This fanfic has an AU setting, but the spark of inspiration came from the Digimon Adventure epilogue. First, the implication that Matt had been in one relationship his entire life, and second, Tai's son looked quite young in comparison to the other children.

I wasn't sure whether I should categorise this as Tai/Matt or a Taiora, but I ultimately chose the latter because I didn't want people to think this was a Taito. A large majority, if not all, of the story will be shown from Tai and Matt's POV, but there will be no romantic interaction between them.

Rated T for swearing and innuendo. May go up to M because there is quite a bit of swearing.

Paradigm Shift
Squit Ayumin

Chapter 1: Frog in Well

His friends thought he lacked humility, but the way he saw it, he simply saw no need for modesty. Modesty was fake, a lie made to prevent judgment from others for ones accomplishments. He didn't see the need to undermine achievements, as they were things that rarely came without effort. Effort and achievements—they were things to be admired, not withheld.

At 27, he was at that ideal age where he could balance on the fine line between young adult and adult. He was old enough to be taken seriously, yet young enough to where his physicality was at its prime. He had exceeded expectations at his firm, earning a coveted corner office that differentiated him from others in his age group still confined to a cubicle. He had been fortunate with good genes and a charming personality, two things that got him far both in his personal life and, less publicly known, his career. He was a born leader, an ambitious worker, an engaging speaker, a passionate lover.

He prided himself in all of these, but if there was one thing Tai Kamiya was proud of, it was his seemingly trivial ability to wake up in the mornings. Fifteen years of soccer practice, and it had become habitual for him. Weekends, holidays, jetlag be damned. No matter the circumstance, a little sunshine was all it took to wake him up. He used to think it was aggravating as he was not, ironically enough, a morning person, but he soon came to realise the hidden blessing that it was.

He groaned lightly as he stirred from his sleep, almost immediately hit with a splitting headache that indicated heavy drinking the night before. Yet another reminder that he was no longer the uni student who could drink his weight in a dangerous cocktail of every form of alcohol available and still be good to go for his morning class.

He pressed his fingers against his throbbing temples as he slowly opened his eyes, allowing them to adjust to the first of the sun's rays. It took his groggy mind a second to register that the room he was in was not his own and a second more to notice that he was not alone in the bed. Memories from the night before trickled back to him. A club, a girl, drinking, dancing, more drinking, a cab ride to her place.

With that revelation, he lithely slipped out of bed, careful not to wake the woman he could not for the life of him put a face on. It didn't matter to him what she looked like, however, as he had no intention of seeing her again.

Out of bed and now wide-awake, he ignored his headache as he confusedly scanned the room for his clothes.

Something was wrong.

Aside from a couple pieces of undergarments scattered by the bed, the floor was virtually spotless. He picked up his boxers and put them on, though he was at a loss as to where the remainder of his clothes were.

What was he supposed to do now? Walk of shame back to his flat in his underwear?

The girl in bed began to shift in her sleep, and he instinctively held his breath, as if that would be of any help. Fortunately, she did not wake, and he quietly made his way to the door, praying that his clothes were on the other side.

Luckily, he was greeted by his sock, though the other was nowhere in sight. He yanked it on and walked further down the corridor in search of the rest of his clothing. The two of them had left a trail of their undressing throughout her flat, in an order he couldn't really understand. He found his other sock hanging by the bathroom door, while his trousers were thrown on her dining table. It took him longer to locate his shirt, but he finally managed to find it wedged between her two couches. He threw it over his shoulders, cursing at himself for having had such a complicated way of taking off his clothes. He should have been gone ages ago.

"Tai?"

Her voice cut through the silent room, and he froze as he saw the flat's occupant standing by the hallway, smiling pleasantly at him with a robe around her body.

She remembered his name. That was never a good sign.

"Hey," he greeted with a feigned grin, trying not to appear stunned that she had woken up in the first place. He was a pro at leaving before women woke up. A pro.

"Good morning." Her voice was too full of affection and too void of indifference, and while he couldn't remember what he had said to convince her to take him home with her, he was beginning to think it could have been a lie because the truth was that he had been drunk and horny.

He wasn't a bad person though. All guys did that.

"Good morning," he repeated back to her. Despite his slightly panicked state, he set aside a moment to determine that she was very beautiful. He applauded himself for this.

"Did you sleep well?" she asked, walking closer to him.

His reflex made him want to take a step backwards, though he stopped himself. "Yeah. You?"

She nodded, tucking a lock of light brunette hair behind her ear and smiling shyly at him. He wasn't sure why she was putting up a timid front. Obviously, between what she had done last night and her ability to face him in the morning, she wasn't that shy.

"Do you want breakfast?" she offered.

Breakfast. He hated breakfast. Breakfast was an attempt to get to know the person with whom you had shared a primal act, a bid to humanise a very animalistic thing. She looked old enough to where she should have known this by now.

He began to button his shirt, trying to think of a way to let her down gently.

"I'm really sorry, but I have to go in for work soon," he tried lamely.

She furrowed her brows at his bogus lie. "But today's Sunday. You said you knew a great brunch place we could go to today, remember?"

He looked at her blankly, her question serving as the confirmation that he had indeed put forth a fake persona for her. The only time he had ever gone to brunch was at the request of his little sister a couple years back, and it had not been a concept he was particularly fond of as it consolidated two meals into one.

Her expression changed with his lack of response, and he could see that she too was beginning to catch on to reality—that this was perhaps a one-night stand, that he was quite possibly one of those horrible jerks her father had warned her about, not the perfect, brunch-loving man he had painted himself as the night prior.

Yet, she did not falter, wanting to prove her own suspicions wrong. "Maybe another time then. Will I see you again?"

This is why he liked leaving early. If he left without looking at them, he could leave guilt-free, comforted by the notion that the night before had meant as little to them as it had to him. He was sure for many of them it did, though in theory there had to have been more like her. By not having to face them, he could give himself the benefit of the doubt, his conscience cleared.

She peered over him, waiting for a response.

He had always thought an honest answer was better than no answer, but this time he settled for the latter, focusing on the last few buttons of his shirt instead.

"Will I see you again?" she repeated, knowing very well he had heard her the first time.

He finally looked up once he had gotten the last button, looking into the face of a woman he did not know, a woman who thought she had yesterday gotten a glimpse of who he was, only to be let down once the effects of dizzying music, blurring alcohol and fervent hormones had faded. She didn't know him but had believed in him, and her pleading eyes begged him to prove her right, that his sweet talk had been of substance, not a shameless aide to satisfy his fleeting lust.

"I'm sorry," he said, meaning it.

She shut her eyes and took a breath, looking as if she was trying to calm down. He almost couldn't believe that she thought he could have been anything more than a man trying to pick up a woman at a club. She was almost too naïve, though it didn't stop him from feeling remorse. Had he scarred her, or had he opened an old wound?

"Get out," she hissed, her voice dripping with venom, finger pointed at the exit.

He obediently walked to the front door with his head slightly down, wanting nothing more than to leave the awkward encounter. Shoes on his feet and hand on the knob, he heard her call out to him once more in a final bid to make peace with herself.

"Do you even remember my name?"

He stood still for a moment, wanting to remember. He tried to think of a name—any name.

He took too long.

"You're disgusting."

She marched over to him, giving him a firm push out of her flat, slamming the door in his face. The loud noise worsened his headache, but he ignored the pain for the moment, feeling embarrassed, though he wasn't sure why.

This was something he had done countless times with women he could still remember, yet with the simple act of waking up, this nameless girl had, for the first time in as far back as he could remember, made him feel guilty.


Matt coughed as he lifted his heavy head out of the bin he had brought from the kitchen. He wiped his soiled mouth against his sleeve, holding in his hand his flatmate's prized Scotch that he had been saving for a special occasion. He had tried his hardest not to drink it, knowing the consequences that would follow, but after clearing the rest of their alcohol stash, it had been the only thing left.

So, he took a little more, not even bothering to use a glass as he drank directly from the mouth of the bottle. He immediately threw that up too.

Suddenly, he heard the sound of keys unbolting the door, and, alarmed, he hastily scanned his surroundings, knowing he had to hide the bottle before his flatmate would see it and kill him. His drunkenness only made him knock it over, spilling the liquid to their floor.

"Fuck," he grumbled, picking it up clumsily.

The door opened, and in panic he stuffed it behind a cushion, though his blurry vision could not distinguish whether it was actually hidden or not.

"Hey," came a vaguely glum voice. "You're up earl—" He stopped midsentence to gag. "What the hell?"

"Hey Tai!" Matt greeted, sounding uncharacteristically chirpy.

"What the fuck is that smell?" Tai asked after gagging once more. He stared at him in awe, finger pinching his nose shut. "Is that our kitchen bin? Why are you cuddling with it?"

Matt let go of his death grip of it and tried to stand up, knocking it down with his hip as his hands grabbed the arms of the couch to support him from falling too. He turned his glassy eyes to the toppled bin.

"Oops," he mumbled. "Oh no."

Matt bent down to pick it up but only managed to kick it, scattering rubbish freshly coated with his vomit across the floor. Seeing the nauseating sight made him throw up again, though without anything to catch it, it spewed to the floor.

"What the fuck!" Tai roared, running over to set the bin upright before shoving Matt's shoulder in anger. "What the fuck is wrong with you?!"

Matt immediately lost his balance and fell to the floor. Bewildered, Tai reached down to help him, though Matt swatted his helping hand away.

"Fuck you, asshole," Matt slurred.

"Are you drunk?" he asked incredulously, ignoring Matt's fidgeting as he took a hold of his arms.

"No, do I look drunk?!" he snapped back as Tai struggled to pick him up.

"And you smoked?" Tai continued, looking even more surprised as he came to notice the cigarette butts Matt had scattered around the sitting room. He picked up the empty carton off the table with one hand, using his other arm to support Matt's weight. "Since when did you start smoking again?"

He snatched it from Tai's hand protectively but threw it over his shoulder when he saw it was empty.

"Buy me another one. I need… I need…"

It had been years since he last smoked, so the light buzz from the cigarettes mixed with the alcohol in his empty stomach made him feel queasy. He tried to squirm out of Tai's way, but it only made his friend hold onto him tighter.

"What's wrong?" Tai asked, trying to set him upright.

Without warning, he threw up again, and he felt Tai painfully push him off of him in an effort to protect himself.

"MATT!"

"Did I get you?" he asked as he tried to stand up. He couldn't, so he let himself sit again. "I threw up in the kitchen too. I tried to clean it, but—"

Tai didn't let him finish his sentence as he seized Matt by the collar of his shirt, using his superior strength to drag him through the flat, ignoring his cries that he was choking to death.

"I'm going to fucking kill you when you're sober," Tai growled, kicking open the door to bathroom and throwing him inside. The sudden jerking made him vomit once again on the cupboards. "The toilet, Ishida! Aim for the toilet!"

"I can't!" he yelled back as he fell, frustrated that Tai couldn't understand.

"Try," Tai ordered impatiently. He lifted Matt once more and practically forced his head down the toilet. "Don't. Move. I'm going to clean up your mess, then I'll be back to kick your ass."

With that, he left, leaving Matt headfirst in the toilet that he could not for the life of him remember when it was last cleaned. Probably never. He tried to force himself to vomit but for once nothing came out.

What was probably a minor annoyance became the worst predicament in the history of his existence. He angrily thrashed his arms about as if that'd change anything, overcome with frustration. His head was stuck in a toilet, he was pissed drunk on a Sunday morning, he ran out of cigarettes and alcohol and on top of that he couldn't vomit. He swore he was going to kill himself.

Tai barged back inside, holding his bottle of Scotch in his hand. "YOU DRANK THIS?! I'M GOING TO—" His anger suddenly subsided, eyes widening as he got a clearer look at him. "Oy, you aren't crying, are you?"

He hadn't realised that he had started again. If he were sober, he would surely care that his friend was seeing him reduced to tears, but his drunkenness made him not give it a second's thought. He wiped his eyes with one hand, flushing the toilet with the other as he tried to stand up. Tai instantly pushed him back down but seemed to sympathise, as he set the half-empty bottle on the counter without further reprimanding him.

"Megumi broke up with me last night," Matt explained finally.

With his head in the toilet, he could not see Tai's reaction, though his lack of verbal response already spoke volumes. For what seemed like the first time since he had known Tai, he was at a loss for anything to say.

The alcohol making him talkative, he continued speaking into the toilet bowl. "She got a job in England. Can you believe that? England! What the fuck does England have that Japan doesn't?! I'll tell you what it doesn't have! It doesn't have me!"

Tai remained silent, so Matt used the time to cough up bile.

"I'm sorry, mate," he offered finally, struggling to come up with anything better to say. Matt took his head out of the toilet and saw a glimpse of the sheer shock still present in his friend's face. Tai made a quick and awkward effort to conceal it, though it was obvious he had not expected that to be the cause of Matt's intoxication. "It'll be all right. You'll find someone better."

"No, I won't!" Matt furiously threw his arm at Tai's useless comment, hitting him with the back of his hand. "She was perfect. She was fucking perfect, and now she's going to move to England and find some asshole who drinks tea—" He paused to throw up again. "—and talks in some snooty accent—" He reached for Tai's Scotch, which Tai moved out of his reach. "—with bad teeth. And I'm going to kill myself. I'm going to do it today. Just watch me, Tai. Watch me k—"

Tai slapped his face, which they always did when the other was drunk beyond all reason. "Matt, pull yourself together! You need to calm down!"

He angrily tried to hit him back, though he missed and his arm only struck air. "Calm down?! You want me to calm down?! How can I calm down when I just got dumped by my girlfriend of thirteen years?! I don't want to calm down, you fucking asshat! I want to fucking drink until I fucking die!"

"Believe me, you're close," Tai muttered, turning the shower on. "Look, I know you're upset, and we can talk shit about that bitch later, but you're covered in vomit. I need you to take a shower, but don't throw up in the bathtub, understand?"

He nodded defeatedly, feeling somewhat better after yelling despite Tai unnecessarily speaking to him as if he were just learning how to communicate. "I threw up in the kitchen."

"I know. You already told me. I'll clean it up for you, but only if you try your very hardest not to vomit anywhere else but the toilet, okay? Can you do that?"

"You're such a good friend," Matt slurred, suddenly overcome with gratitude as he pulled on his soiled shirt. "Have I ever told you that you're such a good friend? No wonder—"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait until I leave to take your clothes off! Fuck!" With that, Tai left the bathroom, though he opened the door a second later to seize his bottle of Scotch. "I'm still going to kill you for drinking this, by the way. I'm just going to wait until you're sober so you'll remember me beating the crap out of you." He slammed the door again.

"Fuck you," he snapped back.

He clumsily began to unclothe himself, a usually simple act that suddenly became beyond all measurable comprehension. With great difficulty, he managed to pull off his shirt, throwing it aside randomly so that it slipped into the toilet, while his trousers hit the puddle of vomit splayed on the counter. He was too drunk to care, and he was sure Tai would clean it up for him later. It was usually the other way around, so Tai wasn't allowed to complain.

He somehow manoeuvred his heavy body into the bathtub, not even bothering to concern himself with the confusing shower curtain. His flailing arms knocked bottles onto the floor until he was finally able to grab hold of one. He dispensed a generous amount of product onto his hair and body, not certain whether it was his or Tai's, or whether it was shampoo, conditioner or body wash.

He wanted to die.

Just a few days ago, he had been researching flats in the area, planning to ask her to move in together once their leases expired. They had tried to do it several times in the past, but something had always happened and plans would fall through. Now, with nothing to stop them, he had been excited to start the rest of their lives together.

Meanwhile, Megumi was trying to figure out a way to tell him that she would be moving to England without him.

That killed him. They had been dating for nearly half of their lives, yet she found it in her to so independently make the decision to end everything without a single word of input from his side. She had made the decision to go, he was not a part of the plan and that was it.

The last image of her reappeared in his mind, her espresso hair dishevelled and sticking to her tear-stained face, her matching eyes puffy and red, her eyeliner following the trail of her tears. Her entire body was shaking as if she was having a panic attack, agonising sobs coming from the very core of her.

Yet, despite her being an obvious wreck, she had still managed to go through with it. She had ended it, even finding it in her to apologise, as if what she was doing was beyond her control.

No, she was going for a job. She already had a job. A good one.

He felt the crazed desire to strangle her, kill her even. How could she do this to him? If she was going to be so emotionally distraught over dumping him, why did she even do it in the first place? He would have moved to England for her. She could have stayed here for him.

In desperation, he had told her he would move to England if she couldn't stay in Japan, but she denied him. There was nothing for him there, she said. He told her that she would be, and that would be all he needed. It wasn't reason enough for her.

Absurdly enough, that hadn't even been the worst blow. The worst was that she waited until the night before she was leaving to tell him. How long had she known she would be doing this to him? She had given him no clues beforehand, strung him along knowing that she had set an expiration date for them, leaving him oblivious, then confused, then utterly destroyed.

Consumed by anger, he threw the bottle in his hand at the mirror, effectively smashing part of it as shampoo/conditioner/body wash squirted everywhere.

"If you broke something, I swear to God you're dead!"

Tai could go to hell too.

He quickly rinsed his hair and body, rubbing at his stinging eyes until the soapy substance was gone from them. He stepped out of the shower, forgetting to turn off the water, and clumsily wrapped a towel around his waist before going out, letting excess water seep from his hair and body onto the floor.

"Turn the water off, Jesus!" Tai nagged, coming from their sitting room. He walked into the bathroom to turn it off himself, only to see the mess Matt had made. "What the hell did you do to the mirror?!"

"I'm going to bed," Matt grumbled, stumbling through the hall towards his bedroom.

"Look, you're obviously really upset. If you want to talk about it—"

"I don't want to fucking talk about it," Matt snapped, pushing Tai aside. "Get out of my way."

Such behaviour would usually warrant painful retaliation, though Tai showed him leniency this time as he let him storm into his room without a single counter or remark. He slammed his door as hard as he could, suddenly understanding the gratification angsty teenagers got when they did it. He looked around his bedroom, taking in the surroundings as much as he could through his inebriation.

He hated everything.

He started with the picture of the two of them by his bed, seizing it and throwing it at the door, finding satisfaction as the frame broke against the wood of his door. Next, he tore off his bed sheets, a gift from her. Something about Egyptian cotton being more comfortable. There was a basket of her toiletries on his desk. Whatever glass products inside also shattered upon impact with the door. An extra charger for her mobile. He threw that too, even though he could have used it for his own matching phone. He opened his wardrobe, yanking out items as he saw them. Her clothes she had left there, his clothes she had bought him, clothes she liked on him. The invaluable bass guitar she had gotten for him for his birthday one year, already regretting it as he smashed it against the wall.

"You're going to break our flat," Tai said from outside his bedroom, unsuccessfully trying not to sound annoyed.

He ignored him, breathing hard as he looked around for anything else that reminded him of her, seizing items and sending them flying towards the door before it hit him that it was everything. Everything reminded him of her. He had been with her for so long that all things in his life had been influenced by her one way or another, directly or indirectly.

For as long as he could remember, he had been one half of Matt-and-Megumi, but with one sentence she had taken that away from him, ripped half of him off and placed it on an aeroplane destined 10,000 kilometres away. Had she already gone? He had no idea, as she wouldn't even let him say goodbye to her at the airport, refusing to provide any flight details.

Or any details, for that matter. He didn't know what her new job was, when she was starting, where she was staying, how he could still contact her. No, she had come with the singular task to break up with him and had succeeded, erasing a thirteen-year relationship in, despite the sobbing, the emptiest, coldest conversation he had ever had with her.


井の中の蛙大海を知らず。

"The frog in the well does not know the ocean." (Japanese proverb)