‘…couldn’t believe the fucking balls on the guy! He had enough NOS in the back of that thing to blow himself in the next century and still he wouldn’t shut up about the rocket fuel Tej was using -‘
Brian was talking to himself, he realised. When he stopped and turned, he saw that he had been for at least thirty seconds.
Dom was stopped a ways back, in the middle of a break in the sidewalk, at the parking lot entrance to the Merry Bells Wedding Chapel and Firing Range. He’d obviously been waiting for Brian to notice he was no longer beside him, now he was waiting for him to return. Until then he wasn’t going to shift his stubborn ass.
Brian got back to him, looking out for cars trying to turn in. He wondered if Dom’s all-muscle bulk might actually be enough to stop a family saloon in its tracks. Doubted it.
‘Dom, what the hell…?’
He followed the glance up at the hideously garish building at the end of the parking lot.
‘Let’s do it.’
‘You want to go to a Vegas firing range?’ Maybe the dry desert heat was getting to him. ‘Isn’t that a bit vanilla for you?’
‘Not the firing range.’
It took a moment. ‘The wedding chapel?!’
A smile split Dom’s face. He looked happy. He’d been looking happy a lot recently. ‘Why not?’
‘Why… not?! Are you serious?’ Brian took a step closer. ‘Are you high?’
It was a mistake. Dom’s large hand didn’t have to reach far to curl around his hip and pull him closer. ‘I’m very serious.’
‘You want….’ He couldn’t even say it.
Dom laughed, a rumble that Brian swore he could feel through the fingers sitting hot over his t-shirt. ‘Why not?’
‘Why… why not?! I could give you a list as long as my dick!’
‘Give me one reason that isn’t Vince.’
‘I hate to burst your bubble, Bri, but Mia’s over you.'
‘I don’t mean….’ He caught the wry expression on Dom’s face. ‘I mean, she’d want to be there if her big brother ever… not that we would ever, because it’s a stupid idea.’
‘Stop talking. For once. Stop over-thinking it.’ His smile turned smug. ‘I know you love me.’
‘You know I love you.’
‘That’s no reason to do something so completely insane!’
‘You love insane, Brian. You live for it.’
‘There’s a significant difference between everything we’ve done and what you’re suggesting we do now.’ He got serious, hoping it would put his point across. ‘That shit’s for keeps, Dom.’
He got through, at least he thought he did. Dom nodded slowly, dropped an oddly reverent kiss to his forehead and let him go.
Another bullet dodged; Dom was like a pitbull, once he got an idea in his head. He didn’t like to let go until he was able to follow through or someone kneed him hard enough in the balls that he had no choice. Maybe Brian should have been suspicious, but he was only relieved.
One day, he was going to learn.
The whole point of the Vegas trip was for Dom to catch up with some guy he once swapped engine parts with. Or something. Brian didn’t honestly care when Dom went off early the next day, before he was even awake.
He had a long breakfast in Aria’s magnificent all-you-can-eat buffet, then hit the tables. He won some, lost some. No big deal, nothing he couldn’t make back in one night on the city streets where the tourists didn’t go, violating state traffic laws and playing fast and loose with the rules of physics.
He was heading for the room and a shower when Dom’s text arrived.
Change of plan. Meet me at 4 in the Petrossian Bar, Bellagio
He stared at it. They’d walked through the Bellagio on their first night here. Never had Dom looked so conspicuous, so hilariously out of place. He’d been in an odd mood since the weird thing yesterday on the pavement outside the wedding chapel but he hadn’t mentioned it again. They’d made it to the Stratosphere with no more unexpected, idiotic suggestions. They’d ridden the X-Scream which Dom kept calling lame as they climbed aboard, but Brian noticed how shaky his legs were when they got off, and he’d waited patiently outside the casino entrance while Brian threw himself off the top of the building and landed with the elegance afforded him by the crotch-hugging safety harness.
The Petrossian was amongst the most expensive casino floor bars on the strip, outside of the high roller rooms where the alcohol was served free but came at a breathtaking price. It was the smartest too. Brian dressed accordingly; clean t shirt and muted shorts.
There was a guy in a monkey suit playing piano when he arrived. He couldn’t see a free table but the girl at the desk told him there was a reservation in his name and led him beyond a roped off area to a small table for two overlooking the casino floor. The quiet still unnerved him. He remembered passing through Vegas as a kid; the smoky air and the constant noise of coins dropping. The air stank of perfume and sweat now, and there was very little sound.
He ordered a beer, added it to the tab they were running up against the room, and sat eating the free table snacks, watching the fat woman at the slots closest to him as she pressed buttons and lost money with the same calm detachment Dom fixed other people’s cars. Maybe she was losing other people's money.
No doubt the legal business they ran out of the Toretto garage was good for them, but sometimes he worried the boredom would send all of them over the edge. They tried to balance it out with the other stuff, at weekends. when the payments were in cash and the parts were special orders.
He caught sight of Dom coming towards him. He was dressed in a white shirt and denim cutoffs - practically formal dress - and he felt a flash of panic as he suddenly realised that maybe something was going on here that he didn’t know about, or want to know about.
He picked up his beer and watched Dom’s approach over the rim of the glass. He looked happy, relaxed. The white cotton shirt contrasting with the deep tan of his skin. Brian felt himself getting hard and let the panic roll back over him. It was better than an erection in the middle of the floral prints and rich, old folk.
The same girl directed Dom over to where he was sitting, and the shit eating grin on his face when he spotted Brian waiting did nothing to put him at ease. As soon as he was within hearing distance, Brian sat forward.
‘What’s going on, Dom....?’ He shook his head and closed his eyes when Dom dropped down on one knee at the table. ‘Oh, fuck you.’
Dom ignored him. He knew that without even opening his eyes. He could feel the guy’s presence like a heat wave. Finally he knew he had to look, everyone else in a twenty foot radius had to be. This was his only chance to knee him in the balls in the hope he’d let it go. He didn’t take it.
Dominic Toretto - ex-con, macho king of the street racing scene - was down on one knee in front of him, holding open a dark blue ring box inside which sat a plain gold band.
He groaned. Even in his worst nightmares this had never happened.
‘Brian O’Connor.’ There was a happy gasp from the Chinese woman holding a mojito at the table across from them. Brian glanced at her and hoped it didn’t hold the death glare he was saving for Dom. Dom didn’t waver. ‘Will you do me the honour of marrying me?’
He managed to keep most of what he was thinking back and only leaned forward to murmur, ‘Why are you doing this?’
Dom’s selective hearing was legendary. ‘Everyone’s waiting for your answer, Bri.’ He gave a little smile and Brian knew what was coming next. ‘Don’t go chicken on me now.’
‘Bastard.’ There was no winning this one. Dom had him beat this time and they both knew it. ‘Fine. Yes.’ There were claps and cheers from the alarming number of people who’d been drawn to the spectacle of a mean-looking muscle man proposing to a Californian surfer type in an expensive Vegas bar.
Dom surged forwards, hands on Brian’s knees and kissed him. Brian kissed him back despite himself.
‘Do you think this is possibly the worst idea you’ve ever had?’ he asked.
Dom grinned. ’Nah, not by a long shot.’