A/N: At long last, it is here- the last chapter of this story. Yeah, I know I said it was going to be five chapters. Well, the plot decided to shrink a bit, so its only four chapters. I hope this satisfies the cravings of those who have been waiting to read this. I feel horrible about taking so long to finish this, but being a college student has changed my lifestyle more than a little, and I'm often not home until about midnight most days of the week, not counting weekends, which I use for sleeping.
At any rate, I *have* finished this, so read and enjoy. :)
I stood in the parking lot in front of Yamato's apartment building, wondering just what in the hell I was doing there, and wondering just how long I could manage to keep doing this before I cracked. Staring up at the building, I realized just how terrified I was; both of just going in there, and trying not screw up.
I forced my feet to move me to the building, and inside, knowing that I wasn't doing the most intelligent thing. At that point, I don't think I really cared. I just wanted to see him smile at me that was again, that particular smile he only gave to Takako.
I found myself in front of his door sooner than I had had liked. I raised my hand to knock, but found that I couldn't go through with it. I stood there like that for longer than I should have, before turning and running.
I ran and ran, where to I don't remember. I just kept running until I couldn't anymore. I just felt so utterly disgusted with myself that I didn't know what else to do. I wanted to see him so badly, I wanted him to fall in love with me. But I was slowly realizing I didn't want it to be some kind of game. I wanted it to be real. I wanted to tell him as myself, but I knew I couldn't.
I leaned against the wall of a building catching my breath as I tried to make sense of things in my head. That was when my cell phone began ringing. I took it out of my bag, and looked at the caller. It was a text message from Yamato, asking why Takako hadn't shown up. Stupidly, I wondered why he hadn't actually called. Then I realized he wasn't thinking about anything besides her.
Sighing, I replied, telling him that she had told me that she already had made plans. After sending it, I began to wonder if I was really losing my mind now.
It was dark by the time that I got home, and I found Hikari waiting anxiously for me in foyer. She looked at me expectantly.
"Nothing happened," I told her flatly. "I didn't go."
"You didn't-?" She looked at me curiously. "How come?"
"I- I don't wanna talk about it!" I told her furiously, before kicking off my shoes and running to my room.
I slammed the door rather loudly behind myself after entering my bedroom. I sat down on my bed and stared at my computer, blaming it for everything.
Then my phone rang. Again. Stupid phone. I answered it of course, forgetting that my voice was not exactly mine right then.
"Moshi moshi," I began nervously.
"Taichi-? Is that you-?" Yamato's voice answered uncertainly.
"Ah- Ah-" I hung up. I wanted to talk him, I really did. But I didn't really feel like explaining why I sounded not just like a girl, but like Takako.
I stared at my computer again, now not mad at it so much as I just felt empty. I felt numb, and very lost. I tried to understand why this was happening to me, and I just couldn't. It was like some horrible joke.
I stood up and walked over to my computer. I fingered the power button unconsciously before pushing it. I sat down at the motor began to whir, not really sure of what I was going to do next, other than go back in.
I harsh blast of wind hit me as I got my bearings, stinging my cheeks. I was near it, I knew that for certain. I wondered if maybe touching while I was Takako might turn me back to my normal state.
Well, it was worth a shot.
I ran around aimlessly for awhile, unsure of where it was exactly. When I found it at last, I didn't do anything right away. I just looked at it, examined it; I tried to give it a name, but I couldn't. Maybe it didn't have a name. All the while I stood there, studying it, I could feel it watching me, looking at a part of me no one else could see.
"All right," I told it, quietly, stroking the surface with my left hand. "Do what you will, you have me."
I plunged into it, the cold sweeping over me, into me, through me. Nothing else in any universe could ever feel quite the same. It was a truly unreal experience. And it was beginning to become addictive.
As soon as I felt the cold, everything went black; reality was gone, and I still don't know exactly where it takes you before sending you back. Not that it mattered to me.
When I opened my eyes, the world around me had changed completely. It was no longer cold or windy, but warm and still. I stood up, not sure now of where I had come from.
Of course, that would be the least of my worries that day.
I began walking away in the direction I thought I had come from, not really concerned about how long I had been, and now would be here. As reached a clearing that I hadn't seen before, I heard my name called.
"Who's there?" I whirled around, startled and defensive.
"Relax, it just me," he said, his hands raised in a motion of surrender. Smiling, he walked over to me.
"Why the hell are you here?"
"Why not?" he looked at me, very obviously taken aback by my defensiveness. "Actually, Hikari told me you were here."
"She did? Well, remind me to kill her when I get home," I told him, in much annoyance.
"Maybe this isn't the time to ask you if you know why Takako couldn't come," he said, looking away.
"Yes, Yamato, it is a bad time," I replied quietly.
"Are you okay?"
"What-?" I stared at him dumbly.
"You seemed really tense," he said, shrugging. "do you want to tell me-"
"No, I don't," I said sharply.
"Oh," he looked a little hurt at my abrasiveness.
"No, its okay," he shook his head dismissively.
"No, it's not," I said. "It's really, really not."
Yamato looked at me, eyebrows knitted a little. He was definitely at a loss, and I felt horrible for making him feel that way.
I started running.
I didn't heed him. I couldn't be near him, I couldn't trust myself around him. I was losing control, and I didn't want him there to see me lose it.
Of course, that would have required outrunning him, which he was determined not to let me do. I realized, as I looked back at him that I running towards it. And I didn't know why. I just knew that I couldn't go anywhere but back to it.
"Taichi-" Yamato gasped between breaths. "Where are you going-?"
"Stop following me!" I caught a glimpse of my goal. I could see it rippling and shimmering some ways off.
Yamato saw it too. He let out a startled noise, and realization dawned on his face.
I slowed down as I neared it. I wasn't going to lose him, so it wasn't worth trying any longer. He slowed down as he reached my side. It loomed in front of us, just beyond some shrubs and one large tree.
"Taichi, what the hell is that?" Yamato looked at me, knowing that I knew.
"That, Yamato," I told him, catching my breath still. "Is my nightmare, my answer, and my escape."
I walked over to it, standing directly in front of it. I touched it lightly with my right hand, longing to enter it again.
"What are you doing?!" Yamato shoved me away from it, knocking both of us down.
I picked myself up, and lunged at him, throwing a punch at his face. He caught my fist and flipped me over pinning me.
"Taichi, what is wrong you?!"
"Let me go and I'll show you what's wrong with me!" I screamed.
"I shouldn't," he said quietly. "Because I know you'll do something stupid. But-"
He got up, freeing me. I stared at him, stunned, before standing up. I ran past him, into it's arms. Cold lashed at me, and freed me from my senses.
When I opened my eyes, I was standing, supported by a very shocked and anxious Yamato.
"Who are you?" He whispered.
I looked at him, unable to speak. I felt a hand slide through my hair, but when I looked up, I saw that Yamato was avoiding eye contact with me. I sighed. His eyes turned down to me, away from the sky they had been staring at.
I pulled away, still unsure of how to explain myself, for which he was clearing waiting, and stepped over to where it stood.
"What is that thing?" He asked me again.
"I already told you," I said without looking at him. I felt him come up behind me.
"I still don't understand," he said quietly.
"If I could explain better, I would."
"I know. It's just that-" he paused, "I can't do this- I can't talk to you while you're not, well, you. Could you-?"
"Is that really what you want?" I looked at him, nonplussed.
I didn't say anything. I starred it down before slowly walking into and through it. Cold washed over me and I was gone for a moment. Waking, again in his arms, I felt strangely lost.
"Are you alright?"
"Huh?" I looked at him stupidly, then shook my head.
"Good," he said, letting me go. I clung to him, too scared to move. He understood, but lead me to the base of the large tree, where we both sat, leaning against its massive trunk.
I felt his hand on my shoulder, and looked over at him. He looked as lost as I felt.
"What is going on?"
"I-" My throat closed up, as I tried to choke out my word. Instead, I just started crying. I felt an arm slip around me, and I fell into it. We sat like that for awhile, he still confused and I lost in his arms.
"Taichi?" He said my name softly, causing me to look up suddenly. Wiping my eyes with his hand, he whispered, "You don't need to say anything."
I just stared at him. He continued, aware that I wasn't going to able to speak for some while longer.
"I understand," he told me, now looking me in the eyes. I drew away, but he kept hold of me. "Though I think I'd rather you told me as yourself. No more secrets, no more masks."
"Yamato-" I took a deep breath. "I don't think I know how to say it-"
"I'm not asking you to think, I'm asking you to feel," he said softly.
"I- I know- It's just-" I closed my eyes. Looking at him, I asked, "I'm not sure how I feel."
He looked at me, his face betraying his doubt. As he looked at me, I took his hand in my own without really thinking. He made a surprised noise, but didn't pull away. I looked at him, meeting his gaze. His face was confident enough, but his eyes were absolutely terrified.
I brought my other hand up to his face, brushing some hair out of it. It startled him, and he backed away.
"I-" He began, his voice shaking.
"You don't have to except it," I told him, tightening my grip on his hand. "But that won't change how I feel."
"I know," he replied, nodding. He looked at our hands, frowning a little. "I can't deny the fact that it was your personality I was attracted to, not how you looked."
I looked at him, knowing my surprise must have been evident on my face. He lifted my hand up, still intertwined in his own, and touched it to his face. I moved a little closer to him, realizing that he was gradually becoming more comfortable with the situation and with me.
"Yamato-" I searched his eyes, wanting to know that I was reading his actions right. Before I could say anything more, however, he put his other arm around me, bringing me so close that we were touching. He let go of my hand, freeing his own to touch my face; his fingers slid down my cheek as his face came close to mine.
He paused, as if he had suddenly realized what he was doing. "Yamato?"
He didn't say anything. I could feel his breath on my face, feel his heart racing through where our bodies met. Taking his face in my hands, I asked, "Why'd you stop?"
"I-" He looked me directly in the eyes. They were pleading with me, pleading for me to tell him that this was right. I couldn't say anything, and a moment later It seemed that I hadn't needed to.
He closed his eyes and our lips finally met. His were trembling, scared, but soft. It was quick, and as soon as it was over, he let go of me.
"Taichi?" He asked, his voice quivering.
I looked at him. "Are you okay?"
"I-" He looked away. "I'm not sure."
"Are you afraid of me, Yamato?"
"No," he said, his voice sure and steady. He looked at me again. "I'm just- a little confused, I guess."
I settled myself next to him as he spoke, taking his hand in mine again as he spoke. He didn't say or do anything when I did, which I took as an improvement over how he had reacted previously. He looked at me curiously after finishing his sentence, as though expecting me to do something.
"Yamato," I began, half in annoyance, half in amusement. "Whatever you're expecting me to do, I'm not going to do it."
"Oh, I wasn't expecting anything, not really," he said, shaking his head; the barest hint of a smile played at the corners of his mouth, and his voice sounded lighter than it had since he first showed up in the digital world that day. "I was just thinking we ought to go home soon."
"Yamato," I said, smiling at him. "We are home."
He said nothing; the tips of his fingers brushed along my palm as he smiled, really smiled for the first time that day. As he smiled and played with my fingers, all I could do was smile back.