CHAPTER FOUR close
There was a click and blur of movement, and Sora appeared on the screen; a grin lighting up her face as she stepped back from the computer.
"Your web cam works, Yama. Bad news is it makes you look kinda fat."
A pillow hit the back of her head and fell on the floor.
Yamato sat behind her on his bed, leaning against the wall, watching her sort through the various music stored on his hardrive. Sora glared at him suspiciously before swiveling back around.
Suddenly, she let out squeal of excitement and pushed back her seat, grabbing his hand and pulling him to the desk as the intro to "Mint Car" blared through the speakers.
Sora leaned up against him, singing into a pen she found on his desk, and he quickly changed into rock star mode, banging his head to the music, letting his hair swing in his face. Halfway through the song he grinned and tackled her, both friends disappearing from view as they tumbled onto the floor laughing.
They reappeared on the screen, bright-eyed and out of breath. Sora scrambled to her feet. "I'm going to look for something to eat. You want anything?"
He shook his head in response and she left the room.
"You got anything edible in here?" her distant voice was followed by the open and shutting of cabinet doors.
"Check the…top right cupboard. I think my dad bought some girl-scout cookies the other day." He tilted his chair back and waited for her response.
She returned a few minutes later munching on a cookie, holding the box in her hand as she threw herself on the bed. "Hey, Matt. Tell everyone what happened to you at band practice today."
He rolled his eyes. "You're so immature, Sora."
He looked straight into the camera with a bored, sarcastic expression on his face. "I broke a guitar string on Taka's acoustic."
"Which one, Yama-chan?"
Sora fell into a fit of giggles. Yamato was not impressed.
"Come on, Matt. It was funny." She seated herself on the extra chair next to him and stared seriously at the camera. "So Yamato breaks Taka guitar's string, and Taka asks if anyone has an extra. G-string, yaknow? And what does Yamato say?"
He crossed his arms and buried his face.
"He doesn't realize what he's saying and says he has one at home." She shook her head in a mock-pity fashion. "The boys won't let him forget it."
Yamato turned up the speakers. She laughed.
"It was funny!"
He pushed her away from him.
"So Matt. Tell us a little about yourself."
"What?" he asked.
She rolled her eyes and reached over to lower the volume again. "Tell us about yourself." Fake serious; exaggerated attention.
He gathered his best fake pensive expression. "Well, Sora. I'm the lead vocalist and back-up bassist of a band called The Teen-Age Wolves. My parents are divorced, and I see my little brother Takeru less than I want to."
"And what's that like?"
"It makes for beautiful angst. Truly."
"That's a horrible thing to say."
"Anything else you want the world to know?"
"My best friend is a redhead and the biggest spaz I know."
"Oh, sweetheart. You only tease the ones you love."
He ruffled up her hair.
"You ever wonder where we would be if we weren't friends?"
He thought about it for a while. "We would be miserable."
They glanced at each other at the same time.
"You're such a good friend, that if we were on a sinking ship and there was only one life jacket left…I'd miss you loads and think of you often."
"What the hell?"
Sora hugged him.
Taichi didn't have any classes with Yamato, but he had one with Sora. They had English together, and they sat in opposite sides of the room.
He didn't attempt to approach her again, but once or twice, his eyes flickered towards her in the front of the room. Once or twice, when she was staring concentrated on a test; once or twice, when she was gathering her things at the end of the class.
And once or twice, she glanced back. Once or twice.
At lunch she ate with Yamato and a group of boys, and other than some acquaintances on the tennis team, she didn't have many friends that were girls. Some things hadn't changed, and Taichi felt strangely comforted.
And that was it.
It didn't matter, though. They ran in different crowds, enjoyed different things. It wasn't like they were friends.
Nevertheless, he was still surprised when she came to detention that day.
He had been talking to his friends when she had made her appearance, and when she did he did a slight double take. She stood uncomfortably in the doorway, pulling at the strap of her messenger bag. Her eyes automatically searched for a familiar face, and she froze when her eyes met his.
He stared at her, curious, confused, and he subconsciously sat straighter in his seat, his eyes following her as she accommodated herself in the second closest chair to the door; a few places right and ahead of him. She proceeded to take her books and papers out, refused to look at him, refused to look back, and wasn't she just the model of excellence.
The teacher scheduled to watch them that day entered, and silence commenced.
Yamato didn't do much after school. Sometimes he plucked at his guitar, scribbled a few notes, held band practice.
Sometimes he tutored.
He wasn't sure when, but somewhere between writing songs and hanging out with his friends, he was reluctantly pulled into a peer-to-peer student-tutoring program his district set up after school a couple years back, and every other Tuesday and Thursday he volunteered his time to aid students in their studies. (Particularly in math and physics, but he wasn't too bad in history and English, either.)
He didn't feel like going that day, but Taka had basketball practice and Sora had detention, and she made him promise to be there the second it ended to enthrall him with her gruesome experience of her confinement. Something along those lines, anyway. Besides, he liked walking home with her.
The tutoring center was relatively busy, but he was one of the few still available. He didn't mind so much. He wasn't very social anyway, and he liked time to himself. He had been listening to his ipod, doodling on his paper when the princess of Odaiba High entered.
Her white blouse was pulled a little too tight across her chest and her skirt rolled up just a little too high above her knees. She shifted her weight onto one foot and the skirt rose a little higher. Her eyes quickly scanned the room, picking her prospects. They landed on him and she was pleasantly surprised.
He looked up, a little shocked, a little curious, taking in her appearance. "Hey."
She slid into the seat next to him, easily and casually, and she brought with her confidence and charm and floral perfume.
"I'm Mimi." How unnecessary.
She had seen him around school a number of times. He was cute; it was hard not to notice, but she didn't have any classes with him, had no excuse to approach him. She found this a very nice coincidence.
"Are you any good in Algebra?" she asked.
"I'm not bad."
She smiled at him and pulled out her binder.
Sora had detention. What a badass.
She wondered if being a badass was always this boring.
Her eyes wandered to the clock; 2:45. She had finished all of her homework a while ago, and she was counting the minutes until her liberation.
Liberation. She amused herself.
The bright afternoon sun peeked through the branches of a sakura tree planted outside and blinked at her through the window from the other side of the room. She watched the stray pink petals scattering with the wind, floating in twisted circles, around, around.
Her crimson violet eyes glanced back and caught a glimpse of Taichi. He was sleeping; his head buried in the crook of his arms. He didn't care. Nobody cared here. Detention was apathy, lack of energy, dull boredom, staring at the wall and trying to stay painfully quiet amidst the awkward silence.
She hated being a badass.
Sora looked back out the window.
When Taichi shifted his position and allowed a look in her direction, she didn't notice.
Yamato was cute, but he was all business. He didn't respond to her flirting, didn't respond to her charm. She would say something funny, delightful, and sometimes he would smile sheepishly, look down. He didn't flirt back.
She found it mildly irritating.
She found it mildly attractive.
Mimi watched him explaining the complicated world of math with maddening ease, his baritone voice just loud enough for her to hear. Her book was open between them, and he was pointing at an obscure problem as he spoke.
Her eyes glanced over his features; his golden blonde hair, piercing cold, cold eyes, paper-thin lips.
"Are you gay, Yamato?" she asked.
He paused his elucidations and glanced up at her, confused. "No."
She tilted her head to one side and stared at him as if she was pondering something serious. "Just checking." Mimi sat upright again, crossing her arms in front of her, leaning in. Her brown hair fell over one eye.
"You know, you can laugh once in a while. Flirt."
He continued to stare at her, his piercing cold, cold eyes.
She wondered if his eyes were always this intense. Always this serious. "Don't you think I'm pretty?"
Yamato raised an eyebrow.
Mimi smiled; all sweet amusement. "Well, don't you?"
He looked down at the pen he was fiddling with in his hand, twisting it around his slender fingers. "It doesn't matter what I think." And when he looked back up at her, his gaze was forward, unafraid, edged with a tired laziness.
She studied him then, staring back at cold blue with honey brown orbs. She didn't know what it was; the slight surprise, the momentary dissatisfaction with his response…but it hit her like a slap from reality, the tingling sting lingering on her self-conscious.
"You're strange, Yamato," she finally concluded.
The pen twirled between his fingers; the tip landed on the beginning of a paragraph of her open book. "Simplifying radicals aren't that bad. You just need to learn how to apply the theorem."
Yamato was cute, but he was all business.
Sora slowly walked down the vacant hallway, the pads of her fingertips gently sliding against the smooth locker doors. She carefully put one foot in front of the other, watching her navy blue tennis shoes walk in a straight line. She had excused herself to use the restroom a moment ago, and she was in no hurry to get back.
Her crimson violet eyes glanced out the large glass windows, and she squinted at the sunlight staring back at her. She liked moments like this – the afternoon, the empty corridors, where everything was delicate and ghostly and calm. She stared back down at her shoes, one step in front of the other.
She heard the sounds of life outside, and she looked back out the window. They were having soccer practice out in the field, and Sora walked up to the casement and stopped to watch. The Odaiba school colors were green and blue, and they all wore kelly green jerseys and navy blue shorts and white block letters proudly announced their surnames on the backs, an even bigger white number. They raced down the field, the black and white ball rolling through the fresh green grass.
She remembered those days, when she used to play soccer, when she used to be good, dribbling the ball between her feet, back and forth, back and forth, back, kick, GOAL! She remembered when they used to run around the playground, play hide and go seek, wrap a quilt around their necks and pretend they could fly.
And she remembered when she used to sneak out in the middle of the night to play soccer with Taichi because his younger sister was sick again, playing for hours until he kicked the ball too hard and he collapsed on the damp, green grass and she quietly sat next to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. She remembered sneaking into his house at one in the morning because her parents were fighting, her father's harsh shouting, her mother's angry hissing, Taichi's arm next to hers. No crying, no words, just darkness, only each other. No one else.
But that was a long time ago; far away, distant, wispy and blurry, and when she blinked and she blinked, it faded and smeared and disappeared.
She softly blew on the window until a damp ellipse formed on the glass, and she carefully wrote her name with her finger. Her crimson violet eyes studied her work, and then she walked down the hallway, slightly leaning against the locker doors, running her hand along the metal surface again.
She didn't miss it. She didn't resent it. It was a long time ago.
Sora reached the detention room just as Taichi was going out. They stared at each other, unsure; crimson violet, chocolate brown. He smelled like cologne, and grass, and outdoors.
"Excuse me," she ducked her head and walked inside.
When detention was over, Sora quickly grabbed her things and hurried out the door.
Taichi followed a few feet afterwards, his books held on one side, his free hand rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. His companions trailed behind him, suggesting video games at Daisuke's house, and Taichi was vaguely listening. His chocolate brown eyes caught something red at the end of the hallway, and he watched the familiar retreating form with an indistinct gaze that was all emotion and heedless and nothing at all.
She turned left in the direction of the tutoring center, and she was gradually aware of footsteps in the otherwise empty corridor additional to her own.
She turned around automatically, surprised when she recognized the person jogging towards her.
He paused, her soft stare stopping him at mid-step. "So, uh…detention, huh?" he asked.
An awkward half-smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. "Well aren't you a regular troublemaker."
She glanced at her feet, looked back up. She nodded and politely smiled back.
"Something like that."
He pushed a bit more.
"Caught making out behind the bleachers, right?"
Her smile turned a little more genuine in spite of herself, and Taichi grinned.
"I knew it."
And then the tired, sympathetic smile was on her face again. "…Of course you did, Tai."
He wished he knew why he kept doing this. Why she kept doing this. He had known her once, he had known her well, and now he didn't know her at all.
His eyes glanced downwards and he lightly kicked at the floor. He wanted to say something; he wanted to ask why, and he could feel all the mess of tempers melting into a shy, honest air.
"Sora, I don't hate you."
Sora didn't respond, but he noticed her tugging at the hem of her cardigan.
When she finally did, she didn't look at him, and her voice was quiet and weak.
"I don't hate you either, Tai."
The sun's rays filtered in through the large glass windows, and they walked in a slow, collective pace. The janitor was mopping up the floor on the other side, listening to his handheld walkman full-blast as he worked. The muffled sound of music sifted through the air.
Yamato walked beside her with his messenger bag hanging on one side, his guitar case strapped over his shoulder. He carried himself with a quiet, comfortable ease, all content and mystery and detached. He responded out of courtesy, lacking detail and any glimmer of real sentiment, and Mimi found her friendly chatter lost on him.
"Are you always so serious, Yamato?"
"Sometimes. Most of the time," he replied truthfully.
Mimi laughed at his unashamed candidness. "It's not a crime to have fun, you know."
"I have fun."
"Yea? And what's your definition of fun?"
He shrugged again, not looking at her. "Being with the people I love."
She watched him, her brown eyes gazing at him in curious, amused wonder, and she found her lips curving into a slow smile.
They reached the end of the corridor and they turned right to their destination. He paused, then, but she didn't notice.
"There's a party at Daisuke's beach house after the game tomorrow night. You should come."
He was staring straight ahead, his gaze hard.
Realizing that his attention was elsewhere, Mimi curiously looked between him and what he was staring at. Two figures stood a safe distance away from each other in the middle of the hallway.
There was something there – an awkward tension, some sort of unsaid conflict reopening silent, invisible wounds.
Mimi opened her mouth. "Hey, Tai, can you give me a ride home?"
The two figures quickly glanced up, surprised at the interruption.
Taichi looked back at Sora, an unreadable expression on his face. Sora looked away, didn't meet his gaze. She bit her bottom lip and gently fingered the plastic bracelet on her wrist.
He stared down in understanding, and then turned back to Mimi. A weary smile touched his lips and his eyes were tired. "Sure, Mimi." Taichi tried one more glance at Sora, staring at her as they passed. His arm brushed against hers, and he thought he saw her flinch. She still wouldn't look at him.
"Thanks," said Mimi.
Sora's eyes closed as an imperceptible sigh escaped his lips, and Taichi and Mimi walked away, neither saying a word.
Their footsteps eventually faded, and now she had Yamato. Quiet, beautiful, collected Yamato, and the nights when they went to the park, sitting on the wooden table-benches; calm as night as he played his harmonica; when she didn't want to go home, and he didn't ask. Now she had Yamato, and his intense blue eyes, and his tight hugs that let her cry when she thought she couldn't. Now she had Yamato, and banging heads to music, and annoying people at movie theaters with their giggling and bantering. Serious Yamato, that was only mischievous and cute and delightful with her.
And when she blinked and she blinked, it was still there, staring back at her, clear; free; close.
The quiet was thick and overwhelming, weighing down their skin, and they both waited…waited...
She thought she saw it flicker, waver, and she wanted to cry.
He looked down, and she stopped. She watched as he licked his lips; look back up at her. He moved one side of his body, asking her to come closer, and they walked home together in silence.
A/N: This story is anything but organized, and I apologize for the confusion. Some of it is on purpose, most of it is not. I have made a few revisions to the earlier chapters. Nothing big, really, but I would appreciate it if you take the time to skim it through.
Mimi originally had a bigger part in this chapter; in this story, in fact, but after much painful deliberation I decided to limit her role. I would love to delve into her character more, but I know it isn't of much interest in a YamatoxSoraxTaichi centered fic, so I will try to refrain. Forgive me if I don't. I also changed the color of her hair because…it was annoying.
I hope Yamato doesn't sound like he has split personalities. He's a serious kid most of the time, and Sora is the only one able to bring a lighter, playful side of him. Even so, his teasing is a bit mean and awkward, if you hadn't noticed. Like in grade school when boys have crushes on girls, they push them and pull their hair.
And because someone asked, Sora and Yamato are just best friends. For now, anyway. And I use "Matt" as a nickname rather then making a mistake between the Japanese version and the dub, like "Tai" for Taichi.
I'm afraid none of my old stories will be making an appearance soon. I was feeling rather frustrated and in need of a clean slate when I deleted them and I didn't save them before I did. I'm sorry to those who enjoyed them.
Thank you so much for your understanding and patience.