Disclaimer: See First Chapter.
Author's Note: Hi! I just want to thank those of you who reveiwed.
Thank you so much for taking the time to review, it's greatly appreciated!
I hope you like.
Sandra O'Connor glared at her oldest son and husband. Once upon a time she'd had the perfect nuclear family. A loving husband, well behaved, intelligent sons, a lovely home—once upon a time her life had been nearly perfect.
But that had been a long time ago. Before adolescent rebellions, bitter sibling rivalries, teenage pregnancies, police politics, and FBI promotions. Her family had gone to hell in a hand basket, despite her best efforts. Lately things had calmed down some; they'd made it through a two and a half year stretch without any major disasters, until now…
"This could so easily blow up in your faces…" She began.
"Now listen here, Sandy," her husband began, but she cut him off.
"No, John, you listen here. Brian's life is not any of your business…"
"Tessa is our granddaughter and there's no reason to let her life be ruined because her father is a bum."
"Brian is not a bum."
"You're his mother; of course you'd say that."
"He's your son."
"Which is why I can see he's a bum? He could've been a detective! He could've-"
"I do not want to hear yet another speech on what Brian could've been. He's not. And this is about Brad trying to take his daughter from him!" She turned her glare on her oldest, "Have you lost your mind! It took us forever to get him to take her in the first place!"
"You always did teach us to share, Mom," Brad said wryly. Only to realize his mother was not amused.
"You're going to retract that petition immediately Bradley." She said firmly.
Brad stood, "Nope, I'm not."
"John, you can't actually let him go through with this? Brian will never forgive us… any of us… he'll never believe that we weren't involved-"
"The boy's a bum…" John O'Connor declared firmly, "… he shouldn't have had Tessa in the first place!"
"It's okay Mom, don't worry. Brian will keep Tessa."
"No social worker in her right mind would approve his living situation over yours and Rachel's. We all know that…"
"I won't take it to court Mom. I never planned to. Believe it or not, it's not my mission in life to make my little brother miserable."
Sandy huffed, releasing a breath now the threat had been removed, "Well you've fooled me… after that incident in LA-"
"Don't. Bring. That. Up." Brad growled, "That still makes me want to strangle him."
"See," his mother pointed out.
"Yeah well, that LA thing really pissed me off. Besides that though, I'd like to see the little bugger happy… plus Rachel's kinda fond of the punk…"
Sandy sighed, "So why exactly are you pushing him into a court case…"
"I'm forcing him to get his act together… I told him so. If he can himself together by the date of the first court appearance I'll drop everything."
Sandy eyed her eldest son, than her husband, "Did you know about this?"
"Me? No… when do I ever know anything? I work for fifty years to provide for this family… does that mean anything… no of course not. I never know anything. I'm the last know, I-"
"Okay, maybe an idea…"
"It's a good idea, Mom. Just like the cruise was…"
And because the cruise had been a good idea, Sandra O'Connor remained silent. In her silence, though, she prayed.
Prayed with her heart and soul that this wouldn't blow up in their faces—mother's intuition though, told her that it would.
Mia Toretto sighed contentedly as she laid her back against the base of a tree.
Her gaze did a quick scan of the surrounding area before settling on the small figure she meant to watch.
He was in the sand box; building something with shovels and trucks and imagination, completely oblivious to the focused attention he was receiving from her.
It was such a beautiful day, so calm and cool. She let her gaze slip off the boy for just a moment as she looked up into the blue sky.
Such a brilliant blue... a blue you could get lost in...
...like the blue of her son's eyes.
Tucker Caden Toretto had beautiful brilliant blue eyes. Eyes that contrasted sharply with his dark brown curls and tanned coloring, eyes that made many a passerbyer do a double take as they appreciatively admired the toddler.
Beautiful, brilliant blue eyes...
... like those of his father.
Slowly she let her gaze fall from the sky and land on the child once again. He'd been such a complete surprise; although he shouldn't have been... that night had been magic and the practical concerns of reality don't apply to magic.
They hadn't used protection; and as a result two months after he'd disappeared she'd been declared officially pregnant. It had caused a ripple of anger in her—the first real emotion she'd had since The Incident. Before that she'd been too focused on their tragedies, their fears; the end of life as they knew it to focus on anything else... she'd been numb.
It was easier to deal with everything that way. She'd run with them, of course, even though she technically had nothing to run for. She'd dropped out of school and left behind her friends... but what did school and friends matter when your world was falling apart... when you were shattered on the inside and couldn't let it show.
Nothing had mattered, nothing but staying safe. They'd had to leave Vince and Jesse behind... that too had torn them all apart.
It had been a difficult time. And being numb had helped her get through it.
That ripple of anger had been the first emotion she'd had in too long. It had been fierce... she'd hated Brian at that moment, for leaving behind a reminder of his betrayal... but the ripple had been brief.
Within the month both Jesse and Vince had been released from the hospital and mysteriously all charges had been dropped against them.
It had been good... great in fact... but still so terrifying. They were free, but they weren't the same. They never would be.
Five months after The Incident they were all back home— and she was pregnant.
Dom and Vince had been furious... ready to hunt Brian down and lynch him.
Of course, their fury had passed, just as her ripple had—though theirs had been considerably longer.
In a way Tucker had saved them all. He had made it impossible for the Team to pull apart. Impossible for any of them to give up, to let it go, to move on.
He'd been the glue at a moment when they'd been in severe danger of falling apart.
Her pregnancy had kept them together; and then when Tucker had arrived all thoughts of drifting apart faded.
As did the numbness and the anger--all that was left was love. No one could look at the precious boy and not love him.
Regardless, of who his father was.
"Mommy! Come Seeeee!"
The call made her jump and abruptly ended her ponderings on the past. The past was just that, her present was calling.
"I'm coming, I'm coming..." she called, when he shouted again.
"'is castle..." the boy told her proudly.
She grinned staring at the unidentifiable mound of sand, "It is! Wow! That's great! You did a good job…" She told him happily.
He smiled up at her, "'t-anks," he mumbled, before going back to work. Mia stared at the top of his head a moment, before shaking hers and heading back to her tree. A few more minutes and then they'd go back to the house.
Tony had probably finished his nap—Letty too, she hoped, as she sat back down.
Dominic and Letty had been blessed with their very own bundle of boy earlier this year. Anthony Dominic Toretto was a lusty, dark-haired nine-month old and Mia could hardly wait to get home and stare at him.
He was small and cute and every time she looked at him she remembered Tucker at that age.
A habit that had her constantly slipping into memories of three years ago... memories of him.
His name hadn't been mentioned in their house for years. Something that Letty had said needed to change... Tucker would ask one day, about his father, and why we never talked about him.
The worst thing we could do was make it seem like there was a problem, she said.
The trouble with this reasoning was simple—there was a problem. In Mia's mind there would always be a problem. Brian had lied to her, tricked her, made love to her, and abandoned her— all without a backwards glance.
A smirk pulled at her mouth, as she remembered Leon's comment of so long ago: "He'll be surprised as hell when he does come back, Mi..."
It was true... but irrelevant.
Brian had disappeared. And he wasn't coming back... time had proven that.
She stood up suddenly, suppressing the dark thoughts— her life was good, she had nothing to complain about.
"Come on baby, we have to go home now."
He looked up at her, the blue eyes sparkling, "One 'ore 'inute..."
She grinned as she shook her head, Tucker's "one more minute" had been know to extend for hours.
"Nope, come on," she said, "Let's pick up the toys and shake off all that dust..."
His eyes lit up and he quickly stuffed all his toys—and about a pound of sand— into the sack they'd brought.
Then he extended his arms upwards, waiting to shake off all that dust.
Mia giggled, scooped him up, and began wiggling him in the air, his laughter floated up to the skies.
"This might truly be the worst idea you've ever had," Mia said reasonably as she stared at her sister-in-law.
Letty rolled her eyes, "It is not!" she said in outrage, "Remember the bicycles on railings incident? Oh, and the go-kart fiasco, Oh, and-"
"Okay, ok, maybe not the worst but it's up there. Come on Letty, Race Wars?"
"Why not? The guys deserve it don't ya think?"
"I mean they've been so cool about Tony… and before that about Tuck…"
"Yeah, I know…"
"And Dom would love it; And we'd make some quick money…"
"I know, it's just that… I know you're right, and it's been a long time… it's just that… well…" her words faded as her words drifted. The last time they'd gone to Race Wars Brian had been with them…
Letty's gaze softened, "Oh, shit, that's right… I'm sorry girl. I didn't think… I just… shit…" she murmured again.
Mia couldn't stop the smirk that touched her face, "It's okay Lett. I just don't think I'd like to go to Race Wars. You and the guys should go, though, you're right—all those reasons are good ones. You all go and I'll stay with the boys."
"No way, girl," Letty said adamantly, "Tuck is enough by himself… with Tony who's discovered running… I don't think so."
Mia grinned at the mention of her nephew, "He's gonna be a track star."
"He's a menace," Letty said, with a smile, "Nothing like Tuck."
Mia's grin widened, "And I wonder where he gets that from…?" she asked smugly, "I mean you and Dom could certainly, never be referred to as menaces…"
Letty's smile widened into a grin, "He is like us isn't he?"
"Exactly." Mia replied than added, "Wait till he's a teenager…"
That wiped the smile off Letty's face, "Oh god…"
Mia laughed, than sobered a little, "I mean it… you and the guys should go…"
"I mean it Letty…" Mia insisted.
"So do I. I'm not leaving you leaving you alone in this house with the kids for three days… that's just cruel and unusual…"
Mia didn't respond, she just glared at her; than suddenly her eyes lit up and she bolted off the kitchen chair and almost ran towards the living room. The guys were sprawled out all over the floor and sofa; Tucker in Vince's lap and Tony gurgling happily in his father's arms.
"How would you guys like to go to Race War?" She asked excitedly.
"Mia!" Letty cried as she followed her; she should've known she was up to mischief the instant her dark eyes had lit up like that.
She arrived just in time to see the way the guys perked up at the suggestion, and to listen as Mia recited to them the litany of reasons that a moment ago she'd cited to her.
The guys were all nodding enthusiastically.
"We can unleash The Beast," Jesse said happily. And the others nodded.
The Beast was their special project; they'd built her to replace the Charger. She'd been finished for over a year, but never raced. The boys had never found a race that merited The Beast.
They'd never suggested Race Wars; not after the last time. Race Wars was intertwined with tragedy and betrayal; Race Wars was ground zero.
But time had passed and the pain of that day had faded somewhat… they were older and racing wasn't life—just a part of it.
It would be okay, fun even. Mia nodded at Jesse, "Yep, it'll be like a vacation."
"It's great idea," Dom said, trying to get his son under control as the boy squirmed.
"It was Letty's," Mia said happily.
Dom's gaze lifted, "Of course it was."
Letty scowled, "Finish it Mia… tell them your part of the plan."
She shrugged innocently, "I'll keep the boys while you all go."
"What?" Leon cried, "You're not coming?"
"But why not?" Jesse cried, "You always used to come…"
Silence answered that question. The only thing heard was the television and Tony's baby-chatter.
"That's bullshit Mia," Vince growled, his gaze trained on her.
"Vince!" Mia scolded, they'd agreed a long time ago that they would cut the cursing down a minimum when Tuck was in the room.
"'ull'hit," the boy mimicked, coming to life in Vince's lap; a moment ago he'd been completely engrossed in the movie—mention one bad word and you have the kid's full attention.
He shifted to look up at his Uncle Vee, "What's 'ullsh-"
"It's not good word," Mia told her son, "I don't want you to say it."
"But Uncle Vee-"
"Uncle Vee's a grown up; when you're a grown up you can say it too."
"I'll let you know," Mia told him firmly.
"Go finish the movie upstairs, baby," Mia told him firmly. Tuck looked up at her pleadingly, "one 'ore 'inute..."
"Nope, now..." she told him.
He sighed dramatically, as he slid off Vince's lap, "'ony gets to stay..." he complained.
"Tony's going to bed soon too. You're older, you get to set the example." Mia told him, working hard to keep a straight face. Tuck had his dejected expression on and it made you just want to scoop him up and give him whatever he wanted.
But everyone in the room was used to it. Tony would be the hellion of the family, that was for sure-- but Tuck would be the charmer, that too was sure.
A chorus of goodnights and sleep well's followed, all eyes were trained on the child until he was out of sight.
"Okay, now I repeat—that's bullshit, Mia," Vince growled.
"I don't want to go." Mia insisted.
"Then we won't go," Dom said firmly.
Mia rolled her eyes, "Please Dom, I'm not five years old, I can stay on my own for three days-"
"The boys-" Leon began.
"I watch the boys when Letty's at the garage or when it's her turn to do the grocery shopping. I've been alone with them before."
"But never for so long, Mia," Letty insisted, "It was a bad idea, I shouldn't have brought it up."
"We just won't go," Dom repeated, "It's not a big deal. We've been just fine not going for three years..."
"But it's not right!" Mia cried suddenly, surprising them all with the passion in her voice, "You want to go, so go! My hang up on Race Wars shouldn't stop all of you."
"We all have hang ups on Race Wars," Jesse said softly.
"It would be better if we all went, Mi," Dom told her.
"Yeah, and more fun," Leon added, shooting her a grin.
Mia sighed, "I don't want to."
"It's been three years, the fuckin punk doesn't deserve this from you," Vince growled.
Letty rolled her eyes, "He's her kids father--it's not like she can just forget'm."
"He doesn't deserve her turnin into a fuckin recluse over him," Vince insisted.
"I'm not a recluse!" Mia argued, "And stop the cursing in front of the baby."
"He can't understand me," Vince stated.
"You need to get out more," Dom said gruffly.
"I'm not having this conversation again," Mia said, "I get out enough. I'm happy. I don't want to date, but I promise the instant I do I'll send out a general memo to all the major newspapers in the world, okay." She finished adamantly.
After a moment, she smiled sweetly at them, "Now back to Race Wars... think about it... it'll be just like the old days; winning races, makin money, you can drink and curse all you want without worrying about the kids..."
"Stop it Mia, your changing my mind," Letty grumbled, as she went and lifted the drowsy Tony from Dom's arms.
The guys chuckled, and Mia grinned, "It's only for three days." She told them innocently, "Three days is nothing… you'll be back to the real world in no time… but for just a few days— you can go back…" she continued persuasively.
They were all imagining it, even Letty, and Mia had struggled to keep the grin off her face.
"Three days isn't so long," Jesse said hesitantly.
"We can call every hour," Leon added.
"There's always that video mail thing, you set up, Jesse…" Mia continued, "It'll be like you never even left."
"It doesn't seem right; leaving my kid to go race…" Dom said.
"Dad did it to us all the time, Dom. It wasn't a big deal. Tony won't even remember it. And I'll be here… his favorite aunt in the entire universe… plus you and Letty deserve a little free time. I left Tucker-"
"Tuck," Vince interrupted.
Mia didn't even pause; it was an all too common interruption. Everyone else in the team called him Tuck—she called him Tucker.
"-with you guys while I was finishing up school… all that time, definitely amounted to three days, if not more. And Letty wasn't even a mother yet…" she frowned lightly, her gaze teasing, "Truth is, me leaving Tucker with all you was much riskier than you leaving Tony with me…"
Letty turned to glare at her, "It was not! I did just fine with Tuck, and I'm great with Tony; I'm wonderful with them both. I'm a fantastic mother; and an awesome aunt."
Mia grinned, "Me too."
The guys laughed, Letty stuck her tongue out at her—because Mia had just proved her point, the boys would be fine with her.
"I guess it would be okay," Dom said thoughtfully, "When's sign up?"
"Last day's tomorrow," Letty told him.
"What you guys say?" Dom asked looking around.
"I'm in," Leon offered quickly, "… could use a few extra grand…"
"Me too; I'll stay behind the scenes this time, though…" Jesse said, a wry smirk on his face.
They all turned to Vince; he was glaring at Mia, "I don't like it," he grumbled.
"But are you in?" Letty asked.
He sighed roughly, "Hell yeah."
"'kay then, Race Wars it is…" Dom murmured nodding definitively; he looked to Letty, "You'll set it up…?"
Letty nodded, "Consider us there."