Status: Completed... For Now.


Life Burns.

Dinner had been excellent, and it had given Blair and Toretto a chance to bond over something other than cars. In this case, it happened to be Toretto’s sheer lack of manners, and Blair’s surplus of them.

“Why the hell do you keep switching hands, Dominic? Cut your meat and eat it, don‘t bother with all of this freakiness with the fork.” Blair sighed, watching Toretto tear into his steak with abandon, attempting to wolf down huge hunks of it while she sat, straight-backed and refined, trimming her roast duck delicately.

“If I ate like you I’d always be hungry, miss charm school!” Toretto grunted, finishing the last bite of the Fillet Mignon with relish before digging into his potato like a starved barbarian. All Blair could do was sigh, and continue to make good face for the rest of the restaurant - refined old women and men who were extremely distasteful of Toretto’s stubble and the tattoos that peeked from his sleeve when he reached for anything on the table. Not that they didn’t notice the spider webbing and the planets through Venus that were visible on Blair’s back through her flaming red hair. This thought made her laugh uproariously, drawing more glares from the “refined,” upper-class stodgies.

“Why did you have to pick such a nice restaurant?” Blair whispered sharply to him across the table, leaning towards her hulking date.

“Because I thought you’d like it,” Toretto whispered back, also leaning across the table.

“I prefer biker bars,” Blair whispered back, grinning slyly. It was Toretto’s turn to laugh; he threw back his head, nearly tipping over his chair as his body shook. Blair grinned.

“Let us leave?” Toretto attempted to imitate Blair’s British accent and failed miserably.

“Check, please.”

Half an hour later, Blair emerged from her room in her customary black skinny-fit pants and a white silken shirt. She met Toretto in the hall outside their rooms, glad to see him back in a t-shirt and jeans; then together they began pounding on doors.

“Get your lazy asses up we have a race to win!” Blair called, as Toretto beat the doors wish his burly fists. One by one, Blair’s racers emerged from their rooms - the last to walk out was a man named Vladimir… and he walked out with a woman who looked suspiciously like a hooker.

“Vladimir! What the hell are you doing?” Blair - all five feet five inches of Blair - stalked right up to the hulking man that was Vladimir and began to reprimand him. Toretto was amazed - the driver actually looked frightened with the tiny redhead snapping at him from under his nose, shaking a finger. She rounded on the hooker. “What are you still doing here?” She snarled, glaring at the woman.

“I haven’t been paid.” The woman shrugged. Blair stared daggers at Vladimir as she pulled a handful of bills from her pocket. “Here. Euro. Leave.” The girl stormed out, donning her coat as she left. Blair turned on the rest of her drivers. “What are you still doing here? Get the cars off the truck! Now!”

“Geeze Hundley, tone it down.” Toretto watched as Vladimir raced down the steps, eager to get back on her good graces.

“I don’t ‘tone down.’” Blair shrugged, shouldering a black purse that Toretto knew to be filled with money - it was the same bag he had been forced to watch over the last time he was able to go racing with Blair. It was all Toretto could do to keep up with the high-heeled fiery redhead as she stormed down the stairs and out into the parking lot to oversee the unloading of the cars.

Blair continued her stubborn streak until she was seated in her car, revving the engine while she observed the other men get warmed up for the race - she wished they would refrain from doing donuts in the parking lot, but perfection was unattainable from a pack of convicts. After a few minutes of watching, she drove off toward the “venue” of the race - a large parking garage that rose up stories high from the ground. Toretto trailed behind the pack, watching as Blair’s drivers wove through traffic as if they were trying to get an enormous ticket or something.

Once again, Blair drove up as if she owned the place, but the sense of renown and respect Toretto had felt while in St. Petersburg with her. Here, it seemed that the racers either didn’t know her or though her to be pretentious; she still knew the right people to talk to in order to hook her drivers up with a race. When Toretto asked about it, Blair simply shrugged.

“Team leaders have a certain look around here. More tattoos, more women, you know,” Blair took the purse from the hands of Finnish racer who had just added his bets to the pot. Toretto held out his hand for the bag, expecting to be pack mule once more.

“No, silly, tonight you’re racing. You need to make me some money.” She grinned broadly, handing him a few bills from her pocket. “Now go play, have some fun before your race. Watch that damned car!” She turned to walk away, but Toretto grabbed her arm before she made more than a few steps. “What?”

“I don’t want to hang out with the bimbos and sluts,” He tilted his head to the side, offering his arm to her.

“But I’m boring.”

“Not to me.” They leaned against the Mustang and chattered nonchalantly about the quality of the women around Helsinki (dismal, Toretto decided, they all had tiny faces and even tinier tits), and the cockiness of the drivers (which was strange, as Toretto had always heard that Finnish people were very introvert). Blair also commented on Vladimir’s love of hookers.

“I’ve never caught him with one before, but the boys say he’s always got one with him,” She spied him through the crowd after a few moments of searching.

“My guess is he doesn’t need them here,” Toretto watched as scantily clad women crowded around Blair’s racers. “The girls are just throwing themselves at him.” And the only reason they weren’t crowding around him, he reasoned, was because he sat with the intimidating-looking Brit.

“Despicable,” Blair muttered, shaking her head. “I had planned to replace him with Brian, you know… But the stories I’ve heard about him and his track record with cars is disheartening.” She sighed. “Quality drivers are difficult to come by these days.” Toretto felt her eyes on him as he surveyed the crowd.

“When do I race?” He asked, ignoring her gaze. Two could play the game she had been practicing on him for weeks.

“Now,” Blair stood and stalked away, and was swallowed by the crowd as she made her way to her BMW. Toretto watched her until he couldn’t find her among the bodies any longer, and got into the Mustang. The car was an effective crowd-mover, everyone parted in front of the long hood and intimidating engine’s noise to let him through to the front of the parking garage, where he spotted a black M3 rounding the corner with several imports - which were the norm in Europe, he recalled. Toretto eased on up to the starting line, frowning when the M3 sped off ahead of him - to the finish line, as she didn’t care for the starts of races, he recalled.

Blair pulled up along the finish line, wondering if Toretto was even prepared to start racing again. First race of the night and she was already antsy - she could feel a stress zit coming on in her forehead - but she knew it wasn’t because she was afraid of loosing any money. She attributed it to a bad feeling she had gotten since seeing Vladimir with the hooker. Bile had been rising in her gut since then, and she felt that she was going to vomit as she perched on the hood of her car. That was the real reason she was pack mule that night - not because she didn’t want to race, but because of the terrible feeling in the pit of her stomach that something was about to go horrifyingly wrong.

Toretto’s heat went well; he won by nearly a second - a huge margin in the quarter mile. Blair was impressed, but couldn’t congratulate Toretto through his crowd of admirers, and so she settled in to observe the next line of drivers swoop around the corner. And another - this one had Kolya, one of her men in it, so she watched intently. It was a close heat, but creative NOS usage brought Tristan into the lead and ultimately won him the ten-second race. At this point, Toretto had managed to park the Saleen a few cars over from Blair, and joined her at the black hood of her car.

“I don’t know why you don’t trust your men, they’re good guys.” Toretto said, placing his hand on the small of her back as he leaned on the hood beside her.

“I trust them. Just only as far as my arms reach. Like I would trust you if Mia and I weren’t so close.” Blair sighed, drinking from a large water bottle before she leaned her head on Toretto’s shoulder. Vladimir’s quarter was in a few heats - he would be in one of the last high-grossing races of the evening, and the last of Blair’s boys to race - and the concern Blair felt continued to grow as the lines of cars came in and then cleared the finish line.

“Why so serous?” Toretto joked, noting her pained expression.

“It’s nothing… Just a bad feeling, you know?” Toretto narrowed his eyes and said something as the next line of cars passed, but Blair couldn’t hear him over the roar of the cars. “I’m fine Dominic, I swear.” Toretto doubted it, but he could hear the next line of cars rounding the corner and didn’t say anything. Vladimir’s sleek black Lexus F Performance model streaked around the corner, battling for a close lead with a souped-up Subaru. Blair gripped Toretto’s arm as the cars slid around the corner (Helsinki racers liked just a taste of drifting - that and a straight quarter would have brought them to a brick street), her eyes widening in horror as her stomach dropped through her feet.

“Dominic,” She whispered through the silence, watching.

The Subaru’s back end had started to fishtail, and the inexperienced driver had obviously freaked out and tapped on the break. The back end skidded around on the oil-slicked new road, smashing into the side of the Lexus. The driver immediately behind the two cars managed to brake fast enough to avoid collision, but not the drunken buffoon in the red Infiniti who smashed into Vladmir’s back end. The Lexus lifted off the ground, flipping forward over the front end of the Subaru before smashing into the ground; and bursting into flames from the NOS that Vladimir kept in the front seat beside him.

Blair gripped Toretto’s arm hard enough for her nails to penetrate the skin, Kolya rushed to her other side from where he had parked behind Blair as she went down, fainting face-first toward the pavement. Toretto scooped her up in his arms, glancing at Kolya.

“We need to get out of here, take the Saleen.” He handed Kolya the keys.

“We need to help Vladimir,” Blair murmured lightly, beginning to come to within seconds.

“Can you drive your car, Blair?”

“No.” Toretto dumped her in the passenger’s seat of the BMW as Kolya sped off in Toretto’s Mustang - gladly leaving his Nissan parallel parked. Toretto knew there was nothing to tie either of the cars to Blair, and if it was still there the next morning, they could always pick it up.

“But Vladimir,” Blair’s nails dug into Toretto’s arm again as she came around, just as they pulled into the parking lot.

“Blair.” Toretto parked her car next to the Mustang, turning to her with the engine idling. “Blair, Vladimir’s dead. He couldn’t have survived that wreck. Blair. Blair!” He got out of the car and reached for the door handle, but Blair had already unbuckled her seat belt and lifted herself out of the car with little of Toretto’s aid.

“I can’t… I…” She leaned on his shoulder, looking blankly at Kolya.

“Take Mikhail and do a drive by. If the cops aren’t swarming by it, get your car. Don’t make a big deal.” Toretto instructed Kolya, who handed him the keys to the Saleen. The muscled man seemed to be the only one who had been able to keep his head- probably because he didn’t know Vladimir very well at all.

“Dominic, I could have stopped him… I could have, I should have. I got that feeling in my gut about the race.” Blair shook her head as Toretto helped her up the stairs to their rooms.

“There’s nothing you could have done Blair,” He grunted, opening the door to his room and guiding her to the bed. He tore the sheets back and set her in it, placing his large paw on her forehead. “Blair. Look at me.” She acquiesced, opening her mismatched eyes to meet Toretto’s chocolate brown ones; tears watered into existence in their corners. Frowning, Toretto clutched her frail body to his chest as she cried, her arms wrapped around his middle with surprisingly crushing force.

The girl never ceased to surprise him.
♠ ♠ ♠
Title: Apocalyptica featuring Lauri Ylonen.

I have readers! I'm so excited! <3
Constructive criticism is FANTASTIC.