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FIC: Along the Way (4/7?)

Title: Along the Way
Author: NightRider
Rating: PG
Fandom: The Fast and Furious
Characters: Dom, Brian, Mia, Rico, and Tego
Spoilers: All four movies
Beta: The forever amazing souleswanderer and fantastic raynedanser
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Fast and Furious and no money was made from writing this story.
Summary: Dom has questions. He hopes Brian has answers.




Brian woke, his eyes slowing adjusting to the darkness in his room. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been asleep. He took an assessment of his injuries, pain surging through his body as he carefully moved his arms and legs. Memories of the previous day flooded back – the fire, the little girl, Dom’s questions and his lack of answers.

He considered staying in bed, his body content to protest every movement, but sooner or later he’d have to get up and face reality. He could do that, though. Face the inevitable and act like everything was okay because in actuality, what choice did he have?

He rolled out of bed carefully, the blisters and contusions from the previous day aching and sore. Sighing, he pulled on a tee shirt and carefully opened the door. The house sounded quiet and for that he was grateful. The last thing he wanted to do was avoid Mia’s inquiring looks or play twenty questions with Dom.

Brian’s first stop was the bathroom where he brushed his teeth and washed his face. He surveyed his injuries in the mirror. It wasn’t bad. Hell, it was barely worth mentioning considering some of his previous exploits.

He walked to the kitchen quietly and stared at the refrigerator. It was an odd predicament, not knowing if he was hungry or not. He heard the screen door slam and Dom’s heavy footfalls through the house. Dom didn’t slow down as he eased around Brian and pulled open the fridge door. Brian watched him intently as if he was performing some complex science experiment. A turkey sandwich was the final product, and it was slapped on a plate and plopped on the table. A glass of water was placed beside it.

“Eat,” Dom ordered.

Brian stared at the offered meal. “I’m not hungry.” He wasn’t sure what he was, but he knew enough to know he didn’t like being ordered around, even if the person doing the ordering was Dom.

“I don’t recall asking.”

For a second Brian considered arguing with him, telling him where to go and on what bus to use, but he quickly decided the energy required to engage Dom in a battle of wills was more than he had to spare.

After pulling out a chair and sitting down, Brian said, “You’re an asshole.” There was little emotion behind his words.

Dom leaned against the counter, his arms folding casually across his chest. “Get over it.”

The turkey actually tasted good, sliding easily down his throat with the aid of the glass of water Dom had provided. Brian wasn’t going to tell him that, though. He ate quietly; chewing slowly and forcing each bite down.

“How are you feeling?” Dom asked, his gaze resting on Brian. His eyes hadn’t left him since he turned to lean against the wooden counter.

That question was easy, safe, and Brian knew the patented response without having to think. “Fine.”

“Bullshit,” Dom snapped.

Brian looked up, his eyes wide. “Hey, you asked.”

Dom responded with a raised eyebrow of his own. “Yeah, and I expected a real answer.”

“I’m alive, aren’t I?” Brian replied.

“And that’s all it takes to be fine?”

Brian glanced at the half eaten meal. He was breathing, wasn’t he? He was eating. Hell, that was a good day in his book. He didn’t know what else to do or what Dom expected from him so he nodded.

Dom looked down, shaking his head. He wiped his hand across his face.

“You should get some sleep,” Brian said suddenly. “You look exhausted.” He jerked his head up, pushing the plate away. “Is Mia okay? Where is she?”

“Whoa, slow down,” Dom said. “Mia’s fine.”

“Where’s Mia?” Brian repeated, his eyes not leaving Dom.

“She went to do laundry. She’s fine, Brian.” Dom watched him carefully, Brian’s gaze shifted between Dom and door, as if he was considering going to look for her. “I give you my word she’s fine,” he repeated.

Brian shifted, resettling in his chair and nodding once. He knew Dom wouldn’t lie about something as important to him as his sister. He picked at his food for several minutes, whatever appetite he’d had before evaded him and now the food tasted like cardboard.

“So I look tired?” Dom prompted.

Brian looked up, his gaze even. “You look like shit.”

Dom inclined his head. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“You always were a smart ass.”

Brian’s mouth lifted to a half smile. “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Dom rolled his eyes and snatched Brian’s glass off the table, refilling it in the sink.

“You don’t have to wait on me, you know.”

“Once again, get over it.”

Brian opened his mouth to reply, several insults at the ready, but they died on his tongue. Dom really looked tired. “Are you sure Mia’s okay?”

Dom cocked his head to the side. “Would I be standing here if she wasn’t?

Brian nodded, rubbing the back of his neck and wincing when his fingers graced a large blister. “Good point.”

“Why’d you think there’s something wrong with Mia?” Dom asked.

Brian shrugged, his eyes drifting to his half eaten sandwich. It was obvious, wasn’t it? Even Dom wasn’t that thick.

“Brian,” Dom prompted.

“You’re obviously worried,” Brian said. “You look like you haven’t slept in two days.”

“That’s probably ‘cause I haven’t,” Dom concluded.

Brian pushed away from the table and stood up. If Dom had lied to him about Mia, he was going to be pissed. His fingers curled, his eyes narrowing. “What the fuck is going on?”

“Brian, I wasn’t worried about Mia.”

He was shaking. He could feel his muscle contracting and the blood pulsing through his veins. “Don’t lie to me.”

“You must think I’m a complete bastard,” Dom said flatly, shaking his head. He stopped suddenly, his voice perfectly even and said, “Brian, calm down. Now.”

Brian swallowed, his mind wondering if he’d gotten up too soon. Bile scratched at his throat. He was going to -

Stumbling through the hallway, Brian managed to make to the bathroom and slam the door closed before emptying the meager contents of his stomach into the toilet. He knelt on the floor for nearly a minute before leaning back and resting against the wall. A damp cloth was passed in his direction, and Brian wiped his face.

“Thanks,” he muttered. He stared at the wall for several seconds before forcing himself to his feet. He flushed the toilet and stumbled out of the room, using the wall to guide the way back to his bedroom. His knees gave away, but he managed to roll into bed and curl on his side. “Sorry about the food,” he mumbled, his eyes closing to fight the nausea.

“We’ll try again later,” Dom said quietly.

A sheet was pulled around his neck and he pressed his face against the pillow. He heard Dom’s footsteps fading. He had to be sure. “Mia’s okay?”

“She’s fine.” The footsteps paused and weight was shifted. “I was worried about you.”

Brian snorted, pressing his face against the pillow. “Well, that was stupid.”

“Yeah? Why’s that?” Dom asked.

“Not worth it,” Brian said. “'Cause I’m fine. Always.”

Dom nodded. “Yeah, of course you are.”

In that moment, Dom realized the truth behind what Mia had been telling him. Brian was everything but fine.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Dom needed to go out, do anything, be anywhere but here. It was too much, his mistakes all culminating at once. All of his faults were manifested in Brian. He couldn’t do it; he couldn’t be here waiting for Brian to wake up from his last heroic endeavor. He didn’t want to see the bruises on Brian’s skin, the pain thinly veiled in his eyes.

He could do a lot of things, but this was too much so when Tego and Rico showed up, it was the perfect out. He’d told them to keep an eye on the white boy, and if he wakes up, offer him food and water, but don’t force him. They’d looked skeptical at first, but denying Dom wasn’t something anyone was good at so they’d hesitantly agreed. Screeching tires on a dusty road was all that was heard as Dom pulled away from the house.

Unfortunately screeching tires was something Brian had trained himself to wake up for. His hand automatically reached underneath his pillow, his eyes blinking to adjust to the vacant light as his heart pounded against his chest.

Mexico. He was in Mexico. With Dom.

“Get your shit together, O’Connor,” Brian whispered. He rubbed his eyes harder than necessary.

He remembered the prison bus heist, the drive to Mexico, the house fire, and vomiting up a turkey sandwich. “Nice, O’Connor. Really nice.” He could see Bilkins shaking his head disapprovingly. He’d been trained better than that. When on assignment, he ate when he could, whatever food he found, and he shut up about it.

But he wasn’t on assignment anymore. Dom wasn’t his assignment. He wasn’t just another case, another manila folder with pictures and a rap sheet. He was his friend. Brian swallowed, his mind rolling the word ‘friend’ around as if trying it on for size.

Mia had been right. Dom was like gravity. He’d gotten sucked in, and truth be told, he didn’t want to be anywhere else. Much like Jesse with his cars, Dom had the same soothing capabilities. Something about him calmed Brian down.

He rolled out of bed and went to find the man in question. What he found instead was Tego and Rico playing cards in the living room.

“It’s alive!” Tego joked.

“Yeah, I was beginning to think you’d never wake up,” Rico said, scowling as he stared at his cards.

Brian smiled, leaning against the wall and hoping it looked more casual rather than for actual support. “If I’d known the two of you were here, I’d have stayed in bed.”

Tego clutched his chest. “You wound me.”

Brian rolled his eyes, glancing around the room. “Yeah, I’m sure.”

Rico followed Brian’s eyes, shifting his glance to Rico. “It’s just us tonight.”

“Oh? Yeah, sure,” Brian said, acting as if that hadn’t surprised him. Dom had every right to go out, after all. It wasn’t as if Brian blamed him. He glanced around the small house, the walls constricting around him as the house had suddenly gotten three sizes smaller.

“You guys wanna get out of here?” Brian said suddenly.

Tego set his beer on the table, his eyes on Brian. “You sure that’s a good idea? Dom said you weren’t feeling well.”

Brian knew how to play that card. “Well, if Dom was that concerned, he’d have stayed, wouldn’t he?” He smiled, showing his teeth in a way that made him look ten years younger and completely carefree.

Rico nodded. “Good point.”

“Where do you wanna go?” Tego asked.

Brian shrugged. “Anywhere but here.” He wasn’t sure if he’d ever spoken a truer sentence in his life.

Rico smiled. “Know the feeling, man.” He got up, pulled the keys to the pickup out of his pocket, and started for the door.

They ended up going to the quarries, stopping only for a couple of twelve packs of beer. Brian lay in the back of the truck staring at the stars while Tego and Rico bickered back and forth. It was idle and mind numbing and amounted to nothing. It didn’t solve any of Brian’s problems, but for two hours he didn’t have to think. He drank a lot of beer and practiced his Spanish, and might have even dozed for a few minutes. He heard Tego’s phone ring several times and managed to translate several curse words in Spanish.

“We have to go,” Tego said. “Dom’s looking for blondie.”

“I have a name, you know,” Brian said, waving the beer bottle above his head. Yeah, some authority figure he was.

“What’s going on?” Rico asked.

“Don’t know, but I ain’t touching it with a ten foot pole,” Tego replied.

Brian sniggered. “You can’t tell me you two are afraid of Dom.”

Tego and Rico shared a glance. “Yeah, we are.”

Brian stared at the star filled sky. Huh, that was interesting. “I’m not.”

Tego snorted. “That’s ‘cause you’re a crazy ass white boy that don’t have the sense God gave a goat.”

“When I’m sober I’ll resent that.”

“Resent it all you want, kiddo. Either way, we’re taking you home,” Rico said.

Brian even ordered Tego to drive slow because he didn’t feel like hauling his lazy ass out of the back of the truck to get in the front cabin. He had enough sense not to complain about the empty beer bottles that knocked against his body as Tego sped back to the Toretto household.

Brian felt the truck roll to a stop and briefly considered staying where he was. Even though the back of the truck wasn’t what he’d call comfortable, he enjoyed looking at the stars. That was something he didn’t get to see a lot of in Los Angeles. He felt someone shaking his foot.

“You coming?” Tego asked.

Brian pulled his legs underneath him, grabbed the tailgate and jumped out. He paused, reconsidered, and grabbed a few beers. He made it to the doorstep before turning and settled on the stoop. Tego and Rico had gone inside to find Dom. Judging by the quickly spoken Spanish, they’d found him. It was less than two minutes before they were back in the truck pulling out of the driveway.

He didn’t have to turn around to know Dom was standing on the porch. He could feel his eyes on the back of his head. “Wanna beer?” Brian offered, holding a bottle in the air without turning around.

“You shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach,” Dom said, stepping outside and taking the offered bottle.

Brian snorted and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “You’re joking, right?” Dom was standing several feet in front of him, and Brian met his gaze.

“So where were you?” Dom asked, pointedly ignoring Brian grabbing another beer.

“The quarries like Tego said.” He didn’t say anything else. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t like he was expected to leave a note every time he left the house.

Dom drank from the bottle slowly as if he was stalling for time.

Brian sighed, setting the empty bottle on the step next to him. “Just say it.”

“I shouldn’t have left today.”

Brian shrugged. “You don’t answer to me.”

Dom shook his head, his voice echoing his frustration. “Everything’s so easy for you, isn’t it? All black and white.”

Brian felt like his world was nothing but gray. “Yep.”

“Trying to have a conversation with you is like conversing with a wall.”

“What?” Brian held his hands out. “I’m answering you, aren’t I?”

Dom shook his head. “You might be answering me, but you’re not saying anything.”

“What exactly do you want me to say?” Brian asked. He was genuinely confused. It wasn’t like Brian was ignoring him.

“Something. Anything. Hell, I don’t know.”

“I think your expectations are a little high,” Brian replied. “I’m not that deep. I used to be a cop, remember?”

“I’ll never forget that.” The words were hard, clipped, and all evidence of any type of friendly conversation dissipated in the warm night breeze.

“Good, ‘cause neither will I.”

They stared at each other, fingers clasping the necks of bottles harder than necessary. “I’m sorry for what happened,” Brian said suddenly. “I’m sorry for Jesse, for Mia, for Vince, and for Letty.” His words sounded cheap, and he knew it. It was the best he could do. “But I won’t apologize for being a cop.” He shrugged, leaning against the step again. “I just won’t.”

“They were my friends, my family.”

Dom couldn’t have drawn a bigger line in the sand if he’d tried. His friends. His family. And Brian was the bastard cop that had destroyed them all.

Chapter 5

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
lone_zone
Nov. 6th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
OMG! You updated YAY! Fantastic chapter, I'nm not joking around, this is a magnificent story and you've just made it better. Brian's broken, but he doesn't know he is because he's been broken for so long, since his instincts and duty ripped him apart; and Dom wants to fix everything but wants to run away from what he's caused. SOOOO GOOD! I can't wait to read more. I hope you take this as a genuine compliment because this is one of the BEST Dom/Brian fics I've ever read, I hope you write much much more :) I think I might even be first comment *hopefully*
nightrider101
Nov. 7th, 2009 12:01 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, you were the first to respond, and your review has reduced me to a puddle of goo. I can't thank you enough for your kind words. :) You've made my evening! With a supportive reader like you, I'd continue the story even if you were the only one that responded.

Thanks again!



Edited at 2009-11-07 12:16 am (UTC)
goddesstar
Nov. 7th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC)
I was so happy to see this update from you! I thought you'd abandoned the story! Glad to read that you didn't. This chapter's flow was perfect! You did a great job in capturing Brian and Dom's voice. I am so looking forward to the next posting. Try not to wait so long;~)

~g
nightrider101
Nov. 7th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Nope, I haven't abandoned the story. Unfortunately real life happened. :( Hopefully the next update won't take as long. I'm happy to report the next chapter is over halfway to being finished.

I'm glad you didn't give up on this story, and I'm very glad you enjoyed the chapter. Thank you so much for the kind review!
secretthought
Nov. 7th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC)
Blondie, ah, I shall never get bored of that!
nightrider101
Nov. 7th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)
Hee!

Thank you!
pkoceres
Nov. 7th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC)
I'm really enjoying this! Can't wait to see what's going to happen in the next installment. :D
nightrider101
Nov. 7th, 2009 02:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Next chapter to follow soon. :)
anoniemouse
Nov. 7th, 2009 05:19 am (UTC)
Finally and update, and so worth. Made a bad day good =3 I love your writing it's a perfect fit ;)
nightrider101
Nov. 7th, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad this helped make your bad day better. :)

Thank you for taking the time to read and review.
ash_1212
Nov. 7th, 2009 06:02 am (UTC)
Just read all the chapter for this - and really enjoying it.

Poor Brian - he's so broken and so used to it, that he doesn't even realise that he needs help. To be in the pain he must be in and not want to get any help for it ... I just want to hug him until he's better.

And poor Dom - trying to help but not knowing how to and then saying things like: “They were my friends, my family.” and not realising how Brian will take it.

Loving this. Can't wait for more :).
nightrider101
Nov. 7th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm always happy to hear a new reader has started following the story.

Like you, I feel bad for both Brian and Dom. I try to write in a way that makes the reader feel for all the characters becausae the blame can't be put on just one person. Their situation is particularly complex. There's no easy fix unfortunately.

Thanks again for the wonderful review! I hope you continue to enjoy the story.
jujuberry136
Nov. 7th, 2009 03:48 pm (UTC)
Oh boys!

I wish I had something more intelligent to say, but they're both so hurt and not able to see it :( Well, I guess Dom sees Brian's hurt but doesn't really know what to do about it and Brian's taking everything Dom's saying the wrong way...

Thanks for the update! Can't wait to see what happens next.
nightrider101
Nov. 7th, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the kind review!

You're right; they're a mess of mixed signals and a very complex past.

More to follow soon!
(Deleted comment)
nightrider101
Nov. 7th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Dialogue is one of my strong points. It's everything else that falls apart. :) I'm so glad you enjoyed this chapter, and thank you for taking the time to respond!

I'm looking forward to reading your NaNo story!
desariwalker
Nov. 8th, 2009 05:15 am (UTC)
You know how much I love this story :) I think this chapter is a key element. I like how you touched not only Dom's anger at Brian for being the cop that ripped Dom's world wide open, but also Brian's unapolgetic stance for being that cop. I think we're seeing some of the underline cause for Brian's broken spirit. He knows what he gave up, what he lost, and because of it, he's trying so hard to hold on to the one thing that he still has which is the who and what he used to be. That made sense when I was thinking it :)

I like, too, how you brought Dom's anger to the surface so quickly during their conversation. I'm not sure why it surprised me, but it did. And I think it surprised Dom as well, maybe as in him not realizing he still felt that kind of anger toward Brian. I just hope he sees that Brian is angry, too, and that Brian's feelings are as justifiable as Dom's own.

As always, the dialogue is excellent. It's strong and moves the story beautifully. You have a real talent in letting the characters speak for themselves rather than you doing it for them. The dialogue says so much, but, in it, I could also hear the things they weren't saying. Again, that made sense when I was thinking it.

I'll stop now :) Great job, hon. I'm so looking forward to the next part.
nightrider101
Nov. 8th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the thoughtful, kind review! You always seem to get what I'm trying to say.

No, I don't think Brian would apologize for being a cop. He feels guilty over what happened, but his job choice isn't something he'll apologize over.

I think in a lot of ways Dom's nearly as fried as Brian. Granted, he had a break for a few years in the middle, but recently it's all been piling on both of them.

I've actually actually finished the next chapter and sent it off to my betas. That's got to be a new record in speed writing for me. ;P

Thanks again, hon! You've made my morning!
christinalp
Nov. 8th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC)
wow, this is really interesting
nightrider101
Nov. 8th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

I'm glad you're enjoying the story. :)
northernwalker
Nov. 9th, 2009 05:33 pm (UTC)
I saw this a while back and have been looking for it- glad there's more!

Poor Brian is such a total mess and it's been that way for so long he doesn't even realize how skewed his normal is. Dom's just starting to get it.

I have to disagree on one thing though:

They stared at each other, fingers clasping the necks of bottles harder than necessary. “I’m sorry for what happened,” Brian said suddenly. “I’m sorry for Jesse, for Mia, for Vince, and for Letty.” His words sounded cheap, and he knew it. It was the best he could do. “But I won’t apologize for being a cop.” He shrugged, leaning against the step again. “I just won’t.”

“They were my friends, my family.”

Dom couldn’t have drawn a bigger line in the sand if he’d tried. His friends. His family. And Brian was the bastard cop that had destroyed them all.


Well, no, he wasn't. Dom is the one who decided to hijack trucks, and therefore set all this in motion. Brian was just doing his job. Dom needs to get his head straightened out.
nightrider101
Nov. 9th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed the update. :)

As far as the part you referenced, actually that's from Brian's perspective, not Dom. I apologize for not making that clearer in the story.

Dom is the one who decided to hijack trucks, and therefore set all this in motion. Brian was just doing his job.

I couldn't agree with you more. Guilt is a fickle beast and often times people accept blame for things they shouldn't.

That's one reason why this story is taking forever. It's difficult to get into the heads of these characters! Stubborn boys that they are. :)

Thanks again for reading and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it!

The next chapter is already posted if you're interested.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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