TFaTF fic by Stormy
Rating: PG-13 for language
Disclaimer: Everything you recognize is not mine. Ryo is mine, as well as all other characters you don't know.
Notes: Takes place in same timeline as "Dreaming of Mexico" and "Normality".
Additional Notes: Forgive me if I'm wrong, but the ranking goes 'Captain' after 'Sergeant' right? ^^ I'm getting my information off Lethal Weapon and M*A*S*H and Klinger was always one step below Captain Pierce. ^^
About ages – you have to be 18 to join the police and it takes about 4 years before you can apply for anything other then a patrolman. By my reasoning – and my prerogative – Brian joined the force right out of high school, made through his four years with flying colors, spent a few years as a UC agent working for Vice and Homicide before deciding to get his detective badge. For TFaTF, Brian was 26 years old, prime condition and age to try for his badge. The first movie took place during the summer (July) of Brian's 26th year, and his two month imprisonment brought him to the beginning of October, close to his birthday which I've arbitrarily decided to make October 18 (Sweetest Day ^^).
Final Police Notes: Police dogs are usually bought at a year or so of age, which gives breeders and trainers time to see if the dog has what it takes to do police work (active, friendly, eager to learn, eager to work etc, etc) because not every dog can be a police dog. Training takes roughly 2 to 3 months with his assigned human partner. They are trained to sniff explosives, find people and objects, track and follow trails other dogs wouldn't even notice, and to detain people, both with and without force. Police dogs are usually retired after 7 or 8 years unless they are injured or something happens to their human partner. Sometimes dogs can be retrained with another handler, but the bond between dog and handler is very strong (you have to see those teams in action to truly understand) and sometimes the dogs heart is broken and just can't be a police dog anymore. Retired dogs usually go live with their handlers' families. In this fic, Brian adopted Ryo when his human handler was killed in action a few years ago.
Lastly, most cops work a schedule of four days on with 12 hour shifts, and then three days off. On their off times/days, cops can do 'paid duty' which is optional work – airports needing extra security, being hired by the government for things like Sarstock when they don't have enough scheduled officers, stuff like that.
Again, all cop knowledge is gleaned from my Police Foundations course and my teachers (all cops and ex-cops), and to avoid confusion on my part, I'm using Canadian (Ontario specific) laws as the laws in California.
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
The newly promoted Captain Tanner pulled his car up to the house. Newly promoted as in only a few days ago, the departments way of thanking him for keeping Brian from suing them for unlawful detainment. Tanner hadn't had the heart to tell them he had actually told O'Connor to go ahead and get his pound of flesh, but the blonde had waved off revenge.
"I just want to get back to work," he had said tiredly. "Preferably in another area though."
It was understandable. Despite the solid support Brian had from most of the street beaters and detectives, the upper brass didn't trust him anymore. If he stayed in the same precinct, he'd be watching his back twenty four hours a day, just waiting to feel the teeth of the management sinking into his jugular. Any reason to get rid of him, they would be on the lookout for it.
Tanner had pulled some strings and managed to get both Brian and himself reassigned further north, back near Brian's old home town. Officially they were now a part of San Francisco force and Brian's detective badge plus his case history prior to the whole street rider fiasco had ensured him a fairly private office where he wouldn't be put on display.
Tanner had no regrets about giving up Los Angeles for San Francisco. Brian was his protégé, the boy he looked after like a father would his son, and indeed, Brian was more of a son to him then his own offspring whom he hadn't seen in years. He knew there was more to the Toretto case then Brian had told him, but he also knew that it was unlikely he would ever find out the true story. As it was, the hijackings had stopped, and the case was considered somewhat closed and that was good enough for Tanner.
He turned the engine off and it made a strange gurgling sound as he did so. He made a mental note to have Brian take a look at it before he left, and got out of the car.
Immediately after being released from Lompoc penitentiary, Brian had asked to be driven straight back to San Jose where his old home before he went undercover was. The three-story home wasn't nearly as lavish as some of the homes in that part of town but the long winding driveway to the house set back amongst the trees was intimidating in its own right. The house had belonged to Brian's parents who had left it to their youngest son as a way of mending fences.
Brian's parents had been extremely well-off, their lineage full of bankers and stockbrokers and Brian's decision to join the LAPD rather then their own consulting business had torn a rift between parents and child that had never been resolved. A freak car accident with a drunk driver had neatly ended any chance at reconciliation.
Brian had two other brothers, Tanner recalled with a frown as he approached the huge front doors that desperately needed repainting. The younger one had dismissed Brian early on, fully supporting his parents decision to cut family ties with his brother. Nate or something. The older one had stayed somewhat in contact with Brian, though the closeness Brian had shared with his siblings was gone. As far as Tanner knew, Brian hadn't talked to Collin since the day he'd first gone undercover in LA. And being arrested probably wasn't the way to go getting back into the family graces.
Such isolation worried Tanner, hence the reason he was checking up on Brian. He didn't think O'Connor would do something stupid, but Brian was still healing from injuries he wouldn't say how he got, and it gnawed at him that Brian would think he was babying him.
"Tough," Tanner muttered as he knocked on the door. "I'm the boss. I don't need an excuse to visit one of my men."
He stood there for nearly five minutes until finally he heard footsteps on the other side of the door. Brian yanked the door open and glared at him. Tanner smiled.
Brian shook his head, a small smile replacing the glare that had become almost habitual for him, and moved aside, letting his boss in. "Just fine."
"Uh-huh." Tanner moved slowly into the foyer, casting his eyes around the room suspiciously. "Where is he?"
Then a booming bark rang out and Tanner was pushed to the floor by a flying, fur-covered missile. His briefcase hit the ground and papers spilled across the floor as he tried to push the monster King shepherd off him. "GODDAM IT BRIAN!"
"Can I help it if Ryo has bad taste? He seems to like you for some reason." Brian knelt down to pick up the papers.
"It's not NORMAL for a dog to wait for someone to come in before attacking. Especially a trained police dog."
"EX-police dog," Brian corrected him mildly. "He's retired, remember?" He tapped the papers into a neat stack and then gave a short whistle. Ryo jumped off Tanner and immediately came to his side, sitting down, ears alert, and his eyes on Tanner. Tanner watched the big dog obey and snorted.
"Sure. Ex. Right."
Tanner was gruff but he had a soft spot for the dog Brian had rescued three years before. Brian had been good friends with Ben Fisher, the dog's original handler, and had spent almost as much time with Ryo as the trainer did. When Ben had been killed during a drug bust and Ryo injured, there had been no one to take Ryo on, and the big dog needed a lot of attention, having been injured during the same bust.
Brian had taken it upon himself to adopt Ryo and see to his rehabilitation. The first time he'd gone undercover had been hard, and Tanner had relieved Brian's mind about Ryo's welfare by asking his ex-wife to care for him until Brian was done. Lisa always had a soft spot for animals – AND Brian – and had been glad to help.
Tanner remembered the first day out of prison when they had stopped by Lisa's house to pick up Ryo, the way Brian's face had lit up for the first time in several months. It was worth the pouncing, he decided with a sigh and reached out his hand.
Ryo looked at his hand, and then back at Brian with hopeful eyes. Brian rolled his own and muttered the command word "Release," which released Ryo from his control. Ryo flew back over to Tanner and wriggled under the Captain's hand happily.
"Big suck," Brian said fondly as Tanner scratched the dog's ears.
"He's a dog. All dogs are sucks if you scratch 'em right."
"True." He nodded at the stack of papers. "So what's all this?"
"The beginning of a new fire hazard," Tanner replied cheerfully. "Turns out San Fran's understaffed – again – and they needed us more then they let on. Some old case files too, just in case."
"So I could've had a bigger paycheck?" Brian chuckled, flicking through the papers with interest. He had missed this back in prison. Cases. Real cases, with information, snitches and details to ferret out. And now that he was a detective, he didn't have to do all the grunt work anymore. His smile grew a little, a few more shadows being chased away.
"Don't push your luck."
"When do I start?"
"You have a checkup next week right?" Brian nodded. "If the doc clears you, then you can start on Thursday, get back in the swing of things."
"Two days of work and then a four day weekend? Works for me." His tone was only slightly bitter.
"You just got out of prison Bri," Tanner said quietly. "Let yourself heal a bit before taking on the world again."
"You're just afraid I'm going to pull one of those stunts from my youth." Brian winked exaggeratedly at him. Tanner flipped him off.
"You're still a youth! So of course I'm afraid!" Tanner poked his finger against Brian's chest. "You wanna chase perps into burning buildings? Then join the LAFD and be a hero there! Or become a miner before you decide to go spelunking down an unstable cavern!"
"There were two kids in there! I got 'em out, didn't I?"
"Yes you did," Tanner allowed. "About two minutes before the entrance came down. And you had no gear with you that would have helped you and those kids if you'd been trapped!"
Brian carefully raised his arm, smirking. "I solemnly swear not to save anymore lives."
"Smart mouth punk," Tanner muttered, eying the swath of bandages still covering Brian's arm. The doctor would be checking the burns on Friday and then again on Tuesday for infection. If Brian passed Tuesday's exams, he'd be back to work. Tanner made a mental note to stock up on Tylenol – he just knew a new season of migraines would be greeting him as soon as Brian stepped into the building.
"What's the word then?" Brian asked, this time a little quieter. His eyes flicked off the papers to meet Tanner's briefly before darting back down.
"You know Vice and Homicide never believed you deserved prison time," Tanner replied, knowing what Brian wanted to hear. "Jack and Tre made a dozen formal complaints on your behalf against the LAPD. And Brandy got reprimanded for screaming at the LA Chief. Twice."
Brian smiled again, a spark coming back into his eyes. "Really?"
"The Chief here believes in second chances. You got a clean slate with him kid. Don't fuck it up."
Brian nodded. His eyes fell on the next file in the stack and his hand froze above it. Tanner blinked and looked down.
Dominic Toretto's mug shot stared back them. His eyes glared into the camera lens as though daring them to take his picture. Brian shook himself, one finger reaching out to trace the edge of the photo, his face blank.
Tanner looked from the photo to Brian and back again. He'd always known there was something about the Toretto case, something about Toretto himself that had never made the file. "Think we'll see him around here?"
The tone he used was casual, but Brian jumped like a shot had gone off next to him. His eyes flew back to his Captain's, and he shrugged, finally registering the question. "How would I know?" He shoved Dominic's photo back into the file it had been in, and scooped them all up. "I never offered you a drink, did I?"
Tanner silently followed Brian into the spacious kitchen, nearly blinded by the gleaming white ceramic and polished stainless steel. Brian pulled the fridge door open. "Corona?"
"Sure." Tanner accepted the bottle, and twisted the top. He eyed the bottle before shrugging and tilting his head back. A second later, he wiped his mouth with his sleeve. "Since when do you drink Corona? You used to be a Coors man."
Brian shrugged, opening his own drink. "I changed."
"Yes you did," Tanner muttered, before taking another swallow. He gestured with the bottle to Brian's stomach. "How's the ribs?"
"As long as I don't laugh, bend over or attempt sit-ups, I'm fine." He ran a hand over his healing abdomen. "Wasn't too bad."
"One broken rib and three cracked is bad enough, Bri," Tanner said sternly. "You should have given the Warden names."
"Why? So they could do it again after they found out I ratted them out? Once was enough Tanner." Brian's eyes flashed. "Once was MORE then enough."
"At least you gave as well as you got. I hear that one boy is still croaking like a frog after that near-strangulation."
Brian chuckled darkly, his eyes back on the bottle he held in his hand.
Tanner had tired of the small talk. "Son, when are you going to tell me the truth?"
Brian's knuckles tightened, his fingers squeezing the bottle as though he was trying to shatter it. Ryo, always at his master's feet, whimpered and nuzzled Brian's free hand, which curled at the contact, giving a brief pat to the dog. "What truth?"
"Don't bullshit me Brian," Tanner said mildly. "I told you from day one that Toretto was behind it, and I know he was. I know YOU know he was."
"There was no evid-"
"Damn it Brian!" Tanner slammed the beer bottle down on the polished countertop with a bang. Ryo growled and stiffened at the hostile gesture, but Brian's hand on him kept him from moving. "Fuck the evidence! Fuck the force! Answer my question!"
Brian didn't move, his eyes still cast downwards. Tanner sighed.
"Brian, this is eating at you. Guilt does that to a man. You paid the price but you're still hurting, kid. Talk to me. It doesn't go farther then this kitchen."
Brian was silent for a few more minutes. Just as Tanner was about to give up, he spoke in a near whisper," Is this Tanner my boss speaking? Or Tanner my friend and the closest thing I have to a father?"
"Father." Tanner didn't hesitate.
Brian took a deep breath and looked up, searching for sincerity. Tanner waited.
And Brian told him.
Brian watched as Tanner's car disappeared around one of the two bends his driveway took to get to the front gate. He had diagnosed the gurgling sound as the muffler giving way and told Tanner to start thinking 'replacement'. Tanner had responded with a hearty 'warranty better still be in affect or I'm gonna cite my mechanic for shit work' and left, still growling.
Tanner's reaction to Brian's confession had confused him. He had left out a few details, but he had basically confirmed that yes, Dom and his team had been behind everything. Tanner had sat in silence for a few minutes before looking back at Brian.
"My goal was to stop the hijackings and preserve the lives of the truck drivers. As far as I'm concerned, we accomplished that goal."
There was no statute of limitations on indictable offences. Brian was sure that by listening and at the same time, pretending not to listen, Tanner had broken a few laws of his own, but found he was too tired to care much. Tanner had said it would go no further. If it did, well, Brian would deal with it at the time.
His ribs were aching, his arm was itchy and hurting like a son of a bitch, and his head was pounding. But he was home.
After three nights, it was starting to finally feel like home again. Brian watched as Ryo raced around the front yard, chasing his tail for a few seconds before rooting through the weeds in the neglected garden. He whistled sharply and Ryo bounded over, rearing up and placing his muddy paws on Brian's chest, licking his face happily.
Home. And a job with the SFPD. Some old friends to greet him when he walked into the precinct next week. A second chance. A new beginning.
He glanced over at the files still on the table and then resolutely turned his face forward, looking out at the setting sunlight. That chapter of his life was closed, he thought with a sigh, and then smiled as Ryo barked and scrabbled at him again. He sat down on the cement step and Ryo curled up next to him. Yes, a whole new chapter was beginning.
He had no idea what lay ahead. But for a brief moment, he found himself looking forward to the future.