Here's my entry for Lace 123's X-mas contest. Takari.
Disclaimer: I don't own this song. I think it belongs to Leann Rimes.
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon or any of the characters.

~~~(:(~~~ = symbolizes the beginnings and endings of flashbacks

The Silence of Winter

I don't talk much anymore. Perhaps that's an understatement. I haven't said a word for almost two years. My parents are continuously worrying. They hope it's a phase that all teenagers go through. My friends, if I have any left, are concerned. They try constantly to get me to speak. Everywhere I go, sympathetic looks follow me. It makes me feel guilty. Sometimes I just want to yell at them. Tell them I'm ok. Tell them I'm fine. Shout that I'm the same happy girl I used to be and paste on a cheerful smile. But that would be, of course, a lie and I don't lie anymore. Not ever again. I know the consequences of lying all too well.

I glanced at the outside surroundings on my way to school. It was that time of year again. The ground was littered with white snow and the air was freezing. It was almost winter, almost Christmas. I sighed as that grim, painful feeling came over me. Memories that I would do anything to forget ran through my mind. If I had to hate just one thing in the whole wide world, it would be this holiday. It seemed everytime I saw a decorated tree or a red stocking, I wanted to cry.

"Hey, wait up!"

I stopped and turned around to see TK running toward me. He smiled childishly as my gaze wandered to the red Santa hat he was wearing. "You like?" he asked hopefully.

I nodded solemnly. It was adorable. His hand was gentle and warm as it grabbed mine. He pulled me to our school, chatting all the way.

"Hmmm. What should I get Matt?" he wondered out loud. "Clothes, CDs, or another string for his guitar? Decisions, decisions." He glanced at me and grinned. "Hmmm. What should I get you? What do girls want anyway? Jewe-"

I squeezed his hand tightly. My eyes had become wet with tears at his words. He stopped immediately, remorseful. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "I forgot. I won't try and get you a present, I promise. Please forgive me?" He reached over and wiped my face softly. I forgave him.

We continued walking. I looked up as a snowflake fell on my head. The whole sky was full of them. I hated it.

~~~(:(~~~

Christmas used to be when the best times in my life happened. At five, I was given the whistle that I would later carry on into the digital world. At nine, I got a chance to see Mimi in America. At eleven, I received my first kiss from TK under the mistletoe. Sure, it was only on the cheek, but I blushed and my tongue got all tied up. To me, it was to be the best Christmas yet. Things couldn't get any better. Unfortunately, I was right. Things didn't get better, they got worse.

I was thirteen at the time it happened, cocky and rebellious. The average good-for-nothin' teenager. I got annoyed quickly and my temper would frequently get the better of me. It was a major change and the fact that everyone could sense it just irritated me.

I had just finished wrapping another gift and was heading toward the living room to put it under the tree when I heard my brother's voice.

"Oh man, oh man," he said in horror. "I was so sure I got her a present." I peeked to see him and his girlfriend counting gifts.

"I can't believe you," scolded Sora. "Your own sister and you didn't get a single thing for her."

"I know, I know," muttered Tai. He brightened. "At least Christmas doesn't come until tomorrow. I'll go at night while she's sleeping so she won't know."

"That's a good idea," complimented Sora. "I'll go with you. Pick me up at ten, ok?"

"No problem. Now what should I get he-"

I couldn't resist stepping into the living room and seeing how Tai would react. "Hi," I greeted happily. His pale face caused me to go into a fit of giggles.

"Did you hear anything?" he demanded nervously.

I considered for a moment. Should I tell him 'no' and let him carry out his plan? Or should I say 'yes' and tell him that it was alright he didn't get a me a little Christmas something? It wasn't really important to me. He was such a good brother all the time that it didn't really matter if he had to buy something to prove it.

Years ago, I would've done the right thing. I would've said 'yes, I heard you but I love you so you don't have to go and buy me a stupid gift'. Telling the truth was a reflex when I was a child. But I was different then, just like I'm different now.

"No, I didn't hear a thing." I was a picture of innocence. I went over and placed my gift under the tree, chuckling quietly at Tai's audible sigh of relief. I waved a hello to Sora before I returned to my room. I didn't shut my door completely and watched them through a crack.

"Tai, you are so lucky," I heard her say, whistling at his good fortune. Having avoided danger, my brother was back to his charming self. He picked her up and spun her around.

"You're right," he told her, kissing her deeply. "I'm lucky to have Kari for a sister and I'm lucky to have you."

I had smiled then. Later, I would break into tears when they told me those were the last words he had said before he died.

People say making choices at moral crossroads are what shape your life, your future, and well, you. My decision to ignore the truth was so unimportant that I forgot about in a matter of minutes that day. In the years after, however, it would repeat itself everyday in my mind and every night in my nightmares.

~~~(:(~~~

I sat in my seat, staring blankly at the blackboard. School was an instrument of the devil, I decided. It was used to torture students by boring them to death. A diabolically ingenius method. Speaking of the devil, here came the substitue math teacher. He sat at his desk and began to call roll.

"Hikari Kamiya?" he read. I raised my hand. He stared sternly at me. "You're supposed to say 'here'." He waited for a response. My mouth remained shut. I lowered my hand.

"Miss Kamiya, please say 'here' so I can continue."

I saw TK raise his hand. The teacher called on him. "Umm...Mr. Fuji? Kari doesn't talk," he explained.

"She's dumb?"

"No, no," TK said quickly. "She just doesn't talk. You see, her bro-"

"If she's not a mute, then she can speak," Mr. Fuji interrupted rudely. He turned his attention back to me. "Miss Kamiya, if you do not comply with my request, I will be forced to sentence you to detention."

TK bristled slightly. He raised his hand again and this time, didn't wait for the teacher to call on him. "Mr. Fuji. Kari doesn't talk because her brother died two years ago."

The teacher eyed him coldly. "So?"

"So...leave her alone, you insensitive jerk!" TK replied hotly. The whole class gasped. My mouth dropped open in shock. Did Takeru Takaishi, voted class all-around nice guy and model student, just talk back to the teacher?

"Mr. Takaishi, what did you say?" Mr. Fuji demanded menancingly. "Would you like afternoon detention as well?"

TK gulped nervously. The boy probably never had a speck of trouble on his school record in his whole life. "In case you didn't hear, I said you were an insensitive idiot," he declared fearlessly. My mouth formed into a rare smile at his courage.

"Actually, TE," Davis corrected, "you said he was an insensitive jerk." The whole class, minus me, burst into laughter.

Mr. Fuji was furious. "Motomiya, Takaishi, Kamiya, you three will report to afternoon detention for the rest of the week!"

"Hey, hey!" protested Davis. "I didn't say I agreed with him!"

"The rest of two weeks!"

"But-"

"Three weeks! One more word from any of you will make it the rest of the month, understand?" Mr. Fuji glared angrily at the rest of the class. They shrank back in fear.

"School is hell," muttered Davis under his breath. My sentiments exactly. TK glanced at me and his blue eyes twinkled brightly. I smiled back at my hero, my knight in shining armor and his face became ecstatic. School is hell but sometimes you just need someone like TK to make it seem like heaven.

~~~(:(~~~

It was the middle of night on Christmas Eve. The phone rang seven times before it was picked up.

From my room, I could hear my mom shriek. "What?!"

Dread crept into my bones at her tone of voice: disbelieving and terrified. My dad rushed to her side to ask what's wrong.

"He's in the hospital!" my mom screamed frantically, dropping the phone to the floor in a panic. "My poor baby..." She sobbed loudly. I heard the door slam as they left immediately for the hospital. I found myself home alone. I stumbled slowly to the living room.

"Hello? Mrs. Kamiya?" came the voice from the receiver of the phone. I bent down to pick it up.

"This is Kari Kamiya speaking," I answered calmly. I felt strange, numb. "Please sir, what's wrong with my brother?"

"He and his girlfriend were out late near the mall. The police say he was driving home when the car slipped on some icy roads. They were hit by another driver...hello? Hello?"

I didn't reply and hung up. I walked slowly back to bed. I cried myself to sleep, hoping that it was all a dream.

In the morning, my parents woke me up. They were dressed in black. They handed me a rectangular box wrapped in green paper with angels scattered around. It was found near the sight of the accident, they told me. I stared at the top. It read, in messily written letters: To: Kari, the best sister in the world. From: Tai. I recognized the handwriting as my brother's.

I could't help it. I screamed wildly and cast the gift away from me without bothering to open it. My parents decided I needed some time alone and left, taking the package with them. I sank to the floor, sobbing violently. My shoulders shook and I felt like I would pass out from all the grief and pain.

I think it was then, when I was cursing my own existence, that I made the promise to myself never to accept another present or ask for one. I think it was then that I vowed never to celebrate Christmas. Never to talk. Never to be happy. I think it was then that I died.

~~~(:(~~~

Detention was boring, boring, and, did I mention, boring? TK and Davis appeared in the doorway at the same time, panting as if they had been racing. Their eyes lighted up at the empty seat beside me. They ran but TK was the one that came in first. He sat next to me and whooped triumphantly.

"Cheater," accused Davis, scowling. "You pushed me."

"Heh, heh, heh," TK replied sneakily. "All's fair in love and war." I glanced at him in surprise. Love? He blushed and I think I turned red as well. Davis took another seat nearby and muttered something about revenge.

TK took my hand. I stared questioningly up at him. "Kari? Matt's having a party for all the digidestined at my dad's place," he began. For some reason, he seemed flustered. "I wouldn't mind if you came."

I touched his hand and he smiled, understanding immediately. "See you there then." I nodded and began searching in my backpack for my homework.

"Er, there's one more thing. It's a Christmas party in honor of Tai and Sora."

I froze and shook my head violently, changing my mind.

"Please," he begged. "You can't keep avoiding the real world just because of the accident. Besides, we miss him, too."

I trembled at the pleading note in his voice. After all, it was MY fault he's in detention. My conscience pricked me sharply. I had to make it up to him. I nodded slowly.

"Great!" TK said excitedly. I noticed a lock of golden hair had fallen in front of his face. Without thinking, I reached up and brushed it away. Everyone stared at us in surprise. Instantly embarassed, I avoided his gaze for the rest of detention.

After an hour, the bell rang. I picked up my backpack and made for the door. I walked down the sidewalk. Far behind me, I could hear Davis and TK arguing.

"Big deal, she touched your hair. That doesn't mean anything, TJ!"

I turned my head to see TK grinning smugly. "You're wrong, Davis. It means a lot of things. She likes me."

"But do you like her?" challenged Davis. TK opened his mouth. My heartbeat suddenly accelerated and I found myself sweating like crazy. Not wanting them to see me, I leaped behind a tree and waited for his answer.

"Course I do." His eyes sparkled dreamily. "She's the nicest person I've ever met. Smart, pretty, perfect. She's practically the best thing in my life." As far as I was concerned, it was the other way around. He was the best thing in my life.

"Watch it, dude. I think you're gonna start drooling," teased Davis.

TK ignored him and continued. "I don't know what I would do without her. We've known each other for a really long time and I fall in love with her as each year goes by." He waved suddenly in my direction. "Bye, Kari!"

I jumped, startled. Blushing weakly, I waved back. As I journeyed home, I wondered at his words. So TK likes me. He really, really likes me. The thought made me feel special. For the first time in two years, I actually felt something other than sadness.

But something bothered me. I couldn't figure out how TK knew I was listening and it wasn't until I reached the front door of my house that I realized he had wanted me to hear every word he said.

~@@@~

It was time for the party. I searched my closet for something decent to wear and found a simple, red dress that hung down to my ankles. I topped my head off with a matching scarlet beret. Putting on a jacket, I headed toward the door.

"Hikari?" My mom stared at me in surprise. I haven't worn bright colors for in a long time. Too be honest, I was feeling rather self-conscious in my outfit. I held up the invitation Matt had given me.

"Oh. You're going over to Mr. Ishida's house? Have a good time then, dear." She remembered something suddenly. "Wait, I need you to give your friend, Takeru, something for me." She ran to her closet and reappeared with a package wrapped in brown paper. It looked familiar. I took it.

I went outside where I found TK waiting for me. "Hi, Kari! You look great," he commented. "I decided to stop by so we could walk to Matt's house together." He offered me his arm and I grabbed it.

I handed him the package. It was strange--he seemed to expect it. "Thanks," he said. We walked in silence. I gazed at him. In the opinion of all the girls at Odaiba High, he was the cutest boy in the whole school and, for the first time, I knew why. His hair was not just yellow; it gleamed gold. His eyes were a clear blue, both understanding and peaceful. He was handsome, not only on the outside but on the inside as well. His personality was good-natured and hopeful. He rarely got angry and he never gave up. Something about him drew girls, like a moth to a flame. If the theory about soulmates was true, that there was one other person who was made just for you, then I had found mine.

He turned his head to gaze at me and for a moment, we were lost in time staring into each other's eyes, into each other's souls. "What's so interesting?" he asked breathlessly. I touched his cheek tenderly in response.

"I'm not interesting," he chuckled. He doesn't know how wrong he is. Everything he does was so great, so wonderful at this moment. We had stopped walking and I was mesmerized by him. I stood stock still as he leaned his head down towards me. Our lips touched and, all of a sudden, I was all fuzzy and warm and happy.

He pulled away, grinning. "If anything, Kari, YOU'RE the interesting one." We reached our destination and walked through the door, arm in arm. The party was already in full swing.

"Hey," exclaimed Mimi. "Kari and TK are here! Great, now we can put on the music!"

Izzy groaned as the pink-haired girl dragged him onto the floor. Matt and Joe chatted by a punch bowl while Davis and Yolei were taking out more refreshments.

"Wanna dance?" TK asked. I shrugged. Why not? He put his arms around my waist and I put mine around his neck.

"I don't need alot of things-
I can get by with nothin'
But with all the blessings life can bring,
I've always needed something."

The first stanza was already causing me to cry. I buried my face in his shoulder to hide my sobs. This was Sora's favorite song.

"But I've got all I want
And it comes to loving you.
You're my only reason,
You're my only truth.

I need you like water,
Like breath, like rain.
I need you like mercy
From heavens' gate.

There's a freedom in your arms
That carries me through,
I need you..."

"It's alright," soothed TK. But his voice was choked. I looked up to see him staring gravely over my shoulder. It wasn't unusual. Crying wasn't his thing anymore. He had matured a lot since we left the digital world.

"You're the hope that moves me
To courage again. Oh yeah...
You're the the love that rescues me
When the cold winter rains."

"Kari?" TK tugged on my arm. "Let's go outside for a moment." I agreed readily and we went to the balcony.

He had the package my mom had given him in his hands. He held it out towards me. "This is for you."

Confused, I gazed up at him inquiringly.

He shook his head. "I know I promised I wouldn't give you anything. This isn't from me." I didn't accept it. I crossed my arms stubbornly. I would not take it and that was that.

"This time, I'm not taking 'no' for an answer," TK told me determinedly. He set the package on a small lawn chair and grabbed me gently but firmly by my shoulders. "This present is something you should see. Tai died so you get have this and this party wasn't just in honor of him and Sora. It was also to get you to speak again."

I didn't want to hear this. I put my hands over my ears but his words came through anyway.

"I'm sorry I lied but your mom told me to give this to you. She told me everything and I don't blame you in the least. She's worried sick. Your friends--Matt, Mimi, Joe, Izzy...everyone's worried about you. I'M worried about you."

I heard TK take a deep breath. "But it's been two years already and I don't know if I want to worry about you forever..."

I refused to look at him. I heard him give a frustrated sigh. "You need to move on," he told me softly. "It's been so long and I want to hear your voice again."

Well, tough luck, I thought bitterly. My lips were gonna stay sealed.

"You mean the world to me, Kari. I was telling the truth that day after detention. But I don't want to care for someone who won't let herself care for me, too..." TK's voice was low and quivering. "I don't want to love someone who can't say 'I love you' back."

I kept quiet but my sight got blurry.

"Please, say something," he begged. His tone was so pitiful that I found myself sobbing again. "Please...."

I couldn't do it. It just wasn't in me anymore. I suddenly felt weary. Tired from everything that was happening. Tired from the pain. The grief. Here was my chance for happiness again and I was too weak to grab it...

I'm sorry, TK.

I lifted my head to meet his sweet, hopeful blue eyes and slowly, I shook my head. The silence was broken by the shattering of two hearts in unison. The next thing I knew TK was walking back inside. As he passed me, he whispered the words I thought I would never hear him say.

"Good-bye, Kari..."


Takari fans, have no fear for a sequel will soon be here. Anyway, to people who feel that this is not 'romantic enough', I would just like to point out that this story is clearly under Drama. Besides, there will be romance in the next part. Readers, please review if you've like the story. Flamers, I have no time for your insults. Judges, hope you have enjoyed.