It didn't take too long to crumble to bits the existing state of affairs. What was once just a desperate attempt at clinging onto any semblance of control has evolved into outright dominating the entire playing field with no one being able to contest.

Pretty soon there was a new apex predator in the vicinity with all the refinement and grace of a master at play, and everybody everywhere was gunning for her, eager to topple the usurper from the top of the food chain.

They did this, one by one, meeting us in defiance, all while shouting out a question that has been eluding them just as much as we have for all this time.

"Why the hell are you moving backwards?!"

Bumper car after bumper car, it was an endless tirade of the same question spoken out in different variations. Some thought it was a new tactic, others took it as a provocation, but the overall majority simply thought we were just being weird.

With each victory, the mystery of the backward bumper car kept growing in scope and size that it's guaranteed to be solidified as a legend told throughout time in these very walls.

It's gone to the point that I rather keep the reality of the matter a mystery for all time. Why spoil the fun with a broken pedal, am I right? Better off keeping the magic going, especially if the results surpassed expectations.

I woke up today setting off on this venture bearing in mind of one goal and one goal only - turning Ash's perpetual frown upside down.

Can somebody say mission accomplished, please?

Ash was showing more than just simple amusement, displaying more than just brief fleeting glances of joy - the steering wheel in her hands were turning as the minutes kept winding, and through it all, she was always smiling.

It came to the point where my concentration would stray away from what was in front of me in favor of focusing instead on what was beside me, and what sat beside me indeed was a far more preferable sight than anywhere else around.

To see slight crinkles forming in the corner of her eyes, small dimples at the ends of her lips, to hear laughter - true genuine laughter coming from her as she drifted about - I believe that was actually the first time I ever heard her laugh out loud.

It was then that I came to realize one thing.

Ash had a beautiful laugh, a beautiful smile.

A beautiful everything.

For a moment I've forgotten who and what she really was. Staring at her, I didn't see an Elf, I didn't see a Knight. Restraints, reserves - gone. All I saw was a girl, simple and sweet, enjoying the little things in life as well as she possibly could.

If time could have stopped at that one moment, I don't think I'd really have minded at all. But that'd be asking for too much now, wouldn't it? Everything had to end eventually.

And inevitably, it did. Slowly but surely the battle was drawing to a close. The cars were losing speed, the anarchic atmosphere got quieter, and the operator at the controls powered down the chaos as the timer finally struck zero.

Ash threw a glance my way with surprise in her eyes, clearly experiencing for the first time the feeling of the phrase - 'Time flies when you're having fun'.

"Are… Are we done?" I heard her ask, her voice with hints of disappointment.

I nodded my head and gave a simple, "Yep."

"Oh," She fell to a sudden silence for a short moment, and briefly I worried that she might actually be upset, but then she raised her eyes back to me, and with a little uncertainty, asked, "if at all possible, may we… Master, could we go again? Just one more, perhaps?"

Y'know how cat's eyes grow wide and it's just the most adorable thing there is in this cold miserable existence we call our lives? Well, Ash wasn't exactly doing that, but it was unsettling close to the real thing that in fact, in some ways, I'd wager to say it actually surpasses it.

Refusing her right there and then felt like I was committing an act of heresy of the highest order, I wanted so much not to refuse her - but people were leaving their cars, staff members were lining to the scene and I ain't to keen on a confrontation.

Breaks my damn heart, but…

"Sorry, Ash. Another time, alright?" I said, unbuckling my seatbelt. "Next time for sure."

She did her best to hide it, but those ears of hers drooping downwards laid her feelings bare. Nevertheless, she still nodded her head and stood up after me. "Understood."

Departing from the general vicinity was done in a rush, made even harder by the fact that we kept getting obstructed by people stopping by wanting to compliment the driver behind the wheel.

Poor Ash was at a loss from all the compliments and cheers, it was actually quite an amusing sight to behold.

She must have shaken at least a dozen hands before we even made it out of the rally, by which point, the employees were already making their rounds inspecting the vehicles.

After one last firm handshake and a good game, we finally made our exit, but not before I tucked away a hundred dollar bill alongside a little 'sorry' note written on a feedback sheet underneath the register. Hopefully, that'd be enough to compensate for the damage we've caused.

Took a last glance behind and saw the same shaggy-haired fellow looking at our bumper car with a very puzzled expression. Seeing that as our cue to adios the hell outta there, I took Ash by the hand, catching her by surprise, and didn't once let go of her until we made it all the way back to the ground floor.

When I received the inevitable inquiry as to why we were running. All I could say to her, heaving and panting like a dog, was "Pedals."

"Ah!" She cupped a hand around her mouth. "Yes, that was an issue, wasn't it?"

"You seemed to be faring all right," I gasped, wiping away the sweat from my brow. Goddamn escalators, why didn't we take the elevator? Damn, I'm a dumbass.

"Should we have… made amends?" Ash raised her eyebrows. "I believe we should."

"Already have."

"Ah! As expected of you, Master. Your generosity knows no bounds."

Y'know what was bizarre? Ash didn't seem too troubled by it at all. In fact, I noticed that she still had a small smile buried there underneath her palm.

That wasn't the only thing of significance, I realize only just then that she couldn't keep still at all now, constantly swaying her body about, shuffling her feet in place, and just in general moving much livelier than normal.

Admittedly, I was a little taken aback by it. "You okay, Ash?"

And it seems as if she herself wasn't even aware of how springy and boisterous she suddenly became, tilting her head and asking with raised eyebrows, "But of course. Master. Why wouldn't I be?"

I gaped at her, blinking twice. "No, it's nothing - nevermind about it. So, err - uhh - we got twenty minutes left till dinnertime, you ready to head off?"

An eager nod of the head followed by another wide smile. "Indeed I am."

It happened. It finally happened. Tried for so long, failed too many times to even count, but it's finally happened - The Elf Knight from another world has finally learned to have fun for the first time in her life.

No sadness, no pain. The weight on her shoulders has been lifted, and now she walked alongside me with steps light and carefree. Any conflictions, any harrowing thoughts she may have on her mind, for now, only for now, was cast to the wayside.

Now there was just us, just today, and just this date.

Mission accomplished, Ria. If only you could see us now, eh?

Here comes the final stretch of the evening, time to score for a touchdown.

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