Chapter 06


Chapter 06

            It’s not my fault.  Honest!  I can’t be blamed for walking into a good clothing store and be attracted by all the other clothing items except for the one I’d intended to look at.

            To my chagrin, Taichi was right about my shopping habits.  Luckily, Taichi is quite capable of curbing my shop-a-holic enthusiasm, otherwise I’d be broke – yet again – and we wouldn’t have food until my Dad got back.

            I have to give Taichi credit though, because he sure found an amazing amount of patience for me.  Two hours in one store later, after a small mountain of clothes I’d tried on and decided against, the Child of Courage finally snapped and stalked away from the change rooms in a huff.

            “Tai!  Hey, com on…wait!”  I cried, trying to tug on my shoe and hop after him.  After nearly colliding with a rack of shirts, I stopped, put the shirt on, and stood to frantically look around for my best friend.  I was suddenly sure he’d left me completely until I spotted him in the nightwear section.  He was looking around at everything, then grabbed something seemingly at random before turning and stalking back to me with a disgruntled glare.

            “Here.”  He thrust a pair of pajamas at me.  “Try those on.  If they fit, buy them.”  His caramel brown eyes regarded me impatiently.  “That’s what we came here for, so if you leave without buying any after all that,” he gestured at the change rooms and I ducked my head sheepishly.  “I swear I’ll tell everyone about your first experience getting drunk.”

            I blanched and stared at him, horrified.  That had been a particularly embarrassing couple of hours – which thankfully Taichi had been the one to rescue me from and was the only one who knew of it.  Needless to say, I didn’t drink anymore at after-gig parties like that.

            “Taichi!”  I gasped in protest.  “That’s just…”

            “So go try those on already.  Geez, Matt.”  Taichi began shoving me toward the change room.  I let him push me in and draw the curtain closed, leaving me in there.

            I paused in unbuttoning my shirt – again – and stuck my head outside the curtain pensively.  “You wouldn’t really…”

            “Yamato!”

            “Urk!”  I ducked back inside and hurriedly changed into the pajamas.  Studying my image in the mirrors, I hummed thoughtfully.  Taichi…may not have a sense of style where it comes to himself, but when it comes to others, he has some pretty descent tastes.  Though I’m sure he wasn’t even thinking about anything like size or colour or material or whatever when he grabbed the pajamas.

            For my part, I probably would have passed over this kind of blue myself.  It was a shade of azure, something that was much, much lighter than anything I’d ever pick out.  I prefer darker colours – all of the cold/cool variety (those in the blue, green, purple families), and black, of course.  These pajamas didn’t look that bad on me, I had to admit.  I turned and studied myself over my shoulder, making thinking noises.  The material was soft and silky, kind of like satin but not quite.  It fit well, maybe just a little big on my thin frame, but still flattering.

            “Quit admiring yourself, Matt!  Do they fit?”  Taichi’s impatient voice made me roll my eyes and turn, shoving the curtain aside.

            “God, Taichi!  Have a little patience!”  I retorted, planting my hands on my hips.  “They’re a little loose but if I went down a size, they’d be too small.”  I blinked.  He stared at me silently for a moment, and I raised an eyebrow.  “Taichi?  Hey Yagami!”  I snapped my fingers in front of his face and he jerked back with a start.

            “Ah!  Don’t do that!”

            “Quit spacing out then.”

            He glowered at me.  “Buy them, and let’s go.”

            I studied him curiously for a minute as he turned a slight shade of pink.  “What made you grab these, anyway?”  I asked.  In my head, I was wondering about that blush.  I went back into the change room and drew the curtain closed again, changing back into my own clothes quickly.

            “Because…they’re the same shade of blue that your eyes are when you’re happy.”  The reply was muted and heavy with something like embarrassment.  “I figured they’d suit you best, even if they’re just pajamas and hardly anyone’s going to see them.”

            I had one shoe on and stopped putting on the other, picking up the pajamas and holding them up.  Well, they were pretty close to my eye-colour, and of course blues would bring that out more.  The fact that Taichi had recognized that touched me both as thoughtful and curious because it made me wonder why he would even think about something like that.  It was almost as if he picked them knowing he was one of those ‘few people’ who’d see me in them, and he wanted to see me in them.

            And maybe Izzy would give up computers to become a Buddhist monk.

            I put on my other shoe and stepped back outside, Smiling at my best friend as disarmingly as I could.  “Well, you certainly have good taste and an eye for colour, Tai.  Let’s pay for those and then go find some lunch, okay?”

            He nodded and promptly dragged me to the cashier to buy the pajamas.

            We made our way through the shopping district until we found a small café/pizzeria.  We ordered ourselves a large pizza with the works and extra cheese and sodas, and went to grab seats near the windows.

            “So, any requests for meals over the next few days, or do you want to play it by…stomach?”  I asked, pulling out my shopping list of groceries to study.  It only listed basics.

            “Whatever you feel like, Yama.”  He shrugged.  “I’m not picky.”  Taichi stared out the window, chin propped up with one hand.

            “True.  Well, we’ll see what we find at the store.”  I put the list away as waitress dropped by with our sodas.  I thanked her and took a healthy sip of mine, watching Taichi think.  “What’s on your mind, pal?  Anything I could help with?”

            “Not really.  Just…everything, I suppose.”  The Child of Courage spared me a brief glance with a small smile.  “But thanks.”

            I nodded.  “It’s what I do.  So…what about your dad, Tai?  Are you going to meet with him?”  I frowned at myself and hastily added, “Sorry.  If you don’t feel like talking about that yet, tell me to shut up.”

            He laughed a little.  “It’s okay, Yama.  I know you’re worried.”

            “Still, Tai.”  I replied quite seriously.  “If I get to be a pest and you don’t want to talk just tell me so and I promise I’ll drop it.”

            The answering look he gave me was fondly amused with me.  “I know, Matt. Honest.”  His expression sobered and he picked up his soda glass to sip absently.  “I think I’ll have to talk to Dad sooner or alter.  It can’t be avoided.  So I may as well make it sooner and on my terms.”

            I couldn’t argue with that, so I nodded in agreement.  “Yeah.  If you want to invite him over and talk to him there that’s alright by me.”  I gave him a meaningful look.  “I want to be there with you, Tai, and I’m sure Hikari will to.”

            He looked down at the table top, frowning.  “I wish you weren’t right about that.  I…it’s instinct to want to keep her out of it as much as possible, but I also know she’s not a little girl anymore, and that she deserves to know exactly what’s going on with her family.  She hasn’t said anything, but I get the feeling she’s a little upset that I’ve been keeping things from her.”

            “Maybe.  But she understands why you did – even if you haven’t given her reasons – and she knows it was done out of love for her.”  I reasoned, trying to reassure him.  “And she loves you, Taichi, at least as much as you do her.”

            He smiled, a real, Taichi-smile.  It made his brown eyes so warm and vibrant that I had to admire them helplessly for a moment before he answered me.  “I know.  I’m so lucky to have her in my life.”

            “We all are.”  I agreed.  “I think Takeru would agree with me – Daisuke, and the others, too.”

            Taichi chuckled.  “Very true.”  His smile turned wistful.  “She doesn’t really need me anymore, Yama.  She can take care of herself, and she has Takeru protecting her from any threats, Daisuke defending and worshipping her every breath, and Miyako fighting her battles right next to her.  Then there’s Ken, who understands her better than anyone because in some ways they’re very much alike.  And Iori, who guides her and offers wisdom and temperance when she needs it.”  Taichi leaned back in his seat, folding his hands on the table in front of himself.  “Hikari is all grown up, and she has her own group of close friends now.  I…don’t really have a place there anymore.”

            I couldn’t help laughing – earning a scowl for it.  “Don’t give me that look, Tai. I’m laughing,” I explained before he lost his temper with me.  “Because that’s exactly how I once felt about Takeru back in the day – when we were fighting the Dark Masters?”

            Tai nodded, regarding me curiously.  “You never mentioned this before, Yama.”

            “No.  At the time I had to learn to let go, and then I had to find myself.  If it hadn’t been for Gabumon, I may never have done that, or accepted that even if Takeru was growing up and able to take care of himself, I was still his big brother and always would be.”  I shrugged at Taichi’s surprised expression.  “That was a large part of the reason I disappeared for a while after the whole Cherrymon incident.”  I winced, remembering how I’d actually thought fighting Taichi was the right thing to do.  I didn’t tell Taichi about how jealous I’d been of his relationship with Takeru, or of how inadequate I felt as a brother and friend.  Those…were two dirty little secrets I would hoard until my dying breath and beyond.  Besides, I no longer felt that way so there was no point rehashing the past.

            “I had no idea, Yama.  At the time, all I knew was you had stuff to figure out, so I let you go believing you’d come back when you’d worked things out for yourself.”  His warm mahogany eyes met mine and held with pure, blind trust and faith, something that never failed to humble and awe me to pieces with that knowledge.  “And you did.  When I needed you most, during that battle with Piedmon, you came back.”

            I swallowed hard, emotion choking me up.  I don’t think I’d ever forget that moment, nor would I forget the numb panic that had crashed into me when I’d seen him lying there bruised and beaten up – War Greymon in no better condition – but still trying to get up and keep fighting to the bitter end.  Any lingering doubts over his leadership or our fragile friendship were instantly extinguished then.  He had my undying loyalty, respect, and friendship the moment I dropped to my knees next to him and pulled him into my lap and arms carefully, vowing that nothing would ever come between us again.  His belief in me is what turned my life around, allowed me to be me without regret, and gave me the confidence to really live my life rather than just exist in it.

            How do you tell someone that?  How do you ever express the magnitude of the effect someone has on your life?  I wasn’t sure I ever could find the words to tell him, no matter how much I wanted to.  Had we been at home, I just might have crawled into his lap and clung like a monkey, tough-guy image or not.  I wouldn’t care.  After all…it was Taichi.  But we were in a crowded pizzeria and he was suffering all kinds of stress and trauma and thus didn’t need me emoting all over him like a female (no offense to girls but we guys just don’t do emotional freely like they do).

            So instead, I pulled together a shaky smirk and made a smart-assed Ishida Yamato comment.

            “You know me, Taichi.  I’m an attention whore and I love to make an entrance.”

            Taichi’s grin was a little wobbly around the edges, and I knew he remembered much of that as I had, and that it had a similar significance and weight on his emotions.  “That’s my Yama; your ego is only second to your humility.”  He rolled his eyes and I laughed, completely not offended.

            Wait…’his Yama?’  I felt my heart leap at the automatic associations that phrase ignited in my psyche and quickly slapped it down mentally.  He couldn’t have meant it that way, after all.  No way.  I hid behind my soda glass, finishing it off.  Thank the gods Taichi didn’t seem to notice.

            The waitress appeared briefly with our pizza, whisking away my glass to get me a refill, and Taichi and I fell into a companionable silence – due to the stuffing of our faces with gooey, cheesy pizza more than a lack of conversation topics.

            Feeling much more content with the world now that I was full, I made a soft sighing sound and waited patiently for Taichi to finish off his last slice.  He snickered at me and shook his head.

            “What?”

            “Nothing.  You make interesting noises when you’re happy.”

            “Hmph.”  I huffed and crossed my arms over my chest.  “Are you done?”  I hoped that the heat crawling up my neck wasn’t that visible.

            He stuffed the last bit of pizza in his mouth and proceeded to lick the cheese and tomato sauce off his fingers.  “Mmm hmm.”  Taichi answered – though I barely heard him.  I was busy being distracted by the show he made cleaning his fingers.  Then he suddenly stopped, his index finger still in his mouth.  I didn’t really pay attention to that, hypnotized, which was why I missed the blinking, the confused stare, and the, “Matt?” he questioned me with.

            “Ya-ma-to…” Snap.  Fingers snapped in my face and I jerked back.

            “Ack!”

            “Why were you staring off into space?”  Taichi demanded.  “No – scratch that.  Why were you staring at me?”

            Oh shit.  Busted.

            Thinking quickly, I opened my mouth to reply, but was saved by our diligent waitress, who collected our dirty dishes and left us with the bill.  Grabbing it before Taichi could, I slid out of my chair and motioned for him to follow.  “Let’s go, Tai.  We’ll grab those groceries and head home.”

            I paused long enough to pay the bill at the till on the way out, but Taichi wasn’t letting me go that easily – much to my consternation.

            “You haven’t answered me yet, Matt.  In fact, you’ve been doing that a lot lately.”  I scowled internally.  Double damn!  I’d thought he hadn’t noticed!  I should know better.  “You’re getting good at avoiding answering or changing the subject.”  He stuffed his hands in the pockets of the track jacket that matched the pants, giving me a not-so-subtle side-glance that warned me not to mess around with him anymore.  “And I’m beginning to suspect that I was right to not believe you about that ‘teenage angst’ line you tried to pull on me last night.  So ‘fess up!”

            “Tai…” I stalled, stopping in front of the supermarket and staring up at the sky, though it was hidden from clear view by the light pollution of the city.  “It’s nothing, alright?  I’m a teenage boy still growing and trying to find the person I am as an adult.  Hormones and emotions do weird things.  You can’t say they haven’t affected you, too.”

            “That would just be hypocritical, duh.”  He stood in front of me with folded arms and feet planted.  Taichi really wasn’t going to budge until I came clean enough to satisfy him.  “Fine.  So you’re having a mid-puberty crisis.  That isn’t all, Yamato, and you can’t fool me into believing otherwise.”

            Why, oh why, would he not just leave it be?  Because it’s Taichi, and he always pushes when he thinks I need to talk and be psychoanalyzed.  Which doesn’t mean I have to like it, of course.  “Look,” I responded, my temper beginning to fray.  I shoved a finger in his face.  “Maybe I don’t feel like talking about it – like you didn’t last night about the mysterious love of your life?”  My gaze turned frosty in my anger and there was the green monster again, knocking the angel off my shoulder to take its place.  As usual, I somehow manage to speak before I think and eat both feet whole. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe I have feelings of my own to work out before I want to discuss them?  I don’t need you and your amateur psychology attempts right now, Yagami, so back off!”

            Taichi’s eyes narrowed, warm brown eyes flashing into a burnt chocolate hue, his temper beginning to show through.  He swatted my hand negligently out of his face and took a step up to me, moving into my personal space to stand nose-to-nose with me.  “As you’re so very fond of telling me, Ishida, I can’t help you or know these things if you don’t tell me about it. How the hell am I supposed to know you’re confused about how you feel about…whoever?”  I saw a brief flash of something like pain in his eyes before it was gone, making me doubt if I’d seen it.  You’ve never mentioned an interest in someone since Sora, so don’t expect me to be a fucking mind reader!”

            Letting out a growl that usually preludes a fist in his direction, my hands clenched tightly.  Before anything further could be said or done, however, the argument was fatefully interrupted.

            “Taichi?  Matt?  What are you two fighting about now?  And outside a store no less?”  Joe’s voice cut through the heavy tension between us and we simultaneously turned our heads to glare at him for the interruption.  He threw his hands up, waving them defensively, and nervously continued.  “Hey!  Don’t let me stop you!  I’m just curious, that’s all.”

            Just like that, the anger drained away and I took a step back from Taichi.  Maybe I wasn’t mad anymore, but I was still annoyed – and distressed that I’d come close to losing my temper enough to have blurted out things I wasn’t prepared to deal with yet should Taichi learn of them.  Leave it to Joe to diffuse a situation without even realizing it.  There were many, many reasons why he is the Child of Reliability (or Faith, as some call it), and his concern for others was just one of them.

            “Hey, Joe.”  Taichi ran a hand through his hair and shrugged, trying to shake it off, I guess.  “It was nothing.”  He glanced at me and I blinked back at him.

            “Yeah.  Just one of our usual spats.”  I added, silently agreeing with Taichi that Joe really didn’t need to know – and lying through my teeth because it would not qualify as one of our ‘usual spats’ in reality.

            Joe didn’t seem to be buying it, but at least he wasn’t going to push.  “Well, whatever it is, keep the damage to a minimum.  I’m out of gauze and band-aids.”  He joked, and I had to smile a little.  Taichi, too.

            “Hey, if we didn’t beat up on each other on occasion, you wouldn’t have practice patients, would you, Dr. Kido?”  Taichi teased, tossing an arm around his shoulders and nearly knocking the poor guy off his feet.  Fixing his glasses, Joe shrugged.

            “Honestly?  I’d prefer that.”  He looked at me.  “Speaking of, how’re you feeling, Matt?  Any relapses?”

            I blinked.  “Nope.  I’m healthy as a Unimon.”  I tilted my head at him curiously.  “What are you doing out here, anyway?”

            “Oh!  I needed some snacks, and didn’t want to bother my Mom.  I’ve been studying for a big neuron-chemistry exam next week and I got the munchies.”  He smiled like it was an everyday thing – which in his case it was – and held up the grocery bag full of his purchases.  “I was leaving when I heard you two arguing.”

            “Hmm…” Taichi tried to grab the bag to inspect its contents but Joe knew him too well and kept it out of reach.  “Aww…nothing in there for me?  Share, Joe!”

            “Not this time.”  Joe refused sternly.  “Go buy your own!”  I laughed and grabbed my best friend by the arm, pulling him toward the door.

            “Come on, bottomless pit.  We need groceries anyway.”  I waved at Joe.  “Talk to you later, Joe!”

            He waved back, shaking his head at us while Taichi pouted cutely at being denied snacks.  I let go of him inside the store and picked up a shopping basket.  Pulling out my list, I sighed and prepared to go hunting down the items on it.  I hate grocery shopping – it’s the only kind of shopping I dislike.  “We might as well start over there in the produce area and work our way through the rest of the stone.”  I said absently.  “Let’s go, Taichi.”

            He walked alongside me, silent.  I guess he was still put out with me.  I felt a little bad for it, but I couldn’t tell him the truth.  I just…couldn’t.

            I was trying to decide which brand of rice I wanted when I heard a sigh come from him.  Glancing at him, I picked up one large bag of rice and deposited it into his arms.  “Bored?  We’re almost done.”  I moved on to find the next items – all in the meat section.

            “No.  I’m sorry, Yama.”  Taichi shifted the rice to be easier to carry.  “I shouldn’t have provoked you like that.  I hate fighting with you.”

            I closed my eyes briefly and blew out a breath.  “I don’t like it much either, Tai.”  I answered, opening my eyes again and looking at him solemnly.  “And I’m sorry too.  I shouldn’t have lost my temper so easily like that, and I said stuff I deserve to be punched for.”  I looked away and kept walking, wanting to get this shopping done with and go home.  “Let’s just forget it.”

            “I won’t ask about it again.”  Taichi promised.  “But just promise me that when you’re ready, you’ll talk to me about it?”  I nodded.  He’d done the same for me, after all.  I couldn’t say no.  “And one last thing?”

            “What?”

            “Boy or girl?”

            I nearly tripped ungracefully over my own feet, blushing to the roots of my hair.  “Taichi!”  I protested lamely, knowing that I had to answer that, too.  He laughed at my embarrassment, the brat.

            “Come on, Yama!  Spill it!”  He grinned cheekily at me.  “You know mine so it’s only fair that you share yours!”

            “Guy.”  I scowled, never even considering lying about that, too. I could feel my ears heating up at the interested expression on his face.  “Now drop it, Taichi.”

            “Okay, okay!”  Still grinning, though muted somewhat now, he ambled along companionably.  “Can I ask you something though?”  He hastily amended that question before I could snarl something unfriendly at him.  “Not about the person, just…in general?”

            Wary, I eyed him from the side and leaned over the meat counter to pick some fish that I’d make sushi with.  “You can ask but don’t expect me to answer if I don’t want to.”

            “Of course not.”  He agreed readily.  “Do you really think the whole homosexuality and bisexuality things really exist? I mean, is it possible for a guy or a girl to fall in love with another guy or girl even though they’d always believed themselves to be ‘straight’?”

            “I’m not sure I get what you’re asking.”  I frowned thoughtfully.  “That’s it for my list.  Anything else?”

            “Not that I can think of.”  Taichi followed me to the check-out to pay for everything.  “I mean…there are guys out there who wouldn’t touch a girl with a ten-foot pole, I know.  Same for some girls with guys.  But…hormones and procreation aside,” he set the rice on the conveyer belt and helped me empty the basket.  “If a guy who would normally be straight suddenly fell for another guy, does that make him gay?  Or bi?  Or does it just mean he fell for another guy?”

            I gave him an odd look – so did the cashier, though for much different reasons, I’m sure.  “Where did this streak of philosophizing come from?”  I wondered, digging out my wallet.  “You’re not worried about what the others might think of you, are you?  Because hello?  Ken and Daisuke?”

            He rolled his eyes at me.  “No, nothing like that.  I’m just wondering where all the negativity and stuff that society seems to hoard against homosexuality and bi-sexuality comes from and why it even matters.”

            I shrugged.  “No clue.  It’s not as bad as it used to be.  Besides, some cultures are less tolerant or understanding than others.”  I smirked.  “It isn’t going to stop people from doing it.  The heart wants what it wants, no matter what ‘society’ decides is right or wrong.”  I paid the cashier, smiling engagingly with Ishida Yamato charm at the wide-eyed girl as I accepted my change.  “Thanks.  Let’s go home.  There should be a good movie on TV tonight.”

            “On a Friday?  I suppose so.”  Taichi hurried after me.  “So you don’t think it would make him gay?  Or bi?”

            “Nope.  I think it’s just that they truly love each other enough to forsake all others.  And I mean all.  There’s nothing wrong with that is there?”  I nudged him with an elbow, since my hands were occupied with shopping bags.  “Besides, is it really going to matter, in the end?”

            “I guess not.”  Taichi agreed.

            “Are you worried about what other people might think?”  I asked again.  “Because I honestly think that the people you care about aren’t going to care.”

            “Family and friends, no.  But…my teammates, my coach, my teachers…” Taichi shrugged, jostling his own burden of the rice bag and another shopping bag.  “Future employers…It sort of hit me that there will be other obstacles in my life that are going to arise out of that irrational bias against those kinds of sexuality.  And I don’t know how to be prepared for it.”

            I nodded, considering that.  In my own case, I knew my band wouldn’t care – as long as I could still sing and play music, I could fall wildly in love with an alien for all they cared.  But…studios and venues and recording labels might have issues.  Some of my fans would care very much.  I guess I understood where Taichi was coming from on this.

            “Tai…maybe we can’t be ready.  We don’t know what the future really holds.  We just live as best we can and try to do so to be as happy as we can.  There will be roadblocks but they aren’t so difficult that they can’t be overcome.  We’re not alone, either.  We have support from the people who count most and we know it.”  I finally pointed out.  We were approaching my building by now, and I was looking forward to the easy evening.  “So…when such an issue should come up, we’ll deal with it somehow.  Together.”

            An expression of peaceful relief spread over his face, so I must have said something right that assured him somehow.  “I’d glomp you, Yama, but I might hurt the food.”

            I snickered at that.  Same old Taichi, his stomach not far from any thought or action.  “We’ll pretend you did.”

~~~~~~~~

            We spent the evening quietly, and went to bed after the last, late-night movie had finished on TV.

            The return to classes and the daily routine that came with school arrived all too quickly.  Taichi decided to call his father at work to arrange a meeting at my place –  thereby avoiding his mother and any interference on her part, as well as being on his own ground with the support of Hikari and myself. It was probably one of the hardest phone calls he’d ever have to make, and he clutched my hand the entire five minute conversation.  It went fairly well, however.  His dad was surprisingly quite reasonable about it, and they agreed to meet on Saturday afternoon.

            The week leading up to that day was understandably nerve-wracking for Taichi.  His short-fused temper was more easily ignited than normal, but it never lasted long before he was apologizing to whoever was on the receiving end until he was blue in the face.

            My own father came home on the Tuesday of that week.  Taichi wasn’t home yet from his soccer practice, and I was in my room thumbing out a melody on my guitar to go with the lyrics I was working on.

            “Matt?  Hey, son!”  Dad popped his head around the door to my room and I looked up.

            “Oh!  Hey, Dad!  You’re home?”  I set aside my guitar and turned off my amp.  “Come on in.”

            “Thanks.”  He opened the door all the way and came in, taking a seat at my desk.  “Yeah.  I’m back for a few days at least.  There’s a broadcasting conference in Osaka I’ll have to go to next week, but hopefully they won’t send me out on any assignments until then.”

            I nodded.  “Yeah.”  I paused, glancing at Taichi’s corner of the room where he’d stashed his things temporarily.  “Listen, Dad, some things came up while you were away.  Taichi needed a place to stay so I offered to let him stay here for a while.  I hope you don’t mind.”

            Dad frowned in concern and regarded me curiously.  “Of course not, Matt.  Taichi or any of your friends are always welcome here.  What happened?”

            “Well, he’s been having problems with his mother lately, and it got to the point that he was ready to explode.  He needed to move out for his own sanity – Hikari, too.  She’s staying at Sora’s until Taichi works things out.”  I ran a hand through my hair and sighed.  “I don’t know how much he wants me to tell you, Dad, but….just know it was that bad.”

            Dad nodded slowly, absorbing that.  “Alright.  I can respect that.  He can tell me as much as he wants me to know Matt.  If he needs me to do anything, I don’t mind that either.”

            I smiled.  “Thanks, Dad.  I know it’ll make him feel better to know that.  Oh!”  I added after a moment.  “Takeru wants to come spend time with you soon, if possible.  You should give him a call sometime.”

            Dad smiled back and nodded, going to the door.  “Will do.  Does Mexican sound good to you for supper?  I’ll order out and have it delivered.”

            “Sure.”  I followed him out to the kitchen to look over take-away menus with him.

            Taichi came home not long after, gym bag in one hand and school bag tossed over his other shoulder.  He paused in the hall outside the kitchen when he noticed us – still pouring over menus.

            “Oh!  Hey, Mr. Ishida.”  He greeted my father, who raised a hand in greeting and beckoned him over.

            “Taichi!  You’re just in time to help us pick out supper.  Put your stuff down and come here to look at these menus.”

            “Yes sir.  One minute.”  Taichi headed down the hall to our room and I left Dad for a bit, wanting to talk to my best friend quickly.

            “Hey.  How was practice?”  I asked, watching him dump out his dirty laundry from his gym bag and throw it into the laundry basket for later.

            “Lame.  All we did was run drills.”  Taichi snorted, tugging off his jacket and emptying the pockets before tossing that in the laundry, too.  “When did your Dad get back?”

            “Not long ago.”  I shrugged.  “I was playing with my headphones on so I didn’t hear him come home.”

            “Ah.”

            “I told him you needed a place to stay, and that you were having problems with your mom, but nothing else.”  I informed him quietly.  “I didn’t know how much else to tell him.”

            Taichi sighed and flopped backward onto my bed to stare at the ceiling.  “Thanks, Yama.  I appreciate it.  Does he mind me crashing here?”

            “Nope.  He’ll probably tell you himself later, but he said you’re as welcome as Takeru or any of the others, anytime for however long you need, and if you need him for anything he’s willing to help.”

            “Your dad’s a great guy, Yama.  You’re lucky.”  Taichi sat up, giving me a wry smile.  “I’m glad you guys have such a great relationship.”

            I reached out and ruffled his bushy hair affectionately.  “You’re practically another son to him, you know.”

            He swatted me away.  “Cut that out!  Yeah.  So you’ve said.”

            “Come on.  We’re picking out Mexican for supper.”  I grabbed his hand and yanked him up and off the bed.

            “Mmm…great!  I’m starved!”

~~~~~~~~

Relevant Episodes:   Season 01, episodes 44-45.

NEXT CHAPTER:  https://kalichaos.wordpress.com/digimon-0102/fortuna/chapter-07/

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