Chapter 31: The End of the Road
After the girly hour was over Mia, Vince and Leon went for a walk on the beach. Dom and I staid back because I was so weak that walking for more than a minute was out of the question. Dom decided to surprise Mia by making chicken parmigiana for dinner while they were out so we spent our time in the kitchen.
"I was thinking," my chef said as he rolled the chicken in some flour.
"Yeah? Did it hurt?"
"Funny. No it didn't hurt." Dom flicked some flour at me. "You gonna be serious for a minute or no?"
"Fine," I say, emphasizing my commitment to the moment by sticking my tongue out at him. "I'm serious. This is me being serious. Seriously."
"I want us to wear our rings Letty."
I don't say anything for a moment. I watch him bread the chicken in smooth, practiced movements he learned from his father. He's watching me watch him, saying nothing, but waiting for me to respond nonetheless.
I nod. "Okay."
He lets out the breath I didn't realize he was holding and looks relieved.
"What?" I ask. I can hear the old me, the hard as nails me in my question. She's defensive, wants to know why her man was worried about what she'd say.
He looks at me hard for a moment, and then decides to proceed as if it was just an echo, a ghost from our past that he heard just now. He speaks honestly like he would to the woman he asked to wear his ring. "I wasn't sure how you'd feel about it. It went better than I thought is all."
The ghost rolls my eyes, but a smile plays on my lips and I know I'm still in control. "What, did you think I was going to say no?"
Dom shrugs. "You've never really worn it. I wasn't sure if you planned to some day or not. Didn't change your name."
"I really fucked you up, didn't I?" I ask gently, a frown creasing my brow. "I meant to do those things Dom. It just was never the right time. I wanted to wear the ring when we got back together but somehow, at first it was like we were on a trial period. Then you took yours off when we started the heists so I figured that wasn't the right time either."
"It's the right time now Letty. I can feel it, can't you?" Dom smiled. I could see all his love for me in that smile and I knew he was right. "We've been married for almost four years now kid."
"Jesus, has it been that long? And to think you've never given me an anniversary gift," I tease.
"How about for next year's anniversary we have that big wedding?" Dom doesn't look at me as he asks me this. He makes like he's concentrating on the chicken, but I can tell he's just fidgeting, trying to keep busy.
"The one you've always dreamt about?" I ask with a smile.
Dom looks up and knowing he's been caught, winks and nods. "Yeah, that one."
I smile and nod back. "I'd like that Dom."
Grinning from ear to ear, Dom goes to the sink and washes his hands. After drying them on a dish rag he walks up to me and gets down on one knee. "Will you marry me again?" he asks as he offers me my ring.
"Yes," I say simply, offering him my hand. He slips the ring on and then kisses my fingers. He pulls his own ring out then and offers it to me. I slip it on to his left hand and kiss his fingers just the way he'd done mine.
"I was going to get you a diamond with the money from the last heist," Dom says as he strokes my cheek. "I'll get one by the wedding, okay?"
"I don't need a diamond Dom," I say tremulously, trying not to let the tears spill out of my eyes. I kiss his bald head and stroke his cheek, gently scratching behind his ear.
"Woooh- ah, we can come back later if-" Leon says as he bursts into the kitchen, startling us.
"Shut up Leon," I say, rolling my eyes at him but taking the time to kiss Dom's forehead once again before standing up and pulling him to his feet with me.
Leon, Vince and Mia look at each other. Leon and Vince were closest to the door so Mia hadn't seen exactly what was going on. But she did see the rings.
"Oh My God. Did you just propose to her? Did he Letty? He did, didn't you Dom- you proposed!" Christ, I'd forgotten what a girly girl she can be.
Dom looks a little helpless, he's so flustered. It's cute.
"Mia, Mia, calm down," he says without success. "Shit, a little help would be nice Let."
I smirk as I watch Mia engulf her older brother in a huge hug. The boys are still standing in the doorway looking like deer caught in the headlights. You'd think they were the ones who'd just given up bachelorhood.
"Mia, Dom and I- we're already married." I say as Mia leaves Dom's side only to smother me.
She pulls back and looks at me like I'm crazy.
"They got married before Dom went upstate," Leon supplies helpfully.
Mia's eyes narrow. I hear Vince go, "For real?" but its Mia who's reaction is of greatest concern.
"Is he serious?" Mia asks. "You're telling me that Leon knew you two were married but I didn't know?"
"I didn't fucking tell him," I said defensively.
"You told Leon but not me?" Vince sputters staring at Dom.
"I didn't tell him nothing!" Dom roars. "Will everyone just chill the fuck out?"
For a moment the kitchen is quiet.
Then Mia speaks. "Would you like to tell me exactly how you knew Dom and Letty were married Leon?"
"I just found out for sure a couple of weeks ago. Dom was ranting about it when he was wasted that night." Leon shrugs and moves to the fridge to get a brew.
"You said for sure. You knew before that?" I ask somewhat bewildered.
Leon rubs his chin and nods. "Your grams said something about it a couple of times in Spanish. I wasn't sure so I didn't say nothing. Especially back then cause you two weren't doing so hot."
Unfortunately Mia lost interest in Leon at that point and directed her energy toward us. "You've been married for three years now and you didn't think to tell any of us?"
"I didn't want you to think we did it just for you Mia," I say weakly. "It just made things easier with the businesses and legal custody and I even got paid more by the Army cause of it."
Mia turns to Dom and starts hitting him. "That means you cheated on Letty when you were Married!"
Dom looks at us for help. Frankly though I'm 95 over it, I'm not opposed to Mia's current course of action.
"Mia-" Dom starts. "It was a long time ago- things were really messed up then. I was messed up. I'm gonna spend the rest of my life making it up to her, I swear to God."
"You're So lucky Jesse isn't here for this," Mia scowls.
Dom nods in agreement, knowing it's true.
"That's why you wouldn't come back right away," Vince says slowly. "It was more than just a mess up, it was nuclear."
"Uh, could we not dwell on what a total asshole I was please?" Dom says nervously.
I smirk, but decide to let him off the hook. "Anyway," I say, taking pity on him, "we're past that now. We're in a good place."
"That's why you broke out the rings?" Leon says as he sits down at the seat next to mine and takes a long drink.
"Yeah." I nudge him. "You okay with that?"
He tilts his head and stares at Dom, rubbing his chin again. "Just don't go and tell my next girl that Dom cooks for you, kay?"
Maybe Leon's the newest to the team, but he knew exactly what to say to make things right.
Our troubles forgotten, Mia slides in next to Dom and helps him with dinner on the condition that we spill the story.
"We got married almost four years ago, like Leon said. Right before I went away," Dom explains as he turns the stove on.
"And what was the wedding like?" Mia asks. Trust her to be obsessed with the ceremony.
"We got married at the court house. It was really fast, not that exciting," Dom says. "I always planned on doing it right when I got out but well. Anyways we're sort of thinking of having a big thing next year."
"What about the 5-0?" Vince asked sinking into an open chair at the table.
"Brian pinned it on Tran. Since both he and Lance are dead they can't protest much," Mia interjected as she threw a couple of pieces of chicken into the frier.
"No shit?" I asked surprised.
Mia nods. "Even Vince is off the hook. I don't know how Brian pulled that off, but he did."
"He did suggest we wait till you're all healed before we go back. Hard to explain some of your injuries." Mia started blush under our collected gazes. "What?"
"How'd you find this out?" Vince sounds tired. I can't blame him. He loves Mia. He knew Brian wasn't Kosher. And yet now we all owe Brian and Vince still doesn't get the girl.
"I told her to call him," Dom says. "Just to thank him and tell him whatever she needed to tell him." He looks at Vince expecting a challenge. None came.
I watch this all quietly and remember how hard it was for me when I came home to find Dom and the princess of puke together.
Vince sighs and rubs at his cast. "That's good then." He gets up and walks outside.
For a moment no one says anything, but eventually I stand up and go after him. Of the five of us, only I know what it's like to love a Torretto and wonder if they'll ever love you back the way you need them to love you.
He makes it hard to catch up with him. He's walking so fast I worry that I'm going to pass out just trying to catch up to him.
"Vince," I jog to catch up. I grab his good arm. "Vince."
"What?" He's tearing. I've never seen him cry.
"Let me walk with you." I loop my arm into his and slowly walk along the beach with him.
He sniffs that same way Dom does when Dom's "not" crying.
"This sucks Letty. I want to hate him but I'm not allowed."
"I know." I'm panting a little cause this is more exercise than I should be getting. It's okay, Vince has gone through a hell of a lot more than I am right now for me. I owe him.
But Vince slows down as soon as he realizes I'm not doing so well. I'm more than happy to follow his lead when he sits down.
"I felt the same when Dom got out of jail, only it was different I guess. He hated me and I'd done the best I could. Now you… you did the best you could too, but you don't get to be right, even though you are." I lean my head on his shoulder. "Does that make sense?"
"Damn straight it does," Vince spits. "He saved my life but what good did that do? He took everything I loved away from me."
I wanted to tell him that Brian didn't really take Mia away from Vince since she'd never been his, but sometimes the truth hurts just too much. Instead I tried to offer him what comfort I could. "You still have Dom. And you definitely still have me. Sure Brian saved our asses, but I figure he owes it to us since he did try to screw us first."
Vince just snorts and stares out at the waves. I know it hurts Coyote. I know it does.
"Guaranteed you'll be Dom's Best Man at the wedding. And since Mia'll be my maid of honor, you'll get to walk her down the isle at lest once in your lifetime." When Vince just nods I decide to go all out and try to make him laugh. "Fuck it, I promise if we have to let Brian be in it, he'll be something pansy like an usher or some shit like that, kay? I don't want anyone prettier than me in the wedding party."
That gets a laugh out of him. "Shit Let, that means you can't have Mia as your bride's maid."
"Fuck you," I say good naturedly as I punch him. "You are so lucky you're pathetic right now. Otherwise I'd kick your ass for that comment."
He grins and we sit there till it starts to get cold. Dinner's ready when we get back. By unspoken agreement no one asks us where we've been. Being a Team means we know how to read each other. We know when to ask questions and when to let things ride. This was one of those times the crew just knew things were better and didn't need to know why or how.
We went back a few weeks later.
Mia starts at UCLA next term. She still doesn't know why Dom's so set on her becoming a doctor. I want to tell her sometimes just so she'll quit giving him shit when he tries to push her. But that's his secret to tell her, not mine.
I don't know what's going on with Mia and Brian. I'll accept him for her, but he's not close to my heart yet.
Jesse's doing better. He's home now and playing with the computer night and day. He spends every waking hour designing super cars. Trans death meant he got to keep the Jetta, but it also cured him of the need to actually be behind the wheel during a race. Thankfully the scars on his body have helped him pick up a few chicks here and there, so he doesn't feel like he's less of a man for not racing. To be honest his new found status of ladies man probably helped make the scars on his psyche fade a little faster too.
Leon's… Leon. He's still around, backing the underdog. Sometimes its Jesse, sometimes its Vince. Once in a great while it's even Dom. As long as he's happy, I'm happy for him.
Vince's story might have the most surprising ending out of everyone on the Team. He went back to school; would you believe he wants to be a paramedic? I guess almost loosing your arm can be inspiring.
Dom helps Vince study sometimes. We've been pretty busy recently though, so Dom doesn't get to fit as much time in with the books as he'd like. The garage, the store, the house, everything. Dom's been trying to set up the whole wedding thing too. He's in charge of the venue and catering. He put me in charge of flowers, invitations and our wardrobe. Sounds like a fair division of labor, but I know better. The bastard had Abuela do most of the leg work on choosing the location. If I didn't love him so much I'd give him shit for it.
As for me, these days I'm happy, both with and without Dom. I've spent so long either doing for or doing with him that I'd forgotten what and who I was.
Just because I chose to be Mrs. Torretto four years ago and I'll choose to be her again next s
spring, it doesn't mean I have to stop being Letty. It took me a long time to realize that, but now that I know, I hope I never forget it.
I started sketching again. It's the first time I've really done any work of my own outside of the journals and the garage in almost five years. God I didn't realize how much a part of me a canvas is.
I started a sketch of the wedding. I know it hasn't happened yet, but it helps me to plan things out when I can show other people what I'm envisioning.
I see Vince standing beside Dom.
I see Mia standing across the isle as my maid of honor.
Jesse is walking me down the isle while Leon waits at the head of the church waiting to officiate the ceremony for us.
I haven't broken it to Leon that he's going to have to become a man of the cloth, but it just seems so right. He's always had faith in Team Torretto, he's always kept the peace. I'm hoping he'll be okay with it.
Dom used to say he lived his life a quarter mile at a time. I can't tell you what'll we'll find at the end of the race, let alone around the next bend in the course we're on. What I can tell you is that for me and mine the road seems clear for the first time in a long time. As long as we have each other, that's all I can ask for.
A/N: Don't freak out. I have another D&L story written. I'll try to post it soon. And maybe, just maybe, if there's enough demand I'll do an epilogue for this one too.