And here's another thing: I've been working on this FatF thing that just...okay. It's Mia/Letty, and it hasn't gotten to the Mia/Letty-ness of it all yet, and it reads like so many snippets of other, larger fic. It's disconnected, and it's weird, and I honestly don't know if I'm going to finish it or not.
But, I feel vaguely as if posting it will make me feel better, and want to finish it. I have no rationale behind this decision. I honestly don't. So, we're not going to call this a WiP, we'll call it a -- snippet. Yes. An 8 page snippet of an as yet untitled Mia/Letty story.
Working title on it right now is: Translation.
So. Unbetaed (because it's not done yet), but here we go. Please, any crit/comments appreciated like you don't even know.
Six months, is long enough to make it seem like Mia’s been living alone all her life, and Dom and everyone else are just something she made up to keep herself from going crazy. She goes to class, and she works at the market, and she stays up late with her calculator and the books and tries to find a way to keep all of the squiggly red lines that run through the accounting from taking over, pulling the business under, turning that into some kind of dream she had one time, too. She gets used to driving the speed limit, and checking her rear view mirror for the inevitable black car shadowing her as she drives home from campus.
Six months, and Mia hasn’t heard from her brother, or anyone. She saw Hector once, winked and started singing off-key “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind” as he walked by, and all Mia could think was “He knows more than I do about where Dom is”. He probably doesn’t, but Mia hasn’t been able to meet his eyes since then, but she hasn’t seen him much either, so it’s not too bad.
Whenever she’s not at the market, or just sitting in the garage, or hosing down the sidewalk, trying to blast away the stains in front of the house, Mia cleans house. She sweeps the floors, does the dishes, does the laundry. She keeps moving, doesn’t think.
Six months of mechanically cleaning, and then Letty's standing on the other side of the door when Mia opens it. Mia stares for a while, and Letty shifts her weight, and finally says, "So you gonna let me in, or what?" and Mia drops the clean towel she was folding before the door bell rang and wraps her arms around Letty. And Letty’s arms go around Mia, tight, real, strong. Mia can feel the bones of Letty’s arms hard against her ribs, the rough texture of Letty’s shirt rasping against her cheek.
Letty half-laughs, half-coughs into Mia’s hair. “Hey, hey, let’s take inside, huh? “
"Is it safe for you to be here?" Mia hisses, pulling Letty inside, remembering to worry.
Letty shrugs, and limps into the living room. "Safe as it's gonna get. They're not charging me with anything, don't have an priors, all the evidence is gone and the money's tied up where they can't get at it."
“So you're home for good now," Mia says staring, and Letty cocks an eyebrow, shrugs. "What, you didn't miss me?"
Mia laughs, sits down across from Letty. Letty thumps her head back against the couch.
"Guy driving the bus drove like a pig," she complains, blinking at the ceiling, and then rolls her head to look at Mia. "Like he wanted to hit every pothole between there and here on purpose, I *pity* those shocks."
And Mia says, "C'mon, like the bus was all that tricked out to begin with," except she's thinking that she can't believe Letty's there, Letty's really there. Just sitting in the living room like it hasn't been six months since Mia's seen her, or Dom, or Leon, like maybe the past six months didn't happen, except Letty's tanner, and there's a scar on her forehead. She looks tired, like she never looked before, when everybody was home, and safe, and Jesse –
“Shit, Mia, you're crying," Letty says, in shock, staring at her.
And Mia is, she's crying pretty hard, sobbing. Letty gets up and sits next to her carefully, hissing a little when she has to bend her knee. She puts a careful arm around Mia, and says, "Mia, you okay?"
“Yeah," Mia manages, half laughing, "yeah, I'm fine. I'm doing *great*."
Letty snorts, and rubs Mia's shoulder. "Yeah. I can tell."
Mia takes a couple of deep breaths, and wipes at her face. "Sorry," she says quietly. "Didn't mean to --"
“It's okay," Letty says, with a quirk of her lips. Mia half-smiles back, and closes her eyes, takes a deep breath. When she opens her eyes, Letty's looking out the window, at the white-blasted sidewalk, frowning.
Mia bumps shoulders with Letty, asks, "So, you hungry?"
Letty stares a moment longer, her face tight, jaw working. Then she turns back. "Yeah, I could eat."
It turns out Letty needs a place to stay, so Mia rolls her eyes when Letty makes some kind of noise about 'finding her own crib', and puts clean sheets on the bed in the guest room. Not Dom's room, because when Mia suggest that, Letty gives her head a sharp, violent shake, says, "No."
Letty only brought one bag, black and battered, covered with dust from the long bus ride. "I can still hear the fucking chickens the woman sitting next to me had, chirp, chirp, chirping in the back of my head," Letty says, collapsing on the bed. Mia leans against the doorway, and watches Letty kicks off her shoes. "You gonna be comfortable there?" she asks, and Letty just flops a hand at her.
"So, I'll take that as goodnight," Mia says, starting to close the door, but Letty calls out after her, "In the pocket of the coat I left downstairs, there's a letter for you."
Mia freezes, looks over her shoulder, but Letty's eyes are still closed, no expression on her face.
Mia swallows hard, and all of a sudden all the questions she hasn't asked Letty -- How is Dom? Is he alive? Is he safe? Is he happy? Does he miss me? -- crowd up in her throat. Letty throws an arm over her eyes, and says, "Can you hit the lights when you close the door?"
"Sure," Mia whispers. The switch flicks down, and the mattress under Letty whines as Letty flips over, and the door clicks when Mia closes it. But when Mia pulls the letter out of Letty's pocket with shaking fingers, the house is quiet all over.
The letter's not long, considering everything Mia would say to Dom if she had the chance. It's about ten pages long, and half of that's instructions, but Mia could have expected that much.
He left instructions behind when he left, too. He didn't need to send them with Letty, but he worries. He's always worried about Mia, and it's sweet, it just chafes sometimes.
She started to cry when she first saw his handwriting on the envelope.
She started to laugh when he wrote little notes in the margins reminding her how to change a tire, or fix anything else that might break on her car.
Dom wrote that he was fine, that he was hurt, but Brian had saved him, and Mia hadn't really given a shit about that, or hadn't wanted to, but it made her feel a little less like the whole thing was her fault for trusting Brian in the first place. He told her that he had a garage down in Tijuana, that Leon was living with him. He gave her an adress, a phone number for the garage, and good times to call, and Mia got so angry she almost took all the plates down out of the cabinet and hurled them across the fucking kitchen, because how dare he just give her some kind of schedule, how dare he not *call her* if he thought it'd be safe for the two of them to talk on the phone? How dare he not fucking write to her beyond a couple of postcards that just said, "Love you, bella."
Listen, bella, I know I fucked it up, Dom wrote. I never meant for it to be this way. I wanted you to be happy. I still do.
And Mia knew he did want her to be happy, but he was stupid. Dominic was fucking stupid, and he still didn't apologize for the hijackings, for breaking the law, just said he was sorry about Jesse. He was sorry about leaving her behind to deal with everything. He was sorry he couldn't take care of her anymore.
And maybe that's what makes Mia the angriest, because how had he been taking care of her before, when he was putting jumping onto trucks for the rush? She'd been the one pacing in the living room until everyone got home, and Dom, all of them, they'd come in wild-eyed and laughing while she patched them up with the stupid first aid kit she'd bought. Dom hadn't taken care of her for a long time, and that's fine. Mia doesn't need him to. She just needs her brother.
At the end of the letter, there's a scrawled postscript. Keep an eye on Letty, okay? Dom wrote.
And it's just so Dom, so sweet, and stupid, because of course she's going to take care of Letty; Letty's family, too. But Mia can't stay mad when she reads that. She can hear his voice, when she reads it. Worried, rumbling low, and God, Mia misses him. She misses his voice, and his stupid lectures on how everything works, and how he'd throw his muddy boots everywhere and get dirt all over the place and sing really loud in Italian when he was in a good mood, like their Dad used to do.
She can't stay mad, because Dom's safe. He's stupid. He's so fucking stupid, but he's her brother, and she loves him, and he's safe. Mia sits in the kitchen for a long time, and reads the letter over and over again until the words blur together and she folds it up, takes it upstairs and tucks it in her desk between the picture from their parents wedding, and the card that Dom gave her for her last birthday.
Letty limps stiffly down the stairs around noon, scratching at her stomach through her t-shirt and asks how long Mia's been up.
"Since nine," Mia says, sipping at her lemonade and looking up from a textbook. "Thought you probably needed the sleep."
"Nine?" Letty echoes, leaning against the countertop as she stretches. "You're crazy, girl. It's Saturday."
Mia shrugs, and Letty shakes her head, mutters, and “Crazy" again, and pours herself a cup of coffee.
Mia watches her, and notices suddenly that Letty's gotten too skinny. Letty catches her staring, and says, "Got sick a little while back. Pneumonia or something. I don't know. Couldn't eat."
"That why you came back?" Mia asks, curious and Letty's mouth tightens, corners pulling inward.
She looks down into her coffee cup and says, "Dom and me -- we broke up, I guess. Didn't seem like there was any reason to stay."
Mia blinks, opens her mouth, but before she can say anything, Letty jerks her head toward Mia's textbook. "How's school?" she asks, eyes darting up to meet Mia's briefly.
"Good," Mia says, by reflex, shaking the shock off. "I mean -- it's going okay. I had to cut back on the classes I'm taking this semester to keep up with the market, the garage, too. But it's okay."
"You're still running the garage?" Letty's eyes go wide with surprise. "How the hell you managing that?"
"I was," Mia says, frowning. "I hired a guy, just got out of Chino. His salary was pretty cheap, but he was real sleaze. Anyway, he stopped showing up to work a few weeks ago, and it's been closed since then. I'm looking for someone new, but it takes time, you know? I can't afford to pay a lot."
Letty cocks her head the the side, and Mia can practically see her thinking. "What?" she asks, and Letty says, "How much can you offer?"
"Fifteen an hour is the best I could do, and that would be pulling things tight," Mia tells her, starting to get it. "Letty, you don't have to --"
"Yeah, but I want to," Letty says, with a shrug. "I need a job, and besides, I've spent so much time in that garage, it's like I grew up there. I don't need the money too much, except maybe to start paying you rent, if you're serious about me living here."
Mia starts to smile. "Of course I"m serious about it, you're family, and you don't have to pay rent."
Letty rolls her eyes. "I can help with water, power, that kind of stuff, though."
"Okay," Mia says slowly, smiling all the way now. "Okay, yeah. Sounds good."
Letty smiles back, looks down into her coffee again. "Second day home, and I've got a job and a place to live. Not too bad."
"Yeah," Mia agrees. "Now we just have to get you a car."
Letty looks up quickly, and when her eyes meet Mia's, they both start laughing.
When Mia was a kid, her house didn't seem big. She never thought about it that way -- there was her, and Mom and Dad and Dom, and the dog they'd had for about two years before it ran away. Just enough space for everybody, sometimes not *enough* space for Dom, because she used to trail after him more than the dog ever did.
Then her mother died, and the house seemed to get bigger. The kitchen seemed suddenly like it was huge and empty without her mother in it, sitting by the window, reading one of the paperbacks with the shirtless men on the front cover she'd pick up when they went to the grocery store, or chopping vegetables by the sink, or just standing there, staring out into the living room at Dom and Mia's dad, sitting side by side on the couch.
After her dad died and Dom went to Lompoc, the house felt like a cave. Like it was neverending and huge, and dark, and Mia hadn't spent too much time there. She stayed with friends as much as she could, or went to her aunt and uncle's a few blocks over. When Dom came back, though, the house was normal again. Just the right size for all the people coming and going, maybe too small for some of the parties Dom threw, and definitely not big enough for Mia to escape the racket when Vince and Leon got drunk and started to sing Frank Sinatra at the top of their lungs. Mia had gotten used to the house again, gotten comfortable. Stopped thinking of it as too big, too much.
Then -- she was alone again. And the house spread out all around her, so many empty rooms. Mia adjusted, spent most of her time in either the kitchen or her bedroom, and didn't think too much about Dom's room, Dom's things, Dom's clothes hanging in the closet, unused.
Since Letty moved in, the house feels different again. Not bursting to the seams, like it was before, with Dom in his room, Vince in the guest room, Leon and Jessie sprawled out over the couches every morning. But *different*. Mia comes home from work, and Letty's jacket is hanging off one of the chairs by the stairs, or she wakes up and Letty's dancing in the kitchen as she cooks, or Mia sits on the porch and across from her Letty's lying across the carpet, playing playstation. Things aren't where Mia's used to them always being -- not like Letty puts stuff in the wrong place, or anything, but she picks things up, puts them down again wherever. One day Mia found a picture of her and Dom when they were kids lying face down by the sink in the bathroom. It's been two months, and Mia's still adjusting. She's usually faster at it than this, and maybe she's just afraid to get used to having someone around again.
Mia talks to Dom on the phone once a week now, and Dom always asks how Letty is, but he won't say anything about how they broke up, or why the broke up, and Mia hasn't asked Letty. Letty doesn't want to talk about it, wears her discomfort with the subject like a blinking neon sign. So Dom's an off-limits topic with the two of them, which is weird, and it makes Mia realize how much they used to talk about him -- how much their friendship before was based on Dom. Before, she had no idea that Letty liked scifi, maybe more even than Jessie ever did. "I like the gadgets," Letty said one night when they were watching Aliens. "You know, the big guns? Those things are so cool. And the spaceships. Imagine driving one of those things. Better than NOS, I bet."
"You just want to do loop-de-loops," Mia giggled, and Letty grinned back at her. "You bet I do," and then she flopped over on her back, mimed driving a spaceship, complete with sound effects.
Mia always just thought Dom was dragging her to see those movies, but turns out Letty's the whole reason Dom likes scifi to begin with, and Mia never knew that. It's like she's meeting Letty all over again, which is cool, except weird, too. Because she still *knows* Letty, knows her well enough to know that Letty is not happy. Not even a little bit, and Mia wants to be able to just say, "Hey, he's an idiot, okay? I love him more than anybody, but Dom's an idiot", but he's this big heavy silence in the middle of all their conversations, and it's impossible.
And Dom's not the only thing they're not talking about either. They don’t' talk about Jessie. They don't talk about Brian. They don't talk about Letty's limp. They don't talk about how Mia doesn't sleep much anymore. They don't talk about the hijackings. It's like they're inventing a new language with all the things they don't say.
The first time Mia went to visit Vince after Letty moved in, Letty came with her, but nearly couldn't get out of the car. She held tight onto the door, and shook her head. Her lips were pressed so tight together they'd turned white, and she said, "I can't. I can't do this."
"Why, because you feel guilty he's in there and you're not?" Mia asked, pissed, and Letty's head swung around, her eyes narrowed.
They stared each other down for a minute, and Mia could almost feel the weight of everything they'd tacitly agreed not to discuss pressing down on both of them before Letty slumped back into the seat, pressed both of her hands against her eyes and opened the door.
When they sat there, in front of the glass, waiting for Vince to come out, Letty reached out and grabbed Mia's hand. Her palm was sweaty, her fingers shaking. Mia said, "Hey, he's going to be glad to see you, you know?"
Letty didn't say anything, and Mia squeezed her hand, and then they led Vince in, shuffling in the ankle cuffs.
Vince is tricky, because they have to talk about him sometimes. They talk to him a lot -- he calls the house a few times a week, tell them how his physical therapy was going. He sounds miserable, but his arm is getting better.
Vince is trickier than the things they couldn't talk about, because they have to talk about him sometimes. They talk to him a lot -- he calls the house a few times a week, tell them how his physical therapy was going. He sounds miserable, but his arm is getting better.
"You know he was in love with you," Letty said when they drove back from Chino after that first time. "His whole life."
Mia squeezed her eyes shut, tightly, and looked out the window. "Yeah."
"You ever think of him like that?" Letty asked, not mean, just curious, but Mia couldn't answer, couldn't say anything. So she shut her eyes again, shut Letty out, and just listened to the engine hum as they drove back to the house.
As she pulled into the driveway, Letty put a hand on Mia’s arm, and said, “Nobody blames you about Brian, you know?”
“You should,” Mia said, looking out the window at the white, white sidewalk. There was just a faint outline of red left, where Jesse fell, and new grass was breaking through the cracks there.
“Fuck that,” Letty spat out. Mia looked over, and Letty was gripping the steering wheel so hard her hands were almost white.
“Fuck that, Mia,” she said again, low, fierce. “You’re the only one who didn’t do a damned thing wrong.”
Mia opened her mouth to say something, she didn’t know what, but Letty cut off the engine, and left, stalking back into the house with her arms wrapped around herself.