With a sigh, Tai fitted his best friend's extra key into the keyhole and turned it. Matt had given the key to him weeks ago because he came around so much. Opening the door, he called in to see if Matt was there yet. They had agreed to meet for dinner—they hadn't spoken in a while, and both agreed that they definitely needed to talk.
There was tension in the air from the moment he entered the living room and found Matt lying on the old couch in front of the television and plopped down beside him. Neither of them spoke for a minute or two as the TV continued to blare angrily at the silence between them. Even it could sense the pressure.
He took another deep breath before snatching the remote and pressing down on the power button. Immediately, the television turned off, and he dropped the control back onto the couch between them.
Silence reigned again—this time less harsh and more monotonous.
Finally, "So," began Matt anxiously, "what do you want to eat?"
"I don't know," Tai replied immediately, shortly. Of course he was angry with his best friend. He had every right to be. Besides, he knew that Matt would say something that would make him feel fine again in a minute (like always), so he had to relish the short amount of time he could be angry while he had it.
"Don't be distant," Matt snapped irritably.
Rolling his eyes, his response was merely, "Whatever."
Matt groaned at that and stood up. "Well, I'm going to make something. You don't like it, that's your problem."
Tai watched as he stood up and walked out of the room, back toward the kitchen, and he couldn't help consider the boy—man now, really—standing there. Now that he was actually there, he didn't know what he was supposed to say. And, even if he had, he wouldn't know how he would say it.
He felt stupid for even coming.
But he couldn't turn back now. He had come here for a reason, for love, for hatred, for anguish, for empathy, for apathy. Whatever it was, he needed this settled with Matt, with his best friend. Because how can anyone survive without their best friend? And, with the way things were going, it was beginning to seem difficult for them to even pull through. If they didn't start trying now, they wouldn't.
With a sigh, Tai pushed himself to his feet and made his way into the kitchen area, where Matt was bent over in front of the fridge with the door open. The light shown into the mostly dark apartment, almost blinding him for a moment, but that feeling subsided quickly. He, too, glanced inside. There was nothing there but a couple sodas, an expired half-gallon of milk, a box of leftovers from a nearby restaurant, and a hunk of moldy cheese.
Matt closed the fridge, turned around, and leaned up against its door. "So," he tried again, "I kinda forgot to go the store." At the look of sheepishness and slight frustration on his face, Tai couldn't help but laugh, even though the gravity of the situation called for a much less mirthful response. Rolling his eyes, Matt kicked at him but was soon laughing, too.
"Dinner without food?" asked Tai with a smirk, chuckling still. "Master Chef as you are, I don't think you can make something out of nothing." This statement only seemed to make the whole situation funnier to Matt, though, and, just as he was thinking that he was going to stop, he started laughing again.
The two boys continued like that like there was no tomorrow, and, then, a thought crossed Tai's mind. They needed this. They hadn't laughed like this in a long time. No matter how close they were supposed to be, or said to be, they had definitely grown apart in the past couple months. They were supposed to be best friends, weren't they? He was also supposed to be best friends with Sora, though, and that wasn't going very well either.
The thought of Sora brought him back to reality—a reality where laughter was more seldom than he would prefer it to be.
In all honesty, Izzy was more of a best friend than either Sora or Matt was now. But, frankly he somewhat preferred it that way. He could always talk to Izzy about anything because he always looked at things from a more logical standpoint without letting emotions into everything. He would listen to what Tai would say and evaluate it without judging him. Tai liked that.
He had never been able to talk to Sora like that. For one thing, she was a girl—and, therefore, totally confusing. They always fought. He liked her for her passion—and compassion. She always put everyone else before herself. …But, if she always did that, would she and Matt be dating? Didn't she know that he liked her, too? No, she didn't—not really, anyway. If anything, he tried to keep it from her as much as possible because he wanted her to be happy just as much as she wanted everyone else to be happy.
He and Matt had never really been all that close either. Well, they were, but, at the same time, they weren't. If that made any sense. Which it didn't. No, he and Matt fought all the time. They argued. They didn't really understand each other. But, at the same time, they were still best friends when they were enemies. Their relationship was totally screwed up, to say the least—
"We haven't really spoken that much lately." Matt had finally broached the true subject, the one that they needed to talk about most.
Tai nodded in agreement. "I know."
"You know," he began, but, as he spoke, his faded off into the distance, "I've been meaning to…." It was useless. They would both know that it was just another lame excuse.
"I know," Tai acquiesced. "We've both been avoiding each-other. So much for friendship and courage, huh?"
Matt gave a mirthless laugh in concurrence. "Yeah."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"You know what about. Why didn't you tell me you liked Sora?"
"I—well, you've just liked her for so long. I didn't want you to feel inclined to give it up because I like her, too."
"Then, why didn't you tell me after she told me that she liked you?" he sighed. "It was pretty obvious after that that I didn't have a chance with the girl. And why didn't you tell me when you started the relationship? I heard it from Mimi."
"We decided not to tell you at first because we didn't want to hurt you. The only reason I asked her out in the first place was because you never made a move."
" 'We'? Sora knows that I liked her?"
"Yeah, she knows."
"Wait, 'liked'? As in, past tense?"
Tai shrugged. "Yeah, I guess. I don't know. I guess, ever since Christmas, it's slowly been going away." It was crazy to think that he had liked this girl for years and, as soon as she let him know that she wasn't interested, it began to go away. Had he just continued to like her because there was a chance she could still like him back? He didn't know anymore.
In response, Matt could only hesitate. "So," he said eventually, "does this mean that you're all right with me and Sora?"
He still wasn't sure. Part of him was still angry that two of his best friends lied to him for nearly a month. But another part was happy that they were happy together. Yet another part was upset for a different reason, and he wasn't quite sure what it was. He was jealous of their relationship and how well it was working. And Matt was certainly right when he said that he had never made move. If he didn't make the move, he didn't deserve the girl. But he didn't even really want the girl anymore, so what did that do to the situation?
Then, something clicked. For a moment, he smiled at the realization, then he looked up at Matt, his face turning grim. "No. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm all right with it. I'm still angry that you outright lied to me, but that's not why I don't approve."
Yes, Matt was definitely right when he said that he hadn't made a move. And he didn't want to do it again. Without another word, he stepped closer to Matt and pressed his lips firmly against his best friend's. There was the courage he had been looking for when he liked Sora. He didn't care that Matt had a girlfriend and was perfectly happy with her. All that mattered was the moment—and the fact that, despite how much Tai thought he would push him again, Matt was kissing back.
A moment later, he pulled away and sighed. "I'm sorry. I just had to." For a minute or so, Tai couldn't look him in the eye, but, when Matt still said nothing, he finally got up the nerve to do so; shock was written all over the face he saw there. "You told me that I didn't make a move, so I decided that I had better do so this time. After all, you might have never known—hell, I might have never known."
With that, he walked away.
Not even five minutes later, on the walk home, Tai determined that he probably wouldn't be talking to either Matt or Sora for a long time. They probably wouldn't want to talk to him, and, to tell the truth, he was almost all right with that. In any event, he didn't think he would be welcome at Matt's apartment anymore. Which is why, when he had left, he had placed the extra key on the counter. Matt could give it to Sora.
For a long time, he had regretted not telling Sora that he had liked her. He didn't want to regret anything ever again, and, with a bittersweet smile, he decided that he probably wouldn't.