Author's note: I'm in a sappy mood. But I'm also really annoyed with my ex at the moment, so forgive me if this is bitter sweet. This is just a lone, little Taoirato two shot because it's been in my mind all day. Inspiration for the story line comes from the songs "She's in Love" by Mark Wills, and "She Never Cried In Front of Me" by Toby Keith. For all you not-country fans, don't worry, I'm not going to make you listen to the songs. But you can Google the lyrics if you're curious about the story origins. This may be the closest I'll come to appearing as though I support Sorato, so enjoy.
Being the best friend really freaking sucked, just by the way. Seriously. If it wasn't bad enough that when they watched the game together or had a pizza-movie night, he had to keep smiling and keep his thoughts and actions purely friendly, then it was that she was dating one of his best friends. And after the first few awkward months, Sora kept slipping. She'd talk about Yamato, about their last date, or how they hung out after his concert, or how sad she was that she had to work the one night he had neither work nor band practice. She'd smile and her eyes would get bright and she had this... glow. And not because she was pregnant. If she was, she hadn't had the nerve to tell Taichi yet. Maybe she knew that he'd either strangle Yamato, or have a heart attack.
Taichi had minimal regrets. Both were dear to him, Sora and Yamato. Yamato had asked, and Taichi had smiled. Sora had hesitated, and Taichi had pushed her forward. He wasn't going to be selfish, he wasn't going to hold them back. He couldn't do that to two people he loved, two people who meant more to him than anything. Besides Hikari, of course. He wasn't sure if she agreed with him or not. When Sora left, Hikari's smile faded into a frown as she stared at her brother. Taichi pretended not to see it. He didn't want to have that conversation. He didn't want to stop smiling.
But his smile faltered when he opened the door after soccer practice one day, to see both Yamato and Sora. You'd think that was pretty common, but it wasn't really. Sora might have faded into a comfort zone between the two boys, but Yamato wasn't ready to flaunt his relationship infront of Taichi. He kept it low-key, something the brunette appreciated although he never said it. But there was something about them, something about how Yamato kept biting his lip, torn between a smile and a frown, and Sora wringing her hands. It was the first thing Taichi noticed when they all sat down on the couch. A soccer game was on, Brazil versus Italy or something like that. It was a rerun. Taichi taped everything, studied the plays over and over. It was purely on for background noise, something to focus on besides Hikari talking on the phone with her friend. Alluding to a boy. He'd have to look into that, when his stomach wasn't doing an uncomfortable fluttering thing.
Not a crushing butterfly feeling, like you're so happy and giddy that they need to escape. It was an anxious, foreboding nausea. He didn't like it. It was hard to smile, hard to feel relaxed when he wanted to run into the bathroom. He caught the sheen of metal in the light, but he didn't look down. He didn't want to. But he didn't have long; Yamato was uncomfortable, as though he knew what thoughts were sprinting through Taichi's mind. His blue eyes glanced at Sora, but when she continued to look down at her hands, or forcibly at the television, he sighed and cleared his throat.
"Look, Tai..." He didn't know how to start. His words faded off, and ran a hand through his hair and tried again. "Um, so you know..."
"We've been dating for a really long time," Sora said; she seemed to have remembered her earlier uncertainty discussing her relationship with Taichi, the days when she blushed to confess that she was waiting for Yamato outside of his dressing room.
"Four years." Yamato looked stunned, like he couldn't believe it. Neither could Taichi; Mimi had said she wondered how long it would last, and Taichi was ashamed to have been thinking the same thing. But four years... Really, was it that long? What sort of masochist was he? He hadn't even tried to date anyone in all that time; he just played soccer, went to school, played soccer, hung out with friends and Hikari, played soccer... He told himself that he didn't have time for girls. The reality was, he didn't want girls. He wanted Sora.
"Last night, Yamato asked me... Well." A nervous, girlish giggle that Taichi thought sounded strange and foreign came from the girl he had known longer than he could remember now. It didn't sound like the Sora he knew, who had screamed at him for throwing up in her hat, smacked him for giving her a hair clip, called him an idiot and a dillhole in that affectionate-hate thing that they had going on as best friends.
Shaken from his reverie, he realized she was holding out her hand. It was shaking, but she kept it there. The sun from the parted curtains was reflecting off the stone: a tasteful diamond, set in a simple silver band. There was a lump in Taichi's throat that made it difficult to breathe.
"We're getting married. In April," Yamato added, as though to prove that he remembered. They had obviously spent the entire night talking about it. Or doing something else that Taichi decided to ignore. Sora was beaming. He could hardly scowl and feel sorry for himself when she looked so happy. Even Yamato was smiling, a small and sheepish smile, but not really embarrassed. He was proud of his new fiance, and with good reason. The shyness was from admitting it to Taichi, and knowing him well enough to know that Taichi might be ecstatic that they were happy, but he was crushed. And he would never let them know it.
"Congrats. Seriously, wow, congrats!" With a wide grin that didn't feel quite genuine, he leaned over and hugged Sora. He wished Yamato would clear his throat, break it up. But he trusted Taichi. He trusted Sora. Taichi wished he wouldn't; that trust made him feel like even more of an ass. When he pulled away, Sora was still grinning. Her cheeks were flushed, and she looked ready to giggle. Geez. He wondered how long until she called Mimi so that she didn't feel like a total ditz screaming her head off. He might care about her, but he was still going to tease her if he heard that trilling giggle one more time.
"Thanks," Sora breathed. Yamato looked not quite so relieved. Granted, his hands weren't clenched into fists so tight that his knuckles were white, but his brows were drawn close together. He was analyzing, trying to read Taichi. But the smile was secure, and he was letting nothing through. He wasn't ruining their shining moment, their happy news. Dude, if it made Yamato smile, then Taichi was supporting it. Screw selfish ambitions, there were other girls in the world. Fish in the sea. Cookies in the jar. Why did guys always compare girls to food, anyway? He was seriously craving lunch, now. Maybe egg and ramen, with soy sauce and...
"What's going on," Hikari asked, pulling a brush through her short hair as she emerged from the hall way. Taichi hadn't realized the water had stopped running; he had been a little distracted by thoughts of Sora, and Yamato, and food. Not all in association with the others, by the way. Hikari didn't need to be answered; her eyes lingered on the same gleam that Taichi had tried to avoid, and a smile crept onto her face. "Oh! Congratulations," she said, echoing Taichi's sentiments with a bright smile. She was careful to avoid looking at Taichi though. He knew her better. She would wait until they were alone, and then poke and pester, the same way he would to her about that boy she had slipped mention of on the phone before she had slipped off to take a shower.
"Thanks," Sora said again. Yamato didn't really say anything; he looked like he was trying very hard not to look proud. Sora lowered her hand, reaching for Yamato's almost as though she didn't realize it. Taichi released his breath slowly. He'd gotten used to that. But it was a little much, on top of this wedding stuff. "We've got to go, though. I just wanted you to be the first to know. We did," she added, because Yamato had raised his eyebrow. Taichi didn't doubt either, but he had a feeling Yamato had refused to tell anyone else first.
He was a good friend. Taichi, however, was feeling like the wordt. Being jealous of his best friend's girl. Tcht.
"Takeru won't forgive me if he doesn't know next. But we...wanted to make sure you heard from us," Yamato said, and the pause in his words didn't go unnoticed. He glanced at Hikari and smiled a wry smile, and she blinked. Taichi understood though, or he thought he did. If Takeru learned first, he would tell Hikari the news assuming she already knew. Hikari would ask Taichi if he had heard. Yamato didn't want Taichi to feel betrayed, out of the loop. He was a good friend.
"Oh, Yamato-kun..." Hikari paused in brushing her wet hair. "Takeru invited me to watch you guys practice later. Did he ask you?"
"Nope," Yamato replied, sounding unbothered. Hikari blinked, looking uncertain. "Are you coming?"
"If... If it's alright," she said slowly. She wasn't so sure it was. Taichi grinned. Takeru was going to get a scolding; Hikari didn't have very high tolerance for rudeness, although how she could also be friends with Daisuke... Well, that had baffled everybody for a while. It was a bit of a paradox, one that always amused Taichi to think about.
"It's alright. Just come in the back, alright?" Hikari nodded, although she still looked uncertain. Yamato sighed and pushed himself to his feet. Sora followed, clinging to his hand. But her eyes were on Taichi, as though expecting to see something there that contradicted the smile, the sentiments. She almost looked disappointed, but Taichi didn't say anything. This game of keep-away had been played for four years now, this tug of war between wanting to know and not wanting to say. It was tiring, but necessary. She was happy with Yamato; he wished that she would stop looking at him like she thought he hated her.
"See you later, Taichi."
"At the soccer game," he reminded her. They were already headed for the door; Sora had the cell phone in hand, something Yamato didn't miss.
"Right. Bye." Her free hand raised in an over-the shoulder wave.
Taichi didn't get up to see them out; both of them practically lived in the apartment by now anyway. The door had barely snapped shut when Hikari turned to face her brother, a worried frown in place. He pretended not to see it, but instead returned his attention to the soccer game. He still hadn't memorized all the plays in this game, and there were some really good ones that he'd love to try out. He was still hoping to get scouted for a national team, one day.
"Niisan," she said quietly, but again, he ignored her.
"So you and Takeru, huh? Do I have to inform him of what constitutes as a date," he asked, and Hikari blushed at his emphasis on the word. So, was Takeru the boy she had been talking on the phone about, however fleetingly? "Going to hang out with big brother-"
"Are you okay," she asked bluntly. Whether she simply refused to be deterred, or she was retaliating for his teasing with a complete disregard for subtlety, Taichi wasn't sure. Both, maybe. Taichi didn't answer. With a heavy sigh, Hikari crossed the room and sat down next to him on the couch, resting her head against Taichi's shoulder.
"Your hair's wet," he complained.
"I'm sorry," she said. And he understood, she wasn't talking about her hair. Echoing her sigh, Taichi put an arm around his little sister. She cuddled into the one arm embrace, just like she did when she was little. It was difficult to imagine that she was sixteen, and not the quiet twelve year old. She was still quiet, but it was a confident quiet. She didn't need to talk, where once she was almost afraid to talk, to disappoint. She still was, sort of. But she never believed that she had nothing to worry about, that she could never disappoint him.
"Yeah. Me too."