Disclaimer: Initial D was created by Shuichi Shigeno.


D is for Drinking

Ryosuke Takahashi popped the caps off of three beer bottles. He handed one to his brother Keisuke and the other to Takumi Fujiwara. They were in the Takahashi residence celebrating yet another double victory. The entire team of Project D had been there earlier, but they've gone home since they lived in the area. Takumi, however, had to stay the night. He had a few drinks and though he was still coherent, prudence told them not to let him drive home that night.

"I can do it, you know." Takumi said. "I can go home now and deal with the hangover tomorrow."

"No way, man." Ryosuke said firmly. "It's not good to drink and drift."

"Drink and drift! Good one, aniki!" Keisuke laughed. He was more drunk than Takumi. "Hey, Takumi, do you remember the first time we raced?"

Takumi took a drink from his bottle before answering. "Of course. That was the first time I drove down Akina without carrying tofu in the back."

Keisuke nodded. "You were such a scrawny little kid, I was so sure I could beat you."

"Who are you calling scrawny?"

"Iketani told me that they were expecting your dad to come race." Ryosuke put in before his brother could reply. "They were so shocked to see you."

"Yeah, they said that you didn't even know that your car was called an 86." Keisuke said.

"Since when did you guys get chummy with Iketani?" Takumi asked. Sure, the Takahashi brothers weren't as conceited as people thought they were, but they didn't exactly run in the same crowd as Iketani.

"He posts on our website." Ryosuke said nonchalantly. "You do visit our website right?"

"Um…"

"Do you even know the URL?"

"What's a URL?"

"I rest my case."

"No, I've seen it. But I know our races and best times…I don't think I need to logon to check."

"Fine."

"Anyway," Keisuke motioned to Takumi with his drink. "If I had known then that you had been delivering tofu everyday for five years, I'd have taken you more seriously. That's such a great training scheme."

"I never thought of myself as a driver." Takumi said. "I was just in a terrible hurry to get home. Making the deliveries is boring."

"Your father had been grooming you for street racing and you didn't even know it." Ryosuke told him.

"Yeah, he was." Takumi said, then as an afterthought he added, "That stupid old man, making decisions about me without telling me."

"Right, like you regret it." Keisuke said. "Sure he wanted you to drive fast, but the decision to be faster, to be a streetracer and Project D's downhill specialist was all you."

Takumi looked at him. He was right. Times like this he remembered that Keisuke was actually older than him.

Ryosuke squinted at his brother. "I thought you were drunk."

"Hey I can hold my own!" Keisuke said loudly. "On the mountain passes and in drinking sessions." To prove his point he drained the remaining contents of his bottle. "This is great, huh? Friends talking about the good times? Sure Takumi beat me then. But that's all in the past. What's done is done and it's these life experiences that make us rich! We've grown up! I bet I can beat you down Akina now, Takumi."

Takumi took a swig. "Yeah, sure."

"Oh, you don't think I can do it?"

"Any improvement you've made, I can match. I've gotten better, too, you know."

This comment made Ryosuke look at Takumi. The downhill driver was more intoxicated now.

"I can beat you even if I still had my old FD, before the overhaul." Keisuke boasted.

"I can beat you even if my tires had lost all their grip." Takumi shot back.

"Well, I can beat you with the lousiest suspension known to man!"

"I don't even need my tires! My 86 can just skid on its axles and I'll still win!"

"Oh, yeah? Well maybe I don't need my car! We can just run down Akina and you can eat my dust!"

"It's my mountain! I know every inch of that pass, you'll trip before you start! I'll be waiting at the finish!"

Normally, Ryosuke would look at his double aces with pride. Right now, he looked at the two of them in disgust. Keisuke was a loud drunk and Takumi was an angry one. "Shut up, both of you! You're giving me a headache."

The two boys fell silent, but Ryosuke still heard Takumi mutter, "It's still my mountain."

"Moving on," Ryosuke opened another bottle of beer for himself. "Keisuke, what ever happened to Kyoko? Have you called her yet?"

"Aniki!" Keisuke groaned. "Do you have to bring that up now?"

"Kyoko?" Takumi asked, "Oh, the girl driving the black FD. Are you seeing her, Keisuke?"

"No." Ryosuke answered for his brother. "He broke her heart and now he's paying for it. He misses her."

"I had to do it." Keisuke said in a pained voice. "Otherwise I'd have screwed up racing."

"What a load of crap." Takumi, the angry drunk, barked. "If you could be so easily distracted when racing, then you wouldn't be such a good driver. I thought you'd have more concentration than that."

"I realize that now, okay?" Keisuke retorted. "I just need to…talk to her."

"Well, do it. It'll get harder when you found out she's moved far from you." Takumi said quietly.

"Speaking from experience, Takumi?" Ryosuke raised an eyebrow. "Is this about Natsuki Mogi?"

"Don't tell me Iketani's been posting about that on the website." Takumi glared at him.

"Of course not," Ryosuke answered smoothly. "That piece of news was volunteered by Itsuki when he came to watch our race last month."

"My friends need to keep their mouths shut." Takumi said dangerously.

"Who's Natsuki Mogi?" Keisuke asked, thankful that the topic had deviated from him.

"Takumi's unofficial girlfriend studying at the university." Ryosuke explained.

"Man, that's tough. Have you called her recently?" Keisuke said sympathetically.

"No. Have you called Kyoko Iwase?" Takumi returned unsympathetically.

Keisuke buried his face in his hands. "No."

"Natsuki and I are fine. We said we'd chase our own dreams and if we met again, well, we'll take it from there."

"I see." Keisuke looked up with a strange glint in his eye. "I understand. I'll just call up Kyoko and we'll take it from there." He whipped out his cellphone and Ryosuke snatched it from him.

"Hold it, Romeo. Wait till you're sober."

"How about you, Ryosuke?" Takumi asked. "No girls?"

"Er…"

"He's had his heart broken before too." Keisuke said, enjoying the fact that it was his brother's turn. "It's frozen now and he hasn't found the one who could thaw it."

Ryosuke shot him a dirty look. "Poet, are you?"

"Is that why you work so hard in med school and on D?" Takumi asked. "It's not good to lose yourself in work, Ryosuke. It's not healthy. If you keep your feelings bottled up, you'll burst. You want to talk about it?"

Ryosuke glared at him. "No, I don't want to talk about it."

"All right." Takumi rested his chin in his hand and drank his beer, losing the psychologist's air.

Ryosuke struggled with himself for a minute. "It's not that my heart is frozen, like my dear brother says. I just think this isn't the sort of thing you look for, it's just something that happens."

"What is?" Keisuke wanted to know.

"Falling in love."

"Wow." Takumi whistled.

"Wow what?" Ryosuke demanded.

"I never thought I'd hear you talk about things that have nothing to do with cars."

"Oh shut up."

"Damn, we're out of beer." Keisuke looked forlornly at the empty bottles.

Ryosuke went to the bar and came back with three shot glasses and a bottle of vodka. They were going to need something stronger if they were going to get into that topic. "You're not still thinking of driving home, are you?" He asked Takumi.

Takumi eyed the bottle. "Nope." He answered boldly. "I'm staying right here."

"Excellent!" Keisuke cheered.

"I thought you two were popular with girls." Takumi said as Ryosuke unscrewed the cap and poured each of them a glass.

"We are." Keisuke said.

"Then how come you've been single all this time?"

"We're popular, not playboys." Ryosuke said. There's no rule that said we had to have girlfriends."

Keisuke was already getting his second shot. "Yeah, and we're not going to entertain every girl who comes on to us. That's just stupid." '

"Keisuke dated a lot before, though." Ryosuke told Takumi. "But he broke up with his last girlfriend when he bought his FD and joined the Redsuns."

"Ouch, that was cold." Takumi said.

"She was high-maintenance." Keisuke frowned at the memory. "And she wouldn't support my new hobby. Anyway, this Natsuki girl, how'd you two hook up?"

"Um…" Takumi downed his vodka. "It was around the same time I got into racing. One day she just started acting friendly to me…then she asked me out."

"Who's the ladies' man now? Ryosuke winked.

"We started out as friends and for a while it was good until…" Takumi's mood darkened.

"What?" Keisuke leaned forward.

Takumi was silent.

"Until what?" Ryosuke prodded.

"I found out something about her and it made me mad!" Takumi yelled all of a sudden. The Takahashi brothers jumped back at this display of emotion. "She hid things from me and I just got so worked up I went and raced Kyoichi Sudou! I drove like a maniac, wrecked my car and lost the match."

"Technically, that wasn't a loss…" Keisuke began and Ryosuke hushed him.

Takumi took another shot before continuing. "That was when I sort of broke up with her." Suddenly he smiled. "Then she fought her way back to me. She said she'd patch things up no matter what it takes."

"I didn't know you led such an exciting lovelife." Ryosuke said, amazed at Takumi's drunken mood swings.

"Yeah," Keisuke sighed, then after a moment he said, "I miss Kyoko."

"I miss Natsuki." Takumi said. Then he stood up, or at least tried to as the alcohol he'd been consuming caused him to sway on the spot. "Holy crap, I miss Natsuki! I have to see her. I'm going to Tokyo." He made a move to leave.

"Hey, hey," Ryosuke stood up too and caught Takumi's collar.

"Let go, Ryosuke!" Takumi snapped as he tried to get to the door. "I have to tell Natsuki I love her!"

"Not like that you're not." Ryosuke grabbed him and made him sit down. "And you said you're not going to drive anymore."

"I said I wasn't going to drive home." Takumi said. "I didn't say anything about Tokyo."

"Sit down and stay there." Ryosuke ordered, then his eyes fell on his brother. "Hey!"

Keisuke was holding his cellphone and dialing. "No!" He yelled as his older brother tackled him. "Takumi's right! I have to tell her how I feel!"

"You're just going to make a fool out of yourself!" Ryosuke trapped Keisuke in a headlock and forced his brother to drop the phone. At the table, Takumi was laughing.

"Man," he said between guffaws. "I hope I can remember this scene in the morning."

"Shut up." Ryosuke barked. He released his brother, picked up the phone and pocketed it. He went back to the table and took another shot. His drivers were in love. They were lousy drunks but they were in love. As leader of Project D, he considered the effects this would have on his team. It would be one of two things, actually: they would either be distracted, or draw inspiration from it. He hoped it was the latter.

Keisuke groaned as he sat back in his chair. "Aniki, I hope you find someone that'll make you as crazy as we are right now."

"Yeah," Takumi agreed. "It feels good."

"Whatever." Was all Ryosuke said.

"Smart." Keisuke suddenly said.

"What?" Ryosuke asked.

"Aniki's girlfriend would have to be smart." Keisuke said to Takumi.

"Definitely." Takumi said, "And kind."

"And patient."

"Why patient?"

"Aniki's got a wall around him, he's not so expressive."

"So she'd have to be understanding too."

"Yeah, and pretty, but that's not so important."

"It's good not to be shallow."

"I'm sitting right here, you know." Ryosuke interrupted. He couldn't believe they were discussing this.

Keisuke ignored him. "Let's find him a girl."

Takumi looked game. "Yeah, lets."

"No, thanks." Ryosuke said.

Takumi slapped a hand on the table, making them jump. "And she has to be into cars too!"

"Of course!" Keisuke nodded enthusiastically. "How can I forget?"

"Where will we find such a girl?"

"Hmm…I don't know."

"Knock it off you two." Ryosuke said in his most mature tone. "I don't need your help."

Finally the two acknowledged him. "Okay." Keisuke said.

"If you say so." Takumi added.

All three fell silent for a while.

"You'll never beat me on Akagi, though." Keisuke said out of nowhere.

"So you admit that you can't beat me on Akina?" Takumi asked.

Ryosuke groaned. Not again.

"No, I'm saying you can't beat me on Akagi."

"Why don't we try it and see?"

"Just say when!"

"Are you going to be using actual cars?" Ryosuke drawled. "Or are you just going to run?"

"Takumi's at a disadvantage if we make it an uphill race. I can't run an unfair race." Keisuke said.

"Maybe I'll use my dad's new car. Then we'll be even."

"Really? A new car?" Keisuke asked, all animosity forgotten.

"An Impreza."

"A 4WD?"

"And I've been taking turns between that and the 86 when I deliver tofu."

Ryosuke whistled. "If you master that, you'd be unstoppable."

"Yeah," Keisuke said. "How good are you now? I wanna race. You wanna race? Let's race."

"I wanna race." Takumi said. "I love to race."

"I love to race, too." Keisuke grinned stupidly. "I love Kyoko, too."

"You should marry her." Takumi said encouragingly.

"You guys need to call it a night." Ryosuke said. He sensed another round of yammering from the two. He collected the bottles and put them in the bin behind the bar. Project D's drivers sat lethargically at the table. "And you two are not to race each other until Project D is over, you got that?" He took the glasses and put them back into the sink. "It's not time to be each other's opponents—"

He stopped talking. Keisuke and Takumi both had their heads on the table, clearly asleep.

"Terrific."

Ryosuke hauled his brother into his room and then he threw Takumi into the guest bedroom. He thought of fixing up the mess they left but he felt a little drowsy himself. He went into his room and collapsed on the bed.

As he gave in to sleep, his final thoughts were on the things they had talked about. As much as the good part of that session was all rambling, Keisuke and Takumi actually got a few worthwhile messages across. They should do this more often.

--End--