Counting the Days
"Oh, before I forget, here."
A stack of magazines slid across the surface of the rain-damp picnic table. Dom ignored them and the buzz of conversation drifting through the air around him. He and his weekend guest were sitting together in the prison garden, surrounded by various inmates and visitors. As was the norm when Brian visited, Dom found himself with a severe case of tunnel vision. His focal point was one person and one person only. Brian OíConner.
At this particular moment Brianís lean fingers, the ones that rested atop a stack of magazines and lazily grazed their shiny surface, had Domís complete attention. Heíd never in a million years confess it, but he was happy in a way he couldnít explain to see how those fingers had finally lost their pasty-white appearance. Brianís hands were now tan and healthy-looking, which indicated to Dom that things were getting back to normal for the man seated across from him.
It took a few seconds for his brain to demand that he take what had been so generously offered, and Dom felt his heart shift out of neutral and into high gear when Brianís fingers accidentally, or deliberately, brushed against his. From the glint of mischief in the pair of blue eyes trained on him, Dom knew deliberate was more than likely the correct assumption.
"Thanks," he growled his appreciation and cringed when he heard how gravely his voice sounded. That particular problem could be blamed on the sudden tightness that had taken hold of his throat. It always seemed somewhat tight and somewhat parched whenever Brian was around. In fact, Dom had taken to drinking quite a bit of water during those Saturday visits.
He assessed his gift and, with an amused lift of an eyebrow, softly chuckled. "Hell, Brian, did you buy out the store? There must be at least ten magazines here."
His companionís lighthearted laughter distracted Dom, and the large stack of magazines slipped from his grasp. Brian rushed forward to keep the newly purchased collection from tumbling off the table, and Dom heard Brianísís breathing hitch when their hands collided during the rescue attempt. He heard it hitch again when, for a second, Dom hooked Brianís index finger with his pinky and tugged on it. It was the intimate sound and not so much the contact that Dom hungered to own. And yet, if he was truthful, touching Brian wasnít *that* far down on his list of favorite things to do.
"Thereís an article on the hazards of NOS in that one on top."
"NOS, yeah. Hazardous stuff."
Domís gaze fixated on the hand that was now aimlessly moving across Brianís chest and smoothing out the wrinkled fabric of his faded red-colored tee. He couldnít help but reflect on several other things that could prove hazardous both to his mental *and* physical state.
For instance, those shameless tits of Brianís, both of which were trying to punch their way through the layer of cotton covering them. Those damn hussies were in Domís face, daring him to chance a case of lip-burn. It was a dare that Dom never would have considered before hooking up with Brian. Strange how certain *male* body parts were catching his attention nowadays.
Dom lifted his gaze and whistled. Worse yet, and most assuredly more hazardous, was the sassy mouth that resided about a foot above those tits, the mouth that was teasing him with its ĎI know what youíre thinkingí grin.
Dom didnít actually mind that particular grin, but he sure as hell objected to the one that was utterly brazen in the way it taunted him with thoughts of what was to come once he was out of prison. That grin tormented him even when it wasnít physically present; and because of that, Dom thanked the powers that be that had arranged for Vince to be placed in a cell down the block from him. Not having to share a cell with another inmate, whether it be his childhood friend or a complete stranger, was a blessing for which both Dom *and* his dick were immensely grateful. They were especially grateful late at night when dreams of Brian left Dom and his sheets drenched in sweat and spunk.
Dom tore his gaze away from the smile that now seemed slightly lost and sad. Standing, he moved to where Brian was and fought hard against the urge that demanded he wrap his companion in a hug that would certainly alert anyone watching to his feelings for Brian. Chino wasnít Lompoc by a long shot, but Dom knew he had to watch his step, especially where Brian was concerned.
"You coming tomorrow with Mia?" Dom settled for a quick embrace and a brief nudge with his nose of the blond strands curling down over Brianís collar.
Dom didnít know why he kept asking that question. Brian always came, had done so since the day his doctor had pronounced him recovered enough to travel the distance to Chino. Every Saturday and Sunday Brian was there, his presence reminding Dom of the relationship they had committed themselves to and had yet to explore.
"Yeah, Iíll be here." Brian carded his fingers through his hair, smiling to himself when he tugged on the strands that Dom had hastily investigated. "Uh, Dom? Mia tells me Lettyís sending a cake." He shared a sympathetic look with Dom.
"Shit." Dom patted his belly and chuckled when he thought he heard it rumble in protest.
During a recent visit he and Brian had talked in depth about Domís circle of close friends. His relationship with Letty naturally came up for discussion, and Dom had confessed it was her love of cars and not kitchens that had endured her to him. His fiery girlfriend was not the typical female. She seriously lacked the cooking gene and had on more than one occasion jeopardized Domís chance at longevity with a romantic, home-cooked meal. Mia, unfortunately, was unaware of this fact and felt it was her duty to make sure her incarcerated brother enjoyed every culinary gift that Letty sent his way.
"Bring some Tums, okay? Maybe even some Alka-Seltzer?"
"You got it, bro. Want me to get the extra-strength kind?"
Strong hands clasped Dom on his shoulders, and again he resisted the urge to hug the living daylights out of Brian. The man was smartass sex on a stick, and Dom was stunned at how bad he wanted a taste.
He shook his head in an attempt to dislodge the image of an OíConner corndog from his brain. "How Ďbout you find a way for Lettyís cake to go MIA? Or better yet, arrange for an unfortunate accident on the ride over."
Brian burst out laughing and the flash of joyful sunshine nearly blinded Dom. "Iíll see what I can do." He laughed again, and once more put Domís eyesight at risk.
A grin broke out on Domís face. He knew full well he didnít have to check the clearing skies above to know where the blinding light came from. Brianís smile was lethal, and Dom wondered what it would take to patent the brightness of those pearly whites, not to mention feel their sharp edges drag along his---
"Donít forget your magazines, Dom."
Dom felt his cheeks flush with heat as he turned back to collect his gift. "Was thinking about something else," he confessed with a husky voice.
A secretive smirk eased its way onto Brianís lips, and Dom shuddered when Brian leaned close and hotly whispered, "Me, too. Been thinking about it a lot lately."
"You asshole." Laughing, Dom affectionately slapped the back of Brianís head before pushing him away. "Godís gonna punish you for that."
"Iíd rather *you* do the punishing."
Dom ignored Brianís wolfish grin and headed toward the exit. His life would soon be traveling down a road that was not on any map he was familiar with, and damn if he wasnít ready to hit the pavement running.
Dom dropped the pile of magazines on his bunk and walked over to the sink in the corner. It was fucking hot outside despite the recent rain shower, and he spent several seconds rinsing away the sweat that had collected on his skin.
Straightening, he grabbed a towel and dried off. The whole time he was doing so he deliberately avoided looking at the calendar thumbtacked next to the mirror that hung on the wall above the sink. Mia had painstakingly numbered each daily square with exactly how many days remained before he was due for parole, and on those weekends when Brian visited, Dom preferred not knowing how many more heíd have to endure before hooking up with the man who had flipped his world upside down.
"That was a real touching scene out there in the garden, Dom. Real *touching,* if you get my drift."
Dom closed his eyes and blocked out the ghostly image of Jesseís face peering over his shoulder. His dead friend had been haunting him off and on for the past few months, sometimes appearing when it was most inconvenient for Dom.
Like late at night when Dom was forced to literally take matters into hand because Brian had invaded his dreams and taken him on a wild ride that had nothing to do with cars. Jesse had weathered several spunk showers, much to Domís embarrassment, but unlike Vince or Leon, had been extremely considerate of Domís predicament and had never ribbed him about it.
Jesse had also proven to be an enthusiastic source of information on the subject of sex between men. A little *too* enthusiastic in his descriptions for Domís taste. Quiet time in the prisonís library were now sessions of cheek-flaming embarrassment, and it was because Jesse was bound and determined that his friend leave Chino with *all* the facts. What was even worse was there seemed to be no end to the amount of information Jesse had stored in his brain. Add that to the fact that his homework was being assigned by a ghost that had absolutely no respect for those who needed at least eight hours of sleep every night made for a very grumpy and frustrated Dom.
"Whatís up, Jess?"
Dom pushed away from the sink and took a seat at the small table that was shoved between his bunk and the far wall. He pulled open its one drawer and removed a plastic case. Inside were the makings of a leather wallet, and if the damn thing ever got finished, it would be a present for Brian. Not because it was Brianís birthday or anything, but just because Dom wanted to give the guy a gift.
He remembered how excited Letty would get whenever he had given her a present unexpectedly, and yes, the thank-you sex that followed had made the whole frustrating hunt for something nice worth the effort. It wasnít the sex Dom was after with Brian so much as the smile he knew that would instinctively light up his face. Even if he thought the gift was dumb and totally out of character for Dom, which it was, Brian would still smile, maybe even laugh, and *that* was definitely worth the effort.
Noticing the numerous gouges in the leather, Dom fingered the lop-sided wallet and sighed in defeat. Cars and engines he could fix with his eyes closed. Leather crafting was another matter all together. His large hands and beefy fingers were just not made for such work, and regrettably the wallet reflected that fact.
"Thatís pretty pathetic-looking, if I may so, Dom. You sure you want to be giving it to Brian?"
Dom ignored Jesseís comment and continued to struggle with the thin leather straps that, once braided, would be used to trim the edges of the wallet. Minutes passed and finally he threw the whole mess back in the drawer. Maybe heíd ask Big Pete to spray paint a tee for Brian, something with cars on it. Or better yet, maybe a hot babe with colossal hooters. Brian would get a kick out of that, not to mention it would be perfect camouflage for when the two of them were out in public together.
"Iíll catch ya later, Jess. Got somebody I need to talk to."
Dom was at the door to his cell when Jesse stepped in his way. "Not now, Jess. Got some business to take care of."
"The babe thingís a bad idea, Dom. Not Brianís style. Stick with the cars. Or better yet, a six-pack of Coronas. Thatís certainly something you two have in common. Sure as hell drank enough of Ďem."
"Iíll think on it, Jess, okay? Now, if you donít mind, Iíve got somewhere to go."
Jesse didnít budge an inch, and even though Dom knew the young man wasnít really there, he was reluctant to just, big as you please, walk right through the slender apparition. "Jess."
"Big Pete can wait. If I was you Iíd be checking out that article Brian recommended you read."
Dom rubbed both hands over his head and seriously tried to hold onto his temper. Jesse had been infuriating at times when he was alive. Dom didnít think he could handle a ghost with the same inclinations. "The magazineís not going anywhere. Iíll read it when I get back."
"Iím telling ya, Dom. Read the article. Please, read the article."
Dom slammed his hands against the bars along either side of Jesse and smiled with satisfaction when his ghostly friend jumped quickly out of his way. "Later, okay?"
"Okay, but donít blame me if the damn thing goes missing while youíre gone. You know how stuff has started growing legs lately, and itís not like I can protect Ďem with my supernatural powers."
Jesse stomped away from Dom, and it was almost comical to see, but Dom held back his laughter. The kid was right. Their cell block had become home to one hell of a sneaky bastard, and the guards had yet to catch the thief. Dom would never forgive himself if Brianís gift was stolen.
"All right, all right, Iíll read the damn magazine."
Not realizing what he was doing, Dom copied Jesse exactly and stomped away from the door and back to where he had thrown the stack of magazines. He laughed long and hard when he saw the title of the one on top of the pile.
"Brian, you little shit."
Dom made himself comfortable on his bunk, shoving a pillow behind his head before thumbing through the magazine in search of the article on NOS. He was halfway done when an envelope with his name on it slipped out and fell in his lap. Didnít take a genius to realize it was from Brian.
Dom tore open the envelope and pulled out several sheets of stationary with the logo for Holiday Inn at the top of each page. He chuckled when he saw the paper and wondered if heíd find any towels with the same logo hiding out in Brianís linen closet. If Brian was anything like the rest of the population, thereíd not only be towels but bottles of shampoo and conditioner, along with soap and matchbooks taking up space in the OíConner house.
Glancing toward the end of his bunk, Dom saw that Jesse was still with him. "I am *not* sharing this letter with you. So you might just want to find something else to do for a while."
Jesse didnít say a word. He simply faded from view, but did so very slowly, letting Dom see the knowing grin on his face.
"Is everyone I know a smartass now?" Dom shook his head and returned his attention to Brianís letter.
Smoothing out the folded sheets of paper, he reflected on the fact that he had never seen Brianís handwriting. It was pretty legible considering, and nothing like the deplorable scrawl that passed for his chicken-shit scratch.
"Okay, Bri, whatís on your mind?"
Considering how weird this feels, you may be getting your first and last love letter. In fact if it stops raining before I finish, you might not get it at all.
Guys and love letters just donít seem to go together in my book, but thereís some things I need to say and putting thoughts to paper is a whole lot easier than putting them into words. And Iím telling you right now---if this letter gets the least bit mushy, you have my permission to toss it in the nearest garbage can. I will not be pissed in the least.
Okay, here goes.
Up front let me tell you none of what Iím saying is your fault. All blame lies at my door. My door, Dom. You hear me? My door.
Without a doubt I put my career on the line the second I saw the photos Bilkins had of you. The case was comprised from get go because---whatís the phrase? You pushed all my buttons. Thereís something about bald men and brawn that do it for me. Throw in a dose of smarts and a cock-sure attitude, and my common sense is left sitting in the dust. You had it all, Dom, and the day I saw you in person was the day I knew my life was about to make a major U-turn.
Guess you never knew this, but the first time I saw you wasnít at the market. It was at your garage. I was doing some of my own prelim recon work and had the garage staked out. It was late one evening, and everyone was gone except you and Mia. Your sister had disappeared into the office leaving you to lock up.
Dammit, Dom, Iíll never forget watching you strip off your tee so that you could hose down your chest and arms. Iím not going to embarrass you with the crude details, but letís just say I added a few new stains to the dash of my Mustang.
Dom put aside the letter and grinned. Seems Brian wasnít the only one to feel the affects of lust at first sight. Dom would take this to the grave, but that first time Brian had come to his rescue, Dom had returned home and fucked Letty through the mattress. Something about Brianís bad-boy smile and his blond hair had really put one over on Dom, and Letty had happily taken the brunt of his frustration.
"Not that youíre ever gonna find that out, Mr. Arizona."
Chuckling, Dom resumed reading his love letter.
And Dom, I knew it was you hijacking those rigs. Donít ask me how I knew it. I just did. But man, I was too far gone to actually point the finger at you. No way in hell was I going to be the one to take you down. Shit, I worked my butt off trying to pin the rap on Tran or Hector. Even though I knew it wasnít them, I still tried to find a way.
But Jesus, Dom, when you and the gang disappeared at Race Wars, I knew right then and there that I had no chance of keeping you out of harmís way. You were history. And whether it was because the cops nailed your ass, the truckers planted it six feet under or you hauled it across the border, I knew you were gone.
Thatís why I gave you the keys, man--why I risked life and limb and kissed you back at my house. It wasnít cause I had the hots for you--which I did, do, but thatís beside the point. The only thoughts, the only truths that were rattling around in my brain were one, you were worth it all--rep, job, and two, I needed to do whatever it took to keep you alive and out jail.
Iíll admit the kiss was kind of stupid--okay, a hell of a lot stupid. But I thought it was a sure fire way of sending you running for the border. Plus, if you want to know the honest-to-god truth, I figured if you were going to beat the crap out of me for coming on to you, why not go down tasting what could have been.
And Dom? It could have been fucking glorious. It WILL be fucking glorious. A ten-second ride your heart wonít soon forget, amigo.
Ten seconds, forever---who the hellís counting, anyway? Itís all about being free to live the life I could only dream about back then.
I love you, Dom, and like Mia said, you own me. Not a bad deal, if want to know the truth.
Dom folded the pages of the letter back together and stuffed them inside in the envelope. Minutes passed as he thought on Brianís words and the feelings they had stirred up inside him. He even went as far as to flatten his hand over his chest so that he could verify how fast his tell-tale heart was beating. It wasnít every day Dominic Toretto got a love letter, and considering this may be his first and last one, it didnít hurt for him to savor the way his body was reacting.
Slipping a hand between his legs, Dom was pleasantly surprised to find his dick still nice and comfy inside his prison jumpsuit. This astonishing state of affairs proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was his heart and not his libido that was eager about his future with Brian. And according to the letter he had just finished reading, his future, *their* future, was going to be fucking glorious.
Dom had no problem with that, no problem at all.
Rolling out of bed, he folded the envelope that held Brianís letter into threes and then slipped it inside his shoe. Tomorrow heíd give it back to Brian and ask him to keep it somewhere safe. No use losing his very first love letter to the bastard with sticky fingers.
A sentence Brian had written suddenly came to mind as Dom walked toward the rear of his cell.
ĎTen seconds, forever---who the hellís counting, anyway?í
Dom looked at the dayís date on the calendar and then down at the number printed in the bottom right-hand corner.
"Iím counting, Brian. Counting and waiting for you."
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