Disclaimer: Digimon is Toei's. Any original characters are mine.

Author's Notes: Originally, this fic was uploaded on ffnet on November 11, 2001. It was removed a few years later for a few slightly smutty paragraphs in chapter 6:1. So, I decided not to bother uploading it again until the fic was finished. That didn't come until November 22, 2005. And because the first several chapters are not very good, I'd decided it wasn't worth it to upload. But then I changed my mind again, and decided what the hell, I promised people I would, and so I will, despite the utter embarrassment this fic is. However, song excerpts and the smutty paragraph have been removed for ffnet. If you want to see them, you'll have to read the original over at my fic livejournal or my website (check profile for link).

But if you decide to read this fic, be aware that uh... it's really not my best work (very blatantly out of character, for one thing), and it goes through a lot of writing style changes, since it was written over the course of four years, from the time I was fourteen until I was nineteen. And that it's the sequel to an equally bad fic of mine titled Untold Secrets, also (reuploaded) on ffnet. There also used to be a lot of fangirl Japanese and in-fic a/n, which I have since attempted to remove, but it's possible I missed some, and so apologies for that.

Lastly, this fic is Taito/Yamachi. And is rated R for mentions of sexual abuse and sex and violence. Whee. God, I don't think I can stress how awful this fic starts out. I can't even bring myself to read it anymore.

Waiting
Book 1
Chapter 1-Confessions
by: butterflie
sequel to Untold Secrets

"...The once child prodigy at age eleven, fifteen year old Ichijouji Ken was arrested today, found guilty of physically and sexually abusing seventeen year old Ishida Yamato. A number of charges have been brought against him, including an intent to murder. The police are..."

"Tai! Tai!" There was a mixture of shock and revulsion in my sister's voice, quite akin to the horror and disgust I was currently experiencing.

"I hear it Kari, I hear it!" I yelled back to her, still staring intently at the television, not quite believing what I was hearing. I was loathe to take my eyes off the glowing screen, and remained hunched over, watching in repelling awe. Yamato... This was just.. incredible. To imagine what Matt must have undoubtedly gone through--No. I can't even begin to imagine it.

A few minutes later the report was over, and Kari wandered into my room, eyes wide.

"Did you see it Tai? Did you see the news about Matt?" There was no mistaking the sympathetic tone to her voice and the animosity in her eyes.

"I saw it Kari," I told her quietly. "I almost wish I hadn't. I mean, to think... Ken! I guess he couldn't have left his Kaiser ways behind."

"There was more to this than just his old Kaiser ways, Tai," she told me sternly. "When he was the Kaiser he never did something like that."

"I know, but still... poor Yamato. How could that bastard have done that to him? How could he have hurt him like that? I could kill him," I said, clenching my fists tightly in a sudden burst of irrational anger. Although given my deep feelings for him, it was understandable. To a degree, at any rate.

My little sister said nothing of my illogical outburst, just watched me, completely unperturbed. She had long since known of my feelings for Matt. And to hear Ken had abused him... It just made me feel so sick inside.

Trying to control my rising urge to hurt somebody, I reached over and picked up the phone, dialing Matt's number, inspired by some unknown notion. I had serious doubts he'd talk to me. After all, I hadn't seen him in over six months, and every attempt to contact him had been spurned. To think of what he'd been going through while I'd been living my life, totally oblivious, barely even concerned about where the hell my best friend and long time crush had disappeared to all this time.

"Hello?" a gruff voice answered.

"Um...Mr. Ishida? Is Matt there? This is Tai."

"Oh hey Tai. He's here, just a minute." What was this? I was actually getting to talk to Matt?

A few seconds later Matt was on.

"Hello?" came the emotionally drained voice.

It hurt me to hear Matt sounding so tired and weak, but I wasn't about to let him know it.

"Hey Matt, it's Tai. I saw the news," I blurted out. Oops. I hadn't planned on telling him that just yet.

"Oh," he said quietly.

That was it. Just that one word. 'Oh.' It scared me some. This Matt was much changed from the Matt I had last joked and laughed with. I feared the Matt I had said 'See you Monday' to all those months ago was gone forever. Damn Ken. I hated the former Kaiser with a passion.

"Um, well... I just wanted to say ... uh, I'm sorry about what happened and if you, um, if you need uh- need a friend, well.. I'm- I'm here for you," I stammered, suddenly nervous, unsure of what to say. How do you say I'm sorry to someone who's just survived hell?

"Thanks," he replied in that same quiet voice.

It scared me even more. He sounded so far away, so distant.

It was quiet for the next few moments, neither of us knowing what to say. The hum of the phone line could be heard quite clearly. "Look, I gotta go," Matt finally said after a long minute. "I should be back in school next week, I'll see you then."

"Yeah, ok, sure," I said softly. "See you then."

I hung up feeling depressed and slightly hurt. Matt was suffering, and he didn't even want to turn to me. I mean, I know he most likely doesn't lean the same way as me, at least he's never indicated as much, but we are best friends. He can always count on me to be there for him.

I went to bed that night with a heavy heart.

-x-

A long week later found me in homeroom anxiously waiting for Matt to show up.

However, when the bell rang to go to second form, and he still hadn't showed, I found it rather hard to swallow the lump of disappointment lodged bitterly in my throat. As I walked to my class, I kept searching the halls for a glimpse of the golden blond hair and slender form I wished desperately to see.

In third form, he still wasn't there. However, two of his band members were also in this class, and before class began they approached me.

"Yo Tai!" Nyusumi called. He was the keyboardist for their group, I knew.

I turned. He and Kenji were standing there, looking at me.

"Yo yourself, Nyusumi," I responded. "Yo, Kenji. What's up?"

"Have you seen Matt yet?" Kenji asked me anxiously. "He told us he would be at school today, but he wasn't in second form, and I know you had homeroom with him. Was he there then?"

I shook my head. "Nope. Didn't show. Maybe he chickened out?" I suggested.

"Matt?" Nyusumi asked in disbelief. "Doubt it."

"Well then where is he?" I retorted, temper starting to get the best of me.

The purple haired boy raised his hands in self defense. "Woah, calm down Tai. I don't know why he didn't show. It's just I don't think he chickened out."

I sighed. "Sorry. I'm just disappointed. I really wanted to see him, make sure he was okay."

"Yeah, well we did too, but we're not snapping at you because of it."

"I said I was sorry!" Rude inconsiderate- I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself. Getting angry wouldn't make Matt appear.

Nyusumi looked like he was about to snap something back at me, but just then the bell rang.

"Allright students, please take your seats," Sensei called, walking into the room.

I went and sat, disappointment washing over me in great black waves.

I had really counted on him being here today. I wanted to see him, make sure he was allright, tell him how sorry I was Ken had hurt him... I just wanted to love him and make all his pain and suffering go away. But now I couldn't even do that.

I'd love to tear Ken apart right now.

-x-

Matt didn't show until lunch. I was sitting at my usual table with Sora, Koushiro, Mimi (she moved back here to Odaiba a year ago), and the guys from Matt's band. Nyusumi, Kenji, and Ratsuii. I was talking to Ratsuii about their next gig, when suddenly Nyusumi cried, "Matt!"

I go chalk white for some reason unknown to me, and turn around to see a very changed Matt standing behind me. Not that the change was completely visible. There was just something in his posture, and the way his eyes seemed to be staring at unseen horrors, that suggested he wasn't the same Ishida Yamato of six months ago.

"Hey Ny," Matt replied.

"Why weren't you here this morning, Matt?" Mimi asked him. "We'd gotten word you were coming back to school today, and I waited all second form, but you never showed up."

"Sorry. I was too tired to come to school earlier. Anyways, sorry to cop out on everyone, but I want to talk to Tai alone right now, if you don't mind. See you lot later. Tai?"

I nodded, and got up at once, tossing the rest of my lunch to Nyusumi with the knowledge he would finish every last bite, then followed Matt outside to a shady spot under one of the trees.

Matt motioned for me to sit down beside him, and I did. We sat in silence for awhile before anyone bothered to speak.

"It started about six months ago," Matt began suddenly, surprising me. However, I had the sense to stay silent and just listen to his story. "I came across Ken in the park one day, crying. I sat down beside him and asked him what was wrong. He just looked at me, his face all splotchy from crying, and asked me what I would do if I realized I was suddenly felt more than friendship for one of my friends. I replied by saying I'd tell her how I feel, and if she didn't feel the same way, hope she'd at least understand. He just kinda nodded, and not knowing what to say, I left. Three days later he came to my apartment, told me he loved me, then raped me after I turned him down." Matt paused, perhaps recalling the events of that day. I wisely didn't say anything, despite the strong urge I had to comfort him, rid him of his pain.

"Things went all downhill from there." Just then the bell for next class rang, but Yamato and I both ignored it. "I was so jumpy all the time," he continued. "Ken constantly threatened me, and I was always afraid someone would find out and Ken would come after me. He always seemed to know what I was doing. I couldn't stand any of it, yet I was too terrified to speak out against him. So I remained silent, and a while passed before I tried to do anything to stop the sexual abuse."

Matt stopped for a moment and rolled back his sleeves, holding out his wrists. At first I didn't get it, then I saw the scars and suddenly understood. My eyes widened, aghast at the ragged scars slashed across his wrist, standing out starkly in contrast to his pale, delicate skin.

"One day after some particularly harsh abuse from Ken, I just couldn't take it anymore. After Ken had left, I dressed, then went into the kitchen, pulling a knife out of the drawer. For a long time I couldn't bring myself to do it, just stood there staring at the knife, getting more and more angry with myself for being such a coward. Finally I couldn't stand it any longer, and in one quick movement slashed my left wrist, then switched and did the right one, which isn't as good since I'm right handed. As soon as I did it, I felt a great sense of relief, joyed to see the red blood gushing out of my wrists. After awhile, I lost so much blood that I passed out and would have died, except for the fact that when I woke up, I was in a hospital, not hell, and that dad had come home and found me."

By now silent tears were beginning to roll down Matt's cheeks, and I reached over and grasped his hand in some small obscure form of comfort, still silent as he went on with his story.

"I was in the hospital for a few days, and in that duration Dr. Kaos discovered I had been raped, and he told Dad. When I got out, Dad tried to stay home with me, but he eventually had to go back to work and soon I was left alone again. "Ken came quite soon, and when he arrived, I could tell that he knew. I don't know how Tai, but he knew I had tried to kill myself. I paid dearly for that, and I never tried to kill myself again, as much as I wanted to. And so it continued interminably, it seemed. I went back to the hospital several times since. The two main reasons were because Ken broke my wrist, which you can't tell because I'm not wearing my cast at the moment. They cut it off the other day because my wrist was swelling too much, and they gave me a temporary one for a few days. Anyways, the second reason I went back was because Ken stabbed me in the back."

I gasped at those words Matt uttered, hardly believing them.

He nodded sadly. "It's true. I don't know why, but for some reason I decided to be stupid and defy him that day. He stabbed me, and I was in the hospital for a long time because of it. It wasn't long after I got released that I finally told my dad who was hurting me, and then they arrested Ken just last week."

I didn't speak when he finished his story, just sat looking at him sadly. Words alone would do nothing to ease his pain at the moment, I knew. I'm not as stupid as people indicate.

"Hey, the teacher's looking for you," a voice above our heads spoke. "Wants to know why you're skipping class."

I looked up, as did Matt, and I also let go of Matt's hand.

Kenji was standing over us. Matt's tear streaked face and my own solemn face didn't escape Kenji's attention, and looked back and forth between us, concerned.

"Hey, are you two all right? What's going on?"

"We're fine," Matt told him sullenly.

"Liar," Kenji said without preamble. Then without giving Matt a chance to defend himself, he went on, "Are you two coming to class or not? You're already in serious trouble with the teacher."

"Yeah, we're coming. Give us a few minutes," I told him.

"Allright, but hurry up. See ya in a few."

-x-

"I'm home," I dutifully announced later that afternoon as I walked into the apartment.

Kari walked out of the kitchen where'd she'd been studying. For some reason, she always preferred the kitchen to our bedroom. I did too, but only because it put me closer to the fridge. Matt used to joke about it... not that he ever would again, damn Ken, I thought with bitterness.

"Hey Tai, did Matt show up today?"

"Yeah, he showed up at lunchtime," I replied shortly, before going into my bedroom and shutting the door. I was in no mood to give Hikari a run down on the horrible day I'd just had.

I tossed my books on the desk Kari and I shared, then went over and lay back on my bed, deep in thought.

Matt had said Ken claimed he loved Matt, but then he raped him. If Ken had truly been in love with Matt, wouldn't he have accepted how Matt felt, no matter what? Or was Ken more wacked in the head than any of us Chosen had ever thought? Even when he was the Kaiser under the influence of Oikawa's Darkness, he hadn't done such crazy things.

Also, what had taken Matt so long to speak out against Ken? He was older than Ken, and he had to have known the police would be able to get to Ken before Ken could get to him.

Which brought out another issue. Matt was clearly older than Ken. How did the younger boy contrive to have the advantage over Yama? Especially since he had the same effeminate frame to him.

Just then a knock sounded at the door, interrupting my musings. I cursed. "Tai?" It was Kari.

Without waiting for a reply, she opened the door and walked in, shutting and locking the door back behind her.

"Yo Kari, what's up?" I asked her, trying to pretend like there was nothing wrong me.

"Tai, what's wrong?"

I sighed, any pretense of happiness gone. "I guess I'm just upset about Matt," I said truthfully. "He told me a little bit about what he went through these past months."

"Really? What did he say?" she asked, considerable amount of interest in her voice. At least there was sympathy there, as well. I bet there are so many girls out there interested in hearing Matt's story so they could swoon all over him and feed him with their false sympathies. Not to name anyone cough Jun cough.

"Not much," I said in way of reply to my sister, unwilling to expose Matt's personal hell to anyone. "Ken drove him to the point where he slit his wrists. Fortunately, his dad found him and got him to a hospital in time. Also, Ken broke his left wrist and stabbed him in the back. And that's pretty much all I heard about what happened to him, because Kenji came up and told us the teacher was mad at us for cutting class. I wish he hadn't though. I never really got a chance to say anything to Matt.

"But it just makes me so mad, thinking about what Ken did to him," I continued, frowning. "Why would he have done it, Kari? Matt said Ken told him he loved him, but that then he raped him. I don't get it. Where is the sense in that?"

"There isn't," Kari said quietly. "And indirectly it wasn't completely Ken's fault."

I looked up at her with considerable surprise, mouth slightly agape. "What do you mean, it wasn't his fault? Of course it was. He abused Matt!" I was hurt she could think to side with Ken, however slight it may have been.

"I'm aware of that Tai," she said irritably. "But I am also aware of the fact that he was having trouble keeping the Darkness from controlling him. "I was talking to Daisuke a few days ago, and he was telling me about a conversation that took place between him and Ken a few weeks before Ken must raped Matt.

"Apparently Ken had been having strange dreams lately, dreams where he was the Kaiser in the Digital World again. He told Daisuke he constantly had the sensation of being surrounded, although by what he didn't know, but whatever it was, it seemed to be figuratively choking him. Several times he found himself falling into a pitch black hole.

"Daisuke understood upon hearing this that Ken was fighting a losing battle against the Darkness, and asked him if anything upsetting had happened to him lately."

"Had anything?" I asked immediately, impatient to know.

She nodded. "Yeah. Ken's mother had become pregnant a while back, and gave birth to a baby boy. Ken was excited at being a big brother, but then the baby died. One night while the Ichijoujis were out at a restaurant, they left the baby at home with a babysitter. When they got back they found the babysitter had been raped and shot twice. The baby had been stabbed and had ultimately bled to death."

I stared in nothing short of speechless shock.

Kari gave me a grave look. "You understand, of course, Matt or anyone else is not to hear this. Daisuke swore me to secrecy when he told me."

"I understand," I said solemnly.

We sat in disquiet for a few moments before Kari spoke again.

"Tai, does Matt know how you feel?"

I gave her a wild, panicked look. "WHAT? Why would he know that? I haven't told him!"

"Why not?"

"Because," I said incredulously. "I can't just tell him, especially not now. He'd probably hate me forever."

"He would not."

"Would too."

"Would not."

"Let's not argue over this," I told her wearily.

"Fine," she replied curtly. "But I think you should tell him." Then she was gone.

I simply stared after her as she left.

She didn't understand. I couldn't tell Matt. Not after what Ken did to him. Besides, Matt probably doesn't even like me that way.

And if I told him, he'd probably get the idea I was trying to take advantage of him. He'd wonder whether my feelings were sincere, or if I was just like Ken.

I shuddered at that thought. No way I was like Ken.

Which means that maybe Matt would understand after all.

Hell, I'm confusing myself.

-x-

"Hey Mr. Ishida. Has Matt left for school yet?" I asked the next morning. I'd decided to walk to school with Matt this morning, try to reclaim habits of the old days.

Mr. Ishida shook his head. "No, he's still here. He's gonna be a few more minutes. You're welcome to come in and wait for him, if you like."

"Sure," I said, walking in as he stepped aside to let me by.

I found Matt in his room, sitting on his bed in boxers, staring moodily at a pair of black jeans and a tight black shirt that I wouldn't mind owning myself, if not for the fact that Matt looked incredibly hot in them.

"Yo Matt," I call out to him.

He looks up briefly, then goes back to glaring at his clothes.

I come over and sit beside him on the bed. "Hey, what's wrong, Yamato?" I ask softly, worried.

He tenses slightly. "Don't call me that," he informed me through clenched teeth.

I look at him in surprise. "Sure, sorry. But what's wrong? Why aren't you getting dressed for school?"

He shrugs. "I don't want to go," he admitted.

"Why not?" I ask.

To my shock, when I look at him, I see he is beginning to cry.

"Matt, don't cry," I say, feeling helpless, confused as to what's upsetting him.

"People at school are saying I made the sexual abuse thing up!" he wailed. "Ken's friends are spreading a whole bunch of rumors about how I was the one that forced Ken to start a relationship, and that Ken was only doing what I asked! All day yesterday people kept muttering names at me in the hallways, and a few people even came up to me and asked how I could have the nerve to blame Ken for all this."

Then he collapsed into helpless tears all over again, falling into my arms. I hold him awkwardly, feeling slightly uncomfortable given my feelings for him. "Shh, don't cry Matt," I soothed him. "Don't cry. Those people at school aren't important. Who cares what they think? You know the truth, I know the truth, our real friends know the truth, and that's all that matters. Don't let them get to you. That's just what Ken wants. Shh, Matt, it's okay, don't cry..."

After awhile he lifted his head and looked at me. "I'm sorry Tai."

I give him a confused look. "Sorry for what?"

He shrugged helplessly, since all either of us seemed to be today was helpless. "For crying all over you. I'm being such baby. That's all I've ever been."

Angered at hearing the way he was being hard on himself, I grabbed his chin and tilted it until our eyes locked.

"Matt, listen to me. You have been through a lot of physical and mental trauma these last few months. A lot of people don't experience enough trauma like stuff in a lifetime to amount to what you experienced. If there is one thing you aren't, it's a baby. You have a lot of things going for you. You're strong. You're a very talented musician. You're good looking. You are an extremely wonderful person that I'm proud to have as a friend. After what you went through, you have every right to cry. Don't let me hear you being down on yourself again, ok?"

He nodded, managing a shaky smile if only for my sake.

I gave him a wide smile in return. "Good. Now get dressed and let's go to school. We share most of the same classes, so if I hear anyone bothering you, I'll punch their lights out, k?"

Matt looked back at me. "Alright."

-x-

As we were walking to school about ten minutes later, Matt turned towards me and asked how come I was being so nice to him.

"What do you mean, how come I'm being so nice?" I asked him, frowning. "You're my best friend." And so much more, I wanted to add, although I didn't. I'm not sure how Matt how would react to that little piece of information. For now it's best to let him think I'm doing this simply because I'm his friend, not because I'm in love with him.

"So what if I'm your best friend? That doesn't explain the way you've been acting."

I was about to reply when suddenly I heard Matt scream in pain beside me. Frightened, I turned just in time to see three guys jump Matt and drag him to the ground, beating him and calling him all kinds of names like 'fag' and 'homosexual' and 'whore'.

I didn't have much time to react, however, as I found myself being held down by another guy.

He starts kicking me, and near me I can hear Matt screaming in pain and terror. Angrily, I lash out, swinging my fists wildly in an attempt to hit our attackers. I'm unsure of what's going on. Everything is happening to fast, and I've never been jumped before.

I let out a scream as the guy on top of me hits me hard in the face. A trickle of blood runs out of my nose. I can feel it. Another extremely hard blow to the head causes more blood to flow. I continue to lash out, hoping to hit him and free myself so I can go rescue Matt.

Finally one punch lands home, and the guy on me curses before he releases me and staggers back, cradling his nose. Blood is slowly dripping out between his fingers, and his nose doesn't look so good. I must have broken it.

Now that I am free, I get to my feet and go over to where the other guys are surrounding Matt. He's huddled in a small ball, hands protectively covering his head. The guys are taking advantage of his cowardice, using every opportunity to kick him, hit him.

Something bright glints in the sunlight. It's a knife. Hot anger courses through my veins, and I start to experience a rage not unlike the one felt when I heard Ken had abused Matt. Not wasting any time, I leap on one's back and began to pound him, intent on rescuing Yamato.

Seeing me beat the shit out of their leader, the other guys forget about Matt and jump me. However, in my current rage, and with my temper, they are no match for me. After giving them black eyes, bloody noses, and split lips, they decided they have had enough, and make a run for it. It's not long before the leader flees as well.

Now that the danger is over, I can focus my attention on Matt.

I turn to him, terrified when I see he is still huddled in a little ball, shaking and crying like there's no tomorrow.

Crouching, I pull him close to me in a tight hug, gently stroking his hair. He doesn't seem to be aware of me at all, so I don't say anything, just let him cry while I sit there and seethe.

Those bastards! The nerve of them! How could anyone accuse Matt of wanting Ken to fuck him and hurt him? I could kill them for the way they hurt my Yama. How dare they do that to him? He didn't deserve it.

Clenching my fists, I tried to ignore my rage, hoping it would go away. But I wanted to murder those boys for causing my beautiful, sweet, kind Yama so much more pain.

Suddenly Matt lets out a little cry and then goes limp against my arms. Scared, I look down at him.

"Matt?" I ask timidly. "Matt, are you okay?"

Of course he doesn't answer.

As the terror within me begins to spread throughout my body, quickly replacing my feelings of anger, I slowly ease Yamato out of my grasp. He immediately goes slack on the ground, and I leap up, grabbing the cell phone from my backpack. I always keep it in there in case of emergencies, and boy, was I ever glad I had it now!

Taking it out, I dialed for an ambulance. After briefly explaining the situation and my location, which is only an area about eight minutes from Matt's house, they agree to send an ambulance to come get Matt.

I thank them, then hang up, waiting impatiently.

While I'm waiting, I stare down at Yama's peaceful, tear-streaked face.

Now that he's asleep, or unconscious or whatever, he doesn't look nearly so pained. His face doesn't reflect that 'the whole world is out to get me and I hate it all but don't give a damn anymore' look. I can't see his eyes, as they are closed, but if they were open, I'm sure they wouldn't seem quite so haunted. I sighed. At seventeen, Matt's already endured more than what most people go through in a lifetime. Somehow it just doesn't seem right.

-x-

"...Tai?"

I snapped up with a start, grimacing at the sudden pain that causes in my neck. Damn impossible hospital chairs. "Matt?" I asked. "Was that you?"

I get up on awkward legs and approach the hospital bed, looking down at Matt. He's awake and stares at me, tears filling his eyes.

"Tai..? What happened? Where am I?" he asked me, staring up at me sadly, fear showing in his blue eyes.

"You're in the hospital. The doctors say you passed out from fear and exhaustion, as well as too much stress." So he's forgotten. It was to be expected. Or maybe he's just purposely avoiding thinking about it.

"A... hospital? Why? I hate hospitals!" he cried, panicked.

I give him a reassuring smile. "Don't worry Matt. You won't be in here long. Dr. Kaos just wanted to make sure you were okay."

I purposely avoided telling him why he was here. He didn't need to be reminded about what happened earlier, not now.

"Dr. Kaos is here?"

I nod. "Yeah. He was the doctor on call when you came in the hospital through the ER."

"The ER? What was I doing coming in the emergency room?"

I shrug. "Convenience." I then pause for a moment, debating. I know he hates hearing this question all the time, but I want to know, and I don't much care if he gets mad. Finally I decide to ask. "Matt, how are you feeling?"

For once he doesn't get irritated. "Not so good," he admits. "I'm tired and sore all over and I just want to go home. Plus my back hurts."

"Your back?" I question. "Here, let me take a look."

Helping him sit up, I gently ease the shirt off his back and turn him sideways some.

Immediately I see the problem. The wounds that were undoubtedly from where Ken had stabbed him had opened up again, the stitches gone all awry, and it was starting to bleed a little. Carefully I reached out a finger and touched a particularly nasty cut that looked like it was developing an infection on top of everything else.

Matt winced. "Ow," he said. "Tai, what's wrong?"

"Your stitches have come apart," I informed him. "I'm going to get Dr. Kaos. He needs to know about this right away."

Matt looked up at me with a pleading look. "Do you have to? Why don't you just leave it? I'll be fine, really!"

I stared incredulously, shaking my head in disbelief. Here he was, his back falling apart, and he was claiming he was perfectly allright. Never knew his aversion to hospitals was that bad. "Matt, I can't do that!" I exclaimed, shaking my head in disbelief. "Look, lemme just go find Dr. Kaos, okay? I won't be gone long."

Luckily I didn't have to go far. No sooner than I stepped out of the room than I spotted Dr. Kaos down the hall. Calling out to him, I walked towards him some. When he reached me, I quickly explained what was going on with Matt. He came in with me at once and examined Matt's back, tsking softly to himself, muttering every once in awhile. I was starting to get worried, to say the least.

When he was done, he looked at the both of us with a concerned look.

"Well?" I asked.

"He needs to go into surgery. The stitches obviously weren't holding very well, so we'll have to replace them. And on top of that, the wound that is infected needs immediate attention. It's a very serious infection. I say we should be ready by this afternoon."

"The sooner the better," I said lightly, trying not to let my worry show. I didn't want to upset Yama.

Matt stayed silent, a sullen look on his face.

I felt bad for him. I knew he hated hospitals, and I'm sure with as much time he spent in them over the past six months, he definitely didn't want to be in here now. But it couldn't be helped.

-x-

A few hours before Matt was scheduled for surgery to renew the wounds, and to remove some of the infected skin, his dad walked into the room, a strained look on his face.

I was curled up on that difficult hospital chair, half asleep, and Matt was all the way there.

However, when Mr. Ishida walked in the room, I became completely awake.

I bolted upright. "Mr. Ishida!" I hadn't even thought to call him! He's probably worried out of his mind right now. I just hope he's not mad at me or anything. Idiot! I can be so stupid sometimes!

"Hey Tai," he said grimly. "Dr. Kaos called me, told me what's going on. How's Matt?"

"Depressed," I admit, albeit somewhat reluctantly. "He really doesn't want to be here right now."

"Tai, what happened this morning?" he asked me in a low voice. "Why is he here in the first place? Dr. Kaos didn't have time to explain it to me."

I sighed.

"Well, we were walking to school," I began.

"Yes?" "And we were talking, and then these guys jumped us and started beating us up..."

"Beating you up? Why?"

I let out another sigh. "You didn't hear this, but a lot of people at our school are spreading rumors that Matt wasn't really being sexually abused by Ken, that he was in full agreement, that he wanted it, and in fact Matt forced Ken to do all those things to him, and that he got scared and cried rape."

I clenched my fists at that. Bastards... No way Yamato would have ever let anybody do that to him. Hell, he hardly ever lets people get close to him, emotionally and physically both.

Mr. Ishida nodded for me to go on, face pale. "Well those guys that jumped us were calling Matt things like 'fag' and 'whore' and a bunch of other stuff. Anyways, Matt had three people on top of him, and he was freaking out, just letting himself get hit. I only had one person holding me down, so I easily took care of him and went to rescue Matt. After the guys had left, Matt passed out. Dr. Kaos said it was from a combination of fear, exhaustion, and major stress."

"I see," Mr. Ishida said, nodding his head. "Thank you Tai."

I nodded back as Dr. Kaos walked into the room.

"Is Matt awake?" he asked us.

"No," I said. "He hasn't been since you checked up on him this morning."

"Okay," he replied. Then he went over to Matt's bed and woke him up.

"Matt, wake up. It's time."

Matt groaned and rolled over. "...away..." he mumbled.

Dr. Kaos sighed, then tried again.

"Matt, you have to wake up. It's only for a few minutes. We need you awake for the anesthesia. Now please Matt," he pleaded.

Matt groaned again, then cracked open his eyes halfway. "Alright," he said agreeably.

Dr. Kaos looked relieved it hadn't been any harder. He looked skyward, saying "thank you." Then he looked back down at us. "A nurse will be here in a few minutes to take you to the operating room. So be ready."

Matt nodded but didn't speak.

Sensing his fear, I reached down and grasped his hand without a word.

He smiled at me, and I felt my heart leap several feet into the air. Oh if only he would return my feelings! But I mustn't get my hopes up too high, otherwise they're liable to come crashing right back down on me.

And I don't think I can handle that.

-x-

"Are you sure gonna be okay Matt?" I asked. It was two days later, and Matt had been released from the hospital. I wanted to stay home from school today and baby him, but he insisted I go.

"I'll be fine Tai," he reassured me. "Look, I'll even be back at school tomorrow. Just go okay? I don't want you missing soccer practice on my account."

I sighed. He had a point. I always hated missing soccer. But this was Yama we were talking about here. He's a lot more important than some dumb practice. However, he's insisting, so...

I sighed. "Allright. I'll go. But I'm coming over here as soon as I get out of soccer, okay?"

"Definitely," he agreed. "I'd be mad if you didn't."

I smiled slightly. "Well, I'll see you then. Take it easy while I'm gone."

"Okay."

After another cheerful smile, and a wave, I was off. Walking the familiar route to Odaiba High, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with a backward sense of deja vu. This was all so weird. I was doing this exact same thing three days ago, except this time without Matt beside me.

On the way, I thought a little bit about what Kari had told me several days ago and what she reiterated last night after I had seen Matt home from the hospital. I know she thinks that if I tell Matt how I feel, he won't get mad and he won't hate me, but how I can I be sure? I mean, she's probably right about him not hating me, I don't think he would either, but what's to say he won't get mad or scared off or something?

After all, look at what happened to him when Ken claimed he loved him. How's he to know I wouldn't do the same to him?

Not that I would, of course. I'd never do anything that would hurt my Yamto. It's just he doesn't know that, and I'm afraid I might frighten him away from me, cause him to estrange himself to me.

And I really don't want that.

As I approached the school, some boy ran up to me.

"Hey," he said. "Is it true that you beat up Kento and his gang?"

I recoiled. "Yeah, I guess..." I said after a moment.

"Wow! Cool!"

I stared after him as he ran off, trying to make sense of it. That had been Kento?

Kento had always been well known around our school. Besides the fact that he despised gays, he was always the toughest guy around school, into all kinds of drugs and sex. It was known around school that he had lost his virginity at age seven, and that was no rumor. It was very much true. Three other guys, Tetsuya, his twin brother Sento, and Ayashi always hung around with him. They had the reputation for being unbeatable. At least, they had.

Several more people came up to me and asked questions while I wormed my way through the crowd that was slowly growing around me. A few people even wanted my autograph.

I just walked along in a daze, brushing aside all questions directed at me.

"Tai!" a familiar voice called.

I whirled around, looking for its owner.

"Tai!" it persisted.

Pushing through a few more people, I spotted a shock of spiked purple hair.

"Nyusumi!" I called back, trying to get around everybody. "Ny!"

Finally I caught up to him. "Ny, what's up? What's going on?" I asked him.

He ignored my question, and instead, grabbed my hand, pulling me along towards the gym, away from all the people.

Soon the noises of the crowd were starting to fade away, and at last we were alone.

Nyusumi sat down under the bleachers, and I followed.

"Ny, what's going on?" I asked again once we were settled.

He gave me a grave look. "What do you think? Kento and his guys are extremely pissed about how you bested them a few days ago."

"But I didn't even know it was them!" I protested. "It happened too fast! I didn't even know it was them I beat up!"

"Nevertheless, you beat them up. And now he's intent on making you pay."

I moaned. "Damn..." I'd seen Kento in action before when he was getting revenge. It wasn't the slightest bit pretty, and I was always thankful it was never targeted at me. Or it hadn't been me.

Then I thought of something. "What about Matt?" I asked.

Nyusumi just gave me a confused look. "What about him?"

"He was there too," I explained. "That's why Kento jumped us in the first. That was the reason I got so pissed and beat Kento."

Nyusumi just let out a strangled noise and when I looked over there, he was pale, violet eyes wide.

"Ny?" I asked, concerned. "What's the matter?"

"I didn't know Matt was there.." he croaked out. "Oh God... Matt .. Matt's probably in for it now... "

I felt myself visibly go white. Trying to push back the terror building up inside me, I said, "Matt will be fine. If he just stays at home, he'll be okay." The words were hollow. We both knew that if Kento had targeted Matt, he wouldn't give up until Matt had paid.

But Ny spoke the truth. "No he won't," he said dully. "Kento's done targeted you and Matt. He won't give up until he's gotten his revenge. I know you'll be able to take care of yourself, especially with me and Kenji and Ratsuii to back you up, but Matt... he can't. He's still getting over what Ken did him. He won't be able to defend himself. What if Kento kills him, Tai? Hearing what Ken did to him was bad enough. I don't think I could handle it if Matt died."

"I didn't know you cared about him so much Ny," I remarked.

To my surprise, he blushed at that comment.

Then a sudden realization dawned on me. I think a light bulb even lit up over my head.

"Ooh..." I exhaled. "You like him, don't you Nyusumi?"

His blush merely darkened.

"Aww, that's so cute!" I teased him, paying no heed to the small pang of jealously I felt.

He frowned and gave me a shove. "Shut up Yagami," he warned.

I stuck my tongue out at him.

"Besides, it doesn't matter anyways," he spoke up, surprising me.

"Why not?" I asked, raising my eyebrows at him.

"Because I happen to know that he likes someone else, not to mention you have a crush on him as well."

It was my turn to blush. "I do not!" I denied. "I don't know what you're talking about!"

"Is that why you're turning red then?" he asked matter of factly. "Because you don't like Matt?"

"But I don't!" I protested.

"It's okay Tai," he reassured me. "I don't mind that you like him. I already knew a long time ago he was in love with someone else anyway."

That was interesting. I had never known Matt to even like somebody before, much less be in love with somebody.

"Really?" I ask. "How do you know?"

"By the way he's always studying them and the way he acts around them. Besides, he told me once." Ny added.

"Is it a guy or a girl?"

I asked him that even though I already sensed the answer.

"It's a guy," came the smooth reply.

Oh God, there goes my hope, soaring once again.

I suppose I had always suspected in the back of my mind, but to have Nyusumi so openly confirm my suspicions, well, it made me look at things in a whole new aspect.

Just then the bell rang for first form to begin.

"Oops. We missed homeroom," Ny said.

"So observant of you," I said dryly.

-x-

"TAI!" came the exuberant reply when I walked into Yamato's room that afternoon. I have no doubts that if he was able to, Matt would have glomped me right then.

"Yo Matt, what's up? How you feeling?"

"I'm fine Tai," he said, slightly irritated.

"I was just asking," I said with equal irritation.

Then I smiled. "I'm glad to see you," I said quietly.

He gave me a strange look, but chose not to say anything about my comment. "Nyusumi stopped by earlier to see me," he told me. "I think he cut class." I shook my head. That didn't surprise me in the least, especially given Nyusumi's feelings for Matt.

"So what'd you talk about?"

"He told me about Kento wanting revenge on you and me. I want you to be careful Tai."

"Me? What about you?" I asked, incredulous. "You're the one that needs to be careful."

He shrugged. "I'll be fine."

"Yeah right, Matt. You know of Kento's reputation. I seriously doubt you'll be okay, not as long as Kento and his gang are out to get you."

"They're out to get you too!" he retorted.

"Yeah, well, I'm more physically fit to handle them than you are," I pointed out, fixing my chocolate brown eyes on him.

He just hmphed, crossing his arms and turning away from me. He was just being his stubborn self as usual.

Minutes later, the silence was beginning to unnerve me. In an attempt to lighten the atmosphere, I called out, "So did you have fun lying in bed all day long, trying to get along without me and not slip into the realm of boredom?"

"Oh yeah," he replied sarcastically. "Lots of fun. I just love watching stupid talk shows while my brain slowly rots away. Not to mention the stale food I ate. And I really got a kick out of scraping the mold off of the piles of dishes in the sink."

"I'm sure you did," I teased. "I bet it was totally awesome. Too bad I couldn't be here to experience it for myself."

"Yeah, it was," Matt agreed, in the spirit of things. "When Nyusumi came by earlier, even he said he wished he could stay with me."

"I'm sure he did."

"Well, actually, he really did want to stay, but not to help me destroy brain cells or waste away. I don't know why he wanted to stay."

"I do," I muttered glumly.

"What?" Matt turned towards me. "Did you say something Tai?"

"Uh, no, nothing! Nothing at all!" I said panicked.

Except that I know why Ny wanted to stay with you. Because he likes you the same way I do.

Matt raised his eyebrows skeptically at me, then went on to say, "Anyways, Ny told me our homework for third form, but the only other class I share with him is sixth form, and he hadn't been, so do you think you could tell me the homework for all our classes?"

"Sure," I said, relieved to have the subject changed.

I put my finger to my lip and twisted it halfway, thinking. I'm sure Kari would say I have that cute, scrunched up look on my face like she always does every time I think about something.

"Lessee... second form: we don't share that... Third form Algebra II, you know about that from Ny, fourth form: Japanese... we had that test today on the old Kanji, and then he gave us a review worksheet on that complicated Kanji we started learning Monday when you were there. Fifth form was Literature...umm... I slept through most of that," I admitted sheepishly. "I think we read some foreign story. It was like in English...uh... By the Waters of Babylon! That's it! Real weird story, by the way. Then sixth form -hey, now that I think about it, Ny wasn't there in sixth- anyways, history was boring. We had a pop quiz on something, I don't remember what, I failed it. And then seventh form I cut class because I wasn't in the mood to suffer through biology."

Especially not since we're talking about the male and female sexes and the reproductive system and all that stuff. I know most of the guys in my class get turned on by talking about sex, but it doesn't do anything for me. Besides, most of them are still fourteen and fifteen. Matt and I happen to be taking this class because we, along with Nyusumi, failed it a few years ago.

"You weren't in the mood to suffer through biology? But Tai, from what I remember Monday, Tadaji Sensei said we were going to spend all week talking about sex." He grinned at me, not noticing my involuntary wince.

"You sound like the immature freshmen in our class," I grumbled.

-x-

"Where the hell is the damn phone?" I muttered some several nights later. I had finally decided to take Kari's advice and tell Matt how I felt. Not to mention that conversation with Nyusumi.

"But I won't be able to tell him if I can't find the damn phone!" I shouted. "Kari! Where is the damn phone!"

Kari wandered into the room, the damn phone glued to her ear.

"He'll get better. You just have to give it time. ... No, not yet. I told him he really should though. He says he afraid of being rejected. ..Well I know that, but Tai doesn't. And it's not my place to tell him either."

"Kari! Get off the damn phone!" I snapped. "I need it!"

She glared at me momentarily before continuing.

Actually, I wasn't all that mad. I was rather intrigued, since she was talking about me.

"Well look, Tai's demanding the phone. I think he wants it so he can tell you know who about you know what. So, I'll call you later, k? Bye!"

She hung up, then tossed the damn phone to me. "Here, Mr. Bigshot Soccer Player. Call Matt, I mean, your friend."

I gave her a look, then started to dial Matt's number.

"Who were you talking to?" I asked as I waited for someone to pick up.

"Takeru."

I started to reply, but just then Matt answered the phone.

"Hello?"

I motioned for Kari to leave, and she did, grinning.

"Hey Matt," I said once she was gone.

"Oh hey Tai."

"Look, I wondered if I could talk to you? Would it be allright if I came over tonight?"

"Sure! Dad's out, so you can stay the night if you want."

"Ok," I said, relieved. I was also glad to hear him sounded so happy. He hadn't sounded like that in months. "I'll be there in about ten minutes."

"Allright. I'll be waiting for you. Oh and hey, bring your Trigun tapes."

"Sure thing. See ya in a few." I told him right before hanging up.

Tossing the damn phone on my bed, I threw a few things in an overnight bag, remembering the Trigun tapes just in time.

After saying a quick goodbye to Kari, I was gone.

Upon reaching Matt's, I knocked loudly on his door.

He opened it a few minutes later, receiving me with a wide grin. "Hey," he said. "Come on in."

I stepped in his apartment, bag slung over my shoulder. I headed down the hall to his room to toss the bag on his bed while he went to the kitchen.

"Hey Tai, do you want anything to drink?" he called out to me.

"Yeah! What'd ya got?" I responded.

"Dr. Pepper, water, blah usual boring stuff, margarita mix, daiquiris-the bottled kind-, fuzzy navels, etc..." came the prompt reply.

"I'll have a Fuzzy Navel," I told him, walking back into the kitchen. I was tempted to go up behind him and wrap my arms around his waist, but I restrained myself.

Matt grabbed two Fuzzy Navels out of the fridge and tossed one to me before heading into the living room. I followed suit.

Sitting down on the couch, he picked up an N64 controller and gave me an apologetic look. "I was in the middle of a race when you arrived," he explained. I nodded and sat down next to him to watch him kick the other car's ass. The game he was playing was a familiar one, we used play it a lot when I came over. Rush 2049 used to be our favorite game some odd years back. We always obsessed over it. Neither of us had played in awhile though, so I must admit I was surprised when I saw Matt playing it.

Soon he won his race, a far too easy task for him. Snatching up another controller, I reset the game and for awhile we played at racing each other, although we were really goofing off more than anything, chasing each other, crashing into each other, crashing into walls, making over-dramatic efforts to get all the coins in the game and failing miserably, seeing who could remember the most shortcuts, things like that. For a short while I was reminded of old times, and I could forgot all that had happened to Matt, and I could pretend I didn't have a specific mission to accomplish while I was here, I could just be myself and enjoy it.

But my happiness was not to last.

After a lull in the game when both of us had crashed into each other in a shortcut, Matt shut off the game and faced me, serious.

I protested, but he cut me short with a wave of his hand. "You said you had something to talk about with me?"

"Um," I swallowed visibly, "Yeah. I do. You see, the thing -the thing is... okay, this is the thing. It's a very important thing. A Big Thing. I should tell you the thing, you know?"

Matt gave me a quizzical look, and I couldn't blame him. I was suddenly acting extremely nervous and strange.

In a futile attempt to calm myself, I reached over and took a long swig of my Fuzzy Navel.

"Well?" Matt asked. "Stop stalling and get on with it, Tai."

I let out a noisy sigh. "Allright. Here goes... Um...I'm, uh, I'm-"my voice dropped "-gay."

Matt gaped at me.

"As my friend, I thought you should know. It's only fair."

"G-gay?" Matt stuttered.

I nodded. "And there's more," I added.

"More?" he asked me cautiously.

"Yeah," I whispered. "You see... I'm in love with you."

End Part 1.