"Take a breath, look around.
A moment in time is all you found"
"What happened, homeboy?" Roman badgered him.
Brian shook his head, staring along the neck of his beer as he tipped it up to his mouth and swigged a good half of it.
"Come on, bro."
Taking a deep breath Brian dropped the bottle through his hand to land on the bar.
"His name was -"
"'His name'? I was expecting there to be a female somewhere close to this story."
Brian smiled. "Close enough. But not in the way you think. His name was Dom."
"He was a street racer."
"More than that, from what they say."
"From what they say?" he repeated back with added cynicism.
"Yeah, man. That FBI cop said he was stealing freight, assaulting drivers. Said he even killed a guy."
Brian shrugged. He didn't feel the need to explain Dominic Toretto to Roman.
"So, what? You two bonded or something? You fancy his sister? What? Why'd do you let him go?"
With a shake of his head, he decided this whole conversation was a bad idea. "Look, I don't wanna talk about it, okay?"
Why did he let Dom go? Hand over his car keys and at the same time his career, his life as he knew it. Not that it had meant much anymore.
"Shit, no it's not okay! I'm putting my life in your hands, bro. I need to know it's safe as a baby if you know what I mean?"
Brian swallowed the second half of the beer, ordered another immediately. 'Safe' wasn't a word he could relate to. He'd been living on the edge so long he'd learnt to balance without conscious thought. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt safe, it wasn't an idea that had ever appealed.
He needed the thrill of danger, the knowledge that at any moment he might have to run or fight.
But with Dom he'd wanted to tell him, wanted to come clean, wanted to stay where suddenly he'd felt like he belonged.
So at the end, when it was over and the cops - his colleagues - were closing in, he'd done the only thing he could. He'd let him go.
"Brian! Stop zoning out on me. So you guys were tight, so what?"
His choice of words brought a private, wry smile to his lips. Yes, they were tight. Tighter than a couple of fucking virgins. Waist-deep in denial so that only in those last few moments did they silently acknowledge what had been burning between them, and buried it. There and then.
"So it's in the past. Leave it."
Ditching the empty bottle, Brian slid off the barstool and left the bar, feeling Roman's eyes on his back until the door swung closed behind him.
Stepping into the parking lot he looked around him. He imagined once again the roar of his Toyota's engine, Dom pulling up in front of him. Like some sort of fucking knight in shining armour. Shining fibreglass at least.
Indulging himself, Brian let the scene play out in his mind's eye. Dom would stay in the car, engine growling softly, watching him through the windshield with a faint smile.
And he'd have to make a decision that would last a lifetime. Again. Last time, standing there with the wreckage of the Charger and the keys to the Toyota and the police sirens getting louder and louder he'd decided.
Dominic over everything that had been before their paths had crossed.
It wasn't a decision that had taken much thought then and it wouldn't again. With a smile he'd open the door and drop into the car, leave everything behind and run wherever they had to run to keep Dom from the cage of prison.
Shaking his head, rubbing his eyes, he let the smile fade from his face. Something that wasn't ever going to happen.
No point in wishing for the impossible. May as well face up to the inevitable. He sat on the hood of his car and waited for Roman to come out of the bar.