07/02: This is a rewrite of the epilogue. I had my doubts about posting the original version, but couldn't think of anything better, so went ahead with it. Anyway, inspiration struck last night, and I rewrote most of it. Hope you prefer it, although I'm sure you will. And I even remembered and included eunc's request for more teasing about Sora\Yamato!
Actually, the characters do belong to me. I came up with this great concept about kids who go to a Digital World where they receive partners which I might call 'Digimon'. Wacky, huh? I just have to sell it to a company now. ^.~
I'm glad so many of you have enjoyed the story so far. Thank you for all your feedback. It's greatly appreciated.
To mark the occasion, you should make this chapter a multimedia experience! Download Tobira - the title means sliding door, as opposed to a western-style door which is doa - from http://www.digitalyume.com and have it playing in the background on your MP3 player. You won't be sorry. It's the most amazing song. ^.^
AS TOLD BY HIKARI
PART FIVE OF FIVE
I know I do not love thee! yet, alas!
Others will scarcely trust my candid heart;
And oft I catch them smiling as they pass,
Because they see me gazing where thou art.
~ Lady Caroline Norton
"I don't think the Teenage Wolves have too much to worry about," Takeru said to Hikari, as they made their way out of the crush of the crowd into the road. She was holding onto his hand tightly to avoid being separated from him in the chaos. There had been a free, open-air concert that evening at the park, with a number of local bands and singers, and most of Odaiba had turned out to attend it and, more specifically, to see Yamato's band perform. None of the other acts had come close. Behind them, as if in recognition of that fact, a tinny, recorded version of Tobira played over the speakers.
"I thought Aya did well," Hikari replied loyally. It wasn't exactly a lie. Her friend did have a good voice: pure, sweet and soprano. Unfortunately, however, she knew it and wasn't shy when it came to telling people about it. Introducing herself as 'the singing princess of Odaiba Junior High' hadn't helped her popularity very much. (1)
"Don't you mean Princess Aya?" he laughed.
"My most humble apologies, Queen Hikari," he said in mock contrition, and she rolled her eyes at his use of the Numemon's old name for her. (2) Takeru could be impossible at times, and their shared past gave him plenty of ammunition for teasing her. Of course, she wasn't exactly defenceless in that respect herself. She was just dredging her memory for a suitably embarrassing incident to mention, when he grinned at her and squeezed her hand reassuringly. She flushed as she realised that they were still holding hands, even though they had left the crowds behind some blocks ago. They were the only people on their street, in fact, and Hikari was suddenly aware of how very alone they were. Stammering an apology, she made to let his hand go, but felt his fingers tighten against her palm.
"You can, but . . . please don't," he said softly, his own cheeks going pink, "This is our first date, I know, but . . . . but I really like holding hands with you."
"Me too," she admitted, lacing her fingers with his and giving his hand a tight squeeze of her own, "It feels right."
Smiling up at him, she thought how right this whole evening had been. She had expected their relationship to be completely different now that they were dating, but it wasn't. It had changed, yes, but it still had everything that had been good about their old relationship. They still understood each other perfectly, still were able to speak openly, still trusted each other completely, still were each other's best friends. There was just a new sweetness to it that there hadn't been in the past. It was like love had opened out of friendship, as surely and as naturally as a spring flower.
"And Yagami Hikari spaces out again," Takeru said in a more normal voice, "Daydreaming about Yaaamaaato, are you?"
"His little brother, actually," Hikari replied archly, "I've heard he's in love with Takenouchi Sora, though, so I don't think I've got any chance with him."
"You might be right," he said with a mischievous smile, "I've heard he goes for older women, especially brunettes. There's this one girl in particular, although I'm not sure who she is. I think he might even love her . . . ."
"Isn't that lucky? I think she feels the same way about him," she tilted her head, pretending to consider something, "Or was that his older brother? I've heard he's hot."
Takeru's only reply was to laugh.
"I finished off by telling him that, if he even looked at her the wrong way, you wouldn't need to look very far for a soprano singer for your band," Taichi said to Yamato, waving a french fry for emphasis. They were sitting together in a booth at McDonalds, eating supper. Having just come from the concert in the park, Yamato had his guitar propped up next to him. However, unlike the other teenagers in the restaurant who were wondering whether that was actually the lead singer for the Teenage Wolves and whether he was really sitting with Odaiba High's top striker, their main topic of discussion at the moment was The Date.
"Good speech, but you should've saved it for your sister," his friend laughed, "She needs it a whole lot more than Takeru does, if Friday night was any indication. Hell, I should be worried she'll corrupt my sweet, innocent little brother."
Taichi grimaced and bit into his fry. Miyako had told him what had happened on Friday night. Of course, he had known something was wrong from the moment his sister had come home. She hadn't even said hello to him, just run to their room and locked the door behind her. And his best attempts to find out what had happened had all met with muffled sobs. He had guessed she had seen Upperclassman Aki with another girl. He could have never imagined that she had kissed Takeru.
"It's weird to think they're old enough to be dating, let alone kissing."
"Tell me about it," Yamato raised his eyebrows, "I still don't know when Takeru got taller than me."
Taichi sipped at his milkshake, but he barely tasted it. In his mind, it was six years ago and he was sitting by the campfire watching Takeru and Hikari sleep. The picture of innocence, they were curled up next to each other, like kittens, with Tailmon and Patamon between them. Takeru was smiling at some happy dream, while Hikari had a serious frown on her face. The firelight cast a soft, orange glow over them. The clearing was completely silent apart from their quiet breathing and the wind-music in the trees. Who would have thought things would have turned out like this? It just shows the universe gets things right sometimes.
Finally, he said: "I'm glad. I'm glad Hikari chose him in the end."
His friend laughed, "You're just glad because Takeru hero-worships you, Taichi, and would do anything you said."
"He'd better, if he knows what's good for him, because I meant every word of that speech . . . ."
"Trade you a lick of your strawberry cone for my chocolate one?" Takeru asked Hikari, as they walked down the street eating ice-creams. She rolled her eyes, but held out hers to him.
As far back as she could remember, they had always shared their cones. It was a tradition that had started one holiday when Takeru had been visiting his father and their brothers had taken them to the fair. As she remembered it, they had been nine at the time. Her ice-cream had dropped on the floor, and neither Taichi nor Yamato had had enough money to buy her another one. She had been about to cry, when Takeru had presented her with the sticky, slightly grubby remnants of his orange popsicle and told her that he didn't want her to be sad. The next time, it had been her who had given him a taste of her vanilla scoop. Over the years, it had become a best friend tradition, and refusal wasn't an option when it came to those. The same, sudden sweetness rushed up inside her, as she realised she might have to start thinking of them as boyfriend\girlfriend traditions now.
Grinning his thanks, Takeru took her ice-cream and handed his own to her. They continued down the street in silence, licking at their cones. The shops were beginning to close, their windows darkening one by one. Outside one of them, an old man was sweeping the pavement in readiness for the next day. The hush of his broom against the concrete was the only noise in the place. As they passed him, he lifted his hand to greet her, a smile creasing his cheeks. She recognised him as Mr Tajiri, the owner of the corner store near her apartment. With a jolt of disappointment, she realised that she was almost home. She thought she could have walked all night with Takeru.
Before long, nonetheless, they had come to her apartment block. Unwilling to let his hand go, she led him up its steps into the shelter of the doorway. The electric light seemed to halo around him as she turned to face him. She felt her breath catch in her throat: every detail of his face seemed thrown into clear focus, and he was beautiful. The strands of golden hair that feathered his forehead. The pure, true blueness of his eyes. The small, white scar on his left cheek. She wondered how she had ever been able to look at him and see only the child she had known. Takeru cleared his throat, and she realised that she was staring at him. Strangely, she was unembarrassed at being caught out by him. He's mine to stare at. The possessiveness of the thought surprised her. God, I'm almost as bad as . . . as Daisuke!
"I guess this is good night," she said with a smile, "I'll see you at school tomorrow."
"You have ice-cream on your face, angel feathers," he laughed and reached out a hand to brush it off of her. As he touched her, however, his smile faltered for a second, the strangest look coming into his blue eyes. It was the same look she had seen when she had lifted her head from her books to catch him watching him. She was suddenly aware of how alone they were, now that they had ducked into the atrium. His hand paused on her cheek, then came around to cup her chin. Hikari felt her heart hop in her chest. She knew beyond all doubt that they were going to kiss, and that this time she would not run away when they did.
And she didn't.
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