Disclaimer: Digimon belongs to Toei Animation, Saban and Bandai, not me.


"Hey, Matt! Where've you been?" A very happy Taichi plopped down onto the rug beside Yamato and slung an arm around his shoulders. A very happy, very drunk Taichi. "I got something important to tell you, and I just can't keep it in any longer!"

"Tai, is this the same important thing that you tell everyone after you make contact with sake?"

"Nuh-uh. This is personal, Matt. This is from me to you. Because... because you're my best buddy, and nobody else really understands like you do... you know what I mean?"

Yamato raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Okay. Spill it."

Taichi's happy grin morphed into a stupidly sentimental one. "I love you, man. I really, really love you. Like in 'forever'. Guys who are friends their whole lives, that's us. Guys who go through some real shit together and never stop being friends because... damn, because they're friends! That's us, right, Matt?"

Some girls sitting practically on top of Yamato snickered. Odaiba's park, one of its few greenspaces in a jungle of steel and concrete, almost choked itself with cherry blossoms in spring, and in the evenings during the Hanami, it was packed with however many people could fight for a picnic spot beneath the trees. Sticky buds turned that small part of the city into a cloudland of pink and white. Kids stayed up late. The brave and the drunk sang karaoke.

"Tai," Yamato said wearily, "if you want to get mushy tonight, why don't you go and find Sachiko? I'm really not in the mood."

"Uh... we kind of broke up yesterday..."

"Shit, again? Who'd you catch her with this time?" Taichi and his girlfriend broke up on such a regular basis that Yamato had stopped trying to keep track of it, usually due to the lack of the word 'no' and the phrase 'I have a boyfriend' in Sachiko's vocabulary.

"Hey!" Taichi retorted. "That wasn't the reason! Well, not the only reason," he added, looking abashed.

"Tai, you fight for at least four fucking days every week. Why do you keep getting back together?"

"Because of what we do on the three days we're not fighting." Taichi waggled his eyebrows like a hentai. He leaned closer, his breath stirring the fine hair around Yamato's ear. "So, how goes it with you and Mei?"

Yamato tensed ever so slightly. "We decided to cool it for a while. See if we're better off as friends."

"Uh-huh. No change, then?"

"No," Yamato answered shortly.

"It's just nerves, man."

"No, it's not."

"Yeah, it is. I was scared shitless my first time."

"No, it's not."

The other boy sat back. "You wanna talk? I mean - go somewhere?"

"Tai, I'd rather just -"

A smooth, tanned hand cupped his bare elbow, lifting him surprisingly steadily to his feet. "Matt - come."

Yamato bit his lip, allowing his friend to steer him through the forming and reforming gatherings, deeper into the trees where it was quiet. The glow of crepe-covered lanterns there gradually replaced the fading light, casting soft pools of reds and greens. Taichi shoved the bottle he had been carrying into the blonde's hand.

"Here. Have some if you want to."

Yamato usually stuck to beer, and this sake was stronger than he'd expected and blazed its way fiercely over his tongue and down through his innards, leaving his eyes watering. Taichi leaned against a tree, regarding him.

"Ready to talk now?"

"How can you drink this crap? That's not sake, it's rocket fuel undercover for the night, disguised as sake!"

"How can you change the subject so frickin' fast?"

Yamato put the bottle down on a patch of bare earth, folding his arms. "Because I don't think it's any of your business."

"Wrong!" Taichi jabbed a finger at him. "You're my best friend. If you've got a problem, that makes it my business!"

"You wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

Music filtered across the park. A girl began to sing, sweet and low, and Yamato found himself unconsciously accompanying it, picking out notes and chords. He had a sudden, wild desire to be on stage, pouring out his hopes and fears to a sea of anonymous faces. He knew that his music was as much an outlet as an ambition. It was easier to speak through it. Safer.

"It's not Mei," he said, "it's me. I just... can't."

"What do you mean 'can't'..? Oh..." Taichi gave a wry, lopsided grin. "The big 'can't'?" He obviously took the following silence as an affirmative. "Matt - sometimes everything seems peachy keen, but it just won't happen, y'know? It's no big deal."

Yamato's voice sounded harsh in his ears when he spoke. "Oh, it's a big deal, Tai. What if you knew deep down it was never going to happen? What if you only went out with your girlfriend in the first place because she was nice and said she liked you, and because kids three years younger that you were hooking up with each other already, and because it was the best way to get it through Jun Motomiya's head that you weren't interested?"

"Matt, listen..."

"No, you listen for once. It feels wrong, it always has done. I'm a freak. Why can't you just accept that?"

Taichi stared at him for a moment. "You know, when we were kids, I thought you were the coolest thing."

"And now?"

"Hasn't changed."

"You don't really know me."

Taichi slapped his hands over his ears. "No - you're not gonna do this to me! You're not gonna lay the deep dramatic crap on me tonight. My head can't take it! Matt -" Taichi moved, and somehow now those hands were cupping Yamato's face, thumbs caressing his sharp high cheekbones, trying to impress something vital into him. " - does this really feel so wrong?"

His warm alcoholic breath hung between them. Very, very lightly, he brushed the blond's lips with his own, then with the tip of his tongue. And it didn't feel wrong. Not in the slightest.

It felt so, so good.

"Tai," Yamato whispered. His voice sounded husky, and he cleared his throat. "You're drunk."

For answer, Taichi kissed him again, more fiercely, his tongue parting Yamato's lips and slipping into his mouth. The other boy pulled back, breathing heavily.

"I'm not gay, Tai."

"Neither am I."

"I'm not bi either."

"That leaves you one choice, Matt. And I'm pretty damned sure you aren't Mr. Straight, 'cause you just let me french you without much of a fight."

Taichi had discovered girls shortly after their first return from the DigiWorld. When he also discovered sex, it came very naturally to him and he became extremely enthusiastic about it overnight, the polar opposite of Yamato, who divorced himself from his feelings, preferring instead to immerse himself in his music. But they grew closer rather than apart. Time passed, and Yamato began tentatively dating Mei Akama, the quiet, pretty girl who was his lab partner. Taichi's semi-serious girlfriend dumped him for spending too much time with Yamato, claiming that he came to her to make out and went to Yamato for everything else.

Taichi occasionally attempted to advance their relationship when he was out of his skull, using the booze as an excuse to come on to Yamato, much to everyone's hilarity. It had been funny, until Yamato had realized that he enjoyed Taichi flirting with him, that he got a strange feeling somewhere deep inside when he got close, that he liked it when the other boy twirled strands of his silky fair hair around his fingers. So he'd stopped laughing and started thinking. And he didn't like what he was coming up with.

"I - I don't know, Tai. I really don't know."

"Ssh." Taichi put a finger to Yamato's lips. "It's okay. It's okay... it doesn't have to mean anything... anything at all. Just..." His hands slid lower, stroking the other boy's flanks through the thin cotton of his t-shirt.


"Feel good?"


"Can I kiss you again?"

Yamato shivered almost imperceptibly, a suicide balancing on the edge of a precipice. He wanted to kiss Taichi, he understood that for the first time, understood what those hot, fluttery feelings were urging him towards. "Not sure."

"I only wanna kiss you like this." The lightest touch of lips, pressed against his wide, pale forehead. "And this..." Little butterfly kisses, following the line of his jaw. "And this..." Taichi ducked his head, slowly and languorously sucking on the tender skin of Yamato's adam's apple. "I just wanna kiss you, Matt," he murmured, and skinny arms wrapped around half-developed bodies as their mouths meshed together.

Soft. That was the first description that came to mind about Taichi's lips. Soft - and very sweet. It shocked Yamato faintly. For some reason, he'd never imagined that another guy would taste good like that. Somehow he was pulling Taichi close, arms around his waist, under the cool blue cotton of his open shirt, and Taichi was pushing him at the same time, and they were moving across the grass in a clumsy dance, further into the shadows. His back scraped against the bark of a tree, halting him midstep, and he bit back a moan as Taichi collided hard with him, pressing their bodies against each other full length.

Their breathing was soft and ragged. Taichi's hand slipped between them, brushing the front of Yamato's jeans lightly, as if to make sure of what he felt, then cupping and squeezing.

"Matt... is this for me..?"

Yamato shuddered, fighting not to just come in his pants under that slow, rhythmic caressing. "Don't fuck with me, Tai," he hissed. "You know it's for you!"

Taichi's hand slid upwards, leaving him jerking slightly, searching unconsciously for the lost stimulation. The other boy slowly picked up his tempo as their bodies met again in an awkward, shaky grinding of hips, and the raw eroticism of it, even through layers of cotton and denim, had Yamato moaning with pleasure and frustration. His fingers darted over Taichi's bare chest like spiders, testing, exploring, brushing the slight rises of his ribs, coaxing his small, dusky nipples into hard peaks. Taichi bowed his head, his shoulders rising and falling with his soft gasps.

"S'nice, Matt..."

Yamato lifted one hand and buried it in Taichi's impossibly thick, riotous hair, and his friend latched onto his neck, sucking hard enough to bruise, nipping at the skin with his teeth. His pulse jumped wildly under Taichi's mouth, and he leaned harder against the tree to support his unsteady legs.

"Is this what you do with your girlfriends, Tai?" He meant to sound cynical, but his voice came out frightened and needy. Taichi paused for the briefest of moments.

"When you won't have me," he muttered. Then the conversation was lost in the pulse of the music and the eerie colored shadows as the two of them worked frantically at belts and zippers. Both boys gasped as their naked erections touched for the first time. Taichi tangled his fingers in the blond's hair, plundering his mouth with his hyperactive tongue again as they began to thrust against each other, slowly at first, building into a hard, desperate rhythm that made stars explode behind Yamato's eyes. When he touched Mei, it was as if there was an impenetrable barrier between them, but he swore that Taichi was burrowing through his skin and dry-humping his brains. That intense, that close.

I don't want this. I need this. Don't stop.

"Matt..!" Taichi's movements grew faster, more earnest. "Matt... fuck... I'm gonna..."

It was Yamato's hand that plunged down this time, fumbling around Taichi's erection, flicking his thumb across the slick head, once, twice, until the other boy gave a rough cry, grabbed his wrist, and came, bathing their bellies in sticky warmth. Yamato shivered against him, bucking gently, still on the brink. As he watched through heavy-lidded eyes, Taichi sank to his knees in the grass, and, licking his way through the remnants of his own orgasm, took about half of Yamato's length into his mouth.

"Oh, shit!" Yamato's gasp was almost a sob. His hands moved unevenly back and forth over Taichi's skull, torn between pushing him away and drawing him closer as the pad of his friend's tongue ran over him. He tilted his head back, feeling a falling cherry petal brush his cheek, gritting his teeth with the effort to keep still and not just thrust wantonly into the velvety warmth surrounding and caressing him. What the former leader of the DigiDestined lacked in technique, he more than made up for in enthusiasm. It didn't take Yamato long. Taichi choked a little, then recovered himself and began swallowing, accepting every drop with relish.

Well, Yamato's brain said muzzily, that was a hell of a lot better than your hand.

An arm looped about his waist as Taichi's tongue filled his mouth again, and he tasted his own flavor. Being kissed so beautifully by his best friend both moved and disturbed him even more than being sucked off. He wondered vaguely if this was how MetalGarurumon and WarGreymon had felt when they digivolved together - one breath, one pulse, one life. His hands moved slowly over Taichi's buttocks of their own accord, squeezing and massaging. Taichi moaned into their kiss, nibbling on Yamato's lower lip.

"Matt... you wanna go somewhere..?"

"Go somewhere?" Yamato repeated distractedly. Taichi was pressed against him, face to face, their slippery, sensitized flesh trapped between their bellies, and he couldn't understand why the other boy would think he'd want to be anywhere but here. He kissed Taichi again, trying to impress his meaning on him, and felt his friend grin.

"Somewhere more comfortable..?" Taichi was insistently working a hand into the back of Yamato's jeans, into his underwear. His fingers splayed out over his ass, sliding easily on sweat-damp skin. "There's places I'd rather do it than against a tree, Matt," he murmured, and crooking his middle finger, pushed it abruptly inside him.

Yamato gasped, in shock rather than pain, and at that moment, realization slammed home so hard that it almost knocked the air back out of his lungs. He stared into Taichi's eyes, and what he saw there sent the already shaky world tilting and swimming off its axis.

He wants to screw me. He really wants to screw me, and I want to let him.

What does that make me?

Taichi's scent was suddenly heavy, invasive, violating. Yamato began to squirm, fighting him off in earnest this time. "Don't!"

The other boy jerked away as if he had been scalded, staring back at him in confusion. "What's wrong?"

Yamato took a few steps, still trembling, struggling to fasten his pants. It was as if a dam had suddenly cracked, and now everything behind it was spilling over in an uncontrollable flood for everyone to see. "Taichi, I'm sorry. I - I'm not that way."

"You're not what?"

"Look, we made a mistake, okay?"

Taichi wiped his mouth briefly. "One of the best orgasms of my life was a mistake?"

Yamato's palms were sweating, and he rubbed them down the legs of his jeans. "So we had some fun. That's all it was, Tai. I just don't like you like that. And all you really want is to jump something warm-blooded, so why don't you buy Sachiko a box of candy and make up with her, and maybe she'll actually go home with her boyfriend tonight."

"Low blow," growled Taichi.

"Why don't you jack off? Why don't you do anything you fucking like?" He could hear the pitch of his own voice rising abnormally as he spoke. "Just fuck off and leave me alone!"

Belatedly, Taichi moved to re-zip. "Yamato, do you have any idea how completely full of shit you are at times?"

"At least I don't have my brains in my dick!" the blond spat.

"You don't? I betcha I can put 'em right back there, fast as anything, now I'm sure how you feel."

"Don't tell me how I feel! I'm sick of you trying to tell me how I feel!" Yamato felt his hands clenching, automatically balling into fists as they had done so regularly only a few years ago. He'd tried to hide himself, hide from himself and the dull, nagging feelings of difference, back then in the DigiWorld too; become the cold one, the untouchable one that nobody, except Takeru, knew well enough to know how to hurt. And it worked, mostly. But Taichi would never let him hide. He tore down the walls that Yamato built up any way he could, by teasing it, yelling it, punching it out of him if he had to, whatever it took to get a response. When he tried to pull away from people, Taichi was the one who pressed closer instead, making them best friends just by insisting they were. There wasn't a nerve in Yamato's body that he couldn't get on, or a switch he didn't know how to trip. And somehow, he had latched onto something buried deep inside him and drawn it out, with all the bullheadness and genki charm and total unsubtlety that made him the Taichi Yamato had grown to despair of frequently, adore mostly, and become inextricably bound up with.

"Matt -"

"Go to hell," he said, and started walking, not caring in which direction. When he brushed the back of his hand over his eyes a few moments later, it came away damp.

ooo ooo ooo

The formula of a substance is made up from the symbols of the atoms it contains.

The formula gives more information than this, however. It shows the numbers of atoms which are present in the smallest particle of the substance.


Something grazed the side of Yamato's head, and he jerked up from his textbook to see a screwed-up piece of paper on the floor nearby that has obviously just been thrown across the room. He glanced suspiciously over his shoulder to see Taichi gesticulating violently at him.

We - have - to - talk! the other boy mouthed.

Yamato flushed a deep, angry red, matching the marks screaming their presence from the pale skin of his throat. He twisted around again and stared so hard at the page that he fully expected it to burst into flames.

Non-metals usually consist of molecules in which two or more atoms are linked together.

Taichi leaned across his desk. "Matt!" he hissed loudly.

"Mr. Kamiya..." said Mr. Sugimura, warningly. He'd been in better moods. The room collectively cringed, bracing itself for the storm.

Taichi leaned further forward, oblivious. "Yamato!"

"Mr. Kamiya!! Do you have something that you'd like to share with us?"

The dark-haired boy froze. "No."

"Then, until you do, would you be so kind as to present me with some work by the end of the period?"

Taichi picked up one of the test-tubes in front of him and half-heartedly swirled the contents around, but Yamato could still feel his wide dark gaze burning into the back of his head. It was like he had some kind of inbuilt Taichi detector that went crazy whenever the other boy was in the same room; a physical awareness he couldn't shake off. It clung to him like sweat, like sex. Involuntarily, he shivered. He was losing his grip on the old, cool Yamato Ishida by the minute, and he didn't know what was replacing him. The wall clock rattled a little as it flicked over the hour. Thirty more minutes, and he could get out of this torture chamber.

Chlorine gas consists of molecules, each containing two atoms. Write the symbol and the formula for chlorine.

"Mr. Kamiya, is there something wrong with your seat?" he heard Mr. Sugimura ask, sharply.

Taichi's voice. "No."

"Then why are you so reluctant to stay in it?"

Yamato turned his head just enough so that he could see, in the corner of his field of view, a very disgruntled Taichi retreating from him and sliding back onto his chair. A huge proportion of the class were now quite clearly only pretending to work on their projects as they watched this little drama being played out. Someone sitting nearby sniggered.

"Got a problem, Hiroshi?" he asked coldly.

"No problem at all, lover boy."

Yamato felt himself flush hotter. "Then shut the fuck up!" he snarled.

"Whoa!" Hiroshi continued to smirk. "Take it easy, man. I didn't know you and Kamiya were serious!"

"We're not anything!" A fierce headache began to swell, like someone placing a palm on each of his temples and slowly squeezing. He raised his hand.

"Yes, Mr. Ishida?"

"Can I get a drink of water?"

The teacher flicked his eyes over him, a quick assessment that determined either 'Fake', or 'Get this kid out of here before he heaves on the floor'. "Are you sick?"

Yamato was aware of the entire room watching him. "I think I just need some air."

Mr. Sugimura sighed. He gave Matt a longer, harder look. Then he said, "Alright, Mr. Ishida, go. You have ten minutes. And please don't think that I won't notice if you take longer, because I will."

The boys' washrooms were empty. A solitary patch of late afternoon spring sunshine faded in and out on the cracked plaster above the washbasins, and someone had left a window open in an attempt to let out either the permanent smell of disinfectant or their own cigarette smoke, so that it was at least cooler in there now than the classroom. Yamato turned on the faucet and stood for a moment, listening to the hollow sound of the water in the quiet room. When it had run to freezing, he splashed some viciously on his face. He found himself looking into the mirror as he lowered his hands, into a pair of wary china-blue eyes that seemed at odds with the color in his cheeks. From what? Embarrassment, probably fifty percent. Anger, thirty, though he wasn't sure any longer exactly who he was angry with, Taichi or himself. And twenty that he couldn't account for.


"Fuck," he said, out loud. He started saying it over and over. "Fuck. Fuck. Fuck." He pressed his hands against the mirror, leaning close, searching desperately for himself in the tall, pale young man there with the finely chiselled bones and soft milky lips. His fingers curled into claws, beginning to scrabble as if trying to shred his reflection's skin and rip out the writhing, heated something beneath it, his nails sliding over the glass. Shit, but they'd hate him for this. Worse than he'd ever been hated as a little kid with no friends, or while he was being such a gloriously frigid bastard in the DigiWorld. Worse than he'd ever hated himself. The pretty blue eyes hardened.

A myriad of shards should have flown when he put his fist through the mirror, a miniature explosion to echo the one mushrooming inside his head, but there was only the flat, dead sound of the glass cracking against the wall it was screwed to, and then, after an era, something which he supposed must be pain crawling through his fingers and wending its way upwards.

For the first time in twenty four hours, Yamato didn't feel much of anything at all.

A sound at the door jerked him back into some kind of reality. Taichi stood there with eyes as big as a manga character's. Eventually, the other boy let out his breath in a low whistle.

Yamato stared down at his knuckles where thin, criss-crossed splits were starting to fill with red, running into the lines of his skin and forming delicate spider webs. "I think I just broke my hand," he said dully.

He suddenly felt his friend beside him, turning on the faucet again good and hard, taking his hand without asking and holding it beneath the flow, and he watched the water spatter irregularly with blood as it swirled away. For a moment, a part of him relaxed into the familiar half-embrace, before the same part remembered itself and drew away again, leaving barely a ripple on the surface. Taichi, who was gingerly manipulating his fingers, felt him tense, and paused.

"For fuck's sake, Matt, what d'you think I'm going to try and do? Get it on in the sink?"

"I don't know. You seem to really like public places. Why not the bathroom?"

Taichi was sweating a little, just a faint salty tang in the air. He looked nauseous from sharing someone else's pain. "Give me a break. I was drunk - you said it yourself."

"You weren't that drunk."

"And you weren't drunk at all. So I guess that lets the sake off the hook, doesn't it?"

The grinding was almost audible as the walls started to close in again. Yamato fought to get on top of the full-blown panic attack that was threatening to swell. "Which is supposed to mean what, exactly?"

The pressure on his fingers had turned into a gentle rubbing. "Matt... I wanted you last night. Me, not the booze." The rubbing became slower, a torture on his outrageously sensitized skin. "I thought you felt the same."

"Maybe you should learn that some people are picky about who they screw." Yamato winced inwardly even as he heard himself speaking, but he was long past the point of control, and it was spewing out in a frightened, bitter torrent. "And that not all of us are half-faggot."

Taichi's hand fell away from Yamato's, and he took a step backwards. For a few seconds, his expression was unreadable. Then he grabbed a fistful of the blond's pristine white school shirt and slammed him up against the sickly magnolia colored wall so that their faces were about an inch apart. "Do you want to know the other reason me and Sachiko broke up?" he hissed.

Their lips almost brushed as he spoke. Yamato shivered. "Get your hands off me, Tai," he whispered.

"Do you?" Yamato deliberately turned his head away, and Taichi roughly cupped his jaw, jerking it back. "Because she said that she was sick of watching her boyfriend and his best friend flirt with each other!"

"I said, get your hands off me!" With one shove, the two boys had switched places, Yamato's taller form pinning Taichi's against the cold bricks. He finally raised his fist, his whole body now trembling with the desire to feel the satisfying resistance of flesh rather than glass at the end of his arm. His fingers still throbbed. He was already going to have the bruise to end all bruises. Fuck that.

Taichi said just one word, very quietly. "Matt..."

The dark-haired boy's eyes were as soft as his voice. He smelled sweet and warm against the bathroom stink. Like summer. Like the DigiWorld.

I swear nothing will ever come between us again. Yamato had said that once, a long time ago.

He didn't want to hurt Taichi. He wanted to be close to him, so close...

His lip quivered. Taichi's hands slid around his waist, rubbing gentle circles into the small of his back. "S'okay, Matt. S'okay..."

"Reluctant as I am to spoil such a touching moment..."

They sprang apart at the sound of their chemistry teacher's voice in the room. After a minute spent gazing at the cracked mirror, the streaks of blood in the basin, and the two flushed boys, he continued, "...and to aggravate my already considerable headache, I'd like to invite you gentlemen back to the classroom for after-school detention, at the end of which you will each give me an explaination of your behavior this period."

Both boys glanced at each other hesitantly.

"Get out!!"

Eyes lowered like two naughty juniors, they re-entered the science room. To Yamato's surprise, there was a haze of acrid smoke hanging around, and a large pile of sand covering most of Taichi's table where the fire bucket now sitting on his chair had been upended. Most of the class wore ear to ear smiles. There was nothing more fun than a sudden crisis to round off a Friday afternoon.

"Four minutes after you left the room," Mr. Sugimura said, his teeth ever so slightly clenched, "Mr. Kamiya and Mr. Watanabe managed, by a method I've yet to discover, to set fire to their experiment, their books, and very nearly themselves. To my not so great surprise, after I had dealt with the situation, I discovered that I'd managed to lose yet another student in the upheaval."

Taichi's lab partner, Toshiki, another blond, but of the big-eyed, bottled sunshine kind, raised his hand innocently. "I think it was a reaction of the..."

Taichi elbowed him. After a long look colder than one of Frigimon's ice punches, the teacher turned to Yamato. He sighed a little. "Let me see your hand."

There was a collective half-sympathetic, half-shocked hiss from the nearest tables as Yamato held it out. Go ahead, he thought. There was a kind of pride in it, even that small defiance.

"All right. Go down to the nurse and get some sticking plaster or bandages, then come straight back here. One hour's detention for damaging the fabric of the school. Mr. Kamiya, one hour for disrupting the class and leaving the room without permission. Mr. Watanabe, one hour for assisting him."

"Aw, fuck," muttered Taichi, rather too loudly.

"Mr. Kamiya, two hours!" Matt heard Mr. Sugimura yell as he closed the door behind him.

ooo ooo ooo

A flat blue plane of sky stretching away above the window. The faint knock and hum of the plumbing through the building, coming and going between the stop-start rhythm of the traffic outside. Yamato turned his pillow over and pressed into the coolness the other side, twisting the sheets between his bare toes, the slow kneading the only indicator of his unease. Sleep.

No Mei. No Taichi. Not for a thousand miles.

He hadn't undressed, and his shirt was rucked up and uncomfortable under his ribcage. That was fine. He didn't want to be vulnerable just now, have things brushing gently against his naked skin, raising goosebumps, coaxing his hand down to stroke himself to a slow, hard erection. When he masturbated, it was quick, practised and detached, consisting of Yamato concentrating on his hand moving up and down his shaft, his mind kept deliberately blank of fantasies and everything else that would have made it twice the fun. He felt the need, he relieved it. End of story. Except sometimes in the white moment a heartbeat before his orgasm hit, when a sudden fierce image would flash before him of what someone else would look like doing exactly the same thing. Someone with dark hair and dark eyes. Someone who he had been ready to fuck last night in the middle of a public park -

He flattened himself closer against the bed, as if trying to melt through the mattress. He wasn't going to go there. Wasn't going to have anything to do with sex or love, any of that shit, ever again if he had a say in it.

There had been a yellow post-it note stuck to the refridgerator when he got home, the same way they used to tape up the paintings that Takeru brought over sometimes when he was little, because it was the first place to catch your eye when you walked through the door. He'd gotten into the habit of checking the fridge for messages. 'Working late.' So what else was new? 'Money under the ashtray. Get yourself some food. Take care. Dad.' and the numbers of some of the pizza delivery places scribbled underneath as an afterthought. The place was quiet, the background sounds purely mechanical and oddly soothing. Yamato closed his eyes.

The doorbell buzzed.

Go away.

Whoever was waiting obviously didn't believe in taking no for an answer, because, after a few seconds, it buzzed again, several times, unevenly. Yamato pulled the covers over his head and lay like that for a minute before he realized that it might actually be something important he ought to deal with. How had he gotten to be so apathetic in just a couple of years? It was just one more thing that disgusted him about himself and that he still didn't have any strength to control.

Still barefoot, he padded through the apartment. "Yeah?" he said to the door without opening it, raising his voice but not bothering to make it sound enthusiastic.

"Matt, can I come in? Please? I just want to talk."

His toes curled again, starting to work on the carpet, burrowing. "I don't think I've got anything else to say to you."

"Fine," came Taichi's voice. It had lost some of its patience. "If you're not going to let me in, then I guess I'll just have to shout from here," and to Yamato's horror, he started to yell, his voice echoing down the stairway, "MATT, ABOUT THE BLOW JOB I GAVE YOU LAST NIGHT -"

"Shit!" Apathy forgotten, Yamato lunged at the door, fumbling with the catch, whining faintly in near hysterical frustration as it refused to co-operate with his sweaty fingers. Finally he managed to wrench it open, drag his friend inside so violently that the other boy almost tripped over the edge of the mat, and slam it behind him.

"Wow, maybe I should have tried more dirty talk on you in the bathroom!" Taichi shook his head abruptly as he noticed Yamato's expression, as if trying to clear it. "No, I didn't want to say that. Asshole. Ignore me. Sorry," he added.

He had one hand held behind his back. "What's that?" Yamato asked, flatly.

The hand emerged, holding a bunch of cherry blossoms, some beginning to droop and with their twigs attached to them, but silky and pink. "Peace offering?"

The jump was so abrupt that Yamato was briefly speechless. When he recovered himself after a minute or two, he slowly became aware that Taichi had moved away with the flowers, and was now wandering around the kitchen, poking in cupboards and chattering at the same time, about didn't Yamato have something to fill with water to put these in, and how he had detention again tomorrow for giving Mr. Sugimura the finger behind his back, only it turned out his back wasn't turned all that far, and could he believe Toshiki just agreed to help him study if he got him a date with Sora, and Damn, Yamato, your house is too tidy, until he broke off in mid-spiel, and stood looking at Yamato defencelessly. "I came on too strong, didn't I? I went in head first again and I fucked up. But I thought you wanted it! I pushed just a bit more, and you acted like you wanted it as much as me."

Yamato had been ready for another screaming match, more than ready, but Taichi's words seemed to suck it all out of him, leaving him a vacuum, his muscles like water without the anger to bolster them. The previous night had been the strongest pass Taichi had made at him, but it hadn't been the first. And he'd responded, just like he'd responded before. He could have laughed, smacked Taichi round the head and shoved him off when the other boy snuggled up to him and teased him, but he'd blushed like a girl and batted the flirty mood right back.

Who was the biggest tease, Taichi or himself?

"I don't know what I want," he whispered.

"No, you don't." Another charged silence fell between them. Then Taichi said, "Would it help you make up your mind if I said I was madly in love with you?"

"Tai -"

"Well, maybe not madly. I mean, I can eat and sleep. Slightly madly. Wildly, maybe. Yeah," he added, "I don't act like it most of the time. But I am. Ever since you punched me that time when we were thirteen."

Yamato managed the tiniest of smiles. "You date someone who cheats on you, and you fall in love with someone who nearly fractures your jaw. Man, you are a masochist."

Taichi gave a little snort. "Yeah, well, I'm finished with dating for sex. And I'd rather fall in love with my best friend who I at least know gives a fuck about me. That's if you still do." His voice dropped an octave. "I thought I'd screwed things up. I thought I'd gone too far and lost you."

Dropping the flowers in a heap on the counter, he stepped close to Yamato and wrapped him in a fierce hug. Caught off guard, Yamato automatically hugged back. Their noses bumped as he turned his head, then somehow his mouth was on Taichi's and they were kissing, actively sucking and tasting each other, a beaded thread of moisture stretching between them when they parted. Taichi brushed his lips against his temple, breathing in his hair.

"Why are you scared?" he asked softly.

Yamato swallowed against the lump filling his throat, the hot sting of new tears. "Because as long as I don't have sex with you, I can keep telling myself I'm not gay."

Taichi didn't wince, just slowly combed his fingers through Yamato's hair, lifting the strands and letting them fall again. "What about this? Is it too much?"

"No... it's okay."

A kiss on his cheek, hands travelling down his spine. "This?"

Yamato tensed as he felt Taichi gently cup and squeeze his buttocks. He wanted to say that that was okay as well, but it came out instead as a deep sensual shiver, and he leaned his weight into the other boy, fighting to make his legs work properly again. Taichi brought their mouths together again and kissed him as though he were trying to fuse the two of them, as well as their digimon, into one.

Some immeasurable amount of time later, they cuddled, scrunched in the corner of Yamato's bed, fingers slipping over still-damp skin. Taichi pressed a kiss to the blond's shoulder which turned into a gentle bite, one arm slung around his waist, the other lower, a loose fist moving slowly up and down, threatening to tease him back to erection. Yamato squirmed a little, drowsily, trying to swat the hand away.

"Stop it... I'm tired."

"Hey, I was the one doing all the work, remember?" Regardless, Taichi gave him one more light caress, then drew him close again instead. "Did it hurt?" he asked, after nuzzling into his throat for a while.

"No." And that was true; to Yamato's faint surprise, it had hardly hurt at all in that way, physically. It had felt perfectly right, an act as natural as breathing, and that was what hurt. But there was a kind of twisted comfort in it at the same time, quitting the fight against the waves and just letting them close over his head. And now - although he was half-afraid to think it, in case it was suddenly snatched away - he was floating. He really seemed to be floating.



"You want to sleep over?"

A pair of dark eyes sparkled on a level with his. "Are you sure?"

Yamato covered Taichi's mouth with his hand before he could go on. "I said sleep over. That doesn't translate as 'Fuck all night'. I'm not that sure yet." Cautiously, he removed the hand. "Call your mom."

Taichi gave the ends of his fingers a quick nibbling kiss before they got too far away and released him, scooting fluidly out from the bed and reaching to grab and pull on the boxers puddled on the floor. He moved with a surprising, unpractised grace, all long slender limbs and sleek skin. Yamato was struck by how much they had both changed in the last few years, and his belly clenched in the beginnings of a new ripple of arousal as he watched Taichi leave the room. He pulled the sheets back around himself, feeling heat in his face.

Taichi half-appeared back around the door. "Matt?"


"I really do love you - you know that, don't you?"

"Yeah. I know." The door began to close again. Something stirred inside him; moved, was there, was gone, leaving him feeling incomplete. "Tai?" he said, abruptly.


"I... love you too."

And, suddenly, shockingly, he was aware that he did.