The more he visits, the less Brian wears his hearing aids. Mia is both flattered and worried. She may be picking up sign-language quickly, but she's still spelling out words letter-by-letter half the time. She figured out that he doesn't feel safe having them out when he's alone. It's in the way he talks and moves. Jesse is like that, especially when cornered or reminded of the circumstances under which he joined the family.

But no matter how Brian's feeling, talking about cars makes him light up. It usually surprises boys, when Mia can keep up with them about cars. She actually knows more than most of them. A few boys had tried to use that to flirt with her. It ticked her off; condescending explanations she didn't need and weren't even half right. But when Brian found out she knew cars he was giddy, just launched into a conversation about the latest racing mods. The only things he stopped to explain were signs for the different terms he was using.

Needless to say, Mia's sign language vocabulary is eclectic.


Mia has been debating how to invite him to Sunday Barbecue for nearly two weeks. The others know she tends to befriend her regulars and she had mentioned that she had a new one. It's just; they don't really pay that much attention. It's not like her regulars are as interesting as their regulars at the garage or the races.

Except for Letty; Letty always listens. Even when she and Dom are on the outs, Letty listens to Mia. It is very reassuring, to know that Dom's relationships do not affect Mia's friendships. After a talk, Letty had encouraged her to invite Brian. She had seemed proud that Mia had a friend outside the family. Vince listens to her too, but Mia worries he's only humoring Dom's little sister. Also, the number of times Vince has scared off one of her exes makes it embarrassing to talk about boys with him, even when it's just boys she is friends with.

"My family hosts a neighborhood barbeque every Sunday. Would you come sometime?"

"I'd, well I'd like to, I mean your family sounds great it's just," he looks very young then, "how many people will be there?"

"There will be people in and out most of the day. But dinner in the evening is family and their invites only." Brian has never seemed shy, before. "You don't have to come, if you don't want to."

"I want to. Really! But the headaches from my hearing aids aren't getting better and it will be awkward without them." She is proud he trusts her enough to admit to pain. Mia hadn't really thought of communication being a problem; but she realizes she has never seen him attempt to lip-read in a group.

"You can stay in the kitchen with me if you'd like."

"I don't want to impose." His relief is well-hidden, the shame less-so.

"Honestly, it's mostly people who know my brother. I spend most of these things in the quieter areas," Mia smiles at him, "it would be nice to have company of my own though."

Brian agrees to come.


It's only the next day when her family comes in a little after Brian. The two of them had been chatting for a few minutes already when the cars pull up. Brian doesn't have his hearing aids in, but he sees her react and turns so he can see the door. Seeing them at this time is surprising, but mid-morning midweek is pretty dead at the garage. And Mia had told Letty that Brian agreed to come; Letty had probably shanghaied everyone.

Mia comes around the counter to sit next to Brian and has signed out that this is her family visiting. Dom isn't with them, probably dragging out every last minute he can spend with the Charger. When they finally come through the door, chattering in mechanic-speak, Brian is halfway through explaining how to perform introductions in sign language. It's not a long explanation, but Mia wants to get this right.


Vince has the biggest crush on Mia. It's not exactly a secret; in fact, Mia is the only one who doesn't know. It's not something Vince is really willing to bring up. He knows that she sees him as her brother's friend and he doesn't want to face that kind of rejection. So it is ignored and Vince pines from afar, which is way sappier than anything he will ever admit. What little he can do to make her happy, he does without complaint.

He listens when she talks, even if it's boring or makes him feel stupid (she is so smart and is going to be a great doctor, but Vince has no idea what she's talking about half the time). He pays attention to her hobbies and whatever new thing she's into. Put it together and it doesn't take a genius to realize the new friend from the café is the reason she's studying up on sign language.

For a bit, Vince was worried he'd have to beat up another asshole trying to get more out of Mia than she was willing to give. At least he's not going to have to run this guy off. Mia was very clear that he was just a new friend she was worried about. Considering her new library books cover head trauma and migraines, hearing loss, and soldiers acclimating to civilian life; Vince figures Mia has good reason to worry.

When Letty drags them over to the café on a particularly dead morning, Vince knows it's to meet the new friend. Vince isn't sure what he was expecting, but he's pretty sure it wasn't a young blond surfer-type. It takes a minute to see it. The deafness shows itself in the way Brian watches Mia sign out introductions and is noticeable in the way he watches people's lips as they speak. But it's body language that reveals he was a soldier.

He moves kind of like Dom. Vince remembers being young and watching Dom stand protectively between Jesse and the things that made him flinch. He does it even more now; Vince doesn't think it's even a conscious thing. Dom will position himself so he can jump between Jesse (or any of them) and a threat, if he has to. Brian is positioned like that: ready to get between Mia and anyone who comes through the door. He's also like Jesse: around strangers, he makes sure none of them can get behind him. There's also some of himself in Brian's movements: assessing everyone as a threat, identifying weaknesses, not intending to start a fight but always ready to finish one.

Vince is so caught up in these thoughts he almost misses it when Brian addresses him.

"Did you get your tattoos done around here?" His voice is quiet

"Yeah, looking to get one?" the kid doesn't seem the type, but he hadn't seemed military at first either.

"Nah, man. Needles aren't really my thing." Brian's lips twist up into a half-smile, "My CO is moving to the area and has been looking for a good artist."

Vince is describing the scheduling system and price range of his favorite tattoo parlor when the Charger pulls up.