Normality

A Fast and the Furious fanfic by Stormy

Rating: PG-13 for language

Notes: This fic takes place at almost the same time as 'Dreaming of Mexico'. Ensenada was chosen for its proximity to the ocean AND to Los Angeles – shorter driving time to make future details in future fics plausible. The migrating whales thing is a tidbit I picked up on some random net research for facts to make this fic more authentic.

More Notes: I didn't include much of it here, but there's enough law-lingo to raise a few eyebrows. Everything I do is based on my knowledge of the laws of Canada and the Canadian Criminal Code, specifically the laws as they pertain to the Province of Ontario. Canadian laws are similar enough to American laws (we were modeled after both British common-law and the structures set up by the US) that major discrepancies can be avoided, but there might still be some things that make you look twice. For the purposes of this fic – and so I don't have to study the laws of California and the US in greater detail – the state of California has the same laws, practices and procedures as Canada. My knowledge of Canadian law as it stands comes from two years as a Police Foundations student – and NOT a lawyer.

Final Notes: Anyone wondering why Brian seems to be getting away with what he did/did not do, well, to be honest - the LAPD really has no chance in hell at convicting Brian or even Dom at anything pertaining to the thefts. In my fic, the trucker from the end of the movie drove off and never reported what happened – no more eye witness, not to mention the charges that could be laid on him if he ever DID turn himself in. All Vince has to do is keep quiet and the murders of Tran and Lance would be justified under the Use of Force model, which states an officer can go one step above to resolve a conflict:

Example: if the perp has a knife, the officer has an asp, pepper spray or his gun as a last resort, not to mention tactical communication skills. If the perp has a gun, then lethal use of force is justified as soon as the officer states the words: "I thought my life was in danger." Therefore, Brian is cleared for shooting Tran. And Lance hit Dom's car while speeding down a residential street which makes the crash HIS fault, not Dom's (or at least something that can be argued and dismissed).

As for evidence tampering, that would be something like an admissible confession from Dom – Brian let him go after knowing an indictable crime had been committed, but he could always play off the no-arrest by admitting he didn't see the actual events. He knew it happened, thanks to Mia, but he didn't witness it, and hearsay evidence (especially from someone who also didn't witness the actual crime) is rarely reasonable grounds for arrest. To arrest Dom for an indictable offence means he had to have 'found committing' the offence in question – which he didn't.

Even the scrap of evidence of the three Honda civics parts would be linked to Hector before they would ever be linked to Dom, since Hector's the one who ordered the parts. Vince just has to keep his mouth shut (under incrimination laws) and they can't do anything about it unless more hard evidence comes in. Ordering someone to confess under duress would make any confession inadmissible in a court of law.

This is a pretty Spartan description of the law, and the law is rarely so cut-and-dry, but what the hell – this is fanfiction. Take a little bit of this series on faith, okay? ^^

Enough rambling. ^^  Go, read. ^^ And review please!

Normality

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

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"Supper's on!"

The call was a familiar one these days, even if the ones that heeded it weren't the same anymore, Dominic reflected. The head of the Toretto clan thumped his hand on the hood of the blue Capri he'd been checking, a signal to the grease monkey lying beneath it. Leon swore as the surprise noise made him jump slightly.

"Fuck, man! I almost knocked m'self out!"  He slid out from under the car, glaring playfully at his brother-in-arms. Dom rubbed his knuckles across Leon's scalp just to irritate him. His breath hitched in his throat. It should have been Jesse's hair he ruffled. It should have been Vince under the car. Almost two freakin' months and it still tore his heart apart to see the gaps where his family should have been. He reminded himself that two of their missing members would eventually return to the fold – come hell or high water – but it didn't make their absence hurt any less.

"Mia's callin'," he said quietly, just as he always had. Just as he always would. A ghost of a smile crossed Leon's face.

"I fuckin' got ears, you dope," he returned, swiping Dom's hand away. Dom nodded and tossed the oilcloth at him, before turning to the house.

Letty was sitting on the front porch of the dilapidated old house that was the old Toretto family home near Ensenada, just south of the lavish nightlife Tijuana was famous for. Dom could remember growing up there years ago, him and Mia, climbing the dangling limbs of the old trees that stood right outside their rooms. They used to sneak into each other's rooms that way as children, the danger of the climb combined with the thrill of getting caught if they weren't quiet. Just past the house and down the hill was the Pacific Ocean, glittering bright under the suns rays, warm and crystal clear. At certain times of the year, if you took a boat out a ways, you could sometimes see migrating whales heading north up the coastline to Vancouver. Local fishermen still made a bit of side cash that way, by doing tours with glass-bottomed boats.

Letty was sitting on the front porch on his momma's swing, rusted and creaky but still solid enough to hold her slight weight. She gave Dom a half-smile as he came up the front stairs, slowing, but her eyes had almost immediately swiveled back towards her view of the ocean.

They hadn't really spoken since That Night. It was never said out loud, but running along unspoken currents was the thread of blame Letty placed squarely at Dom's feet. She didn't have to say anything. On the rare occasions she met his eyes for more then a second, he could hear the silent words as loudly as if she'd shouted them: YOU wanted to go That Night! YOU made us do it without Jesse! YOU didn't come back for me! YOU couldn't save Vince from that trucker! YOU couldn't save Jesse!

Dom didn't have much hope for reconciliation. He and Letty had been fading for a while now, even before That Night took place. They had been fighting too much, and accusing each other of wandering eyes on a regular basis. Dom winced as he remembered a particularly scathing accusation by Letty, punctuated with snapping, tear-filled eyes, and it hurt because Dominic could see a glimmer of truth in her words.

As it was, Letty had been spending a lot of her spare time – something they all had in spades, lately – hanging with Leon. Leon was nervous about that at first. He liked Letty but knew she was Dom's girl. It took a talk and over a dozen Corona's each before Dom had told him what went on between the two of them was none of his business. It had taken sobriety to make the words sink in. Nothing had happened yet, as far as Dom knew, but at least Leon wasn't looking at him with his trademark 'fuck, I'm dead' look anymore.

"He-LO? I could've sworn I said dinner was done!" Mia pushed the screen open and held it there with her foot. She glared at Dom over folded arms.

The anger there was half-hearted at best. She never could muster much emotion anymore. Mia had lost out the most, as far as Dom was concerned. She had been closest to Jesse, treating him as the adorable kid brother he was to her, and she had known Vince as long as Dom had. Then Dom had to disappear, and Mia had gone along, unwilling to lose the last member of her family. So much for her degree she'd been working for, though Mia had yet to utter a complaint. She kept house and cooked the meals, the same as she had done in L.A, and went through the motions of her day on autopilot, taking comfort from the familiarity of routine.

Dom also suspected she was suffering from a broken heart. She had thought Brian was the one and he had turned out to be someone else. Dom winced again. Mia had been within hearing range the night of him and Letty's last, most vicious fight, and had heard the accusations. She never said a word about it, but she had cooled considerably to him, to everyone as a result. Once again, Dom vowed to sit down and have a talk with her, but even as he promised, he knew that he wouldn't. If they kept quiet, they could pretend to be somewhat normal, which was something they all craved these days.

Dom nodded at Mia calmly and she turned with a 'hmph', letting the door swing shut. Dom caught it before it could bang against the wood and went inside. Leon and Letty followed quietly.

The house was an old-style two-floor building his father had bought during the peak of his racing years, and had remodeled completely only two years before his fiery death. The open living room was easily the largest room on the main floor, but the dining room and kitchen came close, tied for second. Dom's father had hated walls and had knocked out all but the support walls and beams, giving the floor an airy feel to it. The second floor held four bedrooms and two smaller rooms that acted as studies, set between the master bedroom and the other bedrooms to give additional privacy, even though the walls had been thickened during the renovations.

Dom, as the head of the house, held the master bedroom as his own. Mia had her old room, and Leon had taken Dom's. Letty took the guest bedroom, the furthest away from the master bedroom, a move that spoke more eloquently then any words. The bathroom was big enough, though it seemed to shrink if more then one person needed to make use of it at a time. Luckily, the bathroom in the basement was finished if the rest of the basement wasn't. It had been the last of their father's plans to complete. Unfortunately, Linder and his car had eliminated any chance his father had at finishing the house. Dom decided one of his projects for the coming months would be to work on that.

Inside, the table was already set and the mashed potatoes were on the table. Dom took his seat at the head just as Mia came in, her hands covered with potholders and filled with a plate of chicken wings. Letty had ducked into the kitchen and slipped past Mia, carrying a bowl of salad that she set on the table before sitting next to Leon. Mia took her place next to Dom.

Grace was said and they dug in. For a few minutes, all that could be heard was the clinking of utensils against ceramic, and the murmurs of 'pass the bread, please' and 'more water…thanks.'  Dom waved at Leon with his fork, to them a universal signal for turning on the TV when one's mouth was full, and Leon nodded, sliding his chair back to reach the remote perched on the back of the couch. Dom liked to watch the news, on at any given time of the day, to see if there was anything about himself, Vince or Jesse on. In the beginning, those first few days, there had been lots of news coverage. That was how they knew Jesse had survived – barely – and how Vince had been doing in the hospital, recovering from blood loss, and arterial damage. He was with Hector now, having gotten sprung just a few weeks before. They'd spoken to him once, briefly and Vince had sounded much better. He was being watched by the cops like hawks watch field mice and didn't want to bring the wrath of the LAPD down on Dom even though it was only for questioning that he was wanted at all. Dom snorted – they had nothing on him but speculation and some half-assed shit evidence that wouldn't stand up to a strong wind let alone a defense attorney. That was Brian's doing. Dom blinked as the thought of the blond-haired cop flitted through his mind and viciously tore a chunk out of his wing.

Thinking of Brian brought up more convoluted feelings and thoughts then he was ready to deal with. It was something he tended to avoid – all in keeping with that whole idea of 'normality' he was trying to cultivate. So of course, in trying to replace Brian's face with the sight, taste and smell of roasted chicken, that would be the time Brian's face would flash across his wide-screen TV.

Dom choked as a mug shot of Brian appeared in the upper left hand corner of the screen. Mia dropped her fork and Leon swore. Letty looked shocked, but her eyes kept darting from the screen to Dom's face and back.

"Turn it up!" Dom commanded and Leon fumbled with the remote for a second before the newswoman's voice was blaring out from the speaker system.

"…was accused of the withholding and tampering of evidence from the LAPD. District Attorney Peter Feldman made a brief announcement that the charges were being dropped against Officer Brian O'Connor for lack of evidence and that a full statement from the D.A's office and LAPD Chief Michael Brighton will be held on Thursday. We bring you now to John Spartan and Lompoc Federal Penitentiary where Officer O'Connor is being released after an eight-week incarceration. John?"

Dom's eyes widened. Leon swore again.

"They sent the punk to Lompoc? A cop to the big dogs? And they wanted to accuse us of murder?"

The scene flipped to a live shot outside a place Dom remembered far too well. A well-groomed man with too much hair gel stood near the front gate, a wide smile revealing flawless teeth and zero sincerity.

"Thanks Linda. I'm here at Lompoc Penitentiary where Brian O'Connor was held for almost two months on charges of evidence withholding and tampering. Originally bail had been set at fifty thousand dollars, but O'Connor didn't have the resources to post bail, and opted to wait instead at Lompoc. Sources inside the prison say that while O'Connor was given a private cell, he nonetheless had a rough time during his stay. A guard who chose to remain nameless was quoted as saying, "It was a damn good thing that kid knew how to fight or they'd have been picking him up with a spatula." Prison officials won't say what incident this was in relation to, but our sources confirmed that Brian has made at least three visits to the infirmary after altercations no one would specify who started."

Dom gritted his teeth.

"Already there has been an outcry from several legal professions who wonder at the legality of holding an officer at one of the countries most dangerous prisons, instead of the holding cells at the LAPD. LAPD officials cited lack of room and bias made such arrangements impossible. Even now, several firms have been trying for weeks to speak to O'Connor, obviously smelling a large civil suit if the charges from the D.A didn't hold. O'Connor refused counsel, preferring to see what Internal Affairs brought to light."

The shot cut away from the live feed to an interview with some lawyer whose name flashed briefly across the bottom of the screen.

"Since the charges against O'Connor have now been dropped, it's just a matter of time before we see what kind of settlement resolves here. Brian has, in my opinion as a legal professional, just cause for laying a few charges of his own, specifically, the charges of forced confinement and illegal arrest."

The screen flipped back to the reporter. A roar went up from the reporters and reporter John jumped.

"And here he comes now!" Reporter John turned to the side, letting the cameraman zoom in to the gates that were opening. The main gates were still closed though, and so the first shot Dominic Toretto had of Brian O'Connor since the day the blond cop had dropped the keys to his Supra in his hand, was through the bars of the main gates.

Zoom lenses were wonderful things. Though he was still about fifty meters away, Dom could clearly see that Brian was pale, his hair tousled, dark shadows under his eyes. He wore the same blue t-shirt he did when they'd parted – a fact that told Dom Brian had been picked up almost immediately after he'd gotten out of sight. A bright white bandage covered his right arm, from wrist up to underneath where his t-shirt sleeves covered. A man in an old suit handed Brian a pair of sunglasses and Dom growled softly at the missed opportunity to see Brian's eyes. One could tell a lot from a person's eyes, and Brian's had been very expressive.

He was walking slowly and Dom recognized the half-limp, half slow stride as a gait one adopts when recovering from severe abdominal, back or leg injuries. Or combinations of all three.

Reporter John joined the crowd in thrusting microphones to the blond as the final gates opened. "Brian! Any comments on the D.A's choice to drop all charges!" It was a statement rather then a question as though reporter John had no doubts Brian would love to vent on national television.

The look on reporter John's face as Brian roughly pushed him away was priceless. The man who had given Brian the sunglasses waved away the cameras and the microphones, chanting "No comment, no comment at this time."  The camera tracked Brian's steady gait that had somehow strengthened, as though Brian was determined not to show any weakness in front of the reporters that hounded him vultures to a kill. A nice-lookin' Cherokee  - 'mom 'n' pop vehicle' Dom thought idly – was pulled to the curb and the door opened automatically. The camera zoomed in on the driver and Dom was surprised to see it was another cop.

"Don't the boy have any family to see him the day he gets sprung?" Leon muttered, a faint look of pity in his eyes.

Brian got into the vehicle and slammed the door, just missing the fingers of some female reporter who looked affronted at the harsh treatment. The Cherokee drove off, leaving the reporters spitting dust. Reporter John turned back to the camera.

"Obviously Brian not in the mood to comment on what had to be a terrible ordeal for someone of his profession to deal with. Still, there is much more to come as this gets settled. On Thursday, as you mentioned Linda, a formal announcement by L.A's Chief of Police and the District Attorney of Los Angeles will be conducted at the precinct on Fifth Street and the fate of one Brian O'Connor will be decided at that time. Reporting live from Lompoc Federal Penitentiary, I'm John Spartan. Linda, back to you."

"Thanks John, as you said, more to come this Thursday. In other news—"

"Turn that shit off," Dom said roughly. Leon hit the power button and silence reigned in the Toretto household. After a minute, Mia excused herself, mumbling something about dishes and Letty got up to join her, but not before shooting one last knowing look at her ex-lover. Dom rested his head in his hand, staring blankly at the dark TV set. Leon shook his head.

"That's rough. You see that bandage? No cast bro – either someone cut him up real good or he tried to off himself man."

"Yeah." Dom glanced at Leon. "He look tired to you?"

"Tired and beat man." Leon eyed him thoughtfully. "You worried about the punk?"

"That gonna be a problem if I am?"

"No man, "Leon shook his head again. "The boy let you go. He coulda' kept you there – you were hurt dawg, and weren't gonna be running nowhere. He not only let you go, he gave you a fuckin' getaway car ain't no cruiser ever gonna catch. He shot Tran for what he did to Jesse." His eyes pierced Dominic's. "He got Vince off that truck at the risk of his own life. Man, Bri didn't even like Vince but he saved him just the same. Ya gotta respect that, bro."

"Yeah." Dom thought back to those split seconds after his car died, when he thought Vince was dead and there was nothing he could do. The sight of that orange racer had brought chills down his spine. He couldn't believe what he'd seen after Leon had picked him up, chasing after the big rig that had their boy strapped to it. When Brian had crouched on the doorframe of his car, Dom realized in an instant what he was going to do and almost had a heart attack.

Brian had been fearless, leaping from the car to the rig, untangling Vince's arm from the cabling and guiding him through to the back seat of the car. Then Brian had thrown himself clear just as glass exploded out from the side window as the trucker fired off another shot from his rifle.

Dom and Leon had pulled up and Dom had instantly gone to where Brian and Mia had laid Vince out. Brian had been all-pro, cinching off the blood flow in Vince's damaged right arm, instructing Mia and Dom how to keep the pressure on the spurting wounds. Then Brian made the phone call that changed everything Dom had ever known about him.

Brian was a cop. Never mind that he was the guy who brought him back to the fort that first night, the guy who seemed more amused then upset that he had lost the race AND his car. Forget the way he never seemed afraid of Dom, or held Vince's rudeness against anyone. Never mind that he had hung out with Jesse, treating the mad scientist as the brilliant kid he was, rather then the hyper child everyone else in the world regarded him as. Brian was a COP.

Then circumstances had changed. Brian took out Tran, avenging Jesse. The race they shared had been one last chance at that damn normality that was forever lost to them. Dom had risked everything – and Brian had been right there beside him, fearless and trusting, as though the vents of a few hours past had never occurred.

In fact, Dom reflected, the only time he'd ever seen fear on Brian Spilner—scratch that, Brian O'Connor's face was in that second before Dom had hit the transport coming out of the alleyway. Dom still remembered the panicked shout of his name as Brian raced around the side of the charger, and the strong arms he trusted like no other, grabbing him and guiding him out of the damaged car.

 The burning rage Dom had initially felt had all but died at that point. Had Brian told him he was under arrest, he probably wouldn't have fought it. Well. He wouldn't have fought as hard as he normally would have. He owed Brian far more then the blonde owed him.

And Brian had apparently gone one step further, taking the rap for Dom, Leon, Vince and Letty. Dom twitched again at the thought of the cop in Lompoc. Lompoc was full of animals, vicious predators that hunted on the weak, and while Brian was anything but weak, he was still a cop, and that was even fucking worse.

That took guts. Dom snorted, still lost in his thoughts. All that mental pontificating and all he could sum up everything Brian had done for him was that it took guts. That was a no-brainer.

The big question was, did he have the guts to do the same? To help Brian like he'd helped him?

Leon was still watching him carefully. "Whatchoo planning, dawg?"

So much for a normal lifestyle. Hell, normal was boring anyway.

"Feel up to a trip?"

Leon didn't bat an eye. "Name it bro."

"Cool." Dom nodded and leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes. Blue eyes regarded him coolly in the depths of his mind. "Tomorrow then."

"Got it." Leon got up and went into the kitchen, presumably to tell Mia and Letty about their abruptly made plans.

Blue eyes continued to stare right through Dom's mind.

"Cool…"

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The End

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