Disclaimer: Digimon is copyright Toei Animation, Bandai, and Saban. I make no claim and this story should not be constituted as such a claim. It is a fanwork. No money is being made from it. Plagiarism, however, is not tolerated. I'll send the big tea-pot after you if you try anything! And if *that* isn't scary, I don't know what is.
I Honestly Love You

by Fushigi Kismet
"Takeru!" she called, running ahead of me. "Hurry up! We're going to be late for class!"

I sighed, quickening my stride and drawing up alongside her. "And *who* was it who made us late this morning?!" I growled.

"Okay, okay!" she said, sighing. "I'm sorry! I couldn't find my math book! Tailmon and I searched for it for over twenty minutes before we finally found it. It was in the hall closet for some reason . . ."

I shook my head. Another day, another late morning. "And to think," I said slowly, "this was the girl who prided herself on getting everywhere *early* in grade school."

She made a face. "I'm still usually on time! I haven't changed!"

No, she hasn't changed. Yagami Hikari, freshman at Odaiba Junior High. Class A-1. My best friend for nearly as long as I can remember. The prettiest, smartest, sweetest girl in the world. The girl I love, even if she doesn't know it yet.

No, she hasn't changed. And neither have I. I still love her, love her as I loved her when we were eight years old, when we were eleven, now, when we're thirteen. Yes, I love her . . . but more so now. More than any of those times before. Differently than how I loved her at eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve.

At eight I loved her as the brave girl I admired. As someone who was strong and I could hope to be like, like Onii-chan, or Taichi- kun.

At nine I loved her as the friend she was becoming, as the girl who could laugh at my jokes, as the one to whom I could complain about my brother, my parents, adults in general, and who would always listen carefully . . . The one who would always understand.

At ten I loved her as the friend she was, ready to help me with any problem, or to spend a day together biking or at the park walking and picnicking, telling stories and feeding pigeons.

At eleven I loved her as the girl ready to face any obstacles and not turn away from the troubles plaguing our world. She was my strength.

At twelve I loved her as the person who felt right beside me, whose opinion I sought, whose advice I wanted, whose desires I wanted to help come true. I was beginning to love her as I love her now.

At thirteen, right now, I love her as herself. As all the things she ever was and is and will be to me. I love Yagami Hikari with all my heart.

That morning went by without incident. One long math class later we were finally working on our chemistry, which Hikari and I both sort of detest and are fascinated by at the same time. I have a special place for chemistry in my heart because Hikari and I are lab partners. She and one of the other girls always pair up on everything else or we get assigned partners, but I get to handle dangerous and toxic chemicals with her. Well, it's better than doing math projects together, anyway. And we get a whole lot more time to talk.

"Hikari, will you pass me that test tube?"

"Sure, Takeru," she said, either oblivious to or ignoring (I can't think her *that* naive) the disgruntled muttering of the other boys in our science class.

We call each other by our first names, without honorifics and I know that guys in our class look at us and are jealous of me. Of Takaishi Takeru who dares to be so familiar with Yagami Hikari and won't ever be reprimanded for it because she is just as familiar back. "We're childhood friends," she would explain unconcernedly whenever a boy who's head-over-heels for her manages to dredge up enough courage to ask her about it. And faced with that kind of response, what can he do but back away and mutter an apology as she smiles gently at him without taking notice of the color rushing to his cheeks and the glares he shoots my way.

I know that Daisuke-kun looks at us with a mixture of disgust and amusement. He still has a thing for Hikari, maybe he always will, but he's no longer any type of rival for me. I never used to think of him as a rival, because I never wanted to think that we were actually at odds over her . . . because Daisuke-kun and Hikari were both my friends and were both very important to me. Of course, I couldn't help teasing Daisuke a little . . . it's hard not to when someone's got that kind of a personality. Daisuke's like a child with a toy that he's particularly fond of and won't share with anyone. Or at least, that's how I used to view him.

One day, however, right at the beginning of seventh grade, he caught me after class and asked me to meet him in back of the school after school that day. I shrugged and agreed, mildly curious as to what he wanted, but too preoccupied with thoughts of basketball and the biology test later that day and getting to lunch to wonder about it overly much. All throughout lunch period he kept shooting me strange looks until I grew slightly uneasy and almost walked over to where he was sitting with a group of kids from his class to demand an explanation.

Hikari distracted me with her hand on my sleeve and a quizzical look Motomiya's way. "What's Daisuke-kun doing sitting all the way over there? Doesn't he want to eat with us today?"

"Yeah!" Miyako-chan piped up from where she was already seated and munching on some contents of her massive unpacked lunch spread out before her. "What's he doing?"

"I don't know," I replied, and shrugged. "Maybe he just wants to spend time with his classmates today since he always sits with us?"

"Maybe." Hikari shrugged with me and we turned to rejoin Miyako- chan.

After school that day, remembering our promise, I met him in back of the school building. I remember taking one step outside and then I was flat on my back, the breath knocked out of me, the sunlight dazzling my eyes.

Then the sun was blocked out as Daisuke-kun's form bent over mine, hand outstretched. "Come on, lemme give you a hand up."

"You just decked me!" I cried in bewilderment. "And now you're offering to help me up? What the hell is your game, Motomiya?!"

He shrugged, pulling me to my feet. "I just thought I'd hit you once, for old times' sake."

"Old times' sake? We never had any old times like that!"

"Eh." He shrugged again. "Well, we might've. If I wasn't so reasonable, that is."

"Reasonable? Motomiya, you have some explaining to do!"

"It's like this . . . I'm giving up on Hikari-chan."

"What?" I blinked at him. Of all the things I had expected him to say, this wasn't one of them.

"Yup, I'm giving up! I'm recognizing that I've lost to my rival. To a better man."

"Lost? Rival? A better man? Who?"

He looked at me for an instant as though I had lost all my wits and I suppose, looking back on it now, that he must have been debating whether to laugh or yell in exasperation. He settled for both, doubling over laughing and trying to yell rather breathlessly at the same time. "Kami-sama, Takaishi! If you weren't you . . ."

I was afraid he was going to choke. "Easy, Motomiya! Calm down. What are you trying to say?!"

When he finally got his breath back and his laughs had slowed and stopped he shook his head, looking at me. "Don't make me regret my decision now, pretty boy. I lost to you fair and square."

"You mean *I'm* your rival?!" I asked.

"Who else?!" He seemed impatient.

"But . . . But I wasn't aware of any kind of rivalry . . ."

"And they say *I'm* dense," he muttered to himself. "Takaishi, you know that I've loved Hikari-chan for a long time now, right?"

"Yes."

"Haven't you loved her for a long time, too?"
That was it. The first time I really, really ever thought about it. The first time I looked at what I felt for Hikari, examined it from all angles, and realized that, yes, I do love Yagami Hikari, loved her as more than a friend, much more. And I had Motomiya Daisuke to thank for it.
"Yes."

"Well, then," he said, as though that settled everything. He seemed satisfied.

"But how can you have lost to me if I never even realized that we were rivals?"

He shook his head. "Doesn't matter if you didn't know - which you *did* by the way, or else you wouldn't have been so close to Hikari- chan all the time just to make me mad, so maybe it was subconscious knowledge? - I still fought against you and lost to you. It's easy to see, isn't it, who Hikari-chan prefers between the two of us?"

"Is it?"

"Plain as the nose on your face." He shook his head again. "Sure, she likes me. But as a friend. Nothing more. She's loads closer to you, Takaishi. And it's not just that . . . she's *different* around you. It took me a long time to realize it, and an even longer time to accept it, but there it is and there's nothing I can do about it. Facts are facts."

""Different" how?"

"I dunno. Just . . . different."

"Helpful. Very helpful, Motomiya." The sarcasm wasn't lost on him.

"Well, I dunno. She seems happier, no, that's not it, um, she just *glows* sorta different when you're around. Like the clouds moved from in front of the sun, or something. And her laugh is different. Her eyes are brighter. Her smiles when you're around are something really special."

I looked at him in disbelief. "You're sure?"

"Hey, if you've been watching Hikari-chan for as long as I have . . . Well, and if you've been with her when *you're* not around, which is something I'm sure you can't say, then you'd see it, too."

I pondered it for a minute. "So you think she likes me then?"

"Didn't say that. I just said that she likes you *better*. After all, I'm not exactly a great judge of girls and for all I know she's wildly, madly in love with Ichijouji Ken . . ."

The words echoed unsaid between us. Like every other girl.

"But isn't Ichijouji-kun going out with some brown-haired foreign exchange student? An artist, right?"

Daisuke-kun shrugged. "Beats me. Doesn't mean that she doesn't like him, though. You can never tell with girls."

We were silent for a moment before Daisuke piped up, "Cheer up, man. That was only a thought. It's probably not even something to worry over."

"Yeah." My voice was low and it must've still sounded worried because Daisuke-kun shook his head again and, grabbing my arm, yanked me after him. "Come on. She still likes you better than me and that's something, isn't it? You and me need to sit down and talk since you're so clueless and down on yourself. Kami-sama, if someone had told me two years ago that I was going to be stuck with the job of cheering up Takaishi Takeru, I would've punched him in the nose and told him that I'd sooner hit you than look at you."

"You mean like when you hit me in the gut?"

"Oh yeah, there was that, wasn't there?" He scratched the bridge of his nose. "Guess I wasn't that far off at that."
We ended up at the park. Daisuke-kun proceeded to climb up to the top of the jungle gym and perch there, his feet hooked under a bar. I followed him up and sat beside him.

"Why didn't you sit with us at lunch today?" I asked him, suddenly remembering.

"I wanted to see what it was like."

"What what was like?"

"Being apart from Hikari-chan."

"And?"

"It wasn't so bad. I guess I've been getting over her, bit by bit, ever since fifth grade . . ."

Since you transferred in, were the words he didn't say.

"But why did you keep looking at me like that?"

He laughed. "Oh, that? I was trying to hate you."

"What?!"

"Yup. Just wondered what that would be like. And you know what, Takaishi?"

"What?" I asked, wondering if I would ever know anything he was talking about on this crazy, crazy day.

"I couldn't."

"Couldn't what?"

"Couldn't hate you. Tried my darnedest too. But for some reason, I just couldn't hate you for beating me. I'd look at you and her together, and I'd feel . . . nothing."

"Really?"

"Well, maybe not nothing. I guess I was a little resentful. Come on, who wouldn't be? But other than that, I found out that I was okay with it. With you and her being together. It really surprised me. When I asked you to meet me after school I was all determined to fight you for Hikari-chan. One fight, to determine everything. But looking at the two of you really made me think. And after awhile, the more I looked at you, the more I thought about it . . . It just started to make sense. The two of you together.

"And that, my friend, was the final nail in the coffin. And darned it all if it didn't take me until the end of lunchtime today to get me to accept the fact that Yagami Hikari is better off with you than me."

He laughed. "But I still felt like slugging you. Just because."

"So you hit me for no reason?!"

"Think of it as the fight we never had," he said, smiling.

"All right," I subsided, grumbling to myself.

"That's what I like about you, Takaishi. You're not one to hold a grudge. With your friends, that is."

"Guess not." How could I? Even if my stomach still hurt from that punch, I wasn't about to let Daisuke-kun know that. And what are you supposed to do when one of your friends comes to you and tells you that he's giving up the girl he loves to you, and you're a better man, and the only payment he wants is one punch? What's there to do but grin and bear it and let it go because it doesn't really matter anyway. Because there's only the girl that matters and the fact that your friend isn't resentful anymore even though you didn't know that he was resentful before, and you're sitting atop a jungle gym together, shooting the breeze. There really isn't anything to be done about that. Would I have wanted to do anything if I could?

"You take care of Hikari-chan now."

"Oh, but she can be a handful."

He laughed at that. "Tell me about it. There was that time in fifth grade, remember, right after the fourth trip to the Digiworld, it must've been, when we were in math class and-"

"Oh yeah!" I said, remembering. "Hikari said . . ."
We sat for a long time on top of the jungle gym and talked about Hikari. When we had first met her. What we had thought of her at first, what we thought of her now, our favorite memories of her, when we had both started to love her, why we loved her . . . We extolled her virtues and lamented her flaws. And while some might have found her flaws virtues, we were not among them.
"She's too good-looking! All the guys are after her!"

"You've got that right!"

"And she's too nice to all of them! Can't tell them straight out that she's not interested! Makes them think they have a chance with her!"

"Yeah, bastards! They pester her all the time between class until I almost have to beat them off. Give 'em the patented death glare and they stay away for a little bit, but five minutes later and they're back . . ."

"You should keep a better eye on her, Takaishi. Keep the dogs from sniffing 'round her heels."

"Oh, easy for you to say! You're not in any of her classes. You don't know how persistent they can be."

"Don't I?"

We looked at each other for an instant before breaking into smiles, then into laughter. I laughed so hard that I thought I was going to die and Daisuke-kun almost slipped off the jungle gym to his death, he was shaking so much, but I grabbed him in time to keep him from losing his balance.

"Thanks, man," he said, and I nodded.

"You know, if I had to lose to anyone . . . I'm glad it was you."

"Eh?"

"'Cause you're an all-around nice guy. The kind of guy Hikari- chan ought to have in her life. And because you'd never hurt her and would always want to do your best by her. Yeah, if it couldn't be me . . . I'm glad it's you."

"Thanks," I said, and I meant it, and he knew I meant it, that sometime that afternoon between him punching me and me stopping his fall something had changed between us. Something in us had changed. Daisuke-kun had let something go, and because of that I had gained something precious. A complete friend. No hidden resentment or envy left between us. Now, there was only camaraderie and the solidity of our friendship.

"Well, gotta go," he said after a while, jumping off the jungle gym and landing in the dirt. "I promised I'd meet Ken at five and kick around the old soccerball with him for awhile. He said his Mom would be happy to have me over for dinner, and since it's Jun's night to make dinner, I was only too happy to oblige!" he said, flashing the smile of one who had just gotten out of some unbearably unpleasant task. He picked up his school bag and slung it over one shoulder. "I hate to leave you, man, but I have to go pick up Buimon and save him from Jun's cooking!"

I smiled at him. "I understand, Motomiya."

"Hey, Takaishi?"

"Yeah?"

"You can just call me "Daisuke-kun," you know."

"Yeah, and you can just call me "Takeru-kun.""

"All right then, Takeru-kun."

"See you later, Daisuke-kun." The name felt strange on my tongue. We had called each other those things before. Takeru-kun. Daisuke- kun. But we had been split up into different classes once we entered junior high and with our different athletic schedules and activities we had just naturally sort of drifted apart, until we had been back on a last name basis. And maybe there had been some kind of resentment on Daisuke-kun's part when he had seen Hikari and I together all the time that had added to the distance between us? Well, we were back on a first name basis again. And all things considered, it felt pretty good.
The next day, Daisuke-kun was back sitting at his regular place during lunch period. We exchanged a glance before Miyako-chan started badgering him as to why he hadn't deigned to sit with us the day before.

Hikari sat down next to me and whispered, "You look happy about something."

"Do I?"

"You and Daisuke-kun both! Are you two cooking something up between you that I should know about?"

"Us? Surely, you must be kidding!"

Daisuke-kun winked at me and I winked back. Seeing that, Hikari let out a sigh and looked at the two of us. "Come on, you guys! Spill it!"

"I don't know *what* you're talking about," Daisuke-kun said with an affronted air. "I'm sure Takeru-kun doesn't either. Isn't that right?"

"Oh, indeed, Daisuke-kun," I replied airily.

"Daisuke-kun? Takeru-kun?" Miyako and Hikari blinked. "Now, I KNOW something's going on!" they cried, tackling us simultaneously.

We laughed, doing our best to fend them off.

"Girls," Daisuke-kun declared, "are a menace!"

"Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em!" I answered back.
Things continued in that vein for some time, with Daisuke and I on extremely good terms (we're still better friends than before) and the girls rather befuddled. Eventually everyone forgot that we had ever been any different and everything looked like it was proceeding smoothly.

It was January before I worked up enough courage to tell Hikari how I felt. Daisuke had been egging me on everyday, but sometimes *that* kind of help results in exactly the opposite effect from the one intended. It made me even more nervous.

I wanted to talk about it with someone, but while I go to my Onii- chan for just about everything else and I love him dearly, this wasn't something I wanted to bring up with him. It was just, sort of embarrassing to go to your older brother for help. Doubtless he would've told Taichi as well and then I would have had *him* breathing down my neck and making vague threats about taking care of his sister and behaving like a perfect gentleman at all times. It just wasn't something I wanted to get into.

So I talked it over with Patamon, of course, who, while not extremely well-versed in matters of the heart, advised me with the infallible logic that all Digimon have to gather my courage and tell her before my talking about it and obsessing over it drove him mad. Therefore, I decided to just tell her and see how it went from there.

I picked a Saturday night when I was walking her home after going out to the movies with everyone. Daisuke had wanted to see the new action movie and Miyako had wanted to see it as well - just so she could comment on the cheesy special effects, it seemed. We badgered Iori into going because he didn't get out of the house enough. Hikari went because everyone else was going and I went because Hikari was going and because it seemed to me a perfect opportunity to talk to her without anyone else around.

Part of the reason I had been too nervous to confess to her was that when none of our friends or classmates were around, Tailmon was almost always there instead. I knew that if I botched it up, it would be ten times worse with Tailmon there. Like all of the chosen children, for Hikari her Digimon's opinion counted more than that of anyone else in her life. Therefore, tonight was perfect because all of the Digimon were spending their own quality time together.

I think they have a poker night or something every time we humans decide to go out together and they don't feel like coming along. Patamon was always sort of deliberately vague on the subject. They must gossip a lot. Maybe they joke about how silly we humans have been being lately? I could see that.

The night air was cold and even bundled up in my long coat I could feel it. Hikari didn't seem bothered by it at all, chatting on at length about inconsequential things. Halfway home she decided that she wanted to take the long way because she wanted to stop by the park and see the trees in the moonlight. That was fine by me. Any excuse I had to spend more time with Hikari was perfectly valid in my eyes, even if it was as silly a whim as looking at trees at night.

The park was quiet and dark. The trees were hung with silver. Here and there bits of tinsel left over from someone's overzealous Christmas decorations glinted as they were stirred by the wind.

She turned to me, smiling. "It's beautiful, isn't it?

But what I saw was not the park or the night, it was Hikari, shining in the moonlight. It was Hikari, smiling up at me. It was Hikari. Beautiful, too-beautiful Hikari.

Then, the words that had not been able to come before, that had stuck half-formed in my throat, that I had swallowed painfully time after time, slipped as easily and painlessly from between my lips as though I had just been greeting her like I did every morning. There was nothing to fear. This was the Hikari that I loved and every day, whether she knew it or not, I had been telling her in a thousand ways every single day that we've known each other that I love her. Now was no different just because I was finally saying it in words.

"I love you, Hikari. I've loved you for a very long time now. And I don't want this to mess up our friendship in any way, but I just had to know . . . how you feel about me?"

She was staring at me uncomprehendingly like some newly discovered sea-deep creature that she was trying to categorize. "What," she said, "are you talking about, Takeru?"

"I'm in love with you," I said, numb. What were you talking about, Daisuke?! 'She likes you better than me?' Why is there that look in her eyes?

She started laughing. "Oh, good joke. I almost didn't get it. Pretty funny, huh?"

"I'm not joking."

"Come on," she said, her forced laughter stopping, her smile fading, "it's time to end the joke. Let's go home."

"Hikari!"

There was something terribly, terribly wrong. And it wasn't just that I felt as though I had just dropped through the deepest, darkest hole ever and the earth had swallowed me up. That's happened before. I've lived through that sort of thing. I could live through this sort of thing too, though it didn't seem that way at the moment when faced with the potential ruin of six years of friendship and the worst rejection I had ever suffered in the whole of my life. But for all that was wrong with me there was definitely something wrong with Hikari.

She had gone very pale and wasn't looking at me. She was looking through me, her eyes fixed at a point somewhere beyond me.

"Hikari, if you can't accept my feelings, just tell me. I understand that you don't . . . don't feel the same way about me. But nothing's going to change between us, right? The only thing different is that you know that I love you now." I couldn't help saying it one more time, trying desperately to make her understand, to respond in kind. "I love you, Hikari."

"No, Takeru," she said softly, turning away from me, "it's not right. This. It's just wrong."
How can it be wrong to love someone?
"Do you hate me?" I asked her, unable to understand.

"No. I like you very much. You're my friend."

"Is that all I am to you, Hikari? All I've ever been? Just a friend?"

"Yes." But her voice trembled as she said it.

"I see," I said, looking at her. "Do you love Daisuke-kun? Ken- kun?"

"NO!" She whirled around as she said it and froze as our eyes met. I saw it then, the truth in those eyes.
I knew it then, the truth in her heart.
"Can't you say it?" I pleaded with her gently.

"I'm afraid," she whispered, her eyes huge.

"What are you afraid of, Hikari?" There was no one but us, and nothing but the night and the sigh of the wind through the trees.

"Of what might happen. Of what *could* happen. I don't want to face that risk . . ."

"Baka."

She looked startled. "You don't understand, Takeru. You don't-"

"Yes, I do. I've thought it out. I've been through all the possible outcomes in my own mind. And do you know what I discovered? That *no matter what happens* I want to be with you. I want to face it together with you.

"It doesn't matter that we might not end up together and even if we do, we might end up like my parents . . . It doesn't matter that we might be together for years, then break apart painfully, like the ripping of a part of yourself from yourself. It doesn't matter that one day seeing you with someone else might make me crazy, crazy with jealousy and rage and bitterness and pain, crazy enough to jump from a bridge or smash a window or howl out your name . . . to dream of you and cry from desperation in my sleep. How can any of that matter right now?

"I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, or the next day, or ten, fifteen, twenty-five years in the future. The only thing I know is that right now, *right this second*, with every part and particle, every thought and hope and dream, every feeling of me, in me, with all of me . . . I honestly love you."
There was silence as I finished, and she was looking down at her hands. I could not see her eyes.

"Do you understand, Hikari?" I asked her, struggling with the words, with the question, because my fate hung on her answer and I knew it.

"Yes."

It was a whisper of wind, a half-realized breath, and it was filled with all the joy, all the promise that it was capable of holding.

"Yes," she repeated with more strength this time, her brown eyes shining as her hands took mine. "This instant, this moment, this feeling, it's all that matters now, isn't it? It's all that will ever matter . . . no matter what awaits us. As long as I feel it now, no matter what, I'll feel it forever. I'll love you forever, Takeru."

Then she was in my arms and she was laughing, and I was laughing, and I bent my head and kissed her and I felt her relax against me and kiss me back. Then everything was Hikari and all was right with the world and she and I were heady with joy and love and as we pulled away from sweetness of that first kiss, she looked at me with those beautiful, shining eyes and quoted my words back at me.

"Because I honestly love you too."
Author's Notes:

MWAHAHAHAHAHA! There, it's done, and it's actually IN CANON! I rather thought I couldn't write a Digimon 'fic in canon after the ending of 02, but, ah well, life is strange, ne? And while this may be in canon and does not directly contradict anything that happens in the series, who's to say that they *didn't* live happily ever after? Though, I couldn't help but stick in that reference to "25 years later." Of course, the epilogue of 02 would've taken place 23 years later at this point in the timeline, if you want to get technical about it. Whatever.

I wrote this because, darnit, I like Takari! (Taiora, too, but let's not get nasty about it all you opposed!) Peace and love, y'know. I also wrote this because the idea hit me on the head very late at night and wouldn't go away. I have trouble making 'fic ideas go away. *Sigh* I have to *chase* some of them away or else I would never finish writing anything.

Oh, and originally it was going to be a short lil' piece with just Takeru and Hikari, but Daisuke managed to wheedle his way into this, because, well, he's Dai. ^^;;;