7th of March – Season 3
"I can't believe Moodswing would do this," said Brenda, pacing up and down the sitting room.
Doris rolled her eyes. "Are you still going on about this? Brenda, it's just a race."
Brenda stopped pacing so she could look at her younger sister. "This isn't just a race, Doris. Did you see what Moodswing called it on Feeder? He's billed it a 'Battle of the Super Couples'.
"And there you go. Proof that this isn't a big deal. Because how many times have you said that you and Jim aren't a couple?"
Brenda started pacing again. "That doesn't take away from the fact that I'll be facing my own baby sister tonight." Brenda had lost her appetite mid-supper when she got the feedling alert on her phone. Jim Kieck & Brenda Koek will take on JVZ & Teresa Koek. Winning couple to face off against Thawn & Savana.
Doris still wasn't convinced that this was something to worry about. "Well look at this as a chance to beat some sense into Teresa. Maybe when she loses, she'll realize that her relationship with that beach bum is going nowhere." Unfortunately, Brenda wasn't buying it and Doris saw her big sister pull out her phone and dial a number. "Who are you calling?"
"Glen. Maybe I can get him to call this whole thing off."
"Not likely. Glen's still banned from Fuel. He's not making any races. In fact, he's spending time doing interviews, reassuring fans that Moodswing hasn't beaten him yet."
Brenda finally noticed that Doris had the weekly newsletter in her hands. Doris handed it to her and Brenda read Glen's own words out loud. "The first thing everybody should know is that I'm playing things close to the vest. The last time I revealed my plan, I ended up giving Moodswing a heads-up, allowing him to stop me. The second thing is that my exile ends at Festival of the Fall and I will be there and I will make my presence known." Brenda slumped. "Dammit, so there's nothing he can do."
Doris collected the green R20 bill for the Swear Jar as she reassured her sister. "That's not strictly speaking true. Sister, you have to remember who the real enemy is."
"And who would that be?"
Doris flipped the newsletter around in Brenda's hands so that she could see the next article: The Millionaire Affair: The Power of the Couple...
LATER AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY
Brenda still had that article in mind when she and Doris arrived in the paddock. The whole thing had just been an oversaturated puff piece about Thawn and Savana's mainstream popularity and how casual fans barely knew that they were racers. But this all went out of her head when he approached her.
"Argh no, what do you want now?"
Jim Kieck was not Brenda's favorite person. Ever since he'd planted a kiss on her at The First Formula-X Grand Prix, they'd been romantically linked even though they were absolutely not a couple. "Oh come on, Brenda. Now I can't even come over to talk strategy."
"The only strategy I want to hear out of your mouth is one of how you're going to get us out of this race tonight." Brenda took note of a rose and envelope in Jim's hand. She didn't dare ask him about it but was surprised to find herself curious if it was a love letter.
"Yeeeaaah," he said discouragingly, "I don't think that's going to happen. There's just too much hype for it. As it turns out, people have been spoiling for a good battle of the couples for a while now."
"Fine, then let them have their fix with Touch and Plain Jane. I'm sure they'd love the attention."
"Yeeeaaah, about that. I don't think that's gonna work either. Plain Jane just broke up with Touch, or is going to break up with him or something if he doesn't win his race against Fiona tonight."
"What?" Brenda didn't know why she was shocked. It had become common knowledge that Plain Jane was overwhelmingly in love with the whole sports entertainment thing and wanted, more than anything, to be in her own storyline. That was why Brenda thought she'd relish the chance to take her spot. Brenda didn't consider that she'd just jumpstart her own storyline.
She looked at the envelope in his hand again. If that is a love letter, it would be so awesome if it came from Jane. That would solve all my problems right now. Brenda looked at her silent sister desperately. "What about you and Styles?"
"What about us?" But Doris knew what was being asked. "Na-ah. Styles and I were never a couple, Brenda. I was just his date for the Valentine's Day Costume Party."
"Yes, but Jim and I aren't a couple either. So can't you bail me out of this?"
"Yeeeaaah, about that," said Jim again, which drove Brenda up the wall. "Styles already has a race with the new guy, remember? The guy debuting at Festival of the Fall."
Brenda remembered now. "Deak de Villiers. The Number One Claimant race."
"Yep. And if you're thinking of talking him out of it, think again. He's really into this upcoming race, trying to to make it into a young rivalry; doing interviews talking about how he's 'new testament and holds all the Revelations in his hands'."
"What?" said Brenda once again.
Jim rolled his eyes. "You have to watch the interview. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that there's no getting out of this, Brenda. So, let's talk strategy for tonight."
Brenda looked at Doris again for a way out but saw that she had her eyes on someone else across the paddock. It was Teresa, and she was speaking with her boyfriend, Juan van Zonder. And judging from their focus, they were talking about the upcoming race.
While Brenda wondered if it would be futile to go to them to try to call off this race, she caught a glimpse of Teresa looking their way. The cheeky little snot had a smirk on her face as if to say "you're going down". It was at this moment that Brenda realized that this race was going to happen. It was now destined to go down. Brenda was destined to take on her youngest sister.
LATER THAT NIGHT
As Brenda sat in The Amazing Grace, she thought about what Doris had said earlier about who the real enemy was. In fact, it was this thought that got her through strategizing with Jim. While she'd had to put up with him smiling and laughing at the letter he'd received – definitely a love letter – they did manage to decide that he should start the race and take the odds while she would take the evens and end the race. While the thought of Thawn and Savana had given her focus, watching JVZ and Teresa change their strategy at the last minute so that Teresa was facing her in the even laps did well to almost unwind her... almost!
Jim had fired off the line, taking the lead early and handing it over so that Brenda had a good head start against Teresa. While Brenda held that lead, she had to give Teresa her due for holding her own. As Lap 3 began and Brenda waited for her next turn, she thought about this whole 'Koek vs. Koek' thing.
Was it possible that this was some kind of metaphor for how things were now between her and her baby sister? Was this meant to signify that they were at odds with one another with irrevocable differences? It was these thoughts that prevented her from taking advantage of the lead which allowed Teresa to lead Lap 4.
Unfortunately, the thought seemed to linger and as the race went on, past the Lap 10 halfway mark, JVZ and Teresa's lead only increased gradually. It was only when Doris spoke to her through the headset in the pitlane that Brenda was brought back into the game. "Remember Brenda, who the real enemy is. And it's not Teresa. Focus on that. Get this victory and go get those two scumbags."
This renewed focus showed dividends immediately as Brenda began closing the gap. It also seemed to rub off on Jim who remembered that he was once F-X King and closed the gap in his own right so that by the time Lap 19 came about, he was neck and neck with JVZ.
Both parties handed off to their respective teammates and it was on. The final lap: Brenda vs. Teresa; Koek vs. Koek. As Brenda blasted her away through the speedway with Teresa managing to remain neck and neck with her, she thought about her sister and realized that had to let go of her. Even if she didn't like her being with JVZ, she'd have to let her figure things out for herself. I'm sorry, sister. It's time to let you go.
Brenda secured the victory and this secured their spot at the pay-per-view across from Thawn and Savana. Brenda was happy when she saw that, instead of trying to hug or kiss her this time, Jim offered a handshake and they were smiling when they entered the Winner's Circle.
When Geeza asked them for their thoughts, it was Jim who spoke up, surprising Brenda. "Hey, we may not be a formal team but together, we're kinda, sorta unbeatable."
Proud of him for respecting her position, Brenda added, "while I may be against Jim's tactics in his social life, I have never doubted his ability on the blacktop. He's a surefire feature-racer."
Geeza then brought up that it was Thawn and Savana who'd gone to Moodswing to challenge them to a race and asked them what they have to say about that. And, for the first time ever, now completely on the same page, they spoke in unison. "We accept."
THE FEATURE RACE
Brenda and Jim had hung around to catch the feature race of the night. While they waited for it to start, Brenda finally asked Jim about the letter which Jim had just read for the fourth time. "It's fanmail." When Brenda gave him a doubtful look, he elaborated. "It's a female fan. She's... expressing her desire to see me in person again, very strongly."
"Again? I hope you haven't been sleeping with a fan, Jim."
"Oh c'mon. Give me some credit. We only met briefly when she came to my restaurant but I told her that I don't date fans." He then made a face. "But, if her feelings for me are this passionate, I may have to give her some relief, if you know what I mean."
Brenda scoffed very loudly to express her disapproval. Still a pig. But otherwise didn't say a word. After all, better this thirsty fan of his than her. Instead, she refocused on the upcoming race.
The feature race finally saw Thawn competing (for the first time since Love 'n War) alongside Savana against Solo Magubane and Devì (who were opponents at Festival of the Fall). While Brenda and Jim were only interested in scouting their own PPV rivals, Brenda couldn't help but be fascinated by the developing storyline between Solo and Devì.
Aside from the fact that this would be their second rematch of their iconic clash at the Grand Prix, it was also delivering on the drama. For starters, despite Devì issuing the challenge last week, Solo would only accept it moments before tonight's episode. On top of that, Solo had announced that he'd bought a ticket to Devì's Fitness App Launch Party, instantly intensifying their rivalry. So naturally, Moodswing had billed this race: 'Lovers & Haters'.
It was also a testament to Moodswing's ability to merge storylines at will that this race was also a result of Savana's most recent victories against Solo and Devì. The race was excellent, with Solo and Devì showing that they could put their differences aside momentarily to do the job. But in the end, the 'Millionaire Affair' just had too much momentum on their side.
"You can't beat them, I hope you know that." Brenda turned around to see her youngest sister standing there with a scowl on her face. Jim excused himself so that Brenda could have a moment alone with her sister.
"Well, I'm sorry you have so little faith in me."
"Your days of preaching to me about my faith are over, Brenda."
Brenda knew that she shouldn't, but old habits died hard and she had to try and reach out. "When did you become so hateful?"
"Pretty much around the time you started hating on my boyfriend."
"Stop..." calling him that, she wanted to say.
"Stop what? Living my life the way I see fit. No can do." A silence passed which felt eerily like the silence in the house after their parents died. Teresa finally broke it. "You know what, I think you should stay away from me from now on."
It was these words that broke Brenda's heart. While Doris did ride in on her proverbial white horse and give Teresa a mouthful about respect for family regardless of who she was with, Brenda had been defeated. It was now hopeless. Teresa was gone from her. Now, all she could do was make her racing career count and make the sacrifice worth it.