Writing about doing the exact same action several in one short section is not the easiest to do without being repetitive, obnoxious, or sounding just plain stupid. I have decided that I do not like present opening scenes...

I come baring a gift of 4345 words.

I do not own Digimon :'(

Chapter 17: Surprises

(Takuya's POV)

"Caught you!" I yelled, tackling my raven-haired friend as he rounded the corner. We hit the hard stone floor with a dull thud, my arms surrounding him like a cage with one pinned underneath his body. Grimacing at the ache radiating from his back and head where he hit the floor, it was only at that point that I realized I just capturing him would have sufficed. The angry glare directed right at me was unnerving, but I was determined to not back down. For two and a half weeks he had been keeping something from me—something important by the lengths they went to keep it shushed—and I hadn't even been able to get a peep out of Daisuke, who was normally quite horrid with secrets, as was quite apparent by the fact that over half of both schools knew about his relationship with Ken a mere seventeen hours after they got together, much to Ken's chagrin. Sometimes I surprised myself with the complex words I knew. Still, back on the subject, I wasn't going to let Kouji weasel his way out of telling me this time.

"Yes, you caught me," he irately scoffed, squirming a little to see if he could get away. Finding himself thoroughly pinned, he continued, "Now what do you want? And did you really have to slam me into the ground? That fucking hurt."

I couldn't help but grin at the language he used. It seemed like I was rubbing off on him, and I couldn't help but wonder what his daddy would think if he knew the words his son had started using recently. It would probably be the same reaction he had when he first learned what the word ass meant. I learned later that Kouichi had once used it to describe him, and I don't think his twin could sit comfortably for a week after the kick he received for it. And my mind was drifting away from the events at hand again.

"You have been hiding something for over two weeks now, and I want to know what it is," I said simply, making no move to get up, or even get off of Kouji. I found I could take the moment to enjoy the contact with the person I had fallen for, using necessity as an excuse; I didn't want him to flee before he answered me, after all.

He again tried to squirm out of my grasp, but found once more that I was stronger than him. "Yeah, so maybe I am hiding something," he said, admitting it for the first time. We were making progress! "Did you have to attempt to break my spine in the process of figuring out what it was?"

Frowning a little, I replied, "You don't have to exaggerate it quite that much. I'm sorry I hurt you, but how else am supposed to be certain you won't take off before you answer me without holding you down like this?"

Shifting slightly, only a small frown on his face, he stated, "Okay, so maybe nothing is broken, but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt." He then glanced down the corridor at the two people looking at them funny. Growling, and though I wasn't sure if it was at me or them they still took off, he added, "If we really must talk about this can we at least go somewhere else?"

Giving him a skeptical look, I slowly asked, "You aren't going to run away or avoid once we go somewhere else, are you?" He scoffed and shook his head, a very unconvincing action but my heart (damn you, stop fluttering like that!) told me to believe him and I slowly released him and got to my feet. Offering a hand and helping him up, I continued, "So where to?"

"My room," he huffed, yanking his hand from my grasp and starting down the hall. I couldn't help but blush as I fell in beside him, having been unaware that I had still had a hold of his hand. Despite my embarrassment, though, I still chanced a few glances his way, noticing with some intrigue the way he worried his lower lip and was wringing his hands. He was obviously nervous about something, and it took a lot to do that to Kouji, so I caught the nervous bug too. Was it really something very bad that I didn't want to know? Shaking my head at the thought I tried to straighten up a bit. Not knowing was killing me more than knowing would, no matter what I was about to know. There was nothing that could be worse than the fears running through my head while I wondered what they were keeping a secret from me. Kouji found out I love him and is disgusted by it and is going to feed me to the figurative sharks, my mind supplied. Okay, maybe there were worse things. And I was starting to chicken out…

He must have noticed the turmoil on my face for the next thing I knew he was grabbing my wrist and dragging me towards his room. "You finally get me to say what is going on," he started in a frustrated growl, "I am not going to let you back out of this now!" I tried to stop, but my boots just slid on the flat stone as he continued to pull me towards the looming door. Then he knocked on the polished wood and my heart stopped dead in my chest.

Some part of me realized how strange it was for him to knock on his own door, just like how he was shoving me in front of him so I was literally an inch from the unopened portal, but then the door flew wide and the chorus of "Surprise!" met my ears. Had Kouji not been pushing on my back to hold me up I would have fallen. There was a banner run across the two headboards that said 'Happy Fifteenth Birthday, Takuya' and a small stack of wooden, (some) decorated boxes pushed against the wall between Kouji's bed and desk. Or at least where the desk would normally be because it was pulled into the middle of the room with another, heavy-parchment box on it.

Regaining some amount of strength, I put my weight back on my own feet so my raven-haired crush didn't have to carry it any more. Looking at the pure joy on my friends' faces, words failed me for a moment, and the first thing I said wasn't exactly what I would consider the most gracious. "How did you know…?" I asked in a small voice. "I-I mean, thank you, very much! But still… I never told anyone, not even Kouichi.'

"I told them," I heard my brother say, the smaller boy coming out from his hiding place behind the door. "I thought that… well… things are different here. Something like this, which we were always too busy working during or… you know… But I figured maybe we could have such luxuries… here." The fact that some detail unknown to them was passed between my brother and I was not lost on my friends, all of them catching the darker tone when my brother said 'you know,' but no one said anything on it. Taichi was the first one to speak, and it was on something else.

Slinging an arm over Shinya's shoulders, he said, "You know, you never told us your birthday pipsqueak. We'll have to give you and Tomoki a celebration, too."

"Can we continue this inside my room?" a voice behind me asked, the rest of us only then realizing Kouji and I were still in the hall. I chuckled and quickly skipped into the room, though I would deny it fervently later, throwing my arms around my little brother in an affectionate hug as Kouji entered the room and closed the door behind himself.

"Thank you," I cooed quietly, trying to hold back the tears threatening to flood out of my eyes. For fourteen birthdays I couldn't celebrate being on this earth for another year. There had been too much work to be done to waste time saying I was a year older, that I was already more fortunate than thirty-seven percent of my children in my position, who hadn't even been able to make it to ten years of age. And now I was surrounded by friends who had meticulously planned an extravagant party.

Chuckling at me, Yamato asked, "Do you think you can forgive us for being so secretive?"

Letting go of my brother so he could rejoin his boyfriend in the corner, I stood and wiped the bit of moisture forming in the corner of my eye. "Yeah, I think so," I replied, a bit of a teasing in my voice.

"Well, that doesn't mean I'm going to forgive you for introducing me to your friend, the ground," Kouji groaned, pressing both hands into the small of his back to try and crack the kink out of it as he walked over to his bed and sat down.

Giving him a small chuckle, I stated, "But they were so eager to meet you." To my surprise he returned my smile, then seemed to realize what he had just done and turned it into a scowl.

"Why don't you just start the party already? Open that box," he said, a little more commanding than I think he meant. I was kind of eager to comply, though, for I had an idea of what was in it.

Lifting the box straight up, I revealed to my delight a very intricate birthday cake. The white frosting laid perfectly over whatever flavor cake was underneath it, my body hoping to all the gods that it was chocolate. Fifteen candles were evenly spaced, falling in the spaces between the strategically placed frosting axes, maces, swords. 'Happy 15th Birthday' was written in a blue arch along the top, 'Takuya' mirroring it on the bottom. And a frosting armor was painted in the upper right of the round cake, barely a millimeter from the ruffled edge of compounding frosting. My mouth watered at just how much sugar would be in that piece, my taste buds more than willing to indulge themselves. But the only place I had ever seen anything like this was an expensive confectionary in the Market District, and the price tag that had to have come with this made me cringe. "Yamato and I made it," Hikari said happily, a broad smile on her face. I think she knew it would make me feel better.

"Kouichi, do you mind?" Yamato asked suddenly, my best friend eagerly jumping up from his seat to come over and stand by my side.

Holding one hand out towards the cake, he said in a voice that echoed slightly with magic, "Fajro!" Flames left to life on the wicks of the candles, making me jump back half a step. He chuckled slightly, saying, "Sorry, Takuya." Placing a hand on my shoulder, he added quieter so the other couldn't hear, "I know you're not too comfortable with how much we spend on things like this, but today is a day for you to enjoy. For once, let us spoil you, okay?"

Nodding slowly, I walked back over to the table and stared into the tiny flames. "I'm supposed to make a wish, right? Then blow out all the candles at once?" I asked, instinctively looking to Kouji for an answer. I could have sworn he shifted a little under my gaze, but it was probably just my imagination because he swiftly nodded and went back to watching the wall behind me intently. "Okay…" I breathed, inhaling deeply. A kiss from Kouji… was the only thing my mind seemed able to form, and before it could come up with some other wish I released the air stored in my lungs. The candles whisked out in a flash, leaving behind only charred thread, melted wax, and a thin trail of smoke.

"Good job!" Daisuke cheered, nearly climbing over the chess board Ken and Koushirou were using in his attempt to get off the bed faster. "What'd you wish for? Oh, and can I have that piece?"

A tanned hand grabbed him by the back of his shirt and pulled him away from the cake before his fingers could get in the frosting. "For one," Taichi started, forcing his smaller doppelganger to sit on Kouji's bed, "telling someone his wish will make it not come true. And for two, Takuya gets the first piece of cake, so sit back and wait your turn."

"So where do you want your piece to come from?" Yamato asked me, holding a knife gracefully (he can make anything look graceful, even falling on his face) in his slim hand. Sheepishly, I pointed to the frosting armor and he grinned, cutting it a little bigger than I thought he would. My eyes must have looked twice as big as normal, because he said, "Don't worry if you can't finish it. Either Daisuke or Kouji will finish it for you. He may not look like it, but the Prince there is a sugar addict."

Depositing the piece on a plate, I started salivating again. I could now see just what kind of cake it was, and it was indeed chocolate. With a thick, chocolate fudge layer in the center. Snatching it up quickly, I retreated back to my usual spot on the bed next to Kouji, shielding my treat from the people around me. Taking a gracious bite, I almost melted on the spot at just how good it tasted; How could I ever go back to normal food after tasting the things available to me here?

Shinya and Tomoki got the next piece, the two deciding to share one, and then the rest of our group took turns taking slices until there was only one solitary piece left. Kouji and Daisuke looked about to go at each other's throats for it until I stepped in, offering Kouji the half of my piece I hadn't eaten. I loved it—it tasted amazing!—it was just too rich for me and I feared I'd throw up or something if I ate too much more. So Kouji got what was left of my piece and Daisuke got the thin slice left on the desk.

Clearing the tray off the desk, Yamato and Taichi gathered up the boxes sitting against the wall and piled then up near and on where the cake had been. "Time for presents," the blonde said, handing me one of the boxes.

A thick ribbon kept it from opening and in anticipation my fingers had a hard time undoing the knot. Finally working it loose, I tossed the blasted thing to the floor and threw open the lid. I pulled out the brown leather jerkin, marveling at the quality of the hide and craftsmanship put into the item. Each stick was even spaced, the intricate designs around the collar and arm holes perfectly symmetrical. It just screamed of the pride that went into making it, and the large amount of gold that had to have been needed to acquire it. My words caught in my throat and I was barely able to get out a quiet, "Thank you…"

"My dad is a leatherworker," Sora said sweetly, smiling at the awed look on my face. "I asked him to make that for me, for a friend. He was quite eager to help. Wear it for practice."

"I will…" I said, laying it out next to me as Yamato handed me the next gift. This one was much smaller and there wasn't a ribbon to undo. I was a bit confused at first, but it was quite obvious just who this gift was from. Pulling the thick book out, I held it up and gave Ken a questioning glance.

"Koushirou helped me find it," he explained, moving a knight to take one of the redhead's bishops. "It contains information on some of the rarest things in the world. I thought it fit, since you are something of a rarity yourself." I was taken aback a bit by his comment, but his small smile showed he meant everything goodheartedly. "I think the last time someone tested into this place was one-hundred-and-eighty-seven years ago. Don't ever belittle your accomplishment."

Returning his smile, I said, "Thank you." The next one was another small box.

I pulled out the small, furry charm, Jyou immediately saying, "It's supposed to bring luck. I had Kouichi charm it to make sure it wouldn't wear. Maybe it will help to keep you from having to come see me in the future because of an arrow in the arm or a severed limb."

I nodded my thanks to the two this time, tying the lucky rabbit's foot to my belt and then taking the next, heavier box from Yamato. "This one is from the rest of us. Well, mostly," he said. "Kouji wanted to get you something special so he's not a part of this one."

My heart fluttered involuntarily at that, my hands working feverishly to get through this present quickly so I could see what the ravenette had gotten me. I think I saw an amused smile on the blonde's face, but by that time I was too engrossed in the item in the box to fully take note. It tink! -ed quietly as I pulled it out, the finely meshed chainmail shining in the thick light of the room. The craftsmanship was beyond anything I had seen before, each individual link an exact copy of the ones next to it. It was thin but strong, and slid along itself with such ease it looked more like a cotton shirt of some kind than armor.

"Next year you would have gotten one similar from the school," Taichi started explaining, "But they aren't nearly as well made or efficient. I had to use one my second year and they can be restricting."

"You have one more," Yamato said before I could reply, taking the chainmail and laying it on the jerkin before handing the final box. He must have seen the shame in my eyes or something, because he added, "Stop worrying so much. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about how much this had to have cost us. Well, stop it and just accept it, okay?"

Nodding stiffly, I turned my attention back to the long box now in my lap. The leather tying it closed was soon discarded to the floor and I was gingerly lifting the hinged lid. My palms were sweaty and my heart race, anticipating just what my crush had gotten me. Staring into the dark recessed of the wooden container, my breath caught in my throat. Shaky hands reached in to remove it from its confined, careful to not bump it against the padded interior lest I damage it somehow. Once completely free of the wood that have once contained it, I discarded the box on the floor with the rest of them.

The hilt and hand guard made up about one foot of the length. A black cloth was wrapped firmly around the hilt and secured at the top with a metal cap. The guard had a ruby imbedded in it on either side, resting in the center in line with the blade. Other gems, most likely diamonds, were set at the ends of the guard, held in what could be the claws of a dragon. The dark wood of the scabbard had been stained until was nearly as black as the night sky, a deep contrast to the gold filigree accentuating the edges as well as the guard and cap. Unsheathing about two inches of the straight blade, I admired the quality of the metal used to craft there. There were no defects, no impurities in what I could see, the edge sharpened to what could split a hair in half. As ornamental as weapon appeared, it was quite obvious it was fully functional at the same time.

Carefully sitting the blade on the bed, I turned back to my best friend. I am not entirely sure what emotions were swirling in my eyes, but I do know that I saw Kouji gulp down something that was apparently stuck in his throat and that it took all of my self-control to not tackle him a second time. "Thank you…" I breathed, voice barely a whisper. Then I couldn't stop myself anymore, and I cried.

(Kouji's POV)

I hadn't expected Takuya to break down like that, no one did. The emotional pain and stress he had felt for fourteen years of his life just poured out all at once now that he had seen what he had been missing out on before he came here. I had quickly rushed to his side and comforted him with gently pats on the back until he finally calmed down several minutes later. He had thanked me again and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, jokingly berating himself for being such a wimp.

It was about an hour later that found us making our way towards the servants' hall, two sleepy forms hitching a ride on our backs. Takuya had his little brother while I was carrying the brat's boyfriend, neither awake enough to walk on their own. Depositing them on their beds, though did stir them from their slumber enough for Shinya to sleepily ask the brunette for his lullaby. He quickly turned to me with a blush on his face, saying, "S-sometimes I sing to him to get him to sleep, since Mom isn't here to do it." I smiled but kept myself from saying I already knew because that would mean I would have to admit to following him again. "I'm not that good, though…"

"Are you sure?" I asked, that part of me that had fully accepted that I loved him wanting so desperately to hear that song again.

Groaning, he replied, "You'll see…"

"Lost in darkest blue, endless labyrinths weaving through, will you stagger on, with no star to light your way? Share with me your tears, all your troubles and deepest fears. I remember when, you chased all my shadows away. Won't you take my hand, come away with me from this land. Let me give to you, all that you have given to me. Fly horizon bound, find the moon behind darkening clouds. Even far apart, know our souls together will be. When the storm draws nigh, dreams will shatter before your eyes. Know that you're not alone. When the battle starts, I will comfort your restless heart. You'll know that you are home. When your stars stop shining, endless vines around you winding. Know that you're not alone. I will give my all, so your tears will no longer fall, down, down on sorrows stone. Know that you're not alone…"

His melodic voice affected me a lot more than I wanted to admit, and I closed my eyes against the feelings welling up in my stomach. "You're right, you suck," I said jokingly, standing and moving away from him before I did something stupid. "Seriously, though, you are a lot better than you give yourself credit for."

"Is that a compliment?" he asked quietly, a mischievous smirk on his face as he steered me out of the room and closed the door. "I didn't know you had it in you to praise someone."

Halfway down the hall I made the mistake of looking at him. The content smile on his face was more than my fluttering heart could handle, and I did something I had been trying to avoid. Acting on impulse, I pushed my brown-haired best friend against the wall, pinning his shoulders to the cold, flat surface behind him. Just as he was about to open his mouth to speak I stopped him with my own, plastering our lips together sloppily. I had never kissed someone before, never indulged in such things because there was never someone I wanted to indulge it with, and now that inexperience was a little unnerving. I wasn't entirely sure I was doing it right, but I did know that the body beneath mine was completely rigid and unresponsive.

Fear replaced adrenaline in those few seconds, my heart sinking into the pit of my stomach as my head screamed at me. What had I just done? Well, that was an easy question; I had kissed Takuya. And he hadn't responded at all. Pulling away quickly, I took off down the hall without looking at him. I was too embarrassed and hurt to let him see the emotions running rampant in my eyes. For a brief moment I had actually thought that maybe Kouichi was right, that possibly Takuya could like me in return. How could I be so stupid?

(Takuya's POV)

It happened so fast my mind didn't have time to register it. One second we were walking and the next I was pinned between Kouji's mouth and the cold, stone wall. I had been so shocked I wasn't able to do anything in the two or three seconds that our lips were connected, and then he pulled away so fast it had to have been in disgust and took off down the hall with angry-sounding footsteps.

Shaking slightly, I couldn't will myself to move, or even stay standing. As my knees gave out beneath me my mind solemnly said, I got my wish alright, not that the aftereffects were as pleasant as I had imagined… I was in such shock that it took me nearly twenty minutes to gather the energy to stand. And I knew that if I wanted to salvage our friendship I would have to squash these feelings I had for him. I had known that from the beginning anyway; there was no way he could be with me…

Me and cliffhangers and angst. I'm sure you all love me by this point. XD

Just thought I'd say that the small amount of presents was kind of a way to make Takuya not feel quite so bad. Because that way pretty much all the things they got him were for practical purposes and then he wouldn't be completely depressed at the large amount of gold they spent on what a commoner could see as 'useless gifts.'