Standard Disclaimer:It has been disclaimed
Notes: aaand the end!
Warnings: Shounen-ai/yaoi, non-con encounters, and well…any other warning that would be associated with those first two.
Sometimes things fell apart. And sometimes it took a while to put them back together. Three months had passed since Tai's life had gone to hell, and after three months, he felt like things might finally be starting to get back on track. He'd come a long way in that time, but he knew that he was far far from the Tai that he'd once been. He stood in the mirror watching his reflection, wondering where the other him had gone. Was he still in there somewhere, hiding? Too scared of what might come to make himself known again? No, Tai decided. He was the one who did the hiding not the other Tai. That Tai was dead. Plain and simple.
He smiled bitterly at his reflection and proceeded to brush his teeth.
There came a soft knock at the door. "Tai?" his mother peaked her head into the bathroom. "Sweetie, are you almost done? The others will be arriving soon."
Tai nodded and grunted through his toothpaste, and his mother smiled and left him to finish. He spit and rinsed his mouth, wiping his face with a towel and heaving a sigh.
"You can handle this, Yagami," he told himself, but he had to admit that there was a large part of him that wasn't so sure. He exited the bathroom and went to wait on the couch, but his stomach was already tying in knots. He wasn't looking forward to this evening at all.
It had been his mother's idea to invite his friends over for a dinner party. It was, after all, his Matt and Sora's graduation night. Some celebration was in order. But in the past three months Tai had withdrawn from his friends. He had barely seen or spoken to any of them during his recovery, and the idea of facing all of them in one room together at once was oddly terrifying.
He hadn't returned to school after everything was said and done, couldn't imagine setting foot in that place again for the rest of his life. Instead he'd opted to do his studies at home on his own, using the work to keep himself distracted. He'd become quite the scholar in his last months of high school. Had studied hard, passed the entrance exam for the Osaka University School of Human Sciences with flying colors.
In a few weeks he'd be moving away to some place new. Someplace where he could start over. Forget. And oh, how he wanted to forget. He was anxious to move into his new life, but he still had the others to think about. There was part of him that wished he could just leave them all behind and never look back, but a bigger part of him knew that that wouldn't be fair. He still owed them a large part of his life. Maybe there was more of the other Taichi left behind than he realized.
Someone knocked on the front door, and Tai felt his pulse spike. He could do this. He could do this. These were his friends. They cared about him. Loved him. He knew this intellectually, but still, in his mind's eye, he could only see their pity. He knew that he'd fallen, that he'd completely broken and let them all down, and he couldn't stand the thought of them looking at him, waiting to see the other Taichi, wanting to see the other Taichi. Mourning what he'd become. How was he supposed to face them when he'd broken so easily?
"Sora, dear! Come right in!" he heard his mother greet at the door and he felt sick. But if Tai was anything, it was a good actor, and he forced a smile that almost felt natural and stood to greet his friend.
"Hey, graduate," he said.
"Hey to you, graduate," she returned, and he did his best not to flinch too hard when she moved in to give her customary hug and peck on the cheek in greeting. He knew she noticed anyway and there was a beat of awkwardness before she pulled back and smiled at him. "We missed you at the ceremony today."
And there it was, that careful, cautious tone that was the reason he tended to avoid anyone who knew anything about what had happened. He hated the way they tip-toed around him. Hated it more because the caution was completely necessary. Not even Tai knew what would send him into a panic that would shut him down completely.
"Yeah, well," he offered, "I didn't miss being there. I've sat through enough of those boring speeches to last a life time."
She opened her mouth to make a reply, but there was another knock at the door, and Tai's heart was in his throat as they both watched his mother answer. He breathed a sigh of relief when it was Koushiro standing at the entryway.
"Iz-man!" he called out. "Welcome to the party!"
Hikari showed up not long after, Takeru, Daisuke, and Ken in tow and Tai felt completely pathetic when he flinched away from the heated glare coming from his sister's boyfriend. Jou came next. Then Miyako and Iori and the apartment was full of food and friends and laughter, but Tai felt like he was choking. The others were having a good time, doing their best to be relaxed and open around him, but there was one other who had yet to arrive, and that one other would be the greatest challenge of the evening. Tai wasn't sure how he would react to seeing him again.
He didn't hear it when the knock came, if it came at all. Didn't notice when someone had gone to open the door. Tai just looked up at some point and there he was, standing apart from the others, eyes steadily watching.
There was a long moment during which their eyes locked and everything else seemed to fall away…and then Tai very suddenly needed to be elsewhere. Memories were rushing back, his body remembering moments that were still way too close in time and he hated it. He hated how he couldn't breathe. Hated how just that fast he felt like he was coming apart from the inside all over again. He hated the chocking panic and the memory of triumphant eyes. He hated lawyers and courts and hearings and sentences of two years with a chance of parole when it felt like he'd been sentenced to forever after already dying once. He hated that running felt like the only option and even then he knew that he'd never be able to run far enough.
Even still, he fled to his room hearing and hating the silence he left in his wake as he slammed his door behind him. But what he hated most was how much he missed the one he was running away from now. How much he wanted Matt to come to him and be with him even as his head completely rebelled against the idea. All he could do was sit, curled into himself and try to remember how to breathe. He thought of Osaka and the new life waiting from him there. He'd leave and start over, and he'd be far far away when two years came with a chance of parole. Far away from white cards and unseen eyes.
Far away from Yamato…
Because sometimes things just fell apart. And sometimes, there was no putting them back together.