Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon. Toei Animation does.
A/N: You should listen to Revolutinary Girl Utena's "Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku" while reading this chapter. It's very appropriate music.
Matt stares at Tai lying so deathly still on the hospital bed and wonders if the outcome would have been the same if he had only tried to reach out a bit further. The silence in the room is suffocating—only being broken by the sound of Tai's slow, rhythmical inhaling and exhaling and the beeping of his heart on the monitor. Moonlight is streaming in through the window, casting silvery light upon his friend's already pallid face and shining on the long, horizontal row of stitches running across his forehead, which seemed to glare up at him accusingly.
Overhead, the air is filled with the war-cries as their digimon as they clash with their foe and the enemy's attack rains down a hail storm of blood-red droplets from the sky, leaving scorching, cavernous black holes anywhere it touches.
Matt lets his gaze wander down further along the expanse of Tai's body. Most of it is covered by the white, hospital blanket, but a few limbs remain exposed. Tai's left arm is encased within a plaster cast and tucked into a sling across his chest. Fractured humerus, he recalls the doctor saying. If Tai had been awake to overhear his diagnosis, he would have laughed and said something like, "I've really gone and broken my funny bone this time, eh, Matt?" But Tai hadn't spoken at all. He hadn't even screamed when it happened.
The battle rages above them in a furious onslaught and the earth beneath trembles violently as it splits widely in two unable to handle the pressure, a narrow fissure growing increasingly larger as it speeds towards them…
Tai's right leg hangs in traction, shattered in three places, the only thing holding it together now is a bundle of titanium rods and screws. The skin is swamped with angry, reddish-purple bruises from the surgical staples. Two months for the bone to mend, the doctor had told them. Two more months for rehabilitation. And that is only to ensure that he would be able to walk again. Playing soccer… may not be a possibility. Too early at this stage to be certain, the doctor had stated so aggravatingly calm.
Three cracked ribs, internal bleeding, blunt head trauma… they had told the hospital staff he had been hit by a car.
They're climbing up a sheer, cliff wall and have almost reached the summit. A misplaced foot, a lost grip on a handhold…Tai catches her as she slides backwards. Twin spheres of smoldering flame slam into the mountainside around them and she cries out in alarm and fear.
It's wasn't his fault, they tell him. But all Matt can see are Tai's pupils widening to pin-points, his chocolate-brown irises portraying utter shock as he realizes…
Matt's reached the top now and everyone is clambering around the edge, peering over in concern at the two who have yet to ascend to safety. Matt lowers his upper half as far it will go over the side and feel hands behind him bracing his legs in support. He extends both hands out towards them, a horrible, panicked feeling welling up in his throat.
She is blaming herself. She hadn't stopped crying since the moment it occurred. She had kept a constant vigil at his side—even now, she is slumped over in a chair by the bed, finally asleep by complete exhaustion, her hand steadfastly clutching Tai's limp, unresponsive one.
Matt fleetingly entertains the notion of hating her but it doesn't last. She may have been the one, who had effectively obstructed Tai from reaching the top, but Matt had been there mere inches away and he had let the opportunity to save him slip from his fingers.
Tai pushes her forward and Matt grabs her by both wrists and painstakingly lifts her up until he feels someone else relieve him from the burden of her weight as they pull her to firm ground, then he drops himself back down and reaches for Tai, who stretches out his hand in an effort to meet his and now he is only clinging to a crag on the cliff wall with one arm…
Was there anything else he could have done? Looking back, reflecting on it, he still can't see how things would have turned out different.
Because no matter how far he had strained his arm or stretched out his hand, the fact remains that Tai had chosen not to clasp hold of it.
Tai's fingertips brush his briefly, but the weight of his unbalanced body sends him swinging backwards in a dangerous manner, and the rock around his handhold crumbles slightly and Matt knows he only has one more chance to reach his friend before something terrible happens.
Pressure is taken off his legs as one pair of those hands that held him pinned securely wraps around his waist as if their owner were afraid he would pitch face-first over the cliff. He can feel the worry, fear and tension in their firm yet gentle grip—a pair of hands he knows all too well.
Matt thinks Tai's eyes will forever haunt him. He can still vividly recall the flash of hurt and betrayal imprinted across his friend's face as they take in the sight of the person behind him and that horrible, life-altering moment when Tai had froze with shock, faltering for one, fatal second to take his out-reached hand…
Then an explosion rocks the foundation right out from under them.
Tai doesn't scream as he plummets earth-bound sharply. He doesn't scream although he must be seized with terror. He's falling like a bird that has lost his gift of flight. He's falling, the distance between them expands every hundred feet and Matt still stretches out with one hand but all it can grasp now is emptiness. Tai's falling and the ground below is the only thing that is there to greet him.
In a coma for who knows how long. Possible amnesia when he awakes, if he awakes. Cannot rule out brain damage, but on the positive side, he is showing active brain waves, the doctors tell them.
Trapped in a world of nightmares, Matt thinks and the guilt shreds at his soul.
In her chair by the bed, Kari stirs and murmurs in her sleep, asking her brother for forgiveness.
Matt's cell phone vibrates and one glance shows it to be Sora calling for an update on Tai's condition. In his mind, he can see her hands wrapped around her own phone in a firm, yet gentle grip waiting for an answer.
But he cannot give it. How could he have called himself Tai's friend when he hadn't even seen the pain he had been causing him for so long? And he wonders if the outcome would have been the same if he had only tried to reach out a bit further.
To Be Continued...
A/N: Ah, I wrote angst, I wrote aaaaaaaangst! The world is ending! (curls into ball on the floor). How did this happen? There I was not less than a week ago being all smug "Pshaw, I am so cool—I don't need to read or write no stinkin' angst to wallow in melancholy happiness!" Tch, my muse is a vindictive little thing! Never write angst after drinking five cups of coffee; a caffeine high will not bode well for you. Your mind imagines strange scenarios. The fact that I was listening to Revolutinary Girl Utena's "Zettai Unmei Mokushiroku" while writing this didn't help. (Okay it did-the dramatic music was very inspiring).
Actually, I've had this plot mulling around in my head for months and just needed to get it out—it's been driving me crazy! This first chapter is supposed to be vague. I'm sorry if this made things confusing, but if you continue reading everything becomes more clear (like why Tai looked betrayed and who the identity of the person behind Matt was). Ahem, so, if you have any questions or aren't sure you understood what was going on, just lemme know in your review and I will try and answer without giving any future plot away.
By the way, how was the angst? You know, I hardly ever write it—it's not my favorite genre. I can only write it when I don't want to, so I never know if it's good or not. Please share with me your thoughts! I'd like to know your opinion on it. Thank you!