Author: Bj Jones
Summary: Birth of Aiden Pierce …
Nico was surprised there weren’t any Hunters in his room, when he woke up. He dug out his phone from the drawer put it back together, and scrolled through the few dozen text messages.
He dialed Warrick’s number.
‘So you’re talking to us again?’
“Well at least Ernesto isn’t on his way,” Nick paused, “tell me he’s not on his way.”
‘It would serve you right, but no I got the message.’ Warrick sighed, he could hear him shifting around in their bed. With a glance to the clock, he realized it was likely 5am in New Orleans. ‘I worry.’
“I know, but I didn’t need Hunters in my hotel room.” He lay back down on the bed. “Whatever this is, trust me to deal with it.”
‘I will. So what do you think this is?’ He asked curiously. ‘It seems a bit odd.’
“A meeting.” He looked over to the closet where the suit was still hung up. It was a well-crafted garment, definitely not off the rack, tailored made to fit Nick. Just the Nick from a few years ago.
‘Think this could be Galileo?’
“No, this is way too sophisticated.” He sat up in the bed. “And if I had thought for a moment this was Galileo I would’ve called Ernesto the moment I got off the plane.” And requested he bring his kid.
‘Fucking hell.’ Nick’s eyebrows shot up at his Mate’s exclamation. ‘I just got a text message that I’m needed at the lab. Seriously we were never this stupid on night shift, and the lab rats weren’t this needy.’
“It was Grissom.”
‘Think I can get him back into the lab?’ Warrick asked.
“No.” He chuckled. “Gil’s enjoying teaching. He’s good at it.”
‘Horatio got me into this shit, I’m waking the proud papa up.’ He paused for a moment on the other line. ‘Keep me posted. I don’t care if you contact Van Helsing or any other Hunter, just keep me posted.’
“I will. I promise.”
Nick hung up the phone, and went for a shower.
When he got out, there was breakfast waiting. He had heard the waiter come into the suite, but hadn’t sensed any threats. When he emerged, there was eggs benedict waiting for him, and a note tucked under the plate.
‘Mr. Stokes. A Taxi will be waiting downstairs at 9am.’
Ten minutes before 9, Nico stood in front of the mirror soothing down the tie. He couldn’t button the jacket, without seriously constricting the movement of his arms. He hadn’t realized how much muscle mass he had put on, in the past year.
With a sigh, he grabbed his phone and wallet, tucked them into his pocket and made his way downstairs.
Exactly at 9am, there was a taxi waiting for him.
Nico looked up the street to see Hannibal sitting on the Harley he inherited from Blade. He rolled his eyes, and flipped off the Hunter before settling into the backseat. “See the Harley?” He asked the driver, who nodded. “Loss him before you take me to my destination. I’ll make it worth your while.” He held up a hundred dollar bills.
The driver chuckled, not putting on the meter. “I’ve worked in New York for twenty years now, never got to do this.”
He got double the tip, when he lost the Hunter three blocks from the hotel. Nico texted Van Helsing to tell him, his Hunters sucked. The rude text he got back only made him chuckle.
The park he was dropped off was busy, but not over crowded. Owners walked their dogs, kids ran around playing, a few teenagers pushed past him on their skateboards. It was typical New York, and one of the reasons he didn’t like the city. He got to the middle, looking around to see if anything or anyone would catch his notice.
His phone buzzed in his pocket.
‘Third bench at the water front.’
He slipped his phone back into his pocket, and walked down the path towards the water. Without hesitation he made his way to the third bench and sat down.
“Do I owe you money?” He asked, taking every detail he could from the man sitting next to him. He was smaller, and held himself stiffly. Nico was sure there were injuries he wasn’t seeing. The suit was high end, even more than the one he was wearing.
“You don’t owe me anything, Mr. Stokes.” He answered, stiffly moving to look at his guest. “That’s the latest name you’ve used. I know you’ve had several. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell anyone about you.”
“You don’t know anything about me.” Nick replied eyes narrowing, but he was intrigued enough to stay and listen.
“I know exactly everything about you, Mr. Stokes.” He turned to look back out to the water. “I know about the work you used to do in Vegas. I know about the doubts you had about that work. I know that Nicky Stokes is dead, and that you’ve not found yourself a new ID or Job yet.”
“And how would you know this?”
“Knowledge is not my problem. Doing something with that knowledge… That’s where you’d come in.” He turned back to Nick. “And you can call me, Mr. Finch.”
Title: Shifting Tides
Authors: Gil Grissom and John Sheppard
Pairings: Dominic Toretto/Han Lue; eventual Dom/Brian
Side Pairings: Various – will be added when relevant
Summary: When Johnny Tran begins stealing from some of Border’s Chosen Ones, Dom, with their Clan Leader’s permission, takes matters into his own hands. What he doesn’t expect is to come face to face with someone who will change his life forever,
Author’s Note 1: Although I am doing the rewrite on my own, I want everyone to know and remember that our John Sheppard helped me write this originally, and plot it out. While a lot has changed, the spirit of the plotline has stayed the same, and I have kept some of the original work when it fit.
Author’s Note 2: This is a PREVIEW of the upcoming full story, which will be available during Sylum Advent. This is the first draft of the story, so some details are subject to change, and plotholes filled as I run into them. But this is what I’m working on. In addition, Crossroads will end up being absorbed by Shifting Tides, as it is essentially the part 2 of Shifting Tides anyway. In other words, this will be very long by advent, as it’s already 27 pages, and I’m not all that far into the rewrite of the original, which was 84-ish pages long.
Dom zipped up his bag just as a soft knock sounded on his open bedroom door. He glanced up and sent Josiah Scurlock a brief smile. “Did you need something?”
“No, I was just checking to see if you were ready,” Josiah said, walking into the bedroom and sitting on one of the plush chairs in a little nook in the corner. “Are you sure you want to do this, especially this way?”
Dom nodded as he sat on the bed. “Yeah. It’s costing Han’s family a lot of money, and it’s Tran. This has to stop. I know not being affiliated with a Clan doesn’t automatically make someone an Enemy or an evil Vampire that needs to die, but we all know Tran isn’t one of them. I may not have proof, but I know what he did, and I know that he’s responsible for what’s been happening. I refuse to tolerate it, and Han even more so.”
“I’d feel better if you’d wait for Boone, Crockett, and Belle to get back from Florida,” Josiah said. “It’ would mean more backup for you. Tran’s affiliations with the Yakuza have me worried.”
Shaking his head, Dom replied, “They won’t be back until just before Race Wars. I have Mia and Han. I also know Nathan and Adam are both in Los Angeles right now, if I need them. I think humans are better utilized in this, at least for now. I don’t know if there are Vampires driving those trucks or not, and we both know the authorities aren’t going to do a damned thing about it. Tran’s got them all snowed. He’s that good, I’ll give him that.”
“No, he’s not stupid.” Josiah sighed and rubbed his hands over his jean-clad thighs. “Just be careful. He’s managed to stay just this side of not having the Council come down on him, but I don’t know what lengths he’ll go to if backed into a corner, especially by you.”
“We’ll see. I have no doubt we’ll run into him, since we tend to run in the same circles in that aspect of my life.” Dom tugged over the briefcase that lay on the bed and opened it, revealing a thick stack of papers within. “I have all the documentation from the Lues as to what’s missing, and I have the maps of the areas where the merchandise was stolen, where we’re certain it’s being kept and awaiting transport, and general and detailed maps of the southern part of California. We’re as set as we’re going to be.”
“Who is going to be watching the warehouse?” Josiah asked.
“Adela, Orozco, Joaquin, and Emil are going to be taking shifts. They’re already set up. As far as we can tell, there are several unknown Vampires working as security there, in addition to their usual thugs with very large guns. Which is why it’ll be easier to take back the merchandise on the back roads. That way, we’ll be cutting them off at the beginning and the end, without risking casualties. The Mexican government isn’t going to do shit about them. They never have.
“I’ve already talked with Lucas, and he’s going to work on the Lue’s security at all their places so this won’t happen again. He’s just gotta get back into port, and he’ll be headed out to deal with it. He cackled. I almost feel sorry for Tran. Almost.”
“I’m sure that they’ll appreciate it,” Josiah said, laughing. “Look, if you need help, don’t hesitate to call. I mean that. Don’t take unnecessary risks. That’s an order.”
“We won’t, provided we don’t end up in a complete shitshow suddenly,” Dom replied. “I can’t make any promises if the shit hits the fan.”
“Wouldn’t expect you to,” Josiah replied, standing up. “Good luck, and keep me posted.”
“I will,” Dom said, accepting the hug from Josiah and watching him walk out of the room, only for Han to come stumbling through a second later.
“Damn, Josiah has one hell of a back clap,” Han said, rolling his shoulders and grimacing. “You almost ready? Everyone else is waiting outside.”
“I’m ready,” Dom said, shouldering his bag and handing off the briefcase to Han so he could grab his suitcase. He glanced around the bedroom one last time and then followed Han out the door.
Dom walked into the small store that was off the side of their garage business to find Han sitting there alone, flipping through a magazine. “Where is everyone else?”
Han closed the magazine and swiveled the stool so he could look at him. “Mia had to go to a study group for a couple of her classes, and I…really have no idea where those other losers wandered off to. They were talking amongst themselves – I had no interest in listening to whatever they were talking about because they get weird – and then said goodbye and took off.”
Grinning, Dom strode over and leaned forward, resting his hands on the counter on either side of Han, pinning him in place. “So it’s just you and me, then,” he murmured, brushing his nose down Han’s cheek and nipping at his jaw.
“You, me, and anyone who decides to come up and buy shit,” Han said, tilting his head back. “Why do we keep this business? Not like any of us need the money.”
“Because it’s expected of our family in this neighborhood,” Dom murmured. “And it gives us a reason to keep tabs on everyone when we’re up here. We also sell things cheaper here than in the convenience stores around here. It helps out the community and it endears us to them and they give us information in return. Win-win for everyone.”
Sighing softly, Han looked around and cocked his head, as if listening for something. Then he smirked up at him and pushed him back, sliding off the chair and then dropping to his knees.
Dom’s eyebrows shot up as Han reached for the fly of his jeans. “And just what do you think you’re doing?”
“What does it look like?” Han asked as he flicked the button open and dragged down the zipper slowly.
“It looks like you’re going to pull my dick out in front of the whole world,” Dom said dryly as he glanced around. There was no one about, but that could change at any minute.
Han slid back until he was under the high counter and tugged Dom forward. “If you’re a good boy and keep yourself quiet, no one will never know,” he murmured as he freed Dom’s cock from his jeans. “Commando. Nice.”
“I need to do laundry and we both know you stole my last pair of underwear, asshole,” Dom said, reaching down and running his fingers through Han’s hair.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Han said with an innocence Dom didn’t buy for a second.
Dom shuddered as Han stroked him until he was hard as a rock. “You’re evil, you know that?”
“So you’ve said before. Many times.” Han’s mouth wrapped around the head of his cock and he sucked lightly while his tongue ran over his slit.
“Christ, your mouth is lethal,” Dom rasped out, breath hitching when Han swallowed him down.
Han proceeded to spend the next few minutes trying to suck his brains out through his dick before Dom heard the familiar growl of Harry’s business truck, and he automatically knew who was heading in their direction.
“The hot blond is about to make an appearance,” Dom murmured. “Wanna finish up there?”
Han hummed and sucked more intensely, and just as he heard the truck engine die and the door open, he came with a shudder. He pulled the magazine on the counter toward him and started flipping pages without really looking at it as ‘hot blond’ sidled up and sat directly across from him. Below the counter, Han took his time licking him clean and overall just driving him nuts.
“Mia not here today?” hot blond asked when Dom didn’t look up. He sighed with a bit of relief as he felt Han finally tuck him back in, zip him up, and give his now-clothed dick a little pat.
“No, she had a study group today. Can I help you with something?” he asked the guy, glancing up and looking into amused, piercing blue eyes, and something inside him shifted, and he knew this man. For a moment he thought it was just a past-life recognition, but he quickly realized it was more than that. And then it hit him with all the finesse of a runaway freight train.
This man, the one who had been seemingly panting after Mia, was his Mate.
Oh, this was going to be fun to deal with, he thought to himself.
The guy looked back down and chuckled. “‘Fifty ways to keep your man interested?’ I see you’re a Cosmo guy.”
Dom gave the magazine he had a good look and then rolled his eyes. “I don’t need a magazine to tell me how to keep men interested,” he replied dryly. Then he smirked and gave Brian a long once-over. “Once a guy is interested in me, they stay that way.” He ignored the way Han’s shoulders shook where he was pressed against his legs, or the light pinch he gave to his thigh.
Hot blond blushed charmingly. “You got a name?”
“Would have been really awkward growing up if I didn’t.” Dom grinned when the guy rolled his eyes. “Dominic Toretto. Mia’s older brother.”
Hot blond smiled back and held out his hand. “Brian Earl Spilner. My parents apparently thought I was going to be a serial killer when I grew up.”
Dom really liked this guy, and it had nothing to do with the Mate thing. “I’d have to agree with that. So, what can I do for you, or are you just here to take up one of my stools all afternoon and look pretty.”
“Well, I do dress a place up if I do say so myself, but I have the rest of the day off now that I finished my deliveries, and I was looking for some lunch and maybe a little conversation. I was bored, and I knew Mia’s into cars.” Brian tilted his head. “You into cars?”
Dom snorted. “Where do you think she got it from?” he asked. “What do you want to eat?”
Brian smirked. “Tuna on white, no crust.”
Rolling his eyes, Dom wandered over to the grill and fired it up. “You aren’t five. You’re getting a burger and fries, and you’re going to like it.” He glanced over and saw that Han had made himself comfortable on the ground and was peering at him, amused.
His attention moved to Brian, who was thumbing through the Cosmo issue. “You do realize that eating as much tuna as you consume can be a health hazard, right?”
Brian’s nose scrunched up adorably as he looked up. “I know, but your sister’s not very good with the cooking thing, and she’s always manning the lunch counter when I get here. The tuna is just canned fish and mayo. Not much she can do to that.”
Dom laughed and dumped some fries into the fryer. “No, she’s not, but unfortunately you started showing up right after our normal cook took off for an extended vacation. She’s not due back for another three weeks.”
Brian snorted and got up, rounding the counter and heading toward the refrigeration unit. Dom watched as he grabbed a soda from it and then turned around, stopping mid-stride when he caught sight of Han.
He tilted his head. “Why is there a guy laying underneath the counter?”
“Because I was blowing him when you drove up,” Han said helpfully as he waved.
Blushing and bursting into laughter, Brian shook his head and walked back to his seat as Han climbed out from under the counter.
Han waved. “I’m Han, Dom’s partner. I’d offer my hand, but I’m not sure you want to touch the hand that was touching his junk before you eat.” Then Han looked him over and leered at him. “Though if you want to bump uglies with either of us at any point in the near future, I’m not opposed at all.”
Brian grinned at him, clearly amused and not at all offended. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Smirking, Han walked over and traded out the Cosmo for a car magazine. “This might be more up your alley. I have a feeling you don’t have any trouble keeping a guy or a girl interested when you want them to be.”
“I haven’t had any complaints,” Brian said idly.
Shaking his head at the two and their bantering, Dom waved the box of hamburger patties at Han. “Want one?”
“May as well. Gives me an excuse to keep this one company,” Han said, walking over to the sink and washing his hands.
Amused that his lover of nearly sixty years was doing some heavy flirting with his Mate, Dom threw three burgers on the grill and only listened with half an ear as Han sat next to Brian and they talked about NOS systems. Most of his attention was focused on the fact that his Mate was before him, and he really knew nothing about him.
Because of his sudden appearance in their lives, he wondered if the guy wasn’t undercover PD. He idly wondered if Nathan could find any information on the guy. If he was undercover, he doubted that the guy’s name was Spilner. But he seemed far too comfortable with ‘Brian’ for it to not be his name.
Not that his being undercover mattered much to Dom at all. The guy was his Mate, and seemed to be hitting it off with Han, so he didn’t think getting Brian sympathetic to their cause was going to be too much of an issue. They just had to be careful not to spook the guy and scare him off completely.
“What do you want on your burger?” Dom asked him as he pulled the cheese out of the fridge. “Cheese?”
“Yeah. And I like mustard. Lettuce, tomato, and pickles are good too.”
Dom nodded and made quick work of putting together everything while the cheese melted. Then he dumped the fries into the drainer and sprinkled them with salt and pepper.
He divided everything up and, balancing the plates with both hands, walked back to the counter and dispersed them in front of the other two. He grabbed three sodas, exchanged out the two-thirds finished one Brian had, and sat down on the stool.
“How long have you guys lived around here?” Brian asked curiously, looking surprised when he bit into the burger. “This is really good,” he said around his mouthful.
“Thanks,” Dom said, plucking up a fry and popping it into his mouth. “I grew up in this area, though I don’t always stay here.”
“Same here,” Han said. “My folks moved in down the street from Dom’s family when I was little.” He jerked his head toward Dom. “Grew up with this loser here, but since he’s hot, I tolerate him fairly well.”
Laughing, Brian stuffed a fry into his mouth. “And I’m sure you’re all sunshine and rainbows, right?”
“He likes to think so,” Dom said dryly. “He has a mouth like a Hoover so I don’t mind his stalkerish ways.” He smirked at Han when Brian rested his head on the counter and laughed, even as his face turned red.
Brian wiped his eyes and shook his head when he got himself together, and he picked up his burger. “How does Mia even put up with you two?” he asked.
“I think she might be worse than the both of us combined when she really gets going,” Han said thoughtfully. “Remember that time we had to give Daniel the Heimlich because Mia said her favorite Christmas gift that year was Alma’s head between her legs?”
“Oh my God. You two are going to kill me,” Brian said between laughs as he leaned against Han, and Dom figured that was the only thing keeping Brian off the floor. “Seriously, my death is imminent.”
“Okay, we’ll behave,” Han said, patting him on the back.
Brian snickered for a few minutes off and on as he ate, before he sighed. “So, anything interesting going on tonight? I’m off, and I’d like to check out some races if there are any planned. I’m still working on my car, but I’d like to watch. It gets boring hanging out with Harry or being alone after hours, let me tell you.”
Dom eyed him for a few minutes before pulling the pad and paper closer and writing down a location and a time. “Don’t give it out to anyone.”
“I won’t,” Brian said, pocketing the paper. “What do I owe you?” he asked after finishing the last of his soda.
Dom shook his head. “It’s on the house. Watching Han torment you was payment enough.”
Brian snorted as he stood. “Thanks, man. I’ll see you around. Maybe you can feed me next time. You know, keep me from dying of mercury poisoning?”
“We’ll hide the tuna,” Han said, watching him get into his truck just as the rest of their people drove up. “He’s gorgeous,” he murmured and brought his soda up to his mouth.
“He’s my Mate,” Dom responded dryly, laughing as Han spewed soda everywhere.
“Seriously?” he asked as he coughed.
“Yeah, but keep that to yourself for now,” Dom murmured, knowing none of the others would hear him.
Vince nearly ran into the counter while he watched Brian drive away. “Who the hell is that?”
“Brian Earl Spilner. He works for Harry, obviously. You know he doesn’t let just anyone drive his truck around,” Dom said as he took the three plates, dumped the trash, and put them in the sink.
“Hey, Dom, did I leave my pack of gum under the counter?” Han asked as he stood and felt around his pockets.
Dom looked underneath and grabbed the package, tossing it to Han, who caught it deftly and pulled a piece out.
Vince looked between the two, making a face. “Why the hell was your gum under the counter?”
“I left it there while I was underneath it.”
“Oh, don’t tell me you two were…” Vince said, his pinched expression turning outright constipated.
“Yep!” Han said with a grin, pointedly picking up a napkin and dabbing the corners of his mouth with it.
“You know, between the two of you, I’m going to be traumatized for life,” Vince said with a grumble as he stalked over to the units and pulled out a Coke.
Dom watched him pop it open and take a quick swig. “You know you love it when we give you details.”
“Traumatized. For life,” Vince said with a glare. “You know, if I decide to get Turned and I Claim my Mate, whoever that might end up being, we’re gonna be all up in your face making out. See how you like it then, you assholes.”
Dom just looked at Han and smirked. “Yeah, yeah,” he said, going into the back.
A couple of hours before the races, Han walked into their bedroom and locked the door behind him. Dom watched with amusement as his partner stalked him like prey, crawling across the bed and straddling his hips.
Dom slid his hands over Han’s thighs and rested them on his hips. “You want something?”
“When it comes to you, I always want whatever I can get,” Han said, leaning down and pressing a kiss to his mouth. “But right now, I want to talk about what you said earlier. The others are downstairs, and Mia isn’t home yet, so no one will hear us.”
“I’m not going to keep it from her,” Dom said with a laugh. “That would be stupid. You know if he shows enough interest, she’d do the sexual equivalent of chewing him up and spitting him out, and that would end up being awkward all around.”
“Not to mention she’d kill you for letting her treat your Mate that way,” Han said as he ran his hands over Dom’s bare torso.
“I’ll tell her tonight before we leave. I don’t want to tell the others, though. You know Jesse has a tendency to let things slip, and Vince is such a hothead he’d end up saying something to Brian himself about it. Especially if he thinks Brian is interested in Mia.”
“One of these days, Mia is going to wipe the floor with him,” Han said with a laugh. “He treats her like she’s his kid sister rather than a Vampire who has tripped over the century mark in age.”
“Very true. She’s already down to her last nerve where he’s concerned. If she didn’t adore the kid so much, she’d have smacked him down some time ago,” Dom said.
“What are you going to do about Brian?” Han asked him.
“Not sure yet. I want to see what he’s about first. I think he might be an undercover cop. You know we’ve generated some attention with the PD around here, and probably the FBI at this point.”
Han sighed. “Well, that complicates things if you’re right. He’s young.” He frowned and slid off Dom, flopping down on his back next to him. “Too young really for the kind of undercover work they’ve put him on, I’d think. He’s got to be twenty-five at the most. If he is a cop and he’d been investigating anyone other than us, it could be extremely dangerous for him. He doesn’t strike me as an awesome liar.”
“No, and his reaction to us today was genuine,” Dom said as he turned onto his side and slid his hand under Han’s shirt. “He was at ease with us and seemed to be having a good time.”
Han lifted his upper body up and removed his shirt before dropping back down. “Unfortunately it means this is going to change at some point in the near future,” he said as he tilted his head so Dom could kiss his neck. “Maybe I’ll get lucky and he likes to share.”
“Sharing is caring,” Dom said with a little laugh. “And I’m not giving this up until I have to. I’ve loved you for far too long to just kick you to the curb.”
“Not your style, honey bunny,” Han said, laughing when Dom growled and bit him, fangs and all.
“Don’t call me ‘honey bunny’, asshole,” Dom grumbled as he reached for the fly of Han’s jeans.
Another growl erupted from Dom and he snickered. “Snuggleupagus?”
“I will bite you and make it hurt.”
“Oh, like that’s ever a deterrent.”
Brian thanked the guy who gave him a ride from Harry’s store and went in search of the group he was supposed to be watching. Agent Bilkens and Sergeant Tanner were both thrilled that he’d managed to make contact with and ‘befriend’ Dominic Toretto so early into the operation.
He conveniently left out exactly what they’d been bonding over, letting them think it was about the cars. He also left out that just being in Dom’s – and Han’s if he were being completely honest – presence and the sheer intensity surrounding the man had him half hard the rest of the day. When he finally couldn’t stand it anymore he’d gone into his private bathroom and jerked off just to get some relief.
Now, he wound his way around the area, searching until he saw Mia’s familiar form. He strode up to her and smiled. “Hey, Mia.”
Her eyes lit up with good humor. “Hey, Brian. Heard you had a rather enlightening conversation with Dom and Han this afternoon.”
Blushing, Brian rubbed the back of his neck as he laughed. “That’s one way to put it.” He looked around and saw Dom’s car, but he wasn’t anywhere to be seen. “Where are they, anyway?”
“Went down that way,” she said, motioning to the left as she hopped onto the hood of her car. “Some guy wanted him to take a look at his engine real quick. Some problem I wasn’t even paying attention to.”
Brian nodded and hopped up next to her. “He going to race tonight?” Brian asked curiously. While he’d seen Dom’s car before, he had yet to see him race.
“Probably not. I think he’s more here to make sure a bigger race is set up in a few days,” Mia told him. “The payoff for this one isn’t that big. Mostly the more amateur racers of the group are out tonight. He does like to come out and make sure the newbies aren’t going to blow themselves up because they managed to screw their shit up when installing it.”
“Hence him going off and staring at some dude’s engine,” Brian said with a laugh.
“Exactly. So, did you drive here?”
“Nah. My car isn’t done yet, and I wasn’t comfortable bringing Harry’s truck. One of the guys who comes into the store often offered to pick me up when he realized I was coming here.”
Mia nodded. “One of us can give you a ride back if you need one.”
“I’d appreciate it. Is the rest of your gang here?”
Laughing, Mia shook her head. “Nah, not a gang. Dom would never tolerate us being called that.”
“Then what do you guys call yourselves?” he asked curiously.
“You mean besides a family? If you’re talking about the racing aspects, a team. He calls us a team, his team to be more specific. He leads us in almost all things.”
“Sounds like there’s a story there,” Brian said, hearing something more behind her words.
“There is,” Mia admitted. “And maybe someday, if you play your cards right, Dom might tell you about it.” She winked at him.
“So how did the team come to be?” he asked as he looked around. Everyone else was busy staring at car engines and paying as little attention to them as possible.
Brian snorted. “We seem to have time. Doesn’t look like they’re planning on starting any time soon.”
Glancing around, Mia nodded. “Yeah, I don’t even see Dom and Han. But to answer your earlier question, the rest aren’t here today. Vince had a date, Leon was already asleep. He’s allergic to bananas and accidentally ingested some. He’s spending quality time sleeping and dashing to the bathroom. He’ll be good in a few days. Jesse was playing video games and didn’t seem to be interested in coming tonight.”
“As to the team, well, I’ll give you the highlights. Everyone grew up together. Han is actually about six years younger than Dom, and he had a crush on my brother since he basically hit puberty. I think Han might have been twenty before Dom laid a hand on him,” Mia said with a laugh. “Vince grew up with us too. Well, if you want to call him a grown up. I’m not sure how good he is at being an adult, really.”
Brian snickered. “Yeah, I noticed he’s a little volatile.” He’d seen him at Racer’s Edge before and the guy really seemed to have a problem with him. Brian wasn’t sure why, as he’d never actually talked with the guy. He’d dealt with Jesse or Leon those times.
“Jesse and Leon…well, they just kind of showed up in our lives one day and never left. Their stories really are their own to tell.” Mia smirked at him. “So, I heard Han was flirting pretty heavily with you today.”
“I get the feeling that’s his default setting,” Brian said and laughed.
“Yes and no. He only flirts initially to throw people off. If he continues after the first five minutes, he likes you enough to give you his attention. It honestly doesn’t happen often,” Mia told him.
He wasn’t sure what to think of that, but he was flattered. “Dom doesn’t care? I mean, I know they’re together and everything.”
“Their relationship is…complicated,” Mia said, laughing a little. “Let’s just say that they have been known to engage others on their own and togther when the mood strikes them.”
“Huh. Whatever turns their crank,” he said, grinning when she laughed again.
“What’s so funny?” Dom asked as he walked up to them and basically planted himself between Brian’s legs and all up in his personal space. Brian found he didn’t mind.
“Nothing,” Mia singsonged as she hopped off the hood. “Where’s Han?”
“Got caught up talking to Hector. He’ll find his way back eventually. Sabrina’s a few cars down. I know you wanted to talk to her.”
“That I did,” Mia said. “Oh, one of us needs to give Brian a ride back to Racer’s Edge.”
“I’ll take care of it,” Dom said, waving his sister off.
Dom leaned forward, placing his hands on either side of Brian, so they were practically nose to nose, and Brian went a little cross-eyed. “You got a thing for Mia?”
Brian pulled back a little so he could see Dom without feeling like an idiot. “Nope. I think she’s beautiful and smart, and sassy in a totally awesome way, but I think she could be a great friend.”
Dom smiled at him. “Good to know.”
Before he could voice the question he had, someone shouted for the drivers to find their positions and place their bets, and Han found them shortly thereafter, winding his way through the bustling crowd.
“I see you made it,” Han said, tugging him off the hood of the car and pulling him toward the crowd. “Let’s go and find a spot where we can actually see what’s going on.”
Brian exchanged an amused glance with Dom and let the other man drag him where he would. Soon enough he found himself on the outer edge of the crowd with Han next to him and Dom behind both of them, an arm thrown around each of their shoulders.
“You ever race before?” Han asked him.
“No. I’m still working on my car. Pretty much got it done. Just gotta test some things out,” Brian admitted honestly. “The car and the shit that goes on them to make them raceable costs money, and I’m definitely not made of it.”
“I heard that,” Han replied.
“You should bring the car by the garage, let us check it out before you think about racing it. Hell, we should probably teach you how to drive it,” Dom said, laughing when Brian shot him a glare.
“I just might take you up on that. The checking it out part, at least,” Brian told him, turning his attention back to the ‘race track’. It was actually a deserted area on the outskirts of the city, and since this was a race more for the newer drivers, Brian could see why it was being held away from inhabited areas. A couple of the drivers lining up looked more than a little wet behind the ears.
He leaned over closer to Han. “Are those two over there even eighteen?” he asked him with a frown.
Han snorted. “Yeah. We checked their IDs…their legit IDs. If someone wants to be a dumbass, we check to make sure that they’re at least responsible for themselves being a dumbass. We don’t want the wrath of parents coming down on us because we let their underage morons do shit they have no business doing.”
Brian looked at him. “You do realize you just called everyone here, including us, dumbasses and morons, don’t you.”
“Hey, if the shoe fits, man. I’ll own up to the fact that we do some dumbass shit, but at least we’re careful about it. We pick and choose where we participate, and who we race against. Not everyone here can say the same thing,” Han told him.
“If there’s someone we don’t want to race against because they’re extreme risk takers or just plain horrible drivers, we either get them booted out of the race or we just don’t race,” Dom murmured into his ear. “We’re not looking to get someone hurt, dumbass or not.”
“Accidents do happen,” Han said with a shrug. “But we do what we can to prevent them as much as possible.”
“Hence us wanting to make sure you know what the fuck you’re doing,” Dom told him. “Don’t want to be scraping you up with a shovel or anything.”
Brian made a face. “There’s a pleasant thought. Fine, fine, you two can be my racing gurus, if it’ll get your underwear out of the knot you’ve tied it into over this.”
Dom snorted. “Neither of us are wearing underwear to tie into a knot.”
“A fact I didn’t need to know,” Mia said with a grimace as she strolled up to them. “Honestly, Dom. Look at him. You made him go all tomato-red.”
“Could be worse. Could have that constipated look Vince had earlier when he figured out what we’d been doing before he got back,” Han said, smirking at her.
“I don’t want to know,” Mia said, holding up her hands. “Ignorance is bliss, especially when it comes to you two losers. Brian, you really should find better people to make friends with. These two will corrupt you with their evil ways.”
“I think I’ll be okay,” Brian said, laughing lightly. “My best friend, Rome, is about as bad when he gets going.”
“How come he isn’t here with you?” Dom asked him.
“He’s in the Air Force. Signed up not too long ago. He did four years at a university on a football scholarship, but had no idea what the hell he wanted to do with himself even after getting his degree. Decided on the military. Air Force won out, since his mom was really nervous about him going into the Marines.”
Dom hummed near his ear. “Can understand that. What was his degree in?”
“Sports science,” Brian told him. “Went well with his focus in sports, but he just wasn’t feeling it when he left school.”
“And what about you?” Mia asked him curiously. “You graduate, or you drop out like a dumbass?”
Brian laughed. “Nah, I got my degree. BS in Mechanical Engineering. Just don’t have the money yet to work on my Masters. Kind of why I’m trying to work my way up into racing. Need the money if I want to continue not being a dumbass.”
The degree part was at least true, since he’d doubled majored, along with Criminal Justice. He hadn’t decided what he’d wanted to do until he graduated, and his gut told him to go with being a police officer. He’d felt it would give him a better understanding at least, in case he decided to take his education further.
“Oh, we have a smarty-pants in the house,” Han singsonged, laughing when Brian elbowed him.
“Shut up,” Brian muttered as he felt his face heat up.
“At least there’s some hope now you haven’t done something to that car that might blow you up,” Dom said, dodging the small kickback Brian aimed at his shin.
“I think you’re right, Mia. I need better friends,” he said, making as to walk away and rolling his eyes when Dom actually growled at him and pulled him back.
“Stay,” Dom rumbled into his ear.
“Not a dog,” Brian retorted, but he settled back into his former position once it was apparent the race was starting.
The track itself was illuminated with several lighting towers that were brought in just for the occasion. Brian didn’t even know who organized that kind of shit, and he really didn’t care. He did, however, watch as the cars took off with a sort of nervous trepidation, hoping that those idiots didn’t get themselves hurt or killed since on the first turn, it was clear they didn’t have the best control of their vehicles.
Han hummed next to him as at the second turn, they saw one of the drivers spin out into the desert. “Maybe we should move away from the actual lanes before they get here?”
“Good idea,” Dom, Mia and Brian said, as they and everyone else around them moved a significant distance away from the track, which proved wise as when the two frontrunners sped through the finish line and one of them skidded as they braked and ended up sliding to a halt where they’d been standing.
“Dumbasses,” Han said, and Brian burst out laughing.
The digital clock on his dash turned to three in the morning by the time Dom stopped outside the back of Racer’s Edge to drop Brian off.
He turned to look at Brian and smiled to himself as the man continued to sleep. He’d fallen asleep a few minutes after he’d piled into the car, and Dom had been content to let him. The dark smudges under Brian’s eyes told him the man hadn’t been sleeping all that well lately. Probably spending far too much time on that car of his.
When staring at his Mate while he was sleeping went from sappy to creepy on his part, he reached over and shook Brian awake. “Wakey-wakey, Sleeping Beauty. We’re here.”
Brian groaned and sat up, rubbing his eyes and then blinking blearily. “We’re here already?”
Dom laughed softly. “You slept the entire time.”
“Should have woke me up. Couldn’t have been fun for you,” Brian said, running his hands through his hair.
“You look like you needed it. Go on. Get some rest. Come by whenever you want, and bring that car of yours when you’re ready let us check it over.”
Brian nodded. “Later, Dom.”
Dom watched, amused, as Brian got out of the car and half stumbled to the door, attempting a few times to unlock it before succeeding. Shaking his head, he put the car into gear and headed back toward the house.
Brian pulled the 1996 Mitsubishi Eclipse he finally finished upgrading into the empty parking lot of an abandoned box store, intent on testing it out before he decided to embarrass himself in front of the guys he was supposed to be getting close to. Looking like a complete idiot in front of them wasn’t going to endear him to them.
He’d gone to the little market they ran the last two days. Han had been there with Mia the first day and had served him fajita tacos, which they usually didn’t serve, but he had taken over the kitchen to make food for everyone, since Dom had been craving fajita tacos. Dom hadn’t shown up yet by the time he’d had to leave.
Dom had been there the second afternoon, and he’d cooked Brian another hamburger and fries, while Mia feigned hurt that Brian no longer liked her ‘cooking’, even as she worked on her homework at the counter. The others in their team hadn’t been there either day.
Shaking off thoughts of the previous days, Brian took a deep breath and floored it. He weaved here and there through the fading lines of the parking spaces, attempting to see how well he did at taking sharper turns while the speedometer crept higher and higher. The car hit 140 before it was too much and he spun out.
“Shit!” Brian hissed as he fought to get the car back under control. He rolled his eyes at himself and huffed. “Maybe I do need their help,” he muttered, laughing at himself as he put his car back into gear and tried again.
He spent the better part of an hour working on his ability to control the car at high speeds. He spun out the second time as well, but after the fifth round, he felt more in control of the car.
Looking down at his watch, Brian realized he needed to be at Harry’s soon. Part of his deal with Harry was that he would work for the man, delivering parts, in exchange for his help with maintaining his undercover persona. Of course, it helped they had proof of his criminal acts, to keep him in line. If he didn’t blow it, Harry would get his slate wiped clean instead of going to jail for several months at the least.
He gave the car a gentle pat and headed back in the direction of Racer’s Edge and picked up the truck. Deliveries didn’t take long, and soon enough he found himself outside the familiar storefront, smiling at Mia as he slid into his seat. He noticed that Dom was in the back. It looked like he was going over paperwork.
Scrunching up his nose, he asked, “Are you going to make me eat tuna today?”
Mia laughed and shook her head. “No, I’m not. Dom’s already lectured me on the evils of giving people too much tuna,” she said, heading toward the fridge. “However, Han did drop this off for you earlier, and he told me to tell you to be a good boy and eat it all.”
She slid a platter in front of him, which held a thick roast beef sandwich cut into two – not from the deli but from an actual roast Brian presumed Han cooked himself – and a heaping pile of some kind of pasta salad that looked really good. There were also pickles and a variety of olives.
“You know, if you guys keep feeding me like this, eventually I’m going to follow you home to stay,” Brian said, picking up a sandwich half and bit into the soft, poppyseed-sprinkled bun. At the burst of flavor in his mouth, he groaned loud enough that he saw Dom turn around.
“Oh my God, this is awesome,” Brian said when he swallowed. “Who made the roast beef?”
“Dom,” Mia said with obvious amusement.
Brian groaned again and looked at Dom. “Give me ten minutes and I’m gonna be all over you like a two-dollar whore.”
Mia’s laughter pealed around the room and Dom snorted and facepalmed as Brian took another bite.
“So good,” Brian moaned through his food.
“Christ,” he heard Dom grumble, but he paid him little heed, because the food was awesome. At least until Dom plopped his ass into a chair across from him on the other side of the counter and slid over a root beer. “Here, in case you choke with the way you’re wolfing that down.”
“Thanks,” Brian said.
Behind him, he heard the rumbling of several cars, and he figured Han and the others had returned from wherever they’d gone. The sounds of cars cutting off and doors slamming closed filled the near silence – Mia was still snickering across the room as she went through one of her many notebooks.
“Well, well, well. Looks like the eye candy decided to grace us with his presence again,” Han said, tugging on a few strands of hair at the nape of Brian’s neck as he walked by.
Brian turned too look at him. “Thanks for the food, man. It’s awesome.”
“Awesome enough that Brian has promised to be all over me like a two-dollar whore as soon as he’s done,” Dom told Han dryly.
Han snorted and grabbed a soda from the cooler. “Only if I get to watch,” Han said, winking at Brian.
Brian smirked at him and then sighed, barely refraining from rolling his eyes, as Vince plopped down in the seat next to him and stared at him. After a minute of it, Brian finally said, “Take a picture. It lasts longer.”
“I would,” Jesse said to Leon on the other side of the store, not that it was a great distance from him. “He is beautiful.”
“I like his haircut,” Leon piped in. “Where’s the camera?”
Brian’s amusement subsided when he felt a flick on his arm, and he turned to stare at Vince. “You know, you keep this up, and I’m going to start thinking you’re sweet on me.”
Mia snorted and slapped her notebook down on the counter. “Can I get you something, Vince, or are you just going to be an asshole today?”
“I thought he was an asshole every day,” Jesse said to Leon. “What’s so special about today that we have to bring it up?”
Brian pressed his lips together to try to keep the laughter at bay, while Dom dropped his head and pinched the bridge of his nose while his shoulders shook. When he felt under control, he slid a ten over. “Thanks for the food, man.”
Dom slid the ten back over. “On the house. Consider that a contribution to your Masters’ fund.”
Nodding, Brian pocketed the cash and slid off the stool, sending Jesse and Leon a wink as he strode away. “See you guys tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow?” Vince growled, and Brian heard the stool scrape back and thump like it’s righting itself. “Why you coming back tomorrow?”
“Vince,” came Dom’s warning growl, but it seemed to be ignored, because he could hear the thud of Vince’s stomp coming closer.
“Yeah. I like eating lunch here. The food is good,” Brian said, turning around and throwing his brightest and most insincere smile Vince’s direction. “Even the tuna.”
“Bullshit. No one likes the damned tuna.”
“Guess I just made a liar out of you, then,” Brian said.
“Why don’t you try Fatburger for a change? You can get a burger, fries and a drink for $2.95, and it comes with the added bonus of you leaving us the fuck alone,” Vince said, striding up into his space.
Brian stared him down and snorted. “You do realize that this is a business that serves food for people to eat, right? And that while you may be friends with the proprietors, you don’t actually own the place? I’ll eat here as often as I damn well please, until Mia or Dom tell me otherwise. You have a good day, now.”
He knew the moment he turned around that Vince was going to take the cheap shot.The guy was such a hot head, so he was ready when Vince went for it. Then Brian turned around and landed a punch that dropped Vince to the ground. “Knock it off, man! I don’t know what the fuck your problem is, but it sure as hell ain’t mine.”
Vince managed to get to his feet and glared, making a move as if he was going to charge him, but Dom got there first and hauled Vince back, glaring at him. “Do not embarrass this family with all the drama that goes on inside your head, Vince. Get in the damn store, get a drink, and cool the fuck off!”
“But he…” Vince said, pointing at Brian.
“He didn’t do a damn thing. You took a cheap shot at his back. I taught you better than that! Now get out of here!”
Brian watched as Vince headed toward the counter, his body swaying slightly as he held a hand to his face. Then he looked at Dom, who was looking at Han.
“What else did you put in that sandwich?” Dom asked Han. “I haven’t seen anyone clean Vince’s clock like that since he was a teenager.”
Han snorted and started walking away. “Maybe we should ask what you put in that roast beef.”
“What the hell is Vince’s problem? Did I black out at some point and piss in his Cheerios or something?” Brian asked Dom, who was inspecting the back of his head.
“He’s got a bad case of older brother superhero complex,” Dom told him as they leaned against Harry’s truck. “When he thinks someone is interested in Mia, he gets all weird big brother on her. What he doesn’t realize is that one of these days, she’s going to rip his arm off and beat him to death with it.”
Brian laughed a little as he rubbed the sore spot on his head. “But I’m not interested in Mia that way.”
“He’s not the most observant guy,” Dom said wryly. “But he’s family, so we try to tolerate his flaws.”
“You know, one of these days, he’s going to pull that shit on someone he can’t handle, and they’re going to pound him into the ground like a nail,” Brian said as he pushed off the fender. “I’ve gotta go. Harry’ll be expecting me soon.”
Dom nodded and he moved away from the truck, watching Brian as he got in and started the engine. As soon as he pulled out and took off down the street, Dom huffed and stalked toward the store, where Vince was sitting on a stool with an ice pack to his face. “Serves you right. What the hell, Vince? You have no idea what kind of training this guy has. His best friend is military, for Christ’s sake. Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
Vince glared at him. “That’s the fucking point, Dom! We know jack shit about this guy, and you’re being all friendly with him and letting him sniff around Mia. He could be a serial killer or a cop for all we know!”
“Because those two things are the same,” Mia said with a roll of her eyes. Then she pointed a finger right in Dom’s face, making him jerk back in surprise. “I am sick of this bullshit. I am not some fucking damsel in distress that needs this asshole’s help in vetting my guys for me.”
She pointed her finger at Vince as she spoke. “Either you get him in line, or I’m going to show his stupid ass just which of the Toretto children really takes after Riddick, you hear me?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Dom said, holding his hands up in surrender. He reached over and shut Vince’s mouth with a finger to his chin. “There’s a reason she’d never be in the command structure of Border or any Clan for that matter, Vince. She’s slow to anger, but when you’ve pushed her to that limit, she has Riddick’s viciousness. I’d back the fuck off if I were you.”
“Yeah, I think I need to do that,” Vince said hoarsely. “Jeez. I saw that maniacal gleam, dude. And she’s even got the silver eyes.”
“Yep. Family trait,” Dom said with a sigh. “Look, will you feel better if I call Nathan in and see what he can dig up on Mr. Brian Earl Spilner?”
Vince snorted. “Totally a serial killer. Would be a waste of that name otherwise.”
Dom chuckled. “Would it?”
“Yeah, man.” Vince groaned as he lowered his ice pack and touched his face. “Dude has a wicked ass punch.” His tone was one of grudging respect.
Looking at his face, Dom reached out and gently turned his head. He laughed. “Yeah, he does. He really cleaned your clock. I wouldn’t take the cheap shot again if I were you.”
“Won’t make that same mistake twice.” Vince sighed. “What if he’s a cop?”
“Then he’s a cop. Look, we knew going into this that eventually we would probably get on their radar. Feds too. We know what we’re doing. Trust me when I say that he’s not going to be a problem, and that I have reason for keeping him around.”
“I’d feel better if I knew what it was,” Vince muttered.
“And I would tell you, but you have a habit of mouthing off when you’re pissed and Brian pushes your buttons. You’ll just have to wait until it’s time for you to know. And I need to be the one to talk to him first.”
“Fine. You know I trust you. I just don’t trust him,” Vince told him.
Dom and Han exchanged a look and Dom pulled out the phone he’d received from Lucas as a Christmas present, that was unlike anything on the market, and called Nathan, stepping away as the others began to talk amongst themselves.
“Dom, to what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Hey, Adam. Could have sworn I called Nathan.”
“He’s in the shower at the moment. Is there something I can do for you?”
“I need a deep background check on someone. I think he might be a cop that’s trying to infiltrate the racing scene because of what we’re doing. I need to know for reasons I don’t want to get into right this second. Think you guys can spare some time to come on over to the Market?”
“Of course. Just let us get dressed and we’ll be right over,” Adam told him.
“Kind of late for you to be just getting up, isn’t it?” Dom asked.
“Late night. An officer was shot, a friend of Nathan’s. Hospital gave me privileges because it was my specialty, and the surgeon there didn’t trust himself to work alone. I got out of surgery five hours ago.”
Dom winced. “Cop okay?”
“Yes, provided he doesn’t have unforeseen complications, he should make a full recovery,” Adam told him. “We’ll be there in about an hour.”
“See you then.”
Dom hung up the phone and sat back down next to Vince. “They’ll be here in an hour. Happy?”
“Ecstatic. Now will you come and take a look at my car. There’s something hinky going on, and I can’t figure out what the hell it is.”
“Sure. We may need to take it to the garage later.” They walked over to his car and began searching for the problem.
“Lucy, I’m hoooome!” Adam called out as they entered the store, nodding to Mia, who nodded back distractedly as she had her face in a textbook. Not an unusual sight when she was around.
“Back here!” Dom called out, and they wound their way through the back office and into the air conditioned storage area, where part of it had been converted into a sitting area.
“Where is everyone?” Adam asked.
“Leon and Jesse took Vince back to the house to rest. He got hit for being an asshole, and it threw him for a loop. Needed to lie down for awhile,” Dom told him. “Besides, this is a situation where Vince doesn’t need to be part of the conversation, as he’s a complete hothead without any sense of discretion.”
“That, and Mia will probably kill him dead before the day is over if she has to keep looking at him. He irritated her beyond what she’ll normally tolerate.”
Nathan snorted as he sat down next to Dom on the sofa. “Adam said you wanted to see me about a possible undercover cop?”
Dom handed over his phone, where he had an image pulled up. Nathan got a better look at the guy as Dom said, “Says his name is Brian Earl Spilner.”
Adam snorted as he flopped down in a chair and swung a leg over the arm, making an attractive sprawl that would have Nathan put out if he weren’t his Mate. The man didn’t even have to try to be sexy. Adam just was simply by existing. “Serial killer?”
“I don’t get that vibe, in spite of the name,” Han said with a laugh.
Nathan laughed outright. “He’s a cop. Young, and hasn’t been with LAPD that long. I’m a little surprised he said yes to an undercover op. Doesn’t seem like his kind of thing. They must be offering something pretty damn good if he was willing.”
He handed the phone back to Dom. “Name is actually Brian O’Conner. I helped him out some when he was a rookie. Good kid.”
“So they sent a still-wet-behind-the-ears officer undercover in this kind of environment?” Han said. “That’s ballsy.”
“Honestly? If you two weren’t who you were, and I didn’t know who he is, I think he probably would have pulled it off, at least to the point where he’d have had to blow his cover, considering the volatile situation they’ve thrust him into,” Nathan told them. “Look at him. He’s adorable, and he’s good at the whole being earnest thing. He’s naturally that way, and it makes him believable when he has to lie through his teeth. He doesn’t like lying, though, which is why I’m surprised he decided to do something where his entire life is a lie.”
“What can you tell me about him?” Dom asked.
“He should be about twenty-six now, but I’d have to check his file. He started with the LAPD at the age of twenty-three, after getting his degrees in Criminal Justice and Mechanical Engineering. He has a best friend in the Air Force. I remember that because he was just so tickled at the idea of his friend being military, it was adroable.”
Adam snorted. “I have a feeling that word’s going to come up a lot concerning this Brian guy.”
“He’s definitely got a ‘boy next door’ thing going on there,” Nathan said. “He comes from a good home, his parents are both alive and kicking. I think his dad was a police officer, though he’s retired now. His great-grandfather was Joseph Gazelle, who was an officer who apparently went undercover with the Mob in New York earlier this century. He’s rather enamored of that bit of family history.”
Dom nodded and tilted his head back to stare at the ceiling. “So the question becomes, what do we do about Mr. O’Conner?”
“Well, offing him or locking him in a closet are out of the question,” Han said with a grin.
Nathan watched, amused, as Dom and Han proceeded to have an entire conversation heavy in eyebrow sparring and facial ticks, before Dom finally huffed and rolled his eyes.
“Brian is Dom’s Mate,” Han told them, an expression of almost maniacal glee plastered all over his face.
“I’d have thought you might regret one of your Mates showing up,” Adam murmured, sounding half asleep.
“We knew the score going into this relationship in the ‘40s,” Han said with a shrug. “Not saying I’m not going to miss it or it’s not going to hurt, but it is what it is, and I’m going to be happy for Dom that he found the one that’s meant for him, even if it hurts, because I love him.”
Nathan rolled his head to the side and locked eyes with his Mate, and then both turned back to Han. “Awwww,” they said in unison.
“Shut the fuck up,” Han said, his glare signifying just how unimpressed he was with both of them.
“So, your Mate. As if things aren’t complicated enough as it is,” Nathan said as he turned his attention back to Dom.
“Yeah, and I have no fucking clue how I’m going to even begin approaching this one,” Dom said, rubbing his face. “We have a cop, who is my Mate, who is looking for the culprits in hijackings of what look to be legit trucks for the Tran family. We are doing the hijacking of the goods that actually belong to the Han family, so he’s in the right damn place.
“Vince hates him, I think both Jesse and Leon have man-crushes on him, though I think for Leon it just might be his hair – he’s always been odd – and I have my sister who I think is waiting for Vince to make one more wrong move before she attacks, and we have to truss her up and ship her back to Josiah before she beats him to death with his own severed appendage…his arm, if he’s really lucky.”
“That’s because of all the stress of studying for a medical degree. She’s busy and doesn’t have time for his shit,” Han told them.
“And I still haven’t heard from the rest of my damn people who are on the other side of the fucking country, because none of them seem to remember to charge their fucking phones,” Dom finished before slumping further on the sofa.
Adam chose that moment to offer his own bit of wisdom. “Sucks to be you.”
Nathan laughed while Han and Dom glared at his Mate. “Helpful, sweetheart. Really helpful.”
“What? It’s not like I have any kind of reference for this level of complicated when it comes to dealing with a Mate. We weren’t complicated. You got shot, rushed into surgery with me, I patched your ass up, told you you were my Mate and I was a Vampire, and I Turned you and we Mated. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am; it was easy as pie.”
He pointed at Dom. “This…this is complicated. ‘I have no idea what the hell you’re going to do’ level of complicated.”
“Maybe we should call Captain Jack. He seems to glide through these kinds of sticky situations,” Han said.
Dom sighed. “Which Captain Jack would you be referring to?”
“Sparrow,” Han replied. “Who else. For all that he can confused the ever loving fuck out of me by breathing, the guy’s as smart as a whip, as Earp would say. Are we sure Lucas isn’t his biological child? Because he has an uncanny knack for understanding Sparrow logic, and he had to get all that genius from somewhere.”
Dom laughed. “We’re sure. We’ll figure it out. Just…not right now. I need to think, and the synapses just aren’t firing rigt now. I haven’t been sleeping much lately. I think Vince’s car is going to have to wait until tomorrow. He’s not in any condition to look at it today anyway.”
“I’ll come over tonight and make sure there’s nothing serious going on with his injury. Dumbass,” Adam muttered.
Dom snorted and turned back to Nathan to discuss the latest with the Tran situation.
Brian had the next two days off, so after he finished his morning shift for Harry, he hopped into his Eclipse and drove toward the store. He had no idea if Han or Dom were there, but whoever was would at least know where to find them.
To his surprise, an older Mexican woman he’d never seen before was behind the counter. He slid onto the stool and smiled at the woman. “Hi. Are Mia, Dom, or Han around by any chance?”
“No, they’re not around much usually. I was on vacation and came back early,” she replied, eying him. “You Brian with the serial killer name?”
Brian laughed loudly. “Yeah, that would be me,” he said, shaking his head.
The woman looked at him, amused. “They left this note for you, in case you stopped by.”
Brian took the note and opened it up.
Christina came home early and was sick of being with her husband 24/7, so she decided to come back to work before her vacation was done. We’re over at the house. Address is below. Come by whenever you want. I’m sure Han and Dom will be more than happy to feed you if you ask nicely.
The address was listed below, as were various phone numbers. As he knew where the street was, he picked up a soda and a bag of chips, paid for them, and smiled. “Thanks, Christina.”
She nodded at him and then turned to the next customer, and he jogged back to his car, opening up his chips at the same time.
The trip to Dom’s house wasn’t long as he only lived a few miles from the actual store. As he pulled into the driveway, Dom walked out of the garage via the side door, shirtless, and Brian’s mouth went a little dry at the sight.
“See you got the note from Christina,” Dom said when Brian slid out of the car.
“Yep! Finally got the car done, and I have the next two days off, so I figured I’d come and let you pick it apart.”
Nodding, Dom motioned toward the car. “Get in and drive it into the garage. We’ve got the air conditioner going in there, so cut it off as soon as you’re in.”
Brian did as Dom told him, driving in and cutting it off once Dom raised one of the doors. The door closed behind him as he slid out. “Just you?”
“Han is inside, dealing with the meat for dinner tonight. Got a steak for you, if you want to hang around.”
“Yeah, I’d like that,” Brian said, reaching back into the car and popping the hood. “The only thing I haven’t put in this is a NOS system. I didn’t know if I could do that correctly, without blowing my ass up.”
“We can get you one, once I know you can handle this thing. Have you tried it out?”
“Tops off around 140. Practiced in a big vacant lot. Mostly practicing being able to handle her without skidding out too badly,” Brian told him.
“We’ll work with you on that, and we’ll get Han to teach you to drift in one of his cars. He has one specificially designed for it.” Dom motioned to the Eclipse. “This one isn’t, but it’s a technique that can help you keep control of this one in case you oversteer at some point.”
“Yeah, I’d appreciate that,” Brian said, as he watched Dom lift the hood and inspect the engine.
Dom hummed and Brian leaned against the fender, waiting for Dom’s initial assessment. It came after several minutes of him poking and prodding at various engine parts, even jacking up the front end, grabbing a creeper and sliding under the car.
Sliding back out, Dom looked up at him from where he was laying on the creeper. “It looks good. You did a great job putting it together. A NOS system should be easy to put in once we know you can handle the car as it is. Then we’ll teach you to handle it with the NOS.”
“When do you think I’ll be race ready?” he asked curiously. He wasn’t determined to get into one the way he had been when he first started, since he already had an in, it seemed, with the Toretto family and their friends. He didn’t have to worry about trying to get Dom’s attention, since he already had it.
“If we work at it, we can probably get you ready by Race Wars,” Dom said, hopping up and walking over to the sink and washing his hands. “Until then, you can come with us to the races. Watch, listen, and learn. They’ll know you enough to be comfortable with you racing there, and because you know us. Plus, they won’t know what to expect from you. May be able to make a dent in the funds you need for your schooling.”
“That would be awesome,” Brian said, already trying to figure out a way to squirrel away some of that cash to pay for his Masters’ degrees at a later date. He did like the thought of continuing his education without ending up eyeball deep in debt, which had also been a deciding factor in becoming a police officer right out of college.
“Let’s go bug Han for something for you to eat for lunch, It’ll be awhile and I’m guessing you haven’t eaten yet.”
“Just a bag of chips and a soda I got from the store,” Brian admitted. “I could use food, if you don’t mind.”
“Wouldn’t have offered it if I did,” Dom said, and Brian followed him into the house.