Hey. Long time no see. To those of you who don't know, and that's pretty much all of you, I go through bouts of depression and self-loathing kind of frequently. Most of the time it only lasts a few days, but sometimes it can last for months, as was this last case of said uncomfortable topic that I'm currently trying to get over. I don't want it to sound like an excuse for taking forever to update, but I wanted to give an explanation to why it took me so long. Depression doesn't really help to foster a writing can do attitude. Anyways, here I am and I was too lazy to edit, so if there are any mistakes I'll be cleaning them up later.
Disclaimer: Don't own Digimon.
Hikari had been all smiles and laughter that night, the increasingly absent Sunday breakfasts between the Yagami and Ishida/Takaishi siblings being replaced with a dinner instead for this particular evening. It was something that Takeru noticed, something he was glad to see after the revealing weekend up at the lakes, but Hikari seemed to be genuinely happy for the first time in a long time. The awkward conservations and pained glances had all but seemingly disappeared since he had returned, and it reminded him of how things used to be.
Eating one of Yamato's famous meals with her at his side with neither of them only pretending to be happy had an inviting nostalgic air to it, but he honestly couldn't tell himself that he wished his life went back to being like yesteryear. He had had a lot of fun with Hikari over the years, she had had an impact on both his mind and his soul, but that impact hadn't always been a positive one. She had bruised him in ways that he didn't think he could ever forget, but that wasn't what kept him from looking towards the future. There was nothing for him in the past, and he wanted to be done looking in that direction for his answers.
It was an evening that passed with that in his mind while they ate and chatted in the new apartment that now belonged to Yamato, the tiny writer in Takeru's brain thinking that maybe this new apartment was possibly symbolic for something deep and meaningful that pertained to his life. Had he more time, he probably would've taken a moment to try and figure out exactly what that was.
"Do you want to get out of here?"
Sticking the last of the apple pie that his brother had baked into his mouth, a distinctly American desert that Yamato had pretended was store bought, Takeru lazily turned his head towards Hikari as she sat there looking at him, expectantly waiting for an answer. Slowly chewing and swallowing that last bit of delicious Americana, he replied to her reluctantly, feeling quite comfortable and quite at home sitting exactly where he was.
She gave him a familiar smile that, in a way that was as persuasive as it was an oxymoron, felt to him like it was a stranger's smile that was being given to him, as well as an old friend's. He did his best to return a similar kind of grin, but even so Takeru knew that he wouldn't be able to replicate the charmingly manipulative body language that was uniquely Hikari. Even as he spoke, he knew he had lost the argument.
"Oh yeah, the cold outdoors sound really inviting right now."
"Come on!" Hikari laughed and elbowed him, clearly already knowing that they were going to do exactly what she wanted them to. Acting like she didn't notice the way that Yamato was staring at her suspiciously, Taichi being much too engrossed in the Americana that was the Constitution and Manifest Destiny hidden inside of an apple desert to pay attention to anything else, she wasn't sure how transparent she was being in wanting to get Takeru alone. "Balcony then?"
It was with that and a thank you to the chefs of the night that Hikari and Takeru made their way out onto Yamato's new balcony, greeting the cold night time wind with a strange combination of reluctant tenacity. Neither honestly wanted to be out there in the chilling Japanese air, nearly touching the sky with the height of where they were that night, but they would be damned if they let the elements decide how things would go for them.
Despite the fact that going outside was Hikari's idea, she said nothing as they stood out there alone, with only frosty breaths and the noises of the night time city to keep them company. To her it was romantic in some senses, nearly touching the cold sky out there alone with someone she cared about, but for the exact same reason it was bittersweet all the same. Even so, it was a bit of a shame when he broke the silence; she had hoped that they could have enjoyed the fleeting atmosphere just a little bit longer.
"So, what's up?"
"I could ask you the same thing. How was your weekend with the girlfriend? I would've asked during dinner, but I didn't want to get too personal in front of your brother."
Laughing, he had forgotten that petite little shy Hikari could be the boldest of people when it came to something that she was curious about. Luckily for him, Hikari considered herself a close personal friend of his, and what that meant was that he couldn't object to any of said boldness. In any case, it was refreshing to see her be more than that timid mess she had been not that long ago. This was the Hikari he had grown up with.
"And it's not too personal right now?"
"Not when it's just you and me."
It had been deliberate phrasing on her part, and Takeru began leaning on the railing of Yamato's balcony as he thought about the way she said it. At the risk of sounding like a dead poet, he thought that the lights of Odaiba made the city look beautiful at night, even if said lights helped to block out the stars that he had always been so fond of.
"You and me, huh?"
Following his lead, Hikari began leaning on the cold railing as well, forcing away a shiver that almost came when her skin touched the metal. She was content at the moment, and Odaiba's twinkling lights made her already existing smile grow just a tiny bit. At this very moment, she wondered, how many other people in Odaiba were in love?
"So, how was it?"
"It was tiring. I'm mentally exhausted."
His words were quiet as he said that, Takeru still being unsure if he would tell anyone about what he had found out concerning his girlfriend's family. People were dead because of them, people would continue to die, but it wasn't fair of him to judge Ayano by the sins of her father.
"I figured you'd be more physically exhausted than anything. From what Daisuke says, your girlfriend is pretty hot. It's a wonder you can keep your hands off her."
Thankful for the distraction, he just played along with it. Though, he figured that he could always tweak the conversation to a different topic other than his sex life. Something like that would only bring back the awkwardness that had seemingly gone away on a far off trip for the night.
"Daisuke said that?"
"Do you care more about his opinion on the matter than on mine?"
"Hey, it just means that I have bragging rights over him. I'd be saying the same thing even if I found out that my socks had more holes in them than Daisuke's. I'll take whatever can get me ahead of him."
"Ahead of him in what?"
"It's a guy thing."
It was nonchalant enough for her to just drop it, but she had always been at least somewhat intrigued about Takeru's relationship, if it could be called that, with Daisuke. Sometimes it seemed like they hated each other, most everyday it seemed like they found each other to be incredibly annoying, and yet the two of them hung out all the time and always had each others backs. It didn't quite make sense to be honest, but it was yet another reason that she was glad to have Daisuke in her life. On top of all the things that Daisuke had ever done to help both Takeru and herself out in any way that he could, he was the only person who could ever bring out Takeru's competitive side.
"You think you'll ever beat him?"
As she asked him that, as he saw cars driving through the shining Odaiba in the distance, he thought of the one particular contest that had sparked his never ending friendly conflict with Daisuke. Though, as he thought about it he wasn't sure if calling their catalyst a contest was the right thing to do. Hikari was more than a prize to be won, and as he stood next to her watching as she pretended that she wasn't sneaking looks when she thought he was distracted, he decided that it was a shame that neither he or Daisuke would ever win this battle.
"Don't be so pessimistic."
"I'm not being pessimistic, Hikari, just realistic. As we grow up we have to realize things about how life works, and I've been spending a lot of time realizing these past few weeks."
It didn't sound like the hopeful happy-go-lucky Takeru that she was used to, but wasn't sure how to take it since it also didn't sound like he even believed his own words. She frowned while thinking about that and about aspects of her own life that meshed well with his uncharacteristic words.
She was quiet, still debating whether or not to go through with what she had taken Takeru out to the balcony to say. She had been waiting for opportunity for a chance for her to say it naturally, in a way it was more story-book when she looked at the situation in that manner, and now was as good a chance as any. They were out there alone in the dark, no one else being there that would ever get in their way. It was a wonderful night.
"I'm not sure if I've ever actually told you about how sorry I am about the way I've treated you. I think I've just avoided actually saying so now that it seems that you're doing okay now."
"Look, we don't have to go through this again."
"I want to. I feel like it still weighs heavy on me, and that even though all this time has passed, that we haven't cleared the air yet. I want you to know exactly what my intentions are, and exactly what I mean when I say the things that I do. Can I please just talk right now? Can you please just listen?"
Oddly enough, he wasn't at all uncomfortable. He looked at Hikari as she looked right back at him, but something felt different tonight. He wasn't angry or hurt, and he wasn't directing any negative feelings towards anyone at the moment. He was in a situation that ought to have made him feel tense, but the only thing that Takeru felt was free. He nodded at Hikari, open to whatever it was that she wanted to say.
Breathing deeply, she took a moment to compose her thoughts. She had considered writing a speech and making a big speel once that story-book moment that was waiting for happened, but in the end she had decided that simply saying what had been on her mind would be the best way to go about it.
"I feel like I've neglected you before and that you might think that I've taken you for granted, but I want you to know that that's not true. It's just taken a bit of me walking those same steps for me to see it for myself. You're the last person that I ever want to treat badly. I just want you to know that. Daisuke once told me that the reason things are shaky between us isn't because I turned you down or anything like that, but that even after I turned you down that I was stringing you along all the while. I know it's not much after all this time, but I just wanted to say that I'm sorry."
Pushing himself up from the railing, Takeru let Hikari's words settle in his mind for a moment. He felt a little wind pick up, making the cold outdoors a bit more frigid than it already was, and he rubbed his hands together thinking that maybe he should have brought a coat with him before he had joined Hikari on this balcony adventure. At least then he'd be able to keep her from being cold.
He didn't recall if Hikari ever did in fact apologize to him for any perceived wrongdoings, he wanted to say that she did but couldn't exactly remember if it had happened, but even so it was something that he had already made peace with. He didn't believe in that clichéd and honestly very bad lesson that love meant never having to say that you were sorry, but it was something that he already knew, even if Hikari had never been vocal about it.
"You think that I've neglected you?"
"It's like what you said about growing up, Takeru. Things change in life and we just have to be realistic about what our expectations are. If we just keep holding onto our childhoods, then there really won't ever be a place for us to go. Life only moves in one direction, you know."
He continued to look at her as she too pushed herself up from the railing that they had been resting on, and it was her smile that accompanied her words that made him just keep on looking. There had been little more than forced happiness and more than a bit of tension between them during the past year, but this smile that she was giving him was real. It wasn't the happiest smile, hell it wasn't even that big of a smile, but the way that she looked at him he could tell that it was genuine and sincere, despite what she had said.
"Forget about expectations then. What is it that you want? When you have dreams what is it that you see in them?"
What she had seen in her dream, the one that had almost convinced her that it was real, was what she wanted to avoid. He watched her expectantly, just like in her not so story-book dream, and she took a moment to think about Ayano. If they had traded places and it was Ayano who was out here speaking so intimately with Takeru, she knew that she would be heartbroken.
"My dreams are exactly what I have to be realistic about."
"I don't think think so, since they are dreams after all. That's the only time that we can pretend that life is perfect, and that all we've ever wanted can really be ours. I figure that that warrants at least a little bit of whimsy on our part."
"You know, you've never really struck me as the whimsical type."
He turned away from Hikari, and began staring out into the city again. The lights of the night life were gorgeous around this hour, even more so when they were as high in the sky as they currently. All around the city, in parts that he would never see that night, people were out there, each living out their own stories and trying to make their own dreams come true. It was a sappy thought, but as he watched the different lights that seemed to dance all around Odaiba, he figured that maybe sappy was exactly what the world needed at the moment.
"I'm standing out here with a girl in the middle of the freezing night wishing that we were out in the country somewhere so that we could actually see some stars in the sky. I'm sure that that counts for maybe a tiny bit of magic, no?"
Joining him in fondly watching lights in that mystical moist night-air, Hikari agreed that being able to actually see stars would have added to the already pretty night that they had had. Maybe their lives weren't necessarily magical at the moment, and there were still things that made Hikari feel a bit guilty about being out there with him, but it was still nice to hear that despite everything that had happened, that she still had a place within Takeru's wishes.
"I had a dream the other night, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. It was a good dream that I had, but a bad one as well. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but it helped me realize something important. I don't want to be the bad guy, but if we keep going the way that we're going, and you already know exactly what I'm talking about, then that's what both of us are going to be."
"It sounds like you're breaking up with me."
"If only we were that lucky."
It was wrong to joke like that, and Takeru wasn't even going to pretend that it was something that was okay. He thought about what she said about the dream she had had, and agreed with her about wanting the outcome to be different. Even so, he knew that what he wanted and what he wished for were two entirely separate things.
"I don't want to be the bad guy either."
"Do you think that we can pull this off?"
"Can we walk away from all this without being the bad guys?"
He said nothing in response, not wanting to confront that answer, and it was only then that he realized just how close he was standing next to the girl who could change his life with a giggle or a smile. Reaching down to grab her hand, she tensed up for a second, but when he squeezed her hand he felt her squeeze back. It was a lovely moment they shared as they watched the twinkling Odaiba, but he hated himself for it because of how disgusting he was being. Somewhere Takeru wondered if maybe a star was shining on them that was hidden by the city lights that seemed to never sleep. He stood there out on that balcony in the cold Japanese night without uttering a single word, staring at the sky in perfect silence.
I don't know why, but I feel kind of good about this chapter. To fans of Breaking Bad, which might only be an American thing now that I think about it, I leave you with the poem that inspired this chapter.
When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
- Walk Whitman