Rome watched Brian come through the front door to their garage. He sat in a stool with his hands on his knees, ready to lash out. "Where the hell you been, Brian?"
"So what, I guess you're supposed to be my mom now?"
"Nah, I'm supposed to your partner, bruh. And you're supposed to be mine. You feel me? I had three dudes, Brian!" Rome put three of his fingers in Brian's face as he made his point. "Three dudes come in here that needed service! And where was my partner!?"
Brian shook his head and turned away from Rome. He knew he was right. Brian hadn't been himself lately. It wasn't because of his new garage business with his brother from another mother. Instead, it was because he hadn't been able to stop thinking about a beautiful, stunning, S2000 driving, woman.
Rome sighed and continued. "Look, bruh. We a team, and we need to act like one if we wanna keep this business going."
Brian walked over to the fridge and pulled out a beer. He took a sip and hesitated to say what was on his mind, but he pulled through and did it. "Say bro… what do you think about Suki?"
Rome rolled his eyes, threw his hands in the air and shook his head. "So that's what this shits about!? You tripping over ANOTHER female!?"
Brian started to walk away, regretting his decision. "Forget it. I shoulda never asked your dumbass."
"Do I gotta remind you that your boy, Tej, is shacked up with her and layin' the pipe!?" Rome followed Brain up to his room. Brian tried shutting the door behind him as he made his way into his room, but Rome shoved his way through. Brian flopped down on his bed and put his pillow over his head, trying to ignore his brother's lecture. "I'm tryna tell you, bruh! Every time you start 'thinking' about a female, yo ass is always getting in trouble! I don't give a shit what you think about that broad, bruh. You start messin' around with Suki, and you gonna have beef with Tej. And that won't be good for your reputation, or OUR business! You see what I'm saying!?"
"Hey, I didn't ask you to start preaching to me, okay? All I did was ask what you think about her."
"What the hell you want me to say, Brian?! Huh?! You want me to say she's some sort of queen or goddess or something that's worth risking all this hard ass work for?!" They both paused for a minute. Rome began walking out. "Man, you need to get it together, man."
Before Rome made it out, Brian said, "All I know is… I never felt this way about a girl before." He pointed to his chest as he continued. "This feeling I have in my heart right here, it's something special, man."
"Man, forget yo feelings, bruh. Your 'feelings' is what's gonna get you messed up out here. Listen to what I'm telling you, Brian. She's a sweet girl, but she ain't worth getting killed over."
"Man, you tripping if you think Tej will put a hit out on me just because I start messing around with Suki."
"Let me tell you something about the streets, bruh. You got 'friends' and you got brothers. You need to ask yourself what Tej is. Is he a friend or a brother? I shouldn't even have to tell you this, but you acting brand new." Rome headed out. "I'll be in the jacuzzi."
The following day, the two were in the middle of organizing some parts when the business phone began ringing. Brian wiped his grease soiled hands on a towel, and rushed for the phone.
"Who it is?" Roman asked.
"It's Tej." Rome shot Brian a look.
"Y'all wanna race tonight?" Tej said from over the phone. "Put a little extra green in y'alls pockets? Gotta buncha squares from outta town lined up for a run."
Brian chuckled. "Sure, man. You know we always appreciate free advertisement. We'll be there."
"Alright. I'm looking forward to it."
Before they went to each of their own cars, Rome gave Brian some more advice. "Don't lose your cool out there."
"Whatcha talkin about, man? I never lose it."
"You know what I mean Brian."
Brian rolled his eyes and hopped into his Skyline.
Brian and Rome entered the hectic night rave in the middle of the closed street. Everyone flipped their lid when they saw the legendary silver R34 and purple Eclipse Spyder pull up to the scene. There had to be at least 100 people going berserk over the crazy night that was about to pop off. Rome took a look at the only other cars that were lined up at the start line; a black FTO and a red 3rd gen MR2.
Rome elbowed Brian in the shoulder, and pointed towards the fresh meat. "Easy money." Brian paid little attention though, since he was looking for Suki. His eyes scanned the entire scene, but there was no sign of her or her S2000. Disappointment clouded his mind, but he tried his best to refocus on the task at hand. But... he really wished she was here...
"Damn, bruh. I've been calling yo name for a solid minute. Don't go zoning out on me now, partner. We got four Cleveland's on this race. We can't lose."
"We ain't gonna. Let's go." The two of them hopped into their respective cars, and got ready for the race.
To say the race was easy would be an overstatement, however, there was a point in time where Brian began to lose his focus, which earned him a dent on the side of his car. Nevertheless, the two were walking away with four thousand dollars in their pockets.
Tej walked up to the two victors as they celebrated with the nearby crowd. "Nice race, gentlemen. I knew y'all would pull through."
Rome chuckled. "Well, y'know. This is what we do, baby."
Brian hesitated but asked what was on his heart. "Say, Tej. Where's Suki?" Rome shot his friend a scolding look.
Tej turned around and responded with a hint of curiosity. "She's alright."
Brian nodded. "Yeah, I was just wondering. Y'know, she's usually here on a night like this."
"You right. She's just been a little busy lately." They both awkwardly nodded to each other and began to walk out.
"Alright, later Tej."
"Peace, homie." Rome said.
"Alright, y'all be cool." Tej said.
Rome didn't say anything to Brian until they got back to their garage.
Rome got out and confronted Brian. "Say, bruh… what the hell was that?"
"All I did was ask him where she was at. You ain't gotta flip out every time I mention her."
Rome facepalmed. "Bruh… you're not getting it. You don't want a dude to have any clue that you fancy his girl. What you did tonight? That was like putting big ass words on a big ass billboard that spells out, 'I like Suki.'"
Brian sighed. "There you go. Overreacting again."
"Man, I'm not overreacting. I'm looking out for yo dumbass. You saw the way he looked at you. I'm telling you, Brian. He's on to your shit."
"Y'know what, Rome? At this point, I don't even give a shit what Tej thinks. Because from what I can gather, he ain't treating her right anyway."
"See! This is exactly what I'm talking about! You getting paranoid already!"
"I'm not paranoid." Brian got in Rome's face. "You forgot I used to be a cop? I see shit that most people don't see. Tej and Suki aren't as golden as you think they are."
"So what you gonna do, Goldilocks? You gonna play the hero? You gonna turn into Superman and swoop Suki up in your arms? Take her to the moon and back?" Rome chuckled as he continued. "You gonna be her knight in shining armor, and save her from the fire breathing dragon?" He laughed out loud.
"You got jokes, bro. But what I'm feeling in my heart… it ain't a damn joke." Rome stood and looked at Brian for a second. Brian walked to the fridge, pulled out a beer, and sat on the sofa. Rome followed and sat in a chair across from him.
"Alright. Humor me. Tell me how you feel about Suki."
Brian sipped some of his beverage as he stared into the TV screen. "All I can tell you is, man… she scares me. And I ain't never felt scared in a long time, man. That's how I know something's unique about her."
"She scares you? What you mean?"
"I don't know dog. It's like… It's like I'm more aware of my surroundings when I'm with her. I make sure to be as cool as possible. I try not to let her see that I'm nervous around her, even though I be getting butterflies in my stomach when I look at her. Basically, I have to put a lot of effort into myself than I usually do."
Rome whistled for a second. "Damn."
"Yeah, bro. And the funny thing is, I wasn't always feeling this way about her. Just one day, I was taking second glances at her, and I started seeing her for who she really is. I know you were just screwing around when you said she was a 'queen.' But to me, she is a queen. She's the queen of my heart right now."
Rome stared at Brian and then looked down at the ground. "Damn." He said with strong emphasis this time. "Write her a poem."
Brian laughed and socked Rome in the arm. "Shut your stupid ass up. She'll never take me seriously if I did something lame like that."
Rome chuckled. "Man, I'm just telling you. It sounds like you got some deep feelings for this girl. I never heard you say stuff like that before." He shook his head as he continued. "I'm still not a big fan of it though. As far as we know, Tej is still clappin' them cheeks. Even if what they got goin' on is a little rough right now, we don't know for certain that they gonna break up."
Brian leaned forward and finished off his beer. He squinted his eyes as he contemplated. "That doesn't matter to me. I'm not one to steal another man's girl, but I can't help but to think about Suki all day. I just want to spend time with her, bro."
Rome shook his head. "Look, man. I already did my preaching at you, so I won't bother you with that anymore. Imma just let you do you. I ain't a fan of it, but I'm still gonna have yo back even if you do get yourself into some shit with this girl." Rome reached out his hand. Brian smiled and shook it.
"Thanks bro. I don't ask for you to agree with everything I do. I just want you to have my back no matter what."
"That's what brothers do for each other."
Suki sat criss cross applesauce on the ground, meticulously cleaning the chrome wheels on her 350z, which was her newest car. She was concentrating so much, she didn't even notice when somebody pulled up and walked up behind her.
"I got a ride of my own that could use a fine set of hands like yours." Suki looked up and smiled. She stood up and looked passed Brian's shoulder at the Bronco that was parked by the curb.
"That dinosaur looks like it's on life support anyway. I don't think some soap and water is gonna help it, pretty boy." Brian nearly melted as he heard her wonderful voice again. It's what he was longing for all day.
"Not gonna argue there. She's old as hell, but she gets the job done. Especially when we got big orders that need a little more cargo space than what the Skyline or Eclipse can offer."
"Whatcha doin' here, Brian?"
"Would it sound crazy if I said I was here to see you?"
She chuckled. "Why me of all people?"
"To be honest, I be missing you whenever Tej or whoever has a race going on. I don't know if anyone told you, but you made things chill whenever you were at the scene. You weren't about any of that loud mouthing and bragging shit. You showed up to handle your business, and nothing more. I like that about you. We need more people like you."
She looked down and smiled. "I didn't know I had such a big fanbase."
"You got more fans than you realize." The two stared at each other for a couple of seconds until Brian broke the awkwardness. He yanked the shimmy out of Suki's hand, and walked over to the wheel she was touching up. He crouched down and started shining the wheel himself. "Formula Seven's huh? Good taste in wheels."
"Boy, do you even know what you're doing?"
"I might've shined a wheel once or twice in my life."
She hunched over him and gently placed her hand on top of his. She showed him her own technique for cleaning wheels. Brian was barely aware of what she was saying. He was way too absorbed by the contact the two were making. Even though it was just a hand on hand, he longed for more. She was leaning right over him, and he took in the graceful essence that she gave off. It was such a pleasant smell. Vanilla strawberry.
"You see? Doing it this way really brings out the contours of the wheel." She removed her gracious aroma from him by standing up and tossing him another shimmy. "Go do the other wheels so I can see if you were paying attention to my lesson."
He chuckled and took the article of fabric. "Yes ma'am."
While on his way to the other side, Brian noticed that there was a fresh drop of bird crap on her car. He cursed under his breath and got the hose that was lying on the ground. He aimed it and squeezed the nozzle, but nothing came out. He fiddled with it over and over again. Suki made her way from around the other side of the car, and just when she did, the hose finally wanted to start acting right. The water shot out and drenched Suki, until Brian hastily turned it off when he realized he made an oopsie.
"Damn, Suki! My bad!"
He started freaking out and quickly looking around for a towel or something for her to use to get dry. "I hope I didn't piss her off. I hope I didn't piss her off. I hope I didn't piss her off." He kept repeating as he looked around. He suddenly felt a current of water blast him right in the back. He looked up to see Suki grinning with the dripping hose in her hand.
He flashed a smile back. "So that's how it is, huh?"
"Don't start anything you can't finish."
"Who said I couldn't finish it?" Brian grabbed the bucket of water next to him, and swiftly splashed her with the liquid. She let out a playful scream, and aimed for him again. He laughed and ducked behind her car, trying to avoid her wrath. She reached around and soaked him, but not without getting her car wet again in the process.
"Dammit, Brian! Now I gotta dry my car all over again!" Before Brian could respond, Tej pulled up in his NSX behind Brian's Bronco. Brian noticed a change in Suki's demeanor when she realized he was there.
"Say, what's with the jalopy on my property, bruh?" Tej said as he walked up to Brian.
He gave Tej a fist bump and explained himself. "Nothing much man, I was just swinging by. I was in the neighborhood, and figured I'd drop by and say hello to the family."
Tej noticed how both of them were soaked in water. "The hell y'all two had going on?"
"Suki might've showed me some tricks on how to wash a car."
"Heh. Is that so?" Tej walked up to Suki and gently placed his hands on her exposed waist. She was wearing a very short tank top and a bikini bottom. He slowly drifted his hands up to her cheeks, and smoothly pushed her hair back behind her shoulders. He gave her a sloppy kiss on her forehead, which made Brian feel somewhat uncomfortable. He knew he had to get out of there before he did or said something stupid.
"I'd better get going now. Gotta few more errands to run."
"I'll see you, Brian." Suki waved goodbye.
"Take it easy, Suki." Brian pulled off in his GT-R, and calmed down as the man he envied disappeared in the rearview mirror.
Suki sat in bed, combing her hair. Tej walked in the room and closed the door.
"Say, uh… what did Brian want earlier?"
"It's like he told you before, he was just swinging by."
Tej looked a little suspicious. "And you sure he didn't say anything else?"
Suki nodded her head with an expression on her face that Tej could tell she was obviously getting annoyed by his questions. Tej laughed as he walked over to his dresser.
"Don't even play, girl. I know bullshit when I see it." Suki abruptly stopped combing her hair and got angry.
"The fuck is that supposed to mean?!"
"What you trippin for? You must think I was born yesterday. You really think I hadn't been puttin' two and two together? You think I'm stupid?"
"Do you want the honest answer to that question?"
Tej closed his eyes and sighed. He tried to maintain his composure. "Let me ask you something. How you feel about Brian?" Suki rolled her eyes and turned back around and tried drowning him out with the blow dryer noise. "Damn, baby. It's a simple question."
"You think there's something goin' on between us?"
"I see the way he be looking at you. I just don't want you to forget who your bread and butter is."
Suki chuckled. "Tej, you're really full of shit sometimes." Tej walked over and yanked the blow dryer out of her hand. He stopped the noise by yanking the cord out of the outlet.
"Now what is that supposed to mean?" Suki hesitated once she saw the look in his eyes. She felt a little scared. "Ay, don't get soft on me now, baby. You wanna act hard, right?" Suki looked away and down at her hand that rested in her lap. "Yeah, I think we understand each other now. So, lemme put it like this for you. I ain't gonna force nobody to run with me if they don't want to. But I don't like how you tryna pull shit behind my back with Brian. It's either him, or me. Now, imma ask you one more time. How do you feel about Brian?"
It had been a couple of more days since Brian had last seen Suki. He tried drowning out the thought of her by working as much as he could on customer orders. However, as much as he loved cars, they could only do so much for him as a distraction. He still had to sleep at night, and whenever he would lay his head on his pillow, he wished that Suki was next to him. On one misty summer night, Brian hit up Suki on the phone, and asked if she wanted to do a few laps around the beach. She liked the sound of that idea, and in just a couple of hours, the two found themselves drifting around the streets of Miami beach, just like old times.
After a while the two parked their cars on a nice overlook of the beach's night sky. The way the moon reflected its light off the sea was magnificent, and a sight to behold. Suki got out of her S2000, and sat on the hood. Brian came over and took a spot next to her, wrapping his right arm around her waist. For a while, they just enjoyed the smooth summer breeze together. For Brian, it couldn't get much better than this. He cherished every moment with her as if it were his last. He noticed earlier that Suki had been a little more quiet than usual.
"What's on your mind tonight?" He asked.
She shook her head. "...It's nothing."
"C'mon, talk to me. What's bothering you?"
Suki looked at Brian and faked a chuckle before she answered. "It's so stupid."
Brian smiled at her and squeezed her waist a little bit, encouraging her to open up to the question. "Nah, you can tell me. What's up?" Suki sighed and finally gave in.
She looked Brian in the eye and told him the truth. "Tej, is tripping because he thinks you and I are 'a thing.'" She chuckled to herself and nudged him in his side. "You see what I mean when I said it was stupid? I can't believe anyone would actually think that."
Brian's smile immediately disappeared as he stared down at the ground. He wanted to pretend like he didn't just hear what he heard. It wasn't the fact that Tej had suspicions of them seeing each other behind his back. Rather, it was Suki's comment about how 'stupid' she thought the idea was. "Is she for real? She thinks us being together would be stupid?" Suki noticed Brian's change in demeanor, and nudged him in the side again.
"Hey… Brian… you still there?" He looked at her, contemplating what he should say. "Pretty crazy, right?" She asked him. Brian had enough. He decided that he wouldn't keep his feelings at bay any longer. Suki was important to him, and it was also important that she knew the truth about how he felt. Now was a better time than ever to do so. He looked her in the eyes and shook his head.
"Nah, I don't think it's crazy. I don't think it's stupid. I think Tej is just pissed because he sees a spark between you and me. I see it too."
Suki scooted away from him a bit with a bewildered look on her face. "What?" She asked with attitude in her voice.
"Oh, come on Suki. Me and you… It's like nothing else in the world matters when we're together. We have great chemistry and shit, not to mention you're the prettiest woman I've ever seen." He got up and stood over her. "What I'm saying is, I like you Suki. Shit, I'm crazy about you. And by the way things were turning out, I thought you was feeling the same way."
Suki stood up and met Brian face-to-face. "Brian, Tej-"
"What the fuck about Tej?!" Brian snapped. "Look, I know he treats you like shit, okay? I know y'all think nobody sees it, but I've been seeing it for a long time now. And I'm tired of seeing you like this, Suki. Aren't you tired of it too?" Suki looked down, no longer able to make eye contact with him. Brian rubbed his temples, and took another deep breath. His heart was pounding out his chest.
"Hey, I just wanna see you happy. And I want you by my side, not just in a street race, but in everyday life too."
Suki stepped away from Brian and could do nothing but slowly shake her head. It was hard for her to comprehend what the man in front of her was saying. She almost didn't want to believe it. "Brian..." She didn't want to stomp on the heart that had just been poured out to her. But she couldn't force herself to feel feelings that she didn't have. The truth was, Suki didn't feel the same way.
She grabbed his hand and held it with her own. "...Brian... you're like a brother to me. I never knew you felt that way." Brian looked down and nodded his head. He knew very well that the moment she said "brother," that any hope of her having mututal feelings was lost. She squeezed his hand as she continued. "Tej is an asshole. He's the biggest fucking asshole that I've ever met. But I still love him. And I love you too. Just not..." Her voice trailed off when she saw the look in his eye.
His heart was shattered. She let go of his hand and kissed him on the cheek. "I'm sorry, Brian. This should've never happened." She turned away from him and got back in her car. Brian was hurting, but the last thing he wanted for her was to feel bad about something that was out of her control.
"It's cool, Suki." She turned to look at him before she cranked up her car. "I'm alright. Don't worry 'bout me. You just make it home safe. I'll see you and Tej later." She smiled, but knew he was lying. She could see right through him, which wasn't hard to do in that vulnerable moment.
Brian watched the taillights of her car get smaller and smaller as she disappeared into the midnight mist. After a while, he started his own car and began heading home. A tear was on the verge of escaping his eye but he wiped it away and shoved his emotions towards the back of his heart; doing his best to forget that this night ever happened. It would be hard letting go of hope for a relationship with Suki, but the last thing he wanted was to lose her friendship completely. Maybe now wasn't the right time. Or maybe that time may never come. One thing was for sure; she would always have a special place in his heart.
R.I.P. Paul Walker. Always a Legend. Never forgotten.