nightrider101 (nightrider101) wrote,

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FIC: Along the Way (8/11?)

Title: Along the Way
Author: NightRider
Rating: PG
Fandom: The Fast and Furious
Characters: Dom, Brian, Mia, Rico, Tego, and Leon
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.

Mia walked out quietly, wincing when she saw Dom sitting on the couch. His head was tilted, resting on the back of the couch, and his eyes were closed. She tiptoed across the living room to get her novel from the bookshelf.

“It’s okay. I’m awake,” Dom said, his voice surprisingly alert.

“Everything all right?” Mia asked, sitting down next to him.

“Yeah, it’s fine.”

Mia glanced at the cluttered table and the forgotten beer bottles. “I heard the two of you talking.”

“You could have come out,” Dom said. It wasn’t like he expected her to stay holed up in her bedroom.

“No, you needed to talk,” she said.

Dom made a noise that was more of a grunt than anything else. “I’ve talked more in the last week than I’ve talked in the last five years.” Talking really wasn’t one of Dom’s favorite pastimes. That was another thing he and Brian had in common.

Mia didn’t show any sympathy. “It’s good for you. Both of you.” When Dom opened his mouth to respond, she lifted her hand. “I get the whole macho guy thing, but there’s only so much that can be accomplished by working on a car and beating your chest.”

“You’d be surprised,” Dom said.

“I’m sure,” she said flatly. She looked at her hands as if she wanted to say something but didn’t want to pry.

Dom looked at her. It was too early to play guessing games. “What?”

She glanced up, smiling sheepishly and giving him a casual shrug. “Nothing.”

“Mia, it’s too damn early. Go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind. I know you’re not shy.”

She chuckled. “Yeah, you’re right. I just –“ she paused and picked at her fingernail – “want him to be okay, you know?” There was no question as to who she was referring to. Again, Dom was surprised at how close Mia and Brian had become while he was on the inside. He figured he shouldn’t have been stunned. They were in a tough spot together, both fighting for the same goal – to get him out. Despite Mia’s experiences running with Dom’s team, Brian probably had to walk her through the court process. He knew Brian was with her every step of the way and for that he was grateful. He was grateful for a lot of things these days.

Dom studied the calluses on his palms. “He’s a tough guy. He’ll be fine.” For the first time since embracing the idea that underneath it all Brian O’Connor might not be fine, he was starting to think it was turning around. “Anyway, he’s here, isn’t he?” It was a simple fact in Dom’s mind – if Brian was here, he could help him, keep an eye on him at least. He knew Mia would help, and Leon was great for backup.

“I suppose that’s one good thing about him not being a cop anymore. We don’t have to worry about him coming home shot or not coming home at all.”

Dom nodded. “Yeah, exactly.” He pushed off the couch and went to start a pot of coffee.

It wasn’t like he could keep Brian here if he wanted to leave, but Dom had a feeling Brian wasn’t going anywhere. Something had settled between them when they were talking this morning. Brian had finally opened up at bit. Granted, he wasn’t overly forthcoming on his past, but he contributed to the conversation and provided insights that Dom had needed to hear. Yeah, things were finally starting to turn around.


Brian didn’t feel rested when he woke several hours later. Still, some sleep was better than no sleep. The first thing that came to his mind when he woke up was that he was in Dom’s bed. The second was that he was going to go after Carter Verone. The funny thing was that both realizations gave him chills – the first pleasure and the latter was something else entirely.

He figured tomorrow he’d call Tej. The Bureau would move quickly to get a car down to Miami for him. If they wanted Verone as badly as Brian thought they did, it was going to be something fast. He was going to have to call Tej and give him a head’s up at some point. Nothing like a couple of Feds showing up at Tej’s shop door and dropping off a car for a wanted man he hadn’t seen in three years. Knowing Tej, he’d take it all in stride.

Brian lounged in bed for a little longer. Typically he wasn’t one to lay around, too many things to do, but today, he wanted to enjoy it, to savor the feeling of being relaxed. He heard Leon in the hallway yelling about something, and Dom’s quick rebuke that shut him up. Mia’s laughter drifted through the air, and Brian smiled. They sounded happy.

He stretched his arms above his head, turning on his side and pressing his face against the pillow. He heard the creek of the door and lifted his head.

“Uh…sorry, man,” Dom said quietly. “Need a shirt.”

Brian rubbed his chest, the covers pooling around his waist. “No problem. I was about to get up anyway.”

Dom opened the dresser drawer and pulled out a white tee shirt that had the sleeves cut off. “Was thinkin’ we’d work on the Charger today.”

Brian looked at him. When they’d arrived at this house Dom had pulled the Charger around back and covered it. He hadn’t touched it since. The Charger was more than a car. It was an icon, a beacon of the past, and if Dom felt like working it, Brian knew that meant something. If he was going to let someone help him, that meant even more.

“Sounds like a plan,” Brian replied. He had a feeling Leon had been pestering him about it this morning.

Dom pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it in the hamper next to the closet. “Oh, we have dinner plans.”

Since when did they ever have dinner plans? “I’m not really the wine and dine type.”

Dom rolled his eyes and yanked the shirt over his head. “Ms. Cruz.”

Brian shrugged. “Don’t know her.”

“Maria?” Dom prompted.

Brian shook his head. “I got nothing. Friends of yours?”

Dom leaned against the door frame. “You really don’t remember?”

“Should I?” Brian pushed his feet off the side of the bed, suddenly feeling awkward, and pulled the blanket tightly around his waist. It wasn’t like Brian had really met anyone since he got here. Sure, he’d said hello in the store and what not, but he hadn’t exchanged anything besides pleasantries.

“The kid from the fire and her mother,” Dom explained.

Ah, them. “No.”

Dom looked concerned. “You don’t remember that?”

Brian rubbed his hand over his face. He should have pretended he was asleep when Dom came in. “Yes, I remember. No, I’m not going.”

“Glad your memory is still intact,” Dom said. He shut the door as he said, “And, yes, you’re going.”

“Asshole,” Brian muttered.

“I heard that!”

“Go to hell, Dom!” Brian yelled. “Did you hear that too?”

“Didn’t catch that one. Maybe you should yell a little louder?” Dom called through the door.

Brian didn’t respond, instead, he pushed himself to his feet and grabbed a clean towel off the top of Dom’s dresser. He didn’t expect Dom to understand why he didn’t want to go tonight. To Brian, it hadn’t been a big deal. It wasn’t his job anymore, but that didn’t mean he didn’t feel responsible. Responsible might be the wrong word – he felt like he had to act if someone was in trouble. It was ingrained in him.

The last thing he wanted was someone to make a big deal out of it. One right didn’t correct a thousand wrongs. And truthfully, Brian detested being the center of attention. Yeah, he liked winning races. He liked the crowd gathering around him, the slaps on the back and the congratulations. He craved the adrenaline rush and the money wasn’t bad either. But this was different; it was personal, intimate, and he had no desire to deal with it. Anyway, he didn’t agree to any dinner. That was on Dom and Mia. They could take Leon along if they wanted company.

He walked to the bathroom and closed the door. The shower felt good, the warm water was refreshing. He didn’t bother staying in long. He was going to be filthy after working on the car anyway.

Dom and Leon were already outside after Brian got dressed. Mia was sitting on the couch pretending to read her novel when he walked out.

“Hey, Mia,” Brian said, walking to the kitchen. He poured himself a cup of coffee that was cold and tasted terrible. It reminded him of the coffee at the station when he was working nights.

Mia stood up. “I can make you a fresh pot.”

“Don’t worry about it. I actually kind of like it.”

She made a face that clearly said cold coffee was disgusting. “You’re the only one.”

Brian shrugged. “I worked nights for a couple of years. I got used to it.”

“Something familiar,” Mia said. “So, dinner tonight.”

“No.” He hoped he was sending a message that said he didn’t want to discuss it.

Mia crossed her arms over her chest. She reminded him of Dom. The telltale Toretto temper getting ready to strike again. “You have to.”

“No, I don’t.”

Mia looked surprised by his abrupt response. “Brian, she just wants to say thank you,” Mia explained, going for reason first.

“Well, she doesn’t have to.” He didn’t expect Mia to understand. When he was cop, he’d taken a knife for someone. He’d launched a car on a yacht to save an undercover DEA agent. He’d done a lot of things because it was part of the job, it was what he did. It wasn’t about getting recognition or being thanked. To him, he did what needed to be done and that was it. If it was up to him, that stupid house fire would never be brought up again. When he’d walked away, he never expected to see them again, and that was fine with him.

“Maybe it’s not about you, Brian,” Mia snapped.

Brian leaned against the counter, staring at her over the rim of his coffee cup.

“You’re going to have to do better than that,” Mia said, glaring.

“Leave it alone, Mia.”

“No, I’m not going to leave it alone. You need to do this, Brian. She wants to do something nice for you. You saved her daughter’s life.”

Brian really didn’t want to have this conversation. Unfortunately, Mia wasn’t one to take no for answer. She was worse than her bullheaded brother when she wanted to be.

“Why don’t you want to go?” Mia asked, walking forward to drop her arms on the counter.

“I just don’t.”

Mia shook her head. “That’s not good enough.”

Brian poured the rest of his coffee in the sink and rinsed the cup out. “It’s going to have to be.”

“Why are you being such a bastard about this?” Mia said, her voice getting louder.

For a second Brian flashed back to the last time Mia called him that, when they were standing outside the trailer at Race Wars and Brian had just told her he was a cop. There wasn’t the same level of venom in her voice, but she still sounded pissed off.

She stared at him for a second longer then looked away disgusted. “I have to tell you, Brian. This whole wounded hero thing is getting old.” She froze, the realization of what she said causing her eyes to widen. “Brian, I –“

He lifted his hand to cut her off. He didn’t want to hear her apologize for saying something she meant. He also didn’t want to stay in this house a second longer. “You’re right. You’re absolutely right, Mia.” He gave her a wide smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m gonna go help them with the car.”

“Brian, wait –"

The screen door slammed closed before she finished.

“Didn’t think you were coming,” Dom said when Brian walked through the open door of the garage.

“You’ve got to see the plans for this car!” Leon said excitedly. “It’s going to be badass!”

Brian chuckled. “I thought it already was.”

Leon grabbed his arm and pulled him over to the schematics he and Dom had drawn up. “No, look!” He pointed to the paper, and Brian whistled. “Impressive, huh?”

Dom pulled his head out from underneath the hood. “So are we going to get to work, or talk about it?”

Working sounded good. Damn good. Brian’s response was to lie down on the creeper and roll underneath the car. A set of sockets and wrenches were slid across the floor and stopped next to his head.

Brian didn’t say another word, time sliding by as he removed the torque converter nuts and drained the oil. Leon and Dom were playing “remember when” above him. There were a few bad jokes passed between them, but Brian wasn’t paying attention. Not until he felt Dom’s foot on the dolly, and he was rocked back and forth a couple of inches.

“You listening to me, O’Connor?” Dom asked.

“Nope. I’m trying to get some work done down here.”

“We’re going to get some lunch,” Leon said. “You coming?”

Brian squinted up at the engine. They’d be able to pull it out this afternoon if he kept working. “Go ahead. I want to finish this.”

“Suit yourself,” Leon said. Brian saw shadows cast on the floor as he walked out of the garage.

Dom, however, didn’t move. “You sure you don’t want to come?”

Brian sighed and started draining the rest of the engine fluid. “Dom, I’m fine. I’m not going to drop the engine on my head or anything. Go eat.”

Dom didn’t say anything else, and left Brian in peace. That was something the tight knit Toretto family didn’t seem to understand, time alone. Brian was used to being alone a lot of time, and he’d gotten used to it. Sure, he loved to be surrounded by people. He’d spent more evenings than he could count at the bar, not to drink necessarily, just to be around people, but he always went home to solitude. That was one thing that had drawn him to Dom’s house in the first place, all the people, the commotion. It was exciting and full of life, but even being surrounded by so many people, Brian always felt like an outsider.

Now, he didn’t feel like an outsider. He didn’t feel like a member of the team either, but he wasn’t living a lie. Not anymore.

He heard footfalls across the floor, too soft to be Dom or Leon. He briefly entertained the idea of ignoring her before placing a pan underneath the radiator to start draining the fluid and sliding out from underneath the car.

Mia looked down at him, holding a plate in her hand. “I…um…brought you some lunch.” She’d made him a tuna sandwich and taken the time to cut the crusts off. It was a peace offering.

“You didn’t have to.”

“I wanted to.” She gave him a weak smile.

Something Mia said stuck with him – several things actually, but she was right when she said it wasn’t about him. She looked like she felt badly about what she’d said, and Torettos weren’t known for giving apologies.

“Thanks, Mia.” He pushed himself off the ground. “It looks good.” He glanced at his grime covered hands. “I suppose I should wash my hands first.”

“Good idea.”

There was a flash of something in her eyes, an apology, the need for everything to be okay. Brian remembered she was all alone down here too. Again, he was reminded of everything she’d given up to get Dom out of prison – her friends, her education, her job, her life.

“I’ll be right back,” Brian said. “I’ll tell you what we’re doing to the car.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, because I’m so interested in hearing about it.” Her sarcastic comment lost its force when she sat down on the bench to wait for him.

He returned a minute later, a Snapple and a can of Coke in hand. He passed her the Snapple, and straddled the bench before he started eating.

“So, tell me about the car,” Mia prompted.

“It’s going to be badass,” Brian replied after swallowing a mouthful of tuna.

“Is that you or Leon talking?” she asked.

He grinned. “Well, it is.”

“I’m sure.”

He told her a few modifications they were going to make. Really, taking apart the engine gave them all something to do, something they enjoyed doing.

“You could help, you know,” Brian suggested. She’d been around cars all her life and knew her way around an engine. It wasn’t her passion, but it would be something to do.

“As exciting as it is to watch you, Leon and Dom sweat all over yourselves, I’d rather not.” She passed him a napkin she had in her pocket after he inhaled the last bite. Apparently he’d been hungrier than he realized. “Actually, I was thinking of looking for a job.”

“Really? That’s cool.”

“It’d have to be something under the table, obviously, but I bet I could find something.”

Brian smiled at her. “If anyone can do it, you can.”

“Thanks, Brian. I appreciate you listening to me.”

He shrugged. It really wasn’t all that hard. He liked her, and she could hold an intelligent conversation. He’d met a lot of women along the way that could bore a hibernating bear.

“Brian, I wanted to tell you, I shouldn’t have said what I did in the kitchen.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“No, it wasn’t fair. You deserve better than that.” There was more to it, there always was. Apologies came with obligations. “I just really think you should go tonight.” And there it was.

“Mia, I don’t want to do this again.”

“I don’t want to fight either,” Mia said in a rush. “I just want to know why. I want to understand.”

Why did everything require an explanation? Why can’t people just leave him the hell alone?

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Brian stood up, empty plate in hand.

Mia stood, never one to give away the power position. “Why can’t you just give me a straight answer? Jesus, Brian, I tell you everything.”

He stopped, facing away from her. His eyes fixed on the door, only he wasn’t seeing it. He was seeing a fire, a fire that didn’t belong to the Cruz family.

“I’ll go.”

He walked out of garage, and left Mia feeling like she hadn’t accomplished anything at all.

Rather than return with Leon and Dom to work on the car, he opted to go for a run instead. Dom didn’t say anything, and Mia didn’t look like she felt like talking anymore.

“You do a lot of running, huh?” Leon said.

“Yeah, I do,” Brian replied, sitting down to tug on his sneakers.

“You sure that’s a good idea? You’ve still got some blisters,” Leon, ever helpfully, pointed out.

“I never knew you were such a mother hen,” Brian commented, standing up.

Leon coughed and looked away. “You gonna be back in time for dinner?” Leon asked instead. “I’m holding out for empanadas!”

“What time are we going?” Brian asked without looking up.


“I’ll be back by 6:30.” He left the house and started down the road at a brisk walk.

After his conversation with Bilkins, he didn’t feel the need to drive four hundred miles to make a phone call. Bilkins had called off the hounds, and with the possibility of nailing Carter Verone without anymore embarrassment in their sights, Brian figured he could pretty much do what he wanted. He’d also asked around about Bilkins when he started with the Bureau in Los Angeles. Turned out after the impressive takedown of Verone, he’d been promoted. Now he was pushing papers in DC, and most likely making a boatload of money compliments of the United States government.

It was less than a mile into town, and he bought a new cell phone from a gas station. Unfortunately his meager savings were dwindling by the second.

He walked down the sidewalk for a bit, the afternoon heat causing most people to hide inside under a fan. Leaning against a tree several yards from the sidewalk, Brian dialed the familiar phone number.

A man answered that Brian didn’t recognize. “Jauncito’s Garage.”

“Is Tej there?”

The kid didn’t sound interested. “Yeah, who’s calling?”

“Tell him it’s Bullitt.”

The kid swallowed. “No shit! Really? Aw, man! I’ve heard all about you!”

Brian rolled his eyes. “I’m sure it’s all lies.”

“Tej!” Brian winced and held the phone away from his ear. “Bullitt’s on the phone!” He heard the distinct sound of something being dropped.

“Who is this?” Tej asked, his tone untrusting.

“He already told you,” Brian replied, waiting for the bomb to drop.

Tej cursed, and Brian pictured him patting the top of his massive hair. “Holy shit. It is you!”

“The one and only.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised,” Tej said flatly. “Maybe you can explain to me why a couple of guys in black suits just dropped a Nissan Skyline off on my doorstep. And I quote ‘instructions to follow.’”

“Oh, a Skyline. They did go big this time,” Brian commented.

“You fucker! I knew it was you!” Tej yelled.

“Keep your voice down,” Brian said. “There’s no reason to shout.”

“I’ve got Feds on my doorstep, a Skyline to sup up, and you doing whatever the hell you’re doing. Care to tell me what the fuck is going on?”

Brian rubbed his eyes. “It’s complicated.”

Tej laughed. “It always is when you’re involved.”

“Can you do it?” Brian asked.

He heard Tej sit down, and the sound of feet being propped up on the counter. “Do what?”

“The car. Will you do it?”

“Don’t be an idiot. ‘Course I will. It’ll be faster than the one you had before.”

Brian grinned. The Skyline he had before was damn fast. He missed that car. “I’m gonna hold you to that.”

“You do that, bro,” Tej replied. “So, when you coming to pick her up?” Brian coughed, and Tej said, “There’s always a catch, isn’t there?”

“I need it shipped.” He cleared his throat before saying, “Puerto de Tuxpan.” Brian’s instructions were met with silence. “Tej, you still there?”

“Yeah, I’m here,” Tej said quietly. “Brian, what the hell are you doing? Okay, when you wanted me to tell that guy the name of some Podunk town somewhere, sure, I could do that. But this? I got a bad feeling about it.”

Brian didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to explain, and he had a feeling Tej wouldn’t push the issue.

“Just don’t get yourself shot,” Tej groused. “I’d never hear the end of it. You know how Suki gets.”

“Yeah, I know,” Brian said, chuckling. There was a small consolation to this. If he did get shot or worse, Tej would never hear about it. No one would.

“All right, shipped to Puerto de whatever-the-fuck-you-said.”

“Tuxpan,” Brian repeated. “Write it down.”

He heard papers being shuffled. “Tuxpan – got it.”

“About the cost,” Brian started. Modifications like what he needed weren’t cheap.

Tej cut across him. “It’s covered.”

Brian breathed out a sigh of relief. He didn’t deserve friends like Tej. “I’ll get you back.”

“Don’t worry about. God only knows what you want it for, but knowing you, it’s for a good cause. Probably too good.”

Brian closed his eyes, the gravity of what he was about to do pricking at the back of his mind. No, he couldn’t think about it. Thinking would lead to second guessing, and second guessing could get him killed.

“I owe you one,” Brian said.

Tej dismissed Brian’s promise. “When do you need her by?”

“Four days.”

“Four days?” Tej echoed. “If we work around the clock, there’s a chance, but –“

“Four days. It’s important.”

“All right, man. How exactly do you think we’re going to come up with the papers? I seriously doubt customs is going to let this one slide by.”

“Consider it compliments of the men in black,” Brian replied. Let the Bureau figure it out.

“I don’t want to know.”

“Oh, and get the tracking device out,” Brian said.

“The tracking device? Brian, what the hell –"

Brian grinned and ended the call. Let Tej stew on that for awhile. He was probably shouting orders to every person in his shop right now. Brian wished he was there to see it.

He made another call to his contact in Panama, the attorney. He explained the papers that would be coming, asked her to verify the validity, and she agreed to mail them to the address he provided in exactly two weeks. He’d be long gone by then.

He walked around a bit more, not feeling like actually running. Truth be told, he still wasn’t up to par. Not that he’d admit that to anyone, but his body protested any sudden movements.

The sun started its lazy descent, and Brian headed for home. He wouldn’t put it past Mia and Dom to come looking for his sorry ass if he didn’t show.

At 6:29 he walked through the front door, and Leon whistled, looking at his wrist as if checking a watch. “Good timing.”

“I try,” Brian replied, dropping the cell phone on the counter as he went. “Let me get changed.”

He returned a couple of minutes later dressed in jeans and a white collared shirt. “All right, let’s get this over with.”

Chapter 9
Tags: along the way, fanfic, fast and furious

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