Red and White
Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon. All Digimon characters are owned by Toei and A. Hongo and such. I am making no money from this fic. It is a just-for-fun project. The only bit I own is my own characters and the way the words are put together.
Author's Note; 16th May 2008 – Seeing as this is the fic that's been most requested over the past seven years, I figured I'd go ahead and stick it up as the first of the backlog. Remember edits may not quite appear as you remember them, as I'm hashing together the beta and the original uploads. I do not plan to come back and amend this work (if I start picking holes in it, I'll never stop XD).
More than five years after I first posted 'Red and White', people still ask for it. I guess that alone is some kind of awesome credit right there. Thank you so much, guys :)
"I hate basketball." Matt lamented, taking off the red vest marker he was wearing. Tai took off his white one too and replied,
"I mean, I know my brother likes it, and everybody says I should be good at it because I'm tall- but that doesn't mean I have to like it."
"Are you coming down with me to see the guys after school or what?" Asked Tai.
"Nah. I've gotta do that assignment for science."
"Man, you have a whole week to do that!"
"Get in the changing rooms now- and don't forget to shower!" Their gym teacher yelled. He was a big man, muscular and built to withstand hurricanes. Matt gave him a cold look from the corner of his eye, and then looked away- unaware that the look had been seen and noted.
"Hey, what do you think's wrong with that guy?" Tai frowned, silently indicating the new gym instructor.
Matt shrugged as they walked into the changing room and began to strip off.
"I am so glad this is our last lesson on a Friday…" Tai shook his head before slipping on his shirt.
"Why?" Matt frowned.
"Because it doesn't require any brainwork." Tai grinned, and Matt tutted, shaking his head. Wrapping his towel around himself, he headed off to the shower section of the room.
Some minutes later, Tai was tapping his foot in irritation.
"Why are you always the last guy to be ready?" He asked, whilst Matt reappeared from the showers, drying his hair.
"Because I shower and you go home smelly." Matt grinned playfully. Tai poked out his tongue. As he did so, he caught sight of the clock on the wall.
"Oops! I said I'd meet Kari."
"About now. I have to go!" Tai picked up his bag and raced to the door. The room was empty except for the two boys.
"Tai! Wait up, I'll come with you! I can't be bothered with the assignment right now!" Matt yelled, following him up to the door.
"Can't wait! Kari'll smack me!"
"Tai!" Matt yelled around the doorframe after Tai as he raced away down the corridor. He sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Don't shout in the corridor." The voice was big and heavy. Matt turned to see the gym instructor sitting on a small wooden seating strip attatched to the wall. He looked up at Matt darkly.
"Sorry, sensei." Matt bowed slightly, suddenly feeling very aware of the towel at his waist and very little else. As he looked up from the bow, he saw the teacher approaching him. He drew back slightly, reversing into the changing rooms. Mr Gokansha kept urging Matt forwards and shut the door behind them.
"I'm sorry, sir. I didn't know-"
"Didn't know you shouldn't shout in the corridors or didn't know I was there?"
Matt paused before answering truthfully- nobody had much of an idea about this guy yet and Matt feared a lie would just get him into more trouble.
"Didn't know you were there, sensei."
The gym instructor strolled around Matt until he came face to face with him again.
"You don't like me much, do you?… What's your name again?"
"You don't like me very much, do you, Ishida Yamato?"
Matt paused to wonder at this question, and his heart stilled as he tried to think of a diplomatic answer.
"I don't know you very well yet, sensei. I haven't had a chance to think about it."
"Tell me the truth. The way you looked at me- back there, at the end of the lesson. I know that look."
Matt had taken to looking straight ahead whilst the teacher prowled around him.
"I don't know, sensei. Nothing was meant by it."
Mr Gokansha smiled like a tiger with the scent of antelope in his nostrils.
"Sensei?" Matt was troubled by the request.
"Turn around, do as you're asked."
Nervously, Matt did so, standing with his back to the teacher. He unconsciously clutched his hands behind his back as he stood, awaiting some kind of chastisement- and then hopefully the permission to go home. He was already quite freaked out by the comments the new teacher had made.
"You're not like the other boys are you, Ishida Yamato?"
"Be quiet. I said, you're not like the other boys."
Matt didn't reply- the response of the teacher to his half-asked question had been abrupt and offered him no chance to respond. No way to diffuse the situation.
"You know, you're the only boy who showers on Friday afternoon. I noticed that last week, the first time I taught you. I guess the other boys don't bother, because they figure they'll shower when they get home.
"But you always smell clean.
"You must have been taught well at home."
"Don't speak. I didn't say you could speak, Ishida Yamato.
"You're a very pretty boy, aren't you?"
Shock threaded through Matt's body. He felt fear groping at his chest, and was very aware of his heart beating sharply within it. He turned back to Mr Gokansha, staring him straight in the eye for a moment.
"Lower your eyes to me. I'm your sensei, how dare you look at me!"
Matt immediately did so, out of trained respect.
"Take off your towel."
Matt's body stiffened and he looked up again.
"Lower your eyes, dammit!
"I said to take off your towel, Ishida Yamato."
"N-no." Matt forced, feeling doom approaching at a pace quicker than he could use to control it. His eyes moved quickly from one patch of floor to another as he desperately tried to control his frightened brain. This situation was spiralling out of his control. His mind started to race:
What can I do, where can I run to, where can I hide?
Before he had decided on an answer for any of these questions, he felt himself be pushed full-force back against the metal bars between the benches in the centre of the room. The towel around his waist disappeared.
The wind and sense temporarily knocked out of him, he gazed dazedly up at the gym teacher, who was holding him tightly to the bars.
"I said, 'take off your towel, Ishida Yamato'."
Matt sensed more than felt the bump on his head he'd been given by the bars. He desperately tried to regain his senses as the sensei dragged him towards the shower area.
He quickly sensed liquid around his feet, and heard the sound of rushing water.
All the showers were on.
He heard himself cry out in terror, but then felt a hand across his mouth.
"With the showers on, Ishida Yamato, there's nobody who can hear you scream."
Within moments, he was forced to his knees.
"Nobody can hear you scream."
Head down, hands pushed forward in front of him to the floor.
"Nobody can hear you scream."
Bunched up, on his knees.
Nobody can hear me scream.
Matt hadn't moved at all. He didn't know how long he had stayed there in that position, under the pounding water of the showers. It could have been hours. It could have been minutes. It could have been days. Mr Gokansha had gone- was it minutes or hours ago?
The water slipped and slid through Matt's darkened blonde hair. It dripped in front of his face, and he dared raising his glazed eyes to it. And the movement made him shiver. And he continued to shiver, realising that the water had run cold some time before.
As he moved, he dislodged something clumpy with his foot. Looking around blankly, he saw some blood float serenely towards the drain. He gazed behind him, his mind quite hidden in a small pocket somewhere inside his head, clearly too terrified to come out of bed.
There was a little more blood on the floor behind him- so, moving slowly and shakily, he began to scoop everything away with his hands towards the drain. The white tiles beneath him, around him and above him, seemed only to accentuate the redness of the blood- and of the pain.
Every movement invited pain, but Matt blinded himself to it. He had to do this thing. He had to clean up. He had to make his horrible experience go away, he had to make it not exist- and right now, that meant he had to clean away every single scrap of evidence that suggested it had.
When he was done, he cleaned himself thoroughly all over- but couldn't get rid of a feeling of dirtiness, or having been sullied.
Eventually, he wandered dully out to the changing area to get dressed again. He moved mechanically, like he was dreaming- like in fact, this had all been some terrible nightmare and that he was due to wake up soon. He gazed up blankly at the clock on the wall and noticed that an hour and a half had passed since Tai had left him.
Since Tai had left him.
And he himself had gone home.
He tried desperately to make himself believe that the past hour and a half did not exist.
The world felt grey and cold, and so, so lonely.
Found his way home, found his father not yet returned from work, found his way to the shower, and showered a further three times in an hour. Found blood in his pants and so put them in the wash. Found dark pyjamas and dark bedclothes and put them on. Went to bed.
Some time later- he had no idea how much time- he head his father open the front door and enter the apartment. Heard movement. Heard his father enter his dark room.
He was awake- his eyes were blank and open in his head- but he didn't answer.
"Matt?" Dad wasn't going to leave it.
"What are you doing in bed at this time? It's early for you, you're normally up much later than this." Masaru asked, concern in his words. Matt found his hidden voice as soon as he could. He replied croakily, the words cracked and split open- no matter how hard he tried to make them sound better.
"Don't feel well."
"Which bit?" Masaru approached his son as he squirmed in the bed, sensing a presence behind him that, no matter how familiar, frightened him. Masaru placed a hand on his son's forehead from behind.
"All of it." Matt's voice was barely audible.
"You are hot. But your hair is soaking! No wonder you're ill if you go to bed with wet hair." Masaru scolded. He turned the light on as he moved to leave the room and get a towel.
"If you're gonna go to bed after a shower, dry your hair first. Come on, get up and dry it. It won't take you a minute."
Matt didn't want to get up. He wasn't sure what kind of state his pyjamas and the bedcovers were, and he wasn't sure they were dark enough to hide the darker blood he knew would be lurking there.
"C'mon, get up." Masaru stood expectantly at the door with a towel. Matt moved to the edge of the bed, covering it immediately when he got up and never turning his back on his father once as he dried his hair with the towel and then the hairdryer. Just as Matt shakily put the hairdryer down, his father walked briskly over to the bed and turned over the pillow, so that a dry side was up. Then he threw the covers back.
"What's this?" He frowned as he ran his finger over some dark spotting on the bedsheet. Matt froze.
"Don't know." He still faced his father. Masaru shrugged eventually and indicated that his poorly son should get into bed. Matt did so, managing to hide the back of himself from his father's view.
Masaru practically tucked Matt in.
"You're really pale. You sure you'll be okay tonight?" Matt swallowed and nodded, knowing with a sinking feeling that he was drowing, and that he wouldn't be all right tonight or tomorrow or the next day…
"You'll be all right tomorrow." Masaharu comforted as he turned out the light and shut the door. Matt turned away from the door, to face the wall.
No. I won't.
That night, Masaharu woke to what sounded like the shower being used. Half asleep, he turned over and ignored it, counting it as a leftover from a strange dream he could no longer remember.
The weekend passed bleakly. Dad worked most of it, and Matt spent the days curled up in a quilt on the floor in front of the TV. He knew his brother had tried to contact him from the caller ID of the phonecall he had chosen to ignore, but still he chose to ignore it further. He had, at least, finally stopped bleeding.
Got up, showered, got dressed, packed schoolbag, showered again. Checked bedclothes and washed them and last night's pyjamas for the third time in as many days. Left in a hurry.
"Matt? Are you listening to me?" Tai prodded Matt with his finger as they sat next to each other at the lunch table. Matt turned around, clearly having not concentrated on a word Tai had said.
"I said, why didn't you bring any lunch?"
I said to take off your towel, Ishida Yamato…
Matt panicked, grabbing his bag and speed away from the table as fast as he could to the bathroom- where he felt sick to his stomach and wanted to throw up- but he didn't remember eating over the weekend, and so there was nothing to throw up.
Something's wrong with me.
"Hi, TK's phone."
"It's TK's dad. Is he there?"
"Sure, Mr Ishida, just a second." Kari put her hand over the microphone and called to TK, who was in the middle of giving Davis a smart smack on the arm for cheating him in a game of 'Space Spiders' on the Playstation 2.
"Was that my phone? Sorry…" TK asked, standing up and smacking the undefeated Davis off his leg as he tried to trip him. TK immediately turned around and poked his tongue out at Davis, who returned the favour gleefully from his upside-down position on the carpet. Kari pulled a face and said,
"It's your dad…" TK pulled a confused face in return.
"What does he want?"
"Why don't you talk to him and find out?"
"Sure. That would be a good idea wouldn't it?" TK grinned goofily for a second, and Kari rolled her eyes.
"Hey, Dad." TK took the phone.
"Hey TK, it's me. You okay?"
"Have you spoken to Matt recently?" TK frowned.
"No, not for about a week. I tried to call him Sunday, but nobody was at home and he didn't answer his cell. Why?"
"I'm… He's… I'm concerned. He's not himself at all- he's closed off and drawn up inside himself."
"I hate to tell you, Dad, but that is Matt." TK grinned.
"No, I mean… really badly. He's gone to bed as soon as he gets in every night this week. I tried to get him to sit down and eat something tonight when I came in but he just gave me a look and went back to bed."
"It's only Wednesday… Maybe he's just tired, though."
"Will you talk to him for me? He seems to listen to you- nothing I say is getting through to him. I don't know if he's ill or just unhappy. He hasn't had a fight with any of your friends, has he?"
"Not so far as I know. But sure, I'll talk to him." TK was catching his father's worry. He knew that if his father was concerned enough to call him and ask for his help in dealing with Matt, then something was very wrong indeed.
"I'll call later."
"Give it a while, hm?"
Davis was enjoying flying solo in his space spider when TK came to sit beside him again. His expression was disturbed, but thoughtful.
"What's up with you?" Davis asked, elbowing TK and pushing the PS2 controller towards him. TK shrugged, shook his head and pushed the controller away again.
"I don't know. Maybe nothing."
"Oh, c'mon! Play, play, play!" Davis pushed the controller towards TK again. TK gave him a look which clearly said 'leave it; I don't want to play right now'.
"So what did your dad want?" He asked sulkily, putting his controller down too. Kari came back over to listen to his answer.
"He's worried about Matt. If Dad calls me to ask about Matt, he must be really worried."
"In what way?" Kari asked.
"He says he's not acting right at all. I don't understand, he hasn't told me anything- and we're normally pretty good like that."
"Talk to him." Kari suggested simply. TK shrugged and looked helpless.
"Sure- easier said than done with Matt, you know that. If he doesn't want to talk, he won't talk."
Natsuko yawned before picking up the ringing phone. She expected it to be TK, asking to be picked up from Tai and Kari's house.
She was somewhat surprised to find her ex-husband on the other end.
"I'm…worried about Matt." Natsuko's stilted attitude changed immediately.
"Why? What's wrong?"
Masaharu went on to explain his concern for their son. Natsuko listened with concern.
"Maybe he's just tired?" She suggested hopefully. Masaharu sighed.
"No. It's not that. TK suggested the same. He's pale and wasted, and I don't even see him anymore. He just goes to his room and goes to bed."
"Have you talked to him?" Natsuko asked- knowing what the answer was likely to be. There was a pause.
"You know I'm not good like that."
"Get good. Our son clearly needs us."
"Us is where it comes into play right now. I'm supposed to be working late tomorrow night, but…I just don't think I can. I think I should be here at home for when Matt gets in from school, but I get caught up so often, that-"
"He'll know I'm checking up on him." Natsuko interrupted.
"It doesn't matter. It won't be you he's mad with- it'll be me."
"I can 'pass by' about the time he gets in- about 5.30?"
"Yeah, about then. Thanks."
There was a pause.
"He's my son, too." Natsuko reminded quietly.
"Perhaps we should both talk to him together?" Natsuko suggested.
"Well, seeing as the last time we talked to him together he was eight years old and we told him we were divorcing, it might intimidate him just a little."
Natsuko sighed at Masaharu's reply. She hadn't realised that they had, between them, alienated their first born so much.
"Tomorrow will be a good day." Masaharu took a deep breath and sighed it out. Natsuko looked confused.
"Positive thinking MD's." Masaharu replied, sounding slightly embarassed.
Masaharu sat silently in the dining area. It was late, and more than time to go to bed. He was finishing an habitual cup of coffee. The only light on was the one in the kitchen, over the cooker. He sighed into his almost empty mug, and through the quiet heard the click of a door opening. He saw his son's silhouette in his bedroom doorway. Matt flicked his eyes up from the floor for a minute to look at his father, and then lowered them again, and wandered out to the kitchen.
Masaharu turned his chair around and watched his son as he turned on the tap to get himself a clear, cool glass of water. Matt didn't seem very aware of his father's gaze as he ran the water continually, looking into it like tea leaves that could tell a story. He bit his lip and tucked a few errant strands of hair behind his ear.
"It'll still be water after you've run it for ten minutes." Masaharu broke the silence gently. Matt looked up at his father and rubbed his face, but didn't speak.
"I know something's wrong." Matt's dad stated. Matt left the water running and put the glass down on the draining board. He still didn't speak.
"I know I'm…I'm not a good listener. I know I'm not. But I am your dad… And I am here for you. If you want me."
Matt picked up the glass again. He scratched his fingernails across it's pretty red and white markings nervously.
"If I was a good listener, maybe your mother and I would still be together." Masaharu chuckled humourlessly.
"Say something to me. Tell me why you're not happy. Tell me you're not ill." Matt couldn't match eyes with his father, but shook his head, still gazing and picking at the markings on the glass.
"So you're not ill."
Matt shook his head again.
"So what is it?"
Matt turned back to the tap and slid the glass into the water, letting it fill up. The gushing sound of the water in the glass got higher and higher until Matt took it out from underneath the tap. He turned the tap off firmly. Trickles of water slid around his fingers as he moved away from the sink. He turned to his father.
And the glass slipped out of his hand.
And headed towards certain doom at the hands of the cold, hard kitchen floor.
And splintered into pieces as it made contact with the tiles, turning over and over itself and throwing water everywhere.
And Matt covered his face.
And burst into sobs- horrible, frightened sobs, not even sobbing but screaming.
Within a second of the first scream Masaharu was on his feet, entirely taken over by sheer, all-powerful paternal instinct- the need to protect programmed deep for generations and generations. He stormed through to the kitchen, walking over the glass as though it were nothing in his slippers to his barefoot son. He put his strong hands around Matt's waist and lifted him bodily out, seemingly effortlessly, over the glass cornering him in the kitchen whilst Matt sobbed.
Matt was totally helpless with his tears. As Masaharu tried to put him back on his feet on the carpeted living room floor he just fell, like a rag doll to the ground and sobbed at his father's feet. Masaharu immediately picked up his son from the floor and walked through to his bedroom, sitting him on the bed and walking quickly over to turn on the light.
"Matt… Baby… Tell me what's wrong… Please, please tell me…" he begged, kneeling in front of his son, who was shaking like leaves on a branch come late Autumn.
"I know it's not the glass, I don't care about the glass, I can go out tomorrow and buy twenty more. And I don't care about the mess, I don't care about the water- all I care about right now is you." He took his child's shaking hands and held them firmly in his own.
Matt continued to sob, even when his dad sat right next to him and pulled him towards himself, wrapping his arms around his frail, frightened body. Matt eventually wrapped his arms back around his dad and cried into his chest.
"Oh, Matt…My poor baby…" Masaharu whispered, closing his eyes and pushing his face into Matt's hair.
"I don't know what's hurt you, but you're safe now… You're safe now…"
"Da…daddy…" Matt sobbed.
"What? What, baby?" Masaharu replied gently, holding his son tighter.
"I w-w-wanna tell you…b't I can't…"
"Yes you can, Matt. Just tell me, I might just surprise us both. Let me help you."
"I c-" Matt began, but was silenced by his father, who took his face in his hands carefully.
"Matt, I've only ever done two things right in my life. One was you, and the other was TK. I know I've failed you a lot, but I did those two good things and I want to make sure that my right things stay right, that my two beautiful 'right things' stay happy. And you're not happy. For God's sake Matt, let me help you…Please…"
Matt was devoid of words. He didn't ask for help, nor did he offer the words his father begged for. He couldn't tell his father what was wrong, for he didn't know anymore. It had built up and built up inside him- despite his pushing it away- so that he knew he was hurting, but didn't know from what.
"Matt… For God's sakes, tell somebody what's hurting you. I don't care who, so long as you tell somebody… Tell TK or Tai or Momma, but tell somebody…Find somebody you can talk to…"
Some time later, Matt was finally silent and lucid. He lay on the bed, his father cradling his head. He was at peace in the protective company of his dad and although tears were still wet on his eyelashes, he wasn't crying anymore. Masaharu was running his hand over Matt's hair gently, making very quiet comforting noises from time to time.
"Go to sleep, son. I'm right next door if you need me."
Matt nodded, suddenly cold at the thought of his father leaving. He reached out and tugged at his father's shirt as Masaharu covered his pained son with the fleece blanket he was accustomed to.
"What?" Masaharu smiled softly, as Matt looked up at him with his suddenly huge blue eyes. Matt held both arms up in the air from his position in the bed- a request to be hugged. It was a request Masaharu couldn't have ignored even if he'd wanted to.
Masaharu went to his own room, after having quickly cleaned up the glass and water. He stood, back against the wall and put his hand over the still damp tears of his son on his shirt. He sighed, closed his eyes and rested his head against the wall.
"Matt?" Masaharu checked his son's room the minute he got out of bed. He sighed helplessly, finding the bed stripped and his son gone and on his way to school.
"Did you ever do that assignment?" Tai asked, pinching Matt's arm lightly to get his attention. He'd learned that unless he actually physically went all out to get Matt's attention, he wouldn't get it at all. Matt turned to him with a confused expression on his face.
"You know… For the lesson we have in ten minutes? That funny thing called Science?" Tai responded. Matt froze and shook his head.
"Wanna copy mine?"
"No. S'not fair on you. You'll get into trouble, too."
"Hey, I copy yours all the time, don't I?"
"You're really not okay, are you?" Tai put his fingers to his forehead, frowning in frustration. Various trys at talking to Matt and getting him to talk back had failed all week, and it was starting to get on Tai's nerves. He knew as well as anyone that Matt wasn't right, that his eyes were empty and his voice was hoarse.
"Sure. That's what they all say before they self-destruct…" Matt snapped around.
"How'd you know about that!?" Tai was taken aback by the sudden vigor of his response. Plus the fact that he had no idea what Matt was talking about.
"Know about what?"
Matt turned away.
Even TK doesn't know about that…
And Dad wouldn't if only I'd been able to keep my stupid emotions in check…
I'm so stupid…
Stupid, stupid Matt…
The bell rang to mark the end of school. All of the pupils in the classroom looked anxiously at the teacher, waiting for their cue to go. She nodded and they all stood up, chattering amongst themselves and more than happy to be on their way home once again.
"Ishida Yamato, I want you to stay behind." The scicence teacher said sharply over the hubbub. Matt froze and gave Tai a desperate look.
"Please wait for me, Tai, please don't go home without me." Matt begged, looking into his friends eyes, frantic and pleading.
"But Matt, I-"
"Please, Tai, please, please, please wait for me, don't make me stay here behind in school on my own, please wait for me…" Matt's voice rose in it's fervour, and he grabbed Tai's arm. Tai looked at him, worry contorting his features.
"Sure, sure, I'll stay. Sheesh…"
"Please…" Matt hissed once more, as the classroom emptied.
"Okay, okay. It's okay." Tai repeated, his voice soft against Matt's undeniable and unyielding fear.
"You can leave, Tai." Ms Kansatsu suggested politely.
"Can I wait for Matt please, Ms Kansatsu?"
"You can wait outside."
"I'll be by the door." Tai said reassuringly to Matt and he nodded gratefully.
"No, Tai- I don't want you making a mess of the corridor outside my room like you normally do when you're waiting there. You can wait for Matt outside- at the front of the building."
"But-" Matt began, cursing and counter-cursing the begging in his voice.
"No buts Matt. Tai, go wait outside for your friend."
"I'll be there." Tai said meaningfully to Matt, and Matt nodded. He could feel himself shaking again.
When Tai had gone, Ms Kansatsu sat Matt down at a table.
"First of all Matt, I want you to know this is totally informal. Nothing I say or you say will be passed on. Okay?"
Matt nodded nervously.
"Why didn't you complete the assignment I set for you last week?" Matt swallowed before trying to answer.
"Was it too hard?"
"N-no…it seemed fine, I just…"
They paused, and Ms Kansatsu waited before commenting softly.
"It's not like you to not turn in your assignments on time.
"And you haven't concentrated on a single thing in my lesson today!
"I've heard as much from your other teachers."
Matt looked up, and then back down at the table.
"Yes, teachers do talk.
"And, believe it or not, some of us do worry about our students.
"Is it problems at home?"
Matt shook his head.
"Is it your dad?" Matt scoffed- a definite answer in the negative and replied with a firm,
"Is it problems at school?"
"Is it something I can help you with?"
Matt shook his head, and his eyes tracked around the room as he tried to control the tears again.
"Tai's a good friend of yours, isn't he?" the teacher asked him gently, putting an hand on his wrist. Matt nodded.
"You have homework tonight, Matt. Go and talk to Tai. Tell him what's bugging you, so I can have you concentrating in my next lesson. That's the homework I set for you.
"Go on. Go."
"And I want that assignment done for tomorrow morning."
She stood and indicated for Matt to leave. Gratefully, he stood, grabbing his bag and paused to bow as he reached the door. Quickly, he disappeared through it.
He wanted to grow wings. He wanted to be far away from the school when there were no other pupils. He wanted to be wherever Tai was, because there was safety in numbers. He wanted to get to the staircase without interruption, he wanted to run down the stairs, he wanted to go home and go to bed and tell Dad how much he was hurting… He wanted to-
For as he turned the corner towards the staircase, there he was- the originator of all his pain, the attacker who had taken not only his body, but his soul as well. There, in front of him, was Mr Gokansha.
Fear and panic and absolute all-encompassing terror all tussled for control over his body all at once.
"Muhn…" Matt cried weakly, looking for an exit. Mr Gokansha gave him that predatory grin again.
"Ishida Yamato. How pleasant."
None of his immediate reactions to this man did him any good, as Matt found himself frozen with terror to the floor, his breathing almost ceasing completely.
I could scream…
Matt found comfort in this thought until he had another one.
I can't scream… I can't find my voice…I don't know where my voice is…
As he came close to Matt's frozen body, Mr Gokansha leaned in to him so that Matt could feel his breath on his neck. He touched the back of Matt's neck with his index and middle fingers.
"I've missed your smell in my changing rooms.
"You have a very special smell, Ishida Yamato."
"Huhn…" was all Matt could manage by way of a scream. He was shaking uncontrollably.
"Yes. You do. I shall look forward to seeing you again tomorrow, Ishida Yamato."
With this, he ran his hand across Matt's shoulder and dug his fingers in- where he knew there to be bruises. He'd put them there himself.
Matt thought he would be sick as pain rushed through him, physical and mental.
"I will see you tomorrow afternoon, Ishida Yamato. Tomorrow afternoon, after school."
Matt shivered in repulsion as he listened to Mr Gokansha walk away around the corner he himself had just come around.
Then he found his feet- and ran.
Ran towards the stairs, flung open the door and tore down the staircase, slipping on the fourth step from the bottom and sliding down the last three on his backside. By this time he was sobbing in terror. A receptionist stood to check that he was okay as he fell into the reception area, but if Matt saw her at all, he didn't acknowledge her. He just ran, in pieces, towards the main door and out of it, tearing away from the school that had suddenly become a place of such terror for him.
Tai heard his friend before he saw him- but he'd have never guessed it was Matt before he came into view. He'd been reclining back against the wall which circled the school, wating for his friend to emerge and all ready with a barrage of questions to throw in his direction. He was as concerned as everybody else, if not more concerned than some.
He was examining what was left of his apple core when Matt came rushing past, not even stopping to acknowledge Tai- and perhaps not seeing him at all. He was sobbing so hard he could hardly breathe between the heavings of his chest.
"Matt!?" Tai called, flinging away the apple core and yanking up his backpack from where he had left it on the floor. He raced after his friend, but Matt didn't respond.
The truth was, he didn't see Tai. He didn't hear him, he couldn't sense him, he didn't notice him at all. He just wanted to get away, he absolutely had to be somewhere else. He couldn't be sure that Mr Gokansha wasn't following him, that he wouldn't get home to find him sitting on his bed when his father wasn't home to protect him.
"Matt!!" called Tai loudly from behind his friend. Holding his backpack on with one hand, he jogged behind Matt until he stumbled, and he finally got a chance to catch up with him. Tai grabbed Matt's arm and turned him around quickly. Matt cried out and tried to push Tai off and keep walking, but his friend would not be deterred.
"Matt, what's the matter with you!?"
"Go away!" Matt sobbed, covering his face with his arm and still trying to push Tai off him, but his struggles were weaker now. Very soon, he stopped struggling and just hid his face, shaking with pent up fear and pain. Tai noticed that Matt had his school blazer, but not his backpack.
"Matt… Matt, where's your bag?"
"I don't kn-"
"Where's your bag?"
"I don't know!!" Matt screamed and collapsed on the floor with a thud. Tai crouched down to him, worried out of his mind. All his alarm bells were ringing-even the ones that had been dormant for a long, long time. He wanted to touch Matt and tell him it was all right, but he didn't really know if it was or not. By this terrifying display of pain, Tai guessed that it wasn't.
He stood and started to run back to school.
"I'm gonna go find it, okay? I'll be back, I'm gonna go get your bag."
"I don'- Tai!" Matt cried, but Tai was already gone, racing back to school to search for the missing satchel.
He had dropped it in the corridor and hadn't even realised. The experience with Mr Gokansha had been too blindingly terrifying for him to have even noticed. Tai picked it up, his face creased with fretting, and held it to himself. As he turned, he found Matt standing behind him, shaking so much he couldn't keep his jaw still. His head was low.
"Matt?" Tai asked, walking forwards to him slowly and carefully, as though he were a wounded animal. Matt, through his lowered eyes, looked up at Tai. His eyes frightened even the holder of Courage. They were blank and Matt was more disturbed than Tai had ever seen him.
"Matt… Tell me what's wrong. I think that… I think that you need to talk, and to be honest, I'm scared. I don't know what to make of you, I don't wanna let you out of my sight."
Matt blinked and looked away, stumbling over to the wall and sliding down it, hiding his face in the corner just before the staircase.
Tai followed him closely, putting his and Matt's bags on the floor. Matt wanted to tell Tai, he wanted somebody to know his pain, he didn't want to be left alone with it anymore.
I've been raped.
I've been raped.
"Matt, please tell me what's wrong. Or I'll have to get the big guns out and tell TK." Tai smiled gently.
I've been raped, Tai.
"Matt?" Tai's voice broke slightly, and there were tears in his eyes.
I've been raped, Tai. Please help me.
"Iuhuc…" Was all Matt could manage of the words he repeated in his head.
I've been raped, Tai. Please help me. I'm so ashamed.
Matt opened his mouth to try again.
I've been raped, Tai. Please help me. I'm so ashamed. All I want to do is…die.
The realisation hit Matt like a speeding train.
They paused, Matt never looking at Tai, always looking into the corner of the wall.
"Nothing." He croaked.
"Do I have to smack you!?" Tai yelled, grabbing Matt's jacket with both hands. When he realised that this made no effect at all, he hugged him. And sadly that had no effect, either.
Masaharu's eyes crossed as he looked in horror at the mess on his desk.
"I can't do this now! I have to be somewhere other than here!" His secretary looked apologetic, but there was no remorse in her voice as she spoke.
"We tried to do it all sir, but be found we couldn't. The time restraints on this show are so much that-"
"Okay, okay. God- okay."
I need to go home.
"Positive estimate on when this will all get done?"
I hate paperwork.
"Probably about eight o'clock tonight." The secretary replied.
"No! It can't take me that long!" Masaharu growled. "Somebody else is going to have to do it."
"You don't understand, I have to go home early. And I don't really care if this show airs or not, haven't we got something we can air in it's place?"
"Sure, but Fukusaburu and Gempachi won't be happy."
"I really couldn't care less about them right now." Masaharu rumbled. "What is this one, anyway."
"Stories of the Revolution amongst Ants."
"Oh. You meah the one currently running at a defecit of about ¥185,000?" Masaharu asked. The secretary nodded in pain.
"Yup. But it is their baby."
Actually, it's my baby I'm worried about right now.
I hope Natsuko keeps her promise.
Natsuko put her head on the steering wheel.
The rush hour traffic was abysmal. Even for Tokyo, this had to be a record. Never had Natsuko known this much traffic; there must have been an accident further up the road, blocking it totally.
By the time she got through all this traffic, would there be any point in 'dropping by'? She picked up her phone to call Masaharu, only to find his phone switched off.
"Masaharu, why on earth have a phone if it's never switched on?"
"Matt? Can I come in?" Tai asked, on Matt's doorstep. Normally he would have split off from his friend by now, but couldn't bear to, couldn't bring himself to make the break. He was too worried.
Matt looked at his feet for a while and then opened the door fully. He'd been about to shut it, without saying a word to Tai. Normally, Tai would have pulled him up on it straight away, but he let it go- hoping to catch some bigger demons.
Tai walked in, tugging his shoes off with his feet. He didn't take his eyes off his friend, who wandered in and threw his blazer over a chair. Then he sat in the chair and cradled his head.
Tai walked silently up to the table and sat down beside him.
Then he rested his head on the table and looked up at Matt.
Two tiny spots of water fell to the table under Matt's hands.
"I'm here, if you want me." Tai spoke, his voice soft and cool in the encroaching Autumn darkness.
"That's what Dad said." Matt whispered.
"Somestimes I know you want to tell me- but then I'm not sure. I don't even have a clue what you want to tell.
"Does TK know?" Tai asked.
"What's the matter with you."
"No, and I hope he never does. I'm t-too…" Matt was silent again.
"Too what?" Tai pressed. Matt didn't reply, but suddenly leapt out of the chair and ran to the bathroom. Tai heard the sound of the shower being turned on. He rolled his eys and growled in frustration.
"He's so hard to help.
"And what's with the shower?"
Eventually, when it became clear that Matt wasn't going to leave the bathroom for some time, Tai left. He dug around in Matt's kitchen drawer for a pad of post-it notes and left a note in his untity scrawl on the table:
'Gone Fishin'- catch ya later, Tai.'
And he had indeed 'gone fishin''- fishing for clues about his friend's sadness from TK.
Matt scrubbed at his neck with a nailbrush, until he felt sure he should be able to feel blood running down his throat and dripping onto his chest. His mind was blank, all he could do was scrub and scrub and scrub. Gradually, he worked down to his arms and his chest with the brush, cleaning off all and any traces of where he had been touched by Mr Gokansha today- and even in places where he hadn't. As he continued to scrub, making the skin red and raw, a tiny voice started up in his head- a voice at first he was unwilling to heed at all.
I need help.
I need somebody to help me.
I need TK.
I need somebody to help me.
The nailbrush slipped out of his hand into the bottom of the shower. As he reached shakily down into the base of the unit, he brushed his hand past the bruises that scattered his waist- some still dark, some yellowing, but all horrible reminders of the past. They were mostly fairly small, almost…finger-shaped, with the odd huge one thrown in for measure.
He didn't even notice that he could feel every rib as he scrubbed at his chest.
"Hey, Izzy. What's on today?" Tai called as he approached the computer room, where Izzy sat, as per usual, in front of a computer looking concentrated.
"Hm? Oh, hi Tai. I'm just watching out for the guys."
"TK in there?" Tai asked, pointing to the screen.
"Mm-hmm." Nodded Izzy, as he received an incoming e-mail.
'Done for today. No trouble around that we can see- heading home in a few. TK.'
"That answer your question?" Izzy grinned to Tai via the screen. Tai smirked and nodded.
"Reply back and tell TK Tai's here and wants to talk to him in private."
"About what?" Izzy asked, curiously.
"Well, if I told you that, it wouldn't be private, would it?" Tai grinned teasingly. Izzy scowled and then nodded grudgingly.
He tapped at the keyboard for a matter of seconds and pressed Return. They waited a minute or so before they received another note in return:
'About what? -'
Izzy was about to respond when Tai clapped a hand over his to get it away from the keyboard.
"Don't answer that one- it'll make him come out quicker." Tai grinned.
Indeed, within a few moments, they all sat in a pile on the floor.
"I'd like to say coming back this way gets easier, but it doesn't!" yelled Yolei. Davis scowled and pushed her off himself, gradually climbing to his feet.
"Hey, Tai! TK said you would be here."
"I thought you were meeting up with Matt after school? You two didn't have a fight, did you?" Kari asked, dusting herself down.
Tai looked up from his current position on the floor- he'd been too close to the screen to miss the homecoming onslaught.
"Well…I was. And no, we didn't fight- but that I could have handled that better. That's what I need to talk to TK about."
Tai stood and wrapped his arm around TK's shoulder.
"We need to have a serious talk about your brother."
"You're the second person who's said something like that to me in as many days. What's going on?" TK asked, a scowl converting his forehead into a battleground as Tai led him away, closely followed by the rest of the Digidestined, now curious.
"To be honest, I was hoping you could tell me."
"Even if Matt had told me Tai, you know I couldn't break a confidence like that."
"I know, but at least you'd be able to tell me whether he's all right or not?"
"I- don't know, I haven't seen him since last week." TK replied. Tai stopped and turned around to face his young friend.
"TK, I don't want to scare you, but something is seriously wrong with your brother. He's been really strange all week- so totally weird and off and…wrong."
"His behaviour recently has been a little eccentric." Izzy confirmed as they walked down the corridor. "Or at least, from as much as I've seen of him."
"TK, come back with me and Kari and I'll tell you more. I think maybe everybody should know, so we're all watching out for him, but…I don't know if he'd think we we're ganging up on him or not. At least, right now anyway."
"Probably." TK shrugged, worriedly. "Sure, I'll go back with you guys. Besides, it's kinda dark now, and I don't want to walk home by myself much."
Tai looked at his watch, and realised how much time had passed since he'd first encountered the height of Matt's strangeness. It was seven o'clock- time for dinner.
"If you wanna brave Mom's cooking, you can stay for tea if you want." Tai offered, pulling a face to discourage him from saying yes. TK tried to pull a return face without being too rude and replied,
"No thanks- I'll just tell Mom I'm gonna be late." He reached out for his backpack and dug out his phone.
"Shoot- the battery's dead." He scowled. Tai handed him his cell phone instead.
"Thanks." TK smiled.
When TK had finished, Tai turned the phone off and as one body, the Digidestined left the school- to go home in their various directions.
Matt hugged himself silently in a corner of the dark front room.
I have to go to school tomorrow.
I don't want to go to school tomorrow.
I don't want to see him again, I don't ever want to see him again.
I just want to forget about it, and make it go away.
Tears filled his eyes.
But I can't. It won't go away, it won't become nothing.
I need somebody to help me. I need to be helped.
I hurt and I want the hurt to go away.
But it never will. Will it?
It will never go away.
The tears slipped down his face, falling into an abyss of black.
I will always be dirty, and wrong and sick…
And I will never, ever be able to wash myself clean.
Unconsciously, Matt rubbed at his arm with his sleeve to get rid of the imaginary dirt.
And this will always be my fault. I could have screamed- I could have run away when he first shut me in the room, I could have said I didn't see him, and it would all have gone away. If I hadn't said some of the stuff I'd said, If I'd gone with Tai- if I hadn't showered in the first place.
But…but if I hadn't showered…?
If I don't shower tomorrow, maybe he won't touch me.
But if I don't shower tomorrow, I'll be even dirtier.
Oh, God, what am I meant to do?
Matt pushed his head into his arms and wept silent tears of pain, frustration and guilt.
"So tell me, Tai. What's wrong with my brother?"
"For a first, I think you should go around and see him." Tai responded, taking a chip out of the bag and handing the rest of the bag around the circle of three.
TK took it and his share, pasing the bag onto Kari.
"I will, but I want to know as much as I can first. Dad called me yesterday and said he was worried about Matt. For Dad to do that, he must have real cause for concern- Dad never talks, it's where Matt gets it from. Now, I haven't seen Matt since…" TK paused for thought. "Since last Tuesday. He was fine then."
"It's been since the beginning of this week. He was fine on Friday, too."
"So what's been going on?" Kari asked, handing the bag of chips back to Tai.
"He's been all 'aarrrghh!!' and 'nnnghh!' and 'grrrr!' and he's getting on my nerves!" Tai explained, punctiating his words with actions to match. His company both noticed the worry in his scowl.
"He was kept behind at school for not doing an assignment. He was all panicky and begged me to wait for him, which I did- but the teacher made me wait outside school for him. When he came out he was crying and…and frightened, I guess. He wouldn't let me help him, he wouldn't speak to me. He was all upset and it was so bad he left his backpack in school.
"I went to get it for him. I turn around and he's behind me- then he goes and falls over by the wall. I wanted him to tell me what was wrong, but he could only get as far as 'I've been…' and then he stopped and when I asked what was wrong again, he said 'nothing'. 'I've been' what? I don't know, to Mars, to the fair, hurt, mugged…? I just…" Tai sighed. "He certainly won't speak to me, TK. If you haven't spoken to him, I think you should."
All this time TK had been listening with a worried frown on his face.
"That's not like Matt at all. To make a display of his pain like that? He hates other people seeing him when he's weak." Tai sighed in response before he spoke again.
"Something's wrong. More than that, I think something's happened. He's just so… on edge. All the time."
TK, it's me. Please help me. I need your help. I know you're going to hate me, but, please… Please don't think I'm dirty, I didn't want it…
Matt picked up the phone and rehearsed what he wanted to say in his head. He dialled TK's cell number and moved back, praying to hear his brother's voice, although he knew what he wanted to say would be screwed on the way from his brain to his mouth.
He head the phone pick up, and a long pause.
"TK's it's m-"
"Hi, this is TK's phone. Um…I'm not able to answer right now, as you can tell, but I'll be around soon so if you want to leave a mess-"
Matt hung up.
Why aren't you there? You…you promised you would be there for me…
Matt tried again, picking up the phone and dialling his dad's cell number.
Dad… Daddy, please come home, I'm frightened and I need you, I'm scared and I'm hurting and I'm alone in the dark and I know that any minute I'll hear the door slam and it won't be you…
Matt felt tears of panic prick his eyes as his thoughts ran on without him.
Again, the phone picked up, but this time he waited.
"Ishida, message or text."
As expected, his father's answerphone message was short and not at all sweet. Again, Matt put down the phone and tried one more number.
"Hi, this is Tai, leave a message."
Why isn't anybody there when I need them! Why!? They all said they would be and they're not and I need them now… Matt wept as he turned away from the phone. He didn't even want to try his mother; he wasn't sure how well she would take it. She might cry, or get upset, or get that 'I want to cry, but I'm going to be strong for my son' voice on that he hated…
I can't go to school tomorrow, I can't! I want to stay here and hide and I can't! I don't want him to touch me, not now and not ever! I don't want to hurt like this, I don't want this to ever happen to me again, and I'm so scared! I'm so scared!! Even dying can't be anything compared to this!!…
Masaharu sighed angrily and tried not to slam the front door behind him. He walked into the apartment, tearing off his shoes and looking at his glo-watch in the darkness.
"I can't believe it- eight-thirty… And this was supposed to be an early night." he growled, not even bothering to switch the lights on and banish the dark.
He paused before opening the door to his son's room. He took a deep breath as he decided to enter and get his son up and out of bed- whether he was asleep or not. They needed to talk.
The light spilled in through the window from the street. Masaharu looked to the bed and saw his son's profile. He was in pyjamas, but Masaharu thought it strange that he was laying on top of the covers. He stepped a little closer, noticing some dark patching on the bedcovers around his son.
Thick, dark patching, reflecting the outside light like oil.
No, it can't be. Masaharu thought as he gazed at it. I must be imagining this. There's not much that reflects the light like that, only…
He watched as the oily light seemed to continue to spread.
"Oh my God…oh God, please…no…!"
TK stood and stretched.
"Okay, I'm gonna go see him. I should have known something was wrong ages ago- when he didn't answer the home phone or his phone on Sunday." Tai nodded.
"You want me to see if Mom'll give you a ride down?"
"If you think she wouldn't mind, that'd be great."
"Nah, I shouldn't think so."
In the distance of the main room, they heard the phone ring.
"I'm just worried that…if nobody else can get through to him, well… Can I?" TK fretted. Tai smacked him on the back.
"I can't think of anybody else he would listen or talk to."
There was a knock at the door. Suddenly, Tai's mom's head appeared around it.
"TK? Your mom's on the phone for you." Nobody noticed it except Kari, but her mother's face was slightly creased into a concerned frown. TK nodded and bowed slightly.
"Thanks, Mrs Kamiya."
He walked out to the main room, followed by Kari and her brother. Picking up the extension, he began with,
"TK? It's Mom…"
TK instantly recognised the upset in her voice.
"Mom? What's wrong?"
"I'm coming to pick you up from Tai's. We have to go see your brother."
TK frowned in confusion and looked up at Tai, who was watching TK's end of the conversation carefully.
"What… Now? I was just going over to see him. I-"
"No, baby. He's in the hospital."
Panic gripped TK totally.
Tai noticed the change in TK immediately, and his brow furrowed.
"He's not very well."
"I guessed that, but what's wrong?"
"Momma, tell me."
TK couldn't see anything now but the base unit for the phone, couldn't hear anything but his mother's pause.
"He tried to kill himself."
"What!?" TK felt his knees go weak, and both Tai and Kari noticed the look of horror and pain that crossed his face. "What did he do that for!?" He heard his mother's voice shake as she replied,
"I don't know. Your dad's with him now, but he needs all of us. And all of us need him."
"Right." TK affirmed, trying to steady his own voice.
"I'll be there in about ten, TK. Stay there, okay?"
"TK?" asked Kari delicately as TK put the phone down. TK was visibly shaking and wiped his face with his hands before letting them come to rest over his mouth.
"Matt just tried to kill himself." TK said, before anybody could actually ask him what was wrong. Tai took a deep, cleansing breath and Kari looked as though she would cry.
"Please don't," begged TK, "you'll make me cry."
"How is he?" asked Tai. "I mean…is he…? You said 'tried'…"
"I don't know. Mom said 'tried' too." TK was still shaking. Tai grabbed TK by the shoulders and asked,
"Are you okay?"
TK laughed and shook his head, tears in his eyes.
"No, my brother just tried to kill himself, of course I'm not okay." Tai grabbed his cell phone and switched it on.
"Is your mom coming, or do you need a ride?" Tai asked before gazing into the display of his phone.
Only to be told he'd missed a call.
"He called me."
There was frozen silence.
"Oh…what?" TK moaned, closing his eyes for a second.
"Why did I turn it off, I never turn it off…" Tai cursed himself.
"Your phone is the same model as mine, right?" TK asked, suddenly running back into Tai and Kari's room, diving to his knees and rooting in his bag for his own cell phone. Tai followed and nodded.
"Can I borrow your battery for a second?" TK sniffed. Tai paused, and then handed it over, sliding the back off the phone and picking it out. TK took it and slammed it home into his own phone, and turned it on.
'Nokia' the phone kindly informed him.
'1 missed call'
TK's heart sank and he swallowed as he pressed 'select' to find out who's number it was, although he knew there was really no need.
He knew already.
He lowered his head.
"He tried to call me and talk to me, but I wasn't there for him.
"I wasn't there."
The tears which had been loosely under TK's control finally won their battle.
"I wasn't there! None of us were there! All the people he trusts and loves and none of us were there when he really needed us!"
End of Chapter One. Thank you very much for reading :)