Author's Disclaimer: As much as I love these movies, I don't own anything from the franchise.
Title: While There is Life, There is Hope
Rating: M (Strong language, drug use, sexual situations, violence)
Summary: Letty Saunders lived in hiding for two years, keeping her new life and Julian under the radar from authorities, old friends and old enemies. She had endured enough struggles and wanted to put her old life as Letty Ortiz behind her, but after catching up with someone from her past and falling for his brother, life becomes more complicated for her. Especially when an old flame shows up on business.
p.s.: OC Luke is inspired by actor Eric Balfour, OC Alvaro Koenig – Jamie McShane
Chapter 1- Life
La Ceiba, Honduras
Where in the world is Dominic Toretto?
It was usually the first question on the mind of twenty-seven year-old Letty Saunders, after waking up alone for the past two years. She was on a current four-day stint in a dingy, dusty motel room in the middle of no where. The room was wrecked with her clothing, not to mention the grime from the previous room guests that had obviously been ignored by the maids. She planned to disregard the filth until she was on the road again, but taking one look over her shoulder at the tiny body lying in the bed, she mentally scolded herself for allowing him to live in such disgust. Letty quietly picked up the room, trying hard not to disturb the sleeping beauty. He was a light sleeper and terror-on-wheels when he was awake. Just like your father, Letty mused.
"More like sperm donor," she said aloud. A sudden rush of frustration caused Letty to slam her dresser shut, and she received a sleepy groan in response. She sighed and ran a shaky hand through her long hair and looked over her shoulder at the sleepy gray eyes that were staring back at her.
"Mama loud," the young boy mumbled while rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
Letty smiled and crawled back into the bed with her two year-old son, Julian.
"I know, baby. Mama's just thinking about Papa again. You know how mad he makes me sometimes," she talked to him as if he understood everything she was telling him.
"Papa bad?" he replied with his eyebrows raised with peculiarity. He was every bit of her.
He does understand me, she thought to herself.
"Not bad, baby. Just stupid."
He laid his brown locks on her chest, but gazed up at her with eyes just like her Dad.
She was in love with her boy, Julian.
Julian Michael Ortiz. She named him after the only man she had been able to rely on – her father, Julian. He was a kind but stern man, always protecting Letty and keeping her in line. He left the War after finding out her mother was pregnant with their first child and made himself a permanent figure in her life. Three years later, her mother had passed and he was all she had left. He raised her practically in their garage, teaching Letty everything she knew about cars. He was her world until his death, when she only sixteen years old. There was one thing he taught her that she'd never forget … "Dum vita est spes est".
While there is life, there is hope.
Letty was beginning to think her life was over after she lost her closest friends. She had no where to go, no one to lean on or ask for advice. She had very little money left after the tanker heist and had no idea how she was going to go on. She had given up on herself until she realized how much weight she had gained. Letty tried to chalk it up to depression, overeating to make up for her misery. But when her feet swelled and the morning sickness began, she instantly knew life was about to get harder. Letty struggled internally with the thought of bringing another life into this world considering her financial and living state, but giving him up wasn't an option. Not to mention the father could only be one person, and Lord only knew which part of the world he was shacked up in, and who he was with. She tried to keep the latter out of her mind as much as possible.
Letty was truly confused with the dilemma until the day she gave birth to her 6 ½ pound bundle of joy. With a head-full of dark curls and deep gray eyes, Julian had stolen her heart already. Being as she knew next to nothing about newborns, she was surprised when he opened his eyes to see gray, not dark brown. The midwife assured her they would eventually darken to brown, but she wasn't sure she wanted them to. It was like having a piece of her dad with her again.
It was then – staring into the eyes of something so perfect … something she created - that she understood those words her father embedded in her brain; while there is life, there is hope. Letty was no longer living according to her own means, but by her infant child. Julian was a miracle that kicked Letty in the ass, giving her a new lease on life.
But how she ended up living in a filthy motel room was beside her. She knew what lead her there in the first place, though – Dom. After her ordeal in Mexico, Letty decided it was best to fall off the face of the earth and allow everyone to believe she had perished in a horrific car crash. She was at her wits end and was tired of chasing everyone down, when no one had come looking for her. She was tired of living for a man who she couldn't rely on to rescue her, like she had him so many times before. To her, Dom was selfish, self-centered, and a fraud. He was the complete opposite of everything he claimed to stand for. He didn't care about family – he never hesitated to leave his family when the heat was on. Every get-rich-quick scheme they went through as family was his idea, with no room for opposition. He made the choice to leave her in that bungalow in the Dominican Republic, much to her dismay. He was the reason she was now living her life on edge, unable to go back home to L.A where she was born and raised.
Letty swore to herself that she would raise Julian to be a stand-up guy. A real family man.
For nearly a decade, Letty lived life according to Dominic Toretto. Went where he ran to, followed his orders like everyone else who was in his circle. She didn't even want a life for herself before, as long as she had Dominic at her side. He was her rock, her other half. She envisioned herself being with him until the end of time, having little Dom's and being a family. But that idea evaporated into thin air when she woke up that morning in the Dominican Republic alone, with only ten grand and his silver cross as a remembrance of him.
Or at least she thought.
Now, Letty was living only for herself and her son, with only his needs to care for. She was done wasting her time and risking her life for a man who couldn't live up to his promises. Letty was proud to say she and her baby had an opportunity to start fresh with nothing holding her back...
Especially Dominic Toretto.
When she wasn't pampering Julian, her thoughts and time were spent on the only thing that kept her mind off him – working on Jesse's '95 Volkswagen Jetta. She would follow a daily routine: make sure J was happy, shower, make herself somewhat presentable, then tinker on the precious hunk of metal. After Mexico, she miraculously got in touch with Hector from L.A. and begged him to locate and ship the car to her at an abandoned address in the Dominican Republic, to avoid being tracked. No one knew she was alive and she wanted to keep it that way. When she picked up the ride, her heart sank at the sight of the bullet-riddled sides and rear. Jesse would be distraught to see his prized-possession in such conditions, with rusting doors and no wheels. Letty couldn't bare for Jesse to see it this way anymore; she had decided the best hands for the car were hers.
Soon after realizing J didn't plan on going back to sleep, Letty grabbed a few of his toys and her bag of tools and made her way outside. Thankfully it wasn't painfully hot – Julian hated the heat as much as she did.
"Ah, if it isn't my favorite noisy neighbor," a voice called from behind her. She rolled her eyes and pretended she didn't hear the annoying man. Her next door neighbor tried every morning this week to have a conversation and was given the cold shoulder. Letty wasn't up for making new friends. "You know, I still didn't get your name..." he trailed off.
"I didn't give it," she replied dryly, keeping her head under the hood and an eye on Julian in the backseat enjoying his Tonka trucks.
"Right. What's up, little guy?" Julian only looked up with a small smile. Letty couldn't help but smile at his bad habits that he picked up. "Well nice speaking at you two. My name is Lucas by the way. You can call me Luke, though," the man said with a particular cheeriness in his voice that irritated her. Yet, his voice was soft and smooth, something she wasn't use to. Dom's voice was rough and gravely; that hypnotizing voice always touched her core.
"Yeah, I heard last night. And this morning," she murmured, shuttering at the thought of hearing Luke's night of passion. "How about I just call you nothing and we call this done? Hm?"
Luke chuckled nervously and changed the subject quickly.
"So whatcha working on there? Jetta, huh? Nice ride."
"It belonged to a buddy of mine. It's just keeping me company for a while," she answered vaguely; she didn't know him well enough to give him the details.
"I see. So where you guys headed? Nobody comes out here to vacation. It isn't exactly the Ritz," Luke continued to talk to her back, since she refused to acknowledge him standing there.
"Why the hell are you asking so many questions? You a cop or something?" she finally snapped, whirling around to look at him. She got quiet instantly at the sight of his big hazel eyes and long shaggy hair that hung over his eyes slightly. He had thin lips but his neatly trimmed facial hair made them look delectable. He was tall and scrawny, not her type at all but he had a playful innocence about him that she liked.
"I ain't no cop. Just being friendly, girl. I'll leave you to your racket," he turned to go back into his room, but her hand on his bare shoulder stopped him.
"I'm sorry, just a little on edge. You know anything about cars?" she asked, the bitterness subdued for now. Judging by the custom blacked-out Mazda 6 he revved a little too loud every night outside her room, she figured he had some car knowledge.
"You could say that. What's her problem?"
And just like that, a strange friendship was created between the two. Letty wasn't sure why she found this man so harmless, but she began to trust him – a little. After another two weeks of back and forth banter with this man – who was only twenty-two years old – Letty looked forward to hanging with him every day. She wasn't sure how she'd feel about having any man around her son; she didn't want Julian to get the wrong idea. But Luke was good with Julian.
He was good with her, too. Luke didn't question her past or where she was headed, and she preferred it that way. She enjoyed his company, but didn't want to get too comfortable around him. Like he said to her: no one came to this place for vacation. He would leave eventually and she and J would be alone again. She wanted to be prepared this time.
But to be honest, it was his companionship that kept her at the distasteful motel for so long. She missed the camaraderie of having a good friend around. He reminded her of the friends she grew up with – even if he still didn't know her name.