Jodie’s not sure what she expected out of a midnight text from Akai Shuuichi that read ‘meet downstairs in 5’. An invitation to a gunfight, maybe, or some urgent break in the case they’ve been working for so long. She’s been psyching herself up for some grueling and possibly life threatening work when she hears the growl of a V8 engine driving up the street in front of her apartment.
A cherry red Ford Mustang with a racing stripe rolls to a stop right in front of Jodie, Akai Shuuichi behind the wheel.
Jodie stares, taking the thing in. The eye-searing red of the paint, shiny like it’s never even met a speck of dust. The little chrome hood ornament, a gleaming silver racing horse. The two white stripes running parallel down the body of the car. Akai Shuuichi stepping out of the car, looking entirely too James Dean in black and leather with a muscle car behind him.
Her first thought is Akai Shuuichi has bought her a new car, which is absurd.
“Shuu,” Jodie says, hands on her hips. “What the hell is that thing?”
“My new car,” he says, smirking, so pleased with himself she wants to shake him.
And Jodie wants to laugh because clearly he’s fucking with her. “You have a car,” she says, feeling strangely like the reasonable one in this partnership. “One that’s a lot less flashy, which considering you are undercover-- ”
“With traction and steering so shit I need to use the handbrake if I want any maneuverability,” Shuuichi interrupts, and in his deep lilt this rationale almost, almost sounds perfectly reasonable.
Except there’s buying a car for its driving capabilities and then there’s that monstrosity idling on the curb, engine growling in a low rumble, looking like a predator waiting to pounce.
“So the racing stripe is to… make it go faster?” Jodie raises her eyebrow at the detail, then at Shuuichi. He has the grace to look a little bit abashed, which bring a smile to her lips. “You’re the worst at being undercover,” she says, fond.
“I’ve got no idea what you mean.”
“Hmmm, let me think,” Jodie says, exaggeratedly tapping her forefinger on her cheek and counting off. “Getting in a gunfight with the PSB, involving yourself in every murder case your neighbor gets involved in, getting in another gunfight with an ex-military sniper, sending secret coded messages to your coworkers-- not that those weren’t appreciated--”
Jodie could go on, but Shuuichi’s rolling his eyes at her. “Tch, alright, those were risks, but they were necessary.” He sighs. “Anyways, I’m being careful with this one. I know that Okiya Subaru can’t afford a new car, not when I’ve got a perfectly good car already.”
Jodie nods, slowly, because this is nothing that she hasn’t already noticed. He might be able to pass it off as belonging to the Kudo family (the ex-starlet and the novelist earn enough to afford new and fancy cars if they want them) but honestly the risk seems to high.
“I was hoping to keep it here. That’s why I drove it over.”
“I’m sorry-- here?” Jodie asks, nonplussed.
“You’re paying for a parking spot that’s sitting empty right now,” Shuuichi says reasonably.
“Yes, because Vermouth stole my-- wait, Shuu, are you suggesting I pass it off as my new car?”
“Why not? It’s a classic American roadster.”
“Shuu, you’ve lived in America, you know that we don’t all drive around in muscle cars with six guns in our belts.” Shuuichi’s gaze dips ironically to where Jodie’s gun belt is currently concealed under her jacket. She scowls. “ So not the point. The last car I had was Puegeot and I bought it used .”
“And then Vermouth stole it.”
“Yes, and then that bitch stole it.”
“You need a good way to get around, Jodie--”
“James lets me borrow his car whenever I need to.”
Shuuichi scowls now. “A good way that doesn’t rely on James’ car being available. You can use this one when I’m not using it, and when I am I’ll leave my car with you.”
Jodie shakes her head. It’s not like she couldn’t use a car, although she doesn’t know that she’d have chosen this one. “Well, if you insist on keeping it--”
“Then I suppose you can leave it here, if you like.”
He grins, clearly pleased, and then his stance shifts and he’s almost-- well, she doesn’t want to say nervous because she’s never known Akai Shuuichi to be nervous in his life, but he runs his hand through his hair and there’s an anxiousness to him that she’s rarely seen. “So, what do you think of it?”
Jodie’s earlier suspicion creeps back up over her, supplanting her exasperation with unexpected fondness. He did buy the damn car for her, probably because he thought she needed one, and in order to play it off decided that it was for him. Exasperating man.
She grins, delighted. “I love it,” she declares, taking him aback. “Thank you. Although Shuu-- racing stripes, really ?”
“What’s wrong with racing stripes?”
Jodie rolls her eyes, still smiling. What a dork.
“Give me the keys, I’ll go park this thing,” Jodie says. “And why don’t you come upstairs and put on a proper disguise before you head back out, considering you’re still pretending to be dead.”
“Fine, fine,” Shuuichi grumbles. He tosses Jodie the keys and she catches them, sliding smoothly into the front seat. The Mustang rumbles under her hands, surges forward when she steps on the gas, all power and hunger. She never got into stunt driving like some of the other agents but in this thing, she can maybe see some of the appeal.