Fandom: The Fast and Furious
Characters: Dom, Brian, Mia, Rico, Tego, Leon and minor original characters
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: I'm starting to fill in some of Brian's back story. This is merely my take on his past.
Brian’s discontent was visible, and he wasn’t being covert about it. His expression was stony, and his shoulders were squared. Why he’d agreed to this, he’d never know.
Leon glanced at him and grinned. “You still clean up good.”
Brian stared at him for a second then grabbed Leon’s shoulder and shoved him forward. “Come on.”
Dom was trying to suppress a smile, and Mia was giggling as they started for the car. Dom slid into the driver’s seat, and Brian opened the back door.
“You can have the front –“
“Don’t worry about it,” Brian said. He didn’t ask how Dom knew exactly where they were going. If they’d asked him for directions, they were going to be shit out of luck because he didn’t have a clue.
The car rolled to a stop outside a home Brian didn’t recognize. As he got out of the car, he saw the charred remnants of the home next door. He stopped, staring at the burned wooden walls and the destroyed remains of what was once a home. For a second, he felt the heat of the flames on his face, the smell of the ash infiltrating his senses.
“Brian,” Mia said softly, resting her hand on his arm. He shook his head, focusing on her face, concern evident in her eyes. “You coming?”
“Yeah.” He rubbed his neck and cast a final glance at the destroyed home before walking towards the porch. He passed by Dom who was looking at him curiously.
A man he vaguely remembered greeted him at the top of the steps. “Brian,” he said warmly, reaching to shake his hand. “My name’s Tony. This is my wife, Ana.”
“Nice to meet you, Tony,” Brian replied. “Ana.” He was quick to step aside as Mia, Dom and Leon joined them on the porch and more introductions were made. He felt a hand tugging on his arm, and he looked down.
“Hello again,” the girl said softly, one hand clutching a singed teddy bear to her chest and the other holding tightly onto Brian’s.
“Hello, Maria,” Brian replied. She had the most expressive brown eyes.
“I’ve been working on my English,” she said, smiling up at him. “We learn it in school, but Mr. Tony’s been helping me, too.”
“You’re English is very good,” Brian said. “Better than mine, actually.” She smiled at his praise, her hand wrapping tightly around one of his fingers.
“Let’s go inside,” Tony suggested. “Estela has been cooking all afternoon.”
Leon closed his eyes. “Please let there be empanadas.”
“You’re in luck, mi amigo. Estela only makes the best,” Tony said, opening up the screen door and leading them inside.
Brian took a step forward, and Maria tugged on his hand. When he turned to look at her, she stretched her arms up.
“Maria,” Ana admonished. She spoke to her quickly Spanish, but Brian caught enough to know it was something about don’t bother the nice man or something like that. It could also have been don’t pet the cat, but he wasn’t entirely sure.
“No, it’s all right,” Brian said, scooping her up in his arms. Dom and Mia stepped back to give him room.
Dom glanced at Mia who was rubbing her eyes. “Got something in your eye?” he asked.
She brushed by him. “You’re so thick sometimes.”
Leon patted his shoulder. “I’ll explain it to you later.”
The house wasn’t big, but it was adequate and had a homey feel. Maria seemed content to stay where she was, and Brian figured she’d let him know when she was ready to be put down. He didn’t have a lot of experience with children, and most of what he knew came from his time on the force. He was used to dealing with crisis situations, and children who were the victims of situations they hadn’t created.
Estela wiped her hands on a dish towel and slowly turned around to face them. She smiled warmly at Dom, Mia and Leon and offered them seats at the table. Her gaze slowly drifted to Brian, who had a wide eyed expression that said if her child hadn’t been clinging to his neck, he’d have made a run for the door.
She gestured to an empty chair. “Please, sit.”
“Thank you,” Brian replied, easing down in the chair carefully so he didn’t disturb Maria.
Estela placed several large platters on the table – chicken and rice, empanadas, tostadas, and an impressive salad. It looked delicious. After some prodding, Maria vacated Brian’s lap and sat next to her mother who prepared her plate.
Dinner was actually a quiet affair with Leon and Tony filling most of the void of silence. That was fine with Brian. It wasn’t until Mia kicked him underneath the table that he started paying attention to the conversation. He knew Estela was looking at him occasionally, but he didn’t know what to say.
When in doubt, opt for neutral ground. “The food is great. Very, very good. Thank you.” Those few words covered just about everything he had to say.
She seemed pleased. “Thank you,” she replied.
Estela and Ana cleared away plates, refusing Mia and Brian’s offer to help.
Tony pulled a bottle of Tequila off the shelf. “Can I offer you all a drink?”
Brian shook his head, his gaze drifting to the door. “We should really be –“
“I’d love one!” Leon said.
Brian rubbed his forehead, wanting nothing more than to be anywhere but here.
“That would be very nice, thank you,” Mia agreed, giving Brian a pointed look. Her expression was expectant, like he should be doing something, saying something.
It was inevitable, really, that the conversation would drift to the fire. Tony told them they were going to rebuild the Cruz’s home once they got the money. Unfortunately they hadn’t had any type of home insurance so it was going to take time to raise the funds, but once they did, Tony promised they’d have a home nicer than before.
“We’d be happy to help,” Dom offered. “Leon’s pretty good with a hammer.”
“Thank you,” Tony said, smiling. “We’d appreciate it.”
“I still can’t believe it happened,” Ana said. “One minute the house was there, and the next it was gone.”
Yeah, Brian knew how that went. One second you had a home, a family, and then next you have a pile of ash and third degree burns.
“I’m going to step outside for a minute,” Brian said, pushing off the chair and hoping his voice didn’t sound as tense as he felt.
Mia looked at him as he passed, her eyes narrowed. “Brian –“ The door closed before she could finish.
He heard voices behind him, apologies being offered for his behavior, apologies that were waved off, and more Tequila being poured. Several minutes went by before the door opened and small feet padded across the wooden planks.
“S’ quieter out here,” Maria said.
Brian glanced down at her. “Yeah, it is.”
She leaned against the support rails, her face pressed against the slats as she peered across the yard at what remained of her home.
“You wanna sit up here?” Brian asked, gesturing to the railing.
She nodded and held her arms up. He picked her up and deposited her on the railing, keeping his arm around her so she didn’t fall off.
“I haven’t talked about it either,” she said suddenly.
“Talked about what?”
She shrugged. “The fire. They keep telling me I should talk about it.”
“They say that’s supposed to help,” Brian replied.
She nodded, rubbing her small fist against her eyelid. “Did you talk about it?”
Brian cleared his throat and was happy she wasn’t looking at his face. What was he supposed to do? Lie to her? “No, not really.”
“I was scared,” she murmured, her admission drifting away in the warm night breeze.
Brian nodded. “Me too.”
She tilted her head against his chest so she could see him, her scowl clearly saying she didn’t believe him. “You didn’t look scared.”
“I was, though,” Brian told her.
“You were brave,” Maria said. “I have to be brave, too, for my madre.”
Brian was quiet for moment, wondering how these values, how the need to be strong for someone else became instilled in children so young. It didn’t seem fair.
“You know what I think, Maria?” Brian said.
She stared up at him. “What?”
“I think being brave means telling someone how you feel even when you’re scared. I think being brave means being honest.”
She was quiet, but he felt her nod against his chest. “You know what else I think?”
Maria pressed the back of her hand to her mouth as she yawned. “What?”
“I think your mother loves you very much.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Brian heard someone muffle a cough behind him, and he turned carefully to find Estela standing in front of the screen door. He was surprised he hadn’t heard it open.
“I also think you’re tired,” Brian said, looking down at Maria whose eyes were drifting closed.
“I think you think too much.”
Brian chuckled. “Yeah, I do that.” He eased her off the railing and passed her to Estela who kissed her brow gently.
“Please, stay?” she asked.
“Yeah, I can do that,” Brian agreed. Estela carried Maria inside the house and reappeared a minute later.
She rubbed her palms together, her eyes drifting to what was left of her home. Brian knew there was a language barrier, and everything she was thinking couldn’t be expressed in any written or spoken language.
Estela turned to face him, her hand reaching up to rest on his cheek. “Thank you.”
Brian swallowed; the intensity and emotion behind her words were overwhelming. “You’re welcome.”
She didn’t say anything else, but he felt like she was looking through him. “Thank you,” she repeated, giving his cheek a final pat. When she went back in the house, she spoke in Spanish, and Brian recognized that someone was tired, he just wasn’t sure who. Dom, Mia, and Leon appeared moments later.
Tony followed them out and reached to shake Brian’s hand. “Thank you for coming.”
“I appreciate the invitation,” Brian replied.
Tony didn’t look like he believed him, but he smiled anyway. “I hope we see you again.”
“With food like that, you won’t be able to get rid of us,” Leon said, smiling.
Brian didn’t look at the charred house again as he walked by to get into the backseat of the car. He could smell it, though. It infiltrated his senses, and for a second he could taste the ash on his tongue and hear the screams in his head.
As soon as Dom pulled in front of the house, Brian was out of the car before he could shift it to park.
Mia’s words stopped him cold. “What the hell was that, Brian?”
Brian didn’t say anything, but unless it had dropped fifty degrees and no one noticed, Brian was shaking.
“Yeah, you weren’t very social, man,” Leon pointed out. “Not that it’s any of my business, but they were trying to be nice.”
Brian still hadn’t turned around.
“Brian, answer me,” Mia snapped. “You didn’t say two words to Ms. Cruz the whole time. She was trying to talk to you during dinner and all you were doing was playing with your food.”
Dom rubbed his hand over his head. “Mia, why don’t you lay off?”
“Don’t defend him,” Mia replied. “It was downright embarrassing.”
“I don’t know if I’d go that far,” Leon said, sounding uncomfortable.
Brian started for the house again, his footfalls heavy and eyes straight forward.
“Brian!” Mia yelled.
He stopped again, his back to the group. His head didn’t move. “My mother was killed in a house fire.” There was no emotion, no affect behind his words. And with that bit of life changing information, he walked inside and closed the door.
The trio stared at the closed door as if they expected to Brian to walk back outside and laugh at them, saying it was all a joke. Only it wasn’t, and they knew it. Leon cleared his throat. “Well, that explains a lot.”
Mia’s hand was pressed to her mouth, her eyes wide. “I – I had no idea. I didn’t mean… I didn’t know…”
Dom brushed by her, taking the three steps leading to the house in one go. Brian hadn’t turned any lights on, and the door to his bedroom was closed.
“Shit,” he muttered. Like Mia, he had no idea. It did explain a lot. Why the hell would Brian want to go back there and see that again? Hell, why had he gone in the house in the first place knowing what he’d gone through in the past?
“I need a beer,” Leon announced, opening the fridge and pulling out a Corona. Without asking, he passed one to Dom.
“Dom, I didn’t know. I really didn’t know,” Mia said, pleading.
“I’m not the one you need to be talking to,” Dom said. He took several long pulls from the bottle.
Mia glanced down the hallway. “Do you think –“
Dom shook his head. “Leave it for tonight.”
She nodded, her gaze falling to her hands. Dom knew she hadn’t meant anything by it. Mia was a compassionate person, and she had a good heart. He knew she’d felt for the Cruz family and what they’d gone through. He also knew the look on Estela’s face when she came back inside after she’d spoken with Brian alone. Something was settled, and she’d found some measure of peace during her crisis. Brian was good at that, molding himself to be what the situation needed. He also saw the way Brian had held Maria, and the serene look on her face when Estela had carried her off to bed. Whatever Brian had said or done, it had helped.
“I’m going to go to bed,” Mia said. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
“Yeah, night, Mia,” Leon said.
Dom squeezed her shoulder as she walked by, and for a second she leaned into his touch.
After she closed the door, Leon stretched his legs out on the couch and looked at Dom who was doing his best to prop up the wall.
Leon gestured to the fridge. “I thought we had a full six-pack.”
Leon held up his beer and nodded to Dom’s hand where he was holding the bottle between two fingers. “I count two. There’s only three left.”
“We’ll buy more,” Dom muttered. Was Leon really only concerned with running out of beer? Dom longed for the days when risk of running out of Corona was the worst crisis he faced.
Leon dropped his head on the arm rest. “Just sayin’, I doubt Brian grabbed a beer to drink in his bedroom. Granted, I don’t know the guy that well, but that really doesn’t seem like his style.”
Dom looked at Brian’s closed bedroom door then turned to the side door that led outside to the garage. He left without another word.
Leon shook his head. “No appreciation.”
Much to Dom’s frustration and dismay, the light in the garage was off. He checked anyway, but like he expected, Brian wasn’t there. It wasn’t like Brian couldn’t leave whenever he wanted to. He was an adult, and Dom was by no means his keeper, but the idea of Brian wandering around in the middle of the night after dropping a bomb like he had did nothing to settle Dom’s nerves.
Dom thought he saw a flash of light, and he turned his head. The Eclipse was parked diagonal to the back of the house. The glow from the kitchen cast just enough light to be reflected when Brian lifted his beer bottle. Brian was sitting on the trunk, his back pressed against the rear window.
Dom made a point to drag his feet as he approached. Brian, like him, didn’t like being caught off guard. He knew Brian heard him even though he didn’t acknowledge his presence. He leaned against the back of the car, one foot resting on the bumper.
Brian didn’t move, his eyes staring up at the sky. Several minutes passed with Dom occasionally taking a sip from his bottle, and Brian doing nothing. Dom shifted, his foot falling to the ground.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Dom had heard more emotion from him when he was ordering pizza.
Dom placed both his palms on the trunk of the car and lifted his body so he was sitting next to Brian. “Didn’t expect you to.”
Brian tilted his head, finally looking at Dom. “Then why are you here?”
Ah, there were many ways to respond to that question. “Because you’re here.” And he didn’t want him to be alone.
Brian nodded once, his head turning back to the stars. “Fair enough.”
Dom closed his eyes for a second. He’d expected a fight, some belligerence that ended with either a punch being thrown or one of them storming off. He didn’t feel like Brian’s lack of emotion was a victory.
He didn’t tell him Mia was sorry, that was her problem to deal with. He also had a feeling Brian knew and wasn’t angry with her. He didn’t ask any questions because Brian would tell him when he was ready. If he didn’t, well, then he didn’t. Dom wouldn’t force the issue, but what he could do, what he was going to do, was sit here until Brian either came back inside or passed out. If the latter happened, then Dom would pull up a chair.
“I didn’t expect it to fuck with me this much,” Brian muttered, rubbing his hand over his face. He sounded frustrated and irritated with himself.
“No one’s calm and collected all the time,” Dom said quietly. Truth be told, he had no idea how Brian had held it together as well as he had over the years. He wasn’t sure of everything Brian had been through, but the situation with Braga alone was enough to bring tough men to their knees.
“I thought you said that was my meal ticket,” Brian replied, annoyed. It took Dom a second to place that conversation, and he remembered the Supra and paying for Brian’s shrimp which had pissed him off. Dom wondered if Brian had written down everything he’d said because he was able to recall conversations from over five years ago with no problem.
Dom rubbed his neck. “I didn’t mean be emotionless. No one expects that.” Nor was it healthy. That was a lesson Dom had learned with time.
Brian glared at the sky. “Maybe I do.”
Dom thought it would help a lot if he had some context. Right now he felt like he was skating on thin ice, and if he said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing, Brian would shut down. Still, Brian had allowed him to stay, hadn’t walked away or told him to fuck off, so that had to mean something.
Just when Dom thought he should say something to fill the void of silence, Brian continued, “Christ, it shouldn’t matter anymore.” He rubbed his eyelids, scowling. “I was six years old. You’d think I’d be over it by now.”
There was no magic formula to get over the loss of a loved one no matter how long ago it happened. If there was, Dom would have used it long ago. If there was he wouldn’t have beaten a man’s head in with a steel wrench.
“I’m sorry,” Dom said.
Brian looked at him, his eyes narrowed, confused. “You don’t have anything to be sorry for.”
Dom shrugged. “Someone should be sorry.”
Brian inclined his head. “I am.” He passed the warming beer to his left hand and wiped the condensation on his jeans, his gaze dropping to his palm. “Thanks, though.”
Dom resisted the urge to tell Brian he hadn’t done a damn thing, and he wished he could do more, and whatever had happened to Brian as a child he hadn’t deserved. Once again silence proved to be the better course of action because Brian starting talking again.
Brian slid down till his feet were resting on the bumper, and his elbows were on his knees. His forehead was resting on his open palm, and his other hand held the nearly full Corona. “I keep thinking I should have been able to help her,” he muttered, agitated. The words ‘But you were six years old!’ were on the tip of Dom’s tongue.
“I still remember it like it was yesterday,” Brian said, linking his fingers together around the neck of the bottle. “The smoke, the fire, her screams.” He shook his head, his eyes closed, and his expression pained.
Dom shifted slightly so their shoulders were barely touching. If there were ever a message he wanted to get across, he wanted Brian to know he was there.
“My dad, he wouldn’t –" The thought hung in the air, and for a second Dom thought Brian was going to throw the bottle at the side of the house. He wouldn’t have blamed him. “I remember him holding me, telling me I couldn’t go inside. I was fighting him, screaming.”
When Brian laughed, Dom got chills. “I had bruises on my arms for over a week.” Bruises were better than being dead. It was another bit of information Dom didn’t share.
“You know what the worst part is?” Brian asked, keeping his eyes on the ground.
“Tell me,” Dom said.
“If I would have stayed put, if dad could have trusted me enough not to go back in the house, maybe he could have saved her too.”
Dom winced, the pain radiating off Brian was nearly palpable. “You were six years old,” Dom said, unable to avoid pointing out the obvious any longer. He remembered some of his childhood, and he knew logic and reason came much later. How could someone expect a child to understand the consequences behind his actions? Who knew if his mother could have been saved? There were no answers to those questions.
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?” Brian asked.
Dom sighed, the logical argument that Brian was only a young child was met with the argument he’d expected. He also knew there was nothing he could say that would make Brian feel any better.
“It’s all right,” Brian said quietly. “I know I was a kid. I know it’s not my fault. I know I’m not responsible for her death. I get all that.”
“But what you know and what you feel aren’t the same,” Dom said.
Brian turned his head, meeting Dom’s gaze. He looked surprised. “Yeah, exactly.”
“What about your dad?” Dom asked. Finally he felt like he was seeing some of Brian’s past, some of what had shaped this incredible man, and now he almost felt like he didn’t want to know.
Brian made a face that was a mix of disgust and general disinterest. “What about him?”
“You guys close?” Brian looked at him like he’d just announced he was going to start driving a Kia.
Brian continued to look at him, his face blank. “What do you think?”
Dom cleared his throat and downed the rest of his Corona. “I’m going to say no.”
Brian nodded. “Smart answer.” He slid off the car and poured the rest of his beer on the ground. “He was never the same after mom died.” There was no malice or resentment in Brian’s tone. Maybe Brian’s father had blamed him, and maybe he hadn’t. Maybe he turned to booze, drugs or something else, and maybe he did nothing. Dom wanted to ask if his father was still alive, and if he’d talked to him recently, if his dad knew about Brian’s life as a cop, if he’d come to his graduation from the Academy, if he knew where Brian was now.
“What about Maria?” Dom asked instead. “Knowing what you’d been through, how did you –“ He waved his hand, hoping Brian would get the idea. Going into a burning house was heroic enough, but knowing Brian’s childhood, that made it seem like an impossible feat.
Brian shrugged. “At the time I didn’t think about it. It wasn’t until afterwards that…” He trailed off, shrugging again. That explained Brian’s strange behavior after he’d gotten back to the house and his unwillingness to discuss it. He’d been shaken to the core.
“If I’d known, the dinner tonight, we wouldn’t have gone,” Dom said, suddenly feeling like an ass for pushing the issue with Brian earlier. To Dom, it proved that once again, he didn’t have everything figured out. He was so used to knowing what was best for his friends, regardless of how they felt about it. He should have learned by know that Brian was a wild card, and he shouldn’t assume he knows what he needs.
Brian shook his head. “No, you were right and so was Mia. I should have gone. Estela deserves some peace, and it meant a lot to her that we came.”
Dom stared at him, wondering how many times Brian had put his needs aside for someone else. It didn’t seem fair. He was falling over himself for everyone else. Who was doing the same for him?
“Yeah, and what about you?” Dom asked.
Brian lifted his eyebrow, Dom’s implication sailing right by him. “What about me?” That seemed to be one of his favorite responses. He really didn’t get it, or no one had ever cared enough to point it out to him.
“While you’re busy being everything to everybody, who’s looking out for you? I gotta tell you, Brian. You should start thinking about yourself,” Dom said.
For a second Dom thought Brian was considering his request, was really listening to his words, until he said, “So you’re saying I should be a selfish ass?”
Dom considered shaking him until his teeth rattled. Maybe that would get his point across. “No, I’m saying you should take care of yourself once in awhile.” Dom never thought he’d have to explain to someone what it meant to look out for number one. He’d thought that was ingrained in every person. Apparently he was wrong.
Was this a trap? No, didn’t feel like one. Dom certainly looked out for his own interests. Hijacking those trucks certainly wasn’t for the greater good. “Yeah, exactly. Like me,” Dom agreed.
Brian started ticking off on his fingers. “Like how you were going to look for Jesse despite me having a gun pointed at your head? Like how you protected your team? Like how you gave people a home that had nowhere to go? Like how you –“
“Oh, forget it,” Dom muttered, shoving Brian’s shoulder. Dom didn’t see himself as anything special, and he certainly wasn’t anyone’s hero. Still, he wasn’t going to argue. He had a feeling Brian wouldn’t back down. Stubborn bastard.
Brian smiled – it was more of a smirk - and shrugged. “Just sayin’.”
Dom grumbled something unintelligible and shoved him again just for good measure.
“Hey, let’s take the Charger out tomorrow,” Brian suggested suddenly and Dom blinked at him. There was something behind that request.
“It’s in pieces,” Dom said.
Brian was undeterred. “So we’ll put it back together.”
“I’ve got to pick up a few parts,” Dom said, making a list of the parts they’d need in his head.
“We can go into town in the morning,” Brian said.
“Yeah, we can do that, but what’s the rush all about?” Dom asked. It wasn’t like either of them were going anywhere fast. If anything, Dom wanted to stretch out the repairs, make sure he did them right. Also, it gave them something to do, something to fill the void of time. It beat sitting around reading old magazines, even if they were about cars.
Brian looked away, visibly deflating. “Never mind.”
Whoa. Talk about a full stop. “I wasn’t saying we couldn’t swing it. I was just wondering why you were in such a hurry.”
“I don’t know. Your dad, my mom…” He gestured with his hand before looking away. His mom and Dom’s dad – two people taken by accident long before their time. At least Dom still had the Charger, even if it still scared the hell out of him. He wondered if Brian had anything left from his mother.
“Yeah, we’ll put her back together,” Dom said. Like they’d put their lives back together. A tribute drive, then. “Maybe I’ll even let you drive.”
Brian scowled at him. “In case you’ve forgotten, I have driven her.” Yeah, to get him off that prison bus.
“Don’t get any ideas,” Dom said, an accusing finger pointed at Brian’s chest. “She still likes me best.”
Brian laughed. “Wouldn’t dream of it, man.” He rested his hip against the side of the Eclipse, his expression abruptly serious. “I gotta be honest with you. While you were locked up, the nights were long.” He winked when Dom raised his eyebrow. “For the car. Someone had to keep her company.”
“Are you trying to make me jealous?” Dom asked, his tone low.
Brian leaned back, exposing his throat when he laughed again, his eyes bright. Yeah, Dom could get used to that. “Nah,” Brian said. “I know when I’m outclassed.” Dom didn’t tell him that he wasn’t. He really, really wasn’t.
Dom stretched, rolling his shoulders a few times. It looked like the implosion had been avoided, and he actually felt like he’d done something good, like he’d been a friend. That was important to Dom especially where Brian was concerned.
“Come on,” Brian said, bumping his shoulder. “Let’s go inside. I’ll even let you sleep in your bed tonight.”
“How generous of you,” Dom deadpanned, following Brian into the house. He set his empty bottle next to the sink.
Brian leaned against the wall, his arms crossing casually over his chest. “What can I say? I’m a giver.”
Dom rolled his eyes. “I’m sure.” He started for his bedroom, but Brian’s voice stopped him.
“Dom, thank you,” Brian said seriously, all previous flirting – had he been flirting with him? – gone. “I mean it, thank you.”
“Forget about it,” Dom said. “You can –“ Tell me anything? Tell me all your secrets? Tell me what make you tick? Tell me how to make you smile, make you laugh?
Brian cut through his thoughts when he said, “Yeah, just thanks, man.”
“Night, Brian,” Dom said, opting for the bathroom first. He needed to clear his head, and a cold shower sounded like the perfect solution.
Brian shook his head. He felt like he’d just ridden a rollercoaster with a full stomach. He started for the couch, dropping his keys and phone on the counter, and the sound of a bedroom door opening caused him to turn.
“Hey, Leon,” Brian said, collapsing on the couch and tossing his arm over his eyes. “Take the room tonight.” He didn’t feel like talking anymore, and figured Leon would get the clue.
Leon hung back, watching Brian for several minutes before his eyes drifted to the counter.
“That’s a different phone,” Leon said quietly.
Brian dropped his arm off the side of the couch and turned his head so he could see Leon. “Huh?”
Leon pointed to the counter. “Your phone. It’s different.”
Brian’s eyes narrowed as he tried to process Leon’s astute observation. “Yeah, I got a new one today.”
Leon swallowed, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “I know I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were planning something.”
Brian looked at him for a second, tired, mentally drained and suddenly sick of the facade. “I’m doing contract work for the FBI, and I’m getting ready to go after a South American drug lord that’s escaped from Federal custody.”
Leon blinked several times then started laughing. “All right, man. It wasn’t my place to ask. Sorry. See you in the morning.”
Brian watched him go. “Night.” See, telling the truth didn’t matter. Perception was everything, and no one believed him anyway. It did make the whole situation kind of ironic.