Author's Notes: The original ending to this story didn't settle well with me, so as I was rewriting it, I actually revised the entire piece. I added a few scenes here and there and expanded on certain thoughts to fix the flow of the story. I'm not sure if this was all for the better though...If you preferred the original version, please let me know :) As always, constructive criticism is welcomed.

Italics = Flashbacks

Onii-chan = Older brother

Waver

Takeru ran down the street, the weather-beaten bag he held above his head serving as his only protection from the downpour falling from the sky. He hadn't bothered to take an umbrella with him, this action reliant on the words of the weatherman earlier this morning. Sunny throughout the day and evening he said. Not a cloud in the sky he said. And there would definitely be no rain.

Nothing was ever a sure thing. Skidding to a stop and staring up at the dark doorstep of his, Daisuke, and Ken's apartment Takeru knew this all too well.

He quickly hopped up the two steps to the landing and somehow managed to pull out his keys from his pocket despite how the soaked denim clung to him. Fitting the key into the slot and after a quick twist, he threw open the door and practically dove inside. His sneakers slid on the wood floor almost causing him to fall, but he caught onto the front door at the last second and regained his balance. Cautiously, he straightened up and once he was sure he wasn't going to fall, he closed the door with a soft click and proceeded to take off his shoes and socks.

Tossing the wet articles to the side, he glanced about the darkened room, hand pushing back his dripping bangs from his face. He listened to see if he had woken anyone with his entrance, but after a few minutes he safely deduced that Daisuke and Ken were indeed asleep and weren't just...fooling around. He imagined them curled around each other in sleep and the thought alone caused a sharp pang in his chest, rising to where a lump was already forming in his throat. He swallowed uneasily and walked slowly down the hall and into the kitchen.

He stood on the cool tiles, shivering slightly and placed his bag on the table. His damp clothes hugged him uncomfortably close and he thought he should probably change soon less he wanted to get sick. He walked to the sink instead, turning on the tap and filling up their blue kettle for a cup of tea. He placed the kettle over the burner, turned the knob to the highest setting, and waited.

He could still hear the rain through the glass window above the sink. He turned his head towards it, watching the spots of water on the glass slide down with each passing second.

Ken really liked the rain. It was refreshing he had said and it allowed him to do all the quiet things one wasn't inclined to do when it was so nice and sunny outside.

Daisuke was just the opposite. He hated the rain. It stopped him from going outside and doing all the "fun" stuff and forced him to stay inside and read or something equally horrifying.

Himself? He neither liked nor disliked the rain.

The kettle whistled and he allowed the shrill sound to continue for a few more seconds before he turned it off. He opened the cupboard to his right, pulled out his chipped, green mug and a random tea bag. Pouring the boiling water into his mug, he reached over and grabbed a spoon from the dish rack. Lifting up his mug he began to stir its contents as he walked to the living room. He sat down on the floral patterned couch (a gift from Ken's mom) and took a tentative sip.

Mint.

He breathed over his cup, watching the steam waver from its curvy path upwards and took another swallow. He wrapped his hands around the cup, body hunched over it. It gave him little warmth and for the second time that night a voice plaintively told him that he really should change out of these clothes. He knew he should. He didn't need little voices telling him to do things he knew he should be doing. He was capable of doing them without being told. It was what he did best.

And yet this time, he just simply didn't want to. Really, really, really didn't want to because if he wanted to change, it would mean he'd have to go upstairs to their bedroom and cross their carpet to get to his dresser. He would have to pass by their bed to get to the bathroom, would have to see them lying there and know—know that he no longer belonged there.

It was silly—stupid—of him to believe that they could all be happy together. What fairytale was he in to believe in happily ever after? He couldn't recall a tale about a threesome.

They were...happy. Yes, they were at one point. In the beginning everything was just right. It was like an extended vacation on cloud nine. But he supposed everything is always fine and exciting in the beginning, up until things just sputtered out and died. Happiness just never seemed to last. He wasn't naive to believe that he had to be happy all the time. Perhaps happy just wasn't the right word.

Love. Yes, that was it.

He was in love with both Daisuke and Ken, and being with them was nothing short of wonderful. They had known each other for years and when Daisuke and Ken first started to date, he was right there with them in support. He admitted to feeling somewhat lonely whenever he saw how happy they were together, but well, that was just how things went. There wasn't really anything he could do.

That hadn't stopped Ken and Daisuke, however.

Without really knowing how it came to happen, he was in a relationship with them and shortly before college began they moved in with each other. Those first few months were unforgettable. Cloud nine, remember? But as the school year progressed and he was buried beneath paper after paper, he had seen them less and less, whereas both Ken and Daisuke shared similar schedules and breaks. At times, like tonight, he would spend late nights at the library and come home at ungodly hours as Daisuke always put it. As a result, they made a system: Porch light on meant they were still up and willing. Lights off meant they'd already fallen asleep.

He used to look forward to coming back and seeing the lights on and knowing they waited up for him. Yet as time went by the lights were more often off than on.

Deep down he knew it wouldn't have lasted. There were always doubts because really, three was a crowd as the cliché went. They were happy with each other, even more so before he came along. They didn't have to worry about him, even if it was the first time anyone had ever expressed worry over happy, hopeful Takeru. He wouldn't have to be sitting here if they didn't, wondering whether he should be the one to leave first before they left him like everyone always did. He just...wouldn't.

His tea was cold now, so he placed the mug on the coffee table. Curling over to his side, Takeru let his head lean on the armrest. He listened to the stillness of the room and was soon lulled to sleep by the sounds of the falling rain.

/~/~/~/~/

When Ken woke up he felt distinctly warm and very comfortable. Thusly so he had no intention of getting up anytime soon. His bladder told him otherwise.

He carefully disentangled himself from Daisuke, whose only response to his movement was to roll over and cocoon himself further in their comforter. Ken smiled. A sleeping Daisuke was an adorable sight to behold. He much preferred it over the semi-awake-leave-me-the-hell-alone-it's-too-early-and-I'm-sleeping-damn-it Daisuke that usually greeted him on the weekdays. It was a good thing it was Saturday. Ken didn't think he was up to waking his auburn-haired lover for class.

After relieving himself and going about his morning routine Ken exited the bathroom, more awake and alert. Before heading back to their bedroom he moved in the opposite direction, taking the few steps that would lead him to the remaining room on the second floor. They had initially used the spare bedroom for storage, but eventually converted it to a mini study or coven if you were a certain blonde, when he and Daisuke noticed how Takeru would fall asleep at the strangest places while writing. He and Daisuke were very...vocal at times and he deduced that Takeru, being the considerate person as he was, chose to distance himself into some far corner rather than tell them to shut up when he was writing something.

After clearing up the room and procuring Daisuke's old bed and desk from his house, they had surprised their lover with the finished room. Then and only then did Daisuke remind the former Bearer of Hope, while holding him in a headlock, that he really should have just grown a spine and told them to shut up. Takeru's only response, accompanied with a knowing smirk, was that if he had, they would have just dragged him in and he would never have gotten anything done.

He does have a point, Daisuke, he recalled himself saying.

You know...for once I'm gonna have to agree with Takeru. Of all the times we found him passed out on the washing machine or the kitchen floor, we could have had mind-blowing sex instead...You know you're going to have to make it up to us now.

When Ken thought back to it he had to agree. The sex was rather creative that day. He was sure they made Daisuke's bed quite at home.

Ken paused just outside the Takeru's door.

Things however had taken a sort of nosedive a little while afterwards. Every now and then, when he and Daisuke felt Takeru was working himself too hard, they would somehow manage to drag him out and back to their bedroom. A little over four months ago, Takeru had told them he was working on something big and couldn't be interrupted. They respected his wishes knowing how important writing had become in his life and had even gone as far as to make him a sign that he could put up whenever he wanted them to stay out. Takeru was grateful, laughing when he read what Daisuke had written on the sign, "Writing XXX rated fiction about Ken, Dais and me at the moment. Kindly keep your mind in the gutter and out of my room." Ken smiled at the memory yet it vanished as quickly as it came.

Recently Takeru was spending more and more time in that room, sign tacked to the door. They didn't pay much attention to it as first, but as time progressed, they were lucky if they caught sight of him in a single day. At one point, Daisuke had barged into his room—sign or no sign—only to find that the person he wanted to see wasn't there.

It seemed Takeru had begun taking residence at the library, which meant spending more time away from them. Daisuke was getting edgy and moody. He for all that mattered was just getting downright worried.

Confrontation was inevitable, leading to the biggest fight he had ever seen concerning both his lovers.

Why the HELL are you avoiding us?

I am NOT avoiding you both! I've just been busy.

You can't be THAT busy all the time!

I thought you understood!

I do! But it seems your writing is becoming much more important than us.

You know that isn't true.

Well, I'm not so sure anymore.

He didn't want to take sides, but Takeru was pushing them away and he wanted to know why.

You still care for us, don't you, Keru?

He looked hurt when he had asked that. Daisuke had already stormed out of the kitchen.

Of course I do. I...I've just been busy, Ken. Really. When this is all over I'll make it up to you both. I'm sorry.

But something changed after that day and gradually without him meaning to, he knew Takeru wouldn't keep his promise.

No sign hung on the door today and Ken eased the door open and stuck his head inside. He looked past the strewn papers littered on the floor and peered upon the neatly made bed against the distant wall.

Takeru never made his bed—a task Ken took upon himself to do every day—which meant it hadn't been slept in. With a disappointed sigh, Ken knelt on the ground and began gathering the stray papers into a pile. He supposed he inherited his neatness from his mother because he never was able to ignore a mess when he saw one. After placing the sheets on Takeru's desk his eyes glanced across the top page.

Devimon loomed above them and none of the Chosen Children could bring themselves to move.

Takeru was writing about their adventures in the Digital World?

Under normal circumstances Ken would never have considered reading any of his lover's pieces without prior permission, but he wasn't able to resist this time. He leafed through the pages, quickly putting them in order and began to read. His eyes grew wider with every word and when he finally finished he sat down heavily on Takeru's bed.

He knew Takeru lost Patamon at some point, but he never knew the circumstances, let alone the details of how it had transpired. Takeru rarely spoke about it for reasons Ken understood all too well.

Ken rubbed his eyes not for the first time amazed by Takeru's talent in writing. He pushed himself upright and replaced the papers back onto the desk. Eyes sliding once more to the empty bed, Ken reasoned that Takeru had probably fallen asleep in the library. He was known to have done it once or twice in the past.

Closing the door behind him he walked across the hall and tiptoed back into their bedroom. Daisuke was still asleep though snoring now and Ken quickly changed and headed downstairs.

He immediately recognized the worn sneakers by the door and upon walking down the hall that led to the kitchen, he spotted Takeru's brown bag on the table. He lifted the damp thing up, vaguely recalling as he did that it had indeed started to rain late last night.

Sneakers, bag...Ken looked around and finally located their owner curled up on the couch. His mother had given them the piece of furniture as a gift. It had to be obvious. None of them would have picked something so...floral. But they desperately needed the furniture, so they graciously accepted the couch no matter how white and how many pink and blue carnations were on it.

He padded over to the room quietly, taking note of the mug on the table, which was still quite full, and knelt down beside the head of the couch.

Takeru was sound asleep, his face partially hidden behind the throw pillow he was hugging to his chest. They had discovered the cute habit the morning after their first night together. Well, Daisuke didn't find it all too cute considering it was his pillow Takeru was hugging the stuffing out of. Thereafter they always had a spare pillow placed within arm's reach beside their bed.

Seeing Takeru in the same clothes he wore yesterday and recalling the dampness of his bag, Ken surmised that Takeru had fallen asleep wet clothes and all, further explaining the flush he had on what could be seen of his face.

Reaching his hand out Ken brushed blonde bangs away, his fingertips glancing over slightly warmed skin. The brief contact elicited a soft sigh from his slumbering partner and he smiled, continuing to play with the stringy, golden strands.

Blue eyes eventually opened and peered sleepily over the plush pillow and into violet eyes.

Ken smiled gently his fingers continuing their idle play. "Good morning, Keru. I believe we must get you out of those clothes..." he paused dramatically, "...and get you into your pajamas." He almost laughed upon seeing the confused, surprised and then humorless expression that flickered across Takeru's face. "I think you have a slight fever," he continued, voice more sober now. "It's no wonder considering you slept in your wet clothes."

Ken watched as Takeru unwound his arms from the pillow and slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position. He blinked once, twice, hand rising and touching his forehead. His eyes slid shut then as his body sagged into the sofa.

"Oh no you don't!" Ken said at once and quickly grasped the other's hand. "No sleeping until you've changed out of these clothes." He managed to pull Takeru up to his feet and proceeded to lead him out of the room when the hand he held was roughly pulled out of his.

Ken whirled around in surprise and saw Takeru stumble back a step, eyes cast down as his body wavered where he stood.

"I'm not helpless; I can get upstairs by myself."

The biting words didn't affect him too greatly. He too would say them on occasion when he felt he was needlessly being treated as an invalid. Yet, what stung him was how Takeru had walked right past him as he said the words without looking back once.

Ken followed him upstairs, watched as he gathered his pajamas from the dresser, changed, and walked back out of the room. He must have had a puzzled look on his face because Takeru whispered, "I don't want to get you both sick." A somewhat guilty expression donned Takeru's face and he couldn't help but smile a little.

"Well thank you," he said playfully, "I don't think I could handle a sick Daisuke in addition to having to take care of you."

Takeru laughed out loud before he covered his mouth and glanced back to see if the noise had woken up their third lover.

Daisuke continued to snore.

When Takeru turned back, blue eyes bright and face lit up despite his flushed cheeks, Ken was reminded of the old Takeru and how much he missed seeing him. As if he was aware of what Ken was thinking, the brightness Takeru momentarily displayed faded away and he abruptly broke eye contact. "I'll go lie down now."

Ken gave a tentative nod, even though he knew the motion would not be seen. "Yes, you should." He leaned forward, intending to kiss his cheek, but Takeru pulled back at the last second.

Ken stared.

Takeru wrestled with his hands, eyes trained to the floor. "...Don't want to give you any of my germs." He laughed half-heartedly before maneuvering around him and walking quickly down the hall.

"I'll come and check on you later." His voice echoed dully in the air, his eyes still facing where Takeru was standing only a moment ago although now all he could see was Daisuke. He heard the door close behind him, but couldn't bring himself to move until quite some time later.

/~/~/~/~/

Daisuke slid down the banister and for once landed on his feet when he reached the bottom. Feeling very much surprised and thinking that today must be his lucky day, Daisuke made his way to the kitchen where he hoped Ken would be dishing out something that would satisfy his rumbling stomach.

He found Ken sitting at the kitchen table, eyes focused on his hands which rested on the tabletop. He paused in mid stride just as he was about to enter the room. Thoughts of today being lucky were sucked down the drain as he realized it was going to be one those days. He sighed, closing the distance between them and took a seat to Ken's left. He leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek and smiled. "Morning."

Ken blinked before he slowly started to smile as well. "I believe the words you are looking for are 'Good afternoon.'"

"Ma~ybe." Daisuke's smile widened. Maybe today wouldn't be so bad after all. "So...what's up?"

Ken's smile faltered and all but disappeared. His eyes lowered once more to his hands. "Keru's sick."

Daisuke blinked. "Oh."

Ken continued. "He got caught in the rain, didn't bother to change out of his wet clothes, and fell asleep on the couch." Ken rubbed his eyes tiredly. "And with him overworking so much lately, well..."

There was a pregnant pause before Daisuke managed an "I see." Well. That was stupid of him. Not that he didn't deserve it, another voice in his mind pointed out, though he quickly dismissed the thought. He certainly wanted some reciprocation for all the shit Takeru was dealing out to him and Ken lately, but it wasn't nearly as fun if he wasn't the one dispensing at least some of the pain. He raked a hand through his spiked hair.

This whole Takeru issue was getting to him and why wouldn't it? One day it's "I love you! Let's stay together forever" and all that crap and now it's "Get the hell away from me; no, I haven't known you most of my life, you complete stranger."

He didn't need this. Ken didn't need this. And now Mr. Blondeness had gotten himself sick and Ken's worrying even more. When they asked Takeru to be with them Daisuke hadn't expected this. It was supposed to make things better, not make them all miserable.

He scowled. "Will you stop looking so damned worried?"

Ken looked up, startled before his eyes narrowed. "I can't help it," he bit out, his hands clenched into fists now. "And why shouldn't I be worried?" He shot back, voice gradually losing its edge as he continued to speak. "Something's wrong, Dais and I don't know why he isn't telling us." Here he paused, voice coming out in more than a bare whisper. "He...He pulled away from me today...wouldn't even let me near him..."

"FUCK! J-Just fuck!" Daisuke slammed his fist onto the table and Ken cringed. He was beyond frustrated, not knowing what else to say. He pushed his chair back, the wooden legs clattering on the tiled floor and stood up. He began to pace.

"We can't keep doing this, Ken," he said at length.

"I know."

Ken's voice sounded defeated. He hated hearing that tone. It brought back too many bad memories. If they could only get Takeru to talk to them, but whenever either broached the topic, he always managed to run away. If only they could corner him somehow.

Daisuke stopped pacing, eyes widening as an idea came to mind. "I am such a dumbass!"

Ken started at the sudden outburst and blinked a few times. His mouth was forming a response when Daisuke cut him off.

"Ken! This is great!"

Now Ken was just confused and Daisuke quickly took note of that. "No, no—geez! Now you decide to have a sense of humor? I meant that Keru being sick is great."

Ken continued to stare at him more than a little perplexed.

"We can corner him into talking now! Corner!"

Daisuke watched as his words slowly dawned on the other, and he nodded enthusiastically. "Let's see him try an' run away now that sick bastard!"

Ken's lips twitched into a smile. Daisuke's humor never ceased to amuse him.

Daisuke beamed and it was at that particular moment his stomach decided that it was ignored long enough. His beam lessened to a sheepish grin. "So...can I get some breakfast now?"

Ken coughed. "Lunch."

Daisuke waved his hand dismissively. "Yeah, yeah, whatever."

Ken smiled.

/~/~/~/~/

Takeru woke feeling far worse than he did before and looked blearily at the clock on his desk. He could barely make out the numbers, but after much squinting discovered that he was only asleep for about three hours. He wiped his heated brow and kicked back his blanket in discomfort only to shiver when his covers were gone. He pulled them back up hastily and huddled beneath them.

He hated being sick and it couldn't have come at a worse time. His first draft for his book was due this Monday and he still needed to proofread quite a bit of it. He planned on doing that today and doing one more final read on Sunday, but it seemed fate was against him. He rolled onto his side so that he was facing the wall and pulled his spare pillow up against his chest. He held it tightly under his chin, the act producing the usual feeling of comfort throughout his body and he relaxed, letting his eyes close.

Perhaps if he rested now he would be able to get up later tonight and finish looking over his draft. He may be able to stick to his planned schedule then. Somewhat satisfied with this plan, Takeru slowly began to drift back to sleep.

"FUCK! J-Just fuck!"

Takeru's eyes snapped open and he winced upon recognizing the voice. Daisuke. He wondered what he was shouting about this time.

No. He didn't have to wonder. He was sure it was about him and he buried his head deeper into his pillow.

Maybe Daisuke was finally fed up and was going to storm in here saying it was over. It wasn't unlikely and he didn't know if he was more afraid or relieved if that were to really happen. Takeru hugged his pillow even closer.

He didn't ask to be so busy with schoolwork, didn't want to be away from them for so long, but it just happened. It made him see that they were better together without him around. He just got in the way.

"Hey. Whatcha doin'?" Daisuke asked as he peered over Ken's shoulder. Ken continued to scribble in this notebook, replying.

"Studying, like you should be doing."

Daisuke wrapped his arms around Ken's shoulders, pressing light kisses up along Ken's neck. "I'm studying my favorite subject ri~ght now."

Ken laughed, tilting his head to the side to give Daisuke better access. "You are so lame, Daisuke."

Daisuke snickered, twirling the bar stool around until Ken faced him. "I know, but you like me anyway," he said before kissing the other soundly on the lips. Ken's eyes slid shut as he brought his hands up and around Daisuke's back, pulling him closer.

"Do you want to go find Takeru?" Ken asked, a minute later, between intermittent kisses. Daisuke grunted as his hands impatiently tugged Ken's shirt from his pants.

"He's *pant* probably in his room," Daisuke said breathlessly, deftly unbuckling Ken's belt, "busy writing or something. Besides, I haven't had you all to myself in a while. I want you, want you now."

Ken's breath hitched when Daisuke's hand dove into his pants and wrapped around him in an all-encompassing grip that made him moan low in his throat. All other thoughts escaped him as he let himself go.

Takeru watched them silently and uncertainly a few steps down the hallway. He turned around after a few moments and quietly walked back upstairs.

It wasn't the first time he'd caught them like that, hearing them say he was too preoccupied to spend time with them, or not being mentioned at all. Compounded with their shared knowing glances, or gamely arguments over who they deemed were better J. League players, it never failed to make him feel like the odd man out, make him wonder what exactly it was he was doing, and why he considered being with them in the first place.

Before he came along Ken and Daisuke were the model couple, rarely fighting and when they did, never to the degree that left everyone with ill feelings for weeks on end. Why would they go through so much trouble just to make him happy? He wasn't their responsibility. He didn't understand.

He could still hear their voices, but wasn't able to discern what they were saying and he supposed he was glad for that. He didn't want to hear their rejection, didn't want to be here at all...

Maybe...Maybe he should just leave; it would save them the trouble. It'd be better that way, wouldn't it...? He didn't know. He didn't know much of anything anymore, except...except that maybe Yamato was right all along...

Takeru felt his throat tighten and squeezed his eyes shut as a sob racked throughout his body.

His temperature gradually rose as he fell into a fitful sleep.

/~/~/~/~/

Ken swatted Daisuke's hand away for the fifth time and turned to give a mock glare to the other. "Dais, those are for Keru. Hands off."

Daisuke frowned, rubbing his hand. "It's only a cracker and we have plenty."

Ken shook his head, smiling. "Not if you keep eating them."

Daisuke mulled this over. "...True. So, are we going up now?" He leaned in conspiratorially, eyes alight with determination. "Corner, right? Corner!"

Ken sighed and lifted the tray he prepared for Takeru. "Yes, Dais, but try not to overdo it," he warned the other. It was true he was also anxious to speak with Takeru, but it didn't seem quite fair interrogating him with him being sick and all.

Daisuke wilted a bit, but his eyes still held a seriousness he didn't often display. "Ken. We deserve to know."

"I know. I know," he repeated when the other wouldn't stop looking at him like that.

Daisuke nodded and they both walked to the front of their apartment and ascended the stairs shortly after. They shared a quick glance before Daisuke opened Takeru's door and let Ken in first with him trailing in afterwards.

Takeru was asleep on his back, face more flushed than it was this morning, Ken noted, one arm wrapped loosely around the spare pillow he kept while the other lay beside him. His blanket was bunched up at the bottom of the bed.

Daisuke immediately strode forward, untangling the blanket and covering Takeru again while Ken placed the tray on the desk.

Takeru's breath came out in short, rapid intervals and worry descended upon Daisuke's features, all previous thoughts and plans escaping him and he placed the back of his hand over Takeru's forehead. He turned to Ken. "Ken. He's burning up."

Ken knelt down beside him, only needing to look at their slumbering lover to confirm this. "I'm going to go call a doctor," he said, standing quickly and leaving the room.

Left alone Daisuke did what he believed to be the next best course of action. He shook Takeru gently, trying to wake him up. "Takeru, wake up. Come on..." After a few more minutes of doing this, Takeru finally stirred. His eyelids opened so slowly and revealed glazed, blue eyes. Daisuke was momentarily relieved to see that he was awake.

"Hey."

Takeru looked confused; his forehead creasing as it usually did when he was and after much effort managed to form a few words. "...Dais..."

Daisuke forced a smile and he vaguely heard Ken speaking on the phone in the background. "Right. You know I was really mad at you five minutes ago and now I'm not. How do you do that?"

Takeru blinked, albeit slowly, at him uncomprehendingly and started to squirm, his left hand beginning to push his blanket back again. Daisuke just as quickly used one hand to hold down Takeru's while the other pulled back the covers, tucking them under the mattress.

"S'hot..." Takeru mumbled, more to himself than to anyone else.

"Yeah, I know," Daisuke said, hand atop Takeru's hair, thumb brushing lightly across his forehead, "but trust me, you need to stay warm."

Takeru's eyes slid shut at the soothing gesture. "...Why?"

"Because you're sick."

"Sick...?"

"Yeah. That's what happens when you stay out dancing in the rain."

Takeru frowned. "S'wasn't dancing."

Daisuke grinned. "Yeah, because you suck at it."

"Oh..."

Daisuke's buoyant mood faltered when he didn't get the usual rise whenever he mocked Takeru's dancing ability. His concern over the other returned twofold.

"Dais?"

He swallowed, taking in a calming breath to still his nerves and saw that Takeru's eyes were open again and looking straight at him. "Yeah?"

"Do you hate me?"

If he had the space he would have face faulted, but all he was able to do was open and close his mouth though no words made it past his lips. Did he hear right? He couldn't have possibly asked that. "Of-Of course not!" he finally managed to stutter out, voice gaining in volume. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Oh. Okay..." the words came out more as a sigh and whether he chose to ignore the second part of his outburst, Daisuke would never know. Takeru had fallen back asleep.

When Ken returned he found Daisuke still sitting stunned on the floor. He nudged him on the shoulder. "What's wrong?"

"Huh? Oh, uh, what did the doctor say?"

Ken gave him an odd look before brushing the matter away for the moment. "He said to keep him warm, feed him, give him some medicine for his fever, and mostly to just let him sleep."

"Oh." A pause. "I hope we don't have to pay him for telling us that."

The right corner of Ken's lip twitched. "Well, he also said if his fever got worse, we should run a cold bath for him."

"Hm. Well, that's better."

Ken chuckled softly. "Quite." He turned his eyes away from Daisuke and sighed as his eyes fell upon Takeru. "I suppose we'll have to speak to him later when he's feeling a little better."

"Yeah."

Ken turned to look at Daisuke once more and noted the serious look on his face. "What's wrong?" he asked for the second time.

Daisuke frowned, leaning back on his heels. "That's what I'd like to know."

/~/~/~/~/

The remainder of the day went on without further outbursts of any kind. Takeru slept mostly while Ken tiptoed around, checking in on occasion throughout the day. Daisuke stuck mostly to their living room, reading one of his business management textbooks on the couch. Ken found it mostly odd, but didn't concern himself too much over it, getting the impression that Daisuke wanted some time to think over whatever it was that was bothering him before sharing it with him. Ken was leaning over the kitchen counter drinking tea when Daisuke finally spoke up.

"So. How is he?"

Ken started slightly at the sudden break in silence, spilling a few droplets of tea onto the table. He frowned. "His fever isn't getting any worse," he finally said, turning so he faced where Daisuke was sitting. The other's eyes were still glued to his book, "but it isn't getting any better either. I think he'll be fine though—once the fever breaks that is."

Daisuke hummed low in his throat and Ken waited to see if he had anything else to say, but after a few more minutes of silence, he picked up the dishrag resting beside the sink and began to clean the counter.

"Do you think people tell the truth when they're delirious? Or are they just spouting out whatever comes to mind?"

Ken jumped once more at Daisuke's voice and knocked his teacup for the second time, spilling more tea onto the countertop. He wiped it clean, a little irritated with himself for being so jumpy. What was wrong with him anyway?

"It depends, I suppose," he replied, throwing the towel into the sink. "Why do you ask?" He glanced over to his lover and saw the other debating over the answer to his question.

"Well," Daisuke began lifting his eyes from his book, but then just as quickly shook his head. "No. It's nothing."

Ken was not about to let him get away with that and stalked over to him. He pulled the book out of Daisuke's hands and put it on their coffee table, ignoring the "hey" the other said as he did this. He sat down beside him and looked him straight in the eyes. "What's wrong?"

Daisuke frowned and then turned away scowling. "Nothing."

Ken's eyes hardened and he reached out and turned Daisuke's chin back around. "Look. I have one person shutting me out already. I don't need another. Tell me."

He saw the effect of his words and a part of him felt guilty for saying them, but it was only a small part.

Daisuke pulled Ken's hand away from his face but held on to it. He sighed. "Takeru said something while you were on the phone with the doctor."

Ken blinked. "Oh? What did he say?"

Hesitation descended on Daisuke's face, something that was so very out of place and Ken grew worried about what he was about to hear.

"He asked...He asked if I hated him."

Ken's eyes grew wide. "He asked what?"

Daisuke pulled away, face set in a scowl again. "I know you heard me. I'm not saying it again."

"I know," he said, "I know. It's just...surprising, that's all."

"Fuck, yeah, it's surprising."

Ken winced at the language.

The tension in Daisuke's body deflated a bit and he pushed himself into the cushions of the couch, eyes lowering to his lap. "So? What do you think?"

Ken floundered with what to say, nothing coming to mind. "I...I don't know," he finally said, rather pathetically. "I mean on one hand, he was delirious; he may not have known what he was saying, but on the other—"

"He may have damned well said something he wouldn't normally have said if he weren't sick." Daisuke scowled slightly, but the implications of his words sunk in and made him slump further into the couch. He began to pick at one of the pink carnations on the armrest. There was a brief lapse of silence, then

"Ken..."

"Hm?"

"I'm not an insensitive, cold bastard am I?"

Ken shot him a confused look. "Of course not," his voice was quick to reassure and he moved his body closer to the other.

Daisuke looked doubtful. "But I said all those things. I mean, sure he deserved it and all, but—"

"You were just being straightforward," Ken pointed out. "That's just how you are Daisuke."

Daisuke didn't answer, still scratching at the embroidered flower.

Ken sighed, extending his hand and entwining it into Daisuke's. "We'll get this all straightened out once he's better, so don't get all depressed on me; it doesn't suit you. Besides," he added humor in his voice, "that's my department."

Daisuke couldn't help but snort, glancing up to violet eyes. "Not anymore it isn't," he stated firmly, straightening up until they were eye level. His lips twisted into a cocky smirk. "Not while I'm around anyway."

Ken's eyes widened a fraction before he smiled. Daisuke really was wonderful. With his free hand he grabbed a fistful of Daisuke's sweatshirt and pulled hard on the material until their lips met in a crushing kiss.

They pulled apart a few moments later, breath heavy and eyes fixed on one another.

At one time this was enough, just the two of them, but both knew that wasn't the case anymore. They still loved each other, if not more, but they also cared a great deal for Takeru. Takeru who was the first person they told when he and Daisuke began going out and who had looked at them wryly and said "you don't say? I'm surprised, really" (he wasn't). Takeru who was the one constant all throughout middle school and high school, helping Ken organize his essays, taking many Katamari Dalmacy breaks while cramming, and fighting with Daisuke over the last piece of maguro sushi. Who bemoaned not knowing what his current girlfriend wanted, but being able to help Daisuke devise an unforgettable first anniversary for Ken. Who listened when Ken hesitantly told him that he thought he was in love with Daisuke and that he couldn't imagine being with anyone else ever. Takeru who smiled at him, eyes shining with delight, and said he should really be telling Daisuke this, don't you think? Takeru who hid in Daisuke's room for over a week—refusing to go home—when he woke up one morning and found a strange man in his house cooking breakfast and came to the poignant realization that his parents were never getting back together. Takeru who snored and snuggled in his sleep, the latter of which dismayed Daisuke greatly (they weren't "sleeping" together yet) because it didn't bother him in the slightest and actually made his stomach flip in a way only Ken at the time was able to manage. Takeru who made both their hearts flutter and gave the best hugs. Takeru who they couldn't in good conscience leave alone anymore because they loved him as more than a friend—wanted always to wake up with him by their side.

They loved him just as much as they did each other, and regardless of how hard the last six months had been, they weren't going to give up on him so easily.

/~/~/~/~/

"You're what?"

Takeru's smile faltered at the bluntness of his brother's tone, but pressed on. "I...I'm seeing Daisuke and Ken. We're going to move in together in this place by Aoyama. It's not too far from the University."

The longer Yamato continued to stare at him, the eagerness that Takeru initially felt at sharing the news gradually swirled into apprehension and doubt that maybe this wasn't the right time to tell his brother. But seeing how Yamato didn't even blink when Ken and Daisuke first started going out, Takeru never anticipated any cause for concern regarding his involvement with them.

He put down his chopsticks carefully beside his bowl of rice. "Onii-chan?"

"I just..." Yamato shook his head once as if to wake himself up. "What about Hikari?"

Takeru frowned, hands moving from the table and to his lap. "What about Hikari?" he asked back in turn.

"I thought you two were..." At a loss for words, Yamato finished the statement with a flick of his wrist as if that meant something.

Takeru scowled, having heard this conversation enough for two lifetimes from both his brother and mother. "We're just friends, Onii-chan. She's even seeing someone right now."

"Well, sure, but it's not that—"

"Serious?" Takeru cut him off, now more than a little exasperated. "How would you even know, Onii-chan?" He raised his hand to ward off Yamato's next response. "No. Don't—this, this isn't the point. You never had a problem with Ken and Daisuke before."

Yamato couldn't mask the grimace that crossed over his face, leaning back into his seat even as Takeru leaned forward in his. "Onii-chan?"

Yamato sighed, rubbing his forehead with one hand. "No, I didn't. But it wasn't like, it wasn't like it was you," he finished lamely. "It was Ken and Daisuke. They just..." Again he floundered with his words, "...go. I guess."

Takeru sat for a moment, trying to absorb what his brother was trying to say, but unable to understand at all and told him so.

Yamato didn't answer his question, asking instead. "Have you told Mom?"

Takeru shook his head. "No. I thought to tell you first." He thought his brother would be the easier hurdle, barely a bump in the road. Now he wasn't sure what to believe.

"How would this even work?" Yamato continued. "It's just so, so weird." Even as the word left his mouth, Yamato winced at the poor choice of words and just plowed on. "I know they...care...about each other. Anyone can see that, but—"

"How can they care about me too?" Takeru finished his brother's thought, which ironically articulated the one question he couldn't bring himself to ask Ken or Daisuke since the day they first approached him. It didn't seem necessary considering how forthcoming Ken and Daisuke were at expressing their feelings for him, and Takeru trusted them. Cared for them so much.

"Yes, Takeru. You, you can't honestly think this would work?" Yamato straightened in his seat, leaning across the table. "You're smarter than that, Takeru."

"And I always thought you were more understanding, Onii-chan," Takeru returned, eyes no longer meeting his brother's and focused on his lap.

"I'm not sure what you expected me to say to this, Takeru. What you want me to say." His brother's voice was grim, more frustrated. Takeru grew quiet wondering the same thing.

"I guess," he said after a while, "I was hoping you'd be happy for me and let me borrow your van to help me move." He choked out a short laugh, shaking his head.

"I can't support this, Takeru. It's just wrong." Your wrong is what he was saying.

Takeru lifted his head at the sound of his brother's chair being pushed back and watched as Yamato stood up and walked away from the table—walked away from him. Takeru stood up abruptly. "Onii-chan!" he cried, but Yamato didn't pause in his stride, didn't act as if he even heard him. Takeru stood frozen in disbelief, hands clenched tightly around the white tablecloth covering the table while his eyes tracked his brother until the other left the room.

Takeru's shoulders began to shake, his vision began to blur, and he was certain he felt his heart crack into a million pieces.

/~/~/~/~/

Takeru woke up with a start, his breath coming out in short, pained gasps that almost matched his wildly pounding heart. With every intake of breath the last remnants of his dream—no, his memory—faded until all that was left was the dull ache he lived with from day to day. It was the last conversation he had with his brother not counting the stilted ones they've had the few times they ran into each other. Sora always tried her best to fill the awkward silences; he did too, but it was clear Yamato wasn't going to change his stance. Wasn't going to be the brother he thought would love him no matter what.

He thought he'd be okay with that. After all, who needed a brother who couldn't accept him for who he was? Parents who looked at him as if he was a freak? He didn't need them; he had Ken and Daisuke after all to love and care for him as any family would.

It took him several months later though to realize that it wasn't the same; similar, but not the same. He missed being able to confide in his older brother about anything and everything. He missed how his father would tousle his hair in greeting and the way his mom would kiss him lightly on the forehead. He missed his family. He missed them so much.

Takeru wiped his brow only now noticing how very hot he felt and began to push his covers off. Yet, he found he was having a much more difficult time than he thought he should. He discovered his blanket was tucked underneath his mattress and tugged on the material to no avail. He couldn't seem to gather enough strength to free himself from his cocoon and in the end, could only lay there frustrated and out of breath.

He wiped his forehead again with the palm of his hand, grimacing at the heat radiating from it and tried to calm down. His breathing now under control he glanced over to his clock to see that it was eight o' clock at night and lost his breath all over again. With a burst of adrenaline he tore the blanket away from him and sat up, his mind whirling with frantic thoughts. When did it get so late? Why didn't someone wake me up? I'll never finish in time. I'll be behind. I can't be behind. After all this...after...

He clambered off his bed, rushing across the few feet to his desk and to his manuscript that lay on top. With his head bent and palms splayed on either side of it, he took in a ragged breath as he read the title, "Digimon: Digital Adventures, The Story of the Chosen Children." He'd always wanted to tell their story. He felt it was something everyone should read about and when Toei Publishers approached him expressing interest, he latched onto it as tightly as a clamped vice.

But was it worth it? Images of Ken and Daisuke surfaced, looks of sadness and anger directed at him and he wasn't so sure anymore. He'd lost so much already.

Takeru, I don't understand.

Mom, I—

Was it something I did? Oh, it must have...

Mom, no one did anything. Please, he pleaded, just understand.

I'm sorry, Takeru, but I can't. I can't.

Was he really prepared to lose more? What was he thinking? When did everything get to be so wrong?

Before he knew it he had thrown the manuscript into the far wall. Not bound in any way, the paper scattered everywhere and Takeru watched, his harsh breathing sounding loud in his ears and a fleeting sense of satisfaction washing over him. After everything settled onto the floor, it took him only a moment to realize what he had just done before he was stumbling towards the mess. He knocked into the desk chair as he did and tumbled with it to the floor. His hands skidded across a few sheets, crumpling and tearing and he quickly pushed himself off the floor. He picked up the few damaged pages and attempted to smooth them out. He didn't notice how his hands shook, how his tears spilled onto the pages. He only noticed the mess in front of him and how long it would take to put the book back together.

Because this was all he had left: A bunch of strewn pages that detailed their joys and fears and adventures in the digital world. The friendships they made, the many lessons they learned. It was the only thing he could hold onto, the only thing he could truly believe in and that would stay with him forever.

He didn't notice that anyone was else in the room until someone had grabbed his hands, stopping his progress and he reacted violently. He shoved the person away, only to have his weak body stumble backwards and into someone else. His body struggled left and right to get out of the grip holding onto his shoulders, but the person wouldn't let him go. Even an elbow to the stomach didn't do much but elicit a grunt, but he didn't stop trying.

"Takeru, stop! Stop it!"

He imagined they were speaking to him all this time, but their words didn't matter to him. Nothing did except this book because if he didn't finish it, all of this would have been for nothing. He couldn't accept that—didn't want to think he'd thrown it all away only to fail. He choked out a sob when he found he couldn't find the energy to move anymore and his body sagged into the one that held him. "Please, please, let me go," he cried softly. "I can't let it be for nothing...not after everything..."

There was a brief silence, before he felt a hand cup his left check, fingers brushing across the undersides of his eyes.

"Takeru...you have to rest," the voice reasoned. "You'll just get worse."

Takeru blinked, eyes trying to focus on the face in front of him as he croaked a reply past his sore throat. "But if I do...nothing will get better."

"You'd get better, Takeru," the voice insisted. "That's what's important."

Takeru shook his head, consequently removing his face from the other's grasp. "Nuh-No, you. You don't—" You don't understand. They would never understand. No one ever understood.

/~/~/~/~/

Daisuke cursed as the back of Takeru's head slammed into his forehead. His hands automatically reached for his aching head, and as a result, he let the blonde go. With one eye squinted open, he saw Ken on his backside, where previously he was kneeling in front of Takeru. Takeru was once again gathering all the pieces of paper covering the floor, smoothing out the crumpled ones almost reverently, as if nothing else mattered in the world. As if he and Ken didn't matter at all.

"What the hell is wrongwith you?" he screamed, satisfied when he saw Takeru flinch, which meant the other was at least listening. "Is that paper so important to you? Why is it so important to you?"

He felt a hand on his shoulder, heard Ken say his name, but ignored it. This had been going on for far too long. He'd become more patient since his childhood days, but he still had his limits. And he'd just reached it. "Answer me, damn it!"

"BECAUSE IT'S EVERYTHING!"

Daisuke recoiled at the vehement response, his earlier frustration draining away in that instant.

When Daisuke first met Takeru, besides the unbearable golden child act he exuded at every turn, he noticed that Takeru's eyes were the clearest shade of sky blue he had ever seen. They were so open, kind. It was one of the things that he loved about the other, but the pair staring at him now was like chips of ice. This wasn't Takeru. This wasn't Takeru at all.

But Ken knew better. He'd seen this side of the Bearer of Hope back when he was the Digimon Kaiser. Takeru had cornered him in some cave and gave him a verbal bashing he hadn't thought he was capable of. Takeru rarely got angry, but when he did it was something to be seen.

The sound of rustling paper filled the air again as Takeru resumed his task. Both Daisuke and Ken sat staring openly at their ill lover, but before long the words finally sunk in and Daisuke felt a cloying well of anger swell in his stomach.

"Everything? Everything? What the fuck does that mean? Are Ken and I just chopped liver to you? Some stupid dolls you got sick of playing house with? You can't just live with us for over a year and say that we're nothing to you!"

Ken kept a hand on Daisuke's shoulder to hold him in place, fearing he would do something he regretted. He also watched as Takeru shrank with every accusation, hands slowing in their frantic collection of papers. "Don't you love us anymore, Takeru?" Ken asked, angling his head in order to meet Takeru's eyes that were trained to the floor.

"I do," he whispered, "Of course I do, but—" Takeru shook his head, hands gripping the pages as if they were lifelines. "It won't last. It never, ever lasts..." Takeru sobbed, his head bent over until his forehead was almost touching the floor.

Ken crawled closer to Takeru until he was right beside the other. "What won't last, Takeru?" he asked gently, placing a hand on top of the blonde head.

Takeru didn't answer, only continued to shake his head.

"Takeru." Ken glanced up to see that Daisuke was now to his left reaching for Takeru's hand.

Takeru's lips were moving, forming words, but no sounds came out. Ken called to him again, hand moving down from his hair to the small of his back and began rubbing gentle circles there.

When Takeru finally spoke, it was in a harsh whisper. "Love. It never lasts. Everyone always leaves. I can't." His breath hitched as a shudder ran through his body. "I can't believe in it anymore. I just can't," he cried, shaking his head until he couldn't see straight anymore. He didn't want to wait and see Ken and Daisuke grow tired of him like his parents grew tired of each other. How Yamato couldn't even look at him anymore. How his mother had barely spoken more than two words to him this past year. It was just too much to bear.

Ken was at a loss for words. The pain he heard in Takeru's voice was so deep, and he couldn't fathom how he was able to ignore it for all this time; continuing to believe the fact that everything was okay with Takeru as long as they were there for him. Deep down Ken knew it wasn't enough. Family was so important to Takeru, as it was for Ken too. He should have known—done something. Yet, even now, Ken couldn't for the life of him think of what to say, too stun by Takeru's confession and equal parts ashamed by his own realizations.

"Then don't!"

Ken started at Daisuke's sharp exclamation. He watched as Daisuke seized Takeru's shoulders in both of his hands and pushed him until Takeru was sitting upright. Tears were still falling down Takeru's face and he watched them both warily through puffy, glazed eyes.

"You don't need to believe in love, Takeru," Daisuke said, his tone level, but no less urgent. "Just believe in us." Daisuke removed his right hand from Takeru's shoulder and gently cupped his tear-stained face. "Believe in us, Takeru," he repeated, leaning forward until their foreheads touched. "Okay?"

/~/~/~/~/

Takeru's lower lip began to tremble and his eyes welled with a fresh bout of tears. He stared into Daisuke's eyes, desperately wanting to believe him, to believe in Ken, but God he was scared. He was so scared.

"So~ I noticed you noticing me."

Takeru paused in mid stride having just past Daisuke and glanced over to the be-goggled teen. "Excuse me?"

Daisuke had what one would describe as a feral grin on his face. "I said~ I noticed you noticing me," he repeated, stepping into Takeru's personal space and causing the other to take a few steps back and into another body. Takeru jumped in surprise, turning to see Ken behind him with a similar smirk on his face. "I've noticed you noticing him as well, Takeru." Ken traced a lazy finger up Takeru's spine. "Just as I've noticed you noticing me."

"I—I—" Takeru stammered feeling a flush creeping across his face as Ken pressed his body closer, leaning up to speak into his ear.

"And I must say, Takeru, I do enjoy the attention." Takeru's eyes widened a moment before Ken's lips captured his in a kiss he thought he could only ever dream about. His thoughts were in a whirlwind although focused primarily on the question of 'is this really happening?'

"Oi. Oi!" Daisuke pulled Takeru and Ken apart until the former faced him again. Takeru shrunk back a little from the obvious anger radiating from the other's eyes, but did a double take at Daisuke's sudden grin. "My turn." Was all the warning he had before Daisuke pulled him into a kiss, just as sweet and demanding as his partner's.

He wanted to believe in them both.

"This isn't a passing whim, you know," Daisuke pointed out weeks later. "Ken and I talked about this a lot and this just seems right." Takeru was still doubtful, glancing uncertainly between them both.

"It's true, Keru," Ken said, taking hold of his right hand and giving it a brief squeeze. "We care for you a great deal and would love it if you would be with us."

Daisuke took his other hand, face beaming. "So, what do you say?"

Takeru believed in them then. Why shouldn't he believe in them now?

/~/~/~/~/

Daisuke jerked as Takeru dove forward and wrapped his arms tightly around his waist. When Takeru's sobbing began anew, asking them not to leave, to please don't leave, Daisuke's eyes began to sting and he held onto Takeru just as firmly as the other clung to him. He hated seeing Takeru cry. He hadn't seen him this upset since that meeting with Yamato over a year ago. Daisuke's arms tightened a fraction at the mere thought. Yamato was an idiot. A super, mega idiot. How could he hurt Takeru like this? His own sister barely gave it a second thought, and he wasn't even close to her not like Takeru and his brother. It, it just wasn't fair.

A weight fell over his shoulder and Daisuke lifted his eyes to meet Ken's. He tried to convey his frustration, anger, and sadness all in one look and when Ken squeezed his left shoulder before leaning his head against his right, Daisuke knew he understood.

They stayed there for a while, curled around one another on the floor long after Takeru's sobs subsided and the writer fell into an exhausted slumber. Takeru still clung to Daisuke as Daisuke held onto Takeru and Ken held them both.

/~/~/~/~/

When Takeru woke up next he felt warm but not uncomfortably so. His arms were wrapped around something solid, although he noticed he could barely feel his left arm being as a heavy weight was pressed down upon it. He could hear soft voices speaking above his head and he blinked his eyes open once, then twice, trying to get his bearings. The voices ceased and he lifted his eyes and met violet ones no more than a few inches from his face. He jerked back in surprise and immediately pressed back into an immovable force. He glanced over his right shoulder to see a pair of amused brown eyes staring back at him. His face flushed when he finally realized he was sandwiched between Ken and Daisuke in their bed.

"Morning," Daisuke said. His head was propped up on his left hand, so he reached over with his right to feel Takeru's forehead. "How are you feeling?"

Takeru closed his eyes briefly to contemplate his answer. "Tired," his voice managed to croak out and he winced, lowering his voice to a whisper to see if that would help. "I have a headache."

Daisuke removed his hand and started running it up and down Takeru's side. "Hmm, we have some aspirin for that. Your fever is gone though."

"But you'll still have to take it easy for the next couple of days," Ken continued, tapping Takeru lightly on the nose to capture his attention and to ward off the protest the other was about to make known. "No arguments, Takeru. You've been working really hard lately; this was bound to happen." Takeru shifted his eyes from Ken's penetrating gaze, knowing what he spoke was true, but not liking it. Of course he was working hard recently. He had a deadline to—

Takeru's eyes widened. "What time is it? What day is it?" He moved to sit up, but either Daisuke or Ken held him down and the effort alone to push against them left him winded and slightly dizzy.

"Calm down, Keru," Ken soothed brushing Takeru's hair away from his face. "It's Sunday around ten o' clock in the morning." Ken paused, letting the words settle in. Takeru visibly relaxed at the news and Ken took another breath before continuing. "It took some time, but we managed to put your book together again. Why didn't you tell us about it, Takeru?"

There was no reproach in Ken's voice only inquiry. It made Takeru feel very small when he delivered his answer. "I wanted it to be a surprise."

He heard Daisuke chuckle. "You have a strange way of making a surprise so complicated, Takeru."

Takeru flinched, pressing his cheek closer to Ken's chest. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I didn't mean for it to get so out of hand. I just..." He bit his lip not wanting to say more. No matter the insecurities he felt, he couldn't ignore the fact that he didn't trust in Daisuke and Ken to voice his fears. Instead, whether consciously, or unconsciously, he began to pull away from them to protect himself. To Takeru that was the greatest deceit of all because they were his friends long before they became lovers and deserved the truth.

"Just what, Takeru?" Ken asked as he lightly brushed Takeru's hair. The calming gesture, Ken's gentle hold on him, and Daisuke's solid presence behind him made him feel safe—allowed him to find the courage to do what he should have done months ago.

"I was afraid," he admitted, "Afraid that you didn't need me because anyone can see how happy you two are together when I'm not here. You guys never fought before...I just. Mess things up."

Daisuke sighed not really surprised with the confession. He had an inkling that this was what truly bothered the other. And people thought he was the insecure one. "You can be pretty dumb sometimes, Takeru." The young man in question did not disagree and continued to lie still. Daisuke shifted closer and poked Takeru's cheek with one finger. "Didn't we have this conversation already? I'm positive we did, didn't we, Ken?"

Ken nodded before looking thoughtfully down at Takeru. "We did," he conceded, "but maybe not as thorough a conversation as we should have." Ken recalled the very afternoon when the discussion took place. It was about two months after they first proposed the idea to Takeru to include him into their relationship, when their frantic trysts began to slow and when the blonde was first showing signs of hesitancy and unease in their company. When they asked Takeru to move in with them and he agreed, they had thought they'd nipped the problem in the bud, but perhaps that wasn't the best way to assuage Takeru's anxieties. Still, there was only so much he and Daisuke could do to show Takeru that their affections were sincere.

"No," Takeru disagreed. "We did talk about this. It's my fault. I was selfish," he confessed, squeezing his eyes shut. "I just didn't want to get hurt again."

Ken and Daisuke shared a look above Takeru's head knowing what he was referring to. They were lucky. Ken's parents didn't react too poorly to their son's lifestyle only wanting him to be happy. Daisuke was never close with his parents as they were rarely home. When he told them, it was as if he was making a comment on the weather. Jun had about the same reaction. It was with Takeru that things didn't work out so smoothly, if at all. Ken never once admitted it out loud, but he often wondered during those times after Takeru had encountered his brother, or when he spoke of his parents and saw a hint of sadness enter his visage, if Takeru would have been better off alone without their intervention. Yet, Ken couldn't ignore the fact of how complete both he and Daisuke felt when Takeru was around, how truly elated they all were together. Did that make him selfish? Maybe, but there was one thing Ken did know for certain.

"Takeru." Ken shuffled his body so his eyes were level with the other. He then tugged Takeru's arm from underneath his body and grasped both his hands in his. "I can't promise you won't ever get hurt again, but I can promise that we'll never hurt you in the way that your family has. All right?"

The sincerity in Ken's words was undeniable and pierced the armor Takeru had being wearing and hiding behind for months. He found himself nodding. "Okay." Ken watched Takeru carefully for a few moments to ascertain that he did believe him before pressing a kiss against Takeru's forehead. "I love you," he said because Takeru needed to know. "Even though you might not want to believe it, even though you might not want to hear the words, I do. I love you, Takeru. Love your smile and how considerate you are to others. Love how your nose crinkles when something bugs you and how you're such a grammar snob. I love you."

Takeru felt his face redden at the declaration, a feeling of warmth spreading all over his body.

"Same here, Takeru." Daisuke chimed in, tangling his hand into Takeru's and squeezing it lightly. "I love how you make me feel like someone special and worth knowing. I love that on the one hand, you can quote all the lines of Space Balls and on the other you know all the song lyrics to The Lion King. I, whenever I look at you and know that you're mine, it makes me feel like I'm the luckiest person alive because you're you, Takeru." He kissed the blonde's temple lightly before continuing dryly, "...Even if you see me as the 'brash, pig-headed be-goggled successor to the Chosen Children,' I still love you."

Takeru's eyes widened at the familiar line of words even as Ken laughed a bit. "We read most of your book, Keru. It's wonderful."

Takeru shared a small smile at the praise. "Thanks. That means a lot."

"Yeah, although I really think you should consider revising that bit."

Takeru's smile grew tentatively as he turned to face Daisuke. "And what would you suggest?"

Daisuke wiggled his eyebrows. "It should be the 'brash, pig-headed, devastatingly handsome be-goggled successor of the Chosen Children.'"

Before he realized it, Takeru snorted, not surprised in the least by Daisuke's response; however, rather than feeling exasperated as he was wont, he was somewhat comforted by the light banter—didn't realize how much he missed it until now. "I'll be sure to take that into consideration."

Daisuke leaned forward to kiss him lightly on the lips. "Be sure that you do," he said as he pulled away. Takeru smiled and was about to respond, but yawned instead.

Daisuke chuckled. "Go to sleep, Takeru."

Takeru's body was ready to comply, relaxing more deeply into their mattress, but he forced himself to stay awake for another minute. "I'm sorry." He met Daisuke's eyes when he said this. "For everything."

Daisuke's expression grew somber at the words and he brushed sweat-soaked bangs from Takeru's forehead. "I'm sorry, too, for not listening more closely."

Takeru was startled momentarily at the omission, before he nodded. He closed his eyes, settled himself next to Daisuke, and felt calmer than he did in months. Everything wasn't entirely okay yet, but he believed Ken's promise—believed in Daisuke's conviction to trust them. It eased the ache in his heart, and for now, that was enough.

/~/~/~/~/

Daisuke knew the moment Takeru fell asleep and exhaled the breath he held in a soft whoosh. That went better than he expected and yet—

"Do you think everything's really okay now?" Ken asked quietly, as if reading Daisuke's thoughts.

"Probably." Daisuke's voice was just as low, his attention still fixed to Takeru. "Until the next time he proves that he really is a dumb blonde."

Ken sighed. "Daisuke..."

"What?" Daisuke frowned redirecting his gaze to meet Ken's. "Okay, seriously? I don't think things can really get better until I give Yamato a reality check via a swift kick in the ass."

"Daisuke." The word held a degree of warning, but it was also halfhearted. Yamato really needed to buy a clue, but forcing him to accept them wasn't going to work. They all felt Yamato would come around eventually and decided to wait. Unfortunately, "eventually" was taking longer than any of them ever anticipated.

Daisuke scoffed. "It's true, Ken, and you know."

Ken sighed, not wanting to argue, having enough things weighing heavily on his mind than Yamato, but. "Do...Do you think we've been selfish, Daisuke?" Ken began hesitantly. "Pretending that everything's been okay when they really weren't? Ignoring how hurt Takeru must have felt all this time?"

Daisuke frowned, knowing where Ken's line of thinking was leading. "Ken..."

Ken continued on, however, as if the other hadn't spoken. "We should have done something more, I think."

"Like what?" Daisuke asked with exasperation. "We can't force Takeru's parents to talk to him, or Yamato."

"But we could have at least tried to," Ken stressed, lowering his voice when he saw Takeru's forehead furrow. "We never even tried. We should have ignored Takeru's wishes and talked to Yamato. Having Takeru angry at us would have been better than letting this go on, hoping everything would just magically work itself out."

"This isn't something we can force people to accept, Ken," Daisuke pointed out after a few beats. "You know that."

"I know," Ken replied, glancing down to Takeru again. "But even so—"

"He's better off without them," Daisuke cut in, voice hard and his grip on Takeru tightening a fraction. He couldn't understand how ignorant and intolerant Takeru's family could be. It made more sense if his family had reacted that way, but then again, his parents never paid much attention to anything he did: good or bad, disappointment or not. "With the way Keru's been treated, you can't exactly call them family." He spat the last word out as if it were distasteful and ignored the flash of compassion that flickered across Ken's face.

"That's easily enough said, Daisuke," Ken said more calmly, "but it is his family, regardless, and losing family, whether their good or bad, it's, it's awful..."

The tension that previously flooded Daisuke's body evaporated at Ken's harsh whisper. He reached over and gave Ken's shoulder a brief squeeze, which the other acknowledged with a shaky smile.

"I get it, Ken, I..." Daisuke gnawed at the bottom of his lip for a moment before a familiar determined look settled onto his face. "I met up with Taichi the other day."

Ken blinked, confused with the aside. "That's...nice?"

Daisuke rolled his eyes. "And he said he was pretty much game whenever we were to knock some sense into Yamato; just give him the word."

Ken huffed out a laugh, picturing quite easily the conversation his lover must have had with the elder brunette. "Were those his exact words?"

Daisuke grinned wryly. "More or less."

Ken glanced down thoughtfully at Takeru. "It would probably help for him to hear that there are people in his corner."

Daisuke scoffed. "He has us," he said before speaking pointedly to the slumbering blonde, "and you can try as hard as you like, Takeru, but you can't get rid of us that easily. You're stuck with us."

It might have come across as gentle ribbing to anyone else, but Ken heard the promise behind the words, knew it was one both would be able to keep no matter where their relationship led. "For life," Ken asserted quietly into Takeru's ear, "if you'll have us."

Takeru didn't wake to respond, but the small smile that lighted his face was answer enough.

End