Disclaimer: I do not own Speed Racer. That right belongs strictly to Speed Racer Enterprise (who secretly want to hire me to one job or another, they just don't know it yet). I'm just borrowing their characters and the 2008 movie's concepts for my little one-shot. They'll all get over it and live.
Notes: I'm totally addicted to the movie (seen it four times!) and now Speed Racer altogether. It's the only upside of working at McDonalds – I get the Speed Racer toys for free (I have the Mach 4, the Mach 5, two Shooting Stars, the Gray Ghost's car, and Cruncher Block's truck, complete with firing missal. Still looking for Taejo's car, the Mach 6, and the Speed Racer girl's necklace). I'm also saving up to paint my car like the Mach 5 – but shhh! Don't tell my mom. Hehe.
Warnings: Eh, language, and maybe a little abuse of the movie's timeline. Maybe. Nothing major.
The sun was blindingly bright as the Mach 4 raced down the thick, wickedly twisting track that was Thunderhead Race Way, and whilst to any viewer it glittered off the red Racing Motors car in a flattering manner, to the driver it was nothing but a nuisance or a vicious potential danger, depending on which way the Mach 4 turned when steered, and if he were dumb enough to actually look up into the bright yellow ball.
Which, at times of non-focus, he was prone to doing.
Even now, ten minutes after throwing his beloved car into fourth gear and whipping the vehicle around the infamous Baritone curve, Rex Racer was still gritting his teeth in an aggravation that had no true source, his eyes narrowed in a fashion similar to those who were trying to shield their eyes from the sun, even though his visor was quite capable of blocking the troublesome rays for him. His calloused hands gripped the crescentwheel viciously, his ears so inundated with the roar of the Mach 4's engine that he could not hear her groan in protest of his neglect. He wasn't paying attention -- he couldn't focus. There was something else that was plaguing his mind, something that was overriding his senses. Something that was -- wrong. A feeling of dread, so harsh in the pit of his stomach that tears pricked at the corners of his eyes. A stabbing pain that was ebbing up to his chest, peircing his heart in a way that just made him want to break down and sob. But nothing had happened to bring about the sensation -- his parents had just celebrated their nineteenth anniversary, and his own eighteenth birthday was fast approaching. Speedy was here with him, safe and sound at the end of the track, safely against the wall so as to be out of the way of the approaching red racecar.
So there was nothing ...
Suddenly, the Mach 4 gave a horrific screech as he sped into a right turn, the tires spinning malevolently in delayed reprimand. With a curse, Rex instantly relaxed his grip, easing his foot off the pedal as he gently ran his hands up and down the crescentwheel in a gentle caress as he spoke in to her in low, soothing murmurs.
"Easy, baby. I know, I know. I'm sorry. I'll keep sole attention on you until we're done, okay? Easy." The Mach 4 trembled down to an acceptable level of control at his words, though she gave a low rumble of warning. "I know," he repeated, taking his foot completely off of the accelerator. "What do you need, huh? Tell me, baby. I need you to tell me. I'm listening."
The tires shook, the engine shuttered. And Rex berated himself with more vitality then even Pops could ever muster up. He knew better than to ignore his car, especially when he was on the track. A dead stop was an easy way to fix the mistake, of course, in a way that would force him to push the fourth generation of the Mach back to the garage and endure hours of lectures he now knew by heart.
But she knew a better way. She always did, and as always, she educated him.
Shaking ... shuttering ... trembling ... 3rd gear ... 4th gear ... accelerator. Floor it, floor it, floor it.
"Whoo-hoo!" The cry erupted from his lips uninvited as the Mach 4 flew back to its steady 700kmph in less time than it took for him to blink. The engine roared with joy, and the car herself sang him glories as she flew around the turns as though they served no possible danger. The sound still covered his ears, but it no longer dominated his hearing -- the sound of the wheels echoed in his head, smooth and perfect and enjoying the ride -- the gentle whistle of the metal cutting cleanly through the air -- and Speed's excited exclamations as he zoomed across the finish line of his own mental race. And this time, when he hit the brakes, his soul on wheels slammed to a stop with the same enthusiasm with which she had started, and Rex was unable to keep the grin from his face even as his little brother jumped from the gleaming white Mach 5 and raced to the still running racecar.
"Rex!" The energetic eight-year-old sounded so bewildered for someone who had seen him race so many times. "Rex! That was amazing. I can't believe -- how did you -- Rex!" The raven-haired boy suddenly had his arms latched around his neck, legs wrapped around his torso as he babbled on in his endless awe. The eldest of the brothers kept his grin firmly in place as he pulled them both from the Mach 4, even chuckling as Speed's voice grew louder. "I thought you burned out; it was beginning to lose momentum! And then ... you just fixed it! And it just took off --."
" 'She', Speedy, not 'it'," Rex corrected absently as he pulled off his helmet with his free hand, and then blinked, pushing his little brother back far enough to look him the eye. "Wait, you saw all of that?"
"Saw what?" Speed cocked his head in a moment of comprehension, before his light blue eyes lit up in understanding. "Of course I did. It -- um, she," he corrected timidly before continuing. "Was gliding on the track just fine, but then she just started to shake, and twist, and I thought for sure you were going to break down, but then she just calmed. It was amazing,!" Blue eyes stared up at the seventeen-year-old in wonder. "How did you do it, huh Rex?" The question was imploring, the puppy-dog expression verging irresistible, and for a split second, the racer was compelled to share with his little brother everything he knew about driving, everything that was shared between he and the Mach 4. Almost ready to exploit the bond existing between he and the red T-180, to someone who deserved it and no-less.
But the words would not leave his mouth, held back by some invisible and strong force that seemed irritated that he had even contemplated divulging the secret. Instead, a half-smile twisted upon his sweaty face, and he slowly shook his head toward his baby brother.
"You'll understand when it's your turn, Speed," he promised, chuckling again at the indignant look that formulated on Speed's face. "But for now, I think it's time that we headed home. Mom's probably getting ready to put lunch on the table, and we're still here --."
"No she isn't!" Speed's eyes were wide as he cut his brother off, shaking his head vehemently, and Rex favored him with an amused look. "It's only 12:30, Rex! She puts lunch on the table at 1:15 exactly, so we don't have to leave just yet. We still have time for you to go around the track at least two more times. Come on, Rex. Please? Please, please, please, please, please?" The same puppy-dog eyes, the small pout, all back in place as the youngster gazed up at his older brother with newfound momentum, and Rex sighed.
The relationship between him and Speed was not like that of normal brothers, as he was all too aware, and as Speed was beginning to no doubt notice. Despite the ten-year age difference, Rex was Speed's best friend, and vice versa. When faced between going out with the other drivers after a qualification race and picking Speed up from school, the elder always chose the latter, preferring his younger brother's babbling, comforting company to the loud and sometimes jealous racers. And he could not count how many times Speed had faked not feeling well to get out of going to a classmate's birthday party (polite invitation only, to Rex's fury) to instead watch him tune up the Mach 4 or give his advice on the random designs Rex did in his free time. Their parents often joked that they were twins – soul mates born ten years apart, destined to never leave the side of the other. Practically attached at the hip as it was, Rex had no qualms with the very strong bond that he and Speed shared, and therefore had seen no problems when he had started bringing Speed to the track to watch him work. It comforted him somewhat to have his little brother so near – being both with his car and sibling … just felt right, somehow.
Besides, the little ball of energy had a contagious enthusiasm for racing and horrible knack at it as well – if they could ever convince their mother that her "darling, precious baby" had the potential to be just as talented, if not more so, than her eldest son, then Rex had no doubt that one day he would be racing Speed on this track one day, too. And that would be something.
"I don't think so, Speedy," he said reluctantly, finally breaking from his thoughts as he set the little boy down. "Mom and Pops don't know about you coming to the track. If we're late, they'll come looking, and if they find us here --." He trailed off, leaving the other to finish the sentence with his own imagination as he leaned inside the Mach 4 to cut the engine. He felt her purr thoughtfully under his fingertips as they brushed the cutoff, and on that whim, he turned his head to look at Speed.
He was standing there, surprisingly not pouting, but with a far away look in his cobalt eyes as he stared at the red car Mach. There was something about his expression that caught Rex's attention – it was wistful, dreamy, and suddenly he pictured his little brother, quite a bit older, in the cockpit of the furious racecar, attention completely focused as they tore up Thunderhead, crowd screaming "Go, Speed, go!" as they left the competition in the dust.
And Rex paused.
'It's not like it will be the first time,' he reasoned with himself. 'Pops lets him do it all the time. And he knows what and what not to do – it's instinct for him. And I'll be right there.' Another favorable glance. 'Granted, he'd throttle me, and Mom … ugh. But still … why not? Just this once.' With a smirk, he turned his head away.
"Wanna go for a drive, Speedy?" He called out nonchalantly, slowly climbing back into the car, comforting her eagerness to run as he turned back toward his brother. Speed was staring at him with uncomprehending eyes in a manner that made Rex's smirk grow to full-out smile.
"But … but there's no passenger seat, Rex," he stated softly, still confused.
"Yeah, well … I figured it's time for you to drive on a real race track." He shrugged. "If you're going to be a famous racecar driver one day, then you're going to have to start." He stopped then, widening his eyes and giving the other an incredulous look. "Or have you decided you want to go be a lawyer now? Is that what you want, Speedy? Speed Racer, the lawyer?"
"No!" The cry was outright and fervent, and Rex suddenly found himself with a lapful of anxious Speed. "I'm Speed Racer the racer," the little boy growled firmly with a frown as he clung tightly to the wheel. A frown that quickly turned timid as he turned his head to look at his brother. "Um, what do I do?" And Rex laughed
"First, you put this on," he ordered lightly, pulling the harness around both of them and clicking it into the proper holders. "And then the helmet – don't give me that look, Speedy. And latch it, or it won't stay on – thank you. Now, you can't reach the pedals just yet, I know, so here's what you're going to do. Push your feet down on mine for the accelerator or the break – kick it if you want to change gears, okay?" He felt Speed stiffen against his chest.
"You're not going to tell me when?" He demanded.
"I'll tell you if you're wrong," Rex amended quickly, and he reached a hand over to flick up the right switches. "I think you can handle the rest. You better hurry though, Speedy," he added teasingly. "Your math may be right, but I think we can only go around once --."
His words were cut off as Speed's small foot pressed down excitedly on his own, and Mach 4 took off in a wave.
There was very little different about Rex's driving and Speed's. He was a little choppy, as was expected of any first time child driver, and did not know yet to listen to the machine he was working with. But he knew how to work the wheel as they went around the first dog bowl, and then the second, and kept the Mach centered perfectly. They hadn't gone over 500kmph, – Rex was smart enough to keep Speed's foot from pressing too far down, so the speed they were traveling at was perfectly safe. The car was a little unsteady, not used to her driver, but she said nothing in the way of warning.
And yet the feeling of dread had swallowed his stomach whole, leaving his palms sweaty and his breathing slightly fast as Speed's excited mumbling was drowned out by the engine's roar. His gut cried for him to stop the Mach 4 as Speed kicked his foot over to third gear.
'But nothing's wrong, Rex,' he scolded himself. 'You're being paranoid. Just relax. Listen to how much fun he's having.'
"You okay, Speedy?" He called out over the wind, and was rewarded by a delighted reply.
"Yeah! This is awesome!" Speed's voice was louder than any other noise in Rex's ears. "Can I go over the jump?"
"Maybe not this time, bud." That notion left him slightly queasy. But the feeling of Speed slumping slightly against his chest caught the elder's attention, and he pushed his shoulder forward slightly to nudge his brother. "Tell you what, though. How about you take the Crusher's Turn, huh? Will that be good enough for you, Mr. Racecar Driver?" The answer was affirmative, and Speed leaned forward with a child's determination, solely focused save for the wicked smile implanted on his face. He kicked Rex's foot over to fourth gear, sending the Mach 4 to a dangerous 600kmph. Discreetly, Rex lifted his arms to position his hand to take over the wheel as they flew around the last dog bowl – Crusher's Turn was in sight, and despite the turn being Rex's idea, butterflies still flittered in his stomach. He felt Speed's foot slide off of his, but said nothing on it, assuming the boy was too caught up in the thrill of the ride to notice – they'd talk on it later. Right now he was more focused on figuring out what was wrong …
"Okay, Speedy," he said allowed, trying to keep his voice steady. "We're going to slow down just a little, you can't take this turn to fast – or too sharp. Easy with the wheel, Spe--."
Suddenly, the car wailed, and Rex vaguely noticed the familiar feeling of the two gears being pressed at once – Speed had reached the third gear. The T-180 shook horrifically, and on reflex, Rex slammed his foot onto the break, only too late realizing that Speed, yelling out in alarm, had jerked the crescentwheel completely – the left tires were no longer on the track.
"Shit!" The word escaped his mouth without a thought as the image of the Crusher's steel-railing greeted his sight, before his eyes closed tightly, arms wrapping themselves around Speed protectively as the perfect metal of the Mach 4 crunched into the harsh metal of the track as the car flipped over.
And in a flash of blinding pain, everything went black.
He awoke a few minutes later to the smell of burning rubber, the sound of a whining engine and scraping tires that were moving, but not across anything. His eyes opened only to slam shut again, a fierce stabbing in his head sending blinding light across his vision. His body ached, his lungs screamed from lack of proper oxygen. He absently realized he was on his side, despite the fact that he was sitting inside of a car that should be upright.
Where was he? The Mach 4, that was a given – he raced nothing else. And if were racing, the meant Thunderhead Race Way, as there was no closer track suitable enough. Which would leave the obvious conclusion that he had lost control of the Mach and crashed, even though he had raced the track dozens of times and had never done so before. He felt a trickle of something wet and warm travel down the side of his head … blood. He wasn't wearing a helmet, either, then. He did not even want to know why. No doubt Speedy, though he was unwaveringly loyal to Rex, would spill that bit of information to their mother on accident.
Wait a minute … Speed …
Rex's eyes snapped open again, and this time he ignored the painful light as the feeling of a limp, warm body in his arms became agonizingly apparent. A pained gasp escaped his lips as he struggled to push his body up.
"Speedy," he rasped out, pushing his shoulders to shake the younger boy. "Speedy. Speed!" Slowly, carefully, he extracted his arms from around his little brother's frame, alarmed as the figure slumped forward further, and hurried to undo the harness. It took every bit of strength he had to gather Speed back against him before he fell completely, and pull them both from the crying car.
They were a good five feet away before Rex's strength gave out and he fell to his elbows, careful to take the brunt of the fall from Speed. Desperately, he lowered his little brother to the hot metal of Thunderhead, hoping he had only been knocked out. His breath hitched in his throat at the site that greeted him.
Speed's white face was completely covered in blood, too much – Rex could not find the source of it. His breathing was slightly shallow, his skin paler than usual. His black hair was matted to his head, and Rex realized the blood that covered his own hands was that of his brother.
"No," he whispered. "No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. Speed!" He reached down, grasping the smaller shoulders and giving them a harsh shake. "Speed, wake up! Wake up!"
"Racer?" The voice that called out his name was not the one he wanted to hear – Speed remained unresponsive as the sound of racing footsteps called out to his ears. "Racer – oh my God." The voice continued speaking, occasionally yelling, but Rex paid it no mind as he pulled Speed into his arms.
He was so stupid, and that was too nice of a word to describe him. He shouldn't have offered the drive – Speed wouldn't have known any better to have said no. There should have been more people present – a safer track! And he had already known something was off. He should have stopped when the Mach 4 had warned him the first time. He should have stopped when he had averted the first danger of crashing. But no. He had given in to his craving for danger, and now Speed …
"C'mon, Speedy," he pleaded softly, cradling the little body in his arms. "Please. Please wake up." Blood that was not his own began to drip on his skin, but he ignored its terrifying presence. "Please, Speedy. Come on, little brother. Don't do this to me. Please."
He barely noticed as the engine to Mach 4 was cut off abruptly, leaving nothing but a deafening silence for his ears to swallow. For his mind to grasp onto.
'Can I come to the track with you, Rex?' Speed's innocent question from earlier echoed through his ears. 'I won't tell, and I promise I won't get in the way.'
'I promise I won't get in the way.'
A hand clapped Rex on the shoulder tightly, and he flinched horribly as the voice from earlier spoke, tearing him away from the haunting words.
"My crew's called the hospital, Racer. They're sending a helicopter for you two now. They'll be here soon." The voice was trying to be kind, soothing. "You shouldn't be moving him … in fact, maybe you should lay back down, too. Your head doesn't look so good." Rex wanted no part of it, wrenching his shoulder away and focusing his attention back solely to his brother.
"Speedy," he spoke calmly – dangerously calm. "You know what happens if you don't wake up, don't you? You can't be a racecar driver. At all. You won't even be allowed around cars or tracks ever again. You'll be too boring. Hear that, bud?" He gave his arm a little shake to jostle him. "No racing, no cars, no tracks, nothing. " His said the last word loudly, pressing his mouth right next to Speed's ear, desperately hoping for the reaction his little brother often gave to the words. For one horrible moment, Speed remained silent and unmoving; Rex's hazel eyes began to burn.
And then the body in his arms twitched, and a small, high-pitched keen of pain escaped Speed's still closed lips.
Rex released the breath he hadn't known he was holding, a delirious laughter bubbling up and coming out in an obnoxious way. He pulled his brother to his chest. "That's right, Speedy," he crooned in his older brother tone. "You won't be Speed Racer the WRL racing champion, you'll be Mr. Racer, the lawyer."
"'ilnot." It was slurred and muttered, but it was a sign of life, and it had the older Racer clutching his brother to his chest so tightly that he would later be sure that it hurt both of them. But right now, all he knew was that Speed was alive, talking, and apparently comprehending. For all he cared, Pops could show up right now and beat him until he was black and blue. He just didn't care. All that mattered was Speed was still with him.
Still with him.
"Rex?" Speed sounded confused, and he allowed the younger to pull away slightly to look at their surroundings as the sound of the approaching helicopter made itself known, conscious of whatever head injury the boy had sustained. Speed took a moment to look around through pain-narrowed eyes, before allowing his head to fall back against his brother's bicep, a silly, slightly out-of-it grin on his face that Rex found himself mirroring. His two front teeth were missing.
"'at was awesome."
The sun was still high in the sky as Rex eased the Mach 5 onto their street, going well below the speed limit for the sake of the pain that still racked both of their bodies. It had turned out that a trip the hospital had not been necessary after all. The medical personal, like Rex, had been alarmed by all the blood on Speed's head and face, but a quick clean up head revealed a shallow knock to the side of the head as one source, and two missing teeth as the other. Rex himself had received his fair share of the attention for his own head wound, but when it had been revealed that other than that and several very sore muscles, that there was nothing wrong with the racing protégée and his younger brother, they had been unsure about whether or not to take them to the hospital.
Luckily enough, what fame Rex had managed to secure was enough to give his word some weight, and when he had assured the E.M.T.s that he had every intention of taking his little brother home and resting for the next several days, they had left, leaving strict warnings to take said bed rest and to alert their parents to possible concussions.
He had not told them that he would be driving home. They didn't need to know.
The Mach 4 was currently under the care of Sam Silvertine, the owner of the voice that had found he and Speed after the crash. Silvertine had assured him that as soon as she was ready to be moved without falling to pieces, the Mach 4 would be delivered to the garage with no charge. Rex decided that, if Pops allowed him to continue racing after this, he would get to know the other driver. It was rare to meet such honest people on the track anymore.
As they neared their home, Rex glanced over at Speed, who, after the initial adrenaline had worn off, had remained uncharacteristically quiet. Blue eyes stared hard out toward the road beneath a not-so-discreet white bandage that wrapped around his entire head, mouth set in a firm line of distress. Taking a quick glance around to make sure that no one was outside of their homes, Rex eased the white car into a stop, placing it in park as he cautiously turned to stare at his brother. It didn't take Speed long to realize what was going on.
"I'm sorry for turning us over, Rex." Speed's voice was shaky, uncertain; he refused to turn around to meet the eyes of his brother. "I'm sorry I tore up 'e Mach 4 and 'at I got us hurt and I'll take all 'e blame when Pops finds out and I understand if you never let me drive again and --."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Rex interjected, incredulous. "Speedy, you don't really think I'm mad about all of that, do you?" The little boy turned around, but refused to look up. Rex blinked. "Speed Racer, look at me." Reluctant blue eyes did just that, filled with a mixture of hope and fear that had Rex's gut wrenching. "The turnover was an accident, Speedy. I'm not saying what you did wasn't wrong, because it was. You should have asked before putting it in third." Speed looked back down. "But you didn't mean to flip the Mach. That was an accident, Speedy, and all drivers have them. All real drivers," he added as a hint, and was rewarded when Speed finally looked up with a shy, gapped-tooth smile.
"You seemed upset earlier," he argued softly, and Rex grimaced.
"I wasn't upset, Speedy," he admitted. "I was worried. When you wouldn't wake up … it scared me. I thought you were hurt really bad, and that you weren't going to wake up again. I was … scared. Really scared." It was a rushed confession, as Rex was quite aware that he was supposed to be the older brother who never showed his emotions to his youngest – it was not a burden Speed was meant to shoulder.
"I'm sorry," the raven-haired child said again, and in rash movement, reached out and clutched the seventeen-year-old's hand. And Rex, fed up with his brother feeling guilty, quickly reached out an arm to wrap around the small shoulders, pulling him close in a gentle, one-armed hug.
"Just don't do it again, Speedy," he commanded, keeping his brother close to his side as he pushed the Mach 5 back into drive. "Now, as for letting you drive again … why don't we just wait and see if I'll be allowed to drive again, okay bud? It's 2:30 … I'd say we're definitely late for lunch, and that they know something's up." He felt Speed shudder.
"What do we tell Mom?" The older shrugged.
"Just tell her what you told me, kiddo. That it was 'awesome'."
And when they pulled into the garage, Rex kept his tired smile as Speed ran toward their waiting, shocked parents, yelling happy excitements as the large bandage on his head wobbled, and could only shrug when they shot him accusing glares. Yeah, the Mach 4 was a jumbled mess, he and Speed were definitely not on the top of their health game, and his racing career seemed uncertain with every flex of his father's jaw. But still, 2 hours later, Rex couldn't bring himself to care.
Speed was okay, and that was all that mattered.
A one shot that's longer than most of my first chapters. Ha.
Note on Sam Silvertine. I noticed a name similar to it on the fountain plaque before The Crucible, the one "To Those Who Gave Their Lives for the Sport". I wanted to mention one of them to foreshadow a bit. Also, note on Pops being with their mother at the end. She mentioned the look on his face when Speed came in with that crazy grin when she and Speed were reminiscing after Fuji, so I figured he was there somewhere, so why not where I wanted him? X3
Anyway, I hope you guys liked it, because I have either two or three other Speed Racer one-shots coming out. So please click that lovely little review button down at the corner of the screen a let me know what you thought, okay? Thanks for reading!