The snow rested so peacefully, draped with chilly composure atop the ground as if fitted to be a dress of frosty white glitter. Its crystal complexion winked at Kari, as if assuring her that everything would be okay, that the state of Zen one finds within a spiritually groomed garden would return to her with the purity of a lotus blossom. But life had not dealt her such a whimsical hand. Instead the snow just blinded with a glaring sheen, making Kari squint in agitation. It balanced with such grace, such weightless tranquility, that it seemed not even gravity could destroy such a delicate mound of ice crystals –
The image was shattered as a black boot punctured the snowy blanket like an anvil dropped from the heavens. Kari could almost relate to the suffocating pressure that was melting it to a grimy slush as the boot mulled it into a mucky pulp.
"Hi, Davis," Kari spoke with a dazed monotony, eventually managing to snap her eyeline towards Davis. His eyes were round with excitement, as if he had just been allowed to endure on a total candy binge. His mind was clearly too clouded in oblivion to realize he had just disturbed the most peaceful moment of Kari's day.
"What's a pretty girl like you doing out here in the snow?" Davis questioned slyly, further stamping the snow below his feet into a hardened logo of his boot print. "Aren't you cold?"
Kari felt the last warm shred of her composure drip away. "Yes, I'm cold."
The air shivered in the silence as Davis groped for words to say. "Well hey, I'm cold too! Maybe we could exchange a little body heat, you know, huddle nice and close together-"
Kari instantly began walking away, the mere thought of having her isolation shattered by Davis in his attempts to get closer to her making her hair stand on end. She walked aimlessly, the sharp crunching of snow beneath her feet forming a rhythmical beat. She enjoyed the numbing kiss of winter on her toes and its arctic snapping at her cheeks. In a way it made her feel closer to the snow; a cold being, continually watching the world progress around you until you felt like an island amidst a raging, never ending storm. Kari sighed, her breath sketched in the air by cool wisps of smoke. The loneliness was coming back with vengeance.
With an unsummoned command Kari flipped open her cellphone, its chrome exterior mirroring her surroundings in a metallic luster. Absently she began flipping through her contact list, searching for no one in particular. Or was she? Comprehension dawned on her as she recognized the name she had halted at: T.K. Takaishi.
Index finger hovering shyly over the 'Select' button, Kari felt a peculiar feeling blaze through her, thawing her rosy cold cheeks and icicle stiff toes. Carefully she pressed down on the button, and watched the screen in a mesmerized demeanor as it showcased its calling action. She placed it gently against her ear, the ringing chime echoing within her cochlea.
"Uh, T.K.?" Kari stammered, an unusual bout of awkwardness arresting her voice. "It's . . . it's Kari."
"Oh, hey! What's up?"
The simplicity of the question took Kari by surprise.
"Can . . . can you come and meet me at the bus stop near the school?" the words blurted from Kari's mouth, not at all cooperating with her mind.
"Uh, yeah, sure, I'll-"
"You don't have to if you don't want to, I just thought-" her voice went invisible, ditching her abruptly.
"Its okay, Kari, I'll meet you right away."
"Thanks, T.K.," Kari spoke with relief, and ended the call with one blunt snap. Tucking her face snugly within her scarf, she made her way towards the bus stop, its glassy boxed skeleton poking out from within the snow like an abnormal divider. Somehow the thought of having T.K. to talk to turned her numb with freezing heat.
* ~ *
Vivid memories from the morning flooded Kari's head, focusing into clarity without conscious consent.
"Kari, aren't you going to have anything for breakfast?" Kari let her hand slide atop the door knob, her stomach tightening as if begging like a homeless animal. "No Mom, I'm . . . I'm not hungry." She heard a snicker emanate from somewhere behind her. "Sounds like Kari felt anger flare up inside her like a geyser of magma heated water. "Shut up, Tai!" Kari was interrupted from her thoughts by her mother clearing her throat expectantly. "Kari, you've barely touched a morsel of food in weeks, and don't think I haven't noticed," she spit the words sternly, but genuine worry tainted her voice. "Now if you don't eat something soon, I'm going to be making a phone call to your counselor, do you understand?" Tears lined Kari's eyes like watery halos, but she blinked them back wretchedly. "Yes, Mom."
With a fake look of appallment, Tai made a well decided exit back into his room, mumbling things about girls as he disappeared.
Kari let her hand slide atop the door knob, her stomach tightening as if begging like a homeless animal. "No Mom, I'm . . . I'm not hungry."
She heard a snicker emanate from somewhere behind her.
"Sounds likesomeone's trying to impress someone special!"
Kari felt anger flare up inside her like a geyser of magma heated water. "Shut up, Tai!"
Kari was interrupted from her thoughts by her mother clearing her throat expectantly.
"Kari, you've barely touched a morsel of food in weeks, and don't think I haven't noticed," she spit the words sternly, but genuine worry tainted her voice. "Now if you don't eat something soon, I'm going to be making a phone call to your counselor, do you understand?"
Tears lined Kari's eyes like watery halos, but she blinked them back wretchedly. "Yes, Mom."
The stifling of snow interrupted Kari's thoughts, and as her eyes readjusted to the harsh light of reality T.K. came into focus.
"Hey, Kari," T.K. smiled cheerfully, probing some kind of sensory muscle within Kari to smile along with him. "I, um, hope I didn't interrupt you . . ."
"Of course not," Kari replied quickly, and with a dainty bounce stood up beside him. "Do you mind if we walk around for a bit? I just really need to clear my mind."
"You're the one who called me."
With a smirk Kari began walking, syncing her feet in time with T.K.'s as he paced beside her. A weight seemed to have lifted off her shoulders as the crisp winter air clawed at their exposed faces.
"So, is everything alright?" T.K. asked innocently enough, digging with the caution of a child stealing money from their mother's purse.
Kari continued walking for a beat, ruining the silence just before it turned stale. "Nah, I'm just cold."
She sensed T.K.'s body move ever so slightly closer in proximity to her. "Kari, I know you didn't call me because you were cold."
An icicle crashed in Kari's mind, shattering into splintered swords of ice. The statement hung in the air like a suspended Christmas ornament. "I . . . I know." Her feet stopped their pursuit, and Kari looked T.K. right in the eyes. "I just really needed some cheering up."
For a moment time slid by, wearing away like ice beneath the sun's warm tongue, until both teens began walking instantaneously. Kari felt T.K.'s hand lightly brush hers, and she couldn't help but let her cheeks flush in tingly self-consciousness. Her feet were trudging along aimlessly, set on some unknown path that brought her farther and farther towards city centre. Multiple stores and stands began dotting the landscape, washing the hard dirt laced snow in fuchsia and bubblegum bright pastels with their blinking signage. Sticking out like a burnt out Christmas light was a tiny ice cream stand, its slivered wood exterior ruffled with battle scars from facing the weather.
"Ha, ice cream in the winter!" T.K. laughed, his face twisting into a thoughtful smirk. "You know, when I was little and Matt came to visit me in the winter time, he'd always take me to go get ice cream."
Kari giggled at the thought of a mini T.K. shivering in the snow eating ice cream. "Why in the world would you do that? Wouldn't you be," she inched closer to the warmth of T.K.'s body, "cold?"
He shifted his weight for a moment, clearly trying to reminisce in his childhood memories for a second longer. "Yeah, we'd go home chattering so loudly, my mom said she could hear us all the way from the lobby!"
Kari could feel her stomach gnawing at the hollow emptiness it pertained. "Let's get some."
Kari nodded her head gleefully, a tiny smile developing across her face. "It's not like we can get much colder!"
With childhood excitement now fully about them, the two DigiDestined bought their ice cream with ecstatic pleasure. Kari wrapped her tongue around the base, and shivered with delight as it recoiled back into her mouth with a shudder. "This is so crazy!"
"It was your idea," T.K. fired back.
"Well, you gave me the idea!"
Kari could feel her stomach purring as clomps of creamy ice cream began to curb its famished pleas. It didn't take long before her entire body was madly pulsing with fits of chilly cold, causing her teeth to chatter like a chorus of jackhammers. T.K. was shivering just as violently next to her.
"T.K., I am s-s-so c-c-c-cold!" Kari chattered, desperately trying to rest the tip of her tongue atop the ice cream's peaked snow-drop surface. Her tongue slid back and forth like an out of control skier on a steep hill.
"I f-feel like I've j-j-just been hugged by a F-F-Frigimon!" T.K. shivered in response. The scene was so elatedly messed up, so ridiculously care-free, that Kari dropped her ice cream and began laughing with quivering hysteria, its sharp noted features slicing through the sub-zero air with a high-pitched ping.
T.K. gaped at Kari's severe change of mood, unsure of whether or not to join in or be seriously concerned. "Kari? Um, we can share if you-" T.K. was cut short by Kari grabbing onto his arm like a trembling leach, still tremulating with massive laughter. Unceremoniously he watched his ice cream be adopted by gravity as well.
Kari just continued laughing in amusement, taking in T.K.'s freezing warmth despite the obliteration of her usual careful, respectful persona. With a shrill giggle, she looked into T.K.'s dancing eyes, their depths imitating her joyfulness flawlessly.
"You know what really gets me warm?" Kari hummed, a mischievous note to her voice. When T.K. shot her a shivering look of puzzlement, she took the opportunity to begin running away from his support. "Running!"
With laughter as dazzling as fireworks, Kari felt the snowy sidewalk slide below her feet, every step more and more risky as she picked up speed. She cast a glance backwards and saw T.K. darting not to far behind her, frantically trying not to face plant on the ice in his attempt to catch up.
"Come on, T.K., you're faster then that!" Kari shouted back at him, before turning around and burning forward like an Olympic sprinter. Suddenly, she felt her boot grapple for a firm hold. Within a second Kari felt her weight get thrusted forward, her body now headed straight for the merciless ground at top speed.
"Kari!" As she prepared to crash land on top of the icy outdoor carpet, she felt T.K.'s hand twine around her wrist and balance her back to safety. With a tug Kari was securely back on her feet, breathless.
"Good thing you're fast," she breathed, her eyes twinkling with awestruck gratitude. T.K. merely released his grip and cast his eyes down toward his feet, embarrassment levitating off him from Kari's indirect flattery. Kari couldn't help but let out a tiny giggle. "You know, body heat's a much calmer way of keeping warm, too."
With timid apprehension Kari wrapped her arms around T.K. like a strand of gift wrap, and, after a moment's bashful conception, T.K. embraced her too. "I guess you're right."
A nippy breeze snipped at the two's faces, frosting their warm bodies with a cool coating of wintry cellophane. Kari watched vexingly as their breath tangoed in the chilly air. "Hey, T.K.?"
She felt his grip strengthen mildly. "Yeah, Kari?"
"Thanks for everything." Kari whispered sweetly, relishing the moment for one last second before she let her arms fall limp and her feet begin to move again. "I know . . . I know I can always count on you."
"It's cool," T.K. muttered quietly, as if treading on thin ice with his every word. "You know I'll always be here for you."
Kari felt a surge of warmth diffuse soothingly through her body, paralleled oddly with the freezing air encompassing her. Again she felt T.K.'s hand gently caress the tip of her mitt, but this time Kari captured it and blanketed it within her own. Not a trace of her former angst dwelled inside her mind, and the least she could do to thank T.K. was keep his undefended hands warm against the freezing breath of winter.