-dodges pointy objects-
Many thanks to bffl burping goddess, who helped me beta this. And to all those who reviewed the first chapter, thanks a bunch!
Drive F (F for… Frightening? lol)
Echizen Ryoma was in a dilemma.
He had just received his learner's permit the day before, and hadn't the slightest clue on how to go about asking for someone to supervise his driving. His father was out of the question, naturally – between ogling at women crossing the street and making rude gestures at other drivers, Ryoma was surprised he got any driving done at all. The last time his mother had laid hands on a steering wheel, the entire left side of their house had been demolished (she had been trying to parallel park, trying being the effective word). His elder brother would have been a good choice, had he been in Japan to begin with. So it was effectively a no-go on the home front for the tennis prodigy. Which left him with the other option – asking one of his Tennis Club seniors.
It was hardly the asking part that he was worried about, it was more of the question of who he was going to ask. The stony-faced captain was the first one that came to mind, before he recalled the unfortunate incident the week before involving Kikumaru, a pitcher of Inui's Special blend, and some very bad timing. It might have helped the situation some if he hadn't laughed his ass off in Tezuka's field of vision, of course – but what was done was done, and Echizen Ryoma knew a suicide mission when he saw one. He moved on.
Oishi would have been his next pick, but the fukubuchou was at a meeting for the next Inter-High. Which left him with the few seniors he had who could drive in a straight line (putting Momo out of the equation entirely). Inui drove much too slowly, he spent most of his time at the wheel calculating risks at every conceivable junction. Kikumaru was far too genki for Ryoma's tastes; no doubt an hour with him in a confined vehicle would drive him to inevitable madness. Kaidoh was alright, he supposed, once he got over the intimidation bit. And Fuji…
"Is there a reason why you've been standing here for the past five minutes?" An amused voice from behind him broke Ryoma out of his contemplation. Speak of the devil.
"No," he said sourly, stepping aside so Fuji could have access to his locker.
The brown-haired prodigy laughed. "Something on your mind?" he asked lightly. "I noticed you weren't quite yourself at practice today."
"Not really," Ryoma said grimly.
In return, Fuji shot him a disarming smile, one which Ryoma recognized all too well. He discreetly took a few steps away, only to back right into Momoshiro Takeshi.
"Yo, Echizen!" Momoshiro's obnoxiously loud voice resonated into his ear. "Got your permit yet?"
"A permit?" That caught Fuji's attention. "You've got your learner's permit already?"
Ryoma wanted to dig a hole where he stood and bury himself in it. "… I suppose."
Momoshiro grinned. "Well, what're we waiting for? Let's go!"
Momoshiro shifted with impatience. "Drive, of course! Don't you want to get started already?"
"I'll help," Fuji interjected, having watched the exchange with amusement.
Ryoma looked dubious, now. "I've never seen you drive, Fuji-senpai." Which was pretty true, he mused. Most of the time he'd seen Fuji's sister at the wheel.
Fuji laughed good-naturedly. "Don't worry, I'm very good." Closing his locker with a final click, he hefted his bag over his shoulder and began heading towards the exit. "Saa, shall we go?"
Which was how one skeptical Echizen Ryoma and an overexcited Momoshiro Takeshi ended up trailing behind Fuji to his house.
"We could have used my dad's car," Ryoma said, as Fuji brought out his keys at the gate.
Fuji smiled. "My house is nearer," he lowered his voice. "And we'll have to keep it down for a bit."
"Keep it down?" It was apparent that Momo only had two volumes – loud and louder. Ryoma sighed and tried to rub some feeling back into his left ear.
A grimace. "All right, you two wait out here."
They didn't have to wait long. Fuji navigated a blue Honda out of the gate, and Ryoma and Momoshiro were met with the startling sight of an entire column of padlocks on the side of the driver's door.
"What was that?" Momo demanded after they got into the car, with Ryoma at the front and him in the back passenger seat.
"Prevents robbers," Fuji said evasively.
Momo snorted obnoxiously. "Why? Your car made out of gold or somethin'?"
Ignoring him, Fuji turned towards Ryoma. "Do you understand the principles of driving?"
"Principles?" Ryoma blinked. "You mean the rules?"
Fuji shook his lead and chuckled. "Not quite. You see, driving is like tennis – it's a skill which has to be honed and channeled carefully."
That piqued the young prodigy's interest. "Tennis, huh?"
Nodding emphatically, Fuji halted the car as they approached the crossing, signaling that they were about to leave the residential zone. "They're basically the same, actually. You have to pour your soul into perfecting it, and beat everyone else into submission."
"Beat everyone else into submission?" Momoshiro echoed incredulously. "Wait… WHAT?"
Ryoma nodded with understanding, to the lanky boy's horror. "So what you're saying is that we apply the same rules of tennis to driving?" That was a lot easier to remember. If only his instructor at the institute had told him that to begin with!
"Exactly!" Fuji said, pleased. "You catch on pretty fast. Now for a demonstration…"
Nothing could have prepared Momoshiro Takeshi for what happened next.
The car took a violent turn into the main street, causing him to be flung to the side of the window. He couldn't even register the thump his head made over the sound of horns blaring and the dizzying fact that Fuji Syuusuke had just cut across four lanes.
It took a few seconds for him to recover. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" he bellowed, grabbing the side of the door for support as Fuji changed gears calmly.
"Teaching Echizen the proper way of driving, of course." He caught Momo's gaze in the rearview mirror, and Momo was mortified to realize that he could see the intense blue of Fuji's eyes. Oh god.
Ryoma's reaction couldn't have been more opposite. "That was cool!" he said in amazement, looking at his senior with wide eyes. "Do it again!"
"Don't you da – "
Fuji did another turn, this time at full speed. The Honda drifted ferociously around the bend, barely grazing past the safety rail as it did so. He could distinctly hear screams and far-off screeching over the pounding of his heart. Which was probably going to cease beating if he stayed in that screwed up car any longer.
Ignoring the better part of his logic, he began furiously tugging on the door handle in a futile effort to get out. "What the hell? Your door's stuck!"
"It's the child lock function," Fuji said solemnly. "Prevents untimely accidents."
Momoshiro was about to tell him where the sadistic genius could put his child lock function when Fuji floored the gas, causing him to be flung in an ungainly sprawl over the backseat.
Grasping weakly at the handle on the other side of the car, only succeeding in winding the window down in the process, Momoshiro Takeshi beseeched whatever gods there were up there to rescue him from his inevitable demise. He would have done some begging on Echizen's part too, if the little bastard hadn't been cackling ecstatically in the front passenger seat.
"Here's the interesting part," Fuji said, directing the car through a series of hairpin turns that had the wheels of the car squealing in protest. "You can channel your energy into performing actual tennis moves when you drive!"
Ryoma was utterly gobsmacked. "You can?"
Fuji nodded sagely. "Think of the wheel as your racket, and the vehicle as your tennis ball. With the right momentum – " Momo could vaguely hear a loud crash resounding behind them "- almost anything is possible. Even this."
Fuji's eyes flashed. "Tsubame Gaeshi!"
The Honda flew into the air as it was launched off a construction ramp (safety barriers be damned). There was the surreal feeling of being airborne as the car sailed over three cars, a truck, and a crowd of road workers who watched the vehicle's matrix-like trajectory in terrified silence.
Ryoma gasped, clearly impressed. Fuji laughed. Momoshiro puked out of the open window.
"But that's not all," Fuji intoned as the car landed, miraculously, in one piece. "You have to take note of your surroundings, too. There'll always be others on the road that seek to interfere… The real challenge is to defeat each and every one of them."
Ryoma crossed his arms and nodded knowingly. "So everyone else is just an enemy to take down?"
The car zoomed forward once more as Fuji rapidly changed gears and cut across three lanes recklessly, tailgating and overtaking as he continued to urge the vehicle forward. "It's a life skill, Echizen," he said seriously. "Driving isn't just about getting to the destination."
Fuji chuckled at his naïveté. "Nope." Oblivious to the menacing fists being waved in his direction, he flattened a row of flowerbeds as the side of the car swerved onto the pavement. "It's about the journey involved."
"I see." Ryoma nodded once more, with the air of someone being imparted with the answer to life's mysteries. Momo wanted to smack him.
Wiping the side of his mouth on the back of his hand, Momoshiro Takeshi grimly considered his remaining options. There was no way he could fit through the Honda's window, so that ruled out any possibility of flinging himself out in a fit of insanity. He didn't think Fuji would take kindly to being throttled, either – the last time some misguided soul had tried to put Fuji in a friendly headlock, he'd wound up on the floor with two dislocated arms. Which meant he was stuck with the last option…
If the other drivers thought the sight of a spiky head with flailing arms poking out of a window, screaming "HELP MEE!!" was strange, they gave little indication of such. The fact that the car was had managed to balance on two wheels after leaving the pavement was awfully distracting. Impressively so.
"What are you doing?" came the incredulous voice of Ryoma, who had managed to tear his gaze from the front.
Momo jerked his head back in. "What does it look like I'm doing?" he snapped. "I'm trying to call for help!"
Ryoma looked a little puzzled. "Whatever for? We're perfectly safe."
"You call this – " Momo frantically gesticulated in a manner that he hoped would relay their current two-wheeled situation, then to the trail of destruction they were leaving in their wake " – perfectly safe?? Have you lost your mind??"
"You're overreacting, Momo-senpai."
"I am NOT!"
"Now, Momo, you should calm down." Fuji turned around as well. "I don't have any paper bags on hand for you to breathe into."
"DON'T LOOK AT ME!! KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BLOODY ROAD!!"
"Tsk. Language, Momoshiro. No blood will be shed on the roads while I'm driving."
They ran a red light. Fuji looked like he couldn't have cared less. Momo's head hit the roof of the car painfully as the car flew over a hump and landed, narrowly avoiding a very familiar figure trying to cross the road…
Momoshiro caught a fleeting glimpse of Kaidoh's enraged face as they zoomed past. He almost sobbed in relief. "MAMUSHIII!!"
"It seems that he's chasing us," Fuji observed mildly as he gazed at the side mirror. "Should we stop?"
Ryoma shrugged with indifference. "Why not?"
Momoshiro felt a sense of inexplicable joy wash over him the car actually slowed to a halt. I'm going to be nice to the mamushii from now on, he decided gratefully. I'll treat him to burgers everyday, carry his bag, wash his dirty laundry…
A very irritated Kaidoh Kaoru rapped his knuckles against Fuji's window. When Fuji gave no indication of winding it down to grant him an audience, he hissed and pulled at the door. It was locked.
Against his better judgment, he yanked the back door open instead (causing a near-delirious Momoshiro to almost fall out onto the pavement), shoved the spiky-haired boy back in, and got into the car.
Momo blinked. "Did you just…"
Kaidoh ignored him. "What the hell were you doing?! You almost ran me over!"
Espying another construction ramp in the distance, Fuji paid him little heed and gunned it.
Momoshiro felt his heart sink into his stomach.
"We're back," Fuji announced, as the car putted into the street outside his house.
Ryoma gracefully pulled himself out of the Honda, which looked a little worse for wear. "Thanks for today, Fuji-senpai," he said sincerely. "I really learnt a lot from you."
Fuji smiled down at the grateful teenager. "Anytime. I'm glad I could help."
"Oh, you did." Ryoma nodded fervently. "I think I feel confident enough to drive now!"
They stood like that for a few moments, fading rays of the sunset basking the teacher and student in what would have been an undoubtedly cheesy moment on TV. Until –
"SYUUSUKE!" A female voice screeched. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY CAR?!"
Ryoma blinked. "What's she so mad about?" The sight of Fuji's older sister rushing towards them with fire in her eyes was a little unnerving, but surely nothing he couldn't handle.
"I'd run away if I were you," Fuji sighed.
Hurricane Fuji Yumiko continued on its rampage, and was approaching fast. "Right," he ceded, after a short pause. "Thanks again."
With that, he hightailed it out of there.
Fuji's license got revoked (Ryoma couldn't fathom why – Fuji-senpai was a great driver!), Momoshiro and Kaidoh were discovered slumped lifelessly in the backseat a few days later, and Ryoma needed someone else to supervise his driving. He decided on Oishi.
But we all know how that's going to work out, don't we?
-hangs head in shame- I'm sorry, Momo. I was high and you were the unlucky victim.
Comments appreciated :)