Kali Notes: Wow, so I noticed a couple of things that I need to correct after reading through past chapters to check for inconsistencies… First, I believe I accidently stated that Daisuke was going to be staying over at Ken’s in a previous chapter – when, in fact, I’d already had them moved out of their homes and living together. Oops. I mean for them to be living together. My bad. Second, I realized that I went and forgot that there is an age difference among the Bearers (not including Hikari and Takeru). For the purposes of this fic (and so I don’t have to go back and re-write a whole lot of the fic…), let’s all just pretend that Taichi, Yamato, Sora, Mimi, and Izzy are all the same age, in the same grade in school. Joe, obviously, is a year older than all of them (which is what he’s supposed to be anyhow). And lastly, as it was once pointed out to me, there is no “spring break” in Japan. The closest thing is called “Golden Week.” I knew this, but I didn’t explain why I used spring break instead, so I’ll do that now; I use it because the majority of people would probably recognize a holiday such as spring break unless they are up on their Japanese culture facts. It’s just a way to cater to the readers a bit so they’re not totally lost. These two holidays usually occur about the same time of year, so it works out. Anyway, those are the biggies I noticed, and figured I’d mention. Thanks for reading, everyone! I promise things are going to start coming together a lot faster…so you’ll just have to keep reading to find out how! XD Enjoy!
I apparently cried myself into a stupor. When I finally resurfaced, I had no idea how long I’d slept. My alarm clock said it was nearly noon, but I wasn’t sure if it was the day after or even later.
My eyes were sore and tired, not to mention gritty with both dried tears and sleep. My whole body felt heavy and tired. I had no energy at all. As much as I would have liked to stay in bed and pretend I didn’t exist, I knew I had to get up and go out there to face Taichi – who probably had himself worked up into a real state of self-flagellation. I also knew if I didn’t, I was going to end up back where I’d been before I met Taichi and the others…
On the road to depression, if not already there.
Literally rolling out of bed, my limbs refused to move any way but lethargically. Grabbing a pair of sweatpants and a clean shirt, I stumbled to my door and yanked it open. Then I stumbled across the hall to the bathroom, intent on a long, hot shower.
I heard a hesitant, startled, “Yama?” just before I slammed the door shut. I winced as the percussion of that echoed in my already aching head.
Emerging half an hour later, I still felt like crap, but I did feel somewhat more human. A little less apathetic, a little more fortified, and squeaky clean. I headed for the kitchen and my coffee machine, needing the java infusion desperately.
But as I turned the corner, I came to an abrupt halt at the sight of the feast an apologetic, repentant Taichi had put together, ostensibly as a peace offering (re: bribe). Looking up from the counter and it’s bounty, I found a downcast Child of Courage watching me with trepidation.
Guilt threatened to eat me alive. Here was Taichi thinking it was all his fault and that I was so mad that I probably hated him, all because I’m too chicken-shit to tell him the truth. Yet, like the Chosen he is, he still finds the courage to try and apologize, to make things right between us. Oh…shit. And here I go again…
Tears spilled over and I opened my arms. In a flash he was around the counter and we were wrapped around each other like the lovers we still were not. We held on, stroked, rubbed, and generally cried all over one another until we could do nothing else but cling and shudder and hold each other up.
I was seriously getting tired of this plethora of emoting that had been occurring all to often with either of us lately. We didn’t normally cry like this seemingly all the damn time!
“I’m sorry, sorry, sorry…” I whimpered pathetically, unwilling to let him feel bad about it. This was my problem, not his, and making him feel unwanted and responsible was unacceptable to me, the supposed Child of Friendship.
I ought to be fired! I suck!
“No, Yama! Don’t be sorry! It’s me who’s…” Taichi stopped when I covered his mouth with my hand, shaking my head emphatically.
“Don’t, Tai. You were right. I haven’t let you be the best friend you are to me. I’m sorry, truly sorry, for that. And for getting all defensive and…bitchy.” Ohhh, that one hurt and made me wince. I’ve been accused of PMS before, but as the testosterone-filled male that I am, I’ve denied it vehemently. With fists, on rare occasions.
Taichi handed me a tissue and grabbed one for himself from the box near the phone on the counter. I blew my nose and wiped at my face. Then I went to throw it in the garbage. When I came back, the brunette was loading up a plate of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and these weird sausage-looking things I hadn’t even known were in our freezer. He handed it to me and gave me a hopeful grin. I accepted it and sighed.
“You had every right to get mad, Yama. I hate that you’ve been going through that alone. I guess I should have made more effort to get you to talk to me.” He mused sadly. I played with the eggs on my plate with my fork.
“Why don’t we just agree that we both suck royally, we’re both sorry, and move on?” I suggested. The sooner we put this behind us, the better.
“Yeah. I can get behind that idea.” Taichi agreed eagerly. I gestured at all the food.
“You are going to help me eat all this, right?” I asked. Taichi, though he rarely does, can cook. His meal specialty is breakfast, so when he does cook anything that’s usually what we get.
He took the hint and happily stacked another plateful for himself, joining me at the counter to eat.
Maybe the situation wasn’t ideal – my vision of it, anyway – but I still had my best friend, and in the end, that’s what I wanted. No matter what.
The end of high school had yet to really sink in for me. Our final grades and class standings were to be posted in less than a week, and that weekend was the official graduation ceremony. I knew that I would have until then to wallow in a fleeting moment of pure freedom, but after that I would have to buckle down and decide what direction I wanted to take my future.
All I knew for certain was that I wanted to go to university, and that I wanted to keep my career in the realm of music. Now I also knew that the band and I were going to continue playing gigs and various venues in the hopes of getting ‘discovered’ by a major label because we’d talked about it and that’s what we agreed on. But I wasn’t sure how that was going to work, depending upon whether we all stayed here or if we went our separate ways to different universities.
On my desk was a stack of envelopes and various entrance applications to most of the major post-secondary institutions in Japan. Taichi had a similar stack on his desk. Neither of us was looking forward to the time and effort we’d eventually be spending on filling out all those forms – and the resulting wait for responses after we’d sent them all in. Perhaps the most nerve-wracking application was the one for Tokyo University, though. Neither Taichi nor I were very confident in being accepted, since it’s so prestigious and difficult to get into. Taichi more so than I, because his grades were lower than mine and he still hadn’t heard if he’d won any of the soccer scholarships he’d either applied for or been nominated for by his coaches and others involved in the sport.
Yagami Taichi was the other reason I had my reservations about university. We’d been together in school for so long now that I’d forgotten that there was a very real possibility that we’d be going to separate institutions. I wasn’t sure how I’d handle that distance. But of course I’d never say anything because I wanted him to go wherever he wanted to, where he could play soccer and be the star I know he is. I wanted him to be happy.
My dad finally came home from his business trip to Kyoto a couple days after my spectacular emotional breakdown. By then, thankfully, things between Taichi and I had settled back into a similar condition to what it had been before Dad left so he didn’t notice anything had ever been amiss.
It was late Saturday afternoon when he arrived, looking disheveled from travelling and a little work-weary.
“Hey, Dad. Welcome home.” I greeted him, taking his bags from him and carrying them to his bedroom.
“Matt! Thanks, son. It’s good to be back.” Dad gave me a tired smile and got out of his shoes and jacket.
“Hey, Mr. Ishida!” Taichi poked his head out from his room when he heard us in the hall. “How was the trip?”
“Annoying, but things went well.” Dad huffed. My best friend followed us out to the living room where Dad dropped wearily onto the sofa with a deep sigh of relief. “Actually, I have some news.”
“Oh?” Curious, I held up a hand. “Wait. I’ll be right back.” I slipped into the kitchen to grab us each a can of soda from the fridge then returned to the living room, passing out the cans. “Okay. So what’s the word?” I sat down next to Taichi on the arm of the big, comfy sofa-chair.
“Well,” Dad began, “ I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but our network has been in negotiations with a smaller one in Kyoto recently. We’re going to be buying it out and taking over.”
“Wow.” Taichi exclaimed with wide eyes.
I raised an eyebrow. “Is that a good thing?” He didn’t sound like it was a good thing.
“It’s supposed to be, business-wise, and ratings-wise, since there will be a wider and more populous audience, as well as the advertising and sponsors from Kyoto and surrounding area. I’ve been of the opinion that it’s being done too soon and too quickly, but my vote doesn’t speak as loudly as others.” He paused and took a healthy swig of soda. “Still, things won’t be changing much around the studios here in Tokyo.”
“So that’s why you’ve been sent back and forth from here to Kyoto so many times lately?” Taichi assumed. Dad nodded.
“Yep. But that’s not my news.”
I frowned at his stressed expression. “Dad? What’s up?”
“I’ve been offered a position in Kyoto at the new offices. It’s a pretty huge promotion, really.” Dad told us. My eyes went wide.
“That’s great, Dad! Isn’t it? You’ve wanted a promotion for a long time now.” I said, not sure why he didn’t seem very excited or happy about it.
“A promotion, yes. But I never expected one that came with so many other issues, and I’m not talking about the changes in everyday work stuff.” Dad gave me a faint smile. “It’s in Kyoto, Matt. I’d have to move. I’d have to find a place to live, pack up, move everything…”
I blinked, then blinked again. “Oh. Right.” I’d overlooked that part. “When do you have to decide?”
“Soon. I have a month. My bosses want me in place when we officially take over at the beginning of June.” Dad downed the last of his soda and sat playing with the tab on top of the empty can. “What I need to know is what your plans are. The both of you.”
I looked down at Taichi and he looked up at me. We blinked at each other for a moment, then shrugged simultaneously.
“We both want to go to university, Mr. Ishida.” Taichi said slowly. “Grad is next week, and we have most of the forms we need from the schools we decided on to apply to…”
“We’re just waiting on our official grades and all that.” I added. “Then we have to wait for responses once we’ve sent in the applications.”
“Ah. Where were you boys planning on applying?”
“Well, I’ll probably go to one of the major universities or colleges because they’re the ones with the soccer teams…” Taichi pondered the idea aloud. “I have forms for Tokyo University and a few others. I doubt I’ll make Tokyo U, though.”
“Ditto.” I said. “On all counts but the soccer team thing. I was thinking of teaching music…or something.”
“I see. I figured it would be too soon and too difficult for you boys to say definitively where you were headed.” Dad shook his head at himself. “I tried explaining that to the higher-ups. I guess I’ll have to turn down the promotion.”
My eyes went huge at that. “What? Dad, you can’t give up an opportunity like this!”
“Matt’s right, Mr. Ishida.” Taichi agreed with me.
‘But until you both know where you’re going, it makes no sense for you to move, and then have to possibly move again.” Dad pointed out. “And I doubt that you, Taichi, particularly want to become more transient than you already must feel.”
Taichi blinked at him, scratched an ear absently, and shrugged.
“We could stay here for the month, Dad.” I said slowly, thinking this through. “Rent’s been paid for this month, right? And by next month, I’ll have enough to cover another month’s rent and bills.”
Taichi glanced at me. “Yeah? How?”
“I have two major gigs coming up, plus a few smaller ones. And I should be getting a royalty cheque any day now from the sale of our last album.” I informed him archly. He seems to have forgotten I’m a musician, poplar enough to be making some money off it. Even if it’s not that much…
Dad raised an eyebrow at me. “You’re saying you’ll stay here until you’ve figured out your next educational step, while I move to Kyoto?”
“Yep.” I frowned at the skeptical expression on his face. “Hey, I’m not a child, Dad. I’m capable of taking care of myself and living on my own, you know. I do it frequently – all the time.”
“I’ve never had to, until recently, but I’m learning how.” Taichi gave a small smile. “Matt’s a good teacher.”
Surprised, I blushed and studied my feet. Gee, was that a hole developing in my sock? Glancing up, I caught my father studying me intently. Then his eyes shifted to Taichi, his lips pursed thoughtfully, and then back to me with a curious frown. I really wished I knew what was going on in his head, but before long dad was sighing and smiling at us both.
“Well, you’re both certainly old enough to make this kind of decision for yourself, and I know you’re totally capable, independent young men, so if you’re sure that’s what you want to do for now, then…alright.”
I lifted my head, a little surprised, but exchanged a look with Taichi. “Really?” I asked.
Dad laughed. “Yes, Yamato. Really. It really is the easiest, most convenient solution for the moment – for all of us.”
I blinked, smiled, and could only say, “Cool!”
The next day, Dad went into work and accepted the promotion. When he got home that evening, at a reasonable hour for once in a very long time, we made plans to take a trip to Kyoto with him after graduation, in order to help him find and choose a new apartment. He already had a list of buildings with vacancies that the station had ties to or where other employees from the Kyoto station already lived, which made things a little bit easier.
My short bit of freedom was now shot all to hell, so I buckled down one day and proceeded to fill out the stack of forms and applications on my desk. At least this way they would be all ready to mail off when I got my official grades in a couple of days.
Taichi filled out all of his, too, but he did it over a three-day period rather than all at once as I did. Mostly this was due to his sense of procrastination – he always managed to find other things to do – rather than a conscious decision or plan. He’d either be out playing soccer with Daisuke and Ken, or out with Hikari, or some combination of those. Oh, and the one day there was a huge soccer tournament on TV that he wanted to watch.
Once my paperwork was done, I did have a lot of free time on my hands. I hung out with Takeru one afternoon, did laundry and cleaned house another, had three practice sessions with the band and two minor gigs in that week (pre-grad), and generally lazed about working on songs or just watching TV or reading.
The morning of the grad ceremony was a tad frantic and chaotic – not to mention nerve-wracking. And it was all a little surreal because we were leaving behind a huge portion of our lives to go onto something else.
I woke to Taichi’s annoying, sing-song tone of voice calling my name from my bedroom door.
“Ya~ma~to…wakey, wakey! Yama…time to get up!”
Still mostly asleep, I snarled something unintelligible, yanked the covers up over my head, and snuggled into my nice, warm cocoon. I was drifting back to sleep, curled around my pillow, when Taichi yanked the covers off me and sang, “Yama-chan! Rise and shine! You’ll be late for the ceremony!”
Now, I tolerate a lot of things from my best friend, including his penchant for calling me silly nicknames on occasion. However, I don’t tolerate much when I’m not awake yet, and even when I am alert and aware…I despise the addition of ‘-chan’ to my name. Especially when it comes from Taichi.
My pillow was a lethal weapon before I’d even opened my eyes. I swung it in the general direction of Taichi’s voice with all my strength and was gratified to hear a THWUMP! followed by a surprised squawk and pained oomph! as Taichi was knocked to the floor.
I sat up, on the edge of my bed, and blearily glared at the brunette sprawled on my floor rubbing at his head and grinning unapologetically up at me.
“Good morning, Yama!” He greeted me cheerfully. “Sleep well?”
“I was until I was rudely interrupted.” I growled, wiping at my eyes, with a sleep-heavy, raspy voice. I eyed him, noting he still had his pajamas on, so he hadn’t been up long. I could also see that he was about to start bouncing off the walls. “You’re awfully wound up. What’d you do? Drink an entire pot of coffee before waking me up?”
“No,” he gave me a look, ‘I’m just excited. We’re graduating today, Yama!”
I sighed and fell backward to flop on my bed. “I know, Taichi.”
“Aren’t you a little excited?” Taichi asked, sounding a bit disappointed that I wasn’t as pumped as he was.
“Not really. I already knew I would, and today is just a bunch of formality and pomp that I could really do without.” I replied, staring at the ceiling.
“Hmph.” I heard him huff and his feet slap against my floorboards as he headed for the door. “Well don’t ruin it for the rest of us today, Mr. Gloom. And you’d better get up and start getting ready, Yama. We have to be there an hour early.”
My door slammed behind him and I groaned. I had a feeling this was going to be a lo-ong day.
The ceremony was better than I expected. The speakers kept their speeches short, leaving the remainder of the time for us graduates to troop – one-by-one – across the stage to shake hands with the teachers and the principal, and to accept that little piece of paper that officially declares us graduated from secondary school.
I did feel a great deal of pride in my friends as each of us made the walk. Izzy was sitting closest to me among the large crowd of graduates, but I still managed to watch him accept his diploma.
In the audience of family, friends, and other interested people also attending the ceremony were our younger Digidestined friends, Joe, and our families. Takeru was with my parents (a very rare occurrence for us), Hikari was with her father and her grandparents (who had come in from the country to see their grandson graduate), and with them sat the other younger kids. Sora’s, Izzy’s, and Mimi’s parents sat behind mine and Taichi’s contingent with Joe.
Taichi looked great as he accepted his diploma. He looked almost scholarly – if you didn’t know who he was and that under his robes was one hell of an athletically built body. Indulging in some Taichi-ogling killed the remainder of the ceremony quicker for me, at least.
Once they released everyone from all the official stuff, I met up with Taichi, Sora, Izzy, and Mimi and we went looking for everyone else. When we finally found the crowd of our family and friends, we found ourselves the subject of about a million pictures – individually and in various groups. Hikari took all the ‘professional’ ones, though. You know…the kind you frame for the mantle, send to distant relatives, and hang on the wall. Our little Child of Light was a real talent with a camera (which, when I think of it, makes a lot of sense…).
As the afternoon wore on, we made plans to meet up at a restaurant for supper later on that evening. We would have done a pot-luck picnic but the sky was growing steadily darker. Our luck was it would probably rain on us.
By the end of the day – late as it was – I was totally exhausted. Being around so many people all day long was draining.
I was in my room sometime near midnight, getting ready for bed, when Taichi came into the room. I paused in pulling my shirt off over my head and tilted my head at him.
“Hey. Um…mind if I sit with you for a while, Yama?” He was staring at his feet – bare – and was already dressed in his pajamas.
“Sure.” Frowning in concern, I quickly changed my clothes. “What’s up, pal?” I asked, turning on my lamp when he shut off the overhead lights. I sat on my bed and slid backward so my back was propped up by the wall and patted the mattress beside me.
Taichi joined me, sitting close enough to me that our shoulders brushed whenever either of us moved. He heaved a harsh sigh and drew his knees up to his chest.
“It’s strange.” He finally answered me after another moment of silence. Instead of saying anything, I waited patiently for him to continue. Taichi leaned his head against the wall, staring up at nothing. “I was all excited today, glad to have finally graduated, happy to be sharing the moment with my friends and my family…and I was proud of myself. I felt like I really accomplished something. But it wasn’t…something. I don’t know what, just that something was missing.
“Dad was great. He was really proud of me, and of course Kari and my grandparents were, too. And I didn’t think that…” he stopped, hands clenching into fists with emotion visibly. “I’m still so mad at her, don’t really care about her opinion of me one way or another, and yet…”
“You do. Because she’s still your mother, and you wanted her to be proud of you, too.” I finished softly, sadly. I should have realized this was going to pop up. I couldn’t really do much else but be here with my hurting best friend, so that’s what I did.
I slipped an arm around his shoulders and drew him up against me. He let me, cuddling into my side willingly.
“I’m sorry, Taichi.” I offered quietly. He nodded, letting his head rest on my shoulder.
“Me, too, Yama.”
The next day Takeru arrived on our doorstep bright and early, and (along with Taichi) we rode the train to Kyoto with Dad for our apartment hunting trip.
I’ll never understand the reasons why the standards for the quality of housing can differ so much within a relatively short distance. Most places we looked at were fine. Decent. But there were a few that were little more than slums – right next door to some of the nicer apartments I’d ever seen, ironically.
Dad finally picked one, even though I felt it was a little on the small side (it wasn’t the same size as our current apartment). Once that was over with, and Dad had signed all the papers and handed over his damage deposit, we decided to use the time we had left, before we had to catch the train back to Tokyo, to tour Kyoto and see the sights.
There were a lot of high points to Kyoto. I decided that as my second choice to Tokyo University, if I didn’t make the cut with them, then Kyoto would do just fine. Taichi seemed pretty taken with the scenery, too, and I suspected he wouldn’t find Kyoto such a hardship, either.
The following week was spent packing Dad up (he took all of his bedroom furniture as well as his personal stuff, leaving Taichi and I with everything else), mailing off my university applications, and helping Dad move all his stuff to Kyoto – for which he rented a small moving van.
It was late evening the day we helped Dad move when Taichi mentioned the soccer camp – something I’d pretty much forgotten about. We’d just gotten home, and we were tired in body and mind. Me a little more so because it had suddenly hit me that I really was on my own, independent. Even though I rarely saw Dad because of his job and my social schedule up until now, I’d always had the knowledge that he was living there and I would see him eventually. That safety net was gone now, and I already felt a bit lonely.
I walked into the living room, ice cold sodas from the fridge in hand, just as Taichi (sprawled our on the sofa, taking it all up) spoke.
“What?” I dangled a can over his upturned face, which he grabbed onto gratefully.
“Are you going to be alright here by yourself for a week while I’m at camp?”
I blinked, surprised at myself, then shrugged, sitting down on one armchair. “I’d completely forgotten about that, actually. Sorry.”
Taichi just smiled at me, amused.
“And are you saying that I can’t be left alone, Yagami?” I demanded mildly, staring at him over my can as I took a big drink.
“I said nothing of the kind, Ishida.”
“You implied it.”
“No, I didn’t. I was asking after your emotional well-being.”
“Which implies you might believe there’s some reason I wouldn’t be able to stay by myself for a week.” Internally, I was smiling happily at being able to banter like this with my best friend again.
He scowled at me – which lost some of its effect being upside down when he looked at me. I sighed and gave in gracefully, not wanting to push it. “I’ll be fine, Tai. Besides, what would you do if I’d said I wouldn’t be? Stayed home?”
He rolled his eyes. “No, I’d have called Takeru and asked him to babysit.” I glared at him indignantly. “Seriously, Yama, you do know that if you needed me to stay, I’d stay in a heartbeat. No second thought.”
Now I rolled my eyes. “Yes, Taichi. I know. I’d never ask you to pass up an opportunity like this just to hold my questionably secure emotional hand.” I caught him looking at me with a worried frown and I laughed lightly. “Tai! I can handle it! I’ve got scheduled practices with the band this week, three gigs and a concert, and plenty of other stuff to keep me busy. I won’t have time to be lonely and distraught without your company.”
He pouted. “You say it like I’m…”
“Mother-henning.” I agreed, smirking. He scowled some more, though whether at me or himself, I don’t know.
“And I’m going to miss a concert? Damn.”
I shrugged, hiding my own disappointment. “It’s no big deal, Tai.” It was kinda. He’s been to every concert I’ve sang at. But I wouldn’t tell him I’d noticed.
“It is to me.” I heard him mutter. “I’ll just have to make it up to you when I get back.” Taichi stated more loudly, flipping onto his stomach.
He sounded so determined that I didn’t have the heart to tell him he didn’t have to do that.
“So when are you leaving?” I inquired. “Because you may want to remind Hikari that you’re running off.”
“I will. I’m supposed to meet up at the school with everyone else from my team who’s going, and the bus will pick us up there, on Friday.”
“Ah.” I nodded. That was three days away. “What will you do in the meantime?”
“Don’t know. Practice, I suppose. Oh! Did I mention the Terror Twins are going, too?” He grinned. “I heard a rumour that they’re the only juniors to be invited.”
Despite being unsurprised (since Daisuke and Ken were really that good) my eyes widened and I grinned back at my best friend. “Gee, am I glad I don’t have to referee any matches where the two of them play against you, Taichi.”
“It’s going to be fantastic! No doubt there’ll be a lot of hard work, but nothing we can’t handle!”
I smiled and stood up, stretching out the kinks and my weary muscles. I haven’t seen Taichi this energetic and excited about anything in months. Lots of months.
“I’m sure you’ll all come back with plenty of stories to share.” I said, taking my empty can to the recycle bin in the kitchen. “I’m going to bed, Tai.”
“Yeah. I think I’ll shower first, then go pass out.” Taichi agreed, yawning widely and rolling off the sofa lazily. He followed me down the hall and we spit up to go into our separate rooms.
“Good night, Tai.”
“Sweet dreams, Yama.”
Relevant Episodes: I forgot this in the last chapter! Bad Kali. Bad. Therefore: Season 01, episode 48 (Kari’s collapse as a really little kid).