Chapter 32: Where the Story Ends
Trying not to lose your own,
Boxing up everything you've got
All you ever knew of home, you're scared scared to see
Your mother there in the door, you wonder where did the years go
It was graduation morning, the importance of the day hanging in the air. It was in every carefully planned outfit. Every rehearsed speech. Every vacation plan. And every newly bought car. Families came from far and wide of the annual commencement of their loved ones. It was the end, it was the beginning. It was excitement, it was nostalgia. It was the day all loose ends were tied together. Where old rivalries would be extinguished. And old friendships put through the test of time and distance. It was all they had waited for, but still a day that came about just a little too soon.
Mimi sighed, as she sifted through her closet for a dress. She wanted something, simple and understated, a sundress even, just to wear under her gown. Something that was comfortable and nothing too bold. For once, she just wanted to blend in, feel like every other graduating student. And hopefully, after today was over, everything that had happened this year would be put behind her.
A knock came at her bedroom door, Mimi didn't bother turning around, "Come in!" She yelled from her closet, knowing it was Matt. He had very grudgingly allowed Mimi to spend the night alone, after a lot of persuasion, he finally agreed. But she knew it wouldn't stop Matt from coming to check on her first thing this morning.
"I'd go with the green, I've always said it looks nice with your eyes." It was a feminine voice, one that made Mimi's eyes light up.
She dropped the clothes in her arms on the floor, before running out of the closet. "Mom!" She threw herself into her mother's arms.
Her mom held her tight. "We missed you princess." She said, kissing her hair.
Mimi felt like she was five years old again, seeing her mother after the first day of school. Her parents had been gone for so long, and Mimi didn't really realize how much she had missed them till now. "What are you guys doing here! Where's daddy?" She asked, letting go of her mom.
Her mom kissed her forehead. "Your dad's downstairs, didn't think we'd miss your graduation did you?" She asked, gently.
Mimi shrugged. "I, don't know." She admitted. "I, I wouldn't have been mad if you did. I love that you're here but I would have understood if you couldn't." She said, more out of obligation than anything else.
Her mother smiled. "I love you for saying that, but we both know better." She put her hands on Mimi's shoulders. "We're sorry we've been away, but we wouldn't miss this for the world." She promised.
Mimi beamed, "Thanks Mom." She hugged her mother, a bit tentatively.
Mostly because, part of her mind was just waiting for that alarm clock to go off. It was the part that knew that for things to be this good it had to be a dream.
But for once, she decided not to worry so much about that. She decided she wouldn't just anticipate for the other shoe to drop. And if all this was some figment of her imagination, then she'd enjoy it while she could.
"Well, I figured we could all drive down to your graduation together?" She suggested.
Mimi nodded. "I'll just pick out a dress and we can leave." She already knew it would be the green one. Her mom was right, it did look fabulous on her especially with her eyes.
"Great, and in the mean time I'll send up your visitor—
"Who?" Mimi asked, she was sure this time it was Matt. But the thought of her dad and Matt in the same room together made her a little nauseous. She would be really surprised if the blonde hadn't run away yet.
Her mother shrugged. "I, I'm not sure." She said, a little sadly. A little melancholy that she didn't even know the names of her own daughter's friends.
"Oh." Mimi said. "Send them up." She said as her mother left.
Mimi grabbed the green sundress on her bed. It was actually exactly what she wanted, completely understated and so pretty. It was just what she'd been looking for. She turned to the full length mirror behind her, holding the dress to her body. She smiled, and it was actually a little strange seeing such a foreign concept on her face. She hadn't looked at herself in so long and it had been even longer since she saw herself smiling back.
It was nice, for everything to be in its right place for once. Even if it probably wouldn't be for so long.
Matt lightly knocked on the door, before entering. And for once, Mimi was glad to know she was completely right. But, he looked as though he'd just been through a warzone and Mimi was certain that was attributed to time alone with her father. "I'm sorry." She said immediately, wrapping her arms around his neck.
She laid her head on his shoulder. "Daddy didn't leave any question unasked, did he?" She wondered.
Matt chuckled. "First of all, it's okay. And for your information, no he didn't." He laid his cheek over his hair. "But it wasn't too bad, it was almost like a rite of passage. Real boyfriends are supposed to get viciously interrogated by their girlfriend's dad." It actually felt…normal, a little reassuring even, that he and Mimi were headed in the right direction. He had never been in a real serious relationship before, not one where he actually cared anyway, so the third degree from Mimi's father really was almost welcome.
She smiled, "He's so protective." She chastised.
He shook his head. "It's not a big deal. Besides, I can handle it." He kissed her hair. "Been through worse." He added.
She nodded against him. "I'll say." She agreed, he really had. They both had.
"I came over to pick you up for grad, when I walked in and saw your father it was really weird. I'd never met him or even seen him before so I really didn't know who he was. I just thought the worse…ya know?" Matt admitted.
Mimi giggled. "Oh God, did you go into hero mode?" She asked, amused.
Matt shook his head. "It was embarrassing." He scratched the back of his head.
Mimi laughed again, letting go off him.
"It's not funny." He commented.
Mimi rolled his eyes. "Kinda is." She disagreed, pulling off her shirt.
Matt instinctively turned away.
"What are you doing?" Mimi asked curiously, as she strode over to her dresser.
"Uh, did you rather I left?" He jabbed a thumb to the door.
Mimi laughed again. "Matt, you've seen me, well, almost naked." She pointed out. "So, this shouldn't be a big deal." She shrugged, pulling a hairbrush through her long brown mane.
Matt shifted uncomfortably. "This is different, Meems." He sighed. "We're not getting…intimate and, and your parents are right downstairs."
"Well, we could." She wrapped her arms around his abdomen. "Get intimate, I mean." She pressed her scantily clad upper body against his back.
Matt squeezed his eyes shut. "We can't." He said through gritted teeth, though her position made saying that rather difficult. "Your parents." He repeated.
Mimi sighed. "All right, Ishida. If you don't wanna get freaky, there's nothing I can do." Her voice was playfully disappointed, as she loosened her grip.
Matt turned around, grabbing her bare waist. "Well, when you put it like that." He grinned against her neck.
Mimi giggled as he squeezed her hips. "Don't tickle." She squirmed. "Seriously, no tickling!" She said between laughs, struggling to get out of his grip.
"What's the matter? You can tease, but I can't?" He kissed her neck, his fingers unrelenting.
She finally got out of his hold. "You're such a sore loser." She said ruefully, pulling the green dress over her head.
"No, no. I think you're the loser." He corrected.
She pulled down the shorts from under her dress. "Whatever." She muttered. "I just figured the… " She checked the clock. "Five minutes we have to spare would be more than enough for you." She winked.
"Oh, really?" Matt raised his eye brows. "Is that what you think?" he crossed his arms over his chest, amused.
Mimi nodded. "Sure. I mean, guys aren't the only ones swapping stories in the locker room." She said, with a nonchalant shrug. "After all, half the girls on my squad have something to tell about Matt Ishida." She was just messing with him, in truth she'd only heard, well, "good" things about Matt's abilities off the court.
She just loved watching him squirm.
"Is that right?" he smirked.
Mimi lifted a shoulder. "Just what I've heard." She pulled on her white graduation gown.
"Well, you know what the only way to know for sure is, right?" He asked her, his voice completely neutral.
Mimi shook her head dumbly. "Afraid not. Do tell." She walked over to him, her back turned.
Matt zipped up the gown, his hand lightly touching the part of her back where the dress cut out.
He put his lips to her ear. "Find out yourself." He whispered.
Mimi felt a lustful shiver run up her spine. "I might just have to." She turned around, wrapping her arms around his neck again. "For research purposes." She scrunched her nose.
Matt grinned. "Of course." He said, before kissing her.
Mimi pulled away. "C'mon Casanova, we'll be late for grad." She grinned, putting a hand over his cheek. "Besides, I'm pretty sure Daddy is about ready to kick the door down."
Matt scratched the back of his head. "He really hates me, huh?" He asked sheepishly.
Mimi laughed. "Oh yeah." She winked.
"Yeah…" Matt shook his head.
The violins make no sound
And I begin to feel the ground
All we know is distance, cross and then we run
Kiss away the difference
The ceremony had not started yet, the speakers were still fumbling around with their speeches and the members of the choir were harmonizing on stage. The band was tuning their instruments. And the student council was trying desperately to get the banner for the graduating class to stay up.
Mimi found her name on the seating chart and made her way to the middle of the row, excusing herself around the already seated graduates. Finally, she took her seat beside her redheaded former best friend.
"Hello, Sora." Mimi said cordially.
The redhead looked over. "Hey." She said, cracking a smile. One that felt completely forced.
Mimi didn't realize how awkward this would be to sit beside Sora. Never did she imagine things would turn out like this. That sitting next to her "supposed" best friend, would be so incredibly uncomfortable. She wished things weren't this way. And that they could all be okay with each other again. The way it had been in the beginning. The way it was before. Back when the four of them were happy and had fun with each other.
"Mimi." Sora said softly.
Mimi turned to look at her. "Hm?" She asked.
"I, I heard about what…happened." She was struggling with the words.
Mimi nodded slowly. "Okay…" She acknowledged. "Not really something I want to talk about at grad." Mimi said frankly.
It wasn't something she wanted to talk about at all. She just wanted to move past it. Forget it ever happened.
"I, I know. I'm sorry." She apologized. "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry about it. And that I wasn't there for you." All differences aside, Sora knew Mimi was her best friend. And the brunette wasn't perfect, she made mistakes. But everyone did.
"Well, I appreciate that." Mimi said honestly.
Sora gave the brunette a small smile. She wasn't sure if she was ready to move past everything just yet, but she knew she was getting there. She really did want a good relationship with Mimi. She wanted her best friend back. But there was so much history between them all, and there were so many questions that were unanswered. Sora wasn't even sure if she wanted them answered. However, this wasn't the time and certainly not the place for such a loaded subject.
Matt took his seat beside Ken in the procession. "Hey, man." He greeted the dark haired boy with a fist bump.
"You're almost late." He noted.
"Yeah, well. I went to go pick Mimi up." Matt answered.
"And…?" Ken prompted.
Matt rubbed the back of his neck. "Her parents were home." He admitted.
"Oh man! How are those third degree burns?" Ken laughed.
Matt shook his head. "Brutal, dude." He didn't let on as much to Mimi, he didn't want her thinking her couldn't handle it. But he really did want her parents to like him. "He grilled me so hard. I don't think I answered any of his questions right."
"How do you answer personal questions wrong?" Ken wondered.
"Well, when he asked me what my favorite hobby was, drag racing should not have been my answer." He sighed.
Ken made a face. "Yeah…maybe you should have gone with basketball." He suggested.
Matt nodded. "Probably. But I'm not sure how all this works. Bro, you know I've never met a girlfriend's dad before. This was—
"Never?" Ken squinted.
Matt thought for a second, before shaking his head. "No. I mean Sora's, but that was when we weren't dating and I've known her dad—
"Yeah, yeah. Red doesn't count." Ken waived off. "That's rough, dude. That must not have been fun for you." Ken sympathized.
"Not chill." Matt agreed.
"Mimi must be worth it, huh?" Ken stated.
Matt didn't even need to think about it. "Definitely." He answered. "After all this time, after everything. Bro, Mimi is worth it." He said, completely sure.
Ken understood as much. "I'd do it for Z." He confessed.
Matt threw him a glare.
He laughed. "I know that it makes you uncomfortable." He said with a shrug of his shoulder. "But I'm serious about your sister." He said sternly.
"Yeah, yeah. Where are you going to college again, somewhere far?" Matt asked, only half kidding.
"Too far." He sighed.
"Great. The farther away from Zoe you are, the better it is for your face." He warned.
Ken shook his head. "Relax, Ishida. I'm not going to hurt her." He assured.
"For your sake, Ichijoji, I hope so." Matt was serious.
Ken was just about to say something, when a rolled up paper ball landed in the blonde's lap. Surprised, the both looked at each other. Before Matt unraveled it.
Let's talk after Grad.
Matt handed the note to Ken, letting him look at it. A second later, Ken looked up at him. "When was the last time you guys really talked?" Ken asked.
Matt shrugged a shoulder. "The night of the race." He said, his face troubled. "When he walked away." He really didn't want to divulge to Ken the details about prom night.
"Heavy." Ken commented. "Look, I don't want to get in the middle of all this, but…maybe you should give Tai a shot?"
Matt knew it couldn't hurt. But there was a huge part of him that knew that any chance for friendship was thrown out of the window the second Tai kissed Mimi. "Maybe." He muttered.
Matt just really wanted to tell Tai to fuck off, but he knew Mimi would end up finding out about this one way or another. And she would be really upset to know he passed up an opportunity to patch things up with Tai. Since things were finally going good for them, he really didn't want o rock the boat. Not over something like this.
"You got a pen?" Matt asked, knowing he would have one.
Ken reached inside his white gown, pulling a pen out of his pocket. "What's the verdict?" He asked.
Matt scribbled a quick answer, before flashing it to Ken and throwing the paper haphazardly behind him.
There was a roar of cheers and anticipation as he waited in the graduating line. His name was next and there was a mix of exhilaration and anxiety rising in his chest.
"Ken Ichijoji." A roar of applause.
A deep breath in and he started his walk for the stage. His eyes fell upon the blonde beauty sitting in the front row of the stands. Beyond the glare of the sun, he saw her brilliant smile and caught the words I love you on her lips. The sincerity of them, nearly tripped him up the stairs.
He turned his from her, to avoid any accidents and kept them focused on ahead. He really hated this part of the ceremony, the whole everyone's eyes on him. He shook hands with the superintendent, "Congratulations, son." He'd known the superintendent for a while, having done a lot for the community, been on the basketball team, and an honor student.
Then shook hands with the student advisor, after which he was finally handed his diploma by his principal. Ken turned to face the crowd, he sent a rare smile to his parents and brother, a quick wink to his girlfriend, and he was off the stage.
Matt knew that most people were surprised he was collecting his diploma on time, regretfully, he was one of them. He had never been the type to enjoy school, the only aspect that kept him coming back was basketball. So when he was handed the piece of paper, by the principal, it was one he accepted gratefully.
"You've come a long way, Ishida." The man congratulated.
Matt flashed him a rare smile, before facing his graduating class. As he turned the tassel, his eyes fell on her. The one face that stood out among many.
It was an ice cold realization, something that pulsed through his veins, beat in his heart. It was as if, all of a sudden, the world had shifted and the only person he saw was her. And she was just as beautiful as ever.
He was going to want Mimi, forever. He was locked in her heart, and she had no intentions of letting him out. It wasn't until this very moment, that Matt realized the severity of such feelings. And he knew that there wasn't a thing that would keep them apart.
The resident genius, valedictorian, heading to Harvard this fall. He'd waited for the end of high school since he could remember. Finally, he was one step closer to dethroning Bill Gates as the richest man alive. He'd create a program to knock Microsoft off the shelves. And for that, he absolutely could not wait.
The cheers for him were by far the loudest and largest from any other person to take that stage. Tai was this school's golden boy. He led their team to victory, on the basketball court and soccer field. He was charming and handsome. He had a great smile, an approachable demeanor. He was one of the best street racers around. And up until recently, he was Matt's right hand man. Of course they would clap the loudest for him. He deserved their applause.
Tai turned back, and he saw her, Sora. It was a moment of silence. A moment of pure clarity. His heart cried out in decision. Finally and irrevocably making a choice. A clean one. A concise one. A complete one. He was no longer torn in two. Being pulled in two different directions.
It was just…simplicity.
"It's you, Sora. It's always been you." The words rung in his head, over and over again as he made his way off the stage.
There were many names in between, ones not nearly as important or relevant. But they were all connected by this day, they would all remember each other for it. Four years of life is a long time to share with the same group of people. It was something that bound them together forever. Something that couldn't be changed, the value of it could never be cheapened. And sure, ten years from now they probably wouldn't recognize each other, but right now, that didn't matter. Because ten years was far, far away. And right now, was a moment they wanted to enjoy.
Mimi put on her brightest smile as she walked up the steps to the stage. She made sure to walk as primly as she could, remembering her mother was somewhere out in the stands, watching her. The superintendent shook her hand, she remembered him from the meeting she'd had after Michael had escaped, he had accompanied the social worker, to assure Mimi it would never happen again. Little did he know, it would.
The student advisor was next, the woman had also been Mimi's English teacher. "Congrats." She whispered and Mimi flashed the lady a smile.
Finally, she accepted what was rightfully hers. Three high schools and many lost friends later, here was the one thing she'd endured it all for. It was a milestone, a grand achievement, the pinnacle of her life thus far.
She locked eyes with Matt, and she gave him the biggest smile she could muster. This was all thanks to him.
He saved her.
Not just from Michael.
He saved her from her loneliness. From her own insecurities. From herself. He'd saved her from all of it.
And throughout it all, he loved her. Selflessly and completely.
Mimi turned her tassel, before stepping off the stage.
The redhead took in a deep breath, walking after Mimi made her a little anxious. It wasn't a contest, it was grad, no one was there to compare them. But lately, Sora couldn't help but feel as though they were in a constant competition. An unspoken one. And it felt as though, she lost every time. And Mimi didn't exactly win, but she had both Matt and Tai, which was a whole lot more than Sora could say for herself.
On top of which, the brunette was completely stunning. She was a tough act to follow.
When Sora received her diploma, it was as if a weight had been lifted right off her chest. Like everything that had happened was all for a reason and by closing the chapter of high school, maybe they could all move on from it. There were still things she refused to think about. And a lot of them made her angry. But she knew, eventually, she would have to put them behind her. What better place to start fresh than Grad, Sora decided.
She was going to live selfishly for a little while. She was going to do things for herself, to make herself happy. Sora had proven time and again she was independent enough to take care of herself. But she knew it was time to stop pushing the people she loved most away. They all wanted the best for her, it was time she started wanting that too. And by leaving all her grievances on that stage, it wouldn't just be the end of high school, it would be the end of her resentment.
As she walked back to her seat, Sora's eyes fell on each one of her friends. She realized, there were a lot of people she could stay mad at. A lot of people she would never need. A lot of people who would hurt her and a lot of people she didn't care about. But the three of them? Tai, Matt and Mimi, they would never be any of those people.
The four of them were inseparable, a family, in a rather strange way.
And hard as they try, they'd never fully be able to walk away from each other.
"I want a picture with the four of us." Mimi pulled Matt away from Tk and Zoe.
He put an arm around her waist. "Who is the "four" of us?" He asked suspiciously.
"Me, you, mom and daddy." Mimi answered.
Matt winced. "Mimi…" He trailed off, he really didn't want another awkward run-in with Kiesuke Tachikawa.
"Stop being a baby." She said playfully. "I want to introduce you to them, formally." She said.
"Daddy, Mom. This is Matt. He's my boyfriend." She said it all in one breath.
Matt marveled at how easily she had said it. But then again, they were her parents, her palms weren't the ones that would be sweating.
His, however, were in no shape for another handshake with Mr. Tachikawa.
Mrs. Tachikawa stepped forward first. "You've taken care of Mimi while we were away." She beamed.
And instead of the handshake he was expecting, she enveloped him in a warm hug. It caught him completely off guard. "Thank you." She whispered, before pulling away.
Mimi felt an embarrassed blush creep up her neck. "Quit, Mom." She said meekly.
"Daddy." Mimi prompted, gesturing to Matt with her eyes.
Mr. Tachikawa gave the blonde a long, hard stare. "We've gotten the lay of each other. And I may not approve of a lot of your choices." He said honestly.
"Daddy!" Mimi reprimanded.
"Kei…" Mrs. Tachikawa reproached him.
He ignored them both. "But, I can see you care for my daughter." It was the truth.
At his words, Matt's grip inadvertently tightened around her waist. For a split second, he thought Mr. Tachikawa was going to try to keep them apart. Mimi put hand over his, rubbing it soothingly.
There were a few silent moments, no one said anything.
"Okay, this is a huge occasion. Let's, let's take more pictures! John!" beckoned their photographer forward.
Mimi took her place beside her Mother, Matt on the other side. Then, her dad surprised them all by standing right beside Matt. "Take care of her." He murmured.
And just like that, it was as if Keisuke Tachikawa had passed over the torch. Almost like a father leaving a daughter at the end of the aisle, he gave them his blessing. And that meant a lot more to Matt than he'd like to admit.
"Tai!" Sora's dad exclaimed, as the brunette nearly knocked over him and his daughter.
"Hey Mr. T, glad you came out." Tai said quickly, he clasped a hand over Sora's upper arm. "Can I borrow your daughter for a quick minute?" He requested.
Sora stared at Tai's hand.
"Uh, well there is no such thing as a "quick minute." He joked. "But sure, just bring her back in one piece." He winked.
It was all Tai need, he nodded his head towards the bleachers before dragging the redhead behind him.
"Tai what are you doing?" She demanded, trying to keep up with Tai.
He didn't say anything, just kept a steady pace ahead. He knew he had to do this, he had to do it now. She knew how he felt, but she also had her doubts. He knew he had his too. But all of a sudden, they had evaporated. Everything that wasn't Sora, it disappeared. And he realized that nothing would ever be as important, no one would ever compare. She was it for him, she was the one. And he could finally tell her that, in good faith and complete sincerity. Without hesitating for one second, without debating for a minute more.
He gently pulled her beneath the football bleachers so they were standing face to face.
Sora stared at him. "What's—What's going on, Tai. What do you wanna talk about?" She asked humorously, leave it to Tai to bring her under rickety old bleachers one last time.
"Well, I, wait—how do you know I want to talk?" He asked, with a grin.
"Well, I figured you brought me under here to do one of two things. Either make out or talk." She grinned. "And we are so not gonna kiss."
He chuckled. "I just, I wanted to say something to you. And I want you to listen to me." He put his hands on her shoulders.
Sora sighed. "Is this gonna be one of those, "you've been a great friend to me these past couple of years" sentimental graduation speeches?" She drawled.
"No." Tai assured her. "It's one of those speeches you've already heard, ones you really don't like listening to." He said with a shrug.
Sora frowned. "You're not pregnant are you?" She said, in mock seriousness.
Tai shook his head. "I can't believe I have to tell you to be serious." He stated the irony.
"How the tides have changed." She agreed. "So what is it, you've got a fatal—
"Sora." Tai interrupted patiently. "I thought you said you were gonna listen?"
She put a finger on her lips to indicate her silence.
He nodded. "I, I just needed to tell you." He was losing his nerve. In every other situation, he went in to it with a cool head and complete confidence. Nothing ever shook him. But one look into Sora's eyes and Tai lost his words.
She gave him an encouraging smile.
"So, I just want you to know. That today, today up there." He pointed to the large podium and stage. "I…I saw you Sora."
Sora looked amused. "I saw you too." She played along.
Tai shook his head. "No, you see. What I mean is, Sora. I want you, I've always wanted you. And I know things got all mixed around and weird there for a while, but I know it now. Beyond a doubt." He scratched the back of his head, this wasn't coming out right.
So he decided to recycle a few famous words he knew she would remember, because he knew they were as important to her as they were to him.
"It's you, Sora. It's always been you." He ran a gentle thumb over her cheek.
Sora wasn't sure if it was the sentimentality of graduation or the fact that here was Tai, looking exactly the way he did two years ago, but something broke. Her eyes welled up, and she threw her arms around him.
"I've been waiting so long to hear you say those words." She cried into his neck.
"I love you, Sora." He said into her hair, holding her close to his body.
Sora pulled away, staring up at him. "But, but I don't know if I'm ready…"
Tai shook his head. "I'm not pressuring you." He promised. "I just needed you to know what I feel." He'd always been this honest with her.
"I want to spend time together, Sor. I want to stop avoiding each other." He continued. "I miss you, baby." He admitted.
She smiled up at him, wiping at a stray tear.
"Let's go away this summer, just pack up and leave tomorrow!" He said, completely serious.
Sora stared at him. "What?" She took a step back. "And go where?" She balked.
"Anywhere, Sor. Just out of this town. Away from all these people. Let's just, let's be with each other, no interruptions, no drama." He urged, taking her hand within his own. "We need some space, so we can get to know each other again. So we can decide if we can move forward."
Sora looked away, chewing her at her lip. She wasn't sure about all this, spontaneity had never been one of her stronger suits. She was a fan of planning and structure. Picking up and leaving didn't sound like something she would do.
And maybe that was a problem.
So finally, she said. "Yes."
"Yes!" She said again, excited. "Let's do it, let's go." Her smiled stretched the width of her face.
Tai couldn't help but smile too. "Yes!" He threw his arms around her waist, lifting her feet off the ground.
Sora put her hands on his cheeks. "I can't even believe this right now." She breathed out, lowering her face closer to his.
"Believe it." Tai said softly, touching her nose with his.
"Maybe we'll go with Matt and Mimi?" Sora suggested.
Tai frowned. "Think that's such a good idea?" He wondered, things were finally getting close to being on track with him and Sora. The addition of anyone, even his best friends, could jeopardize that. And he refused to have that, because right now, Sora was his priority.
Sora thought about it. "Maybe it isn't. But it might be. We all need a fresh start, we could all use the time away." She wanted things back to normal, maybe this was the place to start.
Tai stared up at her, "Whatever you want, God, Sor. Anything." He swore. "You call the shots." He held her against him.
Sora smiled. "Thank you." She whispered, lowering her lips right above his.
Tai smiled too. "You're welcome." He whispered to.
Her eyes flicked to his lips, then back to his eyes. Tai reached up and pulled them on to his. Sora pressed herself closer to him, a hand on his neck, the other over his cheek. They kissed in a way they hadn't in a while. It was out of love and passion, not just one or the other. It was a sense of things finally coming together. Instead of falling apart. And there was happiness, which was had almost become a foreign feeling.
Tai opened his mouth under hers, letting her tongue into his. There was a re-acquaintance between them, a mingling of old friends.
Carefully, Tai set Sora back on the floor. "Thought we weren't gonna kiss?" He raised an eyebrow.
Sora laughed. "Well, I just couldn't resist." She winked
"I know, it was completely crazy. I never would've thought Izzy would say he wanted to kiss me in his valedictorian speech!" Mimi exclaimed.
Matt chuckled, holding open his house door for her. "Well, who wouldn't want to make out with the prom queen?" He jested.
She rolled her eyes. "Pretend to be jealous, will you." She pouted.
He laughed. "I would if—
The sight of Sora and Tai, both sitting on the couch in his living room cut him off. Matt and Mimi exchanged glances, the sight of Sora or Tai in Matt's living room was a bit puzzling but the two of them, together, now that was just downright disconcerting.
"Neither one of you is dying…right?" Mimi asked first.
Tai laughed. "Well, congratulations to you too."
"What's up, guys?" Matt asked, a little guarded.
Sora looked from the blonde to the brunette. "Maybe, we should do this separately?" She suggested to Tai.
He stared at her before nodding. "Sure." He agreed.
Mimi looked at Sora. "Think we could borrow your bedroom, Matt?" Sora requested.
"Sure, Red. You know the way up." He pressed a kiss into the side of Mimi's forehead.
The brunette gave him a wink, before following Sora out. They climbed up the stairs in silence, Mimi couldn't help but remember how many times she'd traveled up these very stairs, her destination always Matt's room. And yet, they'd never actually done what they both wanted to do up there. She found it a little odd, and she felt guilty. It was, after all, because of her they were holding off.
Sora closed the door behind Mimi, as the brunette took a seat on her boyfriend's bed. "So…Izzy wants to kiss you?" Sora grinned.
Mimi broke out into a smile too. "Yeah, apparently." She said quietly. "Who announces that in the middle of a valedictorian speech!"
Sora laughed. "I know! I couldn't even believe it." She agreed. "I' m sure Matt loved that."
Mimi sighed. "He thinks it's the funniest thing, hasn't stopped laughing at me since." She shook her head.
They both giggled.
But eventually, it got quiet. And awkward. Both staring everywhere but each other, both waiting for the other to say something meaningful.
"So um…how are you?" Sora cleared her throat.
Mimi looked up at her. "Okay, I guess." She raised a limp shoulder.
"Matt, told me." She informed her. "I'm so sorry, Mimi." And she meant it.
Mimi gave her a half smile. "It's okay." She said.
"No, it's not." Sora took a seat next to the brunette. "You needed your best friend, and I wasn't there." She apologized. "When, when I found out. I felt so sick and I just couldn't even believe that…" She couldn't finish it.
"Sora, don't worry about it. I'm not mad at you." Mimi said sincerely, but a hand on the redhead's shoulder.
Sora looked at her. "How can you be so understanding?" She practically demanded.
"We mean a lot to each other." Mimi said honestly. "And, life is just way too short to get caught up in things that don't matter." She shrugged a shoulder.
She nodded. "Maybe…but I mean, you think things will ever be the same?" She stared at the ceiling.
Mimi sighed. "Not sure, Sor." She answered. "Because we were both wrong in different ways. And I am sorry for that, Sora." She apologized sincerely.
Sora listened patiently.
"I should have been honest with you, from the start. You were nothing but honest with me." Mimi said softly. "We're best friends, I should have been able to talk to you."
"Why didn't you?"
Mimi stared at the floor. "I was scared. And confused. I didn't think you'd want to talk to me afterwards. And I really didn't want to hurt you…" She trailed off, embarrassed.
Sora shook her head. "You could have told me, Mimi. I wouldn't have taken it well but I would have appreciated it." She said.
Mimi nodded. "Sor, I know. And I should have. But…I didn't. And I guess, that's on me." She would take responsibility for that. "But things had been so weird between us already, you were so distant all the time. And I just didn't want you to cut me out all together." Sora had been Mimi's first and truest friend when she moved here, that still meant something.
"Telling you about Tai's feelings and the kiss, it would be the point of no return, ya know? Like once it was out, I wouldn't be able to take it back and things would never be the same." Her tone was sad, melancholy and just a little nostalgic. "I didn't handle things right, I know that."
Sora put a hand on Mimi's shoulder. "Forget it. It's all whatever now."She smiled. "I was mad there for a while, real bitter. But it's over now, I think we can all finally move on."
"It's about time." Mimi smiled back.
Sora pulled the brunette in for a hug. "You're still my best friend, Meems. And there wasn't a second where you weren't." She whispered.
Mimi held her just a little tighter. "You too, Sor." She said back.
"So, wait. Are you and Tai back together?" Mimi demanded as soon as they parted.
Sora laughed. "Knew this one was coming." She tucked her hair behind her ear.
Mimi pushed her shoulder. "Don't evade. Come on, are you?" She asked, excited.
Sora couldn't hide her grin. "Sort of…" She trailed off, a light blush coating her cheeks.
Mimi squealed. "Tell. Me. Everything."
Things hadn't been so awkward between the two of them since…well things had never been this awkward between them. Or at all. Things had been tense. There was anger. Bitterness. Resentment. But never awkward. And now, as Matt stood in the door way of his living room, he couldn't think of a single thing to say to his best friend.
"I, I guess I'll start…" Tai cleared his throat.
Matt shrugged. "You wanted to talk." He agreed.
Tai balanced his elbows on his knees. "Um, so. How, how are things?" He asked.
"Fine. The same. Whatever." Matt answered.
"And Mimi? I didn't really get to talk to her but is she—
"Mimi is fine." His answer was tightlipped. She was still a sore subject between the two. Especially for Matt.
Tai expected him to be hostile. He just hadn't expected things to be so difficult. "Look, I know things aren't exactly good between us…" He trailed off. "A lot of that is my fault. I know. But, dude. I am sorry."
"For kissing my girlfriend? For falling in love with her? For breaking Sora's heart? For betraying your best friend?" Matt seethed, he wasn't able to control his anger as well as he wanted.
Tai winced at the blonde's words. "…for all of it, I guess." He said, his voice was small and ashamed. "You gotta know, that I didn't mean for any of this to happen, man." Tai apologized.
"Yeah well, that really doesn't matter." Matt scoffed. "You messed up, bro. You're gonna have to deal with that." It wasn't so much that Matt didn't want to forgive Tai. It was just that he couldn't. Not really, anyway.
"I know none of this means anything to you now, Matt. But I swear, I never meant to hurt anyone."
Matt shook his head. "None of that is as important as the fact that you still have feelings for Mimi and she's my girlfriend." He muttered. "Nothing else matters."
"But I don't, I don't have feelings for her." Tai protested.
Matt raised his eye brows in disbelief.
"Anymore." He added. "I just know, that Sora means a lot more to me. I love her, Matt. And as for Mimi, well I'll always care about her." He sighed honestly. "Always. But it's less in the way that I thought and more in the way you feel about Sora."
Matt looked at him. "I've never really had romantic feelings towards Sora." He argued.
Tai looked at him, "Really?" He smirked.
"Okay, we dated. But it was different, I never really cared about her the way I do for Mimi and—
"What is the difference between you dating Sora when I had feelings for her and me having feelings for Mimi—
"She's my girlfriend. You knew how I felt about her. You saw everything we went through and you still kissed her." Matt said flatly. "There's a difference and you know it."
"Look, I went about it wrong. I know." He admitted. "But Matt, I was there for her when you weren't. When you were too involved in yourself to notice how much you had hurt her, I was the one who was helping her pick up the pieces. I can't help that I got so close to her." He would never apologize for his friendship with Mimi. He had been there for her through just about everything, since day one. And he refused to be sorry for that.
"She needed me, I was there." Tai said conclusively.
Matt's jaw tensed, the muscle in his neck jumping. He was angry. "I wasn't too involved in myself, I thought I'd gotten another girl pregnant!" He growled. "Sorry if that took precedence."
Tai shook his head. "See, I'm not blaming you. I'm just giving you the circumstances. Maybe if you stepped outside of yourself for a second, you would be able to see that." He said. "I am sorry for what went down, Matt. I dogged you, it wasn't right. But I'm not sorry I was there for Mimi." He raised a shoulder.
"And you should be glad I was, if you really cared about her. You would be." He finished.
Matt opened hi s mouth to argue, but he couldn't think of a single word to say to counter with. Tai was right, he should be glad that Mimi was being taken care of by someone when he couldn't do it. And in some ways he was really glad that it was Tai. Who better to trust than his best friend.
"The kiss, it wasn't romantic. It was…clarity." Tai broke the blonde's thoughts. "Whatever I feel for Mimi, it wasn't the same as what I felt for Sora. That's what I realized." He explained.
"It meant nothing?" Matt mumbled.
Tai shrugged. "Like Sora said, a kiss always means something." He was going to be honest. "But kissing Mimi is never going to mean the same thing to me as it does to you." He assured.
Matt nodded. "I guess that's a little—
A loud squeal, which sounded suspiciously like his girlfriend, cut him off.
They both laughed.
"This has got to be the pansiest conversation the two of us have ever had." Tai shook his head in disgust.
"I feel my masculinity dwindling as we speak." Matt agreed.
"We need to get the testosterone flowing again, beer and video games are the only solution." Tai proposed.
Matt chuckled. "You mean, me kicking your ass at 2K?" He challenged.
"Bro, you're on."
And just like that, it was as if everything snapped back into place. The world was on its axis again, the stars had finally aligned. Maybe things weren't as easy as they once had been, but that came with growing up. Complications and misunderstandings were bound to happen. And high school would not be an experience without all the drama. Friendships would always be tested. Mistakes were going to be made. Nothing was guaranteed, but if they managed to get through it, it would all be worth it.
"Come with us." Sora stated.
Matt and Mimi looked at each other.
"It'll be a nice change." Tai offered. "Get away from here for a while. A graduation present?"
"Where are you guys going?" Mimi wondered.
Sora shrugged. "We have absolutely no idea." She laughed.
Tai tucked her under his arm. "It doesn't matter. We can decide that in the car." He laughed.
Matt looked from the brunette to the redhead. "Just like that?" He skeptically.
"How do you even know what to pack?" Mimi asked. "Hot, cold, summer, winter?" She questioned.
"You would be thinking about clothes." Sora giggled.
Mimi rolled her eyes. "Well, I would go naked, but I figure that might be frowned upon." She scrunched her nose up at Matt.
He shook his head. "Keep your clothes on, Mimi." He said playfully.
"Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd hear Matt Ishida utter." Tai jested.
"Yeah, what's up with that?" Sora played along.
"I'm offended." Mimi pouted.
Matt felt a blush creeping up his neck. "You're all assholes." He grinned.
Mimi kissed his cheek. "But what do you think, babe? You want to?" She looked up at him.
He put an arm around her waist. "I dunno. You guys sure you don't wanna go alone?" He asked, they hadn't been back together for very long. He wanted things to get back on track for the pair. And going away alone seemed like a really good plan.
Sora nodded. "It'll be fun." She declared. "Like our trip to Myrtle beach…except better!"
"That was a really good time." Mimi agreed.
"Drama-free, dude. The girls promise." Tai looked at Sora.
She shoved his shoulder. "Yeah, coz we cause all the drama." She muttered sarcastically.
"Matt?" Mimi questioned.
The blonde paused for a minute, staring at the three people in the room. "All right."
"All right?" Mimi asked excitedly.
Matt nodded. "Yes. Let's do it." He kissed her forehead.
"This is gonna be so fun!" Mimi squealed, running out of Matt's hold and throwing her arms around Sora. "We're gonna have the best time!"
Matt chuckled, he loved how excited she got over the smallest things. "Maybe I'll finally get some." He mumbled to Tai.
Mimi threw him a dark. "Don't think I didn't hear that." She said with a glare.
"We should at least figure out where we're going." Sora quickly changed the subject.
"This was supposed to be spontaneous, Sor. No planning." Tai complained.
"No, really. Can we have some kind of plan?" Sora ignored him. "This whole "let's jump in the car and see where the road takes us" isn't gonna work for me." She continued.
Matt looked at his best friend. "Live on the edge, Red." He smirked. "Just give in." He coaxed.
"Yeah, Sor. Just let things flow." Tai chimed in.
"Help me out, Meems. I'm out numbered." Sora appealed to the brunette.
Mimi pursed her lips. "I agree. We should have some kind of game plan, boys." Mimi sided with Sora.
"Half the fun is the unknown." Tai argued.
"Besides, if all you guys wanna do is plan, then you don't need us." Matt pointed out. "So if that's what you want, me and Tai will just get another round of—
"The map." Mimi interrupted, pointing at the one hanging above Matt's desk.
The three stared at her inquisitively.
She pulled a dart off the board stuck behind the blonde's door. "We'll throw a dart." She emphasized the one in her hand. "At the map. Wherever it lands, that's where we'll go." It was a happy compromise. Spontaneity meets preparation.
Tai looked over at Matt. "Seems fair." He said slowly.
Matt nodded. "I guess that'll be okay." He said grudgingly giving in.
Sora flashed Mimi a celebratory grin.
"Well, go ahead, Mimi." Tai prompted.
She shook her head. "You do it, Sor. I've got terrible aim." Mimi handed it to Sora.
Matt pulled Mimi against him, holding her waist. "Love you." He whispered in her ear.
Tai positioned Sora in front of the map, before closing her eyes.
"I love you, too." Mimi smiled.
Sora reached her arm back and threw the dart. Wherever it landed, they knew was going to be the where they would go. And sure, it would decided the kind of clothes they would pack and the type of weather they would encounter. But that was really all it mattered for. Because like any good story, the destination was just the ending. It was where everything came together. It would feel good to get there, because the purpose would be achieved.
However, it was the people they would meet, the places they would see and situations they would encounter that would make the trip worthwhile. It was the journey, the middle, the how's and why's, that would make their story one worth telling.
I know you hate this one,
But this is where the story ends
Or have we just begun?
A/N: Wow, this feels surreal. I'm not going to present you with an Oscar worthy acceptance speech. It would be too cheesy. I will, however, pretend as though I'm not bawling my eyes out right now. I cannot believe it's finished. I can honestly say this story has been everything I wanted it to be and the feedback has been amazing. I can't believe how many great readers and reviewers I have, it's been an honor. I know I've done absolutely everything I wanted with this and I'm happy with the ending. I hope you guys are too.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time out to PM me, review, read or even just click on the link. No one is ever going to know how much it meant to me. Reviews (good or bad) make me feel so good. As of my writing matters to people. And it's been amazing for me. Beyond words, really.
Okay, enough with the sob fest. I hope the ending was what everyone expected it to be. I wanted to end the story with closure. I know it was longer than usual, much longer, but I didn't want to leave anything out. There is not going to be a sequel, sorry to disappoint! But I feel as though I've done everything I could with this story and I'm satisfied with it. If I tried to continue it anymore, it just wouldn't be worth reading. So, this was a definitive end, one that didn't leave room for a sequel. Which is why I mended whatever was broken and ended it on a note that feels more like a beginning than an ending.
Once again, thank you to everyone who stuck with this till the end. PM me with any questions or comments or just because you want to talk, I'm very friendly! Also, I plan on updating all my other IP stories as well as posting some that I've been working on. Furthermore, I'm going to be posting a Favorite scenes/deleted scenes/soundtrack to this story, so just be on the lookout for that!
That ends this long and ranting author's note, I commend you if you read it all. If you didn't, I don't blame you!
Song: Where the Story Ends by The Fray
So much love!