Title: Best Friends Forever
Pairing/Characters: one-sided Hikari/OFC, Takari, Digidestined
Genre/Category: Het, one-sided femmeslash, outsider PoV, drama
Rated: PG-13
Word count: ca. 3170
Warnings: None
Spoilers/Setting: Set after the end of 02, but before the epilogue
Disclaimer: Digimon doesn't belong to me.

Summary: Chiori is Hikari's best friend. Not.

A/N: Thanks goes to Kanarah J for the awesome and fast beta job! Especially for catching that I consequently called Taichi by another name... Feedback of any kind is very much appreciated.


Hikari is Chiori's best friend.

They've been together since their last year of middle school when Hikari shyly asked if the seat next to Chiori was taken, a sweet smile gracing her lips.

Chiori remembers that day clearly. She remembers how Hikari seemed to radiate warmth and light, how the room suddenly became brighter, how her stomach fluttered, and how she knew, just knew that they were meant to be friends.

And Chiori has been right, of course. From middle school to high school they have always been together. They share everything; laughter, secrets and tears. It was Hikari with whom Chiori made fun of the boys who tried-and failed-to impress them, Hikari whom Chiori told of her first crush, whispered in the dark of one of their many sleepovers like a naughty secret. It was Hikari who comforted her after her crush turned her down, who held her and promised her that everything would be alright.

Their friendship was predestined. They are BFFs – Best Friends Forever, she tells her old-fashioned parents who despair at their daughter's gratuitous use of Americanisms and tell her to join the tea ceremony club.

Chiori goes shopping for a new camera with Hikari the next day, the money from her father's wallet wrinkled and bent in her pocket.

-0-0-0-

Taichi is Hikari's older brother.

He is in high school when they are in middle school, and in college when they are in high school, but he still smiles and winks and flirts with Chiori, making her blush and giggle.

He doesn't try more, though, and Chiori doesn't want him to. Hikari is her best friend, and Chiori would never do anything to endanger their precious friendship.

But still, she feels happy and validated and just a little bit smug knowing that Hikari's older brother approves of her.

-0-0-0-

Daisuke is an idiot.

Or rather, he makes one out of himself the way he chases after Hikari. The boy has never heard of the word 'subtle,' and even if he has, he sure as hell doesn't grasp its meaning. Half the school knows of his crush and quite frankly, Chiori thinks it's embarrassing and pitiful.

But, she admits even though she's reluctant to concede him any positive points, he is living proof of Hikari's unending kindness. If Chiori was in Hikari's place, she would have told the annoying boy from their parallel class to go to hell back in middle school. But instead, Hikari is nice and friendly whenever Daisuke turns up – and he turns up a lot - and smiles even though Chiori knows that it must be difficult to keep the act up the way Daisuke grates on her nerves.

Daisuke, of course, doesn't get that it's just an act. He thinks he and Hikari really are friends, that Hikari is interested in his trivial football stories, that Hikari finds his lame jokes funny.

Daisuke is an idiot, and something tastes sour at the back of Chiori's throat whenever she has to hear Hikari's fake laugh, or has to see the fake smile or the fake affection in her best friend's eyes.

-0-0-0-

Koushiro is a nerd.

There's no nicer way of putting it, Chiori decides as she shuffles impatiently just outside of his room as he hears Hikari laugh at something he said as he shows her something on his computer.

They were on one of their many after school shopping trips when Hikari said that she had to pop by at a friend's to pick up her laptop. Chiori can't remember Hikari telling her that it was broken, though she supposes that she just forgot. This is, after all, the kind of thing you tell your best friend.

So they stopped by Koushiro's place to collect Hikari's now repaired laptop. That was nearly half an hour ago. Now Koushiro shows Hikari things on his computer that make her sigh and coo and tells her stories about something someone called Tentomon did that make Hikari laugh.

Chiori shifts impatiently in the dark hallway as Hikari talks with Koushiro in the brightly lit room.

-0-0-0-

Iori is a sweet kid.

He's younger than Hikari and Chiori, quiet and soft-spoken, and he brings Hikari home-made sweets. At first Chiori thinks that he has a crush on her best friend like Daisuke, but Hikari explains that they are friends since before middle school.

Chiori wonders how a girl like Hikari could be friends with a kid like Iori, but Hikari just smiles and shrugs and offers her the sweets Iori gave her. Chiori supposes that it's alright; Iori's mother knows how to bake and even Daisuke is more tolerable when Iori is there.

But still, she wishes Hikari wouldn't waste so much time talking to the kid.

-0-0-0-

Yamato isn't really a problem.

Chiori is at Hikari's. They are preparing a school project together when they hear the door slamming shut and loud voices arguing noisily about one thing or another. They both look up, Hikari with a grin and Chiori puzzled as Taichi stumbles into the room breathlessly, his arm thrown over the shoulders of a tall blond guy.

"Yamato!" Hikari cries, and the blond guy winks at her with a smirk. Chiori grits her teeth as Hikari jumps up to run over to the pair, hugging the stranger.

"When did you come back?"

"Couple of hours ago. My stuff is still in the car."

They talk for more than two hours, school work forgotten. Chiori is introduced and she finds out that Yamato is Taichi's best friend, and that he has been in America for a year and a half, going to school there and visiting a friend.

Chiori doesn't like him that much, at first, but during the course of the evening she finds him less and less aggravating. He brawls with Taichi and flirts with Hikari, but it's okay because it's just playful, teasing, and not serious at all.

When Chiori goes home shortly after Koushiro turns up - announcing that Sora and the others would be coming soon and getting slapped on the back by Yamato – she leaves secure in the knowledge that her special bond with Hikari isn't threatened.

She still doesn't like Yamato all that much, though.

-0-0-0-

Ken is their saviour.

After Yamato's return, Hikari is always busy. Be it watching a movie at the cinema, a visit to the amusement park, a shopping trip or just hanging out – Hikari is always busy doing things with 'Yamato and the others' and doesn't have time for Chiori, much less their school project.

When Chiori reminds Hikari rather harshly that their assignment is due in a couple of days Hikari's eyes widen and she looks at Chiori uncertainly, apologizing tentatively and asking Chiori if she has time to come over after school to work there.

Chiori is mollified and in a rather good mood when she arrives at Hikari's after a short stop at home to change out of her school uniform, but stops short when she sees a strange guy in Hikari's room, pouring over their project.

The guy's name is Ken, and he agreed to help them out when Hikari asked him, Hikari explains with a grateful look in Ken's direction.

Ken just smiles, and shrugs, and says that it's a pleasure, and stays between them the entire time. He gives them tips and pointers, offers advice and basically tells them what to do. When they are finished, even Chiori is impressed and forced to agree when Hikari says that they will receive top marks for the assignment.

Ken accepts their thanks demurely and says that it's not a big deal, even though they all know that he just saved them. He is the first to leave and as he waves them goodbye, he adds that he'll see Hikari later that evening at Yamato's.

Chiori doesn't like him at all.

-0-0-0-

Miyako is a snooty cow.

The first time Chiori meets her is actually shortly after Hikari got her laptop back from Koushiro, when the two of them are in Hikari's room studying for a test. They hear the doorbell ring, hear Hikari's mother answering the door, and suddenly there are footsteps and the door to Hikari's room is thrown open as a girl with glasses walks in, demanding to see Hikari's laptop.

Chiori stares at the new girl in disbelieve, but Hikari just laughs and says, "Nice to see you too, Miyako," to which the girl replies with an impatient hand wave. She is already moving to the laptop, booting it up without even waiting for permission, babbling something about wanting to see the upgrades Koushiro made to the laptop.

Hikari grins fondly at the rude girl and tells Chiori to just ignore her, she always gets like this when computers and Koushiro are involved.

Miyako 'hmpfh's and turns around to look at the two of them. Her eyes narrow suspiciously when Chiori isn't quite fast enough to hide the dislike in her eyes. She sniffs and introduces herself in the most haughtily and grating tone Chiori has ever had the displeasure to hear: "I am Miyako, genius extraordinaire. And you are?"

Chiori has to grit her teeth to stop herself from insulting the snooty cow. Hikari introduces her instead, and when she tells Miyako that Chiori is a school friend Chiori's fingernails dig painfully into her palm.

She is more.

-0-0-0-

Joe is a geek.

Hikari has been sick and absent from school for the past two weeks, and the teachers have made it Chiori's responsibility that Hikari gets her homework. Chiori feels validated and reassured that even teachers recognise the special bond between her and her best friend and is thankful for the excuse to visit Hikari.

After school Chiori immediately goes to the Yagami apartment, and she can't help the big smile when Hikari's mother tells her that Hikari is feeling better, that she will return to school soon and asks if Chiori would like to see her.

Chiori says yes, of course, doesn't even have to think about it. Hikari's mother keeps talking as Chiori slips out of her shoes, tells her that it's such a blessing to have Jou over to keep an eye on Hikari and help her not fall behind in school. Chiori frowns briefly, wondering what she is talking about, but then she is in front of Hikari's room and excitement is making her stomach flutter. She hasn't seen her best friend in ages.

She opens the door and Hikari looks up from where she is huddled over her desk. She smiles weakly as she sees Chiori, her skin flushed and eyes bright. But what diverts Chiori's attention is the young man standing next to Hikari, a hand on her pyjama-clad shoulder.

Behind Chiori, Hikari's mother enters the room, saying that she thought that it would be alright for Chiori to see Hikari. The young man smiles reassuringly at her and tells her that it's okay, but Chiori pays them no attention, not even when Taichi suddenly joins their little group, greeting the stranger like an old friend.

She barely hears the introductions, doesn't quite understand why this Jou person is here, in Hikari's room, helping her with her school work for the last couple of days when today is the first time Chiori was allowed to see her.

Chiori glares at the hand touching her best friend, wishing that everyone but Hikari would just leave even as Hikari cracks a weak joke about responsibility and integrity that makes Taichi and Jou laugh out loud.

-0-0-0-

Sora is a girl.

Chiori and Hikari haven't done anything in a while together, just the two of them, so when Hikari asks Chiori if she has time this Friday for a girls' night, one that Miyako can't attend because of a date, Chiori is overjoyed.

While Hikari is on good terms with all the other girls in their year, Chiori made sure that the only one Hikari is really close to is herself. So she knows that Friday night will be only the two of them, and she is looking forward to the chance of righting the friendship, to bring it back on the track it was back in middle school when they spent so many afternoons in just each other's company.

But all her expectations are shattered when Hikari's mother leads Chiori into the living room where, instead of seeing just Hikari curled into one corner of the couch, another girl is sitting next to Chiori's best friend.

Chiori already knows Sora, has met her in passing when she and Hikari visited Taichi in college. Sora plays football. Sora prefers wearing jeans to wearing skirts. Sora hates romance and likes action movies. Sora is a tomboy at heart.

Chiori knows all this because Sora and Taichi are friends, because they have so much in common, just like Chiori and Hikari.

The thought that she could be one of Hikari's friends too has never entered Chiori's mind. But now she is here, intruding on their girls' night, sitting next to Hikari and looking at Chiori in a way that makes her feel exposed and angry.

Sora knows.

-0-0-0-

Mimi is the beginning of the end.

When Hikari's sixteenth birthday is coming up, Chiori is desperate to do anything to keep Hikari from slipping away from her. Chiori doesn't understand what's happening, doesn't understand where all these people are suddenly coming from, acting as though they have always been there, as though they belong there, separating her from her best friends, but she knows that she can't let it go on.

She won't give up Hikari without a fight.

A birthday party…that's her plan; a birthday party without all those obstacles. Chiori will allow the girls from their year and from the photography club to attend because they are less of a danger than Miyako and Sora. Even the boys that have been chasing after Hikari but haven't had the courage to approach will be invited, because they don't distract Hikari as much as Daisuke, Koushiro, Iori, Yamato, Ken and Jou do. Taichi may come, of course. Taichi who approves of Chiori and isn't a threat to her.

The tight knot in her stomach that has made her feel sick for the last couple of days loosens as she comes up with her plan. It will be perfect, and Hikari will be hers again.

She smiles, and hums as she makes her way to the Yamagi apartment. Hikari isn't there, she knows. She is at Miyako's, helping the rude girl with some thing or other, but for once Chiori doesn't care. Because her plan is ready and perfect, and all she has to do is tell Taichi about it and distract him should he ask about whether or not the others are invited.

Chiori has it all planned out and it is perfect and Chiori should have known that disaster will strike again.

Mimi is planning a Sweet Sixteen party for Hikari, Taichi tells her when she talks to him. Mimi is their friend from America, the one Yamato was visiting. She's coming to Japan just for the occasion, because apparently, Mimi promised Hikari that she would throw her a party years ago. Taichi sounds apologetic when he explains this to Chiori, but the look in his eyes makes her uncomfortable, scares her in a way Taichi never has.

Chiori makes her way home slowly, mind numb as she processes the words. Mimi is throwing Hikari a party, something she has promised Hikari years ago. Before Hikari smiled at Chiori and asked her whether or not the seat next to her was taken, probably.

Hikari is slipping away from her, and there is nothing she can do.

Chiori is quiet the next day in school, avoiding eye contact with Hikari but unable to leave her side. She doesn't answer when Hikari asks her if she's alright, excuses herself instead and makes her way to the washroom.

Iori stops her on her way and tells her that a friend of Hikari's is planning a surprise party, and asks if Chiori would like to come? Chiori isn't sure what masochistic part of her agrees, but she says yes, and doesn't even care when Iori gives her a pitying look before going away, or that she's crying as soon as she reaches the washroom.

When the party begins, Mimi isn't there. But Taichi, Yamato, Koushiro, Jou, Sora, Daisuke, Iori, Miyako and Ken are, and Hikari, of course, and Chiori feels like the outsider looking in.

They laugh, and joke, and yell, and talk, and coo, and giggle. They have fun. They have fun while Chiori sits close by and watches them, watches her best friend have a good time with other people.

She thinks she should feel something, but doesn't.

Things are wrong, and nothing is like it should be, and that's when the doorbell rings.

Taichi gets up, a smirk stretching across his face, and suddenly everyone in the room but Hikari goes quiet and starts grinning. Hikari is adorably confused, a pleased frown narrowing her eyes as she tries to figure out what everyone is up to.

Then Taichi returns.

"Mimi!" Hikari cries in delight, and Chiori has a feeling of déjà-vu as Hikari rushes to hug one of the two new arrivals.

Mimi is hair the colour of pink bubblegum, stylish clothes, the smell of flowers and radiating pure happiness and sunshine. She doesn't let go of Hikari for the longest time but when she does, everyone else but Chiori is waiting to welcome her.

But Mimi doesn't matter at all. Because just like Hikari, Chiori finally notices the other new arrival.

Finally notices him.

-0-0-0-

Takeru is the one Chiori hates.

She hates him. It's as simple as that.

The moment Hikari spots him she goes quiet, though her eyes are as expressive as never before. Chiori sees love in them, adoration, happiness and peace. She can see the same in his eyes when he gazes at Hikari, and when the two meet each other halfway to share a gentle hug Chiori has to look away because it hurts.

Chiori hates Takeru because Hikari looks at him in a way she has never looked at Chiori.

Chiori hates Takeru because Hikari touches him in a way she has never touched Chiori.

Chiori hates Takeru because Hikari talks to him in a way she has never talked to Chiori.

Chiori hates Takeru because Takeru understands Hikari in a way Chiori never has.

Chiori hates Takeru because Takeru makes her realise what she really is.

-0-0-0-

Chiori is Hikari's best friend.

That is what she always thought. That is how she has defined herself since middle school.

Hikari's best friend.

But she isn't.

Chiori is nothing.