Dragon Reverb! I'm very glad to hear that you've earned inspiration to review, again and I feel very honored that I get to be the very first one! Also, thank you very much for the advice!

Mikachu, I haven't heard from you from the last Act. I hope that you're still with me and would continue to give me your feedbacks.

Happy reading everyone!

Key To His Locked Heart

Act 3

Tires screeching uncontrollably can be heard then…

Silence.

The deafening silence of the mountain pass overpowered the night once again. Brown locks opening slowly, going back to reality, matched with trembling body, hands still gripping tightly on the wheel.

To her immense surprise and disbelief, the Toyota had halted before bumping side by side with the Mazda and directly falling over the cliff.

Her body is still trembling violently by the sudden happening right after the end of the race. She really thought that her few-hour car would crash together with her most favorite pass. She glanced at the window and looked at the space between the two cars in horror.

"Ju-just… a hair away…" she said shakingly to her car more than anyone else, not even thinking of her own self. "So close…"

At this moment, her brain could not function properly and cannot quite perceive yet what had just happen.

What she knows, she's very frightened but then felt relieved that no accident happened and seems no one got hurt and before she knew it, she feels very angry toward the driver of the Mazda at this instant.

At one point, someone would think that she had lost her sanity. No, she's just getting spontaneous.

Without consulting her brain, she suddenly opened the door and stormed out her car. Her face getting more furious each step she makes in reaching the white Mazda.

"Hey! Are you out of your mind or what?" she hissed furiously as soon as she reached the driver side of the Mazda. She was highly tempted to kick the car door to emphasize but since she loves cars so much, she spared that part.

"Get out of there! I want us to talk or I will force you out of there!" she shouted.

As if a direct order, what the Toyota driver thought as an effective threat but in reality the driver did not want to deepen the commotion, the car door opened and she saw a gentleman in his early twenties, good looking, decided to climb out the car and turned to her.

The Toyota driver, instead of gasping of his looks, she gasped because the face of the Mazda driver was calm and almost expressionless. She could not believe her eyes.

How arrogant! She thought. Is he mocking me or something?

Instead of admiring of his calmness, her fury renewed and glared at him. "Alright, Mazda driver," she greeted, dropping all formalities, as calm as she can.

"I'll do all the talking here so listen up," she ordered.

Seeing Ryosuke nodding with his usual expressionless face, which the Toyota driver found as totally irritating, she continued without slapping him with all of our might.

"Are you simply a careless driver or pure crazy?" she asked coldly. "Because what you did earlier was plain crazy, did you know that? You really are mental, you know?"

She took a deep breath before she continued, "If you think I didn't noticed, you purposely skidded your car sideways!" she said frustratingly.

If she did not turned away from Ryosuke because of how upset she felt right now, she would have seen the small curve on his lips, forming a very small amused smile from his usual expressionless face.

'So she noticed that I did it on purpose,' he thought. 'I'm impressed.'

As if Takahashi Ryosuke, The White Comet of Akagi, would do a mistake as ridiculous as that? Losing control of his car and getting off course are not some things that Takahashi Ryosuke would do.

With frantic hand gestures, she continued, "I really don't understand why you did it but yes, you've won the race when you have overtaken me by the third hairpin and I accepted it happily and with all my heart, without any traces of anger and sulk." She faced Ryosuke, again, her face a bit relaxed now.

"You really didn't have to push it to my face that you won and I lost. I can accept defeat easily, a fair defeat, alright?" she asked convincingly.

Ryosuke nodded to that in amusement. It is very rare to see street racers accepting defeat easily and looking at the bright side.

She sighed in relief and added, "You know, you've actually scared me so much that my spirit almost left my body!" she said as a matter-of-factly.

"I've really thought back there that my few-hour car would actually crash. It's a very good thing that I had developed my reflexes of all the years that I have been driving, I had literally managed to respond despite of panic and the car had halted on time. As you can see," she pointed at the closeness of the Mazda and Toyota.

"It's only a hair away before our cars had actually collided! Just a hair away I tell you!" she said, her voice rising a notch.

"Don't you ever do that again, you hear me? Not only to me but to everyone else that you would race in the future. Not only our cars would have been terribly damaged but it also goes to us! Have you forgotten that we were driving at an almost suicidal speed in a mountain pass? We could've even fall the cliff if the inertia wasn't stopped, you've realized that before you did that imprudent move, right?" she asked desperately.

At long last, for the first time in their whole one-sided conversation, Ryosuke finally had his chance in having his voice.

"Yes, I'm fully aware to everything you've said," he said calmly, not even insulted of her carefully chosen words. "But as what you have said, because of you driving experience, you have managed to stop the car a hair away before the crash. There is nothing to worry about."

"What if I didn't?" she asked in panicky. "It would have been a disastrous accident!" she exclaimed.

"But you did, right?" Ryosuke countered with his usual calm voice that always seems to be confident and in control of everything.

"As you can see, our cars are still attached in one piece; no scratches, no dents, and good as new as with my car. Once again, you have thought of a way before our cars collided. Everything that can be seen here are evidences that there was no accident that happened. What's important and obvious here, you have stopped your car which means you have total control over your car and concentration. So, there is of no use talking about something that did not occur but what happened is no collision and accident. Case closed."

The Toyota driver was totally taken aback and speechless of his words. She does not know what to answer back because everything that Ryosuke said was right and cannot be debated; case closed indeed.

She had finally thought that the driver in front of her is not only pure and plain crazy but crazily sharp and intelligent, too. When she had finally regained her composure, she replied,

"That's true. All that you said was true but I was, also, just lucky enough though."

Ryosuke let out a small smile, "Yes. That's what I have confirmed tonight."

"What do you mean? Confirmed what?" asked by the puzzled Toyota driver.

"That you really have taken the luck genes. You have inherited the most important part of your family's bloodstream except for the gift of racing."

"What are you talking about?" asked by the Toyota driver once again, this time more aggressive, wishing that the Mazda driver would cut all his fancy words.

"The race and my car stopping perpendicularly to yours was all a test," he revealed.

"A-WHAT?" the Toyota driver blurted out, clearly frustrated that the Toyota driver still refuses to answer her straight.

"What are you saying? What do you mean a test? Are you some kind of a teacher or something?" She suddenly stopped when something hit her. Her eyes widened as she gasped.

"No! Don't tell me you're a police…" her voice faltered at the last word.

She, then, as everyone would think as completely stupid, clasped her palms together and begged, "Please, don't arrest me, sir. I was just… you know… having fun. I haven't visited this place for several years now. I just came back from the Philippines and my cousin and my uncle are already waiting for me. I promise that I'll go home now."

Something unexpected followed. Takahashi Ryosuke did something that he rarely does: he chuckled.

The Toyota driver for the umpteenth time this night felt very confused, then, fury slowly filling her, she asked irritatingly, "What's so funny? Everything I said was true!"

Before he could laugh out loud, he stopped himself from chuckling and regained his composure and his features to its usual intimidating and serious face, "You don't need to explain to me anything. I'm not a police officer as what you think, Fujiwara Tokiko."

"Then, if you're not, what are- wait." She stopped as she realized something.

"You know my name. You know my name!" she exclaimed nervously. "How do you know my name?"

She looked clearly horrified as she was about to crash her car against the Mazda car a while ago. The difference right now, she's not on the verge of crashing her car the second time this night but totally stunned and confused as the unknown guy, according to her, in front knows her name but not the same likewise.

She took a step backward and as she earned her voice back, she whined, "Who-who are you? Why do you know my name?"

Ryosuke let out a small smile and replied instead, "Just like your cousin, your driving style is smooth and your car is powerful, perfect for mixed courses. Even though you are at the other side of the Fujiwara family, you had completely inherited your uncle's gift of racing."

"Okay. Stop," she ordered as she held up both of her hands, as if surrendering.

"Alright, Mister Know-it-All," she held her hands back down. "You seem to know a lot about me but I don't know anything about you. And the way you talk, you seem to know my cousin. Now, I want a direct and clear answer this time because you already have given me a lot of mind-twisting answers." She looked intently through him, her eyes seemed like darts of ice entering the other man's soul. Even though he is the Takahashi Ryosuke, he could feel shivers going down his spine. He did not expect that she could be this intimidating.

Who is he kidding? He bickered himself. She is a Fujiwara after-all right? What does he expect? The Fujiwaras never cease to surprise anyone.

"My name's Ryosuke, Takahashi Ryosuke," he answered casually.

"Ry-osu-ke? Hmm…" she said as she held up her chin with her right hand and her left hand supporting her right elbow, looking up, racking her brain.

"Your name seems very familiar to me. I think I've heard it somewhere. I'm very sure of it."

From a very puzzled expression, it turned to a stunned, a very stunned one and horrified, just like a racer found out his car had been crashed by someone. She pointed accusingly at Ryosuke and said, "You mean Takahashi Ryosuke, the leader of the famous and the elite team of Gunma: Project D?"

Ryosuke nodded. "That's right."

"And…" she added in disbelief. "The famous 'The White Comet' of Mount Akagi? The fastest racer in Gunma?"

"Correction, not the fastest anymore since your cousin had beaten me over a year ago," Ryosuke explained.

Still not believing every single word that Ryosuke uttered, she looked at the white Mazda, inspecting it as if it was some kind of an alien then ran at the rear of the car, she read the plate number. For the nth time this night, her face showed how clearly horrified she was. The car in front of her indeed is of the White Comet's. Most importantly, the one that she called a careless driver, mental, crazy and she had shouted at earlier and most importantly, had raced earlier was The White Comet himself. She still could not believe her eyes and her luck that she would actually see, rather, the very first person she would see and race when she gets back in Japan after all these years would be the most profound street racer of Gunma. She had heard so much about him especially from his cousin since he is looking up at him. All his achievements had been so over the bacon that it is to her dismay that he had already retired in racing.

Then, it occurred to her. He already has retired, right? What exactly did he did earlier? He actually raced.What did that suppose to mean? Did that mean…?

She stopped herself. She does not know much about him yet, better yet, they've just met each other so she does not have any information about him except that he is The White Comet of Akagi and the leader of Project D. That's all, period.

She pushed the thought aside as she felt how very lucky she is. How had she not recognize him when she had seen more than enough pictures and videos of him? How come she did not recognize him? Right now, she felt that she had been poured a bucket of cold water.

She suddenly crouched and held her head with her hands as she realized all these things. She felt so ashamed saying all those unpleasant names to him, to the Takahashi Ryosuke, his cousin's mentor in racing and most especially, his cousin's role model in terms of racing.

But… everything she said earlier, she actually meant them. Who would not say all of those things after what he had done? It was something done by only mentally unstable people. Still, she feels very embarrassed by now.

"Nakakahiya talaga(1)!" she muttered.

She, then, covered her face to at least, could hide herself temporarily from the full embarrassment that she felt toward him.

Ryosuke, who does not know what to do, completely confused and most especially, cannot understand a single word that Tokiko had just uttered, decided to remain silent.

Tokiko on the other hand, had finished emoting and eased up a bit she finally decided to stand up after a few moments and faced him.

What she did next stunned Ryosuke: she bowed deeply and apologized over and over again.

"I'm very sorry, again," she apologized for the nth time, still bowing deeply. "I was just… I… I… you do understand what I felt, right? My car… was just new and I really…" she stopped as she felt a hand on her right shoulder.

She lifted her head to look at him but still refused to meet his eyes.

If Ryosuke felt very flustered about this, he did a very good job hiding it with his usual expressionless face mask. "Stand up," he ordered.

She hesitated but chose to obey instead and straightened her back. She still fixed her gaze to the ground between her feet.

"You don't need to apologize," he said.

"But…" she argued.

"It does not matter now. What matters is I want you to be a part of our team."

XXXKEY TO HIS LOCKED HEARTXXX

The familiar light blue Toyota parked its way in front of the Fujiwara Tofu Shop. Its headlights went off and so with the engine. The car door opened and the same driver climbed out of it. After she locked the car door, she climbed up the short stairs that led to the shop.

"Jiji! Nii-sama! I'm back!" she shouted cheerfully as she entered the small living room of the Fujiwara's residence.

Right on cue, Takumi and Bunta emerged from the kitchen. As soon as Tokiko saw the both of them, she ran and hugged Bunta first, who in return gave her a one-handed hug. He's not too flustered or anything with her niece's display of affection because he's already used to that; ever since she was a little kid, she always tends to show her affection and care towards the people she loves and he's happy that she did not change after that incident.

"Hey, hey, take it easy," Takumi said playfully. For the rarest time, he smiled widely and seemed to be very happy, more happy than the time when Ryosuke had complimented him and was satisfied of his driving during one of the Project D's race against a professional racer who graduated in Todou Juku.

"I just missed the both of you so much!" she exclaimed as she let go of her cousin.

"I know that the two of you are just too embarrassed but I know that you miss your very sweet and very stubborn Fujiwara girl." She grinned.

Bunta let out a soft chuckle. "We're just happy that you haven't changed a single bit."

It was her turn to chuckle and replied, "It's just so good to be back. I missed the shop and this home. And mostly, the mountain passes here in Gunma, not to mention my most favorite Mount Akina."

"Let me guess," Takumi said. "You went there before you came here," he guessed.

Tokiko nodded hesitantly and frowned as she remembered what had happened earlier but recovered fast enough and brought back her sweet smile, "Of course. I really wanted to try my newest car on my favorite pass. I just really can't help myself."

If Tokiko wasn't used to the two Fujiwaras, she would have been in awe seeing their expressions just slightly changed to a shock one after what she had revealed.

"New car?" Takumi asked.

Tokiko nodded. "Yup. I just took it as I arrived here. I bought it through internet."

"That's fast," Takumi commented. "But… what about your old car? What happened to it? Do you not want to use it for driving anymore?"

That hit a very sensitive nerve within her. She shifted her gaze on the floor between her feet which shifted uncomfortably. "Well… I…" she mumbled nervously.

He elbowed Takumi quite forcefully at his side, who tried hard to muffle his yelp because of the pain. He rubbed the affected part of his side while glaring at his father.

"We would like to see it," Bunta interrupted, suddenly changing the topic, noticing that his niece is getting uncomfortable with the topic.

She stared at her uncle blankly. "Really?"

Bunta nodded. "Of course. But before that, let's have our late dinner first or it will get cold," he said as he pointed the small square Japanese-style table, filled with delicious Japanese food with his thumb.

Her expression changed. Her eyes suddenly twinkled in complete happiness and grinned, "So, you two really prepared, huh?"

The two guy Fujiwaras nodded, smiling and looked satisfied of themselves.

"Alright! I'm starving!" she said as she placed herself behind the table and sat on the cushion.

"Looks like these are very delicious. I've actually missed Japanese food."

The other two Fujiwaras, also, sat behind the table.

"Of course. We were the ones who prepared them," Bunta said with no trace of arrogance.

"Don't you eat Japanese food when you were at the Philippines?" Takumi asked.

"Sometimes but it really isn't the same if the ingredients are fresh," she admitted.

"Yeah. I agree," Takumi agreed.

"Are we going to chat all night or eat?" Bunta asked, starting to get rather impatient.

As the Fujiwaras finished their late dinner, Tokiko showed her newest Toyota car which the other two Fujiwaras approved but Takumi was still very curious and puzzled why her cousin changed her car since all he knew she loved her old car so much. Why did she change it? Where is it right now? What happened to it? All those questions morphed within his head but he fought rigidly the urge to ask since he knows that it is a very sensitive topic to his cousin and he bet he quite know the reason why. He just made a mental note that he'll just ask next time and right now just let her feel welcome since it was… what? Five years already after she had left. So, for now, he will just cherish this moment, the arrival of his cousin after all these years. He does not want to break the mood just yet.

After long hours of discussion about cars, her life in the Philippines and Takumi's current racing team, Project D, the oldest Fujiwara let the two younger Fujiwaras rest while he prepared for the tofu that he will deliver later. Since Tokiko insisted that she wanted to do the deliveries and insisted to Bunta that she will be okay after a few hours of sleep, she and Takumi were the agreed ones to deliver that day.

At Tokiko's room, she decided not to unpack her clothes yet and have a quick shower first before having a few hours of sleep. She placed her bathrobe on the fully furnished bed and sat up on it for a while. She took out a rectangular card from the front pocket of her trousers. She scanned the contents of it and sighed. She wanted to replay what had happened a while ago at Mount Akina but suddenly shook her head, trying to shake off the thought. She does not want to replay their conversation about Project D. It's just… She cannot understand. She cannot explain the mixed feelings that are currently forming within.

Bitterness. Sadness. Betrayal.

Maybe next time she can clear out her thoughts. For now, she needs a good shower and rest for the deliveries later. She sprang up from her bed and placed the card on the bed and went inside the bathroom.

Just a few minutes later, soft knocking can be heard on the only girl occupant's door.

"Tokiko?" Takumi's voice came from outside the door when no answer came.

Still no answer, Takumi opened the door a bit and poked his head through it.

"Tokiko?" Seeing no one around the room, he went in and closed the door behind him. He, then, heard water crashing the floor. It was, then, he figured his cousin was taking a bath.

He approached the bathroom's door and knocked on it three times. "Tokiko, I brought you a blanket."

"Okay, thanks!" an answer followed from the bathroom despite the noise of the turned on faucet. "Just place that on the bed!"

Takumi approached the bed and placed the blanket on the bed and was about to leave when he suddenly saw a rectangular prism flying off the bed.

He crouched and took the card. He had no intention on reading it or anything since he is not the kind of person who likes to invade someone's privacy but he accidentally saw a certain name that clearly caught his attention. His eyes widened and read the contents.

What is Ryosuke-san's calling card doing with my cousin? The question did not hold hanging through the air long because right on cue, the bathroom door opened and a bathrobe-dressed Tokiko went out. She saw Takumi crouching and had his back on her. Curious, she asked, "Onii-sama?"

Takumi straightened and turned to her, holding up the card with his index and middle finger, he questioned, "Why do you have Ryosuke-san's number?"

She audibly gasped seeing the card on Takumi's grasp and most especially seeing the seriousness of his face and voice. This rarely happens and she does not want that to happen.

Act 4 coming soon….

Thank you all for reading! See you again for the fourth act!

Well, this is my Christmas gift for my readers since its been more than a month after my last update! Hope you all appreciated this chapter and worth the wait! I do not know if I could update again before the year ends but I'll try my best.

Please review! Knowing your thoughts and feedbacks are very much appreciated; may it be praises or constructive criticisms. Your reviews and responses rekindle and inspire us, writers, to continue on writing and know what your thoughts are and what I should improve. Thank you very much!

Merry CHRISTmas everyone! May we have the true spirit of Christmas: The celebration of the Savior's birth, Christ Jesus!