?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

FIC: Along the Way (2/7?)

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.

A/N: This chapter is direct result of everyone who read, responded and offered such wonderful encouragement after reading my first story in this fandom. I offer a heartfelt thank you and a story that looks like it's shaping up to be much longer than I intended.





Brian jerked awake, his body lurching forward, his hand involuntarily reaching for his gun. He swallowed, his eyes adjusting to the darkness as his heart pounded against his chest. He ran his hand over his face – he was safe. More importantly, his friends were safe.

He swung his legs over the side of the bed, his head falling into his hands. He pressed his fingers against his eyes as if he could stop the images, as if he could quash the people in his mind forever – Vince, Jesse, Letty, Bilkins, Tanner, or any number of others along the way – none less important than the rest, but always there. Always there lurking, waiting for him to stop, to rest, to think.

He’d fallen asleep wearing his jeans. He pulled them off, opting for a pair of running shorts and a tee shirt that wasn’t covered with engine grease.

He heard the bathroom door open as the screen door slammed closed. Someone might have called his name, but he didn’t stop. The sounds of his tennis shoes hitting the packed dirt drowned out everything else.

The first mile was filled with Johnny Tran and the lack of pulse he’d felt when he touched his throat. Then he thought of Jesse and remembered Dom, covered in Jesse’s blood. He remembered the look they’d shared as if it was yesterday. He ran faster.

The second mile was filled with street races, too many to count, and Carter Verone and rats. Brian hated rats.

The third mile was reserved for the Toretto family and everything Brian had done to rip them apart.

Somewhere between the fourth and fifth mile Brian stopped thinking, his mind solely focused on the steady ache in his muscles and keeping his breathing even.

When he ended up on the doorstep of the makeshift Toretto home, he was sweaty, dirty, and running on fumes. It was barely light out, the hazy dawn just beginning to filter through the brown curtains in the living room. Brian had gotten used to everyone’s routine – Mia would be up first and Dom would show signs of life sometime before noon.

He showered and pulled on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt that at some point in its life had been white. He was going to have to do laundry soon. Mia mentioned there was a laundry mat a few miles up the road.

He pulled a soda out of the refrigerator and walked down the steps to the garage. When he opened the door, the single light bulb was already lit, swinging from its chain above the Eclipse.

“Dom?”

“The roadrunner returns,” Dom replied, not looking up from the engine. He’d been there for awhile if the tools that were strewn across the garage were any indication.

“Roadrunner?” Brian looked down, shrugging. “I guess, yeah. Gotta keep in shape, you know?”

“That left over from being a cop?” Dom asked. Brian’s hand tightened around the soda can. Even though Dom’s tone was conversational, Brian didn’t feel like analyzing his less than stellar police career first thing in the morning.

“Not really. Always was good at running.” Dom had finished putting the headers in, which knocked about three hours off Brian’s plan for the day. “Looks like you got it under control,” Brian commented, pointing at the engine before turning on his heel and starting for the door.

“You’re not.”

Brian froze, his back facing Dom, his shoulders square. “What?”

“Good at running,” Dom finished. “In fact, you suck at it.”

Brian didn’t know what to say. His usually quick mind was sluggish and hazy and whatever bullshit response he’d come up with died on his lips when Dom said, “Hand me that adaptor fitting.”

Brian swallowed, his eyes blinking at the closed door. “Yeah, sure.”

It was mindless work, passing Dom whatever he asked for. A few minutes later he was taking apart the fuel injection system.

Somewhere in the middle of pressure gauges and steel brake lines, Dom asked, “Do you have any siblings?”

“The fuel mix should be three – wait, what?”

“You know, brothers and sisters. Hermanos and hermanas. Fratello and –“

“I get it,” Brian interjected. “No.” He hoped he’d put enough firmness and general disinterest to sway Dom for pursuing that conversation any further.

Dom made a noise in his throat and wiped his hands on a rag. “What about your parents?”

Brian looked up, his jaw set. “Why?”

Dom shrugged. “Just curious.”

“Don’t be. There’s nothing to tell.” Brian wiped his hands on his jeans. “You finished reattaching those wires?”

Brian should have known better because if there was anything he knew about Dominic Toretto, it was that he never let anything go. Not until he’d extracted each and every bit of information he wanted in vivid, graphic detail.

“I don’t think that’s true. I think there’s a lot to tell,” Dom said, his eyes slowly drifting to meet Brian’s gaze. “You know everything about me – my family, how my father died, my sister, my past, everything. And I don’t know shit about you.”

Brian looked at the ground, his eyes expressive and vivid, the storm waging just beyond Dom’s reach, and when he looked up again, it was gone, and there was nothing but frozen glass staring back at him. “You ever think there was nothing to tell? This is it, Toretto.”

Dom didn’t respond. He just raised an eyebrow that all but verbally called Brian on his bullshit.

Brian’s temper flared in an instant – why, he had no idea – but there was something about that smug expression on Dom’s face, like he knew something Brian didn’t, that sent his temper into overdrive. “I hate to disappoint you, but what you see is what you get, and as much as I’d like to stand out here and play twenty questions, I’ve got someplace to be.”

“Yeah?” Dom looked mildly interested, his arms crossing over his chest out of habit. “Where?”

“Get out of my way, Dom,” Brian said, his voice low. Dom cocked his head to the side as if considering Brian’s request, as if he had some right to keep him here. Finally, Dom stepped back, watching quietly as Brian disappeared out of sight.

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

Brian knew very little about Mexico, especially the southern border where they were living now. His grasp of the Spanish language was barely passable and he all but screamed American tourist everywhere he went.

He walked for the better part of the afternoon. It was a chilling thought to realize he had no place to go, no money, and basically no friends except the ones that were sitting back at Toretto’s place, and to call them friends? Not so much. People whose lives he’d ruined was a more apt description. He’d been waiting for the ax to fall since they got here, waiting for Dom to finally snap and finish what he’d started back in LA, to finish Brian because of Letty. Truthfully, Brian wouldn’t have blamed him. At least it would be over. Finally. After five years, one way or another, he needed it to be over.

Brian smelled the smoke before he saw the fire. He heard the screams before he saw the faces. As he rounded the corner, he saw it, a house fire, burning brightly against the falling sun. Two women were holding another woman back as she fought against their grasp, her small hands wildly clawing at their arms.

Despite his dismal Spanish, he knew to enough to know absolute panic, abject horror and the phrase ‘my daughter’ and ‘Maria’ being screamed over and over. And then Brian was running again. His elbow was through the glass window, his shirt was covering his mouth, and he was yelling Maria at the top of his lungs.

The smoke was burning his eyes, squeezing his lungs. He ducked as part of the ceiling gave way, the wooden frame collapsing as flames engulfed the roof. He rolled away, underneath the dining room table, his eyes blinking against the red, hot heat. He felt a hand against his, tiny fingers wrapping around his ring finger.

“Maria, it’s all right,” he said. Brian realized she had no idea what he was saying, but he smiled, all teeth and confidence, and pulled his shirt over his head, covering her face. Then he was up, running with Maria cradled against his chest. He turned and threw his shoulder against the door, the old wood splintering and falling away, and Brian dropped to his knees outside. Again, a woman screamed, and Maria squirmed in his arms.

He let her go and pressed his hands to his knees. There were more voices still yelling in Spanish, and two people grabbed his biceps and pulled him away. He struggled, his legs stubbornly refusing to carry his weight, and finally he managed to get his feet underneath him.

Somewhere behind him, what was left of the house collapsed, the flames engulfing every inch of wood, and Brian stared at his tennis shoes. Fuck, they were the only shoes he had.

Someone was pulling at his arm, talking a mile a minute, and Brian stared at her, trying to blink the smoke and ash out of his eyes. He thought she was thanking him, but she was talking too fast and Brian just kept staring at her.

A man approached and pointed at Brian. “Hospital?”

“Why?”

“'Cause you’re bleeding,” he said.

“Am I?” Oh, his elbow. His hands throbbed suddenly and he realized he was probably burned as well. Eh, this didn’t even make his top ten. “I’m fine. Thanks, though.”

“You need a ride home?”

“Nah, it’s okay.” Unfortunately Brian had no idea how to tell him where he lived, and really, he was more concerned about how the hell he was going to afford a new pair of shoes.

People milled around, watching the fire burned down to embers, and occasionally someone pointed at Brian and whispered. Eventually Brian figured he should attempt to amble home, and fortunately his legs decided to cooperate – if stumbling and busting his ass twice counted as cooperation.

He did manage to find Toretto’s house, though, and considered it a personal victory when he made it up the stairs without falling flat on his face.

“Brian, what the –“ Mia stopped, her eyes wide as she stepped back against the screen door so Brian could pass. “What happened to you?”

“I ruined my shoes,” Brian said, pointing down as his dirty, half charred trainers. His big toe poked out a hole in the fabric and wiggled as if adding necessary confirmation to Brian’s statement.

There was a screech of tires outside and a car door slammed. Someone was running.

“Mia, is he back yet?” Dom called.

The front door opened, and Brian continued to the refrigerator and pulled out a Corona. He paused, considering, and said, “You guys want a beer?”

“He just got here. Dom, he’s hurt,” Mia said softly.

The beer tasted good, cool and refreshing against Brian’s tongue as he swallowed the entire contents in less than twenty seconds. He reached for another, twisting the metal lid off and tossing the cap over his shoulder into the trash. When he turned around, Dom was somehow managing to fill the entire doorway.

“What the hell happened to you?” Dom asked, his eyes scanning Brian’s body. Brian scratched at a spot on his chest, a piece of ash falling away to reveal a small blister. Someone had been nice enough to give him a flannel shirt which he hadn’t bothered to button. He wondered if he’d thanked them.

“Earth to O’Conner! I asked you a question. What happened?”

Brian wondered why the hell Dom was yelling. He also wondered why everything in the house smelled like smoke. Dom grabbed his elbow and Brian hissed, his jaw clenching as he swallowed the pain along with a mouthful of Corona. Dom released his arm as if he’d been burned.

“Come over here, Brian. Sit down,” Dom suggested, easing back from the doorway. He made eye contact with Mia and might have said something, but Brian wasn’t paying attention. Instead, he padded across the living room floor and flopped on the couch. Pain registered somewhere in Brian’s mind, but he didn’t give it much notice. Instead, he focused on his toe that was mocking him through the hole in his shoe.

“Car fire?” Dom asked, sitting on the coffee table across from Brian.

“House fire,” Brian corrected.

“How exactly did you end up in a house fire?” Dom asked. Brian noted Dom didn’t sound angry anymore and figured that was a good thing. If Dom was going to finish what he’d started back in LA, two well aimed swings would probably do it tonight.

Brian pointed at his feet. “I ruined my shoes.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Dom asked, rubbing his eyes.

“He’s really worried about his shoes,” Mia said.

“We’ll get you new shoes, Brian. Don’t worry about it.”

“I don’t take handouts,” Brian said automatically, his voice firm. “I’m no one’s charity case.”

“Whose house were you in?” Mia asked, flashing a quick look to Dom.

“Not sure,” Brian said, reaching underneath the flannel to scratch his elbow. There was blood on his fingertips when he pulled his hand away. “I didn’t get her name.”

Dom leaned forward, his gaze not leaving Brian’s face. “Brian, where was she?”

“Outside.”

“And you were inside her burning house?” Mia asked, obviously confused. Brian felt for her. He was confused too.

“Brian, who was inside her house?” Dom asked quietly.

Brian crossed his arms over his chest. His brain was starting to hurt. Good, his hands, feet, and the rest of his body would have some company. “I thought I said I didn’t want to stand here and play twenty questions.”

“That was this morning, and you’re sitting not standing,” Dom replied, his voice completely even.

“I’m taking a shower,” Brian said, pushing off the couch and sidestepping around Dom. He didn’t owe them any answers and he certainly didn’t have to explain this.

“We’re not done here,” Dom said, standing and crossing his arms over his chest.

“Can’t it just be a stupid fucking house fire?” Brian yelled, yanking the flannel shirt off as he stalked to the bathroom. “Wrong place, wrong time, okay? No big story, just a stupid fire.”

He slammed the door with enough force to shake the house. The house wasn’t the only thing that was shaking.

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

Dom was standing at the bathroom door ready to kick it down when an old pick-up rolled to a stop outside. Dom swallowed and pulled himself away from the door, walking to the screen to meet the newcomer.

“Can I help you?” Dom asked, his tone neither helpful nor polite.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” the man said quietly. “Name’s Tony.”

Tony, the next door neighbor of Maria and Ms. Cruz gave a short, detailed account of what happened earlier. He talked about the crazy, heroic white guy that busted through the living room window and rescued a little girl that he didn’t know and by all rights, shouldn’t have been able to save.

“What’s his name?” Tony asked.

“Brian Spi –” Dom paused – “His name is Brian.”

“How did you know where he lived?” Mia asked.

Tony shrugged. “He wouldn’t go the hospital or let me take him home. He could barely walk so I followed him. Wouldn’t be right for him to collapse in the street after what he did.”

“Thanks, Tony,” Dom said, reaching out and shaking the other man’s hand. “I appreciate you looking out for him.”

“Are you kidding? It was the least I could do. I should have –“ Tony glanced at his hands. “I should have gone in that house, but –“ he shrugged, fear clouding his eyes - “I was afraid.”

The conversation died away, each lost in their own thoughts. Dom didn’t know if he’d have gone in that house either. For Mia or Vince or someone else he loved, sure, but for a stranger? He doubted it.

“You all should come by for dinner in a few days. Ms. Cruz asked, well, demanded that I bring the angel by for dinner on Thursday.”

Dom coughed and Mia smirked. “Angel?”

“Now I can tell her his name,” Tony said, smiling.

“If you call him angel, we’ll never get him to show,” Mia said.

“He’ll be there,” Dom promised, walking Tony to the door.

“All of you should come. Brian should know where it is,” Tony said.

“In case he doesn’t –“ Dom passed him a pad of paper and a pen and Tony jotted down directions. The house was nearly two miles away.

“Good night, Tony,” Mia said. “Give our regards to the Cruz family.”

Mia and Dom watched as Tony started his truck, the engine coughing and sputtering to life, before he pulled down the dusty driveway and onto the street.

“Dom?” Mia said, resting her hand on his arm.

“What?” he said, turning to meet her gaze.

“Breathe.”

“I’m fine, Mia. Really.”

“Are you sure? Because you don’t look fine.”

Dom rubbed his hand over his face, hoping when he met Mia’s gaze again he’d look perfectly composed and completely in control. “I don’t get him,” Dom admitted finally.

“What’s to get? He saved a little girl today,” Mia said.

“So why wouldn’t he just tell us that?”

She shrugged, pulling her fingers through her hair. “I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t think it was worth mentioning.”

“Not worth mentioning?” Dom barked.

“Hey, don’t yell at me,” Mia snapped. “Brian’s had a long day. Hell, he almost died today. Again.”

Dom’s jaw twitched. How many of those O’Conner near death experiences were his fault? At least he couldn’t claim responsibility for this one. That was something, wasn’t it?

“He’s been in that shower a long time,” Mia commented, her eyes focused on the bathroom door. The water was still running.

“Maybe you should check on him,” Dom suggested. He rubbed his palms together, the desire to push through the bathroom door returning with a vengeance.

“I’m not the one he wa-" She stopped, the words dying on her lips as Dom spun to face her. “Never mind.”

“What were you going to say?” Dom asked, his voice hard.

“Dom, he needs you. Okay? He needs someone who knows what they’re doing because right now, he doesn’t have a clue. Just, be there for him. You owe him that.” She crossed her arms over her chest like she was daring Dom to challenge her.

Dom nodded because, really, there wasn’t anything he’d deny his sister. And if he was going to be honest, he owed Brian everything. If he could get him to sit still long enough, he might tell him that. Maybe.

“I’m going to bed,” Mia said, wrapped her arm around Dom’s shoulders for a quick hug. “Don’t fuck this up.”

Dom smiled with confidence that was flagging and humor that didn’t reach his eyes. “Don’t worry. I got this.”

Truthfully, he didn’t have anything except a life-size riddle named Brian O’Conner who was an enigma wrapped in a mystery with a hero complex the size of a small country. Yeah, he had this all right. Suddenly racing cars and semi truck heists seemed a whole lot easier than whatever was standing on the other side of the bathroom door.

Chapter 3

Comments

nightrider101
Sep. 6th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I have some ideas on Brian's past. I'm glad you're curious and want to read about it. :)

Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond!