Title: Down a Dark Road

Part 3 of ?

Author: Raythe

Fandom: Speed Racer (Movie-verse)

Pairing: Speed/Racer X (Rex)

Disclaimer: I do not own Speed Racer, and I do not make any money from these writings.

Warnings: Incest, Slash

Summary: While Speed comes to terms with his growing feelings for Racer X, the corruption of the racing world continues. New more sinister and terrifying villains emerge on the scene to take Royalton's place.

CHAPTER THREE: FINDING X

Speed's POV

Speed paused in raising a forkful of Mom's famous meatloaf to his mouth. He hardly heard Spritle's spirited discussion with Mom, Pops, Trixie and Sparky about the race and how each racer had reacted to Speed and Racer X's joint win. It was just a buzzing sound in his ears until he realized what his little brother wasn't talking about: Kaczak's death. Speed knew Spritle wasn't coldhearted, but he was race-obsessed and Kaczak … well, Kaczak had never ignited Spritle's interest.

'Racer X was right. Kaczak is a third tier racer. Maybe he is a nobody in the race world,' Speed thought gloomily.

However, thinking of that part of the conversation with X made Speed think of the rest of it: when X had grabbed him and had been so passionate about Speed's safety. Speed had been surprised that he had found this arousing. Being manhandled. Being controlled. Speed shivered. Then there was what the Inspector had said about X being driven to protect him. That was arousing and surprising, too. It meant that the Inspector thought X cared about him. It wasn't all in Speed's imagination that there was something between him and the older racer. Speed had to see X again and talk to him about Kaczak, about the weather, anything! Just to be in his presence again.

Without thinking about what he was doing, Speed was suddenly standing, fork clattering down on his plate. Everyone froze and stared at him. Spritle's mouth was filled with mashed potatoes and there was a splash of gravy on Pop's mustache. Silence filled the room.

"I'm going to the track," Speed blurted out.

"But, honey, we just got back from the track!" Mom said, her brow furrowing in confusion.

"He won't be there, Speed," Trixie said suddenly and all eyes turned to her.

Speed felt his chest seize at Trixie's words. 'She knows. Oh, god, she knows,' Speed thought. At the track, when she'd seen him with X, she'd given him a look of sadness and … understanding.

"Who won't be there?" Pops asked.

"Racer X and Inspector Detector," she babbled.

"But you said Racer X and Inspector Detector. That isn't a he. That would be a they so –" Spritle began to puzzle it out but Trixie cut him off.

"I meant to say they. It's about the track death. Kaczak right?" Trixie said. "The CIB is asking you to help them again?"

Speed picked up her lie and ran with it. "Yeah, yeah, that's right. I need to talk to X and … well, the only place I've ever seen him is there or … here … when he's shown up here, that is," Speed said with an uncertain smile at Trixie. Maybe he should have told her why he was pulling away. Again, he felt bad about how he'd treated her.

"The CIB must know how to contact him," Sparky offered.

"They probably do, but they won't just give out that information," Speed said, grimly.

"No problem! I know where Racer X lives!" Spritle said, grinning.

Speed's heart leapt at first, but then his hopes came crashing down. How could Spritle know where X lived?

Sparky gave out a disbelieving snort as he said, "You know where the infamous masked Racer X lives? The Harbinger of Boom who looks like he'd just as well kill you as talk to you? Riiiiight, Spritle,"

Spritle got a mulish look on his face as he responded, "Yes, I do know where he lives. I've even been there!"

"You've been there?" Speed goggled at his younger brother. Surely Spritle wouldn't put together this elaborate of a lie?

"Don't you remember when he took out Kojima at the Yokohama 2000 Race?" Spritle asked.

"Yeah, so?" Sparky said.

"Well, Kojima is like my favorite … I mean, other than Speed, of course," Spritle nodded towards Speed who smiled at his brother's loyalty. "So I wanted to send X some Chim Chim cookies."

Chim Chim made a laughing noise while he nodded his head in agreement with Sprittle.

"You were going to send the Harbinger of Boom monkey poo? You're braver … or crazier … than I thought, Spritle," Sparky said, eyes wide with something like admiration for the pluck of the youngster.

"But how did you get his address? How did you get to his house?" Speed demanded to know. "And please tell me you didn't send him anything!"

"I didn't. Things didn't exactly work out as I planned. See I hopped into the trunk of the Shooting Star after a race and he drove home," Spritle said with a defiant smile.

Speed groaned. "I should have known!"

"Spritle that was dangerous!" Mom said, one hand fluttering at her throat. "It's one thing to sneak into your brother's car, but, well, that … that Racer X is … well, he's rather daunting. Who knows what he would have done if he'd caught you!"

Spritle toed the ground, hands suddenly stuck in his pockets, head down sheepishly. "He did catch me. But not before I saw his house!"

"Oh, my goodness, Spritle!" Mom said.

"You are in so much trouble, mister," Pops growled, his first offering into the conversation.

"Yeah, yeah, I guess I knew that was coming. But he wasn't mad! I mean he actually laughed when he found me. And he took me out for ice cream on the way back home and everything!" Spritle explained.

"So where does he live?" Speed asked, trying to keep his voice steady and feeling a ridiculous touch of jealousy that his younger brother had eaten ice cream with X and he hadn't.

Spritle cocked his head to the side and with a smirk asked, "What is it worth to ya?"

"SPRITLE!" The boy's name was shouted from every throat in the room.

"Okay, okay! I put it in my journal. Hold on, I'll get it for you," Spritle said as he hefted himself over the back of the booth that made up most of the seating in the Racer kitchen. Chim Chim followed after him as usual.

"I don't know if I like you getting involved with the CIB again," Pops grumbled.

Speed tensed. He didn't want to get into this argument with his father for the umpteenth time. Pops was impossible when he got on a roll and the CIB … and X … were his big bugbears.

"Dear, don't fuss," Mom said, placing one of her delicate hands over her husband's meatier ones.

"No, I think this needs to be said," Pops said, his dark dough-boy eyes pinning Speed in place. "You've already got too many racers gunning for you, because you're the current Grand Prix champion. Not to mention people who used to work for Royalton," Pops said. "Getting yourself involved with the CIB again will just make that target on your back bigger!"

"Pops, wasn't it better after Royalton was taken down? You said yourself how proud you were of me!" Speed argued.

"I am proud of you, Speed, but that doesn't mean I want you spending your entire racing career righting wrongs and putting yourself in the line of fire!" Pops said, his bulging arms crossing in front of his barrel chest. With a slight hitch to his voice, Pops added, "Rex died trying to do the same thing. I don't want to lose another son to a pointless crusade. It should be enough that you race clean and win clean."

Speed looked down, studying the backs of his hands. He was clutching the top of the kitchen chair and his knuckles were white with tension. His desire to see X had brought this confrontation with his father, but he realized something at that moment, which hadn't been clear to him before. As much as he wanted X, was obsessed with being with the other man, his desire to help the CIB was genuine and a part from that. If he would get to spend time with X to accomplish that then all the better. He found himself saying, "You won't lose me, Pops. But you have to understand that this is something I have to do. Keeping the racing field level and free of crooks … well, I don't think I could keep racing without doing something to help in that. Just racing clean isn't enough for me."

The silence stretched so long that Speed risked raising his gaze to look at his father. There were tears running down Pops' ruddy face. Mom's arm was around him and she was murmuring comforting things.

Throat closing with emotion, Speed said, "Pops! I'm sorry! I didn't mean to upset you!"

"You didn't! I'm just so proud of you … again!" Pops said through a muffled sob. "But I still don't like it!"

Sparky was blinking back tears himself while Trixie rose, also wiping her eyes surreptitiously, and stood by Speed. He could almost feel her need to speak with him privately like a physical tug on his soul. At that moment, Spritle and Chim Chim came tumbling back into room. The little boy's mouth dropped open.

"What's wrong? What did I miss?" Spritle asked, a piece of paper dangling limply from one of his grubby hands.

"Nothing, Spritle. That the address?" Speed asked, his fingers itching to grab the paper away from him.

"Yeah, here," Spritle said.

As Speed reached for the paper, Trixie's hand was suddenly on his forearm and her mouth against his ear.

"Speed, before you go, can we … talk?" Trixie asked.

"Sure, Trix. How about I drive you home and we can talk on the way?" Speed said. And after he took her home, he could be on his was to Racer X's place.

"Will you be home tonight?" Mom asked.

Speed shrugged into his leather jacket. Part of him wished he could say, 'no' because he was going to stay at X's. But that was a dream. He'd be lucky if the address was right, and if it was right, he'd be even luckier if X would allow him in the door let alone have him stay the night.

"I don't know, Mom," he said.

"Well, call us if you'll be staying out," she said, twisting a tissue in one hand.

"It might be late," Speed warned her.

"That doesn't matter. You know I can't sleep unless I know you're all right," she responded.

"Okay, Mom, I promise, I'll call," Speed said and touched the pocket of his coat to assure himself his cell phone was in there. If only he'd get a chance to use it.

Speed and Trixie walked over to the Mach 5 and both got in. Speed cast one last look at his family in the kitchen. He felt a familiar ache in his chest as he saw them waving to him. He waved back. For as much as he loved them, the picture of his family would never be complete, because Rex would never be there again to finish the tableau.

'And I wouldn't be leaving if Rex were here. I'd be staying here … with him,' Speed thought.

He twisted the key in the ignition, relishing the thrum of the Mach 5 beneath him. The garage door opened and he reversed out into the moonlight. For a few minutes, he and Trixie drove in companionable quiet, but Speed knew it couldn't last.

"Do you love Racer X?" Trixie asked.

Speed nearly spun out onto the Fernuffer's lawn.

"Wha? What are you …? I …," Speed snapped his mouth shut.

"Remember Casa Cristo last year?" Trixie asked suddenly.

"Ah, yeah … sure … of course," Speed said, perplexed by Trixie's nonsequitor and still stunned by her original question. "Why?"

"I've been thinking about that race a lot and, especially, about how you thought that X might be Rex in disguise," Trixie said quietly. "And then … when you found out he wasn't Rex … I knew we were in trouble."

Speed's mouth opened and closed. He didn't know what to say. At first, he had feared she knew about his feelings for Rex, but as he listened to her that fear fell away.

"I don't understand, Trix. Why would Racer X not being Rex bring trouble to us?" Speed asked.

"Because it would end there being an us, Speed," Trixie answered.

"I … I'm sorry, but I still don't see what you mean," Speed responded, his mouth suddenly dry.

"You wouldn't … how should I say this … you wouldn't leave me for just anyone. I don't think you'd even admit to yourself that you wanted someone else, especially a man unless it was a special person. And the most special person to you … most special person ever … was Rex. And Racer X reminded you of Rex so much that you actually thought he was Rex," Trixie explained. "So that's why I knew that you would eventually leave me for Racer X."

Speed drove quietly for a few blocks. "There's nothing between Racer X and me, Trixie."

"But you want there to be?" Trixie guessed.

Speed cleared his throat. "Yes, yes, I do. But I have no hope of there ever being anything."

"Maybe not. Nothing's ever certain. But from the way he looks at you, I don't think you have much to worry about," Trixie said.

"You really think that?" Speed couldn't keep the hope from his voice then he cringed as he realized how thoughtless it was to expect Trixie to comfort him about this.

Trixie gave a soft laugh. "I'm certain. I didn't think the Harbinger of Boom felt anything for anyone until I saw the way he looked at you. And tonight … didn't you see how he acted when he realized that you were upset about surpassing Rex's record? The fact that he knew you were upset about that and the way he rushed to your side …" Trixie shook her head. "I think it's more than just 'like' on his part to be honest."

Speed just absorbed her words. Trixie thought that X had feelings for him. Inspector Detector did, too. These were two people whose judgment he trusted. Maybe that meant this running after X tonight weren't as crazy as they seemed to him.

"I'm sorry, Trix. I should have been honest with you when I … when I figured out how I felt," Speed said. "You deserved much better from me. You're a wonderful person. You know that its not you … I mean … if I could feel this for a girl … it would be you," Speed stammered out.

She squeezed his shoulder. "I know."

They reached Trixie's home. Speed pulled into the driveway and turned to look at her. The moonlight glinted on her deep brown hair. She stared back at him for a long moment. Then she ran the back of one hand down his cheek.

"We're still friends, aren't we?" Speed asked.

"Always. Let me know what happens with X, okay? I'll be … I'll be rooting for you," she said and then she was gone.

He heard the fading sound of the tap of her heels as she ran into the house.

Speed tried not to hate himself after that. He really did. It was with a heavy heart that he smoothed out the paper he'd stuffed into his jeans pocket. Hating himself or not, he couldn't stay away from Racer X. The address wasn't that far away from Thunderhead. He shifted the Mach 5 in gear and took off.