Disclaimer: I don't own Initial D, Shigeno-sensei and the Kodansha Publishing Company do.

Programmed Lives – Third Stage


Maebashi - May 2011

Being the last day of the Golden Week and with everyone having gone to the more touristy places of the country, everything was exceptionally quiet in Gunma's capital city. This should have been also true for the area in the outskirts of Maebashi where the Takahashi's had their motor sports centre. However, the loud drone of running engines disrupted the neighbourhood's peace.

In fact, in the centre's small kart track, one could see two small vehicles chasing each other:

'Come on Seisuke! You're so slow!' eight year old Kyosuke shouted so his younger brother could hear him over the engine of his kart.

'Hey! Who are you calling slow?' Seisuke protested and, just to prove a point, the seven year old accelerated so his kart could catch up with that of his older brother who seeing that, pressed the accelerator pedal of his kart so he could again put some distance between his and Seisuke's small vehicle.

Kyosuke laughed as he did so and was about to tease his brother once more when he heard the noise of another engine that wasn't his nor Seisuke's, turning round so he could see what was going on, he saw it: a third kart was coming towards Seisuke's at an alarmingly high speed. What was worse was that Seisuke, concentrated as he was on catching up with him, didn't even seem to have noticed.

'Seisuke! Watch out…' he didn't even have the time to finish his warning when the third kart, having already reached Seisuke's, steered towards the outside of the corner and, in one swift move, one Kyosuke couldn't help but to admire, overtook a completely unprepared Seisuke making him spin his kart in the process.

'What the…' Kyosuke said pressing the brake pedal of his kart so it would stop across the track so the third kart would have to stop too. He removed his seatbelt and helmet as fast as he could while his brother was doing the very same thing, then Kyosuke jumped out of his kart and ran towards the unknown driver who being sandwiched between their two karts was unable to go ahead nor backwards.

Seisuke, having arrived there first, took the driver by the arm and started shaking him.

'Who in the heck are you?' Kyosuke heard his brother shout, the youngest of the Takahashi brothers was livid with fury.

'Seisuke, let him get out of the kart,' Kyosuke said standing there crossing his arms on his chest. His brother obeyed, very reluctantly, and took a couple of steps backwards as to leave the driver some room to get out of the vehicle.

Slowly, the driver unfastened his seatbelt and pushed himself up to step out of the kart. Only then he removed his helmet, and as he did so, the two Takahashi brothers realised that the insanely fast driver was a kid who looked even younger than Seisuke.

'We asked you a question,' Kyosuke repeated taking a step towards this kid menacingly. The kid remained standing there looking almost bored by the whole thing.

'What's going on in here?' a man's voice suddenly asked and, only then, the unknown kid's eyes widened. He turned round and as he tried to run away the man took two long steps towards him and, grabbing the kid by one of his arms, he asked:

'Who are you? Do you know that this is a private property?'

The kid looked up at him and, slowly, the fear in his eyes became something more similar to defiance:

'Let go of my arm, now,' the kid said.

The two Takahashi brothers couldn't believe that a brat like that one could speak to their adored uncle in such disrespectful manner.

They were even more surprised when they saw their uncle release the kids arm and say:

'Alright, now, what's your name?'

'Fujiwara Akito,' the kid finally replied and Kyosuke and Seisuke saw his uncle's eyes first widen in shock then, his gaze turned soft as a frown appeared on his face.

'Oh my god,' Keisuke said and then he did something strange: he got on his knees and hugged the kid.

'Hey, what in the heck are you doing?' the kid said trying to free himself from the man's grasp. Keisuke distanced himself from the kid without letting him go and still crouching next the kid, he asked, adopting a very gentle tone of voice:

'Of course you can't remember me! You were nothing but a tiny baby when I last saw you.'

'What? Do you know me?' Akito asked and his confused face reminded Keisuke very much of his old friend Takumi's.

'I'm Takahashi Keisuke. I used to race with your father,' Keisuke said and the kid's face lit up in realisation.

'Ah, yeah, I know of you, Dad and I came here today because he wants to speak to you,' the kid said.

Keisuke was about to ask Akito the whereabouts of his father when he saw Takumi approaching the group. The youngest of the Rotary Brothers didn't even bother to hide his surprise at seeing his former team-mate, best enemy and long term friend standing there before him.

'Akito, I've been looking for you all over the place!' Keisuke heard Takumi say.

It had been almost six years since Keisuke had seen Takumi and, just looking at him was enough to bring back loads of very painful memories.

To be continued…