I just want you all to know that out of all the fanfics I have ever done, this one is the hardest for me to write. I write about two paragraphs and either start writing on another fic, or delete what I just wrote and start over. I've finished two chapters in Interior by the time I've finished one in this! BAAW! This is annoying! But fortunately, I will never have to look at this fic again because this is the last chapter! WHIPPEE!!!
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Tai was holding his hand and pulling him through the tall grass, only it wasn't grass. The plants were like lily pads that came out of the moist dirt as tall as their knees, making a nice cover across the ground and kept the sunlight out. But there wasn't much sunlight anyway. He couldn't see why. The sun was in the sky. It just seemed… dimmer than usual, like the darkness before the rain. It wasn't hot or cold, just a nice temperature. And water dripped from everything, including the giant mushrooms.
He noticed all this even as Tai pulled him so quickly past all of it. There were people following them, but he wasn't worried. Tai had said earlier that he wouldn't let them get close enough to do any damage. Yet they were getting closer, too close for comfort. This did not faze him, however, and he continued to run behind Tai. They'd be okay. Tai said they would. He trusted Tai more than anyone, even himself. Tai had taken care of him long ago in the digital world and he would do the same now.
Still, as the people got closer, he could see the concern grow stronger on Tai's face. The brunette flashed him a fake assuring smile, and for the first time, he felt a twinge of fear dive through him. Tai ran right under one of the mushrooms, drawing him in closer also, and then promptly sat down on the ground, pulling him down too. He lay down under the cover of the lily pad-like plants close to his friend and listened to the sound of people running past.
Tai's arms tightened around his body as the footsteps and voices got closer. He wanted to see who they were, but Tai held him down. Two people walked within five feet of them and then strode off. Even though they were gone, Tai wouldn't let him stand up. It aggravated him, but Tai appeared to know more about what was going on than he did, so he obeyed and continued to lie silently against the ground. After a few moments, the brunette sat up. He stared up at Tai and got a real smile in return.
"See?" Tai whispered. "I said I would protect you."
Nobody really explained the whole 'Tai being arrested thing' before to Matt so when old accusations rose again, he was quite confused. He watched from the couch as his father paced back and forth in contemplation. Matt wasn't even allowed to speak at the moment. His father completely ignored him, too busy thinking up ways to murder Tai. And soon the police would be there asking him questions, and they wouldn't believe any of his answers because he was still supposed to have memory loss.
Despite his diagnosed 'memory loss' Matt remembered the night of his departure fairly well. He recalled waking up because his arm was burning like it was on fire, and when he looked at it, he could see someone's hands withdrawing a needle. That was when he chose to turn his attention to the figure standing beside him and the other one standing at the foot of his bed. The shadow beside him disappeared out his door and the other one followed, staggering back and forth and holding their head. It was when the person stepped into the moonlight flooding through the window that Matt realized it was Tai. But Tai had been so drunk. He was practically falling with each step. Matt wished he could remember past that but things got fuzzier as agonizing shots whipped through him from his arm.
And who would believe this? No one. Matt tired to explain to his father that Tai had been in his room, but someone else was in there, too. When the police came, they listened to him, but he could see the seriously skeptical looks they were casting at each other and at him. One of them even said that Matt shouldn't try to protect Tai just because they were friends. That annoyed him so much that he got to his feet and stomped to his room, slamming his door behind him.
"Matt, are you listening to me?"
What did the police think they were going to do anyway? They'd better not hurt Tai!
"Earth to Ishida!"
Matt blinked. Oh yeah… I'm at school. "Huh? What did you say?"
"How are you feeling? You seemed dazed," Sora replied softly.
"I'm fine." Matt shrugged and began to pick at the food in front of him. "Just perky."
As it were, Matt was placed back in school exactly three weeks, four days, seven hours, and five minutes before it let out for summer break. And he was having a hell of a time trying to remember people's faces and names. It helped that Sora and Izzy were alongside to whisper in his ear things that would help him remember; yet it wasn't easy. Several people gave him hugs and welcomed him back, but none of them did he remember much about. Sora said that most of them were fan girls and the rest were just people that he was acquainted with.
He honestly didn't care who they were. All he cared about was finding Tai and making sure his friend didn't do something stupid, like jumping off a bridge. Not that Tai would do that necessarily, but something that might end up with him hurting himself unintentionally. He'd never came across as being the type who would try to kill himself, but he did strike Matt as the type of person who would drink excess alcohol to ease pain, guilt, or whatever else was causing the problem, and drinking would definitely hurt Tai in more ways than one.
"He's zoning again."
Matt raised his eyes to Akemi and Istu leaning over him. "I am not."
"Then repeat what I just told you," Gendo called from behind Matt.
He tipped his head over the back of the chair, looking at Gendo upside down. "You didn't tell me anything. Akemi was telling me about some girl he met at a dance club the other night."
"How do you do that?"
Matt lifted his head back to look at Istu with a smile. "I'm just that clever."
Actually being shifted from reality and reams so much, Matt had a keen sense of hearing now. He could follow two different strings of voices at the same time. It was a rather helpful sense as three people were usually talking to him at once. It also gave him the leave-way to concentrate on his thoughts as well as some stupid person – let's use Akemi as an example – who was telling him some stupid story – we'll say that Akemi met a girl at a dance club, just for example's sake.
"I see you…"
Matt's was soft and quiet, barely audible for even him to hear. He crouched in the shadows of the bushes like a feline, eyeing the person on the sidewalk who was looking about confused. Smirking, Matt watched Tai for a few more moments. He'd completely confused his friend by disappearing into the bushes. Tai was, and had been for the past week, following him home every day. And he thought Matt wouldn't notice. Matt shifted his weight and then leapt from the trees, tackling Tai to the ground.
Tai's eyes widened. "Matt…"
"Did you really think I didn't know you were following me, Tai?" Matt laughed. "How stupid do you think I am? And where have you been? Your parents are worried sick about you!"
Tai began to cry. "I'm sorry Matt! I'm so sorry!"
"What?" Matt gasped. He placed a hand over Tai's mouth, muffling the sobs. "Shh… Calm down Tai. If I promise to move my hand, will you promise to shut up?"
Tai nodded and Matt slowly removed his hand.
"You don't hate me then?"
"No," Matt replied softly. "I could never hate you. You're my best friend."
"But I… I…" Tai exploded in sobs again.
Groaning and rolling his eyes, Matt covered Tai's mouth again. He waited until the sobs lessened before removing his hand once more. "Are you quite finished?"
Tai nodded again. "I'm sorry."
"Apology accepted," Matt mumbled. "Now then, we have to talk. Like really talk Tai. And me pinning you down on the sidewalk wasn't what I had in mind. Can we go to your apartment, or do you want to come to mine, or is there some other place that you know of?"
Tai thought for a moment. "I don't want to go to mine. My mom will be there and she'll start hugging me and crying. Is your dad home?"
"No. He works for another hour."
"Then I don't want to go there!" Tai said quickly. "If he comes home and sees me there…"
"Wait! That's a good idea! That gives you and me an hour to straighten everything out, then when he comes home we can explain everything to him!" Matt said cheerfully. He moved off Tai and helped him to his feet also. Tai didn't seem particularly comfortable about the idea of being at the Ishida's when Matt's dad came home, but Matt was already leading him back there so he didn't have much of a protest.
They walked in silence to Matt's apartment. Not that it had been far since they were only just down the corner from it. Tai shifted awkwardly a lot and Matt had to tell him to stop because it was getting annoying. Tai was just about to sit down on the couch when Matt snatched his wrist and pulled him back.
"No. You need to take a quick shower. I will not have you soiling up my clean couch that I vacuumed just last night," Matt said. He led Tai to the bathroom and then went to his room and got Tai some clothes.
Tai took a quick shower. He knew that everything had to be straightened out with Matt before Mr. Ishida came home. He found the clothes Matt had provided for him and slipped into them. Luckily Matt had given him pajamas because there was no way he'd fit into Matt's pants, or shirts. The blonde was just too skinny and tall. The bottoms were so long that he tripped on them several times on his way back to the couch. Nonetheless, he loved that sweet smell that seemed to be Matt.
"Okay," Matt said as Tai sat down. "Now we can talk. First of all, I want to know what your memories of that night are."
Tai shifted again. "Can we start talking about something else first?"
"No Tai. The direct approach is better."
Tai sighed. "Okay then, if you say so… I was drunk. I know that much. I've never been that drunk in my life. And man, did I have a killer hangover! *Matt rolls his eyes* I remember somebody talking to me, but I wasn't paying attention to them. They led me out of the bar and then…"
"And then…?" Matt started when Tai didn't continue.
"Then I was here. I don't remember the trip on the way at all. That's all fuzzy. But I remember leaning over you and you opening your eyes. I thought you said something to me so I stood up. That's where everything gets black. The next time I woke up was in the morning and I was in my bedroom. I told my mom I was sick so she let me stay home. I thought everything with you had been a dream, but when I heard you were in the hospital… oh Frith Matt… I'm so sorry…"
Matt didn't reply, instead starting on his side of the story. "I woke up and you were staring down at me with the oddest smile. I could smell the alcohol and knew you were drunk. But I couldn't seem to wake up fully. It was like I was falling back asleep without wanting to. I felt something pull at my arm so I turned that way and there was someone standing there. They looked at me and said something to you and you jerked away from me, only to drop to the floor. The person seemed upset and started cursing. They looked at me, then grabbed you and left. The person looked at me Tai, directly into my eyes but I can't remember their face. I know now that the pulling I felt was whoever withdrawing a needle from my arm. It's scary to think about. It scares me so much."
Matt had drawn his knees to his chest by the time he was finished. Tai wrapped his arms around Matt's shoulders and hugged him tightly. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. This is all my fault."
"No Tai!" Matt shouted and jerked away from his embrace. "This isn't your fault! Didn't you hear me? There was someone else in the room! And don't try to tell me that my memory isn't good like the police did because it is! I can even remember dreams I had! I remember that night like I saw it in a theatre yesterday!"
"I'm sorry Matt… I didn't think…" Tai sniffled and then started crying again.
"Oh no, Tai! Don't cry. I'm sorry! I didn't mean to yell. Don't cry, please don't cry, Tai," Matt begged. My best friend is emotionally unstable. He pulled Tai back close to him and kept repeating soothing words. This did not work. Tai cried like there was no tomorrow. Frith-rah, I do not believe I have ever seen Tai cry this many times in one day. This is rather disturbing.
With nothing else to do, Matt tilted his head down and kissed Tai. When he drew back, Tai had stopped crying and was just blinking with this look of total shock on his face. Then he wiped his eyes and pulled out of Matt's arms, trying to conceal a smile but not doing a good job of it. "I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me."
Matt, upon realizing what he'd done, was turning red. "I don't know what came over me either."
"Do you like me Matt?"
Thank you Tai for being so blunt! "We aren't talking about that right now."
"So that's a yes! But, um, I know that's not what were talking about so I wont push my luck." Tai flashed him another smile. "Anyway, you were yelling…?"
Matt gave him a sharp look. "There was someone else in the room. I know that for a fact. I think whoever it was was trying to pin the blame on you."
"Yeah, well, I'm dead anyway for drinking." Tai lied down on the couch, using Matt's lap as a pillow. "My dad is going to murder me. The last time he caught me with alcohol I was only a little tipsy and he went off the deep end. It's not going to be fun explaining to him why he has to pay a fine for my getting drunk. Luckily he doesn't know about this yet. I was put in jail for a long time because I didn't tell them where I was that night. Then I told Mimi that I was wasted and she got me out, don't know how, but she did. I have a feeling that she didn't tell them I was under the influence because I didn't die that night when I got home."
"Tai," Matt said, shaking his head, "your entire life is a soap opera."
"Well, Tai, if my son says you didn't do it, then I will accept his opinion. But I think it's about time you gave your parents a call."
Tai stared at Mr. Ishida with a slight pang of fear. "Yes sir."
The elder shot Matt a look and then left the bedroom. Matt turned to Tai with a smile. "See? That didn't go over bad. Now do what he says and call your parents. They've been worried sick from what TK has told me."
"Well," Tai muttered with a frown. "I am not sure that I want to just yet. I don't want to go home."
"And why not?" Matt asked. He slipped his arms around Tai's waist and snuggled closer, quite content when an arm was placed around his shoulders.
"Because I like being able to see you for once without having to sneak through the shadows. Can I stay the night?" Tai asked.
Matt hugged him tighter. "I don't know if my dad would like that. He said he'd accept my opinion, not that he'd accept you."
Tai sighed. "I suppose. Where's your phone?"
Tai was at first showered in hugs and kisses when his parents showed up at the Ishida's a few minutes after he called home (they obviously broke the speed limit) and told them where he was. Then he was yelled at for running off without telling anyone where he was going. Then he was murdered when he and matt sat down and told them the same things they told Mr. Ishida: that Tai had indeed been in Matt's room but he was too drunk to remember whom he was with. After that, the police showed up and they had to repeat the entire story all over again and then they had to go down to the police station, where they repeated the story for the fourth time and then were questioned on their own and asked to explain the story once more. All in all, Matt was very tired when he finally got to go home and sleep. Tai, regrettably, had to stay at the station a little longer as they had more questions for him. It was an experience that neither boy wanted to go through ever again.
Matt was sent to a psychiatrist a few days after so he could try to remember who'd been in the room. The man there told him that sometimes the people who hurt us seemed to fade from our memory as our mind's attempt to protect ourselves. Like if you saw someone in a nightmare, and woke up only to have them hurt you, if you ever had that nightmare again then they'd be excluded from it. He also told Matt that sometimes the people we trust most were the people who hurt us and that we should shouldn't let them get away with that. Matt knew he was trying to make him accidentally say that Tai had hurt him. It wasn't working. He began to ignore the psychiatrist and only pretended to do the regression hypnosis when trying to remember whom his 'attacker' was.
The pain was unbearable. The Devil's grip tightened, only this time it was only squeezing his heart, squeezing the life out of him. Or perhaps it was preventing life to get back into him. Maybe he was dead and just didn't know it yet. He was falling up, so maybe he had died and was ascending to the Gates of Heaven. Everything was black. Pitch black, like the depths of the human heart. Whatever was happening, it hurt. Very much.
Suddenly the black turned to light, a bright light, and he was in a pure white room. The pain subsided and then was gone, but he didn't feel like he had a heart anymore, like he was empty. That scared him to know; scared him to not have a heart. If he didn't have a heart anymore then he must be dead. It was only logical. Yet if he were dead then where was he now? Heaven? Hell? Purgatory? … A white room that was about to drive him insane? That sounded right…
Upon thinking of the white room, objects began flying through the air and landing all around him and color flowed like water across the ground, splashing at his shoes and moving up him. It was eerie to watch yourself go from black and white to color. It was even creepier to watch people suddenly appear out of thin air. He recognized them easily as his friends. Then something caught his eye.
The black hole.
Sora and Tai were standing near it, watching him. Talking to him. Tai was showing off about something. Soccer maybe? Sora was just staring at him intently, curiously. He stared back. He knew this. It was so familiar. Had he been there before? Not that he could think of… Yet everything just clicked. And then he saw Koromon, hanging onto the ledge of the black hole. When he went to call Tai for help, his friend had disappeared, as well as Sora.
So he took matters into his own hands. He ran to the hole - still wary of the pain it had caused him - and pulled Koromon up. He didn't know what to do now. He almost expected Tai to come take Koromon from him. Oh well. No need to bug Joe anyway.
Wait, why did that seem familiar? Had he bothered Joe previously?
Oh well. The ice cream in his hand was melting anyway. He tossed it in the hole, seeing if it was a bottomless pit. How would he know? He'd never seen a hole like that before. There was no sound from the ice cream so he figured it was a bottomless pit. It had to be. Weren't all black holes bottomless pits? Kari didn't know either. She shrugged and went back to swinging on the swings.
Why was there a hole in the middle of the stage anyway? That didn't make sense. Joe gave him a dirty look for peering into the hole and the fans seemed upset, too. So he shrugged and stepped back to the front of the stage. He was tempted to gripe at Cody but Tai would get mad. Tai always got upset when he stopped in the middle of a song to gripe at Cody.
He hated being on stage like this… in front of everyone… his band playing horribly. It was a nightmare. And why is Davis staring at him like that? It's unnerving. It's making it hard for him to sing. They needed to practice more. No one likes a band that can't play their instruments. Does Davis have to keep staring at him like that?
Where was the basketball game? He knew they were holding one on the boat, so where was it? Some girl with black told him that it was at the front of the boat, but he couldn't see it anywhere. He shouldn't listen to girls with black hair anyway. Sora would be jealous. There were too many people talking to him for him to care, though. People he didn't know.
He frowned. Where was Tai? Hadn't they just been together? How'd they get split up? No matter. Now where had Tai gone? He managed to run off the boat ramp before it went out to sea. It was taking him forever to get to Sora. He pushed through the crowd to where she was ahead of him. It was hard getting to her. Finally he caught her. She turned around and smiled at him.
"Let's go on that one!"
He looked at Sora. "Okay."
But he didn't follow her. He had to get back somewhere. Back to Sea World… He'd been there since that morning. He loved Sea World and the pink dolphins. Were dolphins always pink? But that wasn't where he wanted to go. He had to get somewhere else. The party.
Something was wrong. Everything started changing colors. But that wasn't supposed to happen yet. He remembered now. Someone or something was missing. 'Someone… somebody isn't here…' he thought.
Yet the colors continued to change, from a pinkish red, to crimson, to yellow. What had he been looking for again? Oh yeah, the mice. The pink and purple talking mice that had been dancing with him, Akemi, and Istu. They'd all been partying with the mice a few seconds earlier. Where was everyone now? The place was deserted, no one around, leaving him completely by himself.
And the streets were blue.
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Yes, this is the end. No, I will not continue. I am VERY happy to finally be finished with this as it is taking up most of my precious time and yet I still can't seem to think up anything for it (isn't that horribly pathetic?). Do not as me to continue. You don't like the ending, then tough. I meant to drop this fic long ago, but my sister threatened death if I did (actually I do kind of like this, and I – personally – liked the ending, but I know that's only because I wrote it). Anyway, review!