A/N: Tada! This story of mine has been a little side project for a while. Yakari has always been my favorite ship in Digimon (why? It has no proof! And yet it fits together very nicely). The premise is a bit strange, but I wrote this a long time ago and couldn't think of anything else to start it off. It's mutated from it, now. There's no stopping it! I also decided to incorporate a nifty quote at the beginning of each chapter that relates to its contents. Whee!
PS: I used the American names because I'm more comfortable with them! Please excuse it if you hate them...I'm very sorry.
Disclaimer: Wouldn't it be great if I could say I owned Digimon?! But I don't.
"Sparrows should not dance with cranes, their legs are too short." – Danish Proverb
"Why is it that you know how to dance?" she asked warily, stepping in time with the crackly record music.
He laughed. "It's a gift."
"Too bad I don't have it," she muttered, gritting her teeth as she stumbled on a note. "Augh! I'm never going to learn!" she ran over to the old record player and flipped it off. "This is hopeless, Tai! I'm never going to be able to dance!"
"Kari, you'll do fine."
"And why am I dancing with you, anyway? You're my brother! That's gross!"
"Hey! That's an insult!"
Kari took a gulp of water. "Really, Tai?" She flopped down on the floor. "This dance is going to be terrible. I'm going to a dance, and I move like a fish! On—on—land! Or something!" It was true. Well, the dance part, anyway. Kari's (and Tai's) school was having a charity dance in two weeks to help the school raise money for better textbooks and whiteboards, and maybe even more supplies in things like art. Who knew? It was being held at a hall near the school, and anyone could go if invited by students or staff at the school.
"That doesn't sound very good," Tai stated dryly.
"You think?" Kari snapped, and then frowned. "Sorry, Tai. A girl gets stressed over these things."
"I noticed." Tai looked at his watch. "Hm…"
Kari gazed at him curiously. "You're not going to ditch me, are you?"
Tai gave her a startled expression. "Huh? No! I'm not. It's just that Matt's coming over for a bit…"
Kari gave a gusty sigh of anguish, throwing her head back. "Taaiiiiii!"
"What?!" he asked loudly in a hurt tone. "We have a project to work on!"
"Why didn't you tell me before? Then I could have gotten someone else to help me."
Tai held up his hands, palms out, with his eyes closed as he thought. He opened them, smiling. "All right. I've got it. We'll take turns!"
Kari felt her stomach tighten. "Take…turns?"
"Yea! See, Matt and I will go work on our project, and then one of us will take a break and come help you dance!"
Kari bit her bottom lip in hurried thought. "Um…can't you just wait until after you're done? I can wait!"
"No, no, no! You can't stop a genius like me now that I'm on a roll! It'll be perfect."
"I bet you're just doing this so YOU don't have to dance with me all the time!" Karen gave a pouty expression. "Fine. Do what you want," she sulked; inside, her insides were writhing. Matt? Dancing with her? He was the coolest kid in their entire school, and she didn't want to embarrass herself by dancing with him! She couldn't even dance!
Before she could take back her words, they heard a doorbell ringing. "Oh, that must be him," Tai said, stating the obvious. "He'll be here to teach you to dance in a bit."
Kari sat up on her knees as Tai scampered over to the stairs. "Um—Tai—"
He stopped, looked over at her, and flashed a big smile. "Don't worry. I'm sure Matt is a champion dancer. He'll teach you everything he knows." And then he was gone.
Kari began to pace the dusty old room that her mom never touched anymore—she sneezed numerous times before she had a chance to even analyze the situation. What was she going to do? She knew Matt from the old Digi-Destined days, which meant there was a bond between them that wasn't easily broken. But it wasn't a close friend bond—more like a "Hey-you-helped-me-save-the-world-didn't-you?" type of bond. Kari never talked to him anymore—in fact, he intimidated her. Actually…he always had. Whenever he had come over, she had dashed to her bedroom. What was she going to do?
Well, since Tai's stupid plan was probably going to be put into action (if not to actually help her, then at least mortify her), Kari was going to have to do something.
She froze. Kari had been in the middle of the room, spinning around with her arms on the shoulders of an invisible partner. Her left leg was in the air at an awkward angle as the voice called her name. She blushed, dropped her leg, and spun around. Not for a long time had she heard Matt call her name.
"Oh—um—hi Matt," she greeted shyly, looking at her shoes. She felt stupid—it wasn't like she was one of the girls who followed Matt around and memorized his entire schedule. It was just that she was still a little scared of him. The thought of dancing with him made her limbs feel like noodles.
He nodded at her, smiling slightly as he gazed around the abandoned sewing room. "Tai said you needed some dance lessons or something?"
"Well—I don't exactly need them," she said, still staring at the floor. "I would just like them, because of the dance that's coming up." She felt her head snap up so suddenly she was a bit frightened. "You're going, aren't you?" She heard the neediness in her voice, but it would be good to have someone there she knew.
Matt smirked at her, making her skin crawl in an almost pleasant way. "Yea, I guess." He shrugged nonchalantly. Kari immediately felt stupid.
"So…how's your project going?" Gee, this was awkward.
"It's all right. Tai won't actually do any work, though."
Kari laughed. "Yea, that sounds like him!" Can't we talk about anything other than my brother?
"So, ready to dance?" Matt asked suddenly, taking his hands out of his pockets and walking over to the record player. Kari's eyes were transfixed on Matt's hair as he slid the needle onto the record. It was so…shiny…
Only when he spun around to the crackling music did she blink and look away quickly. She heard his footsteps as he neared her.
"Okay," he began calmly, which almost irritated Kari. Why wasn't he as nervous as her? "So you grab this hand…" He grasped her hand and she almost yelped, clutching onto it out of instinct. Matt quirked an eyebrow, and Kari blushed even more, placing her hand on his shoulder. He grabbed her other hand and held it in his.
"Are you planning on doing some ballroom dancing at this dance?" Kari asked timidly, as he positioned his hand on her waist. She felt him pull her a bit closer, and she stopped breathing. Her heart began to beat rapidly, and she kept her eyes glued to the pocket of his shirt.
"Probably," he replied easily. "It's pretty funny to watch people get so shocked—who would think I knew how to waltz, right?"
Kari didn't question him anymore on that statement, but it wasn't like she was going to anyway. She was too nervous to make so much as a peep as Matt continued to instruct her on where to place her feet, when to turn, how long to pause, and so on. She felt her head getting dizzy as he tried to show her.
"Oh, it's no use!" she finally cried, stepping away from him. She suddenly felt empty. She had been holding Matt's hands for the last thirty minutes or so, and she was so used to being near his warmth as they danced, that standing alone was a bit…strange.
She gasped. "What about your project?"
Matt's face formed a surprised expression; Kari wasn't used to it. Usually he had no expression. He glanced at his watch, then back at Kari—then back at his watch, then back at Kari…
She shifted nervously. "I can wait, you know. I'm a bit tired, anyway."
Matt hesitated. Then he gave a wolfish grin that shocked Kari. "You know, it wouldn't be bad for Tai to learn how to do some of the work, wouldn't you say?"
Kari found herself giggling—from relief or because of Matt's joke, she didn't know. "I think so."
So the two tried at it again. Kari began to feel her head getting heavy, but at least her feet were moving somewhat properly. It awed her how well Matt could dance without even blushing or giving the odd uncomfortable cough. Even when Kari messed up her steps (it was usually from losing her concentration and thinking about Matt), he didn't give a sigh of agitation like he normally would have.
Soon, she began to get into the rhythm of the old music. Kari and Matt were quickly waltzing around the room, avoiding the chairs and tables piled high with sewing materials that had been pushed to the side, when Kari felt a spasmatic fit of laughter overtake her. So as the two danced, she began to giggle and snort and laugh, and she couldn't stop. She wasn't even embarrassed—she was just laughing at the sheer oddity of the two of them waltzing in her house.
Matt let out a sudden chuckle. Kari's laughter was contagious. "Something funny?" he asked smoothly. Kari stopped laughing abruptly, her mouth closing in a tight line.
"Um—uh—no! No! Nothing!" She looked down at her feet, and realized the two weren't moving anymore. Her hand was still grasped in Matt's, and his arm was still tight around her waist. She could hear his breathing, which was a bit heavy after dancing so long. She began to blush, but she couldn't risk glancing up. She knew if she looked into his eyes, she probably wouldn't look away. And who wanted to look like a creep?
"MAAATT! WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE—HOLY COW!" Tai's screaming voice sent the two leaping apart. Kari was trembling all over, and she hated herself for it. Matt was standing in front of her, facing the door. His body was hiding Tai from her, so she peeked around him to see her older brother standing in the doorway, mouth agape and eyes wide. "What were you two doing?" he asked, his voice rather high-pitched. Kari was about to stutter out an answer when Matt's slick voice found its way into the conversation.
"What do you think we were doing, doofus?" he asked, his tone a bit snappy. "I was teaching her to dance! Isn't that what you told me to do?" Kari admired the tight voice Matt was using. It was the voice that always annoyed Tai into silence.
"Well—yea—but that was a while ago! How long does it take to learn a few steps?"
"A long time," Matt replied. "But Kari's been doing great." He turned around to smile at her. Kari almost melted; he hadn't smiled at her before, only somewhat smirked. This smile was…heavenly. God, stop thinking like that Kari! This is your brother's best friend! Did you SEE how he reacted when he ran up here?! You're a fifteen-year-old girl, this is normal, but just..stop.
"T—Th—Thanks," Kari stammered, blushing. Tai didn't seem to notice though.
"Well, I got some work done," he grumbled. Matt gave a throaty chuckle.
"That's what I was hoping for."
"Uh…nothing. Okay Kari, mind if we have a break?"
Kari risked a glance up from the dusty wooden floor. She saw Matt over by the door, standing near her brother. "No! Of course! Go ahead!" she said, smiling weakly. Matt nodded in her direction, shoving Tai out the door.
"But—hey! Don't I get to stay here?"
"I don't think Kari wants to dance with you," Matt replied dismissively. Tai exhaled loudly, and Kari knew he was annoyed.
"Technically, I was teaching her how to dance."
"You? Dance? I doubt that, Tai."
"Last time I saw you dance, you were…wiggling. And flailing. And—well—to tell you the truth, it was embarrassing…"
The two boys' voices drifted off as they clambered down the hall and toward Tai's room. Only when she heard the soft click of a door being closed did she let out her breath; she didn't realize she had been holding it the entire time. Flapping a hand in her face to try and cool off, Kari plopped down in one of the nearby chairs. It was old, but the cushions on it were soft and velvety. She immediately relaxed, gazing at all the old photographs that adorned the walls. They were mostly of Kari and Tai as children, and she felt memories cloud her mind as she sat, trying to push a breeze past her. Her mother had gone on a sewing kick for a while, which was why they bought this apartment; it had had an extra room for sewing. But then she just kind of drifted away from the hobby, leaving the spare room to be used for anything. That was why Kari had chosen it to try and practice. It had taken a while trying to persuade Tai to teach her, but Kari didn't want to look like an idiot at this dance! What did you do at dances anyway?
Then Kari thought of TK being at that dance and felt her heart flutter a little. She had liked TK ever since she could remember—way back to the Digi-Destined days. That was the whole reason behind the dancing lessons kick. But she suddenly remembered how those feelings of urgency had vanished when she had been dancing with Matt…
"Augh. I need water," Kari muttered, standing up and groaning as she did so. She tried to clear her mind, hobbling toward the door all the while. Her body was screaming for warm water, or a bed, or something to help them heal. But all Kari wanted right now was a bottle of cold, crisp water to quench the thirst she had accumulated over the hours.
Out in the kitchen, Kari shifted things in the fridge, hunting out the bottles of water that didn't seem to exist anymore. She heard steps behind her and Kari felt relieved. Tai would know where the water was!
"Tai, do you know where the bottles of water we—" Kari whirled around to face her brother, only to see it was Matt standing on the other side of the counter, gazing at Kari with a quizzical expression on his usually stone-like face. Kari immediately felt herself growing red. "Ah! I mean, um, sorry Matt. I thought you were…my brother…"
"I noticed," Matt replied, his eyes twinkling slightly. "What's up?"
"Uh—nothing! I was just looking for water…" Kari paused, a heavy silence in the air. "Hey, what are you guys working on anyway?" she blurted. Matt shrugged.
"We have to make a model of imperial Japan or something. I can't really remember." He shrugged again, tossing his hair out of his eyes as he did so. Kari couldn't help but stare. Matt blinked. "What?" he asked bluntly. Kari gasped, clasping a hand to her mouth.
"Nothing!" she practically screamed, whirling around to face the fridge. "Oh!" she spun back around, her hospitable hostess self kicking in. "Did you need me to get you anything?" she asked quickly.
" I don't think so," Matt said airily. Kari blinked.
"Oh, okay," she responded, trying to hide the disappointment. She felt like she needed to prove herself to Matt…Why? a voice screamed in her head, but Kari ignored it.
Matt seemed to pick up on her dejectedness. "Uh—well—I suppose I'll have a water too, if you can find one. I'm not used to dancing so much," he added, leaning his elbows against the counter casually. Kari felt herself blushing even though a solid block of wood was set between them.
"Um! Okay! Water, right!" She opened the fridge and moved a huge thing of lettuce to spy six bottles of water sitting innocently behind it. "Aha!" she cried happily, grabbing two of the bottles and opening one, passing it to Matt as she kicked the door closed with her socked foot. "Here," she said.
"Thanks," he replied sincerely. For a brief moment their fingers touched as she passed him the bottle, and Kari felt something inside of her flare up. It was quick, and it seemed like it hadn't even happened. She blinked, recoiling back quickly. Had she felt anything?
"Something wrong?" Matt asked, his tone worried.
"Nope!" Kari replied, smiling nervously and grabbing her own bottle of water. "Everything's fine. Oh, and, um, I think I've had enough lessons for today. Sorry," she added hurriedly, trying to be polite when all she really wanted to do was run.
Matt's face stayed still, but Kari thought she saw disappointment flash through it. Did she? So many things were uncertain about that guy! "All right," he replied easily, not taking his eyes away from her. Kari felt her skin crawl at the intense blueness of them.
"Well…okay then." She waved at him as she passed him behind the counter. "Bye!"
They were only a few feet apart, and Kari was sure he was going to reach over and pat her shoulder or something. He twitched in her direction, like he was going to do something like that, but then he stopped; Kari noticed, and she felt strangely empty. "Bye," he replied quickly. Kari propelled herself down the hall, entering the door beside Tai's. A sign hung from hers, painted when she was eight or so. 'Keep Out!' it said in messy painted scrawl. A quick rainbow had been added on in later years to cheer it up a little.
Once inside, she locked the door, her hands shaking. What was wrong with her? "Every girl would be nervous around Matt," she reasoned. "It just took me off guard to finally realize the most popular guy is best friends with my brother."
But you've known he was popular for a long time, the voice mocked from inside. You knew he was friends with your brother. He used to come over to watch TV and play video games all of the time. Why so scared now?
"I'm not scared," Kari hissed to no one in particular, abandoning the long sought-after water bottle on her desk and instead flopping down on her flower-patterned bedspread.
Oh of course not. My mistake. You were acting like an idiot for no reason at all. Of course! How silly of me.
Kari shoved a pillow on top of her head, letting out a silent scream into her mattress. Why did she suddenly feel so muddled up? Breathe…Breathe…it means nothing. Nothing at all. You're just a girl. He's eighteen. Naturally he would seem good-looking to you. TK. TK. TK. Say that name over and over and over.
Everything will be fine.
Kari heard a commotion in the room next to hers. Things were being put away; the zipping of a bag; the animated chatter of voices. She felt a pang in her heart. Matt's familiar muffled tone was talking so much! She had never heard him speak so much before.
Then Tai's door opened. Steps walking away. The front door opening, then shutting. She felt sudden emptiness at knowing Matt was gone.
A sudden knocking at her door jerked her back into reality. Kari sat up abruptly, nearly knocking her bedside lamp over. "Come in!" she called out in a strangled voice, straightening her lamp so it wouldn't crash down.
"Kari?" Tai's head popped through the crack of the open door. "Ready to dance?" he asked with a wink. Kari made a face at him.
"Taaaai, I don't want to dance now!"
"Why not?" Tai asked, a genuinely curious expression on his face. "Something up?"
"No," Kari replied testily, grabbing the pillow on her bed and throwing it at the door. Tai ducked, letting out a noise of indignation.
"What was that for?" he cried, eyes wide. Kari giggled.
"Nothing. You were just there, in the way of the pillow." She shrugged, smiling. "Not my fault."
Tai rolled his eyes. "Oh, so now that Matt's gone you won't dance, hey?" He was smiling, joking—Kari knew that. But she immediately began to blush. She couldn't help it. She hated her sensitivity right now.
"Th—That's not true!" Kari cried angrily. Tai blinked.
"Um. Okay…" There were noises at the front door at that precise moment, flooding Kari with relief. "Ah, Mom and Dad! Good, I'm hungry!" With that Tai clicked her door shut, leaving Kari alone again…this time without the comfort of a pillow, which was now lying at the bottom of her door, crumpled.
A lot had happened today…Kari had plenty of time to mull over the days events…
Or she could go talk to her parents and try to forget about the whole thing.
Avoidance. A much better plan, Kari thought, jumping up and fleeing from her room toward the kitchen.
Thinking is too dangerous sometimes.