Tai and Sora wandered through the barren Saharan Desert, both wearing summery clothes. Sora's attire consisted of a green vest top, burgundy leggings and flowery purple sandals. Tai wore plain brown shorts, a white t-shirt and blue flip-flops. Together they looked like they might be going to a holiday camp, but instead they were walking a path with designated markers for a helicopter to find them, even in the desert. Sand swirled around them, and the well-beaten circular path that they had trawled upon since the early hours of the morning was beginning to annoy them—it had felt a whole lot cooler earlier. Matt had promised meeting them here to take them to the fuelling complex where he worked at, before getting them a morning coffee and a guided tour; at the moment it was midday and the sun was beating down like a drumstick on the soft drum skin that was their necks.
"Sora…where is he?" Tai asked as they stopped and sat down in the shadow of the great sand dune around which the path circled. Given its enormous size, it threatened to capsize at any moment.
"I'm not sure, Tai," Sora replied for the fourth time as she watched him pass her their last water bottle. She noticed it had a mouthful of water left in it; why didn't he take it? The reason was what made Sora's heart beat, what made her smile from the second she woke up to the moment she closed her eyes at night. She loved him and he loved her. It had been a sad moment when she broke up with Matt, but she was so glad she had Tai now. On Tai's part, he had been nothing but a good sport about it all, still speaking to Matt and retaining a friendly relationship. Matt also seemed to be cool about it all, and looked happy for the three of them.
"We better start walking again, or the helicopter might not be able to see us in the shade," Tai said with a frown as he got up, rubbed himself down, and helped Sora to her feet. Sora smiled and kissed him on the cheek, rather than the lips, as a reward for his kind gesture. Tai smiled back happily, but as they began to walk, he collapsed. Sora thought it was the heat at first, but before she could lean over and check what was wrong, something hard hit her head and she felt herself begin to black out, thoughts of what had hit her swam in her mind as her brain slowly shut down.
Sora awoke to see herself in an entirely white room. "Wha..." she began, looking around. She paused when she saw that one of the walls was made of glass. She gasped as she saw Tai lying on the floor, still unconscious. "Tai!" she screamed, running over to the glass and banging hard. She used all of her strength trying to wake him.
Tai's eyes fluttered open and he saw Sora. He ran over to the glass and planted his hands on it, keeping as close to Sora as possible. He looked around the room and frowned in confusion, furrowing his brow in frustration. Sora watched him say something, staring at his mouth and then felt tears well up; she couldn't hear the voice she loved so much.
He raised an eyebrow as he realised he couldn't hear anything but a dull sound.
"TAI!" she screamed.
They couldn't hear each other, but that didn't matter; what mattered was where they were, why they were here, and who brought them here.
Sora turned quickly as she saw part of the white wall on her side open up; behind it was another glass wall. She could faintly see a figure on the other side, but was unable to make out specifics. Suddenly the intercom fired up. The voice was one that Sora knew all too well.
"Sora…I hope you like it here. I'm sorry I couldn't make it any more comfortable, but business never is."
"Matt?" she asked aloud.
There was no reply.
"Matt! What are we doing here!? This isn't funny; this isn't a joke, Matt!" She turned to see Tai looking at her, confused; why was Matt just speaking to her?
The intercom crackled again and Matt's voice returned. "Sora, I didn't want to do this, but every day… My heart is broken, Sora. I can't live without you. I'm sorry, but there is only one way I can be happy again. Please… Sora, be with me."
She could tell he was being sincere but what she didn't get was where all this had suddenly come from. "I'm with Tai, you know that!" She didn't know if he could hear unless she shouted, so it was best to play it safe.
Sora breathed deeply and waited for his next words with anticipation.
"You are here to help me achieve my dream or destroy yours," Matt explained.
"What do you mean?" Sora asked, confused now.
Sora heard Matt inhale deeply. "I mean, I want you to leave Tai and be with me."
It made her feel stupid for forgetting his original motive. After her initial embarrassment, she just felt sadness for him. "I can't, Matt, I love Tai. I've told you this," Sora said slowly; she was beginning to get scared. "Matt, let us out. Please." She looked up at the silent glass, hoping he would relent.
"I can't," Matt replied simply, devoid of any emotion. His voice was much colder.
"Matt! This isn't funny anymore, it never was. Let us out, now!"
"Sorry, but if I can't have you, then neither can he…"
Sora heard a dial being twisted and a knob pressed, and spun towards Tai. Tai's eyes became huge. "Tai!" Sora shouted, shocked. "Matt, what are you doing!?"
"I'm sorry, Sora, but as I've said, if I can't have you…then neither can he!" Matt's reply was heartlessly frigid, and it made Sora shiver to her bones, even more so because of her scantily clad figure.
She turned to see Tai gasping for air and slowly dropping. "Matt, this isn't funny! Stop it! Now!" Sora screamed hysterically. She felt her face flush with anger and her fists tense with ire, even as her heart yelled with fear. Her head swam with all of the emotions that she had become all too familiar with in the Digital World: love, sincerity, hope, courage, friendship, reliability, knowledge and light. It seemed that love was the cause of the problem, sincerity was behind the solution, hope was all but lost, courage was as strong as ever, friendship was dead and buried, reliability on others had vanished, knowledge was useless, and light was nonexistent. Only darkness remained.
"Sora, leave Tai and it all stops. It's as simple as that." Matt's voice still sounded sincere and kind, even though Sora knew his intentions were anything but.
"Matt, please!" Sora begged as she saw Tai on his knees, choking. "What are you doing? He's your friend!" she protested. "Don't do something you're going to regret!"
"It's a partially painful VX compound gas that will fill his lungs and his entire body until—"
"Until his death," Sora muttered, hardly willing to finish Matt's explanation.
Sora stood up, walking over to the glass. "No! You can't do this! He's your friend! Please, I'm begging!" Sora declared, banging on the glass. There was no response. She fell to her knees, just as Tai had done. Except this time, she wasn't dying from a gas, but out of love.
"Sora, you had your chance, so take responsibility for your actions. There is only one solution now: I will kill him, and then you will have no choice but to be with me!" Matt announced, his voice dripping with madness.
Sora's eyes and lip quivered as she looked back at her beloved. She ran over, seeing him struggling to breathe and banged on the glass, shouting, "Tai! Hold on!" She saw him clutching at his throat, and the knowledge that nothing she could do would help was just too much. "Tai, you can't leave! I love you!" Sora shouted at the top of her voice. Tai collapsed.
The intercom crackled back on before his body had even hit the ground. "It's over, Sora. You can be with me now." Matt's voice softened. "There's nothing in the way between us."
As Matt pronounced his friend's death, Tai's body lifted up slowly. He was propping himself up on just one arm. He dragged his body towards the glass, coughing and spurting blood from his mouth as tears trickled down his face.
"Tai…" Sora gasped. Reaching to the glass pane, Sora placed a palm onto it; she felt the salty water trickle from her eyes as she stared at Tai's futile attempt to reach her. To see her lover in this state was more than enough to shatter her heart. Unfortunately, it couldn't shatter the glass that separated the two.
She banged on the glass furiously. "Matt, please! Don't do this!" she screamed; there might still be time to save Tai—and Matt. There was no reply. "Matt!" she screamed, turning her head to look at the glass wall with the shadowy outline of someone sitting and, perhaps nonchalantly, drinking a can of soda.
Sora spun again to Tai, who reached up and placed his palm onto the glass above her hand. She looked at him and her heart broke into a million pieces. He looked back at her and smiled; it was the same smile that had gotten her through the darkest of times, and it made her heart skip a beat. Tai's face was one of pure love.
He opened his mouth and spoke. She watched his lips and was sure she knew the three words he said but there was no way she would ever know.
"Please." Sora could barely make a sound. She looked at him as she saw his mouth move. Her heart died when she realised she could never again hear her lover's sweet voice. "Tai…I love you," Sora said with a smile of her own. There was little else she could say or do at this point as Tai's beautiful eyes closed for the last time. Sora grasped at the glass when Tai's hand finally slipped and his face dropped. Tears were pouring from her eyes like a waterfall.
"Oh, it's over?" Matt asked; his voice was one of boredom. Sora clenched her fist and banged it against the glass in frustration. She got up and felt the tears stop falling—she had lost every last tear in that single moment—as anger took the place of despair. Anger, courage…and love. Sora ran at the glass wall where Matt was hiding and swung her fist. The wall reverberated and the glass shook violently. "This room was built to be indestructible and airtight; don't waste your time. Now, you can be with me," Matt announced again.
Sora ignored the voice and the pain in both her heart and her hand; nothing mattered to her anymore, except avenging Tai. "Fuck you!" she screamed, slamming her other fist into the wall. The glass shook more violently than before.
"Give up and be with me." His voice was still sincere.
"Screw you! Tai was the one I loved! He was the one! You aren't even worth counting to one!" she screamed angrily.
"Please, Sora, I'm giving you one last chance," Matt warned. Tension was rising.
"Matt, I told you what my answer was; I will not tell you again."
"Sora, I will not give you another chance at this—"
"I don't need another chance; I need Tai back."
Matt insisted, "You can have me..."
"Go to hell!" Sora screamed.
"Well, if you feel that way, then I'm afraid you can go the same way as him!" Matt shouted, disgusted and exasperated. He twisted another dial and pressed the knob a second time before his desire for Sora overcame his hatred toward her.
Sora breathed in deeply, looked at the wall, and threw her fist at it, powered by all the courage she possessed, all the friendship she had known, and all the love she had experienced. A tiny crack emerged in the glass. Sora felt herself deflate as she breathed out in exhaustion. With her next breath, the noxious gas rushed in, and she dropped to her knees gasping for air. "Tai did nothing but care for you like a brother, and now he's dead!" Sora panted angrily as she started to crawl over to the glass wall between her and Tai.
"You meant the world to me, and Tai took you. Don't you dare speak to me about Tai," Matt replied matter-of-factly. He had no care or sincerity left in his voice.
"And now you are killing me! You won't get away with this!" Sora shouted angrily as she collapsed onto the floor, her face turned to the side. Her mouth was releasing spittle at a rapid rate.
"All I have to say is you got lost in the desert. And now I take my leave." Matt's figure rose. "I'm extremely disappointed with you, Sora."
"I LOVE YOU, TAI KAMIYA, AND I ALWAYS WILL!" Sora screamed at the top of her voice. In the centre of the cracks, a small piece of glass chipped off, just enough for a small hole.
"What!?" Matt gasped even as Sora smiled.
"I did it, Tai," Sora whispered. She felt her body scream in pain as she pushed herself up. Tai's face was still pressed against the glass, along with his right hand. Sora nodded with a quiet resolve and dragged her body to the same height.
Matt gasped for air and was by now cursing angrily. "You stupid bitch, you've killed us all!"
"No, you did," Sora muttered as she pushed her face up against the glass. She managed to shed one last tear, which trickled down the glass. As the tear landed on the floor, one final thought remained with Sora: I die with you, I die for you, I love you…Tai.
"So what went on here, then?" A man in a hazmat suit voiced the question aloud.
"It seems that a lethal VX vapour was released from these vents into both cells," another man explained as he pointed at each of the points. "The victim in the right cell block died first, and the one in the left block, the block we're in, died a shorter, more painful death briefly afterwards."
"And him?" asked a woman, by her voice. She pointed at the body half hanging off the edge of a control room, his hand clenched into a fist like it was unable to let go of something. Bloody shards of glass were stabbed into his fingers.
"He died last. If I were a philosophical kind of guy, I'd say he died with the most anguish," the knowledgeable man explained.
"And their body positions?" the first man asked.
"He died like that because he punched the glass in one last angry moment. He's still in rigor mortis."
"Those two died by crawling, slowly and painfully, towards each other; to die together, in love, until the very end," the woman explained. She felt a tear fall down her cheek.
"Mimi, stay strong," the second man ordered.
"Sorry, Ken." Mimi wiped the tear with her hands inside the hazmat suit.
"T.K.?" Ken asked as he turned to the other comrade with them.
"This isn't over," T.K said slowly. "He got that gas from somewhere. From someone."
Thanks to Py687 for beta-ing this originally, he was a huge help! It's now been redone slightly. I was practicing emotional writing with this piece.
VX Gas: VX gas is used in chemical warfare, originally engineered in the UK. This fanfic in no way endorses what is written within it and I won't be held to account for any mishaps or usage of VX gas because of this, in fact any type of killing or abuse that comes from this has nothing to do with me.
I left this open ended 'cause I wasn't sure how to continue. I have a few ideas now and may continue it soon.