Status: Completed... For Now.



Dominic Toretto emerged from the Boeing 787 with the haggard appearance of one who had been beaten down a few too many times. His muscular shoulders sagged with the weight of his heavy duffel bag and his sister’s regulation-pushing carry-on; his striking face showed every line of weariness one could hope to have. Perhaps it was the long flight - Toretto preferred to have both feet (more preferably, four tires) on the ground, in order to take the 24 hour flight from Ontario to Moscow he had been forced to pop a cocktail of Ibuprofen, a tranquilizer and as many drinks as the Flight Attendant in First Class (Toretto would not fit in the business class seats) would allow him. In the end, he had slept for nearly twenty hours of the flight, one of his finer achievements in life.

But he was in no shape to drive, and he hadn’t a clue where the mansion they had managed to secure for housing in Tver, Russia. Where Tver was in relation to the Domodedovo International Airport Toretto did not know, but he did know it was a long ass haul, and he did not look forward to being shoved in the backseat of some little shitty Russian rental while the lovebirds argued about the route.

“Spillner,” he pulled Brian (he had dropped the O’Conner when the force expelled him after his latest “stunt”) to his side as they approached the baggage claim, watching Mia pluck her bright blue suitcase from the carousel. “Where is this house and how are we getting there?” Toretto murmured, as he seized an enormous camouflage duffel bag from the claim and shouldered it.

“Well, uh, I don’t know that Dom, but I know that my contact will be here to pick us up.” Spillner also grabbed a big duffel, and a ridiculously large piece of rolling luggage.

“Your contact?” Toretto grumbled, angrily pulling off Mia’s last piece of luggage and his own large backpack. Shouldering that as well, the trio proceeded out to the front of the airport.

She was waiting there - Spillner’s contact - leaning against the side of a shining black BMW M5 Sedan, twirling her keys in her hand. She wasn’t very tall - topping out at maybe 5’5”, if Toretto had to guess - and she was slight of build, at least he thought so. She wore a long black coat with warm-looking fur lining, black pants and some sort of heeled black shoe; her hair was long and auburn (a color he would call candy-apple red if he were painting a car with it) and fell well past her shoulders, framing a pale, freckled face. A pair of dark sunglasses covered her eyes. She was a stark contrast to the white around her, a stark contrast to most people, Toretto expected. Though she looked nothing like her, he could only think of one name - Letty.

This was not what he had expected as a welcoming party.

The woman didn’t wave - a slight smile was all the notice she gave the party approaching her car. The trunk popped open and she offered to take Mia’s bags and opened the rear passenger door for her like a chauffeur. But Toretto could tell she was much more than that by the way she lifted Mia’s bags - one in each hand - with a practiced, muscular ease.

“Hey there you,” Brian began, but the redhead cut him off.

“Please, not here. Let us get into the car and be on our way.” Toretto was surprised at her accent - crisp and British, not the thick Russian he had been expecting. She smiled again as she assisted Brian with his bags; she attempted to do the same with Toretto, but he declined her help and set his hefty bags in the trunk himself. With a shrug, she closed the trunk and climbed into the driver’s seat. The engine of the BMW purred as she sped off into the bright midday sun.

“Welcome to Russia,” Her voice was deeper than Toretto would have expected, but with her accent he supposed she would have sounded prissy if it were any other tone. “I am Blair Hundley, Brian’s contact here in Russia. We worked together once - he got me out of a tight bind in the USA, so I decided I’d return the favor in the USSR.” She smiled slyly as she weaved in and out of traffic at a dangerously high speed. Toretto felt right at home in the Passenger’s seat, she drove like a pro.

“And thanks so much for that,” Spillner quipped, Mia’s head in his lap. She didn’t fly well either.

“Tver is a few hours from here; I wish that you could have flown in to a closer air port. You should probably get some sleep,” she glanced over at Toretto briefly, “It looks like you need it.” He grunted, slightly annoyed at how well she could read them - but then, he was hopped up on all sorts of tranquilizers from the flight.

Mia was already asleep, Brian was out like a light within a few minutes, but Toretto couldn’t settle his mind. He and Blair talked car for a while, he became impressed by her knowledge and her apparent ability under the hood. Her BMW, however, had no modifications, and even as such it was a 10-second car. Toretto found himself gaining respect for the German engineering under the hood.

“I normally drive Beemers,” Blair said as they passed beneath a low bridge in the outskirts of Moscow. “People give them a bad reputation - they are very good cars, and they have such smooth lines. Striking.”

Toretto nodded. “I like that,” His focus was out on the countryside, marveling at the small flocks of sheep, which stood hardily against the falling snow; Blair seemed to sense this and left him alone for a bit. “Where is this place?” He asked after a while and finally focused back in on conversation as he sobered up. Blair glanced at Toretto and shrugged.

“Another hour or so away. It’s on the other side of Tver, closer to Estonia and all of that. Probably closer than you should be to Finland, but that’s alright, their police force isn’t very vigilant either.”

“Tell me about it,” Toretto drained a water bottle in seconds, crunching it up and placing it by his feet.

“I’m afraid I wouldn’t know where to start.” Blair sounded genuinely sorry, but wilted beneath Toretto’s menacing glare after a few moments. “Well, it’s a large medieval-looking mansion. The owners left it a decade or so ago, and squatters rights made it ours a few years later. The grounds are enormous, and they’re enclosed by this extravagantly tall wall -”

“Who’s we?” Toretto interrupted, as he drained another water bottle.

“My colleagues and myself.” Blair shrugged. “You’ll love the garage, I’ve heard. It’s underground -”

“No, you’ll have to do better than that honey. Who’s we?” Toretto tried again, a tone of anger in his voice as he crushed the second water bottle. He wasn’t good with secrecy, and this Blair seemed full of secrets. Even if she was cute, he wasn’t about to stand for it.

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you any more than that until we arrive, dear sir. It wouldn’t be proper.” After that, she wouldn’t speak at all. Toretto lapsed into the silence that ensued until she informed him that if he had an iPod he could plug it in to the car’s system if he wished. He acquiesced, and stretched out as rap music blared through the speakers of the refined girl’s pretty little car. Perhaps he could annoy her into talking.

No such luck. It seemed she enjoyed rap as much as the next redheaded Brit; she only turned it down to inform Toretto, Brian and Mia that they would be arriving shortly.

Toretto sat up after this point, eager to see his new place of residence. He would need a new car, and German engineering wasn’t his cup of tea… Toretto’s thoughts were cut short by the sheer enormity of the compound Blair approached in the BMW. An enormously tall wall rose before them, a wrought-iron gate was flanked by two guard towers with armed guards in them.

“Only one way in. There are actually more than one mansion on the premises, and a few million dollars in vehicles deserves a determined guard, right?” Blair chuckled as her companion’s mouths dropped. Toretto turned to her angrily as she reached into the center console for what looked like an ID card - it had her picture, a bar code and a series of numbers, with a magnetic strip on the back. She rolled down the dark tinted windows and flashed the card to a guard, who swiped it through a small machine clipped to his belt and handed it back.

“Welcome back, Ms. Hundley,” He murmured, and bowed slightly as the gates opened before the BMW. Blair uttered her thanks and rolled up her window against the cold.

“See, they won’t even let me in and out without my card.”

“Who the hell are you people!” Toretto’s voice rose to a shout as Blair sped up, taking a series of winding roads and a few forks to arrive at a beautiful baroque mansion. The Brit ignored him, giving Brian and Mia the specs of the mansion.

“Presumably, it was designed by the same architect who designed the Russian State Library; our home is the largest on the premises. It has over 100 rooms, five swimming pools including a rooftop and underground pool, a cinema with a private bar, an actual private bar, a two-lane bowling alley, a sauna, a beauty salon, a banquet hall with two powder rooms, gold-leaf mosaics in several of the rooms. Most of the rooms are suites with their own bathroom and sitting room, some people opt to share suites - as I guessed Mia and Brian would. I took the liberty of choosing your rooms for you; you will find that the locations and the people around you might suit your fancy.” Toretto fumed as Blair spoke, he barely noticed as she drove her car into the underground garage, a two-story apparatus with parking spaces and their own little workshops if they so desired. Two men with bellhop carts approached Blair’s BMW as she parked, opened the trunk and divided the bags among them.

“Mia, Brian, Mikhail will show you to your suite, if you will please show him which bags are yours. Dominic, Kolya will gladly take your bags. If you will walk with me, I will explain all of this to you.” Blair pocketed her keys and pulled a box of black clove cigarettes from her breast pocket. “Would you like one?” She offered it to Toretto, who refused.

“Thanks. Just tell me what we’re doing here and get me a Corona.” Blair lit her long cigarette as she and Toretto climbed a flight of stairs up into the main lobby of the house. She led him through a few hallways to the bar, where he got his Corona.

“We are a Bratva of people like you, Dominic, people who have been forced to run from the law in various ways. Mostly, our crimes involved automobiles, but I have met one man recently who attempted Grand Theft Aircraft. Interesting, no?” As they walked up a flight of stairs to the second floor, Toretto fumed inwardly. He just wanted the answers, not the back-story.

“So what do you do?” Toretto asked, taking a sip of his Corona. If they were a Gang of some kind they could count him out; drugs, killing, extortion none of it was for him and he would stand for none of it, even if it meant he had to give up his safe refuge.

“We run cars. And there‘s a very high demand for Luxury Goods on the Black Market here.” Blair unbuttoned her coat, and for the first time Toretto caught a glance of a drunken trio of small blue dots in the webbing between her right thumb and forefinger. He knew them to be Borstal dots, which signified that the redhead had done time in a juvenile detention center in England. Lots of time. “I guess you could call us organized crime, but without all of the stupidity like running drugs - although there are a few of us that do that. If it’s your fancy, and you can find people who share that fancy, you and your mates can feel free to do it. This is a safe house.”

“So how do you get the money…?”

“We don’t, that’s the thing. Well, I guess some of us do. But squatter’s rights say we own this compound, and nobody in Russia is willing to say any different. The KGB doesn’t bother us because we could be a huge bother to them. Basically, we don’t exist.” Blair flicked her cigarette butt out of the slightly open window nearby. A man with a King of Hearts tattooed in blurry blue ink thundered past the pair, Blair nodded to him and spoke his name. Then they continued on their way.

“There’s only one problem with not existing. We get some interesting characters here. Come, I will show you to your suite.” Toretto followed her and wondered how Blair had ended up at “the Compound,” and what the king of hearts meant.

“So why are you here?” He finally asked after he trashed his bottle in a pile of similar items by a stairwell. The place, while not a dump, was not well cared for.

“Russia is famous for its inefficient police force, so when I heard the going was good here, I moved. England wasn’t good for me anyhow, I had enough shit to keep me locked up for the rest of my life - I was twenty when I moved here with the boys.” They approached a large set of double doors, and Blair produced a key from her pocket. “Here we are,” She unlocked the door and handed the ornate key to Toretto, who pocketed it and attempted to remember to put it on a chain or something later so as not to loose it. “I’ll leave you here. You can meet me later if you would like, my suite is just down the hall. Mia and Brian are just next door.”

“You’re just leaving me here?” Toretto had a bad reputation when it came to fending for himself; people had a tendency to get brain damage for a glance askance.

“I assumed you would like some time alone. Brian already knows the ropes here, so I thought he would have told you how to get along.”

“No, he didn’t,” Toretto grumbled and opened the door to his new residence as he wondered how in the hell Spillner would know his way around the Compound when he barely knew his way out of a paper bag.

“You know where I am if you need me. Look around a little, and if you’re really confused you know where I am.” She whisked away down the hall, a wraith with red hair and a black body.
♠ ♠ ♠
Title: Gavin Rossdale.