This Changes Everything
: This Changes EverythingAuthor
: Jedi ButtercupDisclaimer
: The world belongs to Justin Lin, Vin Diesel, et. al. The words are mine.Rating
: Fast & Furious 6 (2013)Summary
: "I didn't do it because of DC," Luke says. "Or because of our little game of tag. I did it because it's the right thing to do."
1300 words; Hobbs/Brian/(Mia).Notes
: And here's the actual newish chapter. A missing scene to fit Fast & Furious 6 into my "Hell of a Mess" 'verse. Because I was feeling nostalgic, because Paul Walker, and because Hobbs still doesn't get enough play in this fandom.
There isn't much time between the moment Shaw walks out with that billion dollar chip-- fucking Riley strutting at his side-- and Toretto's team kitting up to go after him. No privacy, not in the middle of a NATO base where he's just drawn down on its commander, his quasi-legal pretext for running around with a team of criminals collapsing around him. Just enough time for a few, quiet words.
A forearm clasp, two pairs of eyes meeting in acknowledgement. But sometimes, that's all it takes.
Luke Hobbs had asked himself once if Brian O'Conner had been born an ice-souled son of a bitch, but staring into the blazing blue gaze of his on-again, mostly off-again lover, he's forced to admit he'd been blinded by his own anger. Brian's anguish over the fate of his child's mother, his determination to save her, his gratitude at Luke's intervention; they're all there in his face, visible to anyone who cares to look.
Not that that's anything new, really. His emotions have always
been written in every line of his posture, worn on his shirt sleeves and tucked in the wry quirk at the corner of his mouth. It's the secrets he hides under those layers of truth that had made Luke wonder, smarting bitterly from the burn of one such discovery, whether the man was nothing more than a pretty wrapper over emptiness and lies.
"Hobbs...." Brian chokes out, fingers clasped tight enough to leave a ring of bruises above Luke's wrist.
"Luke," he corrects the other man, gently.
A muscle spasms in the angle of Brian's jaw. "Luke, then. I can't thank you enough. You don't know...."
"Don't," Luke cuts him off, shaking his head.
He really doesn't need to hear the rest of that sentence. He hadn't done it for the thanks, and no, he doesn't
know what it must be like to wake up every day next to a smart, gorgeous partner he's allowed to claim in public. For reasons that are pretty fucking obvious. But he'd fallen a little in love with Mia Toretto himself one evening in a beach house somewhere between Brazil and the Canaries, and it can be argued that she never would've been at risk in the first place if he hadn't jumped at the first chance he got to rope her family back into his business.
"I didn't do it because of DC," he continued, gruffly. "Or because of our little game of tag. I did it because it's the right thing to do."
Brian swallows at the brush-off, a frown flickering between his brows as he glances away and finally lets go of Luke's arm. "Of course. I never for a moment thought-- and I know Dom doesn't, either."
A small, petty corner of Luke's soul clenches with satisfaction at that. He hadn't gone to Toretto simply because the man is the acknowledged patriarch of his team, or because he was the easiest one to track down, or because there's more than a little 'but for the grace go I' in the respect Luke grudgingly feels for him. Brian's address has been burning a hole in his pocket for months, and given the fact that the ex-fed had been the one to send Letty Ortiz undercover on the mission that supposedly got her killed, Luke would've had just as much excuse to dangle his bait at the O'Conner household first. But Luke's never claimed to be a saint, and second fiddle's never been his favorite chair in the orchestra. After the way they left him cuffed to a headboard with no promises, this sign that maybe Brian still does give a shit what Luke thinks evens the score, just a little.
But while he might not be a saint-- he's never been deliberately cruel where it's not deserved, and he'd started this conversation with the intention of clearing the air, not twisting the knife. "That's not to say," he concedes, softening his tone, "that I didn't have an ulterior motive in mind for arranging those pardons. I would have liked to try it again, without the warrants and the threats this time. And I'd never forgive myself if she got hurt because of something I did-- or didn't-- do."
Brian's eyes flick back to Luke's face, widening as he scans his expression. Whatever he finds there seems to reassure him, because after a moment, a quicksilver smile flashes across his face, crinkling lines finally starting to show the marks of passing years bracketing his eyes and enough white teeth on display to dazzle anyone looking directly at him.
"She's the one who told me and Dom to come, you know," he snorts. "So I don't think you get to claim all the credit. And I notice you didn't say anything about the handcuffs, either."
Luke flexes his right hand, feeling the ghost of a familiar, bone-deep ache in that wrist, and feels the corner of his mouth turn up in a smirk. "Somehow, I didn't think that'd be a deal-breaker for you."
Their eyes meet for a long moment, fire snapping between them the way it always has.
Then the world breaks back in, the way it always does.
"Boys," Toretto interrupts, a warning note in his voice as he breaks away from a low-voiced conversation with Ortiz. "Think you might oughta table that conversation 'til she's here to have it with you?"
The tension between them breaks with an almost audible sound, and the rest of the world floods back in with it: the lightning-fast clatter of keys from Parker's corner and the tromp of heavy shoes around them.
Pearce scoffs as he picks through the weapons crates, lifting out a pair of shotguns. "Man, why'd you gotta bring that up? Now we all
gotta stare at the elephant in the room. And it still
smells like baby oil." He shudders theatrically.
Red rises under the days-old scruff on Brian's face, and he punches Pearce in the arm before reaching for a handgun. "Shut up, Rome. You don't hear me cracking jokes about your
Luke shakes his head. These fucking people. He'd taken that job in Brazil-- literally taken the file right out of the hands of another agent-- because he was incandescently furious
at Brian, and put everything he had into tracking him down to make him pay for more than just breaking the law. Instead, Brian's new family had snared him up and sunk roots like fucking kudzu. He's enjoyed the last week more than any job he's been on since putting Rio in the rearview.
Even with all the damage Shaw's done. Even with Riley's fresh betrayal leaving another gaping hole in his career. Even with a hostage out there whose life depends on what they all do next. He's not exactly ready to toss the badge and cross the street to their side. But if they can still get that chip back... well, they'll just have to wait and see, won't they?
"Speaking of baby oil," he realizes, belatedly. "Shaw didn't mention your kid."
Brian nods, reaching to tuck his handgun in the back of his jeans, mind back on track. "Mia had Elena with her-- she'd
have taken Jack. So all we gotta worry about is Mia. And if Tej is on the ball....."
?" Parker snorts, then looks up. "I just jammed every signal up and down the spectrum."
The metal-on-metal sounds of slides racking back echo around them, and Pearce thrusts one of the shotguns into Toretto's hands.
It's time. From here on out, they'll either win their future, or go out trying.
Toretto shoulders the shotgun as Luke locks eyes with Brian one last time. Yeah, they'll be having that conversation again; he won't admit to any other possibility.