Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon. I can only claim my OCs.
Warnings/Reading Deterrents: This fic will take place in an Alternate Universe. No Digimon will be featured/mentioned. Professions and canon pairings from the Adventure 02 Epilogue will be honored (more or less). Couples featured will include (in order of prominence): Tai/OC, Tai/Catherine, Sorato, Takari, and Koumi. There will be mentions/mild involvement of Kenyako, Davis/OC, Joe/OC, and Cody/OC. Dub names will be the most frequently used. Rated T for now, for language and mild content, but will be bumped up to M later for, uh, less mild content. Hah.
A/N: So... this idea kind of struck me. I don't expect this to be a long fic (at least, I hope it won't be. I still have A Boy and Girl Affair to finish!), but it's kind of been eating at me. That, and sometimes it's a nice break to write with a more adult voice. Consider it an extended exercise in exploring the adult lives of the Digidestined—as tested in my short stories Baby Octopus and Enchantment. And that was a shameless plug. XD For fans of my other stories (namely A Boy and Girl Affair and The Center of Everything), the OC featured in this story will be the same one from the other two—with slight alterations. ;)
With that said, on to the chapter!
- Plus One -
Summary: Tai has no complaints about his life at age twenty-nine. His lucrative career as a United Nations officer has him travelling the world, enjoying the riches of foreign countries and the company of their citizens in standard bachelor style. But when Matt and Sora's wedding plans kick into full gear, Tai begins to wonder if there is fulfillment in his quick, busy pace and slapdash hook-ups. The wedding date is fast approaching, and what starts as a simple quest to find his 'plus one' turns into a serious search for his other half, but determination alone won't guarantee that he'll find her.
Chapter One: Save the Date
He stared at the card frowning, his face equinely drawn. In his hands it sat like a brick, the fine, textured cardstock crisp and stiff, confetti shimmering off its sharp edges. Initial disappointment soon gave way to a type of frustrated nausea, as if he were a pirate suddenly handed his doom—the card in his possession not a save-the-date but the terminal slip that was the Black Spot. His frown deepened, and the tight line of his mouth broke to expel a cross between a raspberry and a sigh.
'Save the date!
Sora Takenouchi & Yamato Ishida
are getting married on
September 29th, 20—'
He stopped reading and flipped the card over, taking a moment to look up at the blank slate of his ceiling. His living room clock ticked menacingly in the void of his apartment, which was cold from yet another extended absence. There was something to be said of a young man whose mailbox was so full of envelopes upon his return home that the postman had left a note telling him to collect the remainder at the post office. Tai couldn't hold such a minor embarrassment against himself. He worked in international affairs. Travel was necessary and frequent. At the top of the pile had been the wedding save-the-date, pristine and perfect, the prelude to the crème-de-la-crème of engagements—a title not helped by the fact that it was the rich, buttery color of cream.
His stomach growled.
The card was set aside on the kitchen table with a flick of the wrist. His house was skeletal. A thin film of dust coated his furniture and the air bore the faint, nose-irritating mustiness of the unused. Food was a lamentable but expected scarcity. He made the mistake of prying open his refrigerator door and was instantly hit with the disgusting fetor of neglected victuals. It smelled like the buzzing carcass of a gnu baking in the Sahara, which he knew only because of his work. His repertoire of sickening smells was surprisingly vast: snake guts in humid Thailand, lion farts in Kenya, the most horrifying, eyebrow-singeing B.O. in the subways of New York City. Leaving raw steak in there for three weeks was clearly a bad idea.
Typically, when introducing himself to others as a United Nations officer, the first things that came to his acquaintances' minds were flags, a tall, glass-paned building, and men in suits being chauffered about in ebony black town cars. Those were all well and true, but sometimes his meetings called him to rendezvous with other diplomats in a less formal setting (to be more personable, as his boss explained); hence the occasional negotiations conducted through a wet market, or business proposals discussed on safari.
He managed to scavenge a bag of rice crackers from his dusty pantry. The expiration date was past, but he ate them anyway, leaning back in a kitchen chair with his legs crossed at the ankles on the table top. A handful of the bite-sized snack was shoved into his mouth while he loosened his tie. The card was picked up again.
Sora and Matt's wedding was not news to him. The two had been dating since the early half of high school, and it simultaneously surprised and annoyed Tai that they had waited over a decade later to finally take vows that could have been taken right out of university. Hell, possibly even high school. Twenty-nine wasn't old in terms of marrying age—in actuality, it was pretty average—but he liked to think of Matt and Sora as the exception. All the days of seeing the two of them nuzzling noses in public like eskimos and cooing pet names like turtle doves had Tai rolling his eyes and issuing what would now be a dry, dead joke: "Just get married already!"
Now, they were. They finally were.
A thin, half-hearted smile crept up his face as he continued to examine the missive. Most of the confetti had fallen off, dusted over his lap like dandruff on a shoulder. He ran a hand through his hair.
The date of the wedding was logged into the calendar on his phone. It was a solid eight months away. A mental note was made to contact T.K. about when the bachelor party would be. Tai did, after all, miss the engagement dinner because he was in Switzerland at the time, eating chocolate and drinking tea over plans reviewed at an oblong, oval table with old grey men dressed in grey suits with grey hair or grey toupees atop their age-spotted heads.
It went without saying that Matt had made a wise decision choosing T.K. as his Best Man instead of him. The position had been offered—or at least talked about as if it were a possibility—but as much as Tai would have liked to be the groom's right-hand, his job didn't permit the honor. Besides, he was disorganized enough, and the only thing Tai was certain he would have done well was Matt's bachelor party. He wondered if T.K. would hire a couple of strippers for the event.
Sighing, he set the card down, sliding his legs off the table surface as he riffled through the rest of his mail pile. He stopped mid-sift, brown eyes catching sight of the façade of the save-the-date envelope, which he hadn't really looked at the first time.
"What the hell?" he gasped.
He snatched the envelope up and brought it close to his face, peering at the address the way his sister's kindergartners "read" picture books, with the page abreast their noses and their stares cross-eyed.
'Taichi Kamiya and Guest'
Guest. G-u-e-s-t. What the fuck was that word doing there?
"If this is your idea of a sick joke, Yamato..." he grumbled, pounding numbers on the touch screen of his phone.
"Koushiro speaking," came the voice on the other line.
"Izzy," Tai began. As usual, he did away with the pleasantry of a proper greeting. "Did you get the save-the-date for Matt and Sora's wedding?"
There was an abbreviated sigh on Izzy's end, a few bothers short of an actual snort.
"Hello to you too, Tai," Izzy deadpanned. In response, Tai supplied the grunt Izzy had curtailed out of politeness. "But to answer your question, yes, I received Matt and Sora's save-the-date a couple of weeks ago. I'm assuming you've just received yours after being in Vienna for approximately a month."
"What'd yours say on the envelope? It's addressed to who?"
"Whom, you mean," Izzy corrected.
"Like I give a shit about conversational grammar, Koushiro," Tai growled. "What'd it say?"
"My name, obviously."
Tai's left eyelid twitched. Izzy was lucky he was thousands of miles away in Massachusetts, teaching computer science as an assistant professor at MIT. Otherwise, the computer whiz would have more than just college students to worry about—like a bruise to his most prized organ, meaning his brain.
"Damn it, Izzy," said Tai. "Just answer."
"I did," Izzy replied. "The envelope bore my name. 'Koushiro Izumi.' That's all."
"No 'Koushiro Izumi and guest'?" Tai asked. "What about Mimi?"
The sigh the distant redhead emitted was far more audible this time.
"You forget that Mimi is also part of the bridal party," Izzy explained. "She received her own save-the-date." There was a pause. "Is that what this is about?" His voice grew high and girlish with curiosity. "Are you concerned about bringing a date to Matt and Sora's wedding?"
Tai's face fluctuated through a series of expressions—as if his skin were made of clay—before settling on a crabby frown.
"No," he deflected. He groaned and rubbed his brow, mussing up his thick eyebrows. Silence followed, every second of it densely incredulous. "Sort of," Tai revised, inching his way towards honesty. He sighed. "…Yes," he admitted. "But I wouldn't if my envelope wasn't fucking printed with 'Taichi Kamiya and Guest.' Guest! Who the hell does Matt think I am? Casa... Casa... Some ladies' man?"
"It's Casanova," said Izzy with a chuckle. "And I don't think Matt had much of a say in the design of the save-the-dates. That was most likely the bride's and the maid of honor's doing; i.e., Sora and your sister."
Tai's phone, by then, had been placed on the table, switched to speaker-mode while he massaged his aching temples and pulled at the dark circles under his eyes. He didn't date. That was a fact. He hooked up, certainly. But he did not date. A novice international officer for the United Nations, young, single, with no ties and no anchors to string him down to any one locale made him the perfect game piece on the world's checkerboard. "Kamiya, you're being sent on assignment to Chile," or "Pack your bags, Kamiya, you're going to Nairobi," or, more subtly, "How's your Norwegian, Kamiya? Non-existent? Well, good. 'Cause your flight to Oslo is tomorrow morning." What were Sora and Kari suggesting by attaching "Guest" to his name? Did they expect him to waltz into the chapel with a Brazilian model he picked up at the airport?
He lifted his hands from his face, flirting with the idea for a moment.
Izzy's voice plucked him from his fantasy.
"Yeah?" he replied.
The computer genius's form of friendly counsel and comfort continued, which essentially consisted of longwinded rationalizations of Tai's dramatized woes.
"I'm certain it was a fully well-intentioned gesture," he said, "and if you simply call Sora and Matt and tell them that it won't be 'Tai Kamiya plus one' when the wedding invitations arrive, I'm sure they'll think nothing of it."
Tai chewed on his lower lip, processing Izzy's words in serious contemplation. Izzy would attend the wedding with Mimi. His sister and T.K. were too perfect for words, and it didn't help that they were Maid of Honor and Best Man, respectively. He wouldn't have been surprised if they caught the bouquet and garter—also respectively. Ken and Yolei, meanwhile, had recently gotten engaged. Joe was seeing Yolei's older sister. Cody got cozy with a girl he met in law school. Even Davis had a significant other—a pretty, American journalist who did a cover story on him and his noodle cart business. They were two years strong and going, which was more than he could say for his own relationships. To define his trysts as 'relationships' was a joke in and of itself.
"This sucks ass, Izzy," Tai mumbled, having ignored everything the computer whiz had said previously.
"There is no social taboo that forbids you from attending the wedding solo, Tai," heartened Izzy. "In fact, I thought you enjoyed your bachelor lifestyle."
I do, Tai privately affirmed. He didn't care that he was still single while the rest of his friends were taking steps towards monogamy—measures some would consider improvements in life. The needling sensation poking his gut originated from the likelihood of him being alone at the wedding, reduced to the lighthouse of singledom in a sea of couples, trapped in the cloying entwinements of their suffocating waves.
He knew it was a childish, selfish thought. Petty, too. But he hadn't been in a relationship with a woman long enough to have to 'grow up.' He held firmly to the unequivocal belief that if he got enough champagne in him at the reception, he'd fishtail between periods of happy drunkenness and brooding about why he hadn't found his other half—his soul mate, or his media naranja, as the Spanish would say.
"I'm not going to be that one single guy while you all march in two-by-two," he stated.
"I find your repulsion unjustified, Tai. Weddings are also grounds for mingling. You may even meet your future wife at the venue."
Tai momentarily recalled some unpleasant memories concerning other female friends of Sora's and Matt's. Most followed the same storyline: they were introduced, they slept together, he didn't pursue, she got fed up, and now he was branded with a red 'A' on his forehead, for 'Asshole.' Only a few were content with one night stands, and, once sober, Tai was quite thankful for the mutually enforced distance. He liked to think he maintained his high standards when inebriated, but some mornings after suggested otherwise.
After wiping the grimace off his lips, Tai's eyes drifted back to the save-the-date card. He picked it up, glaring at it the way his superiors at work stared him down when he expressed the smallest hint of reluctance to a travel assignment.
"You're wrong, Izzy," he said. "This isn't a well-intentioned gesture. This is a challenge, plain as day. Sora and Kari put 'guest' here on purpose."
"I think you are reading too much into this, Tai."
The comment was ignored.
"Eight months is a good span of time, right?" asked Tai. He got up to throw the empty bag of rice crackers in the trash, keeping his mobile phone in his free hand. By routine alone, he opened the fridge in passing and swore loudly, sticking the crook of his elbow to his nose.
"Are you... all right?" Izzy tentatively inquired.
"Yeah, yeah," Tai managed to wheeze between coughs. He cleared his throat and blinked the saltwater clear from his stinging eyes. A dry heave luckily remained dry and was swallowed down, though just barely.
"But like I was saying, Izzy," Tai resumed. "I'm getting myself a date." His lips thinned into a mischievous smirk. "You can bet your ass on it."
A/N: You're probably wondering why Mimi isn't Maid of Honor. That'll be explained, and it's nothing nasty. She and Sora didn't have a fallout. It's more a practicality thing. Anywho... Yay? Nay? Questions? Comments? Concerns? Criticism? All are welcome, of course. :)
Thank you for reading!