Disclaimer: Shuichi Shigeno owns Initial D. I do not.
Warning: Gratuitous use of the F-bomb, shonen-ai, and if Takahashicest makes you dry heave I'd turn back now. Sorry, folks--this is just how my brain works.
Note: First-person POV experiment. I've been wondering for years how this particular event would play out. This is my take on it. If Keisuke seems OOC I apologize.
Lead and Follow
He's packing his shit to leave for Takasaki in the morning. I've been sitting here on the edge of his bed watching him for almost an hour now. He hasn't said anything, and I'm afraid to open my mouth because I don't know what might come out, right now.
I'll miss you?
Call me when you get there?
I fucking hate you for leaving me?
Yeah, it's probably better for me to just shut up. He's been folding clothes carefully and packing things into suitcases precisely and he's probably gotten so used to me just being around, like his second fucking shadow, that he doesn't even really notice I'm sitting here.
I'll bet he notices how quiet it is when he gets to Takasaki.
I've known for a few years now that he would leave. Dad ordered him into medical school and Ryosuke went like the good son that he is. Two years ago I knew that today would happen, and that tomorrow my whole world would change. But I didn't think about it. It wouldn't have changed anything if I had, and it definitely wouldn't have helped my racing career. And ironically, after everything that I've accomplished, all of the teams I've defeated on the street, the reputation I've made for myself, I'd trade every last bit of it to keep him from driving away in the morning.
My life so far has been a twenty-three year game of tag, and I've been chasing him the entire time. I've never been as good as Ryosuke, as smart, as fast, but I've come the closest so far. And just when I thought that I would finally catch him, he's managed to run so far away, so quickly, that I just stopped.
And sat down in the grass.
And cried like a bitch.
Lead and follow. That's the story of my life. So what the fuck am I supposed to do once he leaves?
He never wanted to be a doctor. Dad never wanted to be a doctor, either. I guess when you're born into money it dictates the course of your life. And when your father looks at you and says "cardiologist", you nod and smile and become a fucking cardiologist, because that's what's expected of you. I didn't have to deal with that. I'm the youngest. I wasn't even really planned for anyway, so as long as I stay out from under Dad's feet and don't distract Ryosuke from his studies, I'm given free reign.
It was fun, at first. Friends, drinking, girls, motorcycles, gangs, drugs, and after a while Ryosuke stepped in, like he always does, and put his foot down. I traded all of that for the keys to the FD. I don't regret that decision. But tomorrow I'll be left with that car and my keys and this empty room, and no one to tell me how to drive.
It's stupid to rely on him so much. I know that. And he's not a fucking superhero. He spends a lot of time helping me with tuning and racing and homework and just making sure I stay out of trouble, and he has his own shit to worry about. Maybe I'm nervous about being on my own, responsible for myself, or maybe it's something else entirely, but I'm absolutely terrified to see him walk out the front door tomorrow.
And as I sit here trying not to piss my pants or start cussing at him, he stops in the middle of packing to stare at a photo that Mom must have snuck into his suitcase. I can't see it very well, but I know it's a picture of me and him and the RX-7s, because I keep a copy of that same photo on the sun visor in the FD.
And Ryosuke throws it down on top of the clothes in his suitcase and turns and kicks the metal wastebasket beside his desk so hard that it crashes into the wall across the room and leaves a hole in the wall.
What the fuck?
His shoulders are rigid, his hands fisted at his sides and shaking, and even with his back turned to me I know that he's probably got his eyes closed and is trying really, really hard to take a deep breath and chill the fuck out. Contrary to urban legend he does lose his temper from time to time. I would know. But it's never more than a quick outburst and then he's back to normal. Actually it freaks me the fuck out, but who am I to judge?
"You okay?" I ask quietly, cautiously.
He doesn't say anything. He just stands there, breathing and shaking and obviously upset. After a few seconds I'm really getting concerned, so I get up and step over his suitcase and look at him. His eyes are wide open and he's staring at the carpet like it holds the cure for fucking cancer. "Ry?"
His hazel eyes jump to mine and he looks like a serial killer, right now. I take an involuntary step back but he reaches out and grabs my bicep and shakes his head. "I'm not going to hit you," he mutters. "You didn't do anything wrong."
I shoot him a skeptical frown, my eyebrow arching. "Neither did the damned trash can, but you showed it who's boss."
He rolls his eyes and drops my arm and doesn't protest further when I back up a little. He gets annoyed with me a lot more than people think, and today doesn't seem to be a good day to test his patience. The last time he swung on me was five years ago, and I hate to admit that I got my ass beat. He's a hell of a lot stronger than he looks.
"You gonna tell me what's wrong?" I repeat.
He sighs and collapses onto the floor and looks up at me with the most pathetic, dejected hazel eyes I've ever seen. "Would you be pissed at me if I told you I'm having second thoughts?"
Fuck yeah, my brain shouts, but I just laugh without humor and sit down on the carpet across from him. "A little late for that, isn't it?"
He shrugs miserably and looks away. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the real Takahashi Ryosuke. He's not a saint, or the perfect son, or even the world's greatest older brother. He's a stressed out, exhausted twenty-six year old guy headed toward a career that we both know he doesn't want. I'd feel sorry for him if I wasn't selfish and stubborn. We all have our faults, I guess.
"Kei, I don't mind going to Takasaki," he mutters up at the ceiling. "I don't care about giving up racing and being a doctor."
"Then what do you care about?" I ask in aggravation.
His eyes meet mine again and he gives me a lame, half-hearted smile. "You."
And for some reason it's really hard to stay mad at him after that. I know he cares--why else would someone put up with me and my bullshit? He's not obligated to babysit me. I'm an adult, have been for years. He does it because he worries about me constantly and sometime in the past few decades he decided that I was his responsibility. Most siblings fight and argue and compete with each other; we argue constantly, fight occasionally, but there's no rivalry between us. It freaks our parents out, but it's normal to us. He's my best friend. I'm his only real friend.
I can't blame him for doing what Dad told him to do: go to university, go to grad school, take the job in Takasaki. But I don't have to like it, and if being an asshole towards him is how that anger manifests, then so be it.
"I feel like I'm kicking you to the curb because you're really the only thing that made me hesitate about taking this job," he confesses. "I have to go tomorrow, but I don't want to leave you behind."
I nod and chew my lower lip and refuse to look at him, because if I do that right now I'll start crying. I can feel the stinging in my eyes and I'm way too fucking old to cry. I'm too proud to cry. He's always said it's normal, healthy even, but I feel stupid when I do it so I don't anymore.
I don't want to be left alone. I've never really been able to wrap my head around the concept of life without my brother. I mean it's not like he's fucking dying, but Takasaki is three hours away with decent traffic, and he's not going to have a lot of free time for company. If it were up to me I'd be packing my shit and going with him, but Dad made himself pretty damned clear that I'm staying put in Akagi so Ryosuke can focus on his new job. Considering that that man puts gas in my car and food in my stomach, I'm not so inclined to argue with him.
"It's a shitty situation," is my vague, bullshit reply. He knows what's up. He can read me like a book, always has, and he knows how pissed and hurt and betrayed and furious I am right now. I feel like a soap opera bitch. That's not helping to improve my mood. He's my brother, not my fucking boyfriend. Why am I so bent out of shape over this? This isn't like me at all...
Great. I went from being mad at him to angry at myself. I'm such a head case.
"Tell me what's on your mind?" he asks.
Oh, no. You don't want to open that can of worms, Ry. Trust me. "Nothing," I sigh and stand up, scratching the back of my head in frustration. This whole thing sucks, and I'm honestly willing to just let him finish packing and watch him go without speaking my two cents on the whole ordeal. Maybe if I just walk away now I can still escape this brewing shit storm of a conversation with my pride intact.
"Don't lie to me." I glance over at him and looks like someone just strangled his puppy right in front of him. This is really pathetic. "You're going to let me leave without a fight?"
You're the world's biggest asshole, I decide. You're really going to make me go through this, aren't you? His eyes confirm it. "Ry, I'm not going to throw a fucking temper tantrum and beg you not to leave!" I shout. "Do whatever the fuck you want!"
He's up on his feet and shoving me into the bedroom wall before I can react, hands gripping my arms hard enough to bruise, pinning me in place. It's times like this that remind me that he is taller and heavier and stronger than me, and that pisses me off too. I struggle and kick and swear at him, but he's got a good hold on me and I'm stuck. "What the fuck is your problem?!"
He ducks his head and suddenly his lips are on mine, crushed together, his eyes closed, and I forget to fight back. My brother is kissing me. Has everyone in this house lost their god damned minds?!
I don't know whether to yell, bite him, or kiss him back, but the pressure feels good and he's really, really fucking close, and maybe this is why I've felt like such a nut case these past few weeks. If I had any common sense at all I'd punch him in the head and run.
If I had any common sense I'd be Ryosuke.
"What are you doing?" I ask against his mouth.
"Whatever the fuck I want," he replies against mine, using my words. His fingers loosen their death grip on my biceps and he pins me against the wall with his chest and his elbows are on either side of my head against the wall and he kisses me harder. And it feels good so I return it, arching against him and reaching up to thread my fingers through his hair and letting my eyes fall closed. He tastes like cigarettes and the mint gum he chews to cover up the smoke. His lips are soft, his hair is softer, but the pressure of his chest against mine isn't.
Lead and follow. Even now that most basic of instincts operates flawlessly between us. I don't know why I ignore the common sense screaming at me to shove him away and knock the shit out of him. This is wrong on so many fucking levels, his thigh between mine and his hands on my hips and his tongue tangling with mine in my mouth. Five minutes ago I was pretty damned secure in my heterosexuality, but right now he could tell me I'm the president of the fucking world and I'd agree so long as he doesn't stop biting into my bottom lip like that...
"Tell me that you love me," he demands quietly as his fingers find the hem of my shirt, push it aside, and skim up my stomach.
"I love you," I reply. My breath hitches in my throat as he bears down on me, and we're pressed together from mouth to crotch. My insides twist and knot up when he pulls away and looks at me.
His eyes are bright, confused and intense and frustrated. He looks like he wants to either break something or cry. "I don't want to leave," he sighs. He's being the childish one now, but it's okay. Every now and then you have to forget how old you are and what responsibilities you have and just feel. I do it constantly. Maybe now it's his turn.
"You have to."
"I've never been that far away from you..." he trails off weakly and hangs his head. No matter how hard he tries, we both know that he can't rationalize or analyze this away. His calculations and strategies work in racing, but they have no real application in life. He's on his own with this one.
I rest my forehead against his and Christ Almighty, has he always looked this defeated, this desperate? I press my lips to his again and my chest lurches at the thrill of how easily he responds to my touch. Like it's fucking second nature, like he's biologically predisposed to feel this way. Maybe we both are.
"You're going to Takasaki tomorrow. You don't have a choice, Ry. It's what Dad wants."
He laughs angrily and holds my gaze. "What about what I want? What you want? When does that matter?"
I sigh, trace the pissed off curve of his lips with my thumb. How do I answer that? Is there an answer to that? I doubt it. "I don't know. But I'm not going to die because you move three hours away. I'll be here."
"You'll be miserable," he argues gently. He kisses me again and with every touch I'm losing the drive to fight with him. "So will I. Keisuke, I didn't think about it until tonight because it would have driven me crazy this entire time, but now it's real, and I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about this."
He's scared. It's in his eyes, in his voice, in the way that his hands are practically clinging onto me. Like if he lets go this very instant I'd disappear. He's hanging onto an idea that lost its relevancy the day he entered into medical school. My older brother--confident, smart, successful, handsome, and clever--needs me a hell of a lot more than I ever realized. That fear is infectious. "I don't think you're supposed to feel anything," I frown. "You did what you thought was best. What else could you do?"
"Say 'no' to Dad," he counters. "Tell him that I want to drive. That I want to stay in Akagi. That I want to go pro with you."
I snort derisively and roll my eyes. "Yeah, that would have gone over well. 'Hey Dad, I'm not going to college. I'm going to waste my life street racing. Oh, and by the way, I'm also a faggot and have incestuous feelings for your other son.'"
He punches me in the stomach lightly and pushes away, off of me and the wall and stalks across his room to sprawl on his back across his bed, groaning in frustrated anger. Then he digs around in his pockets for his cigarettes, blatantly ignoring the household's 'No Smoking' policy and lighting up right there in the bedroom. That does make me smile.
"I thought you quit?" I ask quietly as I maneuver around boxes and piles of books towards him. His room looks messier than mine, and I grin proudly.
"So did I," he mutters. He's acting very un-Ryosukeish tonight, but I don't mind. He's fucking adorable. "It's keeping me from marching downstairs and announcing that I'm not going to Takasaki, I'm going to waste my life street racing, and I'm gay for you."
That actually makes me laugh. I sit down beside him and he glances up at me with a weak half-smile. I snag his half-empty pack and smoke with him. If our parents come upstairs right now they'll shit kittens, but I don't really care. Their ever-dutiful son is smoking like a chimney and lounging around like I do, and for my part I'm along for the ride. This whole night has been an eye-opening fucking experience.
"You'll come see me, right?" he asks the ceiling.
He nods to himself and flicks cigarette ash over the edge of the bed and onto the immaculate beige carpet. It makes me feel better to know that even if our parents have gotten what they wanted out of him, we still have this. I'm not sure what the hell it is, but it's ours. I lean over him and kiss him slowly, deeply, trying to memorize how intense and overwhelming this feeling is in my gut and wondering when I fell for him. I'd be kidding myself if I said that I haven't felt this way for years now. I guess you don't realize how important something is to you until you lose it. It's a fucking shame.
"It's only for two years," he tries to reassure me, himself, who knows? Only two years. Right. That's twenty four months of no one yelling at me to race faster, calling me to make sure I'm awake for school, guilt-tripping me into cleaning my room. Sounds like a god damned dream come true, right?
I'd rather spend every day for the rest of my natural fucking life being hassled and shouted at and berated by Ryosuke than watch him drive away tomorrow. Unfortunately that's not an option. So I'll spend tonight curled around him as close as humanly possible, and I'll follow his example in the morning and pretend that all is right with the world when he gets in the FC and leaves me in the damned dust.
That's just what we do.
Lead and fucking follow.