Disclaimer: Not Universal/no profit
Special thanks goes out to kittygoslingp on this part.
Brian wondered who had originally come up with that phrase. His mom had never been much of a cook, much less a baker, but she’d used those words on occasion. He remembered asking her once when he was about seven or eight, why pie was reckoned to be so easy to make. She’d smiled at him…when he was seven or eight, she’d been all smiles…and said, ‘Honey, it’s not easy to make, but it’s easy enough to eat, now isn’t it?’
It was as good an explanation as any. Things had never been that easy around the O’Connor home anyway, so he hadn’t had to think about it much between that day and this one.
One of his first partners on his first crappy beat at the LAPD had been a sweet-natured old Okie named Orrin Chandler who was about a hairsbreadth from retirement. Orrin had never lost his familial Arkansas turns of phrase despite living his entire life in a neighborhood called Pico-Rimpau. Orrin’s easy Zen and laid-back manner had gone down a treat with his law-abiding constituents whether they were originally Laotian, Guatemalan or Ethiopian. He had a face you could tell anything to, and one of his favorite phrases was ‘easy as kissing your sister’, which from him came out ‘easy as kissun yo’ sistuh’ delivered with a sly wink that said: ‘honey, this ol’ uniform don’t make no nevermind, we’s all jes’ folks heah, so why’nt you tell ol’ Orrin where your boyfriend done stashed the coke and his pistolero?’
Brian grinned despite himself remembering that. Though, considering his present circumstances, the phrase ‘easy as kissing your sister’ brought too many more recent memories swirling up.
It had been easy though. Weirdly easy. He’d kind of forgotten how good he was at the disarming grin, the plausible story. He’d walked into Maria Mendoza’s office and walked out with an address half an hour later. She hadn’t known how badly she wanted to give her latest customer confidential information until it was already done. All this with a few words about thank-yous, maybe sending a fruit basket…the tools were just soooo nice and the place was really perfect for them, they sank right down into it like a hand into warm sand.
Initially, Maria had demurred but then softened up under a little flirtation, until she was telling Brian selected parts of her life story and the Toretto’s physical address didn’t seem like that much to part with.
Such a liar, Brian thought to himself. He fingered the piece of paper where Maria had written an actual town and street name after he’d professed concern that his planned thank-you gift (flowers, maybe) wouldn’t get delivered to a P.O Box. Christ. Dom should be more careful.
He shifted uncomfortably in his bucket seat. Was it Dom who needed to be a bit more careful…or Brian O’Connor? It hadn’t taken much for Rome to convince him to do what he was currently doing. Rome had been insistent on coming with him, so much so that Brian felt guilty about leaving at the crack of dawn and without a word. Rome was going to give him an earful when he got back.
If he got back.
Brian drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Everyone always accused him of having no self-regard, not having the sense to be apprehensive of the myriad dangers of life. He might be walking into the lion’s den.
He swallowed. He felt kind of nauseated. He was pretty sure that the tight, swollen feeling in his stomach wasn’t exactly fear. Fear felt cleaner somehow, less ambiguous.
No one on the team had believed him when he’d confessed that the first time he’d ever punched the nitrous was in their first race. He could still see Dom’s incredulous face while everyone else had scoffed at the very notion. Dom had believed him though, quickly turning curious, asking ‘Did it feel like you expected it to?’
Brian had thought that was a good question, better and more exact than ‘How did it feel?’
‘Like riding a rocket,’ he’d said quickly.
Dom had grinned beatifically. ‘Only barely under control, right?’
‘Yeah,’ Brian had lowered his voice to just between them. ‘That was the part that I didn’t expect…I guess you get used to it.’
‘Nah,’ Dom’s smile had turned reflective. ‘You don’t. But that’s okay. In fact, that’s the point. ’
Brian blinked and came back to himself, noting that he was riding a Porsche’s ass and hemmed into the far left lane. He backed off to a safe distance. People were always worried about the most obvious risks when the world was full of major and minor traps for the unwary. There were plenty of less-than-obvious dangers that you could never anticipate.
He tried to plan what he would say to Dom. Rehearse it. He chuckled mirthlessly to himself, shaking his head.
The border was easier than he remembered. It looked like they’d jazzed up the station, there were more lanes for cars, more officials. It took ten minutes, which was a pleasant surprise. It didn’t jog him out of this high speed trip down memory lane.
Dom had looked good, even as angry as he’d been. Tanned. Ripped. Brian wondered what he was doing to fill his days down here, surrounded by rich, retired Californians and Mexicans on the make. He wondered what the team was doing with their long nights, miles away from LA’s light.
South of the border sprawl, he pulled off to the side of the road and anxiously scanned the map he’d bought in the last gringo suburb of Tijuana. Unsurprisingly, it seemed like very few of these canyon roads were marked. He’d left as dawn was breaking; it was noon now. He closed his eyes for a second, turning his head up to the sun.
He didn’t believe for a second that Dom would do something like what had been done to Rome’s Evo. Dom just didn’t have that kind of malice, unless things had changed a damn sight more than he’d ever realized. He’d hoped that, given enough time, Dom would understand why he’d done what he’d done. Maybe he’d given Dom too much credit, but Dom had always surprised him with his shrewdness and insight, his ability to see all the angles.
A small voice in his head asked why, if he didn’t believe that Dom was guilty, was he haring off to Baja California like his pants were on fire?
Another voice coolly responded that if Dom hadn’t done this, he could probably guess who did.
The small voice, almost silently, called bullshit.
A truck pulled up behind him and an older Mexican man got out and crunched up through the gravel.
“Tu es perdido?” The man’s face was etched with sunworn wrinkles, he looked kind and competent.
“Excuseme,” Brian ducked his head, embarrassed. “No habla espanol.”
“You lost?” The man repeated with a hint of a smile.
“I’m looking for the Calle Playas Docemes?” Brian unfolded his little slip of paper without much hope. He felt he was still a good hundred miles from where he needed to be. But the man nodded and gestured at the road ahead. “Toretto’s is about another hour along…the turnoff is past the village, left after marker 63, then another two miles. The marker is ….damaged. But you’ll see a stand of …cypress? And that’s the turn.”
“You know Toretto?” Brian couldn’t stop himself from asking.
“My son does…” the older man grinned. “…in a car like this, there’s only one place you could be going. Vaya con Dios.”
“Gracias,” Brian returned on autopilot, as his new friend waved him on.
Damn it. Dom should be more careful.
Undisclosed location, Baja California
This had to be the place. The rutted lot had sixteen…no seventeen…different kinds of tire treads and that Spyder couldn’t be anyone else’s but Dom’s. It was the RX-7 redux, even down to the relative subtlety of the decals.
Brian paused for a while before getting out of the car. He felt a moment of self-loathing that stretched as he watched the dark windows of the unassuming house. He who hesitates is lost.
Anger started to build as he sat in the emptiness. Damn Dominic Toretto anyway, for living in this modest house out in the boondocks of Baja, twenty miles away from anything like civilization. After Brian had turned himself 180 degrees from practically everything that he’d known and cared about, the least Dom could have done was lived like a king in paradise. This didn’t look like paradise.
They probably weren’t even here. Vince, Leon, Letty, Mia, he’d expected to be walking into a hive of activity. They were probably out somewhere, maybe down at the beach that he’d turned away from to come up this canyon. Brian felt a moment of doubt when he noticed that most of the treads were so old they were sinking back into the dust. Maybe they were all gone. Moved on. Maybe this trip was for nothing.
Fuck them, fuck Dom, fuck this entire situation…he made his best decisions when he didn’t think too much.
He slammed his palm down on the steering wheel and the horn erupted with noise. He left off for a second to listen to the echo bounce around the canyon. He punched the horn again and it blared into the silence. It was the aural equivalent of gloves being thrown down.
When no one reacted, Brian’s annoyance was almost terminal. He shoved himself out of the car and was stomping angrily through the dust when he noticed Dom standing at the door. Dom was in shadow, the whole house was a deep shadow behind him. Brian stopped and stared.
The screech of the screen door was loud. The sun, the silence, one circling hawk…this was like a matinee Western, the gunslingers’ showdown.
When Dom stepped down to the drive, he seemed to stumble for a second. When he stepped into the sun, he didn’t squint against the glare, he just blinked slowly. Brian started to move again, squaring up subtly, but Dom wasn’t acting anything like he expected. He didn’t quite know what he had expected, but it wasn’t this. Dom had tilted his head and was regarding Brian like he’d come in a rocket ship instead of a Camaro.
Finally Dom said softly, “You lost?” and Brian’s rage felt volcanic. Unconsciously, he rolled his shoulders back. He was so angry he could barely speak.
“No,” he growled. “Think I found what I’m looking for.”
Dom rolled his own shoulders back, tightened his fists and lowered his head like a bull. Brian realized that Dom was mimicking his posture and his vision started to narrow until all he could see was the slightly mocking expression on Dom’s face.
“You’re half in the bag,” Brian wasn’t sure he could get much angrier without having some sort of brain aneurysm, but the reek of tequila rolling off of Dom felt like a personal affront. It was barely one o’clock.
“Make no mistake,” Dom tilted his head and he almost seemed to grin. “I am completely in the bag.”
If he smiles, I’m going to kick his ass. The thought came to Brian, thin and muffled as if from a far distance. The light here was incredibly bright; it was like he could see the reflections in the drops of sweat on Dom’s temple.
Dom started shaking his head, slowly, like he might make himself dizzy.
“Why am I surprised?” Dom started talking to the air. “Why would I be surprised? You’d show up at the fucking Apocalypse.”
“I am going to punch you in the face,” Brian said very softly. Dom didn’t seem to hear him and kept talking, playing to an imaginary audience.
“Turning up like the worm in the bottle…the last little bit, when I think it’s all over. When I think I can’t take…one…more…thing. You. Of course, you. S’been a long time coming.”
“Yeah, it’s been a long time coming.” And Brian punched Dom almost as hard as he could right under Dom’s solar plexus.
Dom’s breath exploded and he recoiled a step. Brian hesitated for a second before following up and in that second, Dom sobered a little and hardened up. Brian landed another glancing body blow, but Dom slid sideways and raised his hands.
“You sure you wanna do this with me?” Dom growled. Brian feinted and then nailed Dom’s temple from the unexpected side. Dom shook his head and pivoted away from Brian’s second punch. Brian’s knuckles stung when they connected with Dom’s ribcage instead of his stomach.
“You don’t wanna do this.” Dom grunted and pulled back. Pulled back enough so that Brian had to push forward. Dom kept his hands up and then jerked a rabbit punch that fell on Brian’s collarbone. Brian barely felt it, though his bones seemed to jitter a little inside his flesh. He slammed the side of his fist into Dom’s head, then followed with his elbow.
Dom pulled back and shook himself like a dog. “Pretty dirty.”
Dom was bleeding, his cheek or…. Blood was dripping from a cut on his browbone, little drops on his cheek. Brian’s hands were sticky. Dom feigned a blow, then grabbed Brian’s collar. He slammed his forehead into Brian’s cheek and Brian’s eye socket exploded in agony. Brian shook his head and tried to pull all his weight back, but Dom’s weight dragged at him. So Brian bulled forward, hammering Dom’s kidneys. Dom grunted but didn’t let go. He didn’t let go and he didn’t let go and suddenly they were on the ground, in a cloud of fine dust.
Dom’s forearm was under his chin. Brian made some sharp jabs with his elbows and writhed out from under Dom’s weight. Dom grabbed the back of his t-shirt and rolled with him. Brian got another good, satisfying clout to Dom’s belly, before Dom grabbed his wrist.
I will punish you, I will, Brian thought, even as Dom twisted his wrist and let his weight press Brian down. Pretty dirty, shit, Dom hadn’t even begun to see dirty. Brian twisted his head and bit Dom’s shoulder so hard that he tasted blood.
Dom snarled in surprise and fought back up to his knees. For a second, they just panted at each other. Brian felt a sticky sting on his own face. He was bleeding, his lip or his cheek. Suddenly, Dom brought his fist down in the meat of Brian’s upper thigh and pain rocketed up his flank, but it put Dom’s head in position for another elbow. Dom turned into it so that Brian’s elbow skidded over his skull, if Dom hadn’t turned, Brian would have broken his nose.
“Stop,” Dom gasped. He was close now, using his weight to keep Brian’s arms pinned. Brian twisted a knee out from under and was just about to make this fight a lot more personal, when Dom spat a mouthful of blood into his eye and slammed Brian’s wrists and elbows into the ground with enough force to make them alight with pain.
Numbness spread down his forearms, but the rest of his body sang with sensation. Brian swelled, pushing with all his might at the weight that held him down. It was awkward, being supine. He blinked furiously, he couldn’t wipe his eyes. Dom had him pinned, but good. Dom’s face was inches away and Brian snapped his teeth at him. He wanted to spit at Dom, but his mouth was too dry.
“Relax,” Dom muttered into his ear and Brian found the leverage to jerk his head up the few inches it took to sink his teeth into Dom’s nearest flesh which turned out to be his jaw. Brian did his best to take a chunk out of Dom, but the angle was bad.
And unfortunately, to bite someone you have to put your mouth on them.
Brian felt this painful twist work through his stomach and he fought furiously until his muscles all began to rebel. Dom held him fast until he slackened off the battle, settling for giving Dom the stare of death. Dom let go of his wrists abruptly, rolled sideways and started to shake.
Brian scrambled back on the heels of his hands, tensing himself to jump up. Dom had covered his face with both hands and was just lying in the dust, shaking. The whites of his eyes peeked out from between his fingers. The white of his teeth too. He was laughing. Dom was laughing.
Brian’s anger made his eyes swell; then it burst out in a hard breath. He was welling up, this hot, metallic taste in the back of his throat felt like a fountain of I’ve-had-enough. He licked his lips with a parched tongue. His fist was clenching, tightening so hard and fast that he expected his knuckles to split out through the skin. His eyes stung and since Dom didn’t seem poised to go on the attack, he dared a moment to brush at them. He felt battered, more by emotion than the flying fists. He looked down at Dom who was still sprawled unself-consciously in the dust and gravel.
Dom was going to have a black eye. One of Brian’s stray elbows had done for him; the crescent underneath his left eye was already swelling. The cut on his brow was already black where the blood had leeched up the dirt. A thread of blood oozed from one corner of his lip every time he hitched with laughter. Brian shook his head slowly…he had to do it slowly, to do it quickly hurt like a bitch…and against his will, he started to grin.
Dom guffawed, clutched his stomach and winced. Brian chuckled too, then grimaced as the cut on his face stung. Then he laughed harder. Too fucking hysterical. He couldn’t stay upright suddenly. He gasped with laughter, lying beside Dom, feeling the fine dust coat the back of his neck.
Dom was alternating chuckles and winces while Brian laughed so hard that he choked a little. Dom watched him, eyebrows raised, while he got his breath back. For a while they just panted up at the sky.
Brian slitted his eyes to watch Dom who was watching him. Then Dom turned hard onto his shoulder.
Brian felt dusty pressure as Dom cupped a hand under Brian’s neck and stroked his thumb over Brian’s cut lip, his eyes suddenly very sober and intent. Brian froze when Dom leaned in closer and closer, chasing his thumb with his tongue. Dom’s mouth on Brian’s was hot and questing and his teeth pressed hard into Brian’s sensitized lip. Dom’s mouth tasted of blood.
Brian had the fleeting thought that this was just a scheme to hurt and humiliate him further and his mind tensed and toughened up against it. Until Dom softened the lips around his teeth and nudged Brian’s jaw with his nose and Brian was going to have to rethink everything that he’d thought, believed, assumed. He pushed back, pressing up hard until they were teeth to teeth and thus mouth to mouth.
Then time seemed to stretch and he was staring at the wide expanse of bright blue sky over Dom’s shoulder and receiving the hottest handjob in the history of his life. Dom caressed him clumsily and Dom’s calluses made him screw his eyes shut and moan like it hurt. Dom kept Brian’s head and neck tight in the curve of his elbow, tilted at the right angle to dip kisses from, nipping at Brian’s neck, while his other hand stroked Brian’s stomach and cock indiscriminately, leaving little flecks of dried blood.
Brian twisted his hips and sobbed as he thrust; it took a while before he realized he’d stopped breathing in for a stupid length of time. He relaxed and tried to suck in air.
“Yeah, like that,” Dom whispered in his ear and that took a while to loop around his mind and make any sense, but that was OK because even Dom just talking into his ear sent thrills down his flanks. He tried to hold back a little of himself, but it was like his body was allied with Dom against him. Dom was still murmuring softly when Brian came. Satiation was heavy, his eyes almost couldn’t stay open and he couldn’t keep a grip on things like shame or rage.
He breathed for a long moment, pressing his face hard into the dry cotton of Dom’s t-shirt.
After the feeling in his extremities returned, Brian edged his fingers experimentally into Dom’s waistband while snuffling helplessly at his neck. Dom thrust at him instinctively, grinding them both further into the dirt until Dom seemed to come back to himself and circled a firm hand around Brian’s wrist.
“Nah, s’okay,” Dom grinned very sweetly, for a second, Brian could see the boy he had been. “I’m too drunk.”
He pressed his forehead against Brian’s, turning on his side and pulling Brian half on top of him. Then he gently pressed his lips to Brian’s unbruised cheekbone. Brian tilted his head just the scant inches required and abruptly those gentle lips were on his mouth and then they weren’t so gentle.
Brian suddenly realized how hard he was clutching Dom, how Dom’s fingertips were tenderly tracing the muscles in his shoulders while he had snagged his own fingers claw-like into Dom’s back. The desperation he felt was terrifying, he had to get back a little control and distance.
He wiped the sweat and dust on his forehead onto Dom’s t-shirt. Dom pressed his lips to Brian’s hairline, nudging a space with his nose.
“God, you smell like shit,” Brian muttered. Dom’s arm was hard under his neck.
“Yeah,” Dom rolled his head in from Brian’s shoulder to his own and sniffed. “Nice of you to say.”
“Seriously, I’m getting a contact high, just breathing your exhaust.” Brian stuck his nose into the curve of Dom’s neck, there the Dom-scent fought back the sweat and booze reek. “How much have you had to drink?”
Dom shrugged and squeezed Brian lightly. “In the last hour?”
“I don’t really wanna know?” Brian tried to ask without grinning. It didn’t quite work and he could feel dust on his teeth.
Dom squeezed him again and then groaned, “Man, you just…” He rolled onto his back and rubbed his stomach, smearing dust into his dingy t-shirt. “Nice hook there. I’ll remember that one.”
“Good.” Brian said sternly. “I’m still really mad at you.”
“Really?” Dom looked out from under his eyelashes, wily and wicked. He sat up and nodded at the house. “Bedroom’s right over there.”
Inside it was dark and Brian nearly tripped on a neat stack of square bottles that fit together like a pyramid. The empty ones clinked and clattered loudly. The dust motes feathered down over all the dead soldiers littering the table and the floor. The trash and the sink were overflowing, there was a lingering sour smell of rot and vomit under the scent of tequila.
“So how long have you been…” Dom had vanished, so Brian raised his voice. “On the world’s biggest bender?”
There was a pile of silvery cans spilling off the couch onto a woven wool rug. The living room smelled of beer, not unpleasantly.
“…hear you.” Dom’s voice carried him down a hallway. They were alone, the echoes, dust and silence spoke volumes.
They were alone. Brian stopped between one step and the next, thinking how odd, how wrong it was that Dom was alone.
Brian paused at the door. A bedroom, that Dom had very obviously not been sleeping in. Dom’s boots were splayed sideways trailing their laces, victims of Dom’s careless, sulky striptease.
Dom was looking at his bed, his crumpled bedclothes, as if he were surprised to find it still there. Brian leaned on the doorframe, a thousand questions vying for supremacy. Dom looked up at Brian and inhaled and exhaled deeply. Not like he was girding himself to speak…or do anything really. Just breathing. Ready.
Brian’s skin still felt like it had been turned inside out. He felt wary, elated and confused at the same time. It didn’t seem entirely possible that the last twenty minutes had actually happened. He studiously refrained from looking at Dom’s tousled bed.
Dom raised one eyebrow, scratched the back of his neck, then reached further down to the middle of his back and grabbed a handful of his filthy shirt and pulled it up over his head. He dropped the shirt on the floor and his fingers traced lazily over the latticework of his abdomen.
“You hurt me.”
Dom said this very factually, without accusation. All of the questions that Brian wanted to ask melted back into his throat in a sudden wash of saliva.
“Yeah…well,” He couldn’t keep from sounding like an idiot. “You hurt me too.”
Christ, he felt like an idiot, he had no idea what was going on. Which hurts they were even talking about.
Dom shrugged elaborately, his shoulder nearly touched his chin. He twisted the first button on his fly free. He paused for second and made very deliberate eye contact.
“What are we doing?” Brian tried to keep his voice from cracking. It felt like the air had just tightened somehow.
“I stink, remember?” Dom thumbed the second button free. He tilted his chin down, so he was looking sideways and slightly up at Brian, out from under his lashes. “I’m taking a shower.”
“Yeah,” Brian said faintly. He crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Good idea.”
Dom smirked and scratched himself in the curve under his pectoral muscle. Brian tried to arrange his back more comfortably against the wall or door he was leaning on. Dom laced his fingers together and stretched, muscles rippling in the shadowy light. Brian’s over-sensitized dick fought a sudden losing battle with his cargo pants.
Do not come over here, Brian thought, as Dom seemed to grow closer without actually taking any steps towards him. Dom leaned in and sniffed lightly at Brian, the implication being obvious.
When Dom pulled back, Brian couldn’t stop himself from grinning his smirkiest grin and saying archly, “Are you trying to seduce me?”
Dom chuckled low and nudged him out of his lean. “Trying?”