Secrets, Lies, and Pumpkin Pies: A Holiday Interlude
a/n: Okay, so I know Thanksgiving is not a Japanese holiday (and that I'm a few days late posting this) but for the sake of my story, pretend for a moment that it is. This one takes place about two months after my Takari wedding fic "After All" and stands on its own well enough, but I'd recommend that you start there to get the full effect. If all goes as planned, this will be the second part of a trilogy. The next bit will be the Mimato sequel I've been promising for years. It's going to happen. Really. In the meantime, Happy Holidays! Enjoy.
Note: If you're waiting for Ch. 4 of In-Between-Time, sit tight. I've got finals coming, and it may be a while.
Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon or Thanksgiving, or KT Tunstall, whose song Through the Dark is quoted below.
Dedication: For AmericanMercury, who's got her own secrets to keep this Thanksgiving.
As I walk away
I look over my shoulder
To see what I'm leaving behind
Pieces of puzzles
And wishes on eyelashes fail
Oh, how do I show
All the love inside my heart?
For this is all new
And I'm feeling my way through the dark
Sora drifted awake slowly and cracked one eye open to look at the red digital display of her alarm clock. Five am. She rolled over and stretched her arm across the bed, but all she found was an expanse of cotton sheets.
"Tai?" she croaked, but there was no response. She groaned and rolled to the edge of the bed. "Too early…"
The cuffs of her low-slung pajama pants brushed against the floor as she wandered out of the bedroom, pushing a hand through her shoulder-length red hair and straightening her yellow tank-top. She padded quietly down the hall and that's when she spotted Tai from across the living room, standing in the kitchen in a pair of boxers, a t-shirt, and a navy blue apron.
Sora smiled and crossed her arms over her chest, leaning lightly against the doorjamb, her eyes on her husband. Tai was barefoot on the linoleum, a spatula in one hand, and their month-old son cradled carefully in the crook of his other arm. He was waving the spatula absently as he talked very seriously to the brown eyed boy, whose full head of dark-red hair stuck up oddly in the front as he blinked up at Tai, looking for all the world like he was hanging on every word.
"And it doesn't matter what anyone tells you," Tai was saying. "It's not girly to be able to cook. It's very cool. Women love a man who can cook. Just ask your mother, she'll tell you."
"It's true," Sora said from the doorway.
Tai jumped. "Sora! Oh, honey, did we wake you up?"
Sora shook her head and walked into the kitchen, going up on her toes to plant a quick kiss on Tai's cheek and then heading straight for the coffee pot. "No, but what are you boys doing up this early?"
"Teaching baby how to cook," Tai said. "Had to put the turkey in."
Sora rolled her eyes. "He has a name."
"I know," Tai said, and then held a large wooden spoonful of stuffing out to her. "Here, try this."
Sora took the spoon and thoughtfully munched the stuffing as Tai watched.
"It's good," she said finally, and then, at his serious look, "What?"
"I just want everything to be perfect," he said, taking back the spoon and then gazing down at the tiny person in his arms. "It's baby's first Thanksgiving."
Sora just smiled at the men in her life and sipped her coffee.
"Izzy, please, you've got to help me!" Joe's voice was frantic and high pitched as it came over the phone line. "I just…I don't know what to do. Everything's falling apart!"
"Okay, calm down," Izzy said, switching the phone to his other ear and balancing a large ceramic bowl against his hip. He took a whisk to the orange mixture in the bowl. "Just tell me what's happened."
"Well, I was supposed to add the cream cheese filling on top of the pumpkin bread, and then I was supposed to roll them together, but I forgot to bake the pumpkin part first, so I tried to scrape the filling off again-"
"Hold on, this is a cooking emergency?" Izzy said.
"Well…yeah," Joe said.
"Shut up," Joe said.
"Why on Earth did you volunteer to make something like pumpkin roll? Why not something like…salad? Something you could actually make?" Izzy used a fork to poke holes in the bottoms of three pie shells and then poured the pie mix evenly between them.
Joe sighed. "Yes, well, then everyone would know that I can't cook. I mean, I can't cook anything."
"At least you're consistent," Izzy chirped.
"Reliable, even," Joe said dryly.
Izzy smiled. He wrapped foil around the last section of crust on the third pie and opened the oven, slipping the pies onto the rack carefully. "You buy enough to make more than one of those things?"
"I got ingredients enough for five," Joe said, sounding sheepish.
When Izzy had finally stopped laughing, he brushed an orange t-shirt sleeve across his tearing eyes and told a sulking Joe that he'd be over in fifteen minutes. He closed the oven door, grabbed his car keys from a little metal hook on the wall, and pulled a jacket on as he headed out the door. As he drove across town, the heavenly smell of pumpkin pie filled up his apartment.
TK poked his head into the bathroom as he buttoned up his blue shirt and watched as Kari stood facing the full length mirror, smoothed down her pink sweater, and then turned to the side, narrowing her eyes and thoughtfully considering the barely perceptible bump of her belly. She tugged at the sweater and then turned to look at TK, looking so sweetly pitiful that he found it hard to keep a straight face.
"They're going to be able to tell," she said, and then went back to looking in the mirror. TK just stared and did up the last of his buttons, his blue eyes bright. Pregnancy agreed with Kari. She had never been so beautiful as she was now, her short hair falling softly around her ears, her graceful hands resting lightly on her stomach.
"You could just tell them," he said.
Kari shook her head. "I'm not ready."
"They're going to get suspicious when you go into labor," he said, and she glared at him, grabbing a pink lip-gloss from the bathroom counter and applying it carefully.
"I'll tell them," she said. "I just need more time with her, just the two of us. I'm not ready to share."
"Or him," TK said automatically, but Kari shook her head.
"It's a girl," she said, and brushed past him to grab a white scarf from the coat tree by the front door. "Get those potatoes from the kitchen, would you? I'll-"
But she broke off in surprise when TK spun her around gently and kissed her, his hands cradling her face. She relaxed against him and slipped a few fingers into the gap between two of the buttons on his shirt. The kiss deepened and TK pulled her closer. She undid his top button and he laughed. Kari pulled back to look up into his dancing eyes.
"What's funny?" she asked.
TK tucked her hair behind her ears. "I was just thinking that we wouldn't have to hide anything from them if you could keep your hands off of me."
Kari's eyes widened and TK blinked down at her with the same deceptively angelic face that he'd been using on Matt since he was a foot and a half tall. That face could melt his brother's cool exterior in two seconds flat. Kari, however, was immune.
She lunged at him, reaching for the ticklish spot right on his left side right under his ribcage, and he let out a surprised shout of laughter, dodging into the coat tree and then fumbling to grab it before it hit the ground, "Kari!"
She giggled, and he was undone.
"I love you," he said, suddenly serious.
Kari smiled, her eyes lowered, and then looked up at TK, her face a mask of playfully haughty indifference, "Yeah, yeah. I've heard all that before. Then you knock me up and…"
TK let the coat tree hit the ground and closed the distance between them in two purposeful strides, and she immediately held out her arms to him. They were significantly late to dinner.
Mimi was packing up the last of her delicate, lovingly made concoctions in the cozy kitchen of her downtown bakery—soft rolls and rainbow colored cookies, moist brownies and the Jell-O-and-whip concoction Tai was addicted to—when Matt let himself in, the collar of his black jacket turned up against the cold, carrying a large bowl of salad and not meeting her eyes.
"Did you bring dressing?" she asked.
He lifted a plastic grocery bag and she nodded absently, lifting the shallow box of desserts and heading for the door.
"We can take my car," she said, struggling to balance the box and open the door at once.
Matt reached around her and pulled the door open. "Mimi."
"Matt, can we do this later?" she said, staring at the ground, her pink streaked hair falling in her eyes. "It's Thanksgiving. We're going to spend an afternoon with our friends. I just…don't want to think about this right now,"
She walked away from him and he chased after her, "Wait! It's not that I don't-"
Mimi whirled to face him, her expression furious, the box bending slightly in her tight grasp. "Matt!"
She floundered for a moment and then, as he watched, she deflated and shook her head as if to clear it. She looked so lost in that moment that Matt wanted to set the salad aside, rush across the room, and take her in his arms. But he wasn't allowed to do that anymore.
"Can't we just act normal tonight?" she said quietly. "Just tonight? We can tell them tomorrow, okay? I don't want to ruin everyone's dinner. I don't want to answer questions."
"Okay," Matt said softly. He would have agreed to anything as long as she was looking at him like that.
"Okay," she said, and turned to walk into the cold afternoon.
Matt stared after her for a long time, and then followed.
When Kari and TK finally arrived at Tai and Sora's third floor apartment, everyone else was already there, sitting on the couch or in large comfortable chairs, and there was a good amount of suggestive oooohing when they blew in the door with a vat of mashed potatoes that would need to be reheated and decidedly guilty faces.
"All right, guys, that's enough," Sora said, ever the peacemaker, and went to hug Kari quickly and take the dish of food from a blushing TK before disappearing into the kitchen. They heard her say, "Tai, your sister's here," and Tai appeared soon afterward, still wearing the apron, but over a pair of jeans and a deep blue sweater now. He grinned and rushed over to greet them, clasping TK's hand warmly, and then laughing when Kari launched herself into his arms.
"Hey brother," she said into his shoulder.
"Hey," he said, and held her at arm's length. "You look amazing."
His expression took on an odd quality as he looked down at her, as if he'd realized something was out of place but couldn't quite put his finger on it, and Kari squirmed a little under his scrutiny, shooting a quick look at TK.
"Where's Haru?" TK said quickly, trying to shift the focus elsewhere, though he quickly realized after one look at Kari's exasperated expression that bringing up the baby wasn't the best distraction.
Tai, however, was oblivious, and released Kari, who let out a quiet sigh of relief. He nodded in the direction of the couch, where Izzy sat cooing at the fuzzy haired baby, who was reaching out to him with tiny hands and making quiet baby sounds. TK walked over and scooped the baby up, cuddling him close and saying, "Hello, nephew."
He laid a cheek against the baby's head, and Kari's eyes went distant and dreamy and she stayed like that until Sora grabbed her by the wrist and practically dragged her into the kitchen.
"It's been like that all morning!" Sora exclaimed once they were inside, collapsing dramatically against the counter. "Men and babies, all morning long! I'm coming completely unglued."
Kari laughed. She looked around at the mountains of food in the kitchen and raised her eyebrows. "Wow. Do you need help with any of this?"
"Actually, could you put that cider on the stove?" Sora said. "There's a pot in that corner cupboard and cinnamon sticks above the toaster there."
While Kari started to bustle around, Sora crouched down to open the oven, glancing over her shoulder. "Hey, have you talked to Mimi lately?"
Kari lit the burner and poured several cans of cider into the pot. "Not in a few days. Why?"
Sora checked the meat timer and then straightened, closing the oven door. "I don't know. She seems off."
Kari peeked out of the kitchen and scanned the living room. Mimi was perched prettily on the edge of the coffee table, nodding absently at Izzy as he talked with his hands, more and more animated with each passing moment. Joe was next to Izzy on the couch, laughing lightly at the story. Kari saw Mimi's eyes wander in the direction of Matt, and then snap back to Izzy quickly, as if she didn't want to get caught.
Matt was on the other side of the room talking quietly with TK, who still had the baby, and seemed to be carrying the conversation all on his own, chattering happily to his older brother. Matt, who was usually a casually calm presence with twinkling eyes and slow smiles—or sudden, startled laughs when Tai caught him off guard—was looking distinctly ruffled. TK seemed not to notice, but Kari could tell he was covering for Matt, filling the silence. She ducked back into the kitchen and found Sora watching her expectantly.
"Do you think they had some sort of fight?" Kari asked.
Sora shook her head. "I think they broke it off."
While Kari leaned back against the counter and considered this, Sora dipped a ladle into the hot cider and filled a mug, taking it out into the living room and slipping it into Matt's hands. He looked surprised for a second, and then rewarded her with a warm smile that was more in his eyes than anywhere else.
He took a careful sip from the steaming cup, and Sora went to sit next to Mimi on the coffee table, casually bumping the younger woman's shoulder with her own. Mimi carefully kept her expression neutral, not looking at Sora, but after a long moment, she leaned over and nudged her back.
Some time later, when everyone was settling down around the table and Sora was in the kitchen getting the last of the steaming dishes to bring out the dining room, Tai slipped into the kitchen, the baby settled against one strong shoulder, and kissed her softly, his warm palm against her collarbone. Sora blinked once in surprise and then let her eyes drift shut. After some time Tai pulled away slowly, and Sora took a long moment to find her voice.
"What was that for?" she said finally.
"Thanks for looking out for Matt," he said, and then flashed an embarrassed little smile and left Sora alone in the kitchen thinking she was lucky to have ended up with one of the good ones. She would have been baffled by Tai's remarkably similar line of thought as he took his place at the table, but then, that's exactly what he loved about her.
"God, Joe, this is amazing," TK said around a mouthful of pumpkin loaf.
Joe blushed and said, "Well, actually-"
"No kidding," Izzy cut in quickly. "Joe, I never would have thought you had it in you."
Joe blinked. "Thanks Izzy."
Izzy just smiled at his plate.
The Kamiyas' apartment was filled to the brim with the sounds of overlapping conversations and the soft strains of music coming from a radio in the living room, the clinking of silverware and sliding of chairs, Kari's purely joyful laughter and the baby's gleeful shrieks. Food and good natured jabs, funny stories from work and inside jokes were passed around the small table while the flickering candles in the centerpiece cast playful shadows on familiar faces that were a little older, a little wiser, but mostly just the same as they'd always been.
Tai got to his feet suddenly, and everyone turned to look at him with expectant faces.
" Champagne," he said, and disappeared into the kitchen. Matt got up to help him, and soon everyone was holding a sparkling flute of champagne, their eyes on Tai as he stood at the head of the table.
"Here's to good friends," he said.
"And good food," TK added.
Izzy lifted his glass. "Decade old adventures."
"Small favors," Joe followed.
Mimi toyed with the end of a lock of hair. She glanced up quickly.
"Whirlwinds," she said. "Romances."
"The 'never a dull moment' people," Matt said quietly.
"Family," Sora said.
Kari smiled in her soft, knowing way. "And to our children. Cheers."
And with that, eight glasses were raised, catching the firelight and throwing brilliant patterns against the walls and ceiling. Reverent looks were exchanged, and everyone lifted their glasses to their lips—well, mostly everyone.
Kari, her eyes on TK, set her full glass down on the delicately printed tablecloth and smiled, tucking her hair behind her ear. She didn't notice the way Mimi, sitting directly across from her, froze with her glass halfway to her mouth and stared. TK, however, glanced over at Mimi just in time to practically see the light bulb come on.
"Mimi-," he said urgently, but she ignored him.
Kari looked at TK oddly, and then turned to see Mimi staring at her with her mouth open.
"What?" she said nervously.
"You're pregnant!" Mimi blurted out.
All conversation came to a screeching halt, and the music coming from the next room suddenly seemed very loud. Someone dropped a fork. Everyone turned slowly to stare at Kari, who opened and closed her mouth a few times before repeating, lamely, "I…what?"
"You're pregnant?" This came from Tai, who sat down suddenly.
"No?" Kari said.
"How long?" Sora said.
Kari floundered, and TK reached over to cover her hand, stopping her from wrinkling the tablecloth more than she already had.
"Five months," he said.
Kari smiled sheepishly. "Surprise."
There was a long silence during which nobody moved, and then almost simultaneously, Sora and Joe leapt to their feet, the former to pull a surprised Kari out of her chair and into a tight hug, and the latter to grab TK's hand, pumping it up and down enthusiastically. TK beamed. After that, the entire room burst into a flurry of action. Sora pulled back, clutching Kari's hands tightly in hers, bounced up and down while squealing uncharacteristically, and then hugged her again. Kari laughed.
If anyone had been looking elsewhere as Tai stood up and Kari whirled to face him they'd have seen Izzy pull a bill out of his wallet, looking dazed and bewildered, and hand it to Joe, who was the very picture of triumph. As Joe slipped the money into his pocket, Izzy wandered over to congratulate TK, and Tai stood looking down at Kari, arms crossed over his chest, expression unreadable. Kari smiled at him nervously and did a little three-finger wave.
"Hey, Uncle Taichi," she said.
Moments later, Tai was enveloping her in a bear hug, and then reaching past her to ruffle TK's hair. TK, who had a watery grin plastered on his face, just laughed.
And through all of this Mimi and Matt, at opposite ends and on opposite sides of the table, sat quietly, Matt leaning forward on his elbows, Mimi staring into her champagne. She squeezed her eyes shut and gathered her courage, and then turned slowly to look at him. His eyes were already on her, unguarded, and Mimi felt her heart skip, like she'd missed a step going down stairs, but she didn't look away.
The moment held, and then Matt lifted his glass, half empty of champagne, Mimi followed suit, and they toasted the space between them.
"Clink," Mimi whispered.
Matt knocked back the rest of his drink and pushed his chair away from the table, and by the time he'd reached Kari, lifting her easily off her feet to spin her around, he was all cool smiles and effortless composure.
Mimi settled back in her chair, lazily crossed one leg over the other, and took a slow sip of champagne.
Matt placed a hand on TK's shoulder, and for a moment, looked almost overwhelmed.
Mimi drained the glass. She set it on the table.
"Cheers," she said, and that was how it ended.
Oh, what is in store for me now?
It's coming apart
I know that it's true
Cause I'm feeling my way through the dark
a/n: Keep an eye out for the conclusion, and please leave a review. I'm feeling particularly insecure about this story.