nightrider101 (nightrider101) wrote,

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FIC: Along the Way (11/14?)

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

Brian had left the Toretto household before sunrise. He’d spent the better part of twenty minutes staring at Dom’s door, apologies never spoken running through his head. He pressed his palm to the bedroom door, his head inclined and his eyes closed – a final goodbye - before pushing away and disappearing silently through the front door.

The day before he’d been able to discreetly pack his clothes while Mia, Dom and Leon were in the garage. It wasn’t like he had much so it only took a few minutes to gather his things and slip the pack into the hallway closet behind a large stack of car magazines.

He’d walked into town with the backpack slung over his shoulder and purchased a bus ticket that would get him within a mile of Puerto de Tuxpan. He kept his mind purposefully blank, watching the scenery blur by through the dirty window. No regrets, he told himself. Only he did have regrets, many of them, but that didn’t deter him from what he had to do. He’d never forgive himself if something happened to Dom or Mia or Leon for that matter.

He’d been able to retrieve the car with no difficulty. The man at the customs counter didn’t ask for identification or any forms, simply handing Brian the keys and bidding him good day. If anything, the clerk looked happy when Brian walked away.

He’d located the car in one of the vehicle cargo lots. Brian whistled when he approached the black Skyline. The first thing he did after opening the door was pop the hood. He whistled as he studied the high performance engine. Tej had gone all out.

Brian climbed in the driver’s seat, the engine purring to life around him. Oh, yeah. He grinned as he pulled through the metal gates and onto the street. For a second he lost himself in the sound of the engine reverberating around him.

His plan was simple. Head for Cancun, a tourist city filled with a mix of rich travelers and young people, and start racing. More importantly, start winning. He wanted to make a name for himself, his name, Brian O’Connor, and then start dropping hints about Carter Verone. Chances were if enough people knew him, word would get back to Verone especially if Verone had any interest in finding him. Brian had no doubt that Verone wouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie.

It didn’t take long to find his first race. Actually he’d been on the road about an hour when a kid in a souped-up Nissan pulled up next to him. The guy probably wasn’t more than twenty years old, and for a second Brian felt bad about taking his money when he blew past him toward the invisible finish line. He’d felt bad until he had a roll of banknotes in his hand and knew he’d be able to afford a hotel room for the next two weeks. He shook the man’s hand and smiled before turning back to his car.

Brian raced two more times before reaching the outskirts of Cancun. He was surprised at how quickly that lifestyle, the street races, the easy money, the culture of the streets came flooding back. It was almost too easy, like a light switch that could just be turned off and on when need be without a second thought. He wondered if being a cop was same way. He figured it would be. Only he wasn’t a cop anymore, the law wasn’t on his side and backup wouldn’t be coming if the shit hit the fan.

Brian shook his head, a physical attempt to clear his thoughts, and decided to focus on something simple: a decent meal and a place to sleep.


Mia was the first to show signs of life, stumbling out of her bedroom bleary eyed. The smell of coffee roused Leon a few minutes later.

He nodded once to Mia and muttered, “Coffee” as he passed her. He poured a large cup and sipped the steaming brew, his eyes unfocused. “I’m going to kill whoever suggested switching to tequila.”

Mia leaned against the counter, her hands wrapped around the coffee mug. “I believe that was you.”

“When my head stops pounding, I’m going to kick my own ass.”

“I’d like to see that,” Mia commented, passing Leon an aspirin. He took it without a word and washed it down with a gulp of coffee.

Leon blinked at the vacant couch. “Where’s Brian?”

Mia shrugged. “Probably out running.”

He couldn’t stop his jaw from dropping. “You’re fucking kidding me. He’s insane.”

“Or he just really likes running,” Mia pointed out, settling on the couch and pulling an afghan over her legs.

“I’m going to go with insane.”

Dom showed signs of life about a half hour later, and he immediately went for the coffee pot without saying a word. He mumbled his appreciation when Mia directed him to the aspirin bottle in the cabinet.

They all lounged on the sofas nursing their headaches and swearing off hard liquor for awhile.

Dom didn’t ask about Brian’s noticeable absence. He knew how much he liked his morning runs, even if Dom didn’t understand it.

As day gave way to evening, Dom tried to look casual as he scanned the counter and the table for a note. The Eclipse was still there so it wasn’t like Brian could have gotten far even if he was a good runner.

Mia reheated the leftovers after 8:00 more for something to do than anything else. They ate dinner in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Finally, Mia pushed her plate away, determination and frustration in her eyes. “Okay, I’ll say it. Where the hell is he?”

Leon froze with his fork in his mouth, and Dom glared at his leftover lasagna that he’d been chasing around the plate.

“Maybe he had to make a phone call?” Leon suggested. From the tone of his voice, he wasn’t joking.

Mia shook her head. “Last time he said something before he left.” She looked at her brother like she expected him to do something. What, he had no idea. “Dom?”

Dom shrugged, picking up his plate and dropping it on the counter next to the sink. “I’m not his keeper, Mia. He’ll be back. Probably just lost track of time.” No one believed that, including Dom, but it sounded good.

“Yeah, I used to take off for days and no one worried about me,” Leon said.

No one commented on all the things that were wrong with Leon’s statement starting with they were in a foreign country on the run from the law, and Brian didn’t speak the language fluently, and ending with the fact that Brian hadn’t exactly been up to par lately.

Dom glared through the kitchen window, staring at the dark garage. He thought he and Brian had made real progress over the last couple of days. Old issues had been laid to rest, and he considered Brian a friend, a real friend. In a way, he considered Brian something more. What, he didn’t know, but somehow, somewhere along the way, it had developed into more than just a casual friendship.

By Brian’s own admission, he was used to doing things on his own so chances were he’d just gone out and lost track of time. Apparently things like common courtesy didn’t occur to Brian. Well, Dom was just going to have to explain it to him when he got back – in vivid, graphic detail. Maybe he’d even get some pictures. Brian could be pretty thickheaded when he wanted to be. Yeah, he’d come back. If he was uncomfortable or wanted to leave, he’d have said something. It wasn’t Brian’s style just to take off without a good reason. Sure, it might not occur to him to leave a note if he was going out, but he wouldn’t disappear for days without a call, especially with the current situation being what it was. Now that led Dom’s mind down another path – what if Brian had a good reason?

Leon and Mia came up with lame excuses to stay awake and keep Dom company – Mia really wanted to finish her novel that she’d already read twice before and Leon wanted to watch the news…for five hours. Dom was content to oscillate between being concerned and pissed off. As the sun slowly chased away the remaining night, he decided he was definitely pissed off.

Mia was dozing on the couch with one leg stretched across Leon’s lap, and Leon was snoring with his head tilted back.

“Where the hell are you?” Dom muttered, picking up the key for the Charger. He’d sat around long enough. He swore he wasn’t going to look for Brian. He wasn’t one to check on his friends, but at this point – tough, Brian could fucking deal with it.

When Dom opened the screen door, Leon’s eyes popped open and he leaned forward carefully so he wouldn’t wake Mia. Dom showed him the keys, and Leon nodded, easing out from underneath Mia, gently setting her leg on the couch and covering her with an afghan. He paused at the counter, grabbing an envelope and a pen. Gone to look for dipshit - L & D

Leon climbed into the passenger side and buckled his seatbelt. Dom wasn’t paying any attention to him as he started the ignition and peeled out as he pulled onto the road. It had been over twenty-four hours which blew the ‘just went for a run’ theory right out of the water.

The worst part was Dom had no idea where to even start looking. It wasn’t like Brian knew anybody, at least not that Dom was aware of. He couldn’t go to the police because they weren’t here legally. Sure, Dom had bought them some space – everyone had a price – but he didn’t want to wave it in their faces.

Should he drive around and look for random catastrophes and hope Brian turned up? A house fire, perhaps? If Brian was going to return to the states, not even factoring in the major risk it would be, wouldn’t he had said something? So, that left Brian being dead or injured in a ditch somewhere. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Leon, thankfully, kept his mouth shut, which was a rare occurrence. He had his arm folded on the window, his eyes watching the scenery blow by. Dom pulled off at a gas station on the outskirts of town.

“I’ll take the left side of the street,” Leon said, getting out and slamming the car door.

Dom folded his arms on top of the car. “What?”

Leon stared at him for a second, confused, before pointing to the hardware store. “I’ll ask the shops on this side of the street if they’ve seen a skinny, blonde white guy. Considering where we are, there can’t be many people that fit that description around here.”

Dom was suddenly thankful he’d brought Leon along because he obviously wasn’t thinking very clearly. Normally he was better at this sort of thing, better at taking control. “Yeah, good idea.”

They parted ways, and Leon’s voice stopped him as he was walking across the gas station parking lot. “Hey, Dom! Be nice, okay?”

Dom opened his arms, walking backwards. “Aren’t I always?”

The gas station clerk turned out to the only person that remembered Brian. The young clerk couldn’t recall his name, but he said a friendly guy who matched Brian’s description bought several cell phones over the past week. Dom resorted to bribing the guy, but the clerk politely said he couldn’t take money for information he didn’t have to give.

After several hours, they returned home empty handed. Dom’s white knuckled grip on the steering wheel made Leon keep his mouth shut. From past experience, he knew when it was best to leave Dom to his own devices.

Mia met them on the porch, and Dom pushed by her and into the house. The walls shook when he slammed his bedroom door.

He thought he deserved better. Yeah, he and Brian might not have been the best of friends, they might not have years of solid history together, but something had happened between them that night at the lake. It was like they’d gone to the next level – whatever that might be – and maybe it had freaked Brian out, maybe he’d decided to go home after all. Who the fuck knew? Certainly not Dom.

As much as Dom wanted to hate Brian, wanted to dismiss him for his thoughtless behavior, he couldn’t, because didn’t he do the same thing to Letty? Taken off in the middle of the night, leaving her with a pile of cash and nothing else. Yeah, money was nice, but it didn’t warm her bed at night, it didn’t provide any answers. She’d deserved better, too, and Dom knew that now.

Dom had thought himself justified when he took off on her. Even though she was a willing participant in the heist, the heat was coming down on him, and he was going to protect her above all else. Dom paused, his hands pressed against the top of his dresser. Had Brian taken off to protect them? Dom had no idea what or who Brian would be protecting them from, but that was just the kind of warped, twisted thing the guy would do.

Dom shook his head. No, Brian wasn’t protecting them from anything. He shouldn’t try to glamorize it. He’d fuckin’ taken off, and Brian’s reasons were his own. Dom wasn’t going to think anything else about it. Why should he lose anymore sleep over someone that obviously didn’t give a damn about him? He’d gotten good at leaving things in the past, and if O’Connor wanted to leave – whatever. That was his business.

Unfortunately, as Brian had said at the kitchen table after he’d gotten back from his phone call, easier said than done. Dom tossed and turned in bed, questions racing through his mind. No, he wasn’t going to do this. He folded his arms behind his head and forced his mind clear.

His final thought as he drifted off to sleep was to hell with O’Connor anyway.

He woke up early; the sun was barely breaking through the trees when Dom pulled a soda out of the fridge. The house still felt empty, like something was missing, and Dom knew Brian wasn’t back. He retraced his thought process from the previous night – to hell with O’Connor anyway.

He watched Mia as she slept on the couch, still waiting for Brian to come home. Leon must have gone to bed sometime during the night after Dom had disappeared to his room without another word. Eventually he quietly made his way to the garage. He pointedly ignored the Eclipse. It had been Brian’s car, and he wasn’t around to finish it. As far as Dom was concerned the damn thing could sit there and rot.

Leon wandered outside sometime before lunch. Dom was up to his elbows in engine grease with his head stuck underneath the hood of the Charger. There wasn’t a lot to be done, they’d done the hard work yesterday, but he could tinker, and that kept his hands occupied at least.

“S’up?” Leon said, leaning against the massive rollaway case of tools. Dom grunted his acknowledgment, and whatever else Leon might have said was drowned out by the sound of the grinder. When Dom finally backed away from the engine to wipe his hands, he noticed Leon was still standing there watching him.

“Are we going to look for him today?” Leon asked.

Dom made a point to have his back turned when he said, “No.”

Leon nodded. “I suppose that’s for the best. Not like Snowman belonged here anyway.”

Dom turned around, his arms crossing, smearing his shirt with grease and oil. “Why do you say that?” He couldn’t keep the edge out of his voice.

Leon shrugged. “It’s not like he was part of the team. Part of the real team.”

Dom glared at him, defensiveness rising in his chest. “Maybe I got a new team.”

Leon gulped the remaining Coke and set the can aside. “So why aren’t we looking for him again?”

If Dom didn’t know any better, he’d say Leon liked having Brian around. Leon knew a lot of people back in Cali, his personality made him good company, always a laugh, but he had very few friends, people that would be there for him if he really needed it.

Dom walked to one of the massive tool chests and started picking through the tools. “Brian’s a grown man, and I’m not his keeper. If he wants to leave, that’s his business.”

Leon nodded again. “Seems weird, though. Taking off like that.” Weird didn’t even begin to cover it.

Dom picked up a socket wrench and pointed it at Leon. “All right, out with it.”

Leon’s eyes widened, his expression forced obliviousness. “What?”

“Just fuckin’ say it. I’m not going to play twenty questions, especially with you.” Not like he’d been willing to do with Brian.

“I think it’s weird. That’s all. One minute everything’s fine, we’re boozin’ it up, partying, and working on cars, and the next he’s gone without a word. I admit it – I don’t know the guy. Not like you, but –“

“Newsflash, Leon. I don’t know him either,” Dom said, his voice low. The past came back to haunt Dom at weird moments, and now he wondered if what little Brian had shared with him had only been more lies, more smoke and mirrors, more cover ups and fake identities.

Leon scowled, his eyes darkening for a fraction of a second. “What’s there to know? He was a cop. Now he’s not. Doesn’t seem like there’s much to tell.” Leon’s defense of Brian only pissed Dom off more. Who the fuck was Leon to defend Brian to him?

“What’s to know? Let’s see,” Dom said, considering. “Did you know he was running Letty? Did you know she’s dead because of the shit he got her involved in?” It was a low blow, and one that Dom didn’t put a lot of stock in, but it served its purpose.

Leon stepped back, shaking his head. “No, man. I didn’t know that.” Whatever vindication Dom felt was short lived and only made him feel worse as he watched Leon visibly deflate in front of him. Sorry, Leon, O’Connor was no hero. “Damn. I’m just – fuck, dude. I’m -”

“Leave it,” Dom muttered. He didn’t want to dredge that up again, and he certainly didn’t want Leon to apologize. He returned to the engine, and Leon joined him a few minutes later, both content to work in silence.

They stopped working mid afternoon; Leon’s stomach was making noises that were loud enough to be heard over the old radio Dom had turned on. Dom walked into the house with Leon following behind.

“I can put together some sandwiches,” Leon suggested, opening up the fridge to survey the food supply. “Someone’s going to have to break down and go to the store soon because we’re running out of –“

Dom’s voice cut across him. “Mia, what’s wrong?”

Leon left the fridge door open and walked around so he could see Mia. Dom was kneeling in front of her, his hands on her knees. Tears were streaming down her face. She’d been crying for awhile, and it wasn’t like Mia to cry. Not without a damn good reason.

“Mia,” Dom repeated, reaching to cup her cheek and tilt her face up. “Tell me what happened.”

Leon stood back to give them space, but his expression was just as concerned as Dom’s. Mia had an open envelope next to her and papers on her lap. All Dom could think of was that they’d lost someone else or someone had found them somehow; either way, this could only be bad news.

“I’ve been cleared,” she whispered, warm, salty tears splashing against Dom’s hand.

“What?” Dom asked confused. She passed him the folded papers. The cover letter was signed by an attorney in Panama, but the seal of the immunity paperwork was from a federal judge in the States.

“I don’t know how, but my record has been expunged,” Mia said softly. Out of everything Dom had been expecting, this possibility never crossed his mind. What the hell was going on?

“Holy shit,” Leon murmured.

Dom scanned the paperwork Mia had given him. It looked legit enough, but looks could be deceiving, and he’d be the first one to distrust anything from the Federal Bureau of Intimidation. He reread the letter from the attorney again, his eyes focusing on the sentence:

Ms. Toretto is free to travel as she sees fit, to cross International borders when she so chooses with no interference.

She’d be free to see Dom. Why the hell would that be in there? Unless…

Dom set the documents next to Mia and stood up. He bent down to kiss the top of her head and went to the window, his eyes unable to focus.

All Dom could say was, “O’Connor.” Mia gasped even though it was really the only logical explanation.

“It could be a trap,” Leon pointed out.

Dom shook his head, one hand pressed against the wall, his back still to them. “If they knew where to find us, they’d have been here. That attorney’s in Panama. Neutral party.” Only someone who knew a hell of a lot about the law would have thought of that, someone who was a cop or used to be, someone like O’Connor.

“But the government doesn’t just go around clearing people,” Mia said, disbelieving. “There had to be a reason.”

Leon was the first to say it. “So he gave himself up?”

No, that didn’t make any sense either. Brian was careful and knew how to avoid the law. He’d been the one to vigilantly plan Dom’s escape, to coordinate Leon’s arrival. Why the hell would he give himself up now?

“He had to give them something,” Dom muttered, glaring through the windowpane. “Something or someone they wanted.” Something they’d wanted more than the Toretto family. Who the hell could Brian possibly know that would fetch a higher price than Dom?

“Holy fucking shit,” Leon murmured, slapping his forehead. “Holy fucking shit!”

Dom turned around and Mia stood up. “What?” they said in unison.

“He was telling the truth,” Leon said, his eyes wide. “He was telling me the truth, and I didn’t believe him.”

Mia shook her head, her hand outstretched, trying to calm Leon down. “What did he tell you?”

“I’m a complete –“

“Leon,” Dom barked, his voice causing Leon’s mouth to snap closed. “What did Brian tell you?”

“Dom, I’m really sorry, man. If I’d known –“

“What did he tell you?” Dom repeated.

“It was after we had dinner at Tony’s, after you and Brian had talked outside. I told him I’d noticed he’d gotten a new phone.” Leon rubbed his face, trying to recall Brian’s exact words. He’d drunk a lot of tequila that night. “I remember Brian looking at me. I don’t know, he just looked tired, and he said something about doing contract work for the FBI, and something about an escaped drug lord.”

Dom stared at Leon; the urge to physically shake more information out of his friend was overwhelming.

“Leon, if you’re joking –“ Mia said, the threat hanging in the air.

“I wish I was,” Leon muttered. “I really didn’t know. I thought he was screwing around, you know?” Yeah, because most guys didn’t have friends that took down dangerous criminals for the hell of it. It wasn’t Leon’s fault, and Dom knew that. If Brian had said that to Dom, he’d have believed him without a second thought and most likely tried to beat some sense into him or sat on him so he couldn’t leave. Either one were viable options.

But he hadn’t told Dom, he’d told Leon who never entertained the possibly that what Brian was telling him was the truth. Brian had told Leon after he’d told Dom about his mother when he was exhausted, vulnerable, and sick of pretending.

“This is insane,” Mia said, collapsing on the couch. She rubbed her eyes. “I was upset when I’d told him about school, but I never thought he’d –“

“What about school?” Dom asked, remembering Mia was going to check with the University about attending classes here.

Mia shook her head. “It never would have worked, Dom. They were asking too many questions. I’d need paperwork, money, a lot of things I didn’t have.”

Leon put the pieces together. “And you told Brian this?”

Mia shrugged. “He asked.”

Dom eyed the living room wall, wanting nothing more than to put his fist through it. Brian had asked. Of course, Brian had asked. O’Connor was turning into a better brother to Mia than he’d ever been.

“What did he say to you?” Dom asked without turning around.

Mia leaned against the couch, tilting her head back as she thought. “He just said he was sorry.” Apparently he was sorry enough to do something about it.

“What the hell do we do now?” Leon asked. It was the question they all were thinking. Brian was out there somewhere doing fuck only knows. Alone. If Brian wasn’t willing to die for this, he wouldn’t have gone. If Brian didn’t think he was going to die, he probably wouldn’t have gone alone. Dom rubbed his head. Apparently he knew more about Brian than he realized.

Dom wasn’t an idiot. After his short dealing with the Bureau, he knew Brian was expendable, and chances were there wouldn’t be any backup. It wasn’t like Brian was top of anyone’s favorites list back home.

“I’d asked Brian about his time in Miami,” Dom said. “He said he’d gone undercover to take down a South American drug lord.” Now Dom was wishing he’d asked a lot more questions, and made Brian give him a lot more answers.

Leon snapped his fingers. “Yeah, he mentioned South America to me, too.”

Dom stared at the floor, the sinking sensation mixing with bitter resolve. If O’Connor thought he was going to walk out of his life like this, he had another thing coming. Dom started for Brian’s bedroom.

“What are you doing?” Leon asked.

“Dom?” Mia said, her voice concerned.

“I’m going to rip his room apart until I find something that’s going to help us track his sorry ass down,” Dom said simply, pushing open the door.

“Works for me,” Mia said, pushing off the couch.

“Yeah, I’m down,” Leon agreed. None of them were the types to just sit around and do nothing, especially when one of their own was in trouble.

Brian hadn’t come to Mexico with much, and most of clothes he’d brought, he’d taken with him. Dom wondered when that had happened. Wouldn’t he have noticed if Brian was packing a bag? Apparently not. One thing soon became evident, Brian was very thorough and left little to chance, and there wasn’t a thing that provided a clue as to where Brian had gone.

Dom tried calling the attorney, who was tight lipped about the whole thing. She said the papers were indeed authentic, and Mia’s record had been completely expunged. Dom repeatedly asked how that was possible and even dropped Brian’s name a few times, but the attorney wouldn’t budge, saying she wasn’t at liberty to divulge that information. She did mention that the papers were supposed to be mailed a week later, but she didn’t apologize for her assistant’s mistake, as if she knew Brian was planning something and she wanted someone to stop him.

“Well, that didn’t help,” Dom muttered, dropping the phone on the couch.

“You said he took this guy down in Miami,” Leon said, thinking aloud. “Brian’s probably got friends there.”

“Yeah, I’ll drive right over and ask them if they know anything,” Dom deadpanned. He started thinking about what snippets of information Brian had told him about his past, and unfortunately it didn’t amount to much – another thing he was going to rectify once he got his hands on O’Connor again. “He said his best friend was with him,” Dom said, wondering why the hell he hadn’t thought of that sooner. “In Miami, he’d had his friend with him.”

“That crazy guy,” Leon recalled. “Rome.”

Dom kept his voice even and tried to remain levelheaded. “You still got his number?”

“I ditched the phone,” Leon said, and Dom felt the small glimmer of hope dissipating, “but I still got the note with the phone number.”

“Let’s hope Rome still has the phone,” Dom said, watching as Leon picked up the replica car. Considering how many phones Brian had tossed and how quick to encourage everyone to purchase throw away phones, chances were Rome would have pitched the cell as soon as Leon called.

Leon handed him the folded piece of paper, and Dom dialed the number. At this point, he didn’t care about playing it safe. Mia had been cleared, and if the Feds wanted to haul their asses down here to arrest him, maybe they could shed some light on where the hell Brian was.

It was ringing which meant it wasn’t disconnected. Just as Dom was lifting his finger to end the call, an annoyed voice answered. “’Lo?” The man sounded like he was eating.

“This Rome?”

“Who the hell is asking?”

“Dom. I’m a friend of Brian’s.” Dom listened, the phone pressed against his ear so hard that it hurt. After almost a minute, he figured the other man hung up.

“Only my friends call me Rome,” the other man growled. At least he hadn’t hung up.

“I’ll call you the fairy fucking godmother if you can help us,” Dom said.

Again, there was a pause before a low voice drawled through the receiver. “What do you want?” Rome said, his voice a mix of disinterest and annoyance. This guy was supposed to be Brian’s best friend?

“There’s a problem,” Dom said, rubbing his hand over his head.

“He’s with you, ain’t he? What’s the problem?” Rome said, chewing loudly into the phone.

“No, he’s not with me,” Dom said, fighting to keep his tone even. What the hell was wrong with this guy?

Rome started laughing. “You lost him? Oh, that’s fuckin’ rich!”

“I haven’t –“ Dom paused, waiting for Rome’s laughter to cease. When it didn’t, Dom yelled, “Would you shut up a minute?”

Rome’s voice dropped, his voice like venom. “I don’t know why you’re callin’ me. He’s not here. He chose you, okay?” Chose him? What the hell? Why couldn’t anyone give him a straight answer?

Never one for tact, Dom bluntly asked, “What happened in Miami?”

“If Bri didn’t tell you, I’m not sayin’ a word.”

Now that kind of loyalty was something Dom could understand because he would have said the same thing. Unfortunately, now wasn’t the time for being tight lipped. They needed answers and fast. “Look, some drug lord escaped, and we think Brian –"

It sounded like Rome dropped something. “Verone? He escaped?” There was something about the way Rome said his name, a chill ran down Dom’s spine.

“And we’re guessing Brian has gone after him,” Dom finished.

“Stupid little shit,” Rome muttered, not sounding surprised but pissed nonetheless.

“So it’s bad,” Dom surmised.

“No, it’s not bad,” Rome said, his voice flat. “It’s a fuckin’ crisis. This guy is a bad dude, and I’ve met a lot of bad dudes. He makes those guys look like saints.” With the knowledge that Rome had done time, Dom imagined he had met a lot of bad people.

Dom heard a chair creek, and Rome said, “Actually it makes sense now.”

“What makes sense?”

“I’ve had a couple of feds trailing me for the last two weeks.”

So it was this Verone guy. Wonderful.

“Bri knows I hate feds,” Rome muttered. “Bastard probably did it just to piss me off.” And to keep you safe Dom thought. If Rome knew anything about Brian, Dom knew he’d be able to piece that together on his own. “Damn him,” Rome continued. “He did it for a girl, didn’t he? Who was in trouble this time? Who’d he risk his skinny white ass for?”

“How do you know he did it for someone else?” Dom asked.

Rome laughed so loud Dom had to hold the phone away from his ear. “That’s real funny, man. Have you met Brian? You should know if he’s doin’ something crazy, it ain’t for himself. There’s usually a pretty girl somewhere or –“ Rome paused – “you.”

Hearing the truth was never easy. “If you got something to say to me, just say it,” Dom growled.

“Just my speculation,” Rome replied, his voice even. “Apparently you don’t know Bri as well as I thought you did.”

Dom let Rome’s accusations go. He didn’t need to justify himself, especially to this guy. There were bigger matters at hand. “So you haven’t talked to him?” Dom asked, even though he already knew the answer to that question.

“Hell no,” Rome said. “He would have known I’d have told him to get his head out of his ass.” Apparently that was a central theme with everyone that spent any amount of time with Brian.

“Well, if you hear from him - ” Dom started, preparing to end the call. They were going to have to think of something else.

“I’m gonna do one better,” Rome interjected. “I’m gonna come down there.”

“And do what?” Dom asked.

“And help you track his sorry ass down,” Rome snapped. “Because that’s what you’re going to do, ain’t it?”

Well, yeah. “The thought had crossed my mind,” Dom said.

“’Course it has,” Rome agreed. “Look, Verone’s the real deal. I mean it, man. You don’t want to face this guy alone.” Alone like Brian was.

Judging from the way Rome talked, he’d spent more than a short stint in jail. “Can you travel?”

“Yep,” Rome said. “Free and clear.” Dom had a feeling that was in gratitude from the folks at the Bureau following Verone’s arrest. Dom had wondered how Brian had ended up with the feds after everything that had happened back in Cali. It all came down to a cost benefit analysis. Brian had been able to give something they’d wanted more – Verone, and he’d offered it again to clear Mia.

Dom rattled off the information for the closest airport, and Rome agreed to call back with his arrival time. They ended the call without saying goodbye.

“So he’s coming here,” Mia said, summarizing the gist of what she’d gathered from the one-sided conversation she’d heard. Dom nodded.

“You sure that’s a good idea?” Leon asked. “He sounds a little bat shit if you know what I mean.”

“He also knows the guy we’re looking for,” Dom said. “He’ll be useful.” The fact that Rome was handy in a fight and knew how to fire a gun didn’t hurt either. He opted not to voice that in front of Mia.

“He must care a lot about Brian to come here,” Mia commented.

Dom wasn’t surprised. There was something about Brian that sparked that kind of loyalty in people. It was more than just him being a nice guy. Brian would throw away his life, his career for people he barely knew, and now he was willing to risk his life so Mia could fulfill her dream and get a college degree.

Dom didn’t want Brian’s gift, however warped it might be, to be in vain. “Mia, I think you should get ready,” he said quietly.

“I’ll be ready when Rome gets here,” she agreed.

Dom shook his head. “That’s not what I meant.”

She put her hands on her hips. “If you think I’m leaving –“

Leon mumbled something about needing to get something from his car and disappeared through the front door.

“You need to go back,” Dom said after the door closed.

“Like hell,” Mia said, her voice rising.

“Whatever Brian’s done, whatever he’s agreed to, he wanted you to have the opportunity to finish school,” Dom explained, trying to keep the inevitable fight from escalating.

“And I’ll do that after I’ve had the opportunity to kick his ass,” Mia said, not backing down.

“Mia, this is going to be dangerous,” Dom began.

“And getting you off that prison convoy wasn’t?” she snapped.

Okay, she had a point there, but Dom wasn’t going to relent just yet. “If something happened to you –“

“I’ll be careful, Dom, but you need to trust me. Brian trusted me to help him get you out, and now he needs us. I’m going to be there for him.” There was decisiveness in her tone indicating the conversation was over, and she would discuss it no further. Her mind was made up.

“He’s not going to know what hit him,” Mia commented.

“A couple of pissed off Torettos is a force to be reckoned with,” Dom agreed.

“I wonder if we could get Rome and Leon to hold him down while we kicked his ass,” Mia mused.

“I’m game!” Leon called through the window.

Dom wanted to do a hell of a lot more than that when he got his hands on Brian again.

Chapter 12
Tags: along the way, fanfic, fast and furious

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