The ride back from Tran’s little shop of horrors had been quiet. Dom had worn his stone face and the others had been lost in their own worlds. At the garage, Dom had directed Jesse to take Vince back home and had wordlessly waved Brian into the Nissan. Vince had made an abortive gesture but he said nothing, though his eyes snapped with electricity.
Brian assumed Dom was going to drop him off behind the Gato Negro where his truck was hiding, but twenty minutes into the drive he had to admit that he had no idea where they were going. His mind kept wandering back to the sharper edges of the evening. His head throbbed with the pulse of fading adrenaline. He owed Vince a headache, the suspicious freak. Brian came back to himself as Dom pulled the car to a halt and twisted the ignition silent.
“Where are we?”
“Nowhere,” Dom might have been talking to himself. He didn’t meet Brian’s eyes, staring off into the darkness beyond.
Truer words were never spoken, Brian reflected as he surveyed the expanse of warehouses crowding around the tiny parking lot. He had an idea that they were somewhere around Koreatown but they could have been in East LA, Torrance, the Valley for all he knew. It was impossible to tell if the featureless buildings that surrounded them were full of the fruits of legitimate industry or the home to stolen goods, crystal meth factories or porn production. Brian was suddenly very nervous.
Brian listened to Dom’s measured breathing as he contemplated his next move. Dom was harder to read than the Bible in Swahili sometimes. One of the chief difficulties was Dom’s comfort with silence. Normally, Brian wouldn’t have had a problem with it but now the atmosphere was charged, electric with tension. Brian felt like he was twisting, chained between the pillars of his two secret fears. The secret fears that this entire evening seemed geared to bring out into the open. It was particularly hard to play it cagey with Dom when Brian’s own emotions were churning.
“That was weird, huh?” Brian cursed himself for that weak opening. “That whole scene back there.”
Dom glanced at him and then turned back to the window. The glass misted with his exhaled, “Yeah.”
“Tran’s one sadistic fuck.”
Dom glanced back at him and his eyes bore a hint of humor as he agreed with the air of someone stating the obvious. “You could say that.”
“What…you didn’t think it was kind of psycho?” Brian was grasping at straws. “Just another day at the office for Tran & Co.?”
Dom raised his shoulder very slowly and deliberately. “Unfortunately, I know Johnny Tran. A bit better than I want to…”
The air was getting thicker and closer in the small car. The tension of forcing himself to sit still and seem relaxed was like a constant buzzing in his head. Brian felt like he had a fever and it was growing progressively harder to breathe. He was a fool to think that he could trust Dom no matter how
attractive likeable Brian found him. He couldn’t even trust himself.
Dom’s voice cut through his thoughts. “…unfortunately, I don’t know you. Not nearly as well as I should. Which has become pretty clear to me lately.”
It was Brian’s turn to face the window to hide his convulsive swallow. He could see Dom’s reflection in the weak light. He felt surrounded by twin interrogators.
“Do you remember what I said earlier?”
Brian had no trouble discerning which ‘earlier’ Dom was referring to. “About being careful about what I said?”
“Being very careful, very careful about what you say. What you do. You don’t want people…” Dom paused and clenched his jaw. “You really don’t want me to get the wrong idea.”
“Paranoia will destroy ya. Dom, if you’re not going to drive, I’ll see you tomorrow.” He tried to keep his tone light as he shifted his weight to get out of the car. It was tough when the thrill of …some feeling…was almost choking him.
“You’re not going anywhere,” Dom’s voice almost had physical weight
The adrenaline was starting to pump through his head again. He had no idea why he had put himself in this position, put himself in Dom’s hands so willingly. When he had been reading, memorizing Dom’s file, the words, everything had seemed so straightforward. The man was a felon, an adrenaline junkie. Qualities that Brian understood intimately, being (no, having been, his brain dutifully noted) both of those things. He had been in no way prepared for the reality of Dominic Torretto. How does a man become like gravity? Dom had magnetic force.
Brian reminded himself that he had a gun. On second thought, Dom had a gun too. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. He could leave and Dom could refuse to see him again. At the moment that was the worst thing Brian could imagine.
Suddenly, pain lanced through his head coming from an entirely unexpected direction. Dom had stuck his right index finger deep into Brian’s ear and was pressing him back firmly into the seat back. The crescent of Dom’s fingernail dug into the tender skin of Brian’s ear like a blunt knife. Dom’s voice had gone even deeper and rougher than was normal. “I’m not sure that you’re being entirely straight with me, Brian.”
“What the fuck—what the fuck does that mean, Dom?” Brian brought his hands up in a semi-defensive posture but was unsure of what to do next. If he lashed out, he could just end up making everything worse. Christ, his finger is in my fucking ear! The part of his brain that could stay detached from the seething mass of nerve endings silently applauded Dom’s technique for keeping him off-balance.
“Just what I said,” Dom’s voice still held that faint note of humor. “I just wanted to make sure you were listening.”
Dom’s finger was no longer filling Brian’s ear…Brian registered this fact dimly. He had slid his palm around the back of Brian’s skull and twisted his finger through the hair, right over the knot that Vince had knocked into him with the butt of a shotgun. That was another difficulty of dealing with Dom, Brian thought miserably, he doesn’t have any convenient handles. His hands scrabbled over the corded muscle of Dom’s forearm as he desperately tried to keep Dom at arm’s length.
Dom had tilted Brian’s head slightly backwards; Brian found it now impossible to look away. For a moment, Dom’s eyes mirrored Lance’s: as cold and empty as obsidian, basilisk eyes. But the corners of his mouth still held some private amusement and he leaned in almost conspiratorially, as if to tell Brian some raunchy joke.
“Tran is his father’s oldest son. His father left Vietnam before the war, basically founded the community out here, he has his finger in every pie in little Saigon. His dad’s always run clean,” Dom grimaced. “Well, that’s relative. But cleaner than most.”
“Now, Johnny’s got that second-generation, milk-drinking, meat-eating size. He’s not bad looking. He’s got more money than most people in this town. He’s smart, too. I’d guess that it’s been fifteen years since anyone told Johnny Tran, ‘no’.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Brian was beginning to feel the true meaning of the term ‘captive audience’.
Dom went on as if he hadn’t heard. “Johnny’s never had to fight or struggle for anything and that’s fatal for a person like him. Talent and ability that he never gets to use is a deadly combination. He loves the rush just like…” Dom paused and leaned further into Brian’s space. “…we do. The difference is he doesn’t have anyone or anything that he cares about. So he’ll do anything. So stuff happens, like tonight. Tonight was relatively …restrained. But I’ve just got one question and if you’re a smart guy, you’ll answer.”
The heel of Brian’s hand on Dom’s chest suddenly became less than meaningless and Dom’s face was inches from his.
“What exactly about that turned you on?”
A flood of ice water poured in rivulets through Brian’s veins. He huffed audibly in shock and noticed all over again how thick and unsatisfying the air was becoming. His eyes felt painted on.
Dom chuckled. “Did you think that I wouldn’t notice? I could feel the heat coming off you from a yard away.”
Brian shook his head wordlessly. He swallowed twice more and muttered thickly, “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
Dom’s gaze was appraising.
“Let me see if I can guess.”
And then Dom’s right hand had loosened its grip on his hair and for one instant he was mercifully unencumbered. Brian twisted his head as if he could simply shake off the pain and confusion.
But then the left hand returned to clamp around his throat. Brian was once against pressed to the seat back, but this time the pain was accompanied by the weird panicky feeling of oxygen being slowly stolen away. Dom wasn’t squeezing, not really, those thick fingers were not going to crush his windpipe. The pressure was unceasing, however, and each panting heave of his lungs did less. Brian felt the burning lack of air in his chest, toes and fingertips and it spread through his body, his skin was on fire.
Dom’s voice reverberated through the close air, “Tran gets off on raping people’s heads…if he doesn’t have oil, he’ll lubricate with blood.”
In a faint, minor way, Brian was glad that he was so suddenly released from the need to respond verbally. He was sure that his mind would send him nothing but nonsense anyway. He was too…full, if Dom had not been gripping his throat like the neck of a bottle, his confusion and emotion would have erupted. Did Dom understand what he was doing? Did Dom understand? Was this just a prelude to more uncomfortable questions? Or was Dom merely going to kill him and leave his body in a dumpster?
Brian tightened his grip on Dom’s arm with one hand and lashed out with his other fist. The close quarters were working against him, Dom grinned wickedly as he easily batted his hand aside. Even now, fueled with desperation, Brian could feel his grip weakening. All his strength was centered on getting air into his lungs. He felt his skin thickening as his blood rushed inward seeking oxygen. He felt his body changing into a prison, his limbs getting heavier, while his heart pounded frantically.
There was no more helpless feeling than gasping for air that was not coming.
I’ve been afraid for so long, the thought floated with astonishing clarity through Brian’s head. Brian’s ears were filled with nothing but the sound of rushing blood; he strained in vain to hear his own hissing breath. Dom’s breathing was unhurried. He was focused on Brian with searing intensity, his eyes alight with a look that Brian’s failing brain couldn’t interpret.
As if he was almost mocking Brian’s airless predicament, Dom slowly stuck two fingers in Brian’s mouth. Brian tried to bite down on them but reflex had taken over and his body wouldn’t let him close his mouth, urgently seeking the barest hint of oxygen. Dom caressed Brian’s head from the inside out, drawing the tips of his fingernails along the roof of Brian’s mouth, tickling fiercely.
There was nothing now standing in the way of Brian’s fear, Dom’s eyes never left his face, anchoring Brian in consciousness. It was like teetering on the edge of a volcano’s caldera. Brian hesitated one moment and then just let himself tumble into the heat. He ceded control completely, relaxing into Dom’s unforgiving hand. A second later his head was rolling back on the headrest and he was heaving deep gulps of air.
If it wasn’t for the continuing burn across his throat, Brian could have sworn that the last few minutes were the product of his overstressed brain. Dom was once again leaning against the window, gazing outward, abstracted. Brian ran his fingers lightly over the heated skin under his jaw. Dom had rolled his window down an inch or two and Brian leaned back against it sipping the damp evening air and rolling his hot head against the cool pane of glass. What the fuck just happened here?
Dom had said something and Brian had not processed it. He wasted a few moments thinking of defensive things to say but then just gasped out, “What?”
“I said,” Dom tilted his head lazily, “Did you like that?”
“N-no,” Brian tried to push back a little further and winced as his bruised head tapped the glass.
“Oh really?” Dom smiled faintly in the weak light and his hand shot out as fast as thought. He hooked his fingers over Brian’s waistband and pressed his palm over Brian’s crotch. Strong fingers, but dexterous.
Brian was once again breathless, despite the fact that Dom wasn’t squeezing his neck.
“Hmmmmm,” The humor was back in Dom’s eyes, “So who’s lying?”
Brian began to shake uncontrollably as he tried to focus on Dom’s eyes. The hands on him moved gently, teasingly, as if unsupervised. When he looked down at Dom’s hand, it stopped moving and rested gently against his heated, swollen flesh. His eyes were burning and when Dom spoke to him again it was in a whisper.
“Hey,” Dom tilted his head so that Brian was forced to meet his eyes. “Don’t lose that cool of yours, Brian. I guess I’m not the only one who learns something new every day.”
Brian wanted to start punching him until his knuckles were split, wanted to sink his teeth into that smooth flesh and take it out in chunks. The implication of pity that he felt hovering over him twisted his face in rage. But when he lifted his eyes up to gauge the best angle of attack, he noticed that Dom’s eyes held no humor, no disgust, not even the faintest trace of pity or anything like it. That odd unreadable look was back.
This is a test. Am I going to pass? Brian involuntarily leaned forward to catch any stray ghost of an expression on Dom’s face.
Dom had thrown his right knee over the handbrake and turned completely sideways in the narrow seat. His left elbow rested on the window’s edge and his left hand supported his head. The fingers of his right hand tapped a light tattoo against the top of his inner thigh. As if he didn’t notice that Brian was watching or didn’t care, his right thumb stroked up and down over his the seam of his fly.
The implication was pretty obvious: You want something to choke on?
Brian took another deep breath and exhaled the last of his fear. Moving tentatively, prepared to recoil at any second, Brian leaned forward and rested his hand over Dom’s stilling the tapping fingers. Brian moved his hand up to Dom’s zipper by feel, holding Dom’s eyes as he eased it down and was rewarded by the half grin as Dom reached to unbutton himself and stroke the side of Brian’s head.
That thick hardness, that smell was like Dom only more so, like he was truly touching the center. Dom’s breath caught when Brian rubbed his cheek over the maroon skin of the head of his cock. Brian felt the slight moisture on his dry lips and the thought of Dom being somehow liquid and uncontained was so unbearably hot that he had to give himself a foot of room to breathe and adjust himself. Looking at Dom’s dark swollen cock, Brian felt an unchecked rush of pure lust untainted by anxiety. Dom was hard for him, Dom wanted this.
When he leaned in again, Brian pressed Dom’s cock into his mouth until the head touched the back of his throat and he couldn’t breathe, even through his nose. The heat sliding over his tongue and lower lip distracted him from every other concern, the uncomfortable hunched position, the lack of oxygen, the sheer madness of it all. Dom soft moans and his unconscious hitching thrusts just made Brian want to take more. Dom leaned over him; he felt Dom’s breath on the back of his neck and fingers running gently over his ears into the curly hair at his temples, carefully avoiding the bruises. The unexpected consideration made Brian suck in sharply and clench his fists. Suddenly, Dom was twitching and panting but Brian did not choke, did not falter as the salt washed over his tongue.
In the wake of Dom’s release, Brian leaned back gasping, his face painfully flushed and his jaw painfully tight. When his breathing had slowed somewhat, he caught Dom studying him again. Brian closed his eyes and when he opened them Dom was just…there.
And it was like a slow motion replay of the minutes before. The choking hand tightened at the base of his throat, his heart started that panicked drumbeat again. Brian tried to focus on Dom’s eyes, while Dom’s right hand slowly and deliberately unbuttoned him. His extremities tingled and went numb quickly, and it seemed that all the blood in his body pulsed in his cock. Dom began whispering things that Brian could barely hear for the ringing in his ears. The sounds washed over him and for one dizzying moment, he thought that Dom had called him, ‘baby’. Dom ran his thumb down the underside of his cock from the cleft in the head to the base and Brian felt the touch from the inside out. The sudden roughness of Dom’s calluses was like echoes reverberating through his body. If Dom had simply told him not to breathe now, Brian would not have.
There was a moment where everything was still. No breath, no movement but the beating of his heart. He raised his eyes to Dom’s face as everything bled gray at the edges. It was like being underwater fighting to get up into the light. The tight heat of Dom’s fist vibrated around his cock and suddenly he was sobbing deep gasping breaths and spurting over the web of Dom’s fingers. The sudden oxygen tasted sweet. Pleasure that seemed to go on for long minutes exploded behind his eyes and a final rush of heat through his body left him slumped in the seat that Dom had abruptly retracted. When he came back to himself, it was as if he’d been stretched and no longer fit inside his own skin. He noticed that Dom had started the car and was guiding them smoothly through the dark and shining streets.
“Dom, do you…” his voice was a rasp.
“Yeah, I do,” Dom didn’t let him finish.
Brian leaned sideways to get a good look as Dom maneuvered them onto the highway and the overlapping street lights suddenly vanished. Dom rested his hand lightly on Brian’s thigh. Brian looked at it for a few moments, closed his eyes and (for the first time in weeks) relaxed completely.