Disclaimer: If you've heard of
them, I don't own them. Everything else is mine, so no stealing, pretty please.
A/N: This was my response to Round One of the BFC Challenge - my only guidelines were that Delana was now the driver and Kevin the spouse on the pit box. Hope you like it. :-)
Kevin sighed inwardly as he was once again pushed aside so a fan could take a picture with DeLana.
DeLana Harvick, famous race car driver.
Husband of Kevin Harvick, big nobody.
With a forced smile for the fans, Kevin took DeLana's hand again and stalked quickly towards the garage area. "Jeez, Kevin, slow down." DeLana said under her breath, out of earshot of the photographers following them until they hit the large iron gates separating those with hot passes from those without.
"I need to talk to you." Kevin said, his voice low.
"Good. Talk. You've done nothing but snipe at me since we got here. What's going on?" DeLana asked, gathering her blonde hair into a ponytail holder as they walked, he one step behind her.
"I'm leaving." Kevin said shortly.
DeLana stopped and turn around, looking at him with a nod. "Good. I have to meet and greet some GM folks, but then I'll be back at the coach after that."
"I won't be there."
DeLana's brow wrinkled as she watched Kevin's eyes dart back and forth, avoiding her gaze. "What?" She asked.
"I'm going home." Kevin said, still not meeting her eyes. "I'm leaving."
"Kevin, what are you talking about? I don't " DeLana began, but Kevin had already spun on his heel and stalked away.
" understand." She said to nobody at all.
"I can't do this anymore." Kevin said, his arms crossed in a classically defensive pose as he faced off with DeLana in their family room in Charlotte.
"Do what, exactly?" DeLana asked, trying to keep her voice calm and even, when all she wanted to do was scream and wail at the man who had recently gone from the love of her life to a complete stranger.
"This!" Kevin said emphatically. "This whole charade of a life!"
DeLana took a step back, as though distancing herself from Kevin's notoriously quick temper. "You're going to have to be a bit more specific, Kevin, because right now, you aren't making sense. In fact, you've been a total enigma for weeks, and have treated me like the plague. Now, I want to know what the hell is going on!" DeLana, losing the battle for calm, rational words.
"I'm sick of being Mr. DeLana! Or of not being anyone at all! I'm sick of being a house husband, arm candy, someone to trail after you! I'm sick of the guys groping your ass, I'm sick of not seeing you! I'm sick of this stupid fucking thing you call a career!" Kevin yelled, his voice growing louder and louder. "That's it. I'm done."
"Where the hell is this coming from?!" DeLana demanded. "We've been doing this for three years, and suddenly you're 'done'? Don't you give a damn about me, about my life, my career?!"
Kevin shook his head. "The first year was sheer craziness, sheer madness. Last year I was miserable. This year, I can't take it anymore. I'm out. I'm used up. I'm sick of this. I'm sick of the pretension of this sport and these people. I'm sick of the exhaustion. I'm sick of the fact that when you became a Cup driver, you stopped being my wife and instead got married to that fucking race team. I'm done."
DeLana rubbed her temples and tried to gather her thoughts before completely leaping off the deep end. "Maybe it would help " She said as quietly as she could, " if you would do something. Get a job with a team. Make some friends. Get a life of your own."
"Oh, but I can't." Kevin countered. "This life, your life won't allow it. Don't you see? I stopped being me the minute you became you."
"What?" DeLana asked for what seemed to be the fiftieth time.
"Did you know I always wanted to race?" Kevin asked, his voice laced with defeat.
"Of course I knew that." DeLana retorted, unsure where Kevin was going with this conversation.
"I always wanted to do what you do. But you were always better better reflexes, better eyesight, better attitude. Maybe I'm exhausted, maybe I'm tired of being second fiddle, or maybe I'm just flat out tired of being jealous of you all the time." Kevin answered. "But whatever it is, I'm done."
"Stop saying that." DeLana snapped.
"Did you even notice that I stopped wearing my wedding ring weeks and weeks ago?" Kevin asked, his eyes meeting her defiantly. DeLana's eyes lowered by a fraction of an inch, but not before Kevin noticed her shocked expression. "Yeah. I didn't think so."
Marching over and picking up his duffel bag from the foyer, Kevin turned to look at her again. "See you around." He said simply, reaching for the door.
"Don't go." DeLana said, her voice strong, pleading.
Without turning to face her, Kevin shook his head. "DeLana "
"Don't go!" She repeated, and he turned to look at her, his face expressionless and empty. She held his eyes for a long moment, the shrugged. "What the hell, go."
And with that, the door slammed shut.
He felt like an idiot.
Decked out in a loudly printed Jeff Gordon tee shirt, a Rusty Wallace ball cap, a lanyard around his neck and a camera in his hand, Kevin looked like the typical fan wandering around the pits.
No one recognized him.
Which perfectly illustrated his point that he was nobody to this racing world.
Oh sure, a few people looked twice at him, as though he seemed familiar, but never quite making a connection.
He'd gone undercover to watch her.
He couldn't seem to stay away from her. To stop thinking about her. To miss her every nanosecond of every minute.
Her blonde hair makes her stand out in a crowd, so his eyes never strayed far from where she stood. He'd watched her sign autographs, strap into the car for practice, talk to Todd with wild hand gestures, and laugh as she conferred with RC after qualifying.
His heart ached with every minute he watched her.
Watched her living without him.
Or more importantly, him without her.
He loved her so much, his throat closed over when he pictured her smile.
He loved her so much, his breath quickened when he heard her laughter.
He loved her so much, he couldn't sleep at night for being afraid of dreaming of her.
The question he had to answer for himself was the one he had avoided since the night he'd walked out on their marriage does he love her enough to spend the rest of his life in second place in her heart?
As he watched her walk away, he knew that he still didn't have the answer for that.
She stared at the picture that still sat on her bedside table in the coach.
Her and Kevin in Victory Lane her first win, late last year.
She was smiling for the photographers, the trophy clutched in her hand as she looked down at it with glee.
Kevin's arm wrapped around her waist, his eyes watching her instead of the millions teeming around them.
She rubbed her temples as she squeezed her eyes shut, but the image of the photograph stuck in her mind.
She had her eyes on the trophy, and he had his eyes on her.
Such a metaphor.
She knew that every word he had screamed that last night together in their home had come from his heart, and that to her ears, it sounded like there was no going back for them.
She wished she could move on from Kevin, focus on what was in front of her, but she couldn't.
The only time she wasn't miserable was when she was screaming along a backstretch with 800 horsepower under her.
And that just didn't sustain her for all the other hours in the week.
Grabbing the frame from the table, DeLana curled up on the bed, the picture clutched to her chest as though it were the last life jacket on a sinking ship.
Kevin was pretty sure he was going to throw up.
Tugging nervously at his firesuit, he tried to look cool and collected as he walked towards his ARCA car, parked on the grid for qualifying.
One foot in front of the other, and he'd be there in no time. No time to think about what he was doing, how nervous he was, how fucking terrified he was.
It had been months since she had told him to do something more, and a few more months for Kevin to realize she was right.
He needed more.
He needed to fuel this passion for speed beyond just watching his wife chase down other cars on Sunday.
He had to live it.
So, he'd started at small tracks turning laps, making contacts, learning the ropes. Using what connections he could to find a ride. Bending over backwards to make a deal happen. Spending too many sleepless nights worrying about chassis setups or sponsorship deals.
And now he was here.
His qualifying laps went by so fast, he felt as though he was stuck in a time warp. As he climbed from his car, his eyes darting the scoring tower, he had to blink back tears.
He'd done it.
He'd really, really done it.
Whirling around, Kevin's jaw dropped open slightly as he found DeLana standing in front of him with the same stunned expression.
"Uh. Hi." He managed to utter.
"I I was standing outside my hauler, and I I heard your name on the loudspeaker." DeLana said, her voice breaking slightly. "I had to see for myself that it was you. Really you."
"It's me." Kevin said, trying for a light tone but failing miserably.
"This is awkward." DeLana, stating the obvious for both of them. "I don't I don't know what to say. I don't even know I didn't know about this. Any of this." She said, gesturing towards his ARCA car feebly.
"I was gonna I thought about calling you but I I mean, it's been months." Kevin said, his voice rising in anger. Sure, he hadn't called her, but she hadn't exactly made an effort to call him either. "You were busy."
"So were you, apparently." DeLana said shortly, catching his angry tone and hurling it back.
"Look, you're the one " Kevin began until DeLana cut him off.
"You know what? Let's not do this here. Can we talk? Later?" DeLana asked. "Please?" She asked softly after a beat.
"Yeah. Yeah. I'll find you later." Kevin relented, trying not to get lost in her eyes, her smile, her smell, her voice, her closeness. "Later."
DeLana jumped as she stepped into her hauler and found Kevin sitting on her couch, looking very uncomfortable. She raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
"I I wanted to see if my key still worked." Kevin said sheepishly, and DeLana tried to hide a smile.
"You didn't run into any of my boyfriends in here, did you?" She teased, regretting it the moment she saw a thundercloud of an expression cross Kevin's face. "Jesus, Kev, I'm kidding."
"How would I know?!" He spat, already losing his resolve to make this as congenial a meeting as possible.
"You would know if you'd call once in a while. You'd know because you know me better than that. You'd know because I'm still in love with you, you prick." DeLana said calmly, serenely.
Kevin sat for a long moment, staring at his beloved wife. "Say that again." He whispered after a long pause.
"Which part? The part about you being a prick?" DeLana said, a smile tugging at her lips, which made Kevin's own lips curl into a smile.
"Any of it. I'm just glad to hear your voice again." Kevin said tenderly. "I I've been goin' crazy."
"Me too." DeLana said softly.
"I I know I acted liked such a dumbass, but I want to make this work. I tried to live without you, and I don't think I can. I just don't think I can, De." Kevin said, baring his soul for the first time in a long time since their wedding vows, since the first time he told her he loved her, since their first kiss.
"Say that again." She whispered with a small smile.