Part 4: Of adversaries, dinner dates, and blackmailing

In which dates are set and Jun sells her brother's secrets for a naked picture of Sora

"So what do we do?"

"Well… do you think you could convince TK to going out with some unknown girl?"

"Very much doubt that, because he actually told me he prefer boys."

"Unknown guy, then?"

"Uh-huh. He also told me that there is this person he likes."

"Since when did he tell you this, and why didn't you just tell Davis that he doesn't like you?"

"Yesterday. He pretended it was nothing, but I think he worried about me having some sort of feelings for him."

Nearly a week had passed, and Kari and Yolei (mostly Yolei) had decided that the situation at hand demanded action, and that talking either of the boys into going out with each other was useless.

Yolei, true to her crest and character (and a large bookshelf worth of shoujo manga) was gleefully planning it out, and Kari was being more reserved about messing with other people's life, but followed her in her eager plotting, trying to keep hold of the situation if the purple-haired girl should come up with something too stupid. She had given up on stopping Yolei from interfering with Davis' love life soon after realizing just what she was doing, and had settled with trying to keep the damage at a minimum.

They were currently walking home from school together (having had some problems with ditching TK), and Yolei seemed determined to get something done with it as soon as possible, not just talk about it. This didn't quite match Kari's plans about talking TK into confessing, but it did probably have a higher success rate.

"Well, " Yolei said, "Davis will at least go willingly, because he knows I'll tell TK if he doesn't."

Kari frowned. "Isn't that kind of a contradiction? If you're threatening him with telling TK if he doesn't go out with him?"

"He doesn't know that." Yolei shrugged, "So the only thing that's left is just to come up with place and time, and get TK to go, too. Do you have anything you can blackmail him with?"

"Actually, I think I can talk him into going without having to threaten him." Kari said, raising an eyebrow at the disappointed look on Yolei's face. "What?"

"Blackmail is much more fun!" she whined.

"Fun?"

Yolei's pout only grew deeper. "Why do you think I'm doing this, anyway? Helping Davis out?"

Holding back the obvious "yes", Kari only sighed. "I'll talk to him, okay?"

"But didn't you say that he wouldn't…"

"I never said he wouldn't do me a favor."

-----

"Hey, Jun…"

"I'm sorry, Davis isn't home."

"Actually, I know that. I need a favor of you."

She blinked in surprise, but leaned against the doorframe and crossed her arms over her chest. It suddenly occurred to Tai how strange it was to actually have a conversation with Jun that didn't revolve around Matt some way or the other, but then again, he'd hardly exchanged a word with her since the end of the last battle except asking for Davis.

"It's about my brother, isn't it?"

"Well, yeah. See, I need him to do something, but if he won't cooperate…"

"You have to blackmail him?"

He confirmed that, and she seemed to contemplate for a few seconds, and then told him to wait. He swiftly looked behind the door and flashed a victory sign at Matt's sweaty scowl. The only reply was a growl, and he hurried to get back in place when he heard her footsteps approaching once again.

"I want something in return." The redhaired girl said, and lifted her hand, "Your wallet, please."

Tai rolled his eyes, but obediently dug his hand into his back pocket and handed it to her.

"I should warn you, I'm as poor as a…"

"Oh, that's not it." She said as she opened it. His eyes widened as she dug out the picture as if she'd done it a thousand times before, and smiled in satisfaction as she inspected it and handed the wallet back to him, along with a brown envelope. "I want them back again when you're done, and if my brother somehow discovers where you got them, she'll know where I got this, and where you got it in the first place. Deal?"

Instead of replying he stared at her for at least a minute before remembering how to talk.

"How… how in the hell do you know about that?" he asked at last, pointing to the snapshot. Jun smiled sweetly at him.

"All of Davis' friends do… well, Ken and TK, and that little kid, Cody… and Yolei, too. All I had to do was ask him, and I've always wanted to see it myself…" she grinned.

Suddenly not so confident in this anymore, he swallowed, and shook her hand.

"Deal."

When the door slammed shut after them he was left facing a confused Matt.

"What was that about?" he asked. Tai looked guiltily up at him.

"You know that picture you stole from Sora?"

"Which one?"

"The one where she's, you know, nude…"

"How the hell did she know about that?!" he all but shrieked.

"You heard her!" Tai snapped back, opening the envelope as they walked down the hallway.

"Why did you tell Davis? And TK?" Matt continued, obviously not done with him yet.

"I didn't think it'd matter!" he said, holding the envelope up between them in an unwilling reflex to defend himself. Matt scowled more, and snatched it out of his hands and opened it when they reached the elevator. He glanced briefly at the content, and then shoved the pictures back in again and handed it back to Tai.

"I can't believe Jun has blackmail material on me now, too."

"Hey, you were the one insisting on doing this, and…"
"There's nothing wrong with making sure something like that never happens again, and I thought this'd be to your gain as well."

"You're the one with girl troubles, not me!"

Matt opened his mouth to retort, but seemed to rethink his argument, and instead glared pointedly at him and dragged him out the door. The two walked side by side down the pavement in the direction of Tai's apartment building, neither really speaking.

"And just how do we explain these to him without blaming her?"

"…Damn bitch."

-----

Davis was relieved that Ken was setting him up with a girl. Even though the idea of going on a blind date was rather unsettling even for him, at least it was better than going on a blind date with some boy he didn't know purely out of Yolei's insistence. He had really no idea about why she was so set on the idea anyway - if he had expected anything from her, that would have been forcing him to tell TK himself about the very stupid and unimportant thing that was his so-called crush on him. Knowing her, she'd probably expect him to return those feelings too, and it wasn't like Davis would want that, because… this was about the point where his mind stalled every time he tried to pass it: One part wanted to reassure himself that having a crush on a guy and TK in particular was just crap he should forget about because… he was… confused. Yeah, confused. And the other part wanted lapse into memories of a half-forgotten dream that his imagination had build more to without his will, and it annoyed him even more because nothing at all had happened except… except… stuff… and… it had just been stupid and romantic, and so disturbingly similar to those daydreams he had used to dwell in back when he was in love with Kari and everything was okay and the world was normal.

The thought of actually having a non-platonic relationship with TK scared him, and he tried his best to find the way his mind seemed to love the idea of such annoying. He didn't want to want to kiss TK. But he did, no matter how unwanted it was, and if it hadn't been for the fact that this was a question about pride and not about the heart, maybe he'd let his mind drift off on its own accord to dwell on slender, blonde boys without forcing himself to be aggravated about it.

"I know what your problem is." Tai said and nodded to himself. "You need to get laid."

"'Get laid'?" he parroted back and kicked the soccer ball so it hit the wall.

"Get laid." Tai confirmed and caught it with his knee, before he let it drop to the ground and kicked it, making another dusty mark on the building.

"How will that help me?"

"It always helps." The older boy said cryptically.

"So you do it, too?"

"I know just the right person for you."

This was the point where most people in Davis' position most likely would've gotten suspicious. Tai had never been famous for his skills at making plans, and two of Davis' other friends had already offered/threatened to set him up with currently unknown persons with vague explanations about why. But unfortunately, Davis had an unhealthy admiration of Tai and had never been among the brightest people around, so his mind only found it a pit peculiar and shrugged it off. Sex might not be on the top of his list of priorities, but if it helped get over people he didn't want to have things for in the first place, he certainly wasn't going to ditch the idea either.

Yes, Davis was relieved that Ken was setting him up with a girl, because being with a boy like Yolei seemed to think that he should would involve so a lot more soul-searching, possible worrying and his mother having a fit of some sort. It was unsettling that Ken seemed to think this as important enough to force him into, but Ken was smart. Yeah. Ken tended to know what was best, and when Tai said the same thing - and Tai was a great leader, after all…

"But I'm already going to meet this girl Ken has…"

The sound of glass shattering was heard, quickly followed by that of sneakers against pavement.

-----

"Yolei?"

"What?"

"What are you and Kari planning on doing with TK and Davis?"

She looked down at the pink Digimon who was calmly looking up at her from the basket on the floor. Poromon had been present during most of her planning sessions with Kari, and she supposed it was just to be expected that he was curious; but how much he had understood was probably a different matter. She was slightly tempted to tell him not to mind, but decided against it; after all, Hawkmon wasn't stupid, and it was possible he'd have some advice for her. "You remember how I told you that they seem to be in love with each other?"

"I know that!" Poromon said, "I mean, what are you planning to do?"

She narrowed her eyes. Her partner rarely bothered with her love life, and had no better reason to be involved with anybody else's. "Why do you want to know?"

If Poromon, with his body, could shrug, he was doing it now. "Well, Veemon and I have this bet about it. I think Davis will be with TK, and he thinks Davis will be with Ken."

"Ken?" she exclaimed, her twice as loud as she had meant for it to be, "Veemon thinks he'll get it on with Ken?"

Poromon started batting his tiny wings up and down, and managed to get into the air to get at her level, "I don't, and neither does Gatomon or Patamon, because they both think… well, Patamon thinks, that Davis will be with TK."

"Do you guys care about who we are dating?"

Poromon blinked. "Well, not to say I don't find it a bit silly, but human mating is rather entertaining. Gatomon says so, and she watches a lot of TV."

A short battle about whether the most interesting point was their Digimon's newly recovered interest in their love affairs or the fact that they seemed to have confident opinions about the matter ended with the last option winning out.

"Well, we'll be trying to set them up – you know, they won't admit that they like each other, so I and Kari have to do something about it." She said, "And why does Veemon think Davis will be with Ken?"

"I wouldn't know! I only know that he's the only one who seems to think so. If I were you," he said, in a voice that she usually only heard from his rookie form, "I would worry more about the fact that Wormmon seems to find all speculations about Ken's love life ridiculous."

Yolei didn't worry about that. To her concern, Ken's non-existent love life was just something she would have to fix once she got the opportunity, and it would be a catastrophe if Davis got it before her. Which only was another reason to make sure he ended up with TK instead.

"Why do you think Davis will be with TK and not Ken?"

Poromon opened his eyes and blinked drowsily at her, before doing that strange shrugging motion again. "Because you seem to think so."

"And…?"

"You usually get things your way."

She wasn't sure whether to take it as a compliment or not.

-----

Some things in life were easy - things like writing. He had always liked to read, and the writing part a natural continuation of that. It fell him naturally to express himself through the written word – and contrary to what Cody seemed to think, he did not spend all this time writing smut. He wrote other things as well. Snippets and scenes from stories that were only half-shaped in his mind, sometimes short stories, hell, he even had a few poems lurking somewhere on his harddrive. To him, writing was a way to relax, a hobby, it was just plain fun.

The fact that certain magazines paid well for some of his works didn't hurt, either. The way Cody looked at him every time he caught him with Word open was not a nice one, but if nothing else, the younger boy's distaste for that sort of literature was strongly connected to the reason for this, which again was connected to another important part of Cody's personality: Loyalty. He might dislike it, but he wouldn't tell anybody else because to Cody, there was no reason to.

Yes, writing was one of the easy things in his life, as were things like playing basketball and keeping his brother wrapped around his finger.

However, there were things that were far more complicated - such as the matter of love.

TK was willing to admit that he might have had a somewhat naïve outlook on such before. Strange as it was, his parent's divorce had never killed his childish belief in that he'd find a girl to marry and love for the rest of his life. When he grew older, he had been pretty sure that that girl was Kari, and he'd settled with that, not really paying any much attention to it because her lack of interest in Davis' constant advances on her made it clear that the other boy was no major threat. All over, he'd been pretty confident in that as time passed he'd ask her out or something and she would agree. Why not? After all, they were great friends (best friends!), they were completely at the same wavelength, they had so much in common and they got so well along. Love and marriage had seemed like the natural continuation of such closeness, and he had decided that she was The One

Yes. It had been a good plan. And then came the day when he caught himself checking out another boy when they were showering after practice.

It would be a lie to say that he'd been greatly upset. It changed those plans involving Kari, and it was due to become an awkward confession for his friends and family eventually, but he had accepted that part of himself relatively easily and kept on living his life without dwelling too much on the fact.

The problem surfaced the day he realized that he most likely had fallen in love with the very boy he once had fought with over the girl he once had appointed as Love of His Life.

To call Davis and TK enemies would be to exaggerate grossly, but calling them best friends would be stretching the truth longer than it probably should. They did, simply, have too many things in common that TK kept on doing better at than Davis and Davis found it necessary to be better than TK at, and it had caused a slight tension between them that never had went away. They got along okay, and there was a awkward sort of friendship, but never really anything more. TK was probably too close to Kari to ever really bother with getting that close to any of the new Digidestined, and Davis had Ken and got along fine with everybody else, and it had worked out without any problems until… well, until the matter of love got into the business.

There was a difference between a platonic friend and a friend that made you blush when he came too close, and it was one that TK had come to know far too well during the last months. His hormones refused to let him have a moment of peace, and he found himself helplessly pulled into a business he thought he'd leave for Yolei and Davis to bother with.

He had tried to tell Patamon first, but the Digimon only understood so much about human emotions, and he had only confused him while trying to explain the concept of being in love, and the difference of being in love with Kari and being in love with Davis. He had a feeling that he might've been more understanding if he'd been in his ultimate form, but he was somewhat nervous about pouring his heart out to Angemon. So when the Digimon settled with cuddling him every time he got onto the topic of their goggled leader, TK decided to spill his guts to someone who understood the mechanics of human relationships.

Kari had been his first choice, and dismissed almost immediately. He didn't doubt that she'd support him unconditionally in whatever he decided to do, but he had a strong suspicion that his own assuming about True Love might have rubbed off on her, and if she had some sort of feelings for him, he wouldn't want to hurt her unintentionally if there was a chance of her figuring out things on her own.

His brother was less likely to be loyal, and more likely to stand by his side no matter what, but there had always been a slight tension between Matt and Davis, and he hadn't wanted either of them to get into troubles with each other because of him.

And as most other of the older digidestined lived busy lives and most likely wouldn't be involved enough in his life to really care about his problems, it left pretty much his mother, Ken, Yolei and Cody.

The choice had been easy. His mother was out of the picture (he wanted to postpone any comments about grandchildren as long as possible), Ken was simply too close to Davis and Yolei, much as he loved her, was not on the list of people he trusted to keep something secret.

But Cody had understood, and just as important, hadn't made any further comments about it. He'd simply listened, accepted, and been there for him. He'd never tried to make him change his mind about it.

Until now, that was.

He had a suspicion that the nature of his problem was of such a ridiculous manner that he might have been overdoing all his heartache. It wasn't like it was killing him or anything, far from that, and what feelings he had certainly weren't deep enough to make him cry at night because 'Davis could never love him'(although the breakdown with is brother the previous week suggested that he might be nearing that point now). But it kept on nagging that stupid, gullible part of his mind that had wanted to believe in him and Kari about how he now should believe in him and Davis, and when you're not used to keeping your problems bottled up and there is only one person to vent on…

And he'd been doing it a lot, he realized now. More than he'd needed to, too. But it had been so good… finally being able to actually talk about it to someone who could understand, and stay neutral. TK wasn't used to struggle with his problems alone, and having somebody to discuss it with had been an enormous relief. When he gave it a second thought, maybe it wasn't so strange that Cody finally seemed to be interfering. All and every conversation the two of them had had in private the last months seemed to have been centered about Davis in some way or the other.

He could have spared himself the threats, though.

It wasn't that bad, he supposed, although he wasn't going to start seeing someone while he was in love with someone else. He'd told Kari as much as he though she could handle about the situation after letting his brother know, and while she certainly hadn't seemed as heartbroken as he'd feared, she had visited him later and guilt tripped him into meeting this friend of hers that he never had met who was trying to sort out his feelings. It wasn't a thing he happily agreed to, but she had seemed genuinely worried and slightly hurt, and he'd agreed to do it.

So he was officially set up with two people and in love with a third who wanted his best friend.

Yes. The matter of love might be nice for those who believed in them, and although he did so himself, he couldn't help but wish that they had never, ever entered his life.

-----

"You know, it's not like you'll be winning anything on this yourself." Gatomon pointed out as Kari sat down by the computer to go through some of her old pictures. "She's after Ken, so the sensible thing to do…"

"Telling Davis to go with Ken instead?" Kari asked and glanced at the white Digimon, who was curled up on a stable of books beside her.

"Well," Gatomon drawled, "He'd do it, you know. From what you told me about it, he doesn't even have the slightest idea about how to deal with this, so if he can be with someone a bit more, ah, familiar to him, he'll probably do it. And with Ken out of the picture…"

"Gatomon, I don't think Ken is interested in Davis like that." She said, trying not to worry too much about it. The suggestion was unsettling because the Digimon usually tended to stay away from the "human business" and make them sort it out themselves, or at least the things that centered on the topic "love". But more worrisome was the fact that Gatomon was suggesting her to do something as selfish as to purposely make Davis be with the wrong person just for her own gain. While her partner was less naïve than most of the other Digimon, she had never shown any tendencies to such an egoistic nature.

"No, that can of course be a problem. But it's always worth the try, you know, and if it works out…"

"I couldn't do that to them." Kari cut her off, furiously clicking on the icon on the desktop to open her picture editor, "If Davis and TK really want to be with each other - and I am positively sure that they do - I wouldn't do anything to stop them from doing that. That would be… mean!"

Gatomon nodded, and looked at her through half-lidded eyes.

"It'd be fair to give them a chance, that is true. But honestly… can you see it work out? It's not like the two of them have that much to rely on, and if they're going to keep on the way they currently are they'll break up within two weeks."

Kari refused to look at her partner, partially to show her disgust with the idea and partially because she wasn't sure how much she trusted that disgust any longer. "Then they'll have that chance. Love isn't about survival, it's about…" her voice trailed off, and her hands fell from the keyboard.

"It is about what? Achieving enlightenment?" the Digimon rolled over on her back and looked at her upside down. "I'm only saying that maybe it'd be better if you just spared them for the whole sordid breakup business and tried to find more suitable partners for them."

The wording of the last sentence relieved her. It was clear that in the eyes of Gatomon, the obvious choice of partner should be the one who was likely to be staying with you, and that the suggestion hadn't been as selfish as it had sounded. Or, probably hadn't been. After all, the Digimon spent the days watching soap opera while she was at school. She resumed her work.

"No, Gatomon, love isn't even about that, and I'm not going to do something like that because of Yolei. It probably wouldn't have helped, anyway."

"Izzy." The Digimon said, and nodded to herself, "Izzy would be good with TK."