"Tai, am I kissable?"
Tai spluttered and choked on his coke. Gulping a breath of air away from his chewed straw, he stared at his best friend sitting opposite him. After a few seconds, Sora blushed slightly, and turned to look out the window, scratching the side of her face in embarrassment.
Tai wrinkled his nose slightly in confusion, and brushed his spiky brown hair back with a light sigh. Sora smiled nervously and fiddled with a lock of her short reddish hair. The silence hung around the small café booth, until Tai broke it with an uneasy laugh.
"I'm…I'm just gonna pretend you didn't ask me that Sor," he murmured, grinning sideways at her. Sora sighed.
"Why?" she pouted. Tai was caught off guard, and tapped his back teeth together in thought as he watched Sora swirl her straw around in the remains of her banana milkshake.
"Why do you ask?" he smiled, watching Sora's amber eyes as they tightened and closed slightly as she moved her concentration to her hand and straw.
"I…er, well…you know Matt and I have been going out for quite a while now-"
"Three weeks, four days," interrupted Tai immediately, making no pretence or effort to hide the bitterness in his voice; however she did not seem to pick up on it.
"Yeah, well he…he hasn't…" Sora hesitated and chewed on her straw. Tai was her best friend, but it was things like this she really ought to discuss with Mimi… Tai however, did not recognise her feminine moment of thought.
"You mean he hasn't kissed you yet?" he exclaimed. Sora moaned and allowed herself to slide down the red leather seats as she felt all eyes in the café turn to her.
"Thank you for that Taichi," she glowered. "Saves me having to tell Mimi anyway." Tai grinned.
"Soz," he mumbled, with a mouth full of hamburger. "So," he swallowed, "hasn't he? You are joking right?" Sora blushed hotly.
"No…" she whispered earnestly. "And you're not making me feel very good about it!"
"Daft prick," Tai muttered jokingly with his mouth full. "I dunno what's wrong with him! It's not like he's a 'kissing-virgin' like you Sora…"
"Ugh!" Sora exclaimed, throwing a chip at her friend. "Thanks for bringing that up too!" There was silence for a moment after Tai held up his palms in mock defeat. "So…" Sora whispered. "Is it true that I'm totally unkissable?"
Tai winced and allowed himself a moment's silence; how to answer? He looked up helplessly at his best friend, who stared back at him unhappily. Tai felt a pang inside and furrowed his eyebrows angrily. He was going to kill Matt for making Sora feel so unhappy the next time he saw him.
"Well…maybe if I hadn't known you since I was in diapers, or saw you as another guy…" he bluffed. Sora muttered a pathetic 'oh' and her head dropped again. Tai groaned and pushed his hair back with both hands before putting his elbows down so he was close to the table. "Listen Sora," he began, grabbing her chin and pulling her eyes level to his. "Don't take it personally – Matt's an idiot; illustrated perfectly by the several haircuts he's had since we've known him." Sora cracked a smile, and Tai suddenly realised h was still holding her chin, and yanked his hand away. "And Sora, Sora…Sora I think you're pretty, so, so it can't be, you know, that…" Sora's eyes widened, and she blushed very lightly under her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak-
"Okay kids, here's your bill." Tai let out the breath that he'd been holding since the beginning of the topic, and reached into his pocket to grab some yen. Sora was quicker, and threw the amount plus tip onto the tray. Tai glared at her.
"Sora, you're not supposed to pay for me! The guy is supposed to pay for the girl if anything!" Sora flashed a look at him, and smiled.
"That's on dates, Tai." Tai blushed hotly, and the waitress giggled.
"You two look like such a cute couple," she laughed, chewing gum noisily. "And you come in here alone all the time; we all thought you were dating!" Sora laughed along with the waitress, and Tai waved his hands frantically.
"No, no, Sora is like my best friend, and she's actually going out with another one of our friends, and she's upset, and we always come in here to talk…" Tai babbled. "C'mon Sora, don't you have a tennis match to get ready for?"
"Um no, not today Tai," Sora said.
"Well you usually do," he mumbled through gritted teeth. "Let's go anyway." He went to grab her wrist, the way he had been doing since his motor skills developed, but hesitated at the prospect of bodily contact at this moment. In the hesitation, Sora grabbed his wrist, and they walked out of the café, into the sunshine.
"For someone who thinks I'm pretty, you sure were adamant about that waitress not thinking we were a couple…" Tai smiled, as he thought he heard slight disappointment in her voice. "Anyway," she cut him off before he could answer. "Where shall we go?"
"Tree," Tai answered immediately. "Let's go to the tree."
The tree stood tall and thick near the soccer field where Tai and Sora used to play. Now it was used as a meeting place for the Digidestined, especially the older ones, but everyone but Tai and Sora called it 'Tai and Sora's tree'; for it was those two who had waited together under it's branches to be picked up after soccer practice, those two who had snuck out at night and met on the tree's thickest branch, halfway up the top, and it was only those two who knew just how to climb the jutting branches to get there.
It was mid January, and the tree looked different without its leaves of green. Sora and Tai walked across the crunchy orange and brown carpet at the base of the tree, and as was tradition, Tai gave Sora a boost up to the first branch, then clambered up after her. The branches they used to climb were damp and sopping wet bark flaked off in lumps in their hands, but the wide branch where they had sat together for so many years was sheltered, and relatively dry.
They sat in silence, Tai leaning lazily against the main trunk of the tree itself, and Sora lounged on her stomach, tracing with her finger the marks in the bark that shakily spelt out her name. She looked up at Tai, and saw his shaky name on the trunk, just visible over his shoulder. How many times have they sat in silence like this, she wondered. Usually, they were the kind of best friend unit that could comfortably sit in silence, but the air was strained around them. Sora wished she'd never brought up her problem, but there was no turning back now.
"Tai, if I'm so 'pretty' then why hasn't anyone kissed me yet?" Tai groaned. "No I mean it; it's kinda sad that I'm 15 and Matt's my first boyfriend and he hasn't even kissed me yet…"
"Sora, just drop it," Tai muttered. "We've established that Matt's a weirdo. Jeez, why are you acting so girly today?" As soon as he said it, Tai winced and opened his eyes to see what he had expected; Sora glaring up at him. She rose off her stomach to her knees.
"I am a girl," she muttered.
"I know," Tai answered. "But today you're acting all…self-conscious and stuff, and you don't usually…" Tai trailed off as he saw Sora's eyes wander, and he broke into a grin. "Oh I get it," he smirked. "This is actually about you being worried you won't be a good kisser when Matt does kiss you!" Sora glared at her friend, and opened her mouth to shoot back a reply, but couldn't think of anything. Tai started to laugh. "Jeez Sor, you could have just said that in the first place, and I would have told you not to worry cos according to rumour, Matt's not exactly skilled in that department either!"
Sora was now blushing hotly, and continued to stare down at her clenched hands on her thighs. Tai stopped laughing as he slowly realised she didn't look too happy.
"Aw Sora, don't worry…I bet you are kissable," he smiled, crawling closer to her along the branch. "Kissing's all about taking the right moment, and just going for it! If you worry about stupid things like where your nose is gonna fit, then you'll get nervous, and that's what will spoil it for you. I think you're sensible and lucky to be a 'kissing-virgin' – jeez some of the girls I've kissed, yuck." Tai shuddered to emphasise his point.
"You liked Tomoyo though,"remembered Sora. "You were glued to her face. What happened with her? Why did you dump her Tai?" Tai stiffened as he remembered his ex-girlfriend's malicious words.
"Oh, she just said some horrible things about a big part of my life," he smiled. "She also didn't trust me – thought I was cheating on her. I don't like to talk about it." The two fell into a more comfortable silence.
"Are you two up there?" called a familiar voice.
"Yeah hi Izzy," Sora called, peering down through the maze of wood to see their younger red-headed friend staring up at them with his head tilted back. As usual, his yellow and white laptop was tucked under his arm.
"Hey guys, I'm in a hurry. I have to go over to Yolei's…she wants me to show her this new program I configured last night," Izzy said, backing away from the tree on his way as he spoke. "See ya later!"
"Hey Izzy!" Tai yelled as his friend walked quickly away. "Do you think Sora's unkissable?"
"That's not a word!" Izzy called as he disappeared around the corner of the street.
"Tai!" yelled Sora. "I can't believe you just screeched that out! Now Izzy's gonna tell Yolei, and once Yolei knows something it's public knowledge!"
"Calm down," smiled Tai, as Sora grabbed her hair with both hands. "I'm telling you, you'll be fine." He smiled wickedly. "Maybe you just need some practice," he smirked. Sora turned to look at him with wide eyes, and Tai felt like cramming his foot into his mouth.
"W-would you do that?" Sora whispered through her hands. Tai gaped. Would he? On one hand, he wasn't about to betray Matt by kissing his girlfriend, but on the other hand, it was Sora who was his best friend, and this wasn't like, kissing her kissing her, this was doing a favour to help her calm down… Then, on the other side of this soap opera prism, Sora had always been like a sister, until Matt has started going out with her, and he knew that what he was feeling wasn't the usual brotherly protective feeling he'd feel if TK ever got his butt in gear and asked out Kari, but it was jealousy.
Being jealous of Matt = being jealous that Matt had Sora = he wants Sora
"Would you?"Sora repeated, quietly.
"Ur, sure, if you think it would you know, help," muttered Tai, staring at his trainers, trying to ignore his burning face. Sora dropped her head, her face just as red.
"O-okay," she murmured. Tai gulped and began to edge towards her. Sora subconsciously recoiled back. What did she think she was doing? This was Tai, and she was going out with Matt! "W-what, now?" she babbled. Tai stopped.
"Sora I won't do this if you don't want to, or if you think it will make things weird…" He held his breath as there was silence for a minute. Sora raised her head, and met his brown eyes with her amber ones, and smiled shakily.
"Okay but you have to do all the work," she laughed. "I don't know what I'm doing!" Tai grinned, and moved the final few centimetres so he was kneeling right up close to her. Slowly, he put his hand on hers, and tilted her chin up with his other hand. He hesitated again, but then softly brushed his lips against hers, before jerking back like he'd been electrocuted. Sora smiled shyly.
"Now I know that you can do better than that," she murmured, and Tai grinned.
"You're right, I can," he answered, as he pressed his lips more firmly upon hers, and moved his hands from her chin, stroking it across her cheek and then into her hair. Sora sighed against his lips, and Tai smiled as he felt her begin to kiss him back, and putting her arms around his neck.
Tai's hand that was on top of Sora's grabbed hers, and intertwined their fingers, as he continued to kiss her. He knew he should stop now; all that had been needed was a platonic peck on the lips, that lasted about 3 or so seconds, but he couldn't stop. Sora turned out to be very, very kissable.
Sora's mind was in the same state – she couldn't believe that it was her best friend giving her her first real kiss, and thought guiltily of Matt, but after the first few seconds, there was nothing on her mind but Tai, and the warmth that seemed the seep in to her body from every point where they were touching.
They stopped suddenly, gasping for air, their fingers still intertwined and their arms still around each other. They sat, red from exhaustion and lack of air rather than embarrassment, and stared at each other wordlessly.
"Oh God," murmured Tai, his voice cracking slightly. "I knew I shouldn't have done this…"
"Why?" whispered Sora.
"Because now I have to choose whether I let go of you, and send you off to Matt, or kiss you again, and start to maybe hope that you'll stay with me…and have my heart broken when you don't…" Sora looked at Tai's sad face silently.
"Tai…" she whispered, as she stroked the side of his cheek with her thumb. She closed her eyes and leaned forwards. Tai smiled, and brushed his lips across hers again-
"Yo Tai? Sor?" Sora felt Tai bristle at Matt using his nickname for her. Matt? Suddenly they both stared at each other in horror, and sprang apart instantly; Tai almost falling off the branch. "Are you guys up there?" Panicked, Sora stared at Tai's equally panicked face, to where she could see the top of Matt's blonde head.
"Yeah," she called, her voice hoarse. "Hey Matt…"
"Hey Baby-doll," crooned Matt. "Why don't ya come down here?" Sora sighed, and looked over at Tai, who avoided her gaze, and studied the branch above.
"O-okay…" she stuttered. "I'm coming down." She looked over at Tai; he was making no move to help her. He knew that she couldn't get down to the branch below them without him supporting her, and she glared at him. "Help me get down," she hissed. Tai stared at her sadly. "Tai!" After a few seconds, Tai moved towards her, and supported her arms in the way he had so many times before, as she hopped down to the lower branch. She could make the rest of the way on her own.
Before jumping down to the next branch, Sora looked back up at Tai. He smiled, trying to look happy, and raised a hand in goodbye. She looked at him sadly for a moment, until Matt's calling broke her concentration. Hurriedly she pressed her hand to her lips, and then to Tai's cheek before jumping down, down, down, and out of his vision. Tai sighed, and leant back against the tree trunk, hearing Sora and Matt's muffled voices fade as they walked away.
"That was the best moment of your life Yagami Taichi," he whispered to himself. He fumbled in his pocket for his dad's penknife, and crawled across the branch to the markings Sora had made when they were five, and had inscribed their names in the wood. He scratched further words into the bark, before replacing the knife into his pocket, and jumping down to the ground.
As he straightened his legs from the jump and turned around to face the path, he stopped. Sora was standing there, with her arms wrapped around herself in protection from the bitter wind which had just sprung up. She smiled at him.
"What did you write?" she asked. He stared at her. She gestured up at the tree. "I heard you scratching away up there; what did you put?" Tai blushed.
"Um, 'is kissable' underneath your name…" he admitted, putting his arm behind his head in embarrassment. Sora laughed, but then there was silence. "Where's Matt?" Tai asked. Sora shrugged.
"Probably off to find some rebound Fangirl," she smiled. "Although I have to admit, he wasn't as devastated as I had imagined!" Tai stared at her again.
"What?" he asked, in a tone of wonder. Sora walked towards him slowly.
"Tai, you're my best friend," she murmured. "I could never break your heart."
"Why do I expect all our friends to jump out of the bushes right now, and tell me this is some kinda April Fool's joke?" he asked, suspiciously.
"Well Tai, first of all it's January, not April, and second of all…" Sora's voice trailed off as Tai broke into a mischievous grin, and grabbed her around the waist. He pressed his lips to her cheek, and Sora slid her arms around his neck again. Tai straightened his head, and looked down at his best friend's flushed face.
"Back up in the tree?" he asked, mischievously.
"Oh yeah," Sora answered, with a matching grin. Suddenly they broke apart and clambered back up their tree, with the kind of fervour and stamina they had never possessed when they were five…