Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon, the characters, or the original plot.
For Love and Dreams
By: Tyson Granger
Note: References in this chapter to the upcoming sequel to a certain fic of mine. Can you guess which one?
Zoë entered University Stadium in the center of Shibuya University's campus and yawned. The walk to the stadium had been boring, but the resourceful young blonde had forced Kouichi with her so that she would have some company on the way. The dark-haired Kimura grumbled quietly about overbearing blondes ruining his peaceful day as he followed Zoë through the gates, but he made no other audible protests to visiting the presentation of the Japanese National Soccer Championship rings to their good friend Takuya's very own Shibuya U. Red Dragons. Everyone knew that the Legendary Warrior of Flame had worked himself near to death to prepare for their showdown in the Championship with their hated rivals, the White Tigers of Odaiba College. His friends were glad to see he would finally be getting the recognition he deserved for all his hard work.
"C'mon Kouichi, we're going to miss it! I can hear Coach Kamiya on the microphone already!" the lone Orimoto child whined, grabbing the warrior of darkness's arm and dragging him into a front-row seat in the bleachers. It seemed that many had turned out for the event, and most who were not in attendance were waiting patiently in the streets for the celebratory parade that was to follow. Zoë had not had to worry about seats, however, for Takuya always made sure that there were a few left open for his friends right up front. 'Perks of being the best…' Zoë laughed to herself as she and Kouichi reached the bleachers and perched themselves in their allotted seats.
"You sure are in a hurry for something you could have seen on television, you know? Why is that?" Kouichi teased Zoë, and a faint, rose-colored blush began to creep into her pale cheeks. The blonde-haired girl shook her head clear before turning a sharp glare on the dark-haired boy beside her. Kouichi smirked, "You can't hide it from me, Zoë. Besides, we've already talked about this before, haven't we?" Zoë nodded reluctantly, but crossed her arms with a huff and fell back into her seat.
"Still, you don't have to tease me about it…I can't help it if I love the jerk," the warrior of wind said sharply, her false anger belied by the smile creeping onto her face. "Besides, Takuya really deserves this award, and what kind of friends would we be if we didn't show up for the celebration?" Suddenly, a full-on grin took both their faces as they turned to one another with the answer to that question…
The two laughed loudly at the expense of the dark-eyed Kimura's twin, and it was only when a disgruntled parent yelled at them from a few rows above to be quiet that they stopped and settled back into their seats. Their attention returned to the makeshift stage in the center of the field, and it seemed that the coach was just about done with the pleasantries and introductions. Zoë sighed and slid down into her seat. 'This could take a while…'
Meanwhile, Coach Taichi Kamiya had finally finished the introduction of the alumni and boosters, and set down the note cards he had brought to the podium. Clearing his throat one last time, the coach began the true celebration. "…And as you all know, I am the proud coach of this fine soccer squad, Coach Taichi Yagami Kamiya. Now before I begin to hand out the rings, I want to thank a few people out there who really made a difference in this season for me, and for the players as well.'
'First of all, I want to thank my loving wife, Mimi Tachikawa Kamiya. Without her, I wouldn't even be here. Mimi, you've always stood by me through thick and thin. When…", the coach choked a bit as he held back tears, "after what happened with Sora…and my son and daughter…you stayed by my side and helped me get back to my feet again. You showed me life after death, and for that I can never thank you enough."
The coach smiled through unshed tears, as the emotions of an event that was so obviously painful nearly overcame him. "You know, it was Mimi who turned me on to this job, here in Shibuya…" a few cheers went up in the crowd as a beautiful chestnut-haired girl in her early 30's, wearing a pink dress, and sitting in the front row only directly beside Zoë and Kouichi blushed a bit under her large pink hat. "…and being a former Odaiba White Tiger…as some of you may or may not have known… I immediately had refused." A chorus of joking boos rained from the bleachers as the coach smiled and waved his hand dismissively at the faux offensive taunt.
"Yeah, yeah, I know…but seriously, it was her who finally convinced me to get out of the house and take a chance. Thanks to her, I finally decided to take the job at Shibuya U., and two years later, here we are! National Champions of Japanese Soccer, and all thanks to Mimi! Let's hear it for her!" The Red Dragon faithful instantly rose to their feet, giving a standing ovation to the shy wife of the team's beloved coach. The mild-mannered woman merely stood and offered a quick wave before sitting down, blushing redder than before. After a few more seconds, the raucous soccer fans took to their seats once more, and a smiling Taichi took the to the mike again.
"All right…all that, and we haven't even got to all the wonderful cookies she made for the boosters to sell at the home games," he chuckled happily, earning a small bout of laughter from the crowd. "Anyway, I also want to thank these guys," the wild-haired captain gestured to his players, "for putting up with me and for being so darned great at soccer! You guys rock!" Another round of cheering went up, and even Zoë and Kouichi began to get into the celebratory spirit, both roused a bit by the coach's heartfelt words to his wife.
"Wow, this coach is something else, huh Kouichi?" Zoë yelled, trying to speak over the cheers of the crowd. "I can see how Takuya could get so excited to play for a guy like him," she mused loudly. Kouichi nodded silently, opting not to vie with the decibel level of 10,000 plus screaming Shibuya fans.
"He is, isn't he?" the pink-clad woman answered, admiration and love evident in her soft, silky voice. Noticing Zoë's flushed appearance, the woman giggled, "Oh my! I'm sorry if I startled you…I just overheard you talking about Tai, and I couldn't help myself." The woman smiled widely at them, but suddenly covered her mouth as if she'd done something wrong. "Oops! Oh, where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mimi Tachikawa Kamiya, and that cute, overbearing lug up there is my husband Taichi. Isn't he just adorable?" Mimi sighed, turning her eyes back to her husband.
Zoë couldn't help but notice the dreamy look in this woman…Mimi's rose-colored eyes. "My name is Izumi Orimoto…but everyone calls me Zoë. I can't help but notice the way you two talk about each other…you must be really happy…how long have you been married?" Mimi smiled at the young blonde, noticing the same loving look in her emerald orbs as she turned and gazed upon a certain goggle-wearing soccer captain.
'How cute! She's in love with the Kanbara boy! Ah, young love…I remember looking at Tai the same way when he played for Odaiba all those years ago…' Mimi remembered the question and answered instantly, from memory, "2 years to day next Tuesday." Zoë nodded in admiration and a bit of awe…she had thought for sure that they had been married for much longer than that by the way they acted.
'But then, he did say something about someone named Sora…maybe she had something to do with that…' Zoë shook the thought from her mind and looked back at the chestnut-haired haired Tachikawa happily. "I'm very happy for you Mrs. Kamiya. You and Tai look so much in love…I hope I can find that one day…" her eyes drifted once more to the brown-haired young star of the Shibuya soccer squad, and a sad sigh escaped her lips before she realized what she had allowed it. The blonde covered her mouth, but Mimi had already caught it.
The beautiful Tachikawa smiled compassionately, "Don't worry, Zoë. Just remember, 'The road to love is often winding, but you never have to be afraid because your heart knows the way.' Follow your heart, Zoë, and I'm sure that things will work out for you and Takuya." Zoë gasped at the wise words from the young woman who did not appear in any way to be wise…the blonde opened her mouth to question, but Mimi stopped her with a wink and the wiggle of a finger. "Women's intuition…" the pink-clad Kamiya giggled, turning her attention back to the raving man on the podium, otherwise known as her husband.
Zoë turned back to the presentation a bit stunned, but she could not keep the smile off her face after her conversation with the strange woman in pink. 'She's right…I just have to follow my heart…but what about Yamaki's offer? Oh, if only it were that easy…' she sighed again as it seemed she had come back to square one, but a comforting hand on her left shoulder kept her from slipping into another depression. Confused green eyes met sympathetic dark-ones, and Kouichi smiled reassuringly.
"She's right, you know," the dark-haired Kimura added. "The worst thing you could do is not take a chance and follow your heart. If you don't and you have any regrets…any whatsoever…it will tear at you for the rest of your life. I know…I know what it's like to hold back from the one you love. It brings only pain Zoë…please, don't make the same mistake I did," Kouichi pleaded softly, to which Zoë could only nod in reply. She remembered all too well the incident…the girl that broke his heart…how he had come to her one night, a shadow of himself, because he had let her go.
Apparently, he was still hurting…but at least he had come to terms with it somewhat. Although Kouji had told them that sometimes he still calls her name in his sleep…crying out for her to stay…the words he could not utter on that fateful night. Zoë smiled sadly at the young Kimura and hugged him tightly, whispering an honest thank you before releasing him and turning back to the celebration.
Coach Kamiya had finally finished handing out the rings, and it appeared that the parade was nearly ready to begin. That is, until Tai decided it was time for a special, secret announcement. "Now before you all go and enjoy the parade, there is one last thing…a special thing…I would like to announce to you all.'
'There is a member of our team that has excelled beyond the level of an average player. In fact, this player has performed more like a professional than I have ever seen at this level. His brilliant skills, calm demeanor, and superb leadership won him First Team All-Japanese Squad Captain Honors, National Championship MVP, as well as many other honors, and he helped to lead Shibuya University to its first National Title in 15 years.'
'And now, I have learned that this player has been selected to represent our country on the soccer field at the highest level of play. Team Japan…that's right, the Team Japan…has made him an offer to join their squad, effective immediately! This player needs no introduction, but I'm giving him one anyway! Red Dragon fans, let's hear it for your captain, Takuya Kanbara!"
The Shibuya Red Dragon fans literally jumped to their feet, standing to applaud the already legendary captain of their National Championship squad, and Zoë thought for sure that the stadium would collapse it was shaking so hard. The young leader stood slowly from his seat next to the podium and smiled, waving sheepishly to the thousands in attendance. Coach Kamiya motioned for him towards the podium, and slowly, Takuya complied.
But he had no idea this was coming…and he was not prepared. 'Oh man! I'm sweating bullets here! I didn't know Coach Kamiya already found out about this! There's no way I can talk in front of all these people! I don't even know what to say! Why couldn't he at least tell me about this? Grr…' Takuya glared at a smirking Tai, 'Probably payback for that shaving cream trick on the way to our match with Shinjuku,' he reasoned, deciding he probably was not going to get out of this and making the best of it.
The chocolate-eyed Kanbara approached the stand cautiously, tapping the microphone once to test it. After all, if there was one thing all Shibuya Red Dragons knew about their coach, it was not to go toe-to-toe with Taichi Kamiya in a war of pranks…unfortunately, Takuya had forgotten that lesson in Shinjuku. 'Oh well, here goes nothing,' he let out a deep breath and began to wing it.
"Hey there, everybody! I just want to say that I'm glad to see you all out here supporting us, and I want you to know how much I appreciate each and every one of you who show up each night to watch us play," he smiled as a round of cheers went up through the crowd. 'Geesh, if I wanted to be the next Yamato Ishida I'd have learned to play guitar or something!' the brown-haired boy joked mentally, thinking about how similar this was to a Teenage Wolves concert he had been to a few years back. The Teenage Wolves were the most popular band in Japan at the time, and needless to say, it was a jungle in the small convention center they had played that night.
Takuya turned to walk away, but Tai smirked and shook his head slightly. 'Great, I have to say more? I'm so going to get you for this Tai…' "Anyway, I guess I'd just like to thank a few people out there who have helped me so much along the way, and without them, I would have never made it this far in life, let alone soccer," he admitted, unashamedly.
"I want to thank Coach Kamiya for understanding my situation and not being afraid giving a Freshman a chance. And I promise Coach, I won't tell anybody about the incident in Kyoto with you, Mimi, and a bottle of whipped cream…err…oops?" the young Kanbara laughed, and everyone in attendance joined in at the expense of the young Kamiya couple. Tai sent a glare that could melt an iceberg at the boy who was deliberately ignoring him, and Mimi was blushing so hard Zoë thought her head would explode. Takuya was certain he'd heard his coach mutter something along the lines of, 'Why you little …' but chose to forget it in favor of a blissful ignorance to the retribution that was sure to come.
'Sometimes, it's better not to know…' he reasoned with himself before continuing. "Anyway, I also want to thank my family…Mom, Dad, and Shinya…who are always there for me when I need them. And I want to thank my friends. Without you guys, I would be nowhere. Heck, none of us would be here!" he joked loudly, earning confused looks all around. He scratched the back of his head nervously, as he had obviously forgotten that nobody else knew about the Digital World or the threat of Lucemon to the world. Quickly, he corrected himself, "Ah…what I mean is that I uh…wouldn't have been as good with-out their…support! And uh, if not for that…I uh, we wouldn't have won! So thanks for that!" He recovered miserably, but the crowd cheered anyway, oblivious to the obvious lies he had given them. Only the Kamiyas, Kouichi, and Zoë were aware of the lie, but none were about to tell anybody.
Takuya wiped the sweat from his brow, "Anyway, on a more serious note, I do want to thank a few friends in particular. Kouji Minimoto and Kouichi Kimura, my two best guy friends, you are the best. You were always there to joke around with and share my crazy soccer stories with, and I can say without a doubt that I could not ask for a cooler pair to hang out with!" The crowd cheered as Zoë failed in an attempt to get Kouichi to take a bow.
With a bit more confidence, Takuya continued. "Also, I want to thank Junpei Shibuyama and Tomoki Himi for always being there for me as well. You two are like my big and little brothers…I can come to you with anything, and you'll always help me out totally and honestly. You guys were also the ones to point out the flaw in my passing after that tough loss at Odaiba, and I couldn't have done it without you! So, thanks buddy!" Yet another cry raised throughout the stadium, in spite of the fact that very few present even knew J.P. or Tommy personally. They were friends of Takuya Kanbara, and that made them friends to all Red Dragon Faithful.
Takuya smiled, hoping silently that Tommy was watching at home. Finally, he scanned the crowd and saw her…just as he knew he would…and continued, "And last…to my best friend in the world…the one person who means more to me than anything, and the one person I know I would not have been able to do all this without…" Takuya's chocolate eyes met with Zoë's green ones, and for a moment, the only thing either could see was the other.
'Takuya? What are you looking at me like that for? Why? Don't you know that when you do that, I just want to…ugh! C'mon, Zoë…keep a clear head here, listen to what he has to say before you drift off into Fantasy Land!' she chided herself, but never broke eye contact with the brown-haired Kanbara.
A soft smile graced Zoë's face, and Takuya could not help but feel warm inside. 'All right, here I go…' he thought, encouraged by the look on the blonde's beautiful face. "Zoë, you are more than just my roommate, you're my best friend…you laugh with me when I'm happy, cry with me when I'm sad, and most importantly, cook for me when I'm hungry!" A lot of laughs followed that comment, Takuya and Zoë's included. Finally, Takuya let out a tiny breath. "Anyway…no matter what happens or what I choose…from the bottom of my heart, I just want to thank you for everything. I love you, Z."
A roar of applause went up as a stunned Zoë sat blushing in the front row, her heart pumping about a million miles an hour. 'He…he said he loves me…oh Takuya!' Zoë stood quickly to run, but stopped momentarily, wondering if it would be all right if she went to him…suddenly, a soft hand gripped each of her own. She turned around to see that both Mimi and Kouichi had taken her hands, a soft smile on their faces.
"Go to him," the two whispered in unison, and that was all it took before Zoë leapt the short wall and ran full-speed to the podium to the man she loved. Takuya, likewise, had hopped off the stage and met the young blonde halfway, lifting her into his arms easily and hugging her tightly to his body on the soft soccer grass.
"I meant it, Zoë…I love you more than anything. I just…I never knew how to tell you. And when I saw you there…I just, I wanted…no, I realized that I had to tell you now…I uh…well, buddy…um…" Takuya stuttered, unable to put into words now what he had been planning on telling her for years. Luckily for him, Zoë was not too worried about his words…
"Shut up, Takuya," she told him forcefully, pulling him close so that he was face to face with her. "I love you, too," she whispered the words softly against his lips as she pressed hers to his own softly. Takuya was taken aback for a moment…only a moment…before he too joined in the kiss, sending a crazed round of applause and "aww's" throughout University Stadium at Shibuya College that could be heard all over the city.
For the two young lovers, however, there was only them self and their other. Zoë's tongue flickered out, licking Takuya's lips lightly, to which he replied by opening his mouth to deepen their sweet first (conscious) kiss together. Tongues battled for supremacy, and Takuya eventually won, taking the initiative and fully enjoying the essence that was Zoë.
'I can't believe this is happening! First, Coach Kamiya tricks me into talking in front of everybody, then I get all caught up in the moment like an actor at the Japanese Screen Guild Awards giving an acceptance speech…next thing I know, I'm spilling the beans to Zoë and she's kissing ME!' he thought, still shocked at this unexpected turn of events. Meanwhile, Zoë…who had assumed the submissive position in the kiss, content to allow Takuya to kiss her how he liked, as long as it was he who was kissing her…was having some interesting thoughts of her own.
'I love him! I love him! I've wanted this for so long, Takuya! And now, it's like a dream come true!' she thought to herself, giddy. Slowly, she felt her hands wind their way into a comfortable position…one on the back of his neck and one on his chest…as she pressed her front flush against his own, enjoying the feel of their bodies intertwined as they were. Takuya felt his own hands beginning to wander, taking in the solid muscles of her toned back, moving to the slender shape of her hips, and then, just as they were about to explore the round curve of her perfectly shaped bottom…a loud, amplified cough broke the moment.
Standing on the stage was a very perturbed looking Taichi Kamiya, whose currently stoic face did not belie the amusement beneath the mask. "We're happy for you two, but if you two don't mind, there are children present…and we do have a parade to start. We are the Grand Marshall's…" he chastised them amusedly. The two pulled away from each other quickly, blushing like they had never blushed before, but neither would look away from the other for long as they stood alone in the field directly between the bleachers and the stage. Tai's voice broke their trances again, "We're waiting…"
Takuya smiled, coming back to reality a bit. Without warning, he grabbed Zoë's hand and pulled her onto the stage, which also doubled as the team float for the celebratory parade. Zoë nearly stumbled on the last step, but Takuya caught her and helped her the rest of the way. The young lovers claimed two of the last three seats on the float, the third of which was reserved for Mimi who had silently made her way to sit beside her husband, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and planting a loving kiss on his waiting lips.
"Isn't love beautiful, Tai?" Mimi sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder as he wrapped his arm around her waist. Tai took a glance at the blonde Orimoto and the brunette Kanbara who had resumed speaking to each other only long enough to catch their breath between kisses. Turning his head to the sky, he couldn't help but wonder if his own angel of love was smiling down upon them. The thought made him smile as well.
"Definitely, Mimi. Definitely," he kissed her chestnut hair softly, setting the pink hat on the float beside him.
All the while, Takuya and Zoë basked in this magic moment together that they had been granted…all thoughts of Yamaki temporarily forgotten again…after all, they had 2 more days before he had to make his decision, right? It would not demand attention this night. This moment…their moment…was safe, for now.
This unanswered question, however, would demand attention sooner than expected. Somewhere in above, in the skyline of Shibuya, a blonde haired man flicked his lighter nervously as he watched the celebration from an top-level suite. The man, Yuri Yamaki, was visibly upset, slamming his phone down onto the receiver in anger. 'Damn it to hell! He's not ready yet! But if they want him, they want him, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. I told them to be patient…to give him at least time to say goodbye…but apparently, their patience has run out.'
He sighed as he flicked his lighter closed one last time…'I hope you're ready for this, Takuya Kanbara. This will be the biggest decision of your life.'