Behind Your Eyes:
It's a funny old world and I didn't think I'd ever return to the world of sappy fanfiction, but after many years, here I am again. I first published "Behind Your Eyes" in 2000, and finished it in 2001, so here it is 10 years later and I'm re-reading it. What do I think, seeing it again? I'll get to that.
First of all, let me explain a bit about the motivation for this story and where I was coming from when writing it. I was dually inspired, firstly by seeing other works that featured trips inside someone's head, imagination, etc., and thought to myself, "You know, I think I can do that too." Helping that out was my basic knowledge of psychology I learned in high school and researched on my own. A bit of Freud, a bit of Jung, and a whole lot of taking liberties that would make psychology experts cringe, and you've got the makings of a story.
Another, more cynical motivation for the story was my feelings about romance as it was portrayed in other works. Romance isn't what I really enjoy writing; I much prefer comedy or action/adventure. But I enjoyed the subtle relationship between Tai and Sora portrayed in the original Digimon Adventure and found myself enjoying writing a bit of relationship stuff in one of my other works, "Scattered." Reception to that was positive, so I thought I'd give it another go, this time with more effort and a much longer story.
But I digress. Like I said, my problem was with how other works of fiction portray romance, especially in fanfiction. A boy and a girl have one episode where they're friendly to each other? They're soulmates! The world is in danger and what does it take to save it? These two must loudly proclaim their undying love for each other! And so on. The problem is that this extends to every pairing no matter what the age or actual level of emotion in the original work. I like to write things in character and heartfelt passionate confessions so rarely happen in kids' shows like "Digimon," yet every Tai/Sora pairing that I saw drifted into that territory.
Let's face it: Tai and Sora aren't hardcore in love. In fact, according to the show's canon, they never really went beyond a simple crush. (For the record, the story was first published before the show revealed that Matt x Sora was canon. I won't hate on those who support that relationship, but I didn't see it then and I don't see it now. I'll leave it at that.) At the time of this story and Digimon 02, they're 14. Think about yourself at 14 if you're older (and in my case, I now feel WAAAAY older) and the kind of relationships you may have had. That's like 8th grade, and who has met the boy or girl they're going to marry at that age? Never mind confessing undying, everlasting love. It usually feels forced and it takes me out of a story to read that kind of stuff unless someone has really taken the time to develop it and make it work. (And I have read works that do, so it's not impossible.)
So, that's why I prefer a "can't spit it out" approach (to borrow the TV Tropes term). Tai and Sora have good chemistry, but they're both too young to quite embrace their own changing feelings about each other given their long past. The situation raises a lot of tough questions. Do you want to jeopardize a friendship to pursue a relationship? Or is it better to keep things as they are? Before I take the risk, what does this person think of me? These are questions I've struggled with, and I suspect many others have done the same. I preferred not to state this issue outright, but rather phrase it with Tai's final summation that he has often wondered what is "behind her eyes." The mystery of what a person thinks and feels is what makes for good romance. Relationships often develop slowly with things emerging as we're willing to divulge bits of ourselves. So, no sappy confessions, no "one true love," and no world-ending kiss at the end.
The story revolves around Evamon trying to take over Sora's mind and body and the dual plotlines of hunting him down in the physical world as our intrepid psychonaut Tai travels the mental realm. But, in truth, the physical realm is mostly an excuse to do the mental stuff. It's not bad stuff, but I find myself way less interested in that part than I am in seeing what happens the further Tai travels down the rabbit hole. Let's examine some of the ideas and themes I had for writing what I wrote.
Id, Ego, and Superego
The great thing about doing a story that largely takes place in a fantasy realm is that you can pretty much do whatever you want, and to me the idea of splitting Sora into 3 distinct entities was a lot of fun. Id is completely childish and does what she wants, and that includes random confessions of gushy-mushy love, while Ego realizes that Sora is not quite ready to deal with the practical effects of such a confession. Thus, the two were represented by a very young child and her 11-year-old self (who was mature enough to start thinking of consequences and possibilities). Since her mother is shown to be a largely restrictive and protective force, Sora's mother was a good fit for Superego, as she ultimately decides Right and Wrong issues. But Sora as she appears in the real world does not make an appearance as any of these subconscious-dwelling entities because each one represents a piece of herself, but not the whole of her true self. The interplay between the three represents separate, incomplete parts of human personality as they work together. The implication is that Sora is not unique; we all have these forces at work, and I think it's fascinating to think about how our minds work through a difficult issue. Do you give in to your Id? Does your Ego see an open possibility? Is your sense of morality strong enough to resist difficult temptation? Again, interesting stuff to me.
Sora is a cool character. In the show, we see her as maternal, sporty, compassionate, unconfident, teasing, conflicted, and open-minded as she progresses through the plot of season 1 and 2. As much as I like anime, female members of ensemble casts don't often get a fair share of screen time or development, and that applies to shows made for kids and adults alike. That's why it irritates me that Sora is so often relegated to "Tai/Matt's girlfriend" in fanfiction. She holds the Crest of Love, so loving someone is her most important (i.e. "only") trait. Bleh.
In writing this story, I wanted to show that her fantasies were based on various interests and Tai's presence was incidental. If every fantasy she had was about him, it would make her entirely one-dimensional. While Tai is an important part of two of her fantasies, the concert and the school dance, neither her tennis match fantasy nor her concert are focused on him. She has ambitions and dreams that might be unrealistic, but at least they go beyond boy-chasing. And even at that, she's not limited to Tai in her aims. That's why I mention "Kazuo in English class." I wanted to show that there are other boys she has her eye on besides Tai. Again, no "one true love" moments in my story.
Still, it's a romance story, and attraction to someone else is part of what makes it cool. Tai is gaining insight into the fact that he is important to Sora and this bolsters his confidence to indirectly confess his feelings at the end.
Also, it's just really fun to play with the possibilities of an imaginary world and getting to make her a concert pianist or giving the Wimbledon announcer a ridiculously over-the-top British accent. After all, the story isn't so serious that I can't insert some jokes into it here and there.
The only regret I have about it is that I didn't make it even more crazy and surreal, as others later suggested, but ultimately that would just be filler to the main story, so I haven't added anything superfluous.
Well, it has been a long time and over the years it has attracted some good comments and even ended up on a few favorite and "best of" lists, so I think the people have spoken as to the quality of the story. People just love a good romance, and I'm happy to see that my attempt at writing one pleased most of my readers. To date, it is one of my most highly-reviewed stories despite being one of the shortest. I'm glad it has resonated with people so well and I found myself chuckling at the jokes I forgot I wrote. To make it more readable, I tightened up a bit of the dialogue and had to reformat a few things since FFN has screwed up the formatting over the years, but overall it still holds together pretty well for what it is. Unless you read the story every month and know it by heart, you won't notice the changes. And, if you're a first-time reader, you're really not missing anything other than a few misspellings, typos, and cryptic bits of dialogue.
Thank you for reading and for all your supportive comments. I was genuinely touched re-reading the reviews and I'm glad it struck a chord with fellow Taiora lovers. As usual, feel free to leave a comment or review.
P.S. I'll be reviewing and revising my other works as outlined in my FFN profile and then I'll finish my half-completed novel "Ancient Enemy." I hope you'll save me to favorites or author alerts for new updates!