khaleesian: Van made this and I looooooves it! (Default)
[personal profile] khaleesian
PG-13 for language and adult themes



Brian felt sick. Inside a car parked inside a truck, like some kind of nesting doll. His own ton of metal swayed gently twelve feet up in the steel skeleton. Every rut on the highway reverberated through the truck before it rippled through his Nissan. At least the steady churn of the eighteen wheels below was muted.

He checked his phone again reflexively. No service. He shook his head, disgusted but unsurprised. They always seemed to be on the back foot with Braga.

He relaxed back into his reclined seat and sighed deeply. He closed his eyes and tried to turn himself into a jellyfish. Boneless. He flexed and relaxed groups of muscles. He took ten deep breaths and wiggled in the seat peevishly. His ass was already going numb. All his earlier adrenaline had been sucked away by prickling, anxious boredom.

Those yahoos from the race were trying to engage Dom. Brian gritted his teeth against a sudden warm flush of annoyance at the sound of Dom’s voice. He rubbed the back of his neck. His blood itched.

But he almost laughed aloud when Dom’s words came clear. “We’re all just along for the ride now.” Coming from Dom, it almost sounded deep.

Brian watched as the confused drivers exchanged glances and shrugs. They hunkered down on the Terlingua and started a card game. Brian squinted at it. That was a decent ride. Shame about the…yellow.

Gently, Brian fingered his door open and dropped lightly on his toes onto the narrow metal grille below. It clanged in a way that he hoped might be easily swallowed by the road noise. He jerked his chin at the card players when they glanced up at him. One looked askance and the other just shook his head. Their heads bobbed in unison as the truck bounced over torn asphalt.

Brian held himself steady with one hand on the retractable strut. He took another deep breath trying to pull some oxygen from the air and watched for a moment.

Dom’s neck was thicker. And his shoulders. Fretwork of lines on his forehead. The hollows of his eyes seemed deeper.

Painting that Chevelle in primer and sealing it was fucking cool, no mistake. Brian almost couldn’t keep from smiling down at it ruefully. The Chevelle’s hood was so long. It stretched out between them, as long, hard and gray as the years.

Brian stroked the matte finish on the edge of the hood, hoping it would rile Dom somehow like Dom might be able to sense it. Dom was keeping his eyes determinedly closed. Dom’s head rocked slightly in time with the sway and Brian rolled his lower lip under his teeth until it hurt a little.

That Zen-like relaxation? Fake. That diffidence and calm? Total con-job.

“Take a picture, O’Conner.” Dom’s voice cut through the clack-clacking din of the tires. “It’ll last longer.”

Brian didn’t bother to hide his smirk. If Dom was baiting him, it was proof positive of his theory that Dom wasn’t nearly as chill as he was making out. Dom still gave a shit all right.

As if to echo his thoughts, Dom opened his eyes a bare half inch. “Still think I cheated?”

“I don’t ‘think’ you cheated,” Brian shot back. “I ‘know’ you cheated.”

Dom cut his eyes over at the card-playing crew. “And so you do some institutional cheating of your own.”

Brian snorted. “Yeah well, apparently, there ain’t no rules.”

Dom just shut his eyes again, so Brian slid carefully around the platform and tweaked open the door before Dom could notice or protest. Inside, the Chevelle felt practically cavernous compared to his R34. Brian slid onto the bench seat, gratified when Dom blinked at him once in disbelief.

Dom grunted something that sounded like ‘typical.’ Brian raised his eyebrows innocently.

Dom’s hands had been lying limp, palms up and fingers curled in on his lap. Brian watched Dom start to finger-tap the steering wheel like he was checking to see if a piano was in tune. Brian made himself comfortable with his knee nudging the nitrous canister.

“You were pretty nervous about 20 minutes ago.” Dom muttered. “What happened to your taxpayer-funded tracking device?”

Brian smirked wryly. “Took a little swim.”

Dom snorted and Brian continued. “Your cell phone work, by chance?”

Dom slid his eyes over and blinked lizard-like. “Who am I gonna call?”

Brian shrugged and they sat in silence for what felt like the length of Orange County.

“Did you confiscate that Nissan?” Dom looked like he was trying to sneer but he didn’t quite have the energy. “Or is it yours?”

Brian turned his face away to smile a little. “It’s mine now.”

“Wouldn’t have pegged you for a Skyline kind of guy.” Dom didn’t even bother sounding skeptical.

Brian snorted. “What do you see me in then?”

Dom shrugged slowly and leaned back. “A ’93 Mitsubishi Evo. Poison green, with a hood scoop.”

Brian took a moment to chew on that. Coming from Dom that almost sounded like an apology.

“Five years ago I fell in love.” Brian started, keeping an eye on Dom’s face in a sidelong glance. “With a ‘99 Skyline. Down in Miami.”

Dom tightened his hand over the steering wheel until the leather cover squeaked in protest. “Didn’t end well, I’m guessing.”

Brian was silent. Dom rocked his head back and almost grinned. He spoke softly. “Let me guess… she probably died saving your life.”

Being far too close to the truth, that caught an edge on Brian’s memory. He felt a flush spread over his cheeks and he turned his face away, tightening his jaw against the painful weight of memory.

“It’s a long story.” Brian choked out, thinking of Tej, Monica’s face the last time he’d seen her and Roman, always Roman’s angry sneer. The sudden flare of rage and impotence blindsided him.

He expected Dom to turn off, get distant and disinterested again. But Dom unclenched his hand and gently traced the steering wheel with a finger. “That was the RB26, right?”

Brian swallowed and nodded. “In-line six, iron block, aluminum head, twin-turbo...”

“Who did the intercooler?” Dom interrupted.

Brian said, “Turbonetic” and got a hold on himself again when Dom nodded.

“Toyo tires.” Dom surmised and Brian relaxed a little more. “HP?”

“505.” Brian anticipated Dom’s next question. “444 foot/pounds.”

Dom quirked his lips approvingly and raised an eyebrow. “So…12.5 seconds?”

“12.1” Brian shot back and Dom chuckled. Brian took a deep breath and it was all okay again, he was fully back in the present.

“So you’re taking a second chance on love?” Dom asked and Brian almost stuttered a cough before he realized that Dom was still talking about the Skyline. The one swaying on the rack above him. Which was very lovable but…

“You’re kind of rough on your second chances.” Dom continued, smirking.

Brian shrugged. Bodywork wasn’t his strong suit, but this Skyline would recover. That is...if they were still talking about cars, which they might not be.

“Yeah, but somehow they keep coming.” He tried to sound cocky. Light. Arrogant. But it didn’t quite work.

Dom chuckled and slumped a little further down in the seat. “Mia would say that this is our mutual problem. That we keep getting second chances.”

Brian could almost feel the heat Dom’s body radiated in this small space. He swallowed and his throat clicked, it was so dry. “Mia’s way ahead of us.”

“No shit.” Dom said and let silence fill the car.

“You do realize that they plan to ice us at some crucial juncture, post-delivery?” Brian asked in his best matter-of-fact tone.

Dom’s lip twisted and he shook his head, like Brian was a toddler who’d just said something funny. “You know, I really thought you knew me.”

“Guess you just read the file, huh?” the way Dom turned to look at him made Brian feel naked.

“Dom…”Brian started, but Dom cut him off. “You keep saying things, doing things, like you think you can stop me. When you should know that outside of a bullet in my head, there is no way you can keep me from doing this. So why bother, right?”

Brian bit down hard on the part of himself that wanted to snap back, ‘That’s great. Letty said almost the exact same thing and that sure turned out perfectly.’

“Why would you test my commitment?” Dom continued, rubbing his eyes. “Christ, what do I have to do? Throw a guy out a window?”

Brian was about to say something suitably disparaging about that when it occurred to him that, shit, he’d already jumped out a window so maybe he shouldn’t cast the first stone.

“Y’know, you’re right.” Brian tried to make his voice cold. “I don’t think I know you at all.”

The steering wheel squeaked again under Dom’s fist.

“I thought Dom Toretto played to win.” Brian kept his eyes front, toward the jiggling Mustang. “But you sure seem to want to lose.”

“This ain’t about that anymore and you know that.” Dom said, very softly. “She was one of mine.”

Brian tried to hold his face completely motionless and not flinch or blink. His tongue felt like it was going to choke him, swelling up in his dry mouth. Let Dom think that he didn’t understand, didn’t care. Brian wished he didn’t understand quite so well.

Brian raised his hands and spread his fingers like he was surrendering. “OK, anything I say from here on out is just to…keep you informed, like.”

Dom looked at him sharply but then seemed to decide that Brian wasn’t fucking with him.

“The race connection started pinging the radar about four months ago. It’s L.A., you know the scene. People move on, drop out, it’s hard to say when they’re gone or they’re gone, right?”

Dom didn’t look his way again, but Brian could feel his attention.

“So it took a while, but we pieced it together. Who went down and never came back up. Twenty missing, presumed dead. And one who made it almost all the way back.”

Brian paused and took a breath. A shadow flickered over Dom’s face.

“Federales can’t even touch Fenix Rise, and you mention Braga, they just look over their shoulders. But he killed Letty on Mulholland Drive, there’s evidence of that, and I give it even money that there are witnesses.”

“It’s not enough.” Dom said like he was talking to himself.

“You think these guys give a shit about dying?” Brian traced a fingernail over his jeans. “Life may still be worth a few bucks in L.A. Down south, it goes for pennies. They’re born to die, guys like that. They get lame songs written about them, that’s all they expect. One goes, there are a million more.”

“There’s a more interesting question,” Dom said quietly. “If this is your sincere belief—why are you doing this? This way?”

Brian wondered why this always doubled back on him, why did he always feel that he should have a defense attorney present for these conversations.

“I get it that I’m not always going to understand why people do what they do. I mean, Letty…did she need money? Did they have anything on her?” Dom swallowed. “I’m never gonna know.”

Brian shifted uncomfortably and tried to ignore the sudden swell of nausea in his throat.

“But you’re here.” Dom said calmly. Brian suddenly wanted to be anywhere other than here.

“So maybe, since we have time…” Dom gestured shortly at the continuing card game. “You could explain.”

Dom waited for a while and then clarified, “Some reason outside of your well-documented death wish.”

“That’s not enough reason?” Brian asked, widening his eyes enough to make Dom’s lip twist.

“No, it’s not.” Dom spoke very slowly. “You hate to lose too. But you’re about to. No backup. This goes one inch awry and it’s not just your career that’s over.”

They locked eyes for a second and it was almost a second too long. Brian looked away first, before Dom plucked the truth from his mind, the words already spoken aloud. Because you’re one of mine.

“I just gotta give them something to think twice about.” Brian felt his voice get sharp and savage. “Arrest them, humiliate them. Put them in prison, make life messy and mortifying. No fucked-up martyrdom, no fucking songs.”

Dom smirked painfully, like it was almost against his will. “So there’s going to be some moment where you hold up your badge…”

“Shield.” Brian said, just to be a bitch. “It’s called a shield.”

Dom waved a hand. “They may call it a shield, but it ain’t a shield. You gonna holler, ‘you’re all under arrest’, one of those choirboys is just gonna put a bullet in your eye and then…”

Brian said deadpan, “Maybe I’ll duck.”

“O’Connor,” Dom bared his teeth and from the way his lip curled, Brian could tell that somewhere deep inside, Dom was chuckling. “You are something else. I wish…”

Brian waited for an uncomfortable minute, then supplied. “…we weren’t debating our mutually assured destruction?”

Dom shrugged and gave him that unnervingly direct look again. “Yeah. Sure. If we weren’t about to die, I’d buy you a beer and ask you what happened in Miami that got you all…twisted.”

Brian took a deep breath and it all snapped back into focus again. This was all he had and maybe not for very much longer, but that was okay because he had it now. “If we weren’t about to die, I’d tell you.”

“If I could, I’d help you…how did you say it? ‘Bring the whole house down.’” Dom paused and looked over at Brian very deliberately. “But like you say, it’ll probably be collapsing on top of us.”

Brian jerked his own eyes forward. He moistened his lips. “Que será, será.”

And Dom laughed.

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khaleesian: Van made this and I looooooves it! (Default)
khaleesian

May 2013

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