This is just a taster. A prologue if you will. I guess I'm just trying to get everything complete before next year, when I'll probably get Jossed.
FIC: Dark Days in Light City
Pairing: D/B, B/?
Rating: XXX (sex, violence, bad language, bad attitudes, just general badness.)
Silver Springs, Maryland
She woke up when his weight shifted. He was getting up and his bulk leaving the bed always made it rock slightly. She groaned softly and squinted at the clock. Three a.m.
She had a vague sense that the phone had rung. Late night phone calls almost always meant tragedy. Though she knew instantly that it wasn’t personal, not theirs…otherwise he would have woken her. She could relax back into the sheets. Other people’s tragedy was just his job.
He was puttering around the closet, pulling out a fresh shirt. He pulled on the pants he’d been wearing earlier; they chimed lightly with keys and coins. He buttoned up, his fingers still a little clumsy from grogginess. Age, too maybe. Seeing him like this, in this unguarded moment, he looked old and tired. She loved him desperately.
“New case?” She half-whispered. He turned around to look at her, surprised.
“Old one,” he half-whispered back. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
She shrugged off his apology. He pulled down an overnight bag and shoved a few clothes in casually. “I have to go back to Miami,” he said.
She beckoned him over when he was dressed, but before he’d put on his holster. He looked worried. His forehead was crumpled with worry. He sat down heavily on her side of the bed. She was suddenly anxious even though over the years this had happened more times than she could remember.
She stroked her thumb over his moustache. They had this ritual perfected in the fifteen years since he’d joined the Bureau. “You be careful, Special Agent Bilkins.”
He smiled a little, leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “I will, Mrs. Bilkins.”
“Who was that on the phone?” Dom asked without looking up from the newspaper.
“Maria.” Mia put the phone on the cradle and closed the screen door. That got his attention; he put his cup down, but he still didn’t look her way.
“She got an offer on the garage.” Mia watched him closely as she walked around to the sink. The edge of his face crinkled as he winced, but he’d smoothed it out by the time she was facing him.
Dom cleared his throat and asked, “Developers?”
Mia shook her head. “No.”
She watched as his shoulders slackened and the corners of his eyes relaxed. Ten months under the bridge and she could tell just how much each day weighed on him. Dreading the calls that heralded all the little changes. Watching that other life get buried under the shifting sands.
It had been ten long months for her too, but it didn’t seem to chafe her as much. By now, Echo Park felt like some kind of long, exhausting dream. Living here was just different enough to seem like a reflection, some smaller, quieter corner of the neighborhood. Except for the loneliness. She picked up a dirty dish and stared at it for a second.
Dom was still looking at her expectantly.
“Couple of guys, partners,” she continued. “She’s only met the one though, said he seemed nice enough.”
Dom twirled a finger in a way that said get to the point.
Mia leaned hard on one hand and shrugged her other shoulder. “But she was worried ‘cause he was young. Kind of a player. Wanted to know if he could make a down payment in cash.”
Dom lowered his head and squeezed the back of his skull. After a second, she noticed that his shoulders were shaking. He was chuckling down at his newspaper. “She’s worried that some kind of jumped-up rice boy is trying to buy our garage?”
Mia grimaced. “Something like that.”
Dom leaned back in his chair. “Shit. That’ll change things just about not at all.”
Mia shoved her hair back from her eyes. “So you don’t care? I take their money, sign the papers?”
“Take their money,” Dom toasted her with a coffee mug. “Sign the papers.”
“You’re not going to get weird about this, are you?”
One eyebrow curved up along with the corner of his lip. He was still amused. “Weird?”
“Dom,” She put a little no-bullshit into her voice. “You know just what I mean. You’ll act like you don’t give a shit until it’s a done deal and then the week after that, you’ll have a peptic ulcer.”
He was still smiling, though his eyes no longer laughed. “Remember who you’re talking to.”
“No, you remember…!” She started angrily and trailed off. Fiercely, she fought back the urge to remind him just whose big ideas had brought them down here. That conversation would go nowhere fast.
He crossed his arms over his chest. “What?”
She turned away from the cold, hard stranger who occasionally sat in her brother’s chair. She blinked down at the sink and chose her words carefully. “Remember what mom used to say.”
She could feel him stand up behind her. She wanted to turn and go to him, give him a hug, say that she loved him no matter what and that she had adapted to this life and she was sure that someday he’d adapt too. But she didn’t because she wasn’t sure if any of that was true.
He repeated softly, “What?”
She looked over her shoulder. “About making a virtue of necessity.”
He took a deep breath and it seemed like his shoulders slumped a little. He nodded slowly and pushed his sunglasses up his nose. “Mia, I always do.”
She watched as the light streaming in the door was blotted out by his bulk. She listened to the crunch of his footsteps as he walked up the long gravel drive. After he was gone, she let herself sigh.
Los Angeles, California
“Cut me off? What the fuck, are you fucking stupid?” Roman Pearce yelled at the Dodge Intrepid’s taillights. He reached out the window to give his hands more room to be rude and spoke out of the side of his mouth to his passenger. “Is it always like this?”
“Nah,” Brian O’Connor shoved his knees up the dashboard and started picking at the sole of his shoe. “Usually, it’s worse.”
Roman muttered under his breath something that sounded like ‘left-right-coneheaded-bucktoothed-bowle
Rome suddenly transferred his annoyance to a more accessible target. “Remind me just why I am sitting in traffic on the 110 freeway and not kicking it with some honeys and Bacardi back in South Beach, cuz? I still don’t got a clue how your cracker ass sweet-talked me into hauling my shit out here.”
Brian bit his lip to keep from sighing. They’d had this conversation once a day ever since they’d zoomed through Amarillo, Texas.
Roman was still working himself up a good head of steam. “Miami was cool, man. Miami was fun. Miami was good times. Now, I seen a few palm trees, but so far Hell-A has been nothing but traffic n’ shit.”
“You were having fun in Miami?” Brian cut in like he was just asking for information.
Roman leaned back and blinked exaggeratedly, “You’re deaf now? Didn’t I just finish saying that?”
“That’s funny, see,” Brian said idly as Rome pulled into the HOV lane. The Intrepid wavered a little, then mirrored them. “I seem to remember you having to bow out of more than a few poker nights because you owed too many people money.”
“My cash has a special flow…” Rome started.
“My cash would flow too, if I had a dollar for every time I had to stall some pissed-off business dude while you helped his trophy wife find her panties and shimmy out the front hatch.”
“Hey, I ran interference for you lots of times…” Rome interjected defensively.
“I seem to remember that we were down to three clubs that you hadn’t been asked to leave.” Brian continued.
“Shit…” Rome started.
“Permanently.” Brian said flatly.
“That was just…”
“And as I recall two of them were gay clubs.” Brian finished.
Rome mumbled. “Well Score has that thing they do on Thursdays…”
Brian just looked at him.
Rome glared at the poky Dodge in front of them. He leaned on the horn for a moment just on general principles. It started a chain reaction and the underpass rattled with a kazoo-like symphony.
Rome slid his eyes over to Brian and grinned suddenly. “All right, so it was time for a change.”
“Yeah.” Brian watched the graffiti scroll across the median.
“But you, you’re getting on my last nerve, boy.” Rome knocked his fist like a hammer on Brian’s chest.
“Ow, what the fuck?” Brian punched him back half-heartedly.
“This was your idea.” When he raised his eyebrows, Rome looked younger and somehow more sincere. “But ever since we got here, you been walking around all down in the mouth, like your dog just died. It’s pitiful.”
“’m tired.” It was Brian’s turn to mumble.
“Bullshit.” Rome scowled. “I’m the one driving around with these realtor-ladies looking down their noses at me. I don’t even know what you do all day.”
Brian noticed that they were passing an LAPD black and white. He leaned on his elbow and tilted his face away.
Rome’s eyes flickered between Brian and the gridlock ahead while he lectured. “…And I found you a good setup for a great price and you won’t even go look at it. I mean, are we just gonna sit around on that money with our thumbs up our asses for the rest of our lives…or was that shit about a garage for real?”
Brian squinted hard. The smog, the noise and the afternoon sun were giving him a headache. This had been one of his stupider ideas and boy, that was saying a lot.
He looked over at Rome who was still glaring while doing the stare-and-drive.
“It’s a long story.” Brian said weakly.
Rome gestured at the lowing herd of late-rush-hour commuters in front of them. “I’ve got time.”
Brian shifted his weight. He was starting to feel sick to his stomach. There had to be some way of not having this conversation. “If you really like that place you saw with Maria, let’s make an offer.”
Rome, who had been opening his mouth to argue with whatever Brian said, paused and asked, “For real?”
“Sure. Price is right.”
“You’d take it just on my say-so?” Rome asked suspiciously. “You don’t want to check it out yourself?”
Brian swallowed the knot in his throat. This, he thought, this is probably a really bad idea. “I trust you. Sounds fine to me.”
Rome looked at him dubiously for a moment longer, then leaned out the window and bellowed, “Your car’s Intrepid, motherfucker! Why ain’t you?”