When he hands over his gun and his badge, he barely feels the metal graze his palm. IA will be investigating him. He's suspended. He's a disgrace. He's never going to make detective now.
"You did all this for Mia Toretto? Christ, O'Connor, was she really that good of a lay?"
The question whizzes by him. He doesn't even flinch...doesn't launch himself at the guy who says it. Isn't even sure he knows the guy. Knows he doesn't care. He just keeps walking. Out. Out of the office, out of the station. Away.
He gets in his yet-to-be-impounded truck and drives...faster and faster...as fast as the speed limit allows...until the wind is whipping through the open windows and the buzzing whir is all he can hear.
It's not Mia he's thinking of...although he registers that she's gone, too. That the cops didn't pick her up for questioning when the ambulance came for Jesse and it was just enough time for her to run. It's *Dom*. He can't stop remembering Dom's face--the sickening crunch of horror, of realized betrayal--out there in the field as he called in for the chopper for Leon. Dom's voice--the vulnerability, the regret--as he spoke of his father's death on the racetrack. Dom's fingers grazing his--the brief acceptance, begrudging respect--as he dropped the keys to the promised 10-second-ride in his hand.
Dominic Toretto. Suspect in several armed robberies. On the run, may be armed and dangerous. That's the APB, no doubt. But it's missing out on at least half of it's "all points." Kickass racer. Protective older brother. Small business owner. Makes great barbecued chicken. *Friend*. Good friend.
A much better friend than him.
Brian wants to take it all back.
All of it.
He wants to take back being a cop most of all.
Three generations of O'Connors before him have been cops. A long and glorious tradition, or so he's been told a million times. "Bri, you'll do us proud." 'Us'? His parents divorced six years ago. His older brother Michael died two years before that in a shootout at a mini-mart...naturally on the arresting side of it, not the perp. What 'us'?
The LAPD certainly isn't an 'us.' The most hated police force in the nation. The most thankless job on the planet.
The only 'us' he's had in years is the Team. Leon, Jesse, Letty, Mia, even Vince...and Dom. Of course, Dom. But he betrayed them. He didn't do *them* proud. And now Jesse's dead. Vince is critical and will be arrested if he lives. The rest are gone.
Out of town at 160 MPH. And he's sucking the dust of their exhaust... coughing, eyes tearing up, reaching out blindly for something to hold onto. Not even Nos can give him the boost to catch up with them.
He thinks he's going to be a quarter mile behind of everything now. Never fast enough. Never strong enough. Never quite there.
And he's never going to see that look again...that look of pride and accomplishment and affection in Dom's dark eyes that means "you're mine." That means "I love you."
"Oh, God," he whispers, hearing his voice crack as he hits the brakes...as the truck spins out, away from the traffic. "Oh, God, I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..."
Impact with the telephone pole is fast and furious and expected. And when his head hits the steering wheel and everything goes black...he's thankful.
At least now he doesn't have to live with himself.
"You're worried about that asshole, aren't you?"
Letty's voice is quiet, still toned down from the accident. Raspy, rough. But her lips against his back are soft, comforting...constant.
He turns, slowly, pulling her close with the care he's been using since he and Mia met up with her and Leon in Puerto Vallarta. Sometimes he forgets how fragile she really is...how all her strength and her threats and her bullshit is just a front for the girl from down the street who wants nothing more than to love him and to be loved back. He kisses her forehead and then her mouth, knowing it will delay his answer to the question...knowing it feels good just to taste her and drown in her.
She kisses him back for a few minutes, pressing her slight, firm, body against his until he feels his cock stirring. But then she pulls back, fingertips brushing his cheek as her dark brown eyes get intuitive. "You're worried. You miss him."
"Letty..." he growls, in the tone he reserves for 'fuck off, don't pursue this' type things.
"Dom...." she growls back, in the tone she reserves for 'fuck YOU, I AM pursuing it' type things. She hasn't been with him for eight years for nothing. "Just admit it. You don't care that he's a pig...that he betrayed us. You just want him back. You want him back on the team."
"And what would be the point of that?" he demands, closing his eyes against her knowing glare...trying to think of anything besides Officer O'Connor's cheeky-bastard smile and mop of golden curls.
"You'd be honest with yourself."
"I don't need to be honest with myself," he assures, thickly, blocking out the pride he'd felt when they finished the car together. The comfortable hum of two guys working side by side on something amazing...not just the car, he knows...but also...also...
She pushes at his chest with two fingers. "Yes, you do. Brian was--"
"Don't you say his name, Letty!" he hisses, cutting her off, sharply. "Don't you dare say his name to me. He's dead to me!"
And then the door bursts open...no warning, no knocks...and there's Mia's stricken face. The last time he saw that look is when he had to tell her Dad was dead. "It's Brian!" she gasps, tears streaming down her cheeks...and she barrels on before he can tell her to shut up, before he can lie to her and say he doesn't want to know. "I-I called Vince's lawyer. He says Brian's been in an accident."
Before he even realizes, he is up...out of the bed...reaching for his pants. And nothing else matters...nothing matters but knowing. "Tell me everything."
He was disappointed when he didn't die. Because he had to wake up and still face everything. IA let him off easy in light of the wreck...and he resigned without a huge black mark on his record. Of course, he did it by phone and they accepted it joyfully and insisted he didn't need to strain himself and type out a paper copy...since he couldn't get out of bed and all.
And now that's where he is...in bed...white, sterile hospital room...staring up at the blank ceiling and wondering if he's upside-down and staring at the floor. The doctors say his cracked ribs are healing...that his facial lacerations can be fixed with surgery if he doesn't want scars...that he'll be out in just a few days. They also say that they almost lost him on the table. And he wonders if it was the same table that they laid Jesse on...if Jesse had a chance at all or they just let him go because he was some street punk with ADD who nobody cared about.
He has scars.
He'll keep the scars.
Sometimes, in the dark, he thinks of kisses pressed to the back of a close-shaven skull. He thinks of lucky Vince, so close. And he wonders what his own fascination with Dom *was*. Why he gave up everything for one man...to follow one man, to free him. Is this what religion is? What faith is? Or is it just starstruck wonder because of Toretto's charisma? Or is it the love a guy has for his girlfriend's really cool brother?
But Mia isn't really his girlfriend anymore...any more than Dom was ever just her 'really cool brother.' No...Dom was *everything*. Light. Sound. Air. Speed. Thrills. Winning...winning by a second and winning by miles.
"Look at you. Crashing your truck. Fucking *pathetic.* Do you need somebody to teach you how to drive, Man?"
He thinks he's delirious. He hears Dom. He sees Dom's dark eyes above the surgical mask of the doctor who just walked in to check his chart. "Go away," he whispers, shutting his eyes. "Go away, you're not real."
"No, I'm real. I'm just not dead, Kid. And neither are you."
"Dom?" he mumbles, not quite believing it as he looks again. Sees a nurse a few feet back with a pretty white outfit and an empty wheelchair...and a habitually unfriendly face. "Letty?"
"Are you coming or what, Asshole?" she snaps...with the faintest of smiles. "We have a long trip ahead of us."
"Coming?" he repeats, dumbly, struggling to sit up...to deal with the paper-thin hospital gown tangling around his hips and thighs.
And Dom's firm hands steady him, help him rise. "Yeah...the team's doing a circuit down south...we could use another driver."
The Team. He blinks...feels his vision clear. Doctor and nurse...not doctor and nurse. Dom. Dom came *back* for him. "D-does this mean what I think it means?" he chokes out, accepting the offer of his pants and shirt from the closet.
A large palm rubs his head, fingers tangle in his hair and he has to stop dressing for a minute and just lean in...like he's receiving a blessing. "Yeah, Brian. It does. You're forgiven."
He's sure this is a dream. Post-traumatic-stress.
"Unless we get caught breaking you outta here, so hurry it up!" Letty snaps...assuring him that it's all real. Real and in living color.
Wincing and willing his hands not to shake, he finishes putting the clothes on and shoves his feet into his shoes. And then he has to stop. He has to take a minute as Letty steps towards the door and looks for real doctors or cops.
"Dom..." He stumbles, falls into the waiting arms that help him stay upright. "Dom, I'm sorry. I-I'm sorry."
And the arms hold him tight. "I know. I know...it's okay."
"I love you, Man," he whispers.
And he's shocked when Dom chuckles. "I know that now."
When he slides, gingerly, into the wheelchair, he feels the lips brush the top of his head. A kiss. "I love you, too."
Their exit from the hospital is fast and furious and expected. And when his head hits the cushions of the passenger seat and the three of them are tearing out of the parking lot at full speed...he's thankful. He's thankful for a lot of things.
First and foremost: forgiveness.
At least now he doesn't have to live with himself *alone*.
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