Chapter 05

Chapter 05 

            As Daisuke once wisely claimed: when in doubt, deny, deny, deny.

            “I think its just been such a weird day, that’s all.”  I replied to his subtle question of ‘what the hell is up with you lately?’  His eyebrow went up.  “Everything’s off, you know?”

            There was a pregnant pause of silence behind me, and I winced, hastily whirling around with a rather panicky, apologetic expression on my face.  “Oh!  Tai, man that was stupid of me!  I’m sorry, I…”

            He actually laughed at me.  Well, okay, it was more of a humorous chuckle, but still.  He leaned against the wall by the door, his arms full of his pajamas.  “It’s okay, Yama.  Honest.  I do know what you meant and not…well, not me.  I was just trying to decide if I buy that lame excuse or not.  You’re not easily flustered, and lately that’s exactly what you have been.”

            I sighed, dropping down to my bed in relief.  Partly.  At least I hadn’t inadvertently stuck both feet in my mouth.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t as convincing as I wanted to be.  That’s the last time I take Daisuke’s advice.  “Really, Tai.  There’s nothing weird going on.  I wasn’t feeling so well today, and I’ve been worrying about you and Hikari, and…the usual teenaged angst crap, I guess.”  There.  Maybe that would put him off my trail.

            Taichi, gave me a curious look, then shrugged.  “I’ll be right back.  We’ll talk more when I’m not leaving a wet spot on your floor.”  He disappeared out the door and I blinked, rubbing at my face to try and get rid of the heat turning my face red yet again.  While Taichi was gone I hurried to get into the pajama bottoms I would wear to bed.

            I cursed when I had them on, though.  They were way too small for me, since the last time I’d worn them had probably been at least a couple of years ago.  Shit!  What was I going to do now?  I decided to go immediately the next day to find some pajamas.

            “Uh…Yama?  I think you need new pajamas.”  Taichi’s amused voice made me scowl.

            “Yeah, thanks.  Hadn’t noticed.”  I growled flatly and peeled them off.  “Crap.”

            He snickered again and shook his head.  “Want to borrow a pair of my jogging pants?  They might be a little big on you, but at least they won’t cut off your circulation.”  He tossed a pair of black sweat pants at me and I obediently put them on.

            “Thanks.  I’ll have to go buy something else tomorrow.”  I stood and ran my fingers through my air, pulling the covers on my bed back and slipping between the sheets.  Taichi flopped down on the futon the floor.

            “Yeah.  So this ‘teenage angst crap’ you mentioned…what’s that about?  Something I could help with?”  Taichi asked, tilting his head inquiringly.

            “Nah.  It’ll go away eventually.”  Probably not, but he didn’t need to know I was lying through my teeth.  “Mostly I’m worried about you and your sister.”

            Taichi laid on his back, tucking his arms under his head on the pillow.  “Hikari will be fine.  I’ll do everything I can to make sure of it.”

            “Yeah, but what about you?”  I asked softly, tucking my pillow under my head so I could lie on my side and see him.  “Tai…what she said…she was angry and irrational.  I don’t think she really meant it.  When she cools off and realizes what she’s done, I’m sure…”

            “No, Yama.”  Taichi halted my attempts to make things seem fixable.  “I know her.  She meant it.  I…can’t say I want to go back anyway.  I haven’t felt at home there since…the last time we were in the Digital World finishing what we started against Myotismon.”

            “How do you mean?”

            “It didn’t feel like I belonged there anymore.  I’m still trying to figure that out.”

            “Well, I think we all went through that somewhat after we got back.”  I reasoned, thinking about it.  “I felt…disjointed, like I didn’t quite fit in with everyone else around me.”  I admitted slowly.  Taichi turned his head to look at me with interest and recognition.

            “Did it ever go away?”

            “Not really.  It’s still there, but it has…lessened a lot over time.”  I shrugged.  “I asked Izzy once about it.  He said it isn’t a strange occurrence.  I guess it happens to soldiers frequently after long and violent conflicts.  Izzy gave me the example of WWI when he told me about it.”

            “Really?  That sounds right, if you think about it.”  Taichi nodded, looking around somewhat relieved that he hadn’t been slowly losing his mind without a reason. “Especially us older kids, and our siblings.  We were just kids, and we were frequently fighting life and death battles for years.”

            “Yeah.  Exactly.  Izzy said when those surviving soldiers in WWI went home, they had a lot of trouble adjusting to regular, peaceful lives.  Many didn’t adjust and went crazy.”

            Taichi shivered.  “That’s freaky.  How is it that we’re not insane?”

            “Probably because we were all so young.  Kids adjust easier to changes in lifestyles than adults do.  Partly because our lives are already always shifting with just growing up, but also partly because sometimes we don’t know we’re supposed to be upset or depressed or whatever.  Kids tend to look at the world in a much simpler light than adults.”

            “That’s true.  At least we all have each other.”  Taichi sighed deeply.  “The world may forget about the Digital World and the things that happened, but we never will.”

            “No.  As long as we still are allowed, as long as we have our Digivices, we’ll keep going back.”  I agreed.  “There’s still things we can do to fix the damages done, after all.”


            “at the risk of channeling my little brother, I think things will work out somehow, Tai.  I know it’s easy to say it, but…it’s still how I feel about it.”  I reached out and clicked off the lamp, giving my best friend as reassuring a smile as I could manage.

            “I’m trying to believe it, too, Yama.  I…just need more time to absorb it all, you know?”  He sighed again and pulled his covers up over himself while I settled in comfortably in my own bed.

            “Get some sleep, Tai.”  I advised, yawning.  “You can come help me shop for pajamas tomorrow, if you want.”  I heard a rather dubious snort and glared down at him over the edge of the mattress.  “What?”

            “You’re asking the wrong shopping partner, that’s what.  You are so metro, Yama, and shop like Mimi and Miyako on a sugar high with gold credit cards.”  The ass snickered at me and I huffed, insulted, rolling over on my other side to give him my back.  “Oh, come on.  You always look good so it’s worth it, right?  I’m just saying I’d be useless to you shopping.”  I heard him rustling around but didn’t turn over, still miffed.  Then his voice came from somewhere behind me – sounding awfully close.

            “Yama…I wasn’t insulting you…Yama?  Matt?  Ya-ma-to!”

            “God!  Quit whining, Taichi!”  I caved and flipped over, coming face to face with him.  He knelt by my bed, resting his chin on his folded arms, batting big, beautiful brown eyes at me.  “Ah!” I yelped and reared back, and he lifted his head grinning at me.  How could I stay annoyed with that endearing expression.  “Damn it, Tai!  You’re going to drive me crazy!”

            He gave me a fake pout.  “I really didn’t mean it like that…I was just trying to say I wouldn’t be a good person to take with you shopping.”

            I blew out a breath in a huff.  “I know, I know.  I’m just going for pajamas, Tai.  It’s not like I’m picking clothes for my next gig.”  I smirked.  “For that I’d take one of the girls with me.  You have no sense of fashion.”

            “Aww…you don’t think track pants are fashionable?”  He teased me.  I was glad it was dark and he couldn’t see me blush – because those track pants suited him just fine, in my opinion.

            “For a soccer game, yes.  Outside a stadium or of the field, no.”  I replied, instead of telling him what I really thought of Taichi in track pants.  Dead sexy.

            “I must be a great disappointment to you, oh wise style guru.”  Taichi laid back down and curled back up under the covers.  “Goodnight, Yama.”

            I smiled to myself.  No, Taichi.  You are anything but a disappointment to me.  I told him silently.  “Goodnight, Tai.”


            The sound of a phone ringing woke me up the next morning.  It was Taichi’s cell, to the tune of the theme from one of his favorite animes.  When it kept ringing, I sat up and looked around blearily.  “Taichi?”  He wasn’t in the room, and his futon was neatly piled in the corner out of the way.  “Where’d he go?”

            Another phone started ringing a few seconds after his cell stopped ringing, and this time it was my cell phone.  I grabbed it off my desk and answered gruffly, “Ishida.”

            “Matt!”  Hikari’s voice woke me up the rest of the way.  “I’m sorry, did I wake you up?”

            “Ah…kinda…” I glanced at my alarm clock and blinked.  “But I should be up anyway so it’s okay.  What’s up?”

            “Is my brother okay?  He’s not answering his D-terminal or his cell phone.”

            “Um…last I saw he was fine.  He left both in my room, Hikari, and probably doesn’t know you’re trying to reach him.  Hold up.”  I went out to the living room and found her brother doing sit ups on the floor while a university soccer game raged on TV.  I watched for a moment dumbly, mesmerized by his lack of a shirt, those damn track pants, the movement of muscle as he moved, little beads of sweat trickling off him…

            I shook myself and wiped the drool off my chin.  “Taichi…”

            He paused in mid-sit up.  “Oh!  You’re up!  I didn’t wake you up did I?”

            I laughed.  “You sound like your sister.  She’s trying to call but you left your cell and stuff in my room so you didn’t hear it ring.”  I held out my phone.  “She called me looking for you.”

            Taichi rolled to his feet and took it from me.  “Oops!  Sorry, pal.  Thanks.”  He spoke into the cell.  “Kari?  Hey, sorry about that.  No, I’m in the living room.”  He laughed and winked at me.  “Nah, he was being lazy and sleeping late anyway.”  I rolled my eyes and left him to talk to Hikari, going to the kitchen to scrounge up something for breakfast.

            Yawning and half-listening in, I decided toast was good enough and popped bread slices into the toaster.  “Taichi?  You eat yet?”  I called.

            His bushy head of hair popped up from the sofa.  “Not really, no.  What are you making?”

            “Toast.”  I yawned again.  “Want?”

            “Please.”  Taichi looked back at the TV screen.  “So you’re on your way to Miayko’s?”  He asked his sister, returning to their conversation.  “Yeah, alright.  No, I’ll be here.  Matt, too.  He wants to buy pajamas but we can do that later.”

            I blinked and looked down at myself, remembering then that I was wearing Taichi’s sweat pants.  They were baggy on me, and sagged dangerously off my hips. Not awake enough – or energetic enough – to care, I shrugged and looked for something to put on our toast.

            “Are you alright, Kari?”  I heard him inquire gently.  “no, I’m fine.  Really!”  He sighed.  “Yes, I’m lying but I will be fine.  I’ll tell you about it when you get here.  Yeah…okay.  See you later.”  Taichi hung up and sat silently on the couch, staring off into space, blindly.  Frowning, I left the toast on plates and went back to the living room.

            “What’s up?”  I asked, dropping down onto the sofa next to him.

            Taichi snapped out  of a daze and glanced at me.  “Oh.  Hikari is stopping by on her way to Miyako’s.  She said she had something to talk to me about.”

            I slipped an arm around his shoulders.  “Something happen?”

            “I don’t know.  She said Sora was walking with her here on her way to tennis practice, that’s it.”  Taichi leaned forward, his head burying itself in his hands.  “She knows something’s up with me.  I…I’ll have to tell her what Mom…said.”

            I nodded and squeezed his shoulders.  “It’ll be alright.  I’ll be right here with you, Tai.”

            He sat up and turned to me, a small, sad little smile gracing his face and my heart ached for him.  “I know.  There’s nothing I can ever say or do to tell you how much I appreciate you, Yama.  I…don’t deserve you, but I’m so glad you’re around.”

            “Taichi…what do you mean ‘you don’t deserve’ me?  You’re my best friend.”  I grabbed his hands in mine and gripped them hard.  “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you, Tai!  After all we’ve been through together, do you think I would just sit by while you’re hurting?  I couldn’t do it, Taichi!”

            He moved into my arms, burying his face in my neck and wrapping his arms around me.  “What would I do without you?”  I heard mumbled.  All I could do was hold him to me and try to make him laugh. I ran my fingers through his hair and replied dryly, “Fail at life in general?”

            Success!  He gave a choked snicker and snuggled against me – uh…not that I minded but…

            “There’s that ego of yours that I love so much – when it doesn’t annoy me.”  He let his head rest on my shoulder, seeming to be perfectly content where he was.  I was awake now, and becoming more and more aware of everything about him.  I’d hoped that after a good night’s sleep things would set themselves right again and I wouldn’t be so jumpy and twitchy around him.  Fat lot I know.  Here we were, on my sofa, cuddled up like the lovers we were not.  He wasn’t wearing a shirt, he was warm and tanned and gorgeous…

            “Hey, Yama…”

            “Hmm…?”  I made a noise, not really registering that he was talking to me again.  I was absorbed in the feeling of him pressed against me, the smooth skin stretched over his lean, athletic muscles, and the scent of him called to me somehow.  I turned my head a little, just enough to borrow my nose into his hair and inhale deeply, letting it out on a quiet sigh.

            “About yesterday…with the fortune teller lady…”

            That snapped me back to reality.  I couldn’t help stiffening up and pulling back some.  “Wha…what about it?”  I tried to sound nonchalant though I’m sure I failed miserably.

            “I asked her two questions and her answers got me thinking about some things.”

            Oh.  Okay.  As long as he wasn’t going to ask me about what she’d told me, I could breathe again.  “Only two questions?  No wonder it didn’t take you long.”  I commented. “What did you ask?”

            “I asked…if the person I loved would ever return that love someday, and she told me they would but…that I had to be patient and let them figure it out for themselves.”  He laughed and the tone was self-mocking.  “Me?  Patient?  Right.”

            There was a great deal of white noise and buzzing in my ears, and my heart was clenching painfully in my chest.  He…loved someone?  Taichi was in love?  And he’d never said a thing to me about it at all.  I struggled to keep from turning a very nasty shade of green at the jealousy that streaked through me at the idea of anyone else where I wanted to be – even if I’d only just figured that out for myself.  “Uh huh.  And the second question?”  I managed to get out evenly, going very still.  If Taichi noticed the change in me, he was ignoring it because he didn’t move away or give any indication that he noticed.

            “Oh, that was about soccer.  I asked if I was going to be good enough for a national team someday and she told me I was good enough now…I just had to wait for the opportunity.”  Now he looked up at me with a grin, and I had to relax a little.

            “Ah.  Well, I think any one of us could have answered that question, Tai.  Especially Ken and Daisuke.”  I tilted my head at him, setting aside my jealousy in favour of getting more information about this mysterious person from Taichi – so I could find them and make them disappear.  No way would I ever accept someone else as good enough for him.  Not even myself.  Unsurprisingly, I also felt guilty about it because I only wanted him to be happy.  It was selfish of me to want to make whoever it was go away even though they could make him happy, but the guilt didn’t change the fact that it was how I felt.  “So that first question…who’s the unlucky soul?”  I teased, trying to hide how anxious and possessive I was feeling.

            Taichi blushed bright red and scuttled away from me to the other end of the couch.  I blinked, a little confused and a little hurt.  “Tai?  What’d I do?”

            “Nothing!”  He was quick to respond, waving his hands defensively at me.  “It’s just…well, I…you see…”

            Amused, I folded my arms across my chest and regarded him with a snicker of my own.  “Honestly…you’d think you were a love-struck school girl the way you’re floundering and blushing.”

            “Shut up, Ishida!”  Taichi scowled at me, pressing his palms to his cheeks and visibly willing them to stop being so red.  “I am no such thing!  It’s just…I’m not sure I’m ready to say who it is yet.”

            “This is me you’re talking to, Tai.  Whoever it is, I’m not going to go around telling people about it.”  I huffed.  “But if you’re not ready then you’re not ready and I won’t push.”  I raised an eyebrow at him, thinking of one way I could at least find out a little bit more.  “Just tell me one thing: girl or guy?”

            He stared at me, jaw dropping open.  It would have been funny if I hadn’t been serious.  “You…what?”

            “It’s an easy question, Taichi.  If you’re worried I’m going to think less of you because of something like that then you haven’t been paying attention.”  I felt heat crawl up my neck and looked away, pretending to look at the clock on the wall.  That…had come out before I’d really thought about what I was saying.

            “Matt…are you trying to tell me you’re…gay?  No wait.”  Taichi was moving down the couch closer to me again, looking a little too interested in my answer.  Oh…shit.  What had I gotten myself into?  “Bi?  You like girls – I’ve seen that – but, guys, too?”

            Feeling really ridiculous and rather embarrassed, I gave a short nod.  “So?” I demanded shortly.  “It doesn’t change who I was five minutes ago.”

            “Not saying that!”  Taichi rushed to assure me.  “I swear!  Same old Yama.  I just…wow, you know?  I suspected but never knew…”

            That shocked me a bit.  Was I obvious?  “You suspected?”  I repeated mechanically.

            “Well, you know…I know you so well, Yama, and I probably see things most want.”  Taichi reached out and grasped my hand and even though my instinct was to pull away, I passively let him keep it.

            “How did we get on me?  You didn’t answer my question.”  I wanted off this topic – pronto.

            “I don’t say ‘I’m not ready’ because I’m afraid of how you’ll react, Yama.  I swear.  I just…haven’t figured out for myself if how I think I feel really is love or if I’m just…being hopeful.”  He looked down at our hands.  “And I don’t know what to do about it all anyway, so there’s no reason to really discuss it.”

            “Well if you tell me then maybe I can help.”  I glanced at him, shivering as his thumb idly moved across the back of my hand in an absent way.  I don’t think he realized what he was doing.  He was always an affectionate, friendly person, but lately some of the things he did had been on the edge of ‘friendly’ and bordered on affectionate of a different sort – which just confused the hell out of me even more.

            When he looked at me this time, our eyes met and locked.  It seemed very much like he was trying to tell me something silently in those bright, brown eyes but I couldn’t read them one bit.

            “I…promise to tell you soon, Yama.  I just need a little more time to think.  Okay?”  He flushed.  “But I will answer your question, since I think you already know just by how I reacted.”

            “It’s a guy.”  I blew out a breath and mentally banged my head against a brick wall.  On the bright side, at least when I beat the guy into the ground I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about hitting a girl – which I wouldn’t do, even if I am that jealous.  Oh forget it.  I’m so messed up at the moment I don’t even make sense to myself.  “Fine.  Thanks for at least telling me that much.”

            “Matt…” Taichi watched me get up and walk toward the kitchen.  “I’m sorry.  I really am.”

            “It’s fine.”  I sighed and picked up the two plates with our toast on them, setting them on the island countertop that served as the table for Dad and I.  “I get why you’re not ready to say anything.  I’m just…disappointed.”  I so couldn’t tell him it was because I was turning into an ugly green monster, after all.  “When you are…I’ll be here to listen.”

            “Still.  I’m sorry.”  Taichi came over and sat on the stool across from me, hanging his head.  “Thanks for the toast.”

            I shrugged.  “I’d have made something more substantial but we need groceries pretty badly.  Maybe we should get a few things when I get my pajamas later.”

            He nodded and went to work on his toast.  “Sounds like a plan to me.”

            And that settled that.  Some silent agreement had been reached that we’d both let the topic drop.  At least I knew that a relationship beyond our friendship wouldn’t be completely outside the realm of possibility.

            Maybe.  If things didn’t work out with the other person.  Who was I kidding?  I didn’t really know what was going on in my head or heart anymore than Taichi said he did with himself.

            Poking at my toast unhappily now that any appetite I’d had evaporated, I shoved my last piece of toast at Taichi and got up.  “Here.  I’m going to take a shower before your sister gets here.”

            Taichi blinked and swallowed.  “Okay…” I could feel his eyes on me as I left, and there was concern in his voice.  “Yama?”

            I paused and looked back, though I really didn’t want to.  “Yeah?”

            “Are you…okay?”

            “Yeah.  Fine.  Eat your toast, Tai.”  I turned away again, lying through my teeth.  I don’t think he believed me, but he didn’t cal me on it, which surprised me a little.  He usually did.  Instead, he let me go silently.


            After one of my patented long showers, I finally emerged fresh and clean and feeling a little more capable of facing my best friend normally again.  Hikari had arrived sometime when I’d been in the shower, and when I stepped into the living room, I could tell things were not sunshine and flowers for the two siblings.

            “Hi, Matt.”  Hikari greeted me quietly, in a subdued tone that had me instantly concerned.

            “Hey.”  I responded, grabbing a seat on the armchair.  “Things okay at Sora’s?”

            She nodded.  “Her mom was very reasonable and very kind.  She said I was welcome as long as I needed.”

            I smiled.  That sounded like Mrs. Takenouchi.  “Good.”

            “Now will you tell me what’s going on, Kari?”  Taichi asked impatiently.  “I can tell something’s up with you, so spill!”

            “I could say the same thing to you, Taichi!”  She gave him a hot glare and he flinched.  “Why didn’t you tell me last night what Mom said to you?  I think I deserved to hear it from you.”

            I frowned and watched the colour drain out of Taichi’s face.  How had she found out about that?

            “Kari…I was going to but…last night I didn’t really want to believe it and…” Taichi bit his bottom lip and closed his eyes, looking away.  “I didn’t want to worry you more.”  He finished in a rather defeated voice.

            Hikari sniffled and drew him into a hug.  “You idiot!  I want to know these things!  I know you’re used to taking everything on yourself, but Taichi…you can’t always do that!  Please don’t act like I might break under a little stress when you know I won’t!”

            He held her tightly and I saw the shudder run through him.  It made me ache for him, for both of them.  I spoke up hesitantly, not sure intruding on the sibling moment would be welcomed.

            “Don’t be too hard on him, Hikari.  He’s telling the truth about how he didn’t really understand what had happened yet.  He just wanted to process it a little himself first before he told you.”

            Taichi’s eyes met mine, liquid with unshed tears, silently thanking me.  Hikari pulled away from him and wiped at her own eyes.  “I know…it’s just that we’re supposed to be there for each other and how can I do that if he doesn’t tell me things in time for me to help?”

            “Believe me, I know what you mean.  But we’ll work on getting him to understand that, won’t we, Hikari?”  I smiled wryly and she giggled.

            “Sure, Matt.”

            “Ah!  I’m wounded!  My best friend and little sister are ganging up on me!”  Taichi clutched at his heart and fell back against the sofa with a melodramatic moan of agony.  I rolled my eyes and Hikari grinned and smacked him on the knee.

            “That’s what you get!”  She admonished teasingly – and at the same time seriously.  “From now on, Taichi…please talk to us about these things – and everything! – instead of hoarding it?”

            He sat up and clasped her hand, bringing it to his lips to brush a fleeting kiss over her knuckles.  “I won’t make promises, Kari, but…I’ll try.  I’m trying to do a lot of things.”

            She nodded.  “Okay.  That’s all I can ask is that you try.”

            “How did you find out about what Mom said anyway?”  Taichi asked, still holding her hand absently.

            “I’d forgotten to take my software for my digital photos with me, and Sora and I went to get it earlier this morning.  Mom wasn’t there, but Dad was.”  She looked rather grim.  “He got mad and demanded to know what we’d done to upset Mom so much.  I guess when he got home from work last night he found her in hysterics.”

            Molten brown eyes hardened and I winced.  “He didn’t hassle you about staying at Sora’s did he?”

            “No.”  Hikari shook her head.  “I got mad at him right back and told him exactly what was going on – as far as I knew – and he got this strange expression on his face, like he was partly very confused, partly resigned, and partly frustrated about it all.  I don’t think he really paid attention to how bad things have gotten with Mom, Taichi.”

            “Wouldn’t surprise me.  He’s hardly ever home, and when he is and she does the overprotective mother thing, he just sees it as normal and that we’re – I’m – being disobedient and rebellious.”  Taichi ran fingers through his hair in agitation.  “She must have told him that she’d kicked me out and he didn’t understand why.”

            “I think so, too.”  His sister nodded sadly.  “Taichi…I told him that I really didn’t know exactly how bad things were, which was the truth, and he wants to talk to you.  I think he’s worried about Mom.”

            Taichi stood and went to stare out the balcony doors. I could feel the waves of emotion rolling off him, and had I been in his place, I could hear the questions I’d be demanding answers to.  Worry for his mother?  That’s fine, but what about his kids?  What about the son that had just been expelled from his home and family?  The daughter stuck in the middle unsure of what to do or say to help?  Why does he even care when he’s never home – job or not?  Seeing that my best friend wasn’t going to say anything for a bit, I turned to Hikari.

            “So what did he say about you staying at Sora’s?”  I asked. She looked away from her bother to me.

            “After I explained that Taichi had moved here to your place, Matt, and that he wanted me away from Mom until things could be worked out so I was staying at Sora’s, he agreed that it was probably best for a while.  But he wants to hear Taichi’s side of it before he confronts Mom and decides what to do from there.”  Her gaze flickered back and forth between us.  “He said as long as we continue going to school, keep our grades up, and all that then we could stay away as long as we needed to.”

            “I’m not going back.”  Taichi stated abruptly without turning to look back at us.  “Not even if things get worked out.  I’d decided that some time ago, Kari.”

            “What?”  She sprang to her feet, surprised and saddened.  “Why?  Taichi…”  Hikari cut herself off and chewed on her bottom lip at his expression as he turned, one that said he had made up his mind and there would be no changing it.

            “I haven’t belonged there for a very long time, Kari.  It’s been driving me crazy for years. I need…” he paused, collecting his thoughts.  “I need to be on my own to find the place I do belong, and to live in the independence that came with being Chosen.”

            Her eyes widened, and I could see she understood exactly what he meant.  Of course she would.  That little episode she herself had gone through that had nearly cost her all of her friends (meaning us Digidestined) had been in great part exactly about this.  There had been other factors, but in essence Hikari had felt lost.

            “Oh, Taichi!”  Tears threatened to spill.  “I had no idea you were going through this…”

            He sighed and went to her, gathering her into his arms.  “I know.  It’s okay, Kari.  I was dealing with it fairly well until Mom…well.  It just sped up my plans a little that’s all.  I’d intended before to move out after graduation and work during the summer – unless I got a scholarship, then I’d go straight to university and play for a university team while getting a higher education.”  He glanced at me.  “That’s why I was so hyped about that soccer camp Coach Hinamoto told us about a couple of weeks ago.  He said there might even be scouts around at the time, so…”

            “And Mom told you no?”  She pulled away and this totally incredulous expression came over her face.  “She actually wanted to prevent you from gaining anything from this very real chance at doing something really great?  How could she?”

            “She didn’t let me tell her that much, Kari.”  Taichi stuffed his hands in the pockets of his track pants.  “She’s ridiculously paranoid about anything involving the Digital World or Digimon.”

            “Oh.”  Hikari sighed deeply.  “I’m so sorry.  I can’t believe I didn’t notice any of this.”

            “It’s not your fault, little sister.”  Taichi brushed her hair away from her face gently.  “There’s nothing you could have done anyway.”

            “Still…” she sighed again, then jumped as a beeping noise came from her purse.  “That’s my D-terminal.”  She dug it out and flipped it open, reading the email quickly.  “It’s from Miya.  She wants to know if I want to gout with Daisuke, Ken, Takeru, and Iori to see a movie tonight.”

            “You should.  Go out and have some fun, Kari, with what’s left of our break.”  Taichi smiled at her and she gave him a one-armed hug.

            “Okay.  I should get going to Miya’s anyway.”  She whipped off a quick reply to Miyako and tucked her D-terminal back into her purse.  Taichi and I followed her to the door, watching her pull her shoes on.

            “Do you have money, Kari?”  Taichi asked.  She nodded, opening her purse again.

            “Yes.  Dad gave me some extra.  Here.”  She handed him a wad of bills, but he pushed it away with and adamant shaking of his head.

            “No, Kari, you keep it.  I have money of my own I’ve been saving for a long time now.  Keep that in case you need something or whatever.”

            “But…” Hikari put the money back in her purse.  “Alright.  But if you need some, just ask.  Promise?”

            “Uh huh.”  Taichi gave her one last hug and shooed her out the door.  “Go have fun, Kari.  Say hi to the others for me.”

            “And me!”  I piped up, waving over his shoulder at her.  “Tell Takeru I’ll call him soon.”

            “Sure, Matt.”  She waved back.  “Bye, guys!”

            Taichi stepped out into the hall to watch her until she disappeared into the elevator, then came back inside quietly.

            I was waiting for him in the living room.  He came in wearing a mixed expression of relief, sadness, and determination that made me simply open my arms and welcome him into them.  His own circled me and held tightly, a tremor running through his frame and escaping on a shuddering sigh.

            “You okay, Tai?”  I asked, rubbing his back slowly.

            “I’ve been better.”  He answered, voice muffled by my shoulder.  “God!  That was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had with her.  I’m so glad it’s over.”

            I nodded, his hair tickling my jaw and chin, and squeezed him a little tighter briefly.  “She took it all well, didn’t she?  I won’t say I told you so.”

            A dry chuckle sounded in my ear.  “No.  Of course not.”

            I let him go after one last hug and looked outside to take stock of the weather.  “What we need is fresh air!  Let’s go find some pajamas for me and maybe stop at the grocery store for some groceries.”

            Taichi nodded.  “Sure.  I’ll just go find a better shirt and my jacket.”  He disappeared down the hall and I grabbed my keys and wallet from where I’d left them next to the phone in the kitchen.

            “Ready?”  I asked when he reappeared.

            “Yeah.”  Taichi followed me to the door where we slipped on our shoes and I put on a light jacket.  Then we were out the door and off on our shopping excursion.


Relevant Episodes:   Season 01, episodes 43-44.


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