Chapter 23 – Stay in My Office.

The rest of spring went by swiftly. With summer came Nyssa's graduation from high school. No one made a big deal of it, as it was what she wanted. She should have graduated a year earlier, after all. Since everyone knew it made her feel too young to be around them to be reminded she had met them as a high school student, they respected her wishes.

Now that she didn't have school tying up her days, she spent most of her time working with Letty at the garage. Letty was teaching her basics such as setting cars up with the jack and doing oil changes. Mia came by often to teach her how to do the books and work the front desk. As Nyssa got better at all the organizational work around the garage Mia came around less and less. The privilege of doing so was one Mia had thanked Nyssa for repeatedly. She was very glad to be handing over the reigns to someone who had some interest in cars and garages. Mia did not in the slightest. Dominic even seemed more inclined to do his share when he had Nyssa forcing him to. It was like it was too easy for him to say no to his sister.

Brian's car was coming along nicely and was almost a whole, intact car again. Over the course of rebuilding it Brian and Dom had spent a lot of time together and were closer than ever. This was a fact not lost on Vince, and continued to make him angry every time he thought about it or saw it in action. Vince didn't spend a lot of time at the garage. It wasn't his primary job. But when he wasn't around for one reason or another he still always came by to take Nyssa out for lunch. Whenever this crossed over with Brian's time in the shop it was clear that Vince barley restrained his need to hit Brian over and over again. Yet he did somehow restrain himself each time, much to the shock and amazement of the team. Everyone assumed it had a lot to do with not wanting to disappoint Nyssa, who was fast becoming the only person whose opinion on such a matter would carry any weight with him. Other than Dominic, that was.

The first time Nyssa would have to participate in a race against people who were not on her team had been set and would be taking place that Saturday night. The date looming in front of her had her nervous all week. She was almost out of her mind worrying about it. Even though Vince reassured her every day and night that she was ready and he had every confidence she could win, her feelings of worry weren't removed.

That he cared to try and reassure her touched her deeply. She had a hard time thinking back to the days of her life that didn't have Vince in them. She thought she might even be in love with him, but she just wasn't really sure. She hadn't ever been in love with anyone before and had no frame of reference for how it would make her act, how it would make her feel. She was fairly sure it was love. What else could it mean that the thought of her life without him in it didn't have any appeal to her? She certainly wasn't ready to share the extent of her feelings with him, at any rate. He had never expressed anything of the sort to her and she knew with some instinct she didn't have to attribute to her ability to just know things that if she admitted she might love him it would scare the bejeesus out of him. He seemed to miss her when they were apart and he certainly looked out for her wellbeing and safety, took her side in arguments most of the time and did a million other little things that showed he cared about her. But was it love?

It was about two weeks after she had had the truck situation confirmed for her by Vince that Manda showed up at the shop to invite her to the night out they had all discussed at her aunt Karen's birthday party. They were all going out this coming Friday and had wanted to be sure Nyssa knew she was invited to come along if she wanted to.

Nyssa really wanted to go, but she was still only nineteen and had no ID to use to get into a club. She looked around her and found the team was all out of earshot, back in the garage, leaving her alone with her cousin in the reception area, such as it was.

"I really wanna go but I can't. I don't have any way to get in. If they card me I won't be able to show them ID and I'll die of embarrassment."

Manda fished around in her purse. She finally came out with an ID card and handed it over. "That should take care of that."

Nyssa looked down at the driver's licence in her hand. The picture was of her, that much was true. But the name, address, and birthday were incorrect. Going by the date of birth on the driver's licence in her hand, she was twenty-two.

"Manda, this ID is fake," she said. "Hold up, wait a second. This is a fake ID!" Nyssa squealed and hugged Manda over the counter. "How did you get this?"

"I know a guy that makes them. You can get into the club with that. I got one too, see?" She held up her own fake driver's licence. "So you coming with us now or what?"

"Of course, wouldn't miss it. I just need a story to tell Vince. He hates it when I drink." Nyssa imparted the reason behind why it didn't fill Vince with joy to see her with a beer in her hand and Manda laughed herself into a state of tears. "So it's this Friday, like tomorrow night that they're going, right?" Nyssa asked.

"Yep, tomorrow night. You should just tell these guys you're staying at my house for the night since its been so long, then just stay over after. Than you don't have to come home here drunk."

"I don't know about that Manda, I find it hard to sleep alone now. I can get ready at your place though. Then we can drive over to one of the girls houses so your mom and dad don't get catch on to what we're doing. You know they'd freak."

"You got that right."

"It's set than, I'll head over to your place around 7 tomorrow night, then we'll get all ready to go and go to, say, Janet's. Then we can head down from there. I'll come home after though."

"Sounds like a plan. I'll go home to Janet's cause I can't go home to my house wasted."

"OK, see you tomorrow."

Nyssa waved goodbye as Manda walked out the front door. Dom walked out of the shop just as the door was closing behind the blonde.

"Who was that?"

"Just my cousin. She came to see how I was since we haven't seen each other since grad night."

"Oh, ok." Dom nodded his understanding.

"Listen, I wanna take off soon and go shopping. I need some stuff and I wanna get to the mall before it gets too late."

"Go whenever. You could go now if you wanted to. There's nothing else coming in or going out for the rest of the day so we're just gonna work on the Supra. You really don't need to be here for that."

"Ok, thanks Dom. Just tell Vince where I went if he goes looking for me, ok?"

"Yeah, sure," Dom answered distractedly. He was clearly already under the engine bonnet of the Supra in his mind.

Nyssa left the shop and ran home. She changed out of her dirty shop clothes before she tore off toward the mall and parked the car. She wandered in and looked through a few stores before she found anything to take her attention. The first thing she found that she had to have was a new top. It was purple, which was one of her favourite colours. It was shot through with silver strands and covered her well from the front. The rear was three simple straps, one across her neck, one across her shoulder blades and one across a point just above the small of her back, which was where the bottom of the shirt was, leaving her belly button exposed. The sleeves were slit from wrist to shoulder, but held together with two straps, one at the wrist and one at the elbow.

She didn't find anything else she liked in that store so she bought the shirt and left, wandering farther into the mall. In another store she tried on a pair of leather hipster flare bottom pants. They rode so low on her hips she knew if they weren't so tight they'd just fall off. The flairs hit her feet all the way to the floor and she knew with her boots only the very ends of the toes would show. The pants came equipped with a funky belt which resembled chain mail and suited her new shirt. She was pleased with how her outfit worked together and looked on her.

She left for home and made it in time to help Mia with cooking dinner. It was all she could do to keep her plans to herself. She was very excited about the chance to get out with a group of girls and have fun. She was also excited to get inside a bar for the first time. It was something the old Nyssa wouldn't have even considered doing, using fake ID to get into a club when she wasn't old enough. It was one of those things she was glad she had grown out of her shell enough to try.

She knew she was going to need a story to tell Vince about where she was going. If he didn't know where she went and when she expected to be home he'd go searching for her and that wouldn't do at all. He was fairly protective of her most of the time. She loved it because she knew it meant he cared where she was and what happened to her, but it would ruin everything if he figured out she was up to something, found her, and dragged her home before she was ready and embarrassed her in front of all her friends, relatives and strangers.

When they finished eating they went into the living room to watch a movie. She helped Mia clean up first and when they started the movie Brian showed up. He and Mia sat together on one of the couches. Dom pulled Letty into his lap on the big chair. Leon and Jesse stretched out on the floor like they always did and she curled up next to Vince on the far couch.

"V?" she asked from her position curled up against his side.

"Um?" he asked, clearly only half listening.

"Tomorrow night I'm going over to Manda's. We're going to go shopping and watch some chick flick movies. We're having sort of a girls night and if I come home from Manda's house it's gonna be late."

"That sounds fun. Have a nice time," he said before giving her a quick kiss. He then leaned in close to her and whispered in her ear. "We're going on a job tonight, late."

She gave him one of her looks. The one that he couldn't stand. The one that let him know she hated him doing what they were all doing. It didn't bother him because he knew she didn't hate it because it made him a criminal. She hated it because of the danger it placed him and all of their family in. But they were onto a big job, the mother lode, and Dom wasn't going to hear of stopping until that huge heist was out of the way. The rest of the team knew that trying to get him to stop before the big job in the summer was done was futile, even though they all figured it was time to get out while the getting was good. Dom wouldn't hear of it.

But after the big one was done, Vince was out. It was time to take a break before something bad happened. They would be set financially for a long time, for life even, if they were careful what they did with the money. His own bank account contained more money than he'd ever dreamed of seeing in one place at the same time as it stood. In fact, it wasn't even his regular bank account. He, and everyone off the team had had to get offshore accounts. It wouldn't do to deposit large amounts of cash into a regular bank account days after a truck of high priced merchandise got lifted. The fact remained that in that account he had enough money to live pretty much any way he wanted for the rest of his life and never worry about cash again.

It wasn't like they only did it for the money. They all got off on the rush, him more so than anyone. It was obvious the whole team were adrenaline junkies. Who else raced cars at extreme speeds on public streets for thrills first and money second? It was just that he was at a point in his life where he really didn't want to die or go to jail. Not now, when he was starting to have something he really cared about to live for.

When the movie ended Nyssa stood up. "I'm off to bed guys, night."

The rest of the team, save Vince watched her go in puzzlement. Nyssa going to bed at twelve was very strange. Ever since school had ended, there really hadn't been a night she headed down to bed before two am. And she normally would never have gone without Vince. But it all came together when Vince followed her downstairs not five minutes later.

Brian took Mia out for a drive. The rest of the team watched them go, relieved to have Brian out of the house early so they wouldn't have to try and find a way to get rid of him later, when they went to do their job.

"I hope Vince doesn't exhaust himself now in the preshow. We need him to bring his A game tonight," Dom tried to jest.

"No kidden'," Leon added with a laugh.

Letty gave them both a look like the humour in Dom's statement was lost on her. "When are we gonna tell Nyssa what's what anyway?"

"Not until after race wars. Got it?" Dom looked from Letty to Leon to Jesse. "No one says anything to either Nyssa or Brian until after they prove themselves at racewars."

"I think Nyssa needs to know now Dominic. She lives here. This shit has the potential to affect her as much if not more than all of us. What'd happen to her if something happened to Vince?"

"If something happened to Vince, and it won't, but if it did, we would still take care of Nyssa. She's part of this team now, she's just not in deep enough to be trusted with this. I won't get rid of her if Vince wasn't around anymore."

"I still think she needs to know. I mean, I agree with not telling Brian. It isn't like it stands to hurt Mia personally. I think Nyssa deserves to know what Vince is up against here and make her own decisions if she wants to be part of his life, knowing what could happen to him any night we do a job."

"No way Letty and that's final." Dom put his foot down, in his mind.

Leon looked up at both of them. "It don't matter anyway Dawg. She already knows."

Dom looked up at Leon in shock. He was unable to think of a thing to say in answer to Leon's bombshell. His look got angry. "What do you mean she knows already?" he asked in his deceptively calm voice.

Leon held his hands out in surrender. "Well I didn't tell her, I just get a feeling she knows already."

"How do you figure she knows anything? Who would have told her?"

"Well, she's smart Dom, you saw the marks she graduated with, she's as smart as Mia. And the way she looks at Vince on the nights before a job, she looks so worried and desperate I just think she knows. That's why they went to bed early. He's going to tell her it'll be fine and she'll cry, they'll make up, you know how it is with females." Leon looked at Letty and caught the look on her face. "Well, most females," he amended.

"You could be right," Dom conceded. "Well, if she figured it out than she figured it out but no one talks about it in the open 'til after wars and no one mentions anything at all around Brian. I trust him but he hasn't proven himself enough to be trusted with this."

.

"Vince you need to promise me you'll be careful."

"I'm always careful Nys, I'll be fine, It'll be fine. Dom's been talking about surprising Letty with a trip after the next one, and we'll go with them ok? You and me, the beach, no garage, no trucks, just the two of us. Ok?" She was looking at the floor, he tipped her head back and she looked him in the eye. "It'll be fine Nys, I swear." He hated the worry in her eyes.

She kissed him and he felt all the worry and the fear in her kiss. He tried to put all his confidence in his kiss, needing to reassure her without words. Words didn't come easily and he always messed them up, but she had to understand this. She had to know he would be ok, that he would make sure of it if for no other reason than to come back to her. They went to bed and he set the alarm for 2:45am.

"Vince, I want you to wake me up and tell me when you're leaving."

"Aw, come on Nys. If you just sleep through it than I'll be home before you even miss me."

"I want you to wake me up and say good-bye Vince, so promise me you'll wake me up and say good-bye."

"Ok, I promise I'll let you know when I'm leaving. I won't say good-bye because I'll be back three hours after I leave."

"Ok," she agreed before giving him a final kiss. "Try to get some sleep."

He did manage to grab a few hours sleep and the alarm startled him awake when it went off. The alarm rarely woke Nyssa, and this wasn't an exception. He was tempted to let her keep right on sleeping. If he didn't wake her now he could wake her when he got back and they'd have some time to make up about the whole not waking her in the middle of the night thing. But he'd promised and she'd be very upset if he broke his promise. He wasn't sure he wanted to catch that much hell, even if it would mean getting to make up. He shook her gently.

"I'm going now baby. I'll be home around 7am."

"V, be careful. Please be so careful. I want you home in one piece. Promise me you'll be careful."

"I plan on it girl. I'll see you soon. I'll bring you some of those rolls with the chocolate you like for breakfast. See you soon. Go to sleep and I'll be home before you know it."

"Ok, Vince." She agreed. He kissed her goodbye and left.

He just wished she felt as secure about the whole thing as he did. He hated to leave her worrying. He stood beside the bed for a few minutes and watched as she went back to sleep. Vince left his room and met Leon and Jesse in the living room downstairs. They confronted him that Nyssa knew already.

"Yeah, she does, but I didn't tell her. She figured it out off the radio and how the driving is done."

"What does she think about it Dawg?"

"She hates it because she thinks some day one of us will be telling her about the one of us that didn't make it back. And since she weaseled out of me what everyone's job is, and didn't take mine well, I guess she figures if anyone ain't makin it back, it's me. Your asses she could get over losing, me on the other hand," Vince tried to make it a joke. "Otherwise she didn't really care. She never tried to tell me how wrong I was or that I should stop right now or anything like that. Well, other than the whole thing about us getting hurt."

Leon and Jesse nodded their understanding and they all headed up the stairs. It had been Dom's idea for Leon and Jesse to try and find out from Vince if Nyssa knew already or not. Dom gave Leon a look and Leon nodded almost imperceptiblely. Dom got the message loud and clear. Nyssa knew. There was nothing that could be done about it now. If she knew she knew. They headed out into the night and drove to the civics. They found the truck without incident and the job went smoothly from there.

.

Brian got a phone call on his cell phone around 5am.

"They struck again, we roll on Tran unless you say otherwise, if you agree just say yes."

"Yeah." Brian couldn't prove it wasn't Tran, but he hoped against hope it wasn't Dom. Tran behind the whole thing would make life so much easier for him.

"Who was that?" a sleepy Mia asked from the other side of his bed.

"A wrong number. Hi."

.

When they had the cars stashed again, Vince took off on his own and retrieved the chocolate filled croissants that Nyssa loved so much. By the time he got home it was eight am so he woke Nyssa up. They ate together in bed before she showed him just how glad she was that he made it home in one piece. He fell into a deeply contented sleep afterward and Nyssa stayed curled up in his arms for a time, just being comforted by the fact he was alive and well, snoring gently with his heart beating under her ear. Once she was finally unwound by his presence she got up and got dressed, figuring that if no one else was going to go to DT she should at least go down and put a sign up to tell people they were closed. She figured she might even get her car washed with nothing else to intrude on her time there.

When she crested the stairs it was to find Dominic sitting at the kitchen table.

Damn, why isn't that boy in bed, she wondered to herself. She really didn't want to deal with Dom. She just wanted to get out of the house and go wash her car. Dom made her edgy. He was one person she still found it hard to read and it threw her off balance. Anyone else she would have half an idea what they were thinking and at the very least would pick up their mood. Dom wasn't half that easy. "Dom you look like shit! Do you want me to make you something to eat before I head out? I think it was like six am or seven when I heard Mia roll in so you'll be waiting a while on her to do it."

"I'm fine. Not hungry. Take a seat." He indicated the chair across the table from his own position.

Nyssa sat with great trepidation. She had more than half an idea where this situation was going. He knew she knew. The only question left remaining was, what would he do about it now that he figured it out?

"So when did you figure it all out, and how?" He asked point blank.

"The morning V let me take his car to drive myself to school. I had the radio playing a local news channel and it told all about this robbery and the precision driving that had been used. Plus, it was the morning that Vince somehow managed to reopen his cut after he couldn't sleep and went for a drive to clear his head. He was a little too tired and sore to just have gone for a drive around, you know? It just all fell into place, especially after they talked about the crazy driving, which having been in a car with her, just reeked of Letty. You don't have to worry. I won't tell anyone and I don't really care, other than the fact I hate how dangerous it is for all of you and I'd hate to see any or all of you in trouble or in jail over it."

"You're likely too smart for your own good," Dom growled. He didn't seem all that angry, which pleased Nyssa to no end. It had gone a lot better than what she had envisioned, had Dom ever figured out she knew. "But you are not to say anything about this to anyone. Especially not Brian."

"I'd never tell Brian anything. I don't trust him at all."

Dom grunted. "Not you too? He's not a damn cop. I just can't see it."

"I never said he was a cop. I said I don't totally trust his motivations. Anyway, I'm going to the garage if you don't need anything."

"Naw, I'm good. You go on."

When she got to the garage she opened up, figuring if anyone came around she could make them appointments for another day and tell them that they weren't opening until late today. As she was leaning on the counter reading one of Mia's magazines the little bell over the door tinkled.

She looked up and saw a very well dressed man walk in. He looked around the little reception area then walked up to her.

"I'm looking for Dom Toretto," the man said.

"Dom's not here right now, would you like to leave a message?"

"No, this is important, I need to speak to him now."

"Well, he's home sick right now, so you can leave a message or come back later."

"You must know how to reach him, just do so and tell him that Colin is here to see him. He'll come down."

"Fine, I'll call him, but if he's not happy you're dealing with him anyway."

"Yes, fine, fine, just call him please."

Nyssa turned around and went into Dom's office were the man could not hear her but she could still see him through the window of the office and called home. Dom answered on the second ring. He could never sleep after a job, she knew that, if she thought he was asleep nothing could have made her call.

"Hello," Dom said, and Nyssa could tell he was still in pissy humour. "Heya Dom. It's Nyssa."

"What's up?" Dom sounded somewhat less grumpy when he thought it might involve his precious shop.

"Some guy is here saying that he has to see you. I told him you were sick at home but he won't take no for an answer."

"Who is it?"

"He claims his name is Colin and said you would want to see him."

"Ah shit. Yeah I'll be right down. And Nyssa?"

"Yeah Dom?"

"If you're in my office now, just stay there. Even better, here, talk to Jesse." Dom handed off the phone to Jesse and Nyssa heard him tell Jesse to keep her on the phone 'til she told him that Dom was in the shop.

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