So close, no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are, and nothing else matters.
I never opened myself this way; life is ours, we live it our way.
All these words I don’t just say…
~ Metallica, “Nothing Else Matters”
“Know what you’re doing?” Like the twisted heap of Charger, Dom’s voice is tight with pain, undercurrents of emotion that I’m too strung out to interpret right then. The stain of blood is loud on the side of his white t-shirt; a badge of guilt, visible reminder of his failures, the price of his fucked-up choices, his responsibility.
I held the keys out, aware that in doing so I threw away everything I worked for in my life up to that point. I want to fix everything; it wasn’t supposed to be him. Anyone but him, he’s smarter than this. What happened to his control?
Guess everyone needs to let go somehow. He couldn’t find it anywhere else. Not with the shadows clinging to his soul, the specters weighing down his spirit.
He hesitates before taking the Supra’s keys. Acknowledging my sacrifice, what it meant.
I didn’t do it for Mia, or the memory of the team. Or the bond of family, the gift he’d given me. He’d rebuilt something inside me that I never even knew was broken, just like he did the Supra.
I did it for him. More than just repayment for the lies I told, or the betrayal.
Dom’s voice echoes in my head. “You are the cop, you’re the cop!” Makes me flinch even now, the painful reminder of where I stand, straddling the line, torn between loyalties. What I want so badly and can’t have, obligations that I can’t bring myself to fulfill. So many emotions playing through his features; in that moment I truly feared for his sanity. His fury, focused on me, mirrored in the black beast crouching beside him in the driveway. Eager, impatient.
Now a harmless, twisted hulk in the center of the road. As battered and beaten as Dom.
In my own way, I was giving him another chance. To start over somewhere else, to escape and be free. He showed me as much, how to free myself. I don’t even think he realizes what he did. Don’t think I’ll ever get a chance to thank him for it either.
So much I wanted to say. Not enough time for any of it, not with the sirens drawing closer with each passing moment.
When you love something, you let it go. And walking away has always been a forte of mine. Don’t know if Dom even realized that when he drove away in the Supra, he took a piece of me with him.
I never expected to see him again. Deep down, I never stopped hoping. But I didn’t think it would ever happen. I tried talking to Mia a few times, after I returned from Miami and got my slot with the Feds. She’d either hang up on me, or ignore my calls altogether. Finally I just buried myself in work and tried to forget. No such luck.
I went back to Barstow to visit my father the next year – it was the anniversary of the day it all went to shit, and I had to get away. Didn’t even pack a bag, just hopped in the Skyline and ran away from the press of the past. Anything was better than driving down stretches of road that would just resurrect the ghosts and demons of what-if’s, might-have-been’s, and should-have-done’s. Even visiting a father who couldn’t talk back. The nurses say that hearing familiar voices helps the comatose, but I don’t know how much help it is for him to hear my voice. After all this time, would he even recognize me as his son? So much has changed. Might help more if I could track down some of his old Army buddies. But I sat and talked to him anyways, for hours, until my throat hurt and my voice was hoarse. Stared at the increase of gray at his temples, peppering his hair more thickly than I recalled from the last time. Told him all about Miami, and how Rome was doing. The garage he was opening up. When the nurses chased me off, I drove out to haunt the old stomping grounds, reliving some fonder, adolescent memories.
Thought about ringing Rome, seeing how he was doing. Letting him distract me, though he wouldn’t know from what.
And that’s when I saw it, in a junkyard off old Route 66. Dull, even in the harsh desert sun; faded paint more gun-metal gray than black, dry-rotted leather seats showing guts of foam and batting. An abandoned old Charger, battered and beaten and needing some love. But not beyond repair, not like some things.
Made arrangements for it to be hauled back to L.A. Rented a garage slip. That wide body and large-block Hemi stood out among the other project cars in the building. Especially at first, given the shape it was in. All my days off and vacation time went into restoring it. Turned out to be a very therapeutic pastime, and after a while I gave a faint grin when a certain flash of chrome and black enamel triggered a memory of Dom. Not that it didn’t hurt; it would never stop hurting. But I started coming to terms with that, and it became a welcome sort of ache.
I recall very clearly the afternoon I finished tweaking the turbocharger and fired it up. The roar echoed through the garage, rumbling up my spine and reaching into all those deep corners that Dom’s voice used to ferret out. The hairs on my nape and arms stood up.And then my cell phone rings. It’s Letty.