Disclaimer: I do not own Speed Racer nor do I profit from the writing of this piece. Darius Evans, however, is copywrighted to me. Please ask for my permission first.

From down the hall and the moment the elevator door slid open, he heard the music playing, and Speed found himself smiling and grateful their neighbours did not mention how loud certain sounds could become from time to time. The song resonating through the hallway indicated how his partner was currently feeling at the moment, and the world racecar champion knew his emotions were loud and powerful echoes to the words Faith Hill sang. After he stepped out of the elevator, Speed paused for a moment, closed his eyes, and allowed himself to listen . . . and to remember.

Before Darius entered his life, Speed's outlook on life was not a pleasant one. Alcohol, despair, and guilt consumed him for many years. He wanted to forget his pain and his despair, but he wanted to remind himself of his guilt. Drinking allowed him such a privilege, though the memories fuzzed themselves over so much so they did not seem to even be his memories. He remembered Trixie and Sparky leaving him to wallow away in his misery and his disease because they could no longer stand to watch him die a slow death. His heart ached until Speed felt certain the only thing that remained was a black and bottomless void. Then Darius came along and everything changed . . .

"Just breathe . . ."

Speed exhaled softly and opened his eyes. He could have sworn he heard Darius whispering those words into his ear at that moment, which sent a shiver of delight coursing through his body. It would be like Darius to approach him when he least expected it, but his partner was nowhere in sight. Still, the effects of those words resonated through Speed, causing his heart to swell with love, with pride, and with admiration for the one who kept him sober and sane. He resumed walking towards his apartment, pulling his keys out of his pocket at the same time. Thanks to Darius and his unusual way of sobering a person, Speed's life was back in his hands, in his control. The world, once a dismal and meaningless place, was now vibrant and beautiful, and it made breathing easy, something Speed loved Darius for more than anything.

He entered their apartment to see Darius lounging on their leather sofa. The other man's eyes were closed, and he was wearing only a pair of jeans. Speed closed the door behind him and stared, knowing that, with Darius, life was simply . . . sweet. He would not have asked for it to be any other way.