Disclaimer: The characters, items, places etc of Digimon are property of Toei Ltd. These objects are used without permission for entertainment only, not for making money. No infringement is intended.

"When I was young, my father told me just the bad guys die
at the time just a little white lie
it was one of the first but it hurt me the most
and the truth stung like tears in my eye
that even the good guys must die
there's no reasoning no crimes and I never knew why
even now it still makes me cry…

If there's somebody up there could they throw me down a line
just a little helping hand just a little understanding
just some answers to the questions that surround me now.
If there's somebody up there could they throw me down a line
just a little guiding light to tell wrong from right
just some answers to the questions that I'm asking you
I keep a vigil in a wilderness of mirrors
where nothing here is ever what it seems
you stand so close but you never understand it
for all that we see is not what it seems, am I blind?"

Fish- Vigil (In A Wilderness of Mirrors)

Read the above lyrics. Read them first- they set the tone for this very-overdue finale fic ^_^

Dearly Beloved

By Nanaki Lioness

"Tai…"

"I know you can't hear me. But hey- that never stopped me before…!"

Matt laughed dryly, laying the single rose on the earth before him, kneeling on the damp grass without a care to his clothing.

"It's been a year. A whole year. I felt I had to come and talk to you, ya know… Let you know what you've been missing and all that."

"You haven't missed much, pal. Honestly. Just me trying to dodge everybody because I haven't told them yet. It's getting harder to hide it, but I have to, right? I can't have them worrying about me like I did over you all the time."

"And no, it's not your fault. I can hear you saying it."

He stood, rubbing the dirt from his knee absently.

"But, I can't stay long. The weather's not good and I know it's going to rain soon. I mustn't get caught out in it. Can't be getting sick."

He took two steps before looking back over his shoulder. His eyes scanned the headstone briefly before sighing and walking away.

Who am I kidding? Talking to a lump of rock is hardly going to make him hear me.

. . . . . . . . . .

"Matt, where have you been, son?"

Matt shrugged, hanging up his coat and taking off his shoes before entering the house.

"I'm a grown man, Dad. It doesn't matter."

"I'm just curious, that's all. TK phoned for you whilst you were out."

The blonde picked up the handheld phone and walked across to his bedroom with it. As he entered the door, he heard his father speak.

"I haven't forgotten the day, Matt."

Matt looked at the floor.

"Then why did you ask where I was?"

His Dad shrugged. "To see if you would tell me."

There was no response- only the sound of Matt closing his bedroom door with a soft sigh. He dialed TK's number from heart and listened to it ring, knowing what the question would be.

"Takaishi residence, TK speaking."

"Hey Teek…"

"Matt! Hey! I wasn't sure if you would call…"

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Well… You know…"

"Look, TK," Matt said softly. "Just because it's a year today doesn't mean the world's stopped turning for me."

"It has for Kari and her parents."

"That's understandable. Are they okay?"

TK sighed, and Matt could see him shaking his head with it. "No. Kari's a wreck. Her parents didn't seem that much better off. They've been looking at photos all day, and Kari's Mom went out and bought loads of new photo-frames…"

"It's a difficult day for us all. There was a bouquet there today, already, though I don't know who from."

"Probably the family."

"Yeah. Probably."

They lapsed in to an awkward silence.

"TK, could you come over?"

"Huh?"

"Come over. Now?"

"Right now?"

"Yes. Right now."

"Okay… If you say so…"

The line went dead and Matt placed the phone down on his bed.

I can't keep hiding. I can't keep pretending everything's all right, because it's not. It's not the most ideal day, but what day is?

I don't want to do this… Now I understand why Tai was so angry. I understand why he destroyed his apartment.

Tai…

You just can't leave me alone, can you pal…?

. . . . . . . . . .

The door was already open, TK noticed as he approached and pushed it gently. Opening it fully, he entered and looked round the apartment.

"Hey TK," Matt called from the kitchen, where he was stirring a drink. "Come in, sit down. Tea or coffee?"

"Neither…" TK said, making his way to the living room. He sat down on the sofa and looked over at his Dad, who shrugged, equally confused.

"You're cheery," TK said slowly as Matt sat next to him, putting the drink down on the coffee table.

Matt shrugged. "Am I not allowed to be happy?"

TK grinned. "Course you are, 'nichan. It's nice to see you happy."

Matt smiled back and leant back against the sofa, staring into nothingness.

"Matt?" TK said.

Matt didn't reply.

"Matt…?" TK requested his brother's attention again, louder.

"Hmm?" Matt uttered airily, turning to his brother.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing!"

The smile didn't falter once, and the elder boy continued to stare in to space.

TK turned to his Dad again, who looked concerned.

"Son, is something wrong?" He asked quietly.

"Nu uh!" Matt murmured quickly, his eyes not leaving the imaginary object he was staring at. He still smiled, though both his brother and father could see it was fake.

"I don't believe you."

Matt stopped staring at nothing to pick up his drink. Holding it close to his chest, he laughed hollowly.

"I don't know what you're talking about…!" He said incredulously. "Nothing's wrong!"

TK reached out and took the coffee cup from Matt- he was gripping it so hard it was shaking and threatening to spill it's contents.

"Talk," was his only retort.

Matt smiled at them both again, but one look from his Dad and he closed his eyes and buried his face.

"We know it's a difficult day for you," TK began softly. "But we're here, right? We're all upset about it, but-"

"No… You don't understand…" Matt said, his voice muffled by his hands.

TK reached a hand out to his shoulder. "We do understand, but you never let us help you, Matt…"

"No!"

Matt jumped up and away from his brother, falling over the edge of the coffee table and knocking the mug that TK had put down off. It fell and spilt off the table, narrowly missing TK who moved his feet out the way.

"Sorry!" Matt sputtered, getting down on his knees and picking the cup up immediately. He grabbed a newspaper and put it over the liquid on the table that was currently seeping into the carpet.

"Don't worry about it," his Dad said softly, sensing something was drastically wrong.

"No, I have to, I-I don't want to wreck the c-carpet…" Matt half-sobbed, his façade non existent and his emotions exposed.

"It won't," his Dad assured him. "You think this carpet's never seen a spilt cup of coffee before?"

"It's great at hiding it," TK grinned.

Their words didn't seem to help- Matt was still knelt on the floor with his face covered. TK sighed and got up, kneeling down in front of Matt and prying his hands away from his face.

Anguish was what met him. Raw, cutting anguish, and tear stained cheeks. TK let go of Matt's hands, shocked, and grabbed his shoulders.

"What's the matter…?" He breathed, half of him not daring to ask.

Matt muttered something.

"Matt, I can't hear you, 'nichan. I can't hear you…"

Matt repeated what he had said, but TK still couldn't understand it. He pulled Matt's hands away again and looked him in the eye. The look in his brother's eyes was enough to bring tears to his own, but he didn't break the gaze.

"What's wrong?"

Matt made eye contact, looking lost and broken.

"I have it too…" He whispered.

TK closed his eyes.

"Tell me you don't mean that, 'nichan. Tell me that isn't what you mean…"

"TK, I have it. I have HIV."

TK opened his eyes again and swallowed the lump in his throat.

"Does that mean you're dying, too? Like Tai did?"

Matt nodded and turned his gaze to the floor.

In the background, they heard their Dad pick up the phone and call their mother, but neither of them took notice.

"Matt, how did it happen? How did you get it, too?"

Matt lifted a hand. "When he choked that day. I had a cut, on my finger, which came in to contact with his blood. He asked me to get tested, and I honored that straight away…"

"You've known all this time…?!"

Matt nodded.

TK looked hurt. "And you didn't tell us?"

"I… I didn't want to worry you…"

TK reached out and hugged Matt tightly. "Of course we're going to worry about you. We love you, 'nichan. We love you very, very much…"

"Cry and I'll smack you, TK," Matt snapped sensing the silence between them correctly. "I don't want you to be sad."

"Bad luck," TK said, letting go and sitting back against the sofa.

"Matt, this isn't a secret you should have kept all this time," their father said, walking to them and standing over them.

"I know…" Matt said, looking at the floor.

"It was a very dangerous thing to do. But, still, now we know we can prepare ourselves and help you."

Matt nodded.

"It's being treated at the moment, with pills," he said softly. "It may never develop, they say, but there's always the chance it might."

"Have you told anybody?"

Matt shook his head.

"No. You're the first, other than Tai. But… Technically, he doesn't count…"

He picked himself up from the floor and sat back on the sofa, glancing down at the soggy newspaper and wet carpet.

"Sorry about that…" he said.

"Don't be sorry. It can be sorted."

"Hmm…"

TK stood up and sat on the sofa next to Matt again, his composure better.

"So, you may not die?" He asked hopefully.

"Well, I will eventually," Matt said, smiling a little. "But, maybe not as soon as you think."

"Good," TK said, getting closer to his brother and curling himself round him softly. "I don't want you to leave me."

"I won't leave you by choice, TK," Matt said, returning the physical favor.

Not now, not ever. I'll be here for you as long as I possibly can be. I promise.

. . . . . . . . . .

Night crept upon the land in a sheet of cold, icy frost. Matt wrapped his coat tighter around thin frame and pushed open the metal gates. They creaked softly, and Matt shivered.

Graveyards are kinda freaky at night…

He knew exactly where to go, and how to get there. Clutching a white envelope in his hand he walked the route to his friend's grave silently.

Upon reaching it, he knelt down in respect and placed the letter on top of the white rose.

"I know you can't read it," he whispered, his breath clouding the breeze. "But I just feel better knowing I've given it to you the only way I can."

He stayed kneeling for a moment more before making his way back again, before the cold could creep through his skin any more. He passed the graveyard attendant as he left, and offered him a smile.

"Cold night," the attendant said politely.

Matt nodded. "Not the kind of night to be working here, eh?"

"Not the kind of night to be visiting either, son," the man answered. "You should be home in bed."

"That's where I'm going, thanks," Matt smiled before departing, leaving the man to his job.

It wasn't until an hour later that the attendant discovered it. He had been doing his routine job of clearing dead blossoms from graves when he noticed the white letter nestled with the white rose.

Emblazoned on the front was the name 'Taichi'.

The man picked it up, and read the name on the headstone. It matched.

Intrigued, he turned the letter over. Nothing was written on the back. He shook it, but nothing moved inside but paper.

"Strange…" he muttered. He placed it back down with the rose, feeling as though he was invading the privacy of the person who wrote it. He tucked it underneath the rose tighter, so whoever would eventually read it would find it where it had been found.

He continued along to the next grave, glancing back at the letter. Shaking his head, he put it out of his mind and continued with his job.

None of my business.

. . . . . . . . . .

"Daddy…"

"Not now, sweetheart."

The little blonde girl tugged on her father's suit tails a little harder.

"Daddy!"

The man sighed, turning his attention from the headstone he was looking at and glanced down at his daughter.

"What is it, Rei?"

Rei thrust something forward to him- a small, white letter.

"Where did you get this?" Her father demanded to know.

"Over there!"

Rei pointed in the direction of one of the graves.

"You shouldn't take things from other people's graves, Rei. What would mommy say if she knew you'd be taking things that don't belong to you?"

"She wouldn't be very happy…" Rei said, lowering his head.

"Mommy can't be here to tell you how disappointed she would be," the man said, with a glance to the headstone he'd been looking at, "but I am. Go and put it back."

"But, I can't read it. It's too complicated…"

The man turned the envelope over to find it had been opened.

"You shouldn't be trying to read it, Rei. It's nothing to do with you."

He walked over to the grave his daughter had pointed to. The name on the envelope matched the name on the headstone, he noticed.

"Rei, I think this is a very personal letter."

"But Daddy… The person who wrote it seemed really sad. I could see some words, but there are lots of long, big ones…"

"It's got a name on it, too… Ya-ma-to. He seemed really sad. Do you think it's to his mommy? Do you think his mommy died, too?"

"Rei…"

"Daddy can we go and find Ya-ma-to? Can we go and see if he's really sad because his mommy died like my mommy?"

"Does Yamato have a last name, Rei?" Her father said quietly.

Rei nodded. "I couldn't read it…"

The man took Rei by the hand and led her away from the graveyard, still clutching the letter. Once he was back at his car, he pulled the letter out of the envelope. He skipped straight to the signature, not wanting to read any of it.

"Ishida Yamato," he said softly, putting the letter back in the envelope and putting it on his dashboard.

. . . . . . . . . .

"Matt!!"

Matt looked up from his guitar score sheet upon hearing TK's voice.

"Somebody's at the door for you!"

Matt sighed and put his guitar down. Opening the door, he saw TK admit a man and a young girl to the house. Puzzled, he went to greet them.

"Ishida Yamato?" The man asked.

"Yes…"

The man held out a hand to him.

"I am Seishu Kyuu. This is my daughter Rei."

"Hi!" Rei said, waving and grinning at Yamato. She pushed the white letter in to his hands.

"She found this at the graveyard," Kyuu said quietly.

"I wanted to see if you were sad because your mommy died," Rei explained.

Matt took the letter, fingering the edge where it had been opened.

"She was worried," Kyuu explained. "I told her she shouldn't touch things that aren't hers, but the deed was already done…"

"It's all right," Matt interrupted, smiling a little.

"Did your mommy die like my mommy did?" Rei asked.

TK looked his Dad, who beckoned to Matt's bedroom. They both entered it and closed the door, leaving Matt to sort out his letter in privacy.

Matt knelt down on the floor and shook his head. "No, Rei. My mommy didn't die, my best friend did."

"What happened to him?"

"Rei!" Kyuu hissed. He looked at Matt apologetically. "I'm so sorry…"

"No, really. Come on in, sit down. It's all right."

Rei ran ahead and jumped on the sofa, Kyuu trailing her and looking evermore sorry on Matt's behalf.

Matt sat next to Rei, turning sideway in the chair and bringing his legs up so he could face her.

"Did you read my friend's name?" He asked Rei.

Rei shook her head.

"His name was Taichi."

"Tai-chi…" Rei repeated.

"What did you read?"

Rei thought it over for a moment. "I know you were really sad. I couldn't read lots of the big words."

"Would you like me to read it to you?"

"You don't have to do that," Kyuu said immediately, but Matt shook his head.

"It's fine," he repeated.

"Would you like me to read it to you, Rei?"

Rei nodded enthusiastically.

Matt smiled and pulled it out of the envelope, smiling at Rei one last time before beginning to read it.

Taichi,

I know you'll never get the chance to read this, but I have to do it anyway. I have to do this to make myself feel better.

Today was your funeral. It was really, really hard, Tai. I know you were up there, laughing at us all. At least, I hope you were. Not very often you'll see us dressed in suits, I can tell you! And what's with having a party afterwards? That doesn't seem right! I didn't enjoy it. I don't think anyone did.

So, it's the evening now, and while I'm supposed to have officially said good bye to you, I don't feel like I have. I feel like you're still here, and like you're going to phone me up or turn up on my doorstep any minute now.

I don't like it. It keeps making me cry, and we both know how much I hate crying. When I do see you again, I'll make you pay for all my sleepless nights, hear me?

And, isn't that typical- I'm crying again. Tai, you are SO going to pay.

I have it too, you know. Don't feel guilty. After seeing you struggle, I've found it easier to accept. Like it was inevitable or something, I dunno.

But, anyway. I don't remember what I was supposed to be writing anymore. I don't think it matters, but I feel like I'm talking to you. I know it's not the same. Nothing can be the same now.

Just… What I know I wanted to say was that I miss you, and I love you. I love you more now you're gone, because I don't have you to make me angry at you when you do stupid things. There was always a balance between love and hate, but without the hate, it's just love.

If I don't stop writing this now, I think I'm going to cry my eyes dry.

See you around, your best friend,

Ishida Yamato

Matt sighed and folded the letter up, placing it back in the envelope again.

"So you were really sad," Rei said.

Matt nodded. "Yes, I was. I wrote that this time last year. It's easier now than it was then."

"Do you want me to take the letter back?" Rei asked.

Matt smiled and shook his head. "No, it's all right. I'll keep it."

"Thank you for reading it to me, Ya-ma-to," she said, standing and bowing respectfully.

"I think we've taken up enough of this man's time," Kyuu said softly, holding out his hand to Matt again. "It's been a pleasure to meet you, and I apologize again on behalf of my daughter."

"No, really, it's all right," Matt reassured.

"I'm also truly sorry for your loss," Kyuu continued, lowering his gaze to the floor.

"And I am for yours," Matt said softly. He looked down at Rei, who was grinning widely at him.

"You take care, Rei," he told her.

Rei waved and Kyuu smiled down at her before walking to the door with Matt.

"Thank you," Kyuu said again.

Matt shook his head.

"No," he whispered as they passed through the door. "Thank you."

Author's Notes: *waves frantically* I'm here, I'm alive! I know it's taken me forever to finally finish this off, but it's here and it's done. Woo! Now, all the kind people who have requested it, I hope you enjoy it. And everyone else- I hope you like it, too ^_^

Reviews? Feedback? Nanaki_Lioness@hotmail.com or reviews below appreciated!