Disclaimer- Sadly, I don't own Digimon. If I did, Taiora would have prevailed. Uh oh, I can sense the flames coming at me already. P

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"Most affections are habits or duties we lack the courage to end." -Henri de Mantherlant

Chapter 1 - A Lack of Courage

There she stood under the soft glow of the pale moonlight, waiting for me. "Sora?" Was it really her? A small, timid smile crept across her face, as a light breeze blew through her glimmering auburn hair, and her sparkling, crimson eyes beckoned me closer. Obediently, I treaded my way across the field of flowers, closer, closer, closer. I abruptly stopped about a foot away from her, afraid that she would vanish if I got any closer. "Sora?" I whispered again. I looked into her eyes and saw my own apprehensive face reflected in them.

She looked down at my hands, slipped her delicate hands into mine, and looked back at me. "Tai…" she whispered. She seemed unsure of what to say. We both were. But what was there to say that couldn't be expressed?

I pulled her into me and wrapped my arms around her, afraid to let go. It was her: Sora…my Sora. I felt her smooth arms link around my neck as I gazed into her eyes. I felt myself leaning in closer and closer as our eyes slowly closed, our lips just centimeters apart, until…

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

Seventeen-year-old Tai Kamiya woke with a start as his alarm clock blared loudly into his ear. The brown-haired boy blinked against the sunlight flooding in through the bedroom window as the details of his dream flooded back into his head. Groaning at the bad timing of his alarm clock, he threw the still-beeping clock at the wall. He remained lying on his bed, only half listening to the odd little sound the recked alarm clock was now producing, as his mind reran the details of his dream.

As Tai stared at the ceiling, a drop of sweat rolled down the side of his already moist forehead; he had forgotten to turn on the air conditioner before going to bed. He was getting so scatterbrained nowadays -more so than he already was, anyway.

Absent-mindedly wiping the thin layer of sweat on his forehead with the back of his hand and sighing at his own stupidity, Tai sat up and yawned. Still thinking about his dream, he opened the drawer of his bedside table, reached into the back of the drawer, and gingerly pulled out an old photo.

Tai smiled as he gazed at the photo of him and Sora that had been taken when they were three. His mom had taken the picture just days after they had met, and yet, he and Sora looked as if they had known each other since birth. Tai had looked at the photo so often that he was able to picture it perfectly in his mind, but he sat reabsorbing every little detail of the precious photo; he and Sora with each other's arm around one another's shoulder; his goggles dangling in his free hand with a dirty soccer ball clutched in Sora's free arm; their wide, gap-toothed smiles; his chocolate eyes and her crimson eyes, each set shining with joy; his messy brown hair and her neat auburn hair. The photo captured what Tai missed most: he and Sora together, without a care in the world and no one but each other.

But that was the past. Tai sighed heavily and carefully returned the photo to its place in the drawer.

After stretching, he dragged his feet into the livingroom and turned on the air conditioner so that it was now blasting cold air. There was no one but himself in the house; his parents and Kari had gone to visit his grandparents and wouldn't be back for another month. Tai stood in front of the air conditioner, eyes closed, listening to nothing but the low whirring of the air conditioner, his wild brown hair blowing this way and that.

The dream…he and Sora had almost kissed…but it was only a dream…

The phone rang as he continued to be lost in thought.

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There he was, gently being pushed toward me by his mother. I pulled at my hair nervously as my mother also pushed me gently toward him. He stood in front of me, looking at me curiously with big, chocolate eyes. He had a pair of goggles dangling from his neck and he had the craziest hair I had ever seen in my three young years of life. As I took in his appearance, he broke into a wide, gap-toothed smile and said, "Hi, I'm Tai!"

I gave him a timid smile. "I'm Sora."

And so it began.

Tai and I proved to be inseparable. Our memories are too plentiful to count, but I can still picture each one of them as vividly as though it were just yesterday: the times when we ran around the soccer field together as Tai taught me how to play soccer; the times Tai stood up for me when the other little boys refused to let me play because I was "a girl"; the times when other girls would warn me about Tai's cooties and the boys would warn Tai about my cooties, and how we laughed about it afterwards; the times when we just lay sprawled on the floor of his room, side by side, and talked away the entire day; even the time when Tai accidentally threw up in my hat and didn't tell me about it until I had put it on.

And then there was the Digital World. Tai and I had many moments together, but there is one moment that still sticks out above the rest. It was the time Tai came to my rescue when I had been abducted by Datamon. I can still feel Tai's grip on my hand as he held onto me with all the strength he had, even as Datamon attempted to pull us apart. In that brief period of time, Tai had my life in his hands, and as our eyes met, I felt something –something I had never felt around Tai before; a feeling that told me Tai was meant to be more than just a friend; a feeling that I dismissed as a spur-of-the-moment thing –a feeling I shouldn't have ignored. 'Besides,' I had thought later on, 'Tai only thinks of me as a friend, and so do I.'

Then there was our argument about the birthday present Tai gave me. It was a petty argument, really. I guess I had been a little too self-conscious when I got mad at poor Tai for giving me a hairclip. It was a really nice hairclip too. I still don't really understand why I got so angry at him. Of course, we made up after Tai sent me an apology email, when really, it should have been me who sent the apology. That was Tai: always taking the initiative to keep his friendships strong; the glue that kept us together for all these years. As I read his email signed with "Love, Tai", I felt a familiar feeling –the feeling that I had once dismissed as nothing special. I shook off the feeling once more as I sent Tai a reply with my own apology –without a "Love, Sora." Tai had probably typed "Love" by mistake, anyway.

I refused to let myself think of Tai as more than just a best friend. I refused to risk our lifelong friendship with silly puppy love.

That is why last Christmas, I broke Tai's heart.

That Christmas, Matt had invited myself and the rest of the DigiDestined gang to his concert. I stood at the backstage entrance, nervously clutching a small, wrapped box of cookies as Biyomon assured me that Matt would love my cookies. But that was the least of my concerns.

Lately, Tai had been acting differently around me. His arm brushed up against my arm too often for it to be accidental, he looked at me in a different way, and his tone was soft when he talked to me. When I told Mimi about Tai's behavior, her eyes widened and she began to laugh. According to her, Tai had "the hots" for me.

If that were true, how would Tai react if he saw me waiting for Matt? I would soon have my answer.

"Hey, Sora! Wait up!" Tai ran up to me with Agumon by his side.

As Gabumon and Biyomon bickered about Gabumon being untrustworthy on delivering my cookies to Matt, Tai turned to me.

"So, um, Sora," he started, a tone of anxiety present in his voice. "I was wondering if you're going to the concert tonight with anybody." Then he quickly added, "I mean, not that it matters to me or anything…"

It was then, for the third time in years, that I felt the feeling again, pleading me to leap into Tai's arms and be his forever. And again, I brushed it off. "No, I want to be available in case Matt's free later," I told him as the small box of cookies I was holding seemed to get heavier.

Then, for a brief moment, a glint of pure despair flashed in his chocolate eyes. "Oh…Matt, huh?"

I gave a small, nervous laugh and looked down. Goodness knew that I really liked Tai, but Tai was my best friend, and Matt was, well, different. I suddenly felt ashamed at myself. Had I betrayed my best friend? Had I destroyed our friendship? I couldn't meet his gaze.

As if knowing what I had thought, Tai walked over to me, put an assuring hand on my shoulder and smiled. "It's okay."

"Y-you're not mad, Tai?" I asked, even as I looked up to see his hurtful eyes. I wanted to kick myself right then and there.

"No, of course not," he said softly, putting on a confident face.

But he couldn't mask the pain in his voice.

He gently pushed me toward the door where Matt would be and said, "Now get in there and say 'hi' to Matt for me."

Upon Agumon's complaint that the least I could do was to give him the cookies, I turned to Tai and smiled. "Tell you what. I'll make a special batch for you."

As I turned around and entered the tent, I heard Tai whisper something inaudible.

DING!

Seventeen-year-old Sora Takenouchi snapped back into reality as the oven timer beeped. The auburn-haired beauty lifted her head from the dining table where she had fallen asleep and got up from her chair. She then walked into the kitchen where a pleasant scent of cookies wafted in the air.

Cookies…They reminded Sora of Christmas…and Tai's painful eyes.

Shaking the thought of Tai out of her head, Sora removed the warm cookies from the oven and dropped each one onto a plate. As the last cookie was dropped onto the plate, she sighed.

"Okay, maybe I'll just call him," she decided after unsuccessfully trying to get Tai out of her mind.

Sora picked up the phone and dialed Tai's number. She put the phone to her ear and waited for someone to pick up. But no one did.

Frowning, Sora hung up.

'He's probably still sleeping,' she thought to herself. 'Besides, it's only 10am, and Tai doesn't wake up until noon at the earliest.' Smiling at the thought of her best friend, Sora sunk into a sofa. Almost as soon as she had lowered herself onto the sofa, the phone rang.

Thinking it was Tai calling back, she eagerly reached over from the sofa and picked up the phone. "Hello?"

"Hey, Sora. It's Matt."

Okay, so it wasn't Tai. "Oh… Hey."

"Well, someone sounds disappointed to hear my voice," Matt joked.

"Oh, no, Matt. Of course I'm not disappointed!" Or was she? "I was just…thinking about something when the phone rang."

"Oh, well, are you free tonight? There's this great new restaurant I wanted to take you to."

Sora smiled. Of course she had time. She had all the time in the world for Matt, her loving boyfriend. "That sounds great!"

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Tai lay on the couch emptily staring at the TV, lost in thought.

The more Tai thought about Sora, the more he missed her. It wasn't like he never saw Sora anymore. Quite on the contrary, he and Sora saw each other almost everyday. She had been over his house just yesterday, and they had talked and laughed together like they had for years. No, it wasn't Sora's physical being that Tai missed; it was the intangible thought and the chance that someday, he and Sora would be able to do more than just talk and laugh (A/N- And no, I don't mean sex, you perverts! lol) .

Tai wanted to be able to hold Sora in his arms, to kiss her, to look into her beautiful crimson eyes and tell her three simple words, "I love you." But it looked as though Sora would never think of him as she thought of Matt: as a lover.

The entire house was now cool, for Tai had left the air conditioner on full blast since morning. Nevertheless, Tai still felt the need for a cold shower. As ice-cold water ran down his already cold body, Tai began to feel slightly numb. And numb was good. Numb meant his mind would slowly slip away from Sora until he couldn't feel the emotional pain. It was a temporary thing, but long enough for Tai to pull himself together until he fell apart once more.

It was a constant cycle: Fall apart, numb, pull together, fall apart, numb, pull together, fall apart, numb, pull together, fall apart …

After getting out of the shower and pulling on a pair of brown cargo shorts and a navy blue t-shirt, Tai walked out of the house to the hallway and into the elevator.

As the elevator slowly creaked down to the first floor, Tai stood examining his reflection in the cold steel doors of the elevator. His hair was sticking out in odd angles all over his head, giving it an even wilder look than it already had. Trying to tame it down a bit, he ran a hand through his brown hair, but had limited success.

"Whatever," Tai sighed. It wasn't like he was trying to attract any girls. Not that he even needed to try. Girls at school flocked to Tai like bugs to a lamp. When Matt became unavailable after Sora became his girlfriend, girls turned their attention to Tai, who was just as desirable, if not more. Tai was no rock star, but he was a hell of a soccer player with looks that could make any girl swoon over him. Any girl, except Sora, that is. Or maybe Sora just wasn't the type of girl who openly expressed it.

The elevator lurched to a stop, almost causing Tai to fall over sideways, and it let out a low groan as the doors slid open.

"Damn elevator's going to break down any day now," he grumbled as he stepped out of the elevator into the empty lobby.

Tai stuffed his hands into his pockets and walked outside into the warm night air. He walked along the sidewalk, absent-mindedly running his eyes over the various stores that he passed. As he passed a jewlery store, something behind the window glittered brightly and caught his eye. He came to an abrupt stop in front of the window and stared down at a magnificent, glittering diamond-studded hair clip resting on a dark violet silk cushion. A small sign next to the cushion read, "For the love of your life."

A small smile appeared on Tai's face as he remembered the hair clip that he had given Sora many years ago. It was a bittersweet memory. He looked back at the small "For the love of your life" sign and sighed, fogging the window in the process. He would've given this to Sora if they had ended up together.

Sora…

Tai quickly turned away from the window and continued his way down the sidewalk.

He soon felt his stomach quiver as it growled in hunger. As he didn't feel like walking home to eat alone in the empty apartment, Tai stopped and scanned the street for a place to eat. His eyes fell upon a large yellow banner that read, "Yuraku Restaurant -Grand Opening!"

Worth a shot. Tai made his way across the street and entered the restaurant. He was greeted by a waitress wearing a kimono, and was led to a small table for two. The waitress handed him a menu and waited on his order with a pen and pad in hand. Tai came upon an order of spicy tuna rolls and was once again reminded of Sora; spicy tuna rolls were her favorite.

Sora had once devoured an entire platter of spicy tuna rolls that Tai had made for her, exclaiming how she had never eaten such good sushi in her life.

He smiled to himself and ordered the rolls. Once the waitress scribbled down his order on the pad and walked away, Tai rested his head on the table and closed his eyes. The restaurant was illuminated by dim lights and classical music played softly in the background, and he couldn't help but feel a bit sleepy.

Tai had almost drifted off to sleep when he heard a familiar laugh. He lifted his head from the table to see Sora, wearing a simple, yet elegant black dress, and Matt in a casual, yet stylish green shirt and dark denim jeans. They were arm-in-arm and laughing together, as a kimono-clad waitress led them to the table-for-two across from his.

The two did not seem to notice Tai as they took their seats and continued to laugh and chat.

As Sora and Matt looked at their menus, Tai stared at Sora from his seat. As much as he hated to admit it, Sora seemed happy with Matt. Tai gazed at Sora's shining, joyful crimson eyes and was reminded of the three-year-old Sora in the photo that he treasured. The beautiful crimson eyes that had once only shined with joy in Tai's presence, were now shining as they looked at Matt.

Tai watched as Matt reached into his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box. Grinning, he slid it across the table to a surprised Sora. Giving Matt a you-really-shouldn't-have look, Sora slowly lifted the lid to reveal a gorgeous diamond-studded hairclip –the exact same hairclip that Tai had been looking at earlier. Sora's hand flew to her gapping mouth at the sight of the hairclip and looked at Matt with shining eyes.

"Oh, Matt! It's beautiful!" Sora gushed. "But, what's this for?"

"For the love of my life." Matt winked at Sora as she blushed.

Tai clenched his fists. Matt wasn't supposed to be the one giving Sora that hairclip. Sora wasn't supposed to be the love of Matt's life. It was him, Tai, who should be sitting across from Sora giving her that hairclip. Sora was the love of his life.

Matt was supposed to be one of his closest friends, but why was he dating the one girl that Tai loved more than life? Was Matt doing this on purpose? Was Matt trying to get back at him for something? Tai suddenly grew furious at Matt. He couldn't sit here and watch Matt wooing Sora any longer. He had to get away. Tai abruptly stood up, knocking back his chair in the process. The chair gave a loud "Thunk!" as it hit the wooden floor.

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Sora sat down across from Matt, still laughing at the joke Matt had made earlier.

"So, what do you think of the décor in this place?" Matt asked as he settled into his chair. "Pretty nice, huh?"

"Yeah, it's so nice and peaceful." Sora said, as she admired the various Japanese paintings on the walls.

Matt grinned at her as the waitress handed them menus. "Order whatever you desire." he said.

Sora smiled and looked at her menu. "Hey! They have spicy tuna rolls!"

Matt looked up from his menu and smiled. "Spicy tuna rolls it is!" The waitress scribbled down their order and walked away.

"Um, Sora?" Matt asked as his hand slowly reached into his pocket.

Sora looked up from her glass of water. "Hmm?"

Matt fidgeted with something in his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box. "I, uh, got a little something for you," Matt said as he grinned sheepishly and slid the box across the table to Sora.

Sora put down her glass and looked at Matt in surprise. "What is it?"

"Open it."

Sora slowly lifted the velvet lid to reveal a glittering diamond-studded hairclip. Her hand flew to her gapping mouth at the sight. It was absolutely magnificent. "Oh, Matt! It's beautiful!" Sora exclaimed as she gingerly lifted the hairclip from the violet silk it was resting on. "But, what's this for?"

Matt looked into Sora's crimson eyes. "For the love of my life," he answered with a wink.

Then, from the table across from theirs, Sora and Matt heard a loud "Thunk!" They turned to see someone with wild brown hair storming away as a waitress holding a plate called, "Sir! What about your spicy tuna rolls?"

"Tai!" Sora called out as she and Matt stood up.

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Tai stormed away toward the exit and did not stop when the waitress called after him about his order. He did, however, halt when he heard Sora's voice call him. Slowly, Tai turned around to see Sora and Matt with matching expressions of surprise on their faces.

Tai stood looking at Sora for a good five seconds until Sora broke the akward silence. "Wow, Tai! We never thought we'd see you here!"

"Yeah, Tai. Hey, come here and join us!" Matt added.

No, Tai didn't want to be near Matt. Tai turned to the waitress, who was still holding the plate of tuna rolls. "Give those to them." Tai pointed to Sora and Matt. He then looked back at Sora and gave her a small smile. "Enjoy your meal," he muttered before turning on his heel and running out of the restaurant.

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Sora was awfully confused. When she had called out to Tai, he had turned around and looked at her in the same painful way he had looked at her last Christmas. Then, he had run out without a word to Matt. Was Tai angry at Matt? Sora knew that Tai had been upset when she rejected him, but she had never thought that Tai would be angry at Matt, one his closest friends. In fact, Tai had seemed just fine around Matt, even when she and Matt had announced that they were official. Tai had clapped Matt on the back and congratulated him.

But then again, Tai was known to be stubborn. Perhaps Tai had been too stubborn to admit to himself that he was jealous? No, what was she talking about? Why would Tai be jealous? Tai had never made another move on her after Christmas, which seemed to suggest that he was no longer interested in her.

Even as Sora slid into her bed later that night, she couldn't erase the thought of Tai's chocolate eyes looking so painfully at her.

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Tai didn't stop running until he came into the lobby of his apartment. He repeatedly slammed his fist on the elevator button until the doors finally slid open. As the elevator lurched upwards, Tai doubled over clutching his chest as he struggled to catch his breath.

Sora…

Tai was falling apart.

As soon as the elevator doors slid open, Tai ran out and down the hall to the door. Once he had shoved his house key into the keyhole, entered the house, and slammed the door shut behind him, Tai leaned back onto the door.

Sora…

His mind's eye saw Sora's arm linked with Matt's, Sora laughing with Matt, Sora smiling adoringly at Matt, Sora's eyes glittering as Matt gave her the hairclip.

Tai wanted to fall out of love with Sora. He wanted to be able to look at Sora and think of her as nothing more than just a friend -but he couldn't. Tai, the bearer of the crest of courage, lacked the courage to end the love he so desperately wanted.

"Sora!" Tai screamed at the top of his lungs. He collapsed into a ball and began to cry.

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A/N- I know this chapter might have been really slow for some of you, but I promise the next chapters will be better. The real story hasn't begun yet. :) This first chapter was more of an introduction, if anything. I may or may not post the next chapters depending on how the reviews go. I started this story as means of entertaining my imagination and only posted it to see if anyone else would enjoy it. So review if you like the story so far. Thanks. :D

And yeah, I know Tai's really…depressed in this chapter, but you'll see Tai's undepressed, sweet side in other chapters.