Disclaimer: I do not own anything. All characters either belong to Digimon or to Broken Angel01, who came up with all of the other characters that you do not recognize.
Author's Notes: Go read Following the Footsteps of Destiny first, if you have not read it yet. Two reasons why: 1) this will make NO sense to you unless you do, 2) it's a brilliant story and everybody should read it. Anyway, this takes place between chapters 210 and 211. As always, constructive criticism is love! This is not only the first time that I've written something completely original (that word is used lightly!) based off of Broken Angel01's work, but this is also the first time that I've attempted a point of view other than Matty! Granted, the story still starts (for a very short time) in Matty's point of view, but it is pretty much completely in Takara's point of view! So, let me know how I did! Also, due to circumstances in my life at the moment, I worry that this came off a bit more depressing than I intended it to, so I'm sorry if it's a bit of a downer for anyone. One more thing - I know, this is turning into a long Author's Note - there are references to Broken Angel01's stories Inner Glow and My Best Friend's Girlfriend in this story as well. So, kudos to anyone who understands all of the references!
Summary: From Following the Footsteps of Destiny by Broken Angel01. Read that first. Takara is not about to let Masato lose faith in his friends, but she may already be too late. One-Shot.
True Wisdom Takes a Little Faith
Masato 'Matty' Takaishi
The school bell had rung nearly ten minutes ago, signaling the beginning of lunch. By now the hallways had cleared; everyone crammed into the cafeteria and out into the courtyard to enjoy the good weather while it lasted. But Matty was still standing in front of his locker, soundlessly, in the lonely hallway.
He had the dream again the night before. The darkness, the sound of something behind him, around him, the feeling that he couldn't run because he had no idea where to go or where he was… The last time he had the dream be that vivid was when he was six years old. He remembered being cradled by his brother and sandwiched between his parents after that nightmare, and he remembered the way they seemed to be able to combat the darkness just by being there.
Their presence alone was enough to scare away the darkness and make Matty feel like he was the safest kid in the world. Now, he felt like there was an ocean between him and his brother, and that distance was starting to put a strain between him and his parents too. Or maybe he was just blowing things out of proportion again. He was known for doing that. Maybe this isolation he was feeling was a figment of his imagination, but even if it was…
"Then why are you so frightened?" his mother had asked him all those years ago when he had gone to her after having the nightmare.
Matty could not shake the feeling that this was not the first time that he had had this dream recently. He felt as though that darkness might have visited him in his nightmares some other time in the last few weeks, maybe even multiple times. But why would he be having a very old nightmare again? It just didn't seem to make sense.
"I was all alone."
His own frightened voice seemed to echo in his head, forcing him to close his eyes against the memory. His hands were shaking, though he didn't realize it. Tightness was enveloping his chest. He wished he knew how to get rid of it – whatever it was – and he just hoped that Mickey hadn't heard him fighting the demons in his sleep. From the way that his older twin looked at him this morning, he had to assume that he hadn't, but he couldn't help but feel a little guilty for keeping this from him. He didn't want to worry Mickey, though. Not right now. Not with everything else going on…
"I'm not alone," Matty said aloud, attempting to convince himself.
Wasn't that exactly what Dai had been trying to get through to him the night before? And at the time, with Dai's eyes looking so determined and a little piece of normalcy finding its way back into their lives with a simple camera flash, it had been so easy to believe him. But standing here at his locker all alone – alone – those promises seemed so far away.
I'm pathetic, Matty thought angrily, slamming his locker shut with more force than necessary.
Takara found her smile slipping from her face as she walked into the cafeteria. She had been hoping to see the five of her friends all sitting together and smiling at their usual table. This morning things had almost seemed normal. Sam was smiling again as he talked about his uncle, and everybody had been involved in the conversation about her father. It had been so easy to ignore any residual tension that was leftover from the commotion from yesterday, but now…
She walked up to the table that they had claimed as theirs and frowned when she saw only one Takaishi twin seated. Mickey was sitting next to Sam and seemed to be trying to get him to talk about something, though the ebony haired boy seemed quite reluctant to do so. Ryoko and Dai were between focusing on what the two quiet boys were talking about and throwing their own snide comments at each other, though she noticed there did not seem to be any venom behind their words.
"Hey guys," she said brightly, causing the four boys to look at up her. She looked over at Mickey, tilting her head curiously. "Where's Matty?"
The amber-eyed boy blinked at her before lowering his eyes, looking somewhat uncertain and dejected. "I don't know," he admitted.
Takara knitted her eyebrows and looked at Dai, but the Child of Bravery was already shrugging in response, looking perplexed. Even Ryoko seemed not to have any idea as he was looking between Dai and Mickey with a slight frown. The female digidestined felt fear and sadness start to circle her heart.
Oh, Matty… What are you doing?
"I think he said something about going to his locker," Sam offered suddenly.
She turned and looked up at the clock on the wall with a slight frown. She was already late to lunch thanks to speaking with one of her teachers about a homework assignment that she was supposed to do over the weekend, and the last time she checked, it usually did not take ten minutes to go to one's locker. Making her decision, she turned away from the table and started to head back out.
"Kara!" She stopped and turned around. Dai caught up to her, grabbing her hand. "I'll come with you. You're going to find Matty, right?"
She looked down at their hands, feeling a light blush on her face, but she quickly pushed those feelings away. She had other things to worry about at the moment. "Yes, but I think I should go alone, Dai."
Takara smiled softly and threw her arms around him in a hug. "I know you care a lot about him," she whispered. "He cares about you, too. I think he's just confused at the moment."
"Confused about what?" he asked, pulling away from her only so that he could look into her eyes.
She felt her heart breaking as she saw the pain in there. "I'm not sure," she admitted. "I don't even think he knows himself."
Dai lowered his gaze, looking miserable. "And I didn't help things with the way I acted yesterday."
"You said you talked to him, though, didn't you?" she asked.
He nodded. "And I thought it went well, but…" He looked toward the entrance of the cafeteria as if hoping that Matty would walk through the doors any minute to prove that things had gone well, but the door remained stubbornly shut. His gaze hardened with determination, and he looked back at her. "That's why I want to go with you. I need to make sure things are alright."
She smiled in understanding and put a hand on his cheek. "You're a really good person, Dai," she told him. "But let me see if I can get through to him, okay?"
For a moment, his eyes went stormy with uncertainty as he seemed to try to decide what to do. Then, he was looking into her face and gave a nod. "Alright. I trust you, Kara."
Had her thoughts not been on her cousin, she might have felt the intensity of those words. As it were, she simply gave a small nod before turning to walk out of the cafeteria. Out of sight of the teachers watching over the students as they ate, the young girl broke out into a run, racing down the hall toward Matty's locker. She hoped that he had not been lying to Sam when he said he was headed in that direction; if he was, she wasn't sure where she could look for him next. The art room maybe?
She rounded the corner and nearly tripped over her feet in shock. Matty was standing there in front of his locker just as he had said. It was open, and his right hand was resting on the handle as if trying to decide whether he wanted to close it or not. His amber eyes were staring listlessly at the books in front of him, not really seeing any of them as it was obvious that his thoughts were a million miles away. His eyebrows were knitted together as if he was fighting an inner war with himself and thinking back on his recent behavior, she wondered if that were true.
A sudden slam! from Matty closing his locker broke her out of her thoughts.
The younger Takaishi twin spun around when he heard her voice, and then blinked at her as she ran up to him. She watched as he plastered on a somewhat fake looking smile.
Matty… what is going on with you? Please let me help…
"I think I saw Dai going into the cafeteria," he said suddenly.
It was her turn to blink at him. Obviously the twin thought that she wasn't here to talk to him, and she had to wonder how many times she and the others had used him simply as a tool to find one of their other friends. She felt instantly guilty, though she assured herself that it was Matty's wilted look that made her feel like that.
"I wasn't looking for Dai!"
"Oh," Matty said. He tilted his head. "I think Ryoko was heading that way too."
"Matty," she sighed, shaking her head. "I was looking for you!"
He blinked. "Me?" The surprise in his voice was evident, and Kara could not help but wonder where his faith in his friends had gone. "Why were you looking for me?"
She smiled somewhat sadly at him. "I wanted to talk to you."
His face went pink. "About what?" he mumbled.
"C'mon," she said instead, reaching out to grab hold of his wrist and started to lead him down the hallway.
"Did Mickey tell you to talk to me?" he asked.
She looked back at him. "No. I told you. I want to talk to you. Nobody put me up to this, Matty."
The blond lowered his eyes and allowed her to continue to drag him when she suddenly pulled him into an empty classroom. He looked around curiously and gave her a strange look.
"Uh, Kara… Why are we in the music room?"
She had let go of Matty's arm and was now walking over to the plastic chairs settled around the room. Musical stands sat in front of each one, but she simply pushed one to the side so that she could sit and get a good look at her cousin. The blond was watching her movement as though expecting it to tell him what was really going on here. She caught his amber eyes, and they simply stared at one another.
Kara did not have any particular reason why she chose the music room over any of the other empty classrooms except for the fact that despite not being musically inclined, she had always felt a certain fondness for the room. This was where her dad and Matt managed to fix their cracking friendship with honest words and tearful confessions. This very room probably helped to keep their parents together as friends a lot more than any of the children would ever fully realize.
Our parents had to sacrifice a lot to make their friendships work, but they managed to do it without giving up on each other. I hope we can do the same…
After a long moment of silence, Matty finally spoke again when he realized that she was not going to answer his other question. "Kara…? What is this about?"
Her gaze softened. "I think you know."
His face colored, and he looked away. "If this is about what happened with Dai yesterday, you know you could just ask him."
"I don't want to ask him," she said, crossing her arms over her chest. "I want to ask you. And it's not just about that either. I just… I want to know what's going on. You're really starting to worry me, Matty."
Matty turned and gave her a light glare. "I don't need you or anyone else to worry about me!"
"Well, maybe if you weren't pushing all of us away we wouldn't have to!"
His face paled instantly. "I… I'm not…" He looked down. "I'm not trying to…"
But that's exactly what you're doing, Matty. Don't you see? By keeping things bottled up inside, especially your fears, you're not helping anyone… especially not yourself! We just want to help. Why won't you let us? What are you so afraid of?
She sighed. "Matty…"
"Do you ever lie, Kara?" he asked suddenly.
Takara didn't respond right away, confused by the question. She gave him a curious look. "Lie?" she repeated. "Well, yeah… I don't like to, but when we were hiding the Digital World from our parents, both Ryoko and I had to lie right to our parents' faces. It was awful."
I wonder why he's asking…
"Do you ever lie without meaning to?"
She blinked at him, a confused look crossing her face. "What do you mean?"
"Like…" His expression became pinched as he seemed to try to figure out what to say. He gave a slightly frustrated sigh as he moved to sit on the choir risers, choosing the bottom step to collapse onto. His backpack fell at his feet, forgotten. "At the time, you thought you were telling the truth, but you realize later that maybe you weren't?"
She studied the blond for a moment before giving a pitying sound. "Things between you and Dai aren't as okay as you said, are they?"
His face went pink. "I want them to be!" he insisted before bowing his head. "I'm just not sure…" He gave a somewhat helpless sounding sigh. "Last night, when I was standing there with him, and he was saying all of those things about our friendship… I wanted to believe it. I mean, I did. And it all felt right again, just like things were before we went to the Digital World. But away from him, I can't help but…" He gave another frustrated sigh. "Sometimes I wish I could stop thinking."
Takara gave an understanding smile. "It's so easy to believe everything that Dai is saying when you're in his presence. He just gives off this air, and you can't help but believe in him and yourself. He's pretty special like that."
She started to blush as she realized what she had just said, but Matty was not looking at her with his usual teasing expression. Instead, he had his own thoughtful expression on and was nodding to her words.
"Yeah… It's really no wonder that he was the first of us to get a Digimon and get him to Ultimate. It just sort of works," he said, though it sounded as if he wasn't really paying attention to the words that were coming out of his mouth.
"You're pretty special too, Matty," Kara offered.
Matty blinked at her. "Huh?"
She smiled at him. "Have you forgotten? You were the second one of us to get your Digimon to digivolve, and he's an angel Digimon. I say that qualifies as pretty special."
His cheeks went pink. "That was luck," he murmured. "Had Jestermon decided to grab anyone else, it probably would have been Mickey."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Are you saying that Mickey cares about the rest of us more than you?"
"No!" he replied immediately, looking shocked. "I just…" He stopped, uncertain. "Mickey just cares… so much. That's just who he is. And he's so strong." He actually smiled as he thought of his brother. "He's a pretty amazing person."
"I'd say that you're pretty biased, except that I agree with you," Takara teased. "But you care quite a bit, too. And you share Mickey's strength."
For a moment, it looked as though Matty was about to shake his head no and disagree with her before he thought better of it and just stayed quiet. Takara found herself studying her cousin as he distractedly picked at the loose fabric on the bleachers. She sighed after a long moment and looked toward the windows.
"You know why I chose this room, Matty?"
He looked up at her and shook his head.
"This is where my dad and Uncle Matt made up after the whole mess with my mom and Aunt Mimi came undone. This is where our family managed to stay together and stay as close as they are now," she stated fondly, a bright smile on her face as she talked about it. "Ryoko and I wouldn't be as close as we are if Uncle Matt and my dad never made up."
Matty was watching her with an awed expression. "I didn't realize that…"
She looked right at him. "Ryoko's my best friend, Matty."
He blinked at her and then seemed to realize what she was saying as he went pink. "Kara…"
"And I know that we'll never stop being best friends. We're too close for that."
Silence was her only answer as Matty drew his knees up to his chest and hid his face into them. For a moment, Takara was worried that she had made him cry or upset him.
Oh no. I've said the wrong thing! Great going, Kara. You just made it worse!
"You're a better person than me, Kara," a whispered voice suddenly said, breaking her thoughts.
"What?" she gasped.
Matty looked up at her with shining amber eyes. "I wish I could be like you."
"Oh, Matty…" she said, standing to walk over to him. She sat down next to him and put an arm around her cousin. "I'm not saying that I haven't had a few doubts here and there…" He was giving her a look of disbelief, so she added, "I'm serious! I've thought about how things will change when Ryoko and Dai start actually getting along, and sometimes I'm worried about being pushed to the side. After all, I'm just a girl."
"You're the coolest girl I know, Kara," Matty said, watching her.
She smiled at him. "I thought that was Taniko?" she teased.
He blinked at her before his cheeks started to go red. "What!" he spluttered. "Kara!"
She giggled, unable to help it. "Sorry, Matty." Her smile turned genuine. "Thank you, though."
I know he's just saying that, but I can't help but feel a little touched. Sometimes my friends can really drive me crazy, but then they go and say things like this… Boys! I'll never understand them.
The blond gave a sigh. "So, what stops you from having doubts?"
Takara blinked as she was brought back to their conversation. She smiled easily. "I just know… that I'll always have a place in his life. Dai and Ryoko are so different… sometimes you need someone just like you around to remind you that being who you are isn't always a bad thing."
Matty furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"Ryoko and I are a lot alike," she said. "I know it doesn't always seem like it, but we are. I understand him, and he understands me too. Not completely, but we get each other. Dai is someone that I don't think Ryoko will ever be able to completely understand, but that's what will make them such good friends. They'll come to a point where they'll realize that they don't need to understand each other. They just need to be there and care, and that will be enough. Just like Uncle Matt and my dad or Davis and Ken. That's why people are attracted to their opposites sometimes, because being around someone that is so unlike you lets you know what a different and even better person you can be." She turned to look at him. "Don't you feel that way about Mickey?"
He had been watching her so intently as she was talking that he was physically startled as she suddenly turned the question on him. "Oh, um…" He smiled a bit. "Yeah, I guess so. Mickey and I are so different, and the way he is… It makes me want to be more like him, be a better person."
"But you can't change who you are, Matty," she told him, and he turned to look at her with a look that said he had not realized this piece of information. "And that's why having Dai in your life is so good for you, because he reminds you that being a bit of a troublemaker and having your zest for life is a good thing. He reminds you that it's okay to be you, and that you shouldn't try to be anyone else." She watched him for a moment. His gaze had returned to his shoes, but at least he didn't seem so dejected anymore. Instead, a more thoughtful expression had taken its place. "It's the same way for Dai, you know."
Matty turned to look at her. "What do you mean?"
She smiled. "Matty, Dai needs the same reassurance. That's why you will always have a place in his heart, because just like he helps to remind you that being you isn't so bad… You remind him of the same thing every time you're around him. Don't you see? Dai could never replace you as a friend. You're invaluable. And when Ryoko and Dai become friends, Ryoko will be taking on a different role in his life. He'll become Dai's Mickey, his opposite."
Because in the end, you also have two best friends, Matty. Mickey just so happens to also be your brother, and that's what Ryoko will become to Dai. Your place can't ever be threatened. Just like my place in Ryoko's heart can't be challenged either. People always assume that just because we're the kids of opposites such as Tai and Matt or Sora and Mimi that we would be the complete opposite as well, but they would be wrong. In the end, my mom and Uncle Matt are more alike than anyone realizes. That's why they were attracted to each other at one point in their lives, but they realized that they needed something else… I always was told that I'm so much like my mom, and I guess that's why I could never date anyone like Ryoko so instead… I chose his opposite…
Matty was smiling as he sat there, but she noted that the smile was slightly sad and lost. She felt the hope she had been feeling deflate a little at the look. As if realizing that he was being watched, he turned to look at her and sighed.
"You're really smart, Kara," he told her.
She blinked. "Thanks, Matty…" she whispered.
"I think your Spirit Chip will fit you perfectly."
Huh? How does he know…?
"Which do you think—?"
Matty stood suddenly and picked up his backpack. "All of them fit you pretty well, actually," he said as he stood there. "But I'm pretty sure I know which one is meant for you, and I think… it's a perfect fit."
Takara smiled, blushing slightly. "I know yours will fit you perfectly, too."
He looked down at her. "Which do you think it'll be?"
She was slightly surprised by the sudden question, but she did not hesitate in answering. "Faith, of course." She smiled. "I think it fits you perfectly."
Instead of looking how she expected him to (happy, complimented, anything), he looked almost scared by the prospect.
What else is going on with you, Matty? Oh, I wish you would just talk to me. Run your mouth without meaning to as you sometimes do, just spill it already, or something. This is so unlike you! And I'm so worried.
"Kara, I need you promise me something," he said suddenly, grabbing her hands.
She stood slowly so that she was looking into her cousin's eyes, feeling the seriousness of the situation. "What is it, Matty?"
"If… if for some reason I'm not there or can't help or-or something, you have to promise me that you'll look after Mickey, okay?"
Her eyebrows shot up into her hairline. "What are you saying! Matty!"
"Just promise me!" He was practically begging. "Mickey can be… Mickey is really smart, but he forgets to listen to his head sometimes. He… he sometimes just follows his heart, and the heart isn't always right even if we want it to be…" He swallowed. "You're the smart one of us, Kara. You know how to balance the heart with the head; you know how to find that balance. So, you have to promise me…"
"Matty, why wouldn't you be there?" she whispered, fear hammering in her heart.
"I don't know," he murmured, not meeting her eyes. "I could get sick or something, and not be able to go to the Digital World. That's all I meant, Kara. Please?"
No, Matty. I know that's not what you meant. Do you… Do you think you might not be around at some point or be with us? What is going on in that head of yours?
"Okay…" she found herself saying. "I promise. Mickey's my cousin, Matty. Of course I won't let anything happen to him. Or you, for that matter."
He gave her a smile, and she felt relief as she realized it was genuine. "Thanks, Kara." He looked up toward the clock and his eyes widened. "We're about to completely miss lunch!"
She gasped. "You're right. We better go unless we want the others mad at us because we have to eat before we can go to the Digital World this afternoon!"
Matty smiled a bit. "I don't know. I think Sam would probably thank us."
"Matty!" she admonished as she grabbed his wrist and started to drag him out of the music room.
"It was a joke!" he swore, before she was suddenly breaking into a run toward the cafeteria.
As they burst through the doors in hopes of grabbing some scraps from the food line, she watched as Matty plastered on a perfectly happy smile and waved at the others. From her spot behind Matty, she could see Dai watching the two of them, trying to figure out how their talk went. Though the last part of their conversation was still playing itself over and over in her head – she could not forget the sound of the urgency in Matty's voice – she attempted to plaster on her most reassuring smile and waved as well.
It didn't feel right to tell the others what she and Matty had talked about, and that included the last startling part of the conversation. At least, not yet. She just hoped she didn't hold onto this secret to the point where it was too late.
But that was something to worry about for another time. Right now, they had to focus on going to the Digital World this afternoon and the effects it would have on Sam to be around his father again.
And as is said, the rest is history…