I own nothing.

Symphony of Sound: Ten

The hotel room was everything that a hotel room should be: clean, comfortable, and nothing like home. Sora sank into one of those obligatory floral-patterned couches and pulled her legs up, resting her chin on her knees. The walls were papered and painted, the carpet was dark and thick, and the coffee table in front of her was polished and gleaming. There was a wooden cabinet against the wall, which she guessed hid a TV, next to a window curtained with long, neat drapes. The kitchenette was small, but still managed to contain a refrigerator, stove, microwave, sink, and some meager counter space.

A glass of water appeared in front of her, and she took it silently, looking at Yamato over the rim of the cup as she sipped.

"Have you never been in a hotel before?" Yamato asked, raising an eyebrow. "They're all the same."

"I have," Sora said quietly, leaning forward to set the glass on the coffee table. "Where's the rest of your band?"

"On a flight back to Japan," Yamato replied, sitting down in the armchair across from her.

"How come you didn't go with them?"

He shrugged. "I wanted to see Takeru; maybe my dad."

"Oh." Then, "Do you still talk to him?"

"Sometimes. Haven't really made a point of keeping in touch with—"

"Anyone?"

"You sound bitter," Yamato said, sitting forward and looking at her keenly.

Sora merely looked at him.

"The only person I kept in touch with was Takeru," Yamato replied. "I didn't tell Mimi that I was going to be playing at the club, and I didn't ask her to bring you. I figured you wouldn't want to see me."

"I know," Sora muttered. She hugged her folded legs closer to her chest and rested her forehead on her kneecaps. "God, I don't even know what I'm doing here. Mimi said you still care about me but I don't see that at all and I—I'm so messed up."

"I'm sorry," Yamato said.

"No, it would've happened eventually," Sora said. "I guess you were just a good catalyst. I don't sleep anymore, did you know that? I have glasses, too. I don't think I've gotten a haircut in at least six months, I haven't seen Taichi in at least three, and I'm a journalism major." When she looked up, Yamato was looking back at her with what she would have mistaken as impassiveness if she hadn't known him so well. His eyes were bluer than sorrow. Sora swallowed the lump in her throat and struggled to speak around it. "I don't think I'm friends with Mimi the way I used to be and I'm not taking care of Hikari like I promised Taichi I would. Jyou's getting married soon, and Koushiro's having trouble because he's dating a twin and the other one has a massive crush on him." She could feel her smile quiver when she looked up at him again. "Takeru got accepted early decision to Duke, did he tell you? He's probably going to get a basketball scholarship or something. Mimi's got some ritzy internship in L.A. and only calls once a month."

Sora blinked and a tear dripped down her cheek and fell, splotching heavily on her jeans. "You douchebag, do you know how much you've missed?"

He pulled her into a hug before she had the chance to realize that he had moved. Threaded his long guitar fingers through her hair, pulled her crushingly close, and let her press her face into his chest. She didn't cry, simply sat there, tumbled against him.

"I'm sorry," she heard him mutter, and she thought that she heard his voice break a little, a thin crack through his low, smooth baritone.

"I had three months to get over it," Sora mumbled into the material of his sweatshirt. "I didn't cry after the night that you told me. Hyori said I looked like a zombie on the first day of orientation."

"You still do," Yamato replied. He slid the hand that wasn't tangled in her hair down her side, fingers rising and falling over the bumps of her ribs and the ridges of her spine. "You've lost weight."

"That's what everyone says," Sora said, pulling back and wiping her face with the sleeves of her sweater. "I think my mother hates you now."

"My own mother hates me now," Yamato replied with a wry twist to his smile. "I can't say I blame either of them."

There was a used glass and a half-empty bottle of scotch on the kitchenette counter, and Yamato followed her gaze.

"Still too good for drugs, Sora-chan?" He laughed dryly and slid his hand out of her hair, slowly.

"Not alcohol," Sora replied.

He looked at her appraisingly. "Did you have any other boyfriends?"

"Will I be damaged goods if I did?" Sora smiled wryly.

She remembered that Taichi had kissed her the day he left for Chicago. She had gone to the airport with his family; Mimi had already left for California. They had all walked Taichi to his gate (after negotiating with the security guards) and his parents had kissed him goodbye and made him promise to call them once a week, and Hikari had hugged him and wished him luck, and then the three had walked off, asking Sora to meet them in the food court when she was done.

She had hugged Taichi and handed him the care package she had put together that morning, and then he had pulled her into another hug that had been closer and not so platonic, and then he had kissed her. It hadn't been anything invasive: a peck on the lips and then a cheeky, somewhat apologetic smile.

"I'm not Mimi," Sora had said afterwards, crossing her arms over her stomach.

"I'm over her," Taichi had replied, scuffing the toe of his sneaker against the vinyl floor. "Are you mad? I know the whole thing about Yamato…"

"Did he tell you he was leaving? Was I the only one he didn't tell?"

Taichi had reached out and adjusted the strap of her tank top, brushed a lock of her hair out of her eyes. "I don't think he told anyone until after he told you. Woke me up at one in the fucking morning."

"He told me at 12:30," Sora had confided, sighing. She fingered the frayed hems of her shorts. "I miss him, Taichi."

"You're over thinking this, Sora-chan," Taichi had said, sighing also.

"I miss you, too, and you're not even gone yet."

"Sora-chan…" Taichi had taken her hands in his—his skin was a healthy bronze, in contrast to her gold—and looked her in the eyes. "I promise to visit you whenever I come back here. I'll email you everyday and call you every other day and it'll be like I never left."

"We can't play soccer over the phone," Sora said petulantly, appreciating that he was humoring her uncharacteristic childishness.

"That means I'll have to visit more often, ne?"

"You better."

"No hard feelings?"

"About what, the kiss?"

"Yeah."

"Mmm…nope. Just don't do it again."

He had laughed. "See you later, Sora."

She had gone out with two boys during her freshman year under Hyori and Aimee's collective insistence. One boy was someone Hyori knew through a family friend back in Korea; his name was Shiwon and he had been the sweetest, most gentlemanly boy Sora had ever met. They got bored of each other after two months, and the break had been clean and mutual. They still spoke when they had the time. The other boy had been a classmate of Aimee's in high school; his name was Killian, and he had dark green eyes and long, long legs. They had gone out on two dates before deciding that they couldn't stand to be around one another.

"Yeah," Sora said to Yamato. "I dated a little."

The set of Yamato's jaw tensed and his eyes became steely.

"Oh, did you not do anything when you were Japan being a rock star?" Sora shot back, glaring. "Don't look at me like that, Yamato. You're no saint." She stood up, dug around in her coat pockets for her gloves. "I really don't know why I came here, because this sure as hell isn't any sort of closure."

"Wait," he said, standing with her.

"What." She wound her scarf around her neck and began pushing buttons through their respective holes.

"Let's meet sometime. Later. I might be leaving in three weeks."

"Might?"

"It depends."

"On what?" Sora raised an eyebrow.

"A lot of things." Yamato held her gaze until she looked away. She saw him grinning out of the corner of her eye.

Sora fixed him with the coldest glare she could manage. "We'll see."

X

Her cell phone buzzed in her pocket and Sora groaned, leaning back in her chair to pull it out. She flipped it open and pressed it to her ear without checking the screen, tossing out a careless "Moshi moshi?"

"You're lucky I'm Japanese."

"Who is this?" Sora asked irritably, raking her fingers through her hair and taking her glasses off, rubbing her eyes.

"Don't remember me?"

"Shi—Taichi!"

"Kind of insulted here, Takenouchi."

"You haven't been back in over three months; excuse me for not remembering a stranger."

"Shut up. Why don't you come visit me here?"

"No thank you."

"See? That attitude…"

"Shut up, Yagami."

"Make me."

The statement hung heavily in the air for a few seconds before they both burst into laughter. Sora leaned back, propping her feet up on her desk and closing her eyes.

"So…what're you wearing?"

Sora burst out laughing again. "Pervert. Get a girlfriend."

"Well, see, there's this one girl that I'm crazy about, but she's already taken."

"Is that some poorly masked euphemism for me or Mimi?"

"So self-centered, and I'm way over Mimi. There's this girl in my econ class."

"What's her name?"

"Sayuri. Man, Sora, she's gorgeous and smart and nice and she knows all the answers to everything."

"Bring her with you the next time you visit."

"We're not exactly going out. She says she's glad I'm her friend."

"Taichi."

"But she doesn't have a boyfriend, so I have a shot."

Sora laughed and pushed her foot against the desk, rolling back and hitting her bed. "What else?"

"Hikari got into NYU."

"She didn't tell me that!"

"She also said Yamato's visiting. She went with Takeru to see him."

"That's…nice of her."

"Sora…"

"Taichi, is this the reason you called?"

"I wanted to make sure you were doing okay!" His voice was indignant.

"I'm fine, then."

"Sure."

"I'm telling the truth. I went to see him yesterday and it was all good."

"He said you cried."

"You talked to him?"

"He's my friend too," Taichi replied coolly.

"Sorry."

"I also called to tell you that my flight lands at ten in the morning on Sunday and that I don't have a ride from the airport or anyone to split cab fare with."

Sora scoffed. "You're too kind to me."

"Will you be there?"

"What else do I have to do at ten in the morning this Sunday? That's rhetorical, by the way."

"Good. I'll email you the flight information later. I've gotta go. Getting coffee with Sayuri." Sora could hear the smile in his voice.

"Bring her with you."

"She lives in Jersey. We'll visit her."

Sora laughed. "Bye, Taichi."

"Bye, Sora-chan."

"I miss you," Sora said, but he had already hung up. She flipped the phone shut and placed it on her desk, and stared out the window.

X

Hikari and Takeru were in their last year of high school, but Sora felt like a ridiculous mother that couldn't let go in that she could still remember when they had been nine, naïve, and scared. Hikari had clung to Sora when Taichi and Yamato were fighting and felt like she didn't know her own brother anymore, though this was the case in both the real world and the Digital world. Takeru had been tearful and silent during those times, and Sora could see him trying to be strong in front of the other boys when he refused to seek comfort in her hugs. She had stayed up plenty of times those same nights petting his hair as he cried into his sweatshirt and muttered about how he didn't want to be here and see Yamato when he was angry. Yamato was usually awake during those times, tucked into a dark corner with raw sadness painting his face. Sora never knew what to say to him after Takeru fell asleep with puffy eyes and tear tracks trailing down cheeks that slowly faded from red to tan. Yamato was always silent. She offered him comfort the only way she knew, by tugging at his arm until he lay down, head pillowed on her thigh, as she combed her fingers through his hair, humming softly, until his face relaxed and body slackened and he fell asleep. There was a young desperation to his features, even when he was sleeping, and Sora never knew what to do.

Takeru had shaped up to be a shockingly open and cheerful person, a jarring contrast to his brooding, private brother. Hikari was as cheerful as Taichi and quite well adjusted, but then again, she just had that sort of personality.

Hikari had called her two hours after her conversation with Taichi to tell her about NYU and how she was definitely going and she couldn't wait until Friday because she would be able to see Sora in person. Sora had told her, quietly, about her date with Yamato, at which point Hikari laughed.

"You vowed never to speak to him again, Sora-chan," she said lightly. "I've never known you to go back on your word."

"What are you talking about. I'm the biggest liar in the world."

"Shut up, Sora-chan. You have such bad self-image." She giggled suddenly.

"What?"

"No, nothing. Takeru sent me this email…"

"I better be a bridesmaid."

"What?"

"Your wedding."

"Oh." Sora could hear the blush spreading across Hikari's face, could see Hikari shifting uncomfortably in her seat. "Sora-chan…"

"Hmm?"

"I actually have a question."

"Ask away." Sora reached for her cup of ramen noodles and a pair of chopsticks, mixing the cold noodles and scooping some up.

"Did you and Yamato…you know. Do it?"

Sora gagged, coughing and hitting her chest. Hyori looked up questioningly, and Sora shook her head.

"Excuse me?"

"Don't lecture me, Sora-chan. Takeru and I have been together officially for two years, but you know much history we have."

"You're seventeen!"

"Are you going to tell me to wait for marriage?" Hikari's voice was mocking and vaguely reminiscent of her own.

"No. Just…wait until you're out of high school, Hikari. Make sure he uses a condom. Get the freaking pill. I don't know. Did you talk to Taichi about this?"

"Obviously not. If you're freaking out about it this much, what do you think my brother will do?"

"Castrate him."

"It would be worse than that," Hikari said grimly. "But Sora, I know I love him and want to be with him forever. Eternity. Infinity. I know it's cheesy, but…"

"No, it's sweet. Nice and idealistic. The world needs more love like yours."

"Yeah…"

"Where is he?"

"He's at basketball practice," Hikari said. "I'm doing homework. We're going out later."

"Your dad lets you?"

"He's not nearly as overprotective as Taichi."

Sora laughed. "I've got to go. You're not mad at me for backing out on you, are you?"

"I think Yamato should be first priority right now," Hikari said. "Please fix things with him."

"I know," Sora murmured.

"I'll talk to you later, Sora-chan."

"Bye."

"Bye."

X

"Yamato?"

"Hey, Sora."

"Friday."

"What?"

"Friday," Sora repeated impatiently. "Friday night, seven o'clock, you choose the restaurant. You said you wanted to meet, right?"

There was a considerable silence on the other end before Yamato spoke. "Sounds good. I'll text you later?"

"Fine. Oh, and," Sora added, before he could hang up, "this isn't for you."

His laugh was soft and pulled at Sora's battered heartstrings. "I know."

"All right. I'll see you later…Yama."

"Bye, Sora-chan."

A/N: HAE GAIZ. I'm so so so so so so sorry for this super-long hiatus, because what is this fuckery. The last…almost year (-dodges tomatoes-) has been super busy, though, with college apps and APs and such, and I've been working on some original fiction for a writing contest. But! It's the summer! And it turns out I haven't forgotten about this fic. ) I just hope all you lovely readers haven't, either. Feedback, please. Let me know if you like the direction that this story is going in.

And, yes. Comments make me smile. :)))