Disclaimer: I don't own any Fast and the Furious movie, character, situation, ect.
A/N: And so the end my friends. Thank you for reading, reviewing, and sticking with me till the end.
Chapter 18: Epilogue Where Life and Art Intertwine
I found it. It took some digging and a lot of work but I found it and brought it here. Some might think what I'm doing is morbid. Earl thought so when I first mentioned the idea. But I had to have it. And here it was, the crushed frame clearly telling a tragic story. And yet I was standing amongst this twisted metal, determined for the phoenix to rise from the ashes.
Takashi scoffed at me, at the idea of the intense amount of work. "Why are you restoring this hunk of junk? Why not get something new?" he asked me, his accent heavy since English clearly was not his first language.
But Takashi didn't understand. None of them really could. This wasn't about restoring some random car; it was about healing my past. I had to close the hole in my heart. This was about making sense of the past through a labor of closure. And so I worked. It took months to get it right. I wanted to use as much of the original vehicle as possible. The welder who straightened out the frame thought I was crazy but when you pay the price, anything can get done. What was returned to me wasn't perfect, I hadn't wanted nor expected perfection, but it was passable as looking new. By this time Earl quit calling me crazy. Instead he just shook his head then went back to reading the latest Import Tuner.
I started the work on the engine and the interior in my spare time, the routine was cathartic until I hit a major speed bump. The funny think about earning quick money is that you miss it when it's gone. So there I was with the last of my money ready to sink it all into completing the transmission and electrical work when I got offered a job managing property for Takashi's uncle. They needed an extra person to help collect debts on the Yakuza's turf and Takashi, good friend that he is, recommended that he and I work together. There I was standing amongst the constant reminder of the consequences of the last time I engaged in work of a questionable legal nature contemplating a jumpstart back in. I thought about it a whole thirty seconds before accepting. The money was tight and I wasn't content to take my time to make it. Besides, the perks of the job weren't bad. The hours were short, the pay more than fair, and I even got an Evo. Vince couldn't stop laughing when I called LA to tell them that, clearly remembering what happened the last time I was allowed to drive a "company" car. "Just try not to blow this one up," he told me, laughter coursing through his words. It made me grin.
At long last it was time to paint. And now I know how Leonardo DaVinci must have felt when he had blank canvas. He cranked out a masterpiece just by keeping it simple. He'd painted a woman. I painted my car for her. It was the same "fast ass blue with a white stripe" that she's always known, but I added the orange just for her. I'd decided that those colors together weren't as offensive as I originally thought. It turned out to be simple but effective. It also had the added advantage of making my car easy to pick out of a crowd.
Once the car was done I decided that my self-imposed isolation from the racing scene here would end too. I was thankful that first night to find my car toward the end of the night. The racing scene here was twice almost three times as large as LA. Then again, the population here is crazy compared to LA too so it's all relative. Given the space constraints in this area and the desire for racers to drift, the ideal place for us to race are multi-level parking garages. The advantage to this is that we can usually party and have a ball for as long as we want without police disturbance. The reduction of the fear of being caught definitely added a layer of activity to these events. There's lots more tuning, lots more sitting around, and plenty of dancing which I rarely saw at a race in LA.
This new guy Twinky has been hanging around lately. He's sort of this "traveling merchant" selling anything recognizing most items, most people, have a price. To me he is a living reminder that no ride is free. Twinky has a penchant for peddling information which our set has slowly started to consider the gospel. For example, he's made me into sort of this legend by talking up my car which I have refused to do. No one knows why this car is special to me beyond the massive restoration. Twinky found out about the fact that I crashed it back in the states so he started referring to the car as Mona.
"Why Mona?" I asked one night at races as we rode the elevator to the top floor of the parking garage.
"Mona," he stated as if I should pick up on the reference right away. When I raised an eyebrow at him, he looked at me in disbelief, gave a short bark of laughter then said, "You know, like "Mona Lisa"? Check it; you got a masterpiece right there." So thanks to Twinky I had a label for my master work, my "Mona Lisa". But I can't take full credit. It might be my finest work but its Daphne one hundred percent.
I may have returned to the racing scene but I don't race Mona. That doesn't mean I don't drive her. I will cruise around town or drift quietly down the surrounding mountainside when I need to think. According to the gospel of Twink, everyone knows I'd been in a car crash in this same car days before I came to Japan, that my team in the states helped me build her the first time. But I knew that no one knew about my girlfriend and our child. Takashi knew I'd escaped to Japan like the cowboys that ran to Mexico. When he's reminded of it, he'll laugh at me and remark that for an Asian, this probably ismy Mexico. Smart ass. I started spending more time collecting debts and chilling with some of Takashi's friends. One of the guys Morimoto makes it a point to talk in Japanese whenever I am around just to remind me that I am not from here. At least all this forced immersion was helping me learn the language but I still only speak Japanese when it's absolutely necessary.
I have this reputation bordering between player and promiscuity. Part of it is fueled by my desire to never get too close to another woman hence the revolving door of women sashaying in and out of my room. Twinky's obsession with storytelling has also added nitrous to the fire. Thanks to him I have been rumored to get around three times more than I truly do. It took a while but I finally started dating this model named Kitayna. She has long brown hair and a sexy lush full mouth. She also has a quick wit and great intuition. She's my main squeeze as much as she can be considering I have been circulating through the native and non-native female population of Tokyo.
Kitayna and I spend more time together than I do with any other women. I always make sure to save time for her when she is in town because she is both entertaining and intuitive. She knows when I want sex and when I just want her to leave me alone. I know I can invite her to spend the night at my place and she'll curl up on the opposite side of the bed to let me sleep when I'm not in the mood. Sometimes I need the illusion of the ladies man that she provides without the pressure to perform. Some nights I want to wallow in my past and Kitanya provides a safe haven to do so. No one bothers me if they think I am cloistered away with my companion of the evening getting into carnal acts.
The upside to my relationship with Kitayna is that Takashi finally felt comfortable enough to introduce me to his girlfriend Neela. I understand why he spends time with the younger girl, she's hot. Her exotic features and Australian accent makes guys want to compete for her attention and yet she is really modest about the attention she gets. After hanging with her a couple times the two of us started to realize that we both shared feelings of loss and loneliness. Neela never told me the full details but apparently her Mom's past was affecting present, forcing Neela to live on the good grace of Takashi's uncle. It's one thing to be wanted, another thing to be owned. It made her uncomfortable to know that Takashi felt he owned her in a way, that she was his excusive property. What she needed I was lamenting the loss of: a companion who respects who you are and loves you for being yourself. Our friendship grew to this mutual understanding that she could come to me and I would do my best to help her, even if that meant it required me to step in and talk to Takashi on her behalf. It's never come to a head yet, but I have a feeling that if the right guy comes along, I will have to make good on our agreement.
Six months after fixing Mona I started to get the restless urge to race. I refused to subject Mona to the rigors of racing for money so I started to search for a new car. One afternoon I was lying around thinking about whether I should just import some American muscle car and strip it down for a complete retool when Dom called.
"Hey," he started off not even giving me a chance to say hello. I glanced at the time. If it was seven o'clock in the evening here the seventeen hour difference meant it was two in the morning there. He sounded too giddy for two am.
"Dom, are you wasted?"
"Naw, nothing like that," he replied still sounding giddy. He held the silence long enough to put me on edge before he spoke again. "I have a rep now."
"What?" I said quizzically. Dom always had a reputation but this seemed really strange. He had been a confident, enviable racer in high school. He had even bordered on cocky more than once. He'd even had a rep as a shameless trollop who would have anything that paraded past him in heels or a skirt. Apparently this was larger than that.
"It's official. I am King of the Streets." I could hear him smiling through the phone. I knew he must be somewhere private because he would never show anyone who wasn't family his unadulterated goofy grin.
"Huh," I said. I knew that my lack of enthusiasm would rankle.
"What do you mean, huh?" Dom said affronted. Once I started laughing Dom caught on and his mood elevated again. "Jerk."
"Well how did you manage that?"
"Well last week some punk shows up and starts going on about how he's the best in San Fran and that he's come out to race me and see if the "rumors about King Toretto are true" and all this crap and I just beat the breaks off his ass," Dom rushed out, clearly enjoying this story.
"Oh is that all," I drawled.
"Yeah," he said wistfully, "but I think it really crushed him because he brought like twenty racers with him and they played him out afterwards. Anyway, some of the San Fran scene showed up this week and our scene deferred to me."
"Deferred? You mean you held the money?" I was being obtuse on purpose.
"Naw, I got to decide if people were worthy enough to race with me." We laughed. That was a big accomplishment.
"So what does the team have to say about it?" I knew that this new status upgrade had probably made Dom insufferable.
"Well…" he started and then I heard a door slam and Dom expel a breath as he was pushed down onto what I was assuming was his bed. "Han…"
"Han, Dom owes me a very long massage," Letty said silkily into the phone before disconnecting. It felt good to know that some things stayed the same even though I missed them.
So I got the grand idea to get a RX-7 since I knew Dom was rolling around in one now and do it up with VeilSide to give it a unique look. That way I could still feel like part of the team even though we were separated by an ocean. I painted this car completely orange before I decided to add black to break up the monotony. I was hyped to race it even letting Twinky set it up my initial race. However as I rounded the final corner in the race in front of my opponent I knew my heart wasn't truly in it. So that's when I retired myself from racing for money. If I was going to do anything that looked like racing it would have to be for something bigger: respect, honor, the pursuit of womanly attention. To symbolize my return to retirement, I started taking Mona to the races again.
So that's where I am now, sitting on the hood of Mona, casually eating my munchies, observing the scene Takashi lords over as D.K.. I still haven't found anyone I trust to take care of my snacks when I race anyway so this is all for the best. Twinky showed up with some new kid in that ridiculous Hulk mobile. Always wanting to stay on top of things I gave the kid a cursory glance, noticing his whole demeanor screamed outsider immediately. I hope Twinky doesn't bring the kid over here or Morimoto will get fuel for his attitude early. I really think Morimoto carries an elitist attitude when it comes to being Japanese which is starting to grate my nerves. Two girls walk past in barely there skirts and Morimoto reaches out for one, smacking her hard, grabbing her behind. I continue to look bored but start getting antsy to see Neela. She might break up the monotony of the night.
Suddenly her car pulls up and she pops out, her first order of business Earl. I'll have to ask her about the new mods she must have put in. Earl is the guy she goes to immediately when there is an issue with her ride. They exchange terse words then she turns to walk towards our group but the new guy is in the way. What the hell?Before I can even figure out if he knows who he is messing with Takashi takes notice and goes to defend his turf. I can tell from my perch that things are getting ready to escalate so I mosey as quickly as possible to the argument, able to catch the tail end of their squabble. So Takashi and this guy want to race? This kid has balls considering he doesn't have a ride. My curiosity is peaked. The kid reminds me of Leon: he's not going to walk away from a challenge and finishing last is not going to sit well with him. I expect that's what's making me offer up the keys to Mona. I want to see if I am right. Well really I want to see if Takashi will get put down a peg. The kid doesn't look like he drifts but then again; people have been known to surprise me.
Twinky looks at me like I need to sign myself into a psych ward, shaking his head before following this new guy to Mona. Takashi looks pissed, Neela fed up. What? I wanted to see what the kid had in him? It takes a few moments but the crowd gets ready, clearly waiting to see how badly Takashi is going to hand it to the newbie. The race starts, they reach the first turn, and the kid smashes Mona into the wall. Inside I am rolling my eyes but I don't let it show as we head for the elevators. As the door closes on me, I slowly continue to eat my snack but my thoughts move back to Daphne. I know she is laughing at me right now, at the fact that I can't seem to keep cars and destruction far apart from each other. Well at least it wasn't the Evo.