Summary: Why is Tai posing as Matt's boyfriend? Because Matt asked for his help to get another boy jealous. Why is Tai falling apart at the seams? Because he doesn't want it to be only an illusion. So why doesn't Tai say anything? Because he loved Matt too damn much. //Yamachi. Temporary Matt/OC. Poor attempt at Flangst..?//

Words: 4,434

Notes: When I wrote this, it was my favourite of all my stories. Now... well, it still has a place in my heart, it's just a little farther down ^^'.

He Was Always Worth It

February 25

Well, I've never written in a journal before, but mom says I've been looking sad lately, so she got this for me. I don't know what she's thinking; I'm fine. Mostly. Okay, so I'm not entirely fine, but it's nothing for anyone to worry about! I mean, it's just a little crush, right? They go away...

I just hope it goes away soon, because I don't know how much more I can take. It's not my fault, honest! He's just so beautiful! He has these amazing blue eyes that I swear can read my soul, and wonderfully soft blond hair that he always keeps in the best of condition. I should know, I've played with it once or twice... If anyone ever reads this I think I'll die of embarrassment. But back to my crush.

Sure, he's beautiful on the outside, but I don't think that's what I'm attracted to. Well, not all of it. It's his personality that sets him apart. I mean, the guy would go through hell and back just to help his little brother if the situation called for it! And he's always looking out for everyone, making sure things are going smoothly. Not to mention he gets good grades and has his own band.

Can you see why I want this crush to go away? I have no chance with him! He's been my best friend since, like, forever! Or, at least since the digital world, which pretty much feels like forever anyway. But it's not just that, he's also in love with another guy. Possibly the third most popular guy in school (next to me and my crush, of course). So really, what hope is there for me? Oh well, all I can do is pray I fall out of love soon.

Wait! Did I just write love...?

. o O o . o O o . o O

With a long-suffering sigh, Taichi Yagami softly closed his journal. It was a simple book, not yet worn by time and usage, but in almost the same condition as it started. Lying back on the bed in emotional exhaustion, the wild-haired boy stared up at the ceiling, listening to his thoughts go round in circles. Occasionally, he would bring a tanned hand up to push away some errant brown bangs, the result of having given away his goggles to a younger boy not too long ago.

His chocolate brown eyes were heavily conflicted, the only indication that he was deep in thought other than his mindless staring. Outside his bedroom window, the sun had just risen past the horizon, signalling that the boy would have to head over to school soon. But Tai paid the sky no attention, instead closing his eyes against the bright light.

Moments later, a voice rang through the house, "Tai, get your butt out of bed and eat your breakfast! We've gotta go!"

Groaning in frustration at his sister's "wake-up call", Tai pushed himself up, not opening his eyes until the very last second. He really didn't want to face school, or, more specifically, the object of his affections. But he was nothing if not courageous and he would not let this silly crush stop him. No, he would go to school and pretend like everything was perfect, just like he always did.

With one final sigh, an exhale of negative emotions, he grinned and jumped up, already dressed and ready to go. He had only gone back to his room to write in that stupid journal anyway, because his mom had looked at him with those puppy-dog eyes of hers—something Tai was glad to say he inherited.

Ten minutes later found the bright boy impatiently waiting at the corner of his street, shifting constantly in a show of annoyance. His little sister rolled her eyes, calmly leaning against a fence that surrounded the last house of the street. She was quite good looking in her own right, with a good figure and soft honey eyes to compliment her angelic nature, and Tai was infinitely proud of her. Despite being at the age that most girls left their big brother's side, she hadn't yet left the other on his own.

"Tai," she finally sighed, "Calm down, he'll be here in a second. You know how he is."

Tai groaned, "But he's never late! Not unless he's sick, or hurt, or—"

"Or working hard on a new song he just came up with. Don't worry yourself over nothing, silly!" Kari had a knowing grin on her face, and her voice was teasing. She understood a lot about her brother, and she had been his first source of comfort in nearly every situation that he had openly admitted to needing it.

The wild-haired boy groaned and slumped against the fence, leaning against his younger sister. He was a man of action, darn it! He couldn't stand just waiting around! Though, for Matt, he supposed it was worth it. Matt was always worth it...

Speak of the devil and he comes, or so they say. A blond haired boy came into view, running to reach his friends while forcing out apologies through his ragged breathing. His normally tidy hair was in slight disarray and his pale face was flushed, sending Tai into a fit of laughter.

"God, Matt-" he managed through his laughter, "I've never seen- your hair- so messy!" His eyes were sparkling with mirth, teasing his friend.

Chidingly, Yamato smacked his best friend on the back of the head, "Shut up, Tai, and let's go."

Together, the three friends set off toward what was known as the ultimate torture method: school.

. o O o . o O o . o O

"He's just so beautiful!"

Tai groaned inwardly, "Yeah, Matt, he's really something."

With a slightly affronted look, the blue-eyed blond glared at his friend, "Don't give me that. Jeez, sometimes I swear you're jealous or something."

The simple comment sent Tai's heart into overdrive, and he desperately fought down a blush. It was, unfortunately, pretty much true; Tai couldn't help but feel jealous when the one he likes has feelings for another guy. Especially not one that was good boyfriend material—they'd agreed on it once when Matt had slept over. With that painful thought in mind, Taichi couldn't help but return the glare.

"I'm not jealous," he defended himself hotly, "I just don't like hearing about how you love this guy when you never do anything about it."

"And what do you suggest I do, oh mighty single one?" Matt asked mockingly, a typical argument forming between the two.

"Oh, I don't know, ask him out, maybe?"

"Tai, you know—"

"Mr. Ishida! Are you quite done talking or do I have to separate you and Yagami?" the teacher suddenly snapped, breaking into their conversation.

Matt was about to answer when a melodious voice spoke up, "I think they were just discussing the chemical properties of alkaline metals, sir." The owner of the voice was a confident, carefree boy. His slightly wild black hair and intense green eyes had won over many of the girls in class, despite his open admittance to being homosexual; one of the only open ones around, actually.

He was also the one Matt was constantly eyeing up.

"Yes, well, that is quite an interesting subject, I suppose. After all—" but by that point, most of the class had once again tuned the teacher out.

Matt turned infatuated eyes onto his best friend, "You see? Not only is he beautiful, but he's also nice!"

This time, Tai didn't even bother to stifle his groan, "C'mon Matt, not right now, alright? I've already promised to help you get his attention, can't we just let it go until after class?" Truthfully, though, it wasn't Matt that Tai was annoyed with; it was himself.

It hurt every time his best friend mentioned the other boy, the one best known as Akira. It hurt to say that he wanted the other to go for it. Most of all, it hurt to help Matt get the guy of his dreams, when all Tai wanted was to keep him for himself. But it was his best friend, and if Akira would make Matt happy, then Tai would give up everything to make it work. Matt was worth it...

"Sorry Tai, I just can't help it. I mean, I know it wouldn't work out, but a guy can dream, right?"

Tai sighed, "Yeah, sure. A guy can dream."

. o O o . o O o . o O

It was getting harder. Every time he looked at his best friend, Taichi felt his heart flutter painfully in response. And every time his best friend looked at Akira, whatever Tai had left of said heart would shatter. But Matt was worth the pain; he was worth the time it took for the wild-haired boy to repair the damage done and move on. He was always worth it...

Tai held onto that thought desperately when Matt looked at him with pleading eyes.

"Please Tai? Just for a little while?"

The answer caught in his throat, but Tai forced it out, "For you? Sure." Matt's bright grin once again caused the brunet's breath to catch and his heart to beat frantically, but the instant he realised that grin was for another, his happiness turned bitter.

Matt had come up with a plan that day to get Akira's heart, revolving around the rumours that he was quite shy until his love was threatened. There were also rumours that the black-haired boy might have feelings toward Matt, which set the wheels turning in the blond's mind. If Akira was jealous, he would go after his love, right? So all Matt needed was a friend who could pose as a boyfriend to get Akira jealous. Someone who supposedly wouldn't care...

"Did I ever tell you that you were the best?" the blue-eyed boy asked brightly before giving the other a brief hug and running down the street towards home.

Tai was left with only one bitter thought; I wish.

.. o O o . o O o . o O

The two boys sat in the front row of the bleachers, cheering on their school team. If asked, Matt would say he had come to see his little brother play basketball, but in reality his eyes were only on the star player, despite the arm he had wrapped around his companion's waist. Said companion was currently forcing himself to smile brightly, leaning almost contentedly on the blond. His normally happy brown eyes told of his inner conflicts, however, and he was finding it harder to pretend like everything was fine.

No matter how close he was to Matt physically, he was still miles away from where he really wanted to be, and the rift only grew whenever the other would straighten in anticipation during a particularly bold move on the star player's account.

Unfortunately for Tai, if ever there was a time for the black-haired star player to shine, it really was during a tough basketball game such as the one they were currently watching. Akira was clearly focused on the game, his green eyes determined. Suddenly, the game play sped up, rapid passes going straight by the other team, making them angry. In an attempt to steal the ball, the heavy-set attacker practically tackled the black-haired boy to the ground, knocking the ball away.

The referee blew the whistle, calling the foul, and in the time it took for him to put the whistle down, Matt was on the court, helping the fallen boy up. The sight sent a sharp bolt of pain through Tai's very essence, and he turned away, torn between staying for his friend and leaving for himself. Watching Matt fuss over Akira was pure torture, especially since he was posing as Tai's boyfriend. It only made it worse that Tai could see their true friendship losing power. Even with their fake relationship, Matt was spending less and less time with Tai, and more pining over his own crush.

Soft honey eyes watched the wild-haired boy intently, pained to see such obvious sadness almost radiating off of the normally bright boy. Kari didn't know everything, but if her brother was so terribly unhappy, then something had to change. When she heard about the relationship between Matt and Tai, she had been overjoyed for her brother, expecting that dark cloud that had been hanging over his head to lessen. Instead, it only got worse.

Eventually, Matt returned to his seat, giving a smile of apology to his best friend. With a tiny, inaudible sigh, Tai grinned in answer and allowed Matt to get comfortable before leaning against him once again, unseen tears threatening to fall.

. o O o . o O o . o O

"Tai, why won't you talk to me anymore?"

Tired brown eyes opened to take in the picture of his worried little sister. She was sitting cross-legged on his bed, only a few inches away from the exhausted boy lying down. Her own honey eyes were bright with sadness, and she fought the urge to cry; she had to be strong for her brother.

Tai sighed, "Sorry Kari, I just don't feel like talking."

"But—" She would've continued but the silent plea in her brother's eyes was too much. Breaking down, she leant over to wrap the other in a broken embrace, trying to give comfort while getting it herself. She felt his hands gently rubbing her back, but it only caused the unshed tears to build up farther. It wasn't fair that even when he himself was breaking, he could find the strength to comfort her. It wasn't fair that she had to watch without helping.

"It isn't fair," she whispered brokenly into the other's shirt, more to herself than anything.

She felt a quiet answer reverberate from Tai's chest, "I know."

. o O o . o O o . o O

Bright tears ran down the pale boy's cheek, making his blue eyes even more luminous, despite the pain hidden in them. His knees were tucked up to his chest and he hugged them fiercely while staring up at his best friend.

"Why isn't it working, Tai?"

The broken voice cut deep into Tai's already torn heart, "It'll be alright, Matt. You'll see. I'm sure he's just shy. After all, it was only a rumour that he was the jealous type." He tried to comfort his "boyfriend", even though all he wanted to do was scream at the other that his stupid black-haired crush wasn't worth it. After all, if he hadn't gone after the beautiful blond-haired god yet, then he was either blind or not the right guy.

"But what else can I do?" His best friend's desperate tone engulfed him, giving him the strength to block out his own desires temporarily.

"Ask him out. Break up with me and ask him out, Matt," he finally answered, his voice encouraging, "He'd be a complete idiot to say no. And you deserve so much more than that."

Matt let a soft smile play across his lips, eyes sparkling with renewed hope, "You really think he'll say yes?"

Tai laughed softly, "Of course."

Suddenly, he was covered with the thin frame of his crush, pulled into a deep embrace of thanks. Closing his saddened brown eyes, he brought his own arms up to encircle the other, never wanting to let go even though he knew he would have to. He thought he might be okay, as long as he never lost their friendship.

At least, until he heard the other boy's soft words, "I really love you, Tai. You've been nothing but supportive since—hey, are you crying?"

For once not letting the blond break the embrace, Tai only clutched tighter, unable to stop the new flow of tears; the other's words were too close to the thing Tai desperately needed to hear but not enough. He hadn't meant to break down, but now that he'd started, he couldn't help but to let everything out, his body wracked with silent sobs.

"Tai?" Matt's voice was both worried and scared, having very rarely, if ever, seen this side of his best friend. Tai just remained firmly attached to the other, trying to stop his own show of emotion. Time passed excruciatingly slow, making seconds feel like hours.

Finally, after one final shuddering breath, Tai pulled away, bringing a hand up to wipe away the still flowing tears. His breathing was a bit faster and harder than usual, but he was no longer openly sobbing.

"Sorry Yama," he managed, his voice shaky but determined, "I just hope everything works out." His eyes were dark, and coupled with his use of Matt's nickname, proved that he was far from okay.

Blue eyes locked with brown ones, and Matt easily read the pain, "Tai, what's wrong? I thought I was the overly emotional one today." His poor attempt at humour put a tiny sad smile on the other's face.

"You are," the other sniffed, ruining his try at seeming fine, "I must've caught it from you, or something."

Matt snorted softly, "You don't 'catch' things like that, Tai."

The boy in question stuck out his tongue, "Shows how much you know." Tai was happy to finally be talking to his best friend, as opposed to being used by him, even if it wasn't what he wanted to talk about.

Harmonious laughter filled the room, and suddenly, Tai remembered the whole reason he pretended to be Matt's boyfriend and kept his own feelings secret; he wanted Matt to be happy. And although it hurt terribly, he was worth it.

He was always worth it.

. o O o . o O o . o O

Sighing softly, Taichi stared up at the bright stars, the cool winter wind brushing past him. It had been a month since Matt had asked Akira out, and Tai was trying his best to let it go. Often times, he wished he would've told Matt the truth on that day not so long ago, when he had broken down. But instead he had woven a tale of just wanting to find someone to love, which wasn't entirely untrue.

He thought he would be able to let it go once the two were actually going out, but it only got worse. Kari had figured everything out within two weeks of their supposed "break-up", something that obviously hurt Tai a lot more than it did Matt. She had punched her older brother pretty hard when she found out what he did, before crushing him into a bear-hug. She was furious that he had let himself get hurt like that, instead of going for it, but she knew it was just part of who Tai was.

Now, Tai found himself standing on his apartment rooftop often, leaning against the railing that lined the edges. It was a place where he could either let everything go or simply think things through. Once in a while, Kari would visit him, particularly on his longer nights, bringing up a blanket or a mug of hot chocolate. Other times, she would leave him to his silent musings. Still, the fresh air always helped to calm him; to make everything bearable. After all, he had to keep up his appearances of being a happy, carefree child, despite the dark eyes.

The sound of metal scraping across stone alerted Tai to a new presence, but he paid it no heed. It was always either Kari or the janitor, after all. Instead, he just let himself get lost in the sky once again. He wasn't even very surprised to feel warm arms surround him, comforting him as best as possible.

Tai let out another soft sigh, "Kari, not tonight, alright? I just want to think."

A deep chuckle broke through Tai's almost-trance, "It's not Kari." Startled, Tai looked back to see beautiful blue eyes swirling with undistinguishable emotions.

"Matt?" The confused boy turned fully to stare at his best friend.

The blond didn't smile like he would've before, and suddenly Tai recognised the main emotion in those deep blue eyes: guilt. It made the wild-haired boy worried, various possibilities racing through his mind. It was only made worse when he realised there was sadness there as well.

"Matt?" he tried again, "What's wrong? Did something happen to TK? Your band? Akira—"

Matt snorted humourlessly, breaking into Tai's rambling, "Yeah, I suppose you could say that. We broke up yesterday."

Tai's eyes widened, whether with hope or shock even he wasn't sure, "Are you alright? I mean, was it mutual?" But for some odd, unknown reason, Tai didn't think that was where the sadness in his best friend's eyes came from.

"Yeah, it was pretty obvious that things weren't working out. Funny enough, I didn't even really care." Tai said nothing, not knowing how to respond, so Matt continued, "After we finally split officially, I went looking for you, but I found Kari instead. She was really worried about you, and I wanted to know why."

Brown eyes took on an almost fearful look as Tai's heart began beating faster. Like one who had just found out his pet died and left him alone forever, or that his entire life was all a big lie, the possible loss of his deepest secrets sent fear running through his veins. He didn't know why he was afraid—rejection? embarrassment? being made fun of?—but he could still feel his heart's frantic beating.

He felt more than saw Matt leaning closer, "As soon as I asked, she started calling me all these bad names, so I realised it must've had something to do with me." The blond gently wiped away a tear that Tai hadn't even realised he'd shed. "She told me I was an oblivious jerk for never paying attention, and that you deserved more than me, and I think that's when everything clicked."

The tears were flowing freely now, but Tai remained still, not sure what to think or how to react. Should he be angry with his sister? With Matt? Hopeful? Calm? But instead of trying to think it through, something he'd rarely done in the past anyway, he simply stood there. Matt seemed to be getting sadder as well as he watched the unstoppable tears.

Speaking softly, almost like he was afraid he would scare Tai away, the blond tried once more to make his point, "There's nothing I can do to make the past go away, we both know that, but I can fix the future, right?"

After moments of silence, Tai realised he was expected to speak, "Um, y-yeah, I don't see why not. But what n-needs fixing?"

Matt let out a heavy sigh; his best friend could be so oblivious, "I hurt you Tai. I asked you to help me get a guy that you never liked in the first place. I never saw what it did to you, or even considered it would hurt you. I just kinda got swept up in the emotion. I only wish you'd told me so that I could've fixed things earlier."

But Tai was insistently shaking his head, "It's not your fault. I never said anything."

"You shouldn't have needed to."

"You're not expected to read minds, Matt," Tai chided gently, even with slowing tears still running down his tanned cheeks.

The blond nodded, "Yeah, I know. But if you knew that too, then why didn't you tell me?"

Looking up at the stars, Tai smiled sadly, "You were happy. You had your crush, you had a chance to get him, why interfere? What would knowing about how I felt have changed, apart from making you uncomfortable?"

Matt groaned, "Typical Tai." With a single step forward, he engulfed the other in a strong embrace, trying to show everything he felt at once. Tai was shocked, but easily melted into it; he missed having the other around while he'd been with Akira.

However, his peace didn't last long as everything hit him full force. Matt was still his best friend, and nothing more, Tai knew that, but he couldn't help the hope filling him again. Relief—his Matt had come back to him—sadness—he was still miles away from what he truly wanted—guilt—he felt bad for making Kari and Matt worry—all kinds of emotions swarmed him, and he didn't know what to do with them all.

"Just let them out," a soft voice whispered, as if it had read his mind. Tightening his grip on the one he loved, he did exactly as he was told. If only for this moment, he could have the comfort he'd always needed from the blond. Why not take every advantage of it as possible? With each tear that fell, soaking into Matt's shirt, he felt a piece of his pain leave as well. Now that all of his own feelings were out in the open, the ball was in Yamato's court.

. o O o . o O o . o O

An hour later found the boys curled up in Tai's bed, Matt still comforting the one he unintentionally hurt so badly. They hadn't said a word since Matt's soft order, but at the moment, Tai couldn't care less. He had what he'd always wanted, even if it would be gone by the morning. Unbeknownst to him, Matt had a different ideal in mind.

"Tai," the other finally whispered gently, "I don't think you know what I want."

Confused brown eyes looked up, "Okay. What do you want?" Tai might've been afraid of the answer if it hadn't been for the amused blue eyes staring back at him.

With a soft smile, Matt bent down, "You."

Brown eyes widened in surprise as soft lips pressed against his, better than any dream or fantasy his active imagination had ever come up with. This was real, and just like he'd always known, the pain was worth it. He was always worth it.

. o O o . o O o . o O

Their friends were overjoyed to hear that the two had finally gotten together, and Kari in particular couldn't stop the happy tears from falling. All of her worries about if her brother would be okay disappeared. Still, she knew there would always be a lingering fear; after all, if Tai was that bad before there was anything between them, what would happen if they broke up? But seeing the happiness radiating from the wild-haired boy, she understood.

To Tai, any pain was worth it, past, present and future, so long as he could be with Matt. And the blond, in turn, seemed entirely ready and willing to protect Tai, even though the boy of courage didn't need it. They spent as much time as possible together, making up for the wasted days. Whether or not their relationship would make it through the rough patches of the future, only time would tell. But no matter what, there was always a single truth in Tai's heart;

He was always worth it.