An emerald green NRG900 drifts round a corner, causing a whirlwind of dust and litter to scatter along the burning asphalt as it starts to straighten out. The rider, suited in a black tuxedo and matching helmet, quickly draws the attention of pedestrians beside a set of market stalls.
The closest vendor dives out the way and to the ground, crying out in fear as the bike easily decimates his tattered, rag torn stall, sending various fruits and vegetables hurling through the brisk air.
Hung low in the clear sky, the sun reflects off of the rider's visor. He flips the screen up to assess the damage, laughing as the middle-aged man stands up, yelling inaudible obscenities. His cold cobalt eyes dart from the vendor to the corner when a handful of bikes skid round, haphazardly ripping through the man in the middle of the street, crushing him along with the produce.
Turning his focus from the clutter of bikes back to the road ahead, he smoothly sifts round another corner as he lowers his gear. In the close distance, a makeshift finish line can be seen, with rows of people cheering. Effortlessly, without any competition, the rider crosses the white spray-painted marker on the ground and comes to a halt as the masses applaud him.
A petite Asian girl casually paces over, tossing a wad of rolled up notes, bound by a thick brown band to the rider, who catches it and slips it in to the innards of the uncreased tux jacket.
"You usually have a dapper dress sense, Rivers, but this takes the cake," she jokes, folding her arms.
Evan Rivers takes the protective helmet off and eases back on to the dark leather saddle, smiling. "I'd love to stay and bask in the glory of victory -- again," he laughs, seeing the other riders finally catch up and cross the finish line, "but I've got a wedding to go to."
The Asian girl laughs, shaking her head. "I don't know how you do it."
He shoots her a quick wink before putting the helmet back on and restarting the bike up. "Talent," he says, muffled from behind the headgear. Revving the bike and putting it in to gear, he rapidly peels away from the group, leaving the Asian girl to look up at the crystal blue sky, smiling once more.
"To the most f*cked up wedding I've ever been a part of!" Pete Auldrey drunkenly screams over the constant thud of techno, raising a glass of champagne, sloshing alcohol all over the group.
Sat in a turquoise-lit corner booth of Club Elegance, the group share a laugh and raise their glasses alongside Pete. Evan basks in good times spawned from rough situations, taking a sip of the sparkling liquid. Sitting beside him is the groom, Charlie O'Malley, sporting a pea green tux, matching top hat, and pink ruffled shirt. He's locked hands with his now-wife, Paige, who's buried under endless layers from a black and teal-tinted wedding dress.
"I can't hear sh*t in here, Rivers," Wayne yells, covering his ear with one hand, trying to talk on the phone with the other.
"And that's why we're doing good business," Evan chuckles, taking a look around at all the revelers on the dance floor and a top the balconies; strobe lights bouncing off the mirrors behind the bars, causing alcohol-induced clubbers to shield their eyes as they hazily try to pinpoint what bottles are on the counter top behind each barman.
Dan rests a hand on Evan's shoulder and leans in, loosening his silk tie. "Business is good, huh?" he asks his brother, not taking his eyes off of his wife, Emily, who's stumbling across the packed dance floor with a bottle of champagne clenched tight in her grip.
"Not good enough to keep bailing you outta trouble," Evan laughs, taking another swig of champagne. "Might wanna go straighten her out before you're in even more. She's tanked."
Dan sighs, seeing his wife trying to shove past a group of guys who begin groping her, trying desperately to make her way back to the bar where she's spent the majority of her evening. He stands up and shuffles past the group and out on to the dance floor.
Evan shakes his head, laughing in disbelief at his brother's bad decisions. "So," he begins, turning his attention to the groom and changing his tone, "decided where you're going yet?"
Charlie remains silent, deep in thought, when he's startled by Evan tossing something towards his chest. He fumbles briefly and catches it, examining the wad of cash won by Evan earlier in the afternoon.
"...And that's why I was late. Consider it the wedding present."
Charlie stays silent, looking up at Evan. After a brief pause, he smiles and pats his best friend's shoulder and nods his head in gratitude, pulling him in for a hug.
Almost knocking the circular oak table over, Paige shoots up from the middle of the group. "Carter!" she cries out, seeing a man approach in a heavy trench coat, faded denims, and a red baseball cap.
Carter Raimi, the elder brother of Paige, drops a duffel bag to the spotless marble floor below and slides it under the table with the heel of his boot. "Well, look who finally grew up!" he says, laughing.
Paige leaps over the table and throws her arms around him. Smiling, he looks over her shoulder to Evan and Charlie, who both begin standing up.
"And they said I was late," Evan jokes, watching Paige release her iron grip from Carter. Evan and Carter share a brief handshake, then Charlie offers his hand.
"Yeah, well," Carter begins, shaking Charlie's hand. "I figured I'd let my friend Shuya sort the flight details out... That was a mistake on my behalf," he laughs, now making eye contact with his brother-in-law. "You must be Charlie..."
The usually calm, cool and collected Charlie swallows the dry lump in his throat and nods his head. "It's nice to finally meet you."
Evan notices beads of sweat begin to form on his best friend's forehead. Laughing, he slaps him on the back, causing Charlie to cough. "Relax," he says, slipping back down in to the leather cushioned booth, "Carter's not gonna bust your balls."
Nervously, Charlie laughs and wipes the spittle from his cracked lips and lets Paige and Carter in to the booth, noticing Evan pouring more drinks for everyone.
Charlie and Carter are both slumped over the table, heads resting on the liquid-soaked furnished wooden top, arms wrapped around each other. "I swear," Charlie drunkenly slurs over and over, facing Carter as his hair soaks up the spilt champagne, "I've known you all my life!" he shouts over the blare of music.
Carter bursts in to laughter and nods continuously, trying to keep his eyes open. "You're a top bloke. You really are."
Evan and Paige both shake their heads opposite the duo, smiling. "You'd think they were the married couple," Evan says, finishing up a glass of coke. "Great f*ckin' night. All right, time to sober up and get --"
The sentence is abruptly halted by the all-too familiar sounds of gunshots raining through the club's wound-down dance floor. The four quickly become alert. Evan's eyes shoot to each corner of the building. He sees a strawberry blonde haired girl in a skin tight red dress taking cover by the staff's bar entry flap, with a lone gunman in all black taking aim with a pistol directly at her.
Revelers and employees alike all dash to any and every exit the club has, when both Evan and Charlie stand up simultaneously and without hesitation or thought, charge at the man. The duo tackle him into the bar and begin trying to disarm him.
"Leave me alone!" the downed girl screams, crawling behind the bar. "I don't know anything!"
Another shot is fired, and both Evan and Charlie lose their grip on the lone gunman, who breaks free and takes aim at Evan with the pistol.
"This is what you get for--"
Carter calmly places the ice cold barrel of a Colt. 45 against the back of the assailant's neck and tenses his jaw, pulling the hammer back. Cutting his speech short, the man in black raises his hands in surrender, but Carter fires a single shot, regardless. He closes his eyes and embraces the splatter of blood flung in his direction, as the gunman slumps to the ground and drops his pistol.
"Close one," Evan exhales with relief, breathing heavily. He looks over to Charlie, who's covering his midsection with both hands, cradling himself tightly.
"Yeah, close one," Charlie says, smirking, pale as a ghost; eyes locked on Evan's as he leans against the warm counter top and slowly begins sliding down to the ground.
Evan's eyes shift from Charlie's to the very apparent red spilling through his suit, as his best friend continues to slide down the bar front. The screams and cries from Paige are muffled by a growing white noise as Evan's chest tightens, seeing Charlie slump down to a sitting position on the ground.
Paige grabs hold of her husband, tightly pulling him in as the sickly dark red spills from him to her. Carter drops his piece a top the gunman's dead body and takes a few steps back, watching his baby sister cradle her husband.
The light drains from Charlie's ocean blue eyes and they shut. Paige buries her head in to the curve of his neck, crying out so hard it causes her voice to crack.
The only thing audible to Evan is the exact same numbing white noise caused from the explosions of the Zaibatsu bombings that claimed his fiancée's life, as he watches his best friend take one final breath.
"Joan Morgan, 1985 - 2013."
"Charlie O'Malley, 1982 - 2014."
Both sit comfortably beside one another on stone slabs dug deep in the damp soil. Evan stands tall, keeping his head down and his hands rested inside of a camel crombie coat, covering a black suit and tie.
Beside him, Paige stands with a blank stare on her face, watching as the wood fired oak casket containing her husband is lowered in to the earth. A chilling wind begins to bite and causes Carter to fold his arms across his chest, creasing his tie as he stares up at the cloudless sky. Behind them stands Pete, Dan and Emily, who awkwardly discuss what transpired that night.
Evan glances across the grassy hill and sees the same strawberry blonde haired girl from the bar standing beside a pale yellow Kuruma, now suited in a short black number. "I'll see you back at home," he says to the group, not taking his eyes off of the girl, no older than eighteen. Slowly, he begins to walk in her direction.
"I'm..." the girl begins, shying away as she sees Evan walking up the hill towards her. "I'm sorry about your friend," she finishes as Evan arrives.
"Why was that guy after you?" he asks, removing his hands from the crombie jacket and opening the passenger side door of the Kuruma.
"I don't know..." Sheepishly, she avoids eye contact with Evan, glaring down at the group burying Charlie below.
Evan tongues a scar on the roof of his mouth and nods his head, placing his hands on his hips, looking down at his black shoes. "You don't know?"
A silence befalls the two briefly, then Evan pushes her in to the car as she cries out and resists.
"Get the f*ck off'a me!" she screams to the response of nobody in the area. Forced in to the passenger side of her own car, she straightens her hair out and feels the thud of the door slam as Evan paces around the front of the car, not removing his glare from her.
"You don't know," he repeats as he yanks the driver's side door open and gets in. "You're gonna tell me everything you know," he states, starting the car up and shifting it in to gear, "or they're gonna find this car with your remains in the bottom of the Stanford Canal."
The girl hears the malice in his voice and still can't bring herself to look at Evan.
"...Rebecca," she replies. "Rebecca Barcalow."