Short Time
Mild Dom/sub, prison sex

1. Two months, six days remaining

Dom leaned against the cinderblock wall and watched the new fish try to swim through the practice yard. A thin black kid bolted for the Black Guerrilla Family in the corner, circling warily as he tried to decide the best way to get in with them. Three Hispanics wandered between the ballcourt and benches, gray territory between the Mexican Mafia and Nuestra Familia. That left four white dudes. Two looked to be old hands, and a group from the Aryan Brotherhood called out a greeting. One headed right for him, with a second trailing close behind.

That left two. Neither looked much good for fighting, so Dom figured they'd be someone's bitch within a day. One was a pencil necked geek who looked about ready to pass out as he stood in the middle of yard. The second one looked a little smarter. He tucked his head down and headed for a corner that was usually claimed by the lifers: old men with papery skin and no more energy to do anything other than watch the young ones knife each other.

Most of the time, people avoided them because they were mostly the murderers, but this guy with the eyepatch and the dark hair with curls that reminded him of Brian headed right for them. Dom watched with some amusement as the old guys shifted and eyed this newcomer with more than a little suspicion. Doing time was long bouts of boredom interrupted with short bursts of pain and fear, so Dom was hoping the one-eyed boy would give him a little amusement. Four months into a six month bit meant that he'd pay good money for a little amusement, something to take his mind off the two months he had left.

Yeah, it could have gone down a lot worse. If Brian hadn't dug his heels in and insisted that Dom and the crew weren't the hijackers... if his lawyer hadn't made him look like an incompetent idiot who fucked up the first time he tried a heist, well, it could have been a whole lot worse. Didn't mean this was easy time. Some days Dom wanted to find Brian and beat the shit out of him. Other days he wanted to buy the kid a beer.

Dom watched in amazement as this new fish settled in next to Keester, an old timer who went up for multiple murder. Well, he was going to have to find some other amusement for today. Instead, Dom checked out a Mexican man who was clearly turning his bitch out.

Dom didn't give the curly-haired new comer any thought until he got back to his house. The kid was there, unpacking a small bag. He saw Dom and stood up. From a distance, Dom had assumed this was a kid—he had the loose limbed walk and casual attitude that showed by the way he didn't keep an eye on the corners where someone might come jumping out. But up close, Dom could see something else. The kid had old eyes... or an old eye anyway.

"Xander Harris," he said, leaning against the bunk rail. Dom leaned against the bars and checked out his new celly.

"I have top," Dom announced after a long pause.

"Hey, I'm good with bottom. I'm not that good with ladders and heights, not since—" He tapped the eyepatch.

Dom thought about asking, or pointing out the humor in a man proclaiming his preference with bottom, but it wasn't like he wanted to get up close and personal with the guy. He just wanted to finish his two months and walk out.

"Bad accident. You know what your mother tells you about running and scissors? It goes for running and thumbs, too." Harris announced.

Dom just grunted as he flung himself up onto his bunk. Fuck. He just had to get a talker.

And the kid just kept going. "Out in the yard, I had you pegged for a bad mother fucker, not that you would actually fuck... and you know, I’m not that good at swearing."

That did it, Dom had to laugh. "Fuck, you'd better learn to shut up or you're going to get stuck your first week in. You'll be taking a back door parole."

"And by back door parole, I assume you're not talking about the kind of parole where you just wander out a back door, because I wouldn’t mind that."

Dom leaned over the side of his bunk and looked down at the kid. He was looking up, and that ancient eye now seemed so fucking young. Then again, if he believed there was an escape out of this hellhole, then he was that fucking young... young enough to believe in fairy tales. "I mean the kind of parole where they take you out in a body bag."

"And that would be of the not-so-good," Harris said with a grimace. "Definitely not so good."

2. One month, twenty-three days remaining.

"So, is anyone new vowing eternal vengeance on me and mine?" Xander asked when Dom came in. Xander tended to stay in the house since he'd gone and made a spectacle of himself, and right now he was sitting on his bunk with his legs crossed and his comics piled around him.

"You'd better stay off the yard and away from the showers," Dom commented. He was on short time, so he shouldn't be getting involved at all, but Xander wasn't a bad kid. Sometimes he got to telling his tall tales about vampires and monsters, and he could make Dom believe the crazy shit, which was better than paying attention to this hell hole with men always trying to kill each other over a few fucking cigarettes or passing kite or shoving kite up their asses or turning on each other like fucking animals.

"I stay away from the showers too much longer, and you're going to be trying to stick me," Xander said, but he laughed. He was not nearly worried enough about the fact that the Aryan Brotherhood wanted him dead, but after he tossed two of their enforcers around the day room like fucking tinker toys, maybe he didn't have a reason to worry. Dom had certainly revised his opinions on Xander Harris.

"I can deal with the stink," Dom shrugged as he sat on the edge of Xander's bunk and checked out the comics the man had laid out.

"Watch the fingerprints," Xander warned.

"Wait 'til the guards toss this place, and then see if you care."

"I'd better not be here that long." Xander sounded bitter, which wasn't the usual for Xander, not at all.

"You on short time, too?" Dom asked casually. Xander didn't bring up his jacket, and Dom never pushed, but he was curious.

"Um, sorta. Not short time in that I have a short time left on the sentence because my sentence is freakily long, and if it weren't for the fact that certain people just seriously needed to not go poking into certain places, no way would I have pleaded guilty to all the crap they threw at me," Xander said, "but short time as in someone is going to do something really funny with the paperwork and weirdness will follow and then I'll be out of here shortly. Just not shortly enough, and someone is going to owe me cookies until the end of the world for making me put up with this. I mean, how many cookies does it take to make up for a strip search? I’m guessing a lot."

Dom raised an eyebrow at that.

"I have friends who are big with getting things done, but not getting them done quickly enough, which is starting to frustrate me." Xander sounded so fucking serious, but after seeing him lay out two guys twice his size, Dom was almost willing to believe he was some sort of secret agent with friends in high places. But if he wasn't delusional, his friends had better get him out before the Brotherhood got to him.

Dom dropped the comic book on one of the piles and watched Xander slowly stretch his legs out. The kid didn't have any vices—not drugs or sex or beating on people to make himself feel bigger, but he did love his comics. He loved comics and telling some pretty fucking outrageous tales. He should go into writing horror books with his imagination.

"Richie wants you dead or punking for him after what you did, and he's made it pretty widely known that he'll pay good money to the man who turns you into a bitch and puts you out." Richie'd offered Dom money, but Dom didn't take money for doing shit like that, and not to Xander. Sometimes the kid looked at him, and all Dom could see was that honest confusion like he didn't understand why people weren't just nice to each other. It was like having someone remind him about Brian every fucking day. Bri had that some naïve look, like he just couldn't figure out how people could be so mean.

"So, are you going to try?" Xander asked cautiously.


"Good to know." Xander sighed in relief, like he totally trusted Dom's word, which was pretty fucking stupid around here. "You know the really funny thing?" Xander suddenly asked with the enthusiasm of a kid talking about Christmas. "I mean, this is really ironic, hugely ironic. I mean, if they had come and asked nicely, they might have had a chance. Maybe not because I am not into the skinhead thing, but I don't have a problem playing bottom in general. I enjoy it in fact. Or I enjoy it when I'm with someone I trust, and that does not include vampires, mummies or things with horns. I have a no horn rule... except if you're green. If you're green with horns, I can be persuaded to bend the rules a little bit." Xander held up two fingers to demonstrate a little bit, but then the fingers grew apart as his 'little bit' grew. He got a silly look on his face like he was remembering something very nice.

Dom just stared. It wasn't like Xander needed protection, but here he was declaring himself a bitch ready to be taken, like he was looking for Dom to step in and play wolf. But Dom was on short time, and no way did he want to buy into this trouble.

"And that is not a good look," Xander sighed. "If you're going to have a heterosexual moment of panic and start something, can we get this over with now?"

While Dom had prepared himself for a lot of things from Xander... had learned to expect the man to do the oddest thing possible, in fact... he hadn't seen that one coming. "You think I'm going to beat the shit out of you?"

"You have that look where you're about to try, but despite me looking more than averagely helpless, the beating is not necessarily a done deal."

"I don't go beating on guys just because they're punks."

"No, you just call them punks." Xander rolled his eyes. "And if you'd seen the scary line of women in my past, you'd sign me up for the gay plan, too. Although, I think I was always on the gay plan, only I had gay with a big side order of denial." Xander seemed strangely calm about whole thing.

"You don't think that taking it up the ass makes you a little womanish?"

Xander flat out laughed. "The women I hang out with... they are scary enough that being compared to them would be big with the complimenting, but as far as I know, women don't take it up the ass... well, Faith might. She's... she's interesting. She'd try it once, but if she didn't like it, I would not want to be the guy who talked her into it." Xander looked over. "You can't tell me you haven't done something. This is your second time around."

"I don't take it up the ass," Dom immediately barked.

"Yeah, like I couldn't figure that one out on my own."

"Are you trying to convince me to side with you? You offering payment for protection?" Dom just asked. With Xander, he had given up on trying for subtle.

"Whoa, hey, no! You do not need to be getting into the middle of this shit with me. Nope, I handle my own shit."

"Then why are you telling me this?" Dom demanded.

Xander shrugged. "You're the one sitting here. But you have some freaky ideas about guys who don't mind turning over for someone, so I figure the one good thing out of this whole weirdness is setting you straight.

"You're setting me straight?" Dom didn't even try to hide his amusement at that. Yeah, Xander sometimes got this old expression, like he'd just seen too much. But most of the time he was little more than a kid who liked to tell outrageous stories straight out of his comic books.

"You have issues," Xander said firmly. "I mean, look at the guy who sent you here."

"Brian?" Dom tensed up. Brian was not a topic he wanted to discuss. He'd been shitfaced drunk on hooch the night he'd told that story.

"Yeah, you know, the cop who gave you his car... the one who screwed over the prosecution case so they only got you on one attempt charge instead of sticking you with all those robbery jobs. That Brian."

"You mean the Brian who was fucking my sister," Dom added. That part still burned him, even if Mia had dumped white boy on his sorry ass.

Xander shook his head. "You macho types all have fat cells clogging the brain." Anyone else Dom would flatten for that kind of shit-talk, but hitting Xander just didn't seem right. Yeah, he could take care of himself better than most, but he just didn't come across as someone who could. He looked and acted like a giant kid, and that just made it harder to punch him.

Xander didn't seem to know he was in any danger at all because he just kept right on going. "I told you all about Buffy, didn't I? And Willow? Yep, I was lusting boy over both of them. Jumped in with two feet lusting boy, and all because I couldn't face the fact that it was Jesse. I loved him. Yeah, I was a kid and it was puppy love, and maybe he would have cracked me over the head if I'd gotten up the nerve to say anything, but I still sometimes just wonder, you know." Xander went silent, and Dom sagged back against the metal rail. He'd lost his own Jesse. The kid had looked up to him for protection, and Dom had failed. Xander's stories were always a little hard to sort out, but from the sounds of it, he and his Jesse had been in a gang pretty young, and Jesse had been the first of many to fall.

Dom finally shook his head. "What the fuck does that have to do with Brian?"

Xander reached over and patted Dom like he was some sort of overgrown dog, and Dom snatched his hand, yanking Xander toward him so the man was belly down and sprawled over his comics. "Keep your hands to yourself," he warned.

"And that would be the denial and overreacting showing up. I did that too. Of course, I did that with a demon girl who liked to make men's penises shrivel and fall off, so you have some work to do if you're going for intimidating," Xander assured him. Some days, Dom truly thought that Xander would benefit from some of those psych drugs the hospital doctors kept under lock and key. But Xander lay with his back exposed to Dom without even trying to defend himself the way he had from those Aryan Brothers. "Think about it, Dom. He covered for you. He tanked his career to make sure you didn't go to prison for a bajillion years. And yeah, he slept with your sister, but my guess is that was more because he couldn't get near you with a ten foot pole."

"You're fucking nuts," Dom said as he let Xander go.

"Yep," Xander agreed with annoying cheerfulness. Dom could only roll his eyes and wonder why he'd been stuck with the nut-job celly.

3. One month, three days remaining

"Where'd you get those?" Dom asked as he walked in on Xander eating what looked like a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Something like that would bring a hell of a lot of money.

"From a friend with mucho guilt," Xander said as he flipped a page on one of his comics. "Want one?" Xander held up the plate, and Dom gratefully took a cookie that was lumpy with thick chunks of chocolate. Xander did a lot of strange ass things, but at least this time, it wasn't annoying like his habit of hanging tiny mirrors fucking everywhere. Dom felt like he was in a fucking disco when the cops' flashlight hit all those things.

"Good," Dom said after taking a big bite.

"Yep. My girl knows how to do guilt."

"I thought you were more into guys than girls," Dom pointed out. Xander rolled to his side and looked up.

"You are so issues-man," he complained, but Dom spotted something in Xander's comic. Reaching over he pulled the comic book out of Xander's hand and flipped it open. Between pages of superheroes beating up on villains in stupid outfits, Xander had tucked a number of plain, white papers with lists and figures with stupid headings like Hippolyta Alpha, Hippolyta Beta and Demon A, Demon B.

"That would be the intel on which scary women are where. And the sad and scary truth is that if I don't do the stats on who is good at what, the team is sadly incapable of keeping track of it on their own. Big disasters: no problem. Keeping track of day to day shit is way beyond their ability." Xander nodded knowingly as if that actually made sense. "Of course, we do the code thing because our security is not exactly what you might call good. I mean, a transdimensional portal here, a telekinetic demon there, and next thing you know, your security isn't worth shit." He shrugged and gave a sheepish grin that made him look about fifteen.

Dom stared at Xander for a second before he tossed the comic back to Xander. "You need serious medication."

"Probably," Xander shrugged without taking much offense. "So, did anyone figure out what happened to the Aryan Brothers?" Xander shoved another cookie in his mouth so that his cheeks bulged out like a chipmunk.

"Rumor is it's the booty flu, but I ain't ever seen a whole group come down with AIDS overnight, and no one has anything more serious than a nasty rash." Dom stole another cookie from Xander. Another con would have shanked him over a cookie like that, but Xander just smiled and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Very bad to annoy the Xander," he offered, spraying crumbs.

"What? You're saying you can not only kick their enforcers asses but give them booty flu, on top?"

"Um, I think it's poison ivy... at least it's supposed to be poison ivy." Xander got one of those looks on his face again, like he'd seen too many people die. Lots of people had that look in here, but Xander usually wasn't one. Then again, Xander had found a place with the lifers now that he was going in the yard again, so obviously they saw something of a kindred spirit in him. Most of the gangs had just decided that he was too fucking crazy to bother and that he'd probably killed shitloads of people on the outside. After seeing him go through the Aryan Brotherhoods' two top enforcers, Dom wouldn't have doubted it if Xander told him he was in for murder.

"They got poison ivy in here? I haven't seen anything green around here except the mashed potatoes," Dom pointed out as he shoved some comics aside and stole another cookie. He had no idea where Xander came up with them, but it'd been five fucking months since he'd eaten anything that didn't make him want to puke it right back up.

"That would be where the friends who are sorry comes in." Xander gave him an impish grin. "And if I don't have a chance to say this before I take off, I've actually enjoyed rooming with you. I mean, you don't look longingly at my neck or threaten to eviscerate me in my sleep or consider stories of the bubonic plague and its effects on men's genitals a bedtime story, so all in all, you're a pretty good roommate."

Dom didn't even try to answer that bit of insanity. When Xander got going with his stories, he'd just learned to let them roll past him. Whatever the fuck the kid had been up to on the outside, it had clearly blasted a couple of brain cells loose.

"I just wish you would get over this weird sexual hang up you have. Now, I’m not one to judge because everyone is entitled to whatever experimentation or hang-ups they pick, but you're a little on the loco side," Xander said, and he completed the thought by circling his finger at his temple—the universal sign of crazy.

"I'm loco?" Dom asked with a smile. Xander was nothing if not amusing.

"You love coming in here and invading my space. Let me leave my books out, and you are thrilled at getting to shove them to the side."

Dom stiffened. Yeah, he'd broken some pretty basic prison rules with the kid, but it's not like he'd been complaining up to this point. Xander, however, kept right on talking.

"You have to push by me in the morning, push me to the corner of the bed with your manly sprawl..."

Dom looked down, and he was sprawled out while Xander had claimed the quarter of the bed closest to the pillow. And still Xander kept going.

"You're in alpha male mode, so obviously you like playing big man on campus, but then you go thinking that there's something wrong with those of us who don't go around shoving and pushing to claim as much space as possible. You know, some guys just like to be quiet... well, not quiet as in not talking, but quiet in terms of not drawing attention to themselves, unlike some people who are all dom all the way, and can I just say your name is kinda scary-accurate."

Dom just blinked, not quite able to process as fast as Xander talked. He also withdrew to his half of Xander's bed instead of physically dominating it.

"And that's where the crazy comes in," Xander sighed. "You would hate someone crowding you, so you assume I do, which is not true."

Dom had to think about that one for a second. "You want me to crowd you?"

Xander nodded. "I guess I'm just used to having a lot of big personalities around me, but getting crowded feels... familiar," he finished after a brief paused. "It's like playing bottom. I don't mind because I don't feel a need to try and prove who has the bigger dick metaphorically. Like I said, if we're talking metaphors, most of the girls in my life already have me beat... although if we're going to talk literally, I don't have anything to apologize for in the penis department. I was called a Viking by a woman who would know."

"You are too fucking strange." Dom started to get up, but Xander rested his hand on Dom's shoulder. Dom reacted automatically, grabbing Xander's arm and flipping him onto his stomach and trapping him there with a hand on the back of Xander's neck. "Do you want to tell me now how you don't mind being bottom, how you don't mind being crowded?" Dom leaned down, pressing his weight against Xander's back and whispering the words in his ear. Sometimes Xander just pushed too hard and was too fucking frustrating. Holding him down was a little more pleasant than Dom wanted to admit to himself.

"I don't mind," Xander said, his words muffled by the thin mattress. "I trust you wouldn't do anything I asked you to not do." Long seconds ticked by as he breathed heavily, his body lax under Dom's hands.

"You're an idiot." Dom sat up and let go of Xander's neck and arm, but Xander only rolled to his side and looked at Dom with that same trusting expression.

Xander closed his good eye for a second before he looked up at Dom with that ancient, worn expression that made the lifers take him in. "I work so hard to keep everything together... to make everyone happy... to make sure that people get vacations and aren't overworked and have the right type of chocolate at the right time of the month. You wouldn't think that would be an issue for an army, but for some armies, their efficiency ratings depend on proper chocolate deliveries. I'm always trying to not fuck up, Dom. I'm always terrified. Sometimes... sometimes letting someone else crowd me is the best feeling in the world. Sometimes I don't want to work to always make myself fit into all the cracks, sometimes I want someone to come in and press against me until I don't have to worry about anything at all."

Dom didn't have an answer for that. Uncomfortable thoughts pushed into his mind. He wondered if Brian had felt that way when he'd been trying to please the FBI and the cops and prosecutors and Mia and him all at once. He wondered what had made Brian stand in the middle of a hot road and turn his keys over to Dom, knowing that Dom would use those stolen hours of freedom to bury evidence. He wondered why Brian had sat in a hearing and insisted that he had no evidence that Dom had been involved with any heists—that he had been so far out of control he couldn't swear that he hadn't pushed Dom and the others to try their hand at hijacking.

Not saying a word to Xander, Dom turned around and headed back for the day room. The Mexican Mafia would be in there right now, but right now he'd rather risk a confrontation with them than with Xander.

4. Twenty seven days remaining.

The lights went off, one set at a time, with a series of heavy thunks that marked the difference between day and night in this place. Dom rolled onto his back and looked at the shadow of the cell bars on the ceiling created by the dim security lighting that never went off. Faint scuffles started as the prison's nightlife began, and the despair was thick enough to smell.

Before Xander, he'd had Peter Castillano sharing his house. Dom hadn't slept much... mostly he'd dozed as he'd tried to stay alert enough to make sure he didn't get a shank in the back because Castillano was not the most stable celly in the world. Dom rubbed his head and listened to Xander turn over on the bunk, soft snores already starting.

Of course, the kid wasn't exactly stable himself. Dom figured someone in the admin office must really have it in for him, but at least Xander wasn't the dangerous sort. Yeah, he must have done some pretty bad shit out there and god knows the Aryan Brothers were twitchy as hell around the kid even now that they'd been sprung from the infirmary, but he just didn't have a dangerous vibe to him. At least not physically. What the kid had said had somehow wormed its way into Dom's brain the way Brian had wormed into his life. Four months he'd managed to avoid thinking about the cop who'd sent him to prison at the same time he'd saved Dom from doing five to fifteen. Since Xander came, he couldn't get the cop out of his mind.

Dom slid off the bunk and landed without waking Xander. The kid didn't even twitch. Dom sat on the edge of Xander's bed and considered just how much he'd hate the feeling of helplessness he'd feel if he found someone sitting on the edge of his bed after lights out. He'd seriously hurt anyone who physically shoved him face down on a bunk or who stuck a gun in his face. And yet Xander and Brian... they'd both forgiven him when he'd pushed them about as hard as he'd pushed anyone. When he'd been arrested, he was fully prepared to have the prosecutor charge him with assault against a police officer, because of that one night when he'd knocked the shit out of Brian and shoved a gun in his face, but the kid hadn't told anyone.

Xander sprawled in his sleep, one leg in the blanket and one sticking out, an arm thrown up over his head, and his missing eye puckered. Apparently the prison officials had refused to let him keep the glass eye he normally wore. Even that didn't get Xander angry. Reaching out, Dom rested his hand on Xander's hip, and the one good eye opened immediately.

"Dom? Trouble?" Xander's voice didn't have a trace of sleep in it—he woke fast, a habit Dom had picked up when he'd been in prison the first time, but Xander insisted that this was his first time in the can.

"Did you mean it?" Dom asked curiously. "That shit about not minding when people push? Did you mean that or is that just your way of surviving?"

"My way of surviving?" Xander blinked and rubbed his face for a second. "You mean, like poor little Xander will roll over and not fight back because he's all with the being weak and pathetic? Do I look pathetic? Don't answer that," Xander quickly said as he held his palm up toward Dom. "I probably do look pathetic, and I'm normally in tune with my own patheticness because of who I hang out with, but compared to people in here, do I actually seem pathetic?"

Dom considered that. Half the prison thought Xander was on drugs, the other half thought he needed drugs, and nearly everyone just stayed the fuck out of his way. Some of the Haitians were even saying he was some sort of witch doctor who'd cursed the whole Aryan Brotherhood, and everyone knew how he'd sent their two enforcers head first into a few walls before they'd had the good sense to stay down. Fuck, he'd spent most of the fight apologizing and looking like he was trying to help them while he'd 'accidentally' knocked them on their ass. It was like watching a fucking Three Stooges routine. That took a hell of a lot more strength and speed than just punching the men in the guts, so pathetic wasn’t the first word that came to mind when he thought of Xander.

"You seem like you can take care of yourself," Dom admitted.

"Yep, I'm surviving-boy. You'd be surprised what I can survive, and if I don't like someone, I'm going to push back with everything I have. Hey, let a hellgod or a skinhead try to tell me what to do, and I'm going to be pushy like you would not believe."

Dom rolled his eyes as Xander started right in with his crazy stories again.

"And I'm thinking you're making-a-point man, so point away." Xander wriggled around a bit to get comfortable and just watched him. Dom looked out into the main walkway. Across the way, someone was moving around in another cell, the white t-shirt flashing in the dark. "And to make a point, you need to say something," Xander said after the silence continued for long minutes.

Dom shook his head. "I'm just not used to guys who aren't trying to defend their territory."

"If you hear a bell ringing, that would be my bullshit meter going off," Xander said so calmly that it took an extra half second for Dom to catch the insult. He'd love to belt Xander, but the fact that the man continued to lie helpless on the bed made that pretty much impossible. He wasn't going to fight a man who wasn't fighting back. Xander sighed and shook his head like Dom was doing something particularly amusing. "Think about it. Brian didn't try and piss on your territory and prove he was some sort of big shot."

"Don't," Dom warned.

"And from the sounds of it, Jesse didn't either. They just assumed—"

Dom shoved Xander's chest so he fell back against the mattress. "Don't go there, Xander."

"If you're trying to get me to not point out the obvious truth, you should know that bigger and scarier than you have been trying to get me to shut up for a really long time." Even in the low light, Dom could see the amused expression on Xander's face.

"Do not push too far." Dom fisted Xander's t-shirt, pinning Xander against the bed, and Xander just blinked up at him without making any move to defend himself. "Maybe you like playing with fire," Dom said as nastily as he could.

Xander actually smiled—the crazy fuck. "If that's some sort of veiled Xander's-a-fag reference—one, I am; and two, it's a little too veiled to be actually insulty. And if you're talking about me playing bottom or submissive or whatever you want to call it, I already admitted that I signed up for that plan. I have a membership card and everything. So, yeah, I like playing with fire as long as it's a controlled burn."

"And you think I’m controlled?" Dom demanded as he pressed his fist against Xander's chest.

"By me?" Xander sounded shocked, but he kept talking pretty damn fast, the words falling out. "I'm not signing up to control anyone. Nope, not me. That would be the point of me being bottom boy, here. I don't want to control you. But I’m trusting that you control yourself. I mean, if I had to somehow control you, the whole point where I got to let go of control and not worry about being a big-old screw-up would be not pointlike. I happen to think you have enough control for you and me at the same time."

Dom let go of the kid and sat back. Damn it. The kid was not playing by any rules that Dom knew. He felt like he was driving on the top of a sand dune with no traction and his car sliding out of his control. In a car, he knew how to handle that feeling. He knew how to take a wheel and force a car to do what he wanted it to. He knew how to make steel and rubber obey.

Slowly, Dom reached out and pressed his palm against Xander's shoulder, pinning him to the mattress. "You aren't buying protection or anything else," Dom warned.

"Not looking for protection," Xander whispered. Dom reached out with his other hand and slowly pulled the thin blanket back before running a hand down over Xander's chest. He could feel Xander shiver, but the man lay still, his increasingly heavy breathing the only reaction. The first time he landed in the can, Dom had traded his protection for a warm hole, but that had been business—a desperate attempt to find some relief from the general despair. When Xander looked up at him, Dom saw desire and heat and need, but no desperation or despair. The rules were changing so fast that Dom wasn't exactly sure what he was heading into, but he only had to worry about the next quarter mile.

When Dom pushed the blanket down a little farther, he found Xander's sweats were tented over his erection. Dom took a second to rub his own crotch and the growing erection in his boxers. Xander's tongue came out and touched his lower lip.

"Can I?" he asked softly, his fingers twitching but his hands still laying still. He had one arm thrown up over his head and the other lying at his side, and he waited, his gaze focused on Dom's face.

With a sharp nod, Dom gave permission, and Xander's arm slowly reached over until his fingers brushed over the growing erection in Dom's shorts. The touch was gentle and teasing, but the intense expression on Xander's face was anything but hesitant.

"It's been so long," Xander said softly. "World ending here, chocolate shortage there, and next thing you know, you and your right hand are going steady."

"Shut up," Dom suggested.

"Right, shutting." Surprisingly, Xander did shut up. Normally, the man didn't seem to have a mute button, but Dom could not handle any more fucking weirdness... not on top of the weirdness he was dealing with on his own. He let his hand trail down Xander's chest and to his stomach where he just let it rest.

He'd never considered himself gay. If he had sex with a man, it was because there wasn't a woman available and sometimes he got tired of using a fucking fifi and a shitload of hand lotion. Right now, though, he felt a familiar warmth in his guts... one he normally got when Letty would come to him with that sultry look of hers. He'd lost that, though—just one of the costs of her getting probation. No fucking way would she wait for him for two years—the length of her probation—and she'd already sent him a letter explaining in detail how it was his fault they'd got caught and she ended up on probation.

Xander made a hungry noise, his hand on Dom's cock pressing until Dom hissed in pleasure. Slowly, Xander smiled, and that boyish look of his erased all the hard edges that sometimes showed. Remembering what Xander had said about how he liked to be pushed, Dom grabbed Xander's wrist and pinning it to the bed over Xander's head. It took only a second and he had trapped Xander's other hand and moved to straddle him.

Xander arched his back and gasped.

Smiling evilly, Dom rubbed against Xander. Xander twisted and writhed, and Dom ended up laying on Xander, their bodies pressed together while he struggled to hold on. For half a second, Dom worried that he was pushing too hard, that he was getting the signals wrong because he didn't know this game, but then Xander arched his neck and whispered Dom's name the way a lover would.

Shifting his weight, Dom used one hand to hold Xander's wrists, and he brought his other hand down to cup Xander's cheek. He waited until Xander's eye finally came open, his Adam's apple bobbing erratically.

"Do you want this?" Dom asked.

Xander didn't answer, but he gave a nod and a small, smug smile, like he'd won. Dom ran his hand down Xander's face and rested his thumb on Xander's lips. It was intoxicating to think that he controlled this. In a second, Dom had pulled Xander's t-shirt up and off, flinging it across the cell. Below him, Xander's stomach shivered as Dom ran a hand over it, the tiny hairs raising up to meet him.

Dom rolled to one side on the narrow bunk and pushed Xander's sweats down and released his erection. In the past, sex with a man was all about utility, but there were new rules here. Dom threw a leg over Xander's thigh and captured his wrists in one hand so that he could explore. Running a hand over Xander's stomach, he could feel the muscles tense and coil. Xander's breath caught so that he made a small hiccupping noise, and Dom moved his hand in a circle over the same spot just south of Xander's belly button.

This time Xander jerked under him, and Dom nearly lost one of Xander's wrists. The little shit was stronger than he looked, but Dom distracted him by running a finger over Xander's cock while he shifted his weight. Arching his back, Xander forgot to fight.

Dom rolled a nipple between his fingers and Xander went right back to fighting again, his eye closed and his mouth opened and he gasped for breath as he arched and twisted and bucked silently. Dom hissed as his own erection complained bitterly. Fuck. He'd never seen anything so hot

"Roll over," Dom ordered hoarsely, but he didn't let go of Xander's wrists. It meant that Xander had to squirm awkwardly without the use of his hands on the narrow bunk. Pressing himself to the cold concrete wall, Dom watched with amusement as Xander got into position on his stomach, his legs as open as they could be with his sweats caught around his thighs. Dom shifted so he was resting on Xander's back, totally pinning him to the bed with his weight.

Dom would go nuts with his back that vulnerable. Finally releasing Xander's hands, he stroked the curls away from Xander's sweaty face. "Tell me you're okay," Dom whispered.

"I'm too horny to be okay," Xander immediately answered, and Dom could feel him twist and buck, but he just didn't have the strength or leverage to move Dom's weight. "Condoms and lube under the bunk by the Spiderman comics."

Dom froze. He'd planned a little rubbing, but he hadn't been planning to actually fuck Xander. Xander, however, had obviously planned for something more. Not even asking how Xander got condoms, Dom felt around under the bunk until his fingers found them.

Xander was panting now, and Dom twisted the top of the lube, dropping a big, cool dollop onto Xander's shoulder.

"Damn," Xander swore, arching his back and half-pushing himself up on his elbows. It was like sliding out on a turn, but then Dom wasn't some novice who couldn't handle his shit. Dom grabbed one of Xander's arms and pulled it down next to his side so that Xander toppled back down to the mattress. Xander wiggled, but then Dom slid a finger inside Xander, and the man went still; he didn't even breathe.

"Good boy," Dom whispered roughly, but Xander's only reaction was to start breathing again while Dom worked his finger in and out in time with each breath. Dom slipped a second finger in and Xander gasped and struggled to open his legs. The seam of the sweats gave with a popping sound, but Dom just kept working his way into Xander's heat.

Xander's whole body was tight, like an engine going full out, but Dom was about to hit the NOS. He rolled to the side so he could shove his shorts down and roll a condom over his own throbbing erection, and Xander lay still, his back damp with sweat and his hands fisted around the cheap sheets.

"You're fucking perfect like this," Dom admitted as he studied the strong body laid out waiting for him, like some souped up Toyota Supra with an engine that screamed with power. And the power was there, in every line of Xander's body: in the muscles that surged under his touch, in the heat the poured from him and the curve of his back. Xander's back curved more, and Dom took his erection in hand, holding the base of the condom as he pushed in hard and fast.

Xander started to cry out before he buried his face in the thin pillow. Dom could still hear Xander's grunts and moans. He shifted his weight to his knees, and Xander's butt rose to meet him so that Xander rocked forward and back with him. Reaching around, Dom grabbed Xander's hard erection, and then Xander lost all rhythm as he spasmed in pleasure.

Dom let go and grabbed Xander's hips, holding him in place. With a cry, Xander came, the smell filling the small cell. Dom waited until Xander could breathe again, and then he started thrusting in and out, rocking feeling his own pleasure built until he finally rammed forward and came with a hoarse cry of his own.


Sex had never been like that with a man. Dom felt like he'd just driven the quarter mile of his life, and now he could only lay on Xander, the heat gathering between them as he tried to find his breath.

Xander might be crazy, but Dom had to admit that the kid wasn't even half bad.

"Oh yeah. Now that is good sex," Xander muttered. "It's been way too long for good sex. What am I saying? It's been way too long for mediocre sex, not that I'm suggesting that you give mediocre sex," Xander quickly added.

"I thought I told you to shut up," Dom said with more than a little amusement as he rolled to the side before he crushed Xander.

"The whole telling me what to do thing only works during sex and world ending. Other than that, I am a free agent."

Dom grunted. He wanted to fall asleep right here. But the wall was cold on his back, and the guard would pull one of them out and shove them in the hole if they caught them having sex, and Dom didn't really have any illusions about who they would assume had topped.

With an unhappy sigh, he started shifting backwards so he could get out without making Xander move.

"You could stay," Xander said softly. Dom hesitated. He hated leaving a lover wanting, and he realized that Xander was a lover... not some prison punk he'd just fucked.

"Wish I could. The pigs would toss me in the hole for deflowering you, though," Dom pointed out.

This time it was Xander's turn to snort. "You're a little late for the grand deflowering."

Dom patted the man on the ass. "If I'd gone there first... if we'd met out there, I wouldn't have let you slip away so easy," Dom said. He was telling the truth, too. Dom had never been good at letting go, not of lovers or cars or friends. As it was, he hated the thought that he was going to get out of here in less than a month, and he was leaving Xander to deal with this shithole by himself. The man slept too deep and trusted too fucking much.

Xander rolled onto his side. "If you'd gotten there first, I would have had a totally freaked out, morning-after hangover moment where I chased you out with much throwing of random items," Xander said with a laugh. "I'm not sure you would have been as amused as Clem was."

"Clem?" That was a new name.

"Don't ask," Xander said with a shake of his head. "You know, I have this no demon rule, but it's less rulelike than... well, than like an invitation to all demons to drop on by and give it a shot."

Dom chuckled as he climbed over Xander's legs and pulled his boxers up. "Xander, you are one crazy son of a bitch."

"Yep," Xander immediately agreed. "But at least now I'm a happy and sated crazy son of a bitch. Night, Dom."

"Night, Xander," Dom answered as he climbed to his own bunk, wishing they were both back in his room with his big king-sized bed. After Xander, his bunk was fucking cold.

5. Twelve days remaining.

Dom stretched and watched the dim shadows on the ceiling of his cell. His cock was sated, and Xander was already softly snoring in his bunk. Six weeks of Xander, and Dom knew his world had shifted.

Prison had always been about fear. It'd fueled his nightmares until he had vowed to die before going back. He'd even told Brian that—that he'd die before going back in. He might have done it, too. He might have waved some gun in a cop's face until he went and got himself killed, but that would have left Vince and Letty holding the bag for that last job. No, it was better for him to take the fall and let them plead out to probation for attempted hijacking.

But now, prison wasn't all that terrifying. Oh, the food still stank and the guards liked pushing prisoners around far too much. But among the prisoners, something had definitely shifted. No one kept secrets in a prison, so the fact that Xander rolled over for Dom was pretty much public knowledge. In prison, there were the punks who bought protection with their ass, there were the bitches who walked around telling everyone they were women, and then there were the ones who got turned out... the men who were forced into playing bottom. Most thought that Xander fit into that last category. And if Dom could turn him out, that made Dom a bigger badass than Xander.

If someone made a reputation out of topping him, Dom would fucking kill them, but Xander seemed to find it amusing. Some days, Dom really did think that Xander needed medication. Other days, Dom thought he might be the sanest person in this fucking hellhole.

His thoughts were interrupted by a flare that nearly blinded him. Jerking back away from the source of the light, he hit the back of his head against the cold concrete wall, nearly braining himself. Despite that, he was on his feet between Xander and the swirling ball of color in two seconds flat.

"Willow? Newsflash, I'm not alone." Xander pushed himself up onto one elbow and reached out to grab Dom's arm. Dom shook the boy's hand off as he prepared for whatever weird shit was about to go down.

"Um, yeah, I know." A young woman with red hair and one of those small faces that made her look like a child stuck her head through the middle of the colored swirl and Dom blinked fast to try and clear his vision. Fuck. Maybe someone had slipped him some crank or something. That would explain the sudden hallucinations. It was just that the crankheads usually guarded their stashes—they sure as shit didn't go around slipping some in someone else's food.

The girl spoke. "Are you sure he's not a demon? He has a look on his face like he might be a demon."

"He'd not a demon, Will." Xander sat up and stretched--his midsection vulnerable as his white shirt rode up to show a line of muscled stomach.

"I'm fucking stoned," Dom complained. "I don't know why I'm hallucinating this because I like my women a little less fragile, but I'm losing my fucking mind."

"Hey, no dreaming about women when I'm standing right here!" Xander elbowed Dom as he stood up. Dom glared.

"Um, Xander, we need to get you out of here before the guards do their next sweep or I'm going to have to do more of the memory mojo."

"So, it's all covered?" Xander asked. He got down on his knees and started pulling his shit out from under the bunk.

"Yep," the girl said cheerfully. "Paperwork stolen, computers wiped, memories mojo'ed, and you are officially a non-person as far as the law is concerned."

Xander stopped and slowly looked up at her. "Willow, please tell me I still have a driver's license and bank account."

Dom knew the answer the second he saw Willow's expression. He'd seen that same 'fuck, I've just screwed up' look on Jesse's face more often than he could count.

"Oh, Will," Xander sighed.

"I can fix it. Honestly, I can." She held her hands up defensively and wrinkled her nose so that Dom couldn't help but imagine her face on a rabbit.

"Great." Xander shook his head, but he sounded more resigned than angry.

"She stole your fucking money?" Dom demanded.

That made Xander smile. He knelt up, comics gathered in his arms. "Oh, she'll pay me back, with interest and extra cookies."

The girl moved forward so that her whole front half was sticking out of the colored blob that lit the cell. "Lots and lots of cookies. Actually, Buffy offered cookies, but I didn't think we should give you food poisoning on top of the whole getting you sent to prison. That would be bad."

Dom looked from the girl to Xander and back. If this was a dream, it was one of the weirdest ones he'd ever had.

"Thanks for the cookie-save. Chocolate should never be desecrated on the altar of Buffy cooking." Xander stood up and shoved his comics at Willow. She took them and turned her back so that she vanished into the blob. When Xander laid a hand on Dom's chest, Dom finally looked away from the blob and started thinking rationally.

"Why the fuck aren't the guards in here?" he demanded.

"That's my Dom, just focus on the parts that aren't of the weird." Xander laughed and patted him on the arm. Dom raised an eyebrow in a clear warning that would have made another man shake in fear. Xander just grinned at him, looking far too much like Brian for Dom's comfort.

"It's magic. The magic is sort of a package deal with the demons and the world ending, but feel free to ignore any and all parts that fall outside your comfort zone. I mean, if I thought you were cut out for the demon fighting, I would so invite you to my little prison break. It would be worth it just to see you and Spike growl at each other."

Dom grabbed Xander's arm in a bruising grip. "Xander, you break out of prison, and they'll fucking hunt you down. You'll never be safe." Dom did not want that sort of life on the run... not for Xander. The kid wasn't cut out for that shit.

Willow's head came through the colored blob again. "Which would be why we didn't break him out the first day the giant idiot confessed to murder. Not that we don't appreciate it. We are totally appreciating, and in the case of the two girls you covered for, guilting. Much guilting. So, are you coming? Because I have the last spell," she told Xander, holding up a blue bottle in her hand.

"Oh no, no there will be no more spells." Xander stepped away from Dom, putting himself right in front of her.

"Xander, it's just a little, tiny spell."


"It won't hurt at all."


She pushed through a little more and crossed her arms. She had a real glare on her when she tried. "It's going to be really weird if the inmates remember you and the guards don't. Your friend is going to end up with the police thinking he's..." Willow twirled her finger at the side of her head, clearly indicating that people might call Dom crazy. There was a very real possibility that he was crazy, so he couldn't exactly take offense if people called him on it.

"Willow, I am not wiping his memories." Xander crossed his arms. For a second, Dom thought the woman might come through that weird blob and bitch-slap Xander.

"Okay. I can protect the cell when I...." She stepped out of the blob and headed for the bars on the cell.

"No, no, no and more with the no," Xander said as he intercepted her. The cell was definitely not built big enough for three people and a blob, so Dom ended up with the sink pressing against his back.

"They’ll remember you!"

"Which would be my point. I want what I did here to matter, and if they don't remember me, the whole lesson with the magical poison ivy in embarrassing places is not going to be very lessonlike," Xander argued.

"When different people have different memories, badness can happen. What if one of them mentions you to a guard? The memory spell on the police might not hold."

"Look, chica," Dom interrupted, "no one is going to talk about Xander. They won't talk about him now, and if he just disappears... well, people in here don't ask questions when things don't add up right." Dom crossed his arms and dared her to argue his logic. He was right. As much strange shit as Xander had already been in the middle of, people avoided even thinking about him now. The Haitians used his name like some sort of fucking hex.

"My call, Willow," Xander said as he put his hand on her back and pushed her back toward the blob. "And Dom is right."

"This is such a bad idea." She shook her head sadly.

"Yeah, but it's my bad idea. So, how long until the guards notice the wonky?" Xander waved toward the prison as a whole.

Willow looked at her watch. "Maybe five or six minutes... maybe less."

"Give me a sec?"

Willow frowned at him. "This is a really bad idea. I could still...." She held up the small blue bottle.

"Lady," Dom warned, "you do anything with that and I’m going to break my own rule about punching a woman." Willow's eyes got big, but she didn't exactly look intimidated. She raised the bottle just a fraction of an inch, and Dom took a step forward. He didn't make threats without backing them up.

"I have an idea. How about anyone not assigned to this cell leave and take all potions and magical doo-dads with her," Xander insisted as he put his back to Dom's chest, holding him back.

Willow looked at them for a second. "Mister, if this goes bad, I am so saying 'I told you so' for a really long time," she said with a poke of her finger in Xander's direction, and then she vanished into the swirling colors.

"What the fuck is going on?" Dom demanded the moment they were alone with the giant swirling nightlight.

Xander chuckled, and the truth sank into Dom like motor oil seeping in through the cracks in an engine. "Fuck," Dom whispered. This whole time, he'd held onto Xander's arm, and he tightened his grip even more. "No fucking way am I letting you go back into the fucking insanity alone," Dom snapped.

"I am never alone... sometimes not even when I'm trying to use the bathroom," Xander said with a laugh. Besides, do you really want to deal with cranky vampires with defective souls that leave them prone to really bad puns and random verbal torture? You want to deal with the world ending and the girls who can kick your ass while painting their nails and the magic? You want to leave your family here?" Xander didn't even hide his disbelief.

"I could bring Mia and the others," Dom insisted.

"Not that easily. I mean, you're a felon, so there is probation and parole and the fact that the police are going to be looking at you funny a whole lot when you end up standing in the middle of a museum with all these broken windows claiming that you just happened to be walking through when you were really chasing an evil ghost. I mean, Dom, you aren't the non-suspicious sort."

"You don't think I can handle it?" Dom could feel hot anger rising until he tasted sour in his mouth.

"No, I am not saying that. I am nowhere near stupid enough to say that. I'm saying that you don't want the weirdness that is my life," Xander babbled. "And even if you tried to want it, there would be parts that would definitely not want you. I mean, your probation officer would not be amused by you living in a house with a hundred underage girls."

"What about your record?" Dom demanded, even though he had a feeling that he already knew the answer to that one.

"It will have mysteriously disappeared, which is doable using white magic only because I really didn't kill anyone. However, you are not exactly the innocent type. I mean, I like you a whole lot, but I know you did stupid shit out there, so the magical fix would take some really bad magic that would lead to bad places that Willow does not go."

Xander reached over and let his hand rest on top of the hand Dom was using to hold onto him. One finger at a time, Xander loosened Dom's grip. "I know you Dom, and you're all about being the top dog in the pack. And my pack already has way too many top dogs. It's amusing some days watching all the dogs go at each other, especially when the chocolate supplies run low and Buffy and Spike fight over the last bottle of peroxide. But your pack is kinda leaderless, and from the sound of it, they need you."

Xander finished pulling Dom's hand free and he took a step backwards toward the colored swirl. "You know, you made this almost enjoyable, except for the really crappy bed and gross food and creepy neighbors," Xander said with a shrug. "If you're ever in Cleveland, look me up."

"So, you're just taking off?" Dom asked. He wanted to argue with Xander, to point out that he wanted to keep Xander right under his hand, to feel his body writhing with need as he came. He wanted order Xander to get his ass over to Mia's house and wait for him, but the fact was that Dom always knew they were on short time. Him and Xander were always on different paths, although he sure as hell didn't expect Xander to go for the big prison break.

"Hey, I am officially not here already, which is why I have to leave before anyone sees me. What's the prison sentence for breaking into a prison cell, anyway?" Xander asked with a crooked smile. He grabbed his eyepatch off the shelf above the sink and slipped it over his face.

"Xander," Dom said, not even sure what he wanted to say.

Xander gave him a huge smile that made the kid look about fifteen with unruly curls that went everywhere. "I'll miss you. I wish sometimes I didn't have everyone counting on me to be dependable-man because I really wouldn't mind hanging around with you, but...." Xander's smile disappeared.

Dom reached out and patted the kid on the cheek. "You gotta take care of family."

"You gotta take care of the family," Xander agreed. His smile was back, this time much smaller. Then Xander took a big step backwards into the color swirl and the cell went dark--no swirl, no girl with a rabbit face, no Xander.

Fuck. The last twelve days were going to be the hardest.

6. Nine days out.

Dom leaned back against the low wall that surrounded the cheap apartments he had staked out. The place was tacky with fake stucco walls and lime-green paint on the cheap metal railing that went the length of the walkway that led to the second-story apartments. The place was cheap.

Then again, from what Dom had seen, the job hadn't set Brian up financially. He was back in a uniform, coming home late at night in his patrol car, his curls flattened by that stupid hat and a grocery bag hanging from one hand most nights. He'd get deli food, which was just one step up from fast food, and beer. And he'd eat it alone, near as Dom could tell. He never brought anyone with him, and Dom never saw anyone else come out.

Xander had sent along a little extra with the address—Brian's work schedule. So Dom knew today was his day off, but at two, the man went out, and now he was walking back to his apartment with that bag of store-brought food and the beer. At least he didn't have on the uniform. Dom wasn't sure he could deal with that right now—the raw edges were still a little too raw, and his stomach knotted up at the sight of that badge and gun.

Oh, Brian was still armed, Dom could see the lump at his back when he turned just right, but it wasn't the same as a gun at one hip and a baton at the other. Now Brian was just Brian, even with a gun.

He was up the stairs with his keys out in his hand, and Dom started up the stairs on the far end. Brian had lots of time to turn and look at the person coming up behind him, but he didn't. The beers thumped against the door as Brian finally unlocked the door.

"Brian." Dom leaned against the wall and watched for a reaction. If he got a gun in his face, he'd know that Xander needed medicating... and possibly a slap upside the back of his head for planting this thought in Dom's head.

Brian froze, his keys clutched in his hand, and his eyes slowly moving over toward Dom.

"Been a while," Dom commented when the silence had gone on too long. Brian blinked, and the words seemed to shake him into movement.

"Dom," he answered, pushing the door open. It meant he turned his back on Dom, and after six months in the can, that gesture looked like either foolishness or an invitation. Dom chose it believe it was an invitation, and he pressed forward, stepping into the tiny hall before Brian could close the door. Brian's glaze flicked toward the dark living room, and for a second Dom thought he'd gotten it all wrong--that someone was there. But then Brian sighed and dropped his keys onto a hook nailed to the wall.

"Close the door behind you," he said wearily. Dom used a foot to kick it shut, watching as Brian carefully kept his hands away from his side. So, he was armed and didn't want Dom to feel threatened. Dom leaned his back against the door, blocking the only exit. If Xander was right....

Brian sighed and walked down the short hall, giving Dom a nice view of his back. "You want a beer? I've got a cold one left."

"Sure," Dom agreed, throwing the deadbolt and following after him. He headed for a kitchen—a pathetic kitchen. White walls, cheap cupboards, old appliances. Brian reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a Corona, holding one over the top of the door before he shoved the entire grocery bag into the fridge and grabbed one for himself. Dom took it.

Dom ran a thumb over the cold glass bottle. "So, is Mary Trumaine some old spinster aunt or something?" he asked. The apartment was in Mary's name, and that had given Dom a second of doubt, but near as he could tell, Brian wasn't seeing anyone--man or woman.

Brian pushed the refrigerator closed and retreated to the far wall where he leaned back and twisted his beer open. "It's a cover name the department uses to set up safe houses."

"This a safe house?" Dom asked, looking around. It would explain the bare walls and sense of emptiness in the place.

"No." Brian took a drink, watching Dom warily. Opening his own bottle, Dom focused on his beer for a second. Being in the can had reminded him just how much he appreciated the small pleasure in life... nearly as much as he appreciated the big pleasures. He studied Brian, the way he held his hands up, the way he'd retreated to the far corner, the way he couldn't quite meet Dom's stare. Brian glanced up and frowned. "The department wanted to make sure you couldn't track me down."

Dom snorted.

That made Brian laugh. He still had that little boy grin on him. "Yeah, the department obviously is not as good as they think. I should probably ask you how you got the address."

'Should probably,' but wasn't. Dom smiled as he gathered his evidence. "I called one of those 1-900 psychic numbers and asked them for the address of someone who would put up with my shit. They gave me this place." Dom shrugged and took another drink of beer. He was fairly sure that Brian would like that answer better than the truth. Xander insisted that Willow's magic was perfectly natural, like the wind or some shit like that, but it didn't mean Dom wanted to think about it. He really wasn't going to tell someone else he had a witch do a fucking spell.

Brian nodded and then stood silent, waiting. Dom took a step into the small kitchen and set his bottle on the counter. "So, you were afraid I'd come looking?" Dom moved in close, crowding Brian, but the man didn't react.

"The brass was," he answered. The muscle on the side of his jaw betrayed him, though. Dom could see Brian clench his teeth, the fear and uncertainty wearing at him.

"So, they think you're their sacrificial lamb that they have to protect?" Dom gave Brian a lazy smile.

"Fuck you," Brian snapped as he shoved at Dom's chest, but Dom didn't move an inch. Brian was a strong man, but he didn't have the moves or the bulk to budge Dom. "What? You came to take your pound of flesh? Are you going to be some fucking stereotype and beat the shit out of me because I slept with your sister? Fine. Let's get this over with, but I'm not some fucking lamb being led to the slaughter here."

Brian's anger might have been more convincing if he didn't leave a hand resting on Dom's arm, if he tried to defend his vulnerable stomach or reach for his gun or do any of those things that a man did when he actually wanted to defend himself. Back when he'd first met Brian, Dom had knocked him on his ass and put a gun in his face. Dom thought the kid had balls for showing up at the garage the next day, but maybe Xander was right. Maybe Dom had missed all kinds of clues.

Slowly, Dom reached out, laying his palm flat against Brian's stomach and sliding it down. "Mia can take care of herself, and I never said you were a fucking lamb, only asked if the department was treating you like you were. For a cop, you don't listen very well. I thought you were supposed to be trained to make sure you had the details right." Dom stopped his hand on Brian's stomach. He could feel the heat and the quick rise and fall with each breath.

Brian licked his lips. "Dom, what are you playing at?"

"What? You need a fucking roadmap to figure it out?" Dom asked as his fingers inched down until they rested just above the waist of Brian's jeans. "Thought you were bright, Bri. You were bright enough to take me down, so I like to think that makes you better than the average cop."

Brian swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing nervously. Dom had to admit that he was enjoying this. Brian's body was coiled so tight it was ready to pop, and Dom knew just what buttons to press. He slipped a finger under Brian's waistband.

"What about Letty?"

Dom shrugged. "What about her? She ain't going to wait two years for her probation to be up and she sure as shit isn't going to risk getting thrown in the can for me."

"You aren't gay!" Brian's voice cracked on the last word, but that might have been because Dom pulled open the button on Brian's jeans.

"Good think you are, huh?" Dom pointed out. He stopped and looked at Brian for several seconds, daring him to contradict that assumption, but Brian was pretty intent on holding his breath. "Are you planning on saying 'no' Bri?" Dom asked. His hand detoured to the right as he made it clear he was reaching for Brian's gun. Brian sucked in a breath, but he didn't move, his eyes watching Dom.

Brian wasn't weak. The kid had balls enough to jump on a semi with someone shooting at him. He had balls enough to face Dom down. He had balls enough to go undercover after seeing photographic evidence of just how out of control Dom's temper could get. However, he was begging for someone to come and notice that his balls and his loyalty were available if someone just had the right bid.

Dom closed his hand around the gun and pulled it out of the holster. With a practiced ease, he slipped the clip out and checked the chamber before putting both down on the counter behind him. Brian's gaze had a caution to it now, but he didn't flinch when Dom reached for his arm.

"Your bed better be nicer than the shit furniture in the rest of his place," Dom commented as he guided Brian out of the kitchen. There were only two choices for the bedroom, and Dom hesitated.

"That door," Brian offered, nodding toward the farther one. Dom smiled and tightened his hand on Brian's arm. He would hate being crowded, but Brian didn't complain as Dom pushed him toward the door. Inside, the bedroom was as bad as the rest of the apartment. Piles of clothes on the floor, a plain blue comforter and absolutely nothing to suggest that someone actually gave a shit about the place. There were prison cells decorated with more care.

Dom gave Brian a push toward the bed. "You got lube?"

Brian sat on the edge of the bed, his jeans unbuttoned and his hands fisting the comforter. "Drawer." He nodded toward the night table. Dom reached in his pocket and dropped a couple of condoms on the top of the table before he opened the drawer to dig out the lube. Brian wasn't fighting, but he sure wasn't doing anything to hurry this along either. Dom moved in on him, and Brian instinctively opened his legs so Dom could step between them.

"I like my partners strong. Letty was like bedding a wildcat, but she wouldn't have done what you did on that truck. She didn't have your nerve."

Brian shifted uncomfortably, and Dom could see Brian's dick harden under the praise.

"She sure as fuck wouldn't have put her neck on the line to give me those extra hours. Cops never knew that you were mine, even then, did they?" Dom ran a thumb over Brian's lower lip, tracing the curve.

"Tanner suspected," Brian said once Dom finally pulled his hand back.

"Because you never told him different," Dom said confidently. He pulled his shirt off before sitting on the edge of the bed next to Brian. While he pulled his boots off, he watched the man finger the buttons on his own shirt nervously. Brian was playing blushing bride. Dom smiled. He could work with that.

"Dom." Brian stopped. Dom tossed his second boot to the side and stood up and unzipped his jeans.

"Yeah?" He pushed them off, and Brian's eyes were pretty much caught on the Dom's prick pressing against the white underwear. Dom crossed his arms and watched with some amusement as Brian licked his lips nervously and coughed and then licked his lips again. Fuck. When Dom had first been busted, a little part of him wanted to pull Brian into the shit with him, but the kid would have lasted three hours in a place like Lompoc. He was putting out all kinds of signs, and Dom had been a fucking moron for not seeing it.

Whatever Brian had been planning to say, he had obviously lost track of the conversation. Talking wasn't Dom's strong suit anyway. He reached down and started opening the buttons on Brian's shirt, taking his time. Brian's fists tightened around the comforter, but he didn't comment as Dom finally pushed the shirt back and off his shoulders. Brian was nicely muscled with pale skin and small, nipples that were already peaked.

Dom playfully pulled at one before pushing on Brian's shoulder, urging him back. Instead of going, Brian braced his arms behind him in order to stay up. "We should talk about this."

Dom caught Brian by the back of the head and pulled him in for a demanding kiss, and he didn't stop until he felt Brian's body yield and press closer to him. When Brian was finally pliant in his hands, Dom pulled back and took the man by the arms and physically lifted him, pushing him back into the middle of the bed. Brian's eyes were dark with lust.

"Nothing to talk about," Dom said. He laid his own weight on top of Brian, pinning him. Then he lowered his mouth for a second kiss. This time, Brian's lips parted for him immediately, and hands tentatively brushed across Dom's shoulders. Pulling back, Dom captured Brian's wrists and pinned them to the bed on either side of his head. "You were mine the second you called the cops down on Tran. The bust at their warehouse, that was you, wasn't it?"

Brian mutely nodded. Oh yes, Dom was going to show Brian exactly what he was willing to bid for that kind of loyalty. "You were trying to cover for my sorry ass, even then. What? Did you like the way I looked without my shirt, or were you just attracted to someone who didn't try to bullshit you, who didn't think you were some kid?" Dom pushed Brian's wrists up until he could hold both in one hand so he had the other free to run fingers over Brian's cheek.

He swallowed, but didn't answer.

"You were fucking incredible on that rig. If you'd been with us from the start..."

"No, don't say anything," Brian whispered.

"I trust you," Dom said, and he was surprised to realize that he was being totally truthful. "I won't pull any shit like that again, and you don't lie to yourself about who I am, about who it is that you gave your loyalty to, understand?"

Brian nodded, and that was about all the conversation Dom really had the patience for. Letting go of Brian's hands, he sat back and undid Brian's belt and zipper. A hard dick pressed up through the opening, blue boxers tenting over the hot organ, and Dom stroked a thumb over the outline of the head. Brian arched his back and made a hissing sound like a cat.

"You're going to enjoy this," Dom promised. Brian must have believed him because he squirmed until he could toe off his shoes and then he lifted his hips while Dom pulled the jeans off. Tossing them to one side, Dom lifted Brian, flipping him over easily. When Dom let his weight down onto Brian's back, trapping him, he made that hissing noise again. Dom kissed a shoulder, let his tongue explore a curve and taste the salt of Brian's sweat.

Brian was panting now, and making small pained noises as he tried to thrust into the bed, but Dom's weight was too much for him with lift. Ignoring that, Dom turned to Brian's other shoulder, tasting that as the heat and sweat gathered between them. Brian's curls smelled of sand, like he'd been lying outside somewhere and Dom picked a spot at the very back of Brian's neck and kissed it gently before sucking hard at the sweat-damp skin.

"Fuck!" Brian yelled, and he bucked, but Dom had the leverage and the weight. He rode Brian like a half-broken horse, his cock getting harder with every twist of the body under his.

"Have to make sure I mark my territory, now don't I?" Dom smiled against Brian's shoulder, just feeling the trembling body below his for a moment before he closed his lips over the same spot and sucked again. This time Brian arched his back and strained, but he didn't fight as Dom sucked hard, harder than he ever would have with another lover. If Brian wanted to be crowded, to be claimed, then Dom was going to fucking make a point here. He'd crowd Brian so hard that the man never had to wonder where he stood with Dom. He finally loosened up and ran his teeth over the hot, purpling skin.

"Fuck. Everyone will see that," Brian said, but he hips were still pulsing, struggling to thrust into the mattress even while Dom's weight pinned them down.

"That's the point, Bri. You're mine. I don't want anyone to forget that. You're mine, and I'll defend my territory with my last fucking breath. I need to warn people off because you know that's true."

Dom would fucking kill any son-of-a-bitch who tried claiming him as territory, but Brian just moaned into his pillow and arched his back. It was pretty obvious that he desperately needed to come.

"You're mine. You're family, Bri," Dom whispered. He knelt back, and urged Brian up to his knees. The man's cock hung low and heavy and was already turning dark. Dom lubed a finger and slipped it inside, quickly adding a second. Brian braced himself on his arms and rocked in time with Dom's fingers until Dom finally stilled and just allowed Brian to fuck himself. Forward and back. Dom's fingers vanished inside Brian's body deeper and deeper. Dom slipped the tip of his third finger in, and Brian's pattern stuttered at the extra width, his thrusts grew shorter, but he didn't stop. Dom rested one hand against Brian's hip as Brian opened himself on Dom's fingers.

"Enough," Dom said, and Brian stilled. Dom's cock throbbed with need. Brian was laid out like a fucking sacrifice, and it was for him. Dom grabbed a condom and rolled it over his dick before he knelt up behind Brian. The head of his cock slid in and then Dom had to slowly work in and out as he slid into Brian deeper and deeper. It took work, and his cock ached with the tightness and the need to thrust hard and come, but Dom controlled that. He controlled his own needs just like he controlled Brian with his hands at Brian's hips.

Finally he was in, his balls pressed up against Brian's ass, and Dom pulled back and started thrusting. Brian came up off the bed, his head coming back so fast and so hard that it nearly caught Dom in a head butt. With a growl, Dom grabbed Brian's neck and pushed his face to the bed as he thrust hard into him, driving forward and pulling back with at a punishing pace that just made Brian cry out in pleasure.

Dom felt the man slide over the edge, and his ass tightened so much that tears came to Dom's eyes and he lost his own pattern for a second, but then he braced himself on Brian's back and pounded into him. His orgasm washed through him, leaving his legs trembling and Dom just let himself collapse onto Brian. Brian couldn't hold both their weight on his knees, and they both crashed to the bed. Fuck. That was the fastest, hardest, most dangerous quarter mile Dom had ever fucking driven. He grabbed at the base of the condom and slowly pulled out of Brian.

There was a glass on the night table, and Dom dropped the condom into that before going back to lie on top of Brian, trapping the man's body below his so he could feel every twitch, every breath, every line where a muscle tensed.

"Should move your shit over to the house," Dom said sleepily. Brian's warmth under him felt comfortable, and there was no one around to tell him he had to move.

"What?" Brian sounded confused, and he tried to shift around so he could see Dom, but Dom just caught the man by the back on the neck and tightened his fingers. Xander would have cursed him out, but Brian just settled under his hold.

"This place is a shit hole. My cell was better than this," Dom lied. "We'll move your shit over to my place."

"I have a lease."

"Mary Trumaine has a lease."

"Dom, your sister..."

"Moved into the dorm when I was locked up. Said the house was too big for her by herself and the others have pricks of probation officers who won't let them near the place." Dom shifted so that his sated cock rested comfortably in the crack of Brian's ass.

"You aren't gay, Dom," Brian said softly.

"Never said I was."

"Dom, this is prison talk. In there, you're only gay if you take it up the ass. Out here, they'll call you gay for being on either side of it."

"Like I give a shit what they call me," Dom pointed out. A few well timed punches would settle anyone who wanted to make an issue of it.

"Dom." Brian really sounded aggravated now, and he strained to pull away. Dom held on tighter for a second, digging fingers into the soft part of Brian's neck just hard enough to make him hunch his shoulders and remind Brian just how strong Dom was. Then Dom rolled to the side and gave Brian his freedom back.

"Dom, this was..." Brian closed his eyes for a second. "This was good, but a relationship is just too hard. People would ask questions."

Dom had a pretty good idea that people had already asked Brian plenty of questions, and the kid had survived just fine. He was a fighter just as long as he knew who he was supposed to be fighting for, and Dom didn't intend to let him forget.

"I don't give a fuck," Dom answered.

"You can't mean—You can come over whenever you want, but in that neighborhood, they aren't rolling out the gay pride flags."

"They don't have to as long as they respect you as one of mine," Dom said as he brought his thumb up to Brian's lips again. Brian pressed his lips together tightly as Dom traced the outline.

"You can't just come in here and—"

"Yes, I can," Dom interrupted. "Now, you can yell and complain, but two things are true. One, you're family and I’m not fucking letting you loose, and two, you fucking want this. So get those two things in your fucking head and we can work the rest out." Dom reached out and pulled Brian to him so fast that Brian oofed as he hit Dom's chest, and then Dom slipped an arm around him, holding him in place.

"I do want this," Brian admitted softly, "but this is—"

"Not your choice. I'm a fucking possessive bastard, and you let me in. You can't back out now without having an even bigger fucking mess to deal with."

Dom smiled as he felt Brian finally sag into his embrace, the fight draining from him.

"When you started this, I thought it was a one-time thing, you trying to prove something or make a point."

"I'm not on short time, Brian. Quarter mile is fun, but some races only get interesting farther in."

Brian snorted. "Racing analogies. I let a convict confiscate my weapon and fuck me in my own bed, and I get racing analogies."

"Tough, O'Conner. This is going to be your life for a fucking long time, so learn to live with the racing analogies," Dom said without much sympathy. He pressed his lips to the hot bruise he'd left on the back of Brian's neck, and Brian just sighed and pressed closer to him. Yeah, Brian definitely needed a little crowding, and Dom was up to the job.


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Bonus Ficlet

"I'm looking for Dominic Toretto." The poorly fitting suit was the first give away. Brian could spot that from a mile away because he worked in the middle of poorly suited men all day. Of course, he was back in uniform himself, but he could still spot a cop. They all bought the cheapest suit they could while still meeting department regs.

"He's upstairs," Brian said. He would have added an offer for the guy to come in, but before he could, the asshole physically pushed his way past Brian and into the living room of the Toretto home. Of Brian's home.

Narrowing his eyes and trying hard to rein in his temper, Brian pushed the door closed and crossed his arms over his chest.

"Can I help you with something?"

"Inspection," the guy said, and then he walked toward the kitchen without another word. Right. This wasn't a cop, it was a probation officer. A stupid one. If Brian were one of Dom's thugs, this guy would have his back to a dangerous criminal. Instead, he had his back to a dangerous, pissed off cop. Brian leaned against the wall and watched at the guy pulled out the kitchen drawers. Considering that Dom never had any drug convictions, Brian wasn't sure what the guy was looking for, but then no one had asked his opinion.

He pulled the cleaver out of the knife block and held it up, turning around to look at Brian with a hard expression. Brian raised an eyebrow and just watched him. For a few minutes, they had their own staring contest, and Brian was having trouble not laughing at this guy's overbearing attitude. The man was the opposite of Dom. Dom walked into a room and he dominated it... he commanded the attention of every person in his path. He really was like gravity—people were pulled toward him, and once Dom owned you, you never escaped. And Dom never knew the power he had simply walking into a room.

This man with his receding hairline and his gym-trained, over-bulked muscles liked to think that he commanded a room. He walked with a swagger and a sneer that people would notice, but not in any way that would earn him respect. He was in his early fifties, or maybe a really worn-out late forties, and he clearly thought he was bigger than he was.

"Pretty serious knife," the man finally said.

"Dom's pretty serious about his barbeque."

"So it's Toretto's?" The man asked like he had won some sort of victory. That might intimidate someone else, but Brian knew the knife was legal. He just raised an eyebrow and waited for this ass's next move. There were great parole officers out there. Brian knew men and women who busted their ass helping guys get back on their feet and making sure that ex-cons didn't slide back into their old ways. This one clearly wanted to get some dirt on Dom and then just intimidate him into playing nice. Yep, Dom was going to eat this idiot for breakfast and shit out his bones.

The officer brushed past Brian again, cleaver still in hand. Now that the thing was in the living room, technically it was a parole violation, but compromising evidence never looked good on a jacket. Brian knew that one all too well. He had only suggested that he might have been in so deep with the Toretto case that he compromised evidence. That got him busted back to a uniform. Yep, Brian had sat in interrogation rooms and lied. But after Dom turned himself in rather than let the others take a fall, Brian couldn't let the man go down. Dom confessed to trying to hijack a truck, Brian confessed to fucking up the case. And now, Brian had been pulled into Dom's gravity again.

"Are you going to get him?" the asshole asked. He was standing in the middle of the room with that cleaver in his hand looking like a middle management paper pusher trying to play the part of an ax murderer. The image amused Brian.

"I wasn't planning on it. He'll come down when he's ready." Brian made a show out of looking at his watch. "He has to be at the garage in an hour, so it shouldn't be long."

"What's the garage's address?" The guy pounced on the detail.

"It's over on Orange Drive."

For a second the guy glared at Brian, like he could force Brian to admit that he was lying and that Dom had changed jobs without permission. Brian smiled.

The parole officer put the cleaver on the coffee table and then looked at Brian for a second as if judging the likelihood that Brian would leap over the chair, grab it, and start swinging. Obviously he decided that Brian was harmless because he started poking through the living room. "A convict like Toretto had better be careful considering he has the three strikes law to worry about."

"I don't think he's all that worried." Brian gave the man another of what Dom called his surfer smiles.

"He should be. A third felony, any felony at all, and he'll go in for 25 years, minimum. If he so much as steals some old lady's cookies, I'll be on him."

"That's going to be hard to do. While you could put him in prison for twenty-five years on a felony petty theft charge if he had two violent and serious convictions, he only has one."

The guy frowned at him for a second and then shook his head as though sadly amused by Brian. Considering that this guy worked with convicts, Brian was surprised no one had shot him yet. "This was his second conviction. Maybe you don't know Dominic Toretto as well as you thought you did, but he has a violent past."

Brian thought about laying on the ground, about having Dom's gun in his face as Dom accused him of spying on them. "Yep, he does," Brian agreed. "But he still only has one violent conviction—aggravated assault."

"He hijacked—"

"He attempted to hijack a truck." Brian glanced up at the stairs, and Dom was there now, his arms crossed over his wifebeater and a shirt hanging from one hand as he looked from the parole officer to Brian and back, an amused look on his face. Brian wasn't sure why the officer couldn't feel Dom enter the room. Every time Dom came near, Brian could feel the pull toward him, like a force of nature. When Dom just leaned against the wall and watched, Brian figured that was Dom giving permission for him to play with this jerk. "And really, it wasn't a particularly good attempt." Brian watched while Dom's eyebrow went up. The guy kept on poking around the living room, not even noticing Dom, but his explorations ended at the gun safe opposite the stairs.

"Attempting a violent felony..."

"Is the same as committing it in certain cases under 1192.7, subsection C," Brian interrupted. "Carjacking and attempted carjacking would, in fact, count toward the second felony. However, Dom pleaded guilty to attempted grand theft. He had a smart lawyer. Under the criminal code, for grand theft or attempted grand theft to qualify under the three strikes law, a firearm must be used. The only firearm was the one being shot at Dom when he tried to pull off an incredibly stupid and dangerous stunt. Oh, and the parole regulations outlaw any knife with a blade over two inches, but the regs explicitly state that kitchen knives are an exception as long as they're in the kitchen. That was." Brian gave the guy another sweet smile guaranteed to piss him off. And sure enough, he got a narrow-eyed glare.

Dom's lips drew together as he obviously tried to not laugh.

"I need Toretto to open this," the man said, ignoring Brian's entire argument, but then again, if this guy had read Dom's file closely, he would have already known all that.

"That's going to be a problem."


Dom chose that moment to make his presence known. "Because I don't have the combination," Dom said as he finished coming down the last couple of steps. "Brian," he offered, and Brian smiled at his lover. "Mr. Smithy." Dom walked into the room, and Smithy looked smaller than ever. Dom's muscles were from fighting with engines and lifting heavy parts. They were earned by hours of effort, not by spending forty-five minutes a day on a weight machine, and with the two men standing side by side, Brian could appreciate the difference. Oh boy did he appreciate the difference. He must have been staring at Dom too long because Dom was looking at him with that smug, amused expression and Smithy just looked confused.

Smithy cleared his throat. "I have a legal right to search your residence at any time. You will open this."

Dom took a few seconds to turn his attention from Brian to Smithy. "If I don't have the combination, what the fuck to you want me to do about it?"

"This is a violation—"

"I have it," Brian interrupted before this could out of hand. Brian knew he was safe from this prick, but he wouldn't risk Dom getting caught in the middle of his game. Dom had to play nice.

"What is it?"

Brian gave a little huff of laughter at that bit of stupidity. A safe wasn't much good if everyone had the combination. "I'm not going to say it out loud. Move away from the safe, and I'll open it." Brian tried to take some of the confrontational pissiness out of his voice, but from the way Dom's lip twitched, he'd failed.

"What's in it?"

"My gun." Brian watched as Smithy's brain processed that just a touch slower than it should have. On the streets, this guy would be a danger to himself and his partner. However, after a pregnant pause, Smithy, grabbed for his service weapon and pointed it at them.

"Hey, I'm not the one who owns a gun," Dom objected as he dropped his shirt and raised his hands.

Brian didn't bother with raising his hands; he'd feel more intimidated if the idiot took the safety off. Of course, it might be that he was just in a bad mood because he did not like this asshole coming in and treating Dom like this. If Brian had been Mia or one of the guys, this shithead would have come in and twisted the law until he could use it as his own playtoy. Well, as a cop, Brian knew the law and this asshole wasn't getting away with that shit. "It's my gun, and I have it registered."


"Cannot have access to a gun, be around an unsecured gun, use or pretend to use a gun or any item made to resemble a gun," Brian finished for him. "Dom doesn't have the combination to that safe because it's my safe and my gun and Dom does not have access to it. The law is being followed to the letter. However, I think my sergeant or my captain might be a little concerned if I tried claiming that some parole officer confiscated my service weapon. But hey, try it. I'm with the ninth, and my captain is Marsha d'Nardi. She's a real ball-buster, but I'm sure she would enjoy hearing your story about how you pulled a weapon on a cop in his own home. Call her." Brian crossed his arms and glared murder at Smithy, and suddenly the man looked more than a little confused.

"You're a cop?"

Dom couldn't even hide his grin now.

"My badge is on the front table, right next to my handcuffs and my work shoes. You walked past them as you came in," Brian offered. Smithy didn't holster his weapon immediately, but he did sidestep over to the front table and pick up the badge. Dom lowered his hands and sat in the chair, crossing his legs and leaning back like he was watching a football game.

Eventually Smithy lowered his weapon and holstered it again. "You're living here?"

"That's what it says on my personnel records," Brian agreed. He didn't point out that Captain d'Nardi had nearly sliced his balls off for that. She'd questioned his judgment and his sanity, but she couldn't challenge his legal right to live where he liked. Dom might be on parole, but Brian wasn't. He was just on the shitlist.

"It gets better. He's the cop who busted me," Dom offered when the silence grew too long. Smithy looked from one of them to the other as though trying to figure out who in the room had gone totally and entirely insane.

"I shouldn't have needed to bust you," Brian argued. "If you weren't so full of testosterone that you swim in it, you wouldn't have tried that shit."

"Me?" Dom demanded. "They show you pictures of some guy I fucked up beyond recognition and then ask you to come into my home, unarmed, without backup, and you go along with that dumbass plan? Don't start with me, O'Conner."

"I never landed in prison," Brian countered.

Dom looked at him long and hard.

"Juvie does not count."

Dom just kept looking at him for several seconds. Then slowly, like a lion that's well-fed and too lazy to bother himself to move, Dom looked over at the parole officer. "Did you need something, Mr. Smithy?"

"I'm doing a home visit." Smithy's words had lost all of their bombast and power. Brian walked over and sat on the arm of the chair, and Dom reached up to drape his arm possessively over Brian's leg.

Yeah, Smithy thought he was a big man with his gym muscles and his badge and his gun, but right now, he looked more like a deflated balloon. He seemed to shrink in on himself as he looked at them with wide-eyed shock.

"So, the home look okay with you?" Dom asked.

"I'll be back. Make sure that the gun safe is locked, and I don't like having that cleaver around," Smithy pointed at the coffee table.

Dom frowned. "What the hell is the knife doing in the living room?"

Before Brian could answer, Smithy was out the door. Dom laughed. "Fuck. You were enjoying that a little too much," Dom accused him with a friendly slap on the leg.

"He's an idiot," Brian said with a dismissive shrug.

"My very own attack dog," Dom said thoughtfully. The hand that had just slapped Brian's leg now stroked the length of his thigh.

"Me?" Brian laughed.

"Fuck yes. You don't lay down for just anyone, do you? That asshole is going to have his tail between his legs for a good long time." Dom smiled and reached up to wrap strong fingers around the back of Brian's neck.

"It's not hard to poke holes in a blowhard." Brian said, but he was distracted by Dom's firm grip pulling him closer and that damn amused expression on Dom's face. He could never think straight when Dom looked at him like that.

"You're a mouthy little shit, Officer O'Conner." Dom didn't wait for a response before he pressed his lips against Brian's. Brian grabbed Dom's shoulders, and Dom mashed his mouth against Brian's—demanding, commanding. Brian gasped, opening and allowing Dom to move in and claim him in a way that Brian never allowed anyone to. Dom reached up and caught one of Brian's wrists, tugging at it like a leash to pull Brian off the arm of the chair and into Dom's lap. With Brian settled, Dom forced Brian's arm back behind his back and trapped it there. With his other hand, Dom held him by the back of the neck so that Brian was neatly caught.

Brian had men play this game before. He'd had lovers who tried to push him into a corner or physically dominate him. He'd even had a woman who'd been almost obsessive about wanting to play with his handcuffs. Those lovers had left him on edge and unsure. With Dom, this was right. Dom had come back for Jesse, for Vince... he'd come back for Brian. He could have shot Brian in that alley or when he'd found out about Brian being a cop. A little part of Brian had expected the helicopter to take Vince, and then he'd be left in a field with Dom and Dom's gun. He'd pushed Dom as hard as a man could be pushed, and yet, there was something so inherently ethical inside Dominic that Brian had never been in any danger.

And now, Dom's hands were a comfort. Yeah, Brian fucked up, but Dom would always be here holding on so tight that he didn't have to worry. And if someone like Bilkins or d'Nardi ever put him in danger or asked him to put his life on the line, Brian trusted that Dom would be there—rules or no rules. That strength was a promise.

Dom finally ended the kiss and gave Brian enough room to sit up enough to look Dom in the eye. However, Dom's hand stayed on the back of Brian's neck. "I'm going to be late for work," Dom commented.

"Not if you leave now," Brian pointed out.

Dom gave a slow, lazy smile. "Oh, I'm not leaving now," he promised. Then he pulled Brian in for another kiss. "Upstairs, naked, two minutes," Dom ordered as he finally released Brian. For a second, Brian just sat on Dom, his cock hard and his breath stolen.

Dom slapped him on the hip. "One minute, fifty seconds," he warned.

Brian smiled and then ran for the bedroom, shrugging clothes off as he went because when the time was up, Dom was going to pin him down, rip the rest of his clothes off, and then Dom was definitely going to be very, very late for work.

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