Amaretto

Takato sat alone behind a tree in the park, staring at the bottle in his hands before taking a sip of it. He looked down at the label: Amaretto, 56 proof, 28% alcohol by volume.

...He got it from Hirokazu...

...Hirokazu 'gave' it to him...

...Hirokazu gave him a lot of things...

...From his first bottle of schnapps, to his alcoholism, to this bottle of amaretto...

This 'gift' came from a friend of Hirokazu's, Hirokazu pays her, she buys Hirokazu booze. Takato pays Hirokazu, Hirokazu pays her, she buys Takato booze.

Yeah, he had a hangover, once. He never wanted to see a beer bottle, let alone stuff like amaretto...

...Beer wasn't his thing, he stole a bottle from his parents bakery once... Tasted terrible, too bitter. He liked sweet things, schnapps, amaretto, fruit wines and anisette. Yeah, some off it still burned his throat, but he needed it every now and then.

That was Hirokazu's worst 'gift,' alcoholism. Hirokazu became infamous on school grounds for carrying a flask and drinking it during classes. Teachers haven't caught him...yet.

Takato just snuck it to the park every once in a while.

...Jen didn't know, he thought Takato learned his lesson from the hangover.

He didn't want to see another bottle of booze again... ...for about a week. Afterwards, he found himself eying beer bottles his parents sold in the bakery. After two weeks, he finally stole one, drinking it in the alley behind the bakery.

He never got caught, not for the schnapps or the beer. Not for the amaretto he hid in his room, or any of the other liquors.

...It was an expensive lifestyle to keep. Booze wasn't cheap, and he had to pay extra for the 'favor.'

Still, it brought him some reassurance... After all, if Jen ever found him again, everything he says is just the booze talking, after all.

...Right...

...The Booze talking...

Just dismiss it like that... ...Just forget about it... No way Takato Matsuda could be gay! He couldn't possibly have a thing for Jenrya Li! He wasn't demented, he wasn't sick, he was perfectly fucking normal!

...Bullshit.

Takato took a swig of his drink, leaning against a tree. It helped his forget about that aspect of his life, something he wanted to do as much as possible...

He'd been feeling this way for a year, he denied it at first, he tried to avoid Jen at first. Jen was upset and thought Takato was mad at him, Takato felt terrible and stopped the evasion tactic... ...Now, look at him.

They're right, it does numb the pain. It numbs everything, emotional pain, the pain from falling on your ass in a drunken stupor, everything. A cure all with a headache attatched to it.

...At least, that's what Takato liked to tell himself. He never told anyone about what he felt towards Jen. Not his friends, parents, and especially not Jen...

Takato sighed, leaning his head back. He took a deep breath, "...Why...?" He whispered.

"Urgh...! Too much... To drink..." That voice...

Takato turned, holding onto the tree to keep his balance. He had gotten better at keeping his balance and moving his arms above chest level.

Jen's older brother was leaning against a park bench, holding his head down, "...Never... again... Will I go...to a chugging contest..." He groaned, slurring.

Takato, from his first hangover, learned that Lianjie was a bit of a drinker at times. He didn't really have a problem, though Jen and his sisters sometimes joked like he did. He was responsible about it, at least. He never drove when he knew he'd be drinking. One of Jen's occasional excuses for being late to see him in the morning is because Lianjie fell asleep in his car, parked at a bar, and couldn't drive him.

Takato groaned, he was looking at his future. Leaning over a park bench, sick as hell, and all to win a sake chugging contest. ...Good going on this one, Matsuda. Nice way to screw up your life without even trying.

Lianjie sat on the bench, he pulled a silver flask from his coat and took a sip from it. He paused looking at it, then turning it over, "Crap...I'm dry..."

Takato sighed, he carefully walked to Lianjie. He stumbled a bit, but he had still gotten better about walking. He held the bottle to Lianjie.

"...The hell...?" Lianjie looked up, Takato stood over him. Lianjie laughed, "Oh, crap, you've gotta be kidding me.."

"You're dry, aren't you?" Takato asked.

Lianjie took the bottle, "Yeah, but it's not the best thing for me...right now..." Lianjie sipped the amaretto, "Ugh... Takato, you're still a kid, right?"

Takato sat next to him, he tooks his bottle back and sipped it, "...Yeah..."

"No wonder you like the sweet stuff..." Lianjie shook his head, then realized his mistake and held his head, "I thought you learned your lesson..."

"I didn't..."

"That other guy talk you into it again?"

"No, I just needed a drink." Takato held the bottle to Lianjie, the legal drinker took it and drank some of it.

"You know this crap is bad for you, right?" Lianjie asked, "That night at our apartment-"

"I need it." Takato said, "It's better than prescription painkillers." Not that he'd tried those...Yet. Hirokazu once got ahold of a couple oxycontin, the results were...interesting, he said.

Lianjie laughed, "Break your arm or somethin'?"

"...No. I have...things to think about..." Takato sighed. Dammit, he still had to work on the 'truth serum' effect.

Lianjie took the amaretto, he drank some, cringing slightly at the sweet taste. "Ugh... Next time you come as my rescue dog, bring some rum or something." He held the bottle back to Takato, Takato took it with both hands and drank it, "So, what kind of things to think about? In college, I read a psychiatry book if that helps any..."

Takato shook his head, "...You wouldn't understand, or like it..."

"What? C'mon, doctor-patient confessionalism or whatever it is, I won't tell a soul."

"...You still won't like it..." Shit, truth serum... Stop it Takato, this is his brother! Then again, you're an idiot for drinking like this, you were stupid enough to approach him, what's one more stupid act on your resume?

"I just came back from a chugging contest, I don't even remember if I like salmon sushi or not." Lianjie laughed, "Talking helps more than this crap." He took Takato's bottle. It was almost empty, "Did you drink all of this thing tonight?"

"No, I've had it for about a week." Takato shook his head, he head was starting to ache a bit, but he could ignore it.

"That's too often, you're gonna kill yourself at this rate." Lianjie drank the rest of the bottle, "I only get like this...what...one or twice a month, maybe... I don't drink entire bottles of amaretto in one week."

Takato sighed, "...I needed extra this week."

"No excuse." Lianjie shook his head, "So, what's on your mind? I stand by my 'I won't say crap to anyone' statement."

"...I'm gay." Takato stiffened slightly, realizing he had just said that. He turned to Lianjie, trying to gauge a response.

Lianjie just stared forward. There was a long silence. "...Oh."

"...Still want to hear the rest?" Takato asked, Lianjie's delayed response wasn't necessarily a good sign.

Lianjie belched, nodding. "...Yeah...Keep goin'."

"...I like someone, but I don't think he'd like me the same way... ...Or even at all if I tell him..." Takato explained, his cheeks were turning red. Dammit, why did he have to give Lianjie his drink? He hated the truth serum effect, he found himself talking to no-one at times...Just going on and on about either the stupidest things or, more often than not, Jenrya Li.

"...Is it that Hiro-guy?"

"...No."

"At least you have good taste," Lianjie muttered, "I know too many guys who were like him when they were kids... They're the kind of person who goes to college if they're lucky, and when they do, they party, drink and drop out." He coughed, "So, who is it then?"

"...You don't want to know..."

"Try me."

Takato sighed. What the hell? "...Your brother..."

Lianjie coughed, falling forward on the bench. He caught himself, barely.

Nice reaction. Takato rolled his eyes.

Lianjie suddenly started laughing, "Oh, oh shit! Shit! You're kidding me, right? Jianliang?" He burst into a louder laughter. Takato started to leave, but Lianjie grabbed his coat after the second or third try, "No! No! Keep going!" He said, "Sorry, sorry, I just... I just didn't expect that..."

"...Obviously..." Takato let out a sigh, turning away carefully, leaning to each side a bit as he did so. "J-Just forget...Forget I said that. Booze talking."

"Booze is truth serum, kid," Lianjie said. "Oh, man...Sorry I laughed, but...You have no idea how funny it is..."

"Funny? How the hell is it funny?" Takato shouted, he turned to face Lianjie. Too quickly, he lost his balance and fell on his ass. "Damn it!" He didn't bother getting up, he just sat there, trying to keep from falling on his back or side.

Lianjie let out another laugh. "Now, that's funny, too..." He took a sip of the amaretto. "You're a funny drunk, when you're old enough to drink or get a good enough fake ID, we should hit some bars. I know a good one down the road, great prices on sake."

"...Never tried it." Takato said.

"Seriously? Great stuff...Remind me to get you a little bottle of it sometime."

"Are you serious?"

"You're a funny drunk," Lianjie repeated. "Anyway, keep going. Why do you like Jianliang so much?"

"I...I don't know. I just do. We've been friends for...years. He's always been there for me...Like when Hirokazu talked me into that bottle of schnapps, he...He just..." Takato's mind couldn't form the right words. "He's...There. He's always there." That was the best he could do. Repeat 'there,' which was true, but not everything. Not even the tip of the iceberg.

"And you never told him?"

"...I let something slip when I was drunk that time...He just chalked it up to 'the booze talking.'" Takato shrugged.

"Look, I don't pry into Jianliang's...personal life...But, he talks about you a lot..." Lianjie said. "I don't think my little bro is gay, but...If he was, I think he'd like ya back. Easily."

"...He's not. Life doesn't like me that much," Takato sighed. "I'm telling you this, that's gotta be...a sign..."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You're his brother...I never...told anyone this...before...No-one knows, and I'm a stupid drunk...spilling his guts to...Jen's brother..." Takato groaned. He had too much, he looked to waste basket by Lianjie. "H-Help me...Help me up, please..."

Lianjie carefully stood up and helped Takato stand. He helped him to the waste basket, then looked away as he vomited.

"Yeesh...How often do you do that?" Lianjie asked.

Takato coughed. "F-First time...I think I went overboard tonight..."

"No shit."

"I'm glad I don't have school tomorrow, now..." Takato groaned, he grabbed the top of the park bench and more or less rolled onto it.

"Yeah, at least you're sort of responsible...Don't drink on school nights, right?"

"Not...Not this much..." Takato laid back. Lianjie sat next to him at the far end of the bench. "...You...You won't tell Jen, right? At least, not what I told you..."

"Promise," Lianjie said. "But, you ever think...you should be honest with Jianliang? Just...tell him?"

"N-Never!" Takato shouted raising his hands in the air, they fell back into his chest and stomach painfully. "Ow... ...He'd...He could hate me... Think I'm just...some sick freak or something!"

"Man, you've got baggage over this..." Lianjie trailed off. "Did I freak out?"

"You're drunk," Takato replied.

"And you're not?"

Takato let out an annoyed groan. "...Do you think...he would care?"

"Sober up and go tell him," Lianjie said. "...And don't do crap like this anymore, got it?"

"...If he doesn't hate me, I'll stop," Takato said. "If he hates me...I don't know what I'd do..." Takato felt tears welling in his eyes, he quickly leaned forward, almost too fast to where he'd fall off the bench. He caught himself and wiped his eyes with his sleeves.

Lianjie stood up. "Thanks for the drink, Takato. I think I'll take this with me, though." He took the near-empty bottle of amaretto and put it in his coat pocket, not realizing the cap was still off. "Stop doing crap like this. And tell him. I'm his brother...and I'm telling you this."

Takato nodded.

"...Need help getting home?"

Takato shook his head. "I'm going to wait here a bit... When I feel better, I'll go home."

Lianjie nodded. "...All right. Hope you don't have too serious of a hangover tomorrow. Puking's never...a good sign..." With that he left.

Takato groaned, getting back up and looking around the park. "I'd...better go somewhere no-one...would see me..." He stumbled off.


"Gokigen na chou ni natte..."

Takato groaned, then let out a shout as he opened his eyes. The sun was too bright.

"...Kirameku kaze ni notte..."

"Wha?" Takato fumbled around his pockets for his cell phone. He answered it. "H-Hello?"

"Takato! Thank God, where the hell are you!" It was Jen.

"J-Jen?"

"Your parents called this morning, asking if you were staying here. They said you didn't come home last night," Jen said. "They tried your cell, and...I've been trying to call you every five minutes for the past hour. You had me so worried..."

Takato's eyes focused to the light, his head was pounding. It took him a minute to realize he'd passed out in Guilmon's old hiding place...His mind made a note of telling him this was a new low, defiling his old partner's home. "I...I just fell asleep in the park..." He said. "I wasn't feeling well, I thought I'd rest and...I guess I dozed off."

"Where are you right now? You don't sound too good."

"Guilmon's spot..."

"...You haven't been there...in years, you said," Jen trailed off. They still hadn't seen their partners since D-Reaper, five years ago. It was a touchy subject for both of them at times.

"Y-Yeah, but...I guess I...I don't know, I just...came here," Takato sighed. He didn't even remember walking over to Guilmon's spot. How could he explain his logic when he was drunk on amaretto?

"...Do you want me to come by? You really sound sick, Takato," Jen said. "What's wrong? I'll bring anything you need."

"N-No, that's okay, Jen. I'll just go home, my parents are probably worried sick..." Takato said. "I'll...I want to talk to you later, though..." He did remember what Lianjie had told him. Somehow.

"All right, but...Be careful, Takato. You scared me. A lot."

"Sorry, Jen, I didn't...I didn't mean to worry you," Takato said. "I'll call you later."

"Right, bye," Jen said as he hang up.

Takato looked down at his phone...Twenty-seven missed calls. Before he could even check who they were from, it went off again. His mother, according to the caller ID."...Mom?" He said as he answered.

"T-Takato! Where are you? Why didn't you come home? Or even call?"

"S-Sorry, sorry, I just...I wasn't feeling well when I was at the park, I sat down and fell asleep on a bench."

"And you just woke up? Takato, it's almost ten!"

"I-I know, I just...I think I caught a cold or something. It...It hit me all of a sudden. I'm sorry I scared you." Takato said. He felt like vomiting again, but did his best not to do it over the phone. His mother's voice wasn't helping his headache, either.

"Do you need one of us to come and pick you up?" Takato's mind chanted the words get off the phone, get off the phone, get off the phone over and over again.

"No, I can make it home. I'll be there soon, sorry again." Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up...

"Just hurry." I'm trying!

"I will. B-Bye." Takato hang up quickly. He tossed his phone aside and lurched forward, coughing. He vomited in one of Guilmon's old holes. Not much, it was mostly dry heaves.

Once he finished, Takato fell onto his back with a groan. "...I can't believe this..." He sighed. "...I'm pathetic... Sorry about this, Guilmon..."

After a few minutes of resting, Takato managed to get up and start walking back home. He'd feel better after a day or so, then... ...Then he would talk to Jen.


Takato missed three days of school over the hangover. It was chalked up as a stomach flu by his parents, they didn't punish him for not calling because he was obviously sick.

Jen called on the second day of missed school, Takato told him about the 'stomach flu.' Jen came by later with some herbal medicine and spent some time with Takato...Takato almost told him then, but he wanted to do it in a situation he felt better in. One where he could keep solid food down for more than five minutes.

Takato was feeling like his old self before the week was out. On Saturday, as he walked through the park with Jen after school, he cleared his throat. "Jen, can I ask you something?" Lianjie's advice wouldn't leave him alone, he could practically hear his voice telling him to tell Jen. Takato knew what could happen if he told Jen, but he knew what he would be doing if he didn't tell him. This was it...

"Sure," Jen nodded.

"...If I told you Kenta was gay, what would you think?"

"Kenta? Gay?" Jen stopped in his tracks. "I don't know, he's..." He trailed off, then looked to Takato with a raised eyebrow. "...Kenta? Really?"

Takato shrugged, turning to Jen. He hoped Kenta wouldn't hear about this hypothetical. "...Maybe."

"He's my friend," Jen shrugged. "I'd still hang out with him and everything. He's not like Hirokazu these days, I like the fact he tries to be his voice of reason. Even though Hirokazu doesn't listen. It wouldn't change things."

"R-Really?" Takato tried his best to hide his relief and, to be completely honest, some excitement. He then asked, "What if he liked you?"

"M-me? I doubt it, he'd probably like Hirokazu." Jen laughed. "Why? Did you read his journal or something?"

"J-Just answer the question..." Takato let out a nervous laugh.

Jen gave a shrug. "...I don't know."

"Would you hate him?"

"I doubt it."

"Would you be mad at him?"

"Of course not."

"...Would you still want to be his friend?"

"I guess..." Jen gave Takato a confused glance. "Why are you asking this?"

Takato went to a nearby bench and sat down. He stared at Jen for a moment or two, then swallowed and spoke, "...What if I...told you Kenta wasn't gay?" He asked, then said, quietly, "...And I was."

"...Takato?" Jen sat down next to Takato. He put a hand on his friend's shoulder.

"...I like you, Jen. I like you a lot," Takato said. "I-I never thought I'd tell you this, but..." Takato felt tears welling up in his eyes, he wished he'd gotten over crying so easily after all these years. He did his best to hold them back. "...Keeping it to myself is destroying me, I need to tell you."

"Destroying you?" Jen asked.

"It's...a long story, but...Please, Jen, you don't have to like me back, but...Don't hate me, please."

"...I... I don't know what to say," Jen didn't take his hand away, much to Takato's surprise. "You've been my best friend for years. To be honest, Takato...I kind of suspected this, well, since that night with the schnapps."

Takato glanced away. "O-Oh...Really?"

"Alcohol makes you say weird things, but you don't really randomly tell people you love them, not without a reason." Jen smiled. "...I thought about that for a while, actually."

"...And?"

"...Well, like I said, you've been my friend for years," Jen took his hand away, but only so he could put his arm around Takato's shoulder. "...And, I think..." He cleared his throat. "...I think I might...return your feelings... Easily."

"J-Jen?"

"You're different, Takato. Different from anyone else I've ever met...I always liked you more than anyone else I've known," Jen gave Takato a reassuring smile. "I never thought of it as 'love,' so much at first, but I eventually realized it was...We've been through so much, more than most friends. I...I like you, too. I just...I wanted to wait until you told me. I guess I was scared, too. I wanted to be sure it wouldn't change things between us in a bad way."

Takato couldn't hold back, he threw his arms around Jen, taking him by surprise. "I...I can't believe this... Thank you, Jen!"

"...Will you promise to stop drinking, though?" Jen asked.

Takato let go of Jen and slid back on the bench. "Wh-What?"

"Lianjie told me he ran into in the park a few days ago. He told me you were drinking again. And that you made yourself sick. I've seen enough of his hangovers to know what they look like, Takato. I know that wasn't a stomach flu you had," Jen shook his head. "...I'm not upset about it, though. I think I know why you were drinking. It was this, wasn't it?"

Takato swallowed, nodding. "...I just...I wanted to forget, to feel normal for a while. It made me stop worrying about if you found out."

"Promise to stop?"

"I promise," Takato said with a nod. "...Did Rinchei tell you...anything else?"

"You're a funny a drunk," Jen laughed.

"O-Oh," Takato chuckled. "Y-Yeah, I fell over a lot..."

"So, what would you like to do now?" Jen asked, standing up. He held his hand to Takato. "I mean, should we make things official?"

Takato took Jen's hand and stood up. "...How?"

"Go out somewhere or..." Jen blushed slightly. "Um...A kiss?"

Takato smiled. "We'll start with the second one, then do the first one."


Jianliang returned home after sunset. Lianjie was waiting on the couch, there was an open beer in his hand. "Did he tell you, yet?"

"He did," Jianliang said after checking to make sure no-one else was around. "...And I'm still pissed that you read my journal."

"In my defense, you left it on the dining room table. I thought it was Jialing's, especially with that page about 'that certain boy,'" Lianjie laughed. "I wouldn't have even known it was yours if you didn't grab it from me, screaming, 'don't read my journal!'"

"Why didn't you just tell him that night?" Jianliang asked. "I mean...You knew what would happen."

"Yeah, yeah, but...I was hammered that night, but I wouldn't reveal your secrets. I'm a better brother than that," Lianjie said. "I'll read your journal, but I won't tell anyone but you about it." He took a drink from his beer, adding. "Besides, you should have seen him. He was killing himself because he was so scared you'd hate him. It'd be better for him to tell you in the end, I think."

"He promised to stop," Jianliang sat down next to his brother. "...And thanks for...not freaking out over this whole..." He trailed off.

"The hell do I care if you're gay?" Lianjie said. "I'm happy if you're happy."

"Right..."

"Are you happy with him?"

"O-Of course," Jianliang nodded. "...I never thought he'd feel the same, even that night with the schnapps...I know 'booze talking' is one thing, but... I was still too scared."

"And he really promised to quit?"

"...Yeah, he will. I know it." Jianliang nodded. "I trust him."


Takato stared down at the bottle of peach schnapps in his hand...Almost full, only a couple sips taken from it. Peach schnapps, what started this whole thing...

He looked up at the full moon from the balcony of his room, twisting off the cap to the bottle. "...I know I made you a promise, Jen-chan..." He said quietly.

Takato held the bottle over the balcony, pouring the contents into the alley below.

"...And, to be with you-No, For you and myself, for us...I'll keep it."

~Owari~


Original Author's (AKA Ori's) Notes:
...Is it wrong I wrote the remainder of this fic with a glass of peppermint schnapps in my hand? (I was outta peach) Seriously, don't take this as an anti-alcohol fic, it's just a "drink responsibly" fic. Drink like Lianjie, get hammered once in a while and walk home or sleep it off in the passenger's seat.

[Smoking rant deleted because Ori's a complete and utter moron - Taiki, and Ori sends his apologies to anyone offended - He meant it as a joke]

Originally, this was planned with a downer ending that would lead to another fic called "Blasphemous Rumors," where Takato tries to commit suicide...But Blasphemous Rumors turned into a standalone project outside of the Schnapps\Amaretto fic series (which I'm still not sure I wanna let Taiki upload or not), so I decided to go with a happy-sappy-crappy-ending (as I call all of the 'I love you, too' endings I feel are a little unrealistic).

The way it led into Blasphemous Rumors, was Lianjie falls asleep in his car with Takato in the back (because he's too sick to walk home). Jianliang finds Takato the next morning when he wakes Lianjie and gets pissed that he's drinking again. Takato realizes he's hit rock bottom (or at least, he thinks he has) and then...Cut to Blasphemous Rumors.

I'm really not that much into writing slash anymore, but I want to finish up all the unfinished projects that I think have some merit. So, hope you enjoyed it.


Taiki's Notes:

Ori, please don't quit slash! You said so yourself that you can't write straight fics, slash is all you have for romantic works!

Though, that does remind me, thank you for the cameo in one of your comics! I loved it!

On a side note, I don't do any drinking myself but I've seen Ori online after a few. Something fun to see how drunk he is: Ask him his religion.

If he says "Taoism," he's buzzed.
If he says "Yaoism," he's plastered.

Honestly! It's a rather funny and consistent typo he makes after one too many.

T key too close to the Y key or is there something Freudian going on there, Ori? Ha ha ha, sorry, couldn't resist!

-Taiki Matsuki