"Hey, Brian! Get your ass out from under there, got someone who wants to meet you."

"Huh?" Brian tried to see who was talking to him, but it was no use. That had sounded like Jeff, though, so chances were whoever he'd brought along was okay.

"Yeah. This kid here wanted to meet Dom's new mechanic."

Am I always going to be the new mechanic? Makes me sound like Dom's pet or something. He wormed his way out from under the car and squinted into the bright sky. Jeff stood there, and another guy too—pretty young, which cut down on the possibility of him being an undercover cop, but didn't make him automatically safe. "Wanted to meet me? Why?"

"I heard you were the hottest thing to hit the tracks since Speedy Gonzalez." The kid grinned, showing off white even teeth against dark skin. He was at least part Mexican, but there was something else in his background that Brian couldn't identify and gave up trying after a few seconds. His bloodlines didn't matter. What did matter was the way the guy was sizing him up and the appreciative light in his eyes. "I'm Jorge, by the way—you're Brian?"

"You got it." Brian smiled, automatically glancing around for Dom. Not that Dom owned him or anything, not that Dom gave a bent nail what he did, but maybe this Jorge (he rather liked the pronunciation of the name: Hor-hay) could shake him up a bit... nah. Never happen. Dom was still and always would be straight. "And I may not be quite that hot, but I know my way around an engine."

"So modest." Jorge's smile never wavered. "Mind if I stick around a bit? Jeff tells me there's a bit of a break between races."

"Has to be. This ol' bitch is running hot, needs a chance to cool down. And hell, I don't mind at all if you stick around. Just stay out of the way." Then Brian spotted paper towels and a spray bottle . "Or better yet, make yourself useful and get some of the mud off."

"Sure thing." Jorge reached for the spray bottle. "You been out here long? I've never seen you around."

"Few months," Brian replied cautiously, making a dive for the underside of the car. Much safer if only his legs were visible. That way he didn't have to worry about a stray facial expression giving him away. Paranoid? Nah, not me... "Why you ask?"

"Just curious. Thought I knew all the racers out in these parts."

"Well, now you know me." Brian fiddled with a few things that didn't need adjusting. He'd been down here in the first place checking for the source of a mysterious leak, but he'd already fixed it. Nothing major, just a loose line, but this car had to be perfect. "Not that that's any kind of prize. You into racing?"

"Only as a spectator. I grew up around the tracks, dragstrips mostly, but even tiny circle tracks like this one can be fun. I love the speed."

"You and every other person here." Brian decided it was safe enough to come out and did so, finishing his inspection of the car. It had to be ready to run again in twenty minutes or so. And where the hell was Dom?

"Yeah, yeah, I know. So do you drive?"

"Sure," Brian grinned. "I love to drive. But Dom's not crazy enough to let me behind the wheel of one of his cars." Never mind that he didn't think he'd ever be able to drag again, or that he'd never driven on a circle track in his life...

"Do I hear my name being taken in vain?" Ah, there was Dom, lugging a bag of ice and a fresh batch of Coronas. "Brian, who's rubbing on my car?"

"This is Jorge, Dom. He wanted to hang out so I put him to work."

"Huh. Just don't rub the luck off, eh, Jorge? Else Brian's going to have some explaining to do if this car loses."

"It won't lose," Jorge said confidently. "Brian's the best, or so I hear."

Dom's eyebrows rose. "Looks like you've got yourself a fan, Brian. Don't let him down."

"Now why would I want to do that?" Brian smiled at Jorge, then grabbed the ice and beer and replenished the cooler. "Just don't forget, it ain't all on me. Some of it rides on Jeff."

"It's your car, right, Dom?" Jorge finished the last of the windows and perched on the pit wall. "Why aren't you driving?"

"I don't drive," Dom said said shortly, then walked away.

"Touchy subject there, bud," Brian said, pushing himself onto the wall near Jorge. There wasn't much more he could do until it was race time, only wait. "If you value your hide, don't push Dom about racing."

"Why not?" Up close, Jorge didn't look as young as he did from a distance, maybe only a year or two younger than Brian. But that did nothing to take away from how attractive he was, rather improved things in fact by making him look less like a kid.

"Like I said, touchy subject. And Dom's got a hell of a temper."

"And you?" The inflection of Jorge's voice made it absolutely clear that he wasn't asking if Brian had a temper.

"Uhh..." Brian floundered for a moment. That had caught him completely offguard. Jorge's dark eyes bored into him. "Me? Of co—I mean, um..."

"I saw the way you looked at him."

"Uhh... no. No, he's about as straight as they come." There, finally he could say something coherent. "Sorry. You kind of surprised me there. I wasn't expecting—"

"What, you think fairies can't enjoy racing?" But Jorge was grinning, eyes sparkling.

"Hell no," Brian grinned, "I know better than that. But I don't think I've ever met anyone quite so... open about such things."

Jorge laughed. "Closet cases, eh? So what are you doing tonight?"

Brian automatically looked for Dom. He was over talking to some girl, of course, with no boobs but a very cute ass. It figures. "Probably nothing. Why? What've you got in mind?"

Jorge leaned close and lowered his voice. "Jeff was right when he said I'd like you. Thought maybe we could get together?"

Brian's world rocked wildly to the side and he grasped the concrete wall beneath him. Dom didn't give a shit, that much was obvious, at least not in that way, and Jorge was damn good looking... besides, he hadn't been laid in how long? Not counting the time one of the carnies had given him a hand job behind the stick joints... "Maybe. Depends on the rest of the day's racing. Jeff keeps winning, I'll still be alive to catch up with you afterwards."

"Come on, lazy ass, let's go!" Dom was back on the scene, clapping his hands and looking the car over. "Time to move, people, get this beauty on the line. We're up in the next heat. Where the hell is Jeff?"

"I'm right here, Dom." Jeff spoke up from his seat behind the pit wall.

"Right. Let's go! And remember, just because you've got the competition totally outclassed on this one, doesn't mean you can ease up for a second. Drive hard. Drive to win."

Brian helped push the car to the starting line with the others. Pretty cool, now that Dom was running legit, the way the tracks were set up: real tracks, real pits, real stands for the crowd, and no one minding the scanner on the lookout for cops. Well, okay, so Dom was almost running legit... he was using another name, and on another circuit entirely. He'd been barred for life from NHRA, after all, and was far too well-known on the NIRA circuit to even show his face in the stands. Hell, as far as fake names went, Brian had one too. It still beat the hell out of street racing.

Five cars were running in this heat. Five cars, five laps, and one was a blasted double engine. Brian grumbled about that, but what the hell... they were running outlaw sprints, after all, and just about anything could fall under that category. The double engine car held the lead for three laps before Jeff made an opening on the inside of turn three and dove ahead. He held the lead by a good half-length all the way to the finish.

Afterwards, Brian went over the car with a fine-toothed comb while Dom chewed Jeff out. The car was fine, ready for as many heats as Jeff could qualify for, hopefully all the way to the finals. Whether or not Jeff would survive Dom's ass-chewing was another story.

Brian was conscious of eyes on him while he worked. Jorge. Had to be. Dom never looked at him like that, all smouldering and with wanna fuck? written across his face in huge letters. Too bad. Tonight was definitely going to be interesting. How long had it been, anyway? Probably better not to go there. Huh. Dom's sister, Mia, so beautiful and sweet... another uneasy thing hiding under the surface between him and Dom. If you break her heart, I'll break your neck... That's not gonna happen. And he'd gone and done it anyway, unintentionally maybe, but all the same he could still see the pain and accusation in those lovely eyes. Come to think of it, Jorge's eyes were the same rich dark chocolate color. At least he was consistent in some things: man or woman, he liked 'em dark-eyed and sensitive.

Brian paused in his work and looked for Dom. There he was, talking to yet another young beauty. Somewhere hiding under that tough guy exterior was a lot of sensitivity. Brian had caught glimpses of it before, but Dom kept himself hidden far too deeply behind impregnable walls for the sensitivity to surface often. But Dom was off limits. If you doubt that, you idiot, just look at him with those girls...

But then Dom turned and looked right at him. Oops. Brian turned back to the car quickly, but not before an electric tingle shot through him. Damn. He was entirely too keyed up today. Best to just think of Jorge, whose eyes were still burning holes in his skin from the pit wall. Jorge, and the promise of a hot night ahead...

Jeff managed to pull his head out of his ass, or perhaps Dom had done it for him. Whatever the reason, he won nearly every heat he ran in the rest of the evening and qualified for the finals. Dom's mood didn't improve with the success, though, possibly because Jorge was still around.

But then, for Dom to be annoyed by Jorge implied some level of caring, and Brian couldn't believe Dom really gave a shit. Not with the way he was collecting a flock of girls around him, at any rate. But Jorge cared. Maybe he only cared about a night of meaningless sex, but that was more than Dom was interested in.

"Is he going to win?" Jorge asked, leaning forward tensely as Jeff revved up the engine. The cars rumbled as they started, ready for the feature. Fifteen cars, thirty laps, ten grand hanging on the wire.

"Ask me again in about twenty minutes." Brian leaned forward too, hands clenched tight on the wall beneath him. Dom had been riding Jeff hard. "Car's ready. It's all on Jeff, as usual. This dude he's up against is one of the best. No one else matters, not really, just that one."

"Who, Halloran? Just because he's been tearing up tracks for twenty years or so doesn't mean he can't go down—"

"Green!" Brian yelled and nearly fell off the wall. The cars leapt forward as one, engines roaring. Jeff's car was lost somewhere in the pack. Brian alternately swore and howled encouragement, all of which was drowned out by the crowd noise. He strained to make sense out of the jumble of cars. Looked like Jeff was hanging back in about fifth place. Not bad, maybe not the best position but definitely not bad.

There was already a spinout in the second turn. It wasn't Jeff, though, so Brian paid it no mind. Halloran was driving like there was no tomorrow out there, pushing his way through the stragglers and lapping people already. "Come on, Jeff," Brian muttered. "Don't let him get too far ahead."

Jeff started moving up, almost as if he'd heard Brian. Three more of the outlaws cracked up on the straightaway when one blew a tire and the yellow flag came out. "Fuck," Brian muttered.

"Where's he at?" Jorge was leaning forward, trying to see through the dust.

"Lead lap, fourth place," Brian reported tersely. Cleanup crews had the disabled cars off the track quickly and the green flag flew again.

"How many laps have they gone?"

"Dunno, think about ten. Listen for the announcer."

The cars roared past in a tangled knot. Only practice enabled Brian to pick out the cars he was interested in, Jeff's and Halloran's. They were in the middle of the pack, working their way clear. Brian swore again and heard Dom echo it when Halloran broke free and surged around the track at full speed, reaching the back of the pack again in a matter of seconds. Jeff was still in there somewhere, about to get lapped if he didn't watch out...

But he managed to break free. By the fifteenth lap, only he and Halloran were still running on the lead lap. By the twentieth lap, there were only seven cars left, and the racing was getting ugly out there.

Brian's heart nearly stopped when Jeff was trying to pass a car on the inside and it blew its engine. "Damn, I wish he wouldn't do that! Passing on the inside is dangerous, he knows that, and that asshole almost took him out."

"He's good enough, though," Jorge said. "He can handle it."

"It's not so much a question of handling it as it is luck," Brian replied. "That car could have lurched sideways and knocked him clean through the barrier."

"Maybe so, maybe no. Isn't that Halloran he's moving up on now?"

"Yeah, and it's about damn time, too. This track's too fast for him to screw around so long. There's what, three laps left?"

"Yeah. How long is this track, anyway? It looks much smaller than Canyon."

"That's because it is." Brian shot Jorge a suspicious look. "Thought you knew racing? This one's a third of a mile, Canyon's three-eighths."

"Told you, man, I'm mostly into drag racing. I know Firebird and Speedworld more than I know this little dirt track."

"Whatever. There's the white... what the hell?"

Brian leaned forward. Looked almost like Jeff had slowed down, allowing Halloran to creep back up on him. And this was the final lap. The track wasn't long enough for bullshit like that!

Time slowed to an adrenaline-soaked crawl. Jeff held onto the lead going into the third turn, but then Halloran's car lurched ahead. Brian heard the engine noise change as Jeff finally punched the gas, but he couldn't tell who crossed the finish line first. Time resumed its normal speed. The announcer needlessly announced that it was a photo finish and the stands quieted. Brian waited, nerves stretched to the breaking point. Dom muttered under his breath, a steady stream of what might have been prayer or invective. Then the announcer came back on again.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have the results! The winner is... the number 21 car, owned by Dominic Velasquez and driven by Jeff Sinclair!"

Chaos erupted everywhere. Somewhere in the midst of the cheering and congratulations, Jeff drove a victory lap and got the car back to the pit area before heading for the winner's circle with Dom. Brian started cleaning up, somewhat hindered by Jorge's attempts to help.

Dom and Jeff returned in a surprisingly short amount of time, along with Brian's truck and the trailer. Dom got out of it without a word and started loading up. Brian wondered briefly what was bothering him, then shrugged and joined in. Loading the equipment was always a two or three person job.

Finally everything was securely packed into the trailer, even the car. Dom was still silent, brooding. Nobody was quite brave enough to find out what his problem was, although Brian had a moment of suspicion when the seating arrangements were determined for the ride back to the garage. Dom didn't actually say anything, but the look he gave Jorge could have stripped paint off of metal. Could he be jealous? He sure is acting like it...

Jorge rode in the truck with Brian, leaving Jeff to ride in the Nova with Dom. He hopped in and tried to shut the door, only to find that it was heavier than he'd expected. He opened it again and closed it with more force, and succeeded in getting it all the way shut. "So what's his problem?"

"What, Dom?" Brian shrugged. "I've given up on trying to figure him out. It's hopeless."

"You're sure he's straight?"

"Unfortunately." Brian sighed.

"Too bad for him."

And for me, Brian thought but didn't say. "Yeah, well, he doesn't see it that way."

"He should be grateful I'm here, to take your mind off him." Jorge reached across the seat and ran a hand up Brian's thigh.

Brian shivered. "Speaking of which... got something in mind?"

"My place?"

"You got it." Brian smiled. Maybe Jorge wasn't his first choice of who to spend his evening with, but he wasn't about to complain.

The ride back to Avondale was fun. Brian hadn't had such a good time since that one night out with Mia, what, a year ago? And maybe not even then, because he'd had the stress of working undercover to deal with. Jorge was fun to be around, had a storehouse of amusing anecdotes, and was most flatteringly interested in Brian.

"So where are we going, anyway?" Jorge asked when they reached town.

"The garage," Brian replied, checking the mirror. The Nova's headlights still shone steadily behind them, right where they had been for the last half hour. They remained in the mirror all through town and to the garage. Brian wasn't sure what to think. Dom was acting very weird tonight. If he didn't know better, he'd think the man really was jealous. But again, there was that tiny little problem: jealousy would imply that Dom cared about him in a way decidedly other than friendship. And the man had never once given any indication that he was into guys. Well, okay, so Vince had acted like maybe there'd been something between them at one point, but still...

There was the garage now. Brian pulled into the driveway and waited while Dom opened the door on one of the bays. Unloading took place in the same eerie silence, although Jorge made a few attempts to break it. Brian kept a sharp eye on Dom, but there were no clues into his bad temper.

At least, not until Brian started unhitching the trailer.

"Hey Bri, what're you doing?" Dom finally spoke, moving quickly between Brian and the trailer.

"Unhitching," Brian replied, in a tone he knew would annoy hell out of Dom. But what the hell, Dom deserved a bit of annoying for the way he'd been acting today.

"No shit. Why?"

"Because I didn't think you'd give us a ride to where we're going." Brian smiled at Jorge, who grinned back. The anticipation in his eyes was almost enough to make up for Dom's behavior.

"We. What's this we bullshit?" Dom shot a glare at Jorge, who lost his smile. "You're coming home with me, same as always, got that? And as for you, whoever you are, you're going right back where you came from."


That was all Jorge managed to say before Dom took two strides towards him. Jorge stepped away, startled out of his casual pose leaning against the truck. He slid backwards along the side of the truck and bumped into the mirror.

"Whoever you are, wherever you came from, you have no business moving into my territory, got that? Jeff tells me you're one of his friends. Fine. Great. Now he's taking you out of here, and Brian's going right back where he belongs, and you're not coming back here anymore. Got that?"

"Dom?" Brian couldn't believe his ears. Or his eyes, for that matter. Was this really happening?

"Later, Brian. Jeff? You know what's good for this kid here?"

Jeff nodded. "Come on, Jorge, you really don't want to piss him off."

"I don't understand this bullshit," Jorge grumbled, but he started moving towards Jeff. "What's with you, man? Brian and I had plans. You never appreciate him, why shouldn't he have some fun once in a while?"

Brian hadn't taken his eyes off Dom since the first word he'd spoken. This really couldn't be happening. There was fire burning deep in Dom's eyes, and Brian had only seen him this upset once before, when Jessie had been shot. "Uh, Jorge? Sorry, man, but looks like tonight's off. Been nice talking to you and all, but... well, you know how it is."

Jorge looked from Brian to Dom and back again. "Hate to say it, hotshot, but you just ain't worth tangling with this crazy bastard. C'mon, Jeff, let's get out of here."

Jeff nodded and hurried out the door. His car was in the parking lot. Jorge gave Brian a final look, then left the garage.


Brian took a hesitant step towards Dom. He gave no sign of noticing, attention focused on the sound of Jeff's truck starting up and pulling out of the parking lot.

"Well. That's taken care of. You coming?" Dom finally looked at him, calm again, at least on the surface.

"Is it later yet?"

Dom could move amazingly fast for such a big man. Brian didn't even have a chance to wonder what was happening before he was pinned up against the solid side of the trailer. But this time, unlike the time in the bar, Brian was still able to breathe... in theory, anyway.

"What—" he panted, suddenly out of breath. Dom's hands held his shoulders firmly but not painfully.

"Can't believe your nerve, man. Kid shows up from nowhere, absolutely nowhere, and moves in on you like there's no tomorrow. What the hell, man, you're supposed to be straight, you slept with my sister ferchrissakes, and you're flirting with him. Flirting with him, right there in front of me, like I mean nothing at all to you, never have never will."


"And then you bring him here, and you've got plans... Well, sorry buddy, but if you're going home with a guy tonight it's damn well going to be me."

Brian gave up on trying to talk and took advantage of the fact that his arms were mostly free to grab Dom's head and kiss him. That silenced him, all right, for a long moment, while Brian's heart tried to pound through his chest and his head spun from lack of oxygen.

"Now, I repeat: you coming?" Dom smiled, just a little bit, and released Brian, who sagged bonelessly against the trailer.

"Yeah. You gonna talk?"

"Yeah. Later. Now come on."

Brian tried to pull his scattered thoughts together while Dom locked up the garage again, but they weren't cooperating. That had been some kiss. He hadn't kissed anyone like that before, not ever. Surely he would remember if anyone had kissed him back with such passion, such burning desire just barely held in check...

Brian shook his head and tried to clear it of the very tactile memory. It really wasn't productive to keep reliving one single kiss, not when Dom was walking towards the Nova over there, ready to get in and drive all the way home, where there would be something considerably more welcoming than a rusty black cat and a spot on the couch.

This time the silence in the car was supercharged. Brian tried, but he couldn't quite manage to say anything. His mouth was much too busy remembering the feel of Dom's lips pressing into his own. Dom, as usual, seemed content with silence. At least this time Brian was fairly sure he knew what was going on in that shaved head, or he was until Dom opened his mouth.

"I couldn't believe you showed up here, I really couldn't," Dom said, voice low and intense. "After so long, and you looking scroungy as hell, but there you were and I knew it, Brian, I just knew it was you as soon as you opened that lying cop mouth of yours. Only you weren't lying, and you weren't a cop, and I didn't want to kill you anymore, maybe never really did. I mean, what the hell, man, you were always there beside me, and then suddenly you were gone. Gone. And I didn't know what the hell to do. Tried to be pissed off at you, tried really hard, and all I could see was you handing over those keys. I owe you a ten-second car, you said, all calm and everything. You knew that you were sending yourself down for me. You knew that you were going to take the heat for both the Tran boys. You knew that they'd come down on you like a ton of bricks over that car. And you still did it. I tried, oh my god but I tried to convince myself I was mad at you. And then you were there. In my hands. You were looking at me just the same as ever, you fucking trusted me, and I could have nailed you right there on the spot..."

Dom paused, breathing raggedly. Brian just sat there, stunned by the rush of words.

"And then you just walked right back out of my life. Or so you thought. I checked up on you, you know, I knew you were out at night throwing papers. I knew you were clearing out of that trailer park. And I wasn't about to let you get away with it. I couldn't lose you again, without ever having had you in the first place. But I didn't know you were so damn sick. Stupid idiot, letting yourself get sick like that. And today—fuck!" Dom hit the steering wheel. "Couldn't believe my eyes. Right under my nose, man, right under my fucking nose!"

Dom lapsed into silence then, leaving Brian still stunned.

The house was only a few minutes away. By the time the Nova pulled into the driveway, Brian had his mind somewhat back in order again. He took a deep breath and hoped his voice would behave. "You could have said something."

"Didn't think there was anything to say. You were straight, remember?" Dom put the car in park and shut off the engine.

"Nah, man, never noticed." Brian grinned, shakily. "So I like it both ways. Big deal."

"I'll give you a big deal," Dom growled. "Inside. Now."

"You got it." Brian was out of the car and into the house before Dom even opened his door. Once inside, he paused uncertainly in the middle of the living room. Should he wait in the bedroom? Should he get undressed and wait in the bedroom? Appealing thought...

Dom came inside then. "No more running, Brian. You're mine now."

"Ever since I first saw you," Brian managed to say, before Dom had him in his arms.

"I could have had you all along, and you never said anything..." Dom buried his lips in Brian's neck. "Waited so long for this. Come on, bedroom. Now."

Brian made a wordless sound of agreement and staggered towards the bedroom, only a few steps away. By the time he reached the bed he'd gotten his jacket and shirt off and started on his pants. Dom pushed him over backwards on the bed and Brian lost the ability to think. Not that his thoughts had ever been particularly clear when Dom was involved to begin with, but now his thoughts consisted purely of sensations. Pleasant sensations. Intoxicating sensations.

Brian's last verbalized thought was that Dom was way less straight than he let on.

Hands were everywhere in the darkness. Brian could hardly tell where he ended and Dom began. It felt like he could feel every touch both through his hands and on his own body, along with what Dom was doing to him. Tension built unbearably fast, until the universe consisted of nothing but fire. Brian came too quickly, but it didn't matter, because Dom was coming not a minute later. Dom rolled off him, breathing hard.

Coherent thought returned slowly. Brian lay sprawled mostly on his back, head resting on Dom's shoulder, listening to the pounding heartbeat beneath his ear slowing gradually to a more normal pace.

"Brian." Dom's voice rumbled in his chest, creating vibrations that Brian felt all through his body. "It's later."

"You finally gonna answer my questions?" Brian debated sitting up. He decided getting a clear view of Dom was worth the effort and raised himself on one elbow. Light spilled through the open bedroom door, revealing a dim shape beside him.

"Yeah. What do you want to know?" Dom reached up and pulled Brian back down against him. "And don't go staring at me like that. I want you right here, where you belong."

"Why didn't you tell me? I thought you were straight."

Dom sighed. "Same goes for you. I mean, you were after my sister, not me."

"Only because you were obviously hooked up with Letty. You could have made a move back then, I'd have been more than happy to—" Brian paused. "Wait a minute. You're not getting away with that, Dom. This is about you, not me."

"Right." Dom stroked Brian's hair, toying with the curls. "Same as you said. I go both ways. Vince, now, he doesn't. He was only ever after me. Saw you as competition. Yeah, he put on a show of being hot for Mia, but that was only because he knew damn good and well she couldn't stand him. Safe, you know?"

"Yeah. So what happened to you after you took that car?"

"I ran," Dom said simply. "Had things set up if I ever needed to make a run for it. Stash of cash, fake id, whole nine yards." Dom paused, tried to get a good look at Brian. "You're really not a cop anymore, right?"

"If you doubt, run my real name on the internet. You'll get an eyefull." Brian sighed. Still suspicious. He probably deserved that.

"I know. Just checking. I hate being betrayed. And you did it well, I have to hand it to you. Up until you called in that chopper I believed you. And then you let me go... all of us go, but for Vince, and he would have died without you. We ran. Picked up the cash, hit a place we knew about with a doctor that doesn't ask questions—my arm was dislocated, is all, not broken, and had a couple cracked ribs to boot. Got patched up and hauled ass for Mexico. Had a place all set up down there, everything was great."

"So why'd you come back?" Brian could hear an undercurrent in Dom's voice. There was more to it than he was saying, but what was it?

"Couldn't stay. Letty, man, she turned on me. She fuckin' turned on me like a snake. She went for Leon instead, of all people, said he'd stuck with her when she was hurt and I'd left her to suffer. Said she'd rather have a real man with balls enough to get behind the wheel of a race car. What was the good of being safe in Mexico if she was stuck with a washed-out failure."

"No way, dude, there is no way she could have said all that about you," Brian protested.

"Well, she did. And she was right. Can't race anymore, what the hell good am I?"

"Bullshit. You're still the best. You saying you let Jeff drive for you because you've lost your nerve?"

"Maybe." Dom shifted. "Yeah, guess I am."

"Man, you almost got killed by that truck. Only an idiot wouldn't get freaked by that."

"You're not."

Brian snorted. "Seen me racing lately?"

"Hmm, you've got a point there." Dom shifted again, pressing his lips against Brian's hair. "Glad you didn't get taken out by that train."

"I wasn't. Glad, I mean. I am now, believe me I am now, but for months I wished I hadn't made it."

Dom's arm tightened around Brian's shoulders. "Don't say that, Bri, going to give me nightmares again."

"So that's what that was all about," Brian said, rather pleased. "You really were having nightmares about me."

"About you dying," Dom confirmed. "Don't ever pull that shit on me again."

"Don't worry, man, I won't. Not as long as I've got you." Brian pushed himself up again and kissed Dom. "Thanks, man."

"For what? Screwing your brains out?"

Brian laughed. "That too. But I meant for finally spilling your guts. It's been driving me crazy, wondering what happened to you all that time away. And even more than that, wondering why you keep me around."

"Now you know. It's because you're cute. Now go to sleep."

"One more question, Dom," Brian said, trying to see clearly through the darkness. It was no use, but he tried anyway. "You going to regret this in the morning?"

"Ha!" Dom caught him up in both arms and pulled him close for a long and thorough kiss. "That feel like regret to you? Now go to sleep. I've wondered for a long time now what it'd be like to wake up with you here beside me."

"You got it," Brian said, and arranged himself comfortably against Dom's side.

* * * *

Brian slept deeply and dreamlessly. When he woke, it was to the sound of the shower. He stretched luxuriously, like a cat. If he'd doubted the memory of last night, the fact that he was in Dom's bed was enough to confirm that it had all been real, every last bit of it.

The shower turned off with a gurgle. The bathroom door was open just enough that Brian could see Dom stepping out, wrapped in a towel. He smiled and rolled out of bed. He padded across the cold floor quickly and tapped on the door, pushing it open.


Dom was asdjusting the towel around his waist. He looked at Brian with no expression at all and Brian felt his smile falter. "Saved you some hot water," he said, voice carefully controlled.

"Thanks." Brian wasn't about to give up that easily. He stepped into the bathroom and closed the door behind him, trailing a hand across Dom's shoulders as he sidestepped past. The bathroom really wasn't large enough for two men at once. Dom shivered, just a little bit, but it was enough to restore some of Brian's smile.

The shower felt great. At some point during the night, he'd managed to get all sweaty and sticky... Brian chuckled. He washed fairly quickly, aware that the hot water might run out at any moment. When he was done, he groped around for a towel before he remembered Dom was wearing it. Then he froze for a moment when the somewhat damp towel was thrust into his hand. Dom, minus the towel... mmm. Brian dried off quickly and stepped out of the shower.

Dom was still there, and quite naked. He'd just finished shaving, judging by the flecks of shaving cream here and there on his head. But he still wasn't talking. And Brian still wasn't going to give up easily.

"Missed a spot," he said, and found the least soggy part of the towel and wiped the shaving cream away. Dom let him do it, leaning on the sink with his head down. Brian took that as a positive sign and ran the towel down Dom's back, tracing the line of his spine. Then he dropped the towel and put his hands on Dom's shoulders. "Something wrong?"

Dom reached up and took one of his hands. "Yeah." He pulled Brian's hand down and wrapped it around his erection. "We need to do something about this."

"Gladly," Brian breathed, pressing into Dom's back. "Thought you were having second thoughts there, regrets."

"Regrets? Yeah, plenty of them. Like, there wasn't nearly enough time last night. And I'm a little too old to do everything I was thinking of."

Brian chuckled. "There's always today. Good thing it's a Sunday."

The feel of Dom under his hands was incredible. Taut skin stretched over firm muscles and solid bone, smooth and almost silky with that freshly-washed feeling. His hands traced the contours of Dom's magnificently conditioned body. "How long do you spend in the gym, anyway, bud?"

"What?" Dom looked up, startled.

"You must work out, to be in this kind of shape."

"Nah, I don't work out, I just bench press engines." Dom smiled, turning around and capturing Brian's hands. "Now are you planning on talking all morning?"

"Definitely not. Were you planning on staying in the bathroom all morning?"

"There's other places I'd rather be," Dom acknowledged, then covered the distance from the bathroom to the bed in three long strides. "Coming, Bri?"

"Not yet," Brian grinned wickedly, then crawled up onto the bed, stalking and then pouncing Dom. "I'd rather see you completely at my mercy first."

Dom flipped out from under him and pinned his arms to the mattress. "And who says I'm going to let you do that?"

"I do." Brian writhed and escaped from under Dom, then licked a wet trail down his chest.

"Sneaky bastard," Dom rumbled, then gasped. "Brian!"

"Yeah." Brian was too distracted to pay much attention to what Dom was saying. He was too busy touching, tasting, learning what it took to make this man beneath him cry out in pleasure.

"What are you doing!"

"Shh," Brian said, letting his breath cool the wet spot where his mouth had just been. "Don't talk. Just enjoy."

Dom made an incoherent sound when Brian put his mouth and hands back to good use. Brian had a feeling Dom had never been with anyone quite like him before. Probably no one had ever held the big man down and tortured him with lips and tongue. No, he was the type to always want to be in control. But he wasn't complaining now, not unless the hands clutching frantically at Brian's hair counted as a complaint.

Brian left off licking and slid a hand between Dom's legs, teasing him with his fingers while he moved back up to bite gently at his neck. "Got lube?"

Dom tensed all over. His eyes flicked to the nightstand, but he didn't say anything. Brian switched hands so he could grope in the drawer of the nightstand. There was a jar of Vaseline in there. Brian smiled. That would do quite nicely.

Dom was quivering, every last bit of him. Brian uncapped the Vaseline and scooped some out on one finger. "Trust me," he said, sliding his slippery finger down between those tense legs. "Just trust me. I won't do anything you won't like."

A small sound, not quite a whimper, escaped Dom. That little sound nearly sent Brian over the edge. He attacked Dom's cock like a starving man, simultaneously teasing with that slippery finger. Dom moaned and thrashed. Brian had to stop, had to pull away panting heavily before he did something Dom wouldn't want. At least, not yet. Maybe someday, but for now he could tell the man was shaking like a leaf from apprehension rather than desire.

"Your turn," Brian managed to say. Dom made another of those tremendously exciting sounds, then had Brian flipped onto his stomach in a heartbeat.

"Yeah, my turn." Lust transformed his voice into a throaty growl. "You want to drive me crazy, you get to pay the price."

Now it was Dom's turn to grope for the Vaseline. Brian shivered at the cold touch, then gasped. Dom was definitely making him pay, and he wasn't about to complain.

Afterwards, Dom lay panting on top of him. Brian was content to let him stay there, even though he was holding Brian trapped in the wet spot. Then Dom moved a bit, enough to raise his head and lick the edge of Brian's ear. "You like to live dangerous, don't you."

"Maybe," Brian said, smiling. Half his face was mashed into the mattress, but he didn't care. "You got any complaints?"

"Maybe one," Dom said thoughtfully, breath tickling Brian's ear. "You move pretty damn fast."

"Hmm, is that so." Brian smiled again. "Next time, then, it'll be slow and sensual, until both of us go out of our minds."

"That wasn't what I meant, and you've already got me out of my mind." Dom kissed his neck, then rolled over. Brian sighed regretfully. "It would probably be a good idea to get out of bed and eat something."

"No thanks, I just ate something." Brian smiled lazily and ran a hand down Dom's chest.

"Smartass." Dom swiped at Brian's hair, then rolled the rest of the way out of bed.


Brian picked himself up with an effort. What a wasted shower. He couldn't think of many more pleasant ways to get dirty, though, so no complaints.

* * * *

Brian opened up the fridge. Empty. Well, not quite, but there wasn't much in there other than a few beers, a jar of pickles, and some mustard. Not terribly appetizing. But there was a solution to that problem, now that he was working and actually getting paid. He shut the fridge and went in the bedroom. Dom was sitting on the bed, staring at a single lit candle on the bedside table.

"Hey, I'm going to the store. Need anything?"

Dom uncoiled slowly and turned towards him. "Isn't it kind of late for that?"

"Albertson's is twenty-four hours," Brian shrugged. "And I'm hungry now, not in the morning."

"Whatever. Have fun." Dom returned his gaze to the candle.

"No requests, then? You'll just have to live with what I bring back." Brian shrugged and started to turn.

"Chicken," Dom said. Brian paused, hand on the doorframe. "For the grill. And whatever else you want to go with it."

"You got it, bud." This time Brian made it all the way out of the room and found his jacket. It was still a bit nippy outside.

He felt weird sliding into the driver's side of the Nova, Dom's keys in hand. This whole situation was still pretty damn odd, in fact, and not just that Dom was letting him take the car. He was definitely not complaining, far from it in fact, but he still felt off-balance, like any mistake would send him into a bottomless pit.

The streets were dark and deserted. Very few people in this small town did anything at night, especially not after eleven. That was fine by Brian, especially since there were almost no people at all in the grocery store. He was in and out of the store quickly, with a good sized haul of food. That felt good, after so long of not eating much.

He got back to the house just before midnight. It was quiet and dark. Brian loaded himself with all the bags at once in a way that would have made his mother yell at him to make two trips and went inside quietly. He had all the stuff put away and had a sandwich halfway made before he noticed there was still light coming out of the bedroom. Maybe Dom hadn't crashed? Brian peeked around the corner into the bedroom and saw Dom there, just as he had been before, sitting cross-legged on the bed and staring at the candle. Hmm. What was on the big guy's mind?

Whatever. Wondering what was going on in that shiny head wasn't getting his sandwich made or eaten. If Dom wanted to tell him what he was thinking about, he would.

Brian finished making the sandwich and ate it at the kitchen table, trying to sort out a few thoughts of his own. He'd never really lived with anyone before, not counting his parents. And honestly he was still expecting Dom to tell him to get lost any day now. And yet, he didn't... one of these days, they were just going to have to forget that they were guys and sit down and have one of those heart-to-heart talks women were so big on. Brian suddenly could appreciate where women were coming from when they complained about men not talking to them. Not that he was after any declarations of undying love or anything sappy like that, but he'd really like to know where he fit into Dom's life. He finished the sandwich and stared at the crumbs on the table before brushing them into his hand and tossing them in the sink on his way out of the kitchen. He went into the bedroom and stopped by the edge of the bed.

Candlelight flickered, disturbed by the shifting air currents. It gleamed on Dom's skin. Brian smiled, following the path of the flickering light with his eyes. "Hey," he said, perching on the bed. "What's on your mind?"

"You." Dom stretched and uncurled his legs, then sprawled out on the bed sideways, facing Brian.

"Me? Anything in particular about me?"

Dom smiled. "Thinking about what happened a few nights ago, and wondering if there was any more where that came from."

"You mean, you've been staring at that candle for over an hour, thinking about sex?" Brian reached out and traced a line of candlelight down Dom's bare chest.

"Nah, was thinking about other things, until you got back. You just going to sit there?"

"No." Brian removed his shirt with a slow smile. So Dom was thinking about the other night, hmm? "I seem to remember something about going slow the next time..."

He slipped across the bed and Dom caught him. "Think it was more like wanting you to slow down." He kissed Brian, stroking along the skin of his back. Brian shivered and lost his train of thought, concentrating instead on the feel of Dom's body beneath him.

"I can do that," he murmured eventually. Dom was tense beneath him, despite his willing response to Brian's hands and lips.


"I know what your problem is," Brian murmured around a mouthful of flesh. "Same one I had, first time I did it with a guy. You're a man, you're used to being in charge, you don't want to let someone else take over while you just let things happen, like a woman would." His tongue traced the outlines of Dom's muscles. "But it's okay, it really is, because you're not any kind of woman, it's just that guys can trade off being in charge because they're really equal. There's no dominant and submissive here, just two equals having a good time..."

Brian was distracting himself from what he was saying, but that was okay, because Dom didn't seem to be paying much attention anyway. His hands slid over smooth skin and he licked a nipple, working his way downwards. He was surprised when Dom stopped him and pulled him up for a long, slow kiss.

"Maybe you're right, a little bit," Dom said, holding Brian's face in both hands. "But there's other things you haven't considered." His eyes were dark in the candlelight, reflecting a deep pain and carefully controlled rage. "It's not just a question of surrender. Did it ever occur to you that maybe seven sick fucks holding a guy down so one could have fun would do a lot more damage than just the obvious problems with male ego and emotions and bullshit?"

Brian froze. "You mean... you... oh man." Brian slid sideways, off Dom. No wonder he didn't much like feeling out of control in bed. "I'm sorry. I had no idea—"

"No shit. That's because I didn't tell you before. Now what are you doing over there?" Dom actually smiled at him, then hauled Brian back to his previous position. "There's a lot of reasons I don't want to go back to prison, and that's a pretty big one. But that doesn't mean I'm going to let a bad experience ruin my life."

"Good for you," Brian breathed, kissing Dom.

He backed off a little, letting Dom take the lead. That revelation had shaken him up a bit, although it didn't surprise him at all that it had taken seven guys to hold Dom down. Amazing, really, that the man trusted him enough to let him get away with all he had...

But then Dom took his mind completely off thoughts of old troubles and abstract concepts like trust.

The thought remained, though, under the surface, with a promise to return later.

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