But! I do come bearing gifts of YouTube playlist. Music I listen to while getting into their heads. I'd posted it in the comments on a previous entry but thought others might enjoy it also. Expanded and reordered a bit.
And... here's Brian's second part:
The broken locks were a warning, you got inside my head
I tried my best to be guarded – But I’m an open book instead.
And I still see your reflection, inside of my eyes
That are looking for purpose, you’re still looking for life.
“You going native on me, Brian?” Tanner’s voice slices through the unexpected surge of rage I felt when Bilkins’ assistant asked about Mia.
The man’s disrespect triggered it, more than anything. That’s Dom’s sister, damn it. I don’t know what she is to me exactly, but I do care about her. Don’t know what he is, either, but it’s definitely deeper than just the job. Up until that moment, I hadn’t really bothered to try analyzing it. Now it’s a jumbled turmoil of a thousand different emotions I can’t even begin to understand, which is so unusual for me it’s bewildering. Disconcerting. Because somewhere over the past couple days, they became family – a twisted sort of surrogate family, but it’s enough that I won’t stand by and listen to them say that sort of thing. As soon as I react, though, I regret it. I should have kept my cool.
“I don’t think Toretto’s capable of it. Too controlled. His boy Vince maybe, but the man doesn’t have the smarts to pull off something like this.”
Tanner tosses the evidence photos of Kenny Linder on the counter. “You’ve read Toretto’s file.”
“I memorized it.” Every last word of the thing. He’s not stupid enough to do this. There’s this voice in my head playing that belief like a broken record.
“Well take a look at these. Toretto did this, with a three-quarter-inch socket wrench. Real controlled, O’Connor.”
I’ve seen the photos, don’t need to see them again, so I push away from the counter and glare down Bilkins and his Chihuahua on the way out of the house.
Working on the Supra gives me a distraction, but Dom must be able to tell I’m off my stride. He keeps glancing over at me from where he’s hunkered inside the engine compartment. Not furtive, but drawn out moments where his gaze flicks over my face, the stiff set of my shoulders. I do my best to ignore it, but all the while my brain is running in fifth gear.
Is Tanner right? Am I going native? What happened to that emotional disengagement of mine? This UC assignment is turning out to be more demanding than I thought or expected. I feel like I’m losing my foothold. I look at Dom, consciously aware of what he’s capable of doing. And yet… it’s like there’s a disconnect or something. This man – the man I know – God. I don’t know what I’m thinking.
I hold the radiator in place so he can secure the bolts, watch the tendons and muscles in his forearms tensing and bulging. Do you hold a single wrong decision over a man’s head for the rest of his life? Is it really justified to judge anyone on a single wrong decision? I think his life, as it stands now, would beg otherwise.
Why’s it seem like I’m the only one who sees that?
He wipes his hands on a rag and holds it out to me, over the quarter panel. Dark eyes solemn, quiet. Photos of Linder’s injuries flash through my mind as I take the grease-stained cloth, the back of Dom’s fingers warm and smooth beneath mine. I can’t reconcile the information in the file with the man I’ve come to know over the past couple days.
“I wanna show you something.” He speaks softly, almost under his breath, though the sound still rumbles. Even a giant’s whisper is loud, if you’re one to take Tolkien at his word. I might be a couple inches taller than him, but I don’t think either of us has ever noticed it. I know, for my part, that he’s always seemed bigger than me – and bigger than life, really. I hold his gaze while wiping grease off with the rag, and his eyes dart away. Dom, nervous? That was a new experience.
Possibilities run through my head when he heads for the RX7 and slides into the driver’s seat. What is it that he’s going to show me? Something that will convince me how serious he is about the threat to break my neck? Should I assure him that I believe it? Hell, even without the file, I would take something like that on faith.
Muscles bulge in Dom’s cheek when I glance over and study his profile. He’s on edge, and not knowing why is putting a bug up my ass. I don’t know what to say, though. Don’t think there’s anything I can say, any way to pose that question. So I just sit back and let him drive, let my mind drift, let the vibrating purr of the engine sooth the tension from my body and mind.
Sometimes you just need to drive.
When he pulls into the driveway at his house, I ease out of the car in his wake. But Dom doesn’t even look at me, just heads for the padlocked garage in front of us. Like he’ll lose his nerve if he accidentally looks me in the eye. As weird as he’s acting, I have a feeling things are about to get weirder.
He juggles the keychain in his palm for a few seconds, staring at the lock. Half glances over, his gaze making it to the general area of my navel before darting away. I cram my hands a little deeper in my pockets and wait. With fumbling, thick fingers Dom untangles a worn, dull key from the menagerie and unlocks the door with a molar-grinding grimace.
The big door slides back with audible reluctance, years of irregular use forcing the muscles to stand out across Dom’s back and shoulders beneath the white, sweat-soaked cotton of his t-shirt.
Afternoon sunlight filters through the slats of the garage, and from the patchwork shadows an old-body Charger glares back at me. I can’t move.
Went to the zoo once with my mother when I was young. To this day, I still remember the look in the eyes of the male lion, couchant in the shade to escape the summer heat. The same vibe rolled over me from that garage, despite the relative cool air in the shaded enclosure. All along my nape and forearms, the hair stands up.
Guess the cause might have been the ghosts clinging to its steel skin.
It was a very different Dom who warily stepped toward the front fender of that beast and stared at the turbocharger. Like he was looking death in the face. Hands fisted loosely against his thighs, shoulders hunched, chin canted down. Eyes hooded.
“Beautiful car.” I can’t think of anything else to say. Dom’s acting weird. But it’s obvious this is what he wanted to show me, for whatever the reason, so I look. Not a flaw anywhere to be seen; someone put a good bit of effort into restoring and maintaining it. Betting that would be him.
His words are soft, “yeah. My dad and I built it … from the ground up.” I don’t move. The scuff of my Cons on the concrete would drown out the sound of his voice. “Nine hundred horsepower of pure Detroit muscle.” There’s a lighter fondness in him then, and I smile. He glances at me, but returns to staring at the motor. Shuffles around to stand by the driver’s door. His hand comes up and he trails fingertips almost reverently over the very edge of the chrome, “my dad ran nine flat at Palmdale. So much torque, the chassis twisted coming off the line.”
Silence drags out. As if we’re paying homage to something intangible.
I can almost feel the weight of the anvil hovering. It’s there in the gravity orbiting his presence. “What kind of numbers you get with her?” He was waiting for me to ask, begging me to. Whatever this is, he wants so badly to share it with me for whatever his reasons. Far be it from me to deny him anything.
“I’ve never driven her.” Heartbeat space of silence. “Scares the shit outta me.”
I follow his agitated journey around the perimeter of the car as he tells me about his father, the race, Linder, the choice he made that changed his life irrevocably. Even if he didn’t consciously make it.
I have to sit down, glad the chair is there and that it doesn’t collapse under my weight because I was about a millisecond from planting my ass on the concrete. Legs can’t hold me anymore. My attention is riveted to his face, his gestures, the movements of his body as he tells me. All of it.
The story I know.
Only… not. Not at all.
I felt like a freight train slammed into me at a railroad crossing. Can see it coming, just figure you’ll get past in time. Roulette, and you never expect the impact. The breath being sucked from your lungs.
Dom knocked the wind out of my sails without even touching me.
This is what comes of people who screw with his family – intentionally or not.
And I knew that. I did.
I see something past the bullshit he spouts at me about living a quarter mile at a time.
I see a man who can’t outrun his history. A mistake he made, a burden he will carry for the rest of his life. Can never put down, never overcome, never move past.
No matter how fast he fucking drives or how much NOS he burns.
Bilkins gives me a thirty-six hour deadline. “I don’t care if you have to blow your fucking cover and put a gun in someone’s face.” Yeah, the man’s got finesse in spades, don’t he.
“It’s Toretto, Brian. It always has been Toretto.” Tanner thought this was about Mia? “There’s all kinds of family, Brian. And that’s a choice you’re going to have to make.”
I stand there staring at the moonlight playing over the surface of the pool. But all I can see is Dom, patchwork shadows flicking over black enamel, the bared soul staring back at me from man and beast.
My reflection looks back at me.
“Who’s your fucking family now?” I ask the stranger in the water.
As always, any and all comments and crits are welcomed. And won't be subjected to harsh retaliation. Been writing too long to bother with drama. :)