Dom tossed the brightly colored peel into the trash can from all the way across the kitchen. Granted, it was a very small kitchen, with it being a boathouse and all, but he felt proud of himself anyway. God knew that any one of his crew members could relay exactly how much he had sucked at basketball in gym class.
He reached for his almost-empty corona, and took it in his hand. The residual temperature of the room had already warmed it to the point that he could barely tell by touch if it had ever been in the tiny refrigerator. He swallowed the last dregs of his beer, and walked over to said refrigerator. He pulled out two more coronas, and proceeded to walk out the front door of the boathouse. The place had many shortcomings, but Dom could never complain about the 3-second walk to the dock and the ocean behind Tej’s garage.
That was where he found Brian, as on most days. He was sprawled out in one of those white poolside lounge chairs. His eyes were closed, and he had taken great care to wet his hair and wipe it back to leave his forehead clear. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, which meant Dom could see a few telling scars marking Brian’s still mostly-unexplained past.
Dom had asked Brian once why he spent so much time in the sun. Brian had acted in typical Brian-fashion – he had answered with minimal verbal interaction and had given minimal information. He had muttered something about a medical condition, and Dom had left it at that.
Dom shot out a hand and played with the golden blonde curls. He lifted one up and allowed it to wrap around his finger in a tony ringlet. When Brian didn’t react, Dom touched one of the bottles of Corona to Brian’s nipple.
The blonde jerked, and his eyes flew open. The cerulean irises slid to the large man looming over him, and Brian felt a smile spreading over his face.
“Hey Babe.” Dom said before leaning down to capture Brian’s lips in a kiss. It was short, but not chaste by any means. In the space not far from them, both men heard Rome groan.
“Can you two go one hour without advertising?” he asked.
“Don’t be jealous just ‘cuz Brian’s getting some and you aren’t.” Suki chastised him with a playful smack upside his bald head.
Dom handed Brian the beer and sat down on the wooden deck next to his lover’s chair. He saw Brian take a drink out of the corner of his eye, but focused on the serene waters in front of him. Then he heard Brian sputtering, and turned around with a smile on his face.
“Too strong for you babe?” he asked with a laugh in his voice.
His smile faded once he really took in what was in front of him though. Briand had two hands locked around his throat – the universal sign for ‘I can’t fucking breathe’. His face was turning red, and so was his neck. An angry rash was forming all around his face, which was steadily losing color.
“Is he okay?” Han asked from his seat o the other side of Brian.
“Of course he’s not fucking okay!” Rome hissed as he crossed the small section of the deck to kneel beside Brian.
“What did you eat?” Rome asked Dom, a dark fire in his eyes as he hauled Brian up and into his arms.
“Me? How could that possib-?”
“Answer the fucking question!” Rome yelled as he crossed the width of the deck to enter Tej’s garage. Dom followed not a foot behind him. His chest was heaving, and he could feel his heart hammering.
“I had a PBJ and an orange.”
“God Damn it! He’s allergic to that!” Rome cursed as he tried to open the door of his convertible to put Brian in the passenger seat. Apparently he had overestimated the dexterity of his ankles.
“Which one?” Dom asked as he ran to the driver’s door and slid behind the wheel.
“Both, and hell no you are not driving!”
“I’m the better and more experienced driver. This ain’t no derby demolition show Einstein, its downtown Miami!”
“If it wasn’t for you he wouldn’t be in this mess!” Rome argued.
“Shut the fuck up and put your seatbelt on.” Dom growled as he hit the accelerator.
He let the needle on the speedometer rise to 100 before he hit the tiny red button on his steering wheel. He heard Rome curse, and smirked in triumph. Then he remembered just
why the hell he was driving at five times the maximum speed limit on crowded Miami streets. Luckily, Tej didn’t live far from the university hospital.
He took Brian from Rome once he had parked, too impatient to stand by and wait for the man to struggle out of the confines of the car with the added weight of a choking Brian. They ran through the automatic doors of the ER, brokering no deceleration or caution as they ran to the triage nurse.
“What’s his name?” she asked them hurriedly as Dom laid Brian down on the gurney.
“Brian Earl Spilner.” Dom answered, not wanting to give out Brian’s real name.
“He’s going into anaphylactic shock! We need to bag him now.” A doctor in a white coat ordered the nurses on either side of the gurney.
“Have a line ready in the room.” Another nurse said as they sprinted down the hall with Brian.
The blonde craned his neck upwards, to see the two men rapidly disappearing in the white of the long hallway. He wanted them with him. He didn’t want to be left alone, and neither did they.
An hour later, they were still in the waiting room, along with at least two-hundred other people. Some were crying, others were occupying themselves with tending to other more devastated members of their group, and some, like Rome and Dom, were waiting in complete and utter silence. Every once in a while they would shift their visual focus, knowing that they had stared at that particular picture or door handle or light fixture too long. They stayed like that for another twenty minutes before Rome finally spoke.
“I’m sorry man.” He said. His voice was low, shaky, and so quiet that Dom barely heard it, even in the dismal silence that surrounded them in the waiting room.
“I’m sorry I freaked out on you, and that I said this was your fault. I was wrong, and it didn't do any damn good.” Rome elaborated.
“Thanks for trying, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.” Dom said. He continued to stare at the white rubber floor.
“Look man,” Rome said, adding an edge to his voice to grab the other man’s attention, “Brian’s always been self-conscious of his medical history; he got a lot shit for it as a kid. When we were growing up together, kids used to try to get him to eat that shit, just to watch him pass out. It’s not your fault he didn’t tell you. And besides, this is Brian we’re talking about – he’s been through worse.”
Dom nodded. That was true, Brian had certainly been through worse – the scars riddling his torso were proof of that. As if they needed substantiating, Dom’s mind slipped to just last night when Brian had woken up crying. Yes, Brian had certainly been through worse than this, but that didn’t make him feel any less guilty. He should have pressed for more information.
“All’s relative I guess.” He said, more to fill the growing silence that threatened to swallow them again. Rome slid an arm around him, putting a comforting weight on his shoulders and back. Dom leaned into it, remembering that Rome was, after all, a friend.
“Trust me man, he’ll be fine.”
“Thanks Rome.” Dom said, and he felt the boards holding up his resolve creak a little as he spoke.
“What are friends for?” Rome flashed him a wicked grin.
“Brian Spilner?” a perky nurse with overly-permed and under-dyed red hair asked the room. The two men scrambled to stand from the too-low waiting room chairs, and waited anxiously for her to speak to them. They seemed to be on the brink of some horrible precipice, from the way they looked at her.
She glanced down at the chart clutched in her hands; a bulky metal contraption Dom had familiarized himself with after Jesse’s hospitalization in LA, not to mention Vince’s Mom. She skimmed it with pursed lips, and then snapped her eyes back up to the two rather large men still standing in front of her.
“Your friend had a severe allergic reaction to orange and peanuts, but we couldn’t find any in his stomach contents, could you please explain that?”
“Does it really matter?” Rome asked, wanting to spare his friend the humiliation of describing that morning’s events.
“We normally see this with college or high-school pranks, and if that is the case we have to report It.” she said firmly but gently.
“No, it wasn’t a prank.” Dom said. “I ate an orange and a PBJ for lunch and then I kissed him. I didn’t know he was allergic.” He felt like someone might attack him. This wasn’t LA, where he could have said whatever he wanted to, because he ruled the streets.
“Oh, alright then.” The nurse seemed completely un-phased. “If you’ll follow me, I can take you to see him. We gave him a steroid to stop the swelling in his throat, so he can breathe normally now. Speaking of which, he really should have an inhaler. And tell him to start taking vitamins – he’s-“
“Iron and b-12 deficient anemic, we know. It runs in his family.” Rome said, sparing Dom a massive confusion-induced aneurism.
The nurse nodded, and opened a door for then on the left side of the hall. She stayed out of the threshold, and allowed them to step through before entering the room herself. She closed the door behind her, and then crossed the room to place the chart at the foot of Brian’s bed. Then she turned back to Rome and Brian.
“The doctor will be in shortly with a script for an inhaler. You should be able to take him home within the hour.” Then she left, closing the door behind her.
Dom remained standing by the head of Brian’s bed. He brushed a stray lock of hair out of his face, and watched with baited breath as the blonde’s eyelashes fluttered. His eyes opened wearily and slowly, and they locked onto Dom through a bleary haze.
“What’s up guys?” he asked. His voice was faint, but he had enough strength to sit up. Rome made a rude noise.
“You nearly die and that’s the best you can come up with? Cuz, if you wasn’t already in the hospital I’d kick your skinny white ass.”
“Get in line man; it starts behind Suki and Mia.” Dom interrupted.
All three men erupted in laughter. It was a rich music that filled the room and burst through the door to reach the doctor approaching the door. When he did walk in, he was taken aback by the overflowing happiness surrounding him. Then he realized, how very strange his patient must be, to laugh so heartily after such a close call.
But for Rome, Brian, and Dom, that was their life – close calls, fast cars, cheap beer, and good fun.