Notes: This story is Taito/Yamachi! So, if you don't enjoy the idea of Taichi and Yamato being in love, in a relationship, kissing, or angsting over each other, this story probably isn't for you. For those of you who do enjoy the aforementioned things, welcome! I hope you like what I have to offer.
Random babble: This fic was born of a combination between an old, abandoned fic idea I had many years ago and some new inspiration brought on by the idea of important things being relayed through a letter. It turned out to be longer than I ever thought I could get it to be, but still a pretty mild 7 pages in Word. Hopefully it's fluffy enough to please the readers! ; I loves me my fluff.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, don't pretend to own 'em, just manipulate them for my own amusement and hopefully the amusement of others, for which I only get paid in attention and my own satisfaction.
Yamato sank slowly onto the couch, staring curiously at the envelope he held between his thumb and forefinger. He received fan mail all the time - declarations of love, proposals of marriage, other decidedly more scandalous things that had ensured his father never, ever got a look at his fans' letters - but this one was different. It was a plain, white, unscented envelope, and it piqued the young musician's curiosity. Usually such things arrived in bright colors with extravagant decorations, smelling of flowers, fruit, or the latest perfumes. Moreover, it was completely unmarked, and typically his overzealous fans wanted him to know exactly where he could find them, in case he wanted to take them up on their offers. It briefly occurred to the boy that perhaps the letter wasn't even for him, but then, his father wasn't accustomed to receiving important correspondences in the form of blank envelopes that were slipped under the door.
That was it. He tore open the envelope eagerly. Maybe someone normal had sent him mail for once.
"Yamato..." the letter began, and though he immediately recognized the handwriting, his curiosity didn't ebb any. Why was Taichi writing him letters and leaving them under his door? Usually when the other boy wanted to contact him, it was with an enthusiastic phone call or a surprise visit to his apartment. Sometimes he was even accosted at band practice or while he was walking down the street. But it was always in an obvious manner that Taichi got hold of him.
"Hey. I just wanted to tell you some things, I guess. I'm not a very articulate person, but I'm pretty good at getting my point across when I put my mind to it. I'm a little disappointed, because I don't do my crest any justice when it comes to things like this...confessions and stuff like that, I mean."
Yamato wasn't sure at what point during his reading of the letter his heart had started to pound so hard, or when his stomach had started doing very active jumps and flips right below his ribcage, but he was very certain that, whatever this letter had to say, he was very nervous about it.
"I remember the first time I heard you play the harmonica. I remember not liking it very much at first, maybe because I just didn't like the sound of it, but when I realized how much it meant, that it was more than just this metal thing that made noise, I appreciated it more, and started to think that you were really good. I mean, what kind of kid could play the harmonica without it sounding like a kazoo, only fifty times worse?"
Yamato was instantly confused, furrowing his eyebrows at the piece of paper in his hands. The intense pounding of his heart and the butterflies in his stomach had started to subside, and he drew his legs up onto the couch to get more comfortable. What was Taichi getting at?
"Anyway, that's not really the point of all this. I mean, we all know you're a great musician, you know? The thing is, I don't think any of us, even me, knew how great of a musician you were. I don't know if you expected all of this either, did you? The fame, the fortune, the fangirls throwing their panties at you from the front row of the audience..."
Yamato laughed at that, easing the tension in his gut, glad to be in familiar territory where Taichi was, as usual, teasing him relentlessly about his rock star status. The next few lines he read, however, stopped him dead, his easy smile from before frozen awkwardly on his face as his eyes widened and his breath quickened with the renewal of the acrobatics in his stomach.
"All of this made me realize something about myself, though. That there is something I am more afraid of than I ever was of any of the things we faced in the Digital World. I'm afraid of losing you."
He had to put the letter down, then, still holding it in his hands, but resting his hands in his lap, as he stared forward blankly. What did that mean exactly? He was sure the letter would explain, but he was too nervous to continue reading. He chanced a glance at the paper in his lap and zeroed in on that last sentence.
"I'm afraid of losing you."
It was silly, wasn't it? To think Tai could ever lose him. How long had they been friends? What all had they been through together? And now he was worried? But then, he wondered, in what kind of context was Tai assuming he had him? In what way did he think he would lose him? He certainly wasn't going anywhere. So he took a deep breath and lifted the letter and began reading again, the next sentences echoing just what he had been thinking moments before.
"I know it probably sounds stupid. I mean, I don't exactly have you, do I? So, I don't really know exactly what I mean when I say I'm afraid of losing you. Just that it's a feeling I am very sure I have.
"I didn't used to be afraid. I was always very excited before. But then this band thing became more serious...like it was more than just some friends meeting in a garage somewhere to have some fun...like you could do this for real, if you wanted to. And I thought, what will happen if you get swept up by some talent agent and get signed to a contract and this becomes your life? I thought of how you'd be recording all the time, and if you weren't recording, you'd be touring the world, so that even American girls could throw their panties at you. And that's when the fear started."
And then Yamato understood, at least partly, and he was overwhelmingly touched, feeling his heart swell. He swallowed hard, pursed his lips, and frowned with sad eyes at the paper shaking slightly in his hands. What would happen if his music and his band became his life? He had never thought about it realistically before, the idea of being so swept up in something that he would hardly have time for his friends and family anymore. Merely thinking of it had fear gripping at his throat, and he shook his head to rid himself of it. It was Tai's fear he was concerned about now.
"It's not that I don't want you to be successful at what you do. And I know that your music makes you happy, which makes me happy. And I don't really know how these things work, with the music business and how much time it allows for you to have a real life. But I just know that I would never be able to handle a life where I hardly ever got to see you. And, I have to be really truthful with myself here as much as with you, because the hardest part of this letter is not over yet."
Yamato bit his lip, bent over the letter, too engrossed and too anxious to even notice that his heart had started to quicken again.
"Though it would be easy to say that all these feelings and fears came about because you're my best friend, and that I just want my best friend to be in my life, it wouldn't be the entire truth. I don't just want you in my life, I want you in my life. Yamato..."
He felt hot all of a sudden. His face and his neck and his ears. So hot his eyes had started to water. Eyes that had stopped moving on the page, as if there was an invisible barrier keeping him from reading further. But he knew what was coming next, and he knew he had stopped reading because his heart was deftly attempting to leap out of his throat, pounding against his Adam's apple as it fought its way up, and the bottom had dropped out of his stomach, leaving him feeling strangely off-balance, like even though he was planted firmly on the couch, he could very easily fall over the edge.
He wanted to get up, take a break, have a glass of water, go outside for some fresh air, anything to stop his body from trembling, but he was frozen on the couch, eyes paused above the words he knew were coming but could not read, paper crinkled where he clutched it tightly in sweating hands.
The phone rang then, shocking him into awareness, and he gasped, startled. Then he smiled, wanly, amused at himself. It was probably just his father calling to let him know that either he was coming home now or staying late. But Yamato simply stared at the phone as it rang, uninterested in the call and unsure of whether he could even move to answer it in the first place. When the answering machine picked up, he turned back to the letter.
"Yamato...I'm in love with you."
Then he stopped again. Reading it had not been nearly as nerve-wracking as anticipating reading it had been. In fact, it gave him a pleasant, humming buzz in his stomach where before butterflies had been mercilessly turning it inside out. The buzz radiated out of his stomach up through his body to his heart, which warmed slowly, and, unexpectedly, Yamato smiled. And read it again.
"I'm in love with you."
He leaned back, relaxing the muscles that had been held so tightly only a moment before, and sighed, releasing the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding. He read the sentence once more before continuing on.
"I don't know if that's something you knew already, because Hikari made a point of telling me it was rather obvious, but here I am saying it, in writing, which is kind of scary, because it makes it so...permanent. And since I don't know how you feel, I'm not sure it's a good thing that it's so permanent like that. But Hikari also told me that it was important that I tell you how I feel, and I'm inclined to believe her. After all, what kind of a friend would I be if I wasn't completely honest with you? So there it is.
"Well, I'm suddenly realizing how hard this all was, because I'm really exhausted, and I don't quite know what to say from here. At the same time, I feel like I'm going to throw up because anything could happen now, and all I can do is wait for whatever it is to go ahead and happen already. Anyway, if you're actually reading this, it's probably because Hikari twisted my arm until I finally agreed to deliver it. She can be very persuasive sometimes."
Yamato laughed at the image of sweet little Hikari bossing around her big, thick-skulled, unbelievably stubborn brother. Then he smiled endearingly and a little sadly. They really were quite a pair, in a way he and Takeru never could be. Then again, Takeru had his ways, too, of making sure Yamato did what he needed to do. They were like cherubs...angels, now that they had grown up a bit, watching over their stupid, bumbling, ignorant older brothers.
"You can do with this information what you will, but I do hope to have some kind of response from you...at some point. I don't expect it to be soon, but you should know that I will be slowly agonizing every second I don't hear from you. Anyway, you know where to find me. ...good luck. Taichi"
Yamato set the letter down beside him and leaned his head back, rubbing his neck and his face, massaging the tension away. Then he began to think about what he'd read, really think about it beyond the roller coaster of emotions that had accompanied it. Taichi was in love with him. And now he had to think about what, precisely, his feelings towards Tai were. To help him think, he picked up the letter and began to read it again.
Taichi squirmed anxiously on the couch and flipped through the channels on the television idly, seeing nothing but indistinguishable colors and figures flash before his eyes.
"I never should have given him that letter..." Taichi said mechanically, his mantra of the last two hours since he'd returned from the errand.
Hikari, fed up, groaned and grabbed the remote from Taichi's unresisting hands.
"Relax! It hasn't even been that long. He probably just got home an hour ago, anyway."
Taichi shook his head and repeated the only words he'd said all afternoon.
"I never should have given him that letter..."
"Well, you could have told him person," Hikari told him matter-of-factly. "Then you would have gotten an immediate reaction."
Taichi stiffened slightly.
"No, no, that definitely would've been bad. It's better this way."
"Then stop complaining!" Hikari sighed, happy at least to have broken Taichi of his automaton speech.
"Well!" Taichi huffed, defiant and disappointed to be receiving so little support from the person who had practically forced him into confessing his feelings for Yamato. "How would you feel?"
Hikari's eyes softened when she looked at her brother, smiling sadly. She reached out to place her hand on one of his and squeezed it.
"Look, Tai, I know it's hard, but you're not helping anything by worrying about it so much. You're just wearing yourself out. And me."
"I can't help it. My stomach's all in knots and I feel like I'm going to puke and I'm dizzy and confused and worried and I can't keep my hands from shaking and nothing I look at makes any sense..."
Hikari bit the corner of her bottom lip and worried for a moment that they had done the wrong thing. Then she shook her head. This would not turn out badly, she was sure of it.
"Come on," she said, tugging the hand she held. And then she did something she only did once in a blue moon. She turned on Taichi's Playstation, took one controller for herself, and handed the other to her dumbfounded brother. "Let's play something."
They selected a friendly game of Puzzle Fighter, which had the desired effect of distracting Taichi until long after the sun had gone down and there was a hesitant knock on the front door. Taichi found that he could no longer move, and clutched the controller in his hands so tightly his knuckles turned white. Hikari took the liberty of pausing the game and answering the door.
"Hey, Hikari," Taichi heard a low, smooth voice say from the door. "Is Tai here?"
Then the voice was right beside him.
"Wanna go on a walk?"
Taichi looked up at disheveled blond hair, nervous blue eyes, a slumped posture that was normally so self-assured, and nodded, rising uncertainly to his feet. He shot Hikari a look before the door was closed behind him, and he and Yamato were standing out in the cool night air, each watching his own breath billow in front of him in a small white cloud, saying nothing.
Finally, Taichi's usual inclination towards physical activity combined with his overflowing anxiety set his feet into motion, and then he and Yamato were walking away from the door, out of the apartment complex, and down the street.
"So...get any interesting mail today?" Taichi ventured, thinking perhaps it was possible that Yamato had only come by for a regular visit.
"Uh..." Yamato began, unsure of how to continue. "Yeah...my first fan letter that didn't include any kind of obscene proposition for sex or marriage." Then he coughed, wondering if he'd strayed into forbidden territory by making light of Taichi's letter.
But when Taichi's lips quirked and Yamato heard him respond playfully, the blond breathed a sigh of relief.
"Oh yeah? Must have been pretty disappointing, y'know, now that you're so used to receiving naughty pictures with your daily mail."
"Actually..." Yamato started, shoving his hands in his pockets, but feeling inexplicably comfortable talking with Taichi about the contents of his letter. He had been sure this talk with Taichi would be nothing short of terrifying and impossibly difficult, and certainly it had started that way, with awkward silences and uncertain glances. But it hadn't taken long for Yamato to realize that this was Taichi he was talking to. And being with Taichi, though at times frustrating, confusing, or even infuriating, was never, ever uncomfortable. "Actually, it was nice. A refreshing change."
Their eyes met, then, and Taichi smiled. Shy, but feeding off of Yamato's suddenly heightened level of comfort.
"That's good to hear. So...what did you think?"
Yamato thought about that question for a moment, pursing his lips as he considered his answer. There were lots of things he thought, and he didn't quite know how to put those thoughts into words.
"Well...I..." he stumbled, groaning at his apparent inarticulacy.
Taichi seemed to slump a little when Yamato couldn't come up with an answer, so Yamato reach out a hand to stop Taichi and turn the other boy towards him.
"It...was the most wonderful letter I have ever received."
Taichi looked at Yamato, just looked at him, and Yamato faltered under the steady gaze brought on by Taichi's impeccable courage. Even now, in this uncertain situation, he found the strength to be so confident. Yamato was proud of Taichi, and humbled for himself, knowing the only time he ever felt nearly so strong as that was when he was in Taichi's very presence.
"I..." Yamato began, and he turned to start walking again, knowing the motion would help him think. Taichi didn't protest as he moved to keep a steady pace next to him. "When I came to talk to you, I didn't really know what I was going to say. But I knew I had to talk to you, because I spent so much time thinking about it by myself and just couldn't sort through everything. Now I kind of wish I had written a letter like you had, then I could have at least tried to make sense of everything before coming to you." Yamato laughed then, but it wavered into a sort of uncertain, choking cough.
"I have an idea," Taichi said suddenly, grabbing one of Yamato's hands and tugging him along as he sped up.
Yamato tried to ask what Taichi had thought of, but the other boy didn't answer, and Yamato eventually gave up. When they ended up back at Yamato's apartment, the blond was even more confused than he'd been at the start.
"What are we doing here?"
"Open the door and let's go inside," Taichi said, offering no explanation.
When they were inside, Taichi ran straight to Yamato's room, and Yamato stood, confused and a little irritated, by the front door. He raised an eyebrow when Taichi emerged with his guitar and practically shoved it into his hands.
"Play, and talk to me at the same time."
Yamato lowered himself onto the couch, Taichi joining him, and he held the guitar uncertainly. What was he supposed to do? Write a song about his feelings? He looked sideways at Taichi, who sat comfortably, with his eyes closed, waiting for Yamato to begin. He felt like he'd been put on the spot, and it took him a moment to grow accustomed to having the instrument in his lap. This wasn't usually how he went about playing. But he sighed, resignedly, determining that Taichi's strange ideas usually had some merit, and began strumming the chords of a g minor scale just for the sake of working his fingers over the strings. He was mildly surprised when he began to relax and grow more comfortable as he continued to play, but only because Taichi had seemed to know so well that having an instrument in his hands and coaxing music out of it would have just that effect. He smiled, amused and a little enchanted, and began to play a few basic chord progressions in the same key.
"You know..." he started to say, easing into some more ornate chords. "When I decided I wanted to play in a band, I never thought it would get to where it is now. I mean, I always dreamed that I would get to play for big audiences and everything, but I never imagined it would actually happen. And now that I am where I am now, I'm perfectly happy to let it remain this way. I like being mainly local, maybe recording some CDs with our own equipment. But I never thought I would make a career out of being a musician, and I'm not entirely sure I want to. Not if it means leaving behind my family and friends. Not if it would mean losing you."
He gave Taichi another sideways glance and found that the other boy had opened his eyes and was listening intently now. He swallowed, again feeling disarmed by Taichi's eyes, and immediately turned his attention back to his guitar. He idly began plucking out a melody line.
"I had never really thought about...us...until today. I had just accepted the fact that you were one of the most important people in my life, right up there with Dad and Takeru. And I...you mean more to me than... You're my best friend, but you're so much more than that already. You are everything I'm not. You fit me, because what I lack, you have. And I couldn't imagine a life without that. A life without you. And I'd never thought about it before like that, because I just always knew on some level that all that was there and never bothered trying to make sense of it, so I don't know if I know what it means, but..."
His playing stopped along with his talking, and his mind seemed to stop processing, as well. He'd hit a road block that not even his music could help him traverse.
He looked up at Taichi's dark, warm eyes, and when Taichi's fingers lightly brushed his cheek, a shiver ran down his spine, like the touch had been electrified somehow. Taichi leaned forward, and Yamato leaned forward to meet him, and when their lips touched, it was slow and unexpectedly sweet. Taichi sighed, and Yamato trembled, and both boys parted their lips at the same time, both asking for and permitting the kiss to be deepened. It was luxurious, how time seemed to slow in that moment, and how everything narrowed down to the kiss, timid and exploratory yet completely open and pure.
Then they pulled back, and time sluggishly resumed its normal speed. Taichi rested one hand on Yamato's shoulder and smiled, slightly flushed, but ridiculously happy. Yamato couldn't help but smile back as he reached up to wipe the corner of his mouth with his thumb. Taichi chuckled at this and grinned.
"I drooled all over you, didn't I?"
Yamato laughed and leaned forward so his and Taichi's foreheads were touching.
"Yeah, but it was worth it."
Taichi smiled warmly and gently squeezed the shoulder he was holding.
"So what now?"
"I don't know," Yamato shrugged. "I don't think we have to make this unnecessarily complicated." Taichi nodded against Yamato's forehead and Yamato smirked. "So why don't we just go out to dinner this weekend and see where it goes from there?"
Taichi raised his eyebrows, looking up at Yamato from the tilted angle caused by their foreheads touching, giving him the look of an adorable, begging puppy.
At that, Yamato felt his stomach flutter. A date. With Taichi. He smiled, shy, nervous, excited, but feeling so right about things, he wondered why it had taken them so long to get to this point.
Taichi's grin was infectious, and Yamato smiled wide enough for the both of them. He was slightly surprised when Taichi leaned in and planted a quick kiss on his lips, but no less pleased, and he let his heart and his stomach flutter delightedly.
"So, Hikari and I were involved in a very brutal game of Puzzle Fighter before you came over. Care to come back to my place and join us?"
"Yeah, that sounds great," Yamato laughed. After replacing his guitar in his room, the two left the apartment. "So it was Hikari who made you give me that letter?"
"More or less."
"Remind me to thank her when we get to your place."
Taichi laughed and slipped his hand in Yamato's.
"Yeah. Me too."