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Brian’s Impressions

When I was a boy, didn’t care about a thing It was me and this world and a broken dream I was blaming myself for all that was going wrong ~ Papa Roach, “Lifeline”

 “Bring him up, Toretto.” I keep my voice level and even, despite the adrenaline that’s dumping into my bloodstream, despite the pulse suddenly hammering in my temple. My gun dips down toward the floor, the muscles in my arms going lax. It figures he would be able to ferret out the same leads as me, in less time.

I can’t believe he’s dangling the man out the window, holding his full weight like that.

Shit, he looks thinner. Harder. Dominic Toretto, distilled and concentrated. That’s not a good thing. Not in anyone’s world.

“O’Connor. You gonna shoot me this time?” His voice is a slow drawl, faint hints of South America lilting through the rumble as he looks over his shoulder at me. There’s a distinct glint of anger in those dark eyes. For breaking up his little tête-à-tête or something else entirely, I can’t distinguish.

Heat pools in my gut. I should have braced myself for this… but how can you expect to have an even stronger response to someone, after so many years? Why does he not even sound the slightest bit surprised? I sure as hell am.

I knew he was in town; just didn’t expect it would be me he stumbled across first.

“Good to see you too, Toretto. South America been treating you well?”

“I’m gonna kill this Braga.”

“And I’ll help you do it. Just bring the man up, okay?”

The dangling victim screams something about working it out between the two of us later, when he’s not five seconds from turning into a sidewalk pancake. The tendons cord in Dom’s neck as the man wriggles. He’s not going to be able to hold on much longer. I move further into the room, away from the door. Giving Dom a clear escape route. His dark gaze meets mine.

I jut my chin in the direction of the hall, mouth the word “go.”

The man twists in his double-fisted grasp; I see fingers scrambling for a grip on the window ledge. Dom’s hands slip a fraction on the denim, but he just stands there, holding my gaze.

“This ain’t over.” I can’t tell if he intends that as a threat or promise. Coming from him, it’s probably a bit of both. His face is devoid of expression, eyes dark and flat and dead. Like a part of him has died. Letty.

“No, it’s not,” giving him assurance laced heavy with resignation. I’m willing to take whatever he dishes out to me, because I deserve it more than he knows. I’ve let him down again, and it would hurt more now than it ever did before – if I wasn’t numb. With shock.

Two slots in the race, Park tells me. Toretto’s got one. I’ve got the other.

Head to head, just like old times. Only this time, I’m going to win.

Yeah, I’ve got something to prove. Some respect to earn back the hard way. And that’s more important to me than anything else when I climb out of the Skyline. Not sure what I expected Dom to drive – the RX7, really Brian – but the tricked out Chevelle isn’t a surprise at all. Leave it to him to bring old school Detroit muscle. He looks good sitting behind the wheel of the gun-metal gray body, intimidating. Just a bit. He’s the one to beat in this race. Because this time I know how good he really is, know what I’m running up against.

I’ve got an edge though. Or at least I think I do, because I’m not the same inexperienced buster he thinks I am.

When the Chevelle eases up to the line to my right, I’m not in the least surprised. I rev the Skyline, and look over at him. Smooth scalp, expressionless face. But those eyes.

“A lot has changed, Dom.” Since the last time I edged up to him at a stoplight. Since that first time I punched NOS in a street race. Since I turned my back and walked away after handing him the keys. I don’t know which I mean. All of them, I guess; but more, so much more. Since I betrayed your trust. Since I lied to you about everything – except the one thing that mattered most, and no I don’t expect you to believe me. I know I have to earn back his trust, earn back his respect. The price won’t be a cheap one.

“You’re right.” Lips pursing into a tense line around those words. Dark chocolate gaze steadily meeting mine. Confident, all business. Cold, efficient, focused. Nothing personal. But he has no doubt he’ll beat me. And then you better watch your back, his eyes tell me; then, it’ll get personal.


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