Chapter 04


Chapter 04 

            “Go get your stuff, Takeru.”  I said as we entered Mom’s apartment.  “An don’t forget your toothbrush this time.  I’m not lending you mine again if you do forget it.”  I’d invited him to come stay at Dad’s in the elevator.

            He rolled his eyes at me.  “Yeah, yeah.  Come on, Kari.  Keep me company while I pack.

            “Sure!”  She followed him with a smile.

            Takeru had mentioned that Mom had gone off on an assignment for the newspaper for a couple of days though she’d be back tomorrow, and so we were in an empty apartment.  It was my third home, after all.  If I wasn’t bunking at Dad’s, I was either at Taichi’s or here, ever since Mom and I had begun to make tentative steps toward getting to know each other and forgiving each other for past issues.

            It had always been my little brother’s fondest, most fervent wish that we could all be a family again.  Happy.  And in a way we’d done that – even if we didn’t live together.  It worked for us.

            I led Taichi and Sora into the living room to wait, and gave Taichi an encouraging nudge.

            “Hey…Sora?”  He fidgeted and sat heavily on the sofa.  I curled up beside him, tucking my feet under myself and leaning on the arm.  Sora took the armchair and gave us curious looks.

            “What’s up, Taichi?  Yamato?  You both look like you’ve got bad news for me.”

            “No.  It’s not like that.”  Taichi glanced at me then sighed and stared at the coffee table while he spoke.  “See…it’s about Mom and Dad…”

            He gave her an abbreviated version, leaving out most of it but enough to make his point.  Sora was frowning deeply in concern, and I could see she could tell just how bad it really was for him and Hikari at home – reading between the lines, as it were.

            “Taichi’s coming to stay with me for a while, starting tonight, Sora.”  I added after a moment of silence when my best friend stopped talking. “But…we don’t know if leaving Hikari behind with their Mom and Dad is a good idea.”

            “Hikari had suggested asking you if she could come stay with you after spring break, at least until we’ve worked all this out with our parents.”  Taichi slouched in his seat dejectedly.  “I didn’t want to impose on you or your mom like that, though, so I said to hold off asking, but now…”

            “Imposition?  Yagami Taichi don’t you pull that bullshit on me.”  Sora got up and crossed over to him, kneeling on the floor in front of him and taking both his hands in hers.  “You know anything you need I would be happy to help you with.  And I love Hikari, too.  If I had a little sister, I’d want one like her.”  Sora gave him a fierce stare that dared him to say another word about it.  “Of course she can come stay with us.  My mom will be thrilled.”

            Taichi smiled slightly, looking vastly relieved.  “Thanks, Sora.”

            “What can I tell my mom as to why she’s coming to stay?”  Sora asked, seriously.  I know you don’t want the whole world knowing or interfering so I’ll ask what you want me to tell her so that I don’t accidentally say more than I should.”

            He nodded and pulled his hands away to push himself more upright in his seat again.  I relaxed a little, having unconsciously tensed up when she’d taken his hands in the first place.  I had a fleeting moment to realize I didn’t like her touching him – which was odd since I didn’t care before.  Or did I?  I didn’t have time to mull that over before Taichi was speaking again.

            “Just…tell her that we’re having problems with my parents, but don’t get into details, and that I had to leave for a while but didn’t want to leave Hikari there alone.  And stress that I don’t want anyone to get involved yet, that I’m trying to work it out.”

            Sora nodded.  “Sure, Taichi.  I won’t say anymore than that.  Mom won’t do or say anything, either, unless you ask her to.  I can promise that.”

            “I know.  Thank you, Sora.”

            She waved away his thanks.  “Anything to help, remember?”

            Takeru and Hikari returned shortly after, my little brother holding a back-pack in one hand and Hikari’s hand in the other.

            “I got my stuff!”  He declared cheerfully.  “Shall we go?”

            “Yeah.”  Taichi, Sora, and I rose and we all headed for the door.

            “Hikari…” Taichi said quietly as we stepped onto the elevator.

            “Yeah, Taichi?”  She looked up at him, her smile fading away into seriousness at his expression.  “What’s wrong?”

            “When we get home, you and I are going to pack up some stuff – enough for a week or so, at least.”

            “I’m already mostly packed to go to Miya’s tomorrow.  Why?”

            I watched Taichi reach out and brush the hair out of her eyes gently and willed my strength to him.

            “I’m going to move to Matt’s tonight, Kari, and Sora said you can come stay with her tonight – and after you’re done at Miyako’s, too.”

            She looked around him at Sora, who nodded in affirmation, then back to her big brother.  “Okay.  Um…thanks Sora, but…why?”

            “I don’t like leaving you alone to deal with Mom, Kari.  She’s…not going to be happy when I tell her I’m leaving tonight, and you don’t know just how difficult she’s really been lately.”

            Hikari frowned as we left the elevator and began walking toward their apartment complex.  “I know she’s been a little overprotective lately and that she’s been hounding you for a lot of things, but…”

            “That’s because I’ve been deflecting her away from you.”  Taichi looked away, shoving his hands in his pockets and kicking at a stone on the sidewalk.  “She didn’t want you to go to Miyako’s at all but I threatened to let Meko use both our cell phones as cat toys if she didn’t let you go.”

            Hikari was torn between a giggle and a scowl.  Meko, their pet cat, loved shiny things and tended to swipe them and use them for toys – and usually the feline would abscond with the items outside and lose them some place.

            “Is it really that bad, Taichi?”  Takeru asked, looking very unhappy at the idea.

            “Well, you may just see for yourself when we get there.”  Taichi’s expression darkened, and I moved up to walk a little closer to him in silent support.  “She won’t be happy, and I can’t deflect this time.  I don’t have it in me anymore.”

            “It’ll be alright, Taichi.”  Sora tried reassuring him.  “With all the rest of us there, she probably won’t do much.”

            “We can hope.”  He mumbled, but no loud enough for the others to hear.  Standing as close as I was, I heard, and I gave his shoulder a brief squeeze.

            “No matter what, Tai, I’m here with you.  Takeru and Sora, too.”  I whispered.  We were approaching his building, and under my hand, I could feel the tension in him increase.

            “Why didn’t you say anything earlier, Taichi?”  Hikari wanted to know.  She didn’t sound angry with him about it, but her tone was on the annoyed side.  “Maybe I could have helped somehow.”

            “I didn’t because…because I hoped it was just a phase that would pass.  Because when I realized it wasn’t a phase, I didn’t want her ruining your hard-won happiness.”  Taichi paused outside the building and faced her, hands in his pockets.  “And because I’m your older brother and I was trying to protect you, whether or not you really needed it.  I’m sorry, Kari…it’s just what I do.”

            “Oh, Tai…” she sniffed and slipped into his arms, hugging him tightly for a long moment.  When she let him go, she clasped his hand and squeezed as she spoke – and for one brief second, I had an image of them as their younger, pre-teen selves when I’d first gotten to know them flash across my memory’s sight.

            “We’ll go up there, and we’ll get our things as quickly as we can, and then we’ll leave.”  Hikari declared decisively.  “But most importantly we’ll be together.”

            Taichi smiled softly and very gently tucked her hair behind her ear.  “You’ve grown up on me, Kari.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of that.  You know I’m proud of you, right?”

            “I know.”  She replied with a brilliant smile.

            He looked up at each of us, ending with me, and I gave him a solemn but from nod.  I could see the grim determination in his molten brown eyes, and I hoped he could see in mine that I would stand up for him if he needed it.

            Taichi turned and led us indoors, moving to the elevators purposefully.  It was silent on the way up.  I don’t think Sora knew what more she could say, and I don’t think Takeru knew what he could say at all.  But he’d be there for Hikari, guarding her as he always has, no matter what.

            We filed into the apartment quietly.  As we removed our shoes, Taichi glanced at his sister and gave her a nod.  She nodded back, and after breathing deeply in preparation, she raised her voice to call out, “We’re home, Mom!  Dad!” in a cheerful voice that was obviously false but a damned good attempt to pretend.

            I heard footsteps hurrying from the living room and their mother appeared in the doorway to the kitchen from the entrance of the apartment.  “Hikari!  Taichi!  You…oh.”  Mrs. Yagami stopped immediately upon seeing Sora, Takeru, and I.  I watched as she visibly swallowed back whatever she was going to say to her children and put on an even more false cheeriness than Hikari’s tone had been.  “Hello, kids.  I didn’t know you were coming over tonight.”

            “Don’t worry.”  Taichi grunted, bracing himself by crossing his arms and planting his feet.  “They aren’t staying long.  Go on, Kari.  Takeru and Sora can help you while I talk to Mom.”

            “Okay.”  Hikari, in a uncharacteristically meek way, obeyed without another word, taking my brother and Sora with her. Sora hesitated at the hall entrance way, glancing over her shoulder.

            “You sure, Taichi?”  She asked.

            “Positive.”  Taichi said in steely determination.  Her eyes flicked to me, and I waved her away.  She gave me a nod and disappeared, trusting me to take care of him – as if I wouldn’t.

            “What is going on, Taichi?”  Mrs. Yagami asked, and I could practically hear her teeth grinding with the effort to remain collected and calm in front of me.

            “I’m leaving, Mom.  Tonight, I’m moving in with Matt for a while until I get a job and can afford my own place.  And Hikari is going to stay at Sora’s.”  he bravely stared right at her as he dropped the news on her, and I shifted anxiously, anticipating her reaction to be unpleasant.

            “You’re what?!  No you are not!”  Mrs. Yagami ground out, stepping up close to him until she was nose to nose with her son.  “I forbid it!  You have been insolent, inconsiderate, disrespectful, and disobedient for weeks now Yagami Taichi, and I will not stand for it!  You will kindly ask your friends to leave, and you will go to your room!  You are grounded, young man, until…”

            He cut her off.  “No.  I am not, and I will not.  You listen to me, mother, because I’m not repeating myself again – we are leaving until you realize we are not little children that require your extreme over-protectiveness and the way you’ve been smothering us.  We are leaving until you begin to treat us like the young adults we are, with the respect that we deserve in return for the respect we’ve always had for you.”  Taichi’s hands dropped to his sides and fisted, showing just how tight his control on his temper was – yet leaking out in his voice despite that.  I moved to lean against the wall next to him, not touching him but close enough that he knew I was there.  Mrs. Yagami’s eyes flicked to me and I watched her unflinchingly when she glared.

            “What have you said to my son that has drove him to this?”  She demanded in a clearly angry and blameful tone.  “He’s always around you so you must have done or said something!”

            There was a very distinct, very threatening warning growl that came from my best friend, and I winced for her sake.  No one – no one – threatens any one of his friends, not even his own mother.  Taichi would and has gone from relative calm and control to rage and vengeance in the blink of an eye when that happens.

            “Don’t you dare blame Matt or any of my friends for this.”  He snapped, warm brown eyes flashing and running solid, stone-cold granite in fury.  “Don’t you dare.”

            Okay…time to leave.

            “Taichi.”  I stepped between them and faced him, grabbing him by the shoulders and forcing him to look me dead in the eye.  “Let’s get your stuff and get going, alright?  We still have to walk the girls back to Sora’s and it’s getting late.  You hear?”

            I watched him gain control and reign in his emotions before I let him go, then followed him to his bedroom, pushing past his mother to do so.

            In the bedroom – where Sora and Takeru were watching Hikari pack up what she felt she would need for a while (she and Taichi still shared a room, even though there was one spare room in the apartment one of them could have claimed)- I saw that Taichi really did have most of his things packed.  And for a teenager, he really didn’t have all that much stuff.

            “You nearly ready, Kari?”  He asked her in a gentle voice, though somewhat strained.  He went to his desk and began clearing off his school stuff and what not into his school bag.

            “Yes.  I didn’t have much else to pack that I hadn’t already for Miyako’s.”  Hikari replied, pretending she didn’t hear the tone at all.  She zipped up her lone suitcase, picked up her school bag, and allowed Takeru to take her one other piece of luggage – a small canvas carry-on suitcase.  “I’m ready!”

            At that point their mother pretty much barged in, blocking the door.  “I forbid you to leave this apartment!  The both of you!  Hikari, put those bags down this minute!”

            Now I’d had enough.  Even Hikari was beginning to look like she wanted to slap her mother.  I laid a hand on Taichi’s arm before he could say a word, taking charge myself.

            “Keep packing, Tai.”  I said firmly.  “Sora, you and Takeru take Hikari downstairs.  We’ll be right there and we’ll meet you outside.”

            Sora nodded, and when Mrs. Yagami refused to move out of the way, we were all reminded of just how tough the Child of Love could really be when provoked.  Quite firmly and insistently, Sora pushed the woman aside so Takeru could escape with Hikari, and before she released Mrs. Yagami she spoke in a low, warning tone I’d rarely heard her use.

            “Mrs. Yagami, if you ever want to repair the damage that’s obviously been done to your relationship with Taichi and Hikari, you will take my advice: you will let them go, and give them the space they need – that you need, too – to calm and figure the situation out.  You know where they will be, and that they’ll be safe, healthy, and out of trouble, and for now that will have to do because this time you really have no choice.”

            Then Sora was out the door and gone.

            Taichi’s mother stared after her in shock.  I don’t think she’s ever had anyone talk to her like that before.

            Taichi and I took advantage and grabbed his two bags, one suitcase, and one box of belongings, somewhat roughly pushing our way past Mrs. Yagami who just stood there stunned.

            We stopped in the porch area to slip into our shoes and when we looked up she was there, tears in her eyes but an expression that was hard and almost hateful on her face.

            “If you leave, Taichi, don’t come back.  You obviously have no respect for your own mother, to allow someone you call a friend to speak that way to me, and to ignore me when I have expressly forbidden you to do something – and dragged your sister into it!”

            I could not believe she just said that.  I felt Taichi stiffen beside me, and I turned to him in dire concern – just in time to see all hope of fixing things and the knowledge that he was completely on his own hit him.  Hard.

            “Come on, Tai.  Hikari is waiting for you.”  I directed him out the door with a gentle shove and turned to glare with all the iciness of my patented, full-blown Ishida Yamato death-glare.

            “I never in a million years would have believed you could be so blind, callous, and cold, Mrs. Yagami.  I think you had better re-think the entire situation and look at how you’ve been handling your children the last little while, because you just lost them.”  I paused, letting that sink in.  “They loved you.  But you have smothered them with your fears and paranoia.  You have no one to blame but yourself.”

            I left her standing there, slamming the door behind me.

            Taichi was standing at the elevators, leaning forward with his head buried in his arms which rested against the wall.  I hurried over to him and dropped the bags I carried.

            “Hey.”  I murmured, slowly curling an arm around his shoulders from the side.  “You going to be alright, Tai?”

            “I…I don’t know.”  I could feel his whole body shudder under the weight of his emotions.  “I…Yama, what just happened?”  He raised his head and looked at me, pleading with his eyes to tell him it wasn’t true.

            I did the only thing I could.  I pulled him roughly into my arms and hugged him hard.  I closed my eyes against the harsh sob that was muffled by my shoulder where Taichi buried his face and wrapped his arms around me so tightly I almost could breathe.  But air was unimportant to me just then.  I’d stop breathing if it meant eliminating even an ounce of Taichi’s pain.

            I held him for a good while, letting him vent that pain through tears.  But I knew the others were waiting for us, so I left one arm around his waist and tenderly threaded my fingers through his wild mane of hair.

            “We have to go, Tai.  You need to pull it together for a little while longer, okay?  For Hikari.”  I murmured into his ear.  “You can do it, Tai.  I’ll be there to help you, ever step.”

            He nodded against my shoulder jerkily and after a minute inhaled a deep, shuddering sigh before releasing me from his vice-like grip.

            Taichi shook himself and nodded again.  “I’m okay.  I can do this.  Let’s go, Yama.”

            I was so proud of him for that.

            I reached out and gently wiped away his tears from his cheeks then pushed the elevator button.  “You can.”  I agreed.  “It’ll all be fine, Tai.  In the end, everything will all work out somehow.”

            He leaned against the elevator wall as we descended and chuckled a little.  “I think you’re channeling Takeru, Yama.”

            I smiled and shrugged.  “Maybe.  It’s been known to happen.”  I sobered and asked quietly.  “What will you tell her, Tai?”

            He closed his eyes and sighed tiredly.  “The truth…eventually.  Maybe not tonight, but soon.  I just don’t feel up to dealing with it right now.”

            “I don’t blame you.  And I’m sure your sister will understand, Tai.  She loves you.”

            He smiled, a genuine Taichi smile.  “Yeah.”

            And I knew he’d be alright.

            The others were waiting for us just inside the doors of the lobby area.  I met Sora’s inquiring, concerned eyes and gave her a near imperceptible shake of my head.  She must have understood because her face fell and she draped a protective, caring arm around Hikari’s shoulders as she tried to pretend things weren’t as bad as they were for the sake of the Child of Light – and the Child of Courage.

            “Well, I think it’s high time we al got going!”  Sora steered Hikari toward the exit, leading the way.  Takeru picked up the stuff he was carrying for Hikari and hurried after them with an easy smile.  I knew he would take care of Hikari so I devoted myself to keeping an eye on her older brother.

            “Come on, Tai.”  I tilted my head at him and gave him my best reassuring smile.  “We’ll drop off the girls and head home.  I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted.”

            “Yeah.”  Taichi agreed and we followed after our siblings and Sora at an easy pace.  He glanced at me as we walked.  “How are you feeling, Yama?  Still okay?”

            I blinked.  “Hey, man, I’m fine.  Like I said, Too much ice cream last night and roller coasters don’t mix.”  I looked over at him, wishing my hands weren’t full.  “For once, Taichi, don’t worry about the rest of us, alright?  It’s okay to worry about yourself sometimes, too.”

            He sighed.  “I know.  I can’t help it.  It’s what I do.”

            I chuckled a little.  “We know, fearless leader.  And we wouldn’t have you any other way.”

~~~~~~~~

            We dropped Sora and Hikari off at Sora’s place.  Hikari knew something was up because she hugged Taichi so hard I thought I could hear his ribs cracking.

            “Phone me whenever you want to, Hikari.”  He said, rubbing her back soothingly.  “Anytime.  And try not to give Sora and her mom a hard time.”

            “Taichi!”  She scolded him, coking back a laugh that was full of tears.  “I wouldn’t!  And you phone me anytime alright?  For anything.  I’ll see you soon, too.”

            “Of course.”  He kissed her on the cheek and gently pushed her toward Sora.  “Go on, now, Kari.”

            “Good night, guys.”  Sora gave us a short wave.  “Don’t worry, Taichi.  I’ll talk to mom about it and everything will be fine.  I’ll call you tomorrow, alright?”

            “Yeah.  And thanks again, Sora.”  Taichi waved back.  “I owe you big for this.”

            “No, Taichi.  You don’t.  Good night!”  She went inside before he could complain or disagree further.

            Takeru stretched and yawned, glancing at me.  “You sure you don’t mind me coming over tonight, Matt?  I could come some other time…” his eyes flicked to Taichi then back to me.

            I thought about it briefly and sighed.  “It’s your home, too, Takeru.  I can’t kick you out if you want to stay, but…”

            “Hey.  I totally understand!  I don’t mind, Matt.”  He grinned at me.  “I wouldn’t mind having the house to myself for a night or two anyway.”  Takeru leaned closer to me as we walked behind Taichi – lost in thought – to keep him from hearing.  “Besides, I think Taichi needs some time to unwind and stuff after tonight.  I’d just be in the way, and he wouldn’t let himself show how much this is affecting him around me.”

            Sometimes I forget how observant and intelligent my baby brother really is.  He can often see and recognize things in people they can’t in themselves, and in this case he was bang on in his assessment of our goggle-headed leader (even if he doesn’t wear the goggles anymore).

            I nodded and murmured back, “Thanks, Keru.  I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

            He waved that away.  “Forget it.  What he needs right now not one of us can give him – except you.  So do what you’re best at, Matt, and take care of Taichi where he can’t – or won’t – do so for himself.”

            Before I could ask exactly what he meant by that first part, he hiked his bag over his shoulder and jogged up to Taichi to glomp him – just a little, since he was still carrying that box.

            “I changed my mind, Taichi.  I think I’ll come stay at Dad’s some other night, so I’ll say good night here and head home to Mom’s, okay?”  Takeru hugged Taichi awkwardly, avoiding the box.  “Things will work out, so don’t give up.”

            “You don’t have to…thanks, Takeru.”  Taichi cut himself off at the determined look on my brother’s face, thanking him instead.  “Just…thanks.”

            “No problem.  ‘Night, guys!”  He waved and left us at the corner, heading for his building that was just down the street.

            “Well, a couple more blocks and we’ll be home.”  I announced cheerfully, crossing the street and forcing Taichi to hurry after me.

            “Hey, Yama…he didn’t have to go back to your Mom’s, you know.  I wouldn’t have minded him being around.”  Taichi frowned.  “Was it something I said?”

            I rolled my eyes.  Sometimes you’re completely clueless, Yagami.  I shook my head at him.  “No, Tai.  He just felt you might need some time so he’ll come later this week or some other time instead.”

            “But…I…” he snapped his mouth shut, avoiding looking at me directly.

            “What?  Spit it out, Tai.”

            “I…don’t want to be an imposition.”  He mumbled, looking down hard at t he top of the box, appearing to be somewhat ashamed.  I scowled at him, a little annoyed even though I knew he would feel that way.

            “Yagami Taichi, do not ever say that again.”  I ordered.  Startled, he stared at me.

            “But…”

            “No.  You are never ever an imposition on any of us.  Not ever.  And especially not on me.  So kindly refrain from insulting me, if you please.”  We were approaching my building, and I marched toward the lobby doors, shoes sounding loud against the pavement of the sidewalk as each step accentuated my words.

            Taichi trailed after me, chastened.  The elevator ride upstairs was quiet, in a companionable way.  Besides, I was sure the Child of Courage was mulling over things in his head.  He had a lot to think about.  Truth be told, so did I.  My brain was still trying to wrap around the things that the fortune teller alluded to that afternoon – and the things I was coming up with on my own.

            I loved him.  Of course I did.  My best friend, my leader – of course I loved him.  But now I wondered if that love had grown to be something else, something more.

            We got off the elevator and I led the way to my apartment door, unlocking it and letting us in.  “Home sweet home.”  I commented lightly, flicking on the light switch.  “Let’s see…how about we put your stuff in my room for now, and I’ll find the spare futon and bedding for you.”  I glanced over my shoulder at him as he followed me down the short hallway to my room.  We put his stuff down in one corner of the room, next to the closet, and I tried to remember where Dad and I had stashed the spare futon and everything the last time we’d cleaned.  “I’d put you in Takeru’s room, but it’s a mess yet from the last time he stayed over, and I think Dad’s still got his office temporarily set up in there.”  I apologized.

            “Don’t worry, Yama.  I don’t mind being on a futon on your floor, or the couch or wherever.  I…just really appreciate that you’re letting me crash here.”  Taichi fiddled with the tie on his track-pants, staring at the floor.

            I huffed and dropped my hands onto his shoulders to give him a slight shake.  “Hey!  What did I tell you before?  Don’t even, Tai.”

            He looked up at me and nodded in apology. “Yeah.  Sorry, Yama.  I’m trying.”

            I nodded and looked around, studying my room and contemplating what could be moved, cleaned up or thrown out to make room for him.  I began cleaning my room, making space on the floor to put the futon.

            “Who knew Meticulous Matt would have such a messy bedroom.”  Tai commented, watching me in amusement.

            “Ha.  Ha.”  I dusted off my hands.  “There.  Now, let me go search for that futon and bedding.”  I moved out of the room, thinking aloud.  “I think it’s still in Takeru’s room…”

            I found it rolled up in the closet in that room.  Taichi helped me set it up and I dropped pillows and blankets on it for him.

            “Well, all set until Dad gets back and cleans all that junk of his out of there.”  I yawned and stretched lazily.  “I don’t suppose you’re hungry after that huge meal we had at the restaurant, but do you want anything?”

            “No.  Thanks anyway, Yama.  But, could I use your shower?”  He asked.

            “Of course.  Towels…” I slipped out and fetched a couple from the hall linen closet.  “Here you go.  While you’re doing that, I’m going to clean up my mess in the kitchen.”  I handed him the towels, our hands briefly brushing and setting off little warm thrills over my skin.  I fought not to turn pink and hastily retreated.  “Yell if you need anything else, Tai!”  I called over my shoulder.

            I went through the motions of tidying and filling the kitchen sink with hot soapy water to do my dishes, all the while muttering to myself about my stupid, hormonal reactions to Taichi.  He didn’t need me to drool all over him, especially right now.

            I scowled at the dishwater and scrubbed vigorously with unnecessary force.  Why oh why did I have to figure this out about how I felt now?  When I can’t do a damn thing about it without feeling like a heel and that I’m taking advantage somehow?

            I heard the water turn off in the bathroom just as I unplugged the sink in the kitchen.  I would just let the clean dishes air dry tonight.  My brain – and my body – just needed to shut off for a while.

            Walking back into my room, I stifled a yawn and dug out something to wear to bed.  I usually just slept in my underwear, but that wasn’t a good idea anymore.  I was in the middle of changing, my shirt on the floor and my pants undone and hanging off my hips, when Taichi walked into the room.

            Holy Angemon…in a towel and nothing else.

            Dripping little droplets of water everywhere like crystal shards.

            I made myself dizzy turning around so fast, trying to hide the blush and the non-friend-like expression I’m sure was on my face.  “H-have a good shower?”  I inquired lamely.  I failed miserably at sounding nonchalant about it all.

            There was a pause, then his reply came in a slightly puzzled tone of voice.  “Yeah, thanks.  I forgo my clothes when I went in there.  Uh…” I could hear him shuffling through his suitcase, and grabbed the tank top from my bed, slipping it on hastily over my head.

            “Something wrong?”  I asked, giving him a glance over my shoulder.  He was staring at me, and for once I couldn’t read his expression.

            “I was going to ask you that, Yama.  You’ve been acting strange since this afternoon – since about the time you came out of the fortune teller’s booth.”  Taichi tilted his head at me, studying me closely.

            Uh oh.  Now what was I going to do?

~~~~~~~~

Relevant Episodes:   Season 01, episodes 31-33 (Meko steals Hikari’s digivice during the hunt for the eighth Child).

NEXT CHAPTER:  https://kalichaos.wordpress.com/digimon-0102/fortuna/chapter-05/

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