podium, pole (once more, with feeling) - chichiwritez - 原神 (2024)

Surasthana Motors ☑️ @sanctuaryofsurasthanat1team ∙ 54m

Sanctuary of Surasthana Motors is pleased to announce that Alhaitham will be joining the team next season, on a single-year contract.

72k retweets and comments. 113.5k likes

The story behind his shock move was a relatively simple one.

It had been three weeks ago, right after that ridiculously disastrous race weekend at the Natlan Grand Prix, when he finally cracked.

Maybe it was how Zandik had celebrated on the podium, gloating as if he hadn’t been the reason the race had to restart, goading him as he sprayed the champagne around. Maybe it was the horrible, sickly hot race conditions that gave him the worst post-race migraine of his entire career. Maybe it was how Team Principal Azar looked at him as he was asked another question about his decision to stay with Akasha Sage Racing.

The eyes of a hungry, greedy man, looking towards the paddock with the confidence of someone who only ever won. The easy confidence as he clapped his hands against Alhaitham’s shoulder, a self-assured smile.

It hadn’t even mattered anymore, that it was a double podium finish—an Akasha Racing 1-2. It hadn’t mattered that they were in the lead against the rest of their competitors, fifty points ahead in the constructor’s battle. It hadn’t mattered that he was a hair’s breadth away from his fourth world champion title.

Alhaitham knew himself well enough that this race wasn’t the catalyst, but the last straw.

It was how knew for certain that he couldn't keep this up, couldn't race for a team of washed-up nothings that have never even sat in the very cars he drove. Couldn’t race alongside Zandik, the absolute madman, who drove dirtier than he did—which was to say he drove with little care for who he’d crash into along the way as if he knew they had the budget.

All tied together by a feeling he hadn’t entertained for a long while—not since Kaveh had upped and left his post as his race engineer right after he won his second championship title. Not since he disappointed Nahida by extending his contract.

Guilt. An ugly, festering, and selfish thing.

And so he caved, sending a long, winding email to Boss Nahida in the wee hours of the night—something he had never done with how he prioritized himself and his condition. It was as if a dam inside him had burst, letting all his years of dissatisfaction roll over him in waves, crashing against his already aching head.

He had typed and deleted and rewrote and rephrased. It was half-empty good wishes, half-frustrated nonsense, and all parts the pathetic request it was. A meal, at Puspa. The type of email that would surely enrage someone after three years of radio silence.

Please, just this once. The type of email that could only get one of two reactions.

An inboxed, deleted email, or a reply, with an equally long-winded no.

No matter how he tried to explain away his predicament, he was still one of their biggest competitors this season. Still, that same smug, Akasha driver who abused the oversteer, who squeezed himself into the tightest gaps along the race line just to edge out on a position, whose race style earned him the infamous moniker of a vulture, lying in wait as some driver or another fumbled their race, his talons swooping as his car soared past.

He was everything the Surasthana team wasn’t—everything Boss Nahida didn’t stand for.

He likes to think he knows her principles well. It was her principles that drew him to Akasha Racing in the first place, why he had signed that long, seven-year contract with them.

But he hadn’t stood by her when the shareholders ousted her from the team she had built from the ground up, hadn’t done anything as all she had built crumbled under Azar’s new management, hadn’t accepted her offer to join them when she started up Surasthana in fiery retaliation.

So really, he understood all too well if she chose to never show up. Understood if she read his words with vindictive satisfaction, an 'Iwas right' and 'I knew it' all rolled into one.

He’d understand if she held a grudge.

And he’d expected to be here, alone in the booths of one of the busiest cafes in Sumeru, stewing in his frustration over his immaturity from years ago—back when he was too focused on driving the best car than being a better driver.

But Boss Nahida had shown up, with no trace of ill will nor misplaced pity.

Instead, she had shown up, her merciful hand outstretched as it was all those years ago.

“I don’t have much to offer, but I can give you peace of mind.”

He took her hand, and that was that.

NEWS

‘It’s a natural next step’ - Alhaitham addresses his shock move to Surasthana Motors

#T1 #Season’24 #Alhaitham #Surasthana #Akasha

Alhaitham sheds light on his decision to move to Surasthana Motors for the next seasons and beyond, with the Sumeran driver sharing the events that led to his new contract given his recent renewal back in the summer of the former season, and how the new TIA guidelines had ultimately affected his decision. The three-time world champion also clarifies a few rumours surrounding his souring relationship with Akasha Sages Boss Azar, and his teammate Zandik.

He ends his final season with Akasha Sages Racing by winning them the final points needed to edge out yet another win for the constructors championship, and snagging another spot on the podium for himself.

His eyes scan the crowd, a group of Akasha loyalists sobbing near the barricades, posters of his face and Zandik’s and the annoyingly ostentatious Akasha logo stark against a sea of Favonius turquoise, swathes of Millelith gold, and the sparse few wearing Focalors blue.

After this year, those Akasha bootlickers will no longer cry for their ‘Vultur Volans’. Perhaps he’ll be in their minds as a coward—as the selfish, self-serving driver that showed little appreciation for all the Akasha had offered him. Maybe his career will end here, a mere shadow behind the illustrious backdrop of a genius racer with a genius car.

He hears the final notes of the Liyue national anthem echo and fade into the crowd, and hears the raucous way the fans cheer as Beidou gracefully bows, shaking her trophy towards the crowd. He sees Zandik mirror the action, albeit a lot more restrained, possibly due to his bruised ego.

Alhaitham doesn’t linger long on the podium, managing to slip away from the stage after giving Beidou an awkward side hug that the Millelith racer had laughed at, and patting Zandik for whatever reason he could give. Frustration? Annoyance? A long, overstated, f*ck you? It hadn’t mattered anymore. The next time he’d be seeing Zandik, he’d no longer have to pretend to get along.

He spots Azar as he descends from the stage, a deep frown etched onto his face. It feels odd, seeing such an expression on the Boss whose team just won the constructors championships.

Alhaitham relishes in that moment. Satisfaction roils deep in his gut as he manages to mould and shape a victorious moment for Azar into a vindictive loss. He contemplates approaching him, giving him that safe confident clap against the shoulder. I told you so and good riddance.

Instead, he heads towards Nahida, the smile on her face as calm and patient as the one she sported on the day they had first met, on the day he had won his first race, on the day he had managed to snag gold. He spots the cameras turning towards her general direction, their knowing lenses eager to capture the moment as it unfolds.

“Welcome to the team, Alhaitham.” She says, outstretching her hand for him to shake.

He grabs it firmly and shakes. “Glad to be working with you again.”

Akasha T1 Updates @akashasagesfans ∙ 2h

🟩| Team Principal Azar reveals that the way he learned of Alhaitham’s move to Surasthana Motors was “deeply upsetting” because he “hadn’t expected him to move at all”.

The Team Principal reveals that Alhaitham had a contract extension lined up early into the season, but hadn’t finalized it even after the Natlan Grand Prix.

#T1 #Alhaitham #AkashaSagesRacing #Season’24

31k retweets and comments. 51.9k likes

alhaidik 4lifers @haithamshelmet 2h

this is the worst breakup arc ever what will i do without my pookies

4.6k retweets and comments. 12.9k likes

yellow flag @lostintranslation 3h

HE’S FREE ⛓️‍💥 HE’S FREE ⛓️‍💥 HE’S FREE ⛓️‍💥

1.7k retweets and comments. 5.19k likes

Nahida had given him two hefty ultimatums when he signed on to become part of Surasthana’s team.

The first ultimatum was that he needed to be a team player.

“I can’t have you racing the way you do back at Akasha.” She said, her tone firm. “You race like you’ll run out of track. As if your car will give up on you the moment you stop pushing. As if you can only rely on yourself.”

Alhaitham had always been a fast driver, always the type to take on track--never giving. When he drove, he knew the centimetres that spanned the wing span of the car, knew which gears were for which turns, knew the way to drive his corners on the racing line and how to steer his car on the straights.

He had been a prodigy, clearing through karting races and T2 in the blink of an eye, graduating from the Akasha program and being hurled straight into a spot on the highly selective grid. And he knew that he had only done so well because he always drove the most efficient way he knew how.

But being efficient was a selfish endeavour, the type that made you care about the space you occupied on the grid. The type that made you focus on the tenths of seconds that tethered your career to life or death. The type that made you analyze the car and how the rubber of the tires burns against the asphalt. The type that made you steer a bit too close for comfort, a slide against the tires of another racer, a fleeting kiss against the barrier or a wall.

“It’s all I’ve ever known.” He replied. It’s a mortifying realization. For all his years on the paddock, all he had ever known was to race, but not drive. Perhaps that's what made him such a horrid team player—that he only ever knew how to finish his races, because he didn’t have the patience to deal with the inefficiency of others.

Nahida sighs, bone-deep, and it reminds him of the days when she was still in Akasha--as if she hovered between disappointment and an archaic weariness, on edge, waiting for the other shoe to finally drop. “And I’ve always told you, that racing here is as much a team sport as it is an individual one. If you wanted to win a race by your lonesome, you joined the wrong sport.”

“I’m sure Cyno can figure you out. You only have a year, after all.” She replied, a comforting smile etching onto her face. It was disarming, the softness dispelling the assumptions Alhaitham held. The other shoe had dropped back then, it had dropped so fast that by the time anyone had caught on it was too late. But, it had also freed her.

“Maybe,” He supposes there’s no harm in trying to see if it could free him too.

The second ultimatum, however, was violent—a heavy strike against his gut that made his insides swirl.

“Kaveh needs to be your race engineer.” She stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, as if she had just said the sky was blue, or that humans needed oxygen to breathe. She stated it as if there were no room for arguments, that there would be no universe where Kaveh wasn’t his race engineer.

Kaveh was a sore spot in his history, one that marked the moment he felt his racing had gone awry. The blond had left Akasha earlier than Nahida had, leaving Alhaitham with a slew of strong curses and a shattered friendship.

The general public never did get the full reason for why Kaveh had vanished from Akasha Racing. Most people knew that Kaveh had simply had enough of Alhaitham, that he had somehow managed to push one of the most patient men on the paddock to walk out.

But Nahida wasn’t classified as most people. She had been there in the aftermath of it all, had been there to see the way the barbs pinpricked each word that left his lips. She had been there to help him pick up the pieces of himself, rebuilding him in a way that was never truly whole, with what Kaveh had managed to steal away with him.

She had been there to see him cradling a frail heart, attempting to rekindle the embers of a passion he had left to burn for far too long.

It was a tall order. “Absolutely not.” He refused. “Isn’t he the Head Race Engineer? Why would you want to give him more work by handling me?”

“If not him, then who?” She replied, her voice the gentlest it had been their entire conversation. She was talking to him as if he was a child throwing a tantrum, a child that needed to be placated.

And he pauses, at her question, the way it parroted his own words back then, when he was just starting out. Who else knew his strengths and weaknesses like the back of his hand? Who else knew exactly which buttons he needed to press to rile him up and which ones he needed to calm down?

If not him, then who? A fresh, naive Alhaitham said. There’s no one else I’d trust more than him.

But that was then, and this was now. Where time had widened the growing chasm between them, where all that was left of Kaveh was karting trophies that collected dust on his living room shelves.

“It’s been a while.” It’s been years. Years since they had spoken, properly spoken—Kaveh’s drunken voicemails did not count as conversation. Years, since they looked each other in the eyes—the scarce few times they ran into each other on the paddock, could barely be counted as an interaction. Years since he thought about Kaveh—and that was a lie because Kaveh would always occupy a spot in his head, existing as if he hadn’t burned Alhaitham with his tongue.

Nahida shrugs. “It’s been a while with me too, yet that didn’t stop you?”

“That’s different.” He replied defensively. He disliked being cornered, disliked it on the track and disliked it off it. “You’re you, and Kaveh is…” A reminder. A painful one. One that his grandmother had warned him of long ago, about feelings and fickle human minds and the capacity of words to hurt deeper than actions.

“Kaveh is what?” She asked, challenging him. Maybe she wondered if he’d ever admit it aloud, admit that he was on the precipice of something greater with Kaveh, admit that the blond’s vanishing act had left a lasting open wound on his heart.

Alhaitham sighs. There are simply things he cannot fight. It seems having Kaveh as his race engineer is one of them. “Fine, I’ll see what I can do.”

OPINION

THE STEAMBIRD: Alhaitham’s move to Surasthana might spell the end of his T1 career.

#T1 #Alhaitham #Surasthana #Season’25

It doesn’t take a genius to realise the former Akasha turned Surasthana Driver Alhaitham’s bitten off more than he can chew with his bold move to the Sumeran midfielder. Though the TIA guidelines would undoubtedly cause a large shift in the production of next year’s cars, one has to wonder just how much Alhaitham must be banking on the success of Surasthana’s technical engineers against the years and budget his former team had to offer. With his contract at Surasthana only lasting for one season, just what did Team Principal Nahida offer to have the stubborn Vultur Volans change his mind?

He does as Nahida tells him to.

He shows up at the office with Nahida in tow, the latter already guiding him through her pristine headquarters.

He meets the illustrious Flame Mane, Dehya, a former racer who retired but found her place alongside the performance engineers. He meets Faruzan, a spritely woman who Nahida reveals to be their lead technical director. He meets Tighnari, who turns out to be their lead data scientist. He meets the mysterious ‘Hat Guy’ Nahida keeps referring to, who apparently works a mishmash of roles that they just decided the title Hat guy would suffice.

He meets his future teammate, Cyno, and he can instantly tell that his impression of him from their short interactions on the paddock had been right all along. Cyno carried himself like a driver should, with confidence in the car, with trust in his team. He was straight-laced--a no-nonsense man, yet the type of man you could count on when it mattered. Cyno was practically a saint in comparison to his former teammate.

Internally, he was relieved. At least he wasn’t anything like Zandik. Alhaitham could handle a teammate who was a bit more serious and brooding than whatever lunacy he had to deal with back at the Akasha.

So he talks, initiating conversation with the man. They discuss the new TIA guidelines, the feel of the car, and if Alhaitham had seen the uniform redesigns Nahida had planned. They discuss their training regimens, striking a deal to hit the simulation racer sometime that week.

It’s cut short by Nahida entering the room, pointedly looking towards the clock on the wall, and Alhaitham realises he can’t stall any longer.

He feels Nahida’s eyes on him as he stops by the door to Kaveh’s office, feels her watch him read the letters on the nameplate outside his door.

He nods at her, and that's all it takes for her to push the door wide open, revealing a face Alhaitham hadn’t properly looked at for years.

He hears the sharp intake of breath, Nahida’s chipper I’ll leave you to it! as she slithers out of the office, the soft whirring of the air conditioning unit.

“Hello again, Alhaitham.” Kaveh starts, with the same awkwardness of a bumbling teenager. He sees the way Kaveh’s fidgeting with the ring on his fingers, one of his tells of discomfort.

Alhaitham considers his next words, picks at them in his mind as he shoves away all the bad history threatening to spill out back into the deepest recesses of his mind. He could lick at his wounds another time.

“It’s good that we’re working together again.” A safe statement, the surface-level truth. He meets Kaveh’s eyes with the same surety he tries to compose himself with.

Kaveh nods, a painfully slow thing. “Yeah, it’s good.”

T1 ☑️ @t1official ∙ 54s

[attached is an image of Akasha driver Zandik, standing on top of his car as he removes his helmet, a victorious smile on his face]

THE FIRST RACE OF THE SEASON! ZANDIK TAKES POLE IN GALESONG HILL!

This marks Zandik’s 7th career win.

#T1 #Teyvat1 #GalesongGP

181k likes. 2.5k comments.

His first race as part of the Surasthana team was alright, by his standards.

By Kaveh’s, it was not.

“I told you to create a five-second gap between you and the Favonius drivers behind you,” Kaveh states sternly, arms crossed in frustration, clearly unimpressed by his lack of compliance.

“What was the point of making that gap anyway? I was on newer tires.” Alhaitham reasons, levelling a flat look towards his race engineer.

Kaveh unhooks his arm and points towards him. “The point,” He emphasizes the t with a pronounced click. “was for you to make sure that Cyno stayed within the points, Alhaitham! He was running on fifty-lap old hards, while you pitted into fresh mediums.”

He could understand Kaveh’s thought process--trusted in it for as long as he had the privilege to listen to it. He knew Kaveh’s mind was great at making connections, at making predictions and strategies that always came to fruition. He knew, innately, that if there was anyone who knew how these races worked best, it was Kaveh.

But it was also because it was Kaveh. Kaveh, who only ever focused on the strength of the odds and the flow of the race. Kaveh, who only worsened the load when a strategy fell through, where a racer was left with no anchor. Kaveh, who even in his worst moments, had refused to say no. Idealistic Kaveh.

“We got a double points finish without having to increase lap time, Cyno even managed to maintain fastest lap.” He retorts, pushing the hand pointed towards him away.

“You know that was only because a safety car was called.” Kaveh sighs, his hand now running through his hair. “In any other instance, we would’ve lost out on points because you didn’t follow the strategy!” He huffs, his rising anger simmering beneath his eyes.

It’s always been like this with Kaveh. Always prodding and pressing with little reprieve, his tongue slipping into something mean, sometimes cruel—pushing until it keened over the edge, careening into a mess of insults and words said in the heat of the moment, only to be mourned over in the moonlight.

Alhaitham rolls his eyes at him. “I didn’t take you to be such a cheap strategist, Kaveh.” He still goes after it anyway, that low-hanging fruit.

The next events are a flurry. Kaveh grabs him by the collar of his race uniform, an ugly insult or some other slipping from Kaveh’s lips. Alhaitham barks back an equally vindictive one in turn. Tighnari tries to pry them apart, but he’s just a data scientist, not qualified enough to actually get the both of them to calm down.

It takes Hat Guy hitting his hat against their heads and Nahida’s stern, disappointed, call of their names for them to pull apart—all wrinkled sleeves and angry glares. Kaveh storms off, presumably back to his temporary quarters on the paddock.

In the aftermath, he makes out the hurt at the edges of Kaveh’s eyes.

NEWS

It’s a strong start” - Team Principal Nahida delighted at Surasthana double points finish.

#T1 #Nahida #Alhaitham #Cyno #Surasthana

Team Principal Nahida shares her insights on her team as they settle into their new driver dynamic. Though there’s certainly room for improvement, she’s already pleased by the tremendous progress her drivers and the car have gone through in the off season. She also assuages concerns about Surasthana Driver Alhaitham’s relationship to his Race Engineer, Kaveh.

When Alhaitham enters the training room to take a whirl at the simulation racer, he expects Cyno to be there. They had talked about it in passing, and he knew that Cyno was much more addicted to the machine than he ever was, enough to make it his pastime even outside of training.

What he doesn’t expect, however, is Kaveh, the blond already on the machine, driving the car with the lithe skill of an actual driver.

The blond doesn’t acknowledge him, his eyes trained on the screen as he shifts his foot on the pedals and switches between gears.

Alhaitham approaches him, cautiously, curious as to what track he is simulating, yet wary of disturbing the man’s focus. He takes one look at the screen and it clicks.

Kaveh’s driving through the Galesong Hill track. He’s testing out his strategies. He’s testing Alhaitham’s driving.

He sees the ghost of Cyno’s car pass by the screen as if rubbing salt into the wound.

He hadn’t spoken to Kaveh since their admittedly petty fight back in their garage at Galesong Hill. Hadn’t even planned on reaching out to him until at least a few days before the race weekend in Dragonspine, when Nahida would decide that she needed to interfere and mend the bridges they both burned down quite willingly.

He watches as Kaveh drives through his strategy, watching the lap time from the corner of his eyes. He sees the gap between him and the car in front widen until it was only a tenth of a second away from five seconds.

He finds himself marvelling at Kaveh. His tenacity and sheer confidence in his strategy that he decides to test it on the training simulator. His satisfaction, knowing that he was right and that his strategies weren’t a fluke, that they could take them to greater heights, so long as they played their cards right.

He marvels at Kaveh somehow, always, being right. He was always right about the track, right about the car, right about Alhaitham.

He watches as the chequered flag waves in the periphery of the screen, marking down the fictional times of the fictional race and comparing them against the real one. This was a race that would never happen except in this simulation of his, a race where a safety car wasn’t called out after a nasty collision between the Fatui and the Abyss that sent front wings’ and punctured tyres flying onto the track.

A race where Alhaitham listened.

Kaveh turns to Alhaitham, and a scowl paints itself onto his face.

“Did you come here to gloat?” Kaveh asks, tongue sharp as always.

Alhaitham takes a deep breath. He doesn’t want to fight Kaveh, not now—preferably not ever again. “I came here to train.” He deadpans, simple as that.

Kaveh’s scowl softens considerably. “It’s a rest weekend, Nahida said so herself.”

“And yet here you are, evidently not resting.”

Kaveh rolls his eyes at his retort. “I’m not a racer,” He stands up from the sim racer, smoothing out his trousers and shirt. He’s almost shy in his ministrations.

“But you sure do know how to drive like one,” Alhaitham remarks, another slip of tongue.

He thinks back to the way Kaveh nailed his handling with the oversteer, the way he shifts gears as if it were second nature, the way he follows the racing line.

It affects him more than he likes to admit. The possibility that perhaps Kaveh wasn’t that much of a good driver, but rather that he was only that good because he observed the way Alhaitham drove. If he were simulating a race as Cyno, would Kaveh be just as good?

“I’m only as good as my chosen driver gets,” Kaveh says, and this time it feels like an olive branch. It’s no longer as safe to talk about, but its sturdier, tangible.

He grabs it with all his might, and doesn’t let go.

T1 Team Radios @t1teamradios ∙ 3h

[attachment: Team Radio Between Surasthana Driver Alhaitham and his Race Engineer Kaveh.]

Alhaitham: Kaveh, I’m going to have to retire the car

Kaveh: What do you mean retire? You already passed the chequered flag. You’re in P4.

Alhaitham: [muffled] But I need to retire. I’ve got no more fuel to run.

Kaveh: [gasps] Are you kidding me right now? Did Cyno put you up to this?

Alhaitham: [laughs] What can I say, his humour rubs off on people.

44.8k retweets and comments. 103k likes

maHAHAmartra @cynokinnies ∙ 7h

we did it guys we got ourselves a man who can vibe the way we vibe laugh the way we laugh their dynamic is sooo cute oh my god

4.1k retweets and comments. 17.4k likes

ITS RACE WEEKEND ☝️ @spinmederosula ∙ 7h

im putting them on a hitlist

2.6k retweets and comments. 13.5k likes

Spring melts into summer. The first few GPs of the year pass by in the blink of an eye. Parties in clubs and office building turn into parties in yachts and beaches. There’s less talk about whether his career was over and done for good, and more talk about his newfound confidence under Boss Nahida’s management.

He’s found that racing under Surasthana gets easier over time.

He learns to trust in Cyno, when to push the car and when to pull back. He learns how to read Cyno’s driving, knows its weaknesses and strengths like he’s sure Cyno knows his. He learns to value patience, learns to properly lie in wait. He realises, that perhaps this might be the first time he truly lived up to his once ill fitting moniker.

Vultur Volans. The flying vulture. For once, in this car, he felt like he was actually soaring.

He learns to race without having the car leave featherlight kisses against barriers and walls, learns to go wide and go fast without fearing that the car would sputter to a stop. He learns to trust in the car’s halo when a crash occurs right in front of him. He learns the feel of the tires against the asphalt when the rubber sings across the surface.

And slowly, he relearns how to exist with Kaveh.

It hadn’t transformed overnight. His relationship with the blonde was still rocky at best, but it was better than what it was like at its worst, and to Alhaitham, that’s greater progress than he had ever hoped to achieve.

It's progress when he stops fighting back against his calls, learns to bite back his tongue. It's progress when he manages to secede his ego to relearn. He relearns when it's alright for him to rile Kaveh up, relearns how it's like to be in his good graces without the need for alcohol--relearns the meaning of comfortable touch. He relearns Kaveh’s genius into something digestible. Trust.

And he learns new things about Kaveh too, like his journey as a cat dad to a Persian kitty named Mehrak, to his renewed interest in sculpting, whenever he felt the burnout of being the head race engineer, to the moments Alhaitham was no longer privy to in the years of their silence.

He learns to tuck this Kaveh beside the one he had known all those years ago. The Kaveh who was his closest mate in karting. The Kaveh who threw himself at the sport as his father did, his determination returning with a vengeance unmatched.

The Kaveh whose warmth enveloped and ate at him till it left him as easy pickings for his own vile thoughts. The Kaveh who shouldered the blame on his gangly shoulders. This Kaveh, and the one that stood before him, were invariably different, yet two sides of the same coin.

He thinks back on Nahida’s offer back at the cafe, her extended hand, the search for peace.

He hasn’t quite found peace yet, but it’s something close.

FEATURE

‘So close, yet so far’ - Here’s how Surasthana Motors could’ve gotten a double podium finish at the Narukami Ritou GP.

The race last Sunday had proven to the world that Sanctuary of Surasthana Motors stood more than just a slim chance at getting their hands on that shiny, Constructor’s cup. With brilliant talent behind the wheel and on the paddock, the midfielder has catapulted itself into the battles at the front with teams like Crimson and Meropide. However, teams like Surasthana can only survive on the paddock with an iron-clad strategy.

Dehya

Alhaitham please fetch Kaveh

He keeps asking for you

Please 🙏 ∙ Sent 00:38 am

[attached is an image of Kaveh, sleeping on the counter, as another person makes faces at the camera]

He finds Kaveh slumped over in a tavern in Ritou, Dehya trying to jostle him awake.

It isn’t the first time Kaveh’s drank himself into oblivion, and he highly doubted it would be the last. He’d usually find the Kaveh at a bar or some tavern after each race, joining in on the post-race merriment before they needed to fly back to Sumeru.

A few years ago, Alhaitham may have enabled his behaviour, drinking alongside as if that was what Kaveh needed. Letting Kaveh’s burdens slosh alongside the burning drag of whiskey. Letting past hurts fester beneath prickly skin. Now, he’s more responsible, acutely aware of the fragile state he gets into when inebriated— knowing all too well of the barbs and truths hidden behind Kaveh’s spiky pit traps.

Dehya helps him deposit Kaveh into the passenger’s seat of his car, her brown-haired companion—Lisa Minci of the Mondstadtan Favonius Team—waving them off as she drags Dehya back into the tavern.

The drive back to the hotel is silent, Kaveh occasionally stirring in his seat as the radio hums some random pop song. He hands him a bottle of water, and the blond downs it in one go.

He has a faint idea as to what Kaveh has on his mind, what’s made him grumble and drink till he blacked out, knows what he’s stewing on and echoing in his mind.

His suspicions are confirmed as soon as Kaveh rights himself on his seat.

“I took away your pole.” Kaveh says, voice a sluggish whisper. “I took away our podium."

“You didn’t,” He replies. He knows these moods best, knows them because he always found himself in its center. Intimately aware of Kaveh’s tendencies to shoulder all the world’s hurt square on his shoulder. “There’s nothing we could’ve done.”

“I could’ve thought of that overcut.” He bemoans, his hands gripping tightly against the water bottle. “I should’ve paid more attention to when the Millelith pitted. I should’ve checked the condition of your tires.”

“No one was expecting the rain.” He replies, voice steady. A younger Alhaitham would take his words at face value, agreeing with his words mindlessly as Kaveh ate at himself, projecting his own frustrations onto him. Now, he sees Kaveh’s words for what it is, another spiky pit trap, another open wound to pry and prod at, all packaged into a monstrous I’m not good enough.

“Everyone expects the rain. It’s an Inazuma race, of course, there’ll be rain.” It’s instantaneous and defensive, a certain bite to his words. He’s goading Alhaitham, picking a fight.

It’s too late for fighting. They’re both too tired for this.

“Is this about that article?” He asks instead.

Kaveh goes silent, Alhaitham managing to hit the nail on the head. “Well, they weren’t sh*tting on the drivers or the car. Who else would they be sh*tting on?”

That article was rage bait, a type of feature that would only serve to punch down with a narrative of someone who wasn’t behind the wheel. He’d read it thrice, and pondered over its merits in his head. But he knew better, and he knew that Kaveh knew better.

That doesn’t mean the article didn’t hurt Kaveh any less.

He pulls the car over to the side of the road, turning to face the blond. “That article wasn’t sh*tting on anyone, especially not you.”

Kaveh’s eyes are glistening, tears threatening to spill. Alhaitham never did learn how to deal with Kaveh when he entered these moods, his own movements too rigid to actually placate the man beside him. All he remembers is cataloguing his expressions, etching them till he sees them in the back of his eyes, pressing a kiss or a touch against the neck or lips.

He practices restraint--extends towards him patience. That was what Kaveh needed right now—and that was what he needed back then.

Kaveh reaches out, leaning towards him, grabbing a hold of his arm as he settles his head against Alhaitham’s shoulder. “If my strategies weren’t horrible you would’ve followed them to a T. Just admit it Alhaitham. You hate me. You hate me for stealing this away from you. You hate me for ruining your career.”

He feels fabric on his shoulder soak the quiet tears Kaveh spills, feels the way his grip on his arm trembles. He feels the way Kaveh’s disappointment tears at his mind in unceasing waves.

He places an arm around Kaveh’s back, pulling the latter into a hug.

“I don’t hate you.” He whispers against the head of blond hair.

It’s been years. It’s been a few seconds. It’s been something that persisted time and time again, even as their relationship crumbled to the ground beneath the weight of their own issues, even as time stretched them into disrepair. There were moments where he was mad at Kaveh, moments of disappointment in between debriefs, moments of pent-up frustration stolen between breaths.

But there was never really a moment of hate, even at its worst—it was only ever at its worst because he had loved him all the same.

He feels the blond beside him shiver, a painful wracking. He pulls the other closer to him, slotting against Kaveh as he holds him tighter. “I never have.”

T1 Team Radios @t1teamradios ∙ 7h

[attachment: Team Radio Between Surasthana Driver Alhaitham and his Race Engineer Kaveh.]

Kaveh: Alhaitham, radio check, can you hear me?

Alhaitham: No, I can’t hear you. Can you repeat that one more time?

Kaveh: Check, check. Can you hear me?

Alhaitham: [muffled] No, I still can’t.

Kaveh: [gasps] Oh, you’re messing with me. You are so mean.

Alhaitham: [laughs] Meanest person you know.

44.8k retweets and comments. 103k likes

wriot the slay @meropideracerssss 10h

friends to enemies to lovers I’m calling it

4.1k retweets and comments. 17.4k likes

clorindes gf @chlorined 15h

i have a hard time believing they were ever fighting like what happened to that dramatic “I f*cking hate you” thing they had going on for like three years

2.6k retweets and comments. 13.5k likes

Something shifts between him and Kaveh after he manages to place on the podium at the Romaritime Sprint.

Cyno manages to win pole, Alhaitham following him in a close second, literal tenths away from each other. It was possibly one of their best finishes of the year, even if it was just the sprint. He feels a proud, satisfied smile crawl up against his face as he hears the Sumeran national anthem play, the sounds of local fans singing along in a watery, proud echo.

The celebration that comes after makes him feel like they’ve won the world championship.

It was a whirlwind of drinks, round after round as he saw Nahida settle the tab with an easy swipe of her card. He observes the way Cyno clings onto Tighnari in a way that makes him raise his brows, watches the way Hat Guy vehemently refuses any drinks offered to him.

He's tuned into Kaveh’s motions, watches the line of his jaw as he drinks, the bob of his throat as it travels downwards, the lick of his lips as he finishes a glass. He watches Kaveh’s eyes flit about, his hands playing with his rings.

He sees Kaveh smirk at him, pointing to the rest of the team with that knowing look.

Alhaitham’s less rigid under the influence, less tense muscle and more the young adult he’s supposed to be—finally letting his inhibitions go.

He lets himself be pulled into Kaveh’s orbit--lets his hand lazily trail along the side of the blond’s waist as Kaveh leans into his space. He fills his vision with blond hair and red hair clips, flushed cheeks and a drunken kiss.

He lets himself be dragged away. Lets himself crash and slot against the latter, like waves against the shore. He devours the blond’s hiccuping giggles like a man starved. He leaves featherlight kisses against his neck and traces circles into the divots of his hips.

There is a tender honesty existing as he lays here with him. It’s palpable, easy to touch, easy to hold. It exists in the fine lines of their bodies, its closeness enveloping them in its warmth. It exists in the warmth of his lips, in the roll of his eyes as they enter another push and pull, in the press of skin against skin.

They don’t go all the way. It ends firmly by the waistband of his trousers and the tips of Kaveh’s fingers. It ends, with Kaveh whispering into his ear, reminding him of race day. It ends with a kiss soft enough to be a caress, with a hand snaking under his arms and around his shoulders. It ends with a head slotted against his chest, listening to the ragged beating of his heart.

They don’t talk about it. They’ve never been good at communicating like that. Always bickering and hiding, using words like a shield.

He wakes up the next day with Kaveh still beside him, eyes wide, cheeks flushed. The blond pushes him towards the shower, but he can still hear him pace around the hotel’s kitchen.

It says enough.

T1 ☑️ @t1official ∙ 32m

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Ten races to go! Wriothesly moves 🆙 as Peruere extends her lead!

1 - Crimson Abyss Motorsports | Peruere 🟰194 points

2 - Meropide Racing | Wriothesly ⬆️ 167 points

3 - Millelith Lapis Motors | Beidou ⬇️150 points

4 - Akasha Sages Racing | Zandik 🟰 148 points

5 - Sanctuary of Surasthana Motors | Alhaitham ⬆️ 148 points

6 - Crimson Abyss Motorsports | Kaeya ⬇️135 points

7 - Meropide Racing | Clorinde 🟰125 points

8 - Knights of Favonius | Jean 🟰111 points

9 - Sanctuary of Surasthana Motors | Cyno ⬆️105 points

10 - Millelith Lapis Motors | Xianyun ⬇️95 points

#T1 #Teyvat1 #Season’25

283k likes. 27.8k comments.

He’s always followed Kaveh’s lead.

He followed Kaveh as he taught him how to drive a kart. Followed him as he entered into the academy. Followed him as he lost the passion to drive after his father’s death. Followed him as he strategised towards a clean victory.

Sometimes, he just lets Kaveh take the lead.

He leaves Kaveh to tinker at the simulator back at the head office, running his strategies through all the countless possibilities. He leaves Kaveh to run his mind ragged with each debrief. He lets Kaveh tweak his training regimen and schedule. He lets Kaveh live in the forefront of his mind.

There’s just something about being with Kaveh—the way trust melts into faith.

Even now, he lets the blond set the pace.

He lets Kaveh ease into the motions, the way their legs tangle against each other, the slow drag of muscle and body. He lets his heart quicken at the touch of fingerpads against his skin. He lets his senses shape itself around the blond.

He etches his expressions into memory, like he’s always done. He carves him into the junctions of his bones and lets him rest in the heat that roils in his gut. He traces the rise and fall of Kaveh’s chest, the lidded gaze of his eyes, and the vast expanse of his stomach.

He pulls Kaveh closer to him, a soft moan escaping the blond’s lips. He chases after him, hungrily stealing away the very air in his lungs, wanting to crawl into Kaveh's body and never letting go.

He feels Kaveh’s hands cup the back of his nape, pulling their chests flush together. He feels the way Kaveh’s fingers leave deep indents on his shoulders.

He’s close, nearing the edge. He can feel Kaveh is too, from the way he breathes out warm, ragged breaths, from the tremble of his arms wrapped around him, from the flush of his thighs against his own.

He tries pushing, pulling deeper, as if he and Kaveh were simply whole. He feels Kaveh fold against him, feels the push return twofold.

And then Kaveh pulls back, hands outstretched against his shoulders, his eyes glazed with something tender, yet something that hurt.

“What are we?” Kaveh asks, voice scratched. For a moment he stares, watches the beads of sweat trickle against his forehead, the unsteady rise and fall of his chest, the way he settles against his legs, the way he tremors.

“I think we should’ve settled that before you made yourself comfy on my bed,” Alhaitham replies, his voice soft as he brings a hand to Kaveh’s cheek, running his thumb along the lines of his undereye. Kaveh leans into the touch, nuzzling his cheek against Alhaitham’s palm.

Perhaps if the question was, who are we to each other? It would be easier.

They are Alhaitham and Kaveh, driver and race engineer. Past friends. Former bitter enemy. Current unlabeled coexistence.

“I just need to know, Haiyi.” He feels Kaveh’s torso tremble, hesitation creeping along his spine. He tenses on top of him.

What are we?

To Alhaitham, Kaveh was a mirror. Kaveh was the part of the whole. Kaveh was the sun that kissed his skin and the moon that watched over him in rest. Kaveh was the sound of a roaring crowd thundering in his ears. Kaveh was life’s greatest victory.

Perhaps this was that precipice they had never crossed back at Akasha. Perhaps, this was always the natural next step. Perhaps, this was victory, wrapped in the force of man with long lithe legs and carmine eyes and strands of molten gold.

Maybe, if their circ*mstances had been different—if they weren't in this godforsaken sport, they would have reached it long, long ago.

“I don’t want us to go back to how we were before.” He starts, pulling Kaveh close once more. The blond doesn’t protest, resting his head against the junction of Alhaitham’s shoulders. “I want us to keep being. Just us.”

“What an odd way to say you care for me.” He hears Kaveh chuckle, the sound rumbling against his skin, echoing in his ears. He feels Kaveh’s head shift to face his neck, softly nipping at it with his lips. “But, me too.”

Care. Just a stone’s throw away from love.

He presses his hand against Kaveh’s back, guiding him back into their steady rhythm. He feels Kaveh reenter their orbit, falling back into the cavern against his chest. He feels the way he chases after completion, a deep kiss unravelling that pooling heat in his gut.

What are we? It’s a novel question. One he thinks he can answer with a question of his own.

If not him, then who?

Surasthana Motors ☑️ @sanctuaryofsurasthanat1team ∙ 30m

[attached in slide one is an image of former Akasha boss Rukkhadevata alongside former Akasha Racer Shirin]

[attached in slide two is an image of Alhaitham and Cyno, donning tribute helmets for the upcoming Caravan Ribat GP]

We honour the lives of former Team Principal Rukkhadevata and Driver Shirin. We thank them for fighting for the addition of the halo, and their contributions towards making T1 a safer sport.

81k likes. 5.2k comments.

Meropide Racing ☑️ @focalorsoratricet1team ∙ 45m

We can’t thank Rukkhadevata and Shirin enough. May they rest easy knowing their impacts have left the sport in good hands.

39.1k likes

high and driving 🗣️🗣️@beidouseyepatch ∙ 15h

THAT TRIBUTE HELMETTT ARGHHHHHH SURASTHANA MY HEART IS MELTINGGG

53.7k likes

Nahida asks him for a favour a week before the Caravan Ribat Grand Prix.

It’s how he finds himself in a relatively empty train car, Nahida beside him, heading towards the Alcazarzaray memorial.

He remembers when he used to visit with her, back when he was a driver wet behind the ears. He remembers the shop they would buy mourning flowers from, wrapped in a bouquet of brown paper—two bouquets, one for Shirin, and the other for Rukkadhevata.

He remembers taking these trips with Kaveh in tow. The way he’d set aside time in his day to call for an arrangement just for his father. The way he’d send a photo of his father’s grave to his mother living in Fontaine— the way Kaveh would pace around while waiting for a reply.

He hasn’t been back here in a long time. The last time he had visited, Kaveh was already long gone from Akasha Sages, and Nahida was already running on borrowed time.

He doesn’t know what to expect, doesn’t know how to react to the passage of time. Doesn’t know how to look at the last remaining marks of his predecessor, Kaveh’s father. Doesn’t know how to face the monuments of Shirin and Rukkadhevata—how to face the reflected hurt.

It turns out, his memory of the memorial has stood the test of time.

The memorial feels frozen in time. The same stained glass windows colour the sunlight that filters through, reflecting against beige tiles. The same polished marble floors and stone pillars, still the same carved halo around the pagoda. Still littered with signed chequered flags and race shirts and the remnants of rubbered out tires.

Still the same two plaques—polished with a golden shine. Still, the same helmet encased in a glass box—a fresh flower arrangement sitting at its feet.

“Kaveh came here yesterday.” He informs Nahida as he sets down the bouquet. “He told me he brought the helmets here for good luck.”

Nahida nods. “I know he did. He asked me to come with him.”

Alhaitham frowns at her words. “I asked him if he wanted me to accompany him, but he told me he’d rather go alone. Now I find out he just wanted to come with you.”

Nahida chuckles. “Are you jealous?” She jests as she approaches the plaques, relighting the half-melted candles in the stands.

He shakes his head. “Never.”

He understands the difference between him and Nahida. Nahida and Kaveh are similar in that vein. They shared a similar loss, a grief so intimately intertwined that it could only ever be understood by them. They shared the same views and principles, it was why Kaveh was at Surasthana the moment she had established the team.

Who was he to judge Kaveh for that?

She smiles at his response. “That’s good.”

They descend into a solemn silence, silently standing over the memorial.

He wonders why Nahida had brought him here. Why would she come here with the man who’d turned against her? Why had she reached out at all—with her offering of second chances and peace? Why would she let him bear witness to their healing wounds—left behind by history, left to rot for far too long?

“You’ve changed quite a lot since you joined Surasthana.” She starts, her gaze still trained on the tombs in front of her. “Do you think it’s because you’ve found that peace you’ve been searching for?”

He thinks back on the passing months, of spring days that held the same heat as a summer’s morning, of summer nights that bled into autumn moons, of autumn leaves billowing into winter fog. He thinks back to the desperation he held onto, on the one-year contract he signed.

He reflects on his growth. He reflects on the evolution of his driving style, of the brash aggressiveness mellowing into a confident surety. He reflects on his change of temperament, the way his gait feels lighter with each step in the paddock. He reflects on the minuscule shift in perspective--a surprising, lightened load.

He thinks of Cyno, his teammate, and the amiable friendship they’d built from reminiscing on junior programs to playing cards. He thinks of Dehya, of all he’d learned from the retired racer. He thinks of Faruzan, of the silent respect that came each time he tested the upgrades on the car. He thinks of Tighnari, of his input on his training and the mother-hennish tendency to fret over his health. He thinks of Hat Guy—who genuinely preferred the name— and the silent understanding of a kindred spirit.

He thinks of Kaveh. He thinks of the transcripts of their team radios, of the sheer fondness in his voice. He thinks of the nights pored over in debrief, the taste of coffee strong on his tongue. He thinks of his brilliant strategies, he thinks of the downright stupid ones. He thinks of the way Kaveh’s eyes crinkle at the edges when he lets out a raucous laugh. He thinks of the way he speaks of everything with his heart on his sleeve. He thinks of the way Kaveh has shaped his principles.

He thinks of Nahida. Of their first meeting—of the second first meeting. He thinks of her words on that fateful, warm, Sumeran night.

There’s a light feeling in his chest, one he was confident he could name.

He nods in reply. “I think I have.”

T1 Team Radios @t1teamradios ∙ 13h

[attachment: Team Radio Between Surasthana Driver Alhaitham and his Race Engineer Kaveh.]

Alhaitham: That’s P1, isn’t it?

Kaveh: Yes, Haiyi! It’s f*cking P1!

Alhaitham: [laughs] I saw the crowd go wild, that never happens when I’m racing.

Kaveh: Oh shut up! [laughs] It’s a pole on your home race. With us. Oh sh*t, you really are brilliant. Oh my…[muffled]

Alhaitham: Kav, are you alright?

Kaveh: [muffled] Yeah, yeah, I am…just [muffled] go get your trophy, vulture.

44.8k retweets and comments. 103k likes

alhaithams left eyebrow @sillysurasthana 10h

theyre gay im calling it theyre probably married with two kids a cat and a dog living in picket fence suburbia what the hell is this team radio eats both of them

3.1k retweets and comments. 12.1k likes

cyno way im living without you @blehhhhanpu 3h

no wonder cynos been cracking more jokes lately i would too if i had to deal with this

2.7k retweets and comments. 9k likes

By a stroke of absolute luck—or genius on their part, they placed third in the constructor’s championship.

It wasn’t the top spot. It wasn’t that coveted pole position.

But it hadn’t mattered much to Nahida, not when third place meant something bigger than the driver's placements on the grid. Not when third place meant they had managed to edge out on Akasha Racing, stealing the podium from right beneath their noses.

The paddock journalists hounded after Nahida and the Surasthana drivers, eager to hear about what exactly will come next for the sleek, shiny “former” midfielder, the game-changing team that managed to edge out names like Millelith Lapis and Akasha Sages out of the constructors' podium.

He could hear the joyous celebration of the pit crew mechanics and race engineers. He could hear Dehya’s shouting above the rest, leading the team into some odd ritualistic victory cheer. He could hear Cyno finally crack a joke funny enough to get the whole team laughing—though he thought it might be the joy addling their senses.

And here was Alhaitham, hiding away in the garage, shaking in disbelief as the longest season of his life finally drew to a close.

He views the results. He’s not on the podium, but he’s placed comfortably in P4 overall. He smiles in satisfaction when he sees Zandik is two places below him, P6.

He could honestly stop racing now, retire at this very moment.

“What’s got you smiling, Vulture? It’s a nice look on you.” Kaveh approaches him, an amused smile on his face. Alhaitham steadies himself by leaning against the wall.

“The results for the drivers, have you seen it?” He asks, his own amusem*nt bleeding into his tone.

Kaveh shakes his head, his smile growing fond. “For a three-time world champion, you sure are happy about not being on the podium.” He stops right in front of him. “But still, congratulations are in order. Congrats on kicking Zandik’s ass.”

He laughs at Kaveh’s words. “I like to think my performance deserves a reward.” He pulls his race engineers towards him, intertwining one of their hands as he places another against the small of Kaveh’s back. “Do you have one for me, by any chance?”

Kaveh swats his shoulder. “As a matter of fact, I do.” He leans towards Alhaitham, pressing their foreheads together. Their faces are close enough to each other that he sees the flicker of mischief in Kaveh’s eyes.

“Meet Nahida at her office.” He whispers, tone devoid of any playfulness it had moments prior. He pushes himself away from the driver. Kaveh walks away, quivering in explosive laughter.

Alhaitham rolls his eyes, following after the blond.

Surasthana Motors ☑️ @sanctuaryofsurasthanat1team ∙ 39m

Sanctuary of Surasthana Motors is pleased to announce that Alhaitham has renewed his commitment to the team for the next season, on a multi-year contract.

82.9k retweets and comments. 203.5k likes

Alhaitham ☑️@alhaithamt1official

[attached is a photo of Surasthana Driver Alhaitham and Team Principal Nahida, a firm hand shake shared between the two even as the Team Principal wears a bright smile]

I’m actually trapped here.

49.5k retweets and comments. 123.7k likes

Kaveh ☑️@kavehkofisurasthanaofficial

[attached is a photo of Surasthana Driver Alhaitham, being tackled to the ground by various members of the Sanctuary of Surasthana team]

And you’re never getting away from us.

94.5k retweets and comments. 181.2k likes

podium, pole (once more, with feeling) - chichiwritez - 原神 (2024)
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