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In moments like this, Koutarou wished he had studied mechanics. His baby would be running like a goddess if he could change the camshaft or even add a turbo. She’d suffer way less in moments like this. He could, of course, hire a mechanic but then it’d need to be someone he trusted with his life… Who could it be, though?

No time for that now, Koutarou. Come on, this is it.

As it was happening more and more with time, his rational self brought him back from the dream realm. It was right, he had two more curves to find an open on the last guy and win first place. Just one turn more to the left and another to the right.

Koutarou faced the front window of his ‘06 Mustang and it was as if the path revealed itself. He watched the poorly illuminated street turn into a racing circuit, flashing arrows indicating the exact way to go.

The car in front of him decided to make an open curve and keep its position to the right. A dumb decision in Koutarou’s opinion but he wasn’t one to complain about things that benefited him. After all, that became his opening and he needed to take it.

He kept his position on the left, gluing his car to the sidewalk and making the curve as closed as possible. Keeping his pedal to the metal, Koutarou turned his whole wheel to the left and pulled the handbrake. For a moment, his car drifted to the left and every single person watching thought Bokuto would hit the house at the end of the street.

Those people, however, weren’t Koutarou.

Koutarou knew exactly what he was doing and when he knew the time was right, he downed the handbrake again, his car naturally gravitating to the right, closing the curve space to his opponent and crossing the finish line first.

This was not Bokuto’s first win. In fact, he had been winning every single race of the season in first place but it was still an amazing feeling. Koutarou panted a couple of times as the car came to a stop before taking a deep breath and opening the door to step out of the car, adrenaline rushing through his veins as the crowds cheered his name.

Koutarou was this season’s phenomenon. It was his very first season and he had won every race with considerable ease, this one had been the hardest so far because of that last opponent, the only one that even tried to stand up against Koutarou.

As such, everyone betted on Bokuto. With his charismatic personality he captivated even the ones he didn’t know personally, some even claiming to love him. Well, not everyone though. Shuugo Meian, the invict champion of the last four seasons didn’t seem to like him very much, less yet love him.

It was a tradition that the winner of the past season only raced the last circuit. If they won it, they kept their champion title, if they lost, they had to start from the bottom all over again.

Four years ago, Shuugo Meian had been the invicted champion and he stood his position for the following three years. Before Koutarou, there was no rookie with the potential to beat him. From his place in the bleachers, Meian always watched Koutarou with disdain and today was no different.

In the beginning, it didn’t get to him. Koutarou dismissed the champion’s attitude for an act, sometimes even a little bit of fear. With time, though, he expected to have gained at least a little respect from Meian, an acknowledgement of him being a worthy opponent, someone worth giving your all to fight against.

None of that came. In fact, the disdain seemed to grow. In some races, Meian wouldn’t even stay and watch it till the end. The others, he stayed enough just to watch him cross the finish line, getting up and leaving before speaking to anyone. Today was one of those days.

Street racing, though illegal, was an extremely popular sport in the suburbs due to their plain streets, few curves, wide lanes and low levels of law enforcement presence. It was such a structured sport that they had specific circuits during the year that were organized in such a form that they would go mostly around parks so that people could watch - neighbors wouldn’t mind it as long as people didn’t use their front yards to stand and some would even enjoy the races from their windows.

Meian was, as usual, watching from above his car, parked in a wasteland. Also as usual, before Koutarou could even start a Bokuto Beam, he was getting down and making himself ready to leave.

Koutarou’s nerves boiled at the sight, his rational brain practically begging for him not to do anything off schedule, just his now traditional Bokuto Beam and then go home. Most times, Koutarou listened to his rational side for his own sake and for his friend’s sake. Today, his instinct spoke louder.

Before he could even notice what was happening, he heard himself scream.

“HEY!”

Koutarou found himself staring at Meian and, to his surprise, the man was staring back. A smug smile on his face, almost as if he had been waiting for this to happen. Meian was staring back like a man prepared for this whereas Bokuto looked like a wild animal.

For a moment, Koutarou felt exposed, self conscious. Sakusa and Atsumu were watching, for Christ sake. Why did he scream like that? What was it that he wanted to say anyway? ‘Why do you leave every time and never talk to me?’ God, what am I, four? Shit. Lost in his thoughts, Bokuto didn’t realize it had been a while since he last spoke. Leave it to Meian to bring him back to reality.

“What is it, boy? Cat’s got your tongue?” Meian was smirking and his friends laughed around him. Behind himself, Bokuto heard footsteps approaching. Sakusa and Atsumu, perhaps? It didn’t matter right now. Come on Koutarou, now is not the time to lose your shit.

Bokuto straightened his back, both hands laced in front of him keeping his composure as much as he could. “Just saw you leaving and wanted to wish you good luck on our race next month.”

Shuugo ran his eyes at Koutarou from head to toe and then from his feet to his eyes again, the same disdain look he always wore, as if he was somehow on a whole different level than Koutarou. The one look that made Bokuto want to punch him in the face every time he saw it.

“I don’t need luck to beat you, if that’s what you mean. You might be a good rookie but you ain’t as good as me and if you had one working cell in that brain of yours, you’d know this already.”

His friends laughed again and this time Meian joined them. Koutarou tried his best to take deep breaths, to calm himself down but he couldn’t. He knew it was an awful decision but now there was no going back, he let his instinct take over and started laughing along with them, his demeanor changing to something far more aggressive.

Laughter stopped and Meian lifted his chin in a challenge. Koutarou let his laughter die slowly, before looking right back into his eyes and speaking again. “Make no mistake, Meian, I was being perfectly serious. I wish you good luck but I know the odds are not in your favor. I am the one who’s going to be this year’s champion.”

Meian scoffed. “If you are so sure, why not bet on it?”

Suddenly, hands were holding his arms and he realized he was right: Sakusa and Atsumu were right by his side. Atsumu shook his head, a warning of something Koutarou already knew he shouldn’t do. Sakusa just stared at him with a dull expression although he probably agreed with his boyfriend but, unlike him, didn’t even bother to say anything since he knew what Bokuto would do.

“What? You were so sure seconds ago. What happened? Suddenly your friends show up and put on your collar?”

Meian’s friends laughed hard at this and Atsumu tried to talk Bokuto out of it, urging him to ignore them but the gray haired man wasn’t even listening. “How much, Meian?”

“We are all big boys here, aren’t we? Half a million. What do you say?”

If Koutarou sold everything he had and added his savings to the earnings, it wouldn’t make it to half a million dollars. Not even close. Still, his blood was boiling. Bokuto knew he was a better pilot and for all he knew a far better person than Meian. He would be the champion this year, that was for sure.

Bokuto could hear his friend’s and even his own thoughts saying “No way! Don’t accept this!” But his lips moved faster than his brain.

“Deal.”

***

“Are ya fucking outta yer mind Bo?? Christ sake what the fuck just happened?” Atsumu was sitting on the back seat and would for sure be tearing his hair off had his vanity not spoken higher than any other voice in his brain.

“Calm down Tsum-Tsum, I’m better than him. We have discussed this a million times before haven’t we? I can beat him.” Koutarou wasn’t lying, they had discussed this and the three of them knew Bokuto to be a far more skilled driver than Meian.

“Yes Bokuto but being the best driver doesn’t make you the winner. Everybody knows this, many factors can interfere.” Sakusa pointed out from his place in the passenger seat.

“I know, but I’m focused. I’ll not mess this up. Plus Meian is a dick but he is no cheater. He’ll play fair.”

“We know Bo but aren’t ya forgetting another elementary thing?”

Koutarou was puzzled. What else could be if not Meian cheating? “I don’t know, Tsumu, you tell me.”

Sakusa rolled his eyes. “Atsumu is right Bo, sure you are better than Meian but you can never beat him with this car. It’s a non-modified 2006 model, man. He has a 2022 Subaru WRX, all tuned up by Hoshiumi. You don’t stand a chance.”

Bokuto knew they were right. Deep down, he knew they weren’t lying. Still, it was a truth hard to swallow. He didn’t want to admit out loud that his baby needed some professional help, both for pride and lack of money.

“I know what ya wanna say Bo. Ya wanna say ya don’t have money and even if ya had ya’d not trust anyone to touch yer baby.”

“That’s right I’ll not! Plus I have already compromised all my money on a freaking bet.”

“You compromised more than your money on a bet, Bokuto.” Kiyoomi rolled his eyes.

“Thanks for the reminder.”

“I know someone ya can talk to, I trust him with my life. Though it’ll be hard, he has retired now.” Atsumu added the last part slowly, almost as if talking to himself.

“What? You had a trusted mechanic this whole time and never said a word? How come?” Koutarou was so shocked by the news he couldn’t find in his brain the cells needed to collect the dots.

“It’s because he’ll be extremely hard to convince. Plus, I wouldn’t even want to bother him, I’ll do it because it’s an emergency.” Atsumu’s tone was serious but he added the last part with sadness. “He was Samu’s mechanic.”

Now it all made sense. Of course Atsumu didn’t want to talk to this guy, he is probably devastated and hates racing now, a bit like Atsumu himself.

Osamu was Atsumu’s twin and the greatest driver in the history of the city and even the country. In fact, he was Bokuto’s inspiration, his greatest hero. Four years ago, however, he suffered a bad car accident and had been in a coma ever since.

Bokuto had never really met him in person, he was still in college in Tokyo when he heard about Osamu. Still, he watched his races on youtube and contacted him so many times that one day Osamu noticed. Miya was not only a great racer but also a lover of the sport so when he saw the shine in his eyes, he immediately became friends with Koutarou.

They videocalled every so often and Osamu would give Koutarou tips, teach him techniques, and talk about life. Sometimes, Atsumu would join and that was how they became friends. At the time, Bokuto was still in his first year of college and he remembered clearly how Osamu always commented he wanted to race Koutarou. They made a promise that four years later, when Bokuto graduated, they would race together.

Unfortunately, that never happened. Koutarou became a pilot nonetheless and moved to Atsumu and Osamu’s city, in part to race the best racers in Japan, in part to assure Atsumu he still had hope. He believed Osamu would wake up and they would fulfill their promise.

Though Osamu and Bokuto talked a lot about racing, he not once mentioned his mechanic. Koutarou had no idea of what that man was like but one thing was for sure, if Osamu trusted him, so would Bokuto.

“If Miya-sam trusted his car to this man, I’ll trust my baby to him as well. Where does he live, Tsumu?”

“We are not going there right now, he is probably asleep. I’ll text you the address and you go tomorrow morning, ok? You better not mention me, just say you are Osamu’s friend and hopefully he’ll see you.”

Bokuto croked an eyebrow, turning his head for a short while to look into Atsumu’s eyes. “Why not mention you?”

Atsumu was looking at his feet, not really acknowledging Koutarou’s eyes on him. “He made me promise.” The blond man paused and Koutarou turned his gaze back to the front although he knew exactly what was happening in the backseat: Atsumu was holding his tears, just like he did every time they brought Osamu up.

Sakusa stretched his arm back, caressing Atsumu’s knee slowly. “Akaashi made me promise I wouldn’t get myself involved in racing ever again and neither would him. When I agreed to it, I was hurt and so was he but I didn’t keep the promise for even a day, racing is mine and Osamu’s passion, I wouldn’t leave it. Akaashi did keep the promise, though, and I don’t want him knowing I didn’t. I know it’s stupid, but please talk to him without mentioning me.”

“Tsum-tsum, you just gave me my one and only chance to not lose my whole patrimony. Don’t worry, I’ll not mention you.” Koutarou said, looking at the rearview mirror and adding. “Thank you so much for your help, I appreciate it.”

Atsumu was looking right back at him, his eyes still watery but dead serious. “Don’t fuck it up.”

***

The house was bigger than he expected, a two story house located far into the suburbs with a big garage. Was that how someone his age should be living nowadays or was this guy the heir to some big company? Probably the second one, there was no way someone under 40 could afford a house like that in this economy.

Koutarou rang the bell once and waited but no one came out, there was no sound of anyone inside, either. So Bokuto rang it again just for good measure, turning on his heels and getting ready to leave when he heard a muffled annoyed voice come from inside.

“I’ve heard it the first time! Give me a minute, I’ll come down soon.”

The voice, though clearly irritated, was sweeter than Koutarou expected. The tone was low, even when screaming, like someone who was most of the time composed and collected, more like Sakusa and less like Atsumu and Koutarou.

It ignited Bokuto’s imagination. What would this man look like? Would he be strong and big, like some kind of japanese Vin Diesel? Or maybe short and serious, a real person version of Guido from Cars?

When the door cracked open, however, Bokuto’s mind came straight back to reality pulled down by a pair of stunning ocean eyes that watched him suspiciously. Bokuto’s jaw fell open with the man in front of him. Akaashi was nothing like he had imagined. His spiked up black locks gave away he had just got out of the shower but even with messy hair, his aristocratic sharp features made him look stunning.

Akaashi stared at him for a while before taking on a bored expression. “Do I know you?”

Come on, Koutarou, say something. “I, hum, actually, no, not yet. My name is Koutarou Bokuto, nice to meet you.”

Bokuto couldn’t keep still. He shifted his weight from one side to the other, not sure if the fact making him nervous was that he was standing in front of the legendary mechanic that made Osamu the king of racing or the fact that said mechanic was the most beautiful person he had ever met. The man in front of him didn’t move nor change his dull expression.

“How can I help you, Bokuto-san?”

“I am in desperate need of a mechanic, Akaashi-san, and I would love it if you could take a look at my baby.” Bokuto tried to keep a cool tone despite his clearly nervous attitude, taking a step back and using his head to point to his car that was parked right in front of Akaashi’s house. The cherry color shone in the morning sun and Koutarou couldn’t hold his loving look. His baby was perfect.

Akaashi spared a quick glance at his baby before locking his gaze on Bokuto again. This time, his face was showing a clear sentiment: He was furious. Still, his voice kept the same educated and low tone as before.

“You must have the wrong idea, Bokuto-san. I’m an editor, not a mechanic. Have a good day.” Akaashi took a step back and started closing the door in Koutarou’s face.

Bokuto’s mind ran 100 miles per hour. This was his chance, his only chance, and he had blown it. He couldn’t let this happen, not with the race four weeks away. Before he could process his own actions, Koutarou placed his hand between the door and doorframe, a person a little less strong than him would have had their fingers crushed. Bokuto, however, was able to hold the door in his hand, making Akaashi jump back in shock.

“Are you crazy, mister? You could have broken your fingers!” Akaashi’s composed demeanor changed to irritation but after the words left his mouth, he stopped, as if processing them. “I mean, I don’t care about your fingers but this is my house, you can’t touch my things uninvited and if you don’t leave immediately I’ll call the police.”

“Please don’t do that, I promise I’m not a bad person but I know you are lying to me.” Koutarou didn’t mean to shout, he really didn’t, but he realized too late he had already done it. Regret filled him as he watched Akaashi’s face get red in anger.

“I have never seen you before, you come to my house unannounced and claim I’m a liar?! What do you even know about me?!”

Bokuto stared at the ground. The man was right, he came here and all he did was make him uncomfortable. God, this was not looking good for him right now. He needed to turn the situation around as soon as possible. Come on Koutarou, you are a nice person, be nice. Play cool.

“Nothing.” Koutarou finally said, turning his gaze up to meet Akaashi’s eyes again. The other man’s fury hit him like a slap in the face. His face was flushed with anger, both arms crossed in front of him and his chest coming up and down in muffled pants. “I am sorry to come here and accuse you of things, that was a really bad behavior from me and I promise to not do it ever again.”

“The truth is I’m scared, Akaashi. I know you don’t know me yet but I made a bet I can’t afford to lose during a moment of rage and now I’m so frightened I can’t even think straight so let me apologize to you again because I’m sure you are an amazing person.”

Confidence started coming back to Koutarou and it was as if his lips had a will of their own, speaking faster with every word, not a single filter between his brain and his vocal chords.

“I know you’ll ask me how is it that I know all of that given we never met before and the answer is simple: I’m Osamu’s friend. I need someone I can trust to help me boost my baby up and if Osamu trusts you, I know I can too. I also know that you might be an editor now but for Osamu you are a mechanic. Can’t you be a mechanic for me, too? I know, I just know, that if you help me out, I’ll win.”

When he finished speaking, Koutarou gathered all his courage to look at the man in front of him again. To his surprise, however, the man’s rage had turned into shock and he was staring right back into Koutarou’s eyes. He inspected Koutarou as if he had some kind of X-ray that could see through his skull right into his brain.

Slowly, Akaashi started to reply, his tone still low but anger was nowhere to be seen.

“Osamu is my best friend, I did it because he wanted to race and even the best pilot in the world could not win with the crap car he had at the time. I would never have done it if anyone else asked me.”

No, this wasn’t the answer Bokuto wanted to hear but he smiled anyway. He smiled because now he was even more sure Akaashi had to be his mechanic.

Most people these days spoke of Osamu using past tense, as if he had died, as if he didn’t have any hope of waking up. Not Akaashi, though. Akaashi, just like Bokuto and honestly anyone with a single brain cell, knew that Osamu was not dead, he was resting and would soon wake up. That was how Koutarou knew this beautiful, skilled man was the only one worthy of touching his baby.

Akaashi’s face started to lose its red color but he still looked a little irritated. “Did you listen to a word I was saying? I just said I’ll not do it so please quit smiling.”

Koutarou’s smile didn’t shake. He could read those ocean blue eyes. Sure, there was love for his best friend, that was undeniable. There was, however, something else. Something Bokuto knew intimately because it was something he had in himself, too.

“Akaashi, I understand that you did it for your best friend but then please tell me, did you start to study car mechanics just for Osamu? How come in less than a year you were already so good that you could pump his car up and give him the best tool ever so that he could become the best in Japan?”

Koutarou spoke confidently and his tone was defying. Akaashi loosened his arms, taking a step back, like a child caught by surprise doing a mischief. Bokuto kept on speaking. “It wasn’t just for him, was it? You love cars and racing since way before you started working with Osamu, don’t you? You are one of us, ‘Kaashi. Racing is a passion, it runs through our veins and we can’t escape it. Am I wrong?”

Akaashi slowly recovered from his surprised state, quickly recompozing himself and narrowing his eyes as he analyzed Koutarou’s soul once more. After what could have taken an instant or a lifetime, Akaashi seemed satisfied with what he saw.

He rested his left shoulder on the doorframe and crossed his arms, his eyes never leaving Bokuto’s. His face was still serious, judging. Koutarou trembled. Did he cross a line? Was he too aggressive? Maybe he saw things where there weren’t and Akaashi wasn’t really a racing fan.

Bokuto’s brain raced as he considered his possibilities. What other card could he pull to convince this man to help him? Maybe play the victim? No, it wasn’t like him. Come on, Koutarou, think of something.

Before he could even start thinking, his whole world turned upside down. The gorgeous man in front of him started smiling out of the blue. Koutarou’s brain became a blue screen. What the hell was happening? He wanted to ask Akaashi why he was smiling but he couldn’t find his words. It was as if his whole world stopped to admire the beauty of those puffy lips curled up, displaying pearl white teeth.

“I knew who you were from the beginning, Koutarou Bokuto. I knew about your bet with Osamu, he told me himself. I have watched you race and I know exactly why Atsumu puts all his hopes on you: you are just out of this world. You are as good as Osamu, a good competition for him. I honestly couldn’t understand how you took so long to come talk to me, I get that you are good and all but you are making your Mustang suffer putting her under so much pressure without a good mechanic to take care of her.”

Koutarou’s world was spinning. What? Was this all a test? Wait, so Akaashi had actually watched him race? He thought Koutarou was really good? As good as Osamu? Oh my god, this is too much. Akaashi must have realized Koutarou’s surprise because he continued.

“You are a star, Bokuto-san. I can’t wait to watch you and Osamu race each other and to be honest, I can’t wait to see you erase that fucking disgusting smug smile out of Meian.” Koutarou was left mouth-opened and Akaashi smirked. “You can tell that scrub Atsumu that I also haven’t kept my promise and that I’d love for him to come visit sometime. Now come on, I’ve been preparing for the day you’d arrive so please bring your car to the garage and let’s see what we can do.”

***

Koutarou knew this would happen but watching Akaashi’s careful hands examining his baby was strangely comforting. He was more skilled and trained than Koutarou but still treated his car with respect and reverence, just as he would expect from Osamu’s mechanic.

What he didn’t expect, though, was the fascination he would develop for said mechanic. Koutarou knew exactly what the man was doing but still it was fascinating to listen to him explain with details every piece he was replacing and how every new system worked.

Bokuto listened in awe, it was hard to meet someone that knew cars in such depth. Hours passed like seconds and soon the work became more manual and repetitive, making his companion deviate from car specific topics to racing and life topics, which allowed Bokuto to participate more.

“I watched you make that bet, by the way. Pretty stupid, to be honest but I have to confess I enjoyed watching Meian finally get scared.” Akaashi said, not changing his nonchalant tone.

Koutarou cleared his throat before speaking, he didn’t realize his throat was dry. Had he been keeping his mouth open this whole time? Shit. Act normal.

“Why would you think that? I mean, hum, sorry, haha. I didn’t get the impression that he got scared. To the contrary, actually.”

Akaashi chuckled. “He’s a good actor, isn’t he?” He looked away for a split second before looking at Koutarou again. “I know him, though. He’s Samu’s ex.”

Bokuto’s jaw almost fell to the ground. “WHAT?! Really? How come I didn’t know this?”

“Few people knew. Actually, they were dating the whole time when Samu was racing. Meian didn’t race at the time, I remember him telling Osamu he didn’t like to be involved in illegal things, it didn't matter how much infrastructure it had, so they kept the relationship a secret. The only people that knew were Atsumu, of course, and myself.”

“I didn’t like him very much, he was an odd fella. He would sit with us in this same garage and take notes on his laptop saying it was college stuff. Osamu didn’t mind and so I let him stick around. In the back of my mind, I knew he wasn’t doing college stuff but I kept the feeling to myself, washed it away to the back of my brain thinking it was just me being jealous of my best friend.”

“One day, Osamu went on a date and I called Atsumu to grab some beers. That day, Tsumu told me he also didn’t like Meian but none of us could really say why. It seemed to us that Meian was somehow jealous of Osamu, always putting his achievements down as ‘illegal things’ or just a kid’s fantasy from which Osamu would have to eventually wake up, even though everybody knew racing was Osamu’s dream. I remember asking Atsumu if he knew what was Meian’s major in school and Tsumu’s only response was: ‘Wait, does he go to college? I thought he worked as a secretary at an accounting firm.’”

“It was strange enough and so I confronted Osamu and he told me the college thing was a little secret because Meian worked a full-time job and he didn’t want his bosses to know he was studying since his objective was to leave and get a better job after he graduated. I almost bought the story, you know?”

“It’s very normal not to tell your boss your career plans, especially if you are studying so you can become qualified enough to take their job. I remember just casually replying that now I got why he studied all the time, accounting is a hard major. Then Osamu replied the weirdest thing, God I should have seen it right there, I’d been so blind before.”

Akaashi’s hands started trembling and he had to stop working on what he was doing before just to recompose himself. Koutarou wasn’t liking this story one bit, his brain creating a thousand possible scenarios to what Akaashi was about to tell, not one of them nice.

“Osamu said accounting was indeed hard but Meian wasn’t studying that. He was studying mechanical engineering. At the time it struck me as odd for him to hide it from his boss since there was no threat of studying something completely different, if anything, it would make his employer proud to have such a hard working person in their team.”

“Anyway, at the time I let it slide and didn’t care too much about it. Then the end of the month came and, as I do every two months, I went back to my parent’s town to visit them, it’s just a two hour train ride but I knew I would arrive back here just a few minutes before Samu’s race so I prepared the car and got everything ready two days prior.”

Akaashi’s voice became graver by the word, as if all the control he had shown before was leaving him and letting a not so pleasant door open itself. He looked as if he didn’t want to speak about this but rather his own lips decided to talk for him without his consent.

“The weather was awful during the day but when I came back the rain had stopped. Asphalt was still slippery though, but I didn’t really bothered about it since I knew I had changed the tires and tested all breaks so I just kept my routine, grabbed my walkie talkie and got into position next to Tsumu, he was monitoring the race with a drone and we both watched the images on his laptop.”

At this point, Akaashi’s voice cracked and Koutarou didn’t know what to do. Should he tell him there was no need to keep on talking? Should he let Akaashi let go? Should he get up and hold him? Before he could decide what to do, Akaashi spoke again.

“It was a hard race but Osamu had the lead, of course. None of us were worried until on the final curve, the guy in second tried to pass him. As usual, I told Osamu to just speed up and use the handbrake to make a fast open curve and occupy most of the street so that the other guy wouldn’t have space to go through.”

A tear slipped down Akaashi’s cheek as he raised his eyes to meet Koutarou’s, despair painted on them as clear as daylight. “Tsumu and I were listening, you know? We were there when he felt something was wrong. The handbrake somehow didn’t work, he was going too fast and the street was too slippery so he drifted to the side, his tire hit the curb and he rolled over three times before coming to a stop.”

Akaashi started sobbing and that was when Koutarou decided to stand up and place a reassuring hand on his shoulder, which Akaashi took with his own. “Atsumu and I watched the scene on the laptop screen helplessly. God, I can still hear him screaming ‘Keiji what do I do now?’ before just hearing an ‘oh my god’ and the walkie talkie went dead.”

The mechanic below him was trembling, his voice failing him a little but Koutarou felt the rage in each word as he continued. “Meian not once came to visit in the hospital, even you came, I remember seeing you talking to Tsumu in the waiting room.”

“I couldn’t stop feeling guilty, I was sure I had tested every brake before leaving.” Akaashi kept on looking at the ground as he spoke.

“I looked and looked for what went wrong, even the police came to make an inspection in the car but they dispensed it as an unexpected malfunction. Neither me nor the police could find any proof of what I’ll tell you now, not in the car nor anywhere else but I am sure Meian was the one who sabotaged Samu’s car. Less than a week after, the asshole started racing with none other than Hoshiumi as his mechanic and somehow Hoshiumi knew every single one of the updates I had done to Osamu’s car and applied them to Meian’s.”

Ocean eyes full of tears and rage found his and Koutarou gulped. “I am not helping you just because I like you and I know you are Samu’s friend. I am helping you because I want to see him lose like the garbage he is.”

Koutarou didn’t really like Meian and he was already motivated enough to win this race. Those stunning blue eyes glaring at him, begging for confirmation were the last drop he needed to make sure he would run at his best form at the end of the month.

“Well Akaashi, as I said before, there is no way I am losing this race and now more than ever I’ll not only do it for my dream, I’ll do it for you and for Miya-sam too. I’ll not let you down, I promise.”

Akaashi smiled, tapping Koutarou’s hand in acknowledgment and then letting him go, focusing on his car again. “We don’t have time to lose, then.”

***

Spending time with Akaashi was way easier than Koutarou expected. He’d come by his house every two days to watch him work and listen to every explanation he gave about the new features in his car and how to make the most of each of them.

He helped Akaashi carry the heavy parts he ordered online into the garage and was always rewarded with a cute smile that lifted his spirits more than anything else ever did. Koutarou watched Akaashi work and paid attention to his every word, sometimes even taking notes and nodding his head in acknowledgement as if there was any possibility of Koutarou paying attention to anything else whenever Akaashi was in the same room.

Sure, Bokuto had been attracted to people before. Akaashi was certainly not the first beautiful man he met in his life but this mix of attraction and admiration was new to him. This was something he had never felt before but every time his brain brought this type of thoughts to his mind, Koutarou brushed them away.

It was no time to be thinking of how beautiful Akaashi looked working on his car or how he would look even better laying down in the back seat with Koutarou hovering above him. It was certainly not the time to think about those elegant, long fingers tangling Koutarou’s locks as Bokuto worked on his knees, watching Akaashi come undone from his place on the floor.

Definitely not the time to question if the light brushing of hands when they were carrying boxes or the invasion of his personal space whenever Akaashi was explaining something to Koutarou were any signs of Akaashi showing some kind of interest himself. For sure not the time to wonder if those stunning blue eyes that refused to leave his golden ones were thinking the same things Bokuto was.

Weeks passed like seconds and Monday before the race came way too soon. Koutarou’s mind was driving him insane. Despite all his effort to concentrate on the race given so much was at stake, his brain seemed to have different goals in mind. He felt like Cady Haron, spending 80% of his time thinking about Akaashi and 20% waiting till it was time to see him again.

Akaashi would travel to see his family on Wednesday and be back on Friday for the race, which meant they only had today to test everything in the car and finish the last tweaks until Wednesday. For Koutarou, it was always recomforting walking the blocks to Akaashi’s house - which by now he knew was his parents' old house that they left him once they bought a small apartment on the beach. Today was a little different, though, Koutarou felt something in his stomach, he wasn’t at ease as he had been all the previous days he had visited Akaashi.

Sure, the race approaching was making him nervous but there was something new. Something he didn’t want to admit but he knew it was there because he couldn’t hide from his own thoughts. As much as Koutarou didn’t want to think of it, this was the last week he’d get to see Akaashi almost every day.

After the race, either for better or worse, he would probably just see Akaashi once in a while, maybe the black haired beauty would even forget about Koutarou, find someone else to share the random thoughts of his day. Another friend.

That was it, right? Koutarou was nothing but Akaashi’s friend. At least it’s better than not knowing him at all. Bokuto realized as he stepped in front of Akaashi’s yard. He rang the doorbell and a shout came from the garage.

“Bokuto-san, is that you? I’m in the garage, come here!”

Koutarou smiled. “Coming!”

When Bokuto set foot at the now familiar garage, Akaashi slided from where he was laying down under his car. He was wearing his typical jeans with black boots and a black long sleeve shirt pushed to his elbows. His face had little grease marks that made him look even more adorable than normal, not to count the gigantic smile on his face that almost had Koutarou fainting.

“She’s ready! Wanna test her?” Akaashi said, tapping the hood of his beloved mustang.

Bokuto couldn’t hold his happiness. “Sure do!”

Akaashi threw the keys at him and Koutarou wasted no time entering his car. He started the engine and opened the window in which Akaashi placed his elbows as he smirked at Bokuto.

“Just start with a round on the block, at this time there shouldn't be many cars around. Test the turbo and let me know if you think something is odd or missing.”

“Aye cap!” Koutarou said, stepping on the pedal he missed so much and making a show out of leaving Akaashi’s garage. He left fast and immediately spinned to the right, winking at Akaashi as he made his way to the street.

His mechanic leaned to the garage door, rolling his eyes. Akaashi simply shouted: “Just don’t break her before Friday!”

Koutarou chuckled and faced the street, trying to ignore the smile Akaashi gave him and focus on the car instead. “Hello, sweetheart. I missed you too but I trust you’ve been well taken care of.”

She was well taken care of indeed. Koutarou now fully understood Atsumu’s and Kiyoomi’s worries of his car not being pumped enough. Sure, it was a great car but now it was even better. Bokuto felt as if he was in a spaceship, an incredibly precise machine that followed all of his commands in a split second. He also noticed his baby took more and more speed without complaining or trembling. God, this was perfect. With this car, he could win.

After around five turns around the block, Koutarou parked again in front of Akaashi’s house, where he was waiting for him. Bokuto’s heart was racing with happiness, this was all he needed. He finally saw a way to not lose the bet he was stupid enough to make but that, nontheless, took him to Akaashi so he wasn’t that mad for accepting it.

“How was it?”

“Kaaaaaashi!!! She’s perfect! Perfect! So smooth, and don’t even start me up on the new turbo, she was literally flying! Thank you so much! Thank you! Thank you!”

Akaashi chuckled and leaned on the car right beside Koutarou letting a relief sight come out. “I’m glad you like the result. Think you can win?”

“I know I can win. On Friday, my baby will be the first to cross the finish line, you’ll see.” Koutarou spoke with excitement, he believed every single word leaving his lips. Akaashi smiled.

“Your baby? That’s cute. I forgot to ask you, what’s her name?”

Bokuto tilted his head, thinking. “I don’t think I ever gave her a name. I always call her sweetheart or baby, but she doesn’t have a proper name I guess…”

“You should keep those pet names to your girlfriend.” Akaashi said and Koutarou couldn’t believe what he heard so he turned to face him. To his surprise, his mechanic was all flushed red, the cutest sight Koutarou had ever seen.

“I don’t have a girlfriend, Akaashi. I never will have either since I like boys.” Bokuto said, laughing a little.

Akaashi’s mouth opened in a silent “oh” before he spoke again, staring into Koutarou’s eyes but not moving from the place he was still resting the low of his back on Koutarou’s car.
“Well, my point is still the same. You should keep it to your boyfriend.”

Wait. Was this it? Was Akaashi trying to find out if Koutarou had a boyfriend? Maybe he was just curious, right? Then why could Koutarou feel the tension in the air? Why were those ocean eyes calling for him?

Unconsciously, Bokuto stepped closer to Akaashi, his golden eyes staring into the blue ones in front of him. He spoke lowly, almost a whisper just for Akaashi to hear.

“I don’t have one of those, either.”

Bokuto watched as Akaashi’s eyes flipped from his own to his lips and then back. “Is that so?” Akaashi said, licking his lips and leaning forward, his head tilting a little to the side. Koutarou hadn’t realized he was moving too, his lips almost touching Akaashi’s when someone shouted from the front door.

“Akaashi! Are ya in there?” It was Atsumu. Fucking Atsumu.

Koutarou took a step back and Akaashi yelled. “Back here, Tsumu! You disappear for a long time and come around here out of the bl-”

Atsumu suddenly appeared at the garage door, panting, his eyes puffed from tears. Both Koutarou and Akaashi didn’t know what to make of the situation. Before they could ask anything, Atsumu spoke again.

“It’s Samu.” He said, looking at the ground.

Bokuto’s mind raced. It couldn’t be, could it? He couldn’t have died, he was stable just two days ago, he couldn’t be gone now. He looked first at Akaashi, who seemed as shocked as himself and then at Atsumu, who was now letting a tear wet the ground.

What should he do now? What could he say? Atsumu slowly raised his head, revealing the brightest smile Koutarou had ever seen on his face, even brighter than when Kiyoomi had given him flowers for their five year anniversary.

“He’s awake.”

For a moment, no one spoke. Then, they couldn’t hold their happiness, running towards Atsumu and getting into a group hug, none of them really saying anything, just sharing happy tears until Atsumu explained that Omi was waiting for them in the car to go to the hospital.

No other trip to the hospital had been this happy during the whole course of Bokuto’s life. Osamu was awake, finally. They arrived quickly and found Osamu talking to Suna, his best friend who had been visiting everyday for four years since the day of the accident. If Bokuto was being honest, had it not been for Akaashi telling Meian’s story, Koutarou would have thought Suna was his boyfriend because one thing was for sure: Rintarou loved Osamu almost as much as Atsumu did and he was infinitely devoted to him.

At the sight of his twin, Osamu opened his arms and Atsumu ran right into them for a warm hug. Both of them were crying a little.

“Ya worried me ta death, scrub.” Atsumu managed to say, not releasing the grip he had on his brother. “I was so fucking scared, Samu. So fucking scared.”

“I am so sorry, Tsumu. I am so sorry.” Osamu said, burying his face in his twin’s neck.

“Shh, Samu, yer here now. Everything is okay. We’re gonna be okay.” Atsumu said as he caressed his brother’s locks that had once been gray but were now his natural brown color.

Akaashi was standing right beside Bokuto and hadn’t stop crying since the moment he received the news. Now, watching the twins finally meet again, he was literally sobbing, leaned against Koutarou who was holding him close, letting Akaashi use him as a support.

After some time, Osamu raised his head and Atsumu let go of him. “Keiji? Is that you?”

Akaashi wiped his tears with his thumb and smiled at his friend, nodding his head. Atsumu got up from the bed and Akaashi stepped forward, standing right beside Osamu. “Samu, I am so sor-”

Before he could finish, Osamu pulled him into a hug. “It’s not yer fault, Ji.”

Akaashi wrapped his arms around Osamu, holding him for dear life and started crying like a baby. Everyone in the room sobbed but no tears were shared with sorrow. Those were all relief and happiness tears that had been held by a dam inside all of their hearts ever since Osamu entered the coma, now going away and letting relief take their place.

After what could have been centuries but was really just seconds, Osamu raised his eyes from Akaashi’s shoulder and looked straight into Koutarou’s eyes, a malicious smirk in his eyes.

“I see ya came to fulfill yer promise,Bokuto… So, should I consider that you are cheating our bet since yer now dating my mechanic?”

The room became silent at those words. Well, almost, were it not for Atsumu’s low giggles in the corner. Akaashi did not move from where he was seated at the side of Osamu’s bed, still facing his best friend but Koutarou knew he must be giving him the look.

Shit. What do I do? Was he flirting with me back there? Definitely was, right? We were about to kiss for Christ sake!

Were we, though? Maybe he was just being friendly and I misunderstood the whole thing.

You didn’t. Go on, say something.

What???

Dunno. Just do it, don’t think.

“Kaashi is the best mechanic there is, it’ll not be cheating if he takes care of both our cars. Plus, you are the best racer there is. I wanna beat you at your best, so that we can settle this once and for all.”

Osamu raised his eyebrows. “So you don’t deny it. How cute, I’m so happy for the two of you! Please enjoy your happiness while you can and my dear Keiji please be sure to hold your boyfriend tight while he cries when he loses to me.”

He smirked and looked right into Koutarou’s eyes as he added. “Wanna put some money on our bet?”

Koutarou, Atsumu, Kiyoomi and Akaashi replied at the same time.

“NO FOR THE LOVE OF GOD” Atsumu said at the same time as Kiyoomi.

“Please never say those words again.” Akaashi replied, straightening his back and putting both his hands on Osamu’s shoulders.

“No I don’t please Osamu I beg you.” Bokuto almost cried as the words left his lips.

Osamu looked shocked, he glanced at all of them before turning to Rintarou. “What the actual fuck is going on?”

Rintarou sighted. “Bokuto made a half a million dollar bet that he’ll win this week’s race.” He paused for a second, sparing a glance at the others before looking back at Osamu. “Against Meian.”

Osamu’s jaw fell open as if it was the heaviest thing in the world. “What did you just say to me?”

“Honestly, Samu, a lot happened while you were asleep and since you don’t have any other options than to sit there and listen, might as well tell you the whole story. It’s long, though. Tsumu! Order some pizza for us, time for your little brother’s bed time story.” Suna said in a mocking tone that was not his usual, one he used to try to ease situations. The perfect one for this moment.

For three hours, Osamu listened. He paid attention to every detail, asking questions occasionally. Koutarou watched as his mouth opened and closed when Atsumu and Akaashi told him about their suspicions on Meian and when they arrived at the part in which Koutarou made his bet, Osamu had a different reaction than any of them had ever expected.

“Might not had been the best idea but ya know ya got talent, right Bo? I don’t know about ya but I think yer talent is worth more than half a million dollars and, if it comes riding a car pumped by Keiji, maybe even more. I wanna watch ya bet the shit outta Meian on Friday!”

Koutarou didn’t know if he cried, jumped, hugged Osamu, ran around in circles or all of those in random orders. Osamu Miya, his biggest idol, the legend alive, the greatest racer in the country believed in him. He did. Akaashi also believed in him. Tsumu and Sakusa believed in him.

“I’ll put on a show just for you, Miya-sam. Just you wait.”

Osamu yawned before saying anything else. “That was too much for one night. I need to think about all of this and I need to sleep, not necessarily in that order. It was nice to see you all again but I am exhausted.”

Atsumu gave Osamu a loving look before patting his head. “We understand, we’ll be here tomorrow too, and the day after that, and the one after that. I’m so happy ta have ya back, Samu.”

“‘m happy ta see ya too, Tsumu. G’night.”

Rintarou stayed at the hospital as usual and Atsumu and Kiyoomi brought Koutarou and Akaashi back to his house where they had picked them up earlier. The ride was slow and smooth, the only sounds being Atsumu’s casual “Oh my god I can’t believe this just happened!” and “Jesus Omi, please tell me this is not a dream, I don’t know if I can handle waking up.”

Bokuto could only imagine how hard the past years had been for Atsumu. It had been hard for him and he wasn’t even part of Osamu’s family. Sooner than Koutarou expected, they were back at the front of Akaashi’s house, just the two of them, looking at each other but not saying anything.

“You should take her home. She’s been here long enough.” Akaashi said, smiling.

Koutarou had other plans in his mind. He knew exactly what he wanted to do but he was too nervous to speak. Come on Koutarou, just say it. Worst case scenario you get dumped. Better get dumped on a day with a lot of happiness to balance it out than get dumped on a sad day.

His mind was right. Koutarou spoke slowly, tentatively, his eyes never leaving Akaashi’s, measuring his every reaction. “Hey, Akaashi. I, uh, I think we should finish that conversation we started earlier.”

Akaashi took a step forward, their chests almost touching. “Is that so? Let me tell you something, Bokuto-san. I need to work tomorrow early in the morning and I know for a fact that the conversation you want to have will end up with us staying awake in my bed the whole night.” Another step, now their chests were touching and Koutarou could feel Akaashi’s breath close to his mouth. “So, now that you said this in front of all our friends and I am officially your boyfriend, why don’t we wait until Friday after the race? I’ll give you a victory present.”

Bokuto held his breath. He couldn’t do this. He wanted to grab Akaashi by the waist and never let go again. He wanted to throw him in the back seat of his car and hear him moan his name again and again.

His mechanic had been working since early in the morning both at his office and then at his garage, taking care of Koutarou’s car. He received the news his best friend that had been in a coma for years had just woken up. Yes, Akaashi must be exhausted. If it was for him, Koutarou could wait.

He wasn’t going home empty handed though and so he placed his hands around Akaashi’s waist. “Can’t wait for my gift.”

Akaashi leaned against Koutarou and softly whispered in his ear. “Brandy.”

Koutarou shook his head. “What?”

Akaashi chuckled and moved back a little to meet Koutarou’s gaze. Then, he glanced at his car before looking at him again. “I think she looks like Brandy to me.”

Koutarou watched his baby, her leather seats and cherry red paint. Maybe Akaashi was right, she looked like Brandy.

“Brandy. Hmm, Brandy is a cute name. I like it.”

Keiji smiled and placed a soft and quick kiss on Koutarou’s lips. “Night, Kou.” He untangled himself from Koutarou’s arms and glanced at his car before walking to the door. “Night, Brandy.”

Bokuto smiled. He agreed with Atsumu on one thing: If today was a dream, he’d cry when he woke up. Then, an idea came to his mind. Imitating Akaashi’s tone, he replied. “Night, sweetheart.”

His boyfriend immediately spun on his ankles, tilting his head to the side and giving Koutarou a curious look. Bokuto, however, did not miss the strong blush on his cheeks.

“What, Keiji? Didn’t you tell me to save the pet names for my boyfriend?”

Keiji. Bokuto loved how the given name sounded in his mouth and by the smile he had, Keiji thought the same thing.

“Glad you remembered. See you on Friday, Kou.”

“See you!”

Koutarou started Brandy’s engine and waited until he was three blocks away from Akaashi’s front door to start yelling and making his traditional winning dance, one reserved for himself, to celebrate his little wins in life - though he had to admit this one was a pretty big win. This was the best day ever, Osamu was awake and Keiji liked him back. There was nothing that could get to him.

Well, almost nothing. He still had to win on Friday.

***

Friday arrived faster than expected.

Koutarou wanted to meet Keiji before he traveled on Wednesday but he couldn’t make time for it since Osamu had made it his life mission to see Koutarou win. He asked Suna to set up Atsumu’s drone and was making Bokuto train while watching him from his hospital bed.

Sure Koutarou would love to have seen Keiji before the race but he wouldn’t complain about the situation at all. His hero was training him, his amazing boyfriend had pumped Brandy up. There was no way Koutarou would lose. Right?

Unfortunately there was one more variant to this equation, one that Bokuto wanted to ignore but couldn’t. He was nervous. So, so nervous that his hands trembled on the wheel as he drove away from the hospital and towards the race spot.

Osamu had given him tips, said he was more than ready and they had even included one more walkie talkie so that he could be part of the team along with Atsumu. Suna managed to broadcast the drone’s camera to both twins’ laptops and for the first time ever, Koutarou had a very solid and big team to help him out on the asphalt.

He knew he wasn’t alone, he knew Brandy could make it and yet, his hands wouldn’t stop shaking.

“Get it together, Bo. Ya can do this.” Atsumu said before getting out of the car.

“Akaashi-san will be here soon, don’t worry.” Sakusa said in a nonchalant tone. Then, he tugged his mask down and spoke in a low voice, his tone less serious and more loving than Koutarou had ever heard before, a smile on his face. “You can win this, bro. Crush him.”

Koutarou returned the smile and Kiyoomi fixed his mask again, going back to his usual stoic aesthetic.

There were other racers tonight but as Koutarou took Brandy to the start point and watched the people taking their seats, he knew. Tonight they only cared about two.

Bokuto lined Brandy up to the right of Meian’s car. He didn’t need to turn his face to know his opponent was smirking but he did it anyway.

“I have to say you are a brave one, boy. I thought you’d run.” Meian said, his smug smile so unbearable that Bokuto almost got out of the car to punch him in the face.

“Maybe you should have runned. No going back now, you know.”

“Oh I know that alright. Hope you manage to find the money to pay me, otherwise I’ll have the debt paid in a different way.” Tilting his head to the side, Meian managed to somehow make his grin even bigger. “That cute little mechanic boyfriend of yours would do. Though I would need at least half a year with him to account for half a million dollars.”

Koutarou’s blood was boiling. He didn’t mind being teased but he was messing with Keiji and that was unacceptable. By the look on Meian’s face, Bokuto knew his face must have been red in anger but before he could formulate a reply, Koutarou heard Osamu’s voice.

“Don’t let it get to you, Bokuto. Don’t do anything stupid now, it’s what he wants. Keep your cool and teach him a lesson during the race.”

Breathe, come on. Koutarou managed to keep his mouth shut, glaring at Meian for a moment before turning his head to the front again where a girl with a black and white flag was standing, ready to start the race.

She raised her arms while yelling “on your marks” and Bokuto’s brain realized Keiji should have been here by now. Why wasn’t he? Lost in his thoughts, Koutarou almost didn’t notice the girl lowering her arms.

Fuck. The most important race of his life and he started late, just great. Because of that three racers dropped before him, including Meian. How amazing.

Come on, Koutarou, focus. You can do this. Please Brandy, I need you. Bokuto stepped on his pedal and Brandy did exactly what he asked for, like the good girl Akaashi turned her into.

The two drivers in front of him were zig-zagging around but to an experienced driver like Koutarou their movements were predictable and with the amazing machine he had in hands, making it past them was easy.

It was not the same when it came to Meian, though. He wasn’t only fast, he was a great driver. He didn’t leave any openings and Koutarou soon started to despair. This was a short one, he had five more curves to go.

Meian had already secured the next two using his handbrake to drift and occupy the whole lane while doing so. Which meant Koutarou actually just had three curves. Two to the left and the last one to the right.

Koutarou glued Brandy to Meian’s car but he knew he would have to build himself an opening and that could be very dangerous. If everything went wrong, he might even run over the people watching at the side of the road. Or even roll over himself. Like it happened to Miya-sam.

“Talk to me kid, what’s going on?” Osamu’s voice was serious, a hint of worry at the end only a trained ear would catch but everyone on the line was very well trained in Osamu.

His voice broke, he didn’t want to say what he was thinking but Bokuto gathered all his strength to say it anyway.

“I’m scared.” He started. “I thought of a way to get my opening but if it goes wrong I either roll over or run over the people watching. None of those seem like good options plus I’m not sure if Brandy can take it. Fuck, Miya-sam, I think I’m gonna lose.”

Koutarou wanted to divert his way and run away as far as possible. How could he be so dumb? Himself, a rookie, winning against the invict champion? What a stupid idea. Screw him and his worthless pride, he shouldn’t have done that bet.

No one said a word in the walkie talkies. They knew he was right, it was a risky movement. Was his life and the lives of the viewers worth half a million dollars? Shit, what a mess.

Suddenly, someone spoke.

“Didn’t you say you wouldn’t lose if I fixed your car?” It was Keiji. His Keiji, the voice he would recognize anywhere. The voice part of his brain had been soundlessly praying for all this time. “I know what you are thinking, I can also see the opening. You can do it. Brandy can handle it, too. She is ready, Kou. Make us proud.”

Time seemed to stop for Koutarou. For the first time since the start of this goddamn race, he could finally see the way lighting up. He knew what he had to do but one wrong movement and it was either him or the crowd, but someone would have to go.

Two seconds ago, Bokuto would have hesitated. Right now, his hands stopped shaking and his brain accepted the fact he knew exactly what he had to do. He wouldn’t lose nor hurt anyone. He would do what he came here to do in the first place: wipe Meian’s smile away and take half a million dollars home in the process.

As anyone would have expected, Meian took the first curve to the left in the most open way possible, making his car occupy almost the whole road so that Koutarou wouldn’t have any space to surpass him.

Instead of following his steps and gluing his car to the side of Meian’s, like any driver would have done, Koutarou turned his whole wheel to the left before arriving at the curve, blocking the street to any other racer coming behind him.

There were only two outcomes for that movement, he either would make it to the curve with his car in position to just go straight to the next curve and squeeze in the small space Meian would leave open, or he would not be able to change the trajectory and end up on top of all the viewers.

In fact, that would have been the case ten seconds ago. Right now, both Koutarou and Brandy seemed to know exactly what to do. In what lasted less than 4 seconds but to everyone seemed like an eternity, Koutarou aligned his car to the last street and changed the trajectory just in time.

As Meian finished his bootleg turn to the left and was starting to change his direction to the right, Koutarou passed him. Brandy’s lateral straight in his face as Koutarou gave his adversary the greatest grin he had while he could almost hear Meian’s screaming “WHAT THE FUCK?”

Less than a second later, he crossed the finish line. First. Just like he had promised.

Koutarou couldn’t believe it. Was this real? Did he really just win? Was this a dream? As he opened the door. He looked at Brandy and tapped his baby girl. She was cold, this might really not be a dream. It was really true. Shit. I won. Oh my god, I won.

Still incredulous, Koutarou’s brain slowly came back to reality. His ears were filled by the crowd’s screams that he soon recognized to be his own name. He waved at them, too overwhelmed to do a Bokuto beam or anything else as he scanned around looking for his loved ones.

Soon, Kiyoomi, Atsumu and his boyfriend came running to meet him. The three of them were radiant and smiling as if he had just won the Olympics but before they reached him, the smiles were gone.

Bokuto turned around but before he could even notice there was a fist to his face, he felt the hit on his left cheek. Meian.

His first response was to close his own fists and raise his hand to return the favor but Kiyoomi had already made it to him and hooked his arms to his back by the elbows.

“Bo, you’re not a sore loser. Don’t go down to his level.” Kiyoomi’s voice was grave, he could feel his own friend was also holding himself not to punch Meian but he was right. Now that the race was over, there was no point in fighting. He had won, that was that.

Still, it was hard to hold back his tongue.

“Aw, little Meian can’t handle a loss? What happened, baby? Don’t you have half a million dollars to pay me?”

Meian scoffed before spitting on the ground. “I am not a fucking loser like you are, of course I have. In fact, I’ll win it all back. Let’s have another race, betting a million dollars this time. You’ll have to give me your boyfriend and all your cute little friends if you lose ‘cause I’m damn sure you don’t have that kind of money.”

What an asshole. Koutarou knew it was a bad idea to accept but there was a significant part of his brain that saw an opportunity to become even richer. Before he could say anything, however, he heard a voice he wasn’t expecting.

“If I were you, I would spare that money for lawyers.” From the drone now hovering at Koutarou’s shoulder, Suna’s voice was loud and clear, like those police movies when a voice comes from a helicopter, just on a smaller scale. In the back of his mind, Koutarou registered that this was actually super cool.

Meian looked shocked, he didn’t understand anything. “You see, I have been looking for proof that you were responsible for Osamu’s accident since the day it happened. You’re pretty smart, I’ll give you that. The only way to prove you were planning something would have been by hacking your computer and checking the messages with Hoshiumi and that in itself was hard enough.”

Everyone kept silent, listening to Suna as if he was a voice sent from heaven. “I am no idiot though, and of course I managed to do it though it took me more than a year. The problem was, since you had been cleared as a suspect, neither I nor the police had any jurisdiction to hack your computer. Well, that changed on Monday.”

Rintarou stopped speaking for a moment and Koutarou glanced at Keiji and then at Atsumu. Both of them looked as surprised as he was. Did this mean Suna had spent this whole time planning all of this?

“When Osamu woke up, I made him speak to the police and the case was reopened, you being the main suspect. With a little guidance from me, it was easy for them to hack you and I’m sure they are heading to your house right now.”

Meian closed his mouth and cleared his throat. “Bullshit.”

“Then pay Koutarou now.” He was talking through a drone but anyone listening could hear his smirk. “Since you’ll not need the money anyway.”

Before he could reply, Meian’s phone started ringing and he picked up. By the look on his face, Suna had been right. He turned on his heels and left.

Had this been any other day, Koutarou would have held him. Today, he didn’t care. He wanted to hold someone else. Freeing himself from Sakusa, he threw his arms over Akaashi, holding him up and spinning him around. He was still in the air when their lips met.

This time, it wasn’t a quick peck. Keiji was hungry, he wasted no time in sticking his tongue inside Bokuto’s mouth and his boyfriend wasn’t complaining one bit. In fact, he returned the kiss as ardently as it was being given to him.

Koutarou didn’t care about his money, he didn’t care about the race. His true win was right here in his arms.

In the back of his head, he could hear Kiyoomi’s voice in the distance. “Don’t even think about it, Atsumu! I don’t do that type of gross stuff in public.”

***

It was in the golden hour of a warm summer afternoon, exactly a year and a half after his race with Meian that Koutarou fulfilled a promise. His former rival was enjoying his sentence in jail as Koutarou enjoyed the money he had won from him, life wasn’t bad at all.

Brandy was lined up with Osamu’s car and Koutarou couldn’t help but smile at the rush of adrenaline running in his body. This was it. He was finally racing Osamu.

The same Osamu he had always looked up to, the one he called his hero and now he had the pleasure to call his close friend. The one that needed one year and a half to be able to drive in his best form again. The one he didn’t mind losing to, although he would give his best to win anyway because that was what racers do.

In front of him, his stunning as ever boyfriend that had taken care of both their cars was standing with his arms up. He smirked at Osamu and winked at Koutarou, a reminder of the promise he had made earlier. A promise to give his boyfriend the exact kind of prize he won every night, a wet and nasty and delicious prize.

No time for that now, Koutarou. He thought as he placed his foot on the pedal. Keiji lowered his arms and Koutarou stepped on Brandy’s pedal.

This would be the drive of his life.