One of the first things he learned about going undercover was that cover stories are best simple. That, and there should always be at least a little truth to every lie. Makes it easier to believe and easier to pass off if there's a grain of truth there.
That's why he can handle being in Dominic Toretto's world, making like he wants to be part of the group. 'Cause he's always loved the road, loved the rush of driving too fast and maybe a little reckless. And, if he wants to be perfectly honest, even if only to himself, it's easy to pretend he wants to be part of the group because, ill-advised as it is, he does.
He likes Dom. Likes the way he talks and walks like he owns you and everyone and everything around him. The way he takes shit from his team more than he would from anybody else. The way Dom inspires loyalty in pretty much everyone, the way he looks unbreakable but has weaknesses. Like how he wants to trust Brian because maybe it's been a while since he's had anyone new, anyone who needed for him to open up and let them inside, and Brian thinks Dom wants that.
And that's what saves his ass. Brian knows it, reads it in the furrow between Dom's eyebrows while he waits for Brian's story. So Brian does what he's been taught and tells Dom what he wants to hear.
He blocks out Vince, pissed off and armed (and if that isn't the combination from hell, Brian doesn't know what is), and focuses all his attention on Dom while his mind scrambles for that grain of truth he needs now. The lies fall out easy once he latches on to the cars in the garage; that's what he'd looked at, so the facts are solid even if the story surrounding them isn't. Brian lets the desperation seep into his words and eyes, because that's the truth, too, and when had that happened? He doesn't know when it got so important for Dom to believe him, to trust him, and not as part of the operation, either. It's personal now.
"Dom, you know I can't lose again," he says, and hopes it's enough.
And then he has Dom, sees Dom tipped over the edge into buying the lie and the truth wrapped inside. There's still suspicion there, but Dom would have to be stupid to completely dismiss any worries and entirely trust Brian. Even if Dom doesn't realize it, he's made a hell of a statement about how much he wants to trust Brian, anyway.
Vince sees it. Brian recognizes that look Vince shoots him, the angry helplessness of knowing you're right, but also knowing that there's no way to prove it. And Vince hates him right now, for the fact that Dom's letting Brian off the hook this easy, but more because Dom is willing to give Brian -- the interloper -- the benefit of the doubt even though he's known Vince his whole life and Brian about a week. Brian gets that just from sparing a second's look at Vince, but then he looks back at Dom. It doesn't matter if Vince believes him. Only Dom.
"He's a cop," Vince insists. He says it again, louder and angrier, but it won't do any good. At that point, Brian can't help but feel a little sorry for Vince. Of course, he'd feel a lot sorrier if the guy weren't so close to the fucking truth and hadn't been such an asshole to Brian since the beginning.
"You a cop?" Dom asks. His eyebrows lift, and it's a prompt to give him the right answer, the one Dom wants to believe. Brian knows it, Vince knows it. He's not sure if Dom knows it, though.
He can't bring himself to say no. He just looks at Dom like it hurts him to even half-shake his head, and it's done just like that.
"Let's go for a little ride," Dom says, and Vince gets in one last jab with the butt of the rifle before Brian can stumble after Dom.
Brian almost runs into Dom's broad back when he stops abruptly. But he knows what Dom wants when he turns and holds out his hand, palm up, so he pulls his keys out and hands them over.
"Take the truck back to the house," Dom tells Vince, tossing him the keys. "Get in the car," he says to Brian. He watches until Brian opens the passenger door and steps in, then he lowers his voice and says something else only he and Vince can hear. Vince looks pissed, but what else is new?
Brian settles into the passenger seat and waits, drags sweaty palms across the denim on his thighs and tries to relax. Nothing bad's going to happen. They're taking the truck back to the house, which means Brian will eventually be going back there to get it. It's reassuring to know, but there's a whole other tension, coiling in his chest and tightening his throat, in waiting to see what Dom wants with him.
Dom slides into the driver's seat and drops his hands to the wheel. Brian stares at Dom's knuckles and tries to see if they're white, if Dom is as tense as Brian is. But it's dark, and he can't tell. Dom doesn't move for a minute and doesn't even bother to look at Brian before he starts the car and pulls out. He's driving within the speed limit, using his blinker and turning corners so carefully he could be taking a driving test. It's more unsettling than if Dom were taking corners on two wheels.
"Where are we going?" Brian asks finally, relieved that his voice actually comes out without cracking.
"You tell me," Dom says flatly.
"What do you mean?"
"It depends upon where you've already been. You said you wanted to check out all the garages. So where have you checked so far?"
Shit. Nowhere, and that won't sound good. Brian clears his throat. "Only Hector's," he says, and that's his grain of truth to build on. "I drove by Edwin's earlier, but it wasn't clear."
Dom looks at him then, and his eyes are clearer. Brian said something right. "Yeah, Edwin's usually doesn't clear out 'til pretty late. One of his guys practically lives there. You might not be able to check it out at all."
"You think he'll be a threat?" Brian asks, if only to keep Dom talking. Dom's silence is too heavy for Brian's comfort.
"He's never beat me," Dom says, and Brian feels lighter when Dom's mouth lifts at the corner. "But then again, neither have you. He might be a threat if you pull the same stupid shit as before."
"Not gonna happen," Brian says. He looks around in surprise when Dom pulls into an alley. "Where are we?" He lost track along the way. He was paying too much attention to Dom.
Dom looks around, then back at Brian. "In an alley," he says.
Brian lets the smile spread big and goofy across his face. "No shit. Why are we in an alley?"
Dom leans in, lowers his voice like it's a secret. "Because it's generally not a good idea to break into any place on the street front when you can do it from an alley instead," he says.
"Ohhhh, riiiight," Brian draws the words out in his best surfer voice just to see Dom smile again. He asks his next question after a pause, reluctant to let go of the teasing that says things are forgiven, if not forgotten. "Whose place? The Trans?"
"No. We'll go there tomorrow night; they shouldn't be around then. And we'll take Vince, maybe Jesse. Just in case," Dom says. "This is Karl Thompson's place. You heard of him?"
Brian's drawing a blank. "Don't think so," he says, and maybe it wasn't a bad turn of luck that Vince and Dom followed him. After all, Dom knows these people, and Brian only knows rap sheets. There's always a chance that whoever he's looking for doesn't have priors. It's not likely, but it's possible.
"There's a reason for that," Dom says. "He's a slippery motherfucker. Not much of a talker, doesn't race much on the streets. He likes to save it up for the big money, surprise the people who've never seen him race before. He'll be at Race Wars, and he'll make a mint because most people don't know him and don't know how he drives. If you know what he's got under the hood, you might be the one surprising him."
Dom's voice is harsh, almost bitter, and Brian gets the feeling that that's just the tip of the iceberg with this guy. It's too late to ask, though, because Dom pops his door open and steps out, so Brian does the same.
"Follow me," Dom says and, like, merges with the shadows. Damn, he's good at that. Brian would have thought it would be a lot harder to sneak two people in and out of places they're not supposed to be, especially when one of them has arms the size of tree trunks. But he was wrong because Dom's fucking soundless. He's better at this than Brian, and Brian's no slouch. They're inside in way less time than it probably would have taken Brian, and suddenly he understands why Dom won't go back to prison, if that's where he learned to move like this, where he had to move like this.
For all their care, it seems pointless once they get inside. Either Thompson moved on or got cleaned out, because the place is empty. No cars, no tools, just some oil stains on the cracked concrete, and for a minute, Brian gets a little nervous that maybe Dom's story was just that -- a story meant to lull him into a false sense of security.
The look Dom tosses over his shoulder says he has no idea what's going on, either, though. There's something mixed in there with his puzzlement, something Brian doesn't think he's seen yet. Dom hisses, "Let's get the fuck out of here," and Brian recognizes it: fear. Something about this place has made Dom seriously uncomfortable. He doesn't pause for a second, but follows Dom out as quickly and quietly as possible.
"What's up?" he whispers when they're back out and Dom freezes in the shadows.
Dom looks up the alley, and Brian sees then. There's someone at the mouth of the street, a big guy, approaching Dom's car. Whoever it is moves like Dom, silently and comfortably, with a sense of familiarity. Fuck. Brian only knows what Dom told him about this Thompson guy, has no idea if he has a record or goons like the Trans, but from the tense set of Dom's shoulders, Brian knows this is anything but good news.
The figure stops at the car, gives it a once-over. Brian's heart sinks. Dom's car is not discreet, and to anyone in L.A. who's into street racing, it's easily recognizable. The guy runs a hand across the spoiler, and Dom actually growls a little bit. In other circumstances, his possessiveness would probably be funny. But it's not funny now, especially not when the guy turns away from the car and starts heading their way. There's no way he can see him from where he is, but when that thirty yards shrinks to five or ten, he won't miss them.
"Shit," Brian breathes. "Dom, who is that, do you know?"
"It's Thompson," Dom whispers. "Fuck. Listen, follow my lead, don't freak out, and don't talk."
Brian has no chance to respond before Dom's pushing him up against the wall and kissing him hard. If Dom's tongue weren't already pushing into Brian's mouth, Brian would probably swallow his own tongue in shock. Dom buries one hand in the hair at Brian's nape and squeezes his side with the other. He pulls back long enough to murmur, "C'mon, Spilner," against Brian's mouth.
This time when Dom kisses him, Brian gives it up and moans a little, wraps one hand around the back of Dom's neck and drops the other hand to Dom's ass. Dom grunts in response, and Brian shifts his stance, opens his legs so that Dom can press up between them. Brian's not sure if he wants to know whether it's the adrenaline or not, but they're both hard by the time a low laugh interrupts them.
"What's this?" Thompson asks, like it isn't fucking obvious.
"Go away," Dom growls, breathing hard and not even bothering to turn toward the man. In fact, he moves one hand to the front of Brian's jeans and tugs the zipper down, dragging another moan from Brian, who's torn between being totally freaked out and really, really turned on.
"That's no way to talk to an old friend, Toretto," Thompson says. "No matter how...enticing the distraction." His voice is oily, makes Brian shudder a little, and not in a good way. Even worse, if Brian thought the guy looked big before, he's fucking massive when he's standing a few feet away. Dom's solid, and Brian's tall, but this guy could be the goddamn Hulk. No fucking wonder Dom didn't just stay in the shadows until the guy got close and then beat the shit out of him. Brian's genuinely not sure if he and Dom could take down this guy together.
Dom takes a deep, jagged breath and finally turns around halfway. But he keeps his left hip up against Brian's, mostly blocking him from the other man. "Thompson," he acknowledges, and he sounds surprised and maybe even a little huskier than usual. "Well, I hadn't expected to see you here. I heard you weren't around anymore. Thought I'd come check the place out. I've been thinking of expanding," he lies smoothly.
"Expanding. How apropos," Thompson says, nodding toward Brian. "It certainly looks like you've expanded your horizons since Lompoc. I don't remember you being into cock."
Dom shrugs. "Well if I remember, you got parole when I was only five months in. Doesn't take long to get a little less selective," Dom gives it a beat, then, "You know how it goes."
Thompson smirks. "Got me there. But I wouldn't think you would be the type to find a taste for it on the outside."
"My girl and I have been fighting," Dom says. He turns to look at Brian, runs a proprietary hand down his chest and locks eyes with him. "And Brian's easy," he says when his hand reaches between Brian's legs to palm his dick. Brian drops his head back against the wall and gasps, knowing he looks every bit as slutty as Dom says he is, and not caring in the least.
"Mm," Thompson hums. "Whore?"
"Mechanic," Dom replies evenly, eyes on Brian's while Brian looks back with slitted eyes.
Dom's eyes narrow, and he turns his gaze on Thompson. "Mine," he grinds out.
Thompson raises his hands as if in surrender. "By all means. But, and I hate to ruin your fun, the property you're currently standing on is still mine. And you have no business being here."
"We won't be here much longer," Dom says, and the hand that's still between Brian's legs squeezes. Brian bites his lip and arches into the touch, well aware that Thompson's staring at their point of contact. That's probably the only thing that keeps him from coming right then and there.
"In that case, I've got time," Thompson says, crossing his arms and settling in.
Dom shakes his head. "I don't think we'll be sticking around after all, then. You know how I like my privacy."
"If that's the way you feel," Thompson says. "But I don't think your mechanic would mind, and I've got no objections."
Dom lets go of Brian then, and Brian actually finds it a little hard to hold himself up, even with the wall at his back. He watches Dom approach Thompson, sees the way their eyes spark, and he realizes that Dom really hates this guy. He doesn't know what kind of history they had in Lompoc, but whatever it was must have been ugly. The way they're standing off, they're like dogs with their hackles up, growling, each ready to set his teeth in the other's throat and hold on tight. There's always the chance that Thompson isn't as tough as he looks, but frankly, Dom's odds don't look good. Brian's not willing to risk it, anyway.
"Dom," Brian says, and his voice sounds rusty, less gravelly than Dom's, but certainly not smooth. "You said you were gonna fuck me. If we're not going to do it here, let's go."
For a minute, Brian's not sure if it'll help, if Dom will let whatever this thing is with Thompson go. But then Dom says, "Yeah, all right," turning back and holding his hand out, palm up again. This time, Brian puts his hand in Dom's, and Dom pulls him away from the wall, smacks his ass. Brian heads to the car and hears Dom following close behind. "See you around, Thompson."
"I look forward to it," Thompson says.
And then they're at the car, and in. Dom pulls out with a screech of tires, and there's nothing careful about the way he's driving now.
"Shit," Brian says at last. "Was all that really necessary?" He motions up and down his body vaguely, not sure how to put it in words.
"I could have beat the shit out of you instead," Dom says matter-of-factly. "That's the only other thing I can think of that people do in dark alleys. But you've already been knocked around enough tonight, I thought."
His tone is light enough that Brian's heart rate slows a bit. "Considerate of you."
"I'm a considerate guy," Dom says. "Besides, if I'd beaten you up, I couldn't exactly have picked you up and taken you with me when it came time to leave. Nobody does that to the guys they beat up." He pauses. "Did you know you're just Thompson's type?"
It seems like a non sequitur to Brian until it dawns on him what Dom's trying to say. He thinks of Thompson's voice and the feel of his eyes crawling over his body, says, "Don't take this the wrong way, but thanks, then."
Dom actually laughs a little. "No problem."
Brian shifts in his seat, but trying to get comfortable isn't coming easy. He's still halfway hard, and he wonders if Dom is, too. Not like he's about to ask, though. The rest of the trip to Dom's house is quiet. Brian's not about to press about Thompson. He's not sure that he even wants to know.
Shifting again and looking down, Brian notices that his pants are still unzipped, and that's what sets him off. He starts laughing and can't stop. Dom looks over in surprise, and in response, Brian reaches down and zips his pants. Dom snorts.
"God, can you imagine what Vince would say?" Brian gasps when he finally brings his laughter under control.
"I don't think I want to," Dom says, grimacing. And then they're pulling into Dom's driveway. Brian's pickup is parked at the curb, and he's surprised that this is still the same night, that just a couple of hours ago he thought he might have blown the whole operation. And the closest thing he came to blowing was Dom. Jesus.
They should both be getting out of the car, but they sit there instead, not looking at each other. The air feels a little too thick. There's an itch between Brian's shoulder blades. It's uncomfortable as hell in the car, but something's not done yet. They can't leave like this, because if they do, they'll never be able to look each other in the eyes again.
"Well, I think at the very least, you owe me dinner," Brian says in a desperate bid to fill the silence and make things better.
"You like Italian, right?" Dom replies, and the atmosphere eases. If they can look at each other and joke about this, it's going to be okay.
"Naw, tomorrow night's Vietnamese night, remember?" he says, and Dom's expression sobers.
"Yeah. Be here by seven," he says, and Brian takes if for the dismissal it is, pushing open the passenger door and stepping out. "Hey, Brian!" Dom calls out before Brian can head to the truck.
Brian bends down to look back in the window.
Dom clears his throat. "I'm glad you're not a cop," he says.
It's hard to swallow, to form words, so Brian nods instead. It's the complete lies that are always hardest to get out. "Thanks for trusting me," Brian says, and there's nothing but honesty in that.
When Brian pulls away from the curb, Dom's still sitting in the car. Brian stares out the windshield and thinks about what he and Dom just did, the types of lines they crossed. It was a lie, yeah. But they were both hard, and now Brian has to wonder if Dom's anything like Brian, if there was any truth in that lie. Maybe it's wrong, but he hopes so.