Well, what can I say? Digimon was my first anime, after all…and my pretty little Yamato was my first bishie. My first shounen-ai (as well as yaoi) was a Taito, so, needless to say, what's what this is going to be. Maybe. Not really sure yet.

As you can see, Digimon was a lot of firsts for me. My first fanfic, too, I forgot to mention that, although I never published it. Good times, good times. I think I was eleven…hah, even then I was into Ishida angst…it was bad Ishida angst, but still…eleven…

Chapter One

Yagami Taichi was as gay as they came.

Ah, sure, he'd never admitted it to anyone. True, he wore 'normal' clothes, spoke 'normally,' and dated girls, just like all the other guys. Sure, he'd joke around with his soccer team about all the 'fags' at their school. Yes, he could be unnecessarily cruel. And yes, he hated himself for it.

He was jealous, he was scared, he was stupid and bigoted and every other homophobic stereotype, just to hide the truth. To keep himself alive, to keep himself sane, because he'd lose every friend he'd ever had if they knew. But he couldn't help envying the openly gay boys, clustering by themselves, away from the normal kids that mocked them and scorned them and made them feel like shit. Tai would have given anything to be one of them, giggles and all. He wanted to be able to dress the way they did (skintight clothes, leaving nothing to the imagination, but damn were they hot), he wanted to be able to laugh with them and hang off of the sexy ones (jokingly or not) and be himself, for once in his life.

Who was he kidding? That wasn't going to happen. He had a girlfriend, a sweet little redhead tomboy named Sora, and they'd been dating…well, forever, practically. Even before Sora had ever asked Tai out, they'd been best friends. They knew each other better than anyone else, except for the one small problem that he, Yagami Taichi, was just another queer. He couldn't tell her that. He almost wanted to, because it hurt seeing her face fall every time he refused to sleep with her. He lied, saying he was saving himself until marriage, but in truth the idea of a female body scared the hell out of him. She was pretty, even he could see that, but she was so…soft.

He didn't want soft. He wanted it rough, hard sweat-slicked skin pressed against his own, a hot mouth panting heavily into his ear as he was shoved into the mattress and fucked senseless…and he needed to stop thinking along this line, he really did. It didn't do any good, and it left him with a rather…uncomfortable problem. And then he'd have to take care of said problem, and that was just humiliating, especially because he tried so hard to make himself respond to women…he'd visited the websites, bought the magazines, and then wound up burning them all because they embarrassed him. It was always, always the images of lust-darkened eyes, long, thin limbs, firm muscles and sweat and a deep, husky voice purring as a faceless boy writhed above him in exquisite, picturesque agony that brought his release.

He didn't allow himself any pleasure. He couldn't. It was wrong, it was sick, and he was punishing himself more than anything. It was a necessary evil, but he tried to will it away, tried to train his body through pain, gripping himself far tighter than was absolutely vital, but it never, ever worked. He'd eventually had to give up showering with the team after practice, because something about the steam made him hallucinate and all the wet, soapy male bodies pressed around him really, really didn't help anything. So yes, Tai was fairly convinced that he was gay.

And damn it, he wished he could be proud of that.

More than anything, even more than that, he wanted someone to talk to. Someone to release the tension, because sometimes Tai felt like he was going to explode, completely lose it and go stark raving mad. It hurt, having no one to turn to, nowhere to go, because as much as he loved his parents and his little sister…that wasn't exactly something he could bring up in casual conversation. 'Yeah, by the way Mom, I think guys are sexy.' Mm-hm. That'd go over well.

Maybe what it the hardest was that he'd had that once. He'd had someone he could talk to about nearly anything. He was a few years younger than Tai, around Kari's age, maybe. His name was Motomiya Daisuke, and he had the most gorgeous auburn hair Tai had ever seen. But, like everything else in his life, Tai had managed to fuck that up too.

Daisuke had been one of the sweetest people Tai had ever met. They'd played soccer together for a couple years, back when Tai was a freshman and Daisuke was still in middle school. They'd hit it off right away, become best friends practically overnight. It was about four months after he met Dai that he found out he was gay.


"Daisuke! Tai's here!" Mrs. Motomiya smiled at Tai and he grinned back. He liked her; she reminded him a lot of his own mother, except for the fact that she could actually cook without poisoning anyone, a skill Tai held in high regard after fourteen years of his mother's 'nutritious' meals. "It's nice to see you again, Tai."

"You too," Tai responded. He turned and jogged up the stairs, throwing Daisuke's door open and dropping his bag on the floor. He flopped onto Daisuke's bed with a groan; he'd run all the way here, for no apparent reason other than he was bored. So now he was hot, sweaty and tired, and his clothes were sticking to him in a most uncomfortable way.

"Hey, Tai." Tai sat up so he could see his friend and immediately wished he hadn't. Dai was standing in the doorway, naked save for a very small towel wrapped around his waist and hanging very, very low on his hips. He was rubbing his auburn hair dry with another towel, his bronzed skin gleaming most appealingly in the sunlight that streamed through his window. Oh, he was sexy…soccer did a body good, Tai thought, admiring his toned chest, sculpted arms, slender legs, and wondered if he looked anything like that.

Great. Now he was hot, sweaty, tired and incredibly, incredibly horny.

"Put some clothes on!" was the first thing Tai managed to screech at Daisuke, diving under the covers, burying his head. "Do you generally walk around your house half-naked!"

Dai blinked at the lump under his sheets. "Uh…no," he said slowly. "But…uh…y'know, I had to take a shower…"

"While I was here?"

"Took longer than I thought." Tai could hear footsteps, faint but undoubtedly there, as Dai rifled through his drawers for clothes.

"Is it safe?" Tai poked his head out and was greeted by a wonderful view of Daisuke's barely-covered ass. "Ahh!"

"You'll notice I didn't say yes," Dai commented bitingly, scurrying into the bathroom with his armful of clothing.

"Gah," was all Tai managed as he scrubbed his hands through his hair, trying desperately to will away the image of Daisuke, but the damn thing just…wouldn't…go…away…He moaned and hauled himself off of the bed, hoping Daisuke would be changing for a while. "I'm gonna clear out a drawer to put my stuff in, that okay?"

"Yeah, sure," Daisuke called from the bathroom over the roar of the hair dryer. "Just toss my junk on the bed or something."

"Fair enough," Tai murmured. He tugged at Daisuke's drawer, half-afraid that something would leap out at him (he'd slept over before and he'd seen the beast that lived under Dai's bed, although Dai swore that it was only a pile of dirty laundry and Tai's overactive imagination). The drawer didn't seem to want to cooperate, and Tai didn't very well want to break that thing…he jerked at it, praying that the handle wouldn't come off and it finally slid open with a screech, evidence that it hadn't been used in a while.

"Soccer magazines. Original." Tai began pulling them out of the drawer and tossing them behind him, vaguely aiming for the bed and missing half of the time. He also threw a few socks, a battered Converse sneaker that had to have been from Daisuke's childhood, as it was about five inches long, a small, well-loved plush bunny (he'd tease Dai about that later) and an obviously never-opened copy of Webster's Dictionary. He was sure Dai hadn't used it, as the boy couldn't speak English worth anything, and was making no attempt to learn.

And then his eye caught something, a corner of pink peeking out from under the dictionary. Pink? Soccer magazines weren't pink. What was this then?

It was a manga, a pink, girly-looking manga, and that took Tai by surprise, since he'd never really figured Dai for an otaku. He flipped through it, not finding anything interesting, and dropped it on the floor. He picked up the next book, wondering briefly if the person on the cover was a boy or a girl—it was pretty enough to be female, but it seemed…lacking in the chest area. Okane ga Nai? No Money? The name struck a chord somewhere, but Tai had only read a few manga, and didn't know where he would have heard of this. He opened the cover, turned a few pages and flushed bright crimson.

It was a male. It was definitely, undoubtedly, a male. He was on all fours, clutching at the bedcovers and crying while a fierce-looking man behind him—ooh, he couldn't even think that, he couldn't think at all, because he seemed to have entered the Twilight Zone without any warning whatsoever. See, Dai was straight. Tai knew that. After all, how many times had he threatened to kill Daisuke for hitting on Kari?

"Hey, you wrecked my room…oh…dear…" Dai's voice trailed off as he realized what Tai was reading. "Uh…that's…I mean…oh, hell…" It wasn't so much a protest as a whimper, and Daisuke sank to the floor, eyes wide and dazed. "I'm sorry," he said in a tiny, pathetic voice. "This…I was going to tell you, I just…this isn't how I wanted you to find out…"

"You're…gay?" Tai asked numbly, staring down at the page where the uke stared back at him, pretty face screwed up in pain, tears coursing down his cheeks. "I mean, this is yaoi, of course you are…"

Daisuke ducked his head, ashamed. "I'm sorry. I…I understand if you want to go, I'll help you pack your stuff…"

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I just…wanted a friend. That's all. I'm sorry." Daisuke rubbed at his eyes, trying to stop the tears, but they insisted on flowing down his cheeks as his breath hitched and he sobbed as quietly as he could. He was going to lose him, going to lose Tai, the only person he'd really ever let himself get close to, the only person he'd been able to talk to about nearly everything…all his fault, all his fault for being like this, for being so sick and…he winced when Tai's hand struck his cheek and he fell back, clutching his face.

"Idiot. Stop apologizing." Tai's shoulders were shaking and Dai was staring at him in undisguised amazement, absolutely certain Tai had gone completely insane, because he was…well, he was laughing. He chuckled and leapt at Dai, pinning him to the floor and giggling into his stomach with the sort of adorable mischievousness that only Tai could pull off. "You…you thought I'd hate you, did you?"

"Uh…well, yeah," Daisuke said, completely bewildered. Tai was hugging him fiercely and this only set off another uproarious fit until he was actually crying, he was laughing so hard. "Why the hell is that funny?" Daisuke snapped, irritated and confused. This wasn't amusing; his best friend had just found out something that he'd never wanted to admit to anyone, why wasn't he angry? Why wasn't he disgusted and…what the fuck was going on?

"It's…hilarious," Tai gasped between snickers. "That you…thought that…too!"


"I'm…ahahahah… I'm…" He lapsed into another fit of giggles and Dai grabbed him by the shoulders.

"You're what?" Daisuke shook Tai harshly, brown eyes fierce and angry. "You're what? Damn it, Yagami, stop laughing at me!"

Tai did. "I'm sorry," he said, still with that idiotic grin on his face. "It's just ironic. We really are a lot alike, aren't we?"

"Na? You mean…you're…"

"Just as gay as you," Tai confessed and this time both of them, sprawled out on the floor and practically all over each other, began laughing, the sort of mirth born of the relief of being, at long last, accepted.


Tai grinned, a trademark lopsided grin he hadn't seen on his own face in nearly six months, not since…since he'd ruined Dai. Destroyed everything they'd ever had in one afternoon. That had to be some sort of world record or something. The smile dropped off his face immediately.

He hadn't loved Dai. He'd trusted him, loved him like a friend and brother, but they never would have been able to pull off a relationship. They were too much alike, and both knew that anything they started would be doomed to failure. They both valued their friendship too much to jeopardize it for that, and they'd remained the best of friends, inseparable and nearly connected at the hip. Some of Tai's friends had even begun to refer to Daisuke as Tai's 'better half,' and Dai smiled every time they did, even though Tai wasn't necessarily pleased with it.

They'd done everything together, and rarely was there a night when one of them wasn't over at the other's house, school night or not, staying up until three talking, watching bad movies and giggling over yaoi manga.

And then…then it had happened.

It had always been understood that they kept one another's secrets. Even if one of them was found out, the other wasn't to be exposed. There was never mention of anything that wasn't strictly heterosexual around anyone. They were so careful, so cautious…

Daisuke had been the one to slip up. It was after soccer practice, a practice Dai had skipped, excusing himself with a 'stomachache.' Tai had winked at him, knowing very well that Dai was fine and just didn't want to work today. He'd wondered briefly what was going on with his friend; he'd seemed distracted lately, and Tai vowed to talk to him about it right after practice.

He never got the chance.

The team had not walked so much as stormed into the locker room, still high on the adrenaline rush of playing a rough game of scrimmage, laughing and joking around. Tai himself had been fake-wrestling with Shintaro, a skinny redhead a year older and a head shorter than Tai himself.

"Yaaargh!" Shintaro launched himself onto Tai's back, grabbing the brunette around the neck and hanging on for dear life as Tai staggered about, trying to throw him off. "Who's the bitch now, Yagami?"

"Shintaro, get the hell off!" Tai laughed, waving his arms in an attempt to swat his overzealous friend away. "I can't breathe!"

Neither one had noticed that the team had stopped moving until they realized they were the only ones talking, as the rest of the boys had fallen completely silent.

Frozen against the lockers, with a flushed face and a half-unbuttoned shirt was Daisuke, arms wrapped around the slim waist of a pretty black-haired boy, who in turn had his arms twined around the back of Dai's neck. It was fairly obvious what they'd been doing, as both were panting and blushing bright red, hair ruffled and clothes askew. The black-haired boy gave a startled 'eep,' ducked his head and fled, pushing past the team. The soccer players let him pass, sparing him no more than a glance, as none of them really knew who he was and didn't particularly care.

"What the hell were you doing?" Shintaro's voice was cold and Tai didn't think he'd ever seen the redhead so serious. His back was ramrod-straight, his eyes hard as flint, fists clenched at his sides. "Dammit, answer me, Motomiya!"

Dai flinched at the sound of his surname and Tai winced—Shintaro had always liked Dai, referring to him by the endearing 'Dai-chan.' "I…I was just…" Dai stuttered, gaze flicking over every player's face, searching for a sympathetic gaze rather than the scathing glares his teammates were giving him.

Once he found his voice, Dai had been vehement in his protests that there was nothing wrong with him, that he was sorry they'd had to find out like this, and that no, he had no intention of molesting any of them.

They'd turned to Tai, who'd been, up until that point, completely silent. All the blood had drained from his face and someone, rather unkindly, had pointed out that this was a normal reaction for someone who'd just found out his best friend was a fairy. "I mean God," the kid had whispered, "he's slept over at Daisuke's house…"

Shintaro nudged him in the ribs. "C'mon man, say something."

Tai had spluttered, completely at a loss until some idiot had remarked that perhaps he knew, maybe Tai himself was gay.

"Shut up," Shintaro had snapped at them. "Tai's not gay. Right?" He'd turned to Tai, obviously expecting confirmation. "Tell 'em, man."

And Tai had. He'd recovered then, snapped out of his trance and made some biting comments about Daisuke's sexual preferences (he vaguely remembered calling him a pervert and a slag), all the while trying to apologize with his eyes, desperately hoping that Dai realized he didn't actually mean this, he just had to say it. It was expected.

Dai hadn't understood. Somehow the message hadn't gotten across and he'd become strangely quiet, large hazel eyes brimming with tears that streamed silently down his cheeks and he fisted his hands at his sides, making an off choking noise at the back of his throat. Tai knew he should stop, knew he should just confess and get it over with, but he couldn't, he couldn't—

And then he'd said the cruelest thing possible, something that made Dai break down and sob for the first time since this whole thing had started. "No friend of mine's a fucking fag."

The minute it was out of his mouth, he regretted it. Dai gave a pained sob and wrapped his arms around his thin chest, whimpering like a puppy that had just been kicked.

Shintaro had given the rest of them a victorious 'I told you so' grin and Tai had just stood there, dead still, watching Dai try to fight back the gasps that shook his slim body. He watched his best friend and it was his fault—he wanted to apologize, to comfort Dai and hold him and beg him for forgiveness, but he couldn't make himself move.

Daisuke managed—barely—to compose himself lone enough to choke out an "Okay, then," before he ran. The other team members had laughed and jeered, but to Tai it was just another thing he'd done that he couldn't live with.

Daisuke was a better person than he was, and Tai was horribly aware of it. The poor boy tried to keep coming to soccer practice, but the whispered taunts, the 'accidental' kicks that left him with swollen, bruised legs, the shoulders that rammed into him when he wasn't looking—it was too much. He quietly dropped off the team three weeks after it had happened.

And despite what had happened, despite what Tai had done to him, Daisuke kept his word. He didn't tell anyone about Tai. He even heard Tai out when the elder boy had called him, crying and apologizing madly. Daisuke had listened quietly and said, in that awful, tiny, scared voice that it was alright. No matter how Tai argued, Dai forgave him. He just couldn't be friends with him anymore, not after what had happened. He didn't hate Tai, but neither did he trust him.

Tai didn't want to be forgiven. He wanted Daisuke to get angry, to yell at him, to pay him back for all the horrible things he'd done. He wanted to be punished for it so he could make up for it, and then everything would be alright, he'd have his best friend back.

But Dai had told him there wasn't any way it could happen. Tai had hurt him deeply and it was over. There wasn't anything he could do. It would be better if they just went their separate ways. And then he'd said goodbye and hung up.

Tai had cried himself to sleep for a month, hating himself, missing Daisuke and wanting something, wanting something that he couldn't name, but made him burn so badly inside that he wanted to die, just so the pain would stop. His little sister, Kari, had been worried about him. Her boyfriend, Takeru, had been a close friend of Daisuke's, and therefore she, by association, had also come to know the auburn-haired boy quite well. She knew Tai must have done something awful do drive Daisuke away.

She just didn't know what it was.

The depression didn't get any better. He was fine at school, a little quiet but pretty much himself, until he came home. He'd lock himself in his room and wouldn't come out until it was time for dinner. He'd only pick at his food and Kari was rather disturbed by the amount of weight her brother had been losing lately. Her mother had assured her it was just teen angst and that he'd get over it, but somehow Kari didn't think so. She knew Tai better than her parents ever could; he'd practically raised her since the Yagamis were almost always at work. Tai didn't do angst.

So here she was, standing at her brother's door, nervous as hell. And she never got nervous; not around Tai, at least. She'd practically been raised by him, and he was the only person in the world (besides Takeru, of course) that she'd trust with anything. She knocked hesitantly on Tai's door. "Hey, Tai? Can I come in?"

"Door's open," came the muffled reply from inside. She entered, closing the door behind her with a soft click, and he rolled onto his back, peering through the gloom at her. "Whaddya want, Kari?"

"I wanted to talk to you, nii-chan," she said, seating herself on the corner of his bed not covered by his sprawling limbs. Tai didn't lie down, he engulfed furniture, commandeered it, and damn anyone else who possibly had hoped to use it. "I'm worried."

" 'Bout what?" He sat up, running his hands through his hair. "What's wrong? Takeru didn't try anything, did he?"

Kari normally would have laughed at the thought of sweet, shy Takeru being anything but…well, sweet and shy. "No, he didn't. I'm worried about you, Tai."

He grunted and turned away. "No need to. I'm fine."

They sat in awkward silence until Kari ventured, "I haven't seen Daisuke around in a while." Was it her imagination, or did he…flinch? "Did something happen?"

"Get out."


"I said get out!" Tai roared, whirling on her. His eyes were bright with tears, his face contorted in fury, and for the first time, Kari was scared of her own brother. Her gentle, kind brother, who would never have acted like this had something horrible not happened. She wasn't one to give up (some said she was stubborn, but Kari preferred 'insistant') and she scowled right back at him.

"If you think I'm leaving just because you throw a hissy fit at me, you're wrong. I want to know what happened and I want to know now, nii-chan."


They glared at each other for a good three minutes before Tai broke away, growling irritably as he flopped back onto his bed, facedown. "Get the hell out of my room, Kari. You don't want to know."

"Let me be the judge of that."

He hissed, but made no move to throw her out. She took this as a good sign and settled herself on the bed, leaning against the wall. It was silent for another few minutes and then Tai spoke.

"You're not leaving, are you?"

"Nope," she said cheerfully.

"I'm gay," he said flatly, face still buried in his pillows. "There. Happy?"


He shot upright, eyes wide with disbelief. "You…didn't you hear me? I'm gay, Hikari. You know what that means, don't you?"

"You find boys sexy." She waved a dismissive hand at him. "Yeah, yeah, I know. Tell me that's not what's got you so down, Tai. That's really stupid."

"You're taking this awfully well," he said suspiciously.

"I'm friends with Ken and Daisuke, in case you've forgotten. Gay boys don't bother me. Actually," she said, with a giggle, "I think they're kind of cute."


"Daisuke's boyfriend. Honestly, you didn't know that? I thought you and Dai were—oops," she said, clapping a hand over her mouth when she saw Tai wince at the mention of Daisuke's name. "Sorry."

"I was horrible to him," Tai whispered. "I was awful."

"What'd you say?" she pressed. Tai shook his head and buried his face in his pillow.

"Later, Kari? I just wanna be alone right now."

"Okay," she relented. "You promise you'll tell me when you're ready?"

He gave her a fleeting grin and waved her away. "Cross my heart and hope to die."

"That might be taking it a little far."


"Good morning, Taichi!"

He grunted in response and flopped dramatically over his desk. He was tired, he'd been awake nearly all night and he could only vaguely remember the dreams that had kept him up.

Golden hair and cold blue eyes, the face of an angel and the voice of sin, hissing in his ear as artist's fingers wandered his body, setting his skin on fire. He arched and moaned and begged as those fingers tore at him, ripped him apart because it felt so good, so good…

"Earth to Tai." Sora rapped her knuckles on the side of his head, giving him a worried look. "You in there?"

"Hunh? Yeah, I'm fine. Just—" he yawned "—didn't get much sleep, that's all."

"That's not good for you." Jyou, a pretty blue-haired boy that occupied the desk in front of him turned around, resting his arm on Tai's desk. They weren't the best of friends, but they ran in the same circles (odd, because Jyou was intelligent and Tai was…well, he was Tai.), and had become acquaintances rather quickly. Jyou was usually an interesting person to talk to, once you reminded him that not everyone present had a 200 IQ.

"Thanks, Doctor," Tai said sarcastically. Sora clucked sympathetically and began massaging his shoulders gently. He tensed up, wanting her hands off him Right Now, but figured it would look rather bad if he ran away screaming. After all, he'd managed to keep himself calm on every one of their dates, he'd kissed her more times than he could count, why did this bother him so much?

"Feel better?"

He gave her a grateful smile. "Yeah. Thanks, babe."

She giggled and flushed cutely. She was attractive, there was no doubt about it, with her soft auburn hair barely brushing pale cheeks and large, smiling eyes, but Tai just…didn't want her. He knew she had a body any boy in school would have been glad to jump, but…he couldn't make himself want her, no matter how hard he tried. "Ow, Sora, that's enough."

She giggled again and released him. "Wimp," she teased fondly. "I barely touched you."

"Yeah, last time you said that I wound up with a broken wrist," Tai grumbled, only half-joking. It really had happened, about a year ago. They'd been playing soccer and Sora—well, she was more than a bit tomboyish, and frighteningly competitive. She'd decided, apparently, that soccer should be a contact sport and before he'd known what was happening, ninety-five pounds of adrenaline-high Sora was hurling at him, catching him around the knees and knocking him to the ground. He'd landed funny and he'd clearly heard the bone snap, but she hadn't believed him until he'd started crying.

"That was an accident," she protested. Tai gave her a mock-angry glare and waved her away; he really, really just wanted a quick nap before homeroom started.

Of course, before he could fall asleep, an angel walked into the classroom.

He was the most gorgeous thing Tai had seen, plain and simple. Prettier than Sora, that Kari, that Daisuke, even. Golden hair framed a perfectly-shaped face in soft curls, flipped at the end for an even more feminine air. His lips were pale, only a little brighter than his milk-white skin, but full, captivating, pouty without actually meaning to be. Sapphire eyes caught and held Tai's gaze, sultry, dark, inviting, and Tai wondered if he was imagining things—surely this angel wasn't looking at him? But then one eye closed in a languorous wink and a corner of the beautiful mouth curled in a smile, sending an unfamiliar shiver down his spine.

He wore the school uniform, of course, but (unlike most of the males in the school) he wore it properly, with the jacket buttoned completely, the sleeves rolled down over delicate wrists. A small pink tongue flicked out and moistened his lips and Tai found himself staring, wondering if that was some sort of invitation, or if the boy was just nervous.


It was only a distant irritation; he could ignore Jyou. What he had to say couldn't possibly be more important than this…


Oh, what did he want? Couldn't he just shut up and let Tai stare in peace?


"Augh! What?" Tai glared at Jyou and the blue-haired boy returned the look serenely.

"Once you've put your eyes back in, you'll figure out he's talking to you."

"What? Oh, um, sorry." Tai laughed nervously and rubbed the back of his head. The blonde gave him an understanding half-smirk and Tai blushed; ooh, he was sexy.

"Is this Azuma-sensei's classroom? I've just been transferred from S High, and—"

"You're from S?" Jyou asked excitedly. "The prep school? You must be brilliant! What're you doing in Odaiba High?"

"I failed," the blonde replied, voice laced with amusement.

"Oh." Jyou flushed and buried his nose in his book once again. "Sorry."

"That's alright. Anyways, um—"


"Tai. Right." He offered his hand and Tai shook it warmly. "Ishida Yamato. I suppose we're classmates now?"

"Y-yeah," Tai stuttered, withdrawing his hand from Yamato's grasp a little too quickly. Yamato merely smiled and set his bag down on the desk next to Tai. The brunette shifted uncomfortably; something about that smile creeped him out—it was as if he knew.

Impossible. Tai was just being paranoid. How could anyone know? Kari had been the only one he'd told, besides Dai, and he knew neither of them would ever spill…But when cool fingers closed over his hand and lingered there for a little too long, Tai couldn't help but stare down at them, pale against his own tanned skin. "Um…Ishida-san…"

"Please," the blonde said. "Call me Yamato."


The blonde sighed. "I'll take what I can get. You haven't told me your full name."

"Yagami. Yagami Taichi."

"Cute," Yamato observed with a smirk. "A name to match the face." He pulled his hand back when Sora approached, fists clenched and a challenge burning in her eyes. Tai winced; he knew that look, and he hoped that Yamato had sense enough not to provoke her. "Hello, who's this?"

"This," Sora snapped, "Is Takenouchi Sorata. Taichi's girlfriend. Who're you."

"Sora," Tai said weakly. "Be nice. He's new."

"He's also hitting on you, Taichi dear," she said in a sickly-sweet tone that scared the living daylights out of Tai. "Can I help you with something, or would you prefer to stare at my boyfriend a little more?"

"If you don't mind," Yamato replied with an easy grin. Sora didn't seem to take that well at all and she turned a veritable shade of purple. She was getting disapproving frowns from every other female in the class but she didn't seem to notice…and if she did, she was hard-pressed to care.

"Listen, princess," she snarled at Yamato (his face darkened at the nickname). "Tai's mine, you hear me? He's straight and he's mine, so you stay the hell away from him, fag!"

"Sora!" She broke off, shocked, and stared at Tai. "Don't talk to him like that! He just got here, could you at least try being nice?"

"He was flirting with you!"

"Was I flirting back? Leave him alone!" He was more furious than he'd ever been in his life…people like her were the reason he was so damn unhappy, how could she talk to anyone like that? "How do you have any right to stand there and bitch at someone you've just met? I can't believe you!"

She looked like she was about to cry and Tai, for the life of him, couldn't make himself care. He was snarling and only half-conscious of what he was saying, but it must have been awful, because next thing he knew she'd slapped him hard and run out of the classroom.

Yamato was watching him, that same smug grin on his face. "Straight?" he echoed, tapping immaculately-groomed fingernails on Jyou's desk while the blue-haired boy left to comfort Sora. "Somehow I doubt that."