Author's note: I realize that I often put a negative light on Sorato (because my Taiora fan inside me is loathe to surrender her reigns), but I heard this song and this one-shot idea popped into my head. And as it refuses to let me write anything else I need to write, I might as well start getting it onto paper (figuratively speaking) so that I can get on with my life. One of these days, just for the Sorato fanbase, I'll write a story that isn't all bittersweet and heart wrenching. I'll actually show that I do support the couple as a canon shipping, even if my heart wishes Taiora had become final-canon.s

Oh. Shipping wars need to stay off my pages, just by the way. I WILL delete reviews that are along the lines of "SORATO SUCKS" or "KOUMI RULES". Who is that guy, anyway, the one who keeps posting that or Jyoumi things? Seriously, none of my stories are about that, so why would you be like "Man, a Koumi fan!" Not okay, man. Not okay.


Yamato had seen Sora angry a lot in their years as friends. Usually, it was directed at Taichi. He was oddly okay with that, because when she was mad at Tai, Sora went to Yamato. Granted, he felt bad about Taichi being miserable while he and Sora fought, but... How did that go? All is fair in love and war, or something like that.

He didn't see love standing in this room. Oh, the embodiment of it was. Red hair was pulled away from her face in a messy bun that made her face look older, sharper, and more like her mother's than like a girl's. It was a startling resemblance, one that he didn't recognize very often. Love's hands were contorted into tight fists at her sides, and she was breathing heavily, chest heaving with each labored breath. She had been screaming. So had he.

Suddenly, Yamato felt very tired. He relaxed his own fists, tried to straighten his own expression. He didn't want to mirror her hate and anger. It stung. He didn't want to hurt her, the way she was hurting him with the hate reflected in her eyes.

"You're doing it again," she accused, and now he could see hurt in her eyes, too. Hurt, and anger, and determination to see this fight to the finish. So often, one of them would turn and walk away, shaking their heads and refusing to cry because both were too stubborn to let tears fall while the other was still in the room. She might have taken up flower arranging, and she might have decided to dabble in fashion (under Mimi's encouragement), but she was still Sora. She was still the girl who could make Taichi cry with a well aimed punch and dominate any soccer field, even if Tennis had been her passion for the past five and a half years.

"Doing what?" He sounded as tired as he felt, he realized with a blink. He sounded like his dad, the way he had after the divorce, and whenever he talked to his and Takeru's mother on the phone. Tired, and exhausted, and drained. Like he didn't have the energy to care anymore.

"That. Shutting down. You're shutting down on me," she accused. Her eyes looked brighter. Was she going to cry, here and now? Was she going to let him see tears caused by him, just once? Would she let him wipe them away?

No. Sora was stronger than that. She'd wipe them herself; they weren't too heavy, when the alternative was appearing needy. Sora didn't like to need people. Wanting and needing were different things. Sora had made sure that was clear a very long time ago.

"I don't need a man in my life. But I want you. Remember that," she had said, standing on her tip-toes to kiss him on the cheek. He wished she would do that again. It felt like a memory that belonged to two different people. In that memory, her eyes didn't reflect distaste and annoyance and frustration and... The list of negatives went on and on, but he didn't have names for everything he saw there. He used his guitar for the sounds he had no words for, but his guitar was in its case in his room, and she'd be angry if he went to play it, trying to sift through the sounds to find the right emotion.

"I'm not shutting down," Yamato argued, sounding annoyed now. He wasn't. He was just tired. Why couldn't he just be tired?

"You... Nevermind."

Who was shutting down now, he wanted to ask, but he bit his tongue and kept his mouth shut.

She turned her back on him, and her hands covered her face. But he couldn't see if she was crying; her shoulders didn't shake. After a minute, her hands dropped back to her sides, and when she turned to face him, her face was forcefully cheery.

"I'm going out for dinner. There's money in the pot, if you're sticking around." She pointed to a little clay pot that he knew she had made in primary school. Her mother had told her to take it with her when she moved into her own apartment on the other side of Tokyo, closer to her university. Yamato had often stayed the night since she moved, as he had planned on doing tonight. Now, he wasn't sure that was such a good idea, but he didn't want his father asking questions either.

Maybe they could sort it out when she came back, as he heard her grab her keys and leave without waiting for his reply. The door shut a little harder than it should; she was trying very hard not to turn around and yell at him again. He sank into the couch, sighing loudly now that she wasn't there to yell at him for it. He hated the fighting. He had never liked fighting, even if his icy temper had sometimes led to a few punches and sharp-tongued words.

He'd apologize when she came back, but as he replayed the conversation, he couldn't figure out where the fight had come from. She had been in a mood, and he had asked what was wrong, something about dinner the week before had come up, and... He leaned his elbows on his thighs and buried his face in his hands. He didn't know what to apologize for. Maybe there wasn't one to be said. Maybe he should just grab his bag and his guitar and go home. Maybe that'd be for the best.

He thought about her eyes. He saw them in the darkness of his palms pressed against his eyes, and he knew he couldn't walk away either. Not like this. Not with his last memory being bright red eyes and the slamming of the door. He couldn't end it like that. There were too many smiles, too many sweet notes for the song to end with a crash of the cymbals and the mallet slamming through the bass drum head.

Yamato expected her to be out longer. Maybe it had been longer, and he had just been too preoccupied to notice. He had been standing by the entertainment center when he heard the door. She only had a television and a handful of DVDs; any movies she had were probably ones that Taichi forgot to take home with him, and the rest of the DVDs were mostly soccer games and tennis matches that the two had recorded since they were little, even if Sora didn't play anymore. More recently, she had begun taping fashion shows, curiosity getting the best of her.

But Yamato wasn't looking at this measly collection of mismatched interests and hobbies. Sora had a collection of photographs scattered throughout the little studio apartment. Many of them were in her room, but she had less intimate ones in the living room. Pictures from reunions with the other Chosen, in America with Mimi, mall visits with Miyako and Hikari (who, more often than not, was the one behind the camera), family functions and pictures of her with her mother and father, and games with her and Taichi. The picture that had captured Yamato's attention was one of an after party after a successful concert, their first not introducing a bigger, more sought after band. It was one of the rare pictures where he was smiling, and Sora had her arms tangle around his waist, and she hadn't been willing to let him go.

"I'm marking my territory," she had joked, smiling at the fan girls that tried to press in closer to the band. It had been a bizarre experience, one that he remembered only snatches of because his adrenaline that night had been so high. "I don't want them moving in on you when my back's turned." And then she had kissed him, and they had laughed, and there had been some very sorry looking girls watching in the crowd when he pulled away to sign a notebook one little girl kept pushing at him.

His fingers brushed the glass that protected the photograph lightly, as though it were fragile enough to shatter into a million pieces beneath his touch. He pulled his hand away when he heard the door, about to ask if she had forgotten something, or maybe if she wanted him to leave, or if... He wasn't sure what else. She stopped, and stared at him. She looked a little startled, and he wondered if she had actually expected him not to hang around when she stormed out. But then he didn't have time to ponder that, because she rushed towards him and flung her arms around him the way she had at the concert and a hundred other times, except...it was different.

There was a desperation in her touch, a need that he wasn't familiar with as her lips hungrily pressed against his. He was confused, but he didn't question it. He didn't pull away. He just responded with the same forceful, hungry, needy kiss. They got to the couch, although when he thought about it that night, he wouldn't be able to remember how. Her nails dug into his back, clinging him to her. He could taste tears, could feel the dampness of her eyes against his burning cheeks, and suddenly, there was no confusion. There were no questions. The kiss was painful.

This was their final goodbye.