Disclaimer: No, I do not own Speed Racer. This story is based off of one I wrote quite a few years ago now called "She Don't Know She's Beautiful." But it's very different and set in the movie universe. I don't recommend reading the original. I should like to think that I'm a much better writer now than I was then. It's mostly Racer X(Rex)/OC. But there's going to be a lot of Speed/ Trixie thrown in too. Oh, and you'll learn the whole back story with Rex and Ana through flashbacks as the story goes on.
"Rex, she's totally kicking your ass!" eight-year-old Speed Racer yelled into the radio.
"Don't say ass, Speed," Rex replied as he tapped the brake slightly while entering the curve. "You hear that Ana? Apparently you're kicking my butt."
"You say that like it's a surprise," Ana laughed, shifting gears as she exited the turn Rex had just entered.
"Pride comes before a fall," he said as his car pulled up next to hers. "And it's a long way down."
"You'll have to catch me first, racer boy," she said, pressing harder against the gas pedal.
"Who do you think is gonna win, Pops?" Speed said, turning to look up at his father.
"They're not actually racing, son," Pops chuckled.
"I think you should tell them that," Speed muttered.
Ana laughed as she smoothly turned the wheel so that her car was now back in front of Rex's. Speed was right. It wasn't actually a race, not that she or Rex were acting like it. It was more like a sparring match. They had a big race coming up and they were the two favorites to win. She could so take him though. He was far too much of a gentleman when it came to racing her. If she pushed him hard enough, he always backed out.
"Okay, kids," Pops said. "This is your last lap, and then bring them in."
"Awe, Pops…" Ana whined. "But I'm winning."
"You heard me young lady," Pops said, trying his best to sound stern. She could hear the smile in his voice though.
Rex didn't try to challenge her for the lead again as they quickly made the last circuit of the track. Every nerve in her body felt alive as she pulled into the pit area. She loved driving, whether it was actually in a race, test driving her car or driving on the street. She loved it all. She pulled her helmet off her head and pulled her long straight brown hair out of the bun she'd tucked it into at the nape of her neck. She was just about to climb out of her white car with the lavender detailing when a shadow fell over her and she looked up to see a smiling face.
"Awe, Pops!" she heard Speed whine. "They're gonna start the mushy stuff again, aren't they?"
Ana woke up with her chest heaving. She looked around the first class section of the airplane. No one seemed to notice her. That was the nice thing about first class. No one really paid any attention to you. The business man in the next to her was still typing away on his laptop. The rap star across the aisle was still banging his head to whatever loud song happened to be playing through his head phones. A stewardess stopped to ask her if she wanted something to drink, but Ana just shook her head and straightened the hem of her pale green knee length skirt.
She sighed heavily and pressed a pale hand against her chest, trying to calm her racing heart. The dreams were getting worse again. They'd all but stopped until a couple of months ago. She'd been flipping through channels when she'd accidentally landed on some grand prix or another. Her heart had all but stopped beating when she saw that familiar white car with the red M on the hood. She'd avoided everything to do with racing for eight years. She'd locked her car away in her old garage and hadn't touched it since. She'd flipped the channel every time a race had come on the television. She'd switched careers. She'd done everything she could so that she didn't have to remember the past. Yet those stupid dreams just kept haunting her.
They weren't bad, necessarily. They were nice moments, or at least they'd been nice at the time. They were test laps around the practice track. They were moments sprawled out across his bed playing video games. They were stolen kisses before a race when Pops was trying to keep them apart so that they both would focus. Instead Rex was focusing on her lips and she on the way his hands seem to burn through her fireproof suit. They weren't bad dreams. They were just dreams of moments that she'd spent eight years trying to forget. She tried therapy, hypnosis and about a dozen other things, but the dreams just weren't going away. That's when she'd decided that she had to go back. She had to face the past. It was the only way she was ever going to get a peaceful night's sleep again.
"Please fasten your seatbelts," a voice called out. "We will be landing shortly."
There was no turning back. She was going to go see the Racer family for the first time in eight years. She was going to go sleep in Rex's old room. She was going to sit and talk about him around the dinner table. She was going to tell happy stories about him and convince his family that she was moving on and that she was fine. Maybe if everyone believed she was fine she actually would be.
Fifteen minutes later the plane had landed and Ana was stepping off into the terminal. She was immediately greeted by a host of camera flashes. She might not still be racing, but that didn't mean that she'd stepped out of the spotlight.
"Ana, have you finished filming your next movie?"
"Miss Larson, what are you doing back in your home town?"
"Come on, Ana. Smile for the camera."
She shifted her bag higher up on her shoulder and pulled down her over-sized sunglasses to hide her lavender eyes. The pictures weren't going to be very good, but she'd probably be the cover of every major tabloid the next day. She'd known that her fame level would rise when she'd switched over from racing to acting. The movie offer had come about three months after Rex had… disappeared… She wouldn't say that he was dead. He didn't feel dead. She would know. She'd had an agent when she was a racer and he'd called her up saying that someone wanted her to be in a movie. It turned out that she liked acting. It gave her a chance to forget everything for a little while.
The boy waiting for her didn't give her a chance to forget a single thing. Looking at him she could still see the little eight-year-old boy he'd been the last time she'd seen him. He was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest and a look on his face that made him look so much like his brother her breath caught in her throat. There wasn't a lot of physical resemblance between Speed and Rex Racer. The mannerisms though. The way Speed's head was tilted slightly to the side like he was taking in the whole room all at once. It made her heart squeeze and her chest burn all at the same time.
"Ana!" Speed called when he finally caught sight of her.
"Look at you," she said, pulling back after hugging him tightly. "What happened to that eight-year-old kid that I left behind?"
"He grew up, Annie," Speed said. "Do you have any bags here or did you have it all shipped?"
"It should all already be at your house," she said, linking her arm through his as they made their way towards the exit. "I had everything sent ahead."
"Well now aren't we the diva," he teased.
"Oh, hush, you," she laughed. "You might be all grown up now but that doesn't mean I can't still kick your butt."
"I don't doubt it," he said. "I… I brought my mom's car… We weren't sure if…"
"Thank you," she said softly. "I don't think I would have been."
"But there is this party tonight…" he said, rubbing the back of his neck. "It's to celebrate the start of the season. I know you probably don't want to go, but there's someone I'd like you to meet."
"What?" she said. "Are you and little Trixie not still…"
"No!" Speed said. "I mean, yes, Trixie and I are still together. She's out of town though, so I need someone to be my 'plus one.' It's a friend of mine that I want you to meet. I think you would like him. He's helped me out a lot since I started racing."
"You're not trying to play matchmaker or something…"
"No," he said after jogging around the car to the driver's side and climbing in. "I just want you to meet him."
"Okay," she said after a pause. "I guess I could. I mean, it's been ten years. What's the chance anyone remembers me anyway?"
"You're still famous, Ana Banana," Speed said.
"I told you never to call me that," she said, slapping him lightly on the arm. "So what time's the party?"
"We're supposed to be there around eight, I think," he said as they made their way out into the bright afternoon sunshine. "It's formal. Do you have a…"
"Dress?" she laughed. "My stylist packed my bags. She can never help but throw in the formal gown or two. She loves to play dress up with me."
"Great," he said. "I think you'll really like Racer X."
"Racer X?" she said, frowning. "What kind of name is that?"
"He's kind of a private person," Speed said. "I don't really know much about him, but he's one of the best friends I've got."
"That's nice," she said, playing with a lock of her hair.
The photographers were still following them. The annoying flashes were going off incessantly and Ana was glad for her dark sunglasses. Speed pressed his hand to her lower back as he led her towards the waiting SUV. She had a feeling the tabloids would read that Speed was cheating on Trixie with her, but that couldn't quite be helped. Hopefully none of them would dig up her relationship with Rex. That was the last thing she needed. She didn't need any more reminders of the demons that haunted her. The demons that hadn't let her get a good night sleep in months. She could do this though. She had to if she ever planned on moving on with her life.
The house looked the same. It could have been eight years before. Ana took a deep breath to steady herself as she climbed out of the car. She wasn't ready. She couldn't do this. It hadn't been long enough. She needed more time. She didn't have time though. Not when Mom Racer was already rushing out of the house to embrace her. She could see the tears in the older woman's eyes even from a distance and Ana felt her own eyes fill as well.
"Look at you," Mom Racer said, embracing the younger woman. "My little Ana's all grown up. It's been far too long, young lady."
"Hi, Mom," Ana said. "I'm sorry… I just… I couldn't come back. Not with everything that happened."
"I know, sweetheart," Mom said, caressing her dark brown hair. "I know. What matters is that you're here now. And we are so happy to see you. I had all of your bags put up in Rex's old room. Is that okay? We can always move you into Speed's if you would rather…"
"No," Ana said, letting herself be led into the house. "It's okay. It's part of the reason why I came."
"He loved you, Ana," Mom said softly. "So much. He would want you to be happy."
"I know," Ana said as Speed closed the door behind them. "And I will be."
The house looked the same inside too. There were new pictures on the walls. More of Speed and a little boy who she assumed must be Sprital. None of Rex, and consequently her, since they were always together. Always had been since they were kids. But she wasn't going to think about that. This trip was about saying goodbye and moving on with her life. Mom sat her down on the couch while she went into the kitchen to make them some tea. Ana chatted with Speed on the couch for a few minutes about her latest movie when she heard feet storming down the hallway. A face peaked around the corner and then a blurred body darted into the kitchen.
"Mom," she heard a young voice say. "Are you aware that Ana Larson is in the living room?"
"Sprital," Speed called, laughing. "Come in here. There's someone I want you to meet."
"I already know who she is," Sprital said as he walked into the room. "That's Ana Larson. Can I bring you to school with me for show and tell?"
"Is she here yet?" Pops called as he came in from the garage.
"In here, Pops," Ana said.
"Well if it isn't little Miss Ana Banana," Pops said. "Come here and give me a hug."
Ana got up off the couch and went over to hug the older man. He hadn't changed a bit since she'd left. He might have aged a little bit, but you could barely tell. His hair was a little bit grey at the temples, but that was probably as much from Speed as it was from his age. She couldn't imagine that Speed racing was easy on him. Not after everything that had happened with…
"Ana, sweetheart," Mom said. "Why don't you go upstairs and lay down for a little bit before the party tonight? I'm sure you're exhausted after your flight. We can talk and get caught up tomorrow."
"That would be good," Ana said. "I'll take myself up if that's okay."
She knew the family was waiting down in the living room holding their breath as she made her way up the stairs. The last time she'd been in Rex's room, she'd locked herself in there for three weeks and refused to come out. She hadn't even gone to the funeral. She'd just laid there on his bed clutching his pillow and inhaling his familiar scent. Then one day she'd gotten up left the Racer house with intentions never to return. Not until the dreams had come back with a vengeance at any rate.
Rex's room still looked exactly as it had the last time she'd been in it. The only difference was that the full size bed was made. His dark blue comforter was still pulled up and neatly folded back when it reached his crisp white pillow cases. The black and chrome dresser was still covered with his trophies and a few framed pictures. The picture of the two of them from her senior prom was still sitting on his night stand. It was hard to believe that had taken place just a few months before he'd left. She gingerly picked up the polished silver frame and traced her fingers over their faces. He'd looked so handsome in his tuxedo. They'd been so happy that night. It was hard to believe everything that had happened after.
Her luggage was piled up in the corner. She went over and opened up the large trunk that dominated the space in front of the closet. Sure enough right on top was a strapless amethyst colored gown that would be perfect for the party that night. The heavy jeweled detailing below the bust was gorgeous too. She opened the closet and was a little relieved to see that it was empty. She'd known that Rex had taken most of his clothes with him when he left, but part of her had still been afraid to have to face things she'd seen him wear every day.
She pulled a hanger out and hung the dress up to let a few wrinkles fall out and then sank down onto the edge of the bed. She kicked off the sandals she'd been wearing and then curled up on the bed. She wrapped her arms around the pillow and sighed when she could still detect a faint trace of Rex's smell. Being in there was a little unsettling, but it was also like sinking into a hot bath after a long day. It was like she was being wrapped in his presence and she quickly dropped off to sleep, not quite so afraid of what she was going to dream about.
Ana slipped out of the house and onto the dark driveway. Her parents were fighting again. She heard the familiar crash of a plate shattering against the wall as her mother screamed something. This was starting to happen more and more frequently. She shivered in the November air and wished that she'd thought to grab a jacket. Instead she was standing in the driveway in her flannel pajama bottoms and a long sleeve t-shirt she'd borrowed from Rex at some point or another. The yelling was getting louder and she watched as a neighbor turned a light on for a second. This also wasn't the first time her parents had woken the neighbors with one of their arguments.
After what felt like an eternity she watched as a familiar white car came down the street and pulled into the driveway. She moved over to the side as Rex killed the engine and then got out. He immediately pulled her into his arms, her head tucking perfectly under his chin. He'd actually stopped to put some real clothes on. Or maybe he hadn't undressed. Come to think of it, she was pretty sure that was the sweatshirt he'd worn to school that day. Her parents' fights were becoming far too frequent if Rex was starting to wait up for her desperate phone calls. At least it was a Friday night and they didn't have to worry about school the next day.
"Come on," he said, guiding her around to the passenger side door. "Let's get you home, pretty girl." It was funny how the Racers' house was becoming more and more of a home to her than her own. She definitely spent the vast majority of her waking hours there and now she was spending her sleeping ones there as well. Not that Pops or Mom knew. They would probably freak out if they did. They knew her parents fought, but they didn't know how bad it got and they certainly didn't know that their teenage son was sneaking out of the house to pick her up at two in the morning.
The driver back to the Rex's house was silent. He knew that Ana didn't really want to talk. Instead he just held his hand and rubbed soothing circles on the back of it with his thumb. She stared out into the black night and tried her hardest not to yawn. Her eyelids were awfully heavy though. She hadn't gotten a lot of sleep that week. Even though Rex came and got her so that she could sleep in peace in his bed, he didn't come until late and they had to be up far too early to sneak her out of the house and then back in a few minutes later to make it look like Rex had gone and gotten her for breakfast. She was only 15 and didn't have her driver's license yet.
About ten minutes later they pulled into Rex's driveway and carefully climbed the tree outside Rex's room and slipped in through the window he'd left open. She kicked off her leopard print slippers and immediately climbed in bed. Rex hovered indecisively at the window for a moment before going over to his dresser and pulling out a pair of pajama pants. He slipped down the hall to the bathroom to change and was back in the room in about two minutes. Ana was fighting sleep, but had kept herself awake, knowing what was about to happen. Rex went to his closet and started to pull out a spare blanket when her voice stopped him.
"Hold me tonight?" she said.
"Always," he said, climbing into the bed behind her.
Ana immediately snuggled up against him, her head resting on his chest as his arms wrapped around her in a protective embrace. She loved these moments. Rex was far too much of a gentleman to ever just get into bed next to her without an invitation. He'd refused at first, but eventually gave in. On the rare nights her parents weren't fighting, Ana almost wished they would. It was getting hard to sleep when Rex wasn't holding her.
"Love you," she murmured sleepily as she felt him press a kiss to her forehead.
"Love you too," he replied.
Racer X idly twirled the champagne around in the crystal flute he was holding. The trick to not getting drunk at a function like the one he currently found himself at was always have a half full glass in your hand. It was a pain to keep track of, but it kept waiters from constantly pestering him all night. He raised the flute to his lips every now and then, but didn't actually take a sip. It was more about looking like you were drinking than actually consuming any alcohol. People were more likely to say things they shouldn't if they thought you were as drunk as they were.
The ballroom was nearly full of people at that point. Everyone was dressed to the nines in tuxedos and evening gowns, except for the few racers like him who had come in their usual race day apparel. It was decorated with your usual elaborate chandeliers that were pretty, but far from original. The only really spectacular thing about the room was the glass wall behind the buffet table that looked out over the race track where qualifying for the first race of the season would take place the next day.
He'd gotten there early. He'd had to. Because he was relatively sure that she was going to be there. He had to see the moment she arrived. He had to watch the hush that fell over any room that she walked into. It had always been like that. Ever since she was about thirteen. He could still remember the first time he'd realized how beautiful she was like it was yesterday. She was fourteen and he was fifteen. They were walking back to his house after school and he turned to look at her as she laughed. The way her lavender eyes were sparkling just did something to him. He'd never thought about kissing her before, but at that moment he really wanted to try it.
"Did you hear what I just said?" Minx asked him.
Ah, Minx. There was someone to keep him grounded in the present. She was his sort of girlfriend he supposed. She was definitely the closet thing he had to a personal relationship. Being a secret agent certainly kept him from forming close emotional ties. Minx got it though. She was all about the job too. He was fond of her, but she never made his blood boil, not like she had.
"I told you that you shouldn't have come tonight, X," she said, rolling her eyes. "She's obviously far too much of a distraction."
"We don't even know that she's going to be here," he said.
Then it happened. The hush fell over the room. He turned towards the door and watched as she walked in with her arm tucked through Speed's. God, she looked beautiful. The purple of her dress made her eyes shine. It was like she was moving in slow motion, and suddenly, he wasn't the confident secret agent he'd become. He was the scrawny fifteen year old with sweaty palms trying to ask the first girl he'd ever really liked out on a date.
He watched her make her way around the room with Speed. He introduced her to some new faces and reacquainted her with some old ones. He knew by the way she was standing that she wasn't entirely comfortable with the situation. He was actually surprised that she was there at all. He knew that she carefully avoided anything that resembled racing. She'd turned down parts in multiple movies, one of which had gone on to win multiple awards, because they called upon her racing skills. She rarely even drove a car.
"She's coming this way," Minx whispered into his ear. "You have about thirty seconds to duck away."
"I'm fine," he gritted out.
"You're not thinking objectively," she said.
"It's been eight years, Minx," he said. "I'm fine."
"I'm not watching you trip all over yourself for another woman," she said and then walked away quickly. He turned to say something to her, but she was already gone and someone else was already calling his name.
"Racer X!" Speed called out as he approached.
"Hello, Speed," he said. "How are you?"
"Good," Speed said, nodding enthusiastically. "Ready for the season to start."
"And who is your lovely companion?" Racer X asked.
"Oh," Speed said, pressing a hand to the small of Ana's back and pushing her forward. "This is Ana Larson. She's an old family friend who's in town for a while."
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Ana said with a faint smile.
"The pleasure is all mine," Racer X replied. "I have a friend who is quite a fan. I've seen all of your movies."
She reached out her hand and he reluctantly took it in his own. Even through the thick glove he could feel the tingles that shot up his arm. It was always that way whenever they touched. Then he felt her jerk away like she'd been burned. Her eyes searched the mirrored lenses that covered his own as she stood there staring up at him and frowning slightly.
"Do I know you?" she asked, holding the hand he'd touched close to her body and rubbing it slightly.
"I'm sorry," he said. "We've never met."
"You just seem really familiar for some reason," she said, her eyes searching his face as if she could see behind his mask.
It was probably all in his imagination. It was probably because more than anything the part of him that was still Rex Racer wanted her to recognize him. With the extensive plastic surgery there was little to no chance she could ever truly know who he was. But part of him had also always firmly believed that she was his soul mate. That it was totally possible for her to look at him, to touch him, and just know. Obviously the moment was entirely one sided because she smiled at him politely and then asked Speed if he would excuse her for just a second.
"So how do you know Ana Larson?" he asked Speed.
"She and Rex were…" Speed said. "Engaged I guess. Sort of. She broke it off not long before the accident, but she was like a member of the family when I was a kid."
"She broke it off?" he said."
"Yeah, she didn't want him to go corporate," Speed said, rubbing the back of his neck.
"He should have listened," Racer X said quietly.
"I should probably go find Ana," Speed said. "She didn't exactly want to be here tonight. Did you know that she used to race?"
"I saw her a couple of times," Racer X said. "She could have been one of the greats. It's a shame that she quit."
"Yeah," Speed said. "Racing was never the same for her after Rex. I should really go find her though."
Speed excused himself and Racer X watched as he made his way towards the lobby. A few minutes later he came back in with a somewhat reluctant Ana on his arm. They circulated the room and X watched as Ana squared her shoulders and started to chat with the people around her. He knew she was putting on an act. She was pretending to be happy and engaging. He'd watched her do it a million times at press conferences. She really was a great actress. He was probably the only one who had ever noticed and that was only because he knew her better than she knew herself most of the time.
Her back was to him for most the night. He wondered if it really was on purpose and if she'd been as affected by seeing him and touching him as he'd hoped, or if it was just how she happened to be standing. Racer X tried not to make it obvious that he was watching her. Every now and then though, she would turn around and search the room with those gorgeous lavender eyes. They would come to rest on him for a moment and then she would immediately turn back to whoever she was talking to.
Several hours later people were finally starting to leave. He'd never had another chance to talk to her, but that was probably for the best. He didn't need to seek her out. That couldn't lead to anything good. When he was around her he didn't feel like Racer X. He had to be Racer X. Rex Racer didn't exist anymore. Ana made it hard to remember that. Especially when she was looking like she did in that dress. He watched as she made her way out of the ballroom with her arm tucked through Speed's.
His eyes followed her until she'd disappeared around the corner and then he breathed a heavy sigh of relief. He'd done it. He'd made it through their first encounter in eight years. She wouldn't be coming to the track though. There was no way she would attend a race. And she probably wasn't staying with his former family for very long. He wouldn't have to see her again anytime soon. Not for another eight years, or more if he had his way.
Ana quickly made her way to Victory Lane. She'd crashed early in the race, much to her disappointment, but Rex had gone on to win and it was time to celebrate. She'd managed to shower and change into her jeans and a Go Team t-shirt after her wreck, so at least she didn't look like a sweat soaked mess for all of the cameras. She made her way through the crowd of photographers and camera men just as Rex was climbing out of the Mach 4. He raised his arms in victory and she couldn't help but smile when she saw his joy.
"Ana!" he called out, holding out a hand to her.
She immediately went to his side and he pulled her in close, kissing her quickly on the forehead before his parents and younger brother swarmed them as well. The excitement in the air was contagious and Ana could almost forget her crash and the mangled heap that was her car for a moment. Mom and Pops hugged her as well while Speed and his little friend Trixie chattered on to Rex a mile a minute about what an awesome job he'd done.
Suddenly he felt a tug at her hand and turned to look at her boyfriend, just to find him down on one knee. Her eyes widened in shock when she saw the open black velvet box in his hand. She could feel the tears well up behind her eyes as she raised her right hand to her mouth while Rex kept a firm hold on her left hand. A hush came over the crowd when they saw what was happening and suddenly the only noises Ana could hear were the clicking of cameras and the pounding of her own heart.
"Ana Marie Larson," Rex began, grinning up at her. "I love you. I've loved you since I was fifteen years old and I will love you until the day that I die. Marry me, baby? Be my wife?"
"Yes!" she exclaimed as the tears started to fall down her cheeks.
Rex slipped the white gold engagement ring with the sparkling diamond onto her finger and then lifted Ana up in his arms and spun her around. Ana wrapped her arms around his neck as she started to cry harder and clung to him as he carefully set her back down on her feet. He took her tear-stained face in between his hands and tilted it up to meet his own. The love shining out from his deep brown eyes nearly made her weak in the knees as he slowly lowered his mouth down towards hers.
"Are they going to be doing even more of that now?" Speed asked Pops."
"I'm afraid so, son," Pops said, laughing.
"Hush, Speed," Trixie said. "It's romantic."
"It's gross," Speed said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I love you," Ana whispered against Rex's lips. "I can't wait to be your wife."
"I'll love you forever," he promised, kissing her once again.
Ana sat up on the bed with her chest heaving. Tears were coursing down her cheeks and she quickly reached up to brush them away. She'd been so afraid to fall asleep and see what she was going to dream about. She'd known it was going to be one of her more painful memories. It was strange, but the memories of the fights they'd had towards the end of their relationship weren't the ones that were the most painful. It was hardest to remember the happy times. The first time he'd told her that he loved her. The day he'd asked her to marry him. Those were the hardest memories.
She swung her legs over the edge of the bed and sought out her slippers and then got her silky white bath robe from the chair by the bed. She quickly went down to the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face and then went down to the kitchen. She needed a full glass of water to take the sleeping pills in the bottom of her bag that guaranteed her a nice, dreamless sleep. She hated how groggy they made her feel, but she needed the dreamlessness.
"What are you doing up?" she asked Speed when she walked into the kitchen.
"Trixie just called from Barbados," he shrugged. "She forgot about the time difference."
"Oh," Ana said, tucking a stray lock of brown hair behind her ear. "Are the glasses still in the…"
"Third cabinet from the right," Speed said. "Yeah. So what did you think of Racer X?"
Ana closed her eyes as she reached up for a glass and sighed heavily. She'd been trying all night to forget the tingles that had run up her arm when they touched. Even through the thick black glove he was wearing. There was only one man she'd ever reacted to like that and he'd been dead for eight years. Still, it felt like betraying Rex's memory to feel that from someone else.
"Who is he?" she asked after a pause, turning from the cabinet to look at Speed.
"Racer X," Speed said with a shrug.
"That can't possibly be his name," Ana said, going over to the fridge to put ice in her glass.
"It's the one he goes by."
"Speed," Ana said, turning to face him and leaning back against the counter. "You don't think he might be…"
"He's not, Ana," Speed said. "I thought he might be too, but I've seen his face. He's not Rex."
"There was just this moment when I shook his hand…"
"Rex would want you to be happy, Ana Banana," Speed said. "It's okay for you to feel something for someone new."
"I know that, Speed," Ana said, dropping a few ice cubes into her glass. "But this wasn't a new feeling. This was an old feeling. I know your brother."
"Ana, stop," he said, shoving his chair back away from the table. "Rex is dead. He's gone. He's not coming back. And if all you're going to is drag up the past, maybe it's better if you left now."
"I'm serious, Ana," he said, stopping at the doorway to the kitchen to look her in the eye. "Don't mention this to Mom or Pops. They don't need to go through losing Rex all over again."
"I won't," she said, nodding.
Speed nodded his head and then turned to leave the kitchen. Ana watched him go before she made her way to the sink to fill up her glass. As she watched her glass fill, her mind was reeling at a million miles a minute. She knew Rex Racer's touch. She knew the way it felt to have every little nerve ending in her hand come alive all at once. But Speed said that he'd seen his face… Maybe she'd just wanted him to be Rex. To be honest he didn't even sound like Rex. Maybe it was just her brain playing tricks on her.
She shook her head to try to clear out the unwanted thoughts and then made her way back up to Rex's old room. She dug the bottle of pills out of the bottom of her purse and popped one into her mouth. She quickly chased the pill down with her glass of water and then took off her slippers and robe before climbing into bed. She laid there for a few seconds before closing her eyes and waiting for the pill to take effect. At the moment she cared more for a night without dreams more than the groggy feeling she would get in the morning. All she wanted was a night that wasn't haunted by Rex Racer.