Disclaimer: Don't own. You'd know if I did. Trust me.
Tense silences, Daisuke decided, were probably one of the worst things ever. Even if you were on the brink of death, at least you would have something to focus your mind on, even if it was a kind of horrible something. But the Takaishi apartment was in this unbearable state of quiet, with Takeru's mom still at work and Takeru actually seeming comfortable with the silence, and all Daisuke had to take comfort in was his homework that he was supposed to be finishing, the annoyingly steady sound of Takeru's breathing, and the thunderstorm raging outside. Not really the best company.
Finally unable to stand it anymore, Daisuke looked up and, in a desperate attempt to do something other than stare at his workbook and try to figure out an impossible algebra equation, blurted out, "Nice weather we're having, no?"
As if on cue, a flash of lightning flooded the bedroom with a pale glow before vanishing just as quickly. The rain pounded harder against the roof, and Daisuke swore he could hear someone laughing at his poor attempt to start conversation. A few seconds later, he realized that someone was his homework partner.
Laughing to himself quietly, Takeru shook his head. "Whatever you say, Daisuke," he said, casting his bedroom window a sparing glance before turning back to his workbook. "What'd you get for problem 18? I got 'x -32', but I don't know if I did the parenthesis right..."
Daisuke took a look at his homework and flinched once he realized what number he was still on. "18? Geez, and I'm still five questions behind..." He narrowed his eyes, accusing. "And you're supposed to be my partner! You know, partner as in working together?"
Takeru shrugged apologetically. "Well, you were being so quiet, I thought that you were getting along pretty well and too busy concentrating on the math to talk." He paused, as if remembering just who it was he was addressing. "Or something," he added, grinning sheepishly.
Urge to rip out self's hair: maximum. "I was being quiet because you were being quiet!" Daisuke scowled, folding his arms across his chest.
Takeru mirrored his friend's position, purely for the sake of humoring him. "You're usually all chatty and talkative," Takeru said defensively, "so I thought you'd be the one to strike up any conversation."
"You could have at least helped along the effort, you know."
With a shake of the head, Takeru turned back to his homework, promptly dropping the subject. It was Takeru-speak for "this conversation is pointless and getting us nowhere so we might as well stop now," though Daisuke personally preferred to decipher it as, "you have won the argument, Daisuke-sama; I am inferior to your verbal sparring skills." Of course, it didn't really matter, since silence won out in the end. Daisuke fidgeted, becoming more restless by the moment. Even arguing with Takeru was better than this; not by much, but at least it gave him something to do. Takeru, though, merely continued working out algebra equations, cursing under his breath when he had to resort to the eraser.
Now it was too quiet. Again. It wasn't completely silent, but there was little enough noise to make everything suddenly more uncomfortable. There hadn't been a lot of sound to begin with, but now everything seemed to be drowned out by Takeru's freaking breathing pattern, and listening to it for too long got really creepy.
"That's it," Daisuke declared, slamming his pencil on his book and rising to his feet dramatically, "I'm turning on some music." Stomping over to the stereo, he grabbed a random CD lying around and placed it in, jamming multiple buttons roughly.
Takeru just looked on in amusement, eyebrows raised and lips curved into something that resembled a smirk – and Takeru never smirked. It was like he was enjoying the fact that the other boy so frustrated. Bastard, Daisuke thought vindictively, and took a quick look at the CD cover. Satisfied with his selection, he reached out to press the play button.
And everything was shot to hell.
Daisuke froze as, right after he pressed the button, not only did the music not come on but the lights went out too. Everything seemed to go completely quiet – even the rainstorm offered a few seconds of silence before continuing its assault. Biting his lip, he pressed a few more buttons, hoping that it had been a fluke. Takeru groaned softly, breaking the silence for once. "Daisuke? The hell—"
"I didn't do anything!" Daisuke said defensively. "It must be a power outage from the storm. I guess we have to wait until it comes back on." Wincing, he glanced around, only to realize that he could see next to nothing. Complete darkness had never been too appealing to him. With hesitant steps and out-stretched arms, he managed to make his way back to his previous position beside the bed, stepping on Takeru's hand in the process. The blonde "mmph"ed softly and Daisuke quickly moved to the side, though he ended up choosing the wrong side and colliding into his friend.
A few moments and bruises later, things were straightened out. Daisuke ended up sitting on the bed while Takeru leaned against it, and it was then that he realized that tense silences occurring in the dark were even worse than the ones that took place in the light. Hence, he decided to use his superior Motomiya conversation skills.
"... Nothing, just wanted to break the silence."
It was easy to recognize when Takeru was amused. Sight wasn't required. "Sure."
The long period of quiet that followed wasn't very encouraging in the least. Shooting Takeru – at least, what he was pretty sure was Takeru – a Look, Daisuke insisted, "So say something. Please. I'm dying here."
"Okay then..." After a thoughtful pause, Takeru said slowly, "So, Daisuke. How's life?"
Daisuke blinked, realizing vaguely how uneasy Takeru sounded compared to his usual unshakable self. It wasn't often that he lost his cool, and Daisuke was at a loss as to what it was that was bothering him. Blackout probably just took his by surprise, Daisuke decided, but still wasn't too convinced. "You're really horrible at this, aren't you?"
Takeru just laughed, but it sounded hollow to Daisuke's ears. "Yeah, well, that's why I leave the conversation-starting to you."
Chewing at the inside of his cheek as he wondered whether to bring up his concern or not, Daisuke reached down and ruffled the blonde's mop of unruly hair absently, hardly aware of what he was doing. "Alright, so here's something for you. What's up?"
Takeru blinked, swatting his hand away. "How's that any better than mine?"
"No, what I mean is, what's up with you? What's wrong? You seem all weird suddenly."
Daisuke didn't have to see anything; he could feel Takeru stiffen at his words. "It's just the whole blackout; mom's still at work, so I'm a little worried," Takeru said, his face hidden in the darkness of the room. It was a decent alibi, but the two had known each other long enough for Daisuke to see through it. Of course, there was also how Takeru had begun shifting awkwardly, and his usually even breathing was hitching. And Daisuke would know — he had been listening to it for pretty much the whole afternoon.
"Nuisance," Takeru retaliated in the same sing-song manner that his friend had used, his voice muffled as he buried his head in his hands. Knowing that he'd been caught, he abandoned the façade, rubbing his eyes. "Just drop it, Daisuke," he warned tiredly.
Scratching his cheek, Daisuke mumbled a quick, "Sorry."
The silence that followed was more annoying than just uncomfortable, in Daisuke's opinion. Takeru was breathing audibly again, and now the pattern was erratic, which grated the boy's nerves even more. If he was going to have to listen to any breathing at all, he'd at least prefer it to be a steady rhythm. Plus, the fact that Takeru was bothered sort of bothered him in turn. There was never anything wrong with Takeru, and when there was, it was a proven fact that he rarely showed it. In fact, to have Takeru's loose his calm visibly was as uncommon as Hikari returning Daisuke's advances, Ken returning Miyako's advances, or Taichi declaring that he would shave off all his hair after dying it neon green. There were just some things that didn't happen.
With a shake of his head, Daisuke decided to speak up a second time. "Hey, Takeru?"
"I didn't say anything!"
"You wanted to."
"Sure, get technical with me," Daisuke muttered, sliding off the bed so that he was sitting beside Takeru. Scooting closer, he leaned forward and prodded his shoulder. "But really. Having you act this way is just weird." Takeru opened his mouth to protest, but Daisuke quickly continued, "And don't tell me you're not. Denial is an ugly place to be."
Takeru was quiet for a long moment before saying uncertainly, "You're going to laugh at me."
Daisuke didn't know whether to be happy he was closer to getting an answer, or offended by Takeru's lack of faith in him. "Won't laugh. Promise."
Takeru just shrugged, leaning against the side of the bed as he tugged at his shirt sleeve. He didn't respond right away, and after a few seconds of impatient waiting, Daisuke sighed and mirrored his position, coming to the conclusion that he probably wasn't going to receive an answer after all.
"I'm... afraid of the dark."
Daisuke wasn't sure what surprised him more – the answer or the bolt of lightning that disrupted the sky a second later. His head snapped towards his friend's and eyes met as the illuminated sky lit up the room before whisking away just as quickly. It was enough time, though, for Daisuke to catch the twinge of doubt that glittered in depths of bright blue. "You're what?"
"I'm afraid of the dark," Takeru repeated, sounding calmer this time, but Daisuke knew better.
The dark. It was a common thing to be afraid of, but most people their age had gotten over it a while ago. Besides, this was Takeru. Takeru, the Child of Hope, the unwavering calm presence, the one who stormed into the Kaiser's base and deliberately picked a fight with him, then gotten the upper hand. Somehow, him being afraid of the dark didn't fit too well in Daisuke's mind. He blinked, stuck between staring and laughing incredulously, but quickly remembered his promise and decided against both. Instead, he asked, "Why?"
Takeru seemed genuinely surprise at Daisuke's lack of outward mockery and surprise. "It's not really the dark itself, but sort of what it means. I... has anyone ever told you about Devimon?"
"Devimon..." Daisuke repeated, searching his memory until, finally, "Oh, right! Taichi told me about him; he was that Virus Digimon who—" He paused abruptly, eyes widening. "Oh. Oh."
Nodding, Takeru wrapped his arms around his knees, curling up around himself. "I know it was a long time ago and Patamon was reborn and he's fine now, but it was just so..." He gestured helplessly, as if trying to pull his words from thin air. "Angemon was sacrificing himself and I couldn't do anything but sit there. It hurt."
"I... wow," Daisuke murmured, trying to imagine how it would feel to have V-mon destroyed before his eyes. It was painful just to think about it, and he shook his head as if trying to shake the thought of his mind. "That must have been hard to watch. I'm sorry."
"Don't be; it wasn't your fault." Takeru shrugged, feigning nonchalance. "Devimon got his just desserts and the nightmares stopped a while ago... It's just that the dark has never really been the same after that. It's like a constant reminder of what happened, and I don't want a reminder."
Daisuke winced sympathetically. "But, Iori told me about the time when you went after Ken in his base when you found out what he was doing with Chimeramon. You didn't seem too afraid then, or on all your other anti-darkness rampages."
Painfully away of his surroundings, Takeru pressed his forehead against his knees, as if shielding his eyes. "Yeah... that was sort of complicated. But I guess... with Chimeramon, I was reminded of Devimon. And I was afraid I'd loose someone close to me again, and I guess that fear turned into anger, so then I decided to go and pick a fight with Ken."
"And I hear you did that part pretty well."
"It seemed like a good idea at the time." Takeru chuckled, then canted his head to the side, regarding his friend seriously. "I don't know why I'm telling you this, though. If anyone, I should be talking to Ken; he's had his fair share of experience with the darkness..." he blinked, "no offense, Daisuke."
Daisuke shrugged it off easily. "None taken. But at least talk to someone, Takeru. Keeping things bottled up isn't good for you."
"I'm not bottling things up; I've talked to Patamon, Yamato, Hikari," Takeru said softly. "I just don't like talking about it. I don't like to remember."
The two fell silent for the countless time that day, but Daisuke could tell that Takeru had calmed down slightly. Not completely, though, and he was still curled up in that defensive position. Biting his lip, Daisuke scooted closer, reaching out for the other boy's arm. He found it after a few moments of groping empty air and trailed his hand up it lightly. Takeru could only blink, confused, as he felt Daisuke tracing circles around the back of his shoulder clumsily.
Daisuke seemed embarrassed. "Ken does it to me a lot when I'm stressed, so I thought 'what the heck.' Might as well give it a shot."
Takeru couldn't help but grin. "Thanks, I guess."
"Gratitude is good; showing me that it's actually working would be even better," Daisuke said, his movements becoming more fluid. "Takeru. Relax. The darkness isn't going to hurt you this time. I'll kick its ass first."
Dryly, "I appreciate it." Still, he straightened his posture anyway, closing his eyes as he tried to steady himself. Didn't work as well as he wanted. A shudder crawling up his spine, Takeru found himself once again pressing his knees against his chest, trying to make himself as small as possible.
Daisuke noticed. Withdrawing his hand from the shoulder, the boy moved his arm so that it was wrapped around Daisuke, at a loss for what else he could do. He had tried reassuring, listening, comforting, cuddling, and now he was running out of methods to get Takeru to stop shaking and calm down. Biting the inside of his cheek thoughtfully, Daisuke scoured the dim room for something he could use, but he could barely see anything except the nightlight plugged into the outlet beside the bed –
"Takeru," Daisuke said suddenly. "I used to be afraid of the dark once, you know. Know how I got over it?"
Curiosity getting the best of him, Takeru opened his eyes slowly. "How?"
"I used a nightlight!"
Takeru sighed, apparently having expected something more helpful. "I already have a nightlight, Daisuke, and since the power's out, it wouldn't help anyway."
Daisuke shook his head. "No, that's not what I meant. I'm thinking that instead of a physical nightlight, you can use like, a symbolic one."
A blank, uncomprehending stare was his only answer.
"Here, I'll go first to give you an example." Daisuke paused to think. "My brightest nightlights would be V-mon and Ken. V-mon has always been there to support and help me. He protects me and knows how to cheer me up. Ken... well, he's my best friend. I can always count on him, even if it's just to tell me that I'm being irrational and I need to calm down and shut up. Both of them are there for me whenever I'm lost in the dark, need to get slapped upside the head, or just need a shoulder to lean on. Now, your turn. Who are your nightlights?"
Takeru nodded slowly. "I think I get it. So, one of my nightlights would definitely be Patamon. He's like a guardian angel, always looking out for me and making sure I'm alright." He trailed off, smiling fondly in memory of his Digimon partner. "And in the end, he came back to me...
"And, Yamato. He'd hold me whenever mom and dad were fighting, telling me that it'd be alright, even if it wasn't, in the end. He was always trying to be a good big brother to me, staying up with me all night whenever I couldn't sleep. And, Hikari. She's always there for me, no matter what; we look out for each other. She's like the sister I never had."
He stopped, thinking that he was done, and then quickly realized he wasn't done yet. "Iori. He understands when I need to talk and when I just want to be left alone to figure things out by myself. Taichi. Taichi was like a substitute big brother for me in the Digital World when Yamato went off. He looked after me, but wasn't protective like Yamato was. Let me think on my own. And Sora, she was always so thoughtful and considerate and like a second mother, and... and you, even if we argue all the time, you're here with me..."
Takeru trailed off, blinking as realization struck him. "You're all my nightlights, aren't you? All of you; even Ken who's in Tamachi and Jyou who's almost always busy studying. You've all been there for me when I needed it..."
Daisuke grinned. "Exactly. And with all of us, your room will be so lit up that the dark won't stand a chance."
The blonde shook his head fondly. "You're one piece of work, Daisuke."
"I know; isn't it great?" Daisuke laughed, happy with how Takeru was loosening up. "So, how are you doing? Any better, or do I have to slave after trying to find another idea again?"
"I... I think I'm okay. Thanks, Daisuke," he said, lips curving into a small smile. "It's nice to know that you're all there for me for whenever I need it."
Daisuke reached up to ruffle the other's hair. "You couldn't get rid of us if you tried, blondie."
With a laugh, Takeru swatted his hands away once again, legs uncurling so that they weren't pressed against his chest anymore. "So you'll be my nightlight until the power comes back, right?"
"'course. Make my job easier and turn right a little, 'k? This position is making me uncomfortable."
Realizing that Daisuke still had his arm around him, Takeru complied, ducking under his friend's arm quickly. In the end, the two boys were sitting back to back, and Daisuke was pleased to hear that the other's breathing had calmed down. Of course, that didn't make the pattern any less annoying, but hey — it was an improvement. The two sat in silence as they waited for the lights to come back on, but to Takeru, it didn't matter all that much anymore. Daisuke made a nice substitute.