This fic was inspired by the death of my good friend Amber's boyfriend, JJ. No, JJ was not a vengeful psycho like the character Tera in this story, she was created entirely by my own imagination. I just wanted to say, that before you read this, no matter what your religion is or what your beliefs are, take a few seconds to say a little prayer in the memory of Jerry James Legg.
"Thank you for coming."
"I'm so sorry for your loss."
"She was so young."
These words and many more like them were all the brown haired boy heard as he sat in the front pew of the church. His head was lowered in sorrow, his chocolate eyes were pouring tears. He felt a hand suddenly on his shoulder, but he did not want to look up for anyone. The hand simply gave him a reassuring squeeze, and before he knew it, Matt's lanky arms were around him, pulling him into a tight hug.
"I'm sorry I'm so late, I got stuck in really bad traffic," he said when their bodies had separated.
"It's ok," Tai said, choking back more tears and wiping his eyes carelessly on the sleeve of his suit. "I'm just glad you could make it, I'm a wreck."
"It's all right, you can be a wreck if you want to," Matt said soothingly, dabbing Tai's cheeks dry with the cuff of his shirt.
"I have no idea what to do, Matt. I thought I was done crying but as soon as we got here I just broke down again."
The blonde held one arm around his friend's shoulder and let him lean. Tai was still sniffling lightly.
"I felt kind of nervous coming in, too," he said. "Not only because of the funeral but because I've never been in a Christian church before." He looked around at the crosses on the walls, until his gaze settled on the casket hiding behind a row of mourning family members at the front of the room.
"Her dad was American, so all the kids were brought up Christian." Tai said softly. He too, was now staring at the open casket before them. Then, the row of people parted, and the view they had been blocking was revealed.
A beautiful young girl lay peacefully in the expensive coffin. Her long, wavy brown hair had been fixed perfectly, the striking green eyes on her China doll face were closed in eternal slumber. She had been Taichi's girlfriend for nearly a year, a violin player and a straight A student. They seemed an unlikely match, but were happy during all their time together.
"It's not fair, I keep looking at her and expecting her to sit up and say 'Surprise' or something, like this is all just a joke," Tai said.
"I thought you were joking when I go your e-mail," Matt sighed. "It seems impossible that she's gone out of nowhere."
The call had come unexpectedly only a few short days before. Tera Nakano, the intelligent young musician from Odaiba High School had been killed instantly during a car crash on icy roads. Tai was devastated. He cried into his sister Kari's lap nearly the whole night after Tera's father had called to tell him the news. It seemed unreal.
"It's crazy," Matt sighed once again. "Only the day before I found out, I was going to call you up and complain about how perfect your relationship was compared to mine."
"Oh, Matt, I'm so sorry, I totally forgot you and Kenichi broke up," Tai said, grabbing his partner's hand.
"That's not important right now," Matt told him. "He was a jerk anyway."
Kenichi had been Matt's boyfriend up until the week before the accident. The coming out process had not been easy for the young bass player, and he had gone through rocky relationships with several boys since then. Tai had always been there as a shoulder to cry on after one of Matt's many breakups, but now he was the one who needed support, something Matt was not the best at giving.
"Graduation is coming up in a few months and everything, how am I gonna get through it without her?" Tai said.
"Taichi, I'm here for you every step of the way, understand? I know you're strong enough to face this."
"I wish all that courage I'm supposed to have would show up now so I could stop crying," he said. Tears were still trickling down his tan cheeks.
Matt sighed deeply and patted Tai on the leg.
"I'm going to pay my respects to her family, ok?" He said, leaning down to look in Tai's eyes to judge whether he'd be all right for a few minutes alone. The brunette simply nodded and Matt stepped in line with the other mourners in attendance.
After a long service with much talk about God and Jesus that Matt didn't entirely understand, Tera's casket was closed and prepared to be taken away. Tai, along with her father, brothers, and uncles, were the pallbearers. Matt could tell that the brunette was using every ounce of his strength to keep from crying as the six men hoisted the heavy box onto their shoulders to be carried off.
The blonde let out a deep breath as the body was taken away, and Sora, who had driven there with him, leaned over to talk.
"I've never seen Tai so upset as long as I've known him," she said quietly.
"I know, he was completely in love with her, although I don't see why," he said, leaning back in the pew and looking up at the ceiling.
"She was beautiful, Matt, and I think you make her out to be a lot worse than she was," Sora said.
"I'm sad that she was killed, of course, but it's going to be hard to miss someone that was always a complete bitch to me..."
"Don't talk like that now, what if Tai heard you?"
Matt ran his hand through his hair and sat up straight again. He looked down at his dress shoes and wondered if he was a bad person for not feeling much remorse over the death of someone, even if they had hated each other. He had been in love with Tai for the longest time, and Tera saw that all too well. She had tried many times to break up the close friendship between the two boys without Tai knowing, wanting his affection all for herself and none for Matt. It was not as if she was a cruel person, for she had honestly cared for the brown eyed soccer player. Brutally jealous would be the best way to describe the young beauty.
Sora and Matt stood once the casket had been taken from the room, and the grieving family had the chance to exit. Tai walked back down the aisle then as people started to shuffle out. He stopped before Matt and laid his head on the taller boy's shoulder, shaking slightly, trying to hold in more tears.
"Matt, can I have a ride home?" He asked. "My parents are staying to help out the Nakanos but... I can't be here anymore."
The blonde wrapped his arms around Tai and held him.
"Of course, I have to drop Sora off first though, ok?"
"Tai, I'm so sorry, I wish there was something I could do..." Sora said, stepping up beside the two boys and placing her hand on Tai's arm.
"It's all right, Sora. I'll be fine... somehow."
The car ride home was almost completely silent, except for Matt swearing under his breath about the awful traffic that night. The church where the services had been held was only a few kilometers outside Odaiba, but it took nearly an hour to get home. After dropping Sora off at her apartment building, Matt drove Tai to his, parking momentarily outside the front door.
"Are you sure you don't want to sleep over or something, I hate to think of you spending tonight alone," Matt offered. Tai shook his head and unbuckled his seat belt.
"I'll be fine, I'll just call you in the morning or something."
Tai stepped out of the car into the chilly winter air.
"Maybe we can hang out some time this weekend," Matt said, smiling faintly.
"Sure." Tai turned and walked slowly up the sidewalk. Matt stayed and watched until Tai was safely inside the building before driving off, hoping the brunette would fall asleep before shedding too many more tears. The musician shifted the car into gear and headed the short distance back to his own apartment building.
Tai trudged up the stairs of the quiet apartment building, too depressed to care about the perfectly working elevator right down the hall. He turned the key in the door of his apartment and stepped inside into the dark. When the light flashed on, he was greeted only by Meeko, his cat. She gave a concerned meow and pawed at Tai's pant leg while he removed his shoes.
"Not now, Meeko..."
He walked across the apartment and collapsed on his bed once he had entered his room. Everything was silent, the snow hitting the terrace naturally made no sound, there was not even any wind tonight. Tai could not even cry, it was as though all his tears had been used up and his body was hollow and dry.
He fell asleep before his parents and Kari arrived home, and they shut the door to his bedroom softly when they got there. He had been through enough for one day and did not need his sleep disturbed.
At that moment a few blocks away, Matt was sitting on his bed with an acoustic guitar in his lap and sheet of paper by his side. He was trying desperately to write a song for Tai, the only thing he could think to do to make his dark skinned partner feel better. But the words would not come, he couldn't think of a thing to write in memory of someone he had so strongly disliked, and had never wanted Tai to be with in the first place.
"Damn it, this is hopeless." He laid his guitar on the floor and leaned across the bed to grab his phone and call Sora. She was the surrogate big sister and source of advice for all of the Digidestined, and the first person Matt usually called for help, especially when his troubles concerned Tai.
"Moshi Moshi, Takenouchi residence."
"Hey Sora," he said, recognizing her voice.
"Hi Matt, what's up?"
"I'm trying to write a song for Tai but my mind is a blank. I feel like such an asshole, I should be sad his girlfriend is dead and try to support him, but all I can feel is this huge... relief or something."
"Relief?" She asked. "That Tera's out of the way you mean."
"Yeah, I can't believe someone died and all I can focus on is the fact that Tai's single again," he said, frustration sounding in every word.
"You two certainly weren't on good terms," she said truthfully. "But you should definitely wait before you try to pursue a relationship with Tai."
"I know, if I gave in to what I was feeling right now, I'd probably seem like a hawk swooping down to grab fresh meat." He rolled over on his bed and sighed, switching the phone to his other ear. "What am I going to do, I suck at cheering people up."
"Just do whatever Tai wants, you need to forget about wanting to be with him for a while and go along with whatever he thinks will make him happy."
"Even if that doesn't involve being with me..." Matt said.
"I was just about to say that," Sora replied. "Even though I know it's not what you want to hear.... Tai just won't want to think about loving anyone else for a long time."
"If only they had just broken up or something, that would make this so much easier! Why did she have to go and die, it's just another way of keeping Tai all to herself," he said angrily.
"That's a pretty selfish thing to say, Matt... Why would anyone do that?"
"I don't know, I just get this weird feeling that she's laughing at me from beyond the grave or something." He looked cautiously out the window then, psyching himself out enough to almost believe there would be a disembodied spirit hovering there watching him.
"You might want to get some sleep," Sora laughed. "It's been a long day."
"Yeah. Hey, tell me... You've got the crest of love, so why does it have to hurt so much?" He asked, thinking not only of his own longing, but of all the suffering Tai was going through over the loss of his girlfriend.
"I'm not sure.... I think that's something nobody will ever know."
"Taichi, I'm so glad you're here!" She said, her green eyes twinkling in the sun.
"Tera!" He ran through the wide field of flowers they were in, color spread in every direction as far as the eye could see. It was so warm, the sun was bright and perfect in the center of the sky. They embraced immediately, Tai nuzzled against her soft brown hair, a few shades lighter than his own.
"You're ok, I thought something terrible had happened to you," Tai said, lifting her off the ground and spinning her.
"Of course I'm ok. I would never leave you, Taichi," she whispered. She smiled slightly, her eyes half lidded. She ran her delicate hands through his bangs and pressed close to him.
"You wouldn't love anyone but me, would you, Tai?" She asked, bringing one finger to her lips and batting her eyelids sweetly.
"No way!" He said. She covered her mouth daintily and giggled, slipping out of his arms and taking a few bouncy steps across the field away from him. She spun on the spot, making her long hair bob up and down.
"You're all mine, Taichi, I'm so happy."
Tai grinned broadly and made to chase her playfully, but suddenly the sky darkened and a bitter chill started the form in the air.
"Tera! Watch out!" He cried. Forming all around her feet were giant crystals of ice, slowly growing up around her ankles and legs.
"Taichi, save me!" She screamed. Tai began to run towards her, but she seemed a million miles away. He legs felt so heavy, he could barely move, and no matter how hard he tried, he could not get any closer to his freezing love.
The ice spread upwards until it consumed her, and she was a frozen statue in the shape of a girl. Everything was black, it was colder than the coldest snow. She looked at him lifelessly and an ear splitting scream echoed from all around. It became louder and louder, until the human ice sculpture shattered into a thousand tiny pieces.
"TERA!" Tai shot up in his bed and yelled out into the night. Meeko, who had been lying on his legs, asleep, hissed and raced out of the room. He looked all around, his computer, desk, chair, soccer gear, were there, everything was there. He was in his own room, it had all been a dream. He wiped the sweat from his brow and bent his head down to cry into his hands. He sobbed loudly and heavily, every part of his body poured its strength into each heaving breath.
This awful nightmare, it was like losing her all over again, and while he cried out each tiny torment of his soul in teardrops, he wondered how he would ever be able to go on.
The burial was the next morning. Matt had come at Tai's request, and they now stood in the cold air while the beautifully polished casket was lowered into the ground in the small Christian cemetery. Tera's mother wept at the sight of her daughter's body being buried forever under two meters of earth. Tai leaned on Matt's shoulder to brace himself from the cold, and to keep from breaking down into sobs again.
Family and friends who had gathered slowly started to disperse now that the burial was over. There was to be a small reception at the Nakano's home for mourners to gather, but Tai had decided not to go. He did not feel like facing anyone at the moment, especially many people he barely knew. Chatting it up with distant relatives of his deceased girlfriend was not something he could handle for the time being.
He bid farewell to his parents, who were heading to the reception out of courtesy, but understood why he did not want to be there. The athlete clung to Matt's arm as they walked down the small incline out of the cemetery and crossed the parking lot of the church.
"Is there anywhere in particular you want to go?" Matt asked when they had reached the car.
"Just for a drive..." Tai answered, opening the passenger door and getting in. They stopped to fill the gas tank before heading down whatever road had the least amount of traffic.
Two hours went by, Matt had left the highway long ago, and they were traveling on back roads. Tai had been staring out the window the whole time, deep in thought. They were far outside the city now, even the suburbs were behind them. Matt looked around at the snow covered countryside around them, and was not even sure he knew where he was. The sky was grey and dismal. There were no other cars on the road. He had not even seen a house for at least ten minutes, they were in a place that was the definition of 'middle of nowhere'.
"I sure hope we can get back..." He said quietly. He knew for a fact that they had driven north for most of the trip, and just hoped that his decent sense of direction was enough to find their way south again. As they drove further, it began to snow, and the sky seemed almost as dark as night, even if it was only mid afternoon. Matt sighed, wishing very much to see the comforting city lights of home, instead of eerie forests and deserted fields.
"Tai, I know you need time alone, but I really think we should turn around and try to get directions back to Tokyo. I have no idea where we are," the blonde said, slowing down and pulling to the side of the road.
"Sure," Tai said, still looking out the window. Matt looked at his friend sitting there, let out a deep sigh and turned the engine off.
"Do you want to talk?" He said.
"Every time I try to talk I just cry, what's the use," Tai said.
Matt placed his hand gently on Tai's thigh, and the brunette finally looked over at him.
"It probably seems like the world is over right now, but you'll find someone else some day. There are still people out there who love you," he said.
"Nobody can replace Tera," he said grimly. "She was everything to me...."
Matt bit his bottom lip. He knew Tai was grieving, but to hear those words was nearly heartbreaking. He would have done anything for it to be his touch Tai was longing for, and not that wretched girl's.
"I guess it's ok to feel that way for now," Matt said, trying to remember Sora's words from the night before. "But eventually you're going to have to accept that she's gone and try to move on and find someone else."
"There is nobody else!" Tai yelled, startling Matt. "Nobody could ever love me like she did!"
Matt narrowed his eyes and glared at the boy next to him, his temper overcoming any advice he had been given to ignore his own feelings.
"Maybe that person could be sitting right next to you and you wouldn't even know it if you keep thinking about the one you lost!" He yelled back. Matt's yell was ten times more intimidating than Tai's though, and there was so much frustration and fury behind those words, Tai shrunk down into his seat. He swallowed and blinked, his dark eyes starting to fill with tears. Matt's glare softened at the pitifully gorgeous sight before him. He unbuckled his seat belt and leaned across the car to take Tai into his arms.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. Please don't cry, Taichi." He whispered into the brunette's ear. "I'm not very good at understanding other people's feelings sometimes," he said.
"It's ok," Tai said, sniffling and brushing away the one tear that had fallen onto his cheek. "I don't even understand my own feelings right now."
Matt kissed him lightly on the cheek and Tai thought nothing of it. Matt kissed other boys all the time, after all, even to be friendly. If only he knew how much love was in that small kiss compared to all the others.
The musician started up the car again, though it stalled at first. He turned around in a patch of dirt on the side of the old country road and headed back the way they had come. After several minutes though, they came to a crossroads, each direction heading off into thick woods.
"Shit, which way did we come from?" He said, looking down each road for something vaguely familiar to remind him.
"I'm pretty sure it was from that way," Tai said, pointing left.
"Yeah," Matt nodded and turned left down the rocky road. "We passed a red house a few kilometers back, so if we don't see that, we'll know we went the wrong way."
They drove for several minutes, the forest becoming more ominous with each turn of the wheels. When no house had been spotted, Matt turned the car to head in the other direction, assuming they had been wrong in their guess. After passing the road they had previously been on and heading the other way, they still could find no red house anywhere.
"Damn, I was sure we went by a house on this road."
"Maybe it was before we turned on here," Tai said, squinting, trying to see further into the distance past all the tree branches.
"Must be," Matt said, speeding up again. Nearly a half hour passed, the blonde becoming more agitated all the time.
"I have no memory of being here," he said angrily, but Tai could hear a faint hint of worry in his voice.
"Are you sure we didn't miss a turn somewhere back there? It's snowing pretty hard, maybe you didn't see it."
"I have no idea..." Matt said, slamming his head on the steering wheel as the vehicle rolled to a stop.
"Wait!" Tai said, pointing through the trees. "There's a house over there, see it? Try to find a driveway and we'll ask for help."
Matt pushed his foot down on the gas again and soon they found an almost hidden driveway in the trees. The ground was uneven and icy, and the car made its was very slowly towards the outline of a house, set back far away from the road.
When they finally reached the building at the end of the drive, it was not a welcome sight. Shingles were falling off its old, crooked roof, nearly every window was broken. The front door was ajar, snow blowing into the house. The trees surrounding the house were growing so closely together that nearly all sunlight was blocked, and the house was covered by a shroud of ice and shadow.
"I don't think anyone lives here, Tai..." Matt said, looking up at the dilapidated building in front of them.
"Maybe there's a caretaker's house in the back or something, come on." Tai got out of the car quickly and zipped up his coat, shivering. It had become much colder since they left the cemetery, and the light flurries that had been falling that morning were becoming a blizzard. Luckily, the trees kept most of the harsh wind and snow from reaching them, and Tai trudged off towards the back of the house.
"Tai, wait a minute!" Matt called. He turned the car off and pulled the key from the ignition, slamming the door and running after Tai.
The back side of the house was not in any better condition than the front. The door on the collapsing porch was boarded up, and the paint was peeling from every wall. The yard was overgrown and the thick brush that had formed there was covered in a blanket of snow. Nothing else could be found, no barn, shed or guest house. There was just the one solitary building in the center of the woods, looming ominously over the two boys.
"We'd better go, Tai. This place is abandoned." Matt's arms were wrapped tightly around his own body, trying to keep warm.
"Yeah... I guess you're right," Tai said with disappointment. They walked back through the snow which seemed to be accumulating at record fast pace. They climbed back into the car and buckled their seat belts, but when Matt slid the key back into the ignition and turned, nothing happened.
"Oh, please tell me this isn't happening," he groaned. Turn after turn yielded no outcome, the car appeared to be dead.
"Maybe if everything wasn't so damn COLD," he growled.
"Try your cell phone," Tai said.
Matt reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his phone, switching it on.
"No service.... Try yours."
Tai did the same, but when he pushed the green button on his phone to activate it, he was greeted with the same message.
"DAMN IT!" Matt yelled, slamming his fist against the steering wheel. He could not believe in a country where nearly every man, woman and child owned a mobile phone, that there could be anywhere without service.
"It's probably just the snow messing it up, Matt, calm down," Tai said.
"Well what the hell are we going to do now?" He said. "We can't walk in this snow, we'll freeze to death before we get out of this forest wasteland."
"We could stay in the house until the snow stops," Tai suggested.
Matt glared up at Tai.
"Do you really want to go in there?"
"Come on, you said yourself it's abandoned, nobody's gonna care," Tai said, opening the car door and setting one foot on the ground.
"What if it's haunted," Matt said mockingly, rolling his eyes.
"The only people in there are rats and they're probably all hibernating right now," Tai said, and got out of the car, closing the door behind him.
"Rats do not hibernate..." Matt mumbled, even though Tai was halfway across the lawn by now. He sighed, shoved the car keys in his pocket and got back out of the car to follow his brown haired companion into the old house.
The inside of the house was not much to look at but was surprisingly warm. The old walls were thick and sturdy, designed to keep out the strongest wind. It must have been a fine place to live when it was new. Though it was dark and dingy inside, the building was huge, with three floors, and a grand entryway and stairwell. It was not a traditional Japanese home at all, it appeared to be more European in style. Like an old castle one might see in a movie.
Tai and Matt explored the place thoroughly, staying close together and jumping at every creaking floorboard or howl of the wind. The house gave off an eerie feeling to say the least.
They decided to wait out the storm in an upstairs bedroom, which was by far the warmest room in the house. It was located in the center of the second floor and had no windows, guarded from the cold by other rooms on all sides. The room was basically empty except for a large canopy bed in the center. The curtains had been torn down, leaving an empty frame. The covers remained, though, neatly made and waiting for someone to sleep in.
They sat for hours, talking or playing memory games to pass the time, walking down the hall every so often to see if the snow had stopped falling. When dusk came, though, the blizzard had still shown no signs of letting up.
"Looks like we're stuck here for the night," Tai said, checking his cell phone once again but still getting no signal.
"This sucks," Matt said, folding his arms across his chest.
"Hey, at least we're not stranded in the car," Tai said.
"Like this place is any better?" Matt scoffed.
"It gives me the creeps too," Tai admitted, and he inched closer to his blonde friend.
"Who said I was scared..." Matt said defensively, but he wrapped his arms around Taichi nonetheless.
"What time is it?" Tai asked, huddled against Matt's sweater.
"Almost 8:00," the musician answered, checking his watch. "We've been gone all day, our parents must be worried sick about us."
"I wish I had eaten more this morning," Tai moaned, feeling his stomach growl. "I didn't have much before the burial because I was scared I'd throw it up."
"Well, there's plenty of snow outside if you want some water," Matt sighed, half jokingly.
"At least we won't die of thirst."
"Taichi..." Matt squeezed him tight in his arms. "Don't talk about dying, we'll be fine. By morning the snow will have stopped and we can go get some help."
"I know, I just keep thinking about Tera," he said sadly. Matt petted his fluffy brown hair gently and rocked him, not wanting Tai to cry any more that day.
"Why don't we try to get some sleep," the blonde suggested. "It'll be warmer under the covers." Tai nodded in agreement. Though this idea was partially to keep warm and calm Tai's nerves, the thought of spending a night cuddled up with the handsome soccer player excited Matt immensely.
They took their wet shoes off and laid their coats on the edge of the large bed before snuggling up under the old quilts. Tai rested his head close to Matt's shoulder, and Matt played with his small partner's hair contentedly. He felt so happy to have Tai in his arms, to be able to feel his breathing, even if the circumstances leading up to this moment were unfortunate. He just wished more than anything that he could bend down and kiss the gorgeous boy resting beside him, to say he loved him and hear those words in return.
"I'm glad you're here, Matt..." Tai said softly.
"Oh, thanks..." Matt said, blushing. He had not been expecting Tai to speak, and had been so wrapped up in imagining his lips locked with the little brunette's that the words took him by surprise.
"If I was out here by myself after everything that's happened, I dunno what I'd do... I'd just break down and cry myself to death or something."
"Come on, I said don't talk like that," Matt scolded, shifting on his side so he could see Tai's face while speaking to him.
"Sorry," Tai sighed. "I feel so weak, like a huge crybaby, I just can't help it."
"You can't be the fearless one all the time," Matt said, brushing Tai's bangs out of his eyes and tucking some of his wild hair behind his ear. "Everybody has weak moments in their life and now is one of yours, but it's ok."
"I'd be a total loser without you to back me up, Matt." He tucked his head under the blonde's chin and pressed against his chest, listening to the claming rhythm of his heart beat.
"You could never be a loser in my eyes..." Matt whispered. It was so hard to have him this close, but still not be able to show his true affection. They were friends closer than any brothers, but he just needed more. Matt kept reminding himself of Sora's advice, now was not the time, Tai needed to heal. It was just so tempting, having him right there in bed, just the two of them in the middle of nowhere. The blue eyed boy was doing whatever he could to keep from flipping Tai onto his back and plunging his tongue into that perfect mouth.
Matt sat up and tried to chase any erotic thoughts from his mind. Tai looked up at him, confused.
"What's the matter?" He asked, still laying down.
"I really need to piss," Matt groaned, shifting uncomfortably. It was true enough, he hadn't used the bathroom all day.
"Just go in that bathroom right there," Tai said, pointing to the door to the right of the bed. They had looked through every room in the house before settling down.
"Tai, the water won't work in this house, it looks like it's been empty for years."
"Just go and forget about flushing it, nobody's gonna know," Tai said.
"Ok," he agreed begrudgingly. "I'll be back in a second." Matt rose from the bed and walked into the small bathroom, shutting the door behind him. He looked down into the cobweb filled toilet that had obviously not been cleaned in many years with disgust. Going outside against a tree seemed a more desirable choice, but it was freezing cold and still snowing, and his need for warmth won him over. This was a minor emergency, after all.
He reached over and turned the handle of the faucet instinctively when he had finished, but of course no water came out. He sighed and looked down at his hands.
"I guess it won't kill me to not wash them this one time..." he sighed. The small annoyance left his brain quickly, and he turned the knob of the door to get back to Tai. When he opened the door to the dark, empty bedroom, though, Tai was not there. The canopy bed sat there with no occupant. Matt walked down the hallway outside the door, assuming Tai had gone to the window there to see if the snow had stopped. There was a chill in the air, much colder than before, and Tai was not in the hall either.
Just then, Matt spotted someone rounding the corner towards the stairwell at the opposite end of the narrow passageway.
"Hey, Tai!" He jogged down to the stairs but still found no one. "Quick fooling around Tai!" He yelled. The tall blonde descended the staircase to the first floor, looking around for footprints in the dust. Unsettling quiet surrounded him as he padded softly through the bottom floor of the house. His shoes were still upstairs and the wind blowing through the busted door was reaching his toes even through his thick socks.
He turned the corner, but spotted something peculiar through the half open door of the sitting room. He peeked inside, and was astonished to see a fire roaring in the fireplace. He heard the faint sound of crying from the musty antique chair that sat before the orange blaze. The sobs did not belong to Tai, though.... They sounded like they belonged to a woman. Could there really be someone living in this place?
"Is someone there...?" He asked nervously. He could see the form of a girl with long flowing hair, light brown or strawberry blonde. Matt strained his eyes in the darkness, only the light of the fire to aid his vision. He stepped closer to the woman, reached out to grab the back of the chair and turned it slowly.
"Holy shit!" He yelled, stumbling back and nearly falling on his rear end. Instead of a feminine face, the two hollow eyes of a skull stared back at him. The skeleton sat with an eerie sense of life about it in the old chair, its dark eye sockets gazing forever into the darkness. Matt's entire body shook as the fire suddenly vanished and a horrible stink like dead animals formed and hung in the air. He turned on the spot and tore out of the room as fast as possible to find Tai and get both of them out of there.
Meanwhile, Tai sat on the bed, waiting patiently for Matt to emerge from the bathroom. He sighed and rolled over in the bed, it had been almost five minutes since Matt left his side.
"I thought he just had to pee..." Tai said, staring off into the corner. He closed his eyes for a moment and sighed. Someone sat down on the bed beside him then, and he felt two hands touch his shoulders lightly.
"Finally, you sure took a while," he said.
The brunette shot up and looked at the person whose voice he had just heard.
He gaped at the girl sitting behind him, smiling. She was there, entirely whole, looking lovely as ever in the gown she had been buried in. The curtains of the huge bed were suddenly back in their rightful places, forming a tiny room of silk and satin around them
"Who did you expect, silly?" She said, bringing her hand to his cheek.
"But... It's impossible, you can't be here!" He cried, backing away.
"Taichi, you see me here next to you, don't you?" She crawled closer until she was nearly on top of him, kissing his forehead.
"But..." He stuttered, leaning slowly back onto the bed. Her green eyes sparkled as she looked down at him, smiling as if nothing had ever happened.
"It was all just a big mistake, I'm here now," she comforted, sliding both small hand up his shirt and laying them to rest on his pectorals.
As much as he wanted to believe his girlfriend had come back to him unharmed, Tai knew it could not be true. Many strange things had happened in his life, even traveling to another world, but this was unlike anything ever before. Digimon were reborn, but how could the girl who had been placed in the ground just that morning be kneeling over him now, looking and feeling completely alive?
"I've got to be dreaming..."
"It's not a dream," she whispered, bringing her lips only centimeters from his ear. "Now we get to spend the night together, just like we had planned..."
"No!" Tai pushed her off against the pillows at the head of the bed and tumbled to the floor. The curtains parted quickly by her hand, and she glared out at him.
"What's wrong Taichi, going back on your promise?" She hissed, her brilliant green eyes suddenly losing their sparkle and becoming dark and foreboding.
Tai swallowed but could not speak, stepping backwards towards the door, ready to run for his life at any moment.
"You said you'd love me forever, Tai!" She growled, putting one foot on the floor and moving towards him.
"I do..." He managed to say. She eased closer, both feet on the cold floor. Tai's breath caught in his throat as he turned and ran out of the room as fast as possible. He was down the stairs in seconds, not even looking back to see if she was still following him. He swerved to make a frantic break for the door but crashed into a figure running in the other direction. Two screams rang out as the boys hit the floor.
"Tai! You're ok!"
The blonde stood and Tai sprung up and flung his arms around Matt. They were both shaking violently.
"Oh God, we have to get out of here," Tai said.
Matt did not even know what Tai had just gone through, but after he own experience in the sitting room, he agreed wholeheartedly. They rushed together through the entryway of the house, but the door that had hung pathetically by one hinge letting the snow in for hours, was now in its frame properly again.
Matt grabbed onto the handle and pulled, but it would not budge.
"What the hell is going ON!?" He yelled, yanking the door with all his might and kicking at it.
"What about the back door!?" Tai said, grabbing Matt's arm.
"It's boarded up, remember!?"
"Are you really thinking of leaving me, Taichi..."
The two boys looked up in horror, brown and blue eyes opened wide. Tera stood there in all her radiant glory at the top of the stairs, staring down at them. Matt stepped protectively in front of Tai and the brunette shrank against his body.
"GET AWAY FROM HIM," she shrieked, moving down one stair closer.
"This can't be fucking happening..." Matt barely breathed out. Both of them were pressed firmly against the front door, nowhere else to go. They would have to pass the foot of the stairs to leave the entryway, and both were too frightened to move anyway.
"Take your hands off my boyfriend..." She said, stepping onto the next stair. Her angelic voice was anything but, the words left her throat in a low moan. It was like the howl of the wind, forming into a voice.
"Tera... why are you doing this?" Tai begged, squeezing his eyes shut and burying his face against Matt's chest.
Her once emerald eyes were red with hate, and unearthly glow started to envelop her body. Every shutter in the house suddenly swung close and locked, all light was blocked out. Every contact to safety that the pair of boys still had was gone, and there was only Tera, gliding slowly, step by step towards them.
"You swore you'd love me forever, Taichi..."
"I love you! Please let us go!" He cried.
"Why do you want to leave me, why don't you want to stay here with me!?" Her voice was coming from everywhere. She was at the bottom of the stairs now, only a few meters away.
"Go away! You can't have him anymore, you're dead!" Matt screamed, hiding Tai from her view.
"You..." Her eyes narrowed and she glared at Matt. Clenching her teeth, her whole form began to vibrate with rage. "You think you can have him all to yourself, now. I will not let you have him." She placed one foot in front of the other, jerking towards them at an excruciatingly slow pace.
Matt grabbed the door handles again, shaking then wildly.
"Damn it, damn it, open you god damn fucking door..."
Tai was pressed back against the wall, completely frozen with fear. Tera was less than a meter away, close enough to reach out and touch him. Matt turned and grabbed Tai's arm, racing past the girl towards the back of the house. She shrieked horribly when they went by almost grabbing hold of Tai's shirt sleeve, but just barely missed.
Matt shoved Tai into a closest near the back door to the house and locked them inside, barricading the door with everything he could find.
"Matt, we're going to die..." He choked, kneeling down in the dust in the back of the closet.
"Shut up, no we're not," Matt said, sitting in front of him.
"What are we going to do!? There's no way out!" He said, bursting into tears and throwing his full weight against Matt. The blonde clutched Tai so tightly he could have broken his ribs.
"Why is she doing this," Tai sobbed, "How is this even possible."
"I always knew she was a bitch," Matt said, trying to listen for anyone approaching over Tai's sobs.
Then, the whole building began to shake on its foundation. Tai and Matt looked all around them at things fell from the shelves in the closest and crashed to the floor. They heard the most horrible wail that could ever be imagined and a woman's hand began moving right through the thick closet door. They moved against the back of the closest as the hand moved through the wood and an arm started to be revealed.
"TAICHI!" The wailing continued even as she cried out his name.
"Ok," Matt said, "maybe we are going to die..."
"Matt..." Tai pressed his head against the blonde's chest as the hand reached down for them.
"Taichi," he whispered. "Please let me kiss you," he asked suddenly, sure that these were the last moments they would ever spend together.
"Wh-what?" Tai looked up at him, tears still rolling down his face, his whole body shaking uncontrollably. Matt gazed down at him, he was crying as well, but his eyes were so sincere. Tai had never seen such desperation in those sapphire orbs.
"You have no idea how much I love you," Matt whispered, barely audible above the violent creaking of the house and the unearthly wailing coming from all around.
Tai swallowed, not knowing what to do. The girl who he thought had loved him was so blind with jealousy, she would do anything to keep him for herself, even from beyond the grave. No love that dangerous could be true love. Sure there was no hope in sight, he gave in to whatever his friend's last wishes were, and lifted his head up to touch his soft lips.
All the terror was suddenly gone from Matt's mind as he tasted the brunette's mouth, a feeling he had longed for silently for longer than he could remember. They breathed the same breath, joined body, mind and soul, and then... everything was quiet. They broke their kiss, and looked all around. The shaking of the walls had ceased, the wailing was gone, and much to their surprise, sunlight was shining under the crack between the closet door and the floor.
"What just happened...?" Tai said.
Matt stood and helped Tai to his feet. After moving the objects from in front of the door aside, they stepped into the back foyer of the house. It was day again, and gentle snow could be seen falling outside the dirty windows.
"Is it possible we imagined everything that just happened?" Matt said, peering out the cracked glass of the window nearest to him.
"Both of us?"
They walked through the house hand in hand, afraid of losing each other. The door was just as it had been before, broken and falling off it's hinges. A small drift of snow had formed on the floor. The blonde opened up the door, and they walked on to the porch. The sun could be seen high in the sky behind the winter clouds, it was as if only minutes had passed.
Their shoes and coats were right where they had left them in the bedroom upstairs. The two boys pulled their belongings on quickly and ran back down the stairs, out of the house. Matt took the keys from his pocket once they had sat down in the chilly car, and placed them in the ignition. They were greeted by the hum of the motor as the car started up without any trouble at all.
"Matt, what's going on?" Tai asked, listening to the engine of the car that was obviously in perfectly working order.
"I have no idea, but let's get the hell out of here." He shifted into gear, slammed his foot down on the gas pedal and they sped away from the lonely old house in the woods. After just a few minutes on dusty back roads, they found themselves back in a quite country neighborhood, surrounded by houses and small stores. They followed road signs and were back on the highway in no time, heading for Tokyo. When they passed a billboard with a large digital clock on it, Tai was startled to see that the time was only two hours after they had left the church parking lot. It was as if all the time they had spent in the house had never happened.
"This is crazy," he said. "It's just like.... What's that old American show where all the creepy stuff happens and the weird music?"
"The Twilight Zone," Matt said.
"Yeah, it's just like that..."
"Who knows, maybe we were in some other world just like the Digital World," Matt said, trying to make sense out of everything that had happened.
"I just hope we never end up in that world again, if that is what happened."
They rode in silence for a short while, each one thinking over what they had just gone through, and not forgetting the realness of the kiss they had shared.
"Hey, Matt?" Tai said softly.
"Did you really mean that, when you said you loved me?" He said.
Matt blushed and kept his eyes on the road.
"I've loved you for a long time, Tai..."
"Why didn't you ever say anything?"
"I wanted to, but it's not easy to confess your love to a guy with a steady girlfriend."
Tai sighed and slumped down in his seat.
"You know, it might seem stupid, but even after everything that happened today, I still miss her a little."
Matt actually smiled hearing this. Tai was so forgiving, devoted, innocent, all things he adored about the little brunette.
"Nobody is ever going to believe us, you know," he said.
"I'm not sure if I want to tell anybody," Tai said, watching the cars speed by on the other side of the highway. "But I keep wondering," he said. Matt glanced to his side at Tai staring out the window. "Why did everything stop when we kissed?"
"I don't know..." Matt said.
The truth was, that when the lips of these two boys had met, the green eyed girl had seen that she could not hold onto Taichi forever. The painful realization came that her time was over, and the boy she had kept as her own would now move on to be with another, the one he was truly destined for. Even making the two boys face their own deaths could not keep Matt from stealing Tai's heart away from her, and he had...
Tai loosened his seat belt, and leaned over against Matt, resting his head on the blonde's shoulder. Matt smiled, warmth filling his heart. He turned slightly to give Tai a kiss on the forehead. Feeling Matt's lips against his skin brought a sudden sense of closure, and he closed his eyes to shed one last tear for Tera.