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Bang Dream! Shifting Gears

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The roar of an engine was heard starting, the crowd was screaming, being as loud as they possibly could at the race track. Dozens upon dozens of cars were there. However, they were all inferior compared to one. A white 2018 Ford Mustang GT. The driver had silver lilac hair, golden eyes, and looked no older than about 18 or 19. The driver stepped out of the car, dawning a silver tracksuit with several sponsorship logos on various parts of the suit, and was immediately swarmed by paparazzi. "Miss Minato! Another stunning victory here at the professional circuit! Do you have anything to say?" The reporter stuck the microphone in the young woman's face. Said woman stared at the microphone, then at the camera. "My victory wasn't something all that shocking. I've been making modifications to my Mustang so that it's ready for professional races like this. Constantly going around the track can be stressful on any car. I've just come well prepared." The reporter takes the microphone back to ask another question. "Any words to inspire drivers that wish to be like you?" Said girl pondered for a moment, before leaning into the microphone again. "If you wish to be as good as me, then you must drive something fast. You must put thousands of hours of dedication into your car, your driving skills, and an incredible amount of racing knowledge in general. If you wish to be as good as me, Yukina Minato, then be as good as Roselia... if not, then I'm afraid no one will make it to this level of competition."

 

"Wow, Yukina Minato really is something amazing..." A white-haired girl stared at the TV, with big baby blue eyes, staring at the woman through the television screen in awe.

"Aww, Mashiro's got a crush on Yukina Minato!!" A blond-haired girl with dark yellow eyes says with a giggle.

"Be quiet Touko! Mashiro just wants to be like Yukina!" A girl with light pink eyes and matching pink hair said, giving Mashiro a smile.

 

"We'd all like to be like Yukina Nanami... but none of us can drive..." A girl with dark purple hair and orange eyes said with a sigh.

 

"Have you forgotten I drove you all here?" Everyone looked to the source of the dull-sounding voice. The dull voice belonged to a girl, no older than 16, with dark brown hair and reddish-brown eyes. Her bangs swept to the left side of her face as she scanned the television with her arms crossed. "You made me drive to Tsukushi's house... to watch a bunch of cars go around in a circle for the past half hour?" The girls tensed up at the sound of the dull voice, no one wanting to answer her.

"W-Well...Rui... that's what a professional race is. But it's so much more than that! Can you imagine what it's like for the drivers? Only having seconds to react to situations, trying to pull ahead of each other?!"

"I don't understand because I'm not a professional driver. Nor do I wish to understand." Rui stood up, putting her heels on. She grabbed her car keys off the nearby coffee table and held them firmly in her hand. "Does anyone need a ride? Or are you all fine here?" Rui asked, looking at the rest of the group. The rest of the group didn't answer, which gave Rui the idea of leaving. "I'll see you all tomorrow then." Rui said nothing more, stepping out of the house and looking at her car. A blue 1968 Chevrolet Camaro. The dust on the tires, the small shine of blue that came when the sun hit it. It did nothing for the girl driving it. It didn't even appeal to her in the slightest. Rui simply stepped in, put the key in the ignition, and drove off.

'Honestly... what do they see in a bunch of cars going around and around in a circle? I understand that it's so much more than that if you're a professional like Yukina. But that's all I can understand. I have no experience to even begin comprehending that sort of pressure. So why were the rest of Morfonica trying to explain it to me? Like I'd actually understand it...'

The Camaro would make a right-hand turn, passing up a yellow 1996 Nissan 300 ZX going the other way.

The driver of the Nissan looked over, noticing the old Camaro going the other way. She was wearing a leather jacket with a red t-shirt, slightly ripped jeans, and converse sneakers. The girl had short yellow hair, with golden yellow eyes that could be easily mistaken for a delinquent's or a rabid dog... if looked at in a certain way. The yellow-haired girl smirked to herself, turning on the radio.

"WELCOME TO THE TSURUMAKI RACING NETWORK!!" The girl in the driver's seat recoiled back from the volume of the energetic radio host, deciding to turn the volume of her radio down so she doesn't lose her hearing.

 

"Kokoro... you really shouldn't be doing that every time. You're gonna cause someone to crash one day." A woman with long black hair and pale grey eyes said, wearing a suit, dress pants, and dress shoes.

 

"Sorry Misaki! And sorry to all the drivers listening to this at full volume. Anyway, we've got some racing news for you all!"

Misaki nods. "As of today, it's another professional racing circuit victory for the leader of Roselia, and number one driver in Osaka, Yukina Minato. This victory-"

The girl growled, turning the radio off. She gripped the steering wheel tighter as she turned into a parking lot. "You'll all be talking about Raise A Suilen one day... not that piece of shit team Roselia..." the blond woman growled again in frustration, opening the car door and slamming it shut. She then walked into an extremely tall building, stepping inside after the facial recognition system recognized her.

"Oi. Chu2 I'm back." The blond woman said, facing the back of a long black chair. Said chair turned around, revealing a woman with long salmon-colored hair and sharp blue eyes. She wore a suit, skirt, knee-high black socks, and black shoes. "Ah. Back already Masking?" Chu2 said, twirling a small piece of her hair. "Anything new on Roselia?"

"No. I got jack shit..." Masking looked around as if looking for somebody. "Uh... where the hell are Lock and Layer?"

"Lock has school still, and Layer's off at one of our practice tracks."

Masking nodded, contemplating whether or not to tell the short woman who founded RAS about the Camaro she had passed.

"I did find somethin kinda interesting...passed an old 68 Camaro on the way back here."

Chu2 let out a guffaw of laughter. "A 68 Camaro? Do you call that interesting?! That's crazy. A Camaro is about as interesting as Afterglow. Not worth our time."

Masking shrugged her shoulders. "I dunno. Never seen the car around often. Let alone the driver. Could be interesting to race the damn thing. Y'know? For a practice race."

Chu2 put her hand on her cheek, beginning to ponder Masking's suggestion before nodding. "You're still rough around the edges Masking. But a practice race will do you some good. I want you to find this 68 Camaro, the driver, and challenge her to a race. Understood?"

Masking nodded.

 

Elsewhere...

 

A phone lit up, vibrating constantly. The caller id showing "MASKING" as the call was answered by a woman.

"Yes?"

"Oi Lay! Got me a practice race. Gonna try and find a 68 Camaro to challenge. Let me know if ya find somethin!"

"Yes, sure thing." The woman hung up. She had long dark brown hair that went down to her back, lightning blue eyes, a white t-shirt, slightly torn jeans, and black boots. She stared at her red 2007 Shelby GT500 before looking up at the sunset.

"A 68 Camaro huh?"

Chapter Text

Rui slowly turned into her house's driveway, noticing the lack of a second car in the driveway. 'Seems mom isn't home again.' Rui was used to living on her own. Not because her mother had been neglecting her or anything like that, but instead because of the fact that her mother was an extremely busy person. Always being called in for photoshoots, writing songs, performing live shows, and giving interviews were just a few of the things that Rui's mother had been doing since she was 19. Rui's mother's name was Akira. Akira Yashio. Known for being a pretty big street racer fifteen years ago. She was called the "Shooting Star Of Osaka".

Turning the key out of the ignition, Rui stepped out of her Camaro, closed the door, and unlocked the front door. She stepped inside, took her heels off, and placed her bag on a nearby granite counter. She stretched slightly, before hearing another car's engine. She silently peered out the window, noticing a black 2018 C7 Stingray pulling into the driveway. A woman stepped out, having black hair that was slightly spiked, a black t-shirt, a leather jacket, a neck choker, white dress pants, and black boots. The woman closed the door, looking at Rui through the window with her crystal blue eyes. She gave a soft smile, before entering the house. "Hey kiddo." Akira said with a smile, approaching the kitchen area where Rui was. Rui blinked, slightly taken aback. "Mom? I thought you'd be gone longer..." Rui said in her usual deadpanned tone. Akira chuckled. "They let me go early since we were done so soon. How was school?" Rui shrugged. "It was fine I guess. Nothing eventful happened." Akira nodded in understanding.

 

Meanwhile...

 

 

"AHHH GOD DAMMIT! WHY THE FUCK IS IT SO HARD TO FIND A DAMN CAMARO?!" Masuki screamed to herself inside her Nissan. "It's not like I'm looking for a damn ghost or somethin! The fucking car is just old, it couldn't have disappeared! So why the hell is it so hard?!" Masuki groaned, having spent the last four hours looking for the old blue Camaro she spotted yesterday, but no luck. Until finally... she spots it. Parked in the driveway of a small house, its old blue exterior, the tiny bits of dust on the tires, there's no mistake. That was the Camaro that Masking had been looking for!

"Fucking finally!!" Masking parked next to the mailbox, just outside the driveway. Masuki stepped out of her Nissan, shutting the door and jogging up to the front door of the house. She decided to wear a dark yellow short sleeve shirt, with black shorts, and white sneakers. She rang the doorbell, and about three seconds later the door had opened. Masuki's eyes widened, her eyes suddenly sparkling with delight. Like a child on Christmas morning. "The Shooting Star Of Osaka!!" Masuki's eyes sparkled more, bowing to the older woman. "I'm a huge fan of yours, ma'am!! That race against Ayasa was so damn amazin!! It was-"

Akira let out a chuckle, causing Masuki to blush out of embarrassment. "I assume you didn't come here just to gush over me?" Akira's crystal blue eyes shined in the sun, making Masuki feel even more nervous. Masuki cleared her throat, before attempting to speak.

"Ah...yes ma'am. Do you know who drives the 68 Camaro in your driveway? I was kinda hoping to challenge them to a race... if that's okay by you ma'am!!"

Akira let out another soft chuckle. "Please, no formalities. You can call me Akira." Akira smiled at the young girl. "As far as the Camaro is concerned, you don't need my permission to challenge her to a race. You can come on in and ask her yourself." Akira stepped to the side, allowing Masuki to very slowly walk inside the house.

Masuki looked around the house, noticing a lack of...well...a lot of things. The living room had a couch and TV, the kitchen had the table along with a fridge and various cabinets for pots and pans and other cooking materials, but that was it. Upstairs, there were only two bedrooms and a bathroom.

Masuki then laid eyes on a girl who sat at the kitchen table, immersed in her school work.

"Oi! You there! I got a question for ya!"

The girl looked up at the sound of the voice, looking at the blond-haired girl with an expressionless look on her face. The blond-haired girl stepped forward, leaning down to look at the girl in the eyes.

"You the driver of that 68 Camaro outside?"

Rui looked up at the blond-haired girl. If the girl was trying to intimidate her with that scowl on her face she had another thing coming.

'Trying to intimidate me with that scowl. Pathetic.'

"Yes. I'm the driver of the Camaro outside. Do you need something?" Rui responded in a blunt albeit polite manner.

"Hell yeah, I want something from ya! I wanna race!" Masuki said, growing a smirk on her face. Rui, however, remained indifferent.

"You're wasting your time. I don't race. If you want to race, go find somebody that actually likes racing."

Masuki clenched her fist, growling slightly. "The hell do ya mean you don't like racing? How the hell can ya not like it when it's the biggest thing going on? That's all anyone talks about! Trying to get faster, trying to pass someone on all different kinds of courses! It's-"

"That sounds like a complete waste of my time. It sounds accurate if you're talking about someone that actually likes racing. But I'm not that kind of girl. I see no point or ecstasy in trying to get in front of somebody on the road. Let's say I get in front of somebody on the road. Then what? I win the so-called 'race'? It sounds completely dull."

 

Masuki's eyes widened in shock, before growling and slamming her hand on the kitchen table. "The FUCK are ya saying?! How can you say that kind of bullshit?! Ya haven't even BEEN in a damn street race! So how the hell can ya say you hate it?!"

Rui stood up. "I have nothing more to say to you on this matter. This discussion is over." Rui went upstairs to her room, closing the door.

Masuki clenched her teeth, storming out of the house. She opened the door to her Nissan and looked at the Camaro.

"Excuse me."

Masuki looked up, noticing Akira leaning against the C7 Stingray.

"I don't believe I got your name."

Masuki blushed slightly. "It's Masuki. Masuki Satou."

Akira chuckled. "Don't take what Rui said too personally Masuki. She just doesn't understand it. That's all. Also, her personality is very dry. She's blunt, so I'm sorry if she said something that offended you."

Masuki sighed. "It's fine. I just don't understand how she can stand there and NOT be involved in the racing scene. The damn scene is so big and everyone seems to enjoy it. All... except her."

Akira sighed and gave a soft smile. "If Rui knew how it feels to actually race... she may change her mind."

Masuki's eyes lit up. "Then I guess I'll have to keep challenging her! If I pester her enough, she might finally agree to it."

Akira let out a small laugh. "Rui has a couple of friends that live pretty close to us. They might have seen you or your car. If that's the case, I think it's only a matter of time before her friends bombard her with questions at school tomorrow."

Masuki smirked. "Great. Guess I'll see ya around Shooting Star!!" Masuki bows, gets in her car, and drives off. Akira goes into the house and gently closes the front door. Unaware that a pair of baby blue eyes was watching the encounter from her bedroom window.

"M-M-Masking was at Rui's house?! For what?" Mashiro pondered to herself before gasping slightly. "A race?!?"

Chapter Text

Masuki's Nissan 300ZX pulled into the parking lot of Chu2's private studio, noticing a silver Silvia S15 and 2007 Shelby GT500 as she turned off the ignition. Masuki stepped out of the car and growled in frustration, slamming the door to her Nissan shut. "How... the FUCK... do you have a mother like that and STILL can't get into racing?!"

"What are you so pissed about Masking?"

Masuki tensed up, slowly turning her head to lock eyes with a pair of lightning blue eyes.

"H...hey...Layer..." Masuki didn't respond with her usual rough tone, instead, she sounded more nervous...like a child talking to their mother when the child knows they've done something wrong.

"I step outside for one minute and I hear you screaming up a storm. Something's clearly got you riled up. So what is it?" Layer tilted her head to the side, waiting for Masuki to respond.

Masuki growled slightly. "It's that fucking Camaro! I managed to find the damn car after hours of searching. Went inside, found out the mother is the fucking SHOOTING STAR OF OSAKA! But it's like she doesn't give a shit! Can you imagine being so stupid?! Your mom is a famous street racer, and you CAN'T get into racing? I mean, COME ON!!" Masuki growled out of frustration, kicking the dirt beneath her sneakers. "I just don't understand!"

Layer sighed softly, looking at Masuki. "Perhaps it's something she doesn't wish to understand. Just because the mother was good at racing doesn't mean the daughter wants to race. Wait... you said her mother was the Shooting Star of Osaka? As in, Akira?"

Masuki nodded vigorously. "Yeah! I met her when I found the Camaro! Her kid Rui is a real pain in the neck. It's like she has the biggest stick shoved up her ass or somethin! She was saying shit like how "racing would be a complete waste of my time" and "it's completely dull". UGH! You have no idea how much it pisses me off!" Masuki grabbed at her hair in frustration. Layer simply nodded, letting Masuki get all of her frustration out through venting.

"Masking... maybe you should go for a drive. Clear your head for a while."

Masuki looked up at the taller girl and then nodded. "Yeah... sounds like a good idea. Thanks Lay." Masuki smiled at Layer, before opening the door to her Nissan again. She sighed, opening up her phone. Scrolling through several playlists before finding one labeled "Alternative Rock" and hitting the shuffle button. "And The Hero Will Drown" by Story Of The Year starts playing.

"Hell yeah!! I love this one!" Masuki peeled out of the parking lot, slamming her foot down on the gas pedal. The tires started spinning, leaving behind a big cloud of smoke as the Nissan peeled out onto the road in search of one of Chu2's practice tracks. Layer simply coughed a little, having been left in the smoke cloud before returning back inside the building.

"Looks like Masking found the Camaro. Rui turned her down though." Layer stated upon entering the private studio.

"Rui? The name of the driver I assume. Why? Why would she turn Masking down? Doesn't she know who we are?!" Chu2 screeched out of frustration.

"According to Masking, the girl doesn't even like racing." Layer said crossing her arms.

"WHAT?! Is she an idiot or something?!" Chu2 continued screeching as Layer simply watched, unfazed by the shorter girl's screeching fits.

"There's something else you should know Chu2." Layer said, looking at Chu2. "Her mother is the Shooting Star of Osaka."

"WHAT?!?" Chu2 screeched louder. Layer simply stared at the shorter girl. "Her mom is a famous street racer, and she HATES racing?! Now we HAVE to get her to race!!"

The door opened, revealing a 17-year-old girl. She had blue hair that was wrapped in braids to one side, a school uniform, knee-high black socks, and dark brown shoes. Her emerald green eyes looked around, she smiled as she saw the other two girls. "Layer! Chu2!!" She called out to both of them. Said girls turned around, Layer giving a tiny smile while Chu2 remained indifferent.

"Hey, Rokka. Classes all done for the day?" Layer asked with a smile.

"Y-yes! I heard about Masuki... is she really trying to challenge a 68 Camaro to a race? Is that really okay?" Rokka asked, shifting her body from side to side. Still slightly nervous when speaking to the other girls.

"Of course it's okay! The problem is that the bitch doesn't want to race!" Chu2 growled in frustration. "I don't know what we can do to get her to race... there must be something that we can do!! Anything!" Chu2 screamed, pounding her fist on a nearby wooden table.

"Chu2... is a race with a 68 Camaro really that important?" Rokka asked hesitantly.

"Of course! At first, it was just to give Masking a practice race before we challenge Roselia. But after finding out her mother is the Shooting Star of Osaka, we HAVE to get her to race! I want to see if she's as good as her mother!" Chu2 said, looking at Rokka with a fiery determination in her bright blue eyes.

Rokka tilted her head to the side. "The... Shooting Star...of Osaka? Is she really that big of a deal?"

Layer chuckled. "Does seven consecutive professional championship victories not seem like a big deal?"

Rokka's eyes went wide in shock. "EHHHHH?! S- Seven? In a row?!?"

Chu2 growled. "I just don't get it. What's she playing at? And... why? If her mother is so good... what's wrong with her daughter? Driving is in her blood for god's sake!!"

The next morning...

An alarm clock went off, blue numbers flashing the time 5 AM appeared as an increasingly annoying beeping sound was heard. "Ugh... for fuck's sake I'm up..." Rui pressed the "off" button on her alarm clock and sat up. She rubbed at her eyes for a moment then stood up, and stretched. Afterward, she got dressed in her usual Tsukinomori school uniform, adjusted her hair, and went downstairs.

"Morning kiddo." Akira smiled, already setting a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon down for Rui. "I assume you're heading in early for some student council work?"

Rui nods. Akira smiles. "Don't stress yourself too hard Rui."

"I won't. Don't worry mom."

Akira smiles, shaking her head. "Is there any reason you declined that girl's challenge yesterday? She seemed pretty fixated on getting you to race her. Full of passion and love for racing."

Rui said nothing, mouth full of scrambled eggs. She swallowed the egg, then looked at her mother. "The passion she has for it doesn't make a difference. I don't like racing mom. I don't see a point in trying to get in front of somebody on the road. I have better things to do with my time than trying to get in front of some other person."

Akira chuckled. "You can't know for sure unless you've tried sweetie. All I'm saying is to think about it a little bit. Try it out once. If you hate it afterward, you don't have to race again. Okay?"

Rui silently nodded, putting her dish and silverware in the sink. "I'm heading out." Rui said, slinging her bag over her shoulder, holding it by the handle with one hand as she exited the front door with keys in her other hand. She unlocked the door to the Camaro, put her bag in the passenger's seat, then peered in the backseat. She noticed a black violin case. Rui had always wondered why her mother was never angry with her after she quit playing the violin. Rui didn't win any competitions due to a pianist always defeating her, she practiced till she almost dropped to the floor on occasion but it never produced any results. 'Mom...why are you never angry with me? I quit playing violin because it never produced results... but all you did was ask if I was sure I wanted to quit... after I said yes you never stopped me. Never questioned it. What if the same thing happens here? What if I do accept this race, win it or lose it, and still hate racing? Will you... truly be okay with it?' Rui shook her head, put the key in the ignition, and pulled out of the driveway, heading off toward Tsukinomori.

Meanwhile...

"Wake Up" by Story Of The Year was playing on the radio of the Nissan 300ZX as Masuki's boot was firmly pressed down on the gas pedal. The needle on the speedometer pressing about 120 MPH. The roar of Masuki's engine could be heard as the car started drifting through a hairpin turn.

'Just you wait you fucking Camaro. I'll get you to race. When I finally do, you're gonna be feeling a hell of a lot of different things. Hopefully, I'll piss you the fuck off after kicking your ass.' Masuki growled to herself, stopping the car. She turned the key out of the ignition and stepped out onto the track. Masuki took a look around before scoffing. "Been out here for a couple of hours and still not fast enough..." Masuki hit the roof of her car. "Damn it!!"

A couple of hours had passed and students were filing in at Tsukinomori Girls Academy. Four of which being the other members of Morfonica. They all were headed to the student council room to meet Rui.

"EHHHH?! You're saying Masking...THE Masking was at Rui's house yesterday?!" Touko exclaimed, trying to wrap her head around the fact.

Mashiro nodded. "Y-yes. I... feel like it was for a race."

"A race?!" Nanami's eyes lit up. "Against Rui?! This could be our chance! To finally show Rui how amazing racing can be!!"

"I don't know... who's to say Rui's even going to accept the challenge in the first place? Even if she does...who's to say she'll understand anything?" Tsukushi pondered out loud to the rest of the group. The rest of Morfonica sighed, before reaching and entering the student council's office.

"Hm?" Rui peered behind her shoulder. "Morfonica. What do you guys need?"

"Is it true Rui? Did Masking of Raise A Suilen come and challenge you to a race last night?!" Touko exclaimed, trying to hold her excitement in.

Rui blinked. "She has blond hair, looks like a delinquent correct?"

"W-well...y-yeah..." Mashiro said, starting to fiddle with her hair nervously.

"Then yes. I was challenged to a race last night. I have no intention of answering the challenge though." Rui responded in her usual deadpanned way.

"EHHH?! Why not?! Do you know how huge this is?!?" Nanami exclaimed. "Raise A Suilen is the second-best team in Osaka!! You just got challenged by their second-best driver and you said no?!"

"Yes. I fail to see why this is important. I'm not a racer. You all seem to have a hard time remembering that." Rui said, looking at Morfonica with her reddish-brown eyes. Mashiro looked away shyly. "R-Rui...we w...were hoping that... maybe we could... help work on your car? I-i know the rest of us can't drive-"

"Why can't you drive exactly?" Rui tilted her head to the side. "Why can't any of you drive? You're all my age, you should all be able to drive."

Mashiro looked away. "Well... I... um... get scared behind the wheel... I'm not ready..."

Touko awkwardly scratched the back of her neck. "I... crashed my parents' car when I tried driving it..."

Nanami sighed. "I also... almost crashed once..."

Tsukushi shuddered. "I've tried. But, I can't get past anybody from school... let alone anyone from the top racing teams of Osaka."

Rui blinked again. "Who... exactly are the racing teams in Osaka?"

"Ehhhhhh?!? You seriously don't know?" Touko gasped in shock. "It's Roselia, then Raise A Suilen, then Pastel Palettes, then Afterglow, then Poppin Party, and finally Hello Happy World. They're ranked in that order. There's even a top ten list of drivers in Osaka!" Touko smiled, pulling out her phone, and showing Rui a list ranking.

"In tenth place is Hina Hikawa, ninth is Chisato Shirasagi, eighth is Rokka Asahi, seventh is Masuki Satou, sixth is Lisa Imai, fifth is Rinko Shirokane, fourth is Ako Udagawa, third is Rei Wakana, in second place we have Sayo Hikawa, and in first place have Yukina Minato!" Touko explained to Rui. "The ranking is depended on how often they race, as well as their win/loss record. Long story short, win enough races and you might get picked to represent Japan at the professional league! Of course, you have to defeat the other possible representative." Touko began to ramble as Rui stared blankly.

"So, it's a matter of winning enough, then defeating the other potential candidate in a race. Then you'll be picked to represent Japan at the professional league?" Rui summarized. Mashiro nods shyly.

"Y-yeah... that's basically it..." Mashiro looked away nervously. She still wasn't comfortable with talking to Rui. Rui just had this...aura around her. Something that absolutely terrified Mashiro. Shortly after, Rui picked her bag up.

"I'll be going." Rui fished her keys out of her pocket and proceeded to start walking toward the school gate.

"W-wait Rui!!" Mashiro started to run after the dark brown-haired girl.

Rui turned around, eyeing the girl with baby blue eyes.

"C-can I... um... take a look at your engine?" Mashiro stuttered, starting to shift her weight from foot to foot.

Rui blinked, taken aback by the request slightly before nodding. "I don't suppose why not. If you want to be a mechanic you need to be accustomed to different kinds of engines." Rui clicked a button on her car keys as the hood of the car popped slightly, signaling that it was unlocked. Mashiro opened up the hood completely and gasped in amazement.

"You've got a V8 engine in here Rui! 396 cubic inches, six and a half liters... wow. I bet the horsepower is about 300, maybe even more than that!"

Rui blinked, visible confusion was seen on her face. Horsepower? V8? What did that sort of stuff mean?

Mashiro looked over at Rui, starting to blush out of embarrassment. She really did get a little excited, but Rui didn't understand. "Horsepower is how much power your engine can produce. It's usually measured by how fast you can move something in a certain amount of time. People usually use something that's about 550 pounds. People see how fast they can move that. They need to move it about one foot in one second... it's not always easy."

Rui nodded, beginning to slightly understand. "You said my engine was a V8 engine... what does that mean exactly?"

Mashiro pointed out the cylinders. "You see these cylinders right?" Rui nods as Mashiro smiles, continuing. "There are four cylinders on each side. They all share the same crankshaft. It's called a V8 engine because there are eight cylinders and it's shaped like a v." Mashiro smiles more.

Rui nods again, turning to Mashiro. "If you were confident with other things as much as you're confident with engines, you'd be able to fit right in with this school."

Mashiro blushed, not used to hearing any sort of compliment from the brown-haired girl. "R-really?"

Rui nods, putting her bag in the passenger's seat, before closing the hood to her car. "I'll see you tomorrow Mashiro." Rui opened up the driver's side door, about to step inside.

"W-wait Rui!!" Mashiro grabbed the door before Rui could step inside the car completely.

"Hm? Did you need something else?" Rui looked up at Mashiro.

"I know you're not an r-racer... but... will you please at least consider answering Masking's challenge? I...know you don't understand what the big deal is about racing but... maybe if you took part in one you'd understand! So...please... at least think about it?"

Rui blinked again, then sighed. "Fine. I'll think about it. I won't promise anything though." Mashiro's baby blue eyes lit up, a rare sight that deserved to be more common in Rui's opinion. "R-really?! You'll really think about it?"

Rui nods, feeling Mashiro hug her tightly.

"Thank you thank you!!"

Rui blinked, recoiling back. Not expecting the hug, nor sure of how to return the affection other than an awkward pat on the back.

Mashiro let go, as Rui closed the door to the Camaro, put the key in the ignition, and drove off toward her home.

Back at Chu2's private studio...

Chu2 growled to herself. Running her hands through her long salmon hair, she was trying to conjure up a plan to convince that Rui brat to race. Nothing seemed to stick, however. Suddenly, a motion sensor camera picked up something entering the parking lot outside of the studio. Masuki's Nissan 300 ZX was coming back from a practice run.

Masuki stepped out of her car and closed the door. "Damn... my best time was about six minutes...I need to get faster. Huh?" Masuki looked over, hearing the sound of another car pull in next to hers. A black C7 Stingray. Masuki gasped as Akira stepped out. "A-Akira? W- what are you doing here?!" Masuki stuttered, starting to fiddle with her hands a little bit.

Akira chuckled and smiled. "I simply wanted to ask the location and time for the race. You challenged my daughter yesterday so I figured you'd have these things in mind?"

Masuki gulped and nodded slowly. "Since the Tsurumaki's own the course all over Osaka we won't have to worry about traffic. I was thinking maybe...Tsukinomori's course at nine p.m? Why? Did Rui finally accept?!" Masuki's eyes lit up, overjoyed at the fact of being able to finally put Rui and that Camaro in their place!

Akira sighed softly. "So far the answer is the same... however, if I know Rui's friends like I believe I do. Then they've most likely pestered her until she gave in."

Masuki grins. "Hell yes!! Then I'll see that old ass Camaro at nine PM sharp!"

Akira narrowed her eyes. "Tsukinomori you say? Rui's school course? You picked that course of all places... interesting." Akira's gaze sharpened, practically piercing through Masuki as said girl almost cowered under Akira's sharp blue-eyed gaze. "Don't let your overconfidence blind you Masuki. That'll be my daughter you're racing, on a course she's familiar with no less. So with that being said..." Akira's gaze only got sharper. "Don't cry like a bitch if you lose tonight." Masuki gulped as Akira got into her Stingray and drove off.

Masuki growled. 'Cry like a bitch huh? Just you fucking watch... I'll beat that old ass Camaro into the ground!'

Both the C7 Stingray and 68 Camaro pulled into the driveway at the same time. Both Akira and Rui got out of their respective cars. Akira looked at Rui and smiled. "Hey kiddo. I assume your friends pestered you about that challenge yesterday?"

Rui blinked and nodded. "Yes. That's all they talked to me about. I told them I'd think about it but that's it. I don't exactly plan on going..."

Akira chuckled. "I bumped into the girl that challenged you yesterday. Masuki Satou's her name. She said the race will take place at Tsukinomori's course at about nine PM tonight."

Rui blinked again. "She picked a course I'm familiar with? That doesn't make any sense... if she challenged me she should have picked a course that she's familiar with. It'd give her an amazing advantage."

Akira nodded. "Yes,I found that strange myself, I'm thinking it's overconfidence. The only reason you should ever pick a course you're not familiar with is to get experience on other courses. I'm not sure if Masuki has even driven on Tsukinomori, which is all the more reason to be careful tonight Rui."

Rui looked over at her mother, slightly taken aback. "You're telling me all this as if I'm going tonight. I already said I wasn't planning on going mom..."

Akira chuckled. "I'm sure you'll change your mind. You're my daughter after all. Besides, one race couldn't hurt. Like I told you this morning sweetie, if you don't like it then you don't have to do it ever again. Just try it though. You never know."

Rui sighed, checking the time on her phone. "It's about 2:30...I don't have anything else planned besides school work......"

Rui slowly walked past her mother, entering the house. 'I guess going once wouldn't be bad... besides... Morfonica won't stop bothering me about it. They certainly won't shut up if I don't go tonight...I guess..... one race can't hurt.'

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, 8 PM.

"Wow... so many people tonight..." Touko stated, taken aback by the seemingly endless amounts of people packed in at every turn on the course. "It's like a damn concert at our school! People are here at every inch of this course!" Touko exclaimed excitedly, peering over her shoulder. She noticed Nanami, Tsukushi, and Mashiro all walking up behind her. "Hey! You guys made it!"

Nanami nodded. "Yeah! It's not every day someone from Raise A Suilen wants to race on your school's course. That's...if Rui shows up."

Tsukushi looked over at Mashiro. "Did Rui say she was coming or not?"

Mashiro started to fiddle with her hair. "I- i'm not sure. She said she'd think about it but...t- that's the last I heard from her."

The crowd of girls starting screaming out of admiration and love, upon seeing a 1996 Nissan 300ZX and 2007 Shelby GT500 start coming into view. The darkness being illuminated by the two cars' headlights. Both cars came to a stop at the beginning of a straightaway, before Masuki stepped out of her car. That's when the crowd of fangirls started screaming out to the delinquent girl. "Masking!!" "Masuki-san!" Layer proceeded to step out of her Shelby GT500, which in turn earned more screams from the RAS fangirls. "Layer-sama!!!" "She's so amazing!" "And she's pretty!!"

Layer chuckled softly at the compliments from the fans, then looked over at Masuki. "Get some practice in before nine. I don't want any excuses if you get your ass beaten here tonight."

Masuki nodded with a smirk. "Relax Lay. You've got nothin to worry about! I'm gonna kick this Camaro's ass so fast it'll be like the Camaro never got off the damn starting line."

Layer's eyes narrowed. "I appreciate the confidence. But don't take this race lightly. If you lose, Chu2 will have a fit. Not to mention you'll embarrass us and tarnish our reputation. So don't fuck this up." Masuki gulped and nodded.

Rui peers at the clock in the living room, noticing it's about 8:45. Akira chuckled. "What do you think kiddo? Gonna go after all?"

Rui sighed. "Yeah... I'll see you when this is over..." Rui stepped outside the house and looked at the Camaro waiting for her outside.

'Is this... truly... enjoyable? I suppose... there's one way to find out...' Rui unlocked the Camaro, and stepped inside. She closed the door and put the key in the ignition. The sound of Rui's V8 engine roared to life, as Rui slowly pulled her car out of the driveway and started driving toward Tsukinomori.

The Nissan 300ZX and Shelby GT500 started to drift through a right-hand corner, the Nissan in front of the Shelby. Both speedometers were pressing at least about 110 mph. Both cars' tires screeched, as both cars' tails swung to the left. A motion necessary to complete a right-hand turn when drifting. A long black-haired girl with violet eyes watched as both cars completed the drift, turning into another straightaway.

"That was so cool!! Don't you think RinRin?" A girl with purple hair in pigtails and dark red eyes stated, wrapping an arm around the shy black-haired girl.

"Y-yeah... it was... really something Ako. But it's not something... that Roselia... can't beat."

The practice runs had been completed. Masuki's Nissan was parked at the starting line, with Masuki leaning against her car. Dawning a leather jacket, yellow t-shirt, ripped jeans, and old worn sneakers. Masuki impatiently tapped her hand on the roof of her Nissan, growling slightly. "Is it close to nine yet?"

A little bit of static was heard from a walkie-talkie. "M-Masuki? This is Rokka. It's 8:55. I think we should get going if she doesn't show up soon..."

Masuki growled to herself.

Layer leaned against the side of her Shelby, eyes closed. She wore a white t-shirt with a black vest, dark blue jeans, and dark brown boots. A mini Shelby twinkled in the moonlight, Layer's necklace shined brightly.

That's when the sound of an engine was heard. The sound of a V8 engine. Layer opened her eyes.

"She's here..."

Chapter Text

Author’s Note: I decided to do something a little different for this chapter (and for every race moving forward if people enjoy it). I’ve decided to include music for races. Every time a song title comes up, or a transition comes up (example: Transition to “Louder” by Roselia). Have those songs play in the background while reading and let me know if this added to the reading experience at all!

Criticism and feedback appreciated!!! :)

The sound of a V8 engine could be heard, as the front of the old Camaro could be seen. A few RAS fangirls sneered. “THAT’S the car Masking is racing tonight?!” “It’s like the person WANTS to lose to Masking! How dare she waste Masking’s time?!?” Mashiro and the rest of Morfonica heard the jarring insults, as Mashiro looked in their general direction. “D- don’t talk about Rui’s car like that!! She’ll beat Masking tonight!! Just wait and see!!” Touko chuckled, holding Mashiro back by the shoulders.

“Easy Shiro. Last thing we need to do is get into a fist fight with some enraged fangirls.”

Toko chuckled, holding the slightly smaller girl back as Mashiro’s face flushed red out of embarrassment. Mashiro’s baby blue eyes looked up at Toko’s golden ones as she let out a soft sigh.

“I just… want Rui to win that’s all. I know it’s her first race and I know this might be her only race. But…I want her to feel the joy of racing! The excitement as your car goes down the course, trying to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Trying to outrun the other person, it’s just so… exciting. I just want Rui to feel how we feel about racing.” Mashiro looked away, sighing. “I’m sorry Toko… i’m probably just rambling again.”

Toko let out a small fit of laughter. “Don’t worry about that Mashiro! I feel the same way. I want Rui to beat Masking also. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to be friends with somebody who dusted someone from RAS!” She laughs as Mashiro awkwardly chuckles.

The Camaro starts pulling up toward the starting line, Rui noticing a girl with long black hair signaling her to move forward with her hands.Rui kept her foot pressed down on the accelerator until the girl switched positions with her hands, signaling for her to halt. Rui stepped on the brake until the car came to a stop, the V8 engine still running loudly enough for everyone to hear. Rui took the key out of the ignition, stepped out of the car, and closed the door. Rui’s eyes very briefly made contact with dark lightning blue eyes. Rui briefly looked at the girl’s attire, noticing it was fairly casual. White shirt, black vest, small necklace, jeans that were slightly torn in the kneecap area, and dark brown boots. Compared to her who was still in her school uniform.

“So you showed up after all. I’m glad. My name’s Layer by the way! I’ll be overseeing tonight’s race.” The girl smiled at Rui, as the violinist simply nodded, scanning the crowd as she looked for the rest of Morfonica.

“Oi! You actually fucking showed. About damn time too, I don’t like being kept waitin.” Rui turned her attention to the sound of the rough voice, noticing the blond haired girl from yesterday.

“Last I checked I do not run on your schedule. Nor was i obligated to show up to this. I am simply doing this because I was constantly asked and it was slightly getting on my nerves. If I was truly doing this to try and please you, I would have done this yesterday, it would have still been a waste of my time but I would have gotten it over much faster.”Rui stared directly at Masuki, as the owner of the Nissan grit her teeth, suddenly reaching out and grabbing Rui by her uniform collar.

“Ya think this is some kind of damn game to us?! At first I was just excited ya showed up at all, but now all I want is to kick your fucking ass!! Maybe then you’ll see this isn’t just something we do! We do this shit because we fucking love it! It’s our life!! It’s because of the pride we have in ourselves and our cars that we think we’re the fastest motherfuckers out there!”

Masuki shoved Rui away, her golden eyes becoming more sharp and rabid. Like a mad dog foaming at the mouth, ready to pounce on a butterfly.

“It’s not an obligation. We race because it’s our livelihood. Our pride!! We want to prove to everybody else that we’re the fastest, that’s why we race! Maybe you’ll understand that…” Masuki growled to herself. “But it’s not today. So whenever you’re ready, i’ll be here to pound you into the ground. Just say the word and i’ll dust ya real fucking quick.”Rui stared blankly at the delinquent girl, unsure of how to respond to the blond girl’s speech. ‘People seriously take pride in their cars? I understand having pride in your skills as a driver and being able to adapt to situations, but taking pride in your car? What’s next, taking pride in a specific brand of car?’

Rui rolled her eyes, finally spotting the rest of Morfonica amongst the crowd of people behind the guardrail.

“Ah! R-Rui! Over here!!” Mashiro waved as the former violin player walked over to the opposite side of the guardrail, locking eyes with the shy white haired girl.

“I hope you are all aware i’m doing this so you won’t bombard me with questions about this tomorrow. I have no interest in pursuing racing.” Rui said in her deadpanned tone, as the rest of Morfonica tensed from her gaze.

Toko was the first one to speak up. “Regardless… i’m glad you came at all Rui. Uh… please tell me you actually know how a race works.” The rest of Morfonica swear dropped. How could they all forget something so basic?! So simple?! Rui doesn’t even know the first thing about racing! Not how to get a good start off the line, how to drift, how to maneuver through tight turns and corners, Rui’s screwed!!“Yes. I am aware of how these kinds of races operate. Someone begins a countdown and when both cars lead off, whoever makes it to the end of the course first is usually the winner unless other conditions are stated beforehand.”

Maybe she’s not as screwed as they thought.

Mashiro breathed a sigh of relief. “Um…Rui. W-We’re glad you know how this works but… your car is a 68 Camaro. I… it’s not built for the turns on Tsukinomori… you won’t be able to d…drift…”

Rui nods. “I will not be drifting that much anyway. I am well aware of how big this particular car is. While it is not impossible to drift…it is not something I plan on doing.”

Nanami blinks, stunned of how much Rui actually knows about her car. “RuiRui… you really know your stuff when it comes to this car don’t ya?”

Rui shakes her head. “No. It is simply common sense. My Camaro is big and wide, it typically is not built for drifting. It is usually alright for straight roads but that’s all. That being said, do not expect me to win tonight.”

Tsukushi looked at Rui, mouth wide with shock. “B-but you’re going to try right? You’re going to try and win aren’t you?!”Rui nods. “I do not understand this feeling you all keep telling me I am going to experience with this. But I know if I do not do this, you will all harass me and ask me why I did not accept this challenge. This will be my only race. I hope you all realize this.”

The rest of Morfonica nod slowly, as the ex violinist turns on her heel and approaches her car as well as the Nissan next to it.

“Done with that little pep talk between you and your friends? Ready to get your ass handed to ya?” Masuki couldn’t help but smirk after her statement, after all she’d been driving her Nissan for about a year now. That’s a year longer than Rui’s even had her Camaro, let alone actually driving the damn car.

“I would not claim my discussion with the rest of Morfonica a pep talk, if your feeble attempt at trash talking is done then let’s just get this over with.” The violinist turns her head to the girl that called herself Layer. “Is there anything we are supposed to do before we begin?”

Layer nods. “Just introduce yourselves to each other. Then Misaki will start playing some music and we’ll get this thing started.”

Rui blinked, confused by the mention of a name of a girl she had no recollection of.

“Misaki…. who’s Misaki?”Layer points over to a small area that’s stationed off to the side of the course, Rui peers over, noticing a turntable set up with some speakers. She then notices a girl with long dark brown hair that falls to her back, as well as a black suit, followed up with dress pants and dress shoes.

“She’s the girl that provides the music and sets up a screen here at the beginning of every course. That way, the people over at the start of the track can watch what’s going on as opposed to having to wait every few minutes for an update through walkie talkies. ”

Rui nods, noticing music start playing in the background. “I suppose it’s time we begin…”

Rui turns back to face the blond delinquent girl, who still sported a small smirk on her face. The blond girl then spoke.

“I’m Masuki Satou. Hopefully you’ll remember that, as well as what’s gonna happen to ya tonight.”

“I’m Rui Yashio.” Rui opens the door to her Camaro, sitting in the driver’s seat as Masuki does the same thing with her Nissan. Layer looks at both cars, making sure they’re next to each other with no extra distance between the two cars. Layer nods and holds her hand up.

“We go in five seconds girls!!”Mashiro bit her lip, clasping her hands together in a prayer like manner, Touko watched on with eager golden eyes, Nanami peered over the guardrail with a small bit of worry in her eyes and Tsukushi held her breath.

“Five!”

The sound of both cars engines starting could be heard as the crowd squealed in anticipation. The Camaro’s V8 and the Nissan’s V6 roared together in unison, trying to outdo the other in terms of engine volume. Like an instrument trying to take the lead on a melody.

“Four!!”

Masuki starts pedaling the accelerator, watching the needle on her RPM gauge go up and down. She couldn’t help but smile. God how she loved this feeling. The adrenaline that coursed through her veins hearing the engine rev, the sound of the engine in her ears, the open road in front of her. It was everything she could ever dream.

“Three!”

Rui also started pedaling the accelerator on her car, making sure her foot pressed down on the accelerator at exactly the correct measurements. Not a centimeter too close or too far off, not a second too soon or too late. Perfect synchronization, almost like Rui was a robot.

“Two!!!”Rui still didn’t understand, still unable to grasp the feeling that the rest of Morfonica talked so passionately about. 'Honestly, what do you all want me to feel so badly? Excitement? Ecstasy? Joy of passing someone? I don’t understand…I suppose my best teacher is this race right here…’

“One!! Go!!!” Layer threw her hand down as both drivers popped the clutch to their respective cars, their tires screeched and squealed as both cars left off the starting line .

(Play “Blood For Blood” by A War Within)

Maauki’s Nissan was taking off, the needle on the speedometer already pressing about 70 miles an hour and increasing. The delinquent peered over to the passenger’s side mirror, noticing the Camaro keeping pace with the Nissan. 'So you’re keeping up huh? Let’s see how long that lasts!!’ Masuki smirks, pressing down on the accelerator harder, the needle pressing about 100 MPH. Only for Masuki to place her hand on the shifter, downshifting, pressing one foot horizontally on the brake while keeping the other foot on the accelerator,as the car’s rear end swung out to the left. Tires started screeching on the road, as a smoke cloud began to form underneath the tires from all the stress placed on them during the drift. After the car completed the drift, Masuki couldn’t help but smirk to herself. 'This is gonna be fun, even if it’s only gonna be for a short while. Let’s see if that old piece of shit can keep up with me!’Unlike Masuki, Rui stepped on the brake turning her steering wheel to the right as hard as she could in order to complete the turn. That’s when Rui felt something jarring on the passenger side of her car, the front tire had been hooked onto something. Rui slowly pulled the wheel to the left, pulling the tire out of whatever it had been caught in. Her Camaro swerved a little bit to the left, before Rui was able to regain control of the car’s position on the right lane. She stepped back on the gas, feeling a sudden increase in speed and the Nissan quickly showing up next to her in her driver’s side window.

'The car was built for straightaways… but it’s still impressive how quick this car was able to accelerate on a straight road. Even if this is fifty years old you wouldn’t have guessed. But something is slightly troubling me. What was that weird pressure I felt when turning? One of the tires had been caught onto something. Like it was a gutter… or gravel… whatever it may have been…I should not try attempting that. It may be able to help more skilled individuals. But I am not prepared to even attempt something like that.’

The Camaro continued following the Nissan through a couple more straightaways, with the Nissan only managing to stay at about a car length or two ahead after each turn was completed.

“Do you think Rui is going to be alright?” Mashiro asked out loud, making the rest of Morfonica hum together in unison.“I mean, so far Rui is doing amazing so far!! It’s only been about three or four turns and Rui’s still on Masuki’s ass!! I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up in Masuki’s trunk. And did you see how fast she was on that straightaway?! Damn!!” Touko exclaimed.

“Maybe so… but still, you did see how Rui was swaying around after the first turn? Her tire got hooked onto something. That worries me.” Tsukushi shivered,chills running down her spine.

“It’s the small gutters you’re talking about.”

All of Morfonica turned around, noticing Layer behind them.

“Layer-sama!!” All of Morfonica exclaimed as Layer approached the big screen shown in front of the crowd of people watching the race. Layer’s lightning blue eyes narrowed slightly, looking at the Nissan drifting once again to complete a right hand turn. She also noticed the Camaro about two cars length behind the Nissan going into the right hand turn. Layer also noticed the swerving around that the Camaro did before managing to stabilize again, and accelerate quickly when it came time to go back onto a straight road.“The thing that the Camaro’s tire hooked onto was most likely gravel or a gutter of some kind. Real skillful or experienced drivers are able to hook the tires to help complete tight turns. Otherwise you’ll swerve out of control and crash, possibly wreck your suspension, or worst of all… missing the timing to hook the tires in and wrecking your car and yourself. It’s really dangerous. I’m surprised your friend is managing to stabilize herself after both the gutter incident, and the hard turns. Considering the Camaro’s heavy weight, that can’t be easy. Not to mention the car is a rear wheel drive. She’s pulling it off though, consider me slightly impressed.” Layer analyzed with a smile, continuing to watch the screen in front of her.

Mashiro’s baby blue eyes sparkled slightly at the compliments Rui was receiving, after all, it’s not everyday the third best driver in Osaka compliments someone based on their driving technique.

“Does that mean Rui actually has a chance at pulling this off?!” Mashiro exclaimed, excited at the fact of a possible victory for Rui.“Hmm… i’m not entirely sure. It really depends on how your friend approaches the rest of the course. Not to mention Masuki’s been acting like more and more of a loose cannon lately. All because she got excited and riled up… and Chu2 didn’t do any fucking research on this car. Since it isn’t someone from Roselia, she didn’t bother. Yet she was so pissed about Rui not accepting the challenge I thought she would have at least done a little bit.” Layer grit her teeth. “You fucking dumbass!!” Layer growled to herself. 'Masuki didn’t think, and Chu2 is so wrapped up in Roselia they took this race lightly, didn’t bother to even check and see who the girl was, and now Masuki could most likely lose because of this…dumbasses… sometimes I really question my decisions…’

Layer was quickly snapped out of her thoughts by a whimpering Mashiro. Layer’s lightning blue eyes softened, gently placing a hand on Mashiro’s head.

“You didn’t do anything wrong sweetie. I’m sorry you heard most of that. I was trying to keep most of that to myself but it seems I didn’t do a very good job at that. To answer your question, your friend has a good chance at winning this.” Layer said with a close eyed smile, reassuring the self doubting girl to relax a little bit.

(Transistion to “supereurobeat” by Niko)Masuki growled to herself, feeling more and more anxious by the moment. Both the Camaro and the Nissan were only on the straightaway for a few moments, but the Camaro was already next to her in the opposite lane.

'God dammit!! I thought since I was faster in the turns that i’d probably lose the bitch. Even though I got practice runs in the bitch is still passing me! How?! The damn thing is an ancient piece of shit!!’ Masuki let out a scream of frustration as the Camaro passed the Nissan, only getting farther and farther ahead as the straightaway continued.

Rui briefly glanced in her rearview mirror, noticing the Nissan getting further and further behind.

'My car is faster in the straight roads it seems. Her car is better at turning, but my car is more powerful when it comes to straightaways. Since Tsukinomori’s course is mostly straightaways, my car has an advantage. Disregarding the bit of swerving around I do at the ending of each turn, it has not been all that bad. Still, i’m failing to see what is so exciting about all this. I passed Masuki, but felt nothing…’Rui snapped herself out of her thoughts, pressing down on the brake and turning the wheel all the way to the right. That’s when Rui noticed two things. One. Her Camaro started moving to the side, it begun to drift. Two. She noticed a pair of lavender eyes watching her, and that’s when Rui’s breath suddenly got caught in her throat. Those lavender eyes, anything but those lavender eyes. Not again, five years later and those lavender eyes were on her again. Watching her, studying her, practically piercing a hole through her. The anxiety that came with seeing those eyes, the heartbeat quickening in her chest, it was like another nightmare that Rui couldn’t wake up from. She had the exact same nightmare five years ago.

The Camaro completed the drift, suddenly pulling farther and farther ahead on the straightaway. Much faster than before, the needle on the speedometer pressing about 130.

“Ah! That’s so cool!! And fast!! I didn’t think a Camaro could drift!! It’s like dark powers have gone and blessed the car with…um…um… it was awesome wasn’t it RinRin?”

Rinko didn’t move from her spot, her lavender eyes noticing the messy black hair brushed off to the side. Even through the car window, Rinko could never forget the violinist from five years ago, the girl that played the violin so passionately, the girl that had a tiny twinkle in her eyes that was barely noticeable, the girl that became more and more robotic with each passing music festival.“RinRin? Are you okay?” Rinko snapped out of her thoughts, giving Ako a brief nod.

“Yes… just… remembered something. I… have to go.” Rinko started moving away from the track, moving toward her GTR-34.

“Ah!! Wait for me!!”

The finish line was crowded as ever. With just as many people here as there was at the starting line. There stood by the finish line was Rokka, Chu2, and Pareo.

“Ah! You hear the tires?! Someone’s coming!!” Rokka exclaimed, hand by her walkie talkie.

“It’s obviously Masking. Why, she’s our second best driver. A no-name girl with a fifty year old Camaro is no match for-”

Chu2 was interrupted by seeing a pair of headlights coming toward the finish line, noticing the blue car and white stripes.

“YOU’VE GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING!!” Chu2 screeched, practically shaking Pareo. “WHY THE HELL IS MASKING LOSING TO THAT NOBODY?! THAT FIFTY YEAR OLD PIECE OF SHIT JUST BEAT SOMEONE FROM RAISE A SUILEN!!! I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THIS!!!”

Chu2 continued screeching, as Pareo was unable to get a word out due to all the screeching Chu2 did. Rokka started speaking into her walkie talkie, still terrified of Chu2 and her screaming fit.

“L-Layer…” Rokka saw the Camaro blow past the finish line, leaving the course and starting to head off in a direction, most likely back to her house.

“I saw everything Rokka… tonight was a loss…I can’t say i’m pleased but i’m not surprised either. Tell the others to start heading back to Chu2’s studio. And tell Chu2 to have some damn dignity. I’ll talk to everyone when we all get back.”

Chu2 grabbed the walkie talkie from Rokka, still enraged over Masuki’s loss. “How dare you give orders?! I’m your producer!! Your manager!! I decide-”

“Chu2 do me a favor and just shut the fuck up!! You’re part of the reason we lost tonight!! Now, i’ll see you all back at the studio… and don’t bitch Chu2. We need to discuss a lot of things when we get back…like my future with Raise A Suilen.”

Chapter Text

"Eh?! Y-your future with RAS?! Layer what the hell are you talking about?!" Chu2 screeched into the walkie talkie. "You're our best driver!! You're our ticket to beating Roselia! You can't say some stupid shit like that!"

Layer said nothing, instead proceeding to drop the walkie talkie onto the ground and crushing it beneath her boot. "God Chu2 is so fucking annoying..." Layer looked over at the rest of Morfonica, her eyes softening as her lips slightly curved into a rare smile.

"Tell Rui congratulations. It's not everyday your first race is against someone from Raise A Suilen, let alone actually achieving a victory against us. Your friend should be proud." Layer put her hand in her pocket, retrieving the car keys from her pocket. "Anyway, I guess i'll see you all around. Later!" Layer started walking back to her Shelby as Mashiro quickly ran up behind her.

"E- Excuse me! Layer-sama!!" Mashiro stuttered slightly as the older girl spun around, looking down at her with a motherly like smile on her face. "D-did Rui winning against Masking make you w- want to quit RAS? I...r- really hope that isn't true!! I'm sorry!!!" Mashiro stuttered and bowed to the older woman. "W- we're not trying to break RAS up or anything! W-we just wanted Rui to f- feel the excitement of racing is all! P- please don't quit RAS!!" Mashiro finished with a small break in her voice, slowly turning her head upward to meet the older woman's lightning blue eyes. All that Layer could do was bust out a small giggle at the younger girl. Layer quickly cleared her throat and patted Mashiro on the head.

"You're reading too much into things sweetie. I never said anything about quitting RAS. I just want to evaluate my future and see where i'm going to go from here. If RAS can help achieve my goal while acting like a cohesive team then i'll stay. If not, then I don't see a reason to continue staying. None of that is on Rui for winning though. She was simply a better driver tonight. Again, tell her congratulations for me kay?" Layer smiled, ruffling Mashiro's fluffy white hair before jumping over the guardrail and walking toward her Shelby once more.

"W-wait! Layer-sama!!" Mashiro called out to the older girl again, as said girl looked up at the younger girl. "Y-you said you had a goal? W- what is it?"

Layer couldn't help but smile softly at Mashiro's questions. She was like a child that no one could say no to. Layer simply giggled once more, looked down at her necklace which held a miniature sized Shelby, then back up at the timid girl. "I'm afraid that's personal sweetie." Layer waved to Mashiro, before proceeding to step into her Shelby and drive off in the opposite direction in which the race began.

Masuki's Nissan slowly pulled up to where Chu2, Rokka, and Pareo were all waiting for her. She grit her teeth both in anger and disappointment as she stepped out of her Nissan, avoiding eye contact with the rest of RAS. Unfortunately, that wasn't stopping Chu2.

"You god damn failure!! You fucking disgrace! How are we supposed to defeat Roselia if we can't even beat a fifty year old piece of shit?! The hell is your problem?!" Chu2 screeched as Masuki growled, snapping her head at Chu2.

"Get off my damn back already Chu2! I tried and lost! I'm sorry alright?! Rui's Camaro was just so much faster in the straight sections I couldn't catch up. I'm sorry... but it's not like I can do anything about the result now..." Masuki hit the roof of her Nissan in anger with her fist, gritting her teeth in pain.

Chu2 rolled her eyes at this display. 'How dare you be so pitiful?! I planned on challenging Roselia and now I can't because you tarnished our reputation by suffering such a humiliating loss. How dare you Masking...'

"If Layer quits because of this then you'll be out of RAS." Chu2 stated bluntly as Masuki's pupils went wide, gasping.

"Layer... could be quitting RAS.... because of me?" Masuki bit her lip, swallowing what felt like the biggest lump in her throat. Masuki's body started shaking, not with fear or anger but... sadness. Especially due to the fact that Layer was the one that recruited her in the first place.

------------------ (these will be used as flashbacks!!)

Shirayuki Private Academy, One Year Ago, August 18th, 9:30 PM

Shirayuki Private Academy, a prestigious school known well for its talented girls and the knack for modeling old cars and making them faster. As such, the girls would test their cars in races against each other. One of the more... passionate drivers was 16 year old Masuki Satou. The best driver at Shirayuki. Hands in her pockets, she leaned against her Nissan. Having made adjustments, her V6 engine was kicking around 315 horsepower if not more. She was currently waiting around as she had been challenged to a race. Some of the students had gathered around to witness the Mad Dog's aggressive driving.

"For fuck's sake! Where the hell is this chick anyway? I ain't got all night!" Masuki said slamming her hand down on the hood, as some girls shrieked and whimpered from Masuki's outburst.

That's when Masuki's rabid golden eyes suddenly went wide, noticing a red Shelby GT500 pull up to the starting line of Shirayuki's course. Masuki gulped, only now realizing who she was going to be facing.

That's when a woman stepped out of the car,no older than about seventeen. She had a regular black shirt on, a miniature Shelby that was used as a necklace, jeans with a rip in the kneecap area, and black sneakers, and short brown hair that was about shoulder length.

The woman's lightning blue eyes met Masuki's golden ones as Masuki swallowed hard. Why was her heart beating so fast, and was she...sweating? Probably just the weather and anxiety. Yeah, that was it. Definitely not the fact that this was the woman everyone knew as Layer. And definitely not the fact that Layer was rumored to give Sayo Hikawa a run for being the second best driver in Osaka. No, not at all.

“You must be Masuki Satou. My name’s Layer, I’m the one that sent you the challenge.” Layer looked at Masuki with a gentle smile before continuing. “I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s this team that’s being formed in order to defeat Roselia. I’m here to see if you’re worth recruiting. So what do you say Masuki?” Layer offered with a smile, giving the delinquent girl time to think.

‘A team made specifically to defeat Roselia? And Layer thought of me as a potential candidate? I should be jumping at the chance to try and take down Roselia...so why the hell am i so nervous? Probably just because it’s comin from Layer...’

Masuki’s golden eyes looked up, meeting Layer’s lightning blue eyes with a smirk.

“Fine. I’m in, let’s race Layer!”

Layer nodded, her lightning blue eyes sharpening as she looked down at Masuki. “Very well. I’ll see for myself what this Mad Dog is all about...and if you’re worth anything to this team.”

Masuki shivered slightly, noticing Layer’s sharp gaze as she slowly nodded, letting fear slowly consume her.

‘Why the hell did i think this was a good idea?! Seeing her eyes...that gaze...not to mention her car is a Shelby...I’m just asking to get my ass handed to me tonight...’

Layer said nothing more, stepping into her Shelby as Masuki got into her Nissan. Masuki gulped, prepared for what was going to be he most difficult race of her life.

Layer beat Masuki by about five car lengths.

Masuki growled to herself, stepping out of the car and letting out a scream of pure frustration. Of all the times for her to get dusted, it just had to be now. And by about five car lengths no less. Talk about humiliating.

Masuki gulped, noticing the Shelby approaching her. Layer stepped out, offering her hand.

"Thanks for the race. I saw enough. You're aggressive, rough, you take the turns too sharply. This course's road is really wide so you can ease up on the sharpness. Not to mention the power you had on the straight roads wasn't bad. If you're taught enough, I believe you can be a valuable asset to the team." Layer smiled as Masuki's eyes widened.

"Y- you mean...i... "

Layer nods, smiling. "Masuki Satou, welcome to Raise A Suilen."

-----------------

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, August 18th, 9:30 PM, Current Day

Masuki said nothing, getting into her car and driving off toward Chu2's garage. She was followed by Rokka's Silvia S15, as both cars flew by.

Meanwhile...

Layer had already parked her Shelby in the parking lot, awaiting the arrival of the other members of RAS. She glanced down at her necklace, as if it held the answers that Layer was searching for internally.

‘If we can’t work as a cohesive team...if they can’t help me reach my goal...I see no reason to remain with this team. Hana...I’ll keep my promise to you...i swear.’

Layer looked up, noticing the Nissan and Silvia pulling into the parking spaces next to her. Masuki got out of her Nissan, while Rokka, Pareo, and Chu2 got out of the Silvia.

“I’ll make this brief since this is supposed to be Chu2′s job. Masuki lost because she was going up against a car that was more powerful than her own. Not to mention the course had more straight roads, which only meant it was only a matter of time before Masuki lost. I’m not upset, but I have to question whether or not Raise A Suilen is still the right thing for me to be a part of.”

Chu2 was the first to respond, stomping up to Layer.

“How dare you talk like that?! Not upset? NOT UPSET?! YOU SHOULD BE FURIOUS!! WE LOST BECAUSE MASUKI COULDN’T GET THE JOB DONE AGAINST AN OLD PIECE OF SHIT!! HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BEAT ROSELIA IF WE CAN’T EVEN BEAT A FUCKING CAMARO?! SHE SHOULD BE CUT FROM RAS HERE AND NOW!”

Layer looked over at Masuki, noticing she was unusually quiet. That's when Layer saw shadows over Masuki's eyes. Layer sighed, walking up to the delinquent girl and placing a hand on her shoulder.

"You didn't do a bad job Masuki. You held the lead for a majority of the course, all while attempting to loosen up when it came to the sharp turns you usually take. I'd consider that progress."

Masuki gasped, looking up into Layer's lightning blue eyes.

"Lay... you really... mean that?"

Layer closed her eyes and smiled, giving a brief nod.

"I wouldn't be saying it if I didn't mean it Masuki. You lost, but that means you have an opportunity to grow and to learn from your mistakes. Never forget that."

Masuki nodded as Rokka finally spoke up.

"Um... for what it's worth Masuki...I think you looked really cool out there. You almost had her!" Rokka beamed at the delinquent girl, causing her face to heat up in embarrassment.

"O-Oi! Where's this coming from out of nowhere?! Rokka!!" Rokka couldn't help but giggle seeing Masuki's red face. It wasn't everyday the Mad Dog got embarrassed after all.

"Not trying to dampen the mood..." Pareo said with a small amount of wavering in her voice. "But...we did just suffer a loss. Won't that affect Masuki's ranking?"

 

Layer swiftly pulled out her phone, and pulled up the ranking list. Her lightning blue eyes scanned for Masuki's name, her eyes softening as she found it.

"Masuki's gone down a rank."

Layer said bluntly as Masuki went as stiff as a board.

"So i'm fucking eighth?! Son of a bitch!!" Masuki growled out through gritted teeth as Layer's gaze sharpened at Masuki.

"Which only means you have to win even more races now... and since you're eighth, that means Rokka moved up to being number seven."

Rokka's eyes went wide with shock.

"Y... you're sure?!"

Layer nods, putting her phone away. She then turns to her Shelby. "I'll be turning in for the night. I'll see you all tomorrow."

Chu2 grabbed Layer by the shoulder, spinning her around. "How dare you try to take this loss lightly?! Scold Masuki for fuck's sake Layer!!"

Layer's eyes narrowed, practically piercing a hole through Chu2 with how dead her eyes seemed. The usual dark lightning blue in her eyes suddenly turned dull. Which terrified Chu2 completely, even if she wasn't showing it.

Layer sighed, unlocking and opening the trunk to her Shelby. She pulled out a black binder and threw it at Chu2's feet.

"See that? That's the binder you filled with every little detail about Roselia. Each member, their car, when they started driving, their first races, win/loss records, most recent races, the school they go to. It's impressive how you compiled so much information on Roselia in only about a couple days of forming RAS. However, the same can't be said about Rui Yashio. You made no attempt to even TRY and find anything out about her."

Chu2 growled to herself, looking up at Layer's dull eyes.

"You talk about not finding anything out about Rui... but I don't see you trying to find anything about her!"

Layer's eyes only seemed to get duller.

"You expect me to fucking do your job for you?! This is YOUR team. YOU are the one that's our "manager" so it's YOUR responsibility to find everything out about the people we're racing! The fact that you didn't find anything out about Rui is insulting. I bet if Rui was a part of Roselia then you'd be all over it!" Layer snapped.

"You're a goddamn disgrace to our racing team Chu2." Layer opened the door to her Shelby, stepped inside, and drove off.

Meanwhile...

A R-34 was heading down a straight road, it's 2.6 liter twin turbo charged engine purring out loud as the drive back to Roselia's garage was quiet. Ako looked over from the passenger's seat, noticing Rinko hadn't said anything since they got into the car. Let alone how Rinko seemed to be a bit more upset. Noticing Rinko gripping the steering wheel until her knuckles started to turn white is when Ako finally decided to speak up, placing her hand on Rinko's shoulder.

"RinRin... what's wrong? You look about as horrible as that boss we killed in NFO last night. Was the girl you saw in the Camaro an old friend of yours or something? Or perhaps a mortal enemy of some kind?!"

Rinko couldn't help but start to giggle slightly, easing her grip on the steering wheel and relaxing herself.

"No... it's nothing like that Ako... I just remembered seeing that girl from five years ago. She used to play the violin so beautifully... the melodies were so beautiful...I could tell she played her heart out. But... she never placed. And after she didn't place...I couldn't help but feel heartbroken for her... when she lost that twinkle in her eye. By the third music festival...I heard from her talking to her mom that she was going to quit playing the violin. She never placed in the three music festivals that I saw her in. I couldn't help but feel heartbroken every single time..." Rinko sighed softly before continuing.

"I could tell she worked hard... hearing all the melodies being played, the way they used to fill the room with brightness and happiness, yet held a sharp undertone. But... hard work can't overcome natural talent. I placed first in all three of the music festivals... that we both participated in. Now... when I looked into her eyes...I saw... nothing. Nothing but... dullness..."

Ako stayed silent as Rinko pulled into the garage of Roselia. That's when Rinko looked at Ako with a smile.

"Thank you... for being here with me... and listening to me. I think...I need to challenge her to a race...find out... if she's okay..."

Ako finally spoke up.

 

"You really think you'll be able to find out if she's okay by challenging her to a race? You can do that sort of thing RinRin?! Like a spiritual connection!!"

Rinko couldn't help but laugh.

"Yeah... something like that."

Meanwhile...

Rui's heartbeat started to slow down as she started to see her home come into view. Her widened magenta eyes reverting back to their normal width, dull and seemingly lifeless. Rui stepped out of the car and began to slowly walk toward the door, attempting to compose herself by taking silent deep breaths. When she opened the door, she saw her mother attempting to walk out of the house, hand outstretched to reach for the handle of the door if Rui hadn't opened the door.

Rui quickly scanned her mother's outfit. It consisted of a platinum white wig, makeup, green eye contacts, a long black sleeve shirt, black dress pants, and combat boots.

 

'Mom's leaving for another late night photoshoot it seems...'

"Hey sweetie! I was just about to go and leave for another late night photoshoot. I'm sorry..." Akira sighed as she looked at her daughter's eyes, noticing the complete and utter dullness that stared back at her every morning. The dullness that never went away since that music festival...on August 19th.

"Sweetie...I know tomorrow is..." Akira paused, trying to figure out the correct way to address that particular date and how to handle the situation.

"Tomorrow is... the day. Do you need to talk to me about it? Because I can stay home if you want me to Rui."

Rui shook her head, stepping inside the house and looked back at her mom.

"No. It's alright. Go on and leave, do your job mom. I do not need to speak about something so childish."

"Rui if it's childish then why do you act so different on that day? If it's childish then why are your eyes duller than usual? For five years i've tried to get you to talk to me about this and you don't!! I want to know why? Why don't you open up to me about this?!"

Rui silently grit her teeth. Five years of holding in her failure. Five years of holding in guilt. Five years of not seeing or playing that goddamn violin. Five. Long. Years. And it all came spilling out in raw anger.

"MAYBE IF YOU WERE HERE MORE I'D FUCKING OPEN UP TO YOU ABOUT IT!! BUT ALL YOU DID WAS FILL ME WITH FALSE HOPE THAT I'D IMPROVE. THAT I'D GET BETTER. THAT ONE DAY MY FUCKING VIOLIN PLAYING WOULD ACTUALLY GET ME SOMEWHERE! BUT IT HASN'T! AND YOU KNOW WHY?! BECAUSE THERE ARE MILLIONS OF MUSICIANS WHO WILL ALWAYS BE BETTER THAN ME! NATURAL TALENT OVERCOMES HARD WORK EVERY SINGLE TIME!! YET ALL YOU DID WAS TELL ME THAT IT WOULD BE OKAY! THAT I'D IMPROVE. THAT I'D ACTUALLY PLACE IN ONE OF THOSE GOD FORSAKEN MUSIC FESTIVALS. BUT I NEVER DID! AND WHERE WERE YOU AFTER YOU DROVE ME HOME? GONE!! OFF TO DO ONE OF YOUR THREE JOBS! YOU WERE NEVER THERE WHEN I WANTED TO OPEN UP TO YOU! YOU KNOW WHY I DON'T OPEN UP TO YOU ABOUT THIS MOM? BECAUSE YOU'RE NEVER THERE WHEN I NEED YOU TO BE, YET ALL YOU DID WAS FILL ME WITH FALSE HOPE. FALSE HOPE THAT GOT ME FUCKING NOWHERE!! SO STOP TRYING TO FILL ME WITH FALSE HOPE. STOP TRYING TO GET ME TO OPEN UP TO YOU ABOUT THIS. BECAUSE YOU'LL NEVER BE THERE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!"

Akira's eyes went wide with shock. That's all she could do. Akira's green eyes then narrowed as she let out a quiet sigh, proceeding to walk out the door, get into her Stingray, and drive off as tears silently leaked down Akira's face.

'I guess I really was a terrible mother...Rui... i'm sorry that you were hurting so bad... and i'm sorry I wasn't able... to more for you...I tried... i'm trying Rui....'

 

Rui let out a few deep breaths, in a futile attempt to compose herself after her outburst. Rui shook her head, going outside and unlocking her car door. She opened the backseat driver side door and grabbed the violin case and went back inside the house, locking her Camaro doors. When Rui got inside the house, she wasted no time in slamming the black violin case down on the table, and unlocking the case. Inside the case was a brown violin. The wooden body, the handle, the strings, the melodies that filled her room, filled the music halls with beautiful yet sophisticated harmonies and melodies. Rui hated it. She hated it so much, the way she started shaking, her eyes widening as the dullness in her eyes only got duller and duller. With a shaky hand, Rui grabbed the neck of the violin.

"I....i.... fucking.... hate it...I hate you...I HATE THIS MOTHERFUCKING INSTRUMENT!!!!!" Rui screamed out as she lifted the violin into the air, smashing the instrument onto the ground. The violin exploded into tiny pieces of wood, the pieces going everywhere as they spread across the wooden floor. Rui stumbled backward and sat down on the floor, her back against a cream colored wall as her breaths were fast and heavy.

After a few minutes, Rui got up, went upstairs to her room, changed out of her school uniform and laid in bed. Rui stared blankly at the ceiling silently, then let out a tiny hiccup. Then another hiccup. And another. And another. And another.

 

For the first time, Rui Yashio cried herself to sleep. As broken pieces lay across the wooden floor downstairs, the remnants of what used to be her love. What had used to be her passion. What had used to be her violin.

Chapter Text

Zepp Namba Concert Hall, August 19th, Five Years Ago, 11:00 AM

The white hallway was only a few feet long, so why did it feel like it was hundreds and hundreds of miles from the stage? Why was it that every step that Rui took became more painstakingly difficult than the last? Even though she could hear nothing but the clicking of her heels against the floor of the hallway, it felt like alarms were constantly going off in Rui's mind, as if urging her to turn back, that nothing good would come from stepping out onto that stage for a third time in the past couple of months. But Rui didn't listen to all the alarms that seemed to be sounding off in her mind even louder than before. Instead, the pain that it was causing Rui's mind had suddenly stopped. The only thing that Rui was able to hear now were rapid melodies and harmonies being played. The ways that the harmonies and melodies bounced off each other made Rui's mouth open slightly with shock. How the little girl managed to keep a fast pace throughout the entirety of the piece was almost beyond Rui. The next thing Rui knew, the audience clapped and it was her turn to go out on stage.

Rui could finally get a look at the little girl as she was walking backstage. Long black hair, a dress that was all black with a lavender rose tucked behind her ear, and those lavender eyes. Those eyes filled with pride, curiosity, wonder, all staring directly at Rui's magenta colored eyes. That's when the girl finally spoke up.

"Um...I believe... it's y-your turn next. I hope that... you do well."

Rui smiled softly and bowed to the girl.

"Thank you for the encouraging words. I hope i'm as good with my violin as you are with the piano! How'd you get so fast anyway?"

The girl blushed and looked away, not used to receiving such direct praise from someone that wasn't a family member.

"U-um...I guess... i'm just really good at it. I... try to practice whenever i can. But a lot of it... comes naturally."

Rui nodded, making sure that there were no wrinkles or any sort of damage to the dark blue dress she was wearing. She then proceeded to the door, grasping the silver handle before turning back around and locking eyes with the girl once more.

"I don't believe I got your name."

The girl blushed and nodded shyly.

"...Rinko...Shirokane."

Rui nodded and smiled.

"I'm Rui Yashio." With a small smile, Rui opened the door and stepped out onto the stage. Her wooden violin grasped tightly, she scanned the crowd and saw two pairs of eyes which instantly calmed her nerves. The deep sea blue eyes of her mother, the one who helped encourage her to start playing the violin in the first place. She then saw a pair of mik chocolate brown eyes next to her mother's deep sea eyes. She recognized those eyes as her mentor's, Ayasa Shimamura. This made Rui's body posture loosen up immensely, her magenta eyes twinkling in the spotlight, if only slightly. She turned around slightly, noticing Rinko's head popping out through a small crack in the door, studying her with those lavender eyes. Those lavender eyes that continued to hold curiosity and wonder. Now fixated on her, if only for a little while. Rui took a deep breath, placed her chin on the chin rest of the violin, placed her bow on the strings and began playing. The melodies were indeed sharp, radiating off the walls with such intensity it felt like the walls might actually crack or break. The harmonies were also packed with such freedom and life, light to casual listeners, but advanced music listeners like Akira, Ayasa, and even Rinko could tell the were several sharp undertones in the harmonies.

Akira looked at Ayasa, her deep sea blue eyes widening with shock.

"Ayasa, did you teach her that as well?! She's only eleven years old!! Yet you give her such advanced techniques?!"

Ayasa looked at Akira through the corner of her eye.

"Come on Aki. You know i'd never teach your daughter that unless I knew she was ready. This was all her doing... and that scares me."

Akira's mouth opened with pure shock. "You mean...Rui taught herself that? At such a young age as well...but without the proper practice it's only a matter of time before this falls apart..."

Ayasa continued observing Rui's violin playing, noticing Rui's body movements along with the violin mirrored some of her own. Ayasa couldn't help but have a tiny smile on her face as Rui's playing slowly came to a stop. The audience applauded as Ayasa turned to Akira.

"I guess it didn't fall apart like you said Akira. Your daughter is good... but..."

Akira seemed to finish the sentence that Ayasa was thinking of, but didn't wish to speak of.

"But it won't be enough to place will it?"

Ayasa shook her head as Akira let out a small sigh.

Sure enough, when it came time to reveal the individuals who had placed, Rui was not among the names listed. Rui however, did see Rinko's name at the top of the list. That's when Rui's eyes lost the sparkle that was there when she was performing.

Rui looked up at her mother, noticing Ayasa had already left.

"Where did Ayasa go?"

Akira smiled sadly.

"She had to leave sweetie... she had an appointment to go to. She told me to tell you that she was proud of you."

Rui nodded, noticing Rinko approaching her.

"What is it that you want Rinko?" There was more venom in the question than Rui had intended, but at this point she didn't care. She just wanted to get the hell out of that god forsaken music hall and never return.

Rinko shuffled around a little.

"I'm... sorry about you not being able to place...I wish you could have. I thought you... were really good."

"At the end of the day, it is not up to you Rinko. It is up to the judges. They deem whether or not all the hours every musician put into their instrument was worth it. Clearly, all those hours I had placed into my violin was worthless. Everything I had practiced... every piece. Meaningless. There is no reason for me to continue playing." Rui looked over at Rinko before continuing.

"I am sure a natural such as yourself will go on to do great things in the music world. Goodbye Rinko."

Rui turned on her heel and began walking away.

"W-Wait Rui!!"

Rui stopped moving, but refused to turn and face those lavender eyes that were laced with sorrow and pity.

"I thought... that your violin... was amazing!!! Please.... keep playing Rui."

Rui said nothing, instead proceeding to grab her mother's hand and gently tug. Signaling that Rui wanted to leave, Akira nodded in understanding. Akira smiled at Rinko, before taking Rui and walking toward Akira's Stingray. Rui placed the violin in the backseat, along with herself as Akira got into the driver's seat and began driving back home. Akira looked at Rui through the rearview mirror and that's when Akira's eyes widened slightly. She saw Rui's face, completely dull and seemingly lifeless. Akira looked into Rui's eyes, seeing the dullness inside of them. Not being able to place after dozens upon dozens of hours of practice. It hurts inside.

Akira took a deep breath and finally spoke.

"Rui...are you alright?"

Rui's response was immediate.

"I'm done playing the violin."

Akira's eyes went wide, before proceeding to stop the car at a red light. Akira then turned in her seat so she could take a better look at her daughter.

"Rui...I know it's hard, I know that it's frustrating... but that just means you can improve and get better. That little friend of yours-"

"Rinko is not my friend. She's a natural talent... but not my friend."

Akira sighed. "Rui you don't have to sound so bent out of shape about it. She just wants you to keep playing. She loved it."

"What Rinko loves about my violin does not matter. It was up to the judges and they clearly did not love my violin playing. What Rinko wants from me is irrelevant because I am not her friend."

Akira's eyes softened, looking into her daughter's dull and lifeless eyes.

"Are you sure you want to quit playing the violin sweetie?"

Rui nodded immediately.

"Yes mom. I'm sure, I do not wish to play the violin any longer."

Yashio Residence, August 19th, Current Day, 12:07 AM.

Rui's eyes snapped open, suddenly jolting out of bed. She glanced at her clock and saw that it was barely past midnight.

"I suppose I should get started. Only thinking about what this day means will only damage me further." With that, Rui stood up and started getting dressed. She made her bed, fixed her hair, and went downstairs. She looked at the kitchen, where Rui swore that she could have seen an image of her mother fixing breakfast. Rui rubbed her eyes, and the image was gone.

"I suppose lashing out against my mother has caused me to see things out of guilt..." Rui let out a small sigh.

'Of all the things for me to say to my mother... why did I lash out saying that she wasn't here enough? She works three jobs... and it's all to help support me...I truly should apologize to her...'

Rui turned on her heel and went outside, making sure to grab her car keys off the table on her way out.

Visage Agency, August 19th, 12:25 AM

Akira sat alone, taking the green eyed contacts out of her eyes as she stared at herself in the mirror. Stuck in a small room with nothing but white walls, a chair, a mirror, and a counter filled with makeup, eye contacts, hair spray, and a closet with a variety of outfits ranging from punk rock to emo girl to businesswoman. Akira sighed, snapping the wig off her head and ran a hand through her natural black spiky hair. She stared into the mirror silently, cursing at herself for what had transpired between herself and her daughter.

'Oh Rui.... you are aware i'm trying to do all of this for you... right? Of course you do... you're a smart girl. I just... hope you'll forgive me for leaving you alone so often...'

That's when Akira felt a buzz in her pocket, she took out her phone and saw she had received a text message.

Text message from "Ayasa🎻🖤" received.
Akira opened up the text and started reading it.

"Hey... is Rui okay? I know that... today is that special day for her..."
Akira sighed, offering up a sad smile as she sent a reply out.

"No...I tried to get her to open up to me about it... but I think I may have pushed her too far. I ended up getting screamed at... i've never seen her like that...Ayasa...am I doing something wrong as a mother?"

Akira waited as she saw the three dots appear next to Ayasa, signaling that she was typing. Her phone went off a few moments later with another vibration.

"Aki you're doing great as a mother! Rui is just one of those kids that keeps things bottled up. She probably thinks that it's childish to cling onto things like that. I think you have to show her, or at the very least tell her calmly, that it's okay to be childish every once in a while. It's okay to open up and talk about the pain you're feeling. I know I didn't place in a lot of music competitions either and I was pissed remember? :) but I talked about it with you afterward and was fine. I think you just need to show Rui that you'll be there for her when she's ready."

"Ayasa i've tried. But every time I try one of the jobs gets in the way..."

"You can't ask for a day off?"

"Says the pro that's using her actual cell phone when she shouldn't be?"

"Haha, not the point Aki!! Ask for a day off if you can! If
you can't...well...I guess you'll have to be there for her the day after!"

"Ayasa she only gets like this on the 19th of August..."

"Hmm... then get done ASAP!!! Don't rush, but don't take your sweet ass time with the pictures and modeling either!! If you really want to be there for her then go and get done!!! Don't waste anymore time talking to me and finish!!"

"You texted me first Ayasa..."

"Not the point Aki!!!"

"Haha. Right, i'll try and get done as soon as I can. Thanks Ayasa 🖤🖤🖤"

With a small smile on her face, Akira quickly opened up the closet, her eyes scanning for the next outfit to model. Her eyes quickly set on the punk outfit as she started to get changed.

'I promise Rui... i'll be there for you... just don't do anything stupid while i'm gone. You shouldn't, you're smarter than that... but...'

Akira quickly shook her head, pushing those thoughts out of her mind.

Roselia Garage, August 19th, 12:40 AM

Several tools were laid down next to an open toolbox. The hood of a silver 2014 Carrera 4S was open, showing off it's 3.8 liter 6 cylinder engine. The owner of the Carrera sighed, running a hand through her teal coloured hair. Her green eyes observing the engine as both hands laid on the rim of the hood. The woman let out a frustrated sigh.

"This needs to be improved. An increase in acceleration would be a good place to start. Then fixing up the tires. Should I do anything to the exhaust? No... perhaps I could upgrade the engine to the point of getting a new tachometer... maybe get some new speed gauges for the car too..."

The woman was interrupted by a light turning on. She turned and saw a woman with dark brown hair in an extremely messy ponytail, a white tank top, and small black shorts with pink slippers.

"Lisa... i'm sorry to have woken you up again. I'll finish up-"

The woman known as Lisa offered a tired smile.

"Don't worry about it Sayo. If I can help you in any way just let me know! But..."

Lisa ran a hand through her messy brown hair before continuing.

"I get that you want to improve your car and skills... but this is the fifth night you've stayed up past midnight working on your Carrera. Not to mention the seven test runs you did three nights ago. Sayo you need to know when to take a break."

The woman now known as Sayo grit her teeth, shutting the hood of her Carrera as she looked over at Lisa.

"I don't remember Yukina taking many breaks, if any. If i'm going to improve and possibly represent Roselia as a professional then I need my Carrera in peak condition giving the most optimal performance. I need to if i'm going to be able to say i'm better than her..."

Lisa sighed and gave a soft smile.

"The only reason Yukina rarely took a break was because she was driven to achieve her goal. It was a borderline obsession... but that's only more reason for you to get some sleep! So that way you'll be physically and mentally ready as well. It's one thing if your car is ready, but if you aren't at your best then there's no point to the Carrera being at its best!"

Sayo grit her teeth, clenching both her hands into fists as she looked at her Carrera. Sayo eventually let out a sigh, releasing her fists back into hands.

"I suppose...a couple hours of rest wouldn't hurt..."

Lisa smiled, placing a comforting hand on Sayo's shoulder.

"That's more like it. Go on and get some sleep! I'll help you work on the Carrera in a few hours okay?"

Lisa looked at Sayo, giving her a once over with her eyes. Sayo had a teal green top with black shorts on, blue slippers, but that's when Lisa noticed a few things. First, the dark bags under Sayo's eyes seemed to be getting worse and worse. And the bags are a lot darker than a couple of nights ago. Second, Sayo's long green hair looked like she had been through a tornado. Her hair seemed to stick up in several places, not to mention it was slightly dirty in a couple places. Lisa peered over, getting a nice look at the Carrera. The car itself had seemed to be fine. It was clean, and from the look of tools scattered all over the garage, Sayo had seemed to be working nonstop. That's when Lisa noticed something on Sayo's wrist.

"Sayo... where'd you get that scar?" Lisa's brown eyes widened with worry and fear. Had that scar always been there? Had Lisa not noticed? She could've swore that the scar on Sayo's wrist wasn't there a few nights ago!

Sayo quickly peered down, noticing the scar was visible in Lisa's field of vision. She quickly grabbed her hand and hid it from Lisa.

"I got the scar from an accident. I'll see you in a few hours Lisa." Sayo quickly responded, going back inside the house and closing the door. Leaving Lisa alone with the Carrera and her thoughts.

'Sayo...I understand you wanting to be better than... her. But working until you drop isn't the answer... and that scar on your wrist... what accident could have caused that?'

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, 7:30 AM

Rui sat alone in the student council office, gazing at the group chat on her cell phone. Her cell phone had been blowing up the past fifteen minutes with messages from the rest of Morfonica.

"Morfonica 🦋"

Touko: where did you go last night Rui?! You just vanished after the race with Masuki!

Rui: I went home afterward. I did not know you wished to speak to me after the race was complete. Had I known, I would have returned...

Nanami: RuiRui, did you feel anything during the race against Masuki?

Tsukushi: yeah! We want to know! I mean, you just beat the second best driver from RAS! That's gotta make you feel something!!

Rui: ...

Mashiro: um...Rui? Are you okay?

Rui: i'm fine. I regret to inform you all that I did not feel anything that you all had previously described to me. There was no sense of joy, ecstasy...

Mashiro: r- really? :(

Rui: ...yes. I am sorry that i was unable to feel anything.

Touko: ah seriously? Nothing? Not even a smidge of happiness?

Rui: ...no.

Touko: You sure?

Rui: yes.

Nanami: really sure?

Rui: yes.

Touko: reaaaaallllyyyyy sure?

Rui: Yes...

Touko: really really really really really really really sure?

Rui: Touko...

Mashiro: come on Touko... she said no.

Touko: but I don't get it!!

Tsukushi: let's just... let it go. Rui said that would be her only race...

Mashiro: yeah... :(

Rui: i'm afraid I must be going, I need to attend to a couple of things.

Touko: like what? Student council things?

Rui: if you are going to ask me a question, do not try to answer it beforehand.

Mashiro: um...Rui? Do you think maybe we could...talk for a little while?

Rui: ... i'm at the student council's office. If any of you wish to speak with me face to face then make it quick.

A few minutes went by and soon enough, the rest of Morfonica was at the student council office.

"Rui!" Mashiro exclaimed quietly, as Rui opened up the door to the office. Rui crossed her arms, looking at the rest of Morfonica with her dark magenta eyed gaze.

"If you wish to speak to me about the race, then I suggest you all leave. I do not wish to continue speaking about something i've already discussed."

Mashiro started to fiddle with the tip of her snow white hair, before her baby blue eyes met with Rui's dark magenta eyes. Mashiro noticed the slight dark bags under Rui's eyes as her baby blue eyes widened.

"Um...Rui... are you doing okay? You don't look...so good."

Rui's dull eyes looked down at Mashiro and her baby blue eyes.

"I'm fine. Just a lack of sleep."

Touko chimed in.

"If it's a lack of sleep then tell us what you need! We'll do it! Help in any way we can!"

Nanami smiled.

"RuiRui if you're feeling stressed or exhausted you can tell us. We can help."

Tsukushi smiled up at Rui.

"Is it something going on at school or at home?"

Rui shook her head violently.

"No. It is none of those things. I appreciate the concern but it is not a situation that can be solved by any of you. This is something that only I can deal with."

Mashiro finally spoke up.

"I... if that's true then fine. But... do you want to at least talk to us about it? Maybe that can help at least a little bit...Rui if you're hurting just know that-"

Rui couldn't take anymore.

"Shut up!! ALL OF YOU JUST SHUT THE FUCK UP! I don't want to talk about it okay?! I've already stated that this situation cannot be solved by any of you!! SO STOP ASKING ME ABOUT IT, AND LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!!!"

Rui took a few deep breaths, before storming out of the student council's office.

"Ah! Rui!!" Touko screamed out, attempting to run after her but was grabbed at the wrist by Tsukushi.

"Let her go.... she needs to be alone and solve this on her own. She said so herself..."

Tsukushi sighed softly, as Nanami looked over at the area where Rui left.

"She's... headed toward the courtyard..."

Mashiro just stood there, her baby blue eyes widened before quietly breaking out into a sob.

"Rui...we just want to be there for you... b-but all you seem to be doing lately... is pushing us away from you..."

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, Courtyard, 7:45 AM

Rui sighed, rubbing her temples as she sat down on a nearby bench.

'Now here I am lashing out at the rest of Morfonica... they did nothing wrong, nor had any involvement in me quitting the violin. Come to think of it... neither did Rinko... yet I indirectly blamed her for it...I suppose i still am a little childish.'

Rui snapped out of her thoughts, hearing the sound of a car engine and a window rolling down. Rui's magenta eyes widened. Those lavender eyes, still laced with curiosity and wonder, albeit a little bit of pity and sadness. She locked eyes with the girl after five whole years. Five years of regret. Five years of pain. Five years of mental anguish. All indirectly placed on the girl Rui saw in front of her.

"Rui? Can...we talk?"

".....Rinko..."

Before Rui could give out an answer, they r were interrupted by a small crowd of girls quickly approaching Rinko's R-34.

"That's Rinko Shirokane!!"

"From Roselia?! What's she doing here?! And with Rui Yashio no less!"

"Rui Yashio?! The girl that beat Masuki Satou last night?!?"

Rinko sweat dropped. Perhaps coming to Rui's school so early in the morning wasn't the best idea.

Rinko was quickly interrupted by Rui opening the passenger side door,
"If you wish to talk with me, it's best if we do it away from the crowd wouldn't you agree?"

Rinko quietly nodded, driving off toward Tsukinomori's course. The silence ras extremely long. Rinko continued glancing at Rui from the corner of her eye, noticing Rui was simply staring forward with her hands firmly grasping the handle of her bag. After about ten minutes of silence, Rinko finally spoke up.

"Um... how've you been? Are you... doing okay?"

Rui stared at Rinko with an expressionless look on her face.

"I hope you did not come all the way here to discuss that day. The less I speak about it, the better off i will be. I will be getting out of the car if this is your only reason." Rui grabbed the car door handle, but Rinko grabbed her wrist.

"W-wait!! Um...Rui... it's really important... please..." Rinko looked into Rui's magenta eyes, noticing Rui's eyes held nothing but dullness in them.

Rui on the other hand couldn't stop her heart from beating so fast due to the anxiety Rinko's stare brought. Those lavender eyes filled with wonder and joy were quickly replaced with sadness and pain. The look and emotions that Rui didn't want to see when looking into Rinko's eyes.

'Just another person disappointed in me... someone with her natural talent must have achieved great success. While people like me can barely hope to match up against people like her. It's pointless to be holding onto this childish grudge. It isn't like Rinko personally made me quit the violin, or she forced me to quit. So why... do I still feel so much anxiety and resentment? I suppose that's my childish side trying to hold on to that violinist's dream that'll never happen...'

"Rui...I quit the piano."

Rui's magenta eyes blinked, slowly going wide with shock before returning to normal.

"Why? You had such talent for the piano... and you threw it away?!" Rui didn't mean to let the bit of anger slip out at the end of the question, but it just came. That little bit of raw emotion, that little girl inside Rui was trying to cry out through the bit of anger Rui accidentally expressed.

Rinko couldn't help but give a sad smile, her lavender eyes softening as she looked at Rui.

"Well... I loved the piano. Don't get me wrong, I loved playing so much but...well...a friend of mine persuaded me to join Roselia... and i... loved driving just a little more."

Rui grit her teeth, looking over at Rinko.

"So you threw away your natural talent because your friend made you join a team? You traded in your piano for a car? That seems childish. I did not expect this from you Rinko."

Rinko chuckled softly.

"Yeah... but... i'm glad i... made the choice to join...I wouldn't have... changed all that much otherwise."

Rinko smiled, looking at Rui as the ex violinist player remained silent.

"Rui... did you... quit playing the violin because of me?"

Rui's eyes widened slightly, noticing Rinko suddenly taking interest in looking at the road ahead of her.

"Not entirely. I admit, you were an indirect cause. However, the main reason I quit was because I believed my skills were inadequate. I saw you play, and I felt extremely inadequate in comparison. You were a natural while all I could do was practice until I nearly collapsed. Natural talent defeats hard work at everything. So I stopped."

"Rui...i... i'm sorry...I didn't mean to-"

"You did nothing wrong. You were simply playing your best. It was a childish dream to begin with... it was childish to even blame you in the first place. I apologize Rinko."

"Rui..." Rinko smiled. "There's nothing wrong with being childish and holding onto a dream. I think... that childish part of you...sees me as a rival... and i'm grateful in that regard."

"Rinko what you're saying sounds more and more ridiculous by the moment..."

Rinko giggled. "Maybe... but still... you had a part of you that remained childish for five years...a part of you that's scared... and that's okay."

Rui blinked. It was okay? Okay for her to hold onto some petty grudge for five years that wasn't even Rinko's fault to begin with? Okay to act immature and blame Rinko anyway? Okay to lash out at her mother and the rest of Morfonica?

"Rui..." Rinko continued. "You have to face your fears. Bottling it up and trying to bury that small part of you... will only make it worse. And I think...I have a solution..."

Rui peered over at Rinko.

"A solution? What was it that you had in mind?"

"I think... we should have a race. I think... that'll be good for you... to get over your fears of failure..."

"Rinko...I told the rest of Morfonica that my race against Masuki last night would be my only race..."

Rinko smiled. "I think... you should make an exception... otherwise... it'll only lead to you bottling this up for another year..."

Rinko stopped the car, and Rui stepped out of the car looking at Rinko.

"Rinko.... very well... tonight. About 9:30. Does that work?"

Rinko nodded and smiled. "Yeah. I'll see you tonight. Can't wait to face... y-your Camaro." Rinko drove off, leaving Rui to walk inside Tsukinomori's front door.

Chu2's Garage, 8 AM

Masuki's Nissan 300ZX was drifting around a right bend, noticeably a lot less sharper than usual. Smoke wasn't coming out of the tires like they normally would from the pressure Masuki applied. Masuki stepped out of her Nissan, wearing a dark yellow tank top with dark blue jean shorts and yellow sneakers.

"How was that Lay? Am I getting better with the sharp bends?"

Layer stepped out of the passenger's side door with a smile. Dawning a red tank top, black shorts, and dark brown boots. She looked at Masuki and nodded.
"Yes. It seems you're getting better at the corners. Not to mention your tires are holding up a lot more than they normally would. Great job Masuki!" Layer closed her eyes and smiled. She then felt a vibration from her phone, as did Masuki. A notification from the Tsurumaki Corporation. Whenever races are scheduled to happen, the Tsurumaki Corporation made sure it got posted on their racing network website. They both took their phones out with both Masuki and Layer's eyes widening. Masuki was the first to speak up.

"The fuck?!?"

Layer's eyes narrowed, scanning the article title.

"This will be very interesting to say the least. "

 

The article title read as follows.

"Clash! Rui Yashio's Z28 Camaro to face against Rinko Shirokane's R-34 Skyline at Tsukinomori!"

Chapter Text

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, August 19th, 8 AM

Rui sat down in her seat as the bell rang, signaling that class was beginning. She avoided eye contact with Morfonica, as well as the rest of the students that sent a gaze her way.

'Something is clearly amiss. I understand why the rest of Morfonica would be gazing at me. But other students as well? If Morfonica discussed what had taken place at the student council's office then that could very well be the reason. However, they wouldn't discuss that sort of thing so openly... would they? I should hold off on jumping toward any sort of conclusion until I know more.'

Rui wouldn't have to wait very long before students started whispering about why they were staring at her. However, it wasn't because of the incident inside the student council's office like she had predicted.

"Did you hear? Rui was with Rinko Shirokane!"

"I heard that those two are gonna be racing tonight, right here at Tsukinomori!"

"Whaaa? Seriously? Rui's facing someone from Roselia!? She's bound to lose!"

"I heard Rui actually beat Masuki Satou of Raise A Suilen last night! So, she may actually have a chance of pulling this off."

Rui rolled her eyes before letting out a sigh. How did they find out about Rui racing Rinko anyway? She just told Rinko about the race a few minutes ago! She'd have to get more information after class was finished.

Roselia's Garage, 8:30 AM

Rinko's R-34 slowly pulled into the driveway, as Rinko got out of her car and headed toward the house through the garage. She saw Sayo leaning against the hood of her Carrera with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face.

"Sayo... what seems to be the matter?" Rinko asked as her lavender eyes softened.

"Rinko..." Sayo's tone was icy. "Why are you racing tonight?"

Rinko gulped.

"I... ran into someone I saw last night... and I decided... to challenge them to a race. To see if... they're okay." Rinko said as she avoided eye contact with Sayo's emerald green eyes.

"You left early this morning... where were you going?"

Rinko gulped once again.

"Tsukinomori..."

Sayo's eyes narrowed, proceeding to glare at the shy timid girl.

"You mean you went to Tsukinomori... and challenged someone to a race. Rui Yashio I assume?"

Rinko's lavender eyes widened.

"Y- you mean that-"

"The Tsurumaki Corporation posted an article about it? Yes. And you didn't think to tell any of us about it?!?" Sayo said, lashing out at Rinko.

"I... it's a personal matter Sayo-"

"Personal feelings don't belong in Roselia!!! Or did you forget that Rinko?" Sayo said lashing out with more venom in her tone.

"I...I didn't.... but if...I didn't go then... the issue wouldn't be solved... and Rui-"

Sayo once again interrupted her.

"You should know better than to challenge anyone to a race. We don't go and throw out challenges. We wait to be challenged and test our cars against people who we believe will push us to our limits and then some. We don't have time to waste on our personal issues. We agreed to that when we joined Rinko... I assume you remember."

Rinko slowly nodded, she remembered all too well.

Haneoka Girls High School, One Year Ago, August 19th, 9:30 AM

An orange 1993 Mazda RX-7 and silver 2014 Carrera were parked outside Haneoka, the two drivers leaning against their cars. Lisa, dawning a red t-shirt with blue shorts and sneakers, was the first to speak up.

"Yukina said we were meeting here to meet potential new members?"

Lisa said with a smile, leaning against her Mazda casually.

Sayo, with a light blue buttoned up shirt, black shorts and converse sneakers, spoke with her arms crossed and her eyes closed.

"Yes. Yukina told us to meet them here, and that she would be by as well. In fact..." Sayo slowly opens her eyes. "I think I hear one of them coming now."

Both Sayo and Lisa turned their heads to the sound of a loud engine, as they saw a black 2011 Tesla Roadster park next to Sayo's Carrera.

A girl stepped out, no older than about sixteen. She had dark purple pigtails, crimson red eyes, a black shirt, black shorts and black sneakers.

"Spawning from the darkest depths of hell, comes a creature so dark, so dangerous that...umm... umm... "

Sayo pinched the bridge of her nose. She wanted nothing more than to slam her head through the windshield of her Carrera, or just drive off right then and there. Someone that acts like a child still in elementary school, should not be in a racing team such as this one.

Lisa spoke up.

"A Tesla huh? That's awesome!! Those things are fast!"

The girl beamed in excitement.

"Yeah yeah!! I absolutley love Teslas!! My older sister drives one and she's so cool!! I want to be just like her! So i-"

"You bought a Tesla so you could copy your sister. I suppose your driving style is very similar to hers as well? You lack your own identity so you cling onto your older sister...I already fucking despise you."

Sayo stated, practically staring a hole through the younger girl, as the young girl whimpered in fear from Sayo's words and gaze.

"Sayo be nice!!" Lisa scolded gently as she smiled at the younger girl.

"I'm sorry about Sayo. She's a good driver but she's kinda rough around the edges. I'm Lisa by the way!! What's your name?" Lisa closed her eyes and smiled as the young girl's crimson eyes lit up.

"I'm Ako Udagawa! I can't wait to be a part of Roselia!"

 

"That's if we deem you make the cut."

Sayo stated in her usual icy tone.

"Anyway, Ako do you know if any other people were coming this way?" Lisa asked with a smile.

Ako's crimson eyes averted to the ground.

"Well...I didn't see anybody else coming down this way. I told my friend about this, but I don't think she's coming..."

Ako let out a sigh as Lisa gave a soft smile.

"Hey there's still time! Your friend may be showing up after all!"

Shirokane Residence, One Year Ago, August 19th, 9:40 AM

Rinko sat alone downstairs, eyes sadly gazing at the black and white keys of her piano. The piano that had made such beautiful harmonies and melodies, the same piano that brought tragedy to several other young musicians simply trying their best to get to the top of the music world. People playing guitars, bass guitars, pianos, and...violins.

Thinking about the violin made Rinko sigh. Looking down at the black and white keys, Rinko couldn't help but feel consumed by the dark aura that she felt radiating off her piano. All the destroyed dreams, all the passions that she had killed, all the misery she had caused because of the instrument. It all came rushing inside Rinko's mind,as Rinko felt herself drowning in the darkness that was her piano. She snapped out of her thoughts as she felt her phone vibrate.

Text message from "Ako" and "Kanon Shizaki 🎹🖤" received!
Ako: RinRin!! The meeting with Roselia is at Haneoka!! I sense two powerful bosses here, and i'm kinda scared...
Kanon: don't let this day get you down... it's sad but that's what happens when you play music competitively. If you ever need to talk, i'm here for you always. 🖤

Rinko couldn't help but smile at the message from Kanon. She was Kanon's student after all. To see Kanon give advice like that brought warmth to Rinko's heart. As for Ako's message, Rinko was a bit uncertain. Should she go? Maybe... just for a little while right? It's better than staying here staring at the piano... feeling all this guilt...

"Every piece... meaningless..."

Rui's words echoed through Rinko's mind, as Rinko quickly grabbed her car keys and left her house.

About twenty minutes later (and almost getting lost thanks to Ako's directions) Rinko finally made it to Haneoka. She parked her R-34 next to Ako's Tesla. Rinko stepped out of her R-34, dawning a black tank top, dark blue shorts, and black sneakers. Rinko avoided eye contact with the two other girls that she wasn't familiar with.

"Hi!! You're another one of the new recruits right? My name's Lisa! The moody one leaning by her Carrera is Sayo. What's your name?"

The woman known as Lisa smiled as Rinko started stuttering.

"M-my name is...R-Rinko Shirokane. I- it's nice to m-meet you."

Lisa smiled brighter. "I see you drive a GTR. An R-34 Skyline is a great choice. It's an all wheel drive, so you've got a lot of traction and grip. Not to mention getting off the starting line is pretty fast! Great choice for a car Rinko!"

Rinko blushed at the praise coming from the older woman, this wasn't what Rinko was expecting from Roselia at all. She expected them to be more... strict... more competitive.

"T- thank you very much Lisa. I-"

Rinko was interrupted as she heard another car's engine, she followed the sound and her lavender eyes widened. A white 2018 Mustang GT pulled into the parking lot next to Lisa's Mazda. The driver got out of the car and started walking toward the rest of the group. Rinko and Ako gulped. Long silver hair, sharp golden eyes, white leather jacket, white t-shirt, white shorts and white heels. Each step the driver took felt like the entire earth was shaking. A tremendous aura oozed from the woman. She stopped in front of the other girls, her sharp gaze looking over the rest of the girls.

"I will not mince words. My name is Yukina Minato and I am looking for the best drivers in Osaka. If you don't think you're up for this then get in your car and leave. We don't have time to waste on confidence issues or anything personal. You will leave your personal problems and goals far behind. You are to devote yourself to this team and their purpose: make it to the professionals. I will accept nothing less than your best. Questions?"

"Yeah! What do you mean by leaving our goals behind? We should only be devoted to the team but we can't have any goals of our own?!" Ako said, completely flabbergasted. She knew Yukina was going to be harsh and dictator like, but this? Not being able to have any sort of goal yourself? Just devote yourself to the team and that's it?!

"Congratulations, you've reiterated what I have already stated. When you agree to join Roselia, you will agree to these conditions. No goals of your own, no personal feelings to cloud your judgement. No personal issues to get in your way. You are not to challenge anyone, we are only going to accept challenges that will strive us to push forward. Test the limits of ourselves and our cars, test how far we can go as drivers. If you do not feel that the person who challenged you will be a suitable or worthy opponent, then you have every right to decline that challenge."

The rest of the girls gulped and nodded, hearing Yukina's icy tone was enough to convince everyone to keep their mouths shut. Yukina slowly walked over, peering at the Tesla and the GTR.

"A Tesla and GTR... whoever owns the Tesla is either very brave or simply an idiot. An electric engine could very well die out on any track if it's not charged. Not to mention the power comes with the cost of being able to handle the car. If you can't handle your car then you are useless to this team. As for the GTR owner, I actually have a bit of respect for you. An all wheel drive causes great traction and grip. Not to mention off the starting line it's relatively fast. I want this GTR upgraded, I want the engine to reach about 400 horsepower, and I want either the acceleration or speed to be improved. Do I make myself clear?" Yukina asked with an icy tone cold enough to make icebergs freeze. Rinko gulped and nodded in fear.

"Y-yes! I understand."

Yukina looked at Rinko and Ako from the side of her eye.

"What are your names?"

"Ako Udagawa. And i'll make you regret calling me an idiot!! I'll make my Tesla faster than your Mustang!!"

"R-Rinko Shirokane...I own the GTR. I- i'll do as you say and modify it right away!"

Yukina nods. "Good. You're capable of listening. Now let's see how well you both handle your cars. You are to both get inside your cars and do a lap around Haneoka. There are some decently sized straight roads, but there are several corners. Some of them are small, others are wide. Some corners will be sharp, so it's up to you to decide when to brake and what gear to have the car be in. This course is perfect for both of your cars. Now get inside your cars. Time to see if you're fit to join Roselia."

Roselia's Garage, Present Day, August 19th, 8:40 AM.

Lisa stepped outside, noticing Rinko had come back.

"Ah! Rinko you're back!!"

Rinko gasped and smiled.

"Good morning Lisa!"

Sayo grit her teeth in annoyance.

"Rinko!! Do you not understand the magnitude of what you just did?!? If Yukina was here you'd be lucky enough to still have your damn car! The fuck were you thinking?!"

Rinko whimpered to herself as Lisa chimed in, placing a hand on Sayo's shoulder.

"Come on Sayo. I've seen the article too and i'm not that upset about it. Besides, if Rinko wins then there's no trouble right? And who knows? Rui may pose a challenge. She did beat Masuki Satou in her first race after all!"

Sayo rolled her eyes in annoyance. "The only one that's actually a good driver on RAS is Layer. Everyone else on that so called racing team isn't worth our time. They're like a slightly upgraded version of Afterglow with the exception of Layer...Layer's good enough to join Roselia..."

Lisa gave Sayo a smile and looked over at Rinko. "Just make sure your GTR is ready for tonight okay?" Lisa winked and grinned as Rinko nodded.

"Yes! I'll bring v- victory to Roselia!"

Sayo growled to herself. 'You'd better Rinko...for your sake and everyone else's.'

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, August 19th, 12:30 PM, Cafeteria.

The four members of Morfonica quietly sat at their usual table, a silence looming over the rest of the group.

Touko was the one to finally break the silence.

"You guys think Rui's okay?"

Everyone else tensed slightly at the mention of Rui's name.

"I- i'm not sure...her snapping at us like that... that isn't like her. But... whatever is happening with her...m- must of caused this...if only...we knew what it was then we could-" Mashiro's miniature speech was interrupted by Tsukushi.

"Rui said she needed to solve this on her own... it pains me to say this but we should probably let her be..."

Nanami pulled her phone out, her eyes widening.

"Woah." Was all that Nanami could mutter out as the rest of Morfonica faced her with piqued interest. Nanami showed her phone to the rest of Morfonica as they all read the title of the article to themselves before letting out a collective "WHAT?!?!?"

R-Rui's racing Rinko Shirokane?! T- tonight!? Here?!?" Mashiro stuttered in shock.

"This is what she meant when she said she needed to solve this on her own?!? A race against one of the best drivers in Osaka?!" Touko shrieked.

"A R-34 Skyline against a Z28 Camaro...Rui... whatever you're thinking... you'd better be careful." Tsukushi muttered to herself.

Chu2's Garage, August 19th, 1:00 PM

Chu2 bit into her jerky extremely harder than usual, reading the article that the Tsurumaki Corporation had posted. "Rui Yashio...how dare you. Roselia is our target!! The mere thought of having someone else race against Roselia is unacceptable!!!"

"Quit your fucking complaining Chu2." Masuki growled to herself, stepping inside the garage and taking a seat on the nearby wooden stairs. "So what if Rui races someone from Roselia? Big fucking deal."

Chu2 growled, grabbing Masuki by the shoulders. "Have you forgotten it's our goal to defeat Roselia?! We formed this team for that sole purpose and now Rui could very well beat one of Roselia's drivers!!"

Masuki rolled her eyes. "Quit being so damn dramatic. Rui beats me and all of a sudden you're getting hysterical because there's a chance that Rui could win? You do realize we're talking about Roselia right? The best drivers in Osaka? And Layer's ranked right up there with them! Rui ain't even ranked Chu2 so stop worrying will ya?"

"We shouldn't judge someone based on whether or not they're in the top ten. Rui Yashio is proof of that." Layer stated, appearing by Masuki and Chu2 as said girls jumped out of shock.

"L-Lay! I didn't even hear ya come in or nothin!" Layer chuckled to herself as Masuki shuddered.

"If Rui is successful against Rinko tonight then that simply means Rui is as skilled as someone from Roselia. She could be a potential target for us as well. But I suppose as a team our goal is to defeat all of Roselia and be the first ones to do so." Layer rolled her eyes before continuing. "Personally i'm looking forward to this. A newcomer on the racing scene against someone who's on the best racing team Osaka has to offer. Color me excited." Layer smiled as Masuki smirked to herself.

"Rui Yashio,Rinko Shirokane, shit's going down at Tsukinomori... and those two fuckers are gonna tear that course up!"

Yashio Residence, August 19th, 2:30 PM

After a rather quiet goodbye from the rest of Morfonica, Rui had driven home. She stepped out of her car, closed the car door and headed inside the house. She couldn't blame Morfonica for the quiet goodbye she got, she was the one who lashed out at them after all. Rui wouldn't put it past them if they hated her. She'd hate herself if she was put in their shoes. Getting lashed out at just because someone suffered from pressure and anxiety and they decided you were going to be the target of their rage. Rui quietly cursed at herself before heading up to her room, proceeding to do some mathematics.

 

'Rinko...I do not know if this race will be the solution I am seeking... however I suppose it could not hurt to try. It is certainly better than bottling this up anymore. I've already done so much damage to the relationships I have... it certainly could not get any worse... even if I was to lose. It would not be so bad... it is Rinko after all... and she's a natural talent. It was foolish to accept...but... if I hadn't... i'd only bottle this up more...Touko...Nanami...Tsukushi....Mashiro...mom...I hope one day you can all forgive how i've treated you this day...'

Rui eventually finished her math homework, then opened up her phone. She stared silently at the article that was posted. She saw the headline about her taking on Rinko tonight and rolled her eyes. 'Of course everyone would be aware of it... this article was posted almost immediately after I challenged Rinko.'

Rui noticed the article had mentioned Rinko's car as well as Rui's. 'So my Camaro is a Z28... and Rinko's is an R-34 Skyline...hmm...'

Curious, Rui typed in R-34 in the search box and found several pictures of the car. She found the car came in a variety of colors, but what mostly caught her eye was what she was reading about the engine. A 2.6 liter turbo? What's a turbo? And how does it differ from her engine? She then saw that the car already had 320 horsepower. Going off of what Mashiro had told her, Rui may not have the advantage when it came to power. She recalled Mashiro telling her that her Camaro's engine had 300 horsepower or more. But could she have an advantage when if her engine was more powerful? If something was more powerful it could be harder to handle. That's common sense. However, she was able to constantly steer the car correctly back onto the track after feeling the car's rear swing out. That's when Rui remembered something else as well, she felt it at the beginning of her race with Masuki. Some sort of ditch or gutter, or perhaps it was gravel? Curiosity striking her again, Rui typed in gutter driving in her search box. What she found was a video. She clicked
Curious, Rui typed in R-34 in the search box and found several pictures of the car. She found the car came in a variety of colors, but what mostly caught her eye was what she was reading about the engine. A 2.6 liter turbo? What's a turbo? And how does it differ from her engine? She then saw that the car already had 320 horsepower. Going off of what Mashiro had told her, Rui may not have the advantage when it came to power. She recalled Mashiro telling her that her Camaro's engine had 300 horsepower or more. But could she have an advantage when if her engine was more powerful? If something was more powerful it could be harder to handle. That's common sense. However, she was able to constantly steer the car correctly back onto the track after feeling the car's rear swing out. That's when Rui remembered something else as well, she felt it at the beginning of her race with Masuki. Some sort of ditch or gutter, or perhaps it was gravel? Curiosity striking her again, Rui typed in gutter driving in her search box. What she found was a video. She clicked on it and when she saw the person in front of the car, her eyes widened.

"...Mom...." Akira had a black leather jacket, her natural black spiky hair, a choker, black pants and black combat boots.

"We're rolling Aki!!" Rui's eyes widened again.

"...Ayasa...."

Akira smiled. "Hey everyone, it's Akira!!" She waved to the camera. "So, i'm assuming you all clicked on this video to learn about gutter driving. Otherwise, why are you here?" She giggled before continuing. "There are two ways to use gutters. I will be showing both of these methods, and then explaining both afterward." Akira stepped inside a car Rui wasn't familiar with, this must have been recorded years ago from how young her mother looked. She then saw both gutter methods shown side by side, but Rui for the life of her couldn't comprehend what was going on. After both methods were demonstrated Akira stepped out of the car and smiled.

"Let me explain the methods to you." Akira smiled. "The first method is to help you pass someone. You'll start with your wheels in the gutter. You'll be shot around the corner and pop out of the gutter before the exit of the turn due to the force. Overall, you'll be slow through the corner and on the exit of the turn but have a higher entering speed. It's because of the high entering speed that you'll be able to pass someone. The second method is where you enter the corner faster than usual while overshooting the apex. The apex is the sharpest point of the turn and it's where you should go your slowest. However, for this method you want to overshoot that. You'll be slower going through the corner, but once your wheels land in the gutter you'll be able to step on the gas much sooner. This results in you exiting the turns quicker and catching up to your opponent. I hope these methods help!!" The video ended and Rui couldn't help but bite her lip.

'Mom.....i... ' Rui quickly stood up, dashing downstairs to grab a pen and piece of paper to write down the methods her mother had discussed.

Tsukinomori Girls Academy, August 19th, 9:15 PM

Unlike the last time a race was at Tsukinomori, this time there was at least double the amount of people at the elite school. At least about a few hundred people, if not a thousand or more were packed in on every straight, turn, and tight corner.

That's when fangirls started screaming, seeing Sayo's Carrera, Lisa's RX-7, Ako's Tesla, and Rinko's R-34 start pulling up to the straight road. Only Rinko's R-34 remained on the straight road as the other three girls parked their cars on the side of the road. All the girls stepped out of their cars as Sayo gave a stern glare.

"Win." It was said with enough ice and venom in her voice that it sent a chill up Rinko's spine. Rinko quickly nodded, then heard the sound of other car engines. Rinko noticed a Silvia S15, a Nissan 300ZX, and a Shelby GT500. Rokka and Pareo stepped out of the Silvia,Masuki and Chu2 stepped out of the Nissan and Layer stepped out of the Shelby.

"Raise A Suilen..." Sayo had her arms crossed as she was leaning against her Carrera.

 

"Roselia..." Chu2 growled through her teeth as Layer softly smiled.

"Sayo... it's nice to see you again. How've you been since last time?"

Sayo grit her teeth as Lisa quickly chimed in.

"Hey hey! Take it easy! We're not here to bring up old memories!! Just here for the race tonight. No need to get all hostile!" Lisa chuckled to try and lift the tension from the situation. Layer smiled.

"Of course Lisa. My apologies. I didn't mean anything by-"

"Yukina's offer still stands you know..."

Sayo coldly interjected, her emerald green eyes glaring at Layer. Layer simply rolled her eyes.

"Tell Yukina she can take her offer and shove it up her ass. I'm not interested."

Sayo growled, quickly approaching Layer.

"Why you little-" Sayo was quickly grabbed by Lisa as Masuki was also grabbed by Layer.

"Masuki let it go. It's alright." Masuki growled, having stepped in to defend Layer in case things got physical.

"It ain't my fault Sayo's still bitter about the tie and Yukina offered you a spot on Roselia!"

Ako's eyes went wide with shock.

"Yukina offered Layer a spot on Roselia?!?" Lisa smiled and nodded.

"Yeah, it was about two years ago..."

Lisa quickly stopped herself, hearing a car engine. Everyone quickly turned their heads, Rinko's lavender eyes sparkling.

"Rui..."

The Z28 Camaro quickly pulled up next to Rinko's GTR. Rui's breath started to catch in her throat again, her heartbeat starting to get faster as she quickly swallowed. She took a few deep breaths, quickly attempting to compose herself as she slowly stepped out of her car. She locked eyes with Rinko's lavender eyes, her magenta eyes still filled with dullness.

"Rui... i'm glad you... made it."

Rui didn't say anything, instead just nodding quietly. The last thing that she wanted to do was talk and say something else she'd regret.

Sayo stepped onto the road, getting in between the two cars. "Alright. Enough, time to get this started. Are you both ready?" Both Rinko and Rui nodded, their eyes never leaving the other's gaze. Rinko finally spoke, holding her hand out.

"Good luck tonight."

Rui quietly lifted her hand, before pulling it back, then extending it toward Rinko's, then pulling it back again, before finally grabbing Rinko's hand. Rinko's hand was warm, her grip was surprisingly firm. Rui's hand was ice cold, her grip feeling almost like a death grip.

Both Rui and Rinko went into their respective cars as Sayo held her hand up.

"We go in five seconds!"

"Five! Four! Three! Two! One! GO!!" Sayo threw her hand down.

(Play "House Of Glass" by Alesti)

Both the GTR and the Z28 left off the starting line, their tires both screeching and squealing as the R-34 starts to get in front of the Camaro. Both cars tires start squealing, both Rinko and Rui step on the brake as both their cars rears swing to the left as a right hand bend was coming up. After the turn was completed, the R-34 was ahead on the straight road by about three car lengths. The Z28 started swerving around a little bit before Rui was able to steer the car and get it back to going straight.

"As expected. The Skyline is leading." Layer states with her arms crossed. "It's got all wheel drive, meaning it has great traction and grip on all four tires. With Rui's Z28, which is a rear wheel drive, the grip and traction is only in the back tires. But what it doesn't have in traction or grip it makes up for in acceleration and speed. This'll come down to whether or not Rui's able to last the entire course."

Sayo nods. "Unfortunately, that won't happen. Rinko's GTR has been modified. 400 horsepower, improved acceleration, Rui would be lucky enough to finish the course while still being able to see Rinko through her windshield."

Both the R-34 and Z28 continue down the straightaway, with the R-34 leading by three car lengths. Rinko peered into her rear view mirror, noticing the Camaro was a little far behind.

'Rui....I hope... you can do better... than this... because if you can't... you'll just continue... to...fail.' Rinko pressed down on the gas, her RPM gauge going up to 5 and her speed gauge going up to about 115 MPH and increasing. Rui grit her teeth, stomping down on the gas as her speed gauge went up to 120.

'As I expected...Rinko's a natural...'

Rui's eyes widen, noticing the first gutter. It was quickly coming up on her side, so she sped up a little, her speed gauge going up to 130. Both cars brake, as Rui's front side tire quickly enters the gutter.

'If I remember what mom said in that video, I already overshot the apex... which just means that all i have to do is...'

Rui quickly steps on the gas, as both cars exit the left corner turn. Rui's Z28 shoots forward, now only being about a car and a half length away from Rinko's R-34.

Rinko's lavender eyes widened a little bit as she continues going down another straightaway.

'What did she just do? She wasn't...as close before....'

Both cars continue down the straightaway with the Z28 only about a car and a half length away from the R-34.

Layer couldn't help but smile to herself as she watched the scene unfold before her on the screen.

'Classic gutter run. I'm impressed Rui managed to figure this out so quickly...not bad Rui Yashio...not bad at all.'

"What the hell was that?!" Masuki exclaimed, her eyes going wide with shock. The Z28 sucks at going through tight corners! Has she gotten faster or what?!"

Layer chuckled. "I'll explain later Masuki. Right now, let's just enjoy this."

Sayo growled to herself, of all the times for Rinko to start losing her lead it just had to be now. Lisa's eyes went wide with shock, as did Ako's.

(Transistion to "Take The Pain Away" by Alesti)

The R-34 was continuing to lead on the straightaway, but only by about a car length. The Z28 quickly started catching up as Rinko smiled to herself.

'Whatever you did... it seems like you're getting better...I hope... you can continue to show me...how much you can improve.'

Rui's eyes widened slightly.

'Am i.... actually... getting closer? I...do i... have...a chance?' Rui gulped, her heartbeat started ringing in her ears. Her breath started to catch in her throat again, alarms were ringing in her head, telling her to turn the car around and go home. To leave and forget this happened. To accept the fact that nothing would change, no matter how hard she tried. Yet she continued to have her foot down on the accelerator. She continued to push forward.

'Why...why am I still... moving...why...am I still trying to...beat her? This... this doesn't make any sense to me...why?! I can't win...sure... i've gotten closer but...i... '

Both cars braked again, their rears swinging out to the right to complete a left handed corner. After the turn, Rui had to steer the car back to going straight. That's when she saw it. Her eyes widening.

'No... you shouldn't be here...none of you should be here...why? You should all be furious with me!! So... why.... why are you here?!?' Rui screamed mentally as she saw the rest of Morfonica against the guardrail.

"Rui!!! You can do this!! Keep going!!" Touko screamed.

"We believe in you RuiRui!!" Nanami screamed.

""Don't you dare lose Rui!!!" Tsukushi screamed

Mashiro's baby blue eyes made contact with Rui through the car window. Mashiro's baby blue eyes had tears at the corner of her eyes.

"Win...win...WIN RUI!!!" Mashiro screamed as the Z28 and R-34 continued down the straightaway.

'Morfonica.... you... you shouldn't... after what I did and said to you... none of you should... it doesn't make any sense... you...i....i....'

Rui's breath was caught in her throat. Why was Morfonica here?! They should be pissed! Upset! Furious! Something, but this? Rui wasn't expecting this at all.

"Holy shit, Rui might actually pull this off!!" Masuki exclaimed with a grin. "Roselia could actually suffer a loss!"

Chu2's eyes went wide. Should she be happy? Sad? Ecstatic? Angry? Rui Yashio just comes out of nowhere with her old Camaro, beats Masuki, and could possibly defeat someone from Roselia?! The team that she vowed to defeat?! Honestly...Chu2 couldn't stand Rui, or Roselia... but... it would be nice to see Roselia knocked down a peg.

"Godammit Rinko!!!" Sayo growled, her emerald green eyes sharpening as she practically pierced a hole through the screen with her gaze. "You made it this far and now you're going to choke?! Now you're going to fail after all the modifications and upgrades we gave that damn GTR?! Unacceptable!!" Sayo screamed as she clenched her fists.

Lisa quietly tried to place a hand on Sayo's shoulder. "Sayo the race-"

Sayo quickly yanked her shoulder away with a quiet growl. "Get the hell off me Lisa...if Rinko fails... then..." Sayo didn't finish her sentence as Lisa quietly nodded in an understanding manner.

The R-34 was only ahead of the Camaro by a car length, with yet another tight turn coming into view. Which meant only one thing. Tsukinomori's final gutter and Rui's last chance to pass.

'What do I do? Do I use the gutter and possibly pass Rinko? What if it doesn't work? Then what? That's it... the race would be over. And i'd lose... i'd fail again... but if I don't use it then-' Rui's thoughts were quickly interrupted as her front left side tire suddenly went into the gutter.

'Ah! Dammit no! I spent too much time overthinking it and now i'm using the gutter run to try and pass!' Rui's breath suddenly became rapid, her heartbeat started pounding so loud and fast that she could hear it in her ears along with several alarms ringing in her head. Then...Rui saw it again. Visions of her and Rinko when they were young, Rinko and her piano playing, the lights of the stage, her not placing, and... the eyes of her mother.

(Transition to "Be My Escape' by Relient K)

All of a sudden, Rui's visions stopped, the pounding in her chest became quiet and regular, and her breathing returned to normal, albeit with a few questions.
'No... you... you're still... you should still be... you shouldn't be here!! Not after I lashed out at you!! Not after all those things I said, which weren't even true. You were just doing what should've been done through all these years, and I pushed you away. So...why?!? Why are you here?!' Rui mentally screamed on the inside, her magenta eyes locking with her mother's natural deep sea blue eyes. Akira didn't say anything, just gave a brief nod to her daughter. Oddly enough, that was all that needed to be said. With a deep breath, Rui gripped the steering wheel a little tighter and held on as the front side tire in the gutter continued to trudge along, Rinko's R-34 getting closer and closer with each passing moment, all the pain Rui went through, all the grief and anguish that Rui kept bottled up for five years, the concert hall hallways, the stage, the lights, the anxiety, the tears.

All of them had disappeared the second the Z28 passed the GTR during the end of the turn and going into another straightaway, right toward the finish line. Rinko's eyes went wide, her lavender eyes going wide with shock before a tiny smile came onto her face. 'I... lost...Rui...passed me... and the finish line...is just up ahead. I'm sure that the rest of the team will be upset...but...' Rinko smiled to herself. 'With Rui shining so brightly... she'll fly... farther than me...like she has blue butterfly wings on either side of her car....'

The Camaro crossed the finish line and beat the GTR by about a car length, and the crowd was met with stunned silence. A member of Roselia had just been defeated...

"FUCK YEAH RUI!" Masuki exclaimed as Layer couldn't help but giggle at Masuki's exclamation. Sayo however, slammed her fist down onto her Carrera's hood out of pure frustration.

"GOD DAMMIT RINKO!" Sayo shrieked as Lisa paled slightly. Ako on the other hand was shaking with fear due to Sayo's anger.

Chu2 was left with a stunned silence, her mouth open wide. Did that seriously just happen? Someone from Roselia lost? To someone who isn't even ranked in the top ten?! Chu2 remained still, her eyes wide, her mouth stayed open. 'Roselia....lost.... someone.... from Roselia.....lost....'

Layer smiled to herself.

'Looks like the racing scene just got a little bit more interesting...all thanks to a little old Camaro and its driver. Rui Yashio... i've got my eye on you.'

Rui exited her Camaro as Rinko parked next to her. Rinko slowly stepped out of her GTR and looked at Rui.

"So...how... do you feel?"

Rui looked at Rinko and for the first time, in about five years, there was a bit of color in Rui's magenta eyes as opposed to the usual dullness.

"Like a weight has been removed from my shoulders...Rinko...I... i'm-"

"Hold onto that childish part of yourself Rui." Rinko smiled. "Don't grow up...at least...not too fast." Rinko gave a small wave and got into her GTR, driving off and leaving Rui all alone for a few minutes.

Until a black C7 Stingray stopped in front of Rui, and Akira stepped out of her car. Her natural black spiky hair, blue eyes, leather jacket, black tank top and pants, black boots, and a soft smile on her face.

"Hey sweetie."

"Mom...i... what are you-"

Akira shook her head, quickly gesturing to the car. "We'll have our conversation later Rui. Right now I think your friends want to talk to you."

Rui's magenta eyes widened as all of Morfonica stepped out of the C7 and ran toward Rui, quickly enveloping her in a group hug.

"Rui!! You actually beat someone from Roselia!! Holy shit!!" Touko exclaimed.

"RuiRui just gets better and better with every race doesn't she?" Nanami chuckled.

"Nanami she's had all of two races..." Tsukushi chuckles.

"But... seriously...Rui? Are you... okay?" Mashiro peers up into Rui's magenta eyes as Rui remained silent before finally giving a brief nod.

"Yes. I'm fine. But... why did you all come here? After what I said and how I lashed out at you all... you should all be furious with me...not coming out to support me..."

Mashiro smiles softly.

"We're your friends Rui... that's why. Do we really need any other reason?"

All of Morfonica smiles at Rui as Rui's magenta eyes widened before a very faint smile comes across her lips.

"Thank you...all of you...I apologize for my outburst this morning and hope you can all forgive me for it... but since you are all here...I suppose you have already forgiven me... even if I don't deserve it."

Morfonica slowly let go of Rui as Akira gently smiled to herself.

'It appears you have people who are willing to share your pain amongst themselves... you've got some great friends there Rui.'