a/n: Ok, here it is. Finally. I've been working on this fic for months, and I really hope you all like it, because I gave it everything I have. Please leave me a review, you'll make my day—but more importantly, enjoy the fic. It's all for you. (Note: Season One future fic. Zero Two characters aren't around. Also, a sequel is forthcoming. Should be up in the next couple of days, as of 11-24-06.)
Disclaimer: I have no claim on Digimon, or Cher's "After All."
Dedication: For AmericanMercury. Happy Birthday, you little oddball.
After all the stops and starts
We keep coming back to these two hearts
Two angels who've been rescued from the fall
And after all that we've been through
It all comes down to me and you
I guess it's meant to be
Forever you and me
The scene in the bride's chamber was more chaotic than any Digiworld battle and then some. There was clothing flung everywhere—hanging over the backs of chairs, piled on the floor. Makeup occupied every other free surface. The vanity counter in front of the mirror was covered in it, and there were at least four women shoving at each other good naturedly while trying to catch a glimpse of themselves in the mirror. They could hear the dull roar of the guests, even muffled by the wall; an excited chatter that charged the air. The room they were all crammed into was much too small for the five bridesmaids and the bride herself, but unsurprisingly, Hikari Kamiya seemed completely unaffected.
She was standing calmly in the center of the room, hair falling in feathered layers around her face, lips a glowing pink, draped in a beautiful white dress that left her shoulders bare and encased her arms in smooth white sleeves, each fastened by a long row of tiny buttons. The dress fit her small, delicate frame perfectly, billowing out at the bottom and floating around her feet enticingly. Kari stood silently and watched her closest friends bustle about, caught up in the excitement, and a small smile tugged on the corners of her lips. As the room revolved around her, she retreated silently into herself, and waited.
All she could see was little TK down on one knee in front of her, staring up at her with those beautiful blue eyes, "Kari, I've spent a lifetime with you already. I've lived all of these years with you by my side, and I don't know how to do it any other way. We know each other like no one else can. We've been through things no one else could ever understand. You've always been my other half, Hikari Kamiya, but let's make it official. Marry me? Please?"
Sora's hand on her shoulder pulled Kari out of the memory, and she turned to face her sister in law as she blinked tears out of her eyes, "I can't believe how much I love him."
Sora smiled, and her warm cinnamon eyes were laughing, "You remind me so much of your brother. There's so much of him in you."
Kari blotted her eyes with a tissue, trying not to smudge her makeup, "Well, let's hope I can keep it under control once I get out there. God knows he couldn't." She said with a fond smile.
Sora's laughter filled the small room to the brim, and Kari was amazed, as always, at the warmth of love in her eyes. She reached out a small hand to lightly touch Sora's visibly pregnant tummy, and grinned up at the woman she had always seen as a sister, even before she'd married her goofy big brother, "You sure you're ready for another wild haired little Kamiya boy?"
Sora shrugged lightly, "He can't be worse than Tai."
"You can count on it." Mrs. Kamiya threw over her shoulder, sending the whole room into a fit of giggles.
Tai, being Tai, chose that exact moment to barge into the room. Sora resisted the urge to grin, and made herself scowl instead, "Not allowed, mister. Get out."
He ignored her, "Matt's not here."
Kari felt her stomach lurch. They were starting in ten minutes and they had no best man?
Tai glanced over at his sister, "Matt's not-"
And then he registered the sight of Kari looking like an angel in the long white dress and forgot about Matt entirely. He could remember the tiny baby fingers curling around his own the day his parents brought her home, the little girl looking up at him with so much love in her eyes, "You're beautiful."
Kari started to tear up again, and Sora shook her head in exasperation. She crossed the room, kissed her complete softie of a husband gently, and pushed him out the door, "You're going to ruin her makeup. Go on. Matt will be here, don't worry."
Tai laid a hand on her stomach for a moment and stared into her eyes before going back to his search for Matt. Sora turned away from the door to face a room full of gooey-eyed women and rolled her eyes, "Quit it."
She started to close the door, but a pale, slim fingered hand flew out to stop it. A flushed, disheveled Mimi Tachikawa slipped in through the door, closed it herself, and then leaned heavily on the back of it, clearly out of breath, "Sorry…I'm…late."
She had her silky peach bridesmaid dress slung over her shoulder and was wearing the matching pumps with a pair of grey sweatpants. Her hair was in disheveled ringlets, and she immediately went to work trying to smooth them down, "How long do I have?"
"Ten minutes." Kari said lightly, "Give or take a few."
"God." Mimi murmured, shaking out her curls to give them that effortlessly soft look she didn't even have to work at. Sora grinned when the few subtle bands of pink hair she insisted on sporting caught the light. Purely Mimi.
"I take it you were…stuck in traffic?" Sora said teasingly. Mimi jumped, messed up the makeup she was applying haphazardly, swore, and started rubbing it off. She threw a horribly guilty look over her shoulder, "Um…yeah. It was practically at a standstill."
"So that's why Matt's late." Sora said casually, glancing at Kari, who was struggling to keep a straight face. Mimi spun around to face Sora and squeaked, "What?"
Sora looked at her oddly, "Stuck in traffic."
Mimi took a deep breath, "Right. Of course."
Kari watched the exchange in amused silence, a feeling of calm settling all around her, and smiled.
TK was feeling about as far from calm as you can get. He was sitting in a huge, overdramatically elaborate arm chair, elbows on his knees, face in his hands. If one more thing went wrong, he would probably cry. He felt someone ruffle his shaggy blonde hair, and looked up with the most forlorn face in the world to see his sometime leader and role model Tai Kamiya, somehow managing to look casual in a tux. Had to be the hair.
"Breathe, kid." Tai said.
TK let his face drop back into his hands, "Where is he?"
"He's on his way. There's a logical explanation. He'll be here any second." Tai spouted off cheerfully. Izzy raised an eyebrow at him over TK's head. Tai sent him an exaggerated shrug in response, palms forward, and mouthed, "I don't know!"
Joe yanked his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose, "I hope there hasn't been an accident."
TK's head shot up, a panicked look on his face. He looked first at Joe, and then at Tai, who shot an exasperated, "Not helping Joe," at the tall blue haired man.
He added for TK's benefit, "There hasn't been an accident."
The groom-to-be jumped to his feet and started pacing around the room, "I feel like I'm going to be sick."
"Pre-wedding jitters are a very common-" Izzy piped up helpfully. Tai sent him a pointed look, and he switched gears mid-sentence, "TK, this is very possibly going to be the happiest day of your life, and-"
This time, TK cut him off, "And my brother isn't even here!"
Matt burst into the room, "I'm here!"
Tai collapsed into the chair TK had vacated and muttered, "Oh, thank God."
TK sent him a suspicious look, but was quickly distracted by his brother's appearance. The top two buttons of Matt's shirt were open, his hair was looking almost as wild as Tai's, and his tie was half undone and backwards. Izzy got a very vivid image of the cool, collected Matt Ishida running down the street in a suit with his tie flapping behind him. He snickered and coughed to cover it up.
TK crossed the room in a few long-legged steps and hugged Matt like he was a lifeline, "Where have you been?"
Matt hugged him back, surprised to find that he was shaking like a leaf, and then pushed him gently away to hold him at arm's length, "Traffic. I'm really sorry. What's wrong?"
"I'm scared." TK said, completely serious.
Matt tried very hard not to laugh, "You'll be fine. She loves you."
"What if I pass out?"
"Worse yet, what if you cry?" Matt said, grinning at Tai over TK's shoulder. Tai chucked the chair's matching, gold trimmed pillow at Matt's head.
Joe cleared his throat, "Um…TK? Not to rush you, but you should already be out there."
TK whipped around to look at the clock, blanched, and ran out of the room. Tai followed him casually. When he got to where Matt was standing by the door he laid a hand on his friend's shoulder, leaned in, and stage whispered, "You've got a smudge of lipstick right here."
He tapped a spot just left of his mouth and sauntered out of the room. Matt ran over to the mirror, saw that there wasn't a smudge of lipstick anywhere on him, and went after Tai, who could be heard laughing in the hallway.
"I've got twenty bucks on Tai." Izzy said lightly, heading for the door.
Joe readjusted his glasses, "You're on."
Standing at the altar, TK watched the scene in the back of the church with his usual amusement, grateful for the confirmation that the Digidestined would never change. He somehow managed to keep a straight face through Matt and Tai's impressively silent scuffle—which ended with Tai easily pinning Matt and smirking down at him impishly—but lost his cool when Sora jumped into the fray. He fought to keep his expression neutral as she dragged her husband away from Matt and began poking him emphatically in the chest to emphasize a whispered tirade.
While Sora was gesturing wildly at Tai, Joe was dragging out his wallet with a melancholy look on his face and pointedly ignoring Izzy's smug expression. Mimi and Matt were suddenly standing awfully close together and staring into each others' eyes as Mimi fixed his tie and tugged at his rumpled jacket a few times, slowly, not really paying attention to what she was doing.
TK let his eyes wander away from them, noting absently that soft music had started up somewhere behind him, and his closest friends were scrambling to pair up and head down the aisle. He smiled nervously at Sora as she walked up on Tai's arm, and she sent him a reassuring nod. He barely registered Matt's hand on his shoulder as he passed, or Mimi's wink from across the altar. His eyes were already glued to the door when the music shifted and a murmur went through the church as everyone turned to catch that first glimpse of the bride. And there she was in the doorway, as beautiful as she had been in the first moment he'd seen her, and as beautiful as she would always be. He was aware of only two things—his heartbeat and those eyes.
He was holding his hand out to her long before she reached the altar, and when she reached out and took it, her face lit up with a grin that turned into the sort of laugh that bubbles up out of nowhere and catches you off guard. When they were facing each other, TK reached out with his other hand and touched her cheek, ran a thumb over her lips, whispered, "You're so beautiful."
Matt and Tai stood, as they'd known they would for almost a decade, and watched their siblings tie the knot. Tai swiped at his eyes and hoped his counterpart hadn't noticed. He could just see that irritating smirk plastered all over Matt's face. Moments later, Matt actually sniffled, and Tai resisted the urge to whip round and stare at him.
"Not a word, brother." Matt said, staring calmly ahead.
At Tai's sharp intake of breath, Matt nearly cracked a smile. There was a long period of stillness between them, and then, as if following some unspoken cue, they both turned and grinned wildly at each other.
Watching the exchange across TK and Kari as they said their vows, Sora rolled her eyes fondly. Mimi just beamed.
"Party!" Mimi bellowed at the top of her lungs, whirling out onto the dance floor just as the music cued up. She lifted her dress to her knees, kicked off her shoes, and started to dance, drawing the attention of the entire male population of the room. Including Matt. Mimi threw a devilish grin his way, and his breath caught in his throat. The floor filled up, but Matt didn't move. He stayed there, frozen on the edge, watching Mimi dance. At that moment, standing with his hands in his pockets and his heart in his throat, Matt realized that he was going to marry Mimi Tachikawa.
On the other side of the floor, Izzy and Joe stood watching the crowd and chatting quietly. Izzy had a glass of wine in one hand, and Joe was watching it slosh dangerously close to the edge as he gestured in his typically exuberant way.
"Joe look." Izzy said.
His suddenly conspiratorial tone caught Joe's attention, and he looked in the direction Izzy was (not-so-subtly) pointing, "What?"
Joe rolled his eyes, "I see Matt. What about him?"
"I'll bet you ten bucks he and Mimi are dating in secret." Izzy said, suddenly all business.
Joe rolled his eyes, "Whatever, Izzy."
Izzy grinned, "I'm serious Joe. And hey, if you're so sure, then maybe you can get back half of the money you lost to me earlier."
Elsewhere, hands comfortably intertwined and resting on a white tablecloth, the newlyweds watched as Joe shook Izzy's hand reluctantly, and then turned to watch the dance floor again, looking as though he had forgotten something but couldn't quite remember what it was. Kari laughed, "I wonder how long their betting phase is going to last."
"Probably until Joe realizes that Izzy's always right." TK said cheekily.
"Oh, I don't know." TK hooked his elbow over the back of the chair, looking wicked and nonchalant all at once, "Even your brother figured it out...eventually."
Kari sent a fond glance in Tai's direction, then turned back to TK with a smile and said, "Don't sell him short, Takaishi. Tai sees more than he lets on."
TK knew that very well, but he didn't get a chance to say so because the roaring dance music faded out and the opening notes of a slow song replaced it. TK stood and pulled Kari up with him, "Come on, beautiful. They're playing our song."
Sora came up beside her husband, resting a hand lightly on his elbow, "Look at them, Tai. They're so happy."
Tai looked, and he saw his sister shining in the arms of the boy he'd watched grow into a man he respected and admired. TK chose that moment to lean over and whisper something in Kari's ear, shooting Tai a look of pure mischief. Kari let loose a bubbly little laugh and snuck a cautious look at her big brother. When she found him staring at her sternly, she turned to hide her face against TK's chest, giggling uncontrollably.
"I wonder what they're talking about." Sora deadpanned.
Tai sent his best menacing older brother glare in TK's direction and grumbled, "Kids these days. No respect."
"Maybe you'd be more intimidating without that goofy mop on your head." Sora said, nudging him playfully in the ribs.
Tai just smiled down at her, "Who do you think you're kidding, honey. You love my hair."
Sora grinned and planted a quick kiss on his lips, "You caught me."
Tai was about to answer her, but Sora was staring very intently at a table situated behind him, her eyes sparkling, "Look, Tai. She's going to-"
Mimi was sitting with her elbow on the white, lacy tablecloth, her chin propped lazily in her hand. Her hair was a beautiful mess. Her eyes were fixed on Matt's tall, slender form across the room, and she couldn't bring herself to look away. And then she realized that she didn't want to.
She smacked her open palm on the table with finality, jumped up from the chair, and marched across the room, bare feet silent on the smooth dance floor. Matt's eyes were on her all the way. She strode up to him purposefully, stopped inches from his chest, and blazed up at him, the peach dress clinging to her curves.
"Mimi-" Matt said, jerking his head pointedly in the direction of Izzy (who was suddenly looking very smug) and Joe. Had the temperature gone up? Could someone open some windows please?
"Matt, I'd like to dance with you. Right now." She said.
"Mimi," Matt lowered his voice and looked around nervously, "are you sure that's a good-"
Mimi grabbed his shoulders, yanked him down to her, and kissed him thoroughly. By the time she let go, they were both breathing heavily, and Matt had a happily dazed sort of look on his face.
"Dance with me, Matt. I don't care if they know." She whispered.
Matt's face broke into an elated grin, and he practically dragged her onto the dance floor—peach toenails, pink hair, and all.
Joe pulled out his wallet and pointedly ignored Izzy's self-satisfied chuckle. Izzy nabbed the proffered bill from Joe and started planning the next bet. They watched in companionable silence as couples filled the dance floor.
TK was still trying to scrape his jaw off of his shoes, "Is Matt…did they…Mimi just…"
"They've been at it for months, sweetie." Kari said, slipping gently into his arms. She led the dance, and he was distracted enough to let her, "He's mad about her."
"Apparently." TK said, eyes fixed on his brother's large hand, tangled in Mimi's hair.
"Don't worry about it." She said, turning his face back to hers with her smooth fingertips. One look at her big brown eyes, and he forgot his brother entirely.
"I want fifty kids." TK mumbled into Kari's hair.
"Okay." She said.
"And they can be friends with our brothers' kids. They'll go to school together and pull each other's hair." He brushed his knuckles lightly down her cheek.
"And protect each other." She said.
"And one will be a beautiful little girl who looks like her beautiful mother." TK said.
Kari grinned up at him devilishly, "Let's get started right now."
TK widened his eyes and made a show of looking around to be sure no one had heard her. He stage-whispered, "Right here on the dance floor?"
"Why not?" She asked, "You could out-do your brother's little show at the very least."
TK threw back his head and laughed, and Kari's eyes crinkled up gleefully. Around the room, the Digidestined froze, and for a moment, they were all connected, exchanging knowing glances and raised eyebrows. The moment held, and then they took a collective breath, and the rest of the world faded back in.
TK's expression turned serious, and he stopped dancing to hold Kari at arm's length. His eyes smoldered, and Kari felt the butterflies dancing in her stomach.
"It's perfect." He said.
"Yes." She said, "It is."
Update: It's finally happened! I've posted a sequel! (Or I will, as soon as the document manager stops trying to shut me down.) It's called Secrets, Lies, and Pumpkin Pies: A Holiday Interlude. Check it out!