Okay, so she said no. No big deal. It was just a joke anyway.
Then again, it wasn't just "No," it was "No thanks; definitely not if it's with any Yamato Ishida." Should he have been offended? He shook his head. It was witty, it was attractive, cute even. What was he thinking? Sora Takenouchi was not cute.
"Maybe just a little."
"You know, I'm not sure if talking to yourself will get her to go out with you."
"It's not like I really want—what the—?" Yamato blinked. His younger brother, Takeru, was stretched out on his bed across the room, reading a book. Yamato was on his own bed, resting on his arms, legs crossed at the ankles, and staring at the ceiling. He shot the boy a disgusted look.
Takeru glanced up from his book to smirk. "I knew it was about a girl."
"How in—it is not about a girl," Yamato defended. He was flustered that his younger brother had read him so easily, and partly embarrassed that he had unintentionally spoken aloud.
"You should think before you talk, bro. She might not like that either."
"She—stop doing that; mind your own business, TK."
Takeru shrugged. "It's not my fault you forgot we shared a room and started talking to yourself." He flipped a page. "By the way, you suck at comebacks." A slipper promptly flew into his book, knocking it out of his hands. "Hey!"
Yamato stretched out on his bed and sighed. "We really need to move. I can't share a room with you anymore."
"Yeah, Kari and I can never get any privacy."
Yamato rolled his eyes. "If anything, Mom makes sure of that."
"Well at least I have a girlfriend."
"You're just lucky someone actually wants you."
Takeru sighed with a dreamy smile as Yamato watched curiously. "You're right. I am lucky."
"So what are you doing today?"
Sora turned to the blond, who had somehow managed to sneak up behind her on the lunch line, and gave him a long look. "I hope this isn't a continuation of my birthday gift?"
Yamato brushed off the comment easily (after having reassured himself many times over that it was in no way a rejection, and it wasn't as if he wanted her to say yes anyway). "No, I'm just curious with what you do after school."
"Why are you suddenly so concerned about my activities?"
"Good grief, why are you so defensive? Would it pain you to answer a question for once?" The line moved a little and the two advanced a step each.
"Fine, I have work today."
Yamato smirked. "There, that wasn't so bad, was it?" There was a pause when he noticed her giving him a thoughtful look. "I have band practice today," he offered.
A corner of her lips lifted. "That's nice."
"Where do you work?" The line moved a little more and Yamato hurried to ask Sora more questions, not completely understanding why he felt so compelled to make conversation.
She gave him another slow slanted smile. "I work at a flower shop."
She rolled her eyes. "No."
"So, is that a no or a yes?"
"So, yes you work there?"
"Yes I work at a flower shop. Honestly Yamato, I didn't think the school womanizer would be so gullible."
"Whatever. It's just surprising you work at a flower shop."
"I work there on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Sundays," said Sora, supplying him with the information before he asked.
"That's cool, I have band on Tuesdays and Thursdays."
"Okay." They were almost at the front of the line where the lunch lady grudgingly filled the plates with scoops of questionable grub. From the scent that wafted around the cafeteria, something made to resemble chicken was being served.
"At least I'm trying to keep the conversation going."
Sora looked over at the blond and almost laughed at his childish expression. "Would you like the rest of my weekly schedule? I have tennis practice on Wednesdays and Fridays, and on Saturdays I tutor."
"You tutor?" echoed Yamato while for some reason, naughty images of Sora as an incredibly hot teacher ran through his mind. Not that he thought Sora was hot. Really. Then again, Yamato never had a teacher fetish either, but for some reason, the combination set wild thoughts in motion.
"I tutor." Her voice brought him back to reality.
A fiery brow rose. "A friend."
Yamato felt an unreasonable feeling rise in his chest and ignored it. "What do you tutor your friend in?"
"You're acting strange, but if you must know, I tutor him in Japanese."
More naughty images. Yamato shifted, suddenly wishing they were at the front of the line, and trying hard not to look in the redhead's direction. "Want me to drop you off at work?" he blurted, desperate for a topic change.
Sora gave him a long look. "I take the bus; it's not bad."
"Well, what's the location?"
"It's in Dawn Hills on the corner of Madison and Lincoln." They'd finally moved to the front of the line and Sora scanned her options before pointing to the mass that held its shape best.
"That's perfect—it's along the way to band practice." Yamato pointed to his choice as Sora took her tray and turned to face him.
"Why do I feel like you're forcing me to get a ride?"
He shrugged and joined her where she stood. "It's all in your head, darling. Wait for me after PE."
"I saw that, Sora," said Mimi sweetly the moment Sora sat down.
"You two getting along."
A casual shrug and auburn strands slipped around her shoulder. "We've been getting along pretty good these days. I've almost forgotten why I didn't like him." Sora picked around her mixed fruit and popped a grape into her mouth as Mimi waited with barely contained glee. "You know, it's funny, it's almost like he wanted to talk to me." She pierced a piece of cantaloupe with the plastic utensil before adding thoughtfully, "Do you think he's got some sort of psychological disorder?"
"I think he likes you."
Sora sighed. "Meems, this again?"
"It's true, Sora," said Taichi after he worked down the rest of his meal, "Guys don't talk to girls they don't like and you guys have been getting better ever since your birthday."
Sora grinned and tilted her head at her childhood best friend. "When did you become so thoughtful and observant, Tai?"
"When you two were flirting on the lunch line."
Mimi giggled. Copper gold eyes rolled. "I knew it wouldn't last."
"Twenty bucks says you guys go to prom together. By the end of this, you're going to owe me a lot of money, Sor."
Sora found Yamato outside the girls' locker room after gym, casually leaning against the wall and looking nonchalant.
"Is that your default pose or something?"
He pushed himself off the wall and winked. "Girls love it."
Sora rolled her copper eyes and smiled reluctantly. "How shallow."
"Come on princess, your ride awaits."
They fell into a comfortable silence on the way to the parking lot, after making a stop by their lockers. There were only a few cars left in the lot, but Sora picked out the car immediately. The black sedan gleamed in the sunlight.
"Oh. My. God. An Audi A6? Six?" Sora snorted. "What, A4 not good enough for you? And that's a wax job if I've ever seen one." The redhead circled the car, and whistled appreciatively. "Somebody's spoiled," she added in a singsong voice.
Yamato bristled. "Do you ever not have any comments?"
"Rarely, but it has happened."
He laughed and unlocked the doors. "I'll have you know that I bought this car with gig money."
"Really?" Sora threw her bookbag in the backseat and climbed into the passenger seat. "I didn't know you guys were so popular," she mused while buckling her seat belt.
The guitarist shrugged. "We're okay."
"What's this? You passing up a chance to stroke your own ego? Playing modest now, huh?" Sora grinned at his irritated expression. "I'll have to see you guys play sometime."
"You could come to band practice." The words flew out of his mouth before Yamato could think. Much like when he offered her a ride to work. He didn't even like her, why would he go out of his way to drive her? He shook his head, it'd been happening a lot lately, and always in her presence. For a moment, Yamato entertained the possibility of turrets syndrome.
"Hello?" Sora waved a hand in front of the blond. "As much as I like sitting in this car, I'd like to get to work even more."
"Sorry, right away, Madame." It didn't go unnoticed that she'd ignored his offer.
The flower shop on the corner of Madison and Lincoln was modest with a subtle elegant flair. It was an attractive shop, clean and neat, not cluttered with overgrown plants like so many other florists. The owner had been a good friend of Sora's mother and treated Sora like the daughter she never had.
Sora grabbed her bag and stepped out of the car. She stuck her head in from the passenger window. "Thanks for the ride, Womanizer."
"No problem, Ice Queen."
She smiled, pleased with his banter and not offended. "Where's the practice?"
"On the east side, by River Drive."
"WHAT?" Sora choked out. "THAT'S NOWHERE NEAR HERE!"
Copper eyes narrowed. "Yamato Ishida, you tricked me."
He grinned. "Maybe a little."
"…I don't know."
There was an awkward silence where neither of them dared to speak, or wanted to ask the questions that had formed.
"I don't regret it," he said finally, with confidence.
She smiled. "Me either. Thanks for the ride, drive safe."
It wasn't long until Sora's first customer entered the store. "Hello Mr. Ardsley," she greeted. Mr. Ardsley was a tall middle-aged man who owned many tweed jackets and wore thick-rimmed glasses. He was a longtime, frequent customer who seemed to fall in love much too frequently and never too deeply. Sora gave the man a polite smile and was never quite able to keep the disappointment from her eyes while she watched him enter the store every week to purchase new flowers for a new girl.
"I think she likes sunflowers," he responded absentmindedly, looking at all the other flowers, never settling.
Yamato sat outside of the building they practiced in, still in the driver seat of his Audi. The car felt empty now without their banter, her endless comments, and Yamato tried to figure out why he missed it. So, he sat there in his thoughts, ignoring the calls from his band mates, no doubt wondering where he was.
He was confused with the things running through his mind, none of them clear, none of the resolute, and surely, none of them what he wanted to believe. Three weeks ago, he didn't want anything to do with her and now, if he was honest with himself, he was doing things to have everything to do with her.
A tap at his window, and Yamato looked up to see an amused (and slightly annoyed) Takashi. He stepped out of the car guiltily. "Sorry—"
"You've got it bad, Matt."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I think you know."
Yamato brushed him off. "No. I don't."
"We've been watching you from the studio and decided to put you out of your misery."
"You like her. It's okay Matt."
It was the one thing Yamato didn't want to admit. It made him nervous, doubt himself, drove him crazy. "That's bull."
"Just admit it, you fell for her. Again."
"You look terrible."
Sora glared at the bassist from her seat in Environmental Science. "Thanks, you're not so shabby yourself."
Yamato grinned and took his seat. "Not enough sleep? Ex-boyfriends kept calling you to take them back?"
"Really Yamato, I said no, can you stop harassing me?! How many times do you have to beg me?" Sora threw back dramatically, loud enough for the people around them to hear. Conversations stopped, people grew quiet. Sora hid her smile.
"I hate you."
She grinned, blew him a kiss, and watched amazingly as Yamato's cheeks darkened and he looked away.
"He was right, you do look terrible," Taichi remarked as he sat down at their daily table in the cafeteria and immediately began inhaling the food.
"Don't agree with him."
"Agree with who? Whoa, someone's in need of concealer." Mimi pulled out her makeup bag immediately, which she carried with her at all times.
Sora sighed as her friend went to work immediately, applying some flesh colored liquid and smoothing it out.
"So, he drove you to work? Tell me!"
"Did you know he has an A6? Because I sure didn't know that."
"I don't care about his car—"and "Wow, an A6?" came simultaneously.
Mimi glared over at Tai who smartly stopped talking and worked on finishing the rest of his lunch. "I want to know, how was the ride? Was he a gentleman? Did he open the door for you? Did he walk you in?"
"Meems, it wasn't a date, it was a ride. And you can say he opened the door for me when he unlocked it."
"Tai," Mimi sighed and looked over at the boy for help, "You must agree with me that he likes her."
He nodded, bushy brown hair bobbing as he did so. "Of course I do, I have money on this." He pushed the empty tray aside and leaned forward to speak with his most serious voice. "Us guys are easy to read, Sor. We don't go out of our way to do something for a girl unless we like them. We won't put a burden on ourselves without the chance of gaining something in return."
"That was pretty good, Tai. You should write a book."
"I will, so do me a favor and prove me right and I can get started."
"No." Sora's simple answer made Taichi cross his arms and pout.
Mimi sighed and observed her handiwork. "Better. Now if you won't admit that you and Matt make a cute couple and should go to prom together and get married, at least tell me why you look like you had two hours of sleep."
Sora ignored the first part of the question and picked at her food. "It's nothing really. I had an exam today, so I stayed up late to study."
"And, Haruhiko came home last night, so we got into another famous argument."
Taichi and Mimi exchanged looks, both knowing the relationship Sora had with her father.
The previous night, Sora's father returned from his business trip and somewhere along the ride home, had remembered his daughter's birthday. He called her to his study, the regret in his eyes, his body language telling her he was tired and trying desperately.
Sora wouldn't have any of it.
He offered her a late happy birthday and continued in his poor attempt at an apology and held onto what he thought was an opportunity to get to know his daughter, to make up for time lost. He asked if she worked at the flower shop still, and offered her better pay, a better job, at one of his popular restaurants, like he'd done many times before.
Sora had responded by leaving the study, only to bump into Jacqueline. The young wife offered Sora a modeling opportunity, mistaking the conversation to be about job hunting. Sora walked right on by, and straight into her room, locking herself in.
Taichi laughed. "You're the only one I know who calls her dad by his first name."
"He doesn't deserve any sentiments."
"Oh Sora." Mimi smiled at her best friend's stubbornness.
"The weirdest thing though, is that Yamato called."
Sora slammed the door shut behind her and drowned herself in her textbook and notes, choosing to work off her anger.
"Sora?" came a soft voice at the door. "You have a call."
Sora's brows furrowed. Her friends would call her cell phone. "Okay, I got it." She grabbed the cordless phone and spoke. "Hello?"
"Who is this?"
She faltered, unsure that her ears hadn't betrayed her. "Yamato?" she repeated. To her dismay, she felt her heart speed up and couldn't deny that she was excited, glad to have him on the phone, a friend in her moment of self-pity and misery. Friend? Since when did—
"Yeah, um… you never answered—"
"How the hell did you get my phone number? My home phone number at that."
There was a long pause. "The white pages."
Sora nearly burst out laughing. "The white pages? Seriously? I didn't know we were listed."
"Yeah, and you'd think there wouldn't be a lot of Takenouchis, but try telling that to the other sixteen."
"SIXTEEN? This must be important."
"Exactly, so listen up." He let loose a shaky breath. "I just… well, you said you want to hear us play… and I offered, but you didn't respond…"
"What are you talking about?"
"Band practice. Do you want to come next week?"
The question caught Sora off guard, she hadn't taken him seriously in the car. A blush stole up onto her cheeks and she found herself suddenly glad he couldn't see her. "Sounds great."
"Good. I'll talk to you at school then."
"This couldn't wait until school?"
She laughed. "Thanks for the invite."
"No problem. Bye Sora."
"Good night. And Yamato?"
"You can call my cell phone next time."
Author's Note: Wow, if this isn't overdue, I don't know what is. It's been two years (and a day) since the last chapter was written, but here's proof that I never forgot about the story. I'm so sorry, and I hope that people haven't forgotten this little story either.
The ending of this chapter was a little weird, but I hope it worked out. This story would have been updated earlier, but part way through, I had a million other story ideas and I made many changes to the story.
Please still read and review! I'll always love reading the feedback, good or bad. You guys can yell at me and demand to know where I've been (but I only have the generic answer for that).
Thank you for reading, as always.
Originally posted on June 11, 2009 (not proofread)
Also, I've decided to get rid of the disclaimer at the top of every chapter. I'm hoping a disclaimer in the beginning of the story will do, because let's face it, I'm sure no one thought for a second, that I own Digimon.