beyond their friendly greeting, the nature between them has been tense and awkward. She’s thankful for Philip’s presence, even if he can’t shut his mouth for two seconds.

 

She drinks too much and laughs to herself when she realizes that her old friend reminds her of a new one, Roman. 

--

She’s babbling now, directing her musings to the open air.

 

“I loved him so much, but I really also wanted to love him more, does that make sense? Last time I did, but now he’s just…so much better than me, and we can’t find the right timing.”

 

“Timing! Pfft! Of course Han is right,” she says in disgust.

 

“Don’t let him hear me say that, Phil, he’ll never let me hear the end of it!” she tries to whisper, turning to her companion on her other side.

 

Han just stays silent, finishing the last of his beer.

 

“Okay…we should get you home, soldier,” Philip responds, placing bills on the table.

 

“Aye! Soldier!” Gisele salutes him.

 

“You okay to drive, man? Share a cab?”

 

“I’m good, I’ll get her home,” Han answers. “Good to see you, again, man.”

 --

She’s especially giggly when he gets her home. He sits her on the kitchen table chair, and then searches her cabinets.

 

“Where do you keep your coffee…Gisele…?”

 

Suddenly she’s right beside him, reaching for a canister on the top cabinet, but she misses it in her drunken state…and lack of heels.

 

“I got it,” he says, reaching for it with ease and starting her coffeemaker.

 

“But I’m taller than you?” she slurs in confusion.

 

“Not without your heels.”

 

”Oh,” she giggles, looking at her feet and wiggling her toes.

 

“You liked my heels, didn't you, Han?” she asks, tugging at his shirt.

 

“Precccious pink. Is this your lucky shirt? I first kissed you in it. Do you remember that? Gisele, from Rio, Dom’s friend. Do I need to refresh your memory?” she spurs him on as she leans in to kiss him.   

 

But he stops her before she can act, steadying her shoulders with both hands, keeping her at bay.

 

“We are friends and friends don’t kiss. No more mixed messages, okay?” he tells her calmly. 

 

“I thought you didn't do friendships with girls?”

 

“You’re a woman, Gisele,” he sighs, placing her back at the kitchen table.

 

“You were right about the timing thing. Maybe you’re right about this, too. How can you resist the beautiful skylight?” she motions above as he gets her a glass of water and sits at the chair beside her.

 

“Can you stay up with me ‘til I get better?” she groans out as she lays her head on the table. “My head aches.”

 

“Sure, but no touching beyond friendship, okay? Coffee will be ready soon.”

 

“This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” she says, patting him on the head.

--

Later that night they watch TV on a low volume as she is sobering up.

 

She shifts towards him from her side of the sofa. 

 

“Gisele…” he starts, as she crawls into his lap.

 

“I just want to talk,” she explains, wrapping her arms around his neck.

 

“You and me, Han, it’s different, it’s chemical, electric. Always ready to explode. We’ll never be just friends. Even when we’re with other people, it’s still there, even if just a bit,” she purrs in his ear, rubbing her hands along his neck.

 

“We can hurt each other all we want but it doesn't matter because we’ll always forgive each other or just get over it. No one will understand you like I do,” she continues, as she runs her hands through his hair.

 

“Primal instincts, Han. That ache, that need we have will never die. Do you know how much I wanted you in Rio? When you showed up with that safe…that was the moment this war started. I couldn't let you and your smug face win.”

 

“Quit fighting it,” she whispers seductively into his ear. “You remember Paris? How did you wait seven hours? It was so good. It’s been seven months. Don’t tell me you don’t feel it.”

 

“What about Tomas?” he asks seriously.

 

“It’s over for good and it’s never going to happen again.”

 

“You love him.”

 

“I love you, Han.”

 

“You’re drunk,” he scoffs, turning his head, trying to avoid her eyes.

 

She grabs his face to get his attention, directing his eyes back to hers.

 

“I’ll still want you when I’m not,” she moans, biting her bottom lip.

 

“Gisele…” he pleads with her to stop.

 

“Han...” she whispers, before kissing him roughly, ramming her tongue into his mouth, and unbuttoning his shirt as he kisses her back.

 

She pulls away to regain her breath, running her hands down his bare chest.

 

“You think you can stand seven more months without this?” she asks, taking off her top and placing his hands on her body.

 

“Quit trying to be something you’re not. The chivalry thing is cute, but we’re outlaws, Han. We get to fuck and raise hell. That’s who we are,” she says, sucking on his earlobe. “Just one last time before you leave.”

 

Her lips eventually return to his and he can’t help but give in. He moves her until she’s lying on her back on the sofa and continues to kiss and touch her all over. He finally manages to stop when she starts to unbutton his pants.

 

He swiftly backs away from her, cursing under his breath.

 

“Wait for your stupid timing and if I’m gone, that’s on you!” she yells putting her shirt back on. “And if you don’t want me. If you only want friendship, you’ll have to stay away from me,” she finishes, stalking towards her bedroom.

 

He catches her moving arm to stop her.

 

“If you wake up tomorrow and still feel this way, you tell me exactly what you want or we’re just friends.”

 

“We've never had to talk.”

 

“We do now,” he tells her, letting go of her arm.

--

She finds him on the armchair the next morning with a full glass of coffee in his hands, staring into space.

 

She slowly makes her way to the seat near him, sipping her coffee. After a moment she exhales.

 

“We’re always friends, Han,” she tells him, like she did so many months ago.

 

“I have some things to do today, you can see yourself out, when you’re ready,” she finishes, briefly catching his eye, and then returning to finish her coffee, and to the quiet morning air. 

--

“Where are you off to next?” she asks him after dinner one night.

 

“Berlin, but I thought maybe you could finally teach me to ski first,” he answers.

 

“What do I get in return? I’m the one with all the skills: languages, fighting, motorcycling. Unless you have some secret talent, how hard is it to lean on something and eat chips to look cool?” she mocks.

 

“Nothing I can share between friends,” he responds staring at her and making her blush.

 

“No flirting with friends, Han,” she says, nervously tapping at her wine glass.

 

“I’m sorry. I just can’t turn it off. Natural talent,” he laughs, trying to lighten the mood.

 

“I guess I’ll have to teach you out of pure friendship, then,” she sighs.

 

“Deal.” He nods back at her.

--

One morning she gets that “wandering” feeling, once more, a tickle for somewhere fresh and new. She ignores it, not wanting to break this spell they've been under.

--

“My aunt passed away. I’m leaving for Wales tomorrow, Cardiff,” he tells her when he comes over for dinner on a late January night.   

 

“Were you two close?”

 

“No. She and my mother had some feud. She was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. I saw her in December when they finally made up.”

 

He doesn't tell her of his cousin, “The Earl,” who bears a striking resemblance to his other cousin in California. He let go of those memories long ago.

--

The rest of the night is subdued. They both knew this wouldn't last. Friends come and go and it’s their time to part ways.

 

For now.

 

As they are saying goodbye, she kisses him like she’s never kissed him before. It’s sweet, soft, and slow and different

 

“I couldn't help it,” she tells him sheepishly when they pull apart.

 

“It’s okay, you gave me fair warning,” he mutters nervously, running his hand through his hair.

 

“I’ll see you around,” he tells her, offering a gentle squeeze to her palm and a kiss on her cheek.

 

And then he’s off again.

--

At the funeral he witnesses his young cousin’s rage. He offers his number and tells him to contact him if he needs help. He thinks if he can help this kid, it might make up for his sinful past. He’s a punk like Virgil, but he also likes cars.

 

VII. Meeting Halfway in Bern (April)

 

She spends February and March exploring Italy.

 

They decide to meet up in Bern.

 

“Meet me halfway,” he keeps asking her during their weekly phone calls. He was exploring Britain, heading further up north as she biked further across northern Italy in his opposite direction.

 

But what is the halfway point for two roving souls? She thinks the halfway point between Cardiff and Zurich would be Paris. But he insists on Bern.

 

“You’re already home and I've been driving through France, anyway, just meet me in Bern, that’s the halfway point in Switzerland, right?” he asks her nonchalantly. 

 

From her home.

 

She wants to tell him to quit leading her on, but then comes to her senses and realizes that he isn't. He’s trying really hard to be her friend. And that’s all.

 

She’ll take his lead this time.

 

When she asks him about it a few months later, he simply answers, “I had to pick up my car in Geneva. I didn't mention that?”

 

Of course.

--

She finally sees his new car after an early dinner, a few nights after they've reunited.

 

“I don’t think that car’s stealthy enough for a guy like you,” she teases, alluding to its color.

 

“It’s about the driver, not the car. Let’s race to see. Prize is your call,” he insists.

 

“When I win that car of yours, you are painting over that horrible orange yourself,” she sneers.

 

“Let’s see if you can make it to Zurich in an hour. Get ready for an all orange car!” he fires back.

 

VIII. Don’t Worry, It Will Be Safe Here in Zurich (April)

 

“What took you so long?” she teases, opening her door wider for him to enter her apartment.

 

“Congratulations,” he concedes, tossing her his car key. “But you could use a bit more practice drifting.”

 

“Why do you think I keep you around?” she laughs.

 

And then they lock gazes for far too long and he can feel it all. That electricity she spoke about, that need he’s been fighting. He can see it in her eyes, too. But it’s beyond just electricity and need.

 

“I was thinking. We should go out some time. If you’re single and date stupid guys like me.”

 

“I’ll have to think about.”

 

She breaks the bond briefly to stare at her feet, but then addresses him again.

 

“You know, Paris is halfway from Britain and northern Italy,” she tells him frankly, testing the waters.

 

“We weren't really friends in Paris,” he smolders.

 

She has to look away again before she drowns.

 

“I know, but maybe someday we will be, and we can go see the Mona Lisa. And you can explain to me what the fuss is all about. If anyone can convince me why it's worthwhile, it would be you,” she smiles.

 

“Here, borrow my car,” she shoves her spare key in his hand, “Go find a hotel and get some sleep. You've got some painting to do tomorrow.”

--

Her actions do little to temper the fire inside him. He knocks at her door almost as soon as she closes it.

 

“Did you forget-“

 

But he cuts her off with a deep and hard kiss, leaving her panting and dazed when he eventually pulls away.

 

They continue to stare at each other until he whispers, “Do you still want me?”

 

She nods.

 

“Thank you for asking,” she breaths out.

 

He has her up against the door before she shuts it completely. Running his hands up her cloth-covered thighs until he lifts her up and she wraps her legs around his back. Her arms follow and she’s kissing him again until she bites gently on his ear to stop him from grinding against her. She can’t let him win yet.

 

“You know the rules,” she pants, pushing away the hand that was skimming up to her breast, “No touching until I tell you,” she whispers, slowly soothing his ear with her tongue.

 

“I’m an outlaw, Gisele,” he informs her seductively, “I don’t follow rules,” he finishes with a mischievous smile, nibbling on her earlobe. 

 

Suddenly, she finds herself perched on her kitchen table, her pants down to her ankles as he’s pulling them off over her heels. Her hands hold onto the edge of the table until his hair is close enough to touch.

 

He’s kissing up her legs until he gets to her covered center where he stops. She whimpers, but he escapes before she can trap him with her long legs.

 

“How long has it been, Gisele? Ten months? Are you gagging for it now?” he taunts her, unbuttoning her dress shirt. “Were you thinking of me when you fucked those random Italian guys?” he continues, kissing her neck.

 

That last remark earns him a slap in the face that only turns him on more.

 

“I hope you had your fun with those British girls because you won’t be fucking anyone else if you’re with me,” she hisses, yanking off his t-shirt before tackling him onto the kitchen table.

 

“You know who I am. You waited a year for me. We met last April, in Rio. Remember?”

 

“I had you the moment I pulled that gun out, you were the one waiting.”

 

“Please, that’s not your idea of romance, love at first sight,” he scoffs.

 

“Stop running your mouth!”

 

“Make me,” he whispers huskily in her ear.

 

“I’ll go easy on you this round,” she says, pushing his head on the table.  

--

By morning, she’s gone.

 

There isn't a note in her place beside him this time, but then he remembers this isn't a hotel room. He calls out to her, but there is no response.

 

When he heads to the kitchen he hears glass tapping above him and the faintness of her voice calling him through the windowpane. She’s beaming at him with that ear-to-ear grin, the dim light of the sun behind her.

 

Beautiful skylight, indeed.

 

Just like last night when the moon and stars illuminated her face when they made love.

 

Just like in September at Mia and Brian’s. But this time he’s practically sprinting to join her.

--

They spend the rest of the day and night between lounging on her rooftop and making love (mostly inside her apartment) when the mood strikes.

--

Suddenly, they’re cuddling on a lawn chair watching the sun rise, to light the mountains, the city, and the far off lake.

 

“Am I painting your car today? Classic black? Or white or silver?” he asks her, enjoying the view.

 

“We don’t have time. I’d like to get to Berlin as soon as we can.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yes. Itchy feet and all,” she smiles, letting out a yawn.

 

“Let’s get some sleep, then. We've got roads to drive and cars to win, Bubba!” he tells her, taking her hand in his to lead her downstairs.

 

“Are you ever going to give me a chance to win my car back?”

 

“Not a car that nice, only a stupid romantic would risk it to impress a woman,” she deadpans.

 

He just offers her a sheepish smirk.

 

“Don’t worry. It will be safe here.”

 

“...Maybe for ten million dollars,” she contemplates, yawning again and leading him to her bedroom.

 

*Technically you can loop this back to the real FF universe since we never actually see them leave Rio together and I think F6 is about a year after F5. Baby Jack's a few months old, right? (based on the movies Spring release dates) And they didn't specify when they were in Germany, right?

Chapter Text

I. Young Hearts Need the Pressure to Pound

 

“Look for the hope in all the tragedy,”  her mother had told her. “That’s how we survive.”

--

She spends two years training in the defense army before she’s recruited to become a Mossad agent. Years pass by before she finds out the truth about her father’s death.

 

He was also an agent, killed by the hands of betrayal.

 

Her world and all she knows collapses on her, a chaotic void is left –in need of a new orderly system.

 

Her mother tells her not to dwell on it too much. Even if some anger was good, too much can blind the best of people. She didn’t have to forgive, but she should form some sense of peace.

 

Her father knew the risks.

 

The actions of a few men don’t have to mean the whole organization is corrupt, but it doesn’t feel that way. She’s angry, and sad, and nothing else matters.

 

She burns her bridges and roams around.

--

That’s where she finds herself lost and searching for something else, anything else.

 

She spent her years as an agent hopping around Europe and Asia. She wants something different and ends up across oceans, to New York, for a few months before she figures out it's not for her.

 

She spent a lot of years having her life planned out, but in Los Angeles, she ignores all that. She’s living for just the near future. It’s sunny and fun.

 

It’s empty and superficial, but that’s all she needs it to be.

 

She’s chasing the thrill she never knew she needed. 

--

She takes residence at a hotel (she doesn’t need a home) until she starts running low on funds and moves to a place in the city. The traffic is heavy, but she has nothing but time.

 

After the first few months in L.A. she grows tired of doing essentially nothing and soon she’s running guns and other weaponry around the area until she takes a steadier job with this guy named Campos, running things across the U.S.-Mexico border.

 

She gets entrenched in the racing scene and picks a new identity for this new person she has become.

 

As an agent, it was best to appear unassuming, in some sort of camouflage. She adopts the appearance of toughness to fit in with the crowd: large hoop earrings, boots, a fierce gaze, throws the phrase “Vaya con dios” around like it means something.

--

One night at a recruiting race, she’s chewing gum and casually observing when she sees a black mustang steal the race by gliding pass the opposing car and swerve in a half circle until the hoods of the cars face each other. She’s mesmerized.

 

She can’t recall what it’s called, only something about over-steering, and she’s seen it a bit in Europe, but never this smooth.

 

Controlled chaos.

 

She starts to walk towards the driver, but is called away by Campos. When she looks back, all she sees is the back of a guy with slicked-back black hair, in a white t-shirt, leaning against his door, and taking out a cigarette as he's waiting for the loser to give him the key to a Plymouth Road Runner.

 

Later at the party she hears that Braga is trying to recruit that guy, again.

 

She sees him exiting Campos’s office, head tilted down, lighting a cigarette. When he looks up to place his lighter back in his jacket pocket, they share a glance, just for a second, through the flashing party lights.

 

She can barely make out his face, but follows the spark at the end of his cigarette as he walks away to exit the party.

 

When she asks Campos about it later, he said the guy still won’t budge and something about not wanting to be a sheep in a machine. 

 

She thinks it might be for the best. The last thing she needs right now is to be distracted by some James Dean wannabe.

--

She gets a little obsessed and spends most of her free time teaching herself to drift. But it’s not an obsession, it’s discipline and practice for a goal she wants to achieve.

 

Practice, practice, practice, drill, drill, drill.

 

Her father was in the army for most of her childhood. He was strict and disciplined, and it rubbed off on her from an early age.

 

That soldier is still inside her, no matter how faded and jaded she’s become.

 

She thought she’d have a military career, in part to honor her father, who died a year into her army stint.

 

That was until she was recruited by the Mossad. She can’t think of one without being reminded of the other so she couldn’t go back to military life.

 

In her old life she protected people, but in her new life, she protects herself. She’s lost and alone, trying to find out who she is and where she belongs.

--

Death is a necessity. She’s a soldier, she knows this. In every part of the world she encounters, that is the constant. People want things and need things. Blood and bullets are more often the answer than not. It’s terrible, but it’s true.

--

Things go awry on one of the jobs and a few innocent kids are killed. The guilt consumes her and she rips into Campos about how this wasn’t what she signed up for.

 

He scoffs and tells her she of all people, a soldier, should understand that death is life. Soldiers kill people and she’s naïve to think otherwise. She killed to ensure protection. She was in a system shrouded in false nobility when they are all alike, he tells her.

 

Her convictions have been in question since she left home and that allows her boss’s words to sink in. She doesn’t want to believe this, but she thinks about her father’s death and what they did to cover it up. She lets this harsh truth in and it makes her tougher.

--

A few years pass by and she’s Campos’s right hand woman.

 

This isn’t the life she had in mind so, so many years ago. It’s a different sort of being undercover. Her leather jackets and hoop earrings feel natural now. It's still pretty thrilling. 

 

It’s still empty, but she’s convinced herself otherwise. This is the life she knows now. This is the life she has now.

 

It’s black and white, it’s business.

--

She’s not blind to Braga’s actions, but she thought her loyalty was worth something.

 

Like her father, she trusts people to a fault, but she has a chance to fix her mistake and she’s not going to let him down.  

--

Campos/Braga betrays her, but she takes what little is left of it and moves on, the experience, a new friend, if not something more than friendship, someday.

 

She needs to plan for her next life.

Get her motorbike from storage; a new ID from Dom’s friend because her ties are connected to Braga and she’s supposed to be dead; and not settle for anything else. 

 

These things will make her stronger.

--

She was supposed to find some sense of herself in this new life, but all she did was get lost and blinded in the whirl of things.

 

She’s remembering her independence. How she’s been alone but she never really felt lonely. People surrounded her, but she never needed them.

 

She was a soldier. She is a soldier.

 

She needs to start trusting herself again.

 

And maybe she can go back home again, someday.

 

Stop blocking the pain and let it in, and then let it go.

 

It’s how she survives.

--

Then she’s in Rio.

Then she’s back in Europe.

Then she’s in love.

 

 

 

II. Gathering Stardust

 

“I know the basics, when am I going to fight a ninja master?” he gripes, winded after their long training session.

 

“You think you can just lean on something, eat your chips and win a fight?” she replies.

 

“It’s worked so far,” he chuckles. “And I have the most amazing partner to back me up,” he continues, still lying on the floor.

 

“You asked me to teach you, so I am doing that,” she says in serious soldier mode.

 

Her tone alarms him and he instantly regrets his joking, rises from the floor and apologizes.

 

“I’m sorry, let’s do it again,” he says, offering his palm for a handshake.

 

She takes his offer, but quickly does a maneuver that puts him in a headlock before they release grips.

 

“The lesson wasn’t over. That’s life, not some timed fight. Always be alert.”     

-

He could never imagine having so much order in his life. The things she does are so clean and calculated. Practice, practice, practice, drill, drill, drill, over and over and over again. She’s a soldier, through and through.

 

He heard the punk tennis player he knew back when ended up in some military academy. He probably has to keep his head shaved and wake up at hours unsuitable for a person. He shudders when he thinks that could have been him, a sheep following orders. So many rules to obey. It’s not for him.

 

But he thinks if she led, he’d follow.

-

She’s measured from start to finish, while he feels his way through things.

 

His sense of order is to be calm and cool. It’s how he stays out of trouble, well, the more serious sort of trouble.

 

He’s been tuning it as he goes about life and one day it all falls into place. That bit of false bravado he carried around is just about gone. He’s controlled for the right reasons, not just hiding a bad past.

-

She’s fierce, and wonderful, and a little scary, but it’s thrilling just being around her.

--

She admires his calmness. They’ll always be a troubled youth hiding behind his coolness, but now it’s a natural part of him. It’s sincere, flows so freely that it alarms her at times.

 

Her calmness is a different sort, one born of a regimented soldier in line, as precise as her driving. She lives her life on high alert, on defense, always ready for a counter move.

 

It’s almost automatic and mechanical. Sometimes it’s part of the problem. It almost got her killed, trusting a man like Braga.

 

She’s surprised how fast it all comes back to her after all that. She’ll always be working on it, adjusting as she goes along.

She’s a soldier at heart, at all times, even if her brain forgets.

-

She’s never had a problem letting go. It’s the only way she can move forward.

 

But she thinks she’d chase him, if she had to.

-

He’s amazing, and warm, and a little puzzling, but it’s exhilarating being around him. 

--

They’re very much alike and maybe that’s what drew them together.

 

She can be just as calm and cool as him.

He can be just as clean and calculated as her.

 

She’s defensive until she needs to strikes first.

Adapt to a situation when it’s demanded.

 

He’s always a few steps ahead so he never has to panic.

Backup until the situation demands him to move forward.

--

He thinks she’s the infinite universe and he’s just a lowly speck, but all she wants to tell him is that he’s the brightest light in all the darkness.

 

She thinks he’s the sun and she doesn’t deserve the radiance he offers, but all he wants to tell her is that she’s the cosmos keeping him in line.

--

He wonders how she can be so stealthy when she’s radiating her warmth and beauty. It’s unavoidable.

 

She wonders how he can be so stealthy when he’s blasting his cool air and handsomeness. It’s unavoidable.    

--

He’ll run and she’ll chase him.

She’ll lead and he’ll follow her.

 

Chapter Text

I. The Constant in a Changing Sea

--

“People like you and me, Gisele…we make our own rules.”

-

He wanted her. She wanted him. It’s wasn’t an agonizing back and forth. They do their version of flirting and get on with it.

 

The life they live is dangerous. There’s no guarantee of tomorrow. Although she admits that they might spend far too much time gazing into each other’s eyes like love-struck fools, like the world will never end.

 

They’re not teenagers falling in love, they don’t feel the urgency to stay up and talk about every single detail of their lives up until now. Ever observant, they pick up clues of likes and dislikes as they go along.

 

They’re invincible. There’s always tomorrow. Although he admits that they typically fuck like the world is ending.

 

People like you and me…

 

If she’s honest, there’s never been a time she’s relieved to have a gun pointed at her than at that moment. Dom’s call felt like a lifeline.

 

The problem is that she has time to think about it. He asks about settling down and her first reaction is to try and defend herself, she thought this was their life together.

 

When she realizes that he wants more, she was ready to follow her instincts, her heart, but she’s interrupted, and that’s when the trouble starts. She over-thinks. Anazlyes every angle.

 

People like you and me…

 

She’s never loved anyone the way she loves him.

 

She’s in uncharted waters. She’ll have more to lose than ever before.

 

She was caught off guard. He was giving her that look. So earnest and wistful, like a lost boy looking for home; beseeching her to be the raft to keep him afloat.

 

He might have dove in head first, but she feels like she’s the one drowning (a little).

--

“I thought that’s what people said to each other when they wanted to be together.”

-

He offers her a cryptic answer when she asks him what he meant by “settling down.” They are a back to square one. Two fearless souls, too fearful of what could be. Like first crushes dancing around their feelings.

 

He’s been straight with her since they’ve gotten together. She wants to push him for a direct answer, but it’s not how they operate.

 

What people said…

 

She was starting over, again, not a year ago, and then he showed up and stole her heart.

 

He’s so full of life, takes everything in stride, and reels her in. It all happens so fast, a whirlwind of activity. It’s perfect and she never wants it to end.

 

All she wants is him and the infinite road ahead.

 

What does he want? A house? Kids?

 

But he’s slow and gentle about it and it’s somehow worst.

 

What people said…

 

The night he saves her from the bullets at Interpol, she wakes up in the middle of the night to find him half asleep, rocking back and forth, and clutching her hand like he’ll never let her go.

 

She turns around and kisses him, strokes his hair the way he does when she slumbers with a nightmare. He loosens his grip on her, soothed by her touch.

 

It’s not the sandy beaches, or the fast cars, or the things around him. It’s him.

 

It’s not empty and it’s not superficial and all she needs is him.

--

“People like us, Han, we make our own rules.”

-

They aren’t going through the motions. It’s not the next step for the sake of it. They are moving forward because it feels right.

 

He’s not holding on in fear of losing her. He loves her. He wants to be with her, and that’s it.

 

He knows who she is. He’s not going to push her. He wants to embark on this new adventure together, help each other when the waves get too rough.

 

The warmth and safety of a touch.

The constant in a changing sea.

 

When her life is on the line, she knows who he is.

When his life is on the line, he knows who she is.

 

People Like Us, Han… 

 

No more chasing. No more following. They’ll do this together.

 

Tokyo is a different road ahead, another adventure. It’s going to be wonderful, unpredictable and scary, but she’ll adapt. It’s what she does. 

 

It’s what they do.

 

They don’t have to rush into anything.

 

They’ll just get a nice place to live, a garage for the cars and motorcycles. He can finally teach her how to cook an elaborate meal, and maybe someday they can get a dog, but right now all she wants are days and nights that are as calm and quiet as him, with him.

-- 

But people like them don’t get happy endings.

-

She never makes the connection that it was him all those years ago. It wouldn’t matter because things played out the way they did—no “what ifs.”

 

What does Han say? “Make choices and don’t look back.”

 

She might not have known it was him, but she still remembers how she felt the first time she saw someone drift as smoothly as that guy, so many years ago.

 

It was all feeling and nothing else, the unfiltered emotions, the rush, the excitement, the eerie calm.

 

Controlled chaos.

 

The possibility of a (new) universe that could make her feel truly alive again.

--

When she’s falling to her death, the lights are flickering, and she thinks she sees, for a second, the face of a lost, brooding guy with a cigarette in his mouth, as the sparks from her gun goes off.

 

He’s nothing like the joyful man she loves.

 

 

 

II. Old Flames-They Can’t Warm You Tonight, So Keep It Cool

 

He’s starting over again, but all he wants is her, so he clings to her last promise.

 

All he can think about is her. It’s like his brain doesn’t have room for anything else.

 

If he thinks about her for even a second, it can send him spiraling into sadness and anger.

 

She gave him a second chance at life, but how could she not understand that life isn’t worth living without her? How can she not understand how much he loved her? But she did, she gave up her life for him.

--

On his last night with the family he gets wasted. He didn’t mean to. He sees how happy Brain, Mia and baby Jack are and starts drinking. He’s plastered by 8pm

 

He calls out her name, throwing chips at the general direction of the sofa, but she’s not there.

 

Mia says he can stay the night, but Roman won’t hear of it

 

“You got a baby, I got this.”

--

He sees his father for the first time in ages. The same father, who disowned him years ago, sees the broken man he is now and asks him to stay.

 

But his mother sees that her son is beyond broken and knows he has to leave, even if it means she might not see him for a very long time.

--

And then he’s on the other end of the Pacific Ocean; a new universe to conquer, but he’s just floating aimlessly.

--

He cuts his hair after a few weeks in Tokyo because every time it obstructs his eyes, he expects her delicate fingers to brush it aside.

 

It happened one too many times and he can’t stand it.

 

And soon he can’t even feel the ghost of her kiss on his forehead, where his fringe fell, anymore, and it makes him feel even worst.

--

He feels everything, then he feels nothing, then he’s just numb. It repeats over and over again.

 

He’s in a constant loop of trying to get rid of the pain and trying not to forget her, but they both feel the same.

--

His new place is near the heart of the bustling city, near heavy traffic, and neon lights that never go out. He needs the buzz around him to distract from his thoughts of her.

 

His garage is in the quieter part of town. He is who he is and he still needs the calmness.

 

But it’s not enough, so he fills it with the racket of the company he keeps, Earl, Twinkie, Reiko, and other lost souls.

 

They might be a little troubled, but they’re still kids, and they have some sense of innocence. They’re not broken like him. He hopes that they never will be. 

--

He fills his nights with booze and faceless girls because the nights seem endless.

 

It’s empty and superficial, but that’s all he needs it to be.

 

He just wants to sleep easier. It’s peaceful when he finally does go into a deep slumber, but then there are times when Gisele appears in his dreams.

 

It feels all the same when he wakes up.

 

The agony when he’s taken away from a good dream, or the horror from a bad dream stops, he’s relieved for a second, until he realizes that she’s not there to soothe him back to sleep. And then he's drowning in sadness again.

--

He’s racing again, but the thrill is fleeting. It doesn’t last long enough in between everything else.

 

He needs real danger and real excitement.

--

He kept a picture of her in his pocket until he almost loses it in the wash one day. Now it’s tucked in his glove compartment where she used to keep a small pocket notebook.

 

Notes on her (their) travels, places she’d like to see or visit again someday. The best places to eat, contacts nearby.

 

She tells him he’s welcome to write his own notes, he declines, but he ends up doodling on the margins, mostly, when she’s driving.

 

It morphs into a means of communication of sorts, a commentary on her notes.

 

“Beer was better in GERMANY!”  When she writes that the Belgian brews were fantastic.

 

“Did I like the carpaccio or caprese?” He genuinely questions.

 

Baguette - Bruschetta –WAIT TIL YOU TRY PITA! GREECE?

--

He sorts through her things so he can put them away in neat boxes in his closet, until he’s ready to deal with them. He can’t locate the notebook after the move and thinks she might have had it with her when… she let go of him.

 

Maybe it’s for the best.

 

One day he finds the book in the small pocket of his duffel bag when he’s packing on a trip to buy cars, but he doesn’t dare look through it, until one night months later.

 

He gets near the end, pages unseen by him, a few things about London, and then something that makes his heart ache, her notes, her plans (for them):

 

TOKYO

city apt/not too noisy

H. likes skylights

garage

real sushi and ramen

trees?

Rug from Paris

dog(s)?—NO CATS, HAN!


On his terrible days, her plans haunt him and taunt him.

 

But on his good days, when he’s feeling okay, like the world isn’t closing in on him, these hopes become the last words she says to him. It still makes his eyes water and his heart ache, but it’s perfect, even if it’s just for a second.

 

He’s not a cat person, neither.

--

About a year and a half into Tokyo, Reiko shows up with a wounded kitten in the garage. She’s yelling in Japanese about Twinkie trying to drift and nearly running over this furball.

 

The furball takes a shine to him, gravitating to him when he works late into the night. It’s annoying, but the grey and black-striped mutt is persistent. It limps and limps as it’s trying to recover. And he thinks even Gisele would have admired this kitten’s determination.

 

By the time he begrudgingly accepts “KC/DC” (Kit Cat/Drift Cat, upon Twinkie’s insistence), many months later, it wanders off and never returns again. Reiko is sad.

 

But he knows DC’s a fighter and DC’s strong and had to move on.

--

If someone had told him early on in high school about all the good things to come (cars, women, money, world-hopping), he’d have felt ecstatic for just a fraction of it.

 

But no one tells him it would cost him the love of his life.

 

He’d trade it all for another moment in a dingy warehouse in Rio because he’s beginning to forget.

 

He doesn’t dare look at her picture because he knows it would consume him, he just needs to know he has it if he ever needs it.

--

He feels like he’s going through the motions, like he’s in high school again.

 

He can’t remember when he meets Takashi, but they cross paths and he finds himself working with this punk because he’s part of the racing scene and Han needs the connections. 

 

This guy reminds him of Daric, but he doesn’t care if history repeats itself. He just focuses on getting his hooks into the racing world. He has bigger plans this time. He can’t sit back and wait, and this keeps him busy, keeps him from thinking too much about her.

 

Sometimes it feels like he’s lived so many lives and he can’t believe there is still time to pass.

--

He’s getting older but ends up dressing younger than his age, he doesn’t even notice his change in attire until someone mentions it to him.

 

He makes a remark about how appearance doesn’t define a person, even if it’s not the complete truth.

 

He lost a few bags in the move and didn’t bother. He’s a new man with a new life.

 

She’s not there to haunt him about how great he looked in that purple v-neck. And he doesn’t need to be reminded of how she stole and lost his precious pink button-up shirt.

 

She bought him a replacement one, but it wasn’t the same. Sometimes he’d make a show of how annoyed at it he was, but one day it becomes the memory of the first time she told him she loved him.

--

He accidently left the shirt behind in his childhood home when he went to say goodbye to his mother.

 

His mother packs it away with the last of his things that remain. He used to visit her in between his adventures, but she knows he’s never coming back.

 

And now Gisele’s part of his old life, the one that never felt like much of a home.

 

He thinks about what she used to say about bad things that happen, to look for even a sliver of hope in all the tragedy.

 

And he thinks of his youth, before the realities of life hit him. Of birthday parties and family gatherings, watching football with his dad, playing with toy cars.

 

And when he eventually returns one day, he won’t forget the bad things, but he’ll focus on the good things that happened. And she will be there, tucked away in a box in the basement.

 

These are the promises he makes to her when he’s between awake and asleep, when he feels her energy around him, and all he wants to do is please her.

--

He gets in one of his drunken moods and curses at himself. He’s mad at himself and at her.

 

He feels so lost and so lonely surrounded by all these empty people in this empty life he chose.

 

His thoughts spiral out of control.

 

She gave up her life for this man? A guy working for a two-bit wannabe mobster and stealing chump change to feel alive?

 

He punches repeatedly at the wall like when he used to beat up his cousin because it feels like the only option.

 

And he thinks she’d understand his pain and it makes him feel even worst.

--

He’s trying so hard to live again.

 

He can hear her voice repeating “Do it again,”  over and over until he gets it right. She wouldn’t want him to give up no matter how hard it gets.

 

Deep down she was always patient, no matter how many times she looked annoyed when he fell off the motorcycle or joked around when she was trying to teach him combat moves.

 

He’s practicing for a life without her and it feels all wrong.

 

No skylight. No rug from Paris. No quiet mornings. No dogs.

 

He’s doing it for her, but all he wants is to do all this with her.

--

He’s not a complete mess anymore when he thinks about her. And that’s the closest he gets to moving on.

 

They were supposed to settle down and now he’s settling for this.

 

So he goes through the motions of life to numb the pain.

 

His hair is long again, but still never too long.

 

She made him want to be a better man and all that remains is a promise to try.

 

So he stays calm and he stays cool, trying to control the chaos in his mind and the world around him, chasing the next thrill.

 -

But nothing was ever so exhilarating than being in love with her, even if he doesn’t remember every detail. In his heart, he still remembers how he felt and he clings onto that.

 

It’s how he survives.

--

And he’s still in Tokyo.

And he’s still in love with her.

Chapter Text

I. This Is Mexico

 

He’s a suburban kid with too much time on his hands and resorts to petty crime. Credit card scams and pushing cheat sheets, to name a few.

He treats life like a game because he’s never been in real danger. He likes having fun, girls, smoking, and cars. Maybe he broods around too much without any real conviction behind it, but he’s never cared about what people thought about him.    

He’s been around guns, but the first time one is pointed at him, even if it is by his wimpy cousin, his bluff is called upon.

Things get out of control when he’s too relaxed and aloof, thinking the world can’t touch him, and it ends in death. He’s horrified. He underestimated these people he’s been keeping company.

-

It’s all too real, but he keeps up his cool. He treats it like a dare. He’s not going to turn his life around and go to college, or find a suit-and-tie job.

He’s going to fight this, no matter how foolish it is. 

He feels guilty for not stopping Daric, Virgil or Ben. He feels guilty for helping start all the things he did that led to that death. He felt the lingering doubt, but he did nothing to stop it.

He vows to never get too blinded again. He may not be able to control people, but he can control what he does and do the right thing.

-

No one finds out about their secret, but after his cousin’s suicide attempt, they gather enough to know how serious things had gotten. His dad blames him for leading his cousin down a terrible path and vows to never speak to him again.

He shaves his head and paints his car to form some sense of a clean slate. He doesn’t drive far away like he had planned years ago. He stays near enough, long enough, until his cousin is okay again.

He entrenches himself with his love of cars, checks out the racing scene in the city streets. He heard of this racing legend named Dom Toretto awhile ago; myths about how he escaped to Mexico or faked his own death.

He tries to quit smoking and makes the mistake of going cold turkey, thinking his mind can overcome his bodily cravings. He relapses and quits and relapses and quits and so on.

He wins enough money to breathe for awhile. His cousin is better, so he drives across the country for Chicago. He’s sick of the sunshine and the suburbs. But he still doesn’t stick around very long.

And then he’s off to Mexico for a new chance at life. One he doesn’t necessarily think he deserves.

--

He never had any true female friends growing up. Maybe being surrounded by female cousins drove him to it. He had his boys in high school, and the girls he knew were for kissing.

He meets Mia Toretto for the first time before he leaves for Mexico. Hector insisted. All he remembers is the terrible food at the Toretto lunch counter. She’s pretty, but he’s not stupid.

--

He finally meets the Dominic Toretto in Baja.

He’s wandering aimlessly, sort of. He has an idea of what’s to come but the picture is not clear. He’s going to feel his way through it like he always does. He’s got nothing but time.

But the heat of the sun is killing him and he’s questioning his new plans.

-

“Toretto?” He directs his words to a pair of feet under a car, when he arrives at the open garage.

“You the new mechanic?” the man asks, sliding out from under the car.

“Yeah. Han. Red mustang, well, it was red.” He offers, standing with a rucksack over his shoulder and a snack in his hand.

“How’s Hector these days? Gone legit, yet?”

“Still running the scene.”

“Get a drink, before you pass out, and then come help me. Then we’ll see what you’re made of.”

-

“You’re light on your feet, almost effortless. That can get you into trouble. Don’t get too cocky. Not when you’re on the job with me.” Dom tells him. Han just nods, taking his words in.

“Pull up here, we’re going to meet the rest of the team, then we start planning tomorrow.”

-

“Gather round. Tonight we salute new friends and old friends. Family. Remember to look out for each other tomorrow, and when it’s over, you’re all free to leave. No judgments here, but if you stick around, they’ll be bigger and better things to conquer. Salud!” Dom finishes, as the new team clinks beer bottles.

-

He sticks around in Mexico longer than he expected.

It’s not about the money, not really, he knows he still needs it to live and improve his car, but other than that, he likes the company and the thrill of each job.

He’s running from what feels inevitable, a job as a suit waiting for him. He was always academically smart; he just didn’t always apply himself. He’d probably kill it in college, if he had to.

That nightmare might still be in the cards, so he’s enjoying all this as much as he can.

-

He wanted to be alone with no one to harm but himself in this new life.

They all talk and hang out and soon Dom takes him under his wing. It just happens. He wasn’t really looking for friends, but Dom is magnetic and he’s almost a mentor to him, as much as Han lets him in.

He doesn’t want to repeat what happened before. He can’t afford to descend into chaos if he doesn’t keep himself in check, and Dom has character and values he admires.

“People all over can’t live within the system. We have to work around it. Life’s not fair, but we gotta do the best we can and help those in need.”

He lets Dom’s words in and hopes they sink in. This is far from making bank selling cheat sheets, but it was never about the money, even then.

-

The cops catch on, nothing specific, but they all part ways before things go awry. Dom and Letty are heading further into Mexico, and he goes back across the border to settle a few things, before he’s off again.

--

The second time he sees Mia is at the Toretto house. There’s a barbeque and Mia invites him to eat because they are family ‘by association.’ He’s surrounded by strangers, but he’s reminded of nights in Mexico and it calms him.

He doesn’t know if he’ll see Dom and the gang ever again, so he stays awhile, mingling, and just relaxing.

-

The third time they meet they become friends. It’s about a month after the barbeque and they see each other at a race and just start hanging out after that.

He’s fixing up the Plymouth, mostly to distract himself from his ailing uncle, the one who instilled him with a love of cars; the reason he’s still in Southern California and not in South America.

If he’s not in the garage, then he’s at the Toretto cafe trying to help Mia improve the place. She’s somewhere between motherly and sisterly, but also brotherly, and he’s grateful for her.

She sets him up on a few dates when he mentions that he hasn’t really had a proper adult date. They’re fine. They just feel a little too suffocating at times, too normal. Mexico felt like an extended vacation, sunshine and summer flings, and party-hookups.

His uncle passes away, and his car is fixed to his liking, and he has an urge to drive to Seattle, maybe for the rain. He only gets to Oregon before he gets a call from Dom to join him in Costa Rica.

--

He boards a plane to Costa Rica for the new job. These set of adventures concludes in Colombia, stealing a vault.

They celebrate with a race and he destroys his vehicle nearly beating Dom. Dom wants the Plymouth Road Runner. It’s in L.A. and Dom tells him to give it to Mia to store and he’ll get to it when he needs it.

-

He didn’t expect much when he ventured out to Mexico. Maybe a few thrills. But what he gets is so much more.

Not just friends, but a new sense of family.

Dom never asks him what he’s running from, he just understands. Letty doesn’t scare the shit out of him anymore, mostly. He picks up enough Spanish from the rest of the revolving crew, to get by.

All they are now are modern day Robin Hoods. The bandit and his Merry Men had wanted posters, too. What’s the difference?

-

The car he had on the job requires more work to repair than he anticipated, but Dom tells him he doesn’t need it.

"You’re a chameleon, Han. You’ll adapt and find your way, but I’ll help you fix this one up if you want.”

And then they part ways until the next adventure.

--

The next time he sees Mia is just before he sets off for the Dominican Republic.

“Did you finally get help in the kitchen? Food’s getting better,” he comments, after finishing a bite.

“But it’s still not good as yours, I know. I made that myself for your information. This punk used to help me out, but he’s too busy living life and avoiding commitment.” She says in jest.

“It was four dates. I can’t help it if your friend thinks I’m irresistible. You knew I wasn’t going to stick around.” He tries, in defense.

“It was a month long. How foolish of me for thinking I could make my friends happy. And all I get is just another brother on the run.” She tells him with a hint of weariness in her voice.

He doesn’t know how to respond to this, just looks at her with apologetic eyes as he finishes his sandwich.

“What’s the new food trend these days?” she asks him, lightening the mood.

“Dominican. Did you need help with anything around the house before I leave?”

“No. Go on.” She tells him, cleaning the countertop, and shooing him away with the towel.

“Until the next time,” he tells her, placing bills on the counter.

“I have a snake to wrangle. If you get a hold of her first, tell her about the new trend. She might kill me if she misses out.” He half-jokes, referring to Letty, who ran off after Colombia.

--

Then he’s in the Dominican Republic.
Then he’s wandering again.
Then he’s in Rio.
Then he’s in love.

 

II. Young Bloods Can't Be Settling Down

 

She’s always been friendly at her core. She can be one of the girls or one of the guys.

She had her army friends. Her Mossad friends. She can make them as fast as she can lose track of them. Life gets in the way, life moves along, and she keeps moving forward.

Death is always looming, so she won’t dwell on it. A game counting down to the end, so she takes what she can get.

Picks her fights.

But she’s not immune to her emotions, getting pangs in her heart for her older days long past, before the blood, and before the bullets. Skipping along grassy school yard fields, and not battlefields.

-

The jobs she has chosen are male-dominated, though, like some personal challenge to subvert the system. She has to be smarter and stronger than them.

Even if she shows her mettle, there will always be those who are set in their beliefs, stubborness or otherwise. She was lucky enough to have parents who believed in her.

She uses the doubters as fuel to drive forward. She can’t control what others did, but she can do her best to control the things in her life.

--

Before L.A., she fell in love, once or twice, maybe more, but nothing enough to make her stay. 

In L.A., she’s dating, but nothing is too serious. She doesn’t want to get near the word “love,” but thinks if it happens, she wouldn’t object. She can handle anything. 

Men can be so stupid, they just fall at her feet. Sometimes all she wants is sex and some men can’t take a hint until she has to show them her gun.

She thinks she wants someone to match her toughness, to challenge her, but that’s happened once or twice and didn’t work out.

She piles on to the list of reasons (excuses) that she doesn’t even know if she believes in. It has to be the right person at the right time, and so forth.

-

She gets wind of the famed Dom Toretto at one of the races and thinks, “Why not?” It’s his big return to L.A., he’s on the run from the law and she likes his gutsyness. Or maybe she just wants to catch him on a lie. People shouldn’t be bigger than life.

Rumors of Dom stealing oil tankers and safes intrigue her.

She takes it as a personal challenge when he dismisses her. She doubles-up her efforts, but probably for the wrong reasons.

Another thrill to chase…or maybe not.

She feels a pull to him. All the people around her care about is money and he values more than that.

There’s something real about him. There’s so much pain in his eyes. He’s loved and lost and carries the pain around like he owns it. She’s never been that in love. It’s beyond her comprehension.

She doesn’t think she’ll ever love anyone like Dom loved his late love. Not enough to risk life and limb for a chance at revenge.

She fears what she would have done if she knew about the truth of her father’s death sooner, so she tries to block it out as much as she can.

She knows her sense of revenge might be death as justice, that monstrous part of her that she has to keep under control. Death should only be the last resort, but how does one tell one’s heart that when feelings are coursing through them?

Death should have rules, too. She’s taken lives, she knows this.

--

She nearly dies and switches gears. She never quite believed in the cliché of life-affirming decision making when death knocks, but now she does, or she’s starting to.

She lives her life around guns, and she always held the belief that she’d always be ready to die. She prepared for it, but when reality hit, she was scared as hell.

She’s just a (little) girl with a beating heart.

Death (and life) is a game to her. It is her only way to function and cope. But every aspect doesn’t have to be a game.

She’s human.

She’s allowed to be afraid.
She’s allowed to be foolish.
She’s allowed to float aimlessly until the right things come along.
But she’s only human.
She’s not invincible.
She’ll make mistakes.

She was trying to force L.A. into some carefree existence, but deep down she knows it was too measured. She was too stubborn to bail.

She could control her actions, but she couldn’t control what Braga did. She needs better people around her. It can begin with Dom and Brian, but it needs to start with herself, first.

She backs off on Dom because she knows she’s not going to win that battle. When she gets a call to join him in Rio, she accepts.

Because she owes him her life.

Because she thinks she's ready for the next battle (in life, in love, in everything).
And this time she wants it to mean something.

Something beyond a fleeting (c)rush.

 --

And then she’s off to Rio.

 

III. The Vaults Are Full and the Fire's Bold

 

Rio is hot and muggy, but she doesn’t mind.

She’s keeping tabs on the whole team.

Mia is warm and feels like a long lost friend.

Brian has a childlike wonder that she can feel, something she thinks they all need; no matter how tough they all appear, because of their need to appear tough.

Roman’s mostly all talk, but when it works, they appreciate all that talk.

Tej is smart, and maybe too much of a smart-ass, but that works for him.

Leo and Santos’ bickering is endearing, a symbol of friendship beyond anything and everything. She’s a little jealous.

And then there’s Han, who she thinks she has figured out, until she doesn’t and back and forth it goes.

Smart and quiet, for the most part, offerring the right words when they are hashing out the heist plans.

Too cool and cocky, like the casualness of his tone when speaking of the ability to break into police stations.

Then he shows up with a nearly identical safe to Reyes's, and her head spins, but then he starts bragging about something else, and it brings her back to reality.

He’s quiet and cool and walks around like the world can’t touch him, but there must be a reason why he’s here for the job.

She knows all too well of the cover-up of a bad past. The effort one needs to maintain the image.

There’s something about him and she wants to get ahead on it, so she volunteers to go along on his assignment to see him work, and maybe cut him down to size, if needed.

Maybe stop the attraction she feels towards him. Or control it as best as she can.

-

He’s seen a lot of beautiful women in his life, he’s been with plenty of them, but she’s different.

He’s wasn’t trying to impress her with his witty remark when they met, but now he thinks he must have, in the back of his mind.

When he sees her drive, when he sees her drift, his heart stops. He thinks he’s in love and the words somehow escape his mouth. She's a badass that can not only handle guns and herself, but cars as well.

He’s overwhelmed.

He tries to play it cool, but she throws a wrench in his plans. He still tries to keep it under control, maybe try to crack her first, get ahead of the situation if he can. 

-

“How do you know Dom?” she asks him after several minutes of silence on the car ride to find Reyes.

“Met him in Mexico, a few years back. Part of his crew.”

“Oil tankers?” she questions.

“Among other things.”

“I heard about Dom. How come nothing about you?” she asks.

“That’s the point. Chameleon. Wheelman.” He says, flashing his smile.

She’s looking straight ahead, but sees his boastful smile from the side of her eye and takes it as a personal affront. So she stays silent, trying not to roll her eyes.

“How about you?”

“L.A. I ran with the wrong crew and Dom saved my life.” She offers, simply.

“Impressive drifting, a car can only do so much, that was something else,” he comments when he realizes she’s not going to expand upon her answer. 

“Drifting?”

“The over-steering thing you did at the end of the track,” he explains.

“I guess so. Something I picked up.”

“Taught yourself?” he inquires.

“Only way to learn.” She says calmly, eyes on the road, a small smile forming from her lips.

He just nods and stays silent because he might say something that will ruin the moment. Probably something about how no one could put up with the time it took her to perfect it. Or babble on about how he just feels it through, when he knows she does that as well.

He just wants to be near her; feel the sea air breeze by him as she weaves through the streets.

-

The car ride back to the warehouse is charged in a different way.

Adrenaline is coursing through her veins at completing his task.

The gloating smile hasn’t left her lips nor any words at all beyond “Let’s go,” when she discreetly passes by the bar to tell him she’s ready to leave.  

He feels the rush just being around her. From the challenging counter moves when he thinks he has the situation figured out; when he thinks he has her figured out.

And he dares to keep speaking.

“Did you find your answer…about me?”

“What was the question?” she feigns, quizzically

“If I’m cocky or confident?” 

“Confident, with a little bit of cockiness.” 

“Is that good or bad? You would know.” He tells her pointedly.

He acts like he’s already won her over and she can’t have that.

“I changed my mind, it’s the other way. Be careful not to hurt yourself when you get into trouble, though,” she tells him, eyes on the road.

“I just needed fresh air after being cooped up in the warehouse...and I didn’t want you to screw up if you had a moment of overconfidence,” she says, turning to give him a pointed look.

This isn’t a battle. This is a war. And she has to win.

The traffic is too heavy, she can’t weave her way through it like before, but she thinks she wouldn’t want to even if she could. She sits and waits. Waits for his next words, to crush them.

She feels the rush is in her veins, but her heart is beating calmly.

She’s allowed to have fun.
It’s not him, it’s the rush.

--

When Tej is working on unlocking the safe, she gets nervous. She doesn’t know if she wants to go through with running away with him now that the prospect is getting closer.

They were both ready to bail on the heist hours before. She wonders if they are just playing chicken. She genuinely likes him, and doesn’t want it to be a game.

They all feel like family, one she didn’t know she needed.

Maybe it’s him, not the rush.

She tries to catch his eye, but misses.

She thinks he looks a little nervous, behind all that coolness, or maybe that’s what she wants to see.

He stands there like the money falling out of the safe is not a big deal.
He’s impossible.
And all that escapes from her lips is a giggle.

She’s been trying to fit him in a box, but he doesn’t fit one.
He’s a man, a human, a complex being.

But she can handle him.

And if she’s going to be on the run from the law, she wouldn’t mind getting to know him better. She has to try, even if it ends in a blaze with no glory, just explosive chemistry.

 

IV. The Fire Can't Last and the Winter's Cold

 

When things began, it was hazy and wonderful.

 

Sunshine and sands.
Late nights and buzzing city lights.
The wonder of new places.
Friendly teasing and playful banter.

 

Nothing really bothers them.

Everything is just what they learn about each other along the way.

 

"Could you please not put your dirty clothes next to my freshly laundered ones,” he tells her for the millionth time.

“Don’t they make you clean the floor with a toothbrush for infractions like that?” he teases.

" We don’t do that in the military. It’s in movies and tv shows. It’s like how people think California has no rain.”

"Although, I could get down on my knees for a different kind of punishment,” she tells him seductively, smoothing out the crinkle in his shirt. 

“That’s going to work this time...” he gripes, shooing her hand away.

“Oh, I think it’s going to work out just fine,” she says, grabbing at his bulge and stroking him through his pants.

“At least keep your mess confined to one area,” he concedes.

“Yes, Sir.” She whispers in his ear, as she continues her action.

-

But then reality hit and the cute ticks became amplified annoyances. They’ve been cooped together for far too long and they are not immune to any normal couple’s squabbles.

These arguments happen in bits and pieces, but some days it’s a full on war.

 

“You complain about being hot most of the time, I thought I’d be doing you a favor by hogging the blankets.”

“It’s the principle. I’m entitled to 50%.”

“You can have 100%...on the couch!” she finishes with a shove that puts him on the floor.

 

Some days they won’t speak to each other (and there are lots of death glares).
Some days they won’t stop talking.

 

“You think you’re so cool that everything will just fall right at your feet.”

“Well you certainly did,” he mutters under his breath.

“Shut up! I’m assertive, there’s a difference!”

 

Sometimes they withhold sex.
Sometimes all they do is have angry sex.

 

“…If I had known…”

“…I’m a complex human being, I’m allowed to be fussy or aloof as I see fit!...”

“…I asked you nicely…”

 

He threatens to burn her things that are lying around.
She threatens to chop his hair off in his sleep.

-

Then they remember they are adults and make up.
Apologize for being petty. Concede for the greater good.

She thinks it’s hot when he gets angry, but she’ll never tell him.
And when she’s riled up, he knows she just needs to let off some steam, and it’s pretty hot.

They can bring out the best and worst in each other and they know it.

They just forget sometimes.

-- 

The worst of it comes several months into their travels, the time they rent a beach house in the Mediterranean. 

 

“… A bigger place can’t solve our problems, Gisele!”

“Maybe I’ll just leave, then!” she threatens.

“Go ahead.”

 

And she leaves and he lets her go.

-

When she returns later that night, he’s gone. She gets a call from him about going to see Tej, Roman, Santos, and Leo in Monte Carlo for the weekend.

He leaves her a message on Sunday about staying for the rest of the week. 

-

“There’s more fish in the sea, man. Mermaids all around us, pick one,” Roman tells him at the casino, pointing left and right at the ladies around them.

Tej’s advice sounds just as bad, “Don’t listen to him, grand romantic gesture or just slap that ass until-“ he emphasizes with hand gestures.

“Girl might take it the wrong way and he’ll have a bullet in him,” Roman reasons.

He just ignores it all.

-

She goes to visit Mia to take her mind off of him.

She doesn’t want to think about him, but Mia, all-knowing-and-warm Mia, finally brings it up after a few days as they are having a late lunch on the porch.

 

“He’s one of the good ones. The first time I met him, he had a chip on his shoulder, didn’t speak an extra word to me beyond finding out if I need anything for or from Dom.”

Gisele just chews her salad, trying to take in Mia’s words.

“Then slowly after that, he opened up and we became friends. I can still see the Brando-esque guy underneath, but he’s found peace within himself.”

“He truly cares, that’s why he’s acting out. He’s scared that he’ll screw things up. There’s something in you that he connects with,” she continues.

“When I saw him with you, I could tell how genuine it all was. You get him and he knows it and he knows you know it and that chip buried beneath his shoulder is telling him to get ahead. Both of you need to understand that you need to work together.”

“I’m not sure if we were ever together…” Gisele solemnly offers, staring out into the ocean.

“He’ll be back and you’ll talk and work it out. You are just going through a rough patch. All he needs is time,” Mia tells her sweetly.

“I know not to push him, but sometimes he gets so…smug and that’s all I want to do.” She says annoyed, but calmer after Mia’s advice.

“Did he cook for you? The tacos? Acts like he perfected the thing.” Mia says in annoyance.

“Sorry, anyway, boys are stupid. It’s that simple. I grew up with way too many, and with my luck my first will be a boy, too,” Mia sighs halfheartedly, chuckling.

“Sometimes when they care, all they do is over-do things.” She motions to Brian, in a panic inside, trying to baby-proof the place. The baby months away.

 

Gisele doesn’t know how to respond, her mind still a jumble. So she shrugs, but gives Mia a thankful smile and goes on eating.

-

Near the end of the week she gets a call from Tej about Han at a hospital and she takes the first plane to see him, not thinking twice.

Her heart’s been beating rapidly since she got on the plane. All Tej tells her is that he couldn’t wake up and the possibility of a broken arm.

-

“He, uh, wandered off and picked a fight. He wouldn’t wake up after the guy threw him against the bar,” Tej explains, voice getting quieter with worry at the last part. 

She has a moment to contemplate before Leo and Santos enters the room with a slightly ruffled Roman.

Leo and Santos jabber on in Spanish about their versions of the fight as Roman shrinks to the background, like she just pulled her gun on him.

“Accident? Bar fights are not accidents! Why did you bother calling me for this?!” she demands of Tej after Leo spills the beans.

Han picked a fight with Roman after he said disparaging things about her, and also something about being whipped, and during the brawl they bumped into a stranger who was none too happy.

“Thought we were brothers,” Roman whispers crossly to Leo. 

“I was just playing. He needed to let off some steam. You know I love y’all,” Roman tries to explain, flashing his pearly whites.

“He just kept on goin’ with the other guy…”  

-

When she finally sees him, he has a sling on his right arm, sporting a black eye with a few stitches beside his left ear, and a few more at the back of his neck.

“You know how lucky you are that it’s not a concussion?” she says, detachedly.

Her mind is on one track and she can’t offer him any sympathy.

“If you want to end it, just do it now. Clean break while I’m drugged, I can take it. You can get on with your life without some stupid guy following you around,” he spits back, sensing her mood.

“It’s only chemical, right, physical attraction? It’s not me.

She can’t believe he turns moments of playful bliss into poison.

“We never actually discussed if we were together. Stop being stubborn,” he continues.

Even if she had the same thought, she still can’t believe it comes into reality. She can’t let him see how hurt she is.

“Is that what you do, get girls to run around with you until the shine is over? You’re just going to run off when things get complicated?” she asks him straight out.

“You’re different from every other woman I’ve ever met. I’d spend forever fighting for you, but if you don’t want that, I’m not going to put you through it,” he says quietly.

And her head is spinning again, but she’s not going to let him in.

“I came back that night. Where was your fight then?”

“I knew you would. We needed to be apart for awhile. We’ve been cooped together for months. Something was bound to disrupt the bubble we were in. We’re human, Gisele. At some point we’d get on each other’s nerves.”

Her mind is a mess, but she tries to take Mia’s advice, or at least her version of it.

“Fine. If I’m not at the house when you feel like returning, then you’ll have my answer. You can have all the time you want. Just don’t expect me to wait around for you.”

In that moment she believes in her threat, even if it’s not true.

She thinks if she leaves, and sees him again someday she’ll start chasing him again, but for the wrong reasons.

Maybe she needs to stay, maybe she needs him to come back.
He’s better than that scared boy at the hospital, she knows he is.

He's only human.

--

He returns on Saturday. She’s still there, but relocated to the guest room.

For the first few days they act polite and civil, like strangers.

-

She leaves her boots lying around and they both reach for it, trying to clear the space when he’s about to walk into it one morning.

“I’m sorry. I don’t need you tripping and breaking your other arm,” she tries to joke.

“It’s just a sprain, don’t be so dramatic,” he jokes back, taking her bait.

“You have a left hook that people would kill for, try to remember that if you ever want to defend my honor again...Don’t embarrass me,” she tells him smirking, on the way to put away her boots in her room.

“Okay.” He nods.

--

And they apologize and talk things through in bits and pieces.

And soon they gravitate to neutral ground (the sofa), to steal kisses, and then more.

-

They (sometimes) have heated debates on whether or not they should be having sex (sometimes during sex).

 

“Your hand is still injured-“
“I don’t need my hands for this, but if I did, I still got my left, you’d kill for that…”
“It’s not about that…”
“Please…not right now…”
“Okay. I know.”

 

Something about using it to avoid their problems.
Something about how it relaxes them.

 

“Please…right now…”
“…It’s been too long…”
“…We aren’t normal…”
“I know. Okay.”

-

“Can’t? You mean shouldn’t. The things men say…” she winks, the reference flying over his head, as he takes off her shirt with his left hand, his slingless right wrist almost healed.

“That’s what you said when we found out we needed to break into the police station. That’s what caught my eye, not that clever remark about the cock fights. It was real and honest.”

“Not just chemical?” he asks, tilting his head down in trepidation.

“It’s never been just that, you know that,” she tells him as she brushes away the hair that fell into his eyes, trying to catch his gaze.

All he can do is look at her with a nervous smile and kiss her softly.

-

“It’s cooler in here,” he informs her one night in her bed as he’s holding her and she’s playing with his fingers.

“I know. Shady trees by the window. I love the smell of trees.”

“And you still made me walk all the way upstairs when I was in pain? To a shadeless room?”

“Well, I’m not allowed to touch your perfectly placed things, right? And it’s a sprain, don’t be so dramatic,” she says, echoing his words from a week before.

“I knew you’d come find me,” she sighs into the crook of his neck.

“You wouldn’t leave a trace, if you didn’t want me to find you,” he whispers, kissing the top of her head.

“Reeled you in on the sofa, didn’t I,” he gloats.

“Please, your neck was killing you. I took pity on you,” she scoffs, “I heard you cursing and wincing at night.”

“You know when I like to curse and wince, maybe I was entertaining someone,” he whispers in her ear, daringly.

She grabs at his neck to apply pressure on the faint scars left by his stitches. He cringes in slight pain, and she just rolls her eyes, and kisses him to shut him up.

Before he knows it, she’s shoved him off the bed and onto the floor.

“Know to quit while you’re ahead, babe, go entertain yourself,” she sneers.

--

They’re mostly back to normal, but they haven’t talked about the doubts over the status of their relationship. She’s been postponing it. She’s not ready to tell him the other thing.

She had the “never a couple” bullet locked and loaded, but she never expected him to shoot first. Maybe as a joke at the best of times, but not when everything was so real and serious.

She didn’t expect it to hurt so much when he said it.

She ignored it at the hospital, but once she got back to the house, it came barreling down on her. 

She thinks that was the moment she knew  that she was in love with him, or the closest she felt to being in love (the other thing).

She never wants to wish him ill will, but part of her wants it to hurt him more.
Maybe it’s eating up inside of him (it would mean he might love her, too, she reasons).

He shot the bullet.
He took the bullet.

-

Maybe he needed to be the one to say it because she couldn’t.
She’s only human; she needs help sometimes (too stubborn).

He understands. He always has. He always saw right through her tough exterior. He’s not that kind of fighter, but he’ll act first if he knows he needs to. On things that are important.

Picks his fights.

-

“Did you really think we weren’t together?” she asks him on a random mid-morning day in bed. Not daring to look at him.  

He doesn’t respond right away. She thinks he might have fallen asleep, but waits a few moments more.

“I didn’t think there’d be a middle ground with us, either we’d be all in or all out, but we got stuck in between. I should have talked to you about it. I guess I was trying to convince myself, so it wouldn’t hurt so much. Everything just happened so fast. We never had a proper first date, and it was just so easy with you and I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don’t know.”

“With you, my words get so muddled, somewhere between sincerity and a pick-up line. Or something completely stupid or nothing at all.”

“I couldn’t tell if you’d make a clean break or drag yourself deeper through the mud to prove a point and end up hating me. I thought at least I’d still have those first few months and we’d be casual acquaintances, at least.” He finishes.

“I had this whole other life in L.A. just before Rio. I lost myself there, just stuck. I was trying to start over and I didn’t want to put you in the middle of all of it...I should have let you go, then, but all I could think about was how you made me feel, when I should have thought about your feelings, too. I just wanted you so much, and I still want you.” she says, sighing in defeat.

“I wanted you, too, you know I did. I still do,” he tells her.

“You did let go, for awhile, at the hospital. We’re here now, and that’s all that matters. We need to be straight with each other. That’s the only thing we owe each other,” he tries to reassure her, caressing her face.

She steels herself before taking his hands in hers and looking straight into his eyes.

“I look at you, and I feel grateful, but sometimes I can’t comprehend it. Like you’re a crutch and I promised myself I wouldn’t get lost again. And I know you aren’t, but when things go bad, the way did, I can’t handle it.”

“I can’t promise you anything. If you don’t want to hate me, this might be it. I can’t ignore everything that’s happened. I can’t go back to what we were. I can’t be just friends, at least right now. If that’s what you want, that’s fine.” She finishes quietly.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be. We’ll work it out together. I’m in, if you’re in. You’ve always been worth the risk.” He concludes with a kiss to her forehead.

“Let’s go eat.” He says, tugging her from the bed.

And it’s exactly what she needs to hear.

-

He’ll never let her compromise herself for him. But she can at least try to meet him halfway, this is important to her.

Work together. Equal-footing. Push-and-Pull.

Pick her fights. The right ones.

And the other bullet, the one containing the word love, shouldn’t be a bullet at all.

This isn’t a war. It’s just life. And maybe it’s love, too.

But she’s still a soldier.

She thinks she’d be ready to take the bullet if he shot first. She doesn’t want to think about what happens if she still has to take the bullet and he’s not the one to shoot first.

But she’ll have to take the risk, even if there's no blaze, no glory. Just a normal end.

--

“We should go on that proper first date,” she tells him a week later when his wrist has healed.

“The night before the heist, that can be our first date. I brought you a drink, there was food. We got to know each other better. Kissing. I was just having a moment last week, saying stupid things. Don’t hold yourself to it. We can’t ignore what happened, right? Those were your words.”

“Second date?” she suggests.

“Did you have anything in mind?” he inquires.

“I hear Berlin is nice this time of year?”

“Berlin sounds nice. I’m sick of the sunshine,” he shares.

 

V. The Low Click of a Ticking Clock

 

After high school he thought he needed a change in scenery.

He reckons new places would bring him to the right people. Chicago was the furthest thing from his Southern California upbringing, windy and cold, but nothing of note happens there.

It’s not their fault, it’s his, he’s just not settled in to this life he’s working on.

By the time he’s in the Dominican Republic he learns that people make the places better and not the other way around. He still hates the heat, but he loves beaches again. Dom and Letty are still around, and Cara, Leo, and Santos round out the atmosphere.

He’s getting closer to who he wants to be. The people and places help him grow. He’s not ready to leave, but he knows he has to keep on running (his feet demand it), keep on growing.

-

Dom’s in Rio, but Letty isn’t, and it immediately feels lesser. That’s life, people die. The presence of Leo, Santos, Tej, Roman, Brian, Gisele, and especially, Mia help.

The prospect of a final job saddens him a little, if he’s honest. He might never see Dom again. Maybe he and Mia shared a bond over homesickness and that will end, too.

He tells himself to suck it up and grow up. He’s the cool loner guy!

Then Gisele drives and he’s enthralled. The world doesn’t exist, anymore. It’s just her. His heart and his brain are in overdrive trying to play it cool. He doesn’t even know how he keeps his mind on the job, when every spare moment is spent thinking of her.

He wants to keep running, but with her this time.
The rush carrying him forward, towards her.

--

He’s never been in love, well maybe he has, but he never called it that or never recognized it for what it was.

He always has one foot in and one foot out.
Definitely something with Monica, maybe with Cara and a few others, but not enough to make him stay.

But he thinks he wants to love her, and he wants her to love him back.

He'll tell himself it’s just a fleeting crush if it doesn’t work out, but deep in his heart, he thinks he knows it’s not.

She doesn’t eat up his words like so many before her, and that prospect is exciting and terrifying.

Who needs the easy stuff?  

-

But when it happens, he’s all talk and thoughts.

She shoots first and he can’t handle it.
It was stealthy and unexpected, just like her.

He has too much time to think.
Or the right amount of time to think?

He’s thrown the phrase around in the heat of the moment when some girl said it first, but it never amounted to anything before.

He has to mean it this time.

He’s not ready to tell her, even if he does love her.
And that’s the only thing he owes her, even if it means he’ll lose her.

Friends, at least. Better than nothing.
At least that’s what he tells himself.

But she says exactly what he needs to hear.
And maybe he’s not in love, but he’s definitely falling in love.

It’s not just him. It’s her.
And he’s not teetering on the edge anymore.

She makes him feel like he can do anything, but also nothing, and that’s somehow more meaningful.

--

He built up this ideal of living everyday like it was his last, but he thinks he never really meant it. He’s always been cautious. He ran when he could.

Then she showed up and stole his heart. He never wants it to end. He was going to fight for everyday to not be his last (with her).

It’s all so fast. Rio seems like yesterday, but also forever ago. Everything leading up to her is a blur. Suddenly they’re in Spain and he loves her, and she loves him back. And that’s all he can think about.

And sometimes he wants it all, all at once: marriage, kids, the bickering, the bantering, the stares, the glares, the silent understanding.

His feet don’t feel as restless as they once did.

Sometimes he thinks he’s a sap for feeling all these things, but he doesn’t care, not when she looks at him like he’s the only thing in the world.    

-

Maybe the heat will kill him, but he’s not questioning the plans his heart makes. 

His brain is a different story.
It tells him to be cautious and gentle with her.
This is not a game.

But his mouth gets in the way.
They’re outside, eating, the world around them, and it slips out.

So normal.

But of course it doesn’t last because they’re not normal.
Guns and yelling appear because this is their life.

She didn’t say yes.
But she didn’t say no.

He thinks about things and she goes into action most of the time, but this time he’s the one to leave her pondering. Maybe he could be more direct about it, but that’s not how this situation is going to work for them.

It’s the wrong time to push.

He's nervous, and he's scared, but it feels right.

-

And then they’re in London with the family.

They have a job to do. He has to stay focused. Letty might be alive and she’s worth more than $100 million.

-

He saves her and she saves him.
This is their life. There’s only so much he can keep at bay.
It’s full of danger and death.

-

If she wants to keep running, he’ll do it with her.

Maybe that’s who he’s always been and she knows it.
Some fool blinded by love.

It not about the right time or the right place. It’s her.
He’ll be happy if she’s there.

She waited when he couldn’t tell her he loved her, and he’s going to wait until she’s ready for this.

But she says the things that he wants to hear, and he wonders when he turned into such a hopeless romantic.

A love story for the ages.

Roman can tease him all he wants.
He's in love.
They're in love.

Tokyo is on the horizon.
Endless, infinite Tokyo.

--

Gisele treats death like a game because she has to. The way she carries herself and handles her weapons, there’s no way she pushed papers as a Mossad agent.

She told him once that once you take a life, you can never go back. A part of you dies, even if the target was the worst person on Earth and has killed millions or just one person you loved.

There are rules. They can’t be Gods, determining fates.

That little bit of guilt is the only thing that separates humans from monsters. If it’s not a game, then she’d go crazy.

He knows about coping, but it’s a different situation from hers.
A different kind of game, with different rules. Closer to reality than he can ever comprehend

She has blood on her hands, and his hands are splattered with red spots like a kid who got too close to someone painting.

-

Everthing is a blur after she's gone, he doesn't know how he carries on with the task when all he can think about is her, but he does.

The selfish, self-deprecating kid inside of him that he covered up with his coolness reappears.

He must be a monster because his first direct kill doesn’t fill him with guilt the way she described. The only guilt he feels is for not being able to save her (he could have saved Steve, too, he thinks).

He blames himself for her death (he's not worth it, he knows it).

He thinks of the choices he made. The things he didn’t do.

He should have held on tighter. He should have been more aware of his surroundings. This wasn’t supposed to happen, again.

If they’d broken it off when it got complicated maybe they’d be apart, but she’d be breathing. And soon enough they’d be chasing each other around the globe again.

Thoughts like these circulate in his head. It drives him crazy.

But this is life, not a game. She’s really gone.

He couldn’t have saved her.

She made her choice and all he owes her is to respect it.

--

This is a game. He stopped playing thinking he could start living (with her), and he lost (her).

It has to be a game. A film, or something because this is Spain.

The very same Spain where he first told her he loved her.
Where he didn’t think he could love anyone more than he did in that moment.
Where he thinks no one will ever love him as much as she did in that moment, when she gave up everything for him.

Of all the countries in the vast world.
The irony? The painful, unreal tragedy?

She exits his life the way she entered it, guns blazing. Perfect bookends.

Of all the ways to say hello and goodbye in the world.
The painful, parallel, symmetrical, circularity of it all.

It can't be real.

This isn’t life, it’s a fucking literary lesson, like he loathed so much in high school.

If so, then his heart is ripped out, replaced by a ticking clock, marking time.

--

Then he’s in Tokyo.
Then he’s just hopeless.

 

VI. This Is My Mexico

 

He just about runs the underground racing scene in Tokyo, his garage is full, and he tries to keep himself occupied (to avoid the pangs in what’s left of his heart, when he sees others in love) at all times.

Soon he’s double-crossing the Yakuza.

It’s the shady side of business. It’s not black and white.
It’s the grey area, his silver lining, apparently.

He keeps telling himself he doesn’t care if he gets caught because all he feels is the rush of breaking the rules.

--

He loses track of time in Tokyo. He knows Jack is about five years old now, and that brings him back to some sense of reality.

--

A little before that, this brash American kid shows up and he ends up taking him under his wing. There’s something real about this kid, he has guts. Han thinks he deserves a second chance, like he got one all those years ago in Mexico.

And he’s D.K.’s kryptonite, and it will be fun watching that unfold.

If Dom owns his brashness, then Sean is at the other end of the spectrum. Sean thinks he owns his brashness, but he doesn’t. Sean will get there, he can only hope.

-

He sees Sean falling for Neela and casually quibbles with him about it, but he admires him for going after what he wants, even if it’s reckless. D.K.’s not Yakuza, even if Twinkie thinks otherwise.

They are all just kids, and maybe he can help keep them out of (serious) trouble, as much as can. And he doesn’t want to take love away from anyone, even if it means he’ll hurt a little more.

-

Sean wants to learn how to drift and he has the arrogance and nerve to ask Han to teach him after he wrecked his car, the “Mona Lisa.”

He’s reminded of the wounded kitten that he encountered some years ago. Sean’s determined to spend every spare waking moment learning; burning through tires and taking flack from the rest of the crew.

“Again.” He tells Sean over and over like a mantra.

And soon they’re drifting in tandem.

-

It’s not the family he thought he’d have in Tokyo, but sometimes they feel like home. There’s fast cars, food, camaraderie, like in Mexico, and Rio.

--

A little after this, he gets an invitation to Jack’s birthday.

I can’t believe our little boy will be driving in ten years, Mia writes, or maybe he’ll rebel and be one of those bike-only-clean-air people!

He gets one every year, but this year’s letter is different. Along with the card, Mia sends him a short stack of pictures of all of them, just before Jack was born, when they were nearby in Madrid.

I finally found the memory card with all these pictures. I hope you can look at them for what they were, happy moments. 

Take care, we all love you.

-Mia

P.S. Jack is obsessed with Japanese cartoons and wants to visit his Uncle Han, I keep telling him he will appreciate it more when he’s older, but I’ll give you a call if we cave to his demand.

-

He didn’t reply to her letters until a few years ago. He sends Jack a few extra gifts to make up for the years he’s missed. He regularly sends Dom car parts now, stuff Dom can’t get in the U.S.

-

There’s a lot of Gisele in the pictures and he can’t deal with it. He has enough reminders of her around him (mostly in his mind), already.

Later that night he’s in despair, rocking back and forth on his bed, with an unlit cigarette in one hand and a lighter in the other. He has half a mind to burn these memories, along with the few boxes in his closet he has left of her.

As if it would erase her from his mind.

He wants to go back in time to the real Mexico, when there were so many possibilities ahead, and just a chip on his shoulder (even before her), not this heavy burden of life (without her), weighing him down.

-

His past keeps haunting him.

Like his lighter that belonged to his uncle. The one he was sure was at the bottom of the sea, submerged when he went off in a tizzy, high off weed.

Letty returned it to him one late night in Colombia. They never talked much beyond the state of Mia, general job related things, and literally, the breeze, over the occasional cigarette, if they couldn’t find anything stronger.  

But that night she tells him throwing it away wouldn’t make his pain go away.

And these words stick to help. And he thinks of how selfish he can be, when he can go back home and Dom can’t, and a phone call to Mia isn’t enough.

And even tough-as-nails Letty gets homesick. He tried his best to place them in neat boxes, but they’re all human. Letty’s tough, but kind. Dom’s tough, but sensitive.

And he thinks sweet and warm Mia might be the toughest of them all by sticking around and dealing with all the memories surrounding her and not running away from them.

He’s always known these things, but he tried his best to ignore it. He tries so hard to not hurt anyone by keeping to himself that he forgets that he needs people, too, that he’s hurting himself.

Sometimes the only way to control the pain is to let it in.

-

He thinks of the morning before he left for Tokyo, when he went back to say goodbye to the crew and apologize for his drunken behavior.

Letty pulled him aside and gave him back his lighter (again); she told him to never apologize for his feelings and how it was the first time she felt normal since her return. How he didn’t look at her with pity and expectation when he was running his mouth off on her, thinking they were in the Dominican Republic. 

He expected her to tell him to still watch out for the broken jaw she keeps promising him…but she didn't.

When they were in the D.R. she wasn’t homesick anymore, she had Dom. She’s back home with Dom, but she has that look in her eyes again because she can’t remember. She’s homesick for the person she was before.

-

He’s somehow homesick for what never came to be, a life with Gisele in Tokyo, with dogs, trees, skylights, and Parisian rugs.

And now Letty’s memories are gone and she might never get them back. He feels selfish again, and more angry at himself. He wants to burn everything down now.

But he passes out before anything comes into fruition.

--

When Sean asks him how he ended up in Tokyo, he tells the kid this was his “Mexico,” like some Western movie and he’s playing along with the make-believe (because it feels like his only option).

He’s back to treating death (and life) like a game because if he doesn’t he’ll go crazy (without Gisele).

Back to having fun and having girls, trying to project a carefree and cool image, and if he blocks out the pain, it feels real enough.

-

Tokyo was supposed to be freedom. A new start. A new Mexico.

A promise to her, to move on.

But the times when the promise becomes a burden, he’s hopeless.
It’s not freedom. He’s in exile from his loved ones.

He knows she’d tell him to stop being an idiot and live for himself, and that he doesn’t owe her anything.

He can't help but hear the screams in his head,

But she gave up her life for him! 

But she didn’t! It’s just what she had to do. She was just helping someone in need because that’s who she was.

It’s her, it’s not him.

These are the things he tells himself to feel better, and he knows it’s similar to what she would have said.

It’s how he copes with it all.

--

The last time a gun is pointed at his face, it’s not unlike the first time, but he’s caught between fear and arrogance. He keeps egging D.K. on because he doesn’t care anymore. But he still runs away the first chance he gets.

He had a death wish. He double crossed the Yakuza, what did he expect? Bullets and blood because he wanted a thrill, breaking the rules of rule-breakers.

Then they are being chased around the busy streets of Tokyo. He’s close to escaping, but Sean and Neela are still in the thick of it and he doesn’t think twice about going back to help them.

Maybe part of it is guilt for bringing him into this world, but he hopes it has more to do being the best person he can be, that bit of humanity that’s still inside him.

Face his mistakes.
It’s what he has to do because of who he is.
Because of who they are.
His family.

--

He’s sure the stardust is still in his eyes, but it feels like it’s gone, replaced with the deep void of empty darkness.

Nothingness.

Like his hollowed heart with a clock in its place.

It’s been ticking down to whatever he needs it to be, his emotions a mess.
Ticking down to what? The next time he falls in love again or the end of it all. It feels all the same.

-

This is life.

We’re only human.
We all die. We’re all dying.

-

The stardust in his eyes wasn’t going to create a new world for them.

They’re not special. Everything around him is made of stardust.

She’s not the universe, and he’s not the sun, even if it felt that way when they were in love.

But he’s only human, driven by emotions, and he wants to believe in it all: stardust, red threads, skylights, oil tankers, Rio, fast cars, Star Wars, barbeques, everything and anything.

He’s just a boy with a beating heart.

--

The ticking stops and he feels his heart beat again, for a second, then that stops, too.

And the world will keep on spinning, and everyone he knew will keep on living.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Can’t wait to get you a proper leather jacket.” Gisele beams after they finally set a date for their motorcycling plans.

 

“Is that why you’re teaching me?” Han smirks, joining her on the sofa.

 

“Like it wasn’t the first thing you thought about, and some nickname to go along with it. ‘Cool Han Lue,’” she snickers, not looking up from her reading material.

 

“Don’t knock Paul Newman.”

 

“I’m not. What happened to Steve McQueen? Bullitt?”

 

“That’s the car movie. We’re doing motorcycles now. ‘Cooler King’ doesn’t quite work, though. Am I dispensing refreshments?” He complains with a furrowed eyebrow.

 

“And you’re no blondie, too tall and dark.” She remarks.

 

“’The Wild One’ and ‘The Girl on a Motorcycle,’” he says.

 

“And if we’re talking about proper attire…”

 

“No. You know how many times I’ve heard that reference?” she objects, giving him a brief glare.

 

“You don’t have to be naked under the jumpsuit, well, maybe just for me. My half-birthday’s coming up, September 8th.” He says, placing his arm around her shoulder and leaning into her.

 

“That is not a thing,” she says, rolling her eyes.

 

“Sure it is. I’m a ‘Glass-half-full’ kind of guy. Eternal optimist.”

 

“Or a spoiled boy who wants two gifts a year,” she deadpans, giving him another look before going back to her book.

 

“You’re just jealous you didn’t think of it first. You’re like ‘Glass-half-full-but-I’ll-shoot-if-you-don’t-fill-the-rest-up.’” He chuckles.

 

“I’m ‘the Wild One,’ then?”

 

“’The Wild One’ and ‘The Wilder One.’ Great spy names,” he offers.

 

“Maybe only a little better than ‘Batman and Robin Hood,’” she replies.

 

“And you’re Batman, obviously.” He says.

 

“Obviously.” She repeats.

 

“Batgirl and Nightwing, then: ‘Gordon & Grayson, International Crimefighters.’”

 

“I’ll accept.”

 

“September 30th. I expect a full effort for my half-birthday gift.” She continues after a beat.

 

“See, optimism works.” He gloats, giving her a peck on the cheek.

 

“To ‘Gordon & Grayson.’ I’m not giving you anything for yours. I’m just shooting for a full glass.” She informs him, removing his arm from her shoulder.

 

“And get me a water,” she tells him pointedly.

 

“I’ll accept.” He mutters under his breath, heading for the fridge.

 

“See, you are the ‘Cooler King, Drink Dispenser.’ Optimism works.” She says blankly, starting to read again.

Chapter Text

“What are you doing?” she asks when she sees him getting dressed, but not in the Rio cop uniform they discussed.

 

“You said a full effort. I’m making you dinner.” He says, buttoning up one of his older shirts he wore to fix cars, having forgotten to buy an apron.

 

“But I need you.” She pleads.

 

“I know. Hence…” he nods to her cuffed hands behind her back.

 

“You wouldn’t…” she cautions.

 

“I’m a bad cop, undercover as a good cop, undercover as a bad cop, undercover as a good boyfriend, undercover as a chef. Just for an hour, maybe two.” He smirks.

 

“This is the kind of man you are? Pretty Wonder Boy and his petty games,” she jeers, “And don’t think about calling me Wonder Girl.” She finishes when she sees the glint in his eyes.   

 

“It’s ‘Robin, The Boy Wonder,’ and they were only friends, partners in crime-fighting. Keep up, babe. You’re Wonder Woman, obviously. That makes me Captain Wonder, the evil version of Wonder Woman’s love.” He explains as he completes rolling up his sleeves.  

 

“I can be Batman, too. I just don’t need to be all the time, but you know; you’re the same. I’m smart enough not to call you Catwoman, with your dislike of cats and all.” He goes on, while tying his shoes now.

 

She scans the room for the keys as he’s speaking, and distracted by his clothing. With no luck and clad in nothing but her black high-heeled shoes, she attempts to stand up, but he stops her to gently maneuver her back on the bed.

 

“This is what happens when you throw yourself recklessly at things.” He tells her in a lecturing tone.

 

“You know who you’re messing with. I’ll give you one more chance.” She asks him nicely.

 

He uncuffs her then, whispering an apology, and then asks if it was okay to cuff her to the bedpost, better grip, he mumbles with a playful kiss. He kisses down her body, running his palms up and down her thighs as she opens herself for him. His tongue teases her clit, as her other hand clings to his hair. Soon he replaces his tongue with his finger in order to stifle her mouth with his lips when her moans get louder. Her moans of pleasure turn into whimpers when he pulls himself away from her abruptly.

 

“Keep your eyes closed.” He instructs to her softly.

 

He sits her up, and stills her trembling legs, bending her knees so he can get closer to her face to give her a teasing kiss, sucking at her bottom lip.

 

“Sorry…” he starts, as he reaches for his tie and the other set of cuffs that were on the nightstand. He locks her other wrist to the opposite side of the bedpost, and then he proceeds to bind her ankles together as quickly as he can with the tie, and continues,

 

“Got to make dinner,” he says casually.

 

“Han!” she shrieks, flailing her tied together legs in attempt to kick his retreating form.

 

“Wait ‘til I get out. You’re going to pay for this,” she huffs, still a little winded from his earlier actions.

 

“I’m counting on it. It’s only your half-birthday. Wouldn’t dream of doing this on your actual birthday,” he tells her smugly.

 

“I’ll be embarrassed if it takes you more than thirty minutes.” He tells her while opening her clenched palm and extracting the keys to the handcuffs that she took from his pocket moments ago.

 

“I’d like my tie back in one piece. You’re welcome to wear whatever you want for dinner.” He relays to her while eying her naked form.

 

She just continues to glare at him.

 

“If you want anything other than beer or champagne, just give a shout,” he informs her before covering her with a blanket.

 

She starts to curse him out in the handful of languages she knows as he's exiting the bedroom when he stops short to add,

 

"You think I didn't consider taping your mouth shut? I just love the sound of your voice, especially when it's riled up. Get it all out of your system, you've got some escaping to do, twenty eight minutes." He says from the doorway before disappearing into the hallway.

Chapter Text

A Tie and A Tie

 

I. The Great Escape

 

She gets herself out of the handcuffs with five minutes to spare. Still seething on the inside, she goes to shower; to hatch her plans.

 

He’s lighting a candle on table when she steps foot in the kitchen in his favorite red dress.

 

“Come here,” she says sweetly.

 

“The great escapist.” He says cheerily, joining her near the end of the kitchen table.

 

She pops his collar up to start tying his tie.

 

“The secret to revenge is anticipation; element of surprise. October. Thirty-one days. After Halloween, all bets are off. The next time you wear a tie, it might set me off. It might be your actual birthday because I would dare. Beauty is in the danger, right?” she says nonchalantly, finally meeting his gaze as she folds his collar down.  

 

“You said you wanted your tie in one piece.” She says, reaching behind him to the counter to fetch his new favorite shirt, now ripped apart.

 

“Warning shot. Thirty-one days?” She says, handing him the article.

 

“Deal.” He says after a beat, smile faded.

 

“Good, toast to seal it, and then go shower and change your shirt.” She says.

 

He fills the champagne glasses, but doesn’t stop pouring, tipping the bottle towards her instead, emptying out the rest of the contents onto her head as she gasps.

 

“It’s still September.” He says with a hint of smugness.

 

It takes her a moment, but she eventually pulls him by his tie, and calmly speaks,

 

“Didn’t I warn you about wearing a tie?”

 

“You put it on me.” He says back with his own calmness.

 

“See how that worked out?” she says, staring straight into his eyes, daring him on.

 

He stays put, not flinching. 

 

Her free hand inches its way to the steak-knife, but he stills her hand with his.

 

“Okay. You got me.” She concedes. 

 

“The cuffs, the second time was stupid, this, the technicality, is fair.” She concludes.

 

When he releases, her hand reaches for the champagne bucket. He yelps out of shock as the cold and icy mixture runs down his head.

 

“You bend the rules, but I break them.” She tells him in a smug and patronizing tone, strolling away.

 

When the cold settles a bit, he goes after her, cornering her, turning her around by the shoulders to place her backside to the wall.

 

“Didn’t think about your heels, darling?” he teases.

 

“I know exactly what I’m doing.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Getting you to carry me to the shower, darling.”

 

“Bath?”

 

“What about dinner? All your effort.”

 

“Couldn’t really concentrate with the anticipation of your revenge on my mind. It’s still really good, but it could have been great. Try again tomorrow?”

 

She snakes her hands under his shirt to dig her long nails into his flesh.

 

“Your persistence is very attractive.” She whispers sweetly in his ear, a stark contrast to her long nails running roughly across the waistline of his back.

 

“You’ll need a good soak after I what I do to you.” He mumbles out between nibbles at her earlobe, her weakness.

 

“Is that a threat?” she asks, nails digging into him deeper, but no longer moving.

 

“You’ve seen my hand, six months?” He offers, trying his best to ignore the sting of her actions.

 

“What? Bluffing?” she challenges.

 

“Wild card.” He stares her down.

 

“Wild-est card. I’ll give you a year.” She negotiates.

 

“Sure, if you need that long to plan.” He says.

 

She stares fiercely at him, but he doesn’t let up.

 

“Just the excessive, unnecessary stuff. Still need to keep you on your toes.” He says, quickly pinning her hands above her head and kissing her roughly.

 

II. The Cool-est Queen

 

“We should get a place here.” She muses out loud as they are enjoying dinner over the view of the Italian countryside.

 

“Are you tired of Tokyo?” he asks.

 

“When I traveled for my job, I’d see all these great places, and tell myself I’d come back and live there someday. This happened a lot, don’t take my ramblings too seriously.” She says absentmindedly.

 

“I like it here too, if that helps…” he trails off, turning to watch her enjoy the view.

 

“Pizza in Pisa, how could you resist?” she chuckles, glancing back at him.

 

He just smiles back, nodding in agreement.

 

They retire to the living room of their rented villa after a late evening stroll.

 

“We should drive to the coast. See how it is this time of year if we’re thinking about getting a place.” She suggests.

 

“Sure,” he shrugs, hanging her coat on the rack by the doorway.

 

“My half-birthday’s almost over. I could offer you an extension on the peace treaty.” She informs him, wrapping her arms around his neck.

 

“I’ll take my chances.”

 

“If you’re sure, a year’s worth of plotting. You’ve been anxious lately.” She says as she loosens the knot on his tie.

 

“I might have something up my sleeve. Check my pockets.” He says casually.

 

“Nothing suspicious,” she says, examining the contents.

 

“Inside.” He says tenderly.

 

She reaches inside his blazer pocket, feeling a small velvet box with her fingertips, and pauses.

 

“Open it.” He whispers earnestly.

 

She does, and is fixated on a ring with a simply cut diamond, not too gaudy. When she manages to look at him again, he’s on one knee. 

 

“It’s still September, right?” He asks, fighting his nerves as he takes her hand in his.

 

Her fingers instinctively move to rub his hand when she notices the slight shakiness as he speaks.

 

“I’ve been trying to find the perfect moment. Then I realized if you said ‘yes,’ it would make any moment perfect. I love you. I want to make you as happy as you make me. Marry me?” He asks, holding his breath, eyes wistful.

 

“Yes.” She says grinning, tears of joy trickling from her eyes.

 

Her hand is trembling now, but in eagerness as he’s placing the ring upon her ring finger; embracing her in a hug afterwards.

 

“Don’t think this will soften me up.” She informs him while wiping away her tears.

 

“I know. That’s why I’m marrying you.” He says, following his words with a quick kiss.

 

“Does it fit okay?” he asks.

 

“Perfect.” She answers, showing him before entwining their fingers together and leading him to the sofa.

 

“I told your parents. I didn’t know if they followed the tradition or if you did, but I thought it was best to at least inform them.”

 

“And you made it out alive?” she jokes in euphoria.

 

“Maybe a few emotional bruises.” He pouts, placing his jacket on the armrest before sitting down and slipping his arm over her shoulder.

 

“I think my mom is offended by how quickly you won her over; she's building her defenses. You remind me of her, which is why my dad adores you, I suppose.” She tells him.

 

“Well, I am very charming.” He breathes out.

 

“Too charming,” she sighs, as she moves to sit on his lap, looping her arms around his neck as she rests her head on his shoulder.

 

“Yashars. Never admit defeat,” he chuckles as he settles his arms around her waist.

 

“We do, when the fight is fair. Having second thoughts? It’s late, we’ll tell everyone tomorrow; last chance to take it back.”

 

“Never. You’re softening up already.”

 

“No, a kind warning. You and me, in stalemate forever.”

 

“Not even one point ahead? For a proposal?” he complains.

 

“I warned you about wearing a tie around me,” she says, looking at him again, suppressing a grin.

 

“It’s still September.” He says nonchalantly.

 

“That’s the thing. I live on Tokyo time, and it’s October in Japan. My reckless, rule-breaking brain knows this.” She informs him, twisting the silky garment around her left hand.

 

“I’ll take my chances,” he says, cocking his eyebrow dreamily.

 

“I know. You don’t need the advantage. I’m marrying you for your optimism.” She says with a full smile.

 

“Bowtie for the wedding, though?” He suggests.

 

“Smart boy. How are we supposed to explain to our kids that I nearly choked their father to death on our wedding day?” she remarks, eyebrow raised.

 

“Not that crazy, considering how we met.” He responds.

 

“’The Cooler King,’ offering me refreshments, that’s what I remember.” She grins.

 

“Not the part where you looked at me like I was an idiot?”

 

“They’ll experience that firsthand, they’ll figure it out sooner or later,” she laughs.

 

“You’re not, I mean if you are, we sort of talked about it, but not-“ he stammers when he realizes the topic at hand.

 

“Oh…no,” she blinks back, flustered.

 

“Someday, right?” She marvels with an even wider grin now.

 

“Yeah.” He nods, grinning back at her, pulling her in for another kiss.

 

“I would have gone with ‘Tripped-and-hanging-on-to-the-necktie-for-dear-life’ story. You’re slipping, babe.”

 

“Smart-mouth.” She mutters, tugging at his tie harder, but to bring him closer in order place a soft kiss on his forehead before releasing the article.

 

“I’ll remember the way you’re looking at me now.” He says shyly, reveling in the moment; in her gleaming, love-struck eyes as he rubs her back.

 

She just smiles, meeting him for another kiss.

 

“That Tokyo time loophole, so brilliant,” he tells her, nipping at her throat now.

 

“Quick-witted and graceful gazelle.”

 

“That makes you a cat then?” she ponders.

 

“Lion. King of the jungle,” he murmurs.

 

“No. A pussycat. Garfield.” She rebuffs.

 

“Fierce tiger?”

 

Tony the Tiger,” she counters after a moment of thinking.

 

“Not even Hobbes of Calvin and Hobbes?” he feigns annoyance.

 

“That cheetah on your bag of chips.” She quips.

 

“You’re just showing off now.” He objects, meeting her eyes.

 

“I’ll accept,” he musters when she darts her eyes at him, not unlike the first time they met.

 

She shrieks when he unexpectedly picks her up and maneuvers her over his shoulder, carrying her to the bedroom.

 

“Cheetahs hunt gazelles. You walked right into that one,” he gloats.

 

He drops her to the bed and begins to take off her boots.

 

“No boots tonight? Afraid of what I have hidden up my sleeves?” she chuckles.

 

“Precaution. I’m sure you have a million back-up plans. Do I need to check under that skirt?” he cheeks.

 

“I’m surprised you didn’t do it at dinner.” She responds.

 

He crawls towards her as she scoots back to the pillow and motions to her crossed legs,

 

“Open.”

 

“You know what happened to the last guy who asked me that?”

 

“I trust that you’ll tell me, then. Since we’ll be getting married and all. Honesty and trust and openness.” He says, fingering the fabric-ends of her very short skirt.

 

“Nothing.” She says casually.

 

“Nothing?”

 

Nothing.” She emphasizes with a predatory gaze, biting her bottom lip.

 

“You’re going to kill me…” he sighs into the crook of her neck as his hand move under to confirm her words, nothing but bare flesh awaiting him.

 

“Stalemate forever?”

 

“Stalemate forever.” He repeats, capturing her lips with his.

--

With plans to drive to the Tuscan coast by noon, they call their parents after breakfast the next morning to inform them of the news.

 

“I think we missed our window to elope.” He jibes after getting off the phone with his chatty mother, wedding advice in tow.

 

“She just wants the best for you. What about my dad? He’s convinced his first grandson is on the way,” she states as she’s packing her duffel bag.  

 

“So…how many do you want?”

 

“More than one? But life doesn’t always work that way, so if it’s just one, then I’ll be happy.” She says, stopping to look at him smiling.

 

“That’s fair.” He says as he smiles back before heading to the bathroom to pack their things.

 

“We should get a dog.” She says after twenty minutes of packing in silence.

 

“If our precious future child wants a cat, you’d deny it?” he yells from across the room.

 

“Our future children will not be spoiled,” she yells back.

 

“Says the baby of her family.”

 

“Says the golden-boy-only-child.”

 

“I’m sure there's an  algorithm on how that’s the worst parenting combination, but if anyone can defy the odds, it’s you. This kid’s going to be all semi-gangly limbs, though.” He jokes.

 

“A semi-gangly-limbed, Korean-American-Israeli…international superspy, and crime-fighting street racer?” she deliberates.

 

“You’re getting it! You forgot great hair and acid-tongued. If they’re worth anything, they’ll be like us, rebellious but controlled."

 

“Maybe they’ll rebel by not rebelling. It might skip a generation,” she says.

 

“…Then we’ll disown them. Give our millions to the grandkids?”

 

“Sounds perfect,” she giggles.

 

“Are you done? I have a surprise for you.”

 

“In a minute,” he answers.

 

She presents him with a gift bag when he exits the bathroom.

 

“I was going to wait ‘til Halloween, but I thought I’d give it a test run, for you.” She says as he examines the black leather jumpsuit.

 

“'Girl on a Motorcycle,'” he beams.

 

“Sit pretty, ‘Pretty boy,” and close your eyes. I’ll be right back.” She tells him, retrieving the gift bag.

 

She returns enrobed in his trench coat, knowing he’d peek.

 

“Sneaky boy,” she says, pushing him back onto the bed.

 

“Count to five, and then open your eyes,” she instructs.

 

When he opens his eyes, he emits a small yelp as he’s greeted with a glass of water splashed on his face

 

“Here. You. Go. We’re. Even. Now.” She says with aplomb, throwing parts of the cut up leather cloth his way, one-by-one for emphasis.

 

“Fair play, ‘Cooler Queen, Drink Dispenser.’” he says dreamily, blinking the water out of his eyes.

 

“I don’t need another fussy, arrogant, but cute, and cool, cat. I’ve got you. And it’s Mrs. Cool-est Queen, to you.” She retorts.

 

“Mr. Cool-est King?”

 

“No, still just 'Cool-er ' maybe even downgraded to ‘The Duke,’ or ‘Dark Knight,’ if you’re not careful. Although, you’d love that, John Wayne and Bruce Wayne-“

 

“You’re getting it. SO smart.” He says in genuine awe.

 

“-Katharine and Audrey Hepburn? Wayne & Hepburn?” she smirks.

 

“You’ll NEVER get rid of me now. When 'Han Seoul-Oh' is just given to you, you think it couldn’t get any better, but you-I didn’t think I could love you more.” He continues with excitement.

 

“That’s because I love you more. Keep up. Prove me wrong. Shower. Let’s go.” She tells him, offering her hand to him as he takes it to follow her lead.

 

 

Chapter Text

SPRING - Darling, I’ve been waiting for you, all my life

 

  1.     Zurich, April 2010: The Early Bird and the Night Owl

 

“You can sleep through anything, huh?”

 

“When the nights are good.” He sighs admiringly at her.

 

“I’m packed. We can go when you’re ready.” She tells him with a small smile, returning to finish rearranging the things in her closet.

 

“Can’t remember the last time I was up this early. I hope you know this doesn’t set a precedent.” He says sitting up and stretching his arms.

 

“I’ll get you on my side soon enough.” She says as she sits down next to him.

 

“Too cocky,” he tuts at her.

 

“I was very good at my job.” She whispers in his ear, rubbing along his neck.

 

“What was that?” He asks, running his hand up and down her side.

 

“Persuasion.”

 

“Is that what they call it? I can be very convincing, too.” He offers, moving her onto her back as his hand sneaks under her tank.

 

“I’m surprised you lift a finger with all the people you have doing things for you. Vault guy?”

 

“I delegate. It’s more practical. Efficient.”

 

“That’s not going to work on me.”

 

“Are you sure? I recall a certain someone acquiring a handprint for me about a year ago. That wasn’t you?”

 

“That had nothing to do with you.” She scoffs, shaking her head.

 

“I’ll have to try harder, then. I know a few third party delegates that could help with that? I’d have to supervise, and help out. I lift my finger for the fun stuff,” he winks.

 

“Not even three days together and you’re already at it.”  

 

“That’s not a ‘no,’” he smirks, capturing her lips in a searing kiss.

 

“No three-ways in my kitchen.”

 

“Okay, darling.”

 

“No three-ways, anywhere.” She admonishes.

 

“Just you and me, then,” he says, rolling onto his back as he brings her in closer for another kiss.

 

  1.     Germany, April to May 2010: Gisele (from Rio!) and Han (also from Rio)

 

“No chips?” She asks from the passenger seat, opening the package of cookies.

 

“Found my sweet tooth in Britain. The cookies, biscuits. Not achingly sweet like in America.”

 

“You didn’t go to Berlin the last time you were in Germany?”

 

“Wasn’t feeling it.” he answers nonchalantly, eyes on the road.

 

He doesn’t tell her it wasn’t far enough away from her at the time. Macau with Rome and Tej seemed like the smarter option.

 

He didn’t want to push his luck. He’s grateful that she’s in the car with him today instead of preparing to marry another man.

 

He texted her a few times after Munich, once to give her his new cell phone number, and another time to ask if there was anything he shouldn’t miss out on when he was in Portugal in late October (she doesn’t know, she’s never been). That was their friendship.

 

She didn’t make it to Thanksgiving. He didn’t expect her to so soon after her breakup. He didn’t know what to say or do. He ending up texting her a picture of a car that he and Dom were fixing up, to let her know that he was still in the Canary Islands.

 

‘Boys.’ She replied.          

 

They were family.

-

In Berlin, they do tourist things. Take in the beer, architecture; visit the remnants of the Berlin Wall. One museum had the largest dinosaur mounted skeleton structure in the world, he was particularly pleased.

 

Soon they decide to take advantage of the bike paths. It’s a chance for fresh air, they’ll be driving all the time, she tells him. And they do when they explore the cities around Berlin.

-

She takes stock of their travels in a small leather-bound notebook that he sent her last summer, postmarked from Copenhagen.

 

The inscription had said:

 

To Gisele (from Rio!),

 

For your next adventures, I noticed you were running low on pages when I was looking at your travel notes. I added my notes on Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark. I hope things don’t change too much, whenever the winds lead you there, but if they do, so what? Change is good, right?

 

Hope to see you out there.

 

Take care.

 

-Han (also from Rio)

 

P.S. Who skis in the summer? But I’ll try if you lead the way. See you soon.

 

LAST SPRING - Crossed towns and hills and rivers for you, all my life

 

  1.     Formality/Undeniable Chemistry in France (May 2009)

 

She likes Han, but the flirting doesn’t lead to anything. She’s willing to let it play out after what happened with Braga. Maybe it will lead to something in the future. Maybe it’s just a crush and they’ll just be friends, and that doesn’t seem too bad. She’s back in Zurich after Rio, as she was thinking about finding a place there before Dom called.

-

His last sort-of relationship didn’t end well, and he really likes Gisele. He doesn’t want to ruin it or rush it, and something feels off, so he offers her a noncommittal invite to meet up. Just a friendship doesn’t seem too bad right now. He’ll feel it through like he always does.  

-

He spends his time alone in Paris seeing the sights. When she arrives, they pick up where they left off in Rio, gentle flirting. But that doesn’t last long, they watch street performers close the night out, and then they’re kissing.

 

When they enter her room, he murmurs something about formality, and undeniable chemistry. A rare talker, she loves the sound of his voice, but all she wants right now is for him to shut up and run his hands and mouth all over her.

-

Near the first week’s end, they’re spontaneously in Rouen when she mentions Joan of Arc and Monet.

 

“Why didn’t you kiss me in Rio?” she asks the next morning.

 

“I was on the job. Professionalism. Why didn’t you?” he asks, putting on his wristwatch. 

 

“Same reason,” she says, pulling him in for a teasing kiss. “You should have waited for me to shower.”

 

“See, how was I supposed to do my job with you in my face all day?”

 

“You’ve got two hands. But you should watch your back. I might be a con artist, and you’re a prime target.

 

“I’m the one who’s dressed and ready to leave. Who’s conning who?” he counters.

 

“I’m a trained professional. I’d track you down in no time. Do you always carry a spare change of clothes?”

 

“I’ve been known to be practical.”

 

“Aren’t you a smart boy.” She replies, smoothing out the wrinkle on his shirt. 

 

“That’s what you like about me.”

 

“No. It’s just chemistry.” She tells him, running her hands along his backside.

 

“I think I need another shower. You’re very, very dirty. Germs all over me now.” He whispers in her ear.

 

“Too smart-mouthed for your own good,” she says, removing his shirt on the way to the shower.

 

“You still want me.”

 

“Always want you.”

-

They spend their first few nights at whoever’s hotel room was nearest by the night’s end, but the last week, they gravitate to her place. They wander around in between, spare clothes in tow.

 

They don’t make it to Southern France. He’s not in a hurry like most tourists. He’s embracing the luxury of having time and money on his side.

-

“One last time,” she says, crawling into his lap on the sofa and covering his neck with kisses.

 

“You said that the last time,” he chuckles, “I’m never going to make it out of here if I don’t leave now.”

 

“Then don’t leave,” she whispers, eyes shimmering between playful and pleading.

 

“I’m all yours, tonight.” He tells her dreamily, kissing her luscious lips, and carrying her to the bed. He doesn’t want to think of Brussels or Prague right now.

Chapter Text

SUMMER - I'm wandering in the dark now, cause I'm looking for you still, in my heart I'm longing to walk up this hill

  1.     Denmark, June 2010: To the Skies (“SPIRES!” and Fishermen)

 

They skip Poland for now and head to Denmark instead. He gets to show her around this time.

 

“SPIRES! Gisele, buildings with SPIRES!”

 

She understands why most of the pointed tapering tops (resembling a sprout or stalk of grass) are on churches when he tells her that they represent strength and hope.

 

He’s not particularly religious, even if his parents are converted Christians. He says it must mean something if they’re still standing after so long. He says he’s fortunate to live in an age where he has choices to believe in things, even if it’s not necessarily religious in nature.  

--

They also ditch the car in Copenhagen in favor of walking and public transport. The city is also very bike-friendly (they outnumber people, he notes). She starts to miss motorcycling, and thinks that she’ll have to teach him soon.

 

They pass by fishermen on one of their treks and she thinks of her parents. Her mom would love it here.

 

“My mom’s a party planner. I don’t think she’d like the fishing, but she’d appreciate the look of all the boats lined up.” He says after she tells him about her mother’s love of fishing and her seafood restaurant.

 

She smiles at his response, but she has that faraway look that she gets sometimes, she’d listen to him chat away just the same, but he’s happy to just let her enjoy the moment in silence.

--

There’s an annual antique car race at the beginning of August, maybe they’ll stick around and explore the rest of the country, and then circle back.

 

Helsingor

 

Spiseriet Hels.

Sushi Taro

Kronborg Castle (HAMLET)

 

He had scrawled in her notebook (with addresses and rough sketches) for reference the summer before.

 

  1.     Greece, July 2010: To the Seas (The Aegean and the Mediterranean)

 

They fly to Greece in July. She’s waves away from her home of Tel Aviv. She hasn’t been home for so long. Now that she’s a fugitive, she tells herself that she doesn’t want to get her parents in trouble. It’s not entirely untrue.

 

She had plans for a quick visit home with Tomas. His parents were long gone; a deadbeat dad who died before his birth, his mother followed a decade later. He was unofficially taken in by a friend’s grandparents. He understood Gisele’s shady past; he had one of his own.

 

Tomas had told her to face her demons, maybe guilt-tripped her into it, but maybe that was the push she needed, but then they broke up. It’s more than a year after Rio, but she knows about tracking criminals, and perhaps a new tracker was on her if the old one(s) had failed, if she was even being followed at all, but she has to be cautious.

--

He’s a little tired of beaches, but Santorini wins him over. The cool breezes help, but he thinks it’s mostly being around her.

 

She can’t get over the blindingly white hillside homes, some dotted with blue domes, so breathtaking, especially at night. He tells her that he needs to take her to see fireflies someday, that they do live up to their hype.

--

She took a brief trip to Athens in her teenage years, but now she really gets to enjoy it without the itinerary set by her dad. Well, besides the one set by her wanted status, threatening to end it all.

 

He tells her that it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t get to Hong Kong if he is too busy enjoying Greece with her. That he might have been a little more eager last year because everything was so new, but now he wants to slow down and take it all in.  

 

She thinks about commenting on his lack of eagerness regarding her, even though he told her (after Bern) that he was scared of how much he liked her. Even if she knew she was half responsible for their lack of a relationship, she couldn’t keep those feelings of doubt away.

--

They were more talkative at the start of their trip, especially in Germany, but now they can walk in comfortable silence, whether they’re around noisy tourists or on a quiet hike in mountainous Greece.

 

  1.     Hong Kong, August to October 2010: To the Cities (Wild Cards and Reality)

 

They do make it to Hong Kong. The urban areas are so alive; a great preview of Tokyo, he thinks. They feed off the hectic energy of the clash of cultures around them.

-

She’s learning Chinese.  She already speaks English, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish, and German.

 

He can understand foreign tongues most of the time, but speaking fluently or even semi-fluently is a struggle.

 

He thinks he’s just not the type of person with that skill, that he’s more “book-smart” when it comes to languages. She reminds him that his Spanish is decent (he reminds her that it took years, and that German and Swiss German are not interchangeable).

 

He also comments that he survived a year with his skill level, and he’s got her to help him now.  

--

She finally teaches him to ride a motorcycle a week after they settle in to their sublet in Kowloon. It goes better than his combat lessons; he still jokes about, and she still stares annoyingly at him, but it’s more endearing than anything, at least he hopes so.

-

He wants to return her favors, so he offers to teach her about fixing and modifying cars, but she’s not taken with it like her love for motorcycles. She echoes his words about knowing the basics, that she’ll figure it out, and that he can cover her.

-

He thinks his piano and baseball skills don’t translate to anything useful.

 

She thinks a cultured mind is just as important, but her grade-school piano skills seems to have abandoned her, so they put it on hold for when they have more time to devote to it. She tells him that he can play her a little Beethoven every now and then (he knows more Mozart).  

-

They end up watching movies for a pop-culture fix when they don’t feel like going out. She suggests a few foreign films to help with his fluency.

 

He jokes that he can recite the lines if they need to appear busy if they are being followed.

 

She tries her best to ease up because she knows he’s trying his best to be on alert, that he has his own way of dealing with things.

--

The food is great, but they try to take advantage of the furnished kitchen setup.

 

She’s an adequate cook, fond of her Israeli recipes, but he’s a much better cook than her. He tries to make a few of her favorite dishes that she can’t quite figure out, sometimes he fails miserably, but he keeps at it.

 

“Soon enough,” or “We’re millionaires, we’ll hire a chef,” is uttered in these moments.

-

He cooked for her once before, in Zurich, the night before he left for his aunt’s funeral in Wales. He wanted to thank her for the skiing and hospitality. He wouldn’t allow her to help him in the kitchen, so she bundled up in her parka and sat on the roof reading, trying to give him space to cope.

 

He was in a state of grace that night when she peeked through her skylight. He cooks the same way in Hong Kong most of the time, quiet and focused.

 

She doesn’t know why she’s surprised after the croissants in Paris, the beer in Germany, and gyros in Greece (he stopped for the pita-stuffed food at almost every stand, stall, café and the like).

--

It’s not all fun and games, though.

 

She gives him the silent treatment for a day, after a buzzed Roman mentioned how he followed a woman all the way to Portugal when they visited him across the way in Macau.

-

He feels a little foolish for thinking about Halloween costumes for the neighbor’s party after she gets him a gun. He starting to understand the severity of it all, they are wanted criminals. He’s not much of a fighter, he always found another way, but now he has more to protect than just himself. He was too busy ignoring it, if he’s honest.

 

He’s been mostly playing fast and loose with the cards life dealt him, but he also understands that there is a time and place for things. He shouldn’t bluff his way through it when her life is on the line.

 

LAST SUMMER - I really can't pull out the thorn, love, all my life, and not having you pressed to my chest, all my life

 

  1.     Don’t Talk/Don’t Touch in Amsterdam (June 2009)

 

She sees her ex Tomas for the first time in years at her friend Petra’s bachelorette party weekend in Prague. He’s as wonderful as she remembers, and it sets her on a tailspin.

 

She considers running to Han after that weekend. She’s afraid that she wants him for the wrong reasons. So she waits, deciding to help Petra and Marco move in to their new place in Zurich.

 

Han calls again after a week. She gets to Amsterdam a week late, closing out her apartment deal.

-

Awhile after joining him in the private lounge at the club, she gets that feeling again, it was there from the start, but it feels stronger now, that spark.

 

“I’ve got great stuff in my room, if you want.” He tells her, running small circles on her bare knee.

 

“Why didn’t you just invite me straight to your room?” she asks.

 

“Formality.” he whispers in her ear, before running his tongue along her earlobe and nibbling on it.

 

“You think a drink…a joint will win me over?” she moans out.

 

“No. It’s me you can’t resist,” he whispers before turning his body to join her lips with his.

 

She comes to her senses when his hand starts to ride up her thigh. “Not right now,” she tells him, gently pushing away his hand.

 

“I’m sorry. I’ve missed you,” he sighs into the crook of her neck.

 

“How’ve you been?”

 

“Good. Saw a few old friends. I forgot how much I missed just being…normal, the quiet.” She waxes on wistfully as he listens.

--

The night carries on with more talk until he has an urge to hold her close again.

 

“You wanna dance?”

 

“Get a girl to teach you yet?” she asks as she takes his hand.

 

“You can teach me. It’s dark, crowded, I won’t embarrass you too much,” he laughs as they head to the dancefloor.

 

Most men can’t dance, but like most men, Han can slow-dance just fine. This reminds her of one of their last nights in Paris, but it felt different that final time. Amsterdam seemed far away, if it would even happen at all.

 

It’s not long until they’re kissing again.

 

“Let’s go. You owe me a smoke.” She breathes out.

 

Then his ex appears as if it’s a sign that she should back off, but she doesn’t.

--

She won’t let him kiss her on the lips after they enter his hotel room. She can’t get lost in his dizzying spell. They have sex against a wall, on an armchair…before she lets him near her lips again.

 

“Had enough?” she prods, pulling at his hair as she falls back on the bed.

 

“Never been with a real man who can last as long as a woman needs? Exes? One night stands?” he whispers calmly. “The dancer, the army doc, couldn’t handle themselves?”

 

“Don’t talk about things you don’t know anything about!” she snaps back at him angrily.

 

He sees the hurt in her eyes, and starts to apologize.

 

If only this was Paris, but it’s not. Her ex-boyfriend is back in the frame, and seeing his ex-whatever tipped the scales, so she pushes him off of her.

--

He’s dressed and sitting up on the bed when she returns from the bathroom. She grabs at him until he’s standing.

 

“Let’s not end this on a bad note. Next time I see you. I want to remember how good we can be together. Sweet boy from Paris. I missed you, too. If it happens, it happens, right?” she finishes with a forceful kiss.

 

“You still owe me a smoke,” she says, dragging him back to the bed with him on top, continuing to kiss him roughly while trembling and breathing heavily.

 

“Relax,” he tells her, rubbing her arms to calm her down. “We’ve got all night.”

 

Maybe too sweet, too sincere, she thinks. She can’t bear to look at him.

 

“Don’t…” she starts.

 

‘Don’t talk,’ ‘Don’t touch,’ he knows, so he starts to untangle their hands, but she pulls him back to say,

 

“Don’t leave.”

 

And he holds her until she falls asleep.

 

  1.     Float In/Float Out in Zurich (June to August 2009)

 

She doesn’t give Han a chance to leave first this time. When she gets to Zurich, Tomas is there to help her move in. Petra had warned her the first time, but not this time since her friend didn’t expect her to be back so soon.

 

She’s not sure how she feels about Han. She didn’t need a commitment from him then, and she wonders if her vague desire for one now stems from wanting to avoid Tomas.

 

Tomas was her first great love. She doesn’t call him her ex-fiancée if she can avoid it, she can’t bear it, even after all these years. She ran when she probably should have fought harder for him. She loved him so much then, and she thinks she’ll regret it if she doesn’t give it another try.

--

The days and nights go by.

 

Tomas isn’t there all the time, but when he is, her heart flutters remembering all the things they shared. Or making new memories with him, or all their friends.

 

She doesn’t want to meet Han in Denmark and he keeps postponing his trip to visit her.

 

Suddenly it’s August, and she’s in love again.

 

She has people who float in and out of her life, and sometimes she’s the floater, so that’s what she makes of Han. She didn’t feel that electricity when she heard his voice for the first time in months. It was just a crush, she thinks. They can still be friends.

 

  1.     She’s Not in Stockholm (August 2009)

 

He’s not sure why he’s keeping her at arm’s length after Amsterdam. She said they’d be fine. He thinks that might be the problem. Maybe he doesn’t want her to brush it off.

 

Soon he finds himself in Denmark when he should probably be with her. But she left abruptly after that night, maybe she wants space, he thinks.

 

Nearby, he ventures towards Sweden.

--

In Stockholm, he sees a woman sitting at a café who looks remarkably like Gisele. Brown hair, leather jacket, those long legs. He’s had a few drunken nights littered throughout the blur of the last month and a half or so. Maybe they did make plans. He goes to check, but it’s not her. His heart sinks. He hadn’t realized how much he missed her.

 

He calls her up once he locates his cell phone in his hotel room. He smiles when he hears the excitement in her voice. She’s having a party.

 

“Perfect timing.” she says.

      10.      He’s a Man in Switzerland (August 2009)

 

He gets a little pang in his heart at the news of her boyfriend. He tries to reason with himself that he’s not really jealous. He just wants her because he can’t have her. Or that friendships can suffer when a significant other enters the picture.

 

As the night wears on, he starts to crack, so he finds a distraction, another woman. That doesn’t end well, and he finds himself in front of her when he vowed to avoid her. Perfect Dr. Tomas shows up, too.

 

He has a cup of coffee when he realizes he’s starting to get tipsy; flirts with the girl he meets in the kitchen; anything to stay calm and cool.

 

He thinks he has it under control as he’s ready to leave, but he doesn’t. More stupid things come out of his mouth, and she does what she does, tells him off. She has every right; he knows this, even if it’s not processing in his brain completely right now.

 

Promises were never made.

 

He thinks of driving all the way to Geneva that night, but he doesn’t manage beyond half an hour’s drive, so he checks into a hotel. 

--

He wakes up alone the next morning; hops in the shower to think. He should apologize in person. When he gets out of the shower, he thinks, at least a phone call.

 

Twenty minutes into the German-dubbed show he’s trying to watch, he texts her. Just the word ‘Sorry.’ Her response is a simple three-letter word: Men.

 

They’re fine. Maybe he isn’t.

 

He goes to Geneva to check out some cars, and to wind-down, research his next adventures, until he’s due at Brian and Mia’s for the baby shower.

Chapter Text

AUTUMN - This storm is playing out now, on this painful world stage, of all our incompleteness in the wars we wage

 

     11. Zurich, October to November 2010: Bravery vs. Recklessness 

 

They had planned on Austria next when Dom called for a job in London in October. When it all ended, they got Letty back, with amnesia, but she’s alive. They all escaped, scathed, but alive.

 

Han and Gisele find their way back to her apartment for the rest of the month. They wait for Hobbs to come through with their pardons. They wait for her leg to get better.

 

His mind tracks back to that last night more often than he’d like.

 

He caught Gisele in the first fall off the car on the runway, but after she was safely inside the vehicle, she saw their attacker aim a gun at him. She acted quickly by climbing back out again to fire, off balanced. She fell again, but he didn’t get to her that time. She was dangling by her leg, entangled by the safety belt. He can’t remember much after that, but he somehow got back in the car and helped her up.  

 

She fractured her leg (saving him). She’s so brave, he thinks.

 

Then the nightmares come, images of her dying. They are few and far between, but when he can’t shake the dread, he begins to think of her bravery as recklessness, her true nature. She’s more than a soldier. Even if he tells her to be more careful, her instincts will take over. He had to cover her when the bullets came flying. He had to swerve the jeep when she was almost crushed into the truck.

 

She scares him in a different way now. He’s able to wait for the dread to subside, mostly, but other times he can’t deal with it.

 

She broke her leg (almost dying for him). She’s too reckless, he thinks.

 

During one of his insomnia states he thinks this must be a dream, and that reality will set in soon. He’s terrified of waking up to find out that she’s gone. Forever. It was in Spain, after all; where he let her go the first time; where she kept falling (a year later).

 

Sometimes he wants to run, but he’s too scared that that will wake him up too.

 

Maybe she broke his heart (dying for him). And he’s not worth it, he knows he’s not.

--

They agreed on Tokyo, but not until her leg was feeling better. She likes it in Zurich with him (the break is nice after Spain). Some nights he moves restlessly, though. And there are moments when he can be more aloof than normal, dismissive even. Other times, he’s too doting, and acts like she’s incapable of the simplest of tasks.

 

She’s never seen him scared until that last night. She tries to get him to talk when she wakes up to his worried face, but he tells her that it’s something he has to work out on his own. She lets him be because she knows about things of this nature.

 

He’s reluctant to even go out with Philip on weekends. Sometimes it takes a few fights until he storms out or she kicks him out for treating her like a child. He won’t touch her sometimes, as if she’d crumble, and that fear rears its ugly head: that it’s physical attraction more than anything else for them. She knows this isn’t true, but sometimes it feels true.

 

     12. Salzburg, November 2010: Mozart vs. Beethoven

 

When her leg just about heals, she suggests Salzburg (Mozart’s birthplace) and then maybe Vienna, if they had time. They promised Mia they’d visit on Thanksgiving or Christmas, if her leg had healed.

 

“If you told me earlier, we could have gone to Bonn. This guy in Belgium went on and on about how Beethoven was Flemish, though. It’s a fair point, but the man identified as German, let him be.”

 

She wants to take the motorbikes, but he won’t hear of it. He drives them to Salzburg, but the new adventure doesn’t help. They argue about something, a culmination of somethings, really, and it ends with her pulling her gun on him.

 

He cut his hair (to spite her, she’s sure). She intends to stay angry, but she ends up giggling, she doesn’t know why. He looks goofy, adorable, and handsome all at once.

 

“Austrian German is closer to Standard German than Swiss German. We all can’t be part Austrian and part German.” He states as they scour the internet and guidebooks for a place to eat later that evening.

 

“Sometimes we need to learn things the hard way. I didn’t learn German until I was in my twenties. It’s not all genes.”

 

“I know. Sometimes I feel like that’s all it is though. I’m just some unprepared spoiled rich kid underneath it all. Now I’ve got the hair to match.” He shrugs, setting the guidebook down to place his feet on the coffeetable.

 

“You’re not. If you are sometimes, I’d still love you.” She tells him as she rubs his arm back and forth to comfort him.

 

“Maybe you shouldn’t.”  He says aloofly.

 

“What do you mean by that?”

He tells her about his nightmares. Not in the vague and aloof manner in which he did so the last time. The truth about how helpless he feels. His guilt if something worse had happened.

 

She tries her best to reassure him that she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

 

“I didn’t know how much I was hurting you. I’m so sorry. I survived. You saved me, and then I saved you. We made it through. I wish I could stop your nightmares. I want to help you so much.” She tells him, voice full of worry.

 

“You always tried to make me feel better, the times when you could sense that I wasn’t okay…I didn’t let you in.” He tells her quietly.

 

“You’re doing it now, that’s what matters.” She whispers while cradling his head on her lap.

 

She just hurt her leg. She’s reckless and brave and alive.

 

     13. Los Angeles, November 25-27, 2010: DON’T/I WON’T

 

They head to California for Thanksgiving. His family’s gathering is in the afternoon at his cousin’s house in Santa Barbara. Mia says it’s perfectly fine if they can’t make it that night, as long as they are all together at some point.

--

“The lovebirds are here,” Roman announces when he opens the door. “I bet you’re glad her legs are back, ha-ha,” he fist-pumps to Han.

 

“Look Jack, it’s Auntie Gisele and Uncle Han. Wave hi, high-five,” Brian says, moving his son’s hand for him to meet theirs.

 

“About time,” Dom says greeting them with hugs,

 

“I’ll get you two drinks,” says Letty, giving them polite nods before heading to the kitchen.

-

“Tokyo?” Mia asks them, passing the rolls to Han.

 

“Finally,” Dom interrupts, “You can quit talking about it. You’ll see, those imports won’t compare to American muscle.”

 

“You can’t really drift in those.” Han replies.

 

“That sounds like an invitation. Call me when you get there and we’ll settle it then.” Dom finishes.

 

“Amateurs. I can fix up anything to drift.” Tej chimes in.

 

“Import. This isn’t L.A. streets. They race on mountains and parking lots.” Brian adds.

 

“What like a shopping mall?” Roman wonders with a mouth full of food.

 

Mia and Gisele just exchange knowing glances as the boys debate American muscle cars versus imports for what seemed like the millionth time.

 

“So you’re going back to nursing school?” Gisele asks.

 

“I thought about holding it off, after everything, but I think it’s best for me to just get back into the swing of things. Next fall if I can’t get into the program in the spring term. We’re going to be fixing up the house until then. ” Mia responds.  “How about you?”

 

“I don’t know. That translating job didn’t really suit me.”

 

“You’ll figure it out.”  Mia assures.

-

Han joins Letty on the backyard porch later that night as the rest of the family watch a movie in the living room. “You going to light that thing or what?” Letty says to Han as he twirls the cigarette she offered between his fingers.

 

“I really shouldn’t.” He responds as he sits down near her on the steps.

 

“I owe you a car.” Han says after a few minutes of silence.

 

“We had a running bet of sorts.” He had wanted to tell her this as soon as they got her back, but he didn’t want to pressure her when she was still reeling from the truth after London.

 

“We said we’d settle things on our last job. The big one.”

 

“Dom told me about Rio.”

 

“You would have been great.”  He says without thinking.

 

“I didn’t mean to-” he apologizes when he sees a faint trace sadness in her face.

 

“It’s okay. You care about me. It’s similar to how I feel with Mia. It must be hard for you, too…Tell me about this last bet.”

 

“High card.”

 

“High card?”

 

“We were pretty even. We ran out of skilled activities, so we had to go with that. I went first. Ace of hearts.”

 

“Spades.” She chuckles.

 

“I couldn’t believe it.” He laughs.

--

They go bar-hopping with Roman and Tej the following night.

 

It gets tougher to get them to the next bar, especially with Gisele in her high-heels.

 

The pair took extra shots in between shots and beers to ease the nerves.

 

“We’re young, rich, and jobless. Live it up before you two start having those pretty babies.” Roman reasoned.

 

They gave each other brief nervous glances at that comment, not unlike at his cousin’s when his six year-old cousin threatened to steal her away if they didn’t get married soon.

 

Tej helps them into the cab, but makes Roman watch over them until he gets them to their hotel.

 

“Reap what you sew man. I got a woman waitin’ for me.”

-

They get very touchy, which Roman finds a little strange since he’s not used to their PDA.

 

He joked once that Han’s too busy snacking to free his hand to hold hers, or it would disrupt his general air of aloof coolness. Han doesn’t need to prove to the world that she’s off limits, Roman thinks. She can do that herself.

 

In Roman’s mind, the default images of her is a fierce look, arms crossed, or a gun aimed, or even scarier, a friendly gaze that can turn lethal at any given moment. She’s pretty mysterious herself, her own general air of aloof coolness, when he thinks about it.

 

He’s used to their shared glances instead of words.

 

This is what happens when they do make contact, groping like teenagers, and he has the misfortune to be stuck awkwardly next to them.

 

She breaks away to mumble something about his stupid short hair with Han daring her to stop kissing him, and find someone with longer hair. It only leads to more kissing, and a few elbows into Roman.

 

The cab ride is a repeating loop of this exchange every few minutes, often playful, but mostly snide. Roman can’t comprehend someone taunting Gisele like that; it’s amusing, at the very least.

 

Roman eventually manages to separate them. He offers a generous tip when Gisele gives him a handful of bills to pay the fare.

 

“Happens all the time,” the driver chuckles.

 

Luckily the trip to their suite isn’t as difficult as the ones in and out of the cab (his hands are too busy holding her high-heels and purse).

 

“Y’all goin’ to be oka-” Roman begins to speak when Han disrupts,

 

“Stay, we’re still partying, yeah? We’re young once, right?” Han says, patting the man’s shoulder before rifling through the mini fridge.

 

“He just needs a babysitter,” Gisele supplies.

 

“Me? You burnt the sheets.” Han retorts when he sees her lighting a cigarette. “And quit picking my pockets.”

 

She slips his lighter back into the inside pocket of his leather jacket before accepting the tiny alcohol bottle.

 

“Wallet?”

 

“See, never too distracted to multitask. Professionalism, darling.” She smirks, handing him his wallet.

 

“Stay. We don’t see you guys enough.”She tells Roman, finishing off her bottle and returning to sit on the floor near the open balcony. 

 

“Just for awhile, a few shots.” Roman answers, trying to sound unaffected by her sentiment.

 

“Great. I have an eighth, somewhere…” Han says searching his pockets.

 

“It’s gone,” she informs him, exhaling a puff of smoke. Han slumps down next to her on the wall then.

 

“You smell really good, coconut and nicotine,” he mumbles into her neck.

 

Soon he’s kissing up to her ear to tell her she looks amazing.

 

“I should go…”

 

“Nooo. We’re hanging out. He needs to follow through with his words.” She tells Roman, while pushing Han away.

 

“Orchestrating some three-way, darling?” Han cackles.

 

She playfully grabs him by his shirt collar, but then gets serious, warning him, “No one touches you if I’m around. Understand?!”

 

Han nods, blinking rapidly, a little terrified, and a little turned on as she lets go of him.

 

“What were you saying?” Gisele addresses Roman again as if nothing happened.

 

He treads carefully at first, reminded of his first meeting with her. But soon they are all at ease again (they only have water after the first shot, because they are not that young).

-

The mood shifts when Roman returns with coffee, upon Han’s request.

 

“Your shoes!” Han yells.

 

“You are drunk. You would trip on air!”

 

“But I didn’t!”

 

“Roman!”

 

“Rome! Tell her she’s wrong. I tripped on her shoes, it happened. Hypotheticals don’t matter.” He says huffing as he sits the furthest away from her on the sofa.

 

“You tripped because you are drunk, not because of my shoes. See if I ever wear them for you again.” She sneers, crossing her arms.

 

“Of course you will.” He mutters, calling her bluff.

 

“Your ego.” She tuts.

 

“Oxford was fun!” she attempts to imitate the friendly Welsh redheaded college student who showed up at Thanksgiving, one of his cousin’s friends that he’d met last December.

 

“It was a few dates.”

 

“What’s a date to you? An American in Amsterdam, and now a British one in America. Are they all going to converge in Tokyo when we finally get there? Man of the world.” She hisses, continuing, but looking away from him now.

 

“Is that why you came to see me? To get away from her, she was too real? Too kind? Novelist with a bright future too much for you?”

 

“We’re going to do this now? Do I need to be more sober or drunk for this? Alcohol? Water? Coffee?” he asks.

 

“Coffee doesn’t work. It’s a myth.”

 

“‘Army Doc’ tell you that.” He says sarcastically, looking away from her now.

 

“DON’T!-” she sends a death glare his way.

 

“I WON’T LEAVE!” he tells her, darting his eyes back at hers.

 

Then the mood shifts again, and she gets quiet. The most dangerous Gisele of all, Han thinks, looking at the wall again.

 

Roman feels the chill, too. He thinks Gisele might be hatching a plan, and he’s going to get caught in the crossfire, but his feet seem to be stuck by the doorway.

 

“Sorry.” She says quietly.

 

“Sorry.” He responds back, turning his head to face her. She’s tapping her fingers against each other with her eyes closed, calming herself down.

 

He comes to his senses and goes to her. He cups her hands in his to stop her tapping, and wraps his arms around her.

 

It takes her a moment, but she eventually rests her head against him. This isn’t Paris, but it’s not Amsterdam, neither.

-

Roman’s feet move again. He sets the drinks on the end-table, and quietly exits the room.

 

     14. Los Angeles, November 28, 2010: Han Lue, from around L.A., with the Red Mustang

 

After Sunday afternoon barbeque with the Torettos, they go to say goodbye to his parents. They spent Saturday dealing with their hangovers and the issues that came to light the night before.

 

“We can’t solve this in a day. In one extended conversation.”

 

“I know.” She agrees.

 

“I don’t care where we live or where we go. I just want to be with you.” He says.

--

Han’s dad was a doctor who’d moved to a small practice by the time Han was in high school, but those extra hours at home didn’t seem to matter. They shared an interest in sports when he was younger. He thinks it has more to do with their similar personalities, their quiet natures.

 

Virgil’s accident was the tipping point that had ended what was left of their already distant bond. He made it even worse by not attending college. Tainting his families’ honor, wasting his brain, his dad had relayed. 

--        

Whispers about Virgil came to light at Thanksgiving. He finally managed to complete his first semester at a community college. The family didn’t speak about him openly, whether out of shame or pity, Han’s not sure; he still feels the guilt, so he doesn’t really want to know.

Virgil recovered (physically). His parent’s relocated to San Francisco where the specialist lived. His cousin was more affected psychologically more than anything.

--

His mother knew the men in her life. She spent years giving quiet nudges until the day reality hit her. Her sister was dying; her own feud got the better of her. So she begged them to reconcile. She’s learning to accept Han’s choices since her sister’s death; his happiness is more important than a business degree.

 

His grandfather had left him a small fortune. He objected, but his parents wouldn’t let him refuse, based on principles, even after Virg. The family assumes he uses it to travel, but he barely touches it, only in emergencies at the beginning. It saves him from explaining his recent criminal activity.

--

His mom tells him to go through boxes of his stuff in his old room and tells Gisele to help her husband in the kitchen.

 

Han’s dad puts Gisele in charge of washing and chopping vegetables. She tries to make small talk, but he doesn’t offer much beyond the required response.

 

She starts to recognize what they are making, the soup Han made frequently; a simmering mix of spam, kimchi, and hot dogs that somehow worked together.

 

She tells him that Han must have gotten his love of cooking from him. He cracks more than just a polite smile since their arrival, a full on laugh, even, that reminds her of Han’s. This was his favorite dish as a kid. He begged his dad to teach him, but then he grew up, found girls, and cars. He still doesn’t offer much beyond that antidote, but Gisele doesn’t mind.

--

His mother hoped they’d have spent more time together this weekend, but she has hope that they will in the future, she knows her men, they are never in a rush.

 

LAST AUTUMN - Your love makes me a different man, it puts soul into my body, puts soul into me

 

     15. Heart/broken in Zurich (November 2009)

 

She’s in a daze after the breakup, heartbroken.

 

The engagement lasts just over a month this time. Fifteen months fewer than the last time. They were discussing potential wedding dates…and then it was over.

 

“I can’t do this.” She admits.

 

“You love me, but you’re not in love with me.”

 

She doesn’t object to his assessment.  

 

“You’re so determined; I love you for that, but to a fault. You let it blind you sometimes. It’s time to shut the door…You should still take the job. I can help you get transferred.”

--

When Tomas proposed again he was careful. He had told her to think about it for as long as she needed. He had assured her he wasn’t caught up in their friend’s upcoming nuptials, that he just loved her and didn’t want anyone else.

 

At the time, she had told herself that she hesitated because she needed it to work out the second time. Tie up all the loose ends that went awry the last time. Han was just a loose end she needed to tie up (because he was the last man she had slept with).

--

After the breakup she goes through a rollercoaster of emotions. Sometimes she feels like she’ll never love anyone as much as she loved Tomas the first time around. Sometimes, she’s mourning their friendship more than anything. Other times, she can’t think straight and searches for someone to blame.

 

She’s not in love with Tomas, but it doesn’t mean that she’s in love with someone else.

 

Tomas was right about her conviction, and she thinks she’s going to paint Han as the bad guy who’s breaking her heart for planting doubt in her (maybe it was bad timing), and not for saving her from a future she doesn’t want (it was never about the distance the first time around).

 

She’s likely going to see Han again in a few weeks at Mia’s, but she thinks she shouldn’t go. They were on good terms the last time they saw each other

 

Her mom comes to console her a few days after the news breaks. She tells Gisele that she had to experience things to know if they are right or wrong, sometimes more than once. Her mom’s words and presence saves her from doing something rash when she receives Han’s message. It could have set her off. It would have meant whatever she spun it as: pity, a smug victory in his part, or nothing but politeness because they aren’t really friends.

 

She takes it as what it is. He’s fixing a car with Dom. He’s still at Dom’s if she needs him.

 

And they are still going to be family, even if they aren’t going to be friends.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Please Walk Beside Me in All I Do (Part 4/4)

 

LAST WINTER - We'll find the truth out, finally, in the heart of our lives

 16.  Who Skis in the Summer in Zurich?/Winter Winds in Italy (January to March 2010)

 

Han floats back into her life on a frosty January day. It’s a little tense and a little awkward, not like in September at the baby shower at all.

 

She kisses him because she can. Because it’s all she wanted to do since he showed up at her door. It’s like the first time, hard and intense and tongues mingling and the taste of coffee (her this time) and salt (pretzels this time).

 

She puts herself on the line, but then she backpedals.

 

She learned from a young age of how impulsive she could be, so she tries her best to control it. She thought her (semi-drunk) mind had it all planned out listing all the reasons why they should just be together. Maybe she’s a little right and maybe he is too, but it’s not enough.

 

She backpedals because she doesn’t want to get hurt again. She doesn’t want to hurt Han because she still feels bad about breaking Tomas’s heart.

..

She met Tomas when he helped her on a mission one summer. She had Czech ancestry and hoped he’d help her after she grasped German, but that never came to be. Los Angeles and Mexico came and with it Spanish, and then heartbreak.

 

She shared her uncertainty of a post-agent career so he suggested translating. She didn’t need the money, but she needed the sense of normalcy. Tomas was set to end his time in the Czech army at the end of the year and they were considering Prague, but more than just a home base between their work travels this time.

 

Then things unraveled. She declined Tomas’s offer to help her transfer elsewhere because she wasn’t quite feeling it, even if she enjoyed working with the people.

 

Her trial run as a translator ended the week before Han showed up. She had planned to travel her way to Florence to visit Petra in February, but Han asks her to ski and she can’t say no.

 

She ends up visiting Petra and Marco in the beginning of her trip.

 

The blonde was Gisele’s rock and oldest friend; bonded through winter vacations in Tel Aviv. Even though their lives took them in different directions, they always kept in touch. Zurich was the first place she thought of after L.A. and Braga.

 

Her place in Zurich was to be an anchor so she wouldn’t go off the rails again. But then Han (and France and Amsterdam) came and went. But then Tomas came and went. But Petra is still there.

                                                             ..

She goes on a date with one of Marco’s neighbors. It’s perfectly fine until he kisses her goodnight. The Italian tastes of coffee. She waits for the hint of salt to kick in, but it doesn’t. When she opens her eyes she’s met with an ocean of sea-green and not dark irises that mirror hers.

 

She thinks of Han and their last kiss. The one before he left for Wales.

 

A few nights later she’s still thinking about it. It happened impulsively.. He kissed her back just as softly and sweetly. Perhaps it would be the last one they’d ever share, but hadn’t she meant to shut that door when she returned his shirt months before? The one she ALMOST kept. At the time she told herself she was holding it hostage in case he became a jealous jerk again. He was right, she would have burnt it then.

 

Maybe she’s still mad at him for not fighting for her, for fighting against his feelings for her; so she reasons to herself that she wouldn’t have given him a chance against Tomas. Her mind was already made up. It was her mistake to make, and she’d stand by it.

 

She calls Han on her way out of Florence to see how the funeral went. This turns into more phone calls as her trip moves along, from the Ducati Museum in Bologna to the view of the gondolas of Venice and forward. It feels like a double-edged sword at times. The sound of his voice gives her the urge to see him immediately, but it’s also enough to keep her at bay (for now).

 

17. The Rider in Zurich/The Writer in Britain (December 2009 to March 2010)

 

He sees his dad for the first time in ages at his Aunt’s in Cardiff. They’re polite for his mom’s sake.                     

 

He meets Annie that December as well. The Welsh has dreams of being a writer, but will probably teach for awhile after graduating from Oxford in the summer. He likes her well enough, but maybe not enough.

 

He finds himself back in Zurich on his way to Berlin after he visits baby Jack in early January. Gisele kisses him, but she was a little drunk, and sets it straight the next day. He doesn’t want to be her rebound or rebound sex (it’s only chemistry). He sticks around because she needs him as a friend, or maybe he needs her friendship.

 

Things go swimmingly.

 

She kisses him again. He thinks it’s a goodbye kiss to make up for the one he never received in Amsterdam. She said she loved him a few weeks back, but she was drunk, and drunk people profess their love for their friends all the time, he reasons.

..

He feels the sadness but his Aunt’s death doesn’t hit him until he sees his mom cry. Until he sees the rage in his cousin. He sticks around, but only for awhile. He deals with it the best way he knows how, to separate himself physically from it all.

 

Annie shows him around Oxford when he’s nearby for the weekend, but whatever romantic leaning they had in December isn’t really there anymore. She still has school, so they cut their losses, and he’s on his way again.

 

Gisele calls to check on him after his aunt’s funeral soon after Oxford.

 

And soon they find themselves calling almost every week. He thinks they should meet somewhere. He tells himself that his is what true friends do. Make plans, but if life happens, it’s perfectly fine.That each passing day makes the next encounter richer, and they won’t miss a beat.

..

He’s enjoying the drive through Southern France to Geneva.

                              

He told himself the last time he was in this country that he’d just take things slowly, but that didn’t work out after he left. He rushed through Belgium so he’d get to Amsterdam to see Gisele sooner. He thinks it’s true of the other places, perhaps hoping that he’d find someplace she’d want to meet up again, and not just because he was a fugitive whose adventures could get cut short at any moment.

 

He can’t tempt himself with Zurich because he thinks he’ll never make it to Berlin. He doesn’t know how he managed to keep his hands off of her the last time he was there. Annie’s red hair was dangerously closer to copper than red and all he could think about was a wavy brunette who smells of coconut shampoo.

 

He thinks of his teary-eyed mother and her forgiveness for the things he did and didn’t do; who emphasized the importance of bonds between people, and shortness of life.

 

He thinks of Gisele and what she said about how they’d always forgive each other (BECAUSE of their bond). He knows he has to do it right this time (a proper date, perhaps), or as right as he can (tell her he wants to be with her because chivalry is cute, but still rightfully dead to her).   

 

WINTER  - Your love is my beauty, we need to make it through

 

18.  Tel Aviv, December 1-13, 2010: The Girl with a Tree by Her Bedroom Window

 

Hanukkah starts on the first, so they go straight from Thanksgiving in Los Angeles to Tel Aviv.

 

They’re polite and civil at Hanukkah dinners with her family, but for the first few nights, the hours after are spent at length talking. She spent the flight trying to prep for it. Maybe she’s a little grateful it happened now and not when it was too late to salvage.

 

After London, Hobbs offered her a job to train and recruit members for a division of the Elite Task Force (in Zurich if she preferred). They’d reassess the situation when her leg healed (whether she’d go out in the field, teach, or both).

 

After her chat with Mia on Thanksgiving, she began to seriously consider the job offer. Then she felt a pain in her leg later that night and again the next night. This happened to her wrist once when she was younger (it healed), but she knows that every injury is different.

 

Adding alcohol didn’t help. The job in London reignited her desire to go out in the field, and she was hopeful when her leg was healing, but her drunken mind told her that she might never fully recover. That a flare up of a chronically injured leg could compromise a mission by seconds. She doubled down on the cynicism and projected it onto her relationship with Han.

 

“If I could do it all over again I would.” He tells her again like he did back in April.

 

“I kept telling myself that you wouldn’t have stood a chance against Tomas. I needed it to be true, but you ask to me jump and I leap.” she says as she nods her head back and forth in frustration.

 

“You want a clean slate. A redo, but you can’t offer me Zurich now. It’s not about that. That’s the problem with people like us. We always think there’s something better in the end. How we get there is different, but we think we’ll get there eventually. We thought we could be just friends when we couldn’t figure us out. What was that? What if there isn’t a better end for us?”

 

“You’re the best thing in my life, Gisele. You always will be and I believe in that more than I’ve ever believed in anything.”

..

Her childhood home’s been remodeled since she last saw it.

 

The light blue walls of the living room are now a sunny yellow, but the piano never moved. Her old room is now occupied by bunk beds for when her twin nieces visit, but the tree is still by her window. The kitchen appliances have been updated, but her mother’s smile as she cooks is ever present as she chops and stirs along with the sounds of Beethoven.

 

Things changed, but it’s still home.

..

 “You should go travel. Now that dad is retired. Maybe revisit places we saw in the past, but not rush through it.” Gisele suggests to her mother when they are doing dishes on the fifth night of Hanukkah.

 

“I loved to visit you when you had a few weeks off here and there, but I never needed to see those places. I just wanted to see my daughter. We travel here and there, and it works for us.”

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t come home to visit more.” Gisele replies back soflty.

 

“We all grow up and go our way. You are here now. That is all that matters.” Her mom reassures her. 

 

“Dad’s changed so much. Grandma spoke about it, but I don’t remember him being this relaxed and easygoing. Only a little bit.”

 

“He was strict with you because he needed to be. You are so much like me. That fire inside you. You said Han has a little of that too?A sweet boy with a rebellious streak…most dangerous of all. Maybe it’s what you need. Someone like you.”

 

The “fire” her mother speaks about simmered throughout her youth but she kept it at bay. Her mother said her love of schoolwork helped: the reading, the piano lessons, a few sports, but eventually she ignited. The teen years came and with it mischief. And then big trouble.

 

She’s lucky she got out of it and she vowed to try her best to learn from it.

..

Han was nervous about meeting her parents even before Thanksgiving. She went from a doctor to a “car guy.” The slight tension between him and Gisele didn’t help matters.

 

“Your mom is…intense. Your dad seems to like me alright.” He tells her after the second night with her folks.

 

“She’ll come around, I did…and if she doesn’t…it’ll be hot rebelling with you.” She chuckles lightly.

 

He turns his head to smile back at her because it’s the first genuine joking she’s directed towards him since L.A.

 

The nights that follow are less anxious.

 

Family stories are shared. The one of Gisele and the family cat amuses Han to no end. The kitten had adored her once as a newborn. She had been the one to chase the cat around, pulling at its tail, until it ended in tears and scratches. They sent the cat away until Gisele was older. Upon its return, both had learned to avoid each other.

 

She still had the faint scars on her upper thigh. She doesn’t get flustered by this story, though, stands her ground, insisting that the cat acted first.

 

He can picture it in his mind, a feisty four-year-old Gisele at war with a housecat. Reckless from the start. Brave from the start.

..

Han gets the big-brother talk when her lawyer brother Raviv learns about Tokyo. Gisele later tells him that her brother was warning him about her just as much as the other way around.

 

“He thinks we’re just two self-destructive rich kids. He’s seen a lot of people with connections get off. I was one of them and he’s never forgiven me completely. He’s not wrong. We still stole Reyes’ money, it doesn’t matter that he was a basterd.” 

..

She shows him around the nighttime hotspots when Hanukkah ends. They tour outside the city, meeting up with her friends along the way. They stay at her parent’s beach house for a few nights.

 

Things are good between them again. She affectionately rubs his ears or the back of his neck when it gets nippy outside, and in these moments he thinks his short hair isn’t too bad.

 

He hopes that it’s not the holiday joy that’s stringing them along, making it worse when New Year’s passes.

..

She tells him of her amended plans a few nights before they are set to leave for Zurich before joining his family at Christmas.

 

“I’m going to stay here for awhile. You can stay, but I think you should go see your family ahead of me. Try. For me.” she bargains when she sees the hesitation in his face.

                                             

“If you can’t, then you can come back here, or go back to my place in Zurich, or wherever. We’ll meet at your parents like we planned and then go to Tokyo for New Year’s like we planned and then pick up from there. I told Hobbs that I want to work in Tokyo.”

 

“Are you sure?” he asks her quietly.

 

“Nothing is ever certain, but I know I love you and I’d do it over and over again if that’s what it takes. Headfirst. It’s who we are and it’s what we do.”

..

And they part ways for the first time since April.

 

19. Tokyo, December 28, 2010: Ice and Fire

 

 “What are we doing for New Year’s Eve?” he asksher as they navigate the city by foot.

 

“Party? I know a guy with connections.” She responds. “The sweet boy from Rio with a rebellious streak.”

 

“I’m the lover. You’re the fighter. Ice and fire.” He quips as they stop for traffic.

 

“I’ve seen the fire inside of you…fighting the warm romantic heart of yours. Too cool to hold my hand?” She teases, turning her head to get his attention as they wait.

 

“Listening to Roman, now? I hold your hand, just not all the time. What about my busy mouth?”

 

“Gum.”

 

“Got any?”

 

“No.”

 

“I’ll try without,” he gives an exaggerated sigh, switching the snack box to his right hand to grab hold of hers.

 

“Nope.” He says letting go of her hand almost immediately to grab a chocolaty treat.

 

“I’d place my hand on your waist, but it’ll make me want to kiss you all the time,” he whispers into her ear.

 

“We don’t have to watch our backs anymore. You can kiss me all you want. I’ll cover you if something happens since you’re only average at multitasking.” She winks before pulling him in for a kiss.

“If the girls you invited don’t get the message then I’ll have to fight them off. I might get a few battle scars, though.” She shares after she pulls apart from the kiss.

 

“Cat fights.” He giggles. He’s recounting the story of her other battle scars in his mind when he feels a sharp tug at his throat.

 

“I still stand by them.” She says sternly before letting go of his scarf to rub his ear.

 

“Let’s go warm up inside somewhere. I’m getting cold, too.” She finishes with a smile.

 

“I need to work my way up to gum. We’re in Japan! Eat local, Pocky! And how are people supposed to know about your fierceness if your arms aren’t crossed? You’ve never needed leaning lessons.”

 

“Cold or cool? There’s a difference,” she points out.

 

“Cool, smart, fearless, easygoing, reckless and sweet Gisele from Rio. She’s a bit too tall for me to put my arm around her shoulder and reach for my food, though. It’s physics.” He explains.

 

“She’s taller than you?” she plays along as she takes a hold of his arm as they start walking again (her usual stance when her hands aren’t occupied).

 

“Heels always count, babe.” He says, giving her a peck on her check before shoving another Pocky into his mouth.

 

“You’re lucky she likes scruffy, nerf-herders. With pickup lines like that...” she tuts.

 

“Who’s scruffy looking?” He grins.

 

WINTERS/SPRINGS/SUMMERS/AUTUMNS: Please Walk Beside Me in All I Do

 

20. 2011-present: Eventually

 

They make roots in Tokyo.

 

They lease a two-story apartment in the quiet(er) part of the city. They drift (and ski) the mountains. They catch the drift races at night, occasionally participating for the thrill. They eat what feels like their weight in sushi and ramen the first few months.

 

They still fight, but they deal with it as all couples do.

 

Han finds a garage for his new hobby/job of fixing up all types of cars, but mostly race cars, and sometimes motorcycles.

 

Gisele’s leg requires minor surgery and she’s all clear by the spring’s end. The Elite Task Force training program is up and running by the summer. She helps supervise and specializes in weaponry and combat lessons.

 

She goes on a mission midsummer. He’s nervous throughout the month because it’s her first mission since London, but she comes back early and alright and alive.

 

They’re settled and more in love than they could have imagined.

 

They get engaged in autumn (on her half birthday) while on vacation in Italy and marry the following spring in Paris in a small, intimate wedding. She finally experiences fireflies while honeymooning in Australia (and they are as breathtaking as he claims).

..

Three years into Tokyo, Twinkie introduces him to this Alabama kid who wrecks the car they spent months repairing. He makes the kid work off the damage collecting the fees and working at the garage with the other troubled youths. His young cousin “Earl” joined him months before when he got shipped off to school in Tokyo by his dad.

 

Gisele remarks that Sean reminds her of Brian, Dom and Han himself when he recounts the story and how Sean had the nerve to ask for drifting lessons afterwards.

 

They try to call every day, sometimes twice-a-day. This assignment has lasted longer than any other since she’s taken a little more than a part-time, but not quite a full-time position as a field agent.

 

Han finds himself attending the races more often when he’s missing his wife (he calls himself a silent partner and financer who checked up on the races occasionally). Han finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a love triangle between Sean, Takashi (the wannabe Yakuza/Drift King), and the Drift King’s girlfriend Neela.

..

Gisele was getting ready to head home to her husband when she’s informed of Hobbs’ hospitalization. She calls Han, praying he will get to safety before Owen Shaw’s brother manages to act.

 

Han’s ready to leave for the Task Force headquarters when Sean and Neela show up in a bind. Takashi follows and then they’re all being chased on the Tokyo streets. His Mazda (that she gave back to him on his birthday the first year in Tokyo) crashes and explodes. Han’s body is badly burnt, but he survives. They have to fake his death until they catch Deckard Shaw. Gisele doesn’t want to leave his side but she knows she has to help the family.

..

After they capture Shaw, she goes back to teaching while Han is recovering. Again, she doesn’t want to leave his side even after he’s recovered, but he knows that she will eventually because she is brave (and he gives her another travel journal).

 

 

They tell Dom and the others and their immediate family that Han is alive and well.

 

Han’s grateful that Sean worked out his troubles with Takashi and goes back to being a silent partner and remodeling cars. He helps Hobbs or Mr. Nobody upon request because of who he is (an international crimefigher, perhaps).

 

They eventually have to tell their extended family when the twins (a boy and a girl) are born two years later.

Chapter Text

Gisele could hear the faint commotion from behind the closed door. When she enters their Tokyo townhouse, she’s met with her kids in colorful striped cone hats. Ethan is barking at his twin sister Alona, joined by their dog Felix.

 

“You’re a kitty. Meow, brother, meow!”

 

“Mama! Surprsie!” the girl screams as she notice’s Gisele’s presence, waving her hands about.

 

“Surprise!” The little boy follows his sister words, clapping.

 

“What do we have here?” Gisele asks, seeing the birthday balloons and banner.

 

“Surprise party for you. I said it would be a more surprise if we do it early,” says the little girl.

 

“I am surprised.” Gisele beams at her daughter, giving her a hug and kissing her forehead.

 

“I help color the sign and Felix, too.” Her son chimes in, pointing at the trace of their dog’s paws.

 

“It’s very beautiful. You get a kiss, too.” Gisele says as her son squirms in her arms.

 

“Open my present, mommy.”

 

“No. Daddy said we eat first.” The girl interjects.

 

“Don’t you want to show your mom the cake you helped with, Buddy?” Han says from the kitchen.

 

“How about we eat while I open my presents?”

 

“Okay.” The boy agrees as Gisele leads her kids to the kitchen in both hands as the dog follows.

 

“You’re home early.” Han greets her with a kiss before going back to the stove to finish dinner.

 

“Well, our kids are perfect. They weren’t upset at all that I ruined the surprise.” She smiles.

 

“Auntie Reiko helped me make a crown for you, Mama. Cause Daddy says you’re the Queen.” The girl says when Gisele joins them at the table.

 

“Thank you, Sweetie, it’s very pretty,” Gisele says, putting on the gold crown studded with pink cherry blossoms.

 

“Let’s go wash our hands so we can eat.” Gisele says. “Ethan, leave Felix alone.” She instructs when she sees the mutt repeatedly shaking off the birthday hat her son tries to put on the Siberian husky.

 

“We’re playing, mommy.” The boy says as the medium sized dog playfully licks the boy’s cheeks, but he soon scoots along when Gisele gives him the disciplinary look.

 

 “Smells wonderful, babe.” Gisele says as she hugs her husband from behind as the kids are washing up.

 

“You deserve the best.” Han replies before shutting off the burners and turning around to hug and kiss his wife properly.

 

Their embrace is interrupted by tiny squeals as they pull apart to see their son aiming a small stream of water through the detachable faucet at his twin, managing to get himself wet more than his target.

 

“Ethan!” They both say, exchanging knowing looks.

 

Her surprise early birthday dinner goes on after the children change their clothes and apologize for their behavior.

 

“She called him the baby.” Han reports to Gisele after they send their kids off to bed.

 

“She’s always acted like the oldest, but now that she knows…” Han starts as he’s taking off his socks, “Probably pushed her way to exit the womb first. Five years and five minutes old in less than two months,” he chuckles.

 

“She’s asking for a pet again. She says it’s not fair that Felix is a boy. That he likes Ethan more. They have her outnumbered. Had it all planned out. A fluffy girl pet.” Gisele replies, folding the last of the laundry.

 

“At least she stopped asking for a better brother.” He says, unbuttoning his shirt.

 

“She might get one, though.” Gisele smiles widely at Han. “I’m pregnant.”

 

“How far? Do want tea, water? Sit down.” Han says, immediately moving to her to kiss and rub her stomach.

 

“A month, maybe. Routine physical at work caught it. The appointment with my doctor is next week.” She shares as she sits down after he moves the laundry basket off their bed.

 

“Wow.” He says, as he caresses her back, laying kisses all over her face, neck, and shoulder-blade before lying down and holding her.

 

“They’re going to outnumber us.” She mumbles sleepily.

 

“Yeah.” He replies in awe. “They’re still our perfect kids.” He continues, giving Gisele a soft kiss. 

 

“Perfect mother.”

 

“Pefect father.” She replies, caressing his cheek.

 

“What if we have twins again?” He asks anxiously with a genuinely furrowed eyebrow.

 

“Don’t tempt me.” She laughs into his neck as he continues to look confounded.

Chapter Text

I. Closer to Thirty (January 2015)

 

Han feels over his head.

 

He thinks he’s not ready to be a father. He’s technically closer to thirty-years-old than forty. Somehow that feels like a lifetime of difference (and if he hears ‘thirty is the new twenty’ one more time, he might deck someone –or Gisele probably would have taken care of that already).

 

All she craved the last few months was his vegetable lasagna, now she won’t touch it. All she wants is herbal tea now. Gisele’s morning sickness is over, but she still gets nausea.

 

“At least I could vomit it all out before, now it’s just the feeling of it taunting me.” She groans.

 

That joke he made years ago about bad parenting combinations feels like more of an omen than anything. One child is a handful, and they’re expected to raise two at the same time. They agreed to hire a nanny, but they want to do as much as they can.

 

Sure he looked out for his cousin as if he was kind of a brother, but it wasn’t the real experience. It reminds him of what Gisele says about babysitting KC/DC, she’s a great Aunt to the cat, but it doesn’t mean she’ll be a good owner. Their Jack Russell Terrier, Russell was already on his last years when they rescued him from a shelter.

 

They adopted Felix as a newborn pup, and he was a hassle, but dogs grow up fast. Technically the pup was now ten and a half, and by next year (in two years time), he’d be twenty-one (legal drinking age in America, for a human).

 

He’s more than over his head.

..

Her parents come to visit and Gisele spends the first few hours acting as if she’s been tattled on.

 

“Come on, you need a break, too.” Gisele’s dad tells Han, who hesitates until Gisele gives him a look that means business.

 

They take Felix for a walk and end up at Han’s garage. The tall, grey-haired man acts more like a buddy to him than a father-in-law (Guilt, regret, Gisele says, he was away at work a lot when Raviv was growing up, a substitute son-in-law won’t make up for it), but right now he’s being fatherly and it’s what they both need.

..

There’s a fair amount of crying, comforting and rapid Hebrew about throughout the week.

 

Han can make out a general idea of Gisele’s rambles. The babies hate her already. She feels helpless. Her back won’t stop aching. It’s karma.

 

He realizes that Gisele feels over her head. She more than feels over her head, she’s living through it. She’s the one who’s carrying their children. This makes Han panic even more, and makes him feel worse for panicking. 

..

Gisele was right, her mother eventually warmed up to Han, but this was still her only daughter (and he still had an air of cockiness, a sliver too much of charm at times). She still has her walls, and not even grandchildren can tear them down.

 

“She wanted tahini when I was pregnant with her, on everything; with bread, fruit, vegetables or just tea.”

 

 “No one can prepare to be a parent. We have to live it. We all have our moments. I am sure you will be a good father because you are a good husband. You take care of her so well; you’ll be great to your kids.”

 

“Thank you. I hope I can be as great as you two are.” Han says, touched by those words.

 

“Thank you for having us.” Gisele mom says, giving Han a hug, one that’s a little warmer than he’s ever received.

..

Gisele’s sprawled out on the sofa when he returns from taking her parents to the airport.

 

“Hey.”

 

“You’re up already? I can make you an omelet; see if it helps.”

 

“No. I think it’s the cheese in the lasagna I can’t stand. The pasta with the tomato sauce is good so far.”

 

“You want another cup of tea?”

 

“No. Just you.” She says, holding out her hand so he’d join her on the sofa.

 

He sits on the end, cradling her head in his lap, placing one hand in hers as the other runs through her hair.

 

“Your mom made a pile of potato pancakes for you. I put half in the freezer in case you grow tired of them.”

 

“I never grow tired of those. These kids, though, putting up a fight already.”

 

“Wouldn’t be ours if they didn’t.”

 

“I haven’t been very good to you this month.”

 

“It’s the pregnancy. I did my research.” He tries to reassure her.

 

“I still want to take responsibility for my behavior. Apologize in advance because it might get worse, I’m only halfway through.”

 

“We’ll deal with it when it comes. Our children are going to be amazing because their mother is amazing. It’s considerate of them, two for one pregnancy.” He smiles.

 

“Efficient.” She says softly, closing her eyes.

 

“Perfect.” He replies back, kissing her forehead.

 

II. Close to Forty (July 2020)

 

The second pregnancy has gone swimmingly so far. Gisele still has to convince Han over and over that she feels well enough to fly, though. He finally agrees when she gets Roman’s private jet to take them to Los Angeles for his parent’s Fourth of July celebration.

 

“Did we fly in a plane in your tummy, mommy?”

 

“No. Sometimes mommies feel too sick when they have babies.”

 

“Lona doesn’t like to fly.” Ethan says.

 

“Sure loves her cheese, though,” Han smirks from across the aisle, holding on to the little girl’s hand as she colors to distract herself on the flight. 

 

“I love flying. Like Grandpa Harabo.” Ethan continues, referring to the former army pilot.

 

The tradition started the first year Han’s parent’s moved to California from Georgia and faded as things do when life happens, but came back after the grandkids were born. Gisele’s first experience consisted of just a few of Han’s family in the backyard, but the last few have grown. Neighbors and friends drop by for food and to catch up.

..

They’re back to the baseball field where Han spent his youth.

                                                                                                              

“Your boy’s got a good arm already.” Han’s father tells him as they watch the children play.

 

“Alona might be better.” Han replies. “Ethan gets practice from throwing with the dog, but the girl…it’s natural.”

 

“I was never that good.” Han muses.

 

“All parents think their children are great. Talent is a gift and a curse. I love being a doctor, but I think I like baseball a little more, it wasn’t practical though,” his dad states as if it were an undisputable fact.

 

His dad just leaves it there, let’s his unsaid words come as they may. Han sees the crinkles around his dad’s eyes clearly for the first time, the tufts of grey hair, and Han feels old now.

 

“Let’s see if I can still hit that curve ball of yours,” His dad motions to him, setting down his beer.

 

They’re running drills, warming up, like he did when he was a kid. Han’s arm is out of practice, but his dad seems to still have the batter’s arm.   

 

His dad starts getting excited when Han’s pitch sharpens, he’s not overly jovial because it’s not who he is, but Han can tell. He sees the small smirk forming, the happy squint under the brim of the baseball cap.

 

The setting sun is ushered in by the noise of the inhabitants nearby setting off fireworks, nearly drowning out the crack of the bat as it hits the ball.

 

When Han’s dad finally hits a pop fly that clears the fence, all he emits is a light laughter, a mixture of joy and relief. Ethan and Alona cheer him on wildly, though, with the little girl dragging him by the hand in order to round the bases.

 

They weren’t really keeping score, but the players exchange handshakes and high-fives after his dad gets to home plate. It ends there, as the players scatter to wait for the real show to begin.

 

Han joins Gisele on the picnic blanket, checking on her before lying down and closing his eyes. His arm is killing him a little.

 

He’s close to forty and he’s feeling it.

 

It’s not the thundering booms in the sky that wakes him up, but the sound of his daughter’s voice. He feels a gentle touch on his wrist and he realizes that his wife has been massaging it. When he opens his eyes, his daughter pulls him by the other arm so they can get a better view of the fireworks. He looks over at Gisele and she nods.

 

Alona sits on Han’s shoulders as they join his dad, who’s holding a cheering Ethan in his arms, wife by his side.

 

He’s seen the pictures of himself in the pin-striped uniform, glove in hand, bright blue hat on, smiley teeth on display through his tiny lips, video footage even, but Han can’t remember being that young and small, and so carefree, but he thinks he can’t wait to become carefree in a different way, grey hairs, crinkles around his happy eyes, and all.

 

Chapter Text

 

I. Moony-eyed (May 2009)

 

It’s a little over a week since Gisele landed in Paris and she’s having one of those restless nights. She’s curled up with Han in her hotel bed in pajama shorts and one of his v-necks.

 

Normally she’d be fast asleep by now. Sometimes Han would shuffle off to the sofa for TV, a snack, or a few games of solitaire to lull him to sleep. She’s caught him groggily making his way to the bed on a few occasions.    

 

 “I need to do laundry tomorrow, heads up, if you want to do anything in that part of town.”

 

“If I can even sleep,” she responds with a sigh.

 

“Take a day or two to regroup then maybe we’ll head south.” He says.

 

“Remind me to pack a travel bag.” She yawns out as he rubs the back of her thighs.

                                       

She falls asleep for a few hours (and wrangled the duvet to her side of the bed once again). She snuggles up to Han to try to fall back asleep, but his cold feet offers a shock causing her to rearrange her feet.

 

Thirty minutes pass by and she’s more awake than not, so she make her way out of the room for a drink of water, switching the TV on low.

 

Han finds her snoozing on the sofa in the late morning. Her gangly arms (her words) are dangling off to the side, and an abandoned game of solitaire sits on the table. He attempts to depart once he’s carried her back into bed, but she won’t budge, ultimately wrapping her arms and legs around him tighter.

 

“My shoes are getting your sheets dirty.” He tries.

 

“Warm. Perfect. My bed, my rules.” She says sleepily.

 

“Whatever you say,” he replies softly, relaxing into the warmth of her touch.

 

She does fall back asleep for a few more hours. After a late lunch and browsing shops, Gisele finds herself at Han’s hotel just as darkness falls.

 

“Miss me already?” He says with a smile when he opens the door for her.

 

“Just returning this. Or was that part of your master plan?” She says, handing him his cell phone.

 

“I guess it is now,” he chuckles, “Thanks.”

 

“You kept the shirt.” She comments when she sees him in the cop uniform from Rio.

 

“It’s kind of stiff and starchy, but it’s laundry day wear.” He explains, pouring himself another cup of coffee, holding out a cup to her, which she nods away.

 

“Your type?” He teases when he sees her eying him up and down. “Not tired of straight-laced men in uniform? Or is corrupting them the fun part?”

 

“Just two, the army doctor, Tomas, and the army pilot, George. Other than that, I like to keep an open mind.” She responds, helping herself to a pastry on his balcony table.

 

“Not your first street-racer?” He asks with a toothy grin, leaning against the balcony doorway.

 

“Not even the first Korean.” She answers evenly.

 

“Who am I up against?” He asks, just as casually.

 

“Richard was a quarter Korean-American –if that matters. I did meet him at a racing-related job, though, at a golfing range. I hear he’s a dancer now.”

 

“Did he make his move by asking if you were you named after the ballet?” He asks, joining her at the table. “If that is your real name.” He finishes, locking gazes with her.

 

Her lips form a small smile before matching his gaze. “Han. First or last name? You wouldn’t give up that name.” She adds before he gets a chance to ask if his name was real.

 

“Was that his?” He questions, setting down his mug and reaching for her so she’d move to sit on his lap.

 

“Does it matter?”

 

“You’re here aren’t you? We should dress up and go on a proper grown up dinner. That’s why people come here, right? City of lights, overpriced restaurants, view of or from the Eiffel.”

 

“I guess, if you need this city to give you an edge. Can’t keep up? Regretting those two-packs-a-day?” She says, fingertips lightly tapping exposed skin below his neck.

 

“All that training still left your legs trembling, wobbly. You weren’t moony-eyed in Rio? Dingy, hot warehouse and all?” He says, eying her just as hungrily as she is now, hand forcing her head down for a kiss before she can answer.

 

“We’re on the run from the law, it could be the last time, I’m just giving it my all. The blue works for you, that’s all.” She tells him, running her fingers through his hair.

 

“Blue. Sure.” He says, eyes still blazing.

 

“Lucky for you, it’s your room, but you should keep in mind that it will be my turn soon. Be smart.”

 

“They restocked the salts and my bathtub fits two, gangly arms and all.”

 

“Good boy.”

 

“That’s ‘scoundrel’ to you.”

 

“Scruffy. Scoundrel. Who prefers the Ritz.” She replies between kisses.

 

“Modern scoundrel.” He says as he’s nipping at her throat.

                      

She stays in the water a little longer (her bed is softer, but his tub better) as he attends to his delivered laundry (he packs a few more things in his travel bag, he’s been thinking about Le Mans).

 

Later in the evening they eat in like they have a few times since she’s landed. And then they’re kissing again, until they’re more than just kissing.

              

 “Your turn.” Han says, tying Gisele’s wrists together and then to the bedpost before blindfolding her.

 

He feasts on her neck first, and then down her gorgeous body. His mouth settles on her breasts, teasing both as his fingers run along her folds. She emits a disgruntled noise when he pulls away, just as quickly, his breath is at her ear, nibbling the way she can’t resist.

                                       

“Show me what you want,” he says huskily, sticking two fingers in her mouth as she sucks, tongue swirling over his knuckles as he goes deeper.

 

“Good girl, ladies first.” He smirks, returning his fingers to her aching core, mouth joining in soon after.

 

Her legs instinctively trap his head between her thighs trying to get him closer, and he complies, sucking her clit. “Ohhh. Yes, yes, yes…Han…” She moans as he plunges his tongue in and out of her opening.

 

She’s so wet and so close, heels digging into his back when he returns his lips to suckle her breasts. He forces his middle and pointer finger inside her to retaliate, curving them to reach her g-spot, going in and out. 

                                                                               

She screams as she comes, toes tingling, tied hands rocking the wooden headboard. He can’t get enough of her taste, doesn’t let her orgasm settle, electing to eat her out again and again as she continues to spasm.

 

Her legs have given out, just feeling now. “I need you, please…

 

“Whatever you want.” He responds, lips on hers again as they devour each other.

 

His covered cock rubs against the area between her legs and she can feel it hardening as she arches up to meet his slow thrusts. He pins her legs down to stop her movement, she expects to hear his voice, perhaps smooth and calm or hot and rough, but he doesn’t say a word, just more panting and moaning as he’s getting ready to fill her.

 

He reaches over to the nightstand and opens a metallic wrapper, gliding the rubber onto his length, giving himself a few strokes before guiding his rock hard cock into her slowly. She emits a gasp, spreading her legs wider as he eases into her, giving her a moment to adjust to his considerable invasion with a few shallow thrusts.

                        

She propels her hips forward, signaling him to proceed. He rams his length into her then, hard and deep, but still slow when he starts thrusting again, hands on her shoulders. Her silky walls cling to his shaft, so hot and so hard. She’s biting her lower lip, trying not to scream or scream at him, arching her back when she gets closer to another orgasm.

 

He places one arm behind her back for leverage, the other joining her lower lips, rubbing her clit as he pumps his hardness. He picks up his speed as he feels her release nearing, her breath hissing. She releases a few moments later, his name a whisper on her lips.

 

Her walls milk him as he continues his rhythm until he’s close, she comes again, and he follows a few ragged thrusts later, moaning her name in pleasure, head falling to her chest as he’s trying to catch his breath.

 

He kisses her forehead and cheeks as he removes the ties and blindfold, exchanging smiles before their lips meet for a lingering kiss. He shifts so she can lie on top of him, his hands finding her arms to soothe the soreness from shoulders to wrists.

 

They fall asleep soon after, wrapped in each other’s arms.

..

Gisele gets them a table on a Wednesday, not an ideal “date night,” but every night is a weekend of sorts for them (commitment-free millionaire outlaws, or something). 

 

They are dressed to the nines, her in a new red dress that stuns him to no end, parched his mouth when he first sees her and makes him regret wearing the first tie he’s worn in forever (especially later that evening when it seemed to choke the breath out of him, the way she was looking at him). 

 

Time flies like all the other nights since she showed up, and soon they’re dancing.

 

“It’s Han, my first name. My mom is from Seoul, South Korea. If Gisele is who you want to be, that’s what I’ll call you. Names don’t make people who they are.”

 

She smiles shyly, not unlike the night before the heist when all he wanted to do was kiss her, and he knows he will tonight.

 

“Gisele, not Yashar.” She offers.

                                                                                   

She’d later tell him the origins of her alias, a name from her mother’s side that died out, as names do. It meant “upright” and her mother always reminds her of where she came from, it’s one of those things she thinks she needs to guide her.

 

..

 

“How was that? For a date?” He asks, once they enter her suite, one hand in hers, one in his pocket.

 

“I think we’re beyond a first date.” She remarks, taking off her heels while holding on to him for balance.

 

“We should still do it again.” He replies serenely.

 

“I guess since we’re here.” She says, peppy from the night, tossing her shoes aside.

 

“That came out wrong.” He says, as if out of embarrassment, turning her to get her attention, arms around her waist. “I wanted to take you to dinner, and I’d like to take you again,” he finishes more firmly.

 

“Yeah. I know. I had a great time, too.” Is all she says, giving him a reassuring kiss on the cheek.

 

And then they’re kissing again, like the first night, but a little less urgent.

 

..

 

On his last night they shift their plans ahead a few hours for a casual outing (a floral summer dress and the pink button-up crop up in rotation once again). The leather booth gives him a better grounding, loosens his nerves. There isn’t a view of the Eiffel, but he feels more at ease when she’s leaning into him as they watch the jazz band play, his fingers rubbing soft circles on her knee. 

 

He thinks he really can’t afford to end up in her room or he’ll never get to Brussels. A fleeting thought of how he was on his way to Berlin when she called crosses his mind. It’s romantic in its own way, but it’s not Paris, where the lights of the city consume him.

 

She ends up sipping his coffee (as she always does, “I prefer tea at night,” she said), the lipstick stain signals her presence and he feels it all in that moment, the magic of everything.

 

Things just flow with her (the sex and the talking), and he feels like he’s floating (the non-sex and the non-talking, as well). He doesn’t need yesterdays that could have been Berlin (or Rio) or tomorrows that could be Amsterdam.

 

Some time much later they have a night similar to this and he comes to the conclusion that that is his idea of perfection, sitting near her, anywhere. He doesn’t need the city of lights guiding him anymore, but he wants more tomorrows.

..

It had been awhile when she slept with Han for the first time, but not that long, she has her needs.

 

She’s kissing his smooth skin down his body, gulping when she gets to the hem of his boxers, running her delicate fingers just above the waistline before she releases his hardening cock, peppering it with kisses.

 

Her tongue licks along his shaft until she gets to his head, gently sucking while her hands rub his balls. He groans as she takes him in inch by inch, hand fisting and stroking what she can’t fit in her mouth just yet. She continues to pleasure him as he moans, stopping when he tugs at her hair.

                

“Play fair,” he murmurs when they are face to face, removing her black top, skirt following shortly. He kisses up her legs, nipping at her inner thighs. He pushes her panties aside to reveal her core, the cold air extinguished by his mouth sucking her clit.

 

He asks again if she’s sure, and what comes out of her lips isn’t a “yes,” but “please.”

 

He grins, giving her a last kiss before leading them to her bed. 

 

It’s been way too long since she’s been with someone worth having. Way too long since she wanted and needed someone as much as Han.

 

It’s a few weeks later and he’s still looking at her like he has since the first night in Paris (since Rio), moony-eyed, infatuated. Not romantic, city of lights Paris, but a dingy warehouse with terrible lighting Rio.

 

She thinks she may have called him “perfect” at one point, perhaps when he looked incredible in his new dark grey suit and tie paired with a light blue shirt. She was definitely moony-eyed then.

 

Time soars and he’s on his way again.

 

..

 

 “Phone?” She says when he’s at her door soon after they said their goodbyes.

 

“You could have asked me nicely.” He says, smiling.

 

“You sure you didn’t leave it here?”

 

“I know I didn’t leave my lighter.”

 

They stand by her door, neither moving an inch.

 

“Not bad for a handbook pickpocket, huh?”

 

“I never said you were bad. It’s different.” He responds.

 

“I was tired this morning, and I thought you deserved a better sendoff. I could have waited until Amsterdam, but then you,” she says, taking his hand under her robe to touch her damp center, “ruined my new lingerie.”

 

“It wouldn’t cooperate with me. It was a tear, at most.” He says calmly as he rubs her through the fabric. “How can you tell, it’s all lace.”

 

“You can come in for a better look, it’s a one-piece, you need to see it all for the full effect, it shouldn’t go to waste,” she says, removing his hand before dropping her robe to reveal a very lacy, very red, and very see-through number.

 

He doesn’t blink, only leaning towards her when she does it first, placing her palm at his chest to whisper, “Since you’re here…” before turning and walking away.

 

“Post-Modern romance.” He says after letting out a gulp, following her, definitely choked of his breath.

 

He catches up to her and pushes her against the nearest wall, trailing kisses down her body. He’s on his knees, worshipping her as much as he can, trying to find her taste through the sheer fabric. 

 

She taps his head to get him to stand up, giving him a streaking kiss, running her tongue along his teeth before gently sucking on his tongue.

 

“What do you want?” He asks hoarsely.

 

“You.” She answers, cupping his face, “Everything before tonight, like this morning.” She finishes, closing her eyes as she’s kissing him again.

 

II. Misty-eyed (December 2020-January 2021)

 

The first pregnancy was an experience.

 

Gisele had read, heard, was told, that, statistically, carrying twins or more can make a pregnancy more difficult. She doesn’t discount emotional stress, nerves of first time motherhood, though. There wasn’t practice for the reality of it all.

 

The second pregnancy is still an experience eight months along.

 

This little one inside her, another girl, can stomach cheese just fine. She (they) craves toast more than anything, as well as any form of potatoes, hot water with lemon, and apples with peanut butter.

 

Her back doesn’t ache as much as the first time, but she still has the urge to go to the bathroom constantly. The highs and lows of pregnancy are all intact, and she’s had some practice now.

 

..

 

The baby names the first time around were a whole other experience. 

 

“My mom doesn’t want me to name them after any living relative. Jewish tradition.”

 

“Doesn’t that make it a little easier?” Han reasons.

 

“I hope so. Your mom?”

 

“They’ll be given Korean names and she’s happy with that.”

 

The more she delved into it, the more it frustrated her. She told herself that she wasn’t going to over-think it, but she does as her due date nears (“Superstition, not tradition,” she sneers).

 

“A name is just a name sometimes. You want it to mean something, but it doesn’t have to mean everything.” Han tells her, and it reminds of her of a time long ago when he said something similar to this.

 

..

 

In retrospect, it was beyond the names of the children, a mask for her other worries.

 

Advice is given in one ear and the opposite in the other (the ways she should raise her children, the ways to go about her pregnancy). Books say one thing, and the internet takes it even further.

 

At her worst she didn’t know if she could be nurturing the way a parent should be (maybe she’d be a “handbook” mother, going through the motions).

 

Her parents are tough and strict, but very loving. She’s fiercely independent, but she can be lulled into submission, or indulged. She’s the baby of her family and she thinks that’s who she’ll revert to when the chips are down, sometimes too young to know better (cocky and reckless), or constantly trying to seek approval and forcing the issue (still reckless, a little needy).

 

Han was nervous and scared, too. At her worst she felt like they were both in the same boat, sinking.

 

The trouble started even before the children are born. Genes count for something, the babies were at odds with her, born fighters, jockeying their long limbs for space in her womb every time she felt discomfort.

 

..

 

Maybe it was pregnancy hormones.

 

Mia was nothing but supportive. Her sister-in-law, who carried twins herself, helpful. Her mother is kind and truthful, like she needed. Her mother-in-law was a little overbearing at times, but it was her first go at grand-parenting (in a similar boat nearby, perhaps), and it’s out of love.

 

Han gave up coffee (at home, modern chivalry or something), not because he thought she didn’t have the willpower to abstain (maybe this is a little true), but because he was worried and nervous and trying his best. They’re in the same waters, keeping each other afloat.

           

                                                     ..

 

The feeling of the babies kick brought it all into reality. It meant everything. The discomfort was real. The lives inside of her were real; the black and white sonogram was just the beginning.

 

It’s scary and exciting, as it should be.

 

“I was thinking we can give both of them the middle name Yashar, so they’ll always have something that connects them.” She tells Han awhile after he told her that he read that it was commonly a boy’s name that they could use for their boy. 

                                                                                

“Two middle names and a hyphenated last name…as an Austrian-Czech-German-Polish-Israeli-Korean-American should be. Very modern.”

 

“And if they want to be known as Chewbacca, then that’s their right, he is a loyal co-pilot and friend after all.” She adds begrudgingly.

 

“Perfect mother-to-be.” He responds with a smirk and a kiss to her head.

..

 

She was in labor for hours, the children taunting her (or that’s how she felt in that moment). She opted for just enough medication because she didn’t want to feel nothing (she read, heard, etc. about delirious women barely remembering deliveries).

 

She was quiet, perhaps unconsciously not wanting to show Han how scared she really was, even after everything. And he knew that in that moment that words were just words, it couldn’t really help her situation so he stood, so he sat there by her side, clutching her hand through it all.

 

She forgot it all though, once she saw the tiny fingers and toes of her children, those beautiful eyes, barely open, staring back at her, Han’s tear-stained face as he held them for the first time.

 

They are so real.

 

Crying, pink-faced, brown-haired, soft-glow of the hospital lights real.

 

She is a mother and Han is a father to the two most beautiful human beings she’s ever laid eyes upon.

 

..

 

The newborns graced their home on a hot summer day.

 

They slept for hours, perfect angels, breathing in and out. Then the constant crying and the late-night feedings came, but then they smile or latch their tiny fingers in her hair and it’s perfect.

 

Ethan spits out his baby food (peas, mostly), but then he crawls first, “chasing” Felix around the living room.

 

Alona’s maybe a little bossy (assertive), but then she says “Mama” and “Daaa-dad” and Han thinks it makes Ethan follow suit (“She’s a born leader.”).

 

She’s away when this happens (dead tired from a bad day at work).

 

Han texts to tell her to call ASAP, she rings with a video-call that feeds to the TV. She’s greeted with not only Han’s soothing voice, but their babies’ cute voices for the first time. She holds her breath, heart stopping briefly, then her smile reaches her eyes, like the first time she heard their heartbeats at the doctor so long ago.

 

“Can you say ‘Daddy’?” Gisele coos.

 

Alona, who’s in Han’s arms on the sofa, points to him and does her best version of ‘dad,’ while Ethan’s squirmed his way to the floor, reaching his arms out to her through the screen, saying “Ma” over and over again.

 

“I’ll be home soon, Ethan.” Gisele says, blowing a kiss to him, and then to the other two loves of her life.

                   

They converse a little longer, her smile never fading, until they have to say goodbye.

 

“It’s bedtime. Be good to your Daddy. Mama loves you both.” She waves.

 

“You heard the boss. Say ‘bye’” Han chuckles.

 

“Bye.” The little boy says, now on his back and concerning himself with his covered toes through his green and blue striped onesie, realizing that Gisele is not in the room, or perhaps upon hearing the word “bedtime.”

 

“Hi. Hi. Da. Da. Mama. Bye.” The little girl says in her purple and white polka dot sleepwear, waving. She wriggles so Han releases her from his arms to join her brother.

                                       

“I have a video from earlier that I’ll send you. I was hoping they’d give you a show, and of course our perfect babies did.” Han tells her smiling. “Toddlers now, technically.”
  

Han hangs up after telling her to call back if she can’t sleep.

 

The twins are around English, Hebrew, Korean and Japanese for the most part, but she mutters German every now and then, which makes Ethan laugh. These thoughts enter her mind as she’s trying to sleep, wondering what comes next, and she falls asleep to the thought of a noisy living room waiting for her.

 

..

 

What came next was running, and the rascals could run. They were hopping, twirling, and skipping balls of energy.

 

Her little gazelle finding her legs is a wonder. Alona stands on her tip toes, arms stretched, previewing the strong and enduring oak tree of her name. Sometimes she hangs on to her brother’s shoulders, and he stands as strong and firm as he can, like his name suggests (or sometimes like his dad, cool and calm, like nothing’s straining him at all).

 

Time passes like a flash and she can’t believe it.

 

“Remember when we couldn’t separate them?” Gisele says as they are washing dishes.

 

“Our children are coming into their own. This is what siblings do, right?” He muses, regarding spats between their children that have become more common of late. 

 

“My brother was fifteen when I was their age, annoying sister to a teenager is an entirely different thing. Can you imagine them at fifteen?” She says.

 

“One day at a time, babe. That’s still a long way to go.” Han says, placing his arm over her shoulder before kissing her lips.

 

“You think she wants out or she doesn’t like me?” He asks when he feels the baby kicking towards the direction of his stomach.

 

“Maybe a little bit of both.” She laughs, as he rubs her belly. “You talked her ear off last night.”

 

“Let’s get you two to bed. I’ll be quiet. Maybe play her some Beethoven.” He says lacing their fingers together.

 

“Mmmh. Great idea.” She answers, as they make their way out of the kitchen.

 

Time won’t stop and life won’t stop.

         

She knows something else will always come next, good or bad, and sometimes all she wants is to curl up in a warm bed with her husband and wonderful children by her side.

 

..

 

Their third child arrives a little early, but Gisele’s still in labor for a very long time. Her mom and dad don’t make it on time, but Han is still there by her side through it all. His parents babysit the twins until it’s time to meet their little sister.

 

“How are you feeling, Mommy?” Ethan asks, remembering what his father said when they asked about the aspects of delivery.

 

“Just a little tired, Buddy.” Gisele tells him.

 

“Do you need to sleep. Are we too loud?” Alona questions.

 

“No, but thank you for asking, Sweetie. Isn’t your sister beautiful,” Gisele says, misty-eyed, as Han cradles the newborn in his arms. 

 

“Your mom is amazing.” Han says, reaching over to kiss her hand. “So beautiful. So Strong.”

 

“Meet your big sister and big brother, Adira.” Han says, sitting down to level with the twins. “Her eyes are closed because she’s adjusting to the light, but she can hear you.”

 

“She’s so tiny.” Alona squeals in a hushed voice. “You can call me Lona, baby sister.”

 

“Hi. I’m Ethan.” The little boy says, waving at the bundle of joy.

 

“Can she come home?” Alona asks.

 

“Not yet. Grandma and Grandpa are going to stay with you two tonight. We’ll be home with Addie tomorrow.”

 

..

 

Adira (“It means strong, noble, and powerful.”) is welcomed to a warm home on a very cold and wintery day.

 

She resides in the nursery where her siblings once slept. The half blue and half pink room is now peach.

 

Technically, she’s not as tiny as her brother and sister were at birth, but she is at the moment, and just as beautiful and precious as they are.

 

It’s all starting for her.

 

..

 

Han and Gisele have gone through it before, but they still need to stay by Adira’s side the first night, and a few more times in the first few weeks.

 

Han waits for Gisele to sleep before he carries her off to bed. Sometimes she’s in deep sleep, sometimes she mumbles objections trying to get him to put her back on the cozy armchair in the nursery, other times she’s not aware of their surroundings, holding onto him tightly as they fall asleep.      

 

Time ticks on, as it should.         

Chapter Text

I. Old First Day of My Life / Don't Lie

 - Zurich, April 2010 -

 

Han smiles even as his head hits the kitchen table, closing his eyes as Gisele begins to kiss him passionately. He stops to catch his breath, cradling her face. He can’t believe he’s back in Zurich, bantering with her once again, getting another chance with her. “If I could do it all over again, I would. Not having you in my life…I don’t want to feel that ever again.” He says.

 

“I don’t either. I missed you. So much.” She replies, lips trailing across his shoulders and down his arm; if he’s a leg man, then she’s definitely an arm woman, but it’s more toned than she remembers. She unbuckles his belt and unzips his pants making him stand up to discard the denim. She searches her purse for condoms as he’s trying to remove his shoes as quickly as he can.

 

He wraps his arms around her from behind, and what she does remember is always feeling warm and safe in them. She melts into him, reveling in his touch. His soft kisses trail up and down her back, as he’s removing her bra. She rubs her ass up and down his bulge as his hands tease her breasts.

 

His hand ventures into her panties, feeling her damp pussy lips as his other hand continues to stimulate her breast. She moans, reaching behind her to release his cock, running her fingertips over his sensitive head. Her hands then stop his busy ones, clasping them together as she teases his hard cock with light strokes. He groans in need and frustration when she takes his other hand in hers, rubbing herself over his quivering length and telling him to stay still.

 

“Oh God…please...Gis…ele…” he moans. He’s been dreaming about kissing her again, being inside her again, and he’ll beg if he needs to.

 

“Floor,” she instructs, removing his boxers as well as her own underwear. She straddles his face, lying back on Han. He licks and sucks her lower lips as she rocks forward with the sensation of his mouth. His tongue runs circular patterns along the sensitive skin, softly and then more forceful. He nibbles and sucks her nub as she moans. She somehow musters enough control to tell him to stop, turning around to meet with his achingly hard manhood. She missed his arms, but she also missed his thick and long length, the feel of it inside her mouth, and at the back of her throat, the look of desire in his eyes as she gives him pleasure.

 

She licks along his sensitive shaft, teasing the underside, spreading his pre-cum when she gets to his tip, and then sucks on his balls before teasing them with her fingers. Then she suckles his head using her saliva for an easier rhythm as she strokes him. She takes as much as him in her mouth as she can, bobbing her head up and down. She gags before trying to deep throat him once again, he’s licking and sucking her core as she’s doing this and it’s distracting, but it also turns her on even more.

 

She takes in another breath, wrapping her lips around him tighter as she goes, she sucks and draws in her cheeks until he can’t stand it, pushing his hips forward as they both moan. He cums after a fair amount of time, spilling his release as she swallows. His whimpers and moans are music to her ears as she sucks his softening length, taking in the last of his taste.

 

He missed her, but he won’t deny that he missed her taste. Their sexual chemistry is a bonus. They’ve done this several times before, and it might start out competitive, but it always ends with both of them satisfied and screaming, with smiles or hungry looks as they seek each other out once more.

 

He sticks his fingers inside her pussy when he’s close because it can get hard to focus when he’s about to explode; and it’s been ten months since her talented mouth has graced him. His hips piston in and out of her, familiar, but still fantastic as she moans along with him; his hands and fingers lax when he climaxes, moving again when he’s spent.

 

His mouth is on her again as she’s finishing him off, it makes him more eager, sticking his tongue in and out of her as his fingers tease her asshole, increasing her arousal.

                            

“Shit! I’m cumming already. Oh.”

 

She snaps sooner than she expects, letting go when he drags her nub with his mouth. He returns the favor, taking in all her juices as she continues to quake in aftershock.

 

He moves her until she rests her head on his shoulder, kissing her forehead and wrapping his arms around her. “Fuck! Gisele! That was so hot.”

         

Soon enough they are kissing again. His hands run along her legs as hers focus on his shoulders and neck. She’ll admit that he found her sweet spot rather quickly (her earlobes), but she’s got a little more to work with. It’s not just the area between his neck and shoulders, but any time he touches her from her lips down to her knees, really, that turns him on.

         

“What do you want?” she asks calmly, locking gazes, dark brown, like hers, twinkling from more than the moonlight in the cloudless night, she hopes.

 

“I want you. Now. Tomorrow. As long as you’ll have me.” He says. “I love you.”

 

Her eyes go soft, closing briefly before kissing his cheek and replying,

 “I love you.”

 

Their lips meet again for slow and lingering kiss. She strokes his manhood sensually until it’s hard again, he whimpers when she stops to find the condom on one of chairs, opening it and gliding it onto him.

 

His arms reach for her as she guides her swollen core onto his rock hard shaft, muscles contracting as she takes him in deeper. He finally arches up when she’s almost filled to the hilt. She gasps in pleasure and pain. His hands settle on her wrists, trying to hold her steady.

 

“Like this?” She questions, grinding at a snail’s pace.

 

She feels like heaven surrounding him. Everything is pronounced when she is in this position, riding him at a slow pace. “Ah. Yes. Fuck! You feel…so good…” he moans, tilting his head back as he matches the rhythm of her hips, hands still at her wrists.

  

She can feel everything when they’re like this, when he’s inside her so deeply. She remembers the first time, when he was a little shy about it; the times she’s left him tongue-tied; when he was overwhelmed (pleasantly overwhelmed, he said) and not offended by her aggression. Once they grew comfortable though, he was all in, fucking her like there was no tomorrow. She likes it rough, and she likes it when he treats her like the most precious thing in the world, and somewhere in between.

 

“Oh, oh, oh, Han,” she moans, urging him forward to suck on her breasts. He sits up, pumping his length as he sucks her nipples, hand reaching for her clit. Her pace meets his, head bobbing to-and-fro as they continue.

 

“Harder! Harder!” she demands.

 

He flips her over to take her from behind as she swerves her head to maintain eye contact. He pumps and pumps until he can’t take it anymore, upon seeing her eyes roll in the back of her head, burying his face in her hair as she thrusts and thrusts until they come together, panting.

                                      

He withdraws from her to discard the condom, returning with two of her throw pillows, and holding her once again.

 

“Table for round two,” he murmurs, nuzzling her neck.

 

“Mmmnh. Are you going to dress it up with pillows? Maybe my couch cushions?” she laughs. “Modern outlaw.”

 

“That’s why you love me.” He says with a chuckle.

 

“Only one of the reasons.” She replies, brushing the hair out of his eye and meeting them, and then with his lips for another kiss, sweetly and softly.

 

“Your smile…Did I miss that.” he says dreamily after they pull apart.

 

...

 

II. New – I’m Yours / All These Things That I Have Done

 

Han Lue is young with a future ahead of him. His vision of his future is vague. At times he sees the details as limits. But then Steve dies. Virgil doesn’t rat them out after he wakes up from his coma, but he thinks maybe Virgil will have another breakdown and spill the beans, or golden boy Daric will confess to cleanse his soul, and Ben, he’s not sure, which makes it more unbearable, so he runs from those details.

 

Han Seoul-Oh wants to fall in love someday, like his parents, like the elderly couples he sees still holding hands, like Letty and Dom. His future at the moment is the rest of South America or perhaps Tokyo. He has to part ways with Dom, the older brother he never had, so he moves along. But then Han questions love when Letty dies, because love isn’t enough and the details do matter.

 

Han is older than Gisele Yashar, but that detail is bullshit. It doesn’t make him more mature of more experienced. But Gisele gives him a second chance.

 

..

 

They try to talk about Tomas, among other things, in Zurich, but the two lovebirds have been in a haze of happiness since reuniting the previous night, and it goes like this:

 

EXT. ZURICH – GISELE’S APT. ROOFTOP                       

 

A beautiful moonlit and starry night in Zurich, pan down to Swiss mountains and then zoom out to reveal two people eating on a rooftop.

Zoom into HAN and GISELE finishing dinner. Cartons of Chinese food lay about the table with a few empty bottles of beer.

 

GISELE

(after she finishes her last bite)

You’re giving me a second chance, too. I should have told you about Tomas. Before the party.

                                                                                

HAN

(casually)

No. And I canceled on you before. Wasn’t worth it if I didn’t show up.

 

GISELE

(hesitant)

But I remember that first night we went drinking with Philip. I went on and on about him. Even if we were just friends, whatever we had meant something. Amsterdam was about me more than anything.

         

HAN

(diplomatically)

Let’s call it even for now.

 

GISELE

Okay.

                                                                                    

..

 

Han is older and in love and he wants a future with Gisele. He wants to slow things down and take her all in. But then he thinks they don’t have to play by the rules because Letty Ortiz is alive.  

 

Han thinks about marriage after London, Roman’s musings rattling in his mind. Seeing her fall over and over again makes him want to never let go of her ever again. But then he has nightmares of her dying, and then they can’t seem to coexist in her apartment, which is all at once too big and too small.

 

Han questions his future in Tokyo when Hobbs offers Gisele a job. Han was offered a job too, but he knows almost immediately that he won’t accept. Han saw the glint in her eyes, the genuine smirks, in London and Spain, between the bullets and crushed motorcycles, despite all the trouble the family faced. Han knows she’ll eventually end up where she belongs, and he doesn’t know if he can spend the rest of his life worrying about her.

 

I don’t want to think about it now. My leg is still healing. I just want some peace right now,” she said.

           

Han thinks about all his choices that led him to Gisele. She’s the endpoint now, and the journey seems over, and he thought if he could get to Tokyo maybe he’d be okay, but the details have changed.

 

Han (Seoul-Oh) wonders if he would have made it to Rio if he was already in Tokyo when Dom called. Maybe his life there would be up and running and the length of the flight (one day and one hour or longer, two days, really) would be another reason (excuse) to stick to his new life.

 

He wonders where she’d be in this universe, with Tomas, or Richard, or George. This opens his mind into a spiral of what ifs, something he’s never wanted to live by because he knows regret can eat away at people. He thinks he could have been in Steve’s shoes. A few choices here and there and his universe shifts. Private school over public school. Baseball over cars. A little more money, and a lot more trouble. Buried in the dirt.

                                                                                                              

Han considers proposing in Salzburg after he shares his fears with her, when she holds him tight, and promises that she’s okay, and he feels like she’ll never let him go either.

 

Whatever is going on with you affects me too, we’re a team. We’re still figuring it out and I want you to know that you can tell me anything,” she assured him.

 

Han (Lue) entertains the idea of soul mates and inevitability when he sees the happy glow of Brian, Mia, and Jack, in the moments where Letty is like the old Letty he remembers. He thinks in this universe they are all “normal,” maybe he has a business degree, and Gisele is a lawyer like her mother once was, like her brother, and they’d all still be sitting at this table together for Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Han (Lue) questions his future with Gisele (Harabo) when the details get muddy. Tomas might still be a problem. She thinks his past and future exes might be a problem. But those people are just on the surface, and their insecurities run deeper.

 

..

 

Han and Gisele haven’t spoken more than a few polite words to each other after their drunken fight the night before. When they address it, the conversation starts like this:                                                                        

 

INT. A HOTEL SUITE IN LOS ANGELES – AFTERNOON

 

After a late breakfast, Gisele wraps herself in a blanket in front of the TV as a sleepy Han opts for the bed.

 

Later that afternoon.

 

GISELE

(frustrated, yet contemplative)

This is real now. You and me. No matter how much Brian and Dom talked about the money giving us freedom, in the back of mind I knew it wasn’t completely true. We’re free now…

 

HAN

(calmly)

You think I’m going to go back to who I was?

 

GISELE

There are better people out there…I have so much baggage. I might run, I have before, and I think that scares me more than anything. We were in a bubble, in France, and then a bigger bubble from Germany to Hong Kong. Tokyo can’t be another bubble.

                                                             

Later that night.                     

                                                 

HAN

You remember what you said to me in Rio when I commented on you liking to clean your guns? You said something about learning about oneself when one’s life is on the line. What I learned after London is that I want a life with you. I know I’ve done a lot of things and didn’t do other things to hurt you, partly because of my baggage. I don’t want it to stop me anymore. I need you to trust me, that I’ll come back; if you run, I will chase you; that I’ll fight for you.

 

The conversation extends to Hanukkah in TEL AVIV, overlapping with another conversation.

 

CUT TO:

 

INT. HOTEL ROOM – TEL AVIV – DAYS LATER - NIGHT

 

Han hangs their coats after they enter their hotel room. Gisele pours herself a drink from the bar, sits down on the sofa and stares at her drink. Han’s still taking off his shoes when she speaks.

 

GISELE

(sofly)

          You were there when I needed you in Paris, and back in January, and I’m sorry if I made you feel otherwise. Sometimes I feel like you don’t need me either. I feel like I’ve given so much of myself to you, maybe more than I’d like. And you shrug like it’s nothing, or you put me on a pedestal, and I can’t live up to the ideal in your head.

 

The conversation doesn’t end, it’s put on pause until Christmas in LOS ANGELES, and even then it’s not really over.

                                                                                            

DISSOLVE TO:

 

INT. LUE RESIDENCE – GUEST BEDROOM – NIGHT

 

It’s the night before Han and Gisele’s flight to Tokyo. Han lies down after he fluffs his pillow. Gisele joins him in bed shortly, giving him a chaste kiss goodnight.

              

GISELE

Maybe sometimes you’ll need to love me more or I’ll need to love you more. It’s a compromise, not a sacrifice. I’m not losing myself, I’m sharing myself with you, and I want you to do the same.

(a beat, then sweetly)

You’re the greatest thing in my life.

 

HAN

(tenderly)

I’m going to try my best. Promise.

 

Gisele smiles. Han pulls her in for a soft kiss. He kisses her forehead once they pull apart, spooning her as they prepare to sleep.

 

..

 

Han Lue buys an engagement ring when he listens to his heart, even if the details will always be muddy. When the dust settles he knows they will be there for each other.

 

Gisele Harabo is still the endpoint, and Gisele Harabo is still the journey.

 

 

III. Borrowed – Better Together / Together Again       

 

Gisele Yashar fell for Han Seoul-Oh in Rio, on a rooftop, on a beach, in a dingy warehouse, amongst fast cars, and her new family.

 

..

 

Gisele makes the trip to Rio for Dom and a little excitement. What she found was a family. What she won’t forget is this:

 

INT. ABANDONED AUTOMOBILE PLANT – RIO – A LITTLE LATER

 

Han strides up to Gisele, who is cleaning her guns, and offers her a beer, setting it down on her work table.

 

HAN

You really like doing that stuff, huh?

 

GISELE

When your life is on the line that’s when you learn about yourself.

 

HAN

(thinks about it)

That’s a fair deal.

 

The two kindred spirits hold each other’s eyes – an energy between them.

 

GISELE

So, what about you?

 

HAN

The people I’m around, defines who I am.      

 

The two share another glance.

 

..

 

Gisele from Rio is falling for a sweet boy in Paris, with his kindness, with his laughter, with his courage, with his spirit, with his honesty, with his confidence, amongst the tourists, and the comfort of hotel suites.

 

..

 

Gisele makes her way to Paris for Han and a second look at Paris. What she remembers is something close to this:

 

INT. A BUSY CAFÉ IN PARIS – NIGHT

 

Gisele and Han chat away as they wait for their food. Han’s been in Paris for awhile and Gisele landed a few hours ago.

 

GISELE

How far south did you get?

 

HAN

Argentina. Rosario, north of Buenos Aires.

 

GISELE

What was there?

 

HAN

A friend. Adventure. Then a girl. A little cliché, but sometimes you just go with it.

 

GISELE

I wish I could do that. I mean, I can and I have, but then if things don’t turn out well, I’m back to default mode, sensible Gisele.

 

HAN

You know your limits. Owning up to a mistake can be tough.

                                                             

GISELE

What’s yours, then?

 

HAN

I’d like to think actual physical harm, but then someone breaks your ribs and in a one in a million chance,

(he chuckles)

you’re somehow cursing them out instead of backing off.

 

GISELE

(amused)

Girl trouble?

 

HAN

I’m in for a love story, but the on-again-off-again thing…

 

GISELE

Sometimes you just have to let go.

 

HAN

(he nods)

Yeah.

 

..

 

Gisele loves Han on a rooftop in Zurich through tension, jealousy, and delight, on a beach and through the breeze in Santorini, through the uneasiness in L.A., through the uncertainty in Tel Aviv, amongst their families and friends.

 

..

 

The plan was to not fight in front of each other’s parents. The long flight from Thanksgiving weekend in Los Angeles to Tel Aviv leaves Han and Gisele too tired to argue even if they wanted to. They try to discuss Tomas, it starts (again) like this:

 

INT. A HOTEL SUITE IN TEL AVIV – VERY LATE AT NIGHT

 

The first time meeting with her parent’s ends and Han, sitting on the bed, tries an apologetic approach when she exits the shower.   

 

HAN

I was deliberately pushing your buttons, when I brought Tomas up. I’m aware of it now, and I’m not proud of it. You don’t have to tell me everything right now, but I’d rather you tell me sooner than later, you and him. We’re you lashing out on me, or is it about you two? If we can’t get past him, I don’t know how it’s going to work.

 

GISELE

He was a huge part of my life.

(she pauses to think)

At one point I thought maybe I wanted to be with you because I couldn’t deal with him, and I couldn’t do that to you. I know now that I needed closure, and I got it.

(after a beat, sits on the chair opposite Han)

I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t in love with him the second time, but I realized my whole heart wasn’t in it, and he deserves better than that. I’ll always feel something, but not when you’re in my life.

 

Hanukkah passes and the two souls have found a sense of peace and understanding. Gisele wants to give Tokyo a try, and it brings out Han’s other fears. He finally tells her this on the ride to the airport.

 

CUT TO:

 

INT. IN A CAR TO THE AIRPORT – TEL AVIV – AFTERNOON

 

Gisele and Han spent the morning making love. She drives Han to the airport. They sit in the car as he finishes his breakfast, she sips at his coffee. She’s about to exit the car when he stops her, taking her hand in his.                                                     

                                                             

HAN

Can I have word?

(she nods, he continues)

I never felt like I belonged anywhere. And when I did it was fleeting. I react by acting detached. I try to just live in the moment. I want to belong in your world. I want you in mine. Tokyo became a sense is hope, a last resort. I don’t know what I’m going to do if it doesn’t work out. Now it’s not just Tokyo, you’re an endpoint to me and sometimes I feel like you don’t need me. You’re going to land on your feet. It’s just another city to you.

                                                              

GISELE

I need you to trust me. Trust that we’ll be okay in Tokyo if we work together; know I want to be in your world with you just as you want to be in mine. I know it’s just words, but that’s where it starts.

 

..

 

Gisele loves Han at the first of many breakfasts in Tokyo, over sweeping of a dusty warehouse soon to be filled with cars, through more screams and more “sorrys,” in the snow, in the dew, in the sun, in the wind, on the phone, amid the streets full of strangers some soon to be friends, in their new home.   

 

“You can twist anything I say or do. You can brush things aside just as much as I do…You act like I cheated on you. You were engaged!” he said once.

 

Gisele Harabo is going to spend the rest of her life being in love with Han Lue. A man who cherishes her, a man who can drive her crazy, a man who loves her for and despite her flaws, with a dog and so many possibilities ahead, in Tokyo, in L.A., in Tel Aviv, and wherever life takes them, with the pitter patter of tiny feet somewhere along the way.

 

 

IV. Blue – In My Life / This Is My Mexico

 

Gisele Harabo is in France, in a hotel room, in front of a mirror, in a dress, but not just any dress. Gisele Harabo is in a wedding dress. Gisele Harabo is nervous, a little terrified, but still happy. Her mother, who’s barely left her side since morning, inspects the white garment for crinkles that barely exist.

 

Her mother tells her that those feelings are normal, that love is all those feelings. Her mother holds onto her daughter’s shoes and veil until it’s time to give them up. 

 

Gisele Harabo is prepared. Her hair and makeup are done ahead of schedule. Her bridesmaids are the ones fretting over last minute things. Her Maid of Honor is already at the wedding site. Her father waits for her in the car.

                 

Her father’s heart stops when he sees his beautiful little girl all grown up, and just as beautiful as her mother. He’s nervous and terrified because she’s not playing dress-up anymore. He holds his wife’s hand tightly on the ride to the ceremony. 

 

Gisele Harabo is getting married in a garden, in Paris, amid gorgeous flowers and the glorious sunshine. Gisele Harabo is marrying the love of her life, the most wonderful man she’s ever known. Han Lue is at an altar, in a black and white three-piece suit and bowtie. 

 

Han Lue listens to the string quartet play as the flower girls scatters flower petals, as the ring-bearer walks a little too fast. He greets the bridesmaids and groomsmen with nods and smirks when they line up beside him. He’s nervous and terrified, he wants to be the best husband to the best person in his life. He hugs his dad, and then his mom, who straightens his bowtie. Gisele’s mother and brother follow, and Han knows Gisele will be beside him soon.

 

Gisele Harabo locks eyes with her fiancé as she walks down the aisle and she’s no longer nervous or terrified. The warmth in his gaze is all she needs.

 

Han Lue sees his fiancé’s smile, even through her veil. The music stops and swells, all at once, somehow. There’s only her stunning presence, consuming all his senses.

                            

Mr. Harabo sees his daughter’s smile reach her eyes forming her signature squint when she greets her future husband. His wife kisses him on the same cheek her daughter kissed moments ago, linking their arms.         

                                                  

Mrs. Harabo doesn’t hear the clanking of too-big shoes on a trotting girl down a hallway, through the living room and to the kitchen, but sees that her daughter is still glowing in her fitted shoes, sees her future son-in-law look at his future bride with such adoration.

 

They know their little girl will be in good hands. Gisele Harabo-Lue is a woman.

 

Gisele Harabo-Lue and Han Lue are married. Han and Gisele are laughing, crying tears of joys, talking, eating, and dancing, under the moon and stars, in a city, in a country, on a continent, on Earth, amongst their family and friends, in their own world.

Chapter Text

I. Ten, Teens, Twenties

 

Aviv: Roughly translates to “spring” in Hebrew, as in Tel Aviv, Spring Hill.

 

Ahava: “Love” in Hebrew, a given name, as in Ahava Ariel, Gisele Harabo’s mother.

 

Ten year-old Gisele lives near the city in Tel Aviv. She walks to school, and the beach is just a drive away.

 

She is already tall for her age, sometimes people mistake her for eleven or even twelve. When she’s eleven, she wants to be twelve, and then thirteen, and so on. What she wanted then was to be a lawyer like her mother and brother, the two people she admired the most.

 

Her teen years are exciting, eye-opening, and frustrating.

 

“Just because you’re old enough to be a dad doesn’t mean you’re mine!” A sixteen year-old Gisele argues with her brother in Hebrew.

 

“Far better than our dad.” The man objects seething.

 

“Don’t say things like that.” Gisele says.

 

“Not only that, but you get Mom, too. The one who’s not completely stressed out.”

 

In the last of her teenage years she lives at her military base, a short flight, or long drive from her hometown. It became the first step to setting her life in the right direction. She could do structure. She could follow rules. She doesn’t have to stay, but she wants to a little longer.

 

Her new job takes her back home. Her official records list her address in Tel Aviv, but she’s a traveler, really. She defends, negotiates, but not in a court room, and not always with words.

 

Her twenties are an ebb and flow of good and bad times. She still has guys on her brain constantly, until it’s only one guy. Then she’s in America, and he’s all over Europe, both living, but not living together. It ends slowly, crumbling before her; she could see it coming, but it’s her first time loving someone this much and she doesn’t know what to do, perhaps hoping it would work itself out.

 

Still in her twenties, Gisele lives near the city in Los Angeles. When people ask about her accent and her background, she tells them of Tel Aviv, and sometimes she gets comments about how it’s not too dissimilar from Los Angeles, the Mediterranean climate, and she thinks that sounds about right.

 

 

Baseball and Blood Brothers

 

Ten year-old Han’s suburban life is sports, school, and chores. He’s really good at piano, and maybe even greater at baseball, but he wants to make toys when he’s older.

 

His dad has been his hero for as long as he can remember, but Han also stopped wanting to be a doctor for as long as he can remember, when grownups ask him about it (surgeon’s hands he’s heard). His parents don’t put too much pressure on him like some kids he knows, and he feels lucky and grateful.

 

Teenage Han is an awkward thing. He sweats all the time, eats a lot, and all he thinks about is girls. He doesn’t know it then, but his life changes at thirteen. 

 

“Are my girls teasing you again?” Han’s Uncle asks when he finds the thirteen year-old sulking with a surfboard by his side, changing the channel on the TV.

 

Han just shrugs his shoulders.

 

“Why don’t you come with me to the auto shop after my lunch break? I could use a hand, and you might like it.”

 

Sophomore year comes along and he’s this slick new person with a Mustang in tow, cigarettes in his mouth. The girls notice, but those who really know him knows this didn’t happen overnight (or over summer vacation), the growth spurt did, but he’s been building up to who he’s always meant to be.

 

He lives here and there after high school, a couch, a floor, a bed if he’s lucky. When the money his grandpa left him is available, he still doesn’t feel right spending it; it reminds him of his parents, and letting them down; of Virgil and what happened.

 

He spends his twenties living with or near Dom Toretto (and later Letty Ortiz) in Mexico, Central, and South America. Dom’s a different kind of hero, and the cars they work on are far from toys.

 

He falls head over heels for someone in Lima. He lives with her for months. He feels like hell when it’s over. He thinks it must be karma for the women he’s left in the lurch. He figures he’d seen people knocking on wood too much in his youth to not believe.

 

Still in his twenties, Han’s somewhere in South America for New Year’s Eve, his current fling on his arm, and he makes a resolution about leaving the Americas altogether, head on to South Korea because he really misses the food, and then onto Tokyo where he hears crazy things are happening.

 

....

 

II. “Hi.”/“Konnichiwa.” (2010)

 

Choi Su-mi (Han Lue’s mother)

California

Cordial (friendly, pleasant, warm…) 

 

Choi Su-mi came from a prominent family in Seoul, South Korea. She had two older brothers who lived in Korea all their lives, who were poised to take over the family shipping business. She was the first to venture out, she had a friend in America, in Georgia. Her parents want her to stay, but she had bigger things on her mind, and received their blessing when she agreed to attend college. Her younger sisters followed her lead. One would end up Wales, and the youngest in California.

 

Su-mi met her future husband Tae Lue in Seoul at a birthday party. It was love at first sight (for her at least). He was tall, quiet, and determined, and had a look of dreaminess in his eyes. He was from Busan, South Korea, on the coast (a city with South Korea’s largest beach, longest river, and borders mountains, he said).

 

Tae followed her all the way to her then home in Atlanta, to the humid heat, the plethora of trees, not a beach in sight, but still rivers and mountains close enough. She got her college degree (economics and art). He received his first of many (in medicine), and then they were off to California so he could finish his schooling. The beaches and the mountains were closer this time.

 

Su-mi (now Mrs. Choi Su-mi) kept her name upon marriage, as Korean tradition (for her grandparents, really, as she considered changing it as a Korean-American), but went by Mrs. Lue all the same, sometimes she didn’t have the time to explain with more important matters on hand. The people who mattered to her knew who she was, her story.

 

She lived a sheltered life and so did her husband in some respects, so they said they’d let their children be, help guide them through life without too much pressure. Their children turned out to be just one boy, Han. A beautiful boy who was a troublemaker, but knew his place, was respectful and kind. 

 

Han still brought home decent grades, even if he didn’t like school so much, he never got into too much trouble. Mrs. Lue should have seen it coming, when he got into more trouble, first suspension for administrating cheat sheets, and then his confession to her that it was his fault that Virgil tried to kill himself. He gets in his car after high school and drives away.

 

Her grandmother used to tell her that she had her head in the clouds, but her feet on the ground. She was a dreamer, but she was a practical dreamer. She thinks that’s why she was disappointed that Han didn’t attend college, the safety net of a degree in an uncertain world.

 

Han returns to Los Angeles with a girlfriend. The last time he did so willingly was freshman year of high school before a school dance, when Han still did those sorts of things.

 

She could hear the dreaminess of his voice when he spoke of Gisele on the phone, the admiration when he relayed that she could speak a handful of languages, including a little Korean (a sly warning to not mutter unsavory things like she may have in the past, perhaps). She reasons that all parents at some point think that no one is good enough for their children.

 

She has to trust in her son’s judgment, even if it doesn’t turn out well, but she has a feeling that it will based on her first (and second) impression, Gisele is cordial, but also mysterious, a little like her son, she thinks.

 

“What’s your story, Gisele? How did you end up in Los Angeles, speaking better Korean than my son,” Mrs. Lue asks of Gisele as her family is digging into their Thanksgiving food.

 

“I grew up in Tel Aviv in Israel. I was in the military that led me to my job. The job that led me here is like Interpol. I came over to help with a case, and then I transferred here, I worked near Koreatown sometime after that. I only speak a little Korean.”

 

“And you had to go all the way to Brazil to meet my son. That is a story.”

 

 

Dreams and Daughters

 

Ahava Ariel was born in Israel like her husband James Harabo, but not like their parents’. She had one younger sister, whom she would look after when she was old enough, as her parents worked long hours at their various restaurants.

 

She met the love of her life when her heart was broken by a jerk, a complete charmer who was completely selfish at his core. Her future husband had dark chestnut hair, hazel eyes, was thoughtful, and had a smile that mesmerized her. She was born and raised in Jerusalem, he nearby (as an only child), they dreamed of beaches so they started their life together in Tel Aviv.

 

It took her a very long time to let the dream of being a lawyer go when she realized that it wasn’t her dream anymore. Her mother a generation ago wouldn’t have had that opportunity, even her friends in her generation, and she thinks that’s what made her hang on too long.

 

They had a wonderful boy who loved to laugh, and would later follow her footsteps in the legal world. And then they received the loveliest surprise, the most precious girl. She was an angel with a rebellious streak (“Just like you,” her mother had said). 

 

Her husband was very hard on himself, worked away when their son was growing up, so he tried even harder when their daughter was born.

 

The years pass way too fast. Her son lives a few cities away. Her daughter, ever the adventurer, hasn’t found her footing, perhaps she never will, but Mrs. Harabo sees this as an opportunity, a luxury maybe she herself didn’t have.

 

When Gisele comes home after a very long time she brings a boy home.

Han is perfectly charming the first time they meet, with a slight nervousness (perhaps too perfect, Ahava thinks).

 

“Gisele and I worked together in the past, she’s great at it, but it’s not really for me. I want to open up an auto shop someday soon.”

 

By the time Hanukah passes, she can see the love between the two, but Tomas was a year ago, and a handful of years before that, so she can’t seem to embrace him as warmly as her husband.  

 

 

 “The Elephant(s) in the Room”

 

It’s nighttime in Tel Aviv, Gisele is lying down on the guest bed of her childhood home and talking to Han on the phone from Los Angeles (in the morning). He called to tell her he landed safely a few days ago, texted a few times trying to find the right time to call the next time (she’s ten hours ahead).

 

“I’m going on a surfing road trip with my cousins from my dad’s side of the family. The ones who grew up in Hawaii, they’ll be at Christmas.”

                                                                                    

“I hope you get better. Then maybe you can show me.”

                                   

“We’ll see.” He chuckles lightly. “I might be driving, or there might not be cell phone service, and I don’t want you to worry.”

 

“Oh. Okay.”

 

Then there’s a silence. Gisele can feel the distance between them. She thinks about the last time they were apart, when she was an hour ahead and didn’t have to double check the time to call him.  

 

“Gisele?”

 

“I was thinking about when you were in Cardiff, when I was in Venice that time. You stayed up and talked until I fell asleep…” she says gently, “Did you feel like I was leading you on then?  I was thinking about Amsterdam again, I think I would have kept my distance, too. And then I kept kissing you…mixed signals.”

 

“I don’t know,” he pauses, “It’s like you said. It’s hindsight. It’s easier to see it now.”

 

“I don’t want it to come back and haunt us.” She responds.

 

“It wasn’t all you. The skiing –I think I stayed longer than I should have. I didn’t realize how much I needed you, after seeing my parents again, until after the funeral. I was selfish. It wasn’t all me seeing if you were okay after Tomas.”

 

“You meant well.”

 

“So did you,” he replies softly.

 

There’s another pause, a more comfortable silence.

 

“Where’s the middle. Between here and there?” she asks.

 

“Uhh…Iceland? Maybe Greenland? Brazil?”

 

“It’s a big country. We really shouldn’t go near Rio, though.”

 

“We could…” he says grinning.

 

“Bolvia? Rob a few banks? Do the Batman and Robin Hood thing. Your drunk ramblings have a point. Stall until they find out we’re actually partners.”

 

“Sundance and…who are you?”

 

“Bonnie?” Gisele muses, as she wraps the blanket tighter around herself as she listens to her boyfriend on the other end offer his input.

 

 

Fireflies and Futures

 

They join the crowds at Shibuya Station for the countdown to the New Year in Tokyo, walking around, standing around, and observing the hoards of people.

 

“This is like in New York City on New Year’s Eve.” Gisele says over the noise.

 

“You’ve been?” Han asks.

 

“No. Saw it on TV.”

 

“Same. We’ll have to go there.”

 

“We still have Vienna, and you owe me fireflies.”

 

“I’ve only seen them in the states, Georgia, maybe we can take a drive from L.A., stop by New Orleans. I also hear Malaysia fireflies are something else.” He responds.

 

“We’ve got time.”

 

“Yes we do.” He nods with a smile as they continue to wait for the New Year to come.

 

....

 

III. Everything Else (2011)

                                                   

Garage and Gangly

 

Han and Gisele’s life in Tokyo starts in a whirlwind; of house-hunting, then decorating; fixing up Han’s garage/warehouse; and Gisele’s post-surgery rehab in between exploring the city.

 

Han joined her when her sessions with the physical therapist ended, for support, and to get back in shape (he wasn’t getting any younger).

 

“You know what the doctor said, try not to overextend yourself. You’re starting to outpace me; you’re getting back to form.” Han says as he cools down with stretches.

 

“I can’t depend on my legs anymore.” Gisele reasons, starting on the punching bag after a run on the treadmill.

 

She planned on bulking up her arms, her gangly arms, her wiry arms so Han says, she thinks back.

 

Gisele had kicked Han a few times in her sleep, flailed her arms about. Han mentions this one morning after they stayed up all night walking the streets (she wanted to see the Paris sunrise).

 

“I used to hate my arms, a little too gangly. This boy used to make fun of me when I was younger. But now I embrace it.”

 

“You’re wiry. No one expects it.” Han states.

 

“It’s about outsmarting. If they can overpower you, that’s what a gun is for. Or you wait for your partner, stall, tire them out. And sometimes you just have to take it and hope they don’t do any permanent damage. He didn’t see the gum in his hair coming.” Gisele says laughing. “And overpowering you doesn’t really count.”

 

“Think of it as practice, then.”

 

“Always a spin with you.” Gisele says, rolling her eyes.

 

“I can be very optimistic.”

 

“How about now? I shouldn’t have had that second tea.” Gisele says.

 

“And how many sips of my two coffees?” Han comments, heart thumping from too much caffeine.

 

“I like how you take your coffee, and it’s a waste to order another when I only want a taste.”

 

“And there you go with your logic. We can practice, then.” Han responds, kissing up and down Gisele’s arms.

 

“Tread carefully, you want gum in your hair?” Gisele murmurs, turning to kiss Han’s lips.

 

“That’s the fun part.” Han grins.

 

 

Hulk

 

Han: A concept in Korean culture that’s hard to translate, dependent on context, but is frequently translated to sorrow, spite, regret, resentment, grief and the like.

 

They get to know their neighbors, mostly other young couples.

 

Inevitably they make friends with the racers.

 

Twinkie gets Han’s attention with his eccentric Hulk car. Not moments later he’s making a sales pitch (basketball shoes, cell phones…), granted he wasn’t full of spunk like the African-American, but Han’s reminded of how he did those things in high school.

 

“You do this?” Han ask of Twinkie’s car.

 

“Inside out.” Twinkie replies with a proud smile.

 

It’s not until the next race that Han asks Twinkie to help him out at his warehouse. Reiko shows up with Twinkie one day, and then she’s part of his team.

 

Twinkie has an enthusiasm that’s infectious, he goofs off, but is a very hard worker. Reiko has the smarts for tuning and technological integration. Officially they work at his garage, but it’s mostly a front (illegal parts) for Han’s warehouse race car business.

 

Han’s learning the lay of the land with everyone’s help. Tokyo has its own rules in the underground racing world (Yakuza), so he’s trying to cover all his bases, maybe keep his distance a little, for their safety.

 

“He’s still a kid,” Han tells Gisele of Takashi.

 

“We know what kids are capable of.” Gisele replies.

 

It’s not until later that he recognizes the other reasons why he hired Twinkie and Reiko, when a few other teenagers join his team, when he gets to know them. He recalls his Uncle fostering his love for cars. He recalls how Dom helped him all those years ago when he was feeling lost, he thinks if he can be a little bit of the mentor like those men were, then it will be worth it.

 

When Gisele finds out that some of the kids stay overnight she tries to be diplomatic.

 

“I love that you want to help, but I don’t want you to enable them. We don’t know the whole situation with their home life.” Gisele says.

 

“Don’t we know enough?” Han responds.

 

 

Intuition (instinct, feeling…)

 

“There’s an assignment coming up, it might be for a month. I’m going. They considered my leg. I’m more of a backup right now.” Gisele tells Han after they kick around a soccer ball, one of her feet exercises.

 

Han nods. They’ve been enjoying Tokyo, and the inevitable disruption appears. It crosses his mind to tell her not to go, that London wasn’t so long ago, but he knows she might if he asked, and it’s not fair to her.

 

“Are you taking your bike? Car? Need a tune-up?”

 

“Plane this time.” Gisele answers, relieved.

 

Gisele’s first mission goes as smoothly as expected as her new team gets use to each other. She returns home early to find that Han’s new team have taken in an actual stray, a kitten.

 

Gisele meets KC/DC on a hot summer day, a few weeks after Reiko rescued the kitten from the clutches of Twinkie’s dreadful drifting.

 

The lunch hour left Han’s garage empty so the small thing didn’t notice Gisele until it jumped onto the sofa, walking slowly to her and nuzzling her hand. It proceeded to stare at Gisele until she responded with a pat to its head. Seemingly satisfied, the kitten pulls a blanket across Gisele and itself before burying itself in the sofa corner.

 

“She likes you.” Han says, walking down from the second floor. “Didn’t push you off  her napping spot.”

 

“Maybe she knows not to mess with me.” Gisele retorts.

 

“Smart either way. I’ll be ready to go in a second, Babe.” Han says.

 

 

Jitters and James Harabo

 

Han’s nervous. He’s been starring at his cell phone for far too long, fidgeting with his lighter. He dials, waiting for a voice on the other end.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hello? Mrs. Harabo?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“It’s Han, Gisele’s boyfriend. Is Mr. Harabo there, I’d like to talk to the both of you.”

 

“He’s in the other room,” she waves her husband to her direction, “Is everything good?”

 

“Yes. I just have to talk about something important.”

 

She can hear it in the young man’s voice, and she knows.

 

“I love your daughter more than anything in this world. I don’t know if there’s a proper way to do this, but I just wanted to inform you two. I’m going to ask Gisele to marry me.”

 

“You want our blessing for marriage?” Mrs. Harabo says loudly, evenly, letting her husband in on the conversation. “It’s not up to us, you know her…”

 

“It would be nice,” Han answers, holding his ground. 

 

“Han,” Mr. Harabo takes over, “I appreciate the gesture. I’d be happy if she accepted.”

 

Mr. Harabo asks if he had everything in order, the ring, the proposal, which allows Gisele’s mom to think before she speaks.

 

“You will hurt her. Make her cry. But you need to be the one who will make it better. She’ll do the same with you. You love her enough for all that?” The woman asks casually.

 

“Yes, Mrs. Harabo. Completely. I want to spend the rest of my life making her happy, taking care of her, sharing my life with her and hers with me.” Han answers firmly.

 

“Good luck.” Mr. Harabo says.

 

“If you thought this through, if she loves you, you won’t need luck.” Mrs. Harabo says.

 

“Thank you.” Han says, then hanging up his phone and breathing a sigh of relief.

 

 

Kids, Karma, and Kindness

 

Gisele catches Reiko crying her eyes out in one of the storage rooms. She breaks down and confides in Gisele that her relationship with her parents weren’t great, and they hit a particularly rougher patch than ever before.

 

“I was to stay with my sister, but she’s delayed. My friend used to let me stay with her, but her mom doesn’t want a cat around. It will be a month more at most, I promise. I can pay a little rent, until I get things settled.” Reiko tells Gisele.

 

“It’s not about money. It’s going to get colder the next few months, and the heating at the warehouse isn’t great. If you can work it out with your friend, then Han and I can take care of your cat until your sister gets here.” Gisele says.

 

“Thank you.” Reiko says gratefully, hugging Gisele. “She’ll be good. She likes you a lot.”

 

 

Love and Lobsters

 

Their family from all the corners of the globe gathers in Tokyo for New Year’s (planned) and their engagement (not planned). Even Leo and Santos show up (“We’re only found when we want to be.”), as well as Malo, Han’s ‘vault (“also plane”) guy’ that Gisele wasn’t sure actually existed. Three of Han’s cousins from his dad’s side of the family make the trip over, ‘the surfers’ Gisele met last Christmas.

 

..

 

“Not bad.” Malo says as they explore Han’s bigger warehouse garage.

 

“This is more like it.” Tej adds, having seen Han’s smaller garage/business front.

 

“Ever heard of a surprise?” Han injects.

 

“What’s the plan for this?” Brian asks of a worn down Nissan Silvia S15 waiting to be remodeled.

 

“I was thinking orange and blue,” Han replies.

 

“Alright.” Brian concludes, nodding.

 

“Are we going to do this?” Letty asks.

 

“Pick a car, Mazda’s off limits, though,” Han tells the guys, “Try not to get into too much trouble, I’d liked to stay in this town. There’s a dock nearby that’s usually empty.”

 

..

 

“Gisele and I used to sneak away to her family’s beach house.” Petra shares at breakfast.

 

“First time I rode a motorcycle,” Gisele chimes in, flipping a pancake. 

 

“First time you stole a motorcycle.”

 

“That guy was a jerk. And it was a, one of those smaller ones, a moped. All I did was use up his gas and smash his headlights. It was worth the punishment. I would do it again for you.”

 

“I don’t doubt it,” the blonde laughs.

 

..

 

“We’re staying a little longer. Try to surf.” Han’s cousin Melissa says at lunch over sushi. “Are you going to join us, Han? Golden Boy #2 here might be worse than you, you won’t look too bad,” the black-haired woman ribs at her younger brother Mike.

 

“I’ll pass this time, there’s some parts I need to pick up out of town.” Han answers.

 

“Tell us about Han. You knew him before all this.” Mia asks.

 

“He’s a bit of everything, but always a dork to us,” Melissa answers.

 

“He’s very protective, though. He grew into it, he used to get into fights he had no business getting into.” The younger Charlotte Lue adds. “We moved to Hawaii after my parents' divorced so we can’t account for Han as a teenager, really. We’ve seen the pictures, though.”

 

“I’ve seen the pictures, too. The scowl, the denim jackets, the mustang, still with the puppy-eyes, though.” Gisele chuckles.   

 

..

 

“I might stick around,” Roman starts at the New Year’s party, “Beautiful women, and vending machines with lobster.”

 

"Wish I could, too.” Philip agrees, “But I have eat. Work. Life.”

 

“Si. Si. Si.” Santos says, and something about losing most of his millions, deep in alcohol himself.

 

“I knew what I was doing. Can’t put a price on adventure.” Leo reasons with his best bud.

 

..

 

“3…2…1…Happy New Year!” the crowd at the gathering chants as the clock ticks at midnight.

 

“Happy New Year.” Gisele says after she and her fiancée pull away from the midnight kiss.

 

“Happy New Year.” Han replies with a similarly wide grin.

 

..

 

“To Han and Gisele for this week, this weekend, and a toast for a good year and great ones to follow.” Dom says at Sunday brunch barbeque. “Salud!”

 

“Salud!”

 

..

 

“Back to the real world tomorrow,” Gisele says with a sigh after the last of the guests leave.

 

“It can’t all be high-octane, fun, all the time. It makes us appreciate it when it comes.” Han replies with a soft tone, feeling like Gisele felt, “My very wise fiancée once told me that.”

 

“She sounds too sensible.” Gisele groans, burrowing herself into Han as he watches TV.

 

“One of the best things about her, keeps me honest.”

 

“Sure.” Gisele mumbles.

 

“We’ve still got KC/DC, and Russell.”

 

“Don’t mind me,” Gisele starts to explain, “I have a huge stack of paperwork waiting for me at the office. There was some error. I’m not looking forward to it.”

 

“You want to go for a ride?”

 

“Bikes?” Gisele asks with a small smile.

 

“Anything you want. Let’s go.” Han responds.

 

….

Chapter Text

Chapter 22: Zero Hour (Part 2)

 

....

IV. Vows (2012)

 

M is for Marriage

 

Setting the date was the first step of the Harabo-Lue Wedding.

 

“I want it to be one of the best days of your life. Take all the time you need. The cake you want. The dress you want.” Han says loudly from under the car he was working on.

 

“All I need is you, Han,” Gisele replies, still glowing weeks after the engagement. “Your inputs count too.”

 

Han slips out from the car to address Gisele tenderly, “We can still want the other things. Sleep on it.”

 

Han was quiet throughout dinner and Gisele knew it was from more than an off day at work, as the decision to set the date for an open slot in May was looming.

 

“Tomas and I thought about eloping many times. We were going to do it all the second time, maybe it was for show. I’m older now and it does matter in this case. I want you and our family. All of that is going to make it the best. We can do Paris in seven months, or L.A. or Tokyo, or Tel Aviv, in a year or two. Italy if we finally get a place there.” Gisele shares when she could sense that Han wanted to ask, but couldn’t.

 

.

 

“Let’s do it, Paris in the spring.” Han says the next day, “We’ll make it perfect with you and me, and our family there.” 

 

“I’ll set the reservations as soon as I can after breakfast. I need to double-check the time there.” Gisele replies with a smile, pouring herself a glass of orange juice.

 

..

 

Planning the wedding was the second step.

 

“Black and white with a third color. Iris purple if we do irises for the flowers, or cherry blossom pink. You decide.” Gisele says, looking through her binder of wedding things.

 

“Are you sure?” Han hesitates.

 

“Yes, it’s your day too, Han, our wedding,” Gisele says handing Han a copy of the mock-ups of the potential decorations.

 

.

 

“My parents want to give us a post-Wedding party in L.A. after the traditional Korean pyebaek ceremony that I told you about, whenever your parents are available.” Han tells Gisele after a call with his mother. “Extended-extended family and friends, it’ll be big. Of course you’re welcome to invite as many people as you want, it’s our party.”

 

“I’d hope so. I’ll be your wife by then.” Gisele says in a deadpan tone.

 

..

 

Of course problems arose.

 

The couple fought the night before, they went to sleep unresolved.

 

“Are we getting married this soon because of what happened with Tomas?” Han asks calmly the next morning as Gisele finished brushing her teeth, trying to catch Gisele before her morning run.

 

“He’s not you, Han.” Gisele replies, putting away her toothbrush to swish her mouth clean.

 

“But you’re still you.” Han says, gently tapping the wall as he leans against the bathroom doorframe.

 

She doesn’t answer until a few more swishes of water, a splash to her face.

 

“This conversation is not going to end how you want it to. You won’t believe me and I won’t believe you, not right now. You think I don’t wonder why you want to even marry me. Only because you think I want it? Is marriage going to fix whatever doubts we have?” Gisele says as she wipes her face with her towel, trying to sound diplomatic.

 

“It’s going to make it harder to let go.” He says quietly.

 

“See, you think it, too.” Gisele replies, brushing past Han.

 

After a few nights sleeping in the guest bedroom, Han offers an apology of flowers in a vase at dinner. Gisele lets Russell off his leash, and sits down on the chair Han holds out for her.

 

“I’m always going to be a little jealous of Tomas. You thought he was the one, and it should be that way when you love someone. To think of the younger version of you settling is not what I want.” Han says, making use of the time before his lasagna is ready.

 

“Sometimes I think the younger version of me wouldn’t have stood a chance. But then I think this is how it’s always meant to be. You would have seen the good in me, over the cloud of cigarette smoke, and too much gel in my hair because you’re who you are, in the best way. Even if everything else was different, we’d meet in L.A. before Rio and fall madly in or completely hate each other. Dom still calls us and we get first, second, third chance. Or we meet here in Tokyo.”

 

Han takes Gisele’s hand and she doesn’t pull away.

 

“We found each other eventually, but I don’t want to wait anymore, I want to marry you now and keep living our lives.”

 

“One of the nurses in London told me Oxford was called ‘The City of Dreaming Spires.’ I was wondering why it bothered me so much after I met Annie. You had it in the travel journal about Denmark. I remember reading about Prague when I thought I was going to move there, one of its nicknames is ‘City of a Hundred Spires.’ I thought maybe it was a sign to move on from you that time. That maybe it was the reason I broke it off with Tomas, it couldn’t be a coincidence, something as obscure as spires.

 

“You didn’t listen…” Han says nervously.    

 

Gisele moves to sit on Han’s lap, never breaking each other’s gaze.

 

“I listened to my heart. I love you and that’s all that matters. I knew I could count on you when I have doubts, and I want to be all that for you, and when we’re married I’ll keep trying because I know you’ll do the same.” Gisele says tenderly.

 

“I love you.” Han says between sweet kisses that turn intense seconds later, it had been days, and the angry sex in between didn’t count that time.

 

.

                                                                      

“We’re doing iris purple?” Gisele asks, smelling the vase of flowers.

 

“The florist said it’s more indigo. The fleur-de-lis symbol is sometimes modeled after the iris, if not the lily. It represents France as well as Florence. I thought that was a nice touch.” Han says, plating up garlic bread.

 

“I read it’s named after the goddess of rainbows.” Gisele says as she cuts into the lasagna.

 

“I think she was originally a messenger between Greek Gods and humans. Insome versions she’s the goddess of the seas and the skies. Sometimes she’s the mother of Eros, who people know as Cupid, symbol of love...And I think you just look really good in purple.” Han finishes sweetly as he sits down.

 

“I think you do too, which is why I considered it in the first place.” Gisele says just as sweetly, “The rest is just a bonus.”

 

..

 

Han and Gisele’s wedding weekend in Paris start Thursday for those who could make the trip that early. The Harabos and the Lues didn’t meet until Friday at the rehearsal dinner.

                                                                                            

“How’s your garage?” Mr. Harabo asks Han after the adults exchange pleasantries.

 

“Ups and downs. It’s tracking normally like any new business.”

 

“How about you Gisele?” Mrs. Lue asks.

 

“The teaching is different, but fortunately I’m not too rusty on the other stuff.”

 

“I hope your partner is just as good as Han would have been.” Mr. Harabo remarks.

 

“It’s more of a team. We’re working well together.”

 

They’re interrupted by the manager of the reception hall, who requests the future bride and groom.

 

“We’ll be back as soon as we can.” Han says, relieved to leave. He hadn’t told his parents about the job offer from Hobbs. He thinks if he did he might have taken it for his parents, for Gisele, but not for himself. He knows his mom won’t hark on it during the wedding or even ever, but it’s out there now.

 

.

 

“You didn’t text back.” Gisele, who suddenly seemed to appear at Han’s bedside the night before the wedding, says.

 

“My coat’s in the bathroom.” Han responds, moving to make room for Gisele on his hotel bed.

 

“Winning?” Gisele asks of his solitaire game.

 

“No,” Han says, collecting the playing cards, “One last drink?”

 

“I wanted a cigarette, actually.”

 

“I’m clean.”

 

“I know,” Gisele grins.

 

Han grins back, taking Gisele in his arms as he lies back on the headboard.

 

“I was pacing across the room most of the night.” Han says softly, running his hand through Gisele’s hair as she lays her head on his shoulder. “You want me to talk? Or maybe you can tell me again why you like Indy more than Solo.”

 

“Maybe a little later,” Gisele chuckles. “Our parents seem to be getting along.”

 

“Yeah. First impressions. My dad has his bedside manner hat on, spilling random facts, or he’s nervous, I can’t tell sometimes.”

 

“You do that too.”

 

“Annoying.” Han mumbles out.

 

“Endearing. You always seem to pick the right moments...maybe annoying one in a million times, but I like those odds.” Gisele assures Han, giving light kisses to the nape of his neck.

                                   

“It’s not too soon. I’m sorry I questioned you on that. I was terrified.” Han says softly. “I can’t wait to marry you.”

 

“I had my moments, too. We question because we care, because it matters too much. I can’t wait to marry you.” Gisele echoes just as softly.

 

“You want me to bring you to your room?” Han asks a few moments later.

 

“They’ll know where I’ll be.” Gisele responds, “Han Lue over everyone. With his v-neck shirts, khaki pants, baseball hats, kind heart, wonderful spirit, the boy who had a mustang and a scowl, the man who loves me so much. Even when you’re too arrogant, too charming, too much of a neat-freak. I never stood a chance…”

 

And Han is completely tongue-tied once more, but in the best way, offering a kiss to Gisele’s forehead.

 

.

 

The bride and the groom hold hands at the altar, waiting for their turns to speak.

 

“I thought about you every day. Since the day we met. It wasn’t always positive, but you were there. I didn’t know it then, but I know it now. I love you so much. You make me happier than I ever thought I could be. It’s not perfect, and it shouldn’t be, but I will always want to spend the rest of my life being in love with you.” Gisele finishes, a lot calmer than she’d think she’d be.

 

Han squeezes her hands and takes a deep breath before saying his vows.

 

“The first time we kissed was miles from this spot. I also remember our second kiss, it was in this garden. A lot of people have first kisses and first ‘I love yous,’ but the next one and the ones after are what matter, and I don’t ever want them to stop because I never want to stop loving you.” And Han feels more calm than he’d think he’d be, nodding to the officiant to continue with the ceremony.

 

.

 

The reception had moved inside, with a handful of guests still enjoying the cool night air.

 

“Still here?” Dom asks Han with a smirk, surrounded by his family.

 

“We have the rest of our live, but all of us here together; who knows?” Han says as Gisele rallies her young friends/family outside for a shot, arms linked with Petra’s.

                                                                                             

“Thanks again for joining us on our special day. We love you all…” Gisele starts, getting emotional.

 

Han whispers ‘I got this,’ in his new bride’s ear before continuing, raising his small glass. “Here’s to us! To where we’ve been, to where we’re going! To who we are, who we’ll be, and who we’ll always be! To love! To life! To family! Cheers!”

 

“Cheers!” The small group chants, downing the liquid and getting emotional themselves, Mia hugging Brian, Dom, Letty, Tej and Roman exchanging fist-bumps with Philip, who’s clinging on to Marco, which commences in another round of hugs and shots with the bride and groom.

 

“This is where you all disappeared to,” Mr. Harabo comments with a grin, “These two wanted a dance with their favorite Aunt,” he says of his twin granddaughters a little later.

 

“Come dance with me, Mr. Uncle Han,” the more outgoing Abby says.

 

“I’d be honored. You guys were awesome out there.” Han says taking the girl’s hand, “Can I call you Abby or is it Miss Niece Abby?”

 

“We can all dance together,” Gisele says to the shyer Maggie, following her new groom, and her niece indoors.

 

.

 

“Great ceremony.” Raviv Harabo tells his younger sister.

 

“Thanks.” Gisele replies, swaying awkwardly with her brother after trading partners with her sister-in-law, “I heard your girls were great.”

 

“They practiced every day after you made them flower girls. I remember when you were their age.” The man says with a nostalgic tone. “You’re always going to be my little sister. We’ve had some rough times, but I’m never going to stop looking after you. Dad always says we share blood and we always will.

 

“We’re stubborn, but the important part is learning from it.” Gisele replies.

 

“We sound like them already,” Raviv says sarcastically disgusted, and just like that Gisele is reminded of her old brother, the person he’s always been.

 

.

 

“I saw you out there with the kids, new moves?” Gisele asks when she and Han are both dancing alone again, back outside under the twinkling stars.

 

“My little cousin is quite the dancer. I couldn’t let him show me up. You should have seen him walking down the aisle. I thought he was going to make a run for it with the rings.” Han jokes, speaking of his now eight-year old cousin Timothy who had a crush on Gisele. “He is half-Korean, if that matters.” 

 

“You always had some kind of rhythm,” Gisele says with a smile, moving to the faintness of the mid-tempo song.

 

“Can you imagine the embarrassment, chasing criminals all this time and what does you in is your husband stepping on your toes at the wedding.” Han jokes. “I didn’t account for the flats though.”

 

“I can’t wear my heels all night.” Gisele answers as Han twirls her around with one hand.

 

“Wouldn’t want to tire out before the real fun, huh?” Han says wagging his eyebrow.

 

“Don’t change too much.” Gisele responds with a heartfelt nod of her head.

 

“If you promise the same,” Han adds.

 

“I promise,” Gisele responds following with a long, soft, and passionate kiss.

 

 

N is for Next and Now

 

Gisele’s second case abroad after the wedding is another quick one, but it left its mark. She came home late the night before, and Han finally sees the black-blue-burgundy bruises on her back after she steps out of the shower the next morning. 

 

“It was a fence. It’s not as bad as it looks.” Gisele tries to reason.

 

“That’s what they all say.” Han mutters under his breath, frustrated and worried at the same time, pulling at his shoelaces.

 

They’re busy the rest of the day at their jobs, waiting for the storm to come.

 

“You didn’t tell me. You always tell me.” Han says when he gets home from work, struggling with removing his shoes, not bothering to look at Gisele.

 

Gisele puts down her book, but continues to pet their dog Russell.

 

“I’m usually healed by the time I see you. I stay back and do the other tasks if I can’t manage. This trip was shorter than expected.”

 

“Does it still hurt?” Han asks.

 

“I’m on painkillers.” Gisele nods a ‘no.’

 

This explanation doesn’t satisfy him.

 

“I’m going to be in the bath.” Han replies hoping the water could wash away more than the sweat of the late August heat

 

Han knew that their life is what it was, but he thought he’d get at least three months of newlywed bliss. His hands are shaking a little, he really wants a cigarette. He sits and sulks. He comes to his senses when he finally gets around to washing his hair, when the coconut shampoo fills his senses. His wife is hurting and he made it worse, he knows he needs to make it better.  

 

.

 

Gisele returns from her night workout to find Han in their small backyard digging.

 

“Hey Russell.” She greets the dog who sprints to her once she opens the sliding door, shaking his dirt-stained paws.

 

“I was going to plant you a garden of flowers after you came back from your first mission, back when we moved here. You came back early and it slipped my mind. Or maybe I was a little superstitious thinking you’d come back early if I kept my routine. Better late than never, I guess.”

 

“What are we planting?” Gisele asks, rolling up her pant-legs. 

 

“Japanese Irises. They’re not like the ones at our wedding, but they’re still purple. The florist said it should grow here, but if it doesn’t we can try something else.”

 

They scoop and dig in mostly silence, reading and re-reading the directions on the pamphlet, relaying information to each other.

 

When they finish, Gisele returns from the kitchen with a beer and water, handing the cold drink to her husband who’s watering the new plants.

 

“It still hurts when the medication wears off, but seeing you so worried hurt the most. If there’s anything I can do…”

 

“Another bath.” Han replies calmly, sitting down on the shady bench next to his wife, the sun was setting, but the humidity hadn’t ceased.

 

“Bathsalts? Bubbles?”

 

“Just you.” Han answers, gently embracing Gisele as they lean into each other. “Is this okay?” Han asks, placing his arm around her waist.

 

“Yes.”

 

 

O is for “Over their heads”

 

 “I met Petra when were seven, and now she’s having kids. It’s surreal.” Gisele says as she and Han are cleaning their motorcycles.

 

“Do you want to discuss having kids sooner?” Han asks, managing to catch Gisele’s eye.

 

“How do you know when you’re ready?” Gisele muses, lightly wringing the towel between her hands. “My parents weren’t expecting me, but they had my brother, so they raised a child before.”

“All I can say is that we’re at least financially secure. I know how much I say money doesn’t matter, but I never came close to the idea of children before. It helps. And if it happens soon, then it’s good to know our children will always have a roof over their heads.” Han finishes with a reassuring smile.

 

Gisele answers with a grateful smile and a nod, going back to her task.

 

 

P is for Phone Calls, Professions, and Parents

 

A very good day at work for Gisele meant an idle day this time. She called Han on his lunch break, and he was chipper as ever too.

 

His team was finishing the remodel on the Nissan named Mona Lisa. She told him about her boss wanting to thank him for helping out with a car-related issue, with dinner with their spouses, with Han telling her that they’ll do it the next time they’re not tied up.

 

She promises to call around the same time the next day.

 

..

 

Han was having an ordinary day until it started to turn, in a bad way.

 

So far Earl was getting along with his crew. But then Earl started reminding Han of Virgil when he got chatty, even through the British accent and much longer hair, and it sent chills down Han’s spine.

 

Han was hoping Gisele might come home early, but their phone call revealed the opposite. She had to stay off the grid, he couldn’t even call her burner phone, and she was going to miss Hanukkah and Christmas.

 

Han has to remind himself that she feels it too, so he goes back to his garage to get a head start on the next day’s work, and maybe check out a race later to see if there was anything new in the racing world.

 

..

 

The Lues were in Busan for the Christmas holiday, out shopping for gifts and other things they couldn’t find back home.

 

“Your dad used to work extra hours at a clinic when we sent you to summer camp. Children were out of school, or he’d treat teachers who were just getting by. Even though you two spent the rest of the summer together, it wasn’t enough for him. What he does is a noble thing. What Gisele does is too. Life is full of hard choices. It doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to feel sad, neglected, angry, and hurt, but I want you to see a different side. How amazing the people we married are.”

 

“I know, Ma.” Han answers quietly.

 

“Next time. Maybe not here, but we have to believe there’s more to come.” The woman says warmly.

 

“Gisele’d like it here, but she’d be just as happy for Seoul or Atlanta.” Han says, still softly, but feeling a little better.

 

“It’s because you’d me there with her.” The woman says sweetly, “We should go before the traffic gets too heavy.” She continues as she sees her husband make his way to them.

 

….

V. Back Home (2013)

 

Q is for Quixotic (idealistic, romantic, unrealistic, impractical, dreamy…)

 

Han was having a bad few weeks. Russell wasn’t feeling well. He’s reminded of what complete assholes grown-ups can be, how immature teenagers can be. He stubbed his toe, burnt his breakfast a few times. Gisele’s return erased all the negativity though. The mention of Tomas didn’t send his mind wandering to an insecure place like it has in the past.

 

“I saw Tomas when I stopped by.” Gisele tells Han at lunch a few days after she came back from her assignment, when he asks how Petra was coming along with the pregnancy.

 

“How is he?” Han asks of the man whom he’d met once, but whose face he had etched in his brain, or at least the perfect version his tipsy mind saw that night long ago.

 

“He seemed good. He moved to Prague.” Gisele says as she shrugs her shoulders.

 

“We should put it on our list of places to see; you know how I feel about spires.” Han replies casually.

 

“It’s a great city.” Gisele replies with a smile, seeing that her husband was just being completely honest, not chattering nervously, or passively undermining her ex.

 

..

 

“I know I just got back.” Gisele shares of the next assignment, the longest she’d be away since Tokyo. “I want to stay too. Our anniversary…” Gisele continues with a sigh as they get ready for bed.

 

“Your team needs you.” Han says supportively, fluffing his pillow. “We’ll celebrate when you get back.”

 

“I’m so lucky I found you,” Gisele says, kissing her husband “How about a very early birthday present? Anything you want.”

 

“I like you in anything.” Han responds, giving his wife a heated kiss.

 

“Nothing then?” Gisele answers with a lick to her lips.

 

“Surprise me.” Han says with a whisper in his wife’s ear, proceeding to nibble it.

 

..

 

Sean’s been working for Han awhile now and he’s beginning to think that Han’s wife might be a joke fabricated by his new friends.

 

“I don’t want to know what would have happened if Gisele witnessed that.” Twinkie said after Sean wrecked Han’s car.

 

Han wears an Atlanta Braves baseball cap and Sean thinks this might be where Han gets his spurts of politeness (a southern thing); maybe he’s stereotyping, but he doesn’t have much to work with. Twinkie says that Han lost his dog recently, and that helps with the puzzle.

 

When he finally meets Gisele she’s understandably a wreck as her husband is fighting for his life. The look in her eyes and the tone behind her voice is unmistakable, though, there’s a lethalness behind it all, as well as disappointment that he’s experienced before and he feels absolutely terrible all over again.

 

Han’s death is confirmed soon after. Sean knows he needs to set things right, quit running and face the consequences of his actions.

 

There’s a tight turnaround to get ready for the race with Takashi. All his new friends help him (for Han), and he manages to win.

 

He meets an old friend of Han’s who tells him the truth. Sean still feels terrible that he put Han in harm’s way, no matter how much Dom says they couldn’t have seen it coming, how the guy was an expert. Sean can’t shake the look on Gisele’s face. He vows again to keep his word, and try his best to live his life as a better man.

 

 

R is for Revenge

R is for Rashly (hastily, impulsively, recklessly…)

R is for Rio (“River” in Portuguese and Spanish)

R is for Rio de Janeiro (“January River,” a city in Brazil)   

R is for Real 

 

It all happens so fast. There’s a call and then Gisele’s at the hospital at Han’s side. He’s burnt, bandaged, and unconscious.

 

It all happens so slowly. She doesn’t know how long she’s been at the hospital.

 

She prays more than she thinks she has in her life because she doesn’t know what else to do.

 

Gisele finally meets this Sean kid who’s made an impression on her husband. He apologizes profusely, explains what happened. Her mind is racing; all she can think to do is tell Twinkie to get the boy with an accent out of her vicinity because she can’t account for her fists, even if it was the other Shaw’s fault, even if Han chose to help Sean, she can’t offer Sean sympathy right now.

 

The reports trickle in and they officially connect the dots. The same high-tech bombs were found at the DSS office in Downtown Los Angeles, at the Torettos in East Los Angeles, and near Han’s car in Tokyo. Hobbs confirms Shaw’s identity and plan. Gisele decides that they have to fake Han’s death to keep him safe.

 

It’s all fast again after that. She remembers Dom calling, she remembers calling the Lues. It’s today here and yesterday there, and her mind is a mess trying to jungle everything with so little sleep.

 

Her body finally gives in, drooping eyes taking over. When she wakes up she compartmentalizes, focusing on the task at hand, does her best to convince herself that it is their only option, that everyone who loves Han will understand her choice.

 

Then Han (still unconscious) is sheltered away with the best security and health care. It’s coffee (stale hospital tasting) and salt (her sweat, her tears) again when she kisses him because he’s “Han from Rio,” and she wants it to be a good sign, not a bad omen. She thinks about their last kiss, the morning she left for her previous assignment months ago. He was groggy from sleep, bad breathed, just normal, just perfect.

 

Seeing her in-laws in person cuts right into her. Gisele lied and said Han’s body was burnt beyond repair. Dom took her word when he came to bring Han home. She thinks she should have waited longer, believed that her love was going to come out of the coma sooner, and that she acted too rashly. 

 

Everyone consoles her at the funeral. But her other family don’t question her when she shows up at Mr. Nobody’s work base. They know she can’t sit this one out.

 

Some nights she cries herself to sleep. Some nights she's just numb, unable to shed a single tear. Other nights she is calm, believing that they’ll all get through this alive and well.

 

Han wakes up in the midst of everything, but she still has a job to do. She can’t even call him properly; the only risk she takes is recording him a message to tell him that she’ll explain everything when they see each other again. 

 

Everything is slow again, but then it’s finally over.

 

Gisele cries when she sees Han again. Han’s in tears himself, muttering about how he thought she was just a dream. They clutch each other tightly as they can, Gisele reassuring him that it’s all real.

 

And she feels whole again.

 

.

                         

“You ready to go home?” She asks some time later.

 

“Yes.” He replies, and then they’re in Los Angeles.

 

 

S is for Sometimes, Sorry, and Sorrow

 

Han’s parents stare at their son in disbelief. Moments pass before they embrace their son, crying and whispering prayers and thanks.

 

Han’s staunchly defending his wife, of how Gisele feels pain too, having this burden on her, to never blame Gisele, vague details about his involvement in London that led to all this, said she was only doing her job.

 

And Gisele feels like she did again at the hospital, helpless and overwhelmed because she doesn’t think she deserves to be the center of his attention right now, that sometimes the means don’t justify the ends.

 

Gisele starts to leave the room when her father-in-law stops her to give her a rare hug, trying his best to control his tears. “Thank you.”

 

Gisele can only nod as she pats the man’s back.

 

.

 

“I don’t want to be angry with you. Not on the day I get my son back, but I can’t help how I feel.” Mrs. Lue confides in Gisele later that evening. “Perhaps in time. I know you love him and he loves you and that will never change.”

 

Gisele wanted to tell Mrs. Lue that she loves him even more now, but she couldn’t in that moment, perhaps in time she will.

 

 

T is for Thankful and Trust

 

Their other family is equally stunned at Han’s presence.

 

Mia goes in for a hug first, “Is that really you? Thank God.”

 

Han does the rounds, hugging everyone.

 

“You owe me a car.” Letty embraces Han with a hug.

 

“You cheat?” Han asks in a friendly manner.

 

“Would I have gone for spades?” Letty asks, scrunching her eyebrow.

 

“You knew I wouldn’t have.” Han answers.

 

“Maybe you would have that time, and you’re really calling me out in front of everyone, five minutes in. Don’t I owe you a broken jaw?”

 

“I wasn’t going to get sympathy for coming back from the dead, was I? Han says with a laugh, giving her a full bear hug now. “Welcome back yourself. I’ll build you a car from the ground up if that’s what you want.”

 

“He does keep talking about this rugged handsomeness, but through the flames and still barely a scratch on his pretty face.” Gisele says with ease for the first time in what seemed like forever to her.

 

.

 

They sit around the dinner table at Dom and Letty’s temporary rental house, having drinks before the pizza arrive.

 

“I’m sorry I kept you guys in the dark.” Gisele says apologetically.

 

Han sits down next to Gisele, giving her hand a gentle squeeze.

 

“You did what you had to do.” Brian says. “Witness protection.”

 

“Two of us. Dead then alive,” Tej remarks, “Some superhero shit!”

 

“A time like this, y’all should be making babies. Got another one on the way,” Roman gestures to Brian and Mia, “Letty and Dom have been married all this time, and now she’s got her memory back. And my boy is alive and kicking,” He pats Han on the shoulder, “And if we’re talking Godparents –who got out of dodge and cleared the way for you two to get together?”

 

Han and Gisele look at each other and smile, she caresses his hand, and offers a “We’ll see.”

 

Dom smirks, “Salud!” he raises his bottle “Mi familia.” And that’s all he needs to say right now.  

 

 

 U is for Unknown, Unit, and Utility.

 

Gisele wonders what Letty remembers of her, and she confirms her curiosity some time later.

 

“You saved me after the drop when Fenix tried to kill me. I wasn’t sure until now.”

 

“I left you there for Braga and Shaw,” Gisele says with an ashamed sigh.

 

“I got myself into it in the first place. You took me to the hospital, you can’t take that back.”

 

“I heard things. I thought they were empty threats. He didn’t seem like the type.”

 

“You were right in a way. He didn’t pull the trigger himself, even Fenix hesitated. That’s between me and you; no one ever has to know.” Letty says. 

 

Gisele thinks back to the New Year’s celebration before the wedding, when they found out that Han was an only child. How the gang playfully lectured her of treating their brother right.

 

She thinks that the “real” Letty would have seen the good in her even if she had known the whole ordeal with Tomas, and everything else, after a real-and-thorough-nonempty warning, of course. They were all family after all.

 

 

V is for Vacation and Virgil

 

Han and Gisele are currently residing at a lake house near Los Angeles. It’s the opposite of the heart of busy urban Tokyo. It’s what Han wanted after being confined in a hospital-like place. The air feels great in his lungs; he doesn’t smell burnt things anymore.

 

It’s peaceful, serene, and perfect for getting Han’s body back in order and he feels it in his head too, but sometimes all Han wants more than anything is to sit behind the wheel and take a long drive, but his body won’t let him. 

 

It feels like home again when he finally makes it through a long drive. Not quite home like Gisele, but pretty close.

 

.

 

Gisele takes time off work (“A well deserved break.” Hobbs said, her boss agreed), and then a little more time.

 

They’re celebrating their wedding anniversary, Han’s recovery, and Gisele doesn’t want it to end.

 

“Cancel your plans if you have any.” Han says out of the blue one day.

 

Hours later they’re at an apartment complex in San Francisco. Han switches the engine off, stretches his tired limbs.

 

“My cousin Virgil lives here. What made me leave California. What I was a part of, Virgil was too. He didn’t take it very well…I hear he’s okay now. I need to see for myself.”

 

Han had only told Gisele vague details about Steve. He said he was only a small part of a larger story. That he felt like it was snitching, and he couldn’t do that. How he was lucky.

 

“I was here for a day back when I went on the surfing trip. Part of me wanted to just run in to Virgil so it would be over, and I could try really moving on.” Han says with a sigh. “My cousin Earl looks like him when he was younger. That’s why I get weird sometimes when he’s around.”

 

Watching over Earl was one way Han tried to make amends, accept that his choices led to Steve’s death, that it didn’t just happen, but Earl wasn’t Virgil.

 

“When you’re ready.” Gisele says softly, caressing his arm.

 

They knock on Virgil’s door about ten minutes later. Han rearranges his baseball cap. His hair is as short as it’s ever been, fitting he thinks. He lost half of it in the explosion, left side singed, and he keeps it at a buzz cut for now as it is easier to apply the ointment to treat the burn marks and scaring.

 

“We were ready to kick you out of the group,” Tej teases when Han removes his cap for the first time.

 

“I was making up for the rest of you guys, but fate stepped in.” Han jokes back. “Jack’s got the mantle now, right kid?” He says, grinning at the boy and ruffling his hair. 

 

When the door opens what stood before them is a slightly older man, a little baby-faced, and skinny. His eyes are visible haunted. Virgil smiles and his goofy grin resurfaces, and then he’s a like the old Virgil Han remembers.

 

They sit and catch up, make small talk.

 

“Are you guys staying in town?”

 

“We weren’t sure, maybe a few days.” Han answers, looking at Gisele for confirmation.

 

“Why don’t I drive around and try to look for a hotel. Then maybe we can all go out to dinner.” Gisele suggests.

 

Han hands over the car keys, and Gisele leaves the two to really talk.

 

.

 

Virgil hadn’t really even processed his older cousin’s death yet when Han called to see if it was okay if he stopped by.

 

“It was the only thing that I could do. Run.”

 

“I tried to run from my life.” Virgil says ashamed, but resigned. “It’s not easy for me to see you, either.”

 

“It’s selfish. I know. You’re stronger than I’ve ever given you credit for. I’ll stay away from you if that’s what you want,” Han says.

 

“I thought I was going to cry when I saw you. Even in front your wife. I was at your funeral, man. I’ve been getting my life back on track, trying to move on. I’m selfish too. We’ll have dinner tonight, but that’s going to be it for now.”

 

“Thanks,” is all Han can say.

 

.

 

Gisele and Han are at a motel on the way back to L.A. when Han feels a jolt in his right arm again. It occurs every now and then (and even years later), a burst of heat like his arm is on fire, or sometimes a freezing cold numbing sensation, the doctors say it’s in his head.

 

He’s trying not to think about the burn marks from the car explosion that reach his neck, the shards of glass that bore into his neck, but the scars and the stitches remind him. It reminds him to be grateful, of how the right side of his body is untouched, sans his forearm. He can still walk and talk.

 

“You were right. Some things can’t be fixed.” Han says.

 

“You’ve always known that. And it doesn’t stop me from wanting to fix things, either.” Gisele replies.

 

“Lucky and stupid,” Han says quietly, “They said I moved right on time, just before the paramedics arrived. I remembered the picture of you I had in my glove compartment. The last thing I remember is reaching for it. It could have been worst on that side.”

 

“It wasn’t.” Gisele replies, getting contemplative herself, “I’m the reason you’re in Tokyo. I forced Hobbs’ hand on the job location. I didn’t ask you, and then I leave for months at a time. I missed our Wedding Anniversary. I’m the one who’s lucky and stupid.”

 

“I’m the reason you’re in Tokyo. You make the hard choices, I could never…Twink, Reiko, Sean, Earl. I looked after them out of guilt, no matter how much I tell myself otherwise.”

 

“That might be how it started, but it’s not how it has to end. Everything I ever did or didn’t do still led me to you. I love you so much.” Gisele says, cradling Han’s face, and he doesn’t answer with words, but a kiss. Hard. Intense. Soft. Sweet. Relief.

 

                                                              .

 

“Cheetos? Lots of Cheetos.” Han remarks when he sees a cache of the small snack bags of the cheesy chip in Gisele’s bag as she’s driving the rest of the way to L.A.

 

“I’ve missed four years of half-birthdays now. I hope this is a good start. It’s our tradition after all.” Gisele takes a quick glance at her husband at the red light. “Or half-Wedding Anniversary.”

 

“You bought me the whole row?” Han says in an appreciative tone, referring to the vending machine at the motel.

 

“I should have left one? Shouldn’t I have?” Gisele says with concern.

 

“No,” Han laughs, staring at his thoughtful, caring, and wonderful wife “It’s perfect.” He continues, placing a kiss to Gisele’s cheek before he tears into his favorite snack.

 

.

 

Gisele would receive her belated half-birthday gift weeks later, another journal. The inscription this time said this:

 

To Gisele,

 

For your next adventures. For our next adventures.

 

The traditional first anniversary gift is paper, so here it is. But this is it. Don’t hark on missing our anniversary anymore.  I’m putting my foot down on that one.

 

P.S. Let’s go skiing! Maybe we can go surfing in the winter?

 

Love,

Han

 

                                                              .         

 

“Let’s go home.” Han says a few days later.

 

And Gisele knows Han means Tokyo this time. And she knows they’ll be telling Sean that Han’s alive.

 

Then they’re back in their other home, Tokyo, living their lives.

 

 

W is for "The World Is All There Is,"  a song by Los Angeles based band Fool’s Gold, sung in Hebrew.

 

Lyrics include (translation):

 

The world is not deaf

The world is not stupid

The world is not scared

The world is not burning

The world is all there is

 

..

 

X is for X, the Roman numeral that represents the number 10.

 

..

 

Y is for “Y,” a letter in the modern English alphabet. It can represent a vowel or a consonant.

 

..

 

Z is for Zephyr*, from the Merriam-Webster dictionary: noun;

1

a :  a breeze from the west

b :  a gentle breeze

2

:  any of various lightweight fabrics and articles of clothing

 

*Named derived from Zephyros (Zephyrus), the Greek God of the west winds and spring. In some versions he’s married to Iris, the swift-footed Goddess most associated with the rainbow.

 

 

Z is for “Zero Hour,” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary: noun;

1

a :  the hour at which a planned military operation is scheduled to start

b :  the time at which a usually significant or notable event is scheduled to take place

2:  a time when a vital decision or decisive change must be made

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: Ten Second Cars (Part 3)

 

....

VI. The Fast and the Furry Thing (2014)

 

...

 

1) Juveniles in January

 

..

 

“I, uh, didn’t know anyone would be here,” Sean stammers, holding the door ajar as a streak of gray enters the garage, “I’ll come back later.”

 

“No need. I’m almost done,” Gisele replies, KC/DC, the black-striped cat pawing at the woman’s legs.

 

“Thanks for telling me about Han. Letting me stay,” Sean says as he sands a salvaged car shell.

 

“Telling you was for Han, too,” Gisele replies, zipping her jacket, and then speaks to the waiting cat, “I’ll see you in a few days, girl.”

 

“Sean,” Gisele addresses, “we’re having dinner around here, probably the yakitori place, call if want to join in.”

 

“Thanks, but I got plans with Neela and my dad.”

 

“Next time.”

 

“Next time,” Sean nods and smiles as the cat meows and sidles up to his feet.

 

..

 

“What’s the word on the streets?” Sean asks, assembling a makeshift table.

 

“The usual,” Earl answers, arranging chairs, “identical twins, a cousin, international superspy.”

 

“My people in America say all the stories are true,” Twinkie chimes, opening takeout containers, “that Dom guy had a team, more than just racing too.”

 

“Respect their wishes,” Reiko states, biting into her chicken yakitori, and then, “maybe he’s just a racing mechanic, and she’s a racing cop…detective…diplomat…”

 

...

 

2) Fourteenth in February

 

..

 

“Interesting way to spend Valentine’s,” Roman chatters from the backseat while on stakeout with Gisele, Han, and Elena in Hong Kong, “you all are solid, but our boy Tej-“

 

“Dom’s in,” Letty interrupts through the walkie-talkie.

 

“Copy,” Gisele replies, brow furrows, “seven minutes?”

 

“Four minute cushion?” Elena adds.

 

“Make it ten total,” Han says, popping another piece of gum in his mouth.

 

“Check your phones for a sync up of the floor plan,” Tej walkies in, “there are two safes. We’re going to need Han on one. Ramsey’s in the bathroom to equip you with an earpiece. Roman, you’re the getaway, Leo and Santos will be the other.”

 

“Got it,” Han confirms.

 

“Let’s go, ladies,” Letty signals.

 

“I’ll see you soon,” Gisele tells Han softly, “be careful.”

 

“This is what we do,” Han replies tenderly.

 

..

 

“Interesting Valentine’s,” Han says, leaning on their rental car as he and Gisele watch the sun rise by the bay on a gloomy Kowloon morning.

 

Gisele nods, “How’s the wrist?”       

 

“It’ll be alright. The smoking and the junk food’s catching up to me. Your leg?”

                                                          

“Still holding up,” Gisele replies, gliding her hands further into her jacket pockets. Han places his trench coat on Gisele, his hands on the small of her back as she rests her head on his shoulder and then continues, choked up, “and you’re okay. Alive.”

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Han replies as he rubs her back.

 

...

 

3) Mozart, Mahler, or Mendelssohn in March

 

..

           

“You like Felix, don’t you?” Han encourages, petting the charcoal/white furred Siberian husky.

 

 “Mo? Gus? Johann Sebastian Bark?” Gisele chuckles, meeting its eyes, one blue and the other brown.

 

“Don’t confuse him, he howls,” Han injects, “it also means happy and lucky.”

 

“You like Felix?” The fluffy thing responds with a lick to Gisele’s palm, “Felix it is.”

 

“His full name was Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy.”

 

“Don’t confuse him,” Gisele teases, scratching the pup’s ears.

 

...

 

4) Auto mechanics in April  

 

..

 

“She runs great,” Han says to Sean after he test drives his birthday present from the crew, a remodel of Han’s Nissan Silvia, the colors were inversed, orange with blue accents.

 

“I could never repay you --for everything.”

 

“It’s not like that maybe for the first car you trashed, but…” Han shrugs off, watching Gisele ‘teach’ Felix soccer with the rest of the gang, “You name this thing?”

 

“Mona Lisa II?” Sean drawls out.

 

“You know nothing about women,” Han laughs…

 

...

 

5) Mountains in May

 

..

 

“I think we should start trying for a baby,” Gisele blurts out on the drive to Nikko for their wedding anniversary weekend.

 

Han cranes his neck, exchanging a grin with Gisele, “Let’s have a baby.”

 

...

 

6) Jaded in June

 

..

 

 “It’s okay,” Gisele wraps her arms around a shaking Han, “Babe, I’m here.”

 

“They took the bandages off the day after I got your message. You had a ring and I didn’t. I had all these memories of you and me, the wedding, tanks, Greece, vaults of money and I couldn’t tell what was real,” Han sniffles out, on the night he sees Gisele again after what turned out to be an attack by a Shaw.

 

“They gave me my ring back a few days later. They had to take it off for the surgery. The relief I felt, I can’t describe…”

 

“I love you,” Gisele tearfully replies, kissing his ring finger, “this is real.”

 

...

 

7) Jet Lag in July

 

..

           

“She’s a beauty,” Han’s Uncle Dan remarks about the car Han’s been remodeling for an auto show.

 

“A knockout when I’m finished,” Han replies, setting his cell phone in the cup holder, and then pulling out of the garage.

 

“Scott’s driving. Legally. He wants to take a road trip cross country by the end of the summer. Drag his brother with him to see their sister in New York.”

 

“Never too soon?” Han muses.

 

“Car gene,” The man jokes, “How about you? Kids anytime soon?”

 

“Hopefully. Felix keeps our hands full, right Felix? You’re going to love fishing, boy.” 

 

..


“Did I wake you, boy?” Gisele whispers, returning home from a work conference abroad.

 

“Felix. Howling,” Han responds, as the growing dog licks at Gisele’s ankles, lying back down at the foot of the bed.

 

“Did my boys enjoy L.A.?”

 

“Mmmh,” Han mumbles sleepily, spooning Gisele, “We missed you.”

 

“So did I.”

 

...

 

8) Adults in August

 

..

 

“I’ve got my German mother in one ear, and my Argentine father in the other,” Philip says over dinner at Petra and Marco’s in Zurich when Gisele and Han stop by after a trip to Vienna.

 

“I don’t know how many more of those I can live through,” the man who drove down from Munich complains.

 

“Now you have a licensed psychologist to help you through it,” Gisele proposes.

 

“I might have to start charging,” Petra deadpans, and then resigned, “Czech Republic has only been in one World Cup so far as a nation, and they went out the first round in 2006.”

 

“Italia!” Marco cheers.

 

“Do not –that semi-final,” Philip starts.

 

“The U.S. has been there from the start and the best they’ve done is third place at the first one,” Han chimes in.

 

“Czechoslovakia was runner-up twice…”

 

Gisele sits with her friends’ fifteen-month old Sonja in her arms thinking about how sports were universal, especially football, but how Han managed to find Tej and Twinkie, fellow Atlanta Braves and Falcons fans continents apart was something else.

 

...

 

9) Stork in September   

 

..

 

“Orange? Neon orange?” Han ponders looking at the chipped paint in the indoor go-kart track.

 

“Han,” Gisele softly announces, “I’m pregnant.”

 

Han stops short, eyes widening, “Yeah?”

 

“Yes,” Gisele beams in disbelief, “my doctor just called. We’re having a baby.”

 

“We’re having a baby.” Han maneuvers around boxes, lifting and spinning Gisele in celebration, “What do we do now?”

 

...

 

10) Obviously in October

 

..

 

“Come in,” Gisele responds to the knock on the ajar walk-in closet door, zipping the red boots of her Halloween costume.

 

“Wow…” Han glazes over the gold emblem on red, white-stars on blue of her one-piece.

 

“Indy?” Gisele smirks at Han in a tan button-up shirt, khakis, and high-topped fedora, confirming the silhouette on the wall.

 

 “It was always going to happen. Just keeping you on your toes.”

 

“Good surprise?” Gisele clips on the second shiny bracelet, posing with her hands on her hips.

 

“You keep raising the bar, but this might be it,” Han states, putting on a leather jacket.

 

“And when she gets a new costume in the movie?”

 

“That counts, too, obviously. Wonder Woman and Indiana Jones, I can see that,” Han wraps Gisele in his arms as he continues smoothly, “the bullwhip and the lasso of truth, the headgear, fighting Nazis.”

                     

“Wonder Woman could kick Indiana Jones’ ass.”

 

“Obviously, but can she resist Temple of Doom Indy? Shirtless and sweaty. Your favorite,” Han winks, tipping his hat askew to kiss Gisele.

 

“You’re so lucky my sex drive so high right, now–” Gisele murmurs, deepening the kiss as she unbuttons Han’s shirt, mustering something about being late to the neighbor’s party.

           

...

 

11) Nest in November 

 

..

 

“Twins. Twins,” Han repeats with nervous excitement, slumping down on the armchair.

 

 “Do we need a bigger place sooner?” Gisele questions, sitting down on the nearby sofa.

 

“I bought a house…” Han reveals, “land too, actually.”

 

“When? Where?”

 

 “Near the lake house from last year, I discovered it when I visited my parents. Brian was going to help me to fix it up since he’s been doing the habitat for humanity thing. It’s suppose to be a surprise.”

 

“Okay,” Gisele replies slowly.

 

“For a vacation home,” Han clarifies, slowly pacing, “I don’t want you to think I’m pressuring you to move there or anything now that it’s twins, even if the vet says Felix is on the smaller side. We can or somewhere else...”

 

 “Tell me about the house,” Gisele says smiling as she stands and stills Han’s movements.

 

...

 

12) Dinner in December

 

..

 

“He’s not coming,” Sean says blankly to Neela when he picks her up at her job at the bakery.

 

“Let’s drive around,” Neela replies, with sympathy and irritation.

 

..

 

“I got into Newcastle,” Earl shares, “I’m going to Seoul next month. Uncle Joon set me up with a job at the shipping business for extra money. I’m going to stay with his family and grandma until school starts.”

 

“How’s your Korean?” Han inquires, topping the cooler with ice.

 

“Good. My Parents,” Earl takes a moment, stirring the ice, “they wanted me to learn. I guess it stuck.”

 

“Come back to see us when you can. We’ll go visit, too.”

 

“I will.”

 

..

 

“You made it,” Han greets Sean and Neela.

 

“The guys texted. Congrats on the twins,” Sean smiles. 

 

“Congratulations,” Neela reiterates, “thanks for having us.”

 

“You’re always welcome,” Gisele replies.

 

.....

.....

 

VII. 2.5 Kids… (2015)

 

....

 

13) Brian in Winter

 

Brian is not invincible, but he feels that way sometimes. He thinks he’s screwed up so many times in his life that he shouldn’t be where he is today, but he is. 

 

Brian will always miss the bullets in some respects, it’s made him the man he is today, and it led him to the love of his life, the center that holds him together. Dom may have given him the wake-up call to question his life, but Mia is the one that keeps him going.

 

Mia is the strongest and most loving person he’s had the pleasure of knowing. And his son and his daughter are the lights of his life as well. They look at him like he’s the greatest father in the world. Maybe Brian wouldn’t let himself believe it the first time with Jack, but their little girl Cassandra Jessica (C.J.) has that same belief in her eyes, and that makes him feel safer than he thinks he’s ever felt.

 

Normalcy isn’t bad most of the time, but he’s not blind to the adventures his family takes without him. It’s classified information, but he can’t help but wonder what they’re all up to, occasionally Roman lets details slip, but even he’s gotten more professional in his age.

 

Brian’s human. He’s trying for his whole family.

 

...

 

14) “And Mama loves you two, too.”

 

..

 

“Here,” Han helps Gisele get up from the bed, “let me—”

 

“Shut—don’t touch me,” Gisele recoils, frustrated, muttering in German “I should just live in the bathroom…”

 

..

 

“Thanks again for meeting with the contractors. I’m feeling better, but Han won’t leave my side,” Gisele tells Brian via webcam.

 

“Dad! I’m ready,” Jack O’Conner yells from the kitchen.

 

“Gotta take the future marine biologist to the aquarium,” Brian chuckles, “it sat for years, a little longer won’t hurt. Anything else, Mia?”

 

Mia zips up the baby bag and stoops down level with the laptop, “Call me, for anything.”

 

“I’ll try. Thank you. Take care.”

 

..

 

“…‘B’ is for ‘banana,’ B-A-N-A-N-A-N-A-N…thaaat’s wrong,” Han chortles, “let’s do it again.”

 

“Say goodnight, Daddy. Sleep is also very important for your Daddy, too.”

 

“Goodnight. I love you two.” Han yawns out.

 

“And Mama loves you two, too,” Gisele says, rubbing her rounded stomach.

 

...

 

15) Letty in Spring

 

Letty’s coming up on two years of regaining her memories and sometimes she wishes she didn’t remember everything. The bad memories help build her, but the very, very, bad memories can keep her up at night.

 

Sometimes it feels like she’s skipped ahead too many steps. She’s married just like that. Mia has a baby, with the Buster no less, just like that. Han, her sort of older-but-also-younger brother, even finds his true love, just like that.

 

Some days she wants to rebuild her life slowly, one day at a time, one car at a time. Dom’s there by her side on the slow days, and the fast ones too.

 

.

 

16) “…and let it be.”

 

..

 

“I’m leaning towards the one that starts with ‘A’,” Han says of the spelling of their daughter’s name.

 

“One ‘L’?” Gisele adds, putting her feet in Han’s lap, and digging into her burger topped with wasabi peas.       

 

“Ethan or…E-t-a-n. ‘Ay’ like ‘hay’ and ‘tahn’ like ‘on.’ Is that correct? Close? No ‘th’ sound in Hebrew?” Han asks as he thumbs through his tablet, “Gisele?”

 

Gisele nods, looking away from the TV, “There’s also one spelling that starts with an ‘A’ if we’re matching.” 

           

“Or we could just putt all the spellings in a bowl or cup, pick it out and let it be,” Han shrugs, putting the electronic down to rub Gisele’s feet.

 

..

 

“Heeheeheehee. Heee, Heehh. Awooo!” The dog continues to whimper, running up and down the stairs, to the kitchen and back to Gisele on the sofa, looks between Gisele’s face and stomach, gently pawing, “Eeemm. Emm.”

 

“Oh. They’re just kicking, pal. It’s normal. It can be uncomfortable, but not right now. ” Gisele rubs the dog’s head, offering a reassuring smile, “Now there are two babies growing inside me.”

 

..

 

“What did you do this time?” Han asks, “I’ve never seen her turn down a race.”

 

“This is go-karts,” Dom deflects, playing amusement, “and people change.”

 

“People grow,” Han offers.

 

Unofficially. We may have been in Bangkok…”

 

..

 

“There’s a first aid kit under the bathroom sink,” Gisele motions at her own shoulder area.

 

Letty looks down, seeing the splotch of blood on her tank top, “Thanks.”

 

“Would you mind giving me a hand?” Letty asks a few minutes later, needle in hand, “can’t do it with my left.”

 

“I thought about joining the army,” Letty comments, Gisele stitching up Letty’s right shoulder, “It felt like the only real way out at the time. I thought I’d at least get combat training out of it or something.”

 

“Mmmh,” Gisele agrees, applying alcohol, “from what I’ve seen, you seem to have made your way to that your own way.”

 

..

 

17) Roman in Summer

 

Roman didn’t think he’d ever make it out of Barstow, California.

 

The years he spent locked up hardened him, but the core of who he is doesn’t disappear entirely. He finally feels like he can breathe again, not like when he was tied down with an ankle monitor or felt the need to scarf everything in sight because the next meal might be his last good one.

 

He’s staying more at his penthouse in Macau, a daytrip to Tokyo and back is accessible just across the water and his place in Vegas is a little over an hour by plane to Los Angeles, hours to Miami.

 

The idea of a future is more tangible now and he finds himself investing, launching a luxury limo and yacht rental company, but he thinks he might be more excited about becoming an uncle again. He knows firsthand that some people aren’t fit to be parents. He thinks he might fit that bill, so he decides that he’ll be a good uncle at the very least. 

 

... 

 

 

18) “And I’m a dad.”

                         

..

 

“Han, it’s time.”

 

 “Bag…coat?”

 

“For later,” Gisele answers, putting on her shoes.

 

“Right, shoes,” Han says, slipping on his own pair, “let’s go.”

 

“Let’s go,” Gisele anxiously smiling, taking Han’s hand, “You need me to drive?”

 

..

 

“…she’s still in labor, Ma.”

 

“I know you’re heart must be pounding,” Han’s rigid frame slumps and leans against the brick wall of hospital, as his mother continues, “But I know you’re up to the challenge. You married a strong woman, and either she has a line ready to back her up, or she’s tougher because she had to watch her own back.”

 

“I know, Ma,” Han breathes out, “I’ll keep you updated. Bye.”

 

..

 

“I’m hot, and I’m cold, and-” Gisele trembles.

 

“I know you are scared. I know it can feel like it will never end, and it might let your mind wander even more, but it’ll be worth it, I promise you,” Ahava Harabo wipes the sweat from her daughter's forehead.

 

Han returns with another chair, embracing Gisele when her mother departs.

 

Han scoots his chair closer to the hospital bed, kissing Gisele’s forehead, cheek, and then her hands, gently clutching them, locking gazes as they wait.

 

..

 

“Look at them,” Gisele grins; cradling their baby boy in her arms, breathless, “I love you all so much.” 

 

“You’re a mom. And I’m a dad,” Han whispers, overcome with emotion, “beautiful Alona. I’m going to love you and your brother forever. And keep you safe…”

 

..

 

“Hello. It’s Grandma Harabo. It’s nice to meet you, Etan,” The older woman says in a mixture of Hebrew and English to the newborn.

 

“You forget how small someone can be,” James Harabo says, cradling Alona, “she’s got your nose, Gisele.”

 

..

 

“Call if you need babysitters,” Reiko offers, balloons in hand.

 

“Two at a time,” Twinkie amends, waving a stuffed bear around.

 

“Maybe three,” Sean suggests.

 

..

 

“The Godfather thing –I was out of line. Emotions, you know,” Roman says, watching the twins sleep in their bassinettes.

 

“You’re Goduncle,” Han replies.

 

“For real?” The bald man envelopes the couple in a group hug. 

 

“Honorary title,” Gisele confirms, patting the man’s back.

 

“Do I pick one or –?” Roman whispers after a beat.

 

..

 

“So beautiful,” Su-mi Lue says of the weeks old children, taking turns holding the two with her husband.

 

“Twins are a little smaller than single births. They are coming along,” Tae Lue adds.

 

...

 

19) Mia in Fall

 

Mia couldn’t have imagined that her life would be what it was ten years ago.

 

She had sparse contact with her fugitive brother who was making his way away from her. Then Letty returned with renewed life back in her. Her old friend was convinced that everything would be as it was, better even. But then she was gone again.

 

Maybe a part of her resented her brother for wanting a medical career for her, and nursing school was a more practical way to cope and move on after everyone split, but now she thinks it was always somewhere inside her because she loves what she does at the clinic.

 

She thought she’d have children, but she never thought it would be with a man who betrayed her family, who left her alone to pick up the pieces after her family fell apart. The guy who got his face thrown against a car window for picking a fight is now the man who throws himself on another window to protect their son.

 

She thinks if Jack is half the man that his Uncle Dom is then their girl C.J. will be so lucky.

 

Brian just needed time. He’s working on it, and so is she. And so are they, together.

 

...

 

20) “And the sides.”

 

..

 

“So, real half-birthday or our traditional month-early-half-birthday-because-someone-got-ahead-of-himself-and-miscalculated?” Han jokes as he demonstrates building blocks on the floor.

 

“Wah-blah,” Ethan sounds, pointing at Felix, to which his dad responds whistling for the dog.

 

“What does my girl think?” Gisele grins, brushing a stray hair from the tot’s forehead. Alona smiles back, tugging at her mother’s hair.

 

“She wants both,” Han laughs, prompting Ethan to giggle uncontrollable.

 

..

 

“Say ‘Hi,’ guys,” Mia tells the family assembled at Tej’s in Miami.  Brian and Jack wave with mouths full of pie, C.J. O’Conner waves and claps excitedly.

 

“Happy Thanksgiving” Gisele replies, helping a just awaken Alona wave as Ethan looks on from his high chair.

 

“You missed out, man. The turkey was a-ma-zing,” Roman supplies.

 

“And the sides,” Tej adds.

 

“Next time,” Han yawns, measuring coffee beans.

 

 

21) James Harabo in Winter, Again

 

James Harabo has seen a lot in his life, but it’s what he doesn’t or can’t that can bother him.

 

For as long as he can remember he’s told himself that the world would not stop for him. Maybe it’s old age, but he’s finally really listening, really feeling it, when his wife tells him, “but I will,” like she always has.

 

“You know what I like about winter?” James tells Gisele in Hebrew. “It comes twice a year. You’re supposed to make mistakes in life. Even the big ones can be overcome. They’ll be a fresh start soon or time, to get it as right as you can. Remember that.”

 

“I’ll try.” Gisele replies as she hugs her dad goodbye to start her military service. 

 

His relationship with his children is better now, and he knows he owes a great debt to his amazing wife. He sees her patience, her forgiveness, her truthfulness carry on in them.

 

Sometimes he still can’t comprehend that his son and daughter are all grown up and have children of their own, even after he’s held his first, second, and now third and fourth grandchild in his arms.

 

...

 

22) “and a treehouse.”

 

..

 

“He looks so much like Han,” Gisele says admiring the framed pictures of the twins with their parents’ baby pictures side-by-side from Han’s Grandma Choi, in Seoul.

 

“Wait ‘til he gets older,” Han’s mother Su-mi replies, “Did I tell you when he tried to run away? He rode his bike to the train station.”

 

“It gets too dark at night he said,” Grandma Choi ribs, “too cold.”

 

“I may not be able to answer back in Korean most of the time, but I know what you’re saying.” Han deadpans, bouncing Alona on his knee, getting back to his conversation with Earl.

 

Tae Lue nods his head to and fro with a soft chuckle, continuing to rock Ethan in his swing chair.

 

..

 

 “…good schools. Not too far from the city and our jobs,” Han comments to the Lues and the Harabos as they tour their new Tokyo residence.

 

“There will be a small vegetable garden,” Gisele chimes when they reach the backyard, “and a treehouse.”

           

“When they’re older,” Su-mi injects.

 

“Not too high up,” Ahava adds.

 

“You didn’t need a treehouse to climb a tree. Is he already adventurous like you?” James wonders, rubbing the six month-old’s rosy cheek.

 

“He loves to roll, even spit his food in my face once,” Gisele chuckles, “Want to go to Grandpa?”

 

“Etan…” The old man coaxes. 

 

.....

.....

           

VIII. Safe and Sound (2016)

 

....

 

23) Monday(s) in Tokyo, February

 

..

 

“Your Great Grandpa Choi loved Korean New Year; we call it Seollal. I know your mom’s excited after last year when she couldn’t keep any food down,” Han shares as he’s ruffling Ethan’s growing hair, and then playfully whispers, “Probably because of you two.”

 

“Don’t drag them down yet, they’re only eight months,” Gisele says as she blows on Alona’s spoonful of hot liquid.

 

“Two years-old if you follow the Korean tradition, one when you’re born and add a year after they eat the tteokguk soup,” Han reasons, “What happened to harsh truth?”

 

“Of course,” Gisele giggles.

 

“Good save?”

 

“Great save,” Gisele high-five’s Han.

  

 

..

 

“Come back for my graduation if you can,” Reiko hugs the man of honor at his farewell party.

 

“Try and stop me. You’re going to be at the top of your class with the rate you’re going. And I want in on the tech empire you and Earl will create,” Twinkie replies.

 

“’Twinkie the army man,’ thought you had too much hustle for that,” Sean comments, hugging and slapping hands.

 

“Nah. Just Another side of me. Third generation. Nothing but respect.”

 

“You were always determined,” Han pats the young man’s back. 

 

“Give your uncle a hug,” Twinkie addresses the twins.

 

“If you do get stationed in Germany, I have a friend in Munich. He used to be in the military. He’ll understand if you need anything,” Gisele tells Twinkie, giving him a one-armed hug as she holds up her son in her other arm.

 

“Thanks, Mrs. H, you guys have been amazing to me, to all of us.”

 

...

 

24) Tej on a Tuesday

 

Tej liked simplicity.

 

Things happen and he moves on. A car accident put him off racing, but he didn’t mope about it, he just started running things, concentrated on the other things he enjoyed.

 

He had millions, but he still enjoyed being a mechanic. He wants a life with what he loves, and he loves Ramsey.

 

Ramsey is simple in a sense, her life is ‘1s’ and ‘0s’ and he gets that. They may not fit the profiles of stereotypical hackers, nor do they need to, but that gives them an edge. They fit together.

 

Ramsey was and still is a woman worth falling out of a plane for and so much more. His grandmother has an engagement ring to pass down, and Tej hopes Ramsey thinks he’s worth it too.

 

...

 

25) Wednesday(s) in Jerusalem, April

 

..

 

“Ahava, I can take Gisele if you need sleep,” The elder woman volunteers, in her native Hebrew.

 

I’m Gisele, Grandma and that’s my daughter, Alona.”

 

“Ahava will be here with Raviv tonight. They’re here for Passover,” Gisele’s Grandpa Ariel informs his wife, as Gisele hands her Alona.

 

“Are you…in law school? Remind me.”

 

“No. I’m an agent in law enforcement. I have twins, a girl, that’s Alona, you met my boy Ethan a moment ago,” Gisele points toward the kitchen, “he’s with my husband Han. You were at our wedding in Paris-”

 

“With the purple irises,” the woman’s eyes light up, “and you’re birthday is soon.”

 

“On Saturday,” Gisele nods.

 

..

 

“…What if she wakes up and that’s what she remembers? The few weeks I was mad at her?”

 

“She knows you as well as I do. You’re strong willed in the worst way and the same in the best way,” Petra consoles a somber Gisele on the phone.

 

“Yeah...I hope…”

 

..

 

The chanting of ‘Ba-ba-ba…bah-baaaah,’ grew louder as Gisele made her way to the crib.

 

“Baby, I know you had an exciting day, but it’s bedtime,” Gisele reasons, rubbing Alona’s back.

 

The little girl continues her babbling. Gisele sits upright against the wall, running her fingers along the bars of the crib.

 

“I would come here when I couldn’t face going home. I hope you have someone like that when you’re older. I’m so happy to spend Passover and my birthday with you all here.”

 

The babbling lulls into a hum as Gisele feels her daughter’s hand touch her moving fingers.

 

“One more bedtime story,” Gisele palms Alona’s tiny hand.

                                     

...

 

26) Dom on a Thursday

 

Dom loves the sound of an engine revving. As far as he was concerned that was when his life started. When he noticed Letty all grown up and also into cars that was another start.

 

His life seemed to end the day his father died. He had to take on a fatherly role to Mia, and then later to Jesse, Leon, and Vince to an extent. He found his escape a quarter mile at a time between all the bullshit that’s part of life.

 

He and Letty got married, but a life on the run wasn’t conducive to a child, no matter how much he or she would be a combination of an Ortiz and a Toretto. It seemed like another false start, and then another end when she died.

 

By some miracle Letty returned, and now his love is trying her hand at the racing circuit, and he’s mostly retired, apart from fixing up cars every now and then, test-driving new car models, and answering when Mr. Nobody or Hobbs calls.

 

He wants to be a father like his father. He wants what Brian and Mia have, what Han and Gisele have. He’s grateful to call those people his family, who will always stand by each other through thick and thin.

 

Dom finally thinks he’s almost ready, and not just a father figure. The final step will be when Letty will be ready and Dom can’t wait for the next part of his life to not just start, but continue on.

 

...

 

27) Friday(s) in Tokyo, June

 

..

 

“Ma!” Alona interrupts Gisele’s humming, but not Ethan’s rattling along with his toy.

 

“Lo!” Gisele yells back, “Early this morning I see.”

 

“She’s a smart one. I think she knows it’s her birthday, wants to get her fill,” Han buckles the girl in her high chair next to her twin brother, then kisses his head, “Happy Birthday, E.”

 

“Morning kiss for my loves,” Gisele says, pecking Han’s lips and the girl’s forehead, “and a birthday kiss,” she continues with one to Alona’s rosy cheek.

 

...

 

28) Tae Lue on a Saturday

 

Tae Lue wasn’t much of a talker. He believed in actions. But he could talk. He thinks he’s good with his patients and he remembers chattering nervously when he met his future wife, then he didn’t need to go on endlessly when they became comfortable, when they just clicked.

 

The actions in his life were so his son could live safely and comfortably. His parents worked hard so he could have the opportunities they didn’t and his grandparents worked even harder. He always had enough and his parent always made him feel like he had more than enough and that’s what he wants for his son.

 

“Three pages today!” A young Han tells his father Dr. Lue at breakfast, of the accumulated Sunday comic strips they read on most weekends, “Can I have a tiger today?”           

 

“No. They’re still wild animals,” The man answers as always, “maybe a cat like Garfield, or a dog like Snoopy.”

 

“No,” the boy replies, and then after a moment, “Can I have two turtles? Ninja turtles, blue like Leo and orange like Mikey?”

 

“We’ll see.”

 

Tae Lue thought he lost his son three years ago, but here they all were safe and sound on a July mid morning, with the smell of mung bean pancakes, the words on his newspaper, and buzz of his grandchildren filling him with warmth and delight.

 

...

 

29) Sunday(s) in Tokyo, September-October

 

..

 

“I don’t want to take away your nightlight, but I might have to,” Han starts, rolling the sleeves of his son’s pajamas, “I’ve always wanted a brother or sister, and being a twin must be even better.”

 

“Twin,” the boy pats at his own chest.

 

 “I know you miss your sister, but you two aren’t able to sleep through the night without waking the other anymore,” Han continues, tucking Ethan in his crib, now in his own separate bedroom, “I know you can do this. Doors open, be good. Goodnight, Buddy.”

 

“Night, Daddy,” Ethan responds. 

 

..

 

“My best loaf yet,” Gisele holds out a slice of challah bread for her husband.

 

“Very good. And no earring,” Han teases, then devours the smaller piece his daughter offers.

 

“That happened one time,” Gisele defends, speaking of the first loaf of hers that Han tried years ago for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

 

“Precedent, Babe,” Han jabs, “Where’s his sock? Felix!”

 

“Feeel-lix,” Ethan echos as the husky emerges with the fabric hanging from his jaws.

 

“He’s still Ethan, and he’s still ours, pal. You’re going to stay here while we go to the synagogue. The river is tomorrow,” Han tells the dog as he retrieves the wet sock, “he never licks Lo’s ankles.”

 

“You don’t mess with Yashar women. Right, Lo?” Gisele says to their daughter, who giggles, mouthful of bread and all, when Gisele winks at her.

 

.....

.....

 

 IX. Diamonds (2022)

 

....

 

30) “I only drive the cars.”

 

..

 

“No peeking,” Gisele guides a blindfolded Han around their L.A. lake house property.

 

Han stares in disbelief at the reveal of a baseball diamond complete with a dugout, set of bleachers, and scoreboard that read ‘HAPPY 10TH ANNIVERSARY.’

 

“You’re amazing,” Han awes.

 

“You deserve it,” Gisele replies.

 

“The sponsor usually gets naming rights, and Gisele Field has a nice ring to it,” Han suggests, placing a hand on the small of Gisele’s back as they start to tour the field.

 

“You know that’s up to the kids,” Gisele laughs.

 

..

 

“Daddy, dance with us,” Seven year-old Alona requests, music blasting from her father’s phone; arms swinging, clutched to her eighteen month old sister Adira’s hands as they sway near the pitcher’s mound.

 

“I’m not very good, watch your feet,” came Han’s lighthearted response that always made Alona chuckle, joining hands with both daughters.

 

“You can dance with Mama now,” Alona suggests when Gisele makes her way towards them from the outfield, where she just finished kicking a ball around with Ethan.

 

“You heard the lady,” Han offers his hand.

 

“Since you asked so nicely,” Gisele drips sarcastically.

 

“I’ll get everyone to bed tonight,” Han says when Gisele starts sagging in his arms.

 

“You’re the best,” Gisele murmurs, then after a beat, “The last time I was this tired…I was…” Gisele lifts her head from Han’s shoulder to meet his gaze…

 

“Ad wants you, Brother.”

 

“Etan.”

 

“Ethan!”

 

“Awhooo!”

 

“In a minute, Lona. Feeel-ix! Time for bed.”

 

“-not with Adira, but Lo and Ethan…”              

 

..

 

“How’s the car?” Han starts the ritual greeting, as he man’.

 

“Not a scratch,” Letty replies, then eyes rolling, “should have cashed in on another car and not your precious prize winner.”

 

“First of several!” Han gasps in mock offence.  

 

..

 

“Uncle Rome!” Alona beams when she sees the man.

 

This is how I want to be greeted. C.J., Lona, Ethan,” Roman roll calls, high-fiving each child, “Torettos: Damian, V, Gabriela.”

 

“They say kids like shiny things,” Tej ribs, “and all the light bouncing off your big forehead…”

 

“You’re just jealous you’re a boring old dad now. Isn’t that right, Penelope?” Roman tells the newest edition to the family, “I don’t see your forehead shining off billboards.”

 

Our most popular app is in 60 percent of mobile phones and climbing,” Ramsey retorts.

 

 “I need to…go…” Roman mutters, “Jack!”

 

..

 

“Vincente, go on,” Dom instructs his eldest son once everyone bows their heads.

 

“Thank you, God. For my Mom, Dad, brother and sister, my aunts, uncles, and cousins. For sending love to all of us…and for my toys, and this food. Grace.”

 

..

 

“…Puerto Rico last month. We’re filming in L.A. for a few weeks,” Brian hands Mia a beer.

 

“When are they going to bring back that handsome African American character?” Roman asks.

 

“The one with the giant afro, you mean?” Tej argues.

 

“The sister is the glue,” Dom chimes, guzzling a Cotona.

 

“Not enough racing,” Letty concludes.

 

“Ideally it would be all racing. They basically ripped off Point Break to get the first film made, with the police/government element,” Mia argues, “think of all cop movies made versus car ones-”

 

“-which is why they need to restructure it or it will die off,” Gisele reasons, running her fingers through Adira’s curls.

 

“Didn’t they try a spinoff?” Han questions, “Prequel?”

 

“Technology is the answer. Trends. Take my word for it,” Ramsey states.

                                                                                           

“I only drive the cars,” Brian answers with a playful shrug and wide grin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter 24: Read the Brochure, A Mostly Filler Chapter –Excerpts and notes.

 ....

 

“He reads the brochure. I'm proud.” –Tej Parker

 

...

 

I Dates

 

I.1 Dessert

 

“I thought it was a bad sign when you didn’t want dessert at dinner,” Han jokes, scooping ice cream into bowls.

 

“I saw the shop when we were walking over and I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Gisele responds, settling down on the counter stool of their Berlin suite, “Too bad it’s closed.”

 

“I’ll have to take you there on our third date.”

 

“This is nice too,” Gisele responds as Han hands her a bowl and spoon.[^See Footnote a]

 

..

 

I.2 Drinks

 

“I can’t decide which one of my shirts you look better in,” Han comments, setting his whiskey on the nightstand to rejoin her on the bed.

 

“This one isn’t as comfortable as the last one,” Gisele supplies, following his gaze over her body.

 

“We’ll have to do something about that won’t we?” he responds seductively, starting to unbutton the white shirt, kissing her skin as it becomes exposed to the air, neck to stomach, sucking her earlobe until she can no longer steadily hold onto her drink, nearly missing the nightstand when she sets it next to his glass.[b]


 

Footnotes:

[a] This is the end of the “proper second date” Han and Gisele discussed in Chapter 9 (IV).

 

Additional: Written down for the first time. In hindsight, Chapter 9 is way too long for someone like me who likes to keep things organized. I’d have split it into two or even three parts. That’s probably why the later chapters have so many subcategories (the A-Z, Months split, etc.).

 

[b] Takes place after their Paris greeting in 6(I) and written for Chapter 19(I), set before or after Gisele’s restless night/Han’s laundry day scenes.

 

Additional: I do have a first week in Paris for the G/H dead timeline, and it was going to be the final chapter (10) back in 2015-but then the 6 AU sequels happened. If I do post, it will be one of the next few and also “filler,” because it’s similarly themed as a ‘parallel’ to the AU.  

 

 

II Tomatoes

 

II.1 La Tomatina

 

“This is the point when we turn on each other?” Han says from behind a crate, in a dimly lit barn.

 

“How did you think this would end?” Gisele replies, “I’m the best shot in my division.”

 

“I move pretty fast.”

 

“Did you count your ammo?”

 

“Did you?”

 

“Come out and face me. Like a man.”

 

“On three. I’m walking towards you.”

 

“One…”

 

“…two…”

 

“Three!” Both shout as tiny globes dispatch, one by one and –splat! Splat! Splat!...

 

“Right in the chest!?” Han plays offended, looking at the green paint splotches.

 

“Low,” Gisele nods, checking her shoes for paint so she wouldn’t slip.

 

“We should do La Tomatina –the annual tomato fight in Valencia when we get to Spain,” Han suggests as they walk pass haystacks, crates, and old furniture studded with colorful splatters.

 

“No running with the bulls?” Gisele teases, taking off her old long-sleeve when they get to a picnic bench.

 

“We’ll see. I’m not that fast.”[c]

 

..

 

II.2 Tomas

 

“Still don’t like tomatoes?” Gisele chuckles, watching her ex Tomas push the tiny orbs to the side.

 

“I like what I like and I know what I want,” the man answers with a warm smile, “Do you still take unwanted tomatoes from an old friend’s plate?”

 

 “I guess it depends on how friendly we are,” Gisele replies, feeling the familiar rhythm with her old friend.[d]


 

[c] Before Spain, in this chapter it’s Germany as this fic is in chronological order as section .1 moves along.

 

Additional: One of the earliest scenes written. The paintball is a nod to Fast 3-6 director Justin Lin’s work on a well known episode of a favorite TV show of mine, “Community.” In the Fast Five director’s commentary extra, Lin cites the comedy for helping him track multiple characters in a scene.

 

[d] Set in Zurich, June or July 2009, Tomas is Gisele’s Czech military doctor ex-fiancé. He first appears in Chapter 6 (II). He reappears speaking in Chapter 15(15), but only is spoken of or thought about in the rest of Chapters 6, 13-22.

 

Additional: There’s a famous couple named Tom Brady (American football) and Gisele (Bunchen, supermodel), this did not cross my mind until maybe 20 chapters in. I paid more attention after that. It made me regret having Han take a plane rather than a short train or drive from Paris to Brussels in Chapter 6—the bullshit retcon in my head became that he called his plane guy before researching and he didn’t want to let him down. This also applies to other plane rides that I explicitly cite that probably wasn’t the best option.

 

The Casablanca (the film) elements to Han/Gisele/Tomas (Czech ex/Paris is all I’ll hint at to avoid spoilers) were somewhat intentional, Gisele’s Czech friend Petra came first (and she and Tomas were friends). I kept forgetting to cite the homage so here it finally is. The Star Wars and Indiana Jones references (Indy carrying a lighter like Han) weren’t intentional (due coincidences, archetypes, social media spoilers, perhaps) until they were after I finally watched those films and incorporated them in. I don’t want to be accused of stealing, so I’m trying my best to give credit—which is why my notes are so long.

 

                               

III Cars

 

III.1 The Fast *contains sexual content*

 

“I thought you wanted to go to Tokyo?”

 

“We’ll get there. Eventually,” Han smirks, Gisele leans in for another kiss as he continues to rip along the autobahn. The kiss turns heated as lips dive in; Han glances on the road again, and then breathes out, “Are we going to stop?”

 

“No,” Gisele catches her breath and then unzips Han’s pants, and maneuvers to the back seat for her purse.

 

“Not stopping this, then,” Han takes his hand off the wheel to run his palm under her dress, onto her ass, and along her wet folds when he slips past her panties.

 

Han slides his pants down with Gisele’s help and then she sits and tries her best not to touch the steering wheel horn, stroking his cock and huskily, “Faster.”

 

“Faster,” Han echoes, pedaling the gas.

 

Hands claw, lips and teeth bite and suck, and bodies rub against each other as they build up to a release. And then he’s inside her, her back to his chest as they collide, Gisele moving up and down as Han tries his best to look around her and onto the road.

 

“Don’t fucking. Ss-stop.”[e]

 

..

 

III.2 The Furious?

 

“This is the car,” Gisele remarks, wandering to the garage as she waits for Elena to show her around the island.

 

“Yes,” Dom confirms, lifting the hood for a closer look, then after a moment, “How are doing? Do I need to send the troops after this guy?”

 

“No,” Gisele laughs lightly, now looking at the remodel blueprint pinned on the wall “It ended…like it should have.”[f]


 

[e] In Berlin, this follows right after Han and Gisele’s last scene in Fast Five, with credit to writer Chris Morgan, and Universal Pictures for the first two lines of dialogue.

 

Additional: This was a reworking of the post-club in Amsterdam car kissing in Chapter 6 (II), and revisited in Chapter 14(7), when I hadn’t really written an explicit sex scene so it was cut.

 

[f] Set in Spain, December 2009-of Gisele visiting newborn Jack, Chapter 6(VI). This is a reference to Tomas and the end of Gisele’s second engagement to him. The car is the one Han and Dom worked on in Chapter 13(2).

 

Additional: If Tomas was going to reappear it would be before Chapter 23 because Han and Gisele are solid by then. I wanted Tomas to come off as a decent guy who just didn’t feel right for Gisele. The American adapter of Jane the Virgin had a great point about love triangles that I never knew how to convey until she mentioned it; basically you don’t want your character dating a douche or terrible person because it reflects the type of person the dater is. I like to amend her idea to add that if all parties are assholes, then so be it, date an asshole, etc, or choosing to stay in a relationship if they show their true colors later in the relationship.

 

I was going to have Gisele have friend(s) near Zurich and the names came from Czech tennis players I like-Petra Kvitova and Tomas Berdych. I was really into Jane the Virgin as I was writing Chapter 6, so I think I subconsciously based Petra on JtV’s Petra. Her love interest/ex Raphael is also of Italian ancestry, so if you want to picture the actors as Petra and husband Marco, go right ahead. I’m shit at describing people, but she does have sandy blonde hair and is Czech.

 

IV Motorcycles

 

IV.1 Leather jackets are functional

 

“The leather isn’t just for show,” Han chuckles, taking off his jacket to check his elbows, “I don’t think I can pull off the leather pants, so I better get on with.”

 

“We’ll get you there,” Gisele comments, pulling Han in for a kiss, lowering herself onto the hood of the car as the kiss deepens.

 

“You sure know how to motivate a guy,” Han breathlessly says.

 

“I just can’t get enough of you,” Gisele responds, taking off her sunglasses and palming Han’s face again for another sultry kiss.[g]

 

..

 

IV.2 Falling

 

Gisele skids off her motorcycle and after the initial pain and shock, she feels something else. Excitement. And she grins and chuckles, right there on an old Italian dirt road as the cold wind rushes through her.[h]


 

[g] This is set sometime after Gisele and Han exchange “I love yous” in Chapter 5(II), and later retconned into being set somewhere in Spain in Chapter 9 (V).

 

[h] This is somewhere along Gisele’s Italian motorcycling trip in Chapter 6(VII), and revisited in Chapter 16(16).

 

Additional: It’s inspired by (SPOILERS) Batman v Superman when Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot, Gisele) is knocked down but gets this grin on her face as she gets up, a moment that Gal said she improvised. It reminded me of Furious 6 where she smirks at Han after they get control of the motorcycle-jeep situation during the tank sequence. And I think she got part of that from Justin Lin’s take about thinking of a character’s purpose in every scene, even if you’re not the focus.

 

 

V Timing 

 

V.1 Here (A state of mind)

 

It’s their first real night off in London as Brian is on his way to L.A., Hobbs with an eye on Dom, and Tej handling surveillance. They ended up at a boutique shop as Gisele was unable to resist at least a look at a wristwatch the window enticed.

 

Gisele exits the shop, a new bag in hand, seeing him in a pensive state on a bench, and asks “What’s on your mind?”

 

“I was just wondering how I managed to get here,” Han stands up, motioning Gisele to continue their walk, “from chasing some street legend…” Han trails off.

 

“My dad didn’t just die. He was killed. His old partner betrayed him. In the worst of times that’s what I think got me where I am, but I know there’s more to it. I made the choice to leave my old life after that. And whatever it is, or whatever you believe,” Gisele continues, “I’m glad I’m here with you.”

 

“Me too,” Han replies softly as they exchange warm gazes.[i]

 

..

 

V.2 Here? (A physical location)

 

“The government and its affiliates have rewarded a tiny sum. It should somewhat offset your other income ventures if someone goes looking. I have another proposition. Unofficially, I can’t divulge, but I need people I trust for a task force. You may have leeway for location of your choice. Get back to me when you can,” Luke Hobbs addresses Han and Gisele when he shows up in Zurich to administer their pardons.[j]


 

[i] This one’s self-explanatory, takes place in Chapters 7(II), 8(I), and 9(V) at various points. Gisele’s dead dad indicates that it’s doesn’t cross over to Section “.2,” the AU has a similar scene to this in Chapter 22(V for Vacation).

 

Additional: The Gisele being into watches is something I will revisit if I ever get around to the action adventure story, as she does wear a number of them in Furious 6.

 

In the Chapter 6 AU there are hints that Gisele might have been deep undercover, but might have turned, but in the reg. fic timeline, she outright breaks the law as Braga’s liaison.

Referencing the deleted Furious 7 scene of Gisele bringing injured Letty to the hospital, Gisele’s answer to Letty when she asks why she (G) helped, Gisele’s answer is “Maybe you’re saving me,” with a somber-confused look. If she were undercover then she could be chill and tell Letty to save her breath; or maybe she risks being ousted as deep undercover so she didn’t risk checking back and making sure Letty was safe at the hospital, or she’s turned like how the officers thought Monica turned in 2 Fast, but is having second thoughts. The series loves its parallels and callbacks, and 2 and 4 have car drug running and killing of its drivers, and Monica and Gisele are also the liaisons to the drug lord, and we find out later that Gisele was Mossad, which is the CIA of Israel if I’m not mistaken.

 

One way to look at it is that if Gisele hadn’t left Letty at the hospital for Shaw to “kill,” then maybe Dom wouldn’t be in L.A. to meet Gisele, so then Dom calling Gisele for Rio and Han and Gisele meeting wouldn’t have happened. And I think at various points Gisele rattles this idea around, but she doesn’t want to believe that her dad had to die to meet Han, or she had a hand it whatever got Letty to the bad side.

 

[j] Zurich 2010, first mentioned in Chapter16(18) and referenced again in Chapter 20(II).

 

Additional: Written for this chapter for the parallel theme with Sections .1/.2, but something that I considered but couldn’t find a place for. Somewhat explains Gisele and Han’s financial situation to their parents, other than just using their family money.

 

 

VI Parents

 

VI.1 Mom

 

“We’ve located Gisele Yashar’s next of kin,” Hobbs addresses the crew the following morning, “I wanted to give you a chance to –”

 

“I need to be the one to tell,” Han interrupts, “If her mom isn’t the one listed, I need you to do everything you can to find her.”[k]

 

..

 

VI.2 Holidays

 

“I’m going to Tel Aviv for Hanukkah and I was wondering if…” Gisele thinks, Han turns down the TV, “I want you to come with me and meet my parents.” 

 

“I’d like to meet them, too,” Han responds, “We’ll see mine on Christmas? Thanksgiving’s short notice, but I can look.”[l]


 

[k] I haven’t gotten around to Gisele discussing her mother with Han in the non Chapter 6 AU, but thoughts about her mother in Chapter 7, and about her and Han slowly sharing things that leads to this conclusion, maybe?

Additional: This is the closest I’ve gotten to a (written) funeral scene for Gisele and it might stay that way, and I blame chapters 8 and 9 --for it has Han mourning like crazy and almost made me stop writing altogether.

[l] This is either Salzburg or Zurich 2010 after I retconned the Chapter 3(III) Han haircut of spite, and inserted it into the Chapter 6 AU, on Chapter 15(12) when it becomes set in Salzburg, Austria.

Additional: Meeting the parents is how Chapters 13-16 came to be, but I still couldn’t nail down the actual first meeting. Maybe someday. Writer’s block is just that way sometimes, or it’s your typical cliché scene that anyone can picture so I didn’t bother, choosing other interactions.

 

 

VII Grief

 

VII.1 Let Go

 

Gisele wasn’t sure where she was and the tumbling sensation upon waking up hadn’t left her limbs. Her senses sharpen and she turns to see Han in the driver’s seat, chewing and giving her a curious look before looking ahead again.

 

They drive through the empty night and even though the sun’s come out, they still don’t seem to hit traffic as it descends. At some point Gisele’s eyes fall shut again and she wakes up this time to the salty ocean air, not fishy like on bad days, but refreshing and almost sweet.

 

Han slows, and she can see their destination. Her father’s beat-up truck is unmistakable. The lights are on in the kitchen, and the lanterns she insisted on hanging up when she was ten years-old is twinkling in the darkening landscape. She can feel and hear the buzz of celebration from the unseen backyard.

 

She’s told Han about her family’s beach house in Tel Aviv, especially when the memories trickle in when they’re by the waters. In the moments when she feels free, and without the possibility of some bounty hunter after then, all she wants to do is show Han all the secrets she’s discovered over the sands and the cliffs, maybe even have Han meet her mother and whoever else came along.

 

She can’t stop grinning as she unbuckles her seatbelt. Han’s looking out into the ocean when she makes her way to him to links arms, but he doesn’t budge when she moves.

 

“I can’t.”

 

“If you need another moment,” Gisele assures.

 

“You know why,” Han replies softly.

 

And then everything floods back to Gisele, London, Spain, the plane, and the dangling cars, the last bullet from her gun going off. The pain. And now she can taste the salt as she clings to Han rubbing her back and running his finger through her hair.

 

“Please don’t leave. Don’t leave me,” Gisele’s chokes out.

 

“Your dad’s here. Your grandparents. Everyone else you want to see.”

 

“What am I going to do without you?”

 

“When it’s my time…you won’t miss me, and when you do, you’ll remember that I’ll be right back. That I’ve gone for a drive, or a snack run and that’s all. I promise.”

 

“I can’t leave you.”

 

“I’m not here.”

 

And then he’s gone, and so is the sinking feeling in her stomach, suddenly remembering that she needs to feed the family cat.

 

And awhile later, he’s there.

 

“Babe, I’m back,” Han informs, un-bagging the small cartons of ice cream, “The guy helping me suggested this place not far from here. Said Tel Aviv is emerging in the sushi world. I thought it would be cool to compare when we get to Tokyo.”

 

Gisele stands and stares for a long moment.

 

“What?” Han wonders about Gisele’s curious look.

 

Gisele responds with a soft and slow kiss, “I just missed you.”[m]


 

[m] Gisele in some afterlife. This is when the timelines really breaks apart because Gisele is dead in the “.1” sections and it acts on a condensed timeline of Han’s Tokyo years compared to the “.2” sections that spans decades.

 

Additional: I think I mentioned Jack turning 5 in Chapter 9, maybe because it was a nice number breakdown? People look different even at the same age, but preschoolers are ages 3-5, so it’s something like 4 years going on 5 plus or minus between F6 and F7 in my timeline.   

 

....

 

“Wow! You can read the brochure.” –Sean Boswell

 

 

VIII On Moving

 

VIII.1 Hong Kong to Tokyo

 

Han was back in Hong Kong after the move to Tokyo to pick up the last of his things, her things. They usually accumulated just enough extra clothes, books or other knick knacks to fit the car, but they were in Hong Kong for awhile, and the excess ballooned.

 

Han couldn’t face the sublet the first time he came near the door, opting for one more drink to ready himself, this turned into a handful of “one more drinks.”

 

He’s assaulted with the scent of Gisele when he does enter, of her boots by the doorway, of her coat on the back of the kitchen stool.  He finds a carton of unopened orange juice and a few eggs in the fridge, as well as stray bottles of condiments. When he spots her lipstick stain on the mug in the dishwasher, his heart pounds. He traces the outline of her mark cautiously as if it were going to burn him. It’s dizzying, so he just starts stuffing things in a few boxes and duffel bags until his car is full. He leaves the rest for the landlord to deal with, not caring about the deposit or being charged more to rid of his other things left behind.[n]

 

..

 

VIII.2 Zurich to Tokyo

 

“The armchair is mine, but I don’t know if I want to keep it,” Gisele, perched upon the edge of her kitchen table surveys the various piles around the living room of her Zurich apartment.

 

“Too bad we can’t pack up this skylight,” Han remarks, taping a box, “and the kitchen table has seen things, felt things. The next tenant will be eating a meal and boom! Crack! We’d be doing them a favor, wrecking it now. And look—” Han picks a black negligee from the basket behind Gisele, raising a suggestive eyebrow “a sign.” 

 

“Are you done with the kitchen?”

 

“Yes,” Han answers, running his hands along her sides.

 

“Go dry your laundry,” Gisele instructs, removing Han’s hands off of her, “and maybe I’ll meet you there.”

 

“The black one’s perfect,” came a shout from down the hall a moment later.[o]


 

[n] Weeks or months after Tokyo. It’s referenced in Chapter 8(II), and shows how he lost some of his clothes in that chapter.

 

Additional: Inspired by The Motel starring Sung Kang (Han), I was deep into writing/obsessed when I watched this and it’s almost a drunken Han mourning/escaping Gisele movie, if I could edit and make those shipper videos I would. SPOILERS ahead for the specific scene in the film where he kind of stalks his estranged or ex-wife and sneaks into their house and complains about how she moved the furniture in an impractical way. He stalls by staying at a motel and bonding with the main character and waxes about being a kid again. I think he also lets this kid drive around when he’s too drunk. The original idea was that he was SO drunk that he thinks Gisele is still alive and they are just in a massive fight when he returns to the house.

 

[o] This is a snippet for the move to Tokyo in 2011, referenced in Chapter 16(20) and Chapter 21 (III). Gisele is alive as this is Chapter 6 AU content, and Sections .2 are also in chronological order.

 

Additional: It’s one of those scenes that was in my head, but never written down until now because I needed a parallel scene to go with section .1, and use as a time indicator.

 

 

IX On Lights

 

IX.1 From Cars

 

Han’s stopped atop a hill after a long drive when he sees it, glowing pairs illuminating in the distance, descending in synchronization. It’s hypnotic. And he smiles and thinks Gisele would have loved this, maybe it was seeing Roman and Tej when they stopped by, maybe he’s too tired, but he doesn’t feel the pit in his stomach at that moment.[p]

 

..

 

IX.2 From Las Vegas

 

The colors, neon and otherwise, saturate the cityscape as Han strolls casually back and forth, shaking off the alcohol in his system from the bachelor party. 

 

“Twenty. Five. Point lead--” Tej slurs out, and then addresses Han, “2019 man, you, me, and the boys in Atlanta. Super Bowl LIII. We’re going to win this thing.”

 

“Fingers crossed,” Han escorts the man of the night into the limo for his next event.[q]


 

[p] This is based off of one of my favorite Tokyo Drift scenes where Neela drifts with a line of others drifting along, the music makes it. Pre-Sean.

 

Additional: It also features my favorite musical score of the movies that recurs throughout, but most identifiable with “Neela,””Neela Drifts,” and “This Is My Mexico.” Brian Tyler scores 3-5, 7-8 and it becomes the family’s theme really, a variation of it is named “Brian and Mia,” as well as other tracks in 4, and in 7 it shows up in “Remembrance,” “Farewell,” etc. Tyler didn’t score 6, but I’m convinced the opening bars of “This Is My Mexico” (Han’s theme -pretty much) plays every time Han saves Gisele, it’s like a “haaaw” crescendo if you listen carefully, to foreshadow Han’s sadness to come?

 

I can also hear a variant/sample of the theme in the Furious 7 song “See You Again” by Charlie Puth/Wiz Khalifa. I think you can hear the similarities more clearly in the film version. Brian Tyler is credited as string arranger, conductor for the song. Maybe that’s why still love it even though I hate most overplayed songs.

 

[q] This is one of those scenes used to help indicate a time/date. It references Super Bowl LI (American football) in 2017 that involved the Atlanta Falcons. This is set after February 2017 and if the Falcons manage to win it next season, then at least before Super Bowl LII.

 

Additional: A version was cut from Chapter 23 because it didn’t fit the timeframe; the substitute scene is Han discussing European football with Gisele’s friends with the line at the end that mentions Twinkie and Tej liking Atlanta teams. Tej rooting for Atlanta is my headcanon because the actor, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is a fan and came to fame as an Atlanta-based rapper. Bow Wow who plays Twinkie is also a Falcons fan, so I have that for his bio as well. I use it to connect them with Han because Sung Kang grew up near Atlanta, and tweeted about being at a Braves (baseball) game once, so I made him a fan of football too.

 

 

X On Business

 

X.1 Personal

 

“Mind your own fucking business, Earl!” Han sneers, flinging his still vibrating phone on the hard concrete, “Get back to work,” the message meant for more than the nosey punk.

 

It was Sam calling, the woman he’d gone on a second date with nights ago. She was a friend of a friend, Japanese-American, with short hair, porcelain skin, and short stature. The date went well.

 

There was a spark, but something else sparked and he’s reminded of Gisele. A bittersweet pain returns. Right in his chest. And so he turns to what he knows. He starts sketching plans for a car remodel; in a daze he dubs it his masterpiece, a Nissan Silvia S15 to be named the Mona Lisa.[r]

 

..

 

X.2 Professional

 

“Are you liking the new eyes?” Gisele’s co-worker Junko chirps at lunch, “I remember when I lasered mine, finally free from pepper residue in my contacts.”

 

“Oh yes, and it was wasabi from the peas for me. I’m still reaching my contacts or glasses, forgetting that I don’t need them anymore.”

 

“I’m going to miss seeing you every day at work.”

 

“I’ll be around enough,” Gisele answers, referring to her new freelance and for hire position, “The twins are in school, but I’ll get to see them in the morning, and drive them. Adira’s walking and talking…”[s]


 

[r] Han right before he builds the Mona Lisa, some time after Chapter 8 (II), maybe two years into Tokyo, and less than a year before Sean arrives.

 

Additional: The deleted TD scenes have a lot more Earl being an asshole like Han’s cousin Virgil in Better Luck Tomorrow, played by the same actor. I don’t make Earl and Virgil the same character because Earl is in high school, so in the AU he’s his cousin. Virgil brings Han’s mean streak out, so I had Earl do that. I think that’s one way he’s feared/respected in TD, maybe it was just in the deleted scenes, but Twinkie tells Sean not to get on Han’s bad side, etc.

 

[s] This is set before the 2022 segment in Chapter 23 (IX).

 

Additional: I wanted a little more to Gisele and her Tokyo worklife-friends other than just referencing it or her talking to Han about work. There was also a small subplot/character moment about the throughline that she shared as being a cop of sorts with Brian that also connected with Sean as being reckless kids who could change. Brian doesn’t stay in law enforcement, but Gisele does, and Sean doesn’t need it to work his issues out. The closest thing that made it into the fic is Brian concluding that witness protection was necessary for Han in Chapter 22(T for Trust). That’s my reasoning for Letty forgiving or not needing to forgive Gisele for her part in the Braga/Shaw situation, because Brian was in a similar situation.

 

 

XI On Leos

 

XI.1 The Renaissance Man

 

“Mona Lisa,” Han says mouth full of pretzels, riffling a car parts catalog.

 

“Moan a what?” Twinkie asks.

 

“Mona Lisa,” Han clarifies, “the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci.”

 

“The one where she’s smiling. I love art heist films? Can you imagine doing that?”

 

Han smirks wryly.

 

“Steel branded line?” Earl suggests.

 

“I’ll need to test it myself,” Reiko assesses pointing to a laptop screen.[t]

 

..

 

XI.2 Leos Yashar, Leona Ariel, and…

 

“Leon. First or middle name?” Han asks after the ultrasound, buckling his seatbelt.

 

“First,” Gisele moons, mind flashing to her late grandmother, “She was named after her great-great grandfather, L-E-O-S, sounds like ‘LE-osh,’ it’s Czech. We can do that or Leo, Leonardo.”

 

“Leos Harabo-Lue,” Han tries out, looking for oncoming cars, “Let’s get you a cheeseburger in case our boy rejects it later. And my famous chocolate ice cream. As a snack or dessert?"

 

“Milk shake.”

 

“Milk shake it is.”[u]


 

[t] Han’s Tokyo crew working together, maybe months before the Tokyo Drift events,

 

Additional: I kept putting off Han and his crew because the Chapter 6 AU took over and Gisele became the priority because she was dead in the regular timeline and I didn’t think I would get to write for her again. It also shows my limited knowledge of cars and car speak, which is the other reason why I have drabbles that mostly avoid car-specific things, but I’m working on it

 

[u] Set after July 2022. And resolves the cliffhanger in Chapter 23(IX).

 

Additional: This is basically why this chapter exists at all. It came to me a few hours after publishing Chapter 23, Gisele’s connection to her Grandma was one of those last minute scenes that I prefer because I don’t spend weeks or month picking it apart –and this came out of that.

 

 

XII On People

 

XII.1 Like Fingerprints

 

“Don’t over think, Just drift and you’ll find your style,” Han advises, putting on his sunglasses.

 

“We’re different like fingerprints,” Sean states, Neela’s words echoing in his mind.[v]

 

..

 

XII.2 Learn by Doing

 

“Let me drive, Pops,” the fifteen-year old Leos urges his dad, in the backseat with his older siblings.

 

“L.A. airport traffic is something else,” Han taps at the steering wheel.

 

“How’s the Piano man going to learn, Pops,” Ethan teases.

 

“Bros., Sis, what’s up?” Alona greets, getting into the van after putting her luggage in the trunk.

 

A headphone clad seventeen year-old Adira nods.

 

“Where’s the gash from this time?” Han asks looking at his twenty-three year old daughter’s left arm.

 

“Caught a wire running with the bulls. What else do you do when in Spain?”

 

“You ran with the bulls?!” Han worries, at his daughter’s nonchalant attitude.

 

“I ran track. I’m the Quidditch champ of this family. You taught us you --learn by doing, Dad”

 

“Lawyers,” Gisele nods, looks at the wristwatch that Han gave her for their latest anniversary, and buckles her seatbelt, “Have you heard from the school, Ethan?”

 

“Not yet, Mom.”

 

“Come with me after we visit Grandma. It’s a forty hour drive to Munich, or we can take a plane if you want time to explore Germany instead. One last ride before I go to grad school. Sonja and her boyfriend are driving up for Oktoberfest. Damian and CJ are flying over to meet us.”

 

“Ask me again, later,” the young man responds to his twin sister, discreetly fidgeting with his basketball cap.

 

“We’re in the back roads now. Let me drive. Mom?”

 

“Why did we have kids again?” Gisele inching over towards Han.


“I don’t know,” Han plays along, wrinkles around his eyes relaxing as he oversteers, “S--E---X?” Gisele cradles the back of Han’s leaning head, joining lips for a kiss, the vehicle drifting for a stretch downhill.

 

“Ew.”

 

“Ugh.”

 

” Don’t-”

 

Came the reply from the children in the back seat, Adira unfazed, as their parents exchange triumphant looks.[w]


[v] Based off of a Tokyo Drift deleted scene of Han’s birthday party.

 

 Additional: Neela says drifting is like fingerprints, unique to the drifter --it can be rough, smooth, slow etc. and it tracks with Han’s style when he wants to achieve smooth drifting in Chapter 4 (II) --which was extracted from the Fast Five draft script I mentioned way back in Chapter 3.

 

[w] Set in 2038, somewhere between July and August. Original character refresher, Damian Toretto is Letty and Dom’s middle child (a year or so younger than the twins), Sonja is Petra’s (Gisele’s OC friend) daughter, and CJ is Brian and Mia’s.

 

 Additional: They’re driving to their lake house in L.A., I haven’t decided if they moved back to LA between 2016 and 2038. I think Ethan at least went to college in America, near CJ, and they dated previously. There were hints of the CJ O’Conner/Ethan pairing that I cut in Chapter 23. I wish I could write more for Adira, but I’d like to think she’s the strong-focused-silent type like her parents, --and because I painted myself into a corner with a timeframe. Han and Gisele actually talk lot more than what you imagine based off the films, but I like to think they bring out that side in each other, and more about myself that I think I’m better at dialogue than I am at action/descriptions.

 

One Harry Potter reference because the series will live on and outlive us all. And also a tiny nod to the epilogue in that series, which I know people hate, but I think it’s good at giving info/updates on characters in a short amount of time.

 

 

XIII On Letting Go

 

XIII.1 Let’s Go

 

The impact of the crash hurt like hell, and the explosion left Han gasping for breath. And then she’s there. Gisele. The picture he carries come to life –glowing and smiling through all the commotion in the Tokyo streets. She wraps him in her arms as he knows where he is.

 

“Let’s go.”[x]


 

[x] Han’s death in another perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

King and Queen

 

Han stretched his arms as he made his way to his bedroom, flicking on the light and jumping slightly when he finds an occupant in his bed.

 

“What are you doing here?” he asks the woman draped in one of his old t-shirts, as he places his badge on top of his drawer.

 

“That’s no way to greet your wife,” Gisele replies, scooting over and patting the spot for Han.

 

“It was never legal.”

 

“Maybe not here.”

 

“Leave before I throw you out!”

 

“There’s that fire that I love,” Gisele sits up, “Bad day at work? I saw your partner. You sure have a type, don’t you?”

 

Han offbalance as he’s trying to remove his shoes, finally sits down next to Gisele.

 

“Soon enough you’ll hook her in and then what? Do what I couldn’t?”

 

“Why are you here?” he asks, avoiding her questioning as she sides shoulder to shoulder with him.

 

“I was in the neighborhood,” she tells him, loosening the knot on his tie, breath at his ear, “You look really good. Suit and tie every day, though?”

 

“Don’t-”

 

“Don’t kiss me back.”

 

Their lips almost meet, but he sharply turns his head away, lying down on the bed, “Get out.”

 

“I’m here on official business. I thought I’d give you a fair warning before I walked into your headquarters tomorrow,” Gisele informs, walking away as Han stares at the ceiling.

 

..

 

Rook

 

“Harabo, Stasiak, conference room,” Luke Hobbs commands, stalking across the police station.

 

The woman drops her pen and follows the captain while the man is rushing to, caught in a storm of papers, trying to at least stack them neatly.

 

“Helene, please send in Ortiz, Lue, and O’Conner,” the large man requests from the intercom.     

 

A man in a cop uniform, and two others, a man and a woman in street clothes join the table.

 

“Stolen goods. TVs, computers, furniture even. Some of you may think this is small stuff, but we stop them now, and we might be able to prevent escalation into larger crimes. Give ‘em a good scare. Someone has to do it, so here we are,” Hobbs distributes the case files.

 

“The culprits move fast with sports cars. We need people on the inside. Harabo, I need you on the ground floor with Ortiz and O’Conner, Stasiak you’re backup, Lue will go back and forth as needed. Get to it.”

 

..

 

Bishop

 

A tall brunette entered the dimly lit bar on a mission to find a friend of a friend.

 

“What can I get you?” The bartender asks.

 

 Dark hair, dark eyes –his name tag gave him away immediately.

 

“Gin and tonic.”

 

She finishes her drink, and another, fiddling with her phone as she runs her fingers on the rim of the glass.

 

“Excuse me,” The bartender interrupts, switching out the bar snack mix bowl, “Can I get you another?”

 

“Uh…” the woman hesitates, checking her watch.

 

“Company’s late?”

 

“No. This was on my way…Are you still serving food?”

 

“I’ll get you a menu,” he smiles, the unmistakably warm one she’s seen in pictures, “Pick any table and I’ll be with you in a moment.”

 

A chicken sandwich and a water later, the woman fingered the neckline of her black turtleneck, trying to absorb the words on the page of her novel with no luck.

 

The sparse bar emptied out even more, until last call was announced.

 

“I kn—We have a mutual friend,” the woman starts softly, handing him an envelope, “You’re Han?”

 

The man nods, swallowing the last of the bar nuts, accepting the lightweight and well-worn object, and debated opening the message then and there when he recognizes the handwriting.

 

The woman debated leaving, but was taking her time to settle her bill and pack away her book.

 

“Is she okay?” The bartender rolls back up his unraveling shirtsleeve, wiping down the adjacent table.

 

“I don’t know,” The woman answers, her soft and sympathetic eyes meeting the man’s, “That’s why I’m here…”

 

..

 

Knight

 

The post streetrace party was hopping as Han had his arms over two women as they lounged on the couch when Gisele approached.

 

“You’re Han. Red mustang?” Gisele inquires, taking the spot of the woman on Han’s left, “Can we talk?”

 

“Talk,” Han nods casually over the loud music as the woman on his right nibbles his earlobe.

 

“I know Dom.”

 

“Have we met?” Han states smoothly.

 

Gisele tries another approach, leaning in, hands gently clawing at his neck, as she whispers, just as smoothly, “I’ve been looking for you. For four days and fourteen hours. Get me alone and maybe I’ll jog your memory. Just you.”

 

“Third door on the right,” Han answers as be detangles himself.

 

Gisele flips the lightswitch to the office, uncrossing her arms to take a bottle from Han when he finally enters the room, “I need an ID and a passport.”

 

“Business.”

 

Five days,” Gisele sighs, placing her drink down, and then sternly, “Can you help me or not?”

 

Han nods, traipsing to the desk, clearing a chair for Gisele, “I’ll try. You can stay here, wait out there or wherever and check back in thirty minutes.”

 

Gisele sits as they wait for a call. Han returns with a bag of chips.

 

“We’ve never met. I would have remembered--” Han starts as ringing interrupts, and then after a short chat that leads to another call, he scribbles on a notepad, handing the address to Gisele, “Be there in forty minutes.”

 

“Can you get me a car?”

 

“Maybe in a week,” Han responds, offering chips to Gisele, which she nods away.

 

“Does 2WAQ mean anything to you,” Gisele responds with the ‘secret code.”

 

“Six days. Four if we’re lucky. Day’s notice…I think I can get you a new set of license plates.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

“No problem.”

 

A FEW DAYS LATER

 

The dial tone on her cell phone continued when Gisele heard a clatter from inside the garage, and then a groan when she goes to check, a man is on the floor with a gun pointed at him, as another man kicks.

 

Gisele freezes before slowly walking away and debating on calling the police, she knows this world, perhaps it’s just a scare tactic, and nothing more and she can’t expose whatever side deals this man is a part of, especially if it’s helping her out.

 

But it’s too late, as a shotgun cocks, aimed at Gisele’s head, “Easy. Drop the phone.”

 

“I-I-I won’t say anything. Please,” Gisele acts, hopefully giving off an innocence that these men presumed, grateful to be in her cardigan and tennis shoes.

 

“I told you we should have locked the place down,” the younger, tanner, bald man argues, pushing the garage door button and leading Gisele to the seat besides Han.

 

“They are closed on Sundays,” a well-groomed blond man in a black suit and tie emerges, wrapping his bloodied hand, “Is this your girlfriend? Friend?”

 

Han kept his mouth shut, thinking these guys would kill her either way, stranger, friend or girlfriend.

 

“It doesn’t matter. I tried the nice way. Tie them up and start searching, start with the cars.”

..

 

Pawn

 

“Your cell’s been ringing for a long while now,” Han tells Gisele when she returns to the café table.

 

“It’s yours.”

 

Han nods a no, downing his beer, taking his cell from his chest pocket, as the vibrating continued.

 

“I ran out of minutes on my burner. I was going to get a new one later tonight,” Gisele responds, reaching slowly into her coat slung on the chair, “Hello? This isn’t the owner’s—”

 

“Ms. Harabo, enjoying Hong Kong?” A man’s jovial voice on the other end ponders.

 

“Who’s this?” Gisele sneaks a confused and cautious look towards Han, and the couple looks around for signs of the caller, or a familiar face.

 

“Just a guy at the right place at right time.”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“A face to face meeting. I misplaced something and need help finding it…”

 

Chapter Text

….

 I.  Death

 

 

Gisele dialed a number on her cell phone.

It was that day again. Some years are better than others. Her father’s death was so close to his birthdate that it’s difficult to celebrate his life like her grandma had suggested. She’ll say a prayer, at a synagogue if she can. Then the call to her mother followed.

 

“Shalom?”

 

“Ma, it’s Gisele,” Gisele answered in Hebrew.

 

“How are you? Are you on a break?”

 

“Yes, in between,” she and Han were house-sitting for Dom in the Canary Island, “weather is great.”

 

And her mother knew more could not be divulged, sitting down on her kitchen table, “Toba had kittens, we kept one that looks like Paza. You remember her?

 

“Yes,” Gisele briefly grits her teeth through her smile, and they continue to chat, until a more serious tone takes over. 

 

“Your nightmares?”

 

“Still…but after is…better.”

 

“You sound good.”

 

“I am,” Gisele replies, glancing at the beautiful scenery before her on the porch, eyes stopping at Han from the balcony, “Great. And so do you.”

“Remember to call your Grandma.”

 

“I know. She’s always out on her adventures.”

 

“You know her. Never too old, that’s good for her.”

 

“I’ll call again soon. Send everyone my best.”

 

“I will. Take care.”

 

 

Gisele’s mom was going over the books in her study when the doorbell rings.

She’s met with a small group, and greeted by two men in uniform. The next to speak was an Asian man in a crisp shirt and pants. With haunted eyes, in his best attempt at Hebrew, English words mixed in, he introduces himself as Gisele’s co-worker.

 

“We can try English, come sit.”

 

“Gisele’s dead,” the younger man gets out, and then again in Hebrew, glancing briefly at the man on his right, obviously a translator, who gives a curt nod.

 

The woman stood there, pained, shocked, then in a small choke-up, accented voice, sternly, wanting an honest answer, “How? I know her work is dangerous.”

 

“We got caught on top of a fast moving car. This guy was going to attack. Gisele shot him, fell…she saved my life,” Han wrings his hands as a black man pats Han’s shoulder, “I don’t know what else to say.”

 

“We came to pay our respects,” a bald man with a gruff voice says calmly, “You’d be proud of what she did to help us all.”

 

“Is she here?” the woman sniffles, distraught.

 

Han nods as the other two professionals provide further details.

 

And then the tears poured down once she saw it with her own eyes, her daughter’s lifeless body, quiet no more, as she weeps into her boyfriend’s chest.

 

Later she tries to reason that at least she knows, thinking the worst would be her daughter’s body left somewhere for no one to find, or maybe they wouldn’t be able to find her family. And the pain in her stomach still churns and churns…

 

 

Han keeps a respectable distance at the funeral.

All of the somber faces cut into him. He’s convinced he can see something of Gisele in all of her relatives, from hair turned away from him, to delicate fingers wiping away tears, or a nose on a male, but especially in her mother. The striking, deep brown eyes, eyebrows that emphasized them moreso were familiar and heartbreaking as Han saw it as a portrait that would never come to pass. It would haunt him until his very last days.

 

There’s no gravestone yet, as the custom is to wait, thirty days in Gisele’s case. And so Han holes up in his hotel room for the first few days, and then the rest in Los Angeles.

 

“What did you like about L.A.?” Han asks, lounging on a picnic blanket.

 

“Hikes. I was…uneasy when I first got there. One day I took a trail, after everyone telling me I had to, and for whatever reason it was exactly what I needed,” Gisele lays down and settles into Han’s body, “and In-N-Out burger.”

 

He places a stone he collected from one of the many Los Angeles hiking trails atop her gravestone next to the others. ‘It’s what we do’, the Israeli translator had told him weeks backs. Like at the funeral, the gravestone was flowerless, as Jewish tradition held. He stands there silent on an early Tel Aviv morning, he was there when the gates opened, perhaps thinking he wouldn’t have the nerve to do it otherwise.

 

Afterwards, he brings a potted plant to Gisele’s mother because he didn’t know what else he can do.

 

“You are the man she loved. Not only her work partner,” the woman states when she invites Han in.

 

Han nods, and quietly, “Yes. I love her.”

 

“I think I knew when I saw the way you looked at my door. After, her grandma said the last she talked to Gisele, Gisele told her about you, the good things, bad things. Those right things, when it’s love,” Han stares into his drink, guilt consuming him, stomach in knots, as the woman continues, “Thank you for bringing her home.”

 

And some time later Han returns on what would be his last time, bringing a rock from Tokyo this time.

 

 “I got a garage. Doing motorcycles, too. The city is noisy, but it’s amazing. Rome and Tej  stopped by…and drifting. The tight corners, you could outdo most of these punks…”

 

And Han finally touches the sea, perhaps not the coastline Gisele grew up on, but the water still flowed throughout.

 

“…there’s this cliff. The first time I jumped off it I was scared as shit. But it was the most amazing feeling…” 

 

 

Han’s mom and dad stood there stone-faced in disbelief as a bald man delivers the crushing blow.

 

“He was like a brother to me,” Dom Toretto shares.

 

And then the older woman holds it together as much as she could, making calls. The older man wracks his brain, wondering what he could have done and thinking a father shouldn’t outlive a son. And later that night, a sleepless, insomniac mom waits to wake up from this nightmare. 

 

“You should stay. You shouldn’t be alone. Your uncle and I are going to the golfing range,” Han’s dad offers, when he sees his son for the first time in ages, “You must miss Koreatown. We can go to the batting cages, or this new go-karting place that just opened.”

 

Han just nods a no, excusing himself to take a bath, picking at his pink shirt as if it were suffocating him.

 

“He said he feels like it’s a nightmare. What can we really do?” Han’s mom resigns, distracting herself with cleaning, “Busan isn’t too far from Tokyo. Someone will look out for him.”

 

Food came before and after the funeral. Tears shed. Tears poured. The dad feels empty. The mom feels too much.

 

And Han’s parents see for the first time, the picture of the only woman their son will ever love, the paper singed around her image, body intact, as if it were the last thing Han touched as the world burned around him.

 

 

Across the world, Dom Toretto seeks revenge.

 

Across the waters, Sean Boswell does what he can.

 

Some years later, a change in management calls upon the mother from Tel Aviv to confirm the annual charity donation in her daughter’s name, as they couldn’t locate the original benefactor.

And a time after that, that woman locates Han’s whereabouts, the man was deceased, so she sends flowers to the other side of the world, to another mom and a dad who lost their child too soon.

 

From time to time, the mom in Los Angeles clutches at the letter from a mom from far away, finally managing to box it away when the flowers wilt and wither away.

 

They all are still a little sad, bitter, hurt, and angry, but they all know what they had to do then and what they have to do now.

 

They all live on.

 

....

 II.  “And Taxes”

 

“You three are Jewish on my side of the family,” Gisele begins, holding onto Adira and taking Ethan into her arms on her Grandpa Ariel’s sofa.

 

The boy had asked about flowers, like when they visited their paternal great Grandpa Choi in Seoul, because later that day they were unveiling their Great Grandma Leona’s gravestone in Jerusalem, a year after the older woman’s death.

 

“And when someone passes away we put a stone or rock on their gravestone when we visit. We do it to remember their memory, to honor them even though they are gone because stones last a very long time.”

 

“For us, flowers are for those who are alive,” Gisele’s Aunt Rachael expands, “to remind us to live.”

 

“We did give a plant with flowers to your Great Grandpa, we can do it again,” Han suggests, rubbing Gisele’s shoulder.

 

“Cousin Maggie told me they used to do from history. When there were no headstones at all. So it wouldn’t get lost,” Alona chimes in, smoothing out her dress as Rachael brushes the girl’s hair.

 

 

“We should go hiking at night more,” Ethan reasons when they stop for a break after their day-long adventure, “it’s not as sweaty and sticky.”

 

“Hydrate. You guys still have water?” Han asks the twins, “Lona?”

 

Alona nods, and scrunches her brow, much like her mother, looking intently at the view below them.

 

“Addie would love the stars out here,” the boy continues, sipping from his water bottle.

 

“Mmmh,” Han agrees, chewing an apple as the breeze sweeps over them.

 

 

“Even Amazons need sleep, come on,” Gisele corals her daughters play-battling from the living room.

 

Adira complies, knowing her ‘five more minutes’ were up, “Can you braid my hair for school, Ma?”

 

“Once you put on your jammies.”

 

 “I’m a Jedi today!” protested Alona, welding her lightsaber toy, picking up her sister’s shield in her right hand and leading the husky Felix, and their snow white Samoyed across the room.

 

“Mochiyuki. It means snow that looks like mochi, we can call her Mo,” the girl had convinced her family to adopt another older pet when she heard about their last dog. Hoping the fluffy thing would take to her new name, unlike the terrier Russell.

 

“Jedis need sleep, too. Bath after, you promised. I know you don’t want to wake up early for it,” Gisele nods her head to the bedroom, as the girl sighs, but listens, “Ethan, honey, ten more minutes.”

 

“Alright,” the boy responds over the piano playing, running his fingers through his damp hair.

 

Han hauls a crying Leos from his bedroom, adding to the noise.

 

“What do you want? We gave you a bath, changed into the jammies you love. Terrible, terrible twos,” Han sets the crying toddler in his playpen, hoping Leos would tire himself out as he tidies the kitchen.

 

At the moment, Leos was on Han’s last nerve, but in his eyes, his children could do no wrong. Everything was a learning experience for them all, himself and Gisele included. Adira was laid-back and sharp; Ethan, resilient and considerate; Alona, curious and headstrong; and sweet little Leos had that fire, like most of them. They were warm and fantastic like their mother, with the…right amount of flaws, and so much, and much more to come.

 

“…it’s not just about her being older, E. You got sick around Valentine’s before you two turned one, it was just the common cold, but it was your mom and I’s first time at it, we worried. Your sister worried, seeing you in pain, you slept apart for a few nights. She felt it and she’s been protective of you even more since,”

 

“I know, Dad, I got her back, too.”

 

Meanwhile, Gisele sits on Adira’s bed as she braids the girl’s, soft, light brown strands.

 

“I want to jump into the lake this summer. I’ve been practicing in the pool.”

 

“Whatever you want,” Gisele smiles, starting on the second braid.

 

“Did I cry like that?” the young girl inquires, putting on her ‘sleep socks,’ as she called them, “Did Lo and Ethan?”

 

Gisele hesitates, perhaps she was like her father in that respect, far away for work for a time, swooping in for the good parts when their other halves held everything else together. Guilt no matter how much Han supported her. It didn’t help that her son had iced her out for the evening, something she herself was familiar with, even at her age.

 

“From what I remember, a little bit,” Gisele responds evenly, not quite ready to give up the illusion to her sweetest of daughters, “Your dad, he has stories.”

 

“Terrible twos. Kids, right?” Adira answers as coolly, maturely, as her father would have, moving to the next subject, “We’re finishing our telescope at school tomorrow. I think I’m painting mine dark purple with planets…”

 

Gisele tucks Adira in, kissing the girl goodnight.

 

“We’re right here, baby,” Gisele assures Leos before joining her husband in the kitchen.

 

When the crying finally stops, Han and Gisele look over to find their older son on the floor humming along with the piano keyboard, letting his little brother stab at the keys.

 

“You like this Dae?” the boy calling his baby brother by the Korean name their paternal grandparents called the tot, “or we can try something upbeat.”

 

The opening bars to “The Raider’s March” starts and Gisele grins as it takes her back to the first time they used that tune to calm a baby Ethan down. And further back to before his birth.

 

“This is why we have kids?” Han whispers, scratching Mo’s ears, “and taxes?”

 

“Yeah,” Gisele sighs, picking up Leos who was calling for her, the boy palms his mother’s cheeks like how she does to him, drumming and humming along with his brother, “such good kids.”

 

 

“Ride or die, guys,” C.J. O’Conner says, and then teasingly when a green Mazda pulls up next to her, “Watch out, Etan.”

 

“It’s not the years, it’s the mileage,” the year-younger male retorts, “Am I going to finally see you drift?”

 

Alona Harabo-Lue rolls her eyes, tying a ponytail.

 

“Ride or die,” Vincente Toretto nods in amusement, buckling his seatbelt.

 

The engines rev and CJ’s Barracuda is first off the line

 

Ethan close after, rounding the corner cleanly.

 

Alona’s Subaru Impreza is steady and smooth.

 

Vincente just drives his Charger, but then motions his body forcefully as if it would get him to the finish line faster as the streak of red dashes past the blue, silver and green at the last minute.

 

The lights in the indoor go-kart flashes as the scoreboard places scores for the young racers, Alona in second, CJ just edging out Ethan for third.

 

“This is just round one,” Jack assures his little sister, tapping at her helmet, “keep it up.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 27:

Dial B for…/B-Sides (20 Conversations and Correspondences)

 

Background material/cut scenes to my headcanon chapters 1-24 in the form of letters, phone calls, text, and other social media as it progresses chronologically.

 

…..

 

I. Please leave a message after the beep… (The Gisele and Han are dead/die universe)

 

 

….

 

Extract 1: Behavior

 

Buchanan Elementary School

 

To the Parents of Han Lue,

 

            Your son, Han Lue, has misbehaved in a manner not condoned with this school’s policies. He broke another student’s tooth. Another student came forward informing us that Han was only reacting to another student calling your son and his friends disparaging terms, nonetheless, the circumstances cannot outweigh his actions. Therefore a day’s suspension as well as a month’s detention is currently in enforcement. Expect a phone call from the school soon.

 

                        Vice Principal Harriet Smith

 

 

Extract 2: Boyfriend?

 

“Toretto Market & Café how can I help you?”

 

“Mia, it’s Han, I’m on my way out of San Diego, can I pick you up anything? I might have a lead on coffee beans.”

 

“I can’t right now, even if there is a discount,” Mia realigns products on the shelves, “So that’s where you’ve been. Vanessa called again, you really need a cellphone.”

 

“Yeah,” Han responds sheepishly, placing his elbows on the diner counter, “Do I want to hear the message over the phone?”

 

“She said she had a great time on your last date and wants to know if you want to go rock climbing.”

 

“I’ll call her. I know you went out on a limb-”

 

“--Do not do this for me!”

 

“I’m not!” Han defends, “I do like her. I will call her.”

 

“Okay.” Mia sighs, “I have to go. Customers.”

 

“Mia.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Happy Birthday.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

 

Extract 3: Busy

 

In the Dominican Republic, Malo is enjoying himself with a bevy of young ladies when his cellphone rings, "Dimelo," he drunk-walks across the room to where Han is laughing, playing a drinking game with several hot Latinas when Malo shoves the phone in his face, "Yo. Phone."

 

"I'm busy."

 

"You're gonna wanna take this one," a beat, "It's Dom."

 

 

Extract 4: B(from the Czech Republic)

 

Gisele was on the plane out of Rio, yawning from the nap, she picks up her travel journal and scribbles a note:

 

Contact BCZ about the lamps. Město.

 

 

Extract 5: Break

 

“…how’s the fishing?” Gisele, managing to talk when Han found decent cell phone service beyond the occasional texts that went through.

 

“We’re having fun,” Han answers, feet tapping at wooden planks of the Tenerife pier, “Brian and Rome are headed back tomorrow morning, Dom, Tej, and I are going to stay the afternoon. What are you up to? Late night out? Late night Cantonese lessons?”

 

“Mia and Elena called it a night, said the last two nights caught up to them. I couldn’t concentrate on reading, but I did finish a Cantonese movie about half an hour ago,” Gisele grins, “Now I’m just enjoying the night air, the clouds are gone and I can see the consell—constellations…”

 

 

Extract 6: Blush

 

“…the last loaf I made was good, but this one,” Gisele laughs as she thumps at the resting challah bread, “I don’t know. I think I’m going to make another one.”

 

“Mmmh. Is it work or a man that’s making you sound so happy?” Gisele’s grandma asks.

 

“He makes me…blush, still. But also very comfortable, and safe,” Gisele sighs dreamily, leaning into the kitchen island in their rental in Hong Kong, finger curling around her dark and light strands, “I love him. He loves me. I’ve never felt like this, so much so fast that I feel my brain trying to fight it sometimes, but I don’t want to…”

 

 

Extract 7: Base         

 

Please leave a message after the beep…

 

“Hey Han, it’s Mia, I hope you’re settling in. Jack’s talking and it’s incredible,” Mia updates on the voicemail from her end of the Pacific Ocean, “I just want you to remember that you’re always welcome home…”

 

 

Extract 8: Birthday

 

Twinkie-

Remember to order extra gyoza (potsticker dumplings) for Han’s birthday.

 

-Reiko

 

 

Extract 9: Brothers

 

“Hello?” a young man in Tokyo answers as he continues to dry his car with a towel.

 

“Sean?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“This is Dom,” the man sits down on an armchair, “Han’s friend from the U.S.,” the graveling voice explains.

 

“Yes. I remember. How are you?”

 

“Not too bad…”

 

 

Extract 10: Bouquet

 

Ahava Harabo,

 

            Thank you for the kind words about my son. I never had the chance to meet your daughter Gisele, but my son loved her very much and spoke highly of her. Your thoughtfulness in the flowers speaks volumes of the person of you are, and reflects upon her and the type of person I’d have liked my son to have loved. We will keep Gisele in our thoughts, as you’ve kept Han’s in yours.

 

                        -Su-mi and Tae Lue

 

…..

 

 

II. #HanAndGiseleLive (The Chapter 6 Alternate Universe)

 

….

 

Extract 11: Baby

 

Dear James,

 

            Everyone misses you too. Gisele is fussy, but she’s just a baby and the best. My dad is showing Raviv how to rake leaves, and bless our boy for thinking it is fun and not a chore like I did. Remember to eat and sleep.

 

Love you always,

Ahava

 

 

Extract 12: Beau

 

Please leave a message at the end of the beep…

 

“Gisele, it’s Tomas again. I can’t wait for Los Angeles. I miss you. Call me when you can. I love you. Bye.”

 

 

Extract 13: Best

 

“Hey stranger…” Petra greets when Gisele picks up the other line.

 

“Hi,” Gisele answers, lounged in her bed.

 

“I’m going to try and be the bigger person,” the woman says calmly, and then more sternly, “I know you’ve been in flux and maybe my wedding planning has driven me mad --but quit being stubborn, Harabo!”

 

“I am in need of a vacation…”

 

 

Extract 14: Busted

 

Wed. Oct 21, 2009 3:15 PM

SL H SL

Anything I should check out in Portugal?

 

Re: Anything…3:17 PM

G not Y

Never been

 

Re: Re: Anything…3:17 PM

SL H SL

OK. Stay safe.

 

Re: Re: Re: Anything…3:18 PM

G not Y

You too.

 

Wed. Oct 21, 3:30 PM

G

I finally watched Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid.

I loved it. Is that how you “worked” when you got to Mexico

and why you asked me about my foreign language skills? Haha.

 

Re: I finally…3:42 PM

H R

Busted : )

 

 

Extract 15: Britain

 

“It’s Han, I’m just checking in…Ma?” Han asks when the other end is silent unlike the other calls.

 

“You need to make up with your dad. Your Aunt isn’t doing well. Come see us all in Wales… Please. I’ll get you a ticket if you need it.”

 

“…Okay. I can get myself there...” the man sinks further into Dom Toretto’s armchair.

 

 

Extract 16: Baseball

 

From:  Mags Harabo

To: hlue_cars@gmail.com

Baseball Tokyo 2020 Olympics

August 4, 2016 at 7:12 PM

 

Uncle Han,

 

They are bringing baseball and softball back to the Olympics for 2020 Tokyo. Mom and Dad say we can go if nothing comes up. It’s so far away, but I told them if I don’t like baseball anymore we can go for other sports and the experience. Maybe Israel will have a good team in my lifetime. And I read that South Korea won the last gold in 2008, Japan and USA do well, too, so I’d be happy for you for that, but watch out!

 

I hope you are all well. How are Alona and Ethan?

 

..

 

From: Han Lue

To: harabo_maggie@gmail.com

Re: Baseball Tokyo 2020 Olympics

August 5, 2016 at 10:22 AM

 

Sound plan, Mags! Hope to see you all here. We just started swimming lessons so moving by land and sea isn’t far off.

 

Send our best to you all.

 

 

Extract 17: Birth

 

Feb 11, 2020 9:34 PM

Dominic T

We are so blessed to be blessed three times over. Letty and baby Gabriela are well.

 

Mia

She’s the cutest. We can’t wait to meet her.

 

O’Conner

More for the racing crew!         

 

Han

Congrats guys, there’s nothing like this, huh?

 

Roman

Beautiful as a button!!

 

Gisele

So precious! Sending our love to you all.

 

Tej

Congrats!

 

Feb 12, 2020 11:34 AM

Letty

Thanks for the well wishes. I still can’t believe it sometimes.

 

..

 

The Car Seen @TheCarSeen 1 min

Up and coming circuit racer @L_OrtizToretto welcomes a third child. Reports say Mom and child are well.

 

The Car Seen @TheCarSeen 32 min

A knack for rally racing @L_OrtizToretto is infamously private, but she is believed to be in-laws with Hollywood stunt driver Brian O’Conner.

 

The Car Seen  @TheCarSeen 32 min

Up and coming circuit racer @L_OrtizToretto reportedly gives birth to her third child.

 

 

Extract 18: Beautiful

 

Leona Ariel stacks the latest postcard from her Granddaughter Gisele with the previous ones. The ones from long ago were in Hebrew, but the latest with the inclusion of her great-grandchildren, Alona and Ethan, were in English with the Hebrew translation.

 

Granma,

 

            They have so many postcards here I am sending you two, one for you and one for Granpa. Switzerland is beautiful. We are crammed in our room, but it’s funny and we watched movies in French.

-Gisele

..

 

Great Grandma and Grandpa,

 

            We are driving around Japan again. I (Alona) love the snow in the mountains. We miss you both and can’t wait to see you soon.

 

LOVE,

 

            -Alona Ji          -ETAN             -Gisele

 

 

Extract 19: Bibimbap

 

 “Annyeong halmeoni,” Han waves to his mother with his young son’s hand.

 

“Annyeong Addie Min,” the woman waves through the tablet screen, “annyeong Leos Dae.”

 

“Anneyeong halmeoni grandma,” Adira replies, finishing the drawing to show her grandma.

 

“Tell them your favorite word,” Han encourages, “Bi…”

 

“Bibimbap!” the toddler Leos shouts.

 

“Grandma, we’re gardening, Mo and Felix helped us dig,” Alona shows off a dirt covered carrot, “We’re making mandu. I like carrots in my dumplings.”

 

“Looks good.”

 

“How’s vacation?” Gisele asks, setting the basket of produce on counter.

 

“Unbelievable. Good, but crowded. Tae wants to go to Hawaii next year, he misses the air he says,” Su-mi answers, knowing that it was his brother that her husband missed.

 

Gisele nods.

 

“Bap bap bap,” Leos taps a wooden spoon on the table towards Gisele, sticking his tongue out when he gets his mom’s attention, who smiles and proceeds to wipe the drool from his face.

 

Ethan enters the kitchen after wiping the dirt off the dogs’ paws, squeezing between Adira and Han, “Hey…”

 

 

Extract 20: Brains

*note: emoji descriptions appear in brackets because I heard it can make the rest of the text malfunction if I try to put it in the story.

 

Photo

 

           

lue_han_autos Can’t spell Indiana without Diana! #tbt Halloween 2014. Brains, beauty, still sexy @ghl_yash and origin story of @eth_yeong and @i_am_lona #IndyAndWondyFightingNazis [heart emoji; toothy-grin-smiley face-sun glasses emoji]

 

the_built_roman IN Diana!!! [three winkyface emojis; eggplant emoji]

 

eth_yeong Not in front of the children!

 

lue_han_autos don’t spy on us then @eth_yeong

 

eth_yeong @lue_han_autos you tagged me, POPS

 

lue_han_autos @eth_yeong You slay me Yeong son, we were THIS close to naming you (Obi) Hwan (Kenobi), BEFORE TFA/Episode VII

 

eth_yeong Stop. Are the puns worse @i_am_lona ?

 

lue_han_autos @eth_yeong or Benjamin #TeamSolo

 

tejptek It’s on!

 

ghl_yash Not tonight boys, and we almost named @eth_yeong after the dog, Jakob (Ludwig Felix) #TeamIndy [wolf-husky dog emoji]

 

i_am_lona Judge rules in favor of @ghl_yash #TeamGeneralOrgana

 

11 likes

OCTOBER 31, 2030

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 28:

The Fast and the Furious 2044 or Things That Happen In Movies

 

Episode 1: Knots

 

                                                                            ….      

 

The Present Year of 2044

 

[Black Clouds]

 

A HIGH SECURITY PRISON IN AN UNDISCLOSED LOCATION

 

Blonde hair swayed to-and-fro as the orange-clad prisoner stalks along the fenced yard. The prisoner stops to look as the black clouds in the distance and smiles as the fellow detainees erupt in a riot...

 

                                                      

[Dark Eyes]

 

A GOVERNMENT FACILITY IN WASHINGTON DC

 

The tall and lithe brunette Adira Harabo-Lue treads through the muddy field on the last leg of the field, scaling a rope and swinging to the end and clocking her time on the tablet the trainer held.

 

She made her way to the locker room, showered and was drying her hair with a towel as her closet friend at the program joined her.

 

“Any plans this weekend?” Sara asked, pulling on a sock.                    

 

“The plan is to write all weekend, but it’s my sibling’s birthday so I should expect a call from my parents.”

 

“If you need a break stop by the coffeeshop,” the short, black-haired woman said, departing.

 

Adira finished her post training routine and reported the main office, gently knocking on Agent Monica Fuentes’ door.

 

“Have a seat, both of you,” the woman motions to the man behind Adira.

 

“You two are my best drivers, so I’m going to need you two front and center if you’re up for it. The rest of the team will be here tomorrow so think it over.”

 

“Yes Ma’am,” the two answer in unison, exiting the room when dismissed.

 

The two co-workers walked side by side in silence until the young man spoke, still looking ahead while rolling his neck for emphasis, “I think I’m still sore from the last assignment.”

 

“I guess I have that to look forward to.”

 

“You’re staying on?” Freddie’s smile fading at her hesitant nod, “You think you’re going to tell your family?”

 

“I don’t know,” Adira sighed, blinking slowly as her dark eyes popped again looking at her occasional partner, “the timing always seems off.”

 

“It’s different for everyone, I think. Yes?”       

 

Adira nods.

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow maybe?”

 

“Yeah.”

                               

[29]

 

LOS ANGELES

 

“So good to see you,” Gisele gets up from the restaurant table to greet her oldest daughter Alona with a hug, Han patting her shoulder as they sit down.

 

“Happy twenty-ninth bro!”

 

“Happy twenty-ninth and five minutes,” the young woman’s twin Ethan high-fives.

 

The next day Gisele and Alona go for mani-pedis with Grandma Lue.

 

“You have a grandson, no?” One of the manicurists asks Grandma Lue in Korean, “My granddaughter so picky.”

 

“He’s off somewhere. I don’t know,” the old woman nods her head dismissively.

 

“Aye. In-laws? Children now get everything. I work for everything…”

 

Grandma Lue doesn’t bother confirming or denying the gossip, turning her attention to focus on the drama on the television screen.

 

The three women explore the rest of Koreatown before dropping Grandma Lue off at her friend’s house, leaving Gisele and Alona in the car alone.   

 

“He’s alright. Tokyo seems to work for him,” Alona tells her mother about her youngest brother Leos, “He just needs time.”

 

“I know,” Gisele remarks looking out the passenger window.

 

The rest of the weekend flowed more smoothly, concluding on dinner before the workday began and the group went their ways, Ethan a few miles to his apartment and Alona on to San Diego.

 

“I was their age when we met.” Han muses, handing another warm mug of tea to his wife after he lost grip on the last one, breaking the ceramic to pieces.

 

“I still remember it like yesterday,” Gisele smiles sitting on the porch next to Han as he wraps his arm over her shoulder, “the green bag of chips, the olive v-neck that I loved, but the ugly-busy-squares things on your button shirt was not good.”

 

“It’s what’s inside that counts,” Han laughs, “You were lucky I was on a brunette faze,” Han teases

 

“Right…” Gisele rolls her eyes jokingly, “and if you were into guys you’d be married to Hans the ski-instructor living in Geneva.”

 

“He looked like Robert Redford. You blocked me. I could have swung both ways, our daughter…”

 

“I don’t think if it works like that,” Gisele nods, “But I will look out for him in the future.”

 

“Deal,” Han nuzzles into her neck and holds her tighter, “You were just shy of twenty-four when we met.”

 

“Mmm,” Gisele confirms rubbing Han’s right wrist.

 

“I don’t think you would have loved me at twenty-four.”

 

 

Flashback

 

[Han at 24 years old and Gisele at 19 years old]

 

.. (1) Streak ..

 

“The blonde phase has ended,” Letty remarks after Han returns from escorting his hookup out the door.


“I had a good streak going but it had to end some time.” Han replies, “And to be fair about half of them were dye jobs.”

 

“We’re working our way to Lima, you in?” Dom joins the table, kissing Letty’s forehead.

 

“Of course.” Han answers, pouring a bowl of cereal.

 

.. (2) Clingy ..

                                                                    

“How’s George?” Gisele’s mother asks, sitting down after the last customers left her restaurant in Tel Aviv.

 

“We broke up,” Gisele nonchalantly replies in Hebrew herself.

 

‘Your dad liked him but I don’t think he’s for you.”

 

“Because he’s a military pilot too?” Gisele’s alcohol-loosened tongue blurts out, “Maybe I kept dating him because I thought dad didn’t like him.”

 

“Gisele…”

 

 “I know, Ma. I was the one who ended it. He was too clingy,” Gisele takes a gulp of water, “I’m going to be in Germany next month, maybe the rest of summer.”

 

“Maybe you can look at universities when you’re there?”

 

“If I have time.”

 

.. (3) Focus ..

 

Gisele made her way to the operations base asking for a medic, the translator Tomas appeared.

 

“Dr. Hruska, how can I help?” their co-worker asked.

 

“Get me my bag in the trunk.”

 

“You’re a doctor?” Gisele asks.

 

“A medic, but soon,” Tomas responds, “Are you allergic to anything? Gisele?”

 

“No,” Gisele winces as the brunette continues examining her wrist.

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“What?”

 

“Your name?” The man repeats calmly.

 

“Gisele Harabo.”

 

“Where did you grow up?”

 

“Tel Aviv, Israel,” Gisele answers, swallowing a pill.

 

“How was it? Any pets? Siblings?”

 

“I have an older brother, he’s a lawyer. My mom has cats.”

 

“Focus. Tell me about the cat that you don’t seem to like that much.”

 

“It scratched me and I bled. Ah,” Gisele says as her wrist bone snaps back into place, “I was four.”

 

“I’m an only child. I grew up with my grandparents in Prague and I think I’m a cat person, but I like dogs too. I go by my middle name, and the ‘H’ at the beginning of my last name is silent, so I can understand the confusion,” Tomas shares as he’s taping Gisele’s wrist, “Better?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good. We’ll have you checked on when we get to town.”

 

.. (4) Friends ..

 

“This is Philip, my partner in Munich and his friend Marco,” Gisele tells her friend Petra.

 

“Nice to meet you.”        

 

“Thanks for having us.”

 

“No trouble,” Petra remarks, “You came from Zurich?”

 

“Philip and I grew up there,” Marco smiles.

 

“I have to find my jacket. Will you get that Gisele? It must be Fred, the neighbor,” Petra motions to the door at the ring, and then hushed, “Kate can’t make it and mom said I should invite him out.”

 

“Tomas?” Gisele furrows a brow in surprise at the man at the door.

 

“Gisele?”

 

“I knew you lived in Prague, but not this close.”

 

“It’s good to see you again,” Tomas holding onto Gisele’s gaze for a long moment.

 

The group chatted as Petra looked for her jacket, the sandy blonde finally resurfaced from the laundry room and then they were off to the bar.

 

“No book tonight?” Gisele approaches Tomas at the booth.

 

“It was for work. Reading helps me concentrate.”

 

“I remember you saying that many times,”

 

“Do I?” Tomas sheepishly says,

 

“It worked very well.”

 

“I like mysteries. Mostly.”

 

“Me too. But sometimes I have to plan ahead because I don’t like to start and stop so I haven’t been able to read a long book in a long time,” Gisele

 

“I see that…”

                                                                

.. (5) Drivers ..

 

 “Any word on Letty?” Han asks Dom at dinner after hours working on a car.

 

“She found me the first time, she’ll find me again if that’s what she wants,” Dom says, “The meeting with the drivers is after New Year’s.”

                     

….

 

[Han at 24/25 years old and Gisele at 19/20 years old]

                                                                                           

.. (6) Lima ..

 

“Han?”

 

The deathly sounding cough continued as Beatriz made her way to neighbor’s bathroom, finding a black-eyed and bleeding Han on the floor.

 

“Bea?”

 

“Dom let me in. What happened?”

 

“A favor went south,” Han explains taking a glass of water from Beatriz as she replaces his bloodied towel with a new warm one, “I’m fine. It’s statistics? Fifty-fifty odds. I’m lucky we didn’t get caught.”

 

.. (7) Bartenders ..

 

“Subbing?” Han asks Beatriz.

 

“Switching to night shifts,” the dirty blonde ties her hair back.

 

“You’re going to steal away my tips,” Han laughs, cleaning a mug.

 

“The tourists might see you are easier,” the woman speaks in her slightly Portuguese accent, “and I thinks it’s, uh, spring break soon so the young women will be all over with the tips.”

 

“Thanks for the encouragement.”

 

“No problem.”

 

.. (8) Practice ..

 

“We can do this another time if you’re not up for it.” Tomas suggest as he sees Gisele fidgeting on the sofa half an hour into the movie.

 

“No. I was just…” Gisele takes his hand, “let me show you.”           

 

“Ready?” Gisele asks as they pull up to an abandoned outdoor parking area.

 

“Yes.”

 

“We practiced all morning,” Gisele turns, “thought about it throughout lunch…I just need to get it out of my system until next week.”

 

“A lot of the guys at the military base loved cars, but I never got in to it. With public transport and all,” Tomas’s face pales as Gisele speeds up and drives into the dirt path.

 

..(9) I don’t care ..

 

“I’m not used to sharing about myself, but I want to with you.” Tomas confesses, “I know you’re going to be somewhere else and I’ll be here and then somewhere else, but I don’t care. I’m falling in love with you and I don’t want to stop our relationship because I can’t stop how I feel.”

 

“I want that too,” Gisele seals it with a kiss

 

.. (10) 25 ..

 

“What does a twenty-five year old man like you do for a birthday?” Beatriz asks placing the last chair atop a table.                                                                                                                   

 

“Reevaluate my life? Some of the kids I grew up with probably graduated grad school early and working and here I am,” Han chuckles wryly.

 

“Working,” Beatriz deadpans flexing her tired arms.

 

“Ouch.”                    

 

“Let me get you a birthday drink.”

 

“Breaking the law for me? What happened to your new honest life?”

 

“You’re off and I’m not.”

 

“Good point,” Han responds, finishing the count of his tips as he leans into the counter, “Can I get a birthday kiss instead?”

 

“What happened to the guy who just went for it?”

 

“Well I’m older and wiser, so I thought I’d be more careful,” Han leans further into Beatriz, lost in the hazel of her eyes until he brushes his lips with hers, the woman responding in kind.

 

.. (11) Recruit ..

 

“You’re one of the top of your group all-around. The best in marksmanship I’ve seen in a long time,” a man of forty or so in a polished suit addresses Gisele.

 

“The Mossad is interested in you when your military career is over. Have you had any plans?” A woman, slightly younger, in a pantsuit informs.

 

“Perhaps staying on but I wasn’t sure.”

 

“Think it over. We’ll keep in touch.”

 

.. (12) Shitty ..

 

“You want a hit?” Letty holds out a joint when Han stumbles upon her on the terrace, the only quiet part of the party.

 

“No.”

 

“Right. Smoke free,” Letty continues as Han sits, “You know all this time I know nothing about you? Maybe I don’t ask because I don’t want you to ask about me.”

 

“We think alike.”

 

“You must be an only child. The way you look up to Dom.” the woman rubs her eyes.

 

“I am. You too, right?”

 

Letty nods looking angrily up into the night sky, “My parents were so shitty. Why do I miss them so much sometimes?”

 

Han didn’t know much about shitty parents of his own, but he’s knows the pain of missing people so he sits there with Letty hoping that helped.

 

.. (13) Canceled ..

 

“…I never canceled something this important,” an irate Gisele says to Tomas of their plans to meet her family on the Jewish New Year in Tel Aviv, “My brother is here and I cannot deal with him.”

 

“I really wanted to be there,” Tomas pleads as they converse in German, “I’ll be there for Hanukah, I promise. I had Petra book my flight with hers.” 

 

“You’re going to have to explain yourself to my Grandma,” Gisele calms, but not trusting herself to keep talking, as she hands her phone off.

 

… (14) Jinx …

 

“Let’s go somewhere for the weekend,” a cheery Han instructs when he enters Beatriz’s kitchen.

 

“You won?” Beatriz remarks evenly.

 

“End of my losing streak. I was beginning to think I was jinxed.”

 

“I have to work,” Beatriz bookmarks the page of her book

 

“Dinner out? I know I’ve been preoccupied with the new car.”

 

“Tomorrow night.”

 

“Great. I’ll take care of dinner tonight right after I shower,” Han gives her a quick kiss.

 

.. (15) Napkins ..

 

“How’s this one?” Beatriz holds up a sketch of Han.

 

“A Beatriz Alvarez Cruz original. Something to remind you of me once you’re famous,”

 Han smirks as he and Beatriz kill time at the empty bar like they almost always did, by drawing on napkins, “Dom and Letty are headed off. I need to find a new place, or roommates.”

 

“Live with me,” Beatriz shrugs, starting on an intricate pattern design.

 

“Yeah?” Han answers, chewing on a stir-stick.

 

 “You’re there all the time. You cook and clean. And I love you and everything.”

 

“Yeah,” Han nods with a sheepish smile as he puts the finishing touches on his Calvin & Hobbes rendering, “I’d love that too.”

 

“Do you guys do American Thanksgiving? To say goodbye?”

 

“If I cook and clean?” Han embraces Beatriz from behind the stool and starts kissing her neck to ear, “that’s what you like?”

 

“Yes,” Beatriz palms Han’s face kissing him deeply, “The sexiest. I’ll clean.”

 

“Generous. Sexy. Smart.” Han says between kisses.

 

“You or me?” Beatriz’s teases, pulling at Han’s hair.

                                                                                                

.. (16) Wheelman ..

 

 “I’m not picky on food, but those mash potatoes were amazing,” Dom smirks, opening another beer, “here’s to you, one of the best wheelman I ever met.”

 

“If this is it then it’s been a ride,” Han grins.        

 

“Han, mixed ping pong,” Letty calls, “Your girl ain’t cuttin’ it.”

 

“Be right there.”  

 

.. (17) Need ..

 

“What’s wrong?” Han asks a teary-eyed Beatriz when he arrives home early one evening.

 

Beatriz nods, “It’s nothing you have to worry about.”

 

“I don’t like seeing you cry,” Han starts softly, sitting at the edge of the bed.

 

“Just trust me, Han.”

 

“I’ll be in the living room if you need anything,” Han offers as Beatriz nods.

 

.. (18) Love ..

 

Gisele leaps into Tomas’s arms as soon as he drops his duffel bag, their lips melting against one another as he sets her down slowly.

 

“I love you.”

 

“I love you too,” Gisele eyes warm over as they embrace in another kiss.

 

 

[Han at 25/26 years old and Gisele at 20/21 year old]

 

.. (19) Bianca ..

 

Han was sorting the bar pantry when Beatriz pushes him inside further, shutting the door.

 

“Workplace quick--” Han’s words are muffled by his girlfriend’s hand, the other signaling him to hush.

 

Han hears footsteps and then the rough picture of two individuals through the door slits.

 

“We’re looking for a…Cruz?” A leather-motorcycle jacketed woman asks the cook in Spanish. 

 

“Alvarez Cruz. Bianca,” The other towering woman clarifies.

 

“She doesn’t work here.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Yes…” as they stare at each other.

 

“Go. Go. Go!” Another female voice interrupts, walking towards the three with a brutish man in black followed by the bar manager and then exiting with her crew.

 

Beatriz continues to hang her head down, leaning into Han’s chest as he rubs her back.

 

.. (20) Yes ..

 

Gisele and Tomas were getting ready for bed at his place in Prague when he takes her hand and gets down on one knee.

 

“I feel out of place, but not with you. Being with you has been the best days of my life. I love how we have so much in common, but how much we don’t as well. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Gisele, will you marry me?”

 

“Yes,” Gisele nods as Tomas slips the engagement ring on her finger.

 

.. (21) LA 1 ..

 

“I could put in a good word if you ever think about transferring,” Gisele’s American liaison Agent Smith-Trinh in remarks.

 

Gisele had been a last minute replacement, the operation was narcotics based, but luckily her skills and knowledge in weapons got by, playing the part of a novice liaison.

 

“I’m still working my way into all this, but I’ll think about it.”

 

.. (22) 21 ..

 

“I know legal drinking over there is younger, but you’re in America and you’re turning twenty-one, it’s practically a law!” Gisele’s neighbor Heather exclaims after their morning run.

 

“And it’s Spring Break. That’s what you call fate,” Gina chimes in “You have to stay until Cinco de Mayo.”

 

 “I’m in,” Gisele nods, chewing her gum.

 

.. (23) Low ..

 

The lights were low and the noise was loud, but Han spotted Beatrix at the racer party instantly, surrounded by a few men.

 

“I thought you were out with your girlfriends.”

 

“I thought you were laying low for a month, maybe two,” Beatriz retorts, then pleadingly, “We don’t do this now.”

 

.. (24) Traditional ..                                                              

 

“Let me see the ring on you!” Tomas’ grandma tells Gisele at the family gathering to celebrate the engagement, “So beautiful on you.  Did you set a date yet?”

 

“No rushing them,” Tomas’s adoptive grandpa assures.

 

“Love doesn’t know time,” Gisele’s grandma agrees.

 

“You don’t live together. Very traditional.”

 

“I have to be in Paris and then back Tel Aviv for the next few months, so we said it was more practical.”

 

“I signed for another tour before she turned my world around,” Tomas beams as Gisele leans into his tall frame. “And she understands how important that is to me.”

 

.. (25) Adapting ..

 

“You’re back.”

 

Han sits opposite Beatriz on a lawn chair, “Let’s leave. Maybe live outside Peru?”

 

“We need to be over.”

 

“I know we’ve been fighting and sometimes not talking…”

 

“That’s why you were gone.”

 

“Maybe part of it,” looks lovingly at Beatriz.

 

“I want you to be this guy. I know you are good deep down. But I think ‘why I cannot tell you all my fears and everything? And you don’t open up to me at times. That is not what I want.”

 

“That takes time and a little change, adapting,” Han reasons.

 

“All we do is talk and think…I don’t want you to change no matter how small. I was with someone before who wanted to change me, and I won’t ever ask someone of that.”

 

“Bea…”

 

“We may be the same age working and living at the same place, but we are too different. You’re always comfortable. You don’t know what it is to feel an empty stomach. And I’m so glad you didn’t. But you don’t get why I have to work all the time or what I had to give up to be here. I have to deal with my sister getting in trouble. I can’t do it with you too. I put all your things in the living room to pack.”

 

And Han doesn’t object as his eyes creep down to a view of his feet.

 

.. (26) LA 2 ..

 

“…this is Agent Gisele Harabo, we need backup,” Gisele spoke into her wire as she applied pressure to the gunshot wound as the young man writhed in pain.

 

“Hold on,” Gisele whispered, hoping she sounded calmer than she felt, “there’s also a female in her mid-twenties with possible gunshot wounds, canvas the area.”

 

.. (27) That’s it? ..

 

“That’s it?!” Gisele questions.

 

“The trail’s run cold,” Agent Roberts explains closing a binder, “they gave us an extra week as it is.”

 

“You sent her in by herself. To die?!”

 

“This is a business to them…”

 

“Looks like one to you too!”

 

“I get it, the first death is hard, but it’s part of the job.”

 

.. (28) Fight ..

 

“Is that what happens when you’re in it so long?” Gisele sits at Agent Smith-Trinh’s office, “Going through the motions without emotion? Just business?”

 

“What got you here? And I’m not talking about the Mossad or Interpol. What path did you take to get here? And Why?” The middle-aged woman tucks stray strawberry blonde strands behind her ear.

 

“I made mistakes. Joined the military for some sense of redemption. I don’t know,” Gisele nods, staring down at her feet.

 

“Guilt?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You said you wanted to be a lawyer when you were younger. Why?”

 

“My mom and brother did it. They helped people and I wanted to do the same.”

 

“And you shouldn’t forget that. Because Agent Roberts is right about this job, but don’t forget that you fought, you questioned.”

 

.. (29) Petra ..

 

 “I wasn’t going to let a driver pick you up,” Petra embraces Gisele at the airport, “And you’re staying with me this weekend.”

 

“You’re the best.”

 

 

[Han at 26/27 years old and Gisele at 21/22 years old]

 

.. (30) Three ..

 

“You’re the big winner?” A petite young woman flashes her eyelashes, sitting by the beach bonfire and placing her hand on Han’s thigh, “I like new blood.”

 

“I’ll make your blood boil like that hair of yours,” Han whispers huskily as their lips tease out a kiss.

 

The woman squeezes tighter against Han as she rubs his thighs, “I came with my friend. We can’t leave her alone.”

 

“I’m not one to ruin friendships. I share,” Han trails his fingertips on her hips.

 

“You’ve done this before? Some guys are all talk,” she motions for her friend over.

 

“Shhh.” Han nibbles on the ear.       

 

.. (31) Elope ..

 

“We should just elope,” Tomas leafs through another bridal magazine.

 

“Two spontaneous things in a row? It can’t be you Tomas!” Gisele elbows the man in jest.

 

“Las Vegas is right there and I do love Elvis.”

 

“We are not having a Vegas Valentine’s wedding,” Gisele jots a few notes.

 

“So where? And to live? I could get used to L.A.”

 

“And I really do love Prague.”

 

“We don’t need decide right now,” Gisele reasons, setting her things down to straddle and kiss Tomas, “I just want to be here with you now, for as long as we have.”        

                                 

Tomas’s smile breaks then, “I couldn’t save her, this patient, and her son was looking right at me.”

 

“Sometimes you can’t and it’s okay,” Gisele cradles the man’s head as he sniffling, then letting the tears flow, “you did everything you could.”

 

.. (32) Color ..

 

 “You’re from California?” The man who hired Han to paint a mural asks.

 

“Around Los Angeles, but away from the city.”

 

“Ah,” the man helps Han lay tarp on the ground, “the weather is like here, no?”

 

“Close,” Han answers politely, “Have you decided on the color?”

 

.. (33) Missed ..

 

“I saw your note, I guess I just missed you at the apartment,” Tomas sighs into the phone, “If I don’t see you in two days, it means I had to go back to Krakow. I love you. Bye.”

 

.. (34) Snitch ..

 

“We’re sorry for your lost,” Gisele’s partner hands her his clipboard once they were in the hospital room, “We’re from the narcotics division on behalf of the FBI. If there’s anything you can tell us of Mary Heathers--”

 

“You’re a fuckin’ snitch? Spy?” Gina seethes when she realizes her neighbor Gisele is with the authorities, “I don’t want to hear it. Let’s get this over with, then I can start doing something about it.”

 

“We want this cleared up as much as you do. If there’s any foul play we’ll find it,” Gisele tries to sound professional, her brain thinking remorse was more condescending at the moment.

 

“Heather’s dad died a few months ago and she spent all her money on the funeral. She had no other family to help. Just me. She couldn’t afford to take a break from school either. If she was involved it was because she didn’t have another choice. The system is fucked up! Student loans, unpaid internships…” Gina’s voice rises with anger.

                                                                                                 

.. (35) Corners ..

 

 “Look who it is, Corners Chick is back,” a goateed man says recognizing Gisele.

 

“Ten thousand?” Gisele hands over the cash.

 

“This is K-Town. We don’t close the streets, sure you can manage?”

 

Gisele shrugs, playing disinterest, rolling up her window as she prepares for the race.

 

And then they were off and Gisele felt something she hasn’t in a long, sheer excitement as she speeds through the streets, maneuvering in and out of traffic with nothing else on her mind but the rush in her veins.

 

.. (36) Wanderer  ..

 

“Does Beatriz still live here?” Han asks in his best Spanish to the boy of seven or so who answers the door.

 

“Si.”

 

“Hi.”

 

“Hi”

 

“Moving?” Han looks at the boxes in the living room on the way to the kitchen table.

 

“My nephew’s staying with me and now he’s going to live with my aunt.”

 

“Still at the bar?”

 

“I finally finished night school. So not for long.”

 

“That’s good,” Han nods.

 

“You?”

 

“Travel. Odd jobs.”

 

“I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”

 

“Aimless wanderer,” Han says under his breath.

 

Beatriz nods, “Maybe you come back when you shouldn’t…”

 

.. (37) Work ..

 

“We always said work was important but this is too much,” Tomas swallows, “and children.”

 

“We can talk about this when you visit,” Gisele exasperates, “Goodbye.”  .

 

.. (38) Kids ..

 

“…We talked about adoption,” Gisele reiterates, placing her feet on the coffee table in her apartment in Tel Aviv. 

 

“I don’t want to tell you how to feel, but I feel that I can’t make you give that up!” Tomas responds rapidly.

 

“We’ll have a family,” Gisele says, “Are you just waiting for me to change my mind?”

                   

“It’s always in the back of my mind, no matter how much you love me,” Tomas starts, “You’re young…”

 

“That’s never been an issue with us,” Gisele scoffs, “Six years. That’s what one, three years in maturity to a man?”

 

“We don’t talk about our issues. We put it aside because we’re happy to see each other again after being apart.”

 

Gisele doesn’t deny this claim.

 

.. (39) Piece ..

 

“I haven’t thought about planning the wedding since you were in L.A.” Gisele confesses in the middle of the night.

 

“I should want to be where you are and not let the circumstances around us dictate,” Tomas’s sorrow evident.

 

“You should be a bigger part of my life,” Gisele chokes back, “not just a small piece …”

 

“We’re breaking up aren’t we?”

 

“I think so…yes.”

 

.. (40) Toxic ..

 

“What you said earlier, maybe it’s fine. Healthy. To cut people off who are toxic?” Han uses his lighter to burn the chip between his fingers before devouring.

 

“Experience?” Letty wonders, passing the joint back to Han.

 

“…I think I’m the toxic one,” Han yawns, “…this weed sucks.”

 

“It does.”       

 

.. (41) LA X ..

 

 “You’re stepping down?” Gisele asks Agent Smith-Trinh at the holiday office party, “Because of the Heathers case?”

 

“Politics,” the seasoned woman replies, “I caught my son drinking this summer and he looks at me and says, “Mom, I’m 21,’and tomorrow night will be the first time I get to watch my son’s dance recital without waiting for my cell phone to ring. And that is what I’ll focus on.”

 

“What about fighting? No excuses?”

 

“If I wake up and feel like fighting back, you know I will. But not today.”

 

….

 

[Han at 29 years old and Gisele at 23 years old]      

 

.. (42) Old times ..

 

“Like old times,” Dom Toretto grins as Han pulls up to the abandoned automobile plant after they burned a portion of Reyes’ money to send the man a message.

 

“Letty’s really gone?” Han half asks, half states, “She would have got a kick out of this.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

.. (43) Codes ..

 

 “…Gisele. You and her?” Han leans in to examine the hood of the car.

 

“No,” Dom shakes his head, already suspecting Gisele’s interest in Han from the other day when she volunteered to go along scouting Reyes’ handprint.

 

“I thought maybe I’d ask her for out. If you’re sure nothing will go on with you two,” Han drums his fingers on the car frame, then finishes self-deprecatingly, yet coolly, “If we get out of this thing alive.”

 

Dom responds instantly with a grin, “If she wants to be with you that’s all that matters.”

 

“If she asks about me asking,” Han hesitates after a few minutes of working in silence.

 

“I got your back, Han,” patting his old friend on the back and then continues to work, thinking, hoping that Gisele would see that Han was being considerate and that they weren’t treating her like an object to be traded.

 

.. (44) Three date rule ..                                       

 

“How long do you wait to sleep with someone?” Tej questions as he shuffles the deck of cards, Roman, Gisele, Leo and Santos at the table, “Three dates?”

 

“Three weeks?” Roman responds, adding ketchup to his burger, “or do you have three dates in a week?”

                                                 

“If you are friends first it can go either way. You sleep too early or it doesn’t matter because it’s fate,” Santos offers.

 

“Romántico aquí,” Leo teases as the pair continues to barb amid the conversation.

 

“If the dates not going well, sometimes that’s the only option. You hook up and get on with your lives. There’s nothing wrong with two consenting adults going at it the first night,” Tej adds, “What do you think Gisele. A woman’s perspective? You hit and quit?”

 

“All those options should be valid without judgment,” Gisele concentrates on her cards, then rolls her eyes, “but the reality is that people will judge and I won’t let that bother me. Even I have called men and women ‘easy’ without thinking.”

 

“So did he slap it? Or is that a third date thing?”

 

….

 

Present Day

 

[Jailbreak]

 

THE TORETTO HOUSE

 

“Shit. Thanks for letting us know,” Letty says

 

“They’re piecing it all together. I’ll keep you updated. Bye,” Gisele sighs.

 

“Bye.”

 

Dom returns from his late morning walk and his expression informs Letty immediately exchanging worried head nods as Letty pulls up a stream of the local station, replaying from the start of the broadcast as the news reporter speaks,

 

“The international criminal hacker known as Cipher escaped a high security prison late last night. Authorities in the surrounding areas are told to be on the lookout and are cooperating with international agencies to track down the fugitive. She was jailed twenty years ago…”

 

 

 

                                                      

 

 

                                                                                                                    

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 29:

The Fast and the Furious 2044

 

Episode 2: Date Night

 

….

 

Previously on The Fast and the Furious 2044,

 

Adira finished her post training routine and reported the main office, gently knocking on Agent Monica Fuentes’ door.

 

“Have a seat, both of you,” the woman motions to the man behind Adira.

 

“You two are my best drivers, so I’m going to need you two front and center if you’re up for it. The rest of the team will be here tomorrow so think it over.”

 

“Yes Ma’am,” the two answer in unison, exiting the room when dismissed.

 

The two co-workers walked side by side in silence until the young man spoke, still looking ahead while rolling his neck for emphasis, “I think I’m still sore from the last assignment.”

 

“I guess I have that to look forward to.”

 

“You’re staying on?” Freddie’s smile fading at her hesitant nod, “You think you’re going to tell your family?”

 

“I don’t know,” Adira sighed, blinking slowly as her dark eyes popped again looking at her occasional partner, “the timing always seems off.”

 

“It’s different for everyone, I think. Yes?”          

 

Adira nods.

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow maybe?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

..

 

“They’re piecing it all together. I’ll keep you updated. Bye,” Gisele sighs.

 

“Bye.”

 

Dom returns from his late morning walk and his expression informs Letty immediately exchanging worried head nods as Letty pulls up a stream of the local station, replaying from the start of the broadcast as the news reporter speaks,

 

“The international criminal hacker known as Cipher escaped a high security prison late last night. Authorities in the surrounding areas are told to be on the lookout and are cooperating with international agencies to track down the fugitive. She was jailed twenty years ago…”

 

 

Episode 2: Date Night

 

 

Flashback to Twenty Years Earlier

 

(End of the Line/Cipher’s Capture)

 

Gisele and Han had Cipher cornered in a small shed, guns aimed at the woman.

 

“Do it,” Cipher points to her heart, “Right here.”

 

Gisele patted down and then cuffed the woman to an old chair, standing behind to monitor the criminal’s hands in the event of an escape.

 

“How does it feel Han being her second choice? To Dom. Maybe that was nothing more than a crush,” Cipher relishes, “but the doctor fiancé? What a step back.”

 

Han continues holding his gun steady, still stone-faced as they wait for backup.

 

“And Gisele turns and turns. When stop playing house and come back to the dark side where you belong?” the blonde moves her attention between the two, “Your brawn and brains with my talents. Imagine the possibilities. How many secrets can you keep from your man before he leaves you? Now I’m thinking he’s too good for you. Engaged twice. Makes you think doesn’t it, Han? You’re gorgeous, fair she is too, but a little skinny?”

 

Gisele keeps her stare on the woman as backup eventually came.

 

“Is it the kids? Because nowadays--”

 

“End of the line,” Luke Hobbs bellows, cuffing Cipher’s legs as she’s escorted to the back of a van.

 

Han and Gisele nod to each other in unison, embracing briefly, Gisele kisses his shoulder before following the group, Han keeping his hand firmly on her waist.

 

 

Present Day, the Year 2044

 

[Ouch]        

 

LAX AIRPORT           

 

“Ouch,” CJ O’Conner, the daughter of Brian and Mia, approaches her boyfriend Ethan Harabo-Lue with a hug and kiss as she sees his black eye, “looks worst up close and in person.”

 

“Kiss it better?” the young man jokily pouts, “Your nephew’s got aim, baseball batter’s arm.”

 

“It must mean you’re a good coach if the kids are hitting far and high,” the young woman fingers dark and silky strands, kissing the corner of Ethan’s eye.

 

“Good sports genes,” Ethan jokes, placing one arm over her shoulder as he picks up her baggage, “Addie switched flights. We’re going to wait about an hour for her to land.”

 

“A whole hour alone with my man before all the questioning starts, perfect.”

 

“And you owe me a Cinnabon.”

 

“Film's not going well?” CJ rubs Ethan’s back soothingly.

 

“You know me, stuck one day, and then everything clicks the next day.”

 

..

 

Flashback to Eight Years Earlier

 

 (Vent)

 

“Hey,” CJ joins Ethan on the empty picnic table at Sunday barbeque.

 

“Hey. Congrats on the part.”

 

“Thanks. I’m so nervous,” the recent college grad takes a bite of a chip, “My first speaking part, well besides that first film we made.”

 

“It had its merits, and you were one of them,” the recently turned twenty-one year old swills the last of his beer.

 

“You’re not so bad yourself. How’s the internship?”

 

“…as expected,” Ethan shrugs

 

“I thought it was what you wanted?”

 

“It’s not that I don’t. I know all I do now is get coffee and run errands and it’s part of moving up into the business of directing something of my own in the future, but I didn’t think I’d miss basketball this much. That it would hurt so much,” Ethan shares as he stares at his busted ankle, “FUCK! I didn’t mean to rain on your parade.”

 

“I asked,” CJ stops Ethan’s fidgeting hand, “I vent, you vent. This is what we do.”

 

Ethan smiles gratefully, “Thanks…I want to hear more about your character, if that’s allowed, or won’t spoil the plot…”

 

 

[Fourth of July Weekend]

 

THE HARABO-LUE LAKE HOUSE IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA

 

Red, white and blue streamers and balloons decorated the open field and vases of fresh flowers lined the tables for the Fourth of July celebration.

 

“Still no word on Cipher?” Roman whispers, rubbing at his bald head as the adults stand near the grill.

 

“No,” Gisele responds, “It’s been a few weeks since her escape, but who knows what she has in motion already. All that time in prison.”

 

“The latest version of God’s Eye isn’t picking anything up,” Ramsey informs.

 

“Hobbs is stopping by sometime this week, maybe we’ll get a more concrete picture if we’re face-to-face,” Dom adds.

 

“Isn’t there a chance that she’ll just lie low for good? Given her age? She must know we’ll capture her again,” Han flips the burgers.

 

“You can’t tell with people,” Mia reasons.

 

“Even the predictable can be unpredictable,” Letty adds.    

                           

“I got back up on the security backup,” Tej assures.

 

“We stay strong until then,” Brian says, looking at the children dispersed in the yard and beyond.

 

The Friday Night went on as the family ate and talked, and lit fireworks, until the whole family picture was to be taken

 

“Okay, last one,” Ethan sets the timer on the camera as he rushes to the group.

 

“Cheeeeese.” The camera flashes, followed by the family disengaging their poses.

 

“Baseball time?” Alona announces loudly.

 

“If you build it they will come!” Roman’s voice booms through his cupped hands acting as a megaphone.

 

“You don’t have to say that every time,” Tej nags playfully, “I’m the one who helped design the field.”

 

“You say that every time,” Penelope ribs her father, rolling her eyes much like her mother would.

 

“Mom, Dad, can I have another s’more?” Jack O’Conner’s eight-year old son asks on the way to the baseball field.


“I got you, Little Man,” Brian backtracks to the house a few yards away.

 

“Thank you Grandpa!”        

 

Gabriela, the youngest and only daughter of Dom and Letty, walks alongside Adira as they head to the small bleachers, “This year’s Speed Race Wars in New York was soooo much better than last year’s.”

 

“I’m bummed I missed it,” Adira laments.

 

“2020s girls reunited!” Penelope catches up to the two, arms over each shoulder, then breaking into song, “and it feels so good!”

 

..

 

Flashback to Twelve Years Earlier

 

(On A Roll)

 

“She’s here,” Penelope shouts to from the treehouse, “We’re starting Quidditch, you in?”

 

“I’m on a roll…” Adira hesitates, the young adolescent looks between her friend Pen and her ink pen.

 

“Is she on a roll?” Gabriela asks from the bottom of the ladder.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Ad. Do you want to be the Golden Snitch, then?” Alona appears, holding out the golden flag football sash towards her younger sister.

 

“Yes! You’re the best.”

 

“If you’re still writing then we’ll come back in twenty and you can move somewhere else,” Alona nods to Ethan who confirms.

 

..

 

The Harabo-Lues were all still at the lake house the next day, the family never missed at least a day trip once they moved from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

 

“I thought I’d find you here,” Han enters the attic reading nook, “Dreaming up more ideas?”

 

“Jet lagged, but my brain doesn’t know any better,” Adira responds,

 

“We have something for you,” Han hands a picture frame to the twenty-three year old, sitting beside her on the ottoman.

 

“My short story?”

 

“We’re so proud of you, Addie,” Gisele beams, sitting on the other side of their daughter, “Published in your favorite literary magazine.”                

 

Adira closes her eyes and leans on her mother’s shoulder as her parents tell her their favorite parts.                      

 

“We need to replace these steps,” Alona braces herself on the top shelf banister after a creaky step.

 

“I’m working on it,” Ethan defends, “the unexpected bath leak needed to be addressed first.”

 

“I haven't been up here in ages,” Alona remarks, plopping herself on the beanbag chair opposite her sister and parents, “I swear I can still smell orange peel.”

 

“I installed a citrus scent filter,” Ethan explains when he joins the others, “Until the new tangerine tree comes in.”

 

“The new track at the go-kart place is finished, I can take over redoing this room,” Han offers, “You want the same color, Addie?”

 

“If you can find it.”

 

“Your wrist has been acting up, Dad,” Ethan worries, “It can wait until after I get back from Tokyo.”

 

“I’m old, but actually young for my age for what I’m capable at,” Han assures, “It’s a stinging I’ve lived with half my life.”

 

“Dad…”

 

“Dad…”

 

“Mom…”

 

“Han…” Gisele implores, whispering something in her husband’s ear.

 

“We’ll do it then,” Han says softly, “Should we do movie night?”

 

“Star Wars,” Alona suggests.

 

“Indiana Jones,” Ethan objects, “What do you feel like Addie? Or are we flipping a coin?”

 

..

 

Flashback to Thirteen Years Earlier

 

(Stories/Go-Karts)

 

The Harabo-Lues were working hard, prepping to open a go-karting place in Los Angeles, like the one back in Tokyo.                      

 

“I am writing a story about you two, Mom and Dad,” Adira shares, lining up her writing utensils.

 

“Am I me in this story or another dog?” Han chuckles, sorting through paperwork.

 

“You’re yourselves,” The ten year-old clarifies, “When did you see dad first?”

 

“We met in Rio, Brazil. That’s spelled R-I-O,” Gisele polishes a helmet, “comma, B-R-A-Z-I-L.

 

“Okay. And was it sunny summer? Rainy spring with flowers?”

 

“It was fall in April because we were below the equator, you know that line we showed you on the globe,” Han answers, “Where Australia is. Rio is like here in L.A. year-round so it was sunny summer weather.”

 

“And you kissed and fell in loooove?” Leos teases, the eight-year old contributing to the haphazard mural on the wall.

 

“We were friends first,” Gisele smiles at Han, “Working together, and when we did kiss it was worth all the waiting.”

 

“Seven hours in Paris,” Han whispers to Gisele, wagging his eyebrow suggestively and prompting a giggle from his wife.

 

“Uncle Rome said something with cars and to ask when we’re older,” Leos adds as Adira continues to write, “But you’re always going to be older and we will always seem young to you. And I’m Jewish so I’ll be an adult in five years, but can I drive or vote? No. It’s a trap!”

 

“It’s about trust and faith, Leos,” Alona inputs, dipping her paintbrush in water, “They’re just looking out for us. It works both ways; we should call them out and look out for them too.”

 

“Your sis knows what’s up,” Han says beaming, “We were actually reconstructing the go-kart place in Tokyo when we found out your mom was pregnant for the first time.”

 

“There were boxes everywhere, and the doctor called,” Gisele touches her heart, “and I’d never been so happy.”

 

“And later when we found out it was going to be twin, we were ecstatic,” Han looks Gisele’s way. “Then a little shocked by the reality of it, but then it was indescribable when you two were born. We’ll tell you more later if you decide to write about that and your birth.”

 

“You got them all lovey-eyes,” Ethan scrolls through images of cars to design into go-kart sized ones, showing a level of disgust only a sixteen year-old could emit toward their parents. 

 

“Grandma Lue said you were in LA when Dad was in South America, but you still met later?”

 

 

[Connection]

 

WASHINGTON DC

 

“We think our job might be connected to the hacker Cipher who escaped prison,” Freddie updates.

 

“How so?” Monica Fuentes inquires.

 

“I remember reading released case files about the equipment she used and we’ve seen it come through the factory,” Adira explains, “It could be a coincidence. I’ve checked, but we can always check again.”

 

“If it is the case then we’ll have to hand the case over to the higher-ups.”

 

“We’ve been working this, can we afford another month?” Freddie reasons.

 

“You’re both rookies, which matters.”

 

“Isn’t this how we learn?” Adira argues.

 

“Carry out next week’s plan, and we’ll go from there.” Monica instructs, “You’re the drivers on this project and we’re sticking with that strategy until further notice/”

 

..

 

Flashback to One Year Earlier

 

(Might)

 

Adira glided towards the bottom of the hill as Freddie was engaged in a brawl, throwing the assailant down the rocky hill as he ran down the dirt path to the car below as police sirens neared.

                    

“It’s times like these that I’m reminded that they hired u for our brains first,” Freddie wheezes, reaching for a water bottle.

 

Adira shrugs, looking at the rearview mirror, “I think we do alright, still learning.”

 

“Your knockout left hook was something else. You can’t teach that can you? Instincts?”

 

They drove until they reached the safe house at dusk, waiting for contact from their bosses.

 

“I got first watch,” Adira says later that night.

 

“But I slept on the ride over.”

 

“Because you haven’t been sleeping regularly,” Adira declares, examining her handgun.

 

“I’ll leave the door open,” Freddie nods.

 

Adira spends most of the six hours listening to the rustling of nature outside and the tossing and turning of her partner inside the house.

 

Freddie joins Adira on the living room floor, setting down two plates of random canned and dried foods he found from the kitchen cabinet, “It usually doesn't last this long. I promise. I would not put you or anyone else in jeopardy. It’s just family stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

 

“You can tell me if you want,” Adira munches on her trail mix, “They said we might be working together in the future and there should be a sense of trust. You don’t even have to go into detail if that helps more for you. To clear your head.”

 

Freddie mulls the offer over, knowing Adira would not leave her post until the end of the hour. His mind was a whirl until the young woman beside him broke the silence.

 

“I might have a sister. We used to do play-fighting when we were young and then kick boxing when we were older. She’s left-handed so it might explain my left hook. I would mimic her early on, the right hand came in, naturally, but I can still throw a few left punches effectively.”

 

Sometimes it feels like my dad adopted me because he needed a family. His mom passed away of a heart condition and my dad’s spent his focus on it since he found out. How do you fault a guy who wants to fix something like that?” Freddie rubs his arms, “And I’m here doing this job that requires so much of my attention…”

 

 

[Night In]

 

ALONA AND SONJA’S APARTMENT IN SAN DIEGO

 

“What do you feel like tonight, Babe?” Alona asks her girlfriend Sonja, rubbing the blondes’ sore feet.

 

“Hot ginger lemon tea. I’ll make the toast,” Sonja replies, lifting their Scottish terrier pup, “Come on, good boy.”

 

“Found any good wines for the shops?” Alona asks.

 

“A few, between my parents, your parents and the trip to Napa, it was much needed. How’s your case?”

 

“Still in the rifling-through-law-books stage.”

 

“That’s why I got you an extra box of chocolates you love.”

 

“Swiss?”

 

“And the Italian hot chocolate, one of those is for your mom.”

 

“Aw, you’re the best,” Alona hugs and kisses Sonja, “Parents always say their friends children are more polite and whatnot. And it’s so true with you.”

 

“Best friends are supposed to say that,” Sonja smirks, referring to Petra and Gisele, “But it’s true for us.”

 

..

 

Flashback to Fifteen Years Earlier

 

(Wimbledon)

 

“Don’t most kids sleep in on summer break?” Gisele glides into the living room of their home in Los Angeles at six in the morning.

 

“It’s Wimbledon, Mom. Aren’t you glad I’ve trained myself to get up early in the morning?” Alona argues.

 

“As long as you don’t stay up all night into the morning.”

 

“That was twice last year. I’ve learned my lesson.”

 

Gisele nods her head, “Good afternoon Sonja.”

 

“Morning,” Sonja responds through the tablet wedged between the sofa and Alona, “I can’t wait to see you guys. Mom, it’s Gisele.”

 

“We never got to talk like these two teenagers with the long distance, and they have video,” Petra nods her head back and forth.

 

“Your first e-mail message…” Gisele laughs, prompting her dear friend to do the same.

 

“You think it still exists up there in the internet?” Petra asks.

 

“I don’t know,” Gisele settles down.

 

“You all should visit next summer in Florence, Marco’s brother should have the vineyard going by then.”

 

“We should,” Gisele replies, “We’ll talk soon. Take care.”

 

“Take care.”                

 

“Leos you can stop lurking,” Gisele tells the figure at the top of the stairs waiting to watch tennis with his sister, “Let’s get breakfast started.”                                                 

 

“I want to try strawberries with orange whipped cream on oatmeal,” the chestnut-haired boy sprints to the kitchen, “Hi Sonja. Bye Sonja.”

 

“Same to you,” Sonja responds, then addressing Alona again, “What else are you looking forward to?”

 

 “Debate team, basketball, track…”

 

 

[Forbidden]

 

AN EAST COAST CITY IN THE US

 

A hand muffles Adira’s mouth when she enters one of the rooms of the factory warehouse, she struggles to escape as the arms wrap around her and then she’s thrown on a chair.

 

“Stay still or we’ll whack your knees.”

 

“What the fuck?!” Freddie exclaims when he enters the same room to find his partner bound and mouth taped.

 

“You’re girl’s a cop?”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“Odd are you are too,” the lead henchmen says, motioning the two other men to tie Freddie up, “What do we do to cops?”

 

“I’m playing her!” Freddie blurts out before his mouth is covered, “She has money.”

 

“Really? You can’t think of a better cover.”

 

 “Her mom broke up my parents. My old man was hung up on her mom. She strung him along for two engagements.”

 

“Forbidden love?” The henchmen with a baseball bat inquires, then with a smirk “That’ll fuck you up.”

 

“Works every time,” the leader laughs, signaling to untie the pair, “Anything you want to shit about on him? We can’t have a lover’s quarrel when were in deep.”

 

Adira stares meanly at the small crowd going back to work, in anger and annoyance, hoping she wasn’t giving anything else away, ignoring Freddie who hangs his head in shame.

 

..

 

Flashback to Two Years Earlier

 

(Party/21.5)

 

The party for Adira at Sonja’s New York City apartment was still in early stages, and not as rowdy as other gatherings there, perhaps it wouldn’t be as Adira was more low-key and Alona understood that, the impromptu party coming about after Adira and her university friends said they’d be planning a visit.

 

“I can’t believe Damian’s going to be a dad,” Ethan says, “He’s always been an old man, but still.”

 

“Gabriela’s brother,” Alona clarifies to Sonja, “The one at Oktoberfest with us and CJ.”

 

“How is CJ?” 

 

“We’re kind of off right now,” Ethan explains, fanning himself with his cap, “Is it any easier when you’re the same gender?”

 

“Eth, I’ve been with women who were just as confusing as the men I dated,” Alona loops her arm over the shoulder of her slightly taller twin, her other over her best friend/girlfriend, “This one has her moments.”

 

“I’m new to this,” Sonja shrugs, placing a kiss on the other woman’s forehead “and my love was right in front of me. Sometimes life works out.”

 

“See how romantic she is?” Alona beams, gesturing with a drink in hand, “Let’s go check on the birthday girl.”

 

Adira was at the quieter part of the party.

 

“Can I get in on the next game?” A lanky young man with hair as dark as his black t-shirt approached Adira at the kitchen counter.

 

“It looks like my opponent isn’t returning,” Adira looks at her wristwatch and motions the man forward, resetting the chess board.

                                                     

“I’m Freddie.”

 

“Adira,” the young woman finally looks up as she’s met with icy blue-green eyes and a warm smile.

 

“It’s your…” Freddie checks the banner on the wall, “twenty-one and a half birthday?”

 

“Family tradition.”

 

“My birthday’s a month before yours then,” straitening his white pieces.

 

Adira nods, “Ready to start?”

 

The two are still deep in concentration an hour or so later, Gabriela and Penny checking on Adira every so often.

 

“Do we know this guy?” Alona discreetly checks.

 

“Frank? Fred?” Penelope deliberates, “Freddie!”

 

Sonja’s eyes bulge at the name, separating from the group.

 

“Freddie?”

 

“Sonja,” the young man greets, and then explaining, “I was on my way to find you and got distracted.”

 

“You must be hungry,” Sonja drags the man’s arm, “Lo’s looking for you, Ad, why don’t you take a break too.”

 

 

[A Racing Veterinarian]

 

THE TORETTO LOS ANGELES HOUSE

 

Dom was fixing up a Dodge Charger he found mangled at a junkyard months before when Letty enters their garage with their grandson, the son of their middle child Damian.

 

 “What’s Grandpapa doing?” Letty asks the toddler who was staying with them for the week to give a break to his parents as the due date to Damian’s second child neared.

 

“Your dad’s not that into cars,” Dom wipes his hand and wiggles the boys arm like he likes, prompting a giggle, “but that’s what we’re here for.”  

 

“I don’t know,” Letty coos, “he loves animals like his mom and dad, a racing vet is pretty cool, too.”

 

..

 

Flashback to Twenty-Seven Years Earlier

 

(Parents/Marcos)

 

Cipher attacked and Cipher escaped. Brian and Mia, absent since Jakande and Deckard Shaw, remained so under protection. Han stayed back to look after the twins, and months old Vincente Toretto as Letty was convinced she was the only one who could bring Dom back from Cipher’s manipulations.

 

 “Marcos isn’t Dom’s son,” Elena tells the family at the barbeque atop the New York City apartment, “I hope you all can forgive me for lying. She had a gun to my child. I hope you can understand being parents yourselves. You do things you said you never would. I wanted to keep him safe so I said what Cipher wanted me to.”

 

“We’re safe now. That’s what matters,” Letty breaks the silence, “You’re always welcome at the table, and we’ll always have your back and Marcos’s.”

 

“You can stay here while everything settles down. We’ll be here.” Dom offers.

 

“Thank you,” Elena replies softly, thinking only of her nearly six year-old son, “We might head back to Australia, where we were before the last year in Hong Kong.”

 

 

[Date Night]

 

LOS ANGELES

 

“The heirloom tomatoes didn’t come in this year,” Gisele looks over a restaurant menu.

 

“Ah,” Han sympathizes, “They weren’t looking good the last time I checked. How are the rookies doing?”

 

“It’s cutoff soon.” Gisele sighs, speaking of her teaching job at the Elite Task Force that she took up about a decade ago, “Some have more drive than others, but not the talent. And it sucks, but I think I can keep one of those on, but it will be my responsibility.”

 

“You’re always up for a challenge,” Han gives an assuring smile.

 

Gisele returns the warm smile, “How’s the car remodel?”

 

“Cutting it close to the auto show, Letty came through with the engine,” Han butters a slice of bread, “but we can’t agree on the color…”

 

..

 

Flashback to Thirty-Three Years Earlier

 

(White Lies/Lies by Omission)

 

“What’s up?” Han asks at dinner.

 

“You know how we said our past is ours to keep to ourselves?” Gisele stabs at a cherry tomato in the pesto dish, “There’s something that I do need to share because it does affect us.”

 

“Okay.”

                       

“I knew Letty through Braga and you probably figured out the broad parts of it, but I can’t go on without telling you my part in it.” Gisele swallows, “I found Letty after the drug drop that was supposed to kill her and I took her to the hospital, but I left her there. I should have stayed with her. I was lucky Owen Shaw decided to keep her alive, cause if I he didn’t…I don’t think you could forgive me.”

 

Han’s eyes droop, in shock, in disappointment, trying to process his thoughts.

 

“I wanted to tell you, but I was scared. I love so much. And I knew how much she means to you. I knew it could tear you up. Tear us apart,” Gisele’s eyes well up, “This isn’t cold feet because of the wedding. It’s because I want a future with you more than anything I’ve wanted my whole life.”

 

Ham feels anger boil inside him like when he was younger, not since high school has he felt this way.

 

“You’re right,” Han says coldly, “I don’t know what would have been if Letty died then. And I hope this took the weight off whatever guilt you felt, but I don’t want to be around you right now.”

 

They both get up from the table.

 

“Dom doesn’t know, or else…” Han rambles on, “of course he doesn’t. If he did…”

 

Gisele stands there, “I know there’s nothing I can say right now that will help.”

 

“I know you’re hurting too. We all make mistakes…” Han’s passive aggressiveness continues, “I’m going to be in the guest room.”

 

 

[Contact]

 

“This better be urgent. I have grandkids waiting to fish,” Luke Hobbs snarls, arms crossed as he sits at desk at the DSS headquarters, Gisele Harabo-Lue was also in attendance.

 

“We received contact from Cipher,” a male agent informs the small group.

 

“Let’s cut to the chase,” Cipher’s appears in a nondescript setting, “We’re going to play a game. If you’re in then you risk all that comes with it. Let’s leave the old folks and young kids out of this. You’ll be hearing from me very soon.”

 

“Any traces?” Gisele asks.

 

“No. A drone dropped it off. The message we played was a copy,” the female technician explains, “The drone was rigged and connected to a disposable smart phone, and destructed when tampered with. Some form of a tiny explosive.”

 

“Fuck,” the wrinkles around Hobbs’s eyes gaining prominence, “You get your team and we’ll get ours.”