Off the Tracks
I'm messing around with back stories. :P This takes place before everything began.
Is this Buddyshipping? Excellent question. Blatant profession of love, but should it be taken seriously? Depends on how you want to look at it. For the sake of the contest... Yes, yes it should be.
The title refers to many things. Including, possibly, the style. Off the tracks... Out of my mind crazy. Yes, it also applies to the author. Worship the irony, revel the symbolism.
Warning: Massive swearing. The weirdest style - snapshot style - that you've ever seen.
Jounouchi said it plainly and it didn't sound like an accusation but Honda could see it in his eyes as plain as day. He unconsciously moved in front of his bike, as if he could block it from Jounouchi's view. What he could not block was the loud revving of engines, the roaring crowds of drunken gamblers, or the dirty track behind him.
"Yeah," he said defensively. Why? Honda didn't have to answer to the guy he'd only known for a few months. Damn it, Jounouchi was part of Hirutani's gang. Like he gave a shit about safety.
Jounouchi stared at him, an oddly appraising look on his face that did not fit him. Honda wanted to punch it off, but could not help but feel that his riding gloves would cushion the blow too much for his liking, so he pushed past him instead.
"Look, just mind your own business. You do what you do to help feed your family, and I do what I do." Honda paused and added venomously, still bitter over his second place finish, "At least my money isn't dirty."
Jounouchi spat at his turned back but otherwise let him ride off. Honda didn't really care. He didn't need friends. He had always ridden his bike solo anyway.
Honda pulled off his helmet, flipped off his competitor with a wide smirk on his face, and went to collect his winnings. It had been a good day at the tracks and he was starting to build a solid record. That asshole Kira that had placed second had tried to force him off the track but with some quick manoeuvring and an almost unheard of split-second brake, he had sent him flying into a sideboard. The medical bills from his sister's pregnancy were looking less intimidating every race. Hell, at this rate, Honda could finally buy that dog he had always wanted...
A flash of blond hair in the corner of his eye caught his attention, and he scowled at the newcomer, stashing his cash into his pocket quickly.
Jounouchi chuckled nervously, arms up. "Relax, I'm not gonna take it from you."
The gash on his cheek did not go unnoticed, but it did go unmentioned. "Why are you here again?"
Jounouchi lowered his arms slowly. "Just... wanted to watch you race. Never saw you last time."
"Alright, fine," Honda said, and started wheeling his bike out. "Ever watch a race before?"
"No," Jounouchi admitted with no shame. "You kicked ass out there, by the way."
"No, seriously, I mean it! I never thought riding could be that dirty. Do the guys always try to ram you?"
"Sometimes," Honda said, and looked out on the street. "Did you walk here?"
"I was around," Jounouchi responded absent-mindedly, and Honda noted without looking right at him how his hand reached up to wipe at his cut face. Honda checked his gas quickly. Over half a tank? Well, what the Hell...
"Is your home 'around'?" Honda put on his helmet and buckled it, sparing a glance at Jounouchi.
There was obvious surprise on his face. "Yeah, but you don't have to..."
"No, I don't. Now get your ass on the bike and hold on tight. I don't have a spare helmet."
Jounouchi was not in his good books yet, he told himself later. He continued to tell himself that even when he developed a habit of picking Jounouchi up so he could watch him race.
Some riders had what Honda called a "lucky tic"; he was sure he had slaughtered the true meaning of the word, but he never had liked words that much to begin with. He had seen normal ones such as revving the engine a couple of times, and stranger ones like kissing the handlebars. Honda hadn't thought he had one until he caught himself looking for the familiar gold in the sea of dark hair before getting on his bike. He knew it was a silly thing to do, Jounouchi had gotten a ride here from him after all. Unless he had run away, he would be there.
The next race he didn't look at first and felt increasingly uncomfortable until he finally looked, just so he wouldn't screw himself over.
The third time, he did himself a favour and just looked.
After that, it became involuntary again.
"Why are you still with him?"
"Him. You know, Hirutani. All you ever do is fight. Why bother?"
It was after hours and everyone had left, so there was no one to yell at Honda when he brought up his bike into the spectator area and no reason to worry about leaving it at the bottom of the stands. He sat beside Jounouchi, whom had sprawled across the metal as if it were a king-sized bed.
"Well, why do you ride?" He yawned and then sat up, staring at him.
"Yeah? Why else?"
"... For fun, I guess." Honda stared at the tracks and imagined the wind rushing past him, the feeling of leaving everyone behind, the thrill of having his foot brush the ground as death tried to catch him and the freedom the speed gave him.
Jounouchi turned to where Honda was looking and squinted as if trying to see what Honda saw. "Well, it's the same for me. Danger's no problem for me either. Same for you, right?"
Honda didn't look at him. "It's different though. You can't get out of a gang when you get in too deep."
Jounouchi snorted. "I'm fourteen. What do you mean, 'too deep'? I would watch out for my own skin, if I were you. Racing's like a drug for people like you, I've seen it before. You won't stop until you hit your limit."
Honda grunted and got up. "Whatever. Like you said, I'm only fourteen. My limit's not gonna come for a long time."
A hand grabbed his wrist and he looked back at Jounouchi, expecting a smart ass comment. He did not expect the worry that clouded Jounouchi's eyes or his soft mumble of, "I want you to stop racing."
There was an awkward intimate feeling in the air that Honda did not like, and he yanked back his hand and said, half-joking, "I'll quit racing when you quit your gang."
Jounouchi finally came down five minutes after Honda did, and Honda dropped him off at his apartment building as always.
The yelling should have clued him in. Like an idiot, he ignored it. His sister and him yelled all the time, why would Honda think Jounouchi's family was any different? He did wait a moment at the door for the noise to subside before opening the door though.
"Jounouchi? I'm here –"
He was hit by the stench of alcohol first, then a bottle of it. He reeled backwards, simultaneously swearing and thanking high heavens that he hadn't taken his helmet off before coming up. Wiping the liquid off the visor and cursing, Honda almost lost his balance completely when someone tugged him roughly down the hallway.
"Let's go, now," said a voice he recognized as Jounouchi's. Honda nodded dumbly and let him pull.
They were silent all the way to the tracks. When Jounouchi got off at the spectator's entrance, he shot Honda a withering glare and muttered, "Don't ask," before leaving him. Needless to say, Honda lost to not one, but two other riders. The hostility was palpable on the ride back but neither said a word.
After that day, Honda always waited outside the building to pick up Jounouchi.
Honda felt nervous, jittery. It was not a feeling he had felt in a long time, and it had nothing to do with the fact that Jounouchi had not been outside his building as always when Honda went to pick him up. Definitely not. Even the thought was ridiculous, even if it was the first time in six months that he hadn't been there.
"Where's your girlfriend? Stand you up?" Kira sneered at him, his own girlfriend hanging off his arm like an accessory, tittering away.
He always told himself that he saved the ass kicking for the race tracks, but then again, he always had an urge to break Kira's nose whenever he had the unfortunate luck of racing against him.
Honda walked away with his bike into his lane amidst lame jeers along the lines of the "stupid, silent type" and scanned the crowd. It felt like his heart was doing flip-flops in his stomach - what in the world was it doing down there? - and it was all that damn Jounouchi's fault. Who the Hell did he think he was, not showing up without letting him know?
All the engines roared to life and the familiar feeling of speed and control soothed him. He was in his comfort zone, and Honda grinned at the sight of Kira in his mirror, slowly but surely getting smaller. And then in his other mirror, the telltale flash of blond hair.
It was a mistake, a horrible mistake, but he looked. Jounouchi was in the crowd, grinning and whooping and cheering and Kira chose that exact moment to hit the gas and smash into his side and he was flying now, really flying –
He crumpled, lying on his side just by the boards, his motorcycle just feet away, dented, wheels still spinning.
"Fuck Honda, wake up, wake up now!"
Honda stared up at Jounouchi, not able to comprehend what was going on. All he really knew is that he hurt, a lot. "What –"
"Shut up, just shut up, we both made a huge mistake, let's go!" Jounouchi hauled him over his shoulder like he weighed nothing, and that couldn't be right because Honda had to be at least Jounouchi's size, but Honda's head was spinning and he didn't want to think anymore.
"Hospital, gotta get you to a hospital but fuck it, Hirutani –"
"Jounouchi," Honda said weakly, "What the Hell are you going on about?"
Jounouchi did not answer right away, choosing to duck into a side alley instead. He waited for two thuggish boys to run past before answering. "I bet some of the gang's money on you. You lost. We're both in deep shit. I told them you would win for sure, and now they'll hate you just because you lost."
Jounouchi sucked in air sharply and made a run for it across the street. "40 000 yen."
Honda was dizzy again. "You're fucking kidding me."
"Don't guilt trip me, I'd do it again if I had the chance."
"Jounouchi, you're crazy. You're fucking crazy."
Jounouchi stopped and looked at Honda in the eyes as best as he could in the position they were in. "No," he said, "you are. I don't know what happened to you out there, but you aren't racing again."
Honda began to protest but Jounouchi shushed him and grinned toothily. "I quit. I quit Hirutani's gang. Well, I really have to at this point if I don't want to be killed, but I was going to anyway."
Honda paused. He knew he'd be feeling a lot more jubilant if he wasn't in such pain, and he would be thinking more clearly too. "But I love riding."
Jounouchi had to duck behind a garbage can this time, careful not to hit Honda's head against the brick wall. "Then what do I have to say to get you to stop? Whatever it takes."
The head injury. By God, how lucky he was that he had some sort of head injury to blame this one on. "Proclaim your undying love for me."
They were across the road from the hospital now. He would have made fun of Jounouchi in any other situation if Jounouchi had done this so easily. "Fine, I'll say it then, you giant asshole. I don't know what else will get through your thick skull. I love you. I fucking love you. Okay? I love you more than you love riding that piece of junk you call a motorcycle. Will you stop now?"
Delirious, hallucinating, that was what was going on. Either way, he managed a, "Fuck, whatever." He paused and said dizzily, "Are you going to kiss me now?"
Jounouchi snorted, remembered to look both ways before darting across the road, and said, "Nah. I'd love to kiss you, but right now, I'd rather kick your ass. I'll consider it when you're better."
"I won't tell your dad," Honda said helpfully as white spots danced in his vision and then he fainted.
From the moment he woke up in his hospital bed to see Jounouchi, bruised and sporting a broken arm, grinning at him from the hospital bed beside him, they both kept their promise to each other as best as they could. They were - at the very least - best friends, after all.
:( FF . net doesn't like me. It insists on taking out paragraphs. And it just ate its own name. Gasp. Conspiracy.