[AN: "Kin no ito" translates as "threads of gold". It is
a series of vignettes and sketches tending to reveal the characters of and the
relationships between the characters. For further details about my pet project,
go to my profile on ff.net under "Works in Progress."
This ficlet has nothing to do with anything. I, myself, am a Takarist, but I'm going against my own belief because I feel it had to be written this way, with these characters. TK and Kari's bond is unlike any other, and while romance plays a part in this ficlet, friendship is its basis.]
An emotion I've come to know all too well in the past months.
It's not easy for me to admit that. People think I'm withdrawing from the world because I'm becoming famous. A recluse or something like that. The Ishida brothers: rock god Yamato, infamous for his womanizing, and the great Takaishi Takeru, who won't show his face because he's on his high and mighty pedestal with only his pen and paper for company.
If they only knew…
But God, is it inhumane to ask why my best friend chose a cigarette-smoking, goggle-wearing bastard over me?
No, that's not fair to her. She never chose, I never made her, and it's my own damn fault.
Not that I will ever admit that.
The phone rang. Once. Twice. He groaned, gritting his teeth in annoyance. Probably another one of Matt's "friends." He sighed, unmoving, closing his eyes, wishing whoever was on the other end would hang up. "Hello, you've reached Ishida Yamato and Takaishi Takeru. Please leave your message after the tone."
"Takeru? I was wondering if I could come over…"
A shuffle. Bed sheets cast aside, tangled together in an unnatural knot. Bright crimson numbers jumped out from the darkness. 3:27 AM.
He knew what would come next in the hurried message.
"Dai and I, we got into a fight again, and I don't know where else to go. Takeruuuu?! Are you –"
Fingertips contacted cool, smooth plastic. Click.
"It's me, Hikari-chan."
"-asleep, ne, Takeru! I thought you weren't going to answer!" breathed the voice on the other end.
"I'm always awake." Dry sarcasm threaded through his voice. He was answered by a soft laugh, the small sound managing to weave through the myriad of telephone lines across the city, to finally arrive as a puff of air beside his ear.
"I know, that's why I called." Another small giggle, "Can you come pick me up?"
The question was met with a harsh silence. "Onegai?" she pleaded softly.
This time, the silence was one of compliance. He was already pulling on his brother's leather jacket, which had been left draped on a chair, over the flannel he wore to sleep in. He felt in the pocket for a set of keys to Matt's motorcycle. "Arigatou," she whispered, knowing his unspoken answer, "I'm on the corner, you know, by Daisuke's. Ja, Takeru!"
He sighed, resigning himself to the task of pulling on a pair of black boots over the too obviously checkered pajama bottoms. At least it was late enough so he didn't have to worry about someone recognizing him outside in his pajamas.
He hadn't realized it was raining.
The mist was light, upturned by a smooth breeze that came from nowhere in particular but above. The moon, circular in its full circumference, slid easily behind a cloud, leaving the road before him in complete and utter darkness. The streetlamps were but a haze, and as he revved up the usually well-polished motorcycle, he wished he had put on something a bit heavier. The corner where he was picking up Hikari was about fifteen minutes away, and despite the helmet cramping his hair from the water, his pajamas were going to get one hell of a soaking.
Takeru sighed, scrambling onto the seat of his brother's beloved ride, the leather-clad seat made slippery by rivulets of water running off it. Such was the way with helping one's best friend who chose to be in such a stupid and pointless relationship. But, he reminded himself, that it was none of his business, right? Somehow he had trouble convincing himself of that, especially lately. He throttled the engine, careful to muffle the sound. All he need at the moment was his brother waking up and demanding to know where he was heading out at 3 in the morning on his beloved bike.
He kicked off, the influx of the exhaust leaving a miasmatic trail behind him. As the road disappeared behind him, he wondered if he was doing the right thing. Always rescuing Hikari from Dai, but never winning anything in return for the deed. Yes, it was right…
…but was it worth it?
Reverberating thunder was his only response, and he pressed forward on the gas pedal, in an attempt to block unwanted thoughts from his head. It didn't really matter anyway, because Kari was waiting for him, and he would always be there.
They'd promised to be best friends forever when they were in grade school, and he had promised to protect her from the time they were eight, lost in the Digiworld. He couldn't back down now, not when he was needed. The engine whirred as he turned onto another street, concentrating on the straight white lines dissecting the road.
A wasted promise was the same as the rain, the same as not answering a phone call. Worthless. He increased his speed, roughly turning again, the tires squealing as they slipped across the wet road, not realizing he had arrived at his destination until-
The brake was abruptly throttled, and Takeru was lucky he was firmly planted in his seat, or he would have gone flying straight over the handlebars into the puddle marked concrete. Turning, as he unclasped the helmet that saved his hair, he caught his first glimpse of his best friend that morning, and almost wished he hadn't.
Hikari was soaking wet. The rain clung to her plastered hair, hanging off the end of the strands like symmetrical gems dangling off a chandelier, dripping down the alabaster forehead to rest on her small nose, before yet again traveling downward. She was in a black shirt, presumably Dai's, without a jacket to protect her from the frigid downpour. The shirt completely dwarfed the petit sized girl, clinging to her form like a second skin, and she looked more like a child than he ever remembered her looking before.
The sight of his friend in such a state sickened him.
"Gomen ne, Takeru-kun."
It was a quiet statement, both concerned with a touch of a melancholy air. The reflexive reply came from TK's lips almost immediately as he hung the helmet on the handlebars, casting his eyes away from the figure approaching him.
"For waking you up," Hikari exhaled, in all honesty, the soft rhythm of the storm muffling her usually optimistic voice. She smiled slightly, despite her disheveled appearance, inadvertently forcing her best friend to look up at her again. A moment passed in silence before she continued, "…and for dragging you out in your pajamas."
He glanced down at the pajamas in question, quirking an eyebrow, and forced his mouth into a grin. "Hey, you're the one standing out in the rain."
"Mou!" came the indignant reply at the blatantly obvious comment, and Hikari's eyes held the soft glow of a street lamp's light, an amusement that was displayed in her very being. The water that caressed the strands of hair around her face was suddenly shaken into the air with the audacity of a waterlogged puppy, and Takeru noticed for the first time what it was that bothered him about her appearance.
"What's wrong?" she asked softly, leaning forward to rest her elbows on the handlebars of the bike. She had an uncanny ability to detect all the nuances of Takeru's moods in everything…except maybe his feelings about her.
"Why weren't you standing inside just now?" he asked, the question coming out more harsh than he intended, his eyes showing pain at his companion's appearance.
Surprised at such a direct question, and the vehemence behind it, the brown haired girl's brow furrowed.
Hesitating, not daring to look him in the face, her voice dropped to little above a whisper, "I –I stormed out and…Dai lock the door."
"What where you fighting about?"
Kari glanced up at him briefly, and catching his eyes, looked away again, her lips pressed together into a thin line. Takeru stared at her, his piercing blue eyes taking in more than just her words. He didn't need to ask to know, but he did anyway. He knew what they had fought about, what they always fought about.
And although it shamed him, he couldn't deny the twisted satisfaction in knowing he wasn't the only jealous one.
Reaching his hand beneath Hikari's careening elbow, Takeru withdrew the helmet from where he'd placed it, setting it atop his friend's head messily, and motioning to the back of the bike. He thought that she was going to leave the question unanswered, but as the strap on the headpiece tightened toward his chin, an almost inaudible rejoinder broke through the short lived break in the awkward dialogue between the two.
"He –he has no right to say any of that…Can we go?"
No further explanations, not waiting for an answer, she clambered behind her friend, saying nothing more to entice any more unnecessary conversation. Sensing her withdrawal, Takeru's already apprehensive mood deepened, causing the blond haired writer to sigh deeply. With a forceful step on the gas pedal, they were off and away from the street quicker than they respectively had come, the engine spinning in a puddle and sending a cascade of mud-water in an arc as they rode on.
The quiet lasted a record amount of time, the only sounds falling on the now deserted street the splattering of rain drops against the asphalt and concrete. Hikari leaned against her best friend's back for support against the speed they traveled, finding respite in the warmth emanating from his body as the frigid wind fluttered the edges of the loose skirt she wore, sending ripples against her skin.
The continuance of the downpour didn't help matters. As they slid to a stop in front of a red light, Hikari's last dredges of energy dwindled off, and Takeru almost fell forward as suddenly, the smaller girl leaned her full weight on his back, her slender hands coming to rest on his shoulders.
The name slipped out in a surprised fashion, but Takeru's eyes were still on the road ahead. As they turned onto a particularly rough section of the street, a sleep induced mumble was her only reply.
"…wake me up when we get home, Takeru."
The engine fell to a quiet buzz as he pulled into the familiar driveway, closing off the circuit just at the edge of the pavement and pushing down on the brake with his left boot. Pausing as the vehicle came to a stop, he could feel the rise and fall of Hikari's chest through the slick material of the jacket he wore. It was only then that he realized they were both shivering with the frigid wind, drenched with the rainwater they still exposed themselves to.
"Hikari-chan, wake up," he began, his face softening as he caught sight of her slumbering form. It was no surprise when she did not hear him, almost falling harder against his back as the latter tried to coax her from her rest. His lips curved into an apologetic smile as he carefully dislatched her hand from his right shoulder.
Startled by the sudden movement, she began to mumble incoherently, in subconscious protest that her so carefully settled sleeping arrangement had been disturbed. Her breath came out in puffs, the only heated source against the weather, a relaxing presence against Takeru's neck, brushing lightly against it with a feathery touch.
"Hikari." He gently shook her, trying to induce some response from his soundly sleeping friend, turning his head slightly in an attempt to free himself from his predicament as a makeshift pillow. Swinging his left leg over to the pavement, he suddenly left her without anything to lean against. Wavering for a full moment, she unconsciously began to fall forward, and was in danger of hitting the metal frame of the motorcycle when the writer panicked, quickly crouching down to catch the descending sleeper.
Hikari's eyes snapped open with the impact of the jolted landing, inquisitively widening as she realized the awkward positioning of the situation. Takeru's arms tightened with a certain possessiveness to keep her where she was, and in the taciturn moment that followed, the explanation never came.
It was Hikari who spoke first, her voice filled with an uncertain innocence.
It was as if the tension had shattered with the incantation of his name. He abruptly released her, eyes scanning the deep pools of brown of the other's before he turned completely away.
"G-gomen ne," he began, his face flushing with embarrassment, taking a reluctant step away from the darker haired girl, but she interjected.
She reached over and put a comforting hand on his arm, "I was falling, and you had to catch me, or else, ne?"
Takeru's eyes widened as the ragged symbolism of the situation to his current emotion hit him, leaving him uneased, but Hikari, unnoticing, attempted a smile.
"Let's go inside, Takeru," she said then, prompting him to shake his head as the almost insistent tone broke his thoughtful trance. He managed a half-hearted smile as he turned to gaze in that direction, then nodding in acquiescence.
The blond haired writer immediately began to walk towards the shadowed house, followed a moment later as Hikari clambered off the motorcycle. He was fumbling for a key as she approached. The lock clicked without hesitation.
The hallway was dark, the squeak of sopping sneakers and boots in protest to the usually somewhat clean floor acting as the only noise as they shuffled in out of the damp night and into the warmth of the house itself. He turned to her, placing a finger over his lips in warning.
"Yamato's home…for once. Let's not wake him, ne?"
Hikari's lips quirked into a mischievous smile, the previously missing spirit faintly returning, "Afraid he might ask who touched his precious bike?"
Takeru nodded vehemently, "Damn straight I'm scared." He sighed dramatically, putting on a woeful face, "Ah, the things we do for friendship."
Giving her best friend a small grin, Hikari, knowing this place as her second home, trounced up the stairs, careful to avoid certain creaky steps in compliance to her friend's request, leaving a trail of trickling water as evidence of her passing.
Takeru sighed then, following her up without a word to break the rhythm of his feet against the floor, repetitious as the old song on the radio they'd listened to the previous day.
"Someone needs to clean," Hikari remarked rather wryly, as she positioned herself on Takeru's desk chair, glancing over the mess of manuscripts that blanketed the usually neat flooring of her best friend's room. Drafts covered in scrawls of handwritten notes cast life onto the precisely typed pages.
"I know," came the reply as Takeru leaned in the doorframe, his blond hair sticking up in random directions from the helmet as he gave a mock frown. "If I'd known you were coming…well, you shouldn't talk. Your room's worse."
Hikari bit the edge of her lip, suddenly taking the conversation in a different direction entirely.
"Anyways, I'm borrowing your pajamas."
Opening a drawer at random, a pair of pajamas found their way to Hikari's hands. She spun around in the desk chair, rolled it out to the hallway, and down the hall.
"I'm taking your chair too!"
The click of a door followed suit with the reply, and Takeru settled onto his bed, glancing up at the vacant ceiling morosely. He wasn't going to change from the flannel, he'd barely gotten more than a grazing of water on his shirt, and the only drenched part of his attire was his boots themselves, half-entrenched in water that dripped haltingly as he pulled them off.
They fell on the floorboards with a resounding clunk, and he lay against his pillow. Fatigue settled on him, toying with his emotions until he felt unfit to stay wake, and it was with great relish that he finally closed his eyes, as if doing so would close off the world as well. Sleep was coming swiftly, until he felt Hikari slid silently onto the bed next to him.
He tensed, muscles quivering from the wave of heat slowly emanating from her body, as he forced himself not to look. Because if he did, he might not be able to keep himself from-
"Takeru? What's wrong?"
"…Just go to sleep, Hikari-chan, and forget about it."
Hikari was glancing at him curiously, however, and for a blind second Takeru had the fear that she knew more than she let on, but she simply sat up abruptly. Her eyes narrowed, as if she was angry, and she peered down, casting what seemed a melancholic gaze over her best friend.
"What are you-"
Before he could finish the question, Hikari's lips were on his, as abruptly as the call had been on the answering machine, in the dead of the night. The contact felt like fire, running through veins haggard and worn, warmth from the heater shifting to ice as the seconds wore on. It was strangely surreal, as if in a dream lined with emotions long disguised. She broke the chaste kiss a moment later, giving Takeru a gratifying smile.
"What was that?" he blurted out, more than a bit confused, and Kari simply rolled over, laid her head on the furthermost pillow, and closed her eyes.
"To thank you," she replied, in an undertone that suggested she wasn't telling the whole truth, "for everything, Takeru-kun."
And as quickly as the moment was broken, Hikari's deep, regular breathing of dreamless sleep filled the unnatural silence, leaving Takeru, as usual, to his thoughts.
Glancing over at his best friend, then to the window, where rain condensed in a glaze, his emotions were even more muddled than usual. These thoughts, that kept him awake, they were his own, and no one knew.
Hikari's breathing was Takeru's only answer as the night wore on to an unwelcome dawn, to another day, another time of unresolved conflict in his heart.
And it was all because of the rain.
It'd be a shame to let that little button ff.net made called "review" go to waste. *winks*