“I’m not fucking joking.”
hide had no qualms about shooting Kyo in the leg as a warning to the rest of them, but all Kaoru did was raise his gun at Yoshiki.
“Neither am I.”
Blood spurted from Yoshiki’s arm and he doubled over, trying not to scream, trying to deny them the satisfaction, but Kaoru knew. He knew by the way his face contorted in pain, saw it in the way his jaw clenched and the muscles in his neck strained, by the frantic worry on his friends’ faces, and Yoshiki bit back a groan when Kaoru dragged him to his feet in front of everybody, and the muzzle of his gun dug into the entry wound, harder and harder until he couldn’t hold it in any more and Yoshiki’s cry was drowned out by the roar of approaching vehicles, amplified by their concrete surroundings, and a red and black RX-7 burst up the entry ramp, and Kaoru stared at the headlights bearing down on him a second before the brakes screeched and he and Yoshiki were thrown upon the car’s hood. The rear passenger door was flung open and through the tyre smoke Pata saw Satochi leaning over and extending a hand toward Yoshiki, yelling at him to get in.
Four more beautiful cars roared up and beside him, Pata felt Heath tense up when he recognised Sugizo’s GT-R in an instant. hide wasted no time throwing the injured Kyo into the confused crowd and jumping into the nearest car and Hizumi floored it, leaving long black skid marks on the concrete; shots were already being fired and bullets thunked into cars and ricocheted off the concrete, and Yoshiki, hurt and groaning, dragged himself up enough for Satochi to pull him into the RX-7. Tatsurou, Yukke and Sugizo kept them covered with suppressive fire while Taiji yanked Pata to his feet, and the older man snatched the spare out from the passenger seat and ducked behind the Supra’s passenger door, laying down several shots and taking out a couple of guys before climbing into the car.
“They’re getting away, get your cars!” Kaoru was hurt but he grabbed Kyo and hauled him up, ignoring his groan of pain, practically dragging him to his car. “Get in your fucking cars and go after them!”
Kyo threw him off. “Go fuck yourself, Kaoru.”
Kaoru seized a handful of his hair and leaned in very close. “Get in,” he growled.
Sugizo slammed his car door shut; Heath snatched up his gun, ducked when two shots whined past his window and answered with four shots of his own before Sugizo threw the GT-R into reverse and spun it around to follow Karyu and Zero’s cars down the ramp amid gunfire from all directions. The rest of the cars burst out onto the streets of Ibaraki, weaving in and out of the evening traffic. All around them, light from streetlights and other cars’ headlights streamed past them.
A red MX-5 drew level with Zero and he locked eyes with Kai for just a second before the other car slammed sidelong into them. With Kai ramming him from the left, Zero had nowhere to go; he was practically on the tail of the taxi in front, and to his right was oncoming traffic. A head-on collision at this speed would be crippling at best, if not fatal.
“Hold on!” Zero yelled at Pata and Taiji. He skilfully drifted the car around the first right-hand turn he saw, threading right through the cars and ignoring the blaring horns from the other drivers and the crush of metal on metal behind them.
Karyu wove his way through traffic, scarcely staying in one lane for more than a few seconds when he could help it. He looked over his shoulder when Yoshiki gave a low groan. “Hey. You okay?”
“I’m shot,” Yoshiki said through gritted teeth. “And you hit me with a fucking car.”
“Hey, we got you outta there, didn’t we?” He grinned. “We’ll get you looked at, don’t worry.”
It was easy to spot the red and black RX-7 in traffic with its distinctive red lights beneath the chassis, but damned if Karyu wasn’t going to make it hard to follow him. He glanced in his wing mirror; Sugizo was behind him, and there was someone behind him.
“Better make that car sing, Sugizo.”
Heath swore when a shot glanced off the GT-R and Sugizo swerved. Some asshole in a Skyline was shooting at them. Ahead of them, the lights were red but Karyu didn’t stop. Sugizo glanced at both sides of traffic, glanced at the car behind them; beside him, Heath said in a low voice, “Do it.”
They were both slammed back into their seats and Heath winced with a grunt with pain when Sugizo floored the accelerator, speeding through a gap in the traffic, fighting the traction control, his heart thumping at how fast and close the oncoming traffic was, and not a split second later was a frighteningly loud crash. The Skyline had been hit. Sugizo’s hands felt sweaty but he kept himself under control and kept driving.
“Shit shit shit.” Tsukasa kept saying it over and over again. “Shit, fucking shit.”
Turning down this street was a mistake; up ahead was a long line of brake lights glowing bright red, almost dazzling. The traffic was waiting for the lights to turn green but Tsukasa could not afford to slow down or stop, not with whoever it was behind him.
Yukke licked his lips nervously. “Tsukasa.”
“Shut up and let him drive,” Tatsurou said in a low voice.
Tsukasa ignored them and kept driving, glancing left and right, front and back, and in the back, Toshi was thrown up against Yukke when Tsukasa pulled over into the oncoming lane at the very last second, clipping the tail of the car in front. An approaching car barely managed to swerve out of his way and Yukke stared at the other driver’s terrified face in the split second that the cars scraped against each other in a shower of orange sparks and screeching metal.
“Are you insane?” Yukke yelled. “You’re gonna fucking kill us!”
Toshi was holding onto the back of the driver’s seat with a white-knuckled grip. Tsukasa said nothing but his face was a mask of dogged determination, dodging in and out between oncoming cars until an opportunity presented itself and he squeezed through a gap in the next intersection. The car skidded dangerously and he fought to regain control, almost swerving into a fire hydrant when he tried to avoid hitting another car, but they had lost the guy who was chasing them for now.
“You’re gonna fucking kill us,” Yukke repeated. He had broken out in a cold sweat.
Tsukasa just kept driving.
Kyo ground his teeth. Every gear change was absolute agony on his leg but did his best to ignore the pain. He’d stripped off his overshirt and tied it on tight as a makeshift bandage but he couldn’t imagine it was doing much to help. In front of him was that asshole Miya, leaning out of the window of a white car, shooting at him. Kyo kept himself low over the wheel and when Miya stopped to reload, he answered with several shots of his own; most missed, one hit the tail. There was a sharp metallic clang and something bounced off the hood of his car; now that fucking pink-haired freak was shooting at him. If he could get Miya and hide in one go, that would be the icing on the fucking cake. They wouldn’t get away this time and then Kaoru would have nothing to say. Kyo drove with one hand, groping around blindly for a fresh magazine, loaded it up and fired off shot after shot at the car in front of him. He hit the taillight, the rear, two shots pierced the glass and another shot made the pink-haired guy dive back inside the car, and Kyo saw his opening. Hizumi took a sharp left and Kyo floored it, smashing into the S2000’s rear and it swung around wildly as the driver tried to regain control and careening sidelong into a lamppost but Kyo was so preoccupied with the other car that he didn’t see the bright headlights until the truck hit him and his smaller, lighter car fairly bounced off the truck’s massive grille and spun off to the side.
In the back of the ruined S2000, Miya and hide stared at each other, hyperventilating, unable to grasp what had happened.
“What the fuck are you all right?”
“Fuck. I think so. Hizumi!”
“Hizumi!” Miya unbuckled his seatbelt, leaned forward in his seat and shook the driver’s shoulder but Hizumi’s head lolled sickly to one side. His window was shattered where it made contact with whatever they had hit and there was blood all down one side of his face. “Fuck, Hizumi!”
hide scrambled to unbuckle his own seatbelt. “Fuck, is he—”
Miya kept screaming his name and shook him harder.
“Hey! Hey, stop Miya!” hide shouted.
“Don’t touch him!”
“We have to get him out, we have to help him—”
hide grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and dragged him out of the car, even as Miya struggled against him. “We don’t know how badly hurt he is! We could kill him if we move him.”
“I’m not fucking leaving him here!”
hide looked around and ran up to a nearby cop. “Hey! You! Call an ambulance!”
“I already have,” she said grimly. “They’ll be here in seven minutes.”
hide nodded gratefully and mouthed a thank you to her.
“Miya, we have to go,” he urged.
A familiar voice yelled, “What happened?” and a black and white car skidded up to them, and hide shoved Miya into the back of the Supra with Pata.
“Where’s Hizumi, is he okay?” Zero shouted.
“Kyo hit his car, we have to go!”
hide grabbed his shoulder. “An ambulance is coming but we have to go now, Zero!”
For a long time, the only thing that Kyo could hear was the blood pounding in his ears, and his heart beat so hard that he could only manage to take in rapid, shallow breaths. He was running on so much adrenaline that his leg didn’t even hurt anymore. The chase was lost. Somewhere in the distance he could hear a knocking sound and a faraway voice shouting at him, but he couldn’t concentrate on the voice and the words failed to register. He just sat there staring straight ahead at the car’s crumpled hood through the silver, spidery cracks in the shattered windscreen. The chase was lost. He had failed.
“Fuck!” Ruki slammed on the brakes at the sight of the wreckage and flung open his car door. “Kyo! What happened!”
A man was tugging at the driver’s side door. “I don’t know if he can hear me!”
Ruki leaned over to look inside the car. Kyo was just sitting there. Aside from a cut on his forehead, he seemed all right. Ruki shouted his name but Kyo didn’t respond or even appear to have heard. Ruki shoved the man aside and tried the door himself but it was stuck.
“Kyo!” he yelled again, banging on the car.
Kyo blinked once and turned in his direction, staring at him hollowly, looking but not really seeing. Ruki tugged at the door again and this seemed to wake Kyo up. He grabbed the interior door handle and pushed hard, using his shoulder like a ram. It took a few tries but the door finally fell open and he staggered out into Ruki’s arms.
“Are you all right?” the man asked. “Do you need an ambulance?”
“They got away.”
“They got away,” Kyo repeated. He was staring into empty space.
“We should go,” Ruki said. “They’re bound to go back to Tokyo. We should go back and tell Kaoru, we’ll get more people and—”
Kyo’s head snapped around. “What?”
Ruki floundered. “I… I said we should tell Kaoru and—”
Before he could finish, Kyo had pushed past them and staggered over to Ruki’s car. The door was open and the engine was still running, and Ruki watched, open-mouthed as their second in charge got in and drove off without another word.
“I think we lost them.” Sugizo was checking all the mirrors, looking around for any cars that might be coming for them, but it looked okay now.
“Yeah,” Heath said quietly.
“Can you squeeze out of your cuffs?”
“No. They’re too tight. Sugizo…” Heath grimaced. “I need to get to a hospital.”
“What’s wrong, are you okay?”
This was answered with a soft groan and Sugizo glanced over at him. Heath had squeezed his eyes shut, biting his lip, his brow deeply furrowed and his shoulders were tense and hunched forward. Sugizo looked down; the intermittent orange glint of the street lights overhead catching on the shiny steel handcuffs was distracting and almost hypnotic, and it took a good few seconds for him to realise that, pressed against his side, Heath’s hands were covered in blood.