Title: It's the Little Things
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.
Spoilers: Fast Five (2011)
Summary: A week in the life of Lucille Hobbs, DSS Agent. 2200 words.
Notes: Outtakes from Fast Five. For a genderswap prompt, of the always-a-girl variety (another first for me). I blame Faith Unbreakable's Brianna O'Conner fic for this!
Luke strides off the transport plane, her elite team of DSS agents at her heels, and spots the welcoming dignitary in time to catch the look on his face when he first sees her.
It's going to be one of those cases, she can already tell. He doesn't seem to know where to look first: her height, her breasts, or the weapon strapped to her thigh. At least he's more diplomatic than the last one; none of the variegated amazement on his face shows up in his voice when he introduces himself as Chief of Police Alemeida.
She introduces herself in turn as Luke to forestall the inevitable "Miz Hobbs" or "Lucille", then walks right past him, forcing him to turn and follow if he wants to talk to her further. He does, hurrying a little to catch up with her pace and longer stride; Luke catches Chato smirking at the scene out of the corner of her eye.
A kernel of warmth blooms in her chest, counteracting her annoyance. It's the little things, sometimes.
Alemeida still doesn't seem to have got the memo, though. "Is all this really necessary to apprehend two men?" he asks.
Luke's scalp is already starting to prickle under her brutally short cap of hair, and she can feel drops of sweat along her spine. She never likes hunting in this type of climate to begin with, and she likes even less the laid-back sort of attitude it seems to instill.
Of course, she'll be lucky if the climate is the only thing making him balk. She'd spent some time looking through the files on his officers before her arrival; she's already picked the one least likely to be corrupted to serve as her translator.
"Let me tell you about these two men," she begins.
Elena Neves, a rookie Brazilian cop who lost a husband to the job a few years ago, shows up as they're processing the scene at the train. Her introduction goes much better than her superior's.
She didn't waste much time arriving; that's one point in her favor. She's adorable, too; pocket-sized and petite, probably about half Luke's bodyweight, if that. Better yet, she has steel in her spine; the first thing she asks is why Luke really picked her. And she's motivated enough to have researched the area before showing up to answer the gringa's summons.
Now if only she would stay put when she's told. It's not as though Neves could have taken Luke's request for her to stay back when they went to investigate the gunfight in the favela as some kind of sexism; it's just that Luke and her team have far more training than she does. You don't send a rookie to do a veteran's job. It's a miracle that Neves even found Toretto in the first place, even more so that Luke's team were close enough to cover her when the men trailing Toretto opened fire on them both.
By the time Luke catches up to her, she's breathing hard, wearing a stunned expression, and very much alone but for the bodies of a few thugs. Luke's breathing hard, too, and her shirt is completely soaked through from the impromptu parkour exercise over the rooftops, not to mention crashing through a window in an unsuccessful attempt to catch her mark. She's tempted to ask: what happened? Did he hurt you? Is this the first time you've ever been shot at? But she doesn't. That's not who she is.
"You all right here?" she asks instead.
Luke waits for Neves' nod. And then she moves on.
Sooner or later, there comes a point in every law enforcement officer's career when they realize the people they are chasing and arresting are in fact people, the same as anyone else. Some wise up early on; some maintain a black and white perspective for years. And the lucky ones learn how to selectively focus that awareness for the sake of the job.
Neves isn't quite there yet. Luke listens to her read from Toretto's file, the man's silver necklace dangling from her fist, and feels a surge of irritation. Neves says they, but what she means is he, and having locked eyes with the man now herself Luke has to admit Toretto does have a rough sort of charisma. That's all she's going to admit, though. If you can't detach, you can't do the job.
If you can't detach, you run the risk of ending up like Toretto's partner, part of the problem instead of the solution. How experienced had O'Conner been when his sergeant in L.A. threw him to the wolves and the lure of the pack proved stronger than his oaths? Probably not much more so than Neves. How the FBI ever trusted him after that is beyond Luke's understanding.
She bats the file out of Neves' hands and sets the other woman straight. They're not here to understand; they're here to check two names off a list. Not a phone call more, not a bullet less.
She snags the necklace out of Neves' hand without even thinking about it during the impromptu lecture. It might be the defensive look on Neves' face that prompts her to do so- that shadow of 'but he isn't like that' Luke sees on all too many women in the course of her job. Or maybe it's the rest of what she doesn't want to admit: it's a pretty rare day Luke meets a man that can give her a run for her money, and it's just her luck this one happens to be a criminal she's pursuing.
Neves clenches her jaw, but nods acknowledgement; Luke waits another beat, then turns to scoop up the spilled pages by way of apology.
Fusco's there before her, though. He raises his eyebrows as he hands her the file.
Her team knows her too well. Luke sighs, stuffs the chain and cross into a pocket, then orders him and Wilkes back to the job.
For a team of nine individually and collectively distinctive foreigners, Toretto and company are remarkably good at disappearing when they don't want to be found. Luke figures they must have friends in the favelas; it's the only explanation for the way they vanish between each conflict with what has to be Reyes' personal army.
Privately, Luke knows that Neves is probably right: O'Conner and the Torettos may have been on that train, but they're more likely to have been caught in the middle of Reyes' conflict with the DEA than to have killed those federal agents themselves. That really doesn't change a thing about their wanted status, though. In fact, it just irritates Luke more; they're not behaving like normal fugitives, and it's fucking with all her predictive algorithms.
Finally, though, the satellite imaging system detects Toretto's Charger on the streets. Her delight lasts the whole fifteen minutes it takes to find the car- with Toretto, all his associates, and what feels like a quarter of the city crowded around them. It's as though she's been on a steady diet of veggies since landing in Rio; for every hint of a step forward, Luke has tripped over an unexpected obstacle.
Well, they wanted her; they've got her. Luke gets all the way up in Toretto's space with her challenge and takes a vicious satisfaction in the way his eyes widen to trace the fall of a certain silver necklace down her chest.
Up that close, though, the fact that he can look her in the eye and match her for mass is a lot more obvious. Her pulse picks up traitorously at the proximity, and her nipples are suddenly hard enough to cut glass. She refuses to look down and check her effect on him, though. She's here to arrest the fucker, not climb him.
Not that arresting him's looking very likely. He's picked his venue too well.
"C'mon, boss, another day," Chato murmurs under the roar of the hostile crowd. Then he calls her H, which he only does when he's uncomfortably reminded of her gender and trying not to make it obvious.
Luke narrows her eyes. "See you soon, Toretto," she grinds out.
"Looking forward to it," he growls in return, close enough to feel the fan of his breath over her mouth.
Damn him anyway. She stalks back to the truck, cursing her hormones with every step.
The more Luke thinks about the orchestrated meetup, the angrier she gets.
There was no logical reason for them to have pulled her in like that. Toretto and O'Conner might as well have been pulling her pigtails for all Rio to see, Reyes and Alemeida included. The gauntlet has been cast in Luke Hobbs' face.
So she'll damn well pick it up. Toretto's not the thug his file makes him out to be, and O'Conner's sharp, thanks to all that training on the federal dime. They must've had a purpose, and she'll find out what that is. And when she does...
When she does, there's no stopping her. Track her, will they? She sends her team to the factory building the GPS signal reveals and drives the Gurkha in through a separate entrance, looking for a single target in particular. She knows the history of the Charger, what it must mean to Toretto. And when she sees it, she buries it into the fucking wall with her front bumper.
Toretto is already advancing on her when she steps out of the Gurkha, and Luke welcomes the spike of adrenaline as she moves to meet him. "You're going down, Toretto," she promises.
"I'm right here," he replies.
But he doesn't take the first punch, he just pauses, glaring at her, fists clenched- and something in Luke just snaps at the gesture. Call her Amazon, call her a dyke, make bad jokes about Lucille's balls; Luke can take it, as long as it's accompanied by respect. She will not be treated as though her gender means she's a fragile flower when it should be powerfully obvious she's anything but.
She rips off her vest, like a damsel of bygone era shedding a corset, and dives right into the fight with both fists.
She knows what it feels like, now, to be pressed down under all Toretto's strength.
She knows what it feels like, now, to press him down in turn. The sore spots stiffening along her jaw and down the sweep of her ribs testify to the battle it took to put him there.
And all of it had been worthless. All of it. While Luke had been dicking around taking out her anger and frustration on one of her marks, Reyes' men had been making use of the time to set up an ambush. Her men are dead, her translator half on Toretto's side already, and she sits surrounded by Toretto and his team with only her regrets to keep her company. No more Chato with his excellent aim and solid support. No more Fusco with his mechanical gifts and sense of humor. No more Wilkes with his competence and eccentric hawk of hair. And no more Mac with his keen investigator's mind and fierce pride in their team.
Moments like this are when traitors are born, she thinks. She leans back against a table, hand pressed against the small of her back where the rocket had tossed her bruisingly to the street, and watches Toretto pace like a caged lion. The necklace glints on his chest again; he'd ripped it off her mid-fight. Her thoughts linger on it, and on the losses it represents, as he insists Reyes won't be allowed to get away with what he's done.
He'd rescued her when it would have been easier to let Reyes' men get rid of her for him, and there hadn't been any pity in his expression, only understanding.
Screw it, she thinks. She'll worry about the consequences later.
"I'll ride with you, Toretto," she says, and matches his answering smile.
Luke Hobbs has been a federal agent for more than a decade, and the leader of the DSS' elite task force long enough to create a legend. She always gets her man, they say. She's Old Testament in her methods; she never misses and she doesn't relent. She's not a woman; she's a force of nature.
But she is a woman after all, and in the end, she can't decide whether she's more grateful or furious at Toretto for reminding her. She shakes her head admiringly at the end of his and O'Conner's vehicular rampage through Rio, and makes herself a deal; she'll give them twenty-four hours, then reboot this chase from the beginning. Who knows, the parameters of her orders might change in that time.
"See you soon, Toretto," she says, grinning at him ruefully.
He pauses for a second, scanning her from top to toe with a dark, speculative eye. "Hmm. Maybe so," he replies, voice warm with promise.
Then he gets in the car, leaving her with a downcast Neves, an empty safe, a political mess to explain- and the sudden urge to laugh until all the accumulated emotional grime of the last few days is gone.